Return to Transcripts main page

THE 11TH HOUR

Mega Millions Jackpot Number Announced; Forbidden Words; Personal, Professional Consequences of Using the "N" Word; Who Decides What We Can Say; Does the U.S. Still Have Freedom of Speech?

Aired December 17, 2013 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking live at Atlanta where, right this second, the numbers are being drawn for the Mega Millions jackpot. $636 million. It's the second-largest prize in U.S. history. People across the country are waiting to hear. And we'll have the winning numbers for you.

Here's my ticket.

It's 11:00 in the east. Do you know where your news is? I'm Don Lemon. This is THE 11TH HOUR, what you'll all be talking about tomorrow.

One thing people will be talking about, words, forbidden words. Are there some words you just can't say at any time to anybody? The "N" word, the "F" word? What about "fat"? What can we say and who decides?

First breaking news. A moment a lot of people had been waiting for.

CNN's Richard Quest, live down in Atlanta for us.

Richard, are the numbers being drawn yet?

RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Yes, good evening from Atlanta, from the television station just outside WSB. This is the place where they've been drawing the numbers. And I was writing them down. I'm going to call them out to you, Don. My producer has also been writing. If I get them wrong, somebody is probably going to have a heart attack. I'll probably get fired. But this is what I heard: 8, 20, 14, 17, 39, and 7. So they were the first five, plus the sixth number, 8, 20, 14, 17, 39 and 7. You know what? Of course, I'm doing, because much as I'd like to talk to you about all of this, frankly, I've got to work out if I really need to bother turning up to work tomorrow.

(LAUGHTER)

I'll check them in a moment.

LEMON: I think I know the answer to that, Richard. Because there's like a one billion to one chance of anybody winning this. Listen -- QUEST: No, come on. I've got more statistics I can give you. One in 250 million chance of winning. Basically, I've got more odds, more chance of dying by getting flesh-eating bacteria.

(LAUGHTER)

I've also got -- it's true. I also have more chance of dying by hitting while psyching getting hit by an asteroid while cycling naked up a road here. I've more chance of doing that. But if those tickets are right tonight and I choose to take the cash option, I will get about $340 million before taxes. Uncle Sam has to have his share. If nobody wins tonight, and there's been no winner of the jackpot since mid October, if nobody wins tonight, then the jackpot rolls over Christmas eve to a cool $950 million minimum, which probably, bearing in mind tickets have been selling at half a million a minute, will go to $1 billion.

LEMON: You sound a lot like Austin Powers when you say that, million dollars. So listen, the smartest thing that you can do tonight -- let's say there is a winner, they're watching CNN, what's the smartest thing that you can do tonight after you pick yourself up off the floor?

QUEST: Right. So if one of your tickets is the winning ticket, the first thing you need to do is make sure you look after it very safely. Then tomorrow, you need to claim it. If it's the number-one ticket, I assure you there will be advisers coming out the woodwork. The Mega Millions people will provide bankers, advisers, all sorts of consultants to help you in those first few days. And if you have won $636 million tonight, then expect to be able to pay you the money within three to five days.

But here's the real point. Anybody watching, do not rip your ticket up now just because you haven't won the big one. There are several million prizes.

(LAUGHTER)

And do you know, Don Lemon, do you know, sir, that $800 million a year is not claimed in lottery prizes in the United States each year?

LEMON: Yeah. No, I did not know that. But I can't imagine.

Richard Quest, I think everyone here -- I'm looking around the studio. Everyone is still here. So I don't think anyone won. You're still on television, so I don't think your camera person won, nor your producers.

Thank you, Richard Quest.

Again, the wining numbers, 8, 20, 14, 17, 39 and 7.

Richard didn't win. See you later. Too bad, so sad.

QUEST: I didn't get a number. I didn't get any numbers.

LEMON: I didn't get one, either. Don't worry about it.

All right, Richard, we'll see you soon.

