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Mike Lacey, the pugnacious chief of Village Voice Media and overlord of alt-weeklies across America, is known to be a man not afraid to speak his mind. In fact, he's the self-proclaimed "asshole in charge." So attendees at a Phoenix Society of Professional Journalists awards dinner last Friday might have expected Lacey to say something interesting when he accepted an award on behalf of one of his papers [East Valley Tribune]. But they were less than amused when (the white man) Lacey referred to his deceased friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning [UPDATE: also white] journalist Tom Fitzpatrick, as "my nigger."

And Lacey, good job of respecting the crowd you were speaking to on the 40th anniversary of MLK's death:

Billye Paulson, a black journalist who works for the Tribune, called the speech "offensive" and fired off an angry e-mail to Lacey demanding an apology.

"I found your acceptance speech at the April 4 SPJ awards banquet disgusting, inappropriate and vulgar. And I DID take offense. But the obscenities take a back seat to the use of the n-word, which was not necessary and very insulting," she wrote in the e-mail.

Paulson attended the event with the 82-year-old mother of the late Tribune sports writer Bob Moran, a black journalist who died last month from cancer. His mother was there to accept a special recognition award on behalf of her son.

So how much contrition has Lacey shown for his remark—the classic fatal mistake of white men who mistakenly believe they're down enough to say whatever they want—delivered to an audience including grandmothers? He's sorry that his "comments about a dead colleague rankled listeners."

"My words, meant to honor a friend, were inappropriate," Lacey said. "All present have my sincere apology. It is regrettable that any phrase of mine offended those attending a First Amendment awards banquet."

He's sorry the sticks in the mud in the audience are oversensitive enough to get offended. They probably didn't realize he was down.

This is not only the thousandth demonstration of the fact that Mike Lacey is, by all appearances, an asshole; it is also a reminder to whites everywhere: JUST LEAVE THAT WORD ALONE, FOR GOD'S SAKE. Whether ending in -er or -a, it is not for you.

[via Romenesko]