Years ago, on the otherwise forgettable sketch show “Mind of Mencia,” comedian Carlos Mencia called up his local Department of Motor Vehicles and queried an employee on the availability of vanity license plates.
The n-bomb? No can do, said the DMV employee. What about a variation on that? Nope. Offensive terms for Asians or Native Americans? I’m sorry, sir, but we cannot grant your request.
Finally, Mencia told the DMV clerk he had one more name to try: “W-E-T-B-A-C-K” the comedian said, spelling the slur out in the most stereotypical Mexican accent he could muster.
“Yes, sir, that’s available.”
The segment ends with a faux-outraged Mencia yelling “What the —-?”
While Mencia isn’t exactly known for thoughtful political commentary, he hit on an important point with that skit — that the famously inept and tone-deaf U.S. government is quite possibly the worst judge of which words are offensive, and which words aren’t.