Why the NYT Lost Its Mind Over “Burly”


The recent column by a New York Times staffer announcing that after complaints that describing (292 pound) Michael Brown as “burly” was racist, the NYT would no longer use that word to describe any black man involved in crime or violence is a good example of one of the fundamental conundrums of the age.

Here’s the basic problem: as we all know from watching sports, African-Americans tend to be faster and somewhat stronger than whites, much less East or South Asians. Blacks dominate in the most violent positions in sports, such as on the Seattle Seahawks defense.

This racial difference in muscularity and explosiveness is also seen outside of sports, where blacks commit a highly disproportionate fraction of all types of violent crimes. According to a 2011 Obama Administration report, blacks were homicide offenders at a rate more than 7 times as much as the rest of the population from 1980-2008. Data in the report says that young black males are homicide offenders at a rate 27 times higher than the average for the rest of the population.

We all more or less know these facts, but the reigning ideology says that knowing the facts is intolerable. This creates enormous incentives to hunt out anyone suspected of what Orwell would call crimethink by the slightest hints in their vocabulary.

Thus, this ludicrous Orwellian brouhaha over “burly.”