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  1. #21
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    I couldn't agree more, and want to point out that I am more interested in addressing intolerant attitudes towards vulnerable people.
    Happy to see you took it in the spirit with which it was offered.

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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    I disagree vehemently that people with challenging medical conditions should be used figuratively to insult others.
    So you've never used 'blind' or 'deaf' to exaggerate or chastise someone when they fail to see the obvious? Or any number of terms that were or are medical terms? I find it hard to believe that anyone's language could be so sanitized.

    We understand that we often aren't personally being addressed by this insult. However, we are the figure of comparison and we are being painted as failures.
    Despite your own personal experiences, I think you are taking other people's point of view too personally. Failure or failing are not the target of the use of the terms. It is how something we see matches a medical condition and the use of the word to exaggerate things, sometimes not even to insult but to chide, sometimes with humor (without mocking).


    Oh yes it is the same thing. You try going on a public bus and having everyone stare at you because of your symptoms until some ignorant person says: "What are you, retarded?" You underestimate just how cruel people can be.
    I'm not advocating that people should be bullied or insulted in public but as Talthas recognized not using the word retarded in that context doesn't hide the goal of that person to hurt you in some way. It isn't the word that is the issue, it is that person's attitude.

    And the only reason that will happen is our complicit resignation.
    Unfortunately, this isn't a battle that is easily described or won without also making people use it more. I don't personally think the term 'retard' really holds that much power any more. If it is used against me, I really would not react much.


    No one here said that social stigmatizing should fly in the face of real education. It is still warranted, however. You don't just stand by as if behavior like that is okay.
    Well, I think using words is OK so long as people aren't being directly harmed by them. And it all depends on context - I wouldn't ever call a black person a slave, even as a joke. However, I wouldn't hesitate to use it in other contexts and see nothing wrong with that.

    If you had understood the OP you wouldn't have told Talthas he was arguing for words to be banned.
    He was talking about restricting people's use of the word in ways that don't work.

    So we should just leave folks like myself by the wayside and just roll over and play dead, because we don't think we can change things? We have made progress on issues like this, so it behooves us to do just that with mental disabilities being stigmatized.
    Not at all but to take a word like retard is a tough one. I think using new terms with an outreach program is better. Retard is where moron, idiot and cretin are : in common use, the stigma largely gone and its purpose non medical.

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit when I read that. There is absolutely nothing fitting about comparing healthy people to my friend. She is not a failure so in no way should people be compared to her as if she was one. To do so is pure hubris.
    That you are inform or personally affected doesn't change the fact that nearly all people aren't . So bashing people for being ignorant to details seems unduly harsh. As my Downs example shows, when people have empathy towards a condition they are generally pretty good at being careful what they say.

    It has everything to do with "the persons suffering". They are being used as a figure in a comparison, to the effect that they are failures, not a "whole" or "equal" person.
    No! It has everything to do with the conditions that the term describes and very little to do with the actual sufferers. Lost people don't know anyone with any serious conditions.

    Or take another example, old age or Altzheimers. How many times is that used in a self deprecating manner? Are all grandmothers insulted now?

    No, it doesn't denigrate slaves because it isn't using them as a comparison and painting them in a negative light. Slaves do slave away at things.
    Yes, but slaves do not get paid and do not have freedom. So when describing yourself as working hard as slavery, it is totally off the mark.


    If you truly sympathized you would understand that people like her and myself shouldn't be figuratively used as an example of a failure. Had you dealt with any of the symptoms I've mentioned you would have been public ostracized from childhood on with the rest of us, and you would not appreciate this term at all.
    I do empathize but your history has nothing to do with how other people use words in contexts that are far from your own. No one is advocating being cruel to anyone with any condition - that's not what is being discussed here.

    What is being discussed is how words should be used and what we as a society should so about it. I am 100% with you that people with mental conditions shouldn't be mocked. For all other uses, one has to be careful in using terms in ways that do not cause offense. At the same time, I don't think that causing offense is always a bad thing to do either.

    And I have to say that your rather unsympathetic viewpoints on gay issues (especially in our unfinished thread), I'm having a bit of a hard time trying to ignore it on this thread. Not that being gay is a medical condition but they are under just as little control over their desires as you are with your own condition. Why do you not see that? Not that I'm suggesting that you're mocking them but you do seem to be on the side of not giving them equal rights. It does seem to be rather odd that there's a different calculus.

  3. #23
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    So you've never used 'blind' or 'deaf' to exaggerate or chastise someone when they fail to see the obvious? Or any number of terms that were or are medical terms? I find it hard to believe that anyone's language could be so sanitized.
    Being blind or deaf means that you have an impaired sense, so if you do have an impaired sense you do probably fail to recognize obvious things all the time. People are accommodating and don't denigrate you as a person, normally, when you have an impaired sense. They are used as comparative figures when someone fails to recognize something. Mentally handicapped people are used as comparative figures because they "fail" to measure up to something. Blind and deaf children aren't typically ostracized as much, their parents don't ignore their condition and oppose the diagnosis out of shame (as is quite common with mentally disabled people), etc. The issue is in how vulnerable people are being used as figures in comparison. If someone is vulnerable and he/she is being used as a comparative figure as if he/she is inferior, then I have a problem with it. I may or may not be perfect when it comes to this, but as soon as I learn that I am saying something that is painful to vulnerable people I will be sure to correct my behavior.

    Despite your own personal experiences, I think you are taking other people's point of view too personally. Failure or failing are not the target of the use of the terms. It is how something we see matches a medical condition and the use of the word to exaggerate things, sometimes not even to insult but to chide, sometimes with humor (without mocking).
    Regardless of the context you implied there, it uses "retard" or whatever else as a negative. Even if it is completely casual, and meant to be hyperbolic, it still expresses that it would be negative for that person to have the condition or be in that vulnerable circumstance. And that people like myself have the experiences we do is grounds alone for everyone to take a stand against people with mental disorders being ostracized and having their condition used against them as a pejorative.

    I'm not advocating that people should be bullied or insulted in public but as Talthas recognized not using the word retarded in that context doesn't hide the goal of that person to hurt you in some way. It isn't the word that is the issue, it is that person's attitude.
    I agree that the person's attitude is the issue. Which is why I would find it unacceptable if they used any such term to denigrate vulnerable people.

    And here you are contradicting yourself:

    Instead, it appears that you want to suppress interpretations of words that have gain currency and common understanding. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a clinical term to describe someone as an insult - that's what insults are for: to suggest or exaggerate a failure in an opponent. Using 'retarded' in that context is no more or less worse than any other term; 'cretin', 'moron', 'mong' and other terms began their linguistic lives as medical terms so it appears that this is just how insults are generated. And giving the insult an air of scientific credibility just makes it a better insult IMHO.

    Your argument basically says that people shouldn't insult other people with new terms, which seems to be a weird way of retarding (i.e. slowing down) linguistic development.
    1. That is not his argument.

    2. Here you clearly state that insults "suggest or exaggerate a failure in an opponent".

    3. Not only that but you seem to be saying that insults are good so apparently people should be insulted in public, in your mind. So feel free to clarify and correct me on this.

    Moving on:

    Unfortunately, this isn't a battle that is easily described or won without also making people use it more. I don't personally think the term 'retard' really holds that much power any more. If it is used against me, I really would not react much.
    That is because you haven't been stigmatized with it your whole life. I invite you again to have an episode or other distracting symptoms in public and see how you like it when someone calls you retarded. And rinse and repeat for decades.

    Well, I think using words is OK so long as people aren't being directly harmed by them. And it all depends on context - I wouldn't ever call a black person a slave, even as a joke. However, I wouldn't hesitate to use it in other contexts and see nothing wrong with that.
    Using this term in it's popular context today is harmful. So long as you do use it in a context that doesn't imply that we are defective, then it is fine with me.

    That you are inform or personally affected doesn't change the fact that nearly all people aren't . So bashing people for being ignorant to details seems unduly harsh. As my Downs example shows, when people have empathy towards a condition they are generally pretty good at being careful what they say.
    Which is exactly why they should be empathetic and careful: they aren't personally affected. They don't have to deal on a daily basis with extremely unpleasant symptoms. Most likely they have never had a seizure or an episode. This is good and I wouldn't wish some of the symptoms I had as a child on my worst enemy. If they do know that people have similar symptoms and by their very nature they hurt a person's self esteem during child development, then they shouldn't regard it as a casual subject. Regardless of their familiarity with someone's condition, if they see someone behaving strangely in public they should restrain themselves out of compassion.

    No! It has everything to do with the conditions that the term describes and very little to do with the actual sufferers. Lost people don't know anyone with any serious conditions.
    If someone is painted in a negative light, however casually and flippantly, because they "must" suffer from some condition to do this or say that, then it does have something to do with the people suffering from thus and such of a condition.

    Yes, but slaves do not get paid and do not have freedom. So when describing yourself as working hard as slavery, it is totally off the mark.
    You seem to be unaware of the wider context of the history of slavery, then (slaves most definitely have been paid, weren't slaves for life, and had quite a few personal freedoms, in ancient Rome for example). Plus, not only can it be a hyperbolic figure of speech but it can certainly be an accurate figure of speech. Ranchers, loggers, and pipefitters, for example, often participate in work activities that are as laborious and take as many hours as slave labor might. Try visiting a ranch and observing the physically challenging and painful labor that ranch hands engage in for as much as 14-16 hours.

    I do empathize but your history has nothing to do with how other people use words in contexts that are far from your own. No one is advocating being cruel to anyone with any condition - that's not what is being discussed here.

    What is being discussed is how words should be used and what we as a society should so about it. I am 100% with you that people with mental conditions shouldn't be mocked. For all other uses, one has to be careful in using terms in ways that do not cause offense. At the same time, I don't think that causing offense is always a bad thing to do either.
    It is a bad thing when it is an offense against a vulnerable party. The average healthy person maybe can brook such a comparison without feeling hurt. But when you lead a challenging life, whether or not it's mental, or you've maybe been disenfranchised and treated terribly like refugees in Sudan, it is not a casual matter.

    And I have to say that your rather unsympathetic viewpoints on gay issues (especially in our unfinished thread), I'm having a bit of a hard time trying to ignore it on this thread. Not that being gay is a medical condition but they are under just as little control over their desires as you are with your own condition. Why do you not see that? Not that I'm suggesting that you're mocking them but you do seem to be on the side of not giving them equal rights. It does seem to be rather odd that there's a different calculus.
    1. I am very sympathetic with gay people, in part because I used to be gay myself. Not only was I sexually oriented towards men but I had very real feelings for a few.

