• Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

    Not another dadgummed shirt kerfuffle. A couple years ago, it was scientist Matt Taylor’s allegedly misogynistic pictorial fashion choice. This week, it’s a deeply racist Walking Dead t-shirt, featuring a picture of Lucille the Baseball Bat in all her barbed-wire-wrapped glory, with the shocking text eeny meeny miny moe.

    Now, those of us who have been mesmerized by TWD for the last few years know exactly what the shirt is talking about: the brutal Season 6 cliffhanger and even more brutal Season 7 opener, wherein hypervillain Negan gives old Lucille quite the workout. Indeed, there is a whole genre of t-shirts commemorating that episode, some of them rather tactlessly described as “eye-popping.”

    [In the interests of full disclosure, that whole Negan event horizon killed TWD for me—not because it was violent and included character deaths, since we’re used to that, but because it was dull. Negan would just not shut up. It was all talk-talk-talk THWACK talk-talk-talk THWACK talk-talk-talk THWACK. Ho hum.]

    Anyway, one Methodist clergyman from Yorkshire evidently does not know his TWD Ps and Qs.  Walking into a Primark store in Sheffield, Ian Lucraft and his wife were horrified to see a certain TWD shirt on sale, and he wrote immediately to Primark management to let his feelings be known:

    We were shocked when we came face to face with a new t-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text. It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no-one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing or were aware of its subliminal messages.

    The slogan is “Eeeny meenie miny moe…..” It stops there, but of course we all know what the original said: “catch a n***** by his toe.

    The graphic has a large American baseball bat, wrapped round with barbed wire, and covered with blood. This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America.

    It is directly threatening of a racist assault, and if I were black and were faced by a wearer I would know just where I stood.

    Okay, hands up, any of you who have ever heard anyone use the pre-tiger version of this counting rhyme?  How many millennials and Gen-Xers have even heard of it? It was expunged so long ago that I could barely remember it myself, and it is the tiger that leaps to my tongue. And if you look at the history of the rhyme, the “nigger” version isn’t even the original. You really have to work the butt off the etymological fallacy to turn “eeny meeny miny moe” into a racist threat.

    But what did Primark do? They forthwith pulled the shirt off the shelves. Which leads me to two unhappy observations. In this culture of offense, a virtue-signalling ignoramus can find something offensive in almost anything; second, people like the Primark executives are so terrified of putting a foot wrong that they will take that ignoramus seriously. This scares me far more than Lucille the Barbed-Wire Bat.

    Well, I may find Negan to be a rambling bore, but the actor who plays him sums the situation up in a few masterful words: “Holy crap people are stupid.”

    Category: FeaturedSecularism

    Article by: Rebecca Bradley

    4 comments

    1. When I first looked at the T-shirt I had the same reaction the minister did because I’m old enough to remember the ugly ending to the phrase “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe” and the horrific history of the usage of that ugly expression. I grew up in Northeastern USA and even in the Northern states that ugly rhyme was used. I was chastised for using the ugly version I had learned while playing Double Dutch jump rope in the schoolyard with friends when I was 6 years old and, when I was told the reason why I shouldn’t say it, I was thoroughly ashamed for ever having used that phrase. People who were appalled by the racially motivated attacks going on in America before and during the civil rights movement in the 60s understood how revolting the sentiment in that rhyme was. I was born in 1955 so I’m not some ancient relic of a by-gone era. And, my husband, who was born in 1963, has heard the ugly version.

      I would not have demanded that the shirt be removed from the shelves but I would have found it most unfortunate that so many people no longer know the appalling history associated with that rhyme and, therefore, are willing to wear that T-Shirt. Quite frankly, I don’t give a damn if it was used In “The Walking Dead” and millennials and Gen-Xers have never heard the ugly version of the rhyme. As far as I’m concerned that just shows their ignorance. (And, “ignorant” would have been a better choice of word rather than “stupid” which the actor used in that tweet. Only knowing the painful history of a rhyme because one doesn’t watch TWD doesn’t make someone stupid.)

      1. So do you contend that this counting rhyme is irretrievably tarnished because of an ugly version that hasn’t been in use for over fifty years? That the millions of kids, black and white, who use the modern version in the playground are committing a racist act without knowing it? Really?

      2. I can’t believe a guy who beats people to death with a baseball bat wrapped in barbwire would use bad words.

        His mother must be so disappointed in him.

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