Ever since I was a child I’ve been troubling the people in my life with my questions and with the insistence on them being answered in a way that is satisfactory to me. The most recurrent of those questions has to do with language.
Whenever I think about the topic I cannot but reminisce about a specific event. I was around 5 or 6 and my best friend and neighbor suggested for us to jump from the second floor using umbrellas to “gently glide” onto the ground. So I called him an IDIOT and started to pick up my toys to leave. To my surprise, little Manolito started crying his eyes out, ran inside, told his mom what I had said, the lady told my mom and I ended up in deep trouble.
Now, even for my fast expanding brain that whole thing happened way too fast. Let’s recapitulate, my friend wants to do something that 99.9% of parents would agree is IDIOTIC (the ones that won’t, are IDIOTS indeed) and because I stated the “obviousness of the truth” (from the Matrix) I got in trouble. Wow, it is still unclear, isn’t it?
So here’s the kicker, it turns out that Manolito, my dear, dear friend suffered from mental retardation and I didn’t know. Things begin to clarify. Needless to say Manolito’s mom never let me play with him again.
My mom was angry at first but then she realized that I didn’t see Manolito as my “little retarded friend” I just saw him as my friend and when he did something idiotic I called him on it. So now my mom’s in a pickle, should she tell me that it’s not ok to call people that suffer from mental retardation Idiots or that the word Idiot is a “bad word” and shouldn’t be used at all? I can see her dilemma, can you?
Regrettably for my mom, she tried telling me about “good words” and “bad words”. She would have been way better off telling me about “understanding your audience”. You see where this is going, right? So, here’s the question that NOBODY has been able to answer satisfactorily to me: Should I say what I mean or what’s accepted by others?
Let me elaborate.
I think that people that seem obsessed with political correctness are at least one of the following: intolerant, racist, sexist, violent, homophobic and/or discriminatory.
It is my belief that if someone has to stop him/herself from saying something, they are being inauthentic when they substitute the word they really want to use with another more “socially acceptable”. Additionally, the word that they wanted to use originally is the one that truly represents their feelings, world view, culture and even their intentions.
I don’t use certain words because they simply don’t reflect my view not because I’m abstaining myself from saying something I want to say. But I like to think that people will grant me that I’m adult enough to choose my own damn words correctly. I have to use an example to illustrate this point.
You see, I DON’T call black people the “N-word” (I’m using this substitute not because the word is “bad” but because I don’t want a bunch of IDIOTS from the KKK reading my blog because of their Google searches, clear?) not because I prevent myself from using it. I don’t call them that, because the word reflects a world view that I don’t share. The exact same phenomenon happens with not calling Hispanics SPICS or any of the other qualifiers that all these people that are obsessed with political correctness trained themselves not to use, except of course, in the privacy of their own homes.
I don’t call people with mental disability RETARDED not because I don’t want to look bad in front of my rich friends but because I think the word is misapplied (retarded would refer to the person and not to their mental age in relationship to a statistical standard). I don’t call my Homosexual friends FAGS not because I’m nice, but because I don’t understand that that word fucking means, but I do call them GAY (adj. having or showing a merry, lively mood) because I find it very fitting.
I have been known to use the term RED-NECK from time to time (well, maybe a lot) and I’m not afraid to say it. How I interpret the phrase (is not a word) is as a cultural denominator. I think that Bill Engvall illustrates the point way better than I can in his “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” when he does his routine “You’re a Red-neck if you…” I happen to think that the term is not at all inspired by race but by the ignorant behavior it represents. I’m sure that if you look hard enough you can find a lot of Hispanic, black, Asian and Polish Red-Necks out there.
I WANT the people that use racial epithets to use them, I WANT the people that use “gay-slurs” to continue using them, I WANT all the religious extremists to continue to “offend” their counterparts. How else would I know what people really think, and maybe more importantly, who they are?
By now you’re asking yourself: Well, if everybody starts saying what they think wouldn’t that incite violence and war?
Well, it shouldn’t. If someone calls me a SPIC and I punch him in the face, I belong in jail and he belongs back at home with the rest of the red-necks. Words are powerful not because they carry any power, words are powerful because we use them as vehicles for our power.
I assert that very similar claims can be made in reference to the “vulgar” or “obscene” words that have been banned from American television and radio (and apparently every day life).
You will pay a heavy fine, in the U.S. today, if you speak any of the Seven Forbidden Words on radio or television–shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. [Are you offended yet?]
Who made them “obscene”? Why are they “offensive”? I really wish I could find someone who’s never used this words (not even inside his head) and ask them why are these words offensive, or IF they are.
As Mr. George Carlin pointed out in the comedy routine which led the Supreme Court to perform their even more remarkable comedy routine of banning WORDS, fucking seems one of the most common topics on television, even though nobody uses the word. To paraphrase Mr. Carlin, many guests on the Merv Griffin and Donahue shows have written books on how to fuck or who to fuck or how to fuck better, and nobody objects as long as they say “sexual intercourse” instead of “fucking.”
Almost identical things can be said about the other words in the list. But television is one thing and real life is another.
I’m an avid user of several, if not all, the words on that list and I think there’s a place and time for all of them.
While I’ve always been somewhat known for my unabridged use of ALL the words in language, lately I find myself being criticized by my use of some words from this list (and some others as well) and I really don’t understand it.
Same point, if I call someone a DIMWIT (n. Slang A stupid person) is because I wanted to use that specific word instead of using FUCKING IDIOT, one that is reserved for bigger and more “important” characters. Believe it or not, I put a conscious effort into using words that I understand and almost never use them by accident.
So if the conversation calls for FUCK SHIT PISS, why would I say Intercourse, excrement, urine? Do they communicate the same thing? Say you bump your head on a low-hanging branch and then you scream FECES! At the top of your lungs…did it communicate your intent?
I’m just saying…don’t get hung up on my words, If I say a word that catches your attention, have the courtesy of assuming I intended to use it, I know the meaning of it and I’m of legal age to be saying such things. After you have done all that, establish your judgment of me and my “values” that you were going to establish anyway.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
- If the word fuck is obscene or “dirty”, why isn’t the word duck 75% “dirty”? (Use the same logic with cunt and punt)
- What’s the difference between a playboy’s centerfold and a nude Renoir?
- In the 1950s, the film “The Moon Is Blue,” became a center of controversy and actually got banned in some cities because it contained the word “virgin.” How does this seem in retrospect?
My wish is that you fully understand that words are just vehicles. That we have way bigger fish to fry than to try to correct and regulate each other into being a “peaceful” society where nobody ever loses their temper or uses an “insulting” word. Bunnies and rainbows are nice but the real world contains a lot more objects than that and certainly some of them require “bad words” to describe them.
Try it. Call me an asshole. That’s a good start.