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Topeka Warden Accused of Racially Insensitive Comments


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The warden of a Topeka woman's prison is accused of making racially insensitive comments. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported on the allegations against Topeka Correctional Facility Warden Richard Koerner as part of an ongoing investigation.

The claims include that Koerner made a lynching reference while criticizing two black women who were reorganizing their office. One of the women, Mary Carr, says Koerner said something "to the effect that, 'You two wouldn't be happy if I hung you with a new rope."'

Another black employee, Willie Tabor, says Koerner repeatedly called him "boy."

Koerner confirmed he made both remarks. But he says the hangman's line was a joke and use of the term "boy" was intended as an affectionate reference rather than a racial put-down.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

i know... makes me think i'm not actually living in 2009-10.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 5 months ago

That is an AP brief from a much longer and more informative investigative article published in the Capital Journal: http://cjonline.com/news/state/2009-12-26/tcf_staff_challenge_warden

acg 8 years, 5 months ago

I don't know if that comment was racially charged or not. My dad used to say that to us when we were kids, that and "ya'll would bitch if you were left at a pie factory". Is he from the south? If so, that's a very common expression used by people of all color.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 5 months ago

People are way too sensiitive. Not everything said is racist just because someone is complaining. Under wire bras are a security issue. You can't wear them without the metal detector going off in airports either.

acg 8 years, 5 months ago

I can remember once when I was like 10 and daddy had said to me that line "you'd btch if I hung you with a new rope". Generally, we weren't to talk back to him, but I don't know what I was thinking. I said "I'd btch regardless of what you hung me with cause nobody wants to be hung" and I picked myself up outta the floor and dusted myself off and thought long and hard about sassing him for at least a few weeks. LOL. Oh I miss my daddy.

brujablanco 8 years, 5 months ago

Too sensitive about lynching remarks? WOW. My favorite comeback by racists is how they blame their accusers of making it "all about race".

On a side note - if one were "perkier" an underwire would not be necessary.

feeble 8 years, 5 months ago

A father making crude, possibly demeaning sexual remarks to his son isn't even in the same area code as a white supervisor making a joke about lynching two of his or her African American employees.

That some would dismiss these events as peccadilloes speaks volumes about their person and character. In light of some of the comments above, I think several of the more prominent posters on this board who bemoan reverse racism "doth protest too much."

RoeDapple 8 years, 5 months ago

Leonard Pitts is not my favorite columnist, but one thing he wrote that has stayed with me (hope I get this close to his original)...

Ask 20 white Americans what the Confederate flag means to them, you might get 20 different answers. Ask 20 African Americans the same question, you will get slavery and oppression.

I can quite readily see and understand how phrases like "hung with a new rope" and calling a black man "boy" could fall into the same category. Phrases and key words used within ones own ethnicity can take on entirely different meaning when used in a "mixed" environment. I worked with an elderly African American years ago that once told me,"Roe I really admire that you aren't prejudiced, we can sit and talk about anything."

"Not so" I said, "Imagine we don't know each other and you cut me off in traffic, what would I say to myself?"

"That black s.o.b.!" he laughed.

And if the situation were reversed?

"That honky mfer!" he laughed again

It's not something I am proud of and requires constant attention to not "slip" and say something unintentionally that could be hurtful to others. I would go one step further and say it is human nature to be constantly looking for ways to set ourselves apart as individuals, which leads to prejudice in one form or another. Not pretty, but real.

Another saying I like to use in a situation like this is "If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail", meaning if you expect a certain type of behavior you will probably see it.

KansasPerson 8 years, 5 months ago

It's "hanged." Honest it is.

Pictures are hung on a wall, men can be hung like a horse, and your laundry can be hung out to dry.... but if you're dangling from a gallows, you've been "hanged."

I have no idea why this is the case, only that the English language is a strange and funny thing.

Carry on......

KansasPerson 8 years, 5 months ago

TomShewmon (Tom Shewmon) says…

"I would post some other things my dad used to say to me when I did something stupid, but The Master of the House would probably not like them. One referenced group of boys in a circle having a 'contest' of sorts. Another one referenced not being able to even properly execute a dream of a sexual nature. Is that OK? And see, I turned out OK, didn't I? Well, didn't I!?"

