The Red Lobster Racial Slur Controversy
by Peter Hyatt
Underneath it, it said "Nigger" (my assumption since it is partially redacted).
Statement Analysis deals with words. Was it the customer's intention to be racist? Or, as others have asked, was it the intention of the waitress to exploit sympathies and make money?
Neither question will be answered here. Instead, we will look at what he wrote.
Statement Analysis deals with words spoken and what is not spoken. What did he tell us? What didn't he tell us? What did we expect to hear? Did he fulfill our expectation.
Presuppositonal Analysis is that we presuppose that the subject is truthful and his words will guide us. Even as we project ourselves into the statement, we do so presupposing that the subject is being falsely accused. This is our "expected" in analysis.
The "subject is dead; the statement is alive." This means that we are not analyzing the customer, nor are we analyzing the waitress. We are analyzing the letter the customer wrote in response to the accusation that he wrote "None Nigger" on the check at Red Lobster.
Will the picture of the waitress holding up a large check influence your opinion?
Will the color of the pigments of either participant influence you?
Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN, from www.lsiscan.com) deals with principle and repetition.
In Statement Analysis, we seek truth. We must begin with a question to answer. We are not concerned with him being a racist, or him not being a racist, or with her being an opportunist, or not being an opportunist.
We want to know: Did he write it or not? We will allow him to guide us. The basic question is this:
Did he write the word, "Nigger" on the check below where the word "None" was written?
To do this, we need to view the words through the Scientific process (SCAN) and not through inflammatory pictures or thoughts.
My focus is his letter and what it tells us.
I. The Letter He Wrote
II. Specific Analysis of the Letter
I. The Letter He Wrote
This is the letter, first in photo, and then in typed form, as it appears. Then, we will break down the analysis:
I. The Letter
In Statement Analysis where there is an allegation, we begin with the "Expected" and ask ourselves, "If I were to be accused of writing "None Nigger" on a check to a black waitress, what would I say?"
If I did not write these words, I would say "I did not write these words"; quite plainly. I would feel, emotionally and intellectually, that the burden of proof of this false accusation is with my accusers. This is a certain form of confidence that says, "I didn't do it. Either figure that out for yourself, or find a new job, because you're not qualified here..."
"The righteous are as bold as a lion." Of course, its no secret that false bravado seeks to imitate the quiet confidence of the innocent.
Therefore, in a letter defending himself, I expect him to say "I didn't write it" and that's just about all I can think I would write. I would not apologize, nor would I deliver a sermon on race, nor refer anyone to my attorney, and I would not likely call upon my character as a witness, or friends. I don't think I would even write a letter, but since I must do some work on the "expected", I have to think of something.
Then, as in all accusatory analysis, we are left with "the unexpected"; that is, things within the statement that were not expected.
Kaaryn Gough did a wonderful job in demonstrating this in the Baby Lisa case. Baby Lisa was reported missing by her mother, Deborah Bradley, who we indicated for deception. Statement Analysis concluded that Bradley was deceptive, and Lisa was dead, and Bradley knows how she died, and where her remains were unceremoniously dumped.
Bradley went on television to protest those who doubted her, and wanted to convince her audience that Lisa was kidnapped.
Kaaryn wrote that we should look for words that accompany a kidnapping...simple words such as "kidnapping, ransom, contact..." and so on.
During the televised interview, these words were disturbingly absent. Kaaryn demonstrated how Statement Analysis deals with what someone tells us, and sometimes, what someone does not tell us.
This was also seen plainly in the interview of Charlie Rogers where she claimed three men broke into her home, carved hateful slurs into her flesh while holding her down, and set fire to her home.
In a training exercise, I describe the above, and then I ask investigators to make a list of words they expect to hear. "Brutal, scared, cut, justice, outrage..." and so on. It took less than a minute for investigators to write out between 10 and 20 expected words.
Then, I play the video of Ms. Rogers and have them place check marks when they hear those words, and write down words of Ms. Rogers that were not expected. They had blank marks next to the expected column, but added words that were surprising (unexpected) to them, including "game, pawn, respect" and not being afraid, in spite of the contention that three brutal nazi-like killers were on the loose.
It makes one think, or perhaps, it should.
Thousands supported Ms. Rogers and donated large sums of money.
I expect, in the Red Lobster customer letter, to tell me "I didn't write that on her check." but not much else.
Let's see what he tells us, and let's see what he does not tell us.
II. The Letter With Analysis
The analysis is in bold type, with emphasis added by me.
"Please accept my apology for not being here in person, I had to work."
