After country star Brad Paisley kicked off a national conversation about white guys who don't want to be called racist just because they say or wear things with racist connotations, we find a fascinating case study in Salina, Kansas, where a county commissioner suggested last week the county should avoid "n— rigging" repairs to a local building. Yes, as Slate's David Weigel pointed out, Saline County Commissioner Jim Gile (pictured at right) told a meeting of local officials that the county should hire an architect to fix its Road and Bridge Department building instead of "n— rigging it." When asked by an attendee what he said, Gile was exceptionally clear about his meaning: "Afro-Americanized."
A few days later, Gile explained that he actually meant to say "jury-rigged." However, jury-rigged does not have the meaning Gile intended. Jury-rigged is a nautical term that implies a temporary fix but not a shoddy one. It's sort of like MacGyvering. From context, it seems what Gile meant was "jerry-rig," which does imply shoddy work, and comes from a slur for Germans.
Gile is adamant that he's not racist. "I am not a prejudiced person," Gile told the Salina Journal. "I have built Habitat homes for colored people." He said he has a very close friend who is black. He gave the newspaper a long list of charitable groups he's worked for, which is very admirable. He went a bit over the top in his self-defense, saying, "I don't ever do anything bad and don't know how to do anything bad. People know I am not."