N.Y. Newspaper Editor Explains Decision to Call Obama the 'N-Word'

President Obama

George Capsis writes that he wanted to "shock" readers and that "The New York Times avoids using the word, which convinced me that WestView should."

The editor and publisher of a New York newspaper that called President Obama the n-word in a headline says the intent was to "shock" readers.

George Capsis also explained that while the WestView News editorial staff "object[s]" to the "outrageous word," he felt that it was the right thing to do given that The New York Times "avoids" the word.

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In its July 2014 issue, the West Village newspaper ran a column by author and journalist James Lincoln Collier with the headline "The N—r in the White House" (without the word dashed out). The opinion piece is actually pro-Obama: Collier argues that "an irreducible measure of racism" still exists in America and that "far-right voters hate Obama because he is black."

In an intro to the column, Capsis explained his decision to use the n-word in the headline.

Collier "is a straight-talking man, so when a few months ago, he wanted to use the word 'n—r' in an article to shock us into accepting that there still are people who believe and use this outrageous word, our editorial staff took collective objection, and we did not print it," Capsis wrote. "The editorial staff continues to object. In this article, however, Jim reminded me that The New York Times avoids using the word, which convinced me that WestView should."

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WestView News also ran an op-ed by Alvin Hall, an African-American columnist, on the same page with the headline "The Headline Offends Me."

"The decision to use the headline feels misguided to me," Hall wrote. "I don't see how its use benefits anyone, but I do feel all too clearly how it deeply offends me."

Capsis, 86, made headlines last year for slapping a New York state senator, Brad Hoylman, after the politician praised then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's health record at a rally that came two days after the death of Capsis' wife. He was upset because the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital forced him to travel an hour and a half to the Bronx to see her.

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A few months earlier, Capsis was arrested and charged with slapping a cop. He claimed that a police van cut him off as he was riding his bicycle.