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ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : A Slur by Any Other Name . . .

Orange County, once a nearly all-white suburban enclave, will be one-third minority by the year 2000. That transition won’t be easy. Diversity will require tolerance and understanding, especially from public officials, who set the example for others. That’s why two recent incidents are so discouraging.

In one, an Orange County Superior Court judge told a Jewish woman she was behaving like “a princess,” a word he admitted later was shorthand for “Jewish-American princess.” The judge, Robert D. Monarch, who is himself Jewish, said he meant only that the woman acted like a “spoiled brat"--barely better but at least not an ethnic slur. The woman luckily got an appeals court to disqualify Monarch from her case.

The other incident involved Huntington Beach Councilman Jack Kelly, whose let-her-rip style of public commentary amuses some but offends others. Kelly embarrassed the city when he said--speaking of a delegation from Anjo, Japan, that was presenting the city with $93,000 to help reconstruct its storm-damaged pier--"How could guys who bow that much ever bomb the (Pearl) Harbor?”

Kelly called his remark a “cheap Kelly-ism” that “backfired.” But it was more than that. It was a slur that, like Monarch calling Carter “a princess,” slipped far too easily off his tongue. Both men should have known better.

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