    2. It is still very much up for debate how voluntary sexual orientation is. And I don't think it's all that presumptuous to say that sexual behavior is way more voluntary than having a seizure. I can have a particular sexual orientation and either choose not to act on it my whole life or never get the opportunity. But if there is something chemically different about my brain I have absolutely no choice in the matter.

    3. In all reality, I am completely for equal rights for homosexual people. They are people too and should be provided equal protection under the constitution. What I think is debatable is what protections should be provided by the constitution. It is my personal opinion that theological subjects like marriage-and I say it is theological because that is it's original context, it is how it became a sacrament instead of a partnership like we see in more "primitive" societies that don't recognize such a relationship with a sacrament- shouldn't be a subject of law at all. As far as the government is concerned all such relationships should be called civil unions and they should be afforded the same benefits and tax status. If they did things that way people would have their first amendment rights protected in that they would be able to define marriage as they please. You could go ahead and go to a church that calls marriage something different, or not go to church and simply hold a different opinion. That would be fine with me.

    And I would be able to go to my church and agree with my friends there on our definition of marriage without being labelled as bigots just because we have a theological viewpoint. Simply because we don't think that same sex cohabitation and child rearing is the best idea, has nothing to do with the fact that we regard them as our equals and think they should have equal protection under the law. Our resistance over this issue has to do with us being forced to redefine the word and how our opinions are being stigmatized as bigotry.
    Last edited by Lukecash12; March 20th, 2014 at 10:03 PM.
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  4. #24
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Being blind or deaf means that you have an impaired sense, so if you do have an impaired sense you do probably fail to recognize obvious things all the time. People are accommodating and don't denigrate you as a person, normally, when you have an impaired sense. They are used as comparative figures when someone fails to recognize something. Mentally handicapped people are used as comparative figures because they "fail" to measure up to something.
    I'm not really getting the specific distinction here and the use of 'failure' in a sense where it is not meant. There is 'failing' to see or understand something that is entirely biologically and not under someone's control. Then there's failing as in not measuring up to your potential. And you're conflating the two.

    When it is used as an insult, it is clearly not meant literally, it is supposed to say that the target isn't doing something that he should otherwise be able to do. Obviously, if the person were not physically not capable or mentally unable to do something then the insult wouldn't make sense: it would just be factual and cease as being derogatory. That's why when it is revealed that the person actually does have some kind of disease, there is embarrassment. It is this embarrassment that clearly shows the intent is not to denigrate people with an actual problem.


    Blind and deaf children aren't typically ostracized as much, their parents don't ignore their condition and oppose the diagnosis out of shame (as is quite common with mentally disabled people), etc. The issue is in how vulnerable people are being used as figures in comparison. If someone is vulnerable and he/she is being used as a comparative figure as if he/she is inferior, then I have a problem with it. I may or may not be perfect when it comes to this, but as soon as I learn that I am saying something that is painful to vulnerable people I will be sure to correct my behavior.
    Well, there was a time when mental problems were not as well understood and people were afraid or didn't know how to properly deal with these issues. I do not believe this is the case any longer and people are much more aware of the issues. Or at least now people know they are being total jerks if they treat vulnerable people badly.

    Homosexuality went from being illegal to being completely accepted in most circles; and it is the same with mental disorders of all sorts. So while the world isn't perfect, I think it is getting better for everyone as we understand human behavior, diseases and problems. Everyone is sensitive to all these issues so it would be unusual for someone to continue being bad to people.


    Regardless of the context you implied there, it uses "retard" or whatever else as a negative. Even if it is completely casual, and meant to be hyperbolic, it still expresses that it would be negative for that person to have the condition or be in that vulnerable circumstance. And that people like myself have the experiences we do is grounds alone for everyone to take a stand against people with mental disorders being ostracized and having their condition used against them as a pejorative.
    Well, I can't put this more gently, but I do so with utter respect: being blind or mentally retarded, actually is a negative. It is not something that people want to suffer from, or to wish onto others and most people will sympathize with sufferers. Think about it: if it weren't negative, debilitating or otherwise making someone's quality of life worse, there would be no need for sympathy.

    But there's a vast gulf between seeing a condition as something you wouldn't want (i.e. a negative) and it being a pejorative. I don't think even as an insult it is meant pejoratively against the original suffers. You're linking two entirely different things. If you think about The Gay: that had been used pejoratively in the past when it meant that you were less masculine but modern understanding of such things makes that pejorative nonsensical: when someone calls me gay for wearing a purple shirt, I point out how does wearing a purple shirt suddenly make you want to kiss a man? See, it makes totally no sense to call people gay any more, not lease of which some gay people are more 'masculine' (i.e. stronger, fitter, etc.) than I will ever be.

    And it is the same with mental conditions.


    I agree that the person's attitude is the issue. Which is why I would find it unacceptable if they used any such term to denigrate vulnerable people.
    Yes, but we are not talking about denigrating vulnerable people! We are talking about denigrating non-vulnerable people that clearly do not have such conditions.


    And here you are contradicting yourself:

    1. That is not his argument.

    2. Here you clearly state that insults "suggest or exaggerate a failure in an opponent".

    Moving on:
    I think I explained the distinction between a failure of a person that doesn't already have the failing; and those that actually do. You are discussing your personal case which no-one has said is OK and conflating it with a situation where I do believe it is OK.

    The contradiction is only there if you mix the two situations together.

    3. Not only that but you seem to be saying that insults are good so apparently people should be insulted in public, in your mind. So feel free to clarify and correct me on this.
    Actually, yes, I think insults do several things well:

    1. It emphasizes that the person doesn't actually have this quality: otherwise, it wouldn't be much of an insult but a description. And indeed, it would lose its power as an insult and backfire on the insulter.

    2. It confirms that the person being insulted could do better and isn't because of a direct personal failing that they have control over.

    3. Sometimes insults can be apt and funny, sometimes in a taboo breaking manner. Sometimes insults can be clever. And sometimes insults can go wrong.

    4. In some cases even insulting a disabled person is in a backwards way making that person feel normal: it's a sense of relief that you're not being tiptoed around and everyone walking and talking and thinking on eggshells all the time. Or even ironically using the condition itself against a person with that condition can be seen as a leveling: only to be done between very close friends of course.

    So it all depends on context and the relationship between the two people and whether there is really true malice behind it; or even if there is malice that it is done without disrespecting people with such conditions.


    That is because you haven't been stigmatized with it your whole life. I invite you again to have an episode or other distracting symptoms in public and see how you like it when someone calls you retarded. And rinse and repeat for decades.
    You're right, I haven't but I have certainly been made to feel that I'm not living up to the role of a 'real man'. I just happen to hate sports and activity and the outdoors and have zero interest in cars, DIY and other traditional manly pursuits. I just don't care and that's the attitude you need to develop too. But again, these aren't the situation we are talking about.

    JJ: hat you are inform or personally affected doesn't change the fact that nearly all people aren't . So bashing people for being ignorant to details seems unduly harsh. As my Downs example shows, when people have empathy towards a condition they are generally pretty good at being careful what they say.

    Which is exactly why they should be empathetic and careful: they aren't personally affected. They don't have to deal on a daily basis with extremely unpleasant symptoms. Most likely they have never had a seizure or an episode. This is good and I wouldn't wish some of the symptoms I had as a child on my worst enemy. If they do know that people have similar symptoms and by their very nature they hurt a person's self esteem during child development, then they shouldn't regard it as a casual subject. Regardless of their familiarity with someone's condition, if they see someone behaving strangely in public they should restrain themselves out of compassion.
    As I said, I think people are much more educated and aware about all these conditions. They are less fearful, more understanding, and possibly even trained to help: I know you don't put spoons into the mouth of someone having an epileptic fit.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. I am very sympathetic with gay people, in part because I used to be gay myself. Not only was I sexually oriented towards men but I had very real feelings for a few.
    Well, you know best but I believe that sexual preferences don't ever go away. I've always liked women and not men and my tastes in women haven't really changed much either. As for being sympathetic, I'm not seeing that; in suggesting that not acting gay you are almost saying those people that are out and out gay are failing to suppress their natural orientations.

    2. It is still very much up for debate how voluntary sexual orientation is. And I don't think it's all that presumptuous to say that sexual behavior is way more voluntary than having a seizure. I can have a particular sexual orientation and either choose not to act on it my whole life or never get the opportunity. But if there is something chemically different about my brain I have absolutely no choice in the matter.
    True. Sexual acts are wholly under your own control but the underlying desire is not. Modern thinking is that we shouldn't suppress our natural desires just to fit in or obey externally imposed upon rules from society or religion (or in Uganda and Russia, the law). That you choose not to act has nothing to do with those that choose similarly not to suppress their desires.

    The big point that you are totally missing is that even if it is 100% voluntary and we could switch orientation back and forth at will, that it is still 'wrong' in some sense. It would still be wrong to be against gay marriage even if two men all of sudden decided to divorce their wives and marry each other.

    The entire point of LGBT equality is that people are allowed to love whoever they want. That the government has no say in the matter, and certainly no religion.

    3. In all reality, I am completely for equal rights for homosexual people. They are people too and should be provided equal protection under the constitution. What I think is debatable is what protections should be provided by the constitution. It is my personal opinion that theological subjects like marriage-and I say it is theological because that is it's original context, it is how it became a sacrament instead of a partnership like we see in more "primitive" societies that don't recognize such a relationship with a sacrament- shouldn't be a subject of law at all. As far as the government is concerned all such relationships should be called civil unions and they should be afforded the same benefits and tax status. If they did things that way people would have their first amendment rights protected in that they would be able to define marriage as they please. You could go ahead and go to a church that calls marriage something different, or not go to church and simply hold a different opinion. That would be fine with me.
    I believe that this is all that is being asked for. Theology shouldn't even enter the discussion at all; that you see it as a sacrament depends upon a belief that God even exists.

    To call atheists 'primitive' is a little wrong-headed: we're not ignorant of the arguments for God - we are rejecting them - it is a more knowledgeable position and encompasses knowledge of all religions, science and history. Indeed, it seems to be that believing in magical beings and powers is 'primitive'. But I digress ...

