This article can easily be used for another Agenda Lies post. Lies are at the heart of the position espoused by Barry Rozner. But instead I have a different point to make.
And I believe I’ve made it before in some past post. That would be the old “sticks and stones” issue. Why would anyone get so bent out of shape over being called things? The only rational reason revolves around the implications the epithet provokes.
Imagine if you are a thief. To be widely known as a thief would put a serious cramp in your business as to be known as a thief would make you an object of constant scrutiny as well as to be considered one that cannot be trusted. To be regarded as a thief unjustly, however, brings about the same conditions. No one wants to be regarded as a thief whether one is or isn’t an actual thief. Why is that?
Because being a thief is a bad thing. If someone was to regard me as a thief, I would be hurt because the fact is that I am not. It would hurt in the sense that it was untrue and I would be suffering that scrutiny without legitimate cause.
There are other words that imply the same thing. “Robber”, or “burglar” also mean that one so labeled helps himself to the possessions of others without consent of the owners. “Klepper” is another, although it is derived from the psychological condition of one who steals for no reason. I wonder if kleptomaniacs are offended to be called a klepper or if they hear someone using the term as an epithet toward another.
Part of the point I am trying to make has to do with the word being hurled my way and whether or not it is accurate of me in any way, and whether if it is accurate, if it is something of which I would be proud, or at least not something by which I could find offense.
If I am called a polack, I can’t be offended because I am of Polish decent. Though the term is supposedly a slur, what it means is not a great deal different from merely calling me Polish. Neither do I find to be offensive because to be Polish is not something I can help, nor does it have anything to do with the quality of my character. (Of course, I am an American first and foremost as far as nationality goes–the origins of my ancestors is entirely irrelevant.)
Imagine if you were actually perfect. Would there be any alternative word for that which could be hurtful? Being perfect is, well, perfect and perfection is that unattainable something to which most people aspire as closely as humanly possible. What would being marginalized for being perfect mean? Would it be a slight against you, or would it mean an issue for those who shun you? Obviously, the latter. Those who shun you have the issue for not being able to bear the thought that you are automatically “better” in everything. Not “better” or more worthy as a person, but better in terms of ability.
So where’s the problem with being called any slur? Is the slur just a slang term for an otherwise accurate label?
Some nitwits who visit here have chastised me as a homophobe for my use of the contraction “homo”. Boo-hoo. I am neither irrationally afraid of either mankind in general or homosexuals, whichever the mean by the term. They will call me “bigot” for my use of the term. But obviously, I am no bigot simply for using a contraction.
But it is hurtful, they will say? Why would or should it be if there is nothing wrong with being a homo? What the hell is wrong with them for taking offense at being something they proclaim to be morally benign?
I can be referred to as a “Bible-thumper” or a “Jesus freak” or a “fundie” and be marginalized as a result. That’s OK. There are plenty of like-minded people with whom I can associate, as well as more rational “non-religious” people who can deal with our differences. And politically, I’ve been called an “asshole Republican” and I merely consider the source.
Recently, there has been legislation proposed, and I think adopted, by some states and possibly on the federal level, that would alter legal documents and laws that use the term “mentally retarded” or any of its forms. I bring this up because it is also irrational to me. It used to be an acceptable term, but because it’s been used as an epithet, it is no longer acceptable. What seems to be lost on those well intentioned supporters of such changes is that whatever term or word is used to replace that which has become an epithet, the replacement will be used in the exact same manner in due course. The term was meant to attack those who have shown a lack of intelligence by their actions or mistakes regardless of their true level of intelligence. For the mentally retarded, to called a retard is merely a statement of fact. Change it to “challenged” and what do you think will happen? Do something stupid and someone will eventually call you “mentally challenged”.
The real issue here is two-fold.
1) For the pitcher, it doesn’t matter what words one uses to attack another person. The issue is the attack itself. The attitude that one is trying to insult and hurt another is the sin, not the method or word used.
2) For the catcher, this also has two components of note.
a) If the label is accurate or not, why let it hurt? Why give it the power intended by the pitcher? Get a spine.
b) If the label is accurate or not, what difference if it is a slang term or not?