POLITICS

Jake Knotts, Slur-Spewing South Carolina State Senator, Deploys The 'Saturday Night Live Defense'

06/04/2010 03:02 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The latest chapter in the ongoing crapfest that is the South Carolina political scene occurred on a local South Carolina radio show last night, when State Senator Jake Knotts (R-S.C.) -- referring to gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley -- said, "We already got one raghead in the White House, we don't need a raghead in the governor's mansion."

Need it be said that Knotts does not support Haley -- who was raised a Sikh -- or her bid for the state house? Well, there you have it, in the most bigoted terms Knotts can muster. Of course, after the fact, Knotts invoked a very novel justification for his remark: the "Saturday Night Live defense":

"Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It's like local political version of Saturday Night Live, which is actually where the joke came from," said Knotts.

I'm prepared to be proven wrong about this -- so consider this something to which I'll be happy to return -- but if this joke came from the Saturday Night Live I've been watching my entire life, I sure cannot find it. As near as I can tell, the word "raghead" was used precisely twice on SNL. In Season One, Candace Bergen played a reporter interviewing "the king of a peaceful Middle Eastern country," who Bergen went on to "insult and torment," using, at one point, "raghead" as a slur. In Season Fifteen, Bruce Willis plays a passenger of a hijacked commercial flight who won't stop telling terrible jokes even after the terrorists on-board tell him that doing so will cost his fellow passengers their lives.

As near as I can tell, the term "raghead" dates back to 1921.

Again, maybe I missed the sketch where SNL ridiculed Nikki Haley and Barack Obama in this fashion. But if Knotts wanted to style himself after the sketch-comedy characters who deployed this term in SNL's storied past -- by which I mean act like an idiot-asshole -- mission accomplished.

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