    And I would be able to go to my church and agree with my friends there on our definition of marriage without being labelled as bigots just because we have a theological viewpoint. Simply because we don't think that same sex cohabitation and child rearing is the best idea, has nothing to do with the fact that we regard them as our equals and think they should have equal protection under the law. Our resistance over this issue has to do with us being forced to redefine the word and how our opinions are being stigmatized as bigotry.
    Words get redefined all the time so you have little sympathy on that front. Marriage as an institution has also changed throughout history and there are many heterosexuals that do so without the presence of a deity. So if you insist on a definition of 'marriage' being one that requires opposite genders AND the sacraments of your God; then why aren't you similarly up in arms when atheists get 'married' or when other religions get 'married' under different Gods.

    It is this appears to justify the charge of bigotry and hypocrisy because the redefinition of marriage has already occurred with complete silence. That the gender similarity is a larger issue than the absence of God in heterosexual marriages point to some calculus that puts being gay as being worse than being an atheist. So theology doesn't really seem to have much to do with it: it does seem to be more of a personal animus than one that is theologically justified (even though you'd like to think it is). And if theology takes a second place to sexual orientation then the claim of it having to be 'sacrament' is moot.

    Even if it were theologically justified, surely you'd be should be more against being an atheist than being gay, since it is the 'sacrament' that you are using to claim term 'marriage' in the first place.

    So color me very confused on the matter.

    Back to the topic at hand though, I remain surprised that you believe that your use of a particular word should over-ride other people's desire to use the same word in a context that you do not like. In the 'retard' discussion and the 'marriage' point here, it seems that you believe there to be some kind of ownership or boundary that needs to be respected into areas that have nothing to do with your particular situation.


    (Also, I know you don't want to but we should finish up the other thread: I really don't believe that you have the research to back up your position.)

  5. #25
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    I'm not really getting the specific distinction here and the use of 'failure' in a sense where it is not meant. There is 'failing' to see or understand something that is entirely biologically and not under someone's control. Then there's failing as in not measuring up to your potential. And you're conflating the two.

    When it is used as an insult, it is clearly not meant literally, it is supposed to say that the target isn't doing something that he should otherwise be able to do. Obviously, if the person were not physically not capable or mentally unable to do something then the insult wouldn't make sense: it would just be factual and cease as being derogatory. That's why when it is revealed that the person actually does have some kind of disease, there is embarrassment. It is this embarrassment that clearly shows the intent is not to denigrate people with an actual problem.
    1. I wasn't conflating the two because that was exactly what I pointed out. The type of failure, "not meeting up to your potential", implied by this insult, is what I was pointing out to be different from telling someone he/she is "blind". My whole point was that they were different, not similar. Now if I might ask a small courtesy of you, monsieur, I would ask that you read my whole post before replying to this portion so you see exactly what I mean here. In my response to the sixth portion that I quote you'll see what I mean.

    2. That's exactly what I'm getting at. It's seen as derogatory to make the comparison, when it shouldn't be a derogatory comparison.

    Well, there was a time when mental problems were not as well understood and people were afraid or didn't know how to properly deal with these issues. I do not believe this is the case any longer and people are much more aware of the issues. Or at least now people know they are being total jerks if they treat vulnerable people badly.

    Homosexuality went from being illegal to being completely accepted in most circles; and it is the same with mental disorders of all sorts. So while the world isn't perfect, I think it is getting better for everyone as we understand human behavior, diseases and problems. Everyone is sensitive to all these issues so it would be unusual for someone to continue being bad to people.
    No offense but I don't think you're in a position to know what is the usual response. And I say that because you aren't the one making people uncomfortable at a bus stop. You may have been around during just such an occasion a few times, but you aren't the one who is there every time because you're the one acting strange. And I can tell you that insensitive people aren't as uncommon as you think.

    Well, I can't put this more gently, but I do so with utter respect: being blind or mentally retarded, actually is a negative. It is not something that people want to suffer from, or to wish onto others and most people will sympathize with sufferers. Think about it: if it weren't negative, debilitating or otherwise making someone's quality of life worse, there would be no need for sympathy.

    But there's a vast gulf between seeing a condition as something you wouldn't want (i.e. a negative) and it being a pejorative. I don't think even as an insult it is meant pejoratively against the original suffers. You're linking two entirely different things. If you think about The Gay: that had been used pejoratively in the past when it meant that you were less masculine but modern understanding of such things makes that pejorative nonsensical: when someone calls me gay for wearing a purple shirt, I point out how does wearing a purple shirt suddenly make you want to kiss a man? See, it makes totally no sense to call people gay any more, not lease of which some gay people are more 'masculine' (i.e. stronger, fitter, etc.) than I will ever be.

    And it is the same with mental conditions.
    1. But it is used as a pejorative, and fairly often.

    2. The issue isn't whether or not it's negative and affects one's quality of life, but whether or not people find it derogatory (however casually or seriously) that they are being compared to it.

    Yes, but we are not talking about denigrating vulnerable people! We are talking about denigrating non-vulnerable people that clearly do not have such conditions.
    We are the ones who are consequentially denigrated because we are being used to symbolize something. Not only that but there are terrible stereotypes that come along with it, that we somehow all have the mind of a child, and so on and so forth. There is quite a bit of variety amongst the mentally ill.

    1. It emphasizes that the person doesn't actually have this quality: otherwise, it wouldn't be much of an insult but a description. And indeed, it would lose its power as an insult and backfire on the insulter.
    When you emphasize that someone doesn't have a quality as you insult him/her, you aren't just saying it would be negative. Otherwise you would say "well you have migraines" or that they suffer from something else unpleasant. What is really happening is a devaluing of the person, of course most often in jest.

    2. It confirms that the person being insulted could do better and isn't because of a direct personal failing that they have control over.
    You're highlighting it pretty directly there: "do better". Do I do worse because there are some things that I can't do? Am I worse? No. And it's not because I am incapable of doing some things. It is because I am a human being, and human beings are not only incredibly novel and all of them are interesting/noteworthy, but they are all very capable of finding a purpose. The person whose blog I referred you to leads, IMO, a lot more of a meaningful life than many people I've met. She has met her potential, and she isn't impressive "within her capabilities". She is just plain impressive.

    So it all depends on context and the relationship between the two people and whether there is really true malice behind it; or even if there is malice that it is done without disrespecting people with such conditions.
    It's not so much the malice that concerns me as the mode of thinking. The malice is bad enough. And when people propagate this mode of thinking of "you could do better" on top of using a term that people like myself hear quite a few times as a pejorative, we don't appreciate it.

    You're right, I haven't but I have certainly been made to feel that I'm not living up to the role of a 'real man'. I just happen to hate sports and activity and the outdoors and have zero interest in cars, DIY and other traditional manly pursuits. I just don't care and that's the attitude you need to develop too. But again, these aren't the situation we are talking about.
    That's all well and good, until you experience a very unpleasant medical condition, which one of your parents is ashamed of and won't accept (even deriding you for your limitations as if you are less of a person), and then get stigmatized for it by a variety of people for decades. Saying "just buck up and change your attitude" isn't a lot of help. When people sink barbs into you all of your life you have to rethink everything and establish for yourself why they are wrong. You can't just change your attitude when from your childhood on you receive confusing and contradictory information that attacks your character and your value as a human being.

    I'm not looking for a pity party or saying my life has been worse than yours. What I'm saying is that for a lot of people it isn't nearly as simple or easy as a change in attitude. Yes, that does not to happen but that's at the end of the process when we can basically wrap our heads around it. Taking the attitude that it doesn't matter what they say because it isn't at all true doesn't work when you don't even know how you feel about it or furthermore even know whether or not they are right.

    Which is a big part of why I don't think we should even jest with things like this. When someone is in a predicament that literally gives him/her an existential crisis, I don't think there's any reason to casually make a reference to it. Of course we can't all know those predicaments, but if you told me of such a predicament that you've personally had, I'd never flippantly mention it around you at least.

    Well, you know best but I believe that sexual preferences don't ever go away. I've always liked women and not men and my tastes in women haven't really changed much either. As for being sympathetic, I'm not seeing that; in suggesting that not acting gay you are almost saying those people that are out and out gay are failing to suppress their natural orientations.
    I honestly don't know. My preference did change and it had to do with my emotions changing and my beliefs changing. I don't know if it is their natural orientation, and am honestly not sure if anyone even has a natural orientation. What I am under the impression of is that people develop an orientation in part through a complex psychological and social process. And I think sex means entirely different things to different people. On a physical level I think people build up preconceived notions of what is and isn't "icky" and what will feel good or bad. Having experienced things on both ends I am pretty sure that it is all pleasant and it is all emotionally satisfying. What I'm not sure of but have developed an opinion of, though, is that homosexual relationships aren't terribly emotionally healthy. And they don't seem to be the best in terms of child rearing.

    However, I'm not for restricting people in this realm at all and I just don't know enough to say that my opinions are completely fair or rational. What I can say is that I'm actually proud to admit my uncertainty on this as a Christian.

    True. Sexual acts are wholly under your own control but the underlying desire is not. Modern thinking is that we shouldn't suppress our natural desires just to fit in or obey externally imposed upon rules from society or religion (or in Uganda and Russia, the law). That you choose not to act has nothing to do with those that choose similarly not to suppress their desires.

    The big point that you are totally missing is that even if it is 100% voluntary and we could switch orientation back and forth at will, that it is still 'wrong' in some sense. It would still be wrong to be against gay marriage even if two men all of sudden decided to divorce their wives and marry each other.

    The entire point of LGBT equality is that people are allowed to love whoever they want. That the government has no say in the matter, and certainly no religion.
    And I couldn't agree with you more. I actually think that getting this issue out of the government's purview and just calling it all civil unions would protect my right to disagree with it and not approve of such a relationship. That in no way means that I don't approve of those people or that I wouldn't accept them into my church and my home. It also in no way means that I will go out of my way to criticize such people, or that I think that them persisting in it is going to damn them. God knows that there are things I don't understand and failures that I will persist in until the end of my life. I am no better than any of these people and God is bigger than it all.

    Maybe that doesn't mean a whole lot to you but I hope you can appreciate my viewpoint and understand that it isn't bigoted.