Where someone begins a statement is always important. Sometimes it can even tell us the reason for the written statement. We note that the statement begins with the unexpected:
In Statement Analysis, we always note, for whatever reason, if apology or "I'm sorry" enters the subject's statement, anywhere.
When Cindy Anthony called 911 to report her grandchild missing, she handed the phone to Caylee's killer, Casey Anthony. When asked a question by the 911 operator, Casey said, "I'm sorry?", in the context of "excuse me?" as if a question was not heard. We seek to learn if these words creep into the language of the guilty, as, perhaps, "leakage."
"Leakage" is a term we use to describe how words creep out, inadvertently, perhaps, from the brain. We all have leakage when we speak. Guilty people will sometimes leak that they have sorrow or regret, even while attempting to persuade that they have no reason for such. Therefore, we note that in the first sentence of the letter, an apology exists.
This is not expected to me, as one projecting himself into the situation, falsely accused of writing a racial slur to a waitress. It is a red flag. Where one begins a statement is important and often the reason for the statement. Here, he begins with an apology.
Note next he used the word "here", and not "there", which would cause me to wonder where he was, geographically, when he wrote the statement. Falsely accused, I would not care to travel to any location, nor would I apologize for not traveling or showing up. I didn't say it, so they need to look elsewhere. I have a job to go to.
"I want to start out by saying I am innocent."
A weak assertion.
Please note that he only "wants" to "start" out this way, and not that he is "innocent." There are several problems with this sentence.
There is a difference between saying, "I am innocent" and "I want to say I am innocent", with the latter being only a desire expressed. Yet here, there is even more distance: he only wants to "start" out by making this assertion. This tells us that there is more information, since this is only a "start."
Next, note that many guilty people have no problem saying "I am innocent" instead of saying "I didn't do it."
He is innocent, in fact.
He has not been found guilty, nor pled guilty, to anything. Therefore, judicially, this is a truthful statement and had he said, "I didn't write the N-word" and added, "I am innocent", it would have been acceptable.
Principle: A declaration of innocence is not a Reliable Denial.
A Reliable Denial has three components. If it has two, or more than three, it is not reliable.
1. The pronoun "I"
2. the past tense verb "did not" or "didn't" (only Reid makes differential here)
3. The allegation is answered.
Therefore, these are unreliable denials:
"Didn't do it."
"Didn't write the N word"
"I would not write that."
"I never wrote the N Word"
"would not" and "never" are not substitutions for "did not"and are Unreliable Denials.
"I didn't write the N word"
"I did not write Nigger on that bill..." or anything similar would be a Reliable Denial. It also may have been found in the first sentence, perhaps only after a greeting.
Judicially, he is innocent and not lying.
"I was not raised that way in my household."
I have both done and said things that I am ashamed of to this day. Unlike Frank Sinatra, I have many regrets, and hopefully I have learned from them. If I could go back and change my life, with my understanding firmly "under the sun", I would take back every hurtful thing that I have ever said to anyone. I don't appreciate those who boast of their pasts when they should be ashamed.
I have both done and said things that I was not raised to do nor say. Yet, in this letter, he asserts that he was not raised "that" way, with the word "that" showing distance. Perhaps I might use distancing language too, yet I note it just the same.
But there are three additional words in which, if removed, will still allow for a complete sentence: "in my household."
The law of economy in sentences says that the shortest statement is best. Why did he feel the need to add "in my household"? Was something with him raised differently? Was he raised in more than one household? These three simple words generate questions that I would like to ask him.
Yet, I still note that how one was raised is not to say "I didn't write it."
"When me and my wife got our meal to go, the ticket was brought to the table."
"My wife" is an incomplete social introduction, but it answers the question that I had about him being with someone else who might have been raised differently than the way he was raised in his household.
Does the incomplete social introduction have bearing here?
A complete social introduction of a spouse includes the name, title, and possessive pronoun. It indicates a good relationship IN THIS PORTION OF THE STATEMENT.
Objection: maybe he did not want to use his wife's name.
Answer: It is a good point and one to always remember. Here, however, he signs his full name.
Therefore, it is deemed an incomplete social introduction. It does not sound bad, as "the" wife, but it does show a slight distancing point here in the statement.
Did his wife write it?
Did his wife, perhaps raised in a different household, encourage him to write it?
I have questions for him, as statements help me prepare for interviews.
"...the ticket was brought"
This is passive language. Passivity in speech is often used to conceal identity or responsibility. It may be that he does not show the identity of the person who brought the ticket because he does not know. In the interview, I would explore this.
But what if it was the waitress that brought it? Why didn't he say "the waitress brought the ticket..."?
More questions for him to answer. Note that the ticket was not brought to him, but to the table.