Dunno Tom, we'd probably have to ask the Master of the House! (Or is that the Master of your Domain?) :)

RoeDapple 8 years, 5 months ago


Hung for being hanged?

Or hanged for being hung?

Ah well, makes little difference to me....

RoeDapple 8 years, 5 months ago

or hangdededed. careful or we will get disapearededed

Amy Heeter 8 years, 5 months ago

The very first hanging known in history was done at Plymouth Rock in 1622. Hanging is not a racist act just because it has been used. Reference to hanging is not racist as a general rule. Virtually every race has used hanging as a punishment. Every country has used use hanging as a punishment, some still do.

brujablanco 8 years, 5 months ago

Making light of lynching is sickening. I pity you, Roe, et al, and your ignorance.

puddleglum 8 years, 5 months ago

oh cmon people.

a little hangin' never hurt anybody.

besides, he said he was joking

RoeDapple 8 years, 5 months ago

Pity me all you like bru, my exchange with consumer1 had nothing to do with lynching, which of course I see no humor in.

see last paragraph in my 11:05

Amy Heeter 8 years, 5 months ago

Let's also keep in mind this was said by a prison warden. Hanging has been a form of punishment for criminals. So unless all crime and all punishment are forms of racism I think this accusation is pretty lame. Maybe these ladies would have preferred it if he said; you people wouldn't be happy if you were fried in a new chair. Or would that be racist too because he used the term" you people" ?

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

okay tom-- you're okay......

..... uncrossing my fingers and toes


Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

you have to keep in mind, folks, that this fool is/was somebody's supervisor (several people keep talking about what their dads or parents said to them as children)! that mess is inappropriate as all get-out in that context and best believe i would be complaining too!

brujablanco 8 years, 5 months ago

Plymouth Rock? Where do you get your info? You need to look back much farther than 1622, dear. As for your 12:22 post choke - that is really reaching. So, any comments to a prisoner are okay because he is the warden?

Roe, I'm glad you see no humor is lynching. Thanks for the explanation.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

roe, after those derogatory comments you made you're on a short leash w/ me.

oops! short leash! that could be another thinly veiled lynching comment! D'OH!!

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

nope, jacob, but they are the folks who have been hung by ropes in the 20th century and just because of the color of their skin usually combined w/ the location in which they lived.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

I have a bi-racial daughter and granddaughter whom I love very much and it breaks my heart to think of someone hurling a racial obscenity at them. Sorry, I can't chuckle about this, it hits too close to home. Apparently, some parents say things to their children they should not even be thinking. There is nothing worse than someone who makes a remark or a joke that is just wrong and betrays what kind of person they are, and then they complain that you don't have a sense of humor. Don't even think of saying something like that around me.

50YearResident 8 years, 5 months ago

At the sensitivity level we are now running on it will soon be that "African American" and "Black Man" will be raciest terms in some people's eyes.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

"Apparently, some parents say things to their children they should not even be thinking."

irish, i totally agree w/ you.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

50year, yep. and then what will i call my dad's side of the family? them darkly-hued folks? i dunno... doesn't really matter though. what dude did was inappropriate for the workplace simple and plain. no defending it no matter how much you want to act like black/latino/native/asian folks are hypersensitive.

if you worked w/ people of the jewish persuasion would you elude to gassing them if they don't get their jobs done? its just common f***ing courtesy. has nothing to do w/ being politically correct.

RoeDapple 8 years, 5 months ago

Mel, I knew you would see through my thinly veiled attempt at "gallows" humor...


Time for Roe to leave before you give him enough rope to hang himself....


Every thing I say becomes another thread in .....


Think I'll just stay quiet and swing on out of here...


ivalueamerica 8 years, 5 months ago

Hmm, it appears Marion can now have another hero besides his holocaust deniar.

Satirical 8 years, 5 months ago

Was someone just identified as a racist!?! Then it must be true!