    Words get redefined all the time so you have little sympathy on that front. Marriage as an institution has also changed throughout history and there are many heterosexuals that do so without the presence of a deity. So if you insist on a definition of 'marriage' being one that requires opposite genders AND the sacraments of your God; then why aren't you similarly up in arms when atheists get 'married' or when other religions get 'married' under different Gods.
    While your reasonable, yes I will admit perfectly reasonable and fair, criticisms of my definition of marriage and it's consistency is a worthy topic (and I do have an answer for it, if you might be interesting in discussing this whole thing of marriage in another thread), it is actually periphery to the concern of whether or not we have the right to define it how we please, and whether or not it is bigoted for us to define it how we do.

    I believe that this is all that is being asked for. Theology shouldn't even enter the discussion at all; that you see it as a sacrament depends upon a belief that God even exists.

    To call atheists 'primitive' is a little wrong-headed: we're not ignorant of the arguments for God - we are rejecting them - it is a more knowledgeable position and encompasses knowledge of all religions, science and history. Indeed, it seems to be that believing in magical beings and powers is 'primitive'. But I digress ...
    Sorry, it wasn't my implication at all to say that other definitions of human mating and companionship are primitive or that atheists are primitive. I was actually commenting on the subject from a historical viewpoint, and I may well be wrong. But as I understand the history of the subject there wasn't anything "special" about the relationship before it became a religious sacrament.

    (Also, I know you don't want to but we should finish up the other thread: I really don't believe that you have the research to back up your position.)
    It's not that I don't want to, bro. My interests wax and wane, and there is only so much energy I can devote. Sometimes I just feel a little burnt out on something for whatever reason, and I give it a break until I can get back into it and it feels fresh. The reason that I do this is actually so that you're getting the quality luke, not the frustrated luke. You don't deserve the frustrated luke and I don't want to be the frustrated luke. So I'm not copping out on you, broskie. I've just got a few grey hairs and I can get cranky, so I give threads a break from time to time and can only focus on a one or two at a time if I want to produce quality material. I'm not here to prove a point, I'm also here to produce good material for you guys too, to actually come up with something worthwhile.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    2. That's exactly what I'm getting at. It's seen as derogatory to make the comparison, when it shouldn't be a derogatory comparison.

    It's the comparison that is derogatory not the end point. The gap between the current perceived state and the condition being compared. Otherwise, what you're essentially saying is that we can't compare anything.


    No offense but I don't think you're in a position to know what is the usual response. And I say that because you aren't the one making people uncomfortable at a bus stop.

    By usual response, I mean a modern educated response. Just as people aren't really as racist or sexist as they used to be, I believe people are more understanding towards people with mental disabilities. I am not trying to explain what happened in your past - I'm sure the people were just as malicious as you said. I'm saying that I don't think people behave this way any more, there's too much outreach and media attention and television shows that make it unlikely that people are that insensitive towards people.

    1. But it is used as a pejorative, and fairly often.

    Yes, but no more so than calling someone an idiot, moron, or cretin. Unfortunately, 'retard' is our lexicon as such a generic word, the medical meaning largely gone. Downs, Aspergers or other modern terms have replaced the word and I don't really see those being used as insults. That people are not doing so is precisely due to the point you've been making (see I have been reading), that in using those terms, it is invoking people with that condition. But even then I'd still argue that it's not so much demeaning Downs sufferers but it being mostly inaccurate - that we understand the implications of term so much more now that the word means when all we really want to do is to say that someone has done something stupid. The word 'retard' is just too generic and imprecise and non-detailed: just like idiot, moron or cretin - so useful to describe vaguely something stupid.

    It's why I'm saying the word 'gay' has lost its meaning as an insult.

    2. The issue isn't whether or not it's negative and affects one's quality of life, but whether or not people find it derogatory (however casually or seriously) that they are being compared to it.

    I understand that having the condition makes it more sensitive. Just as I'd never joke about slavery in front of anyone black, I would be just as careful using the word 'retard'. But outside of those scenarios, I think it's OK. I am just against blanket rules that ban the word in all situations, even when it is meant to be insulting to somebody else (but not the sufferers).

    You see, the line that should be drawn is not to demean people (except for Right-Wing Republicans, they're a special case since they actually directly harm people - half-joking). It's one thing to not demean someone directly, but an entirely other to say that the same terms shouldn't be use to demean other people in other situations.


    We are the ones who are consequentially denigrated because we are being used to symbolize something. Not only that but there are terrible stereotypes that come along with it, that we somehow all have the mind of a child, and so on and so forth. There is quite a bit of variety amongst the mentally ill.

    Well, it all comes down to education. I'm sure we all know more about these things than even 10 years ago. There's only so much detail that people can absorb but I believe the Downs movement, the publicity Asperger's or Alzheimer's have opened people's eyes to greater understanding about all medical conditions.

    One of the ways this can be done is for people with conditions to get out there. A hilarious British comedian kid made waves on the Internet last year, http://www.wimp.com/hilariousstand/. He brought a very human face towards people with disabilities; and there are a couple of other comedians with various mental disabilities out there too. And we're not made to feel sorry for them but we accept them as functional human beings with perhaps more challenges than other people.

    As the one gay outreach campaign was saying, 'it gets better' and it truly is getting better as we understand each other more and have more respect towards each other and less hostility. On that note, I don't bash Republicans for fun, but to understand the underlying principles behind the lying, false scenarios, and harmful politics: in the gay case, it has been whittled down to largely religious beliefs.

    So perhaps the root cause of your concerns isn't so much being demeaned but not understood. On that I agree and stand with you for better outreach and education. And that's where my disagreement with you and Talthas really lie - in almost demonizing or socially maligning people that use these terms, you're sometimes getting in the way of helping people learn.


    When you emphasize that someone doesn't have a quality as you insult him/her, you aren't just saying it would be negative. Otherwise you would say "well you have migraines" or that they suffer from something else unpleasant. What is really happening is a devaluing of the person, of course most often in jest.

    I agree - that's the point of an insult. I completely disagree that people should not use words that they understand in order to compare things. They may do it inaccurately but that can be corrected with education but they should be allowed to do so.

    You're highlighting it pretty directly there: "do better". Do I do worse because there are some things that I can't do? Am I worse? No. And it's not because I am incapable of doing some things. It is because I am a human being, and human beings are not only incredibly novel and all of them are interesting/noteworthy, but they are all very capable of finding a purpose. The person whose blog I referred you to leads, IMO, a lot more of a meaningful life than many people I've met. She has met her potential, and she isn't impressive "within her capabilities". She is just plain impressive.

    No! How can you possibly 'do worse' if that's all you are capable of? It's like saying that a disabled person is doing worse if they can't run a marathon: it is entirely about the capabilities of person - the insult is graded on a curve relative to each person's potential. That different people have different potentials shouldn't be regarded as a failing on anyone's part.

    Someone calling me out for not being able to run a marathon is totally different from calling out someone born with no legs. And does the para-Olympics not prove the point that some limits are meaningless? And are those atheletes' achievements not greater for their overcoming their natural born disabilities? It would be the equivalent of me running three marathons a day.

    The point here being that ignoring and minimizing people's conditions is just as bad, if not worse, than not knowing about them. To say that you're incapable of something isn't an insult, it is factual. It may be impolite but not wrong and certainly shouldn't be avoided being talked about in all but a medical context -- that's what causes the knowledge to be isolated.

    It's not so much the malice that concerns me as the mode of thinking. The malice is bad enough. And when people propagate this mode of thinking of "you could do better" on top of using a term that people like myself hear quite a few times as a pejorative, we don't appreciate it.

    I understand that and being reminded of your condition or disability isn't the most polite thing to do but when it is done when people are not aware of you or your condition or your history then it is too much to ask society to become over sensitive. We are now banning the word 'bossy' which is just going to far to protect people from even being a little harmed emotionally, which is going in the wrong direction. All of a sudden people can't have their feelings hurt at all for any reason.

    When people sink barbs into you all of your life you have to rethink everything and establish for yourself why they are wrong. You can't just change your attitude when from your childhood on you receive confusing and contradictory information that attacks your character and your value as a human being.

    You cannot change the past but you can change the future . Your responses now should be different because the world has moved forward. I know you have been hurt emotionally, which makes the comparison with The Gay apropos. And the modern world had moved on from the bigoted past; although you seemed to have adopted it as part of your religion (more on that later).

    So it appears we are on opposite sides of two different situations.

    Of course we can't all know those predicaments, but if you told me of such a predicament that you've personally had, I'd never flippantly mention it around you at least.

    Agreed but there are just too many situations and we cannot walk around on eggshells and make everything a taboo. There are certainly boundaries that make sense but with 'retard' it is too late. If people started using Downs to mock people, I will take exception but to fight a largely lost battle seems too much.

    I honestly don't know. My preference did change and it had to do with my emotions changing and my beliefs changing. I don't know if it is their natural orientation, and am honestly not sure if anyone even has a natural orientation.

    I've often suspected that people will copulate with anything but I'm still not going to try it! Still, beyond the physical act itself, the attraction to same or opposite genders seems to have a permanence to it and there is also the option of being equally attracted to both genders (or even to the transgendered, which is having your cake and eating it, so to speak). So perhaps you're just focussing on one aspect of your preferences.

    What I am under the impression of is that people develop an orientation in part through a complex psychological and social process.

    I don't think it's that complex. From my understanding the attraction manifests early and doesn't change. From my own experience and talking to others (including gay people), it's not really a choice, the desires stem from childhood.

    What I'm not sure of but have developed an opinion of, though, is that homosexual relationships aren't terribly emotionally healthy. And they don't seem to be the best in terms of child rearing.

    They're probably not happy if everywhere they go they have to worry about people judging them, much like your own experiences with your condition. The point of child tearing puts additional stress too and now onto the child who now has to deal with his parents not properly bringing him up.

    Do you understand the implications and the direct harm you are inflicting with your 'opinion'? On the one hand you want not to have your feelings hurt, yet on the other you feel it is OK to criticize someone's entire life and their children's life too. The consequences of that opinion is reflected in how you vote; and those votes are preventing those couples from many benefits that could make their lives easier. So whereas, everyone is bending over backwards to educate themselves for those with various medical challenges, you appear to want to stand by whilst others suffer because you want to keep keep a word to yourself and your religion.