Listen, no matter how much money you have, even if you just won $636 million -- and if you did, by the way, call me -- you can't just do or say whatever you want. For example, even though the "N" word has been said countless times today all across this country, it's extremely offensive to a whole lot of people. Maybe you're one of them. I want to warn you, you're going to hear that word several times in this broadcast and more words as well. Because in order to have an honest conversation about words, and what they mean, we have to say what we mean.

Miguel Marquez has that for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well planned, I believe, they could be strong.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Three can't go against a whole group. The rest here are niggers, born and bred slaves. Niggers ain't got no stomach for a fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "12 Years a Slave," a story of our history and the extraordinary real life of Solomon Northup. The "N" word used throughout the book and film doesn't carry near the weight or steam it does today.

(on camera): What I've done here is marked all the instances where the "N" word is used by him. It's used in different ways.

JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER: Part of this story is looking back on the whole history of slavery. And I think in 2013, even though most individuals know and believe slavery was a bad system, we don't understand the system. We don't understand where the attitudes came from and how the system evolved from indentured servitude to slavery based on inferiority.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): John Ridley adapted Northup's 1854 book, a free man from New York State in 1841 kidnapped, sold into slavery and finally rescued in 1853.

(on camera): Of all the terrible words out there that we call each other and say this word in particular still has the ability to be a fire bomb at a gas factory. Why?

RIDLEY: The word endures because slavery was a system that endured for 165 years. And then you can put another 70 years of Jim Crow, the civil rights struggle, of the black consciousness movement, of that word being so intertwined with everything that was happening. MARQUEZ (voice-over): That complicated word still evolving. As revolting as it is it is also celebrated in music and film for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every nigger in the world had to have a .45.

MARQUEZ: Most recently, when Los Angeles Clipper Matt Barnes tweeted, "I love my teammates like family but I'm done standing up for these niggas," Barnes was fined $25,000. And the tweets got everyone talking about the "N" word again.

CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA COMMENTATOR: Again, Matt Barnes, there's no apology needed. I'm a black man. I use the "N" word. I'm going to continue to use the "N" word with my black friends, with my white friends. They are my friends.

MARQUEZ: But not everyone is Charles Barkley. The meaning of the "N" word, dependent on perception and context.

Edward Finnegan, who studies language, says in today's uber- connected world, private conversations have many ways to go public.

EDWARD FINNEGAN, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: When they're brought out into the open, they risk being very offensive, either, of course, to the person who is hearing them or to those who are overhearing them. The line between public and private has been fudged by the technology.

MARQUEZ: Today, there seems no end to the way words can get you in trouble.

PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: I am so sorry.

MARQUEZ: Whether it's Paula Deen, whose use of the "N" word came out in court, or Chip Wilson, the now former CEO of Lululemon, who firmly inserted foot in mouth, blaming female customers for the way his clothes fit, or Alec Baldwin once again using an anti-gay slur against a photographer.

(SHOUTING)

MARQUEZ: Baldwin clearly in a rage.

But of all the words out there, it is still the "N" word with its brutal history that America struggles with the most. Whatever its use today, at its root, the experience of slaves like Solomon Northup more than 150 years ago. It's a story nearly lost to history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ (on camera): We don't know the circumstances of his death. We don't know where he's buried. But to me, he is everything that is good and great about the world and about America.

RIDLEY: To have that material have that effect on me the way Solomon's words did, the way his work did, I can absolutely say I will never have an experience like this as a writer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I survive. I will not fall into despair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: For THE 11TH HOUR, Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Miguel, thank you very much.

You heard about Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Clippers in that story. He accepted our invitation to come on the show tonight and talk about what is admittedly a controversial topic. He canceled today.

But here with me now, shall we say, the incomparable Ms. Ann Coulter. Her new book is "Never Trust a Liberal over 3, especially a Republican." Also CNN political commentator, Mark Lamont Hill.

Welcome, guys. Thank you for joining me tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: We're using the "N" word to spark a larger conversation about personal and professional consequences of saying the "N" word. We've seen a lot of people lose their careers and become stars because of it.