Looks like it is time to suspend all rational thinking and join the bandwagon labeling this guy a communist...I mean racist, because I know if I don't, I too may be labeled one.

Guilty until proven innocent! Only the seriousness of the accusation matters, not the context of the comment! Three cheers for mob mentality!!!

If you disagree with me you are a racist.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

Mel, I call my darkly-hued ones, sweetie pie an such. When my daughter was six we were passing by the police department when they changed shifts. She spotted a "black" officer. She put one hand on a hip and as only a six year old black girl can, and she was so cute, said, "well, I never thought I would live to see the day when they had a brother in the Lawrence po-lice." I laughed, they stared. Roe, that last post is just why we love you so much. That was a good one.

Satirical 8 years, 5 months ago

All we need now is Obama to express his disapproval of the warden and claim he acted stupidly.

pace 8 years, 5 months ago

I had a boss at the City, who joked all the time, he was so funny, boy if I hadn't known he hated me as a person and as a woman would we have laughed. When I mentioned he could joke less in front of his guys he said I had no sense of humor. His jokes were very funny, things about my mom, my weight, my abilities, the value of the job. Some people just love to joke, especially if they are spineless cowardly lying drunk weasels.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 5 months ago

I believe Obama has made that same statement in other situations. Must be his pat response. It's am Obamanation.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

there are a whole lotta folks i'd rather not be compared to than ms. winfrey. first of all, she's not a bad looking chick at all... let's face it. and secondly, two words: cha-ching!! i'd love to have that lady's pocket change!!

seriously though, anyone who thinks that mr. warden's comments were okay for the workplace is probably the same type to think its okay to comment on sexual stuff ("wow, you've got a nice rack on you!") in the workplace. now, unless you work at annaundercover's place o' employment, that would be a highly offensive comment.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

irish, i love my darkly hued family members as well. :) the beautiful thing is the rainbow of complexions on that side. because of the various admixtures (in addition to african, we also have blackfoot, cherokee and even german on that side), you have people who are everywhere from my skin tone, which is a light olive, to the darkest ebony. lotsa different shades of brown. i love it!

my lighter hued family members are beautiful too. don't get me wrong. they are mainly english but we have some dutch and irish in addition to seminole ancestories on that side of the tree.

anyway, back to closet racists in this thread... gotta love them. i think they may not have been held by their mamas enough when they were babies. :)

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

consumer1, you can call yourself any dang thing you want. whatever's clever.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

A peckerwood is a rural white southerner, usually poor, undereducated or otherwise ignorant and bigoted, the term gained popularity in the deep south during the early twentieth century and was meant to be derogatory. It is a reversal of the name of the red bellied woodpecker which had a patch of red on the back of it’s head and neck, therefore a peckerwood is a redneck, terms that describe similar groups of people are trailer trash or white trash but neither of those have the same effect or ring to them as peckerwood does. From: "Peckerwood Nation" www.dailykos.com"

Possibly derived from the Wolof word "xonk" (pronounced like "honk," but with a guttural H at the beginning), meaning "red." Wolof people in West Africa sometimes call white people "xonk-nopp," or "red-ears." It has been speculated that first generation Wolof-speaking slaves may have popularized this term.

Skeptics might point out that the most slaves came from south-west Africa and further east in West-Africa than Senegal, where Wolof people live.

However, many slaves passed through Goree' Island, near Dakar, the largest Wolof city. So the term could have been popularized there. Also, the Wolof language, having developed as a trade language, is relatively easy to pick up in its most basic form. It is also a rather staccato and crisp language, which might make it easier for non-speakers to pick up on particular words. Lastly, Wolof is spoken in a way that seems unnecessarily aggressive, even when its not intended to be. (The Wolof are sometimes referred to as the "Germans of Africa") This all might tend to make make a derogatory Wolof word catch on relatively faster than a similar Mandink or Ibo word among a multilingual group like first generation slaves.

Hope this is helpful.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

i had heard that honky comes from the nasal tone of many white folks' speech. this was a while ago that i heard this though.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

"don't call me shirley..." leslie neilson in 'airplane'.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

Mel, this one is for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9VzEulip9Q&feature=related

Trace Adkins - Honky Tonk Badonkadonk I didn't see anything on there that I would write home to mama about. Ha!

