Don Yelton said he didn't care if North Carolina's strict voter ID law "hurts a bunch of lazy blacks who wants the government to give them everything."
If you have to preface your remarks with a mention of your "black best friend," you'll probably regret saying what comes next.
Don Yelton, a former North Carolina Republican official, was compelled to resign Thursday after tossing around racial slurs during an interview with Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Yelton said he didn't care if North Carolina's strict voter ID law "hurts a bunch of lazy blacks who wants the government to give them everything."
"The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt," Yelton told The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi. North Carolina's recent voting law, one of the strictest in the country, is currently being challenged in court on the basis that it makes it deliberately makes it harder for minorities to vote. At least one state, Texas, has argued in court that election laws are constitutional if they disenfranchise voters on the basis of party affiliation rather than race, an argument voting rights advocates find absurd.
Moments before he made the remarks, Yelton had told Mandvi that "one of my best friends is...black," briefly pausing for effect. Yelton recalled how in his youth, "you didn't call a black a black, you called him a nigra." (Actually today the polite thing to do is to refer to people by their names). Yelton also offered the observation that "a black person uses the term 'nigger this, nigger that,' and it's okay for them to do it."
Discussing North Carolina's voter ID law, Yelton said "if it hurts a bunch of college kids who's too lazy get off up their bull-humpus and get a photo ID so be it. If it hurts the whites, so be it, if it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks who wants the government to give them everything, so be it."
Buncombe County Chair Henry Mitchell said that he had asked Yelton to resign after conferring with the North Carolina state GOP officials, who were also upset about Yelton's appearance.
"We don't need people like that speaking and representing the Republican Party," Mitchell said, adding that Yelton's comments "were totally offensive and unacceptable, and didn't reflect the Buncombe County Republican Party or the state party."
"What this guy thinks is legally irrelevant," says Rick Hasen, a voting law expert and law professor at the University of California-Irvine. "If you found anyone in the legislature talking like him, it would be of legal significance." The impact, Hasen says, is more likely to be political than legal.
"After he was kicked out of the Republican Party they welcomed him back with open arms," Fisher says. "They obviously thought he had something important to say."