Is it OK, Mark, to say this word dozens of times in movies or albums? Does that make it OK?

MARK LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It depends what you mean by OK. Let's get this out of the way. As a First Amendment matter, I think the three of us agree that you have a right to say it. But don't think anyone wants to remove anyone's legal right to say it. We can end that part of the conversation.

But do I think a person should use it? It depends on context. I think context matters with language more than anything else. In a movie about slavery, it would seem sort of odd for someone not to use the "N" word. I would feel odd if a slave master is saying, hey, good fellow, could you go pick up that bale or tote that barge.

(LAUGHTER)

That would seem very strange to me.

In music, it's freedom of expression. You talked about Kanye West's song, "Niggers in Paris." For me, particularly based on Kanye's interviews over the last few weeks, it wasn't just a gratuitous use of the "N" word. He was talking about the experience of being treated a certain way in a certain cultural space. I will say the white guy that did the voiceover for that made me very uncomfortable.

(LAUGHTER)

So it's context driven.

LEMON: Ann, does hearing it so much in pop culture blur the lines of what's acceptable to most people in daily life?

ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & AUTHOR: It may be, especially with the young aspiring white rap artists who want to be like Eminem, I do think it makes a difference obviously if a white person or black person says it. It's an ugly word. Unless you have Tourette's syndrome, I don't think any white person should be saying it.

I also think the "N" word is different from many, many other words that everyone is always trying to compare to the "N" word. As your segment at the beginning said -- and I think it's correct -- the black experience is different from any other experience in America. There is slavery. There is Jim Crow. So I really do resent it when people come along and say, well, you can't say the phrase "illegal alien" when you use the "N" word. You can't say retard but you say the "N" word. You can't say -- I don't know, a million other things. They're always comparing it to the "N" word. So the main point I want to make is no other word is like the "N" word.

HILL: Ann Coulter for the win, ladies and gentlemen. Nobody saw that coming.

LEMON: CNN let's go.

Ann Coulter -- this is one of the first times I've ever agreed with Ann Coulter on CNN. Mark this down in your calendar.

(LAUGHTER)

Ann, you've always felt this way. This isn't new for you, right?

COULTER: It's not only not new for me. This is standard Republican position. And Justice Rehnquist --

HILL: And we're back.

(LAUGHTER)

Now we're back to normal.

LEMON: There we go. There's the Ann Coulter we know.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: The one who wrote this book called "Mugged" and the new one now.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER: You're going to love it. Trust me, you're going to love it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Stand by. We'll talk much more about the "N" word and a lot of other things.

When we come back, I want to talk about the words that have cost some people their careers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. This is THE 11TH HOUR. You can get into the conversation on Twitter, @the11thhour.

We're talking about words that cost some people their careers and made others into stars. Who decides what you can say.

I'm back now with Ann Coulter and Mark Lamont Hill.

Guys, Twitter is going crazy. People are saying, I can't deal with the fact that I just agreed with Ann Coulter."

(LAUGHTER)

Ann, you got them talking, especially about that.

COULTER: You tell them this is a Republican position, as I was saying. Sorry, I didn't know we were cutting to a commercial break. This was always Justice Rehnquist position on the Supreme Court with civil rights laws. Civil rights laws are for blacks. They were written after the Civil War. That is why we have the 14th and the 15th Amendment. It's not for smelly homeless people in public libraries. It's not for a lesbian who wants to take her date to the senior prom. It's not for feminists. It's not for illegal aliens. This is what civil rights is about. And I'm just stating the standard Republican position.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And I saw Mark when she said illegal aliens. Mark said there's the Ann Coulter we know.

I want to warn everybody at home we're about to play a clip that is powerful and controversial but it makes an important point. It's one thing when adults use words like the "N" word. But I want you to listen to this. The same words coming from the mouths of children. An agency in L.A. put this video together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Niggers aim that kid (ph). UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Head shot, nigger brains on step.

