Seven words Border Patrol Agents should never use

Matt Westerhold
Jan 23, 2013

Maybe it's George Carlinish, but Border Patrol agents should not use the word "wetback." 

Agents and every law enforcement officer of any stripe also should not use words like: Nigger, retard, faggot, kike, slut or bitch. 

That’s seven words they should never use. There are others.

Journalists, and most other people also would be wise not to use the words, but police officers, a taxpayer funded community service armed by the government, should excise them from their own personal vocabularies. 

Register reporter Jessica Cuffman is following up a story she reported Saturday headlined “Agency profiles ‘wetbacks.’” It detailed a lawsuit in Erie County Common Pleas Court that appears to document instances in which the Border Patrol Sandusky Post commander used the racial slurs "wets" and "wetbacks" in communications and emails with subordinates at the federal agency.

The local Border Patrol has been out of control for years and accountable to nobody for its actions. Federal officials have done nothing to address abuses that occur.

Since the Border Patrol is a federal agency, Cuffman emailed a copy of the story to U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Robert Portman, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the area’s federal representatives. Here are the questions she posed for them:

1. Is it appropriate for Border Patrol agents, particularly the agent in charge of the local office, to use the term "wetback" when referring to a Hispanic person? 

2. If it is inappropriate, what would be a suitable course of action or discipline for agents who use this term? 

3. What action or study should be undertaken to identify the tactics and alleged profiling used by Sandusky Bay Border Patrol agents?  

4. If, as the lawsuit alleges, Border Patrol agents use racial profiling to identify possible suspects, would your office take action to address this issue? 

We're looking forward to receiving responses from our federal representatives. In the meantime, please feel free to share how you might answer the questions, or how you believe Kaptur and the senators should answer them, by commenting below. 



Matt, what the hell? You just used every offensive word in one article. Wasn't there another way to get your point across without printing the actual words?


Why'd You say that Matt ? Why ? You're my hero. And you say something dirty ! Like poop ! Poop mouth ! I hate you Matt Westerhold ! I hate you ! I just had to put the Ron Burgundy twist on this one : )))))



This should get pretty good....

The Big Dog's back

This is the Sandusky Register pete, not free republic.


I'm a bit shocked you know vbb codes Brutus. Usually you can't compose more than one sentence without a copy & paste. Good to see you expanding your mental processes.

BW1's picture

Funny, big dog - your name is familiar, but you talk like you're new around here.


Matt is simply making a point. The words are not the problem, it is the way they are used against others.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks deetracker, for the very keen observation. 

BW1's picture

But it also invites deeper analysis of the reason why, if you can use the words, however hypothetically, you feel they should be banned for any use, in any context, by others based on profession, especially when their employer, unlike yours, is bound by the First Amendment. That analysis is conspicuously absent from your column.

The real question, as with your use of the words, is whether the context in which they were used implies an inability or unwillingness to meet the requirements of the job. For the Border Patrol, those requirements would seem to be compliance with the equal protection and due process rights of those they encounter. Neither the original online article, its attachment, nor this editorial, however, makes any logically sound attempt to substantiate how the word's use implies such an inability or unwillingness. The legal pleading makes a naked assertion that use of the word is evidence of racial animus, without any support. It lays out plenty of pieces of sound evidence to make the case for overreaching law enforcement, but the use of that word it cites is not one of them. The lawsuit appears to have merit without the use of the word, but you seem to overlook that deeper insight in favor of cheap shock value.

Come on, stop being lazy, and make your case instead of lamely depending on knee jerk reaction to a word without context, or resign to being hoisted on your own petard.

Show us some real journalistic chops. For crying out loud, proofread your editorial - it refers to a "Cuffman" by last name only with no preceding antecedent as to who this person is. Maybe that's because it's a sloppily edited rendition of the print version, but you should realize that it's no longer sufficient to treat the internet as an afterthought. How about showing us that your journalism would still win all those awards even if they weren't decided by an industry full of so-called journalists who, even with spell checking and grammar checking software, can't turn out prose of a quality approaching what their forebears managed with quills and inkwells? What I've heard from people who've spoken with you leads me to expect far better than what you're giving us.


I am trying to read your comment , but keep falling asleep a quarter of the way through it . You need to spice it up a bit perhaps with some "F" bombs , or political references here and there . Hope this helps . ; ))))

BW1's picture

It was addressed to Matt; are you suggesting the need to dumb it down for the intended audience? Give him more credit.


1. Absolutely not! Nobody who thinks its ok to use that term should be a Border Patrol Agent.

2. Zero tolerance. How would his fellow employees feel if such terms were used towards them.

3. Proper training.

4. The office should take action to address the issue. It's their duty.


I agree with you deertracker...if someone calls you a banana, does that make you one?...i think not.


But , If you ask someone if that's a banana in their pants or are they just glad to see you ? Then , that is more like a compliment. 8 P

Professor Playdoh

I’m offended by anything that Matt attempts to write.

Sit n Spin

Sticks and stones may break my bones...yadda...yadda...yadda...get over it !!!


yeah, he can use those words but don't you try it-your comment will be deleted!


On the Reflector you can say just about anything you want .


Not so much here. Matt has sent me emails detailing my poor choice of words.

Reflector is such a slow site though. Unless Bader or Ronny is involved. Then the hit count goes up


Personnally I don't believe that any of the words listed above should be used by anyone, especially those in law enforcement. Where is the proffesionalism?


1st offense: Oral warning
2nd offense: Written warning
3rd offense: Suspension (without pay)
4th offense: Possible termination


Haha, you said oral ; )))) You may censor that if you wish .

Good 2 B Me

Ha! You too said Oral! :O


Ha , We said oral !!! ; ))))


get a life


As a follow to my previous statement, this does seem a reoccurring problem with local boarder patrol. In my opinion, these guys shine a negative light on local L.E.

Bubba's Buddy

I don't believe that any of the words listed above should be used by anyone, especially those in law enforcement.
Or in your local newspaper by its writers!
Where is the professionalism? in either case...


again, get a life


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights) and Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..