    Now I want you to replace gay with mentally challenged or physically disabled and tell me these are opinions worth having. How would you feel it someone said you shouldn't have relationships, or raise children? Or if you do have children, their lives are worse purely because of who you are! I don't think people's insults at the disabled or mentally challenged go quite that far.

    I don't think this is an unfair assessment of your position but feel free to correct me where I wrong of course.

    However, I'm not for restricting people in this realm at all and I just don't know enough to say that my opinions are completely fair or rational. What I can say is that I'm actually proud to admit my uncertainty on this as a Christian.

    That you don't see it as unfair is a huge issue with me. How can it possible be fair to malign how people love and live with each other? In any 'realm'. The conflict you experience is basically not uncertainty that you are right but certainty that you are wrong and that reconciling fact with your religious belief is the real conflict. If it were so clearly true (eg pedophilia is morally wrong) you wouldn't still be on the fence on the issue.

    And I couldn't agree with you more. I actually think that getting this issue out of the government's purview and just calling it all civil unions would protect my right to disagree with it and not approve of such a relationship.

    This defense of calling them civil unions is a straw man as I've demonstrated with your acceptance of atheistic and other religious uses of the term.

    That in no way means that I don't approve of those people or that I wouldn't accept them into my church and my home.

    It also in no way means that I will go out of my way to criticize such people, or that I think that them persisting in it is going to damn them. God knows that there are things I don't understand and failures that I will persist in until the end of my life. I am no better than any of these people and God is bigger than it all.

    Yet you sit in judgement as to whether their relationship is 'best' as if they are failures and that their children could be raised better. I recognize you admit no authority on the matter but then you need to vote appropriately too.

    Maybe that doesn't mean a whole lot to you but I hope you can appreciate my viewpoint and understand that it isn't bigoted.

    I appreciate the honesty but I am baffled by the lack of empathy or understanding for gay people - is it because you weren't mocked as a gay person? Or that you believe it to be a choice, a moral one at that; and that makes it OK to demean gay lives and their children's lives?

    Unfortunately, the more you explain it, the more bigoted it sounds! I don't mean it in the sense of an blanket insult, but factually, you appear not to see gay people, or gay 'choices' as being as valid as heterosexual ones, even though biologically, it is no different from any other mental condition or state of mind. That you have had The Gay, makes it stranger that you don't see that.

    While your reasonable, yes I will admit perfectly reasonable and fair, criticisms of my definition of marriage and it's consistency is a worthy topic (and I do have an answer for it, if you might be interesting in discussing this whole thing of marriage in another thread), it is actually periphery to the concern of whether or not we have the right to define it how we please, and whether or not it is bigoted for us to define it how we do.

    I'll start a thread - it appears to be worth exploring because the debate appears to be focused on a redefinition of something that isn't owned by anyone.

    Sorry, it wasn't my implication at all to say that other definitions of human mating and companionship are primitive or that atheists are primitive. I was actually commenting on the subject from a historical viewpoint, and I may well be wrong. But as I understand the history of the subject there wasn't anything "special" about the relationship before it became a religious sacrament.

    Yes, but we're back to it not being a religious sacrament in this day and age, and it is the religious viewpoint that feels more 'primitive' IMHO.. And if you don't think marriage is 'special', that two humans dedicating their entire lives together, the only thing they really have to give to each other that is wholly theirs alone in the only time they will ever exist, isn't special, I'm not sure we are agreeing what special means.

    But again, here you're falling into a similar linguistic trap that you've been saying other people have been doing to you. Am I to read now that you don't believe my own marriage, an entire secular atheist one, is somehow lacking because it lacks the religious aspects? I am wholly knowledgeable of your religion and your God, yet I choose to not marry under his auspices - and now in your eyes, it's less special than yours?


    It's not that I don't want to, bro.

    Fair enough but it is important that we continue at some point. I think you're trying to have a factual basis for your opinions but they're really a front for you think that you're supposed to believe via your religion.

  7. #27
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    It's the comparison that is derogatory not the end point. The gap between the current perceived state and the condition being compared. Otherwise, what you're essentially saying is that we can't compare anything.
    1. I'd appreciate it if you posted using the normal font size here, friend. My eyesight is very poor, so when I try to read posts with such small font it gives me a headache.

    2. And you don't see the issue with the comparison being derogatory? The "gap"? Of course we can compare things. But this specific type of comparison implies that people who are mentally impotent are less "human". (I'd like to mention again that my points build on each other, so if you've got a certain impression from point #2 here, please wait to respond to this portion until you've read it all)

    By usual response, I mean a modern educated response. Just as people aren't really as racist or sexist as they used to be, I believe people are more understanding towards people with mental disabilities. I am not trying to explain what happened in your past - I'm sure the people were just as malicious as you said. I'm saying that I don't think people behave this way any more, there's too much outreach and media attention and television shows that make it unlikely that people are that insensitive towards people.
    As I said before, you aren't exactly in much of a position to infer that it is terribly uncommon today. You aren't the one who continues to deal with this kind of behavior. "Too much" doesn't seem to make it as "unlikely" as you think. And this is because of a basic attitude that people have. I don't demonstrate Downs symptoms or symptoms that everyone readily recognizes yet, so their "default stance" appears to be coming into play.

    Really, I'm not all that passionate about informing people of specific conditions and getting media coverage. I'm sure it helps but it doesn't do much about the baseline attitudes of people.

    I understand that having the condition makes it more sensitive. Just as I'd never joke about slavery in front of anyone black, I would be just as careful using the word 'retard'. But outside of those scenarios, I think it's OK. I am just against blanket rules that ban the word in all situations, even when it is meant to be insulting to somebody else (but not the sufferers).

    You see, the line that should be drawn is not to demean people (except for Right-Wing Republicans, they're a special case since they actually directly harm people - half-joking). It's one thing to not demean someone directly, but an entirely other to say that the same terms shouldn't be use to demean other people in other situations.
    It's offensive regardless of my presence, when it comes to this particular usage. Of course it's merely a word and it is irrational to just ban a word. When a term that applies to us, is being used with a stereotype of us in mind, and it is supposed to be insulting to someone else, we find it offensive. I'll elaborate more when I get into the "do better" issue in this post.

    Well, it all comes down to education. I'm sure we all know more about these things than even 10 years ago. There's only so much detail that people can absorb but I believe the Downs movement, the publicity Asperger's or Alzheimer's have opened people's eyes to greater understanding about all medical conditions.

    One of the ways this can be done is for people with conditions to get out there. A hilarious British comedian kid made waves on the Internet last year, http://www.wimp.com/hilariousstand/. He brought a very human face towards people with disabilities; and there are a couple of other comedians with various mental disabilities out there too. And we're not made to feel sorry for them but we accept them as functional human beings with perhaps more challenges than other people.

    As the one gay outreach campaign was saying, 'it gets better' and it truly is getting better as we understand each other more and have more respect towards each other and less hostility. On that note, I don't bash Republicans for fun, but to understand the underlying principles behind the lying, false scenarios, and harmful politics: in the gay case, it has been whittled down to largely religious beliefs.

    So perhaps the root cause of your concerns isn't so much being demeaned but not understood. On that I agree and stand with you for better outreach and education. And that's where my disagreement with you and Talthas really lie - in almost demonizing or socially maligning people that use these terms, you're sometimes getting in the way of helping people learn.
    The root cause of my concern is that not only is my condition not preferable (which is understandable and I agree), but it implies that things that people regard essential to the novelty and quality of human beings is lacking. And however well people understand me won't do much about their baseline attitudes, which will probably compel them to just center this type of attention on someone else. I'm well beyond this mattering to me personally, because I now know who I am and what makes me valuable. But I am behind it being a fair pursuit to speak out against using this term like that. "Speaking out" and "banning" are entirely different (and "speaking out" is what I'm sure talthas was referring to).

    No! How can you possibly 'do worse' if that's all you are capable of? It's like saying that a disabled person is doing worse if they can't run a marathon: it is entirely about the capabilities of person - the insult is graded on a curve relative to each person's potential. That different people have different potentials shouldn't be regarded as a failing on anyone's part.

    Someone calling me out for not being able to run a marathon is totally different from calling out someone born with no legs. And does the para-Olympics not prove the point that some limits are meaningless? And are those atheletes' achievements not greater for their overcoming their natural born disabilities? It would be the equivalent of me running three marathons a day.

    The point here being that ignoring and minimizing people's conditions is just as bad, if not worse, than not knowing about them. To say that you're incapable of something isn't an insult, it is factual. It may be impolite but not wrong and certainly shouldn't be avoided being talked about in all but a medical context -- that's what causes the knowledge to be isolated.
    That's the whole issue for me and it's what I've been waiting to dig into in order to clarify my previous points in this post: this whole idea of what is "better" or "worse" for someone to do. People are just plain impressive or just plain not impressive, and it has nothing to do with their capabilities. The implication that it would be "worse" for an average person to perform like a person with a disability doesn't rub me right, because people aren't dancing monkeys. Maybe people who go out and perform in an exemplary way will garner more attention, but that doesn't intrinsically validate that he/she is a more novel person.

    You cannot change the past but you can change the future . Your responses now should be different because the world has moved forward. I know you have been hurt emotionally, which makes the comparison with The Gay apropos. And the modern world had moved on from the bigoted past; although you seemed to have adopted it as part of your religion (more on that later).

    So it appears we are on opposite sides of two different situations.
    My responses are different. And my attitude has changed. But that was at the end of an existential process. My point that some things cause an existential crisis seems to have flown right past you, monsieur.
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    1. I'd appreciate it if you posted using the normal font size here, friend. My eyesight is very poor, so when I try to read posts with such small font it gives me a headache.
    Sorry about that - it was a copy and paste job. ALT+ or COMMAND+ will zoom the text, FYI.

    2. And you don't see the issue with the comparison being derogatory? The "gap"? Of course we can compare things. But this specific type of comparison implies that people who are mentally impotent are less "human". (I'd like to mention again that my points build on each other, so if you've got a certain impression from point #2 here, please wait to respond to this portion until you've read it all)
    Only you are saying 'less human'. I would say that the comparison highlights a weakness, disability or otherwise some undesirable quality that most humans don't have (which for future purposes, I'd like to use the word normal).

    That doesn't imply that they are less 'human' in a biological sense, or really any sense: we don't call blind people less human because they don't get to engage with a massive part of what one might claim to be part of the human experience.

