March 20, 2008 / 11:16 PM / 10 years ago

Shock jock named king of politically incorrect

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “Nappy-headed hos,” the phrase that cost U.S. radio shock jock Don Imus his job and triggered a debate on how far free speech can go, was named on Thursday as the most egregious politically incorrect turn of phrase in 2007.

<p>Radio personality Don Imus talks on air during his return to radio in New York, December 3, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>

Trailing behind that phrase in the annual survey by Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), a word usage group, were “Ho-Ho-Ho” and “Carbon Footprint Stomping,” said the group’s president Paul JJ Payack.

“Ho-Ho-Ho” made the list after a staffing company in Sydney, Australia suggested to prospective Santas they drop their traditional greeting in favor of “Ha-Ha-Ha” so as not to invoke images of the derogatory U.S. slang term for women.

“Carbon Footprint Stomping” is a phrase used to describe flaunting environmentally “green” activities by doing things like driving gas-guzzling Hummers and flying private jets, which in these energy-conscious times might be considered the height of political incorrectness.

New York-based Imus was fired from his popular morning radio program by CBS in April 2007 after a national controversy erupted over his use of the “Nappy-headed” phrase to describe the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Imus later apologized and met with the team to ask for forgiveness.

<p>Radio personality Don Imus talks on air during his return to radio in New York, December 3, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>

Last November, he was hired by a different network.

“It is no surprise that ‘Nappy-headed hos’ was selected as the top politically incorrect word or phrase for 2007,” said Payack. “A year later that phrase is still ricocheting about the Internet, even affecting Christmas-season Santas in Australia ”

Among other examples on the list are:

“Fire-breathing Dragon” -- Children’s book author Lindsey Gardiner was asked to eliminate a fire-breathing dragon from her new book because publishers feared they could be sued under health and safety regulations.

“Wucha dun did now?” -- The subtitle of a “Ghetto Handbook” distributed by a Houston school district police officer to enable readers to speak “as if you just came out of the ‘hood.”

“Gypsy skirt” -- The colorful layered skirt was given a new name, “Traveler Skirt,” since police in Cornwall, a county in southwest England, believed the term “Gypsy Skirt” might be considered offensive to Gypsies.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Todd Eastham

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