"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom." - Thomas Paine
I’ve been following closely the comments made after articles about using the word “retard”. They have been disappointing for the most part. The same old arguments are being whipped out.
"I have a right to use this word!”
“If you are so sensitive, do you park in the handicapped spot in the parking lot?”
“Has this word been used toward you or yours? If your loved one wasn’t offended, why should you be?”
“This is thought control!”
“Masking language is just window dressing.”
“It’s just a word!”
“Get over yourself. You just want to control everyone’s speech to gain social power.”
“I’m not insulting special needs people, I am insulting a normal person who is acting like a developmentally disabled person! It’s just a metaphor!”
“Soon we won’t be able to speak!”
Yes, these are all pulled from actual comments, made by actual people, defending the use of the r-word.
Freedom is not free. With every right comes responsibility. Respect is also “just a word.”
Language is a powerful tool, and one that should not be taken lightly. So many not only take language for granted, they judge others by their abilities to use and manipulate it.
Yes, I can fling back platitudes with the rest of them. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Metaphors have meaning. Insults cut both ways. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
We are human beings, and many of us are given the gift of speech. Use it wisely. Use it well.