    After reading and answering the rest of this thread, it appears that several times you are making things worse than they actually are. With 'less human', and 'quality as a human beings is lacking' doesn't seem to be what people have been saying and it's more your own interpretation, I feel. Let me know if I'm wrong!

    As I said before, you aren't exactly in much of a position to infer that it is terribly uncommon today. You aren't the one who continues to deal with this kind of behavior. "Too much" doesn't seem to make it as "unlikely" as you think. And this is because of a basic attitude that people have. I don't demonstrate Downs symptoms or symptoms that everyone readily recognizes yet, so their "default stance" appears to be coming into play.

    Really, I'm not all that passionate about informing people of specific conditions and getting media coverage. I'm sure it helps but it doesn't do much about the baseline attitudes of people.
    I agree my specific experience on the matter is weak but I work in a white collar job with Republicans who aren't afraid to say things that are outright racist. Mentally disabled people don't really enter the discussion very much but they certainly don't make someone's life worse than it already is by berating them.

    JJ: It's one thing to not demean someone directly, but an entirely other to say that the same terms shouldn't be use to demean other people in other situations.
    It's offensive regardless of my presence, when it comes to this particular usage.
    That can't be helped but when you discuss how inappropriate the gay life-style is and apply your calculus consistently, what are we left with?


    The root cause of my concern is that not only is my condition not preferable (which is understandable and I agree), but it implies that things that people regard essential to the novelty and quality of human beings is lacking.
    I'd take exception to the word 'essential' and 'quality'. I can't tell whether this is your interpretation of what people have been saying or that they have actually said this.

    And however well people understand me won't do much about their baseline attitudes, which will probably compel them to just center this type of attention on someone else. I'm well beyond this mattering to me personally, because I now know who I am and what makes me valuable. But I am behind it being a fair pursuit to speak out against using this term like that. "Speaking out" and "banning" are entirely different (and "speaking out" is what I'm sure talthas was referring to).
    I agree that speaking out for more sensitivity is a good thing. I think that 'retard' is a lost battle.


    That's the whole issue for me and it's what I've been waiting to dig into in order to clarify my previous points in this post: this whole idea of what is "better" or "worse" for someone to do. People are just plain impressive or just plain not impressive, and it has nothing to do with their capabilities. The implication that it would be "worse" for an average person to perform like a person with a disability doesn't rub me right, because people aren't dancing monkeys. Maybe people who go out and perform in an exemplary way will garner more attention, but that doesn't intrinsically validate that he/she is a more novel person.
    I disagree that all humans should be lumped together into some generic blob and that all achievements measured from some arbitrary baseline to equalize them. The same sculpture made by a blind man is clearly a more difficult achievement than one from a sighted one isn't it? Equally, that sighted sculptor hasn't done 'worse' than the blind one either - that's not a correct word to use in this case. A better word is that the sighted 'sculptor', if you have to make his achievements sound more negative, was that he had fewer disabilities to overcome, or that he worked less. But that doesn't mean that his work is any 'worse', it means that he has had to expend less energy to do the same thing.


    My responses are different. And my attitude has changed. But that was at the end of an existential process. My point that some things cause an existential crisis seems to have flown right past you, monsieur.
    They haven't flown by me but I think any kind of consistent attack on anyone would cause a great deal of pain. I'm not entirely sure whether in your specific case sensitivity towards using specific words would have helped you more than sensitivity towards people with various conditions.


    -----------------------------------------
    Is there any reason why the latter half of our conversation, how your attitude of gay people seems as odds with the sympathies that are championing for people with mental disabilities, is being dropped? That you have experience with both and only religion having a say on one appears to have affected your consistency in behavior. Would it be fair to say that without your religious instruction, that you would treat gay people in exactly the same way you'd want mentally challenged people to be treated?

  9. #29
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Here are words which should be banned and that I find more offensive than retard:
    http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php

    We should keep in mind the banned words lists from previous years as well,
    http://www.inquisitr.com/462159/2012...lish-language/

    How many of us have reverted back to using 2012's banned words? The first list actually has a history that dates back to 1975.

    Of course, most of these are just fun and whimsical examples of attempts to ban words. They make a point more than do any actual word banning. People who actually use the word, twerk, are clearly retarded.

    Unfortunately, making light of banning words may actually encourage some to make this a serious effort.
    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/03/...ardized-tests/
    "Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests."

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...ould-be-banned
    "Sandberg says she is launching a public service campaign aimed at getting rid of the word."

    So, we have a city government attempting to censor its own tests to remove words like Halloween and dinosaur. Schools do not want to offend Creationists by using the word dinosaur.... Seriously. Dancing and poverty are also on the list. I noticed slavery is on the list, so teaching about the civil war is out. Evolution is out, so there goes Earth science. Catastrophes are out. Cannot talk about the San Francisco Earthquake or even the War of 1812. Boy, those kids are gonna get one hell of an education.

    We have some woman who had trouble making friends in jr high school trying to ban a simple adjective because it brought her some amount of personal pain as a teenager. On that note, I'd like to ban the word pimples and braces.

    So, here is my issue with even joking about banning words.... sometimes it gets taken too seriously. It makes the line blurry. Then, we get high profile people and even government officials that believe they need to join in an effort to make words less troublesome for some group or community.

    How about we just let words be words and let's stop letting them dictate our actions and behaviors.
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  11. #30
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    Here are words which should be banned and that I find more offensive than retard:
    http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php

    We should keep in mind the banned words lists from previous years as well,
    http://www.inquisitr.com/462159/2012...lish-language/

    How many of us have reverted back to using 2012's banned words? The first list actually has a history that dates back to 1975.

    Of course, most of these are just fun and whimsical examples of attempts to ban words. They make a point more than do any actual word banning. People who actually use the word, twerk, are clearly retarded.

    Unfortunately, making light of banning words may actually encourage some to make this a serious effort.
    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/03/...ardized-tests/
    "Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests."

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...ould-be-banned
    "Sandberg says she is launching a public service campaign aimed at getting rid of the word."

    So, we have a city government attempting to censor its own tests to remove words like Halloween and dinosaur. Schools do not want to offend Creationists by using the word dinosaur.... Seriously. Dancing and poverty are also on the list. I noticed slavery is on the list, so teaching about the civil war is out. Evolution is out, so there goes Earth science. Catastrophes are out. Cannot talk about the San Francisco Earthquake or even the War of 1812. Boy, those kids are gonna get one hell of an education.

    We have some woman who had trouble making friends in jr high school trying to ban a simple adjective because it brought her some amount of personal pain as a teenager. On that note, I'd like to ban the word pimples and braces.

    So, here is my issue with even joking about banning words.... sometimes it gets taken too seriously. It makes the line blurry. Then, we get high profile people and even government officials that believe they need to join in an effort to make words less troublesome for some group or community.

    How about we just let words be words and let's stop letting them dictate our actions and behaviors.
    Banning words for other people is just another form of the ancient human addiction to power over their neighbors. It's been going on since the first guy picked up a rock and threw it at another guy. If I recall correctly, that guy's name was Cain, and his was the second sin of man in the history the Bible records. And from then to now the only things that have changed, metaphorically speaking, are the size of the rock and how it's thrown.

    Language is one of the best things we as human beings have going for us. It's the contract according to which we agree to share with one another the good in our lives and the bad. It's how we communicate to one another which is which! It's how we introduce our children to the world, and into the world. It shapes our lives, our characters, and the world in which we express them. It's about the only thing everyone agrees separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, makes us unique as a species in all the world. Takes a lot of chutzpa; a really inflated ego to produce a desire to personally attempt to reduce the size of that uniquely human contract, to dilute stickiness of the "glue" that binds us all together that has allowed us to fill the earth, not only with our numbers, but with music and poetry and art and deep and complex thought, to heal the sick, move mountains, fly through the air, walk on the moon and touch the hand of God.

    Besides, it's never the word. It's always the intent, and more often the inferred intent behind its use. We need to get back to teaching people that, and stop confusing them with all this other "stuff".

    Anyway, the rant from here. Great post you wrote. Really liked it.

  12. #31
    khaleesix
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    I may not be in favour of banning individual words, but I am in favour of banning some ways that words may be used. I think this view of mine originates mainly because I'm from the UK so I accept that I may be somewhat swayed by my upbringing but what I mean is that, to use one example, the law against "inciting racial hatred" exists. This essentially means that things like "Hey nigger!" would not be banned simply because it contains an arguably offensive word (with a fair more colloquial intent) whereas things like "all black people should be killed because they're evil" begins to step the line into the illegal.

    In the latter option, the malicious intent is obvious. It is not simply the banning of a word, which can be interpreted a thousand different ways, but the attempt at banning a far more dangerous and harmful idea.

    I therefore wouldn't necessarily be against banning something like "inciting hatred against mental illness" although would still have to consider the wording of any such document. I realise that using slippery slope arguments here might be tempting, saying that this will ultimately restrict all speech, but the UK already has existing laws against such verbal hatred that the USA doesn't and yet still had a recorded freer press than the USA last year.

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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    [QUOTE=khaleesix;535958] I realise that using slippery slope arguments here might be tempting, saying that this will ultimately restrict all speech, but the UK already has existing laws

    [Quote]
    The problem with restricting free speech is that it doesn't really stop it. It just drives it underground where it festers. It is much better to have everything out in the open where bad practices have have a public airing and be publicly chastised.


    against such verbal hatred that the USA doesn't and yet still had a recorded freer press than the USA last year.
    Wasn't the guardian reported to have been threatened with closure for the Snowdon reports? That doesn't sound like free press to me.

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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix View Post
    I may not be in favour of banning individual words, but I am in favour of banning some ways that words may be used. I think this view of mine originates mainly because I'm from the UK so I accept that I may be somewhat swayed by my upbringing but what I mean is that, to use one example, the law against "inciting racial hatred" exists. This essentially means that things like "Hey nigger!" would not be banned simply because it contains an arguably offensive word (with a fair more colloquial intent) whereas things like "all black people should be killed because they're evil" begins to step the line into the illegal.

    In the latter option, the malicious intent is obvious. It is not simply the banning of a word, which can be interpreted a thousand different ways, but the attempt at banning a far more dangerous and harmful idea.

