Abby: Racist language draws physical reaction

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: A foreign friend used the “n’’ word while commenting about an employee at a hotel we were staying in. After he said it a second time, I slapped him and told him that word was never acceptable, regardless of the reason.

I feel bad about hitting him, but entirely justified in motive and intent. I really can’t think of another, more effective way of registering how offended I am in a situation like this.

Should I apologize? Should it be a qualified apology?

I tried to explain the complex racial history of the U.S. and why the word was so hurtful, but he seemed disinclined to understand.

What is the right way to react in such a situation?

Anonymous in The USA

Dear Anonymous: You should not have let the first remark go without speaking up. The right way to respond to the person’s racist comment would have been to say that it offended you and you would prefer not to hear that kind of language from him again. Physical violence is not the correct way to get a point across.

If you must associate with this person, apologize for flying off the handle. Otherwise, avoid him.

Dear Abby: My wife and I went to a Mexican resort with five other couples for a seven-day vacation. On the second day, one of the wives, “Sandra,” received the news that her sister, “Kate,” had died unexpectedly. The funeral would not be held until two days after we returned.

Sandra’s husband was furious at the family member for calling.

What did they expect her to do, hop a plane?

We were all affected by Sandra’s loss. The first two days all five couples were having a ball. After that call it was like someone popped the balloon — it was never the same for any of us.

Some of us feel they could have waited until the last day before calling, although I personally think they should have waited until she got home.

Sandra and Kate were completely dissimilar and not close. Even Sandra said, “Well, at least I had two good days of vacation.”

Should the family have waited?

Disgusted in Wisconsin

Dear Disgusted: It depends, I think, upon the dynamics in the sisters’ family and to what degree Kate’s death was a shock to everyone. When death happens out of the blue, people sometimes react emotionally rather than rationally, which may be why the relative called immediately.

I agree with the friends who said the news could have been conveyed on the last day of the trip. Had Sandra been told immediately on her return home, she might have been grateful.

On the other hand, she also might have been furious, saying, “How could you keep this from me!?”

That said, in my opinion it would have been kinder to let Sandra and her husband enjoy their holiday, since it was already too late to rush to the sister’s bedside.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.