Oddly, the character insulted, Listens to Wind, of an unknown tribe, doesn't seem to do much about it. Although he seems pleased when the main character, Harry Dresden, uses his proper name, or at least the English translation of it, rather than the racial slur, he really doesn't do much about standing up to McCoy.
It is unclear so far why he doesn't. Did McCoy save an American Indian village? If so, he might qualify for what I call the Huckleberry Finn defense. Huckleberry Finn, a fictional character created by Mark Twain, was racist and is, as would be expected, a racist himself, a least in the beginning of the book. However, as he journeys upriver with an escaped slave, his heart ultimately wins out over his upbringing, and he aids his friend and his friend's family in escaping slavery. Since actions speak louder than words, many readers feel it is appropriate to forgive Huckleberry for using the highly offensive n-word. Not everyone agrees.
"It's not just a word," said Clark, the guardian for her granddaughter. Both are African American.
"It carries with it the blood of our ancestors. They were called this word while they were lynched; they were called this word while they were hung from the big magnolia tree.
"That word, in the history of America, has always been a degrading word toward African Americans. When they were brought to America, they were never thought of as human beings in the first place, and this word was something to call a thing that wasn't human.
"So that's what they bring into the classroom to talk about. I just think it's utterly unconscionable that a school would think it's acceptable."
The only other possibility I can think of is that the character, Listens to Wind, is too traumatized about the genocide of his people to bother fighting about it. The events in the book "Turn Coat" would seem to support this.
For example, in the words of the injured character, in the book Turn Coat,
"Once, I watched the tribe I was expected to guide and protect be destroyed, Harry Dresden. I did so because my principles held that it was wrong for the Council or its members to involve itself in manipulating the politics of mortals. I watched and restrained myself, until it was too late for me to make a difference. When I did that, I chose who would live and who would die. My people died for my principles." He shook his head. "I will not make that mistake again."With that much trauma and regret in his memory, it's conceivable that Listens to Wind simply doesn't have the energy to expend fighting about racial slurs.
In any case, Jim Butcher brought up a serious topic by introducing a racist character. Although things have presumably improved, compared to where they were a couple hundred years ago, racism continues even today. I hope to see the story of Listens to Wind play out in future books, and I hope to see McCoy get his comeuppance.
For the readers who are unfamiliar with the history, of the i-word and why it is offensive, the Europeans came to the Americas as conquerors. They killed and enslaved the American Indians. While they did it, they called them the word in question, and a few other names. When people do such horrible things, it creates a cultural memory that far outlives the lives of the people who lived in those times. Insults and symbols used in that time gain a terrible power to hurt people by reminding them of those things.
The horrors perpetrated against Californian tribes, such as the Chumash and the Kumeyaay, were particularly appalling.
For help figuring out what you should call American Indians, this article may be helpful.
In my experience, tribal name is the best, but, if you aren't sure which tribe the person belongs to, most seem to prefer "Indian". To avoid confusion with Indians from Asia, you could say "American Indian". A couple seem to prefer "Native American", and most at least don't seem offended by it, but I did recently meet one who thought "Native American" was offensive, and although I'm not entirely sure why, it's probably safest to avoid it. The i-word and the r-word are off the table for historical reasons. Also the s-word.
It's also technically possible that McCoy is ignorant of the history of the word, but, given his age, that seems highly unlikely. That's a doubt better reserved for children, young people, and people who have only recently learned English.
A look online reveals I am not the only blogger to have noticed the use of the i-word. However, I'm a bit confused about how defamation law works exactly. (Is it true you can be sued just for linking to possibly defamatory content? And for that matter, where is the line between fair comment on a matter of public interest and defamation?) However, in open response to the other bloggers, it seems unreasonable to me to declare an author racist for having a racist character or characters. How can we ever hope to explain to people the horrors that have historically, and even today, been committed against other people because of their race without books that contain racist characters?
As for the geographical inaccuracy explained by the other bloggers, it seem more likely to me that Jim Butcher was unfamiliar with Chicago. Although, I have known people to make mistakes about identifying dangerous neighborhoods even when they did live in the city. I think familiarity has a lot to do with it. And there are real dangers in being in a place where you don't know how to fit in. If there is only one mugger in the neighborhood, and you walk through it dressed differently than everyone else, looking around like you're nervous or afraid, it is probable that the single mugger will target you. Thus, people often overestimate the danger of neighborhoods they are not familiar with, which can turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The solution is to look confident, but aware, and dress appropriately. (And if it's dark, carry a fork or a pepper spray or something.) In doing so, I have been reasonably safe in many places where my less confident friends would not have been. That said, there are things that can make a neighborhood really dangerous, like a meth lab. (This looks like a balanced, informative blog post about the argument which occurred: http://jadedmusings.dreamwidth.org/622848.html )
Oh, and apparently this was also discussed on twitter. I suppose if I'd seen that, I might not have been so surprised to find people defending racial slurs on Jim Butcher's fan website. Although, Jim did offer to continue the argument on his website, so that is a bit confusing. But Jim Butcher wasn't involved in the argument I had on his website, so I guess that explains it.
I'm reasonably confident I can link to twitter legally.
(Note: Please do not make any reply that might be illegal in Germany in response to this post, at least not on my blog. I'm not familiar with the specifics of German law, but I understand that racism is illegal there. Given that I might want to visit or move there some day, and have no desire to anger German authorities, I will delete any response that I am afraid crosses the line. Besides, that stuff is offensive anyway. However, racist comments appear to be tolerated on Jim Butcher's fan forum, so if you wish to defend racial slurs, you might voice your opinion there. Readers are opposed to racial slurs, or genuinely curious about why they are offensive, are welcome to post here, but warned that they may be censored should they choose to voice their opinion on Jim Butcher's fan forum. Great job, people. First time I've ever been banned from anywhere on the internet for being anti-racist, while others were allowed to defend racist slurs. That'll be one I can brag about to sane, non-racist people on the internet for years to come! Back to the rules on my blog.... Comments which could be construed as possibly defamatory against Jim Butcher, on the basis that I don't want to be sued. Please remember that although Mark Twain portrayed racist characters, his message was an anti-racist one.)