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Using words that offend people

Last posted Jan 28, 2014 at 04:29PM EST. Added Jan 27, 2014 at 04:15PM EST
11 conversations with 11 participants

So earlier today one of my friends got angry at another friend for using the word “retarded” and demanded that she stop using that word. Now at first I was angry because we have freedom to use whatever words we please in everyday conversation. I was also really surprised that he got all aggressive about it, because I’ve known him for a while and he’s never reacted like this before and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard people say “retarded” around him before. But when I thought about it, we all seem to have certain words we tend to want people to avoid. I know my friend who made the demand clearly went about this the wrong way, because you should never, NEVER tell someone what the can and can not say.
However, if he asked politely like he should have, would it still be incorrect to say “retarded” if you disagree with his opinion?

Jan 27, 2014 at 04:15PM EST

Unless you mean Politcally so, there doesn’t seem to be a correct or incorrect outlook.
Personally I’ve never really bothered changing my use of language to suit my company, it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear me say nigger or faggot (Though my own connotations make obvious bias on this topic. I can’t say the latter words without thinking of the male-bonding act of “Ball-Busting” with my heterosexual white friends).

Whenever someone I met was offended by my language, we didn’t share company. I always felt like it was less about offending them, so much as a root ideal that clashed.

Jan 27, 2014 at 05:41PM EST

Language is language. The context put in is what matters. Humans have advanced so far in terms of the mind that we created these “harmful” words without truly understanding the nature of such words.

The word “retarded” is a fragile word. So many people use insulting words such as “gay” and “retarded” though the things they are taunting are not “gay” or “retarded”. A quick Google search shows the defintion of retarded, less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual for one’s age. I don’t think you would call a mentaly challenged person retarded, because that would be harmful. But in everyday use, people don’t actually fully mean what they say. Your friend probably was looking for a strong word to fortify his claim.

Jan 27, 2014 at 05:58PM EST

I’m not offended by words. I do use words like faggot and nigger, but that’s mostly just with my friends. I know not to use those words around certain people.

Don’t try to be offended. Don’t try to be offensive.

Jan 27, 2014 at 06:15PM EST

The only time I can think of where a friend asked “do not use this word” was over something that meant nothing to me, but meant a lot to him because of the use of said word in context to things that have happened or were said to him in the past. It’s not even a swear word.

If a word or phrase seriously digs deep into someone then I’d avoid using it. I don’t think it’s worth using a word if it meant losing a good friend. Besides, there’s plenty of other words in the dictionary.

Jan 27, 2014 at 06:20PM EST

Overall, I have just outright avoided using derogatory pronouns all together. Of course this took a conscious effort on my part until it was unconscious, and there are times when I get so angry that I lose my filter, but that’s kinda rare for me.

So I have stopped using words that haven’t lost their context from overusage yet. If I need to insult somebody I can insult them several other ways that actually have a solid meaning. In a world where the derogatory slang has lost it’s meaning and is just endlessly spouted by people who can’t actually formulate something with any actual impact; actual criticism tends to hurt more.

Jan 27, 2014 at 07:27PM EST

Fun fact: the words “retard,” “idiot,” “stupid,” and “dumb” were all formally medical terms that referred to what is now politically correctly called “intellectual disability.”

The English language is constantly changing and evolving. New words are invented (I’m going to go google that.“), old words fade away (”Ye verily,“), and current words are re-appropriated (”Go fetch some faggots. The fire’s starting to go out."). Unfortunately, Tumblr, along with your friend, seem to forget this basic fact.

If we can’t use a word like “retarded” (or the other former medical terms) to refer to someone/thing who has acted or done something that is perceived as lacking proper thought or reasoning, then what word, exactly, can we use?

Last edited Jan 28, 2014 at 01:26AM EST
Jan 28, 2014 at 01:25AM EST

If this goes on, the word “challenged” will be used as an insult soon.

Jan 28, 2014 at 04:40AM EST

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