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

This prison is called "Candy Land" and it's reference is that all the inmates are rug munchers! If there not when they come in they are when they leave.

3dhs 8 years, 5 months ago

A Warden at HCF welcomed his new employees using the "Hung with a new Rope" line, all in attempt to have them avoid the ain't it awfull employees. You should have seen the expression on the faces of these new staff, especially the minorities. I am sure those who have no problems with the New Rope line would also have no problems with a Warden saying, "You would not be happy if I raped you with a new Rubber." But, the response form the Secretary and Governor would be very different when hearing of a percieved sexually suggestive remark.

Both hanging and rape are illegal in Kansas and a Warden should know this. Additionally, both the Topeka Warden and the Hutchinson Warden in question served as Deputy Directors for the KDOC.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

Irish: You got it wrong! A "peckerwood" is a bird that continues to peck, peck, peck and hammer on a tree until the noise is just too much. The Southern term for "peckerwood", has a double meaning and both are expressed as both white or black, without any racial pun, but a description of a relentless pecking or nagging boss who has control or authority to be relentless in their power over a person. Sexual meaning, penis, and wood meaning, hard or erect. The bird, a "wood pecker", is simply reversed and spoken as "peckerwood"and meant to describe a relentless pecking hard penis, or relentless hard boss who continues to peck at the person relentlessly.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

When Yankee's go down south and hear these terms they assume that everything they don't understand is racist to them. Being called a "peckerwood" can be considered a joking complement or a ribbing from a sexual partner such as:

"come over here you little peckerwood"


"you old peckerwood" what's wrong now"?

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

What's the difference in a "Honky tonk" and a "Juke Joint"!

If you know this then you will learn that the French in LA. were the origin for the term Honky.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

Let's ask the specialist "hotforwords" if she can solve this question.



Not the big house I was looking for!

pace 8 years, 5 months ago

Ayup black people were the only ones hung in this country. thanks for asking. And just because someone says insensitive remarks that sound racist doesn't mean he or she is a racist but doesn't mean all remarks that sound racists are racists. clear.

ivalueamerica 8 years, 5 months ago

Marion, why are you a racist.

Is that better?

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 5 months ago

ivalueamerica: You silly. Mario doesn't answer questions, he only questions and accuses others and then claims to be a victim.

As you can tell here, he never even learned his Crayolas. Just a Child Left Behind.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

Has anyone read Wurthering Heights by Emily Bronte? I just finished rereading it because it is Bella's favorite book. You can read a lot of books online for free. When Bronte calls Heathcliff black and a lascar what is she trying to say?

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 5 months ago

Marion writes: “ivalueamerica (Anonymous) says…

Hmm, it appears Marion can now have another hero besides his holocaust deniar.”

Marion writes:

This from “ivalueamerica”, who obviously does not value America and who even more obviously cannot spell; an Ad Hominem attack, typical of the first resort of the Pseudo-liberal/Neo-socialists who in great numbers infect the LJW forums.

Clearly a personal attack and in violation of the TOS of the LJW site.


MISTER Keeshan writes:

You realize the recourse after reporting a violation is the removal of the offensive comment, right? And you also realize that since you cut and past the offensive comment reporting it and suggesting removal becomes moot, right?

Nice work.

feeble 8 years, 5 months ago

Irish: Lascar, a name used for Asian seamen at the time of the Brontës.

pace 8 years, 5 months ago

Interesting comments about the inmates attitudes, I think the story was about staff. Boss's jokes to staff. Or just stupid remarks by boss reported by staff tired of boss's stupid sly jokes.

leedavid 8 years, 5 months ago

Anyone manager making comments like this joking or otherwise should be fired. It is not professional and should not be tolerated.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 5 months ago

scott_webb: If the LJW takes down this blog for the reason, it should also remove Marion. He fans those flames as he gleefully dances down the street singing.