Was he not at the table at that time? This is distancing language. Does he not want to say that it was brought to him? Does he not want to say it was brought to his wife?
Was he in the bathroom when the ticket came?
It is distancing language (passivity/inanimate object) which makes this less personal. Why?
"I signed "none" in the tip line and my name on the signature line and left my ticket on the table.
I take notice of the pronoun "my" in the statement. Here, he takes ownership of a ticket that has the word "Nigger" written on it, though it is not here in the statement. What would I have written?
"I wrote "none" on the tip line, signed it and left it on the table" or I might have written "I wrote "none" on the tip line, signed my name and left the ticket on the table"
I would not have written the pronoun "my", since I was leaving it. I would take "my copy" of it with me, if I paid with a credit card. It would be mine because it has my credit card number on it and I am going to take it with me.
Why the need to take ownership of a ticket with the racial slur written on it? This is important. We often see possessive pronouns taking ownership of what belongs to them. "My guilt" (OJ Simpson) "My victim" (Stephen Trunscott) "Our guilt" (Patsy Ramsey)
Pronouns are instinctive and trustworthy.
Thus far, he has told me it is his ticket, he is apologetic, and thus far he has not told me he did not write it.
It was not until the next day that I discovered that somebody wrote the "N" word on my receipt.
How was such a discovery made?
When one "discovers" something, there is generally a search found out. I would not have used "discovery" here. Would you?
"The next day, I learned someone had written..." or "The next day, I heard that..." but the word "discovery" has an artificial feel to it, as if he wishes to convey an element of surprise. Was he searching for this? Was he searching for someone else when he came upon "my" receipt?
Next, we have a change in language. A change in language indicates a change in reality. If not, it may be that the subject is deceptive and not working from memory. For example, a "gun" on a police officer, may become a "weapon" while it is being fired, but then a "gun" when re-hostered. A "girl" may become, in a young man's language, a "woman" when romantic contact has taken place.
We look for a change in context that would cause a change in language.
It was not just "a ticket" but it was "my ticket" when it was "left" on the table, but now, upon discovery, the "ticket" has become a "receipt", so what has changed?
Was the change due to the carbon copy that belongs to the customer? This may explain the change in language. The ticket is left for Red Lobster, but the receipt is with the owner.
This may justify the change of language, but...
pronouns do not lie.
It was "my" and not "the" in both places. He takes instinctive ownership.
If I had been falsely accused of writing a racial slur to a waitress, the paper it was written on would not be "mine" in any sense. I would not take ownership of something like that. It is not just a political hot potato, it is insulting, inflammatory and above all, ungentlemanly behavior and language. I would not take ownership of it.
Pronouns do not lie.
"Somebody" wrote it is truthful. "Somebody" did.
"At that time, we called my pastor who happens to be an attorney and asked his advice."
This is also the "unexpected" and there are problems within this sentence. The least of which is that the pastor should be reminding the writer of the Scriptural mandate, "speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor", but that is commentary, and not analysis.
Note first, "we" called "my" pastor. "We" made the call. Now there is some unity...hmm.
Consistently over the years, whenever I hear "we called", I always ask, "Who called? Did both of you dial the phone?"
This is an indication of desire to spread out responsibility.
Did his wife speak to the pastor?
Why is it his pastor, but not "our" pastor?
Was the fact that he is his pastor, and not her pastor related to the different households they were raised in?
This is secondary, which indicates that the subject did not want to immediately say he called a lawyer.
This is also unexpected.
If I did not write the racial slur, and "discovered" it, I might call the restaurant to file a complaint against who did it, but my first call would not be to a lawyer. (nor a pastor...)
"I do not approve of that kind of talk, not now or ever!!!
He may not approve of it, and likely his pastor/attorney agreed, but he did not say that he did not write it.
Please also note that he brings in a demarcation of time: "not now or ever" which may cause one to wonder if there were other times when such language was approved of. Does the subject anticipate the need to not approve later in life?
Note that "not approve" is not to condemn. This is a softer statement than to actually condemn a racial insult.
What do we have here, and what is missing?
The subject wrote a letter in which he apologized in the letter, and he took ownership of both the "ticket" and the "receipt" with the instinctive possessive pronoun.
He gives a 'sermon' of sorts, though he does not condemn racial slurs, but only does not approve of its use.
He feels the need to defend himself by his background, yet indicates that there is something else, perhaps, in someone else's household.
The subject was accused of writing the racial insult on the check from Red Lobster. He wrote a letter in which he was unwilling or unable to say "I didn't write it."
Therefore, I am not permitted to say it for him.