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So that was mild. Most of this video we can't show you because kids use way more words than the "N" word, derogatory things about women, women's body parts.

HILL: That's a different set of issues now.

LEMON: Go ahead, Mark.

HILL: That's a different set of issues. I mean, the video you just showed, showed some black and brown kid being looked upon in a very negative light with the use of the gun, the violent imagery.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: There were white kids, too.

HILL: Oh, it's a black, white -- it was hard for me to see. All those kids being constructed in a very negative light. And to attach the "N" word to that, of course, would make is problematic. There's also context in which the "N" word is used internally among black people that don't reflect that sensibility.

LEMON: But the point of the video, Mark, is to show the effect it has on children.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But go ahead.

HILL: That's my point. That doesn't have the effect on it. Young kids are not going wayward because the "N" word exists in the English lexicon. People don't use the body image and image of a gun because of the "N" word. They use it because of access to guns. People don't commit crimes because of that. They commit them because there is a lack of jobs. There's mass incarceration. I could list a range of things that lead to social decay, and none have to do with linguistics. So that, for me, is deeply problematic. We can't be so religious about the "N" word and think, if we can remove it from our public conversations, we could remove the problems.

LEMON: Again, the clip we could play was the "N" word. We couldn't play the kids saying the "F" bomb or the "P" word for women's body parts. We couldn't play that. This isn't just about the "N" word, just about guns, something about words that are used in popular culture and the effect it has on children. Ann?

COULTER: Yeah, I agree with everything that Mark said at the beginning. We're obviously not talking about the government regulating anything. And fine, there's artistic freedom. But as a personal preference, yeah, I think it's way over said in popular culture. And it's one thing when it's hip-hop music and it's telling a parable, the same way country music songs talk about being unemployed and leaving your wife and everything else. It's not like you think the person singing really is doing these things. It's playing a character. So I don't really object to that. But maybe don't play it for your kids.

I will disagree with everything that Mark said about it being a problem of joblessness. It is a problem of single motherhood.

You know perfectly well, Mark Lamont Hill.

HILL: One big contributor to single motherhood is mass incarceration, which is another issue I mention. My point is -- my bigger point --

COULTER: No, no.

HILL: Absolutely. That's an empirical fact.

COULTER: You're getting the chicken and egg confused.

HILL: No, no. I got it right.

(LAUGHTER)

The point here there is a range of social issues we could be invested in. But instead, we decide to invest it in the "N" word.

LEMON: But, Mark --

HILL: But let me just say this.

LEMON: OK.

HILL: I think part of the reason is because I think it's one of the few things in public space that white people don't have unmitigated access to or unobstructed access to. So people freak out about the "N" word because they can't say it. I think that's a big problem here.

LEMON: You said one thing that contributes to single parenthood is mass incarceration. OK, yeah, that's one thing. But the biggest thing is people having unprotected sex. That's the biggest thing that contributes to -- so you can't --

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: Unprotected sex leads to single parenthood?

LEMON: Well, if you're having sex and you're single --

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: -- how will you have a kid? Be honest about that. Let's move on.

HILL: Yeah. Because that's a really problematic way to think about it.

LEMON: That is not a problematic way. The way you have kids is through sex. If you're in prison, chances are you're not having kids.

HILL: Don, you're constructing a narrative that suggests people should marry their way out of poverty.

LEMON: No. I'm saying --

HILL: That's what you're saying.

LEMON: -- that you're saying the biggest contributor is that it's not. I will admit to you it is one contributing factor but it is not the biggest and only contributing factor.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And you can't talk about one without talking about the other.

HILL: And I'm saying single parenthood is not the issue. When you say single parent, you're talking about not being married.

LEMON: OK.

HILL: And that's not true.

LEMON: Let's move on.

We're talking about the "word police" here. We're not the "word police." But I want to say -- we're sticking with the "N" word. But there are more words, the "F" word. And we're talking about "fag." Why don't we just say it?

