Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It’s High Time We Rename the Niggersaurus

I’m not politically correct by any stretch of the imagination. Political correctness has done more to damage our language than any amount of government-imposed censorship could ever hope to achieve.

Still, there are some vestiges of out-and-out racism and misguided hatred that still exist in our country, and the time has come to right these wrongs.

It’s high time we rename the Niggersaurus.

It’s a well-documented fact that Dr. Francis Wright, the scientist who gave the beast its name, was a virulent racist. When he christened the dinosaur that he discovered in 1909 the Niggersaurus, he did so out of racial bigotry as well as to mock his chief nemesis, the esteemed Dr. Donald Holloway, the first black paleontologist to travel to Guatemala and a man who long fought against racism in this country and across the globe.

Wright was, by all accounts, a lunatic. He believed that if he could associate Africans with dinosaurs and Darwin’s theory of evolution, that he could start a race war, and thereby, as he put it in a letter to his fianceé Yolanda Swarms, “keep all that delicious watermelon for myself.”

The simple fact that the dinosaur was named as part of a jibe is enough, but that Wright thought the Niggersaurus would gain him the country’s watermelon supply shows what a madman he was. Although watermelon is delicious, and I certainly wouldn’t mind having it all to myself, I wouldn’t go so far as to slap a newly discovered species with a racial epithet like Dr. Wright did.

Also disgraceful is the fact that the name “Niggersaurus” was met with much laughter and applause when Wright presented his paper on it to the National Geographic Society in 1911. One might well say, “Such was the age,” but that is little comfort.

Dr. Holloway, for his part, did what he could to get the dinosaur renamed as soon as it was discovered. But he was tragically killed in a bobsled accident in 1914. The fact that he lived in San Luis Obispo was of little concern to the authorities.

That the Niggersaurus is the second-most popular dinosaur among schoolchildren (behind the Tyrannosaurus Rex) signals a dangerous trend. We must rename the Niggersaurus immediately, and I call on all of you to write to your local museum and/or paleontological society and express your outrage.

For the record, I feel the same way about the Chinkodactyl and the Heebodon.

But one step at a time.