The blog is an AP brief of a rather extensive article published in the Capital Journal. i.e. other news sources deemed it news worthy. The brief was likely published in dozens of Kansas daily newspapers, and read on countless radio and television stations.

Kathy Theis-Getto 8 years, 5 months ago

"Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." MLK

Amy Heeter 8 years, 5 months ago

scott_webb "Please remove this blog. It serves no purpose other than to fan the flames of racism that aren't really there. I'd prefer that you also remove mel briscoe from posting as well. This person is being irresponsible with the privilege of posting on your site."

I agree there is no need for a separate blog so some can accuse other's of racism. The same offenders do so on every other story.

dickmerkin 8 years, 5 months ago

b.c. I think we're already aware of where the info came from. I think you're missing his/her point. It's bad journalism to begin with as a source. Mel is just trying to appear sympathetic to racism and in the process is trying to keep it alive. She's a mess. I have to agree with Scott, Briscoe is trying to whip up something that isn't there. When I was about 15 or 16, I started a sentence with the word, boy. The context was "oh boy." Another kid tried to take it out of context. It's the same thing here. Get over this stuff. Ths blog is spreading hate and taking things out of context. It's just unbridled ignorance

parrothead8 8 years, 5 months ago

To anyone here claiming this isn't racist: How do you know? Are you black? Are you one of the employees involved? Were you in the situation described in the blog? Can we deduce the intent of a statement from a description of it in a blog?

The truth of the matter is, we have no idea what the warden's intent was in making those statements. We don't know what the tone of his voice was like, and we don't know what the previous nature of his relationships with the employees involved was like. This could have been an ongoing thing for a while. The employees have a right to say they feel uncomfortable.

As someone who grew up in the South, let me assure you that racism is alive and kicking. Although his intent may not have been racist, the warden's insensitive remarks are indicative of someone who does not have a clear understanding of our nation's racial history. The fact that he is in a position of power over black employees while he demonstrates this lack of understanding is a problem. It may not be a problem for you, but it is for them.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 5 months ago

dickmerin: "Ths blog is spreading hate"

You must be new to the forum. Look at Marion's blogs and posting history. The LJW forums crossed this line by allowing his activities here a long long time ago.

At least the blog story here was AP copy, not a amateur editied piece, about incidents which were actually published locally, and occurred locally.

Marion's are not.

UfoPilot 8 years, 5 months ago

Another example of political correctness stupidity. If I were him I'd sue for first amendment (freedom of speach) rights violations.

Kathy Theis-Getto 8 years, 5 months ago

We can't change how a person thinks or feels, but there are laws that hold employers accountable for their words and deeds. I would suggest to those posters who feel Mel is irresponsible for shining a light on racism, or those that think exposing racism makes one an "offender" , a reading of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is in order.
I will proudly continue to be that "offender".

"There is a strange kind of tragic enigma associated with the problem of racism. No one, or almost no one, wishes to see themselves as racist; still racism persists, real and tenacious." Albert Memmi

ivalueamerica 8 years, 5 months ago


I am quite honestly sick and tired of bigots using the Limbaughian catch-phrase POLITICAL CORRECTNESS as an excuse to hate, to be bigots, to stereotype in a mean-spirited way and to promote discrimination and violence, it is a cheap lie and a cop-out.

You want to be free to hurt people, you call political correct, you want to be free to be a bigot or racist, you call political correct, you want to say horrible ugly things and when you are asked to be accountable for what you say..you baulk with the cry, political correctness.

That is malarkey and I aint buying it.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

Being a racist is a human condition and all humans are racist to a degree. The political correctness of the issue of being blind to all racial differences does not give a person due credit for their cultural values and pride in human development in American culture. If you say your not a racist, your just not being honest. All people have dislikes and different appeals. Most all people I've ever met were different and none of them were the same with in any race. That dose not mean you should treat people you dislike or do not approve of with hate or malice or display acts or talk them down to other people.

America, is a nation of many races, being blind to their many differences devalues their heritage. Putting them down for their heritage is just as bad as blaming a child for the sins of their father and mother. All persons had no choice in their parents or country of origin.

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