Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Words Attack

Warning, this post contains words that may offend you (but in a good cause).

What is the difference between a word that is merely offensive to some people and one that crosses the line into hate speech that.  In my opinion, the line is a word that is used in a manner that ridicules, threatens, or marginalizes another person based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, or God (nature) given limitation.  

People pretty much know that "Nigger" is hate speech.  People are coming more and more to recognize that "Faggot" is as well.

But what about "Retard?"  To me, it is.  I asked a few people, they agreed with me. I Googled it, and it turns out it is a hot topic.  Yet when a friend used it on Facebook the other day, saying that people who dress a certain way "look like retards" not one of the comments that followed objected to the use of the word. 

I understand that it wasn't that long ago that the "R" word was a regular part of TV family banter to show siblings quarreling or similar behaviors.  And people who have been hurt by this word complained, so it is properly leaving the realm of accepted language.  But when I messaged this friend privately to say that maybe they weren't aware that many people are offended by this word the response was that they would not alter their speech based on my sensitivities, so I should just un-friend them.  So I did.

Now, I am not easily offended.  Talk body parts and fluids all you want.  But I will stand against bullies, I will defend the weaker, and I will call something a hate word when it is a hate word.  I have known too many people who have been hurt by the use of this word to take it lightly.  I am not going to change my mind on this.

But I am curios, so I would really like to hear some other voices, other opinions. Language evolves, and attitudes change.  There was time when the "N" word was commonplace, but the "fuck" now heard casually everywhere was shocking. Where do you draw your personal line of acceptable language?  When and how do you confront language that you find hurtful or hateful?  If it is done publicly, do you respond publicly (should I have said something in the comments on the status rather than in private message)? 

I am willing to stand up for what I believe on this, don't get me wrong, I am not second guessing myself.  Rather, it made me examine the reasons behind my values, and I think that is a good thing.  As I have contemplated it, I have come to the conclusion that even if I am the lone voice on this one (which I don't think I am) it means enough to me that I will not back down.   

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