    I therefore wouldn't necessarily be against banning something like "inciting hatred against mental illness" although would still have to consider the wording of any such document. I realise that using slippery slope arguments here might be tempting, saying that this will ultimately restrict all speech, but the UK already has existing laws against such verbal hatred that the USA doesn't and yet still had a recorded freer press than the USA last year.
    First, welcome to ODN. Glad to have someone who can write a thoughtful response.

    And I'd like to start the following by first stipulating I'm with you. I have my own ideas about which ideas are reprehensible, and that people who hold to such ideas are evil...and something needs to be done about them!

    Now to business. Two things jump out at me here. First, a ban on ideas is static, while the flow of ideas is dynamic. This presents us with the inherent problem of ideas that move in and out of favor with the passage of time, and how an idea, once banned, can make a comeback. The modern tendency here is, I suspect, what the "modern tendency" has been since the beginning of time: to view today's prejudices as "enlightened", and yesterday's as "primitive". Perhaps the intensity of that prejudice is greater now than, say, in Plato's day, but can anyone say more than that about it? It can't help but be the case that ideas will move in and out of the category "reprehensible" as times and circumstances change.

    Then there's the very closely related question of how do those who make the decision to ban an idea make it? How does an idea get their attention in the first place? Should they be apprised of every controversial idea, a sort of clearinghouse for ideas? What sort of qualifications would the idea decision makers have to have? Since the members of the "idea board" couldn't rule on an idea without forming ideas themselves, what possible check could there be on the ideas of the members? We'd need idea decision makers ruling on idea decision makers' ideas, spiraling, not onto a slippery slope, but into an eternal regression.

    Next we'd have to deal with an inconvenient fact about ideas. They don't have neatly defined borders. Ideas are not just propositions, but they all are propositions, and if there is one thing that is true of every proposition that exists, true or false, it's that they entail another proposition. In fact, every proposition entails a whole host of other propositions; some philosophers, by compelling logical argumentation, concluding that all true propositions entail all other true propositions! If that's true, then all we need do is ban all false propositions. But how would that work in the halls of academia, let alone the halls of government? The point is we don't get rid of ambiguity by moving from banning a word to banning an idea.

    So it seems to me the idea of banning words, or words in context (which would be equivalent to "ideas") has not been supported, not even a good start. Your suggestions don't cover how to do it. They treat ideas as if they were something concrete, as if we could accurately say of them, "This is that idea, and this is all that idea is", and we can't, since ideas overlap into other ideas as one proposition logically entails others. And this is, of course, the fatal flaw in thinking about banning ideas. The thinking treats ideas like a storehouse of "boxes", each containing an "idea", when the fact is ideas are better represented as drops of water in a stream or ocean, in that while they are in that stream or ocean it is impossible to discover where they stop and the next drop begins.

    I'm afraid we're all stuck with the a few basic facts. One is that "reprehensible", and all other value judgments have a considerable amount of subjectivity to them. I'm not suggesting there are no such things as transcendent moral imperatives. I believe there are, but subjectivity creeps in when we start to apply those imperatives to a particular set of circumstances (eg. what moral monster would agree to the cutting off of a baby's arms, legs, and head with a pair of scissors, to save the mother having to take care of the child, if you get my drift here), such as when a person is talking or writing. We're pretty safe at the extremes (not too many of us presently view the Holocaust as a good thing), although not infallible even here. But we don't have to move far from the extremes before even this becomes highly problematic. There simply isn't any "controversial" idea that isn't "reprehensible" to some number of people. The more controversial it is, the bigger the size of the groups. The less controversial, the smaller the group's sizes. But again, this is an analog phenomenon, while "banning" is a strictly digital process.

    In closing I want to take issue with something else you said about the relative "freedom" of the press in the UK and US "last year". I'd like to see you start with your personal understanding of "freedom of the press", and then explain how the BBC's relationship with the British government is "freer", in your sense of the word, than the US press was "last year".

  15. #34
    khaleesix
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    I'm basing my definition of "freedom of press" on the Press Freedom Index. Although the UK is not vastly above the USA I'd still like to think it can help prove that some careful laws that restrict free speech do not necessarily lead to the decline of the flow of thought in a society in general.

    http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

    ---------- Post added at 02:00 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:42 AM ----------

    Thank you very much for such a warm welcome.

    To address your first point, I absolutely agree with your ideas about moral relativism making the whole situation rather tricky. This is a situation with so many shades of grey that initially I was on the side of pretty much unrestricted freedom of speech. I think some people could make the case for natural law in a case like this, perhaps suggesting that there is a common ground that can be found, though that's not the stance I'm choosing to take.

    To me, the kind of verbal behaviour that I think some of the UK's laws are aiming to combat are based, on their most basic level, on lies. To use the example of racism again, I think most can agree that genuinely aggressive racism isn't based on fact - it's based on prejudice.

    As defamation and slander are already criminalised in the UK and have their working legal persecution, would banning the circulation of abject prejudice not simply be an extension of that?

    Even whilst writing this I do, however, acknowledge the plethora of grey areas and ambiguity with this issue. At worst, the legal system that I'm describing is simply a plaster on the axe wound of prejudice and even at best I'm not suggesting it as a comprehensive solution. I also realise I'm writing from a very UK-focused perspective but to be honest, when I look at the society around me, I do not see the laws as a negative thing.

    See the link above for my definition of free press, I'm basing it on the Press Freedom Index.

  16. #35
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix View Post
    I'm basing my definition of "freedom of press" on the Press Freedom Index. Although the UK is not vastly above the USA I'd still like to think it can help prove that some careful laws that restrict free speech do not necessarily lead to the decline of the flow of thought in a society in general.

    http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html
    And who elected Reporters Without Borders the authority no what constitutes freedom of the press and what doesn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix
    To address your first point, I absolutely agree with your ideas about moral relativism making the whole situation rather tricky. This is a situation with so many shades of grey that initially I was on the side of pretty much unrestricted freedom of speech. I think some people could make the case for natural law in a case like this, perhaps suggesting that there is a common ground that can be found, though that's not the stance I'm choosing to take.
    Okay. We can't tick off one by one the positions you're not taking, so what position are you taking?

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix
    To me, the kind of verbal behaviour that I think some of the UK's laws are aiming to combat are based, on their most basic level, on lies.
    Sounds like you're equating prejudice with lies. They can't be equated, because expressing a prejudice is not necessarily lying.

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix
    To use the example of racism again, I think most can agree that genuinely aggressive racism isn't based on fact - it's based on prejudice.
    I'm still looking for you to tell me what you consider racism to be, and now you've added "genuinely aggressive" to what needs an explicit account from you. This is getting more ambiguous rather than less, and this is not the direction we're looking for here.

    Look, you have to understand two things here: a) I don't know you, and b) the word "racism" has become so abused today it is now used for anything negative that is said or done about or to a member of a racial minority, regardless of any other circumstances or context. In fact, it is much broader than even that. It is no longer a word one can simply look up in the dictionary, and know what some stranger means when they use it.

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix
    As defamation and slander are already criminalised in the UK and have their working legal persecution, would banning the circulation of abject prejudice not simply be an extension of that?
    Okay, maybe the best way to show you how difficult this would be is to ask you to give me a legal definition for "circulating abject prejudice". Note well: your definition has to capture every instance of what you want to criminalize, but not catch even one instance of what you don't want to criminalize. Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix
    Even whilst writing this I do, however, acknowledge the plethora of grey areas and ambiguity with this issue. At worst, the legal system that I'm describing is simply a plaster on the axe wound of prejudice and even at best I'm not suggesting it as a comprehensive solution. I also realise I'm writing from a very UK-focused perspective but to be honest, when I look at the society around me, I do not see the laws as a negative thing.
    And I don't see laws as negative things either, except in the obvious sense they say what can't be done, and include penalties for doing it, both of which are technically "negative" aspects of laws. However, I assume when you say laws aren't negative, you mean they are beneficial, not harmful to society, and I agree wholeheartedly with that proposition.

    But that said, I think you're being to charitable to your proposal. Laws should be enacted sparingly; out of an absolute necessity or not at all. They should be extremely narrow in what they prohibit, which means what they prohibit must be extremely narrowly defined and objectively demonstrable in a court of law. They should be fairly easy to enforce, which means the illegal activity must be easily identifiable. Here racism would certainly fail this last criterion, as racism is in the mind, and would be a motive for an act, rather than identifiable from the act itself, and why I did something is not nearly as easily identifiable at the time I did it, as is what I did.

    Blacks in America are roughly 13% of the population.

    In the National Basketball Association 76% of the players are Black. The average salary in the NBA is about $5.15 million/year, with the average for just the Black players being slightly higher. There are about 350 Black players in the NBA.

    There are, obviously, 500 CEOs in the Fortune 500. Those CEOs average about $12.5 million a year. Only 1.2% of them are Black.

    Which group, the NBA team owners or the boards of the Fortune 500 companies is engaging in "racism"?

  17. #36
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix View Post
    I may not be in favour of banning individual words, but I am in favour of banning some ways that words may be used. I think this view of mine originates mainly because I'm from the UK so I accept that I may be somewhat swayed by my upbringing but what I mean is that, to use one example, the law against "inciting racial hatred" exists. This essentially means that things like "Hey nigger!" would not be banned simply because it contains an arguably offensive word (with a fair more colloquial intent) whereas things like "all black people should be killed because they're evil" begins to step the line into the illegal.

    In the latter option, the malicious intent is obvious. It is not simply the banning of a word, which can be interpreted a thousand different ways, but the attempt at banning a far more dangerous and harmful idea.

