A Facebook friend recently shared a link to this story about the supervisor at a cotton gin being recorded in an attempt to enforce some sort of Jim Crow policy in his workplace. He is heard telling black employees that certain items like the water fountain and microwave are "whites only" including the following cheerful exchange:
“Put your sign on the wall then, because I am feeling to drink it,” said Harris. “What would they do when they catch me drinking your water?”
“That`s when we hang you,” said the supervisor.
Once I recovered from the shock that a racist white man was employed in the cotton ginning industry, I noticed something odd about the headline on the original local news story:
Why is "racist" in quotes? There appears to be no lack of clarity that the statements are the actual dictionary definition of racism, so the headline writer appears to be using the quotes unnecessarily. The alternative is that the quotes represent some sort of let's-hear-both-sides claim that the comments are merely alleged to be racist, which is just stupid. Then again, I find unnecessary quotes hilarious so perhaps I'm not exactly unbiased in evaluating their motives.
There is a wonderful blog devoted to Unnecessary Quotes, featuring hundreds of examples such as a sign inviting customers to ring a bell to receive "meat service":
Maybe it's just me, but I find this endlessly entertaining. "Endlessly."