Ann Coulter, you got in trouble, remember, a while ago saying that word, yet you defended Alec Baldwin when he said that word. Should that word be allowed to be used? Do you have the same stance on that as the "N" word?

COULTER: No, no, no. I definitely separate them. Ironically, my use of it illustrates exactly the points I was making that blacks are being too generous with their experience in America. Not everyone has that experience. That was a joke on a black actor, Isaiah Washington, who had called a fellow actor a faggot. It became this huge continuing issue. There were like constant NASDAQ updates. Did he say it? Didn't he say it? Finally, he admitted he said it and he was going into rehab for saying a word.

LEMON: Didn't he say it about John Edwards.

COULTER: And then I said, right in the middle of this whole thing, he's going into rehab again for a word he used, which is madness. I said -- and I had a few words to say about John Edwards but, apparently, you can't use that word without going to rehab. That was the joke.

LEMON: OK.

HILL: But that's the problem.

LEMON: Quickly, Mark, quickly.

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: But think of this. My point on that is this is a black man who does have the authentic suffering legacy that I think deserves some special treatment. And he's the one getting in trouble for saying a word.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I really want to -- Mark, I'll let you finish your thought on the other side of the break. Because I want to get to this other part of the conversation. I think it may go along with this.

Stick with me, Mark.

Stick with me, Ann, here.

When we come right back, how much freedom of speech do we really have?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. This is THE 11TH HOUR.

We are talking about words you can't say and who decides. I'm back with my guests, Ann Coulter and Mark Lamont Hill.

Mark, continue your thought, but I think you're probably going to go into the vein of, a lot of people have been demonized, loss their careers about saying certain words. Do we really have a true freedom of speech in this country?

HILL: The question is you do have freedom of speech, but freedom of speech comes with consequences. Again, Paula Deen lost her empire, part of her empire partly because sponsors didn't want to stand next to somebody who did that. Back in the day when Don Imus used the phrase, "Nappy headed ho's," he lost his job largely because people went to the sponsors and said, we don't want to buy products from companies that advertise on this thing. People always want the free market to decide. Republicans always want the free market to decide. But the free market decided. And when it comes to the "F" word, for gay people, when it comes to inappropriate words for other people, I say it doesn't have to have the exact same history as the "N" word for me not to use it. As a straight person, I don't use derogatory terms against gay people. Because they've also had history of oppression, they also are denied access to marriage, which is why I'm stunned that you're -- vying for marriage as this golden ideal here. I mean -- LEMON: No, that's not what I'm saying. Listen, don't get it twisted. I said one of the reasons. It's not the only reason. You made talking about prison, it was the only reason for single mothers. That's not it. I'm saying that's one of the reasons. Another reason is because of having unprotected sex. You cannot have kids without having sex, usually.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: That is an astute observation.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: But the point is still wrong. But the point is still wrong.

COULTER: Anyway, let's get back to words.

LEMON: Ann, go ahead, real quick. I'm sorry. We're almost at the end of the show.

COULTER: Yes. You're getting totally lost on single motherhoods.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER: There was a point where words like "fags" and "retard," is you wouldn't use those words if -- you were referring to an actual homosexual or to an actual retarded person. And also, I think all these words -- for everyone --

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER: -- I can find someone who has used it and did not lose a career over it. So it's always just a power play.

LEMON: You said the market decided. The market really didn't decide on Paul Deen. It was really the heads of company that took her up. People were still buying her products and said they were going to watch her show. Her book was number one. I'm not sure the markets decided that.

HILL: The companies didn't want to look bad. That's money driven. You think they did it out of feeling bad?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Thank you, guys. To be continued.

COULTER: Bye.

LEMON: Appreciate it. Ann Coulter, Mark Lamont Hill, thank you very much.

Tomorrow on THE 11TH HOUR, e-cigarettes, are they safe, or is Big Tobacco lying to us again? That's it for tonight.

Brooke Baldwin and "In Case You Missed It" starts right now with Brooke Baldwin. Take it away -- Brooke?