    I therefore wouldn't necessarily be against banning something like "inciting hatred against mental illness" although would still have to consider the wording of any such document. I realise that using slippery slope arguments here might be tempting, saying that this will ultimately restrict all speech, but the UK already has existing laws against such verbal hatred that the USA doesn't and yet still had a recorded freer press than the USA last year.
    Ah, yes.. we should ban dangerous ideas, not just words. That sounds great until words like oppose, liberal, right-wing, extremist, Christian, etc. are considered dangerous ideas. The First Amendment is not about protecting the sounds that come out of my mouth. It is about protecting the ideas I wish to express. Words without ideas are merely noises. Ideas without words is tyranny. You are protecting the former to spread the later.
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

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  19. #37
    snl7777
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post

    My problem is that if we ban the "R-word," people will just use whatever euphemism replaces it in the same way, to mean the same thing. We can't ban a whole language just because some insensitive and hurtful people choose to abuse people using words that mean ... what they mean... to refer to someone or something to which they don't apply.
    This argument cannot be considered valid regarding the misuse of a word that is very offensive to others. There is no substantial proof of what you are suggesting, that if we try to eliminate one form of derogatory language, another will appear. While it is possible, the argument is simply without basis. It is not fair to assume this, and appeal to others using this logic, as it possesses a major flaw.
    Let me bring in an example to help you better understand my issue with your logic. Gun laws are the center of heated debate. Ignoring the politics of carrying a gun, we may ask what the underlying cause for the extreme opposition of guns. It is simple. People want guns eliminated because they are dangerous. They pose a threat to society. Perhaps, according to your logic, one can argue that eliminating guns it utterly ridiculous, because if you eliminate guns the effect will be that people will find other ways killing, and damaging society. While this may be true, many agree that eliminating guns will greatly decrease violence and deaths.
    While this is an extreme, it illustrates my point exactly. Speech is a weapon. The word retarded, whether one agrees or not, has come to have an extremely negative connotation. In my personal life I have many close friends who have special needs. I once approached one, asking how they felt when people called them names. His face went from his usual vibrant smile into a look of sheer sadness. He replied simply. “I hate when people call me retarded. It makes me feel like I don’t belong. “ No matter what context, whether clinically or colloquially, the word needs to be banned. No other word holds the amount of stigma and underlying disapproval then retarded. So even though there is a possibility another word would come up, you must agree that eliminating this one word, the source of so much negativity, is the right direction to go in.


    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post

    Instead, it appears that you want to suppress interpretations of words that have gain currency and common understanding. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a clinical term to describe someone as an insult - that's what insults are for: to suggest or exaggerate a failure in an opponent. Using 'retarded' in that context is no more or less worse than any other term; 'cretin', 'moron', 'mong' and other terms began their linguistic lives as medical terms so it appears that this is just how insults are generated. And giving the insult an air of scientific credibility just makes it a better insult IMHO.

    The reason you're suggesting the use of the word retarded is acceptable is because you think it fits the definition of an “insult.” The problem is, that there are just some insults that are completely unacceptable. Society disapproves of certain insults, not because they are denying that they fit the mold to be hurtful, but because they are too offensive. Some things just cannot be said. For example, there are derogatory words for different race, that, while by definition are correct in a political sense, are not acceptable because they are too utterly insulting. People are always taking terms that are inoffensive, and turning them into words full of hate and negativity. And when this happens, these words no longer can be used as insults, because, while they fit YOUR idea of what an insult it, are just too harsh.

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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    First of all, snl7777, welcome to ODN. Good first post. I hope you will continue to post and enjoy your stay.

    Quote Originally Posted by snl7777 View Post
    This argument cannot be considered valid regarding the misuse of a word that is very offensive to others. There is no substantial proof of what you are suggesting, that if we try to eliminate one form of derogatory language, another will appear. While it is possible, the argument is simply without basis. It is not fair to assume this, and appeal to others using this logic, as it possesses a major flaw.
    I disagree. There are numerous examples of people using euphemisms to refer to something that they had previously referred to by a word which was subsequently "banned." Even in the specific case of "retard," now it's calling someone "special ed" or "Sp.Ed" as a shortened version. There's nothing intrinsically insulting or offensive about referring to someone as a member of a "special education" classroom. However, it's being used in the specific context I mention to replace the idea that one is "intellectually disabled beyond any reasonable definition of normal, to the point that they require additional educational resources," or in a more shortened form, that a person is "retarded." It's the idea of stupidity that is being conveyed here, and there are a lot of ways to express that sentiment. It's not reasonable to allow the abuse of language on the part of a small, boorish minority to ruin it for everyone else who isn't using language in such an abusive way. Eventually, we'd have to "ban" the entire list of every word one can possibly use to describe someone as stupid, because someone somewhere used those words to insult someone else. There are plenty of examples beside the one I gave - off the top of my head - of what I'm talking about. Should we ban the use of the word "gay" now because some 15 year old douche-bag decided that it now means "generically derogatory term implying that something is not cool?" Can we never refer to a homosexual person as "gay" anymore, or someone who is happy as "gay," because of this one isolated and specific derogatory implication? Have we decided that we will excise any definition of a word from our vocabulary except the negative one if someone ever uses a word in a derogatory way? That is the logical end of the argument you have made.


    Quote Originally Posted by snl7777
    Let me bring in an example to help you better understand my issue with your logic. Gun laws are the center of heated debate. Ignoring the politics of carrying a gun, we may ask what the underlying cause for the extreme opposition of guns. It is simple. People want guns eliminated because they are dangerous. They pose a threat to society. Perhaps, according to your logic, one can argue that eliminating guns it utterly ridiculous, because if you eliminate guns the effect will be that people will find other ways killing, and damaging society. While this may be true, many agree that eliminating guns will greatly decrease violence and deaths.
    The "many" that agree with the premise that outlawing guns "greatly decrease[s] violence and deaths" are operating on a premise that is demonstrably untrue, at least in the US. In every place in the US where gun laws are relaxed, the violent crime rate goes down, especially in cases where there is strong protection for people who use their weapons in self-defense. Many times more guns are used in self-defense than are used to commit violent crimes. This same premise can be extended to the argument about words, as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by snl7777
    While this is an extreme, it illustrates my point exactly. Speech is a weapon.
    No. Speech is a tool, just like a firearm. Speech is specifically there to communicate ideas... nothing more, nothing less. In the same way, guns are tools which propel a piece of metal at high velocity in one direction. Each tool can be used in lots of ways. Guns can be used for hunting, self-defense, recreation, or as collector's items. In the same way, speech can be used to communicate ideas which are beautiful, thought-provoking, sad, happy, loving, hurtful, informative, or humorous, just to name a small set of possibilities. Yet the people you mention who believe guns are bad argue that because one possible use of firearms is to enable certain people to commit violent crimes, the only acceptable way to view guns is as dangerous weapons that need to be outlawed. Those people are ignoring a host of other possibilities, all of them good, for the responsible and safe use of firearms. In the same way, you would reduce speech - the most fundamental way we have of communicating all ideas, both good and bad - to its most negative component and call speech nothing more than a weapon, fit only for regulation.

    It's the very tendency to reduce a thing to its most derogatory and negative connotation that I take objection to. You see speech as a "weapon." While it's possible that speech can be used to hurt other people, its intrinsic function is *not* as a weapon. Certain kinds of speech can be more hurtful to people than others, but even the most refined and delicate vocabulary can be used to verbally flay the skin off someone in the hands of a skilled speaker. One need not ever utter a single coarse, rude, or derogatory word to level a grievous insult at a person. One also can safely use certain words that are generally considered incredibly vulgar or insulting in certain contexts or ways and never fear hurting their intended audience. (Think of black comedians using the word "nigger" in their act, or a gay man calling one of his other gay friends a "fag" as a playful response to something he said.) My point is that there is nothing in language which is intrinsically harmful or beneficial except in how it is used. Things which would normally not be considered hurtful can be made to be so.... and things which could generally be agreed upon as offensive can be used safely in some circumstances without hurting anyone's feelings. This simple fact clouds the boundaries between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" speech to the degree that it renders your argument inapplicable.


    Quote Originally Posted by snl7777
    The word retarded, whether one agrees or not, has come to have an extremely negative connotation. In my personal life I have many close friends who have special needs. I once approached one, asking how they felt when people called them names. His face went from his usual vibrant smile into a look of sheer sadness. He replied simply. “I hate when people call me retarded. It makes me feel like I don’t belong.“
    It's not because of any intrinsically harmful implication of the word "retarded," though. It's because not enough people stood up and confronted rude and abusive people who turned that word into an insult as they were doing it. A person can be made to feel like they don't belong without ever uttering the word "retarded" by a host of means. More polite language can be used to describe their disability in disparaging terms, like "special needs" or "special ed" or simply, "special" (which has become its own derogatory term now in some circles, further proving my point that euphemisms become the equivalent of what they replace). They could simply be excluded directly, or told "we don't associate with your kind here. We only like people smarter than you." Should we also "ban" comparisons of intelligence from our lexicon, then?

    To go back to firearms, if we ban guns and a person want to hurt someone, that person can still pick up a sword... or a knife.. or a rock... or a glass bottle. Should we ban all of those things as well? How about screwdrivers and ice picks? They're dangerous weapons... obviously, we shouldn't have those, because people have used them to stab others to death before. Nevermind that screwdrivers are a vital part of any tool box and that glass bottles carry all sorts of delicious beverages to us in a convenient form. If one person has used it as a weapon, ever, it should be banned, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by snl7777
    No matter what context, whether clinically or colloquially, the word needs to be banned. No other word holds the amount of stigma and underlying disapproval then retarded. So even though there is a possibility another word would come up, you must agree that eliminating this one word, the source of so much negativity, is the right direction to go in.
    I disagree wholeheartedly. There are plenty of words that hold the same amount of stigma and underlying disapproval. Idiot, dimwit, stupid, and cretin come to mind immediately. Is any of these truly less derogatory than "retarded?" Should we ban those words as well if someone uses them to make someone feel bad? That's the inevitable conclusion of the logical path you have outlined.
    Last edited by Talthas; May 22nd, 2014 at 06:42 AM.
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    Re: On banning "the R word," or most other words, for that matter..

    Welcome! Interesting first choice of topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by snl7777 View Post
    The reason you're suggesting the use of the word retarded is acceptable is because you think it fits the definition of an “insult.”
    No, I am saying it is a medical term that turned into an insult.

    The problem is, that there are just some insults that are completely unacceptable. Society disapproves of certain insults, not because they are denying that they fit the mold to be hurtful, but because they are too offensive. Some things just cannot be said.
    I don't disagree but I don't think retard has reached that level yet. My larger argument is that it will be replaced by another word unless steps are taken to educate people so they know what the medical term really means before applying it.

    For example, there are derogatory words for different race, that, while by definition are correct in a political sense, are not acceptable because they are too utterly insulting.
    I don't know what you mean by 'correct in a political sense'

    People are always taking terms that are inoffensive, and turning them into words full of hate and negativity. And when this happens, these words no longer can be used as insults, because, while they fit YOUR idea of what an insult it, are just too harsh.
    Well do you think we have reached that level with 'retard' that we need to do something about it?

 

 
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