when does it become an insult.....

Sal - posted on 03/07/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

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i was going to put this in the retard conversation, when does a common everyday word become rude or insulting?? there was a issue here recently where the name of a sports ground was going to be changed as it was offensive, (please remember i am in australia) here we have always had an odd sence of humor in our nicknames to say the least, a red head might get bluey, a short man might be lofty, the wright family all get lefty, someone with black hair or skin would be snowy, someone fat called slim, and in this vouge one particular man (probally many but this one is the basis of this story) was very very fair and got called n***** (this was many years ago before it really got too hot to use) this particular fellow was a great local sportsman and as such a local ground was named after him as the "n***** brown oval" and has been know as that ever since, and recently there were petitions put in to rename it (i don;t know the outcome but will endever to find out). this is the way with so many words and phrases when does it become too offensive, and should we just go with the new trends to outlaw words or should society relax a little and not let the malice of some rule our language?

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I think some words are just too far gone and I go by the philosophy when you know better don't use it. I was taught in gradeschool about the N word being a racial slur when some kid called another kid that name and the teacher addressed it. Yes some people are oversensitive but who am I to impose my language on them if it offends them. I'm all for freedom of speech but I, like many other people, am perfectly capable of changing my wording so that I'm not assaulting someones feelings with a word they have a negative association to. I was joking with a friend and said something about getting 'gipped' common phrase I've heard a lot but she told me she found it offensive and that it is a slur on gypsies. I didn't use that phase again just out of respect that some people may take offense to it. She didn't flip out on me she just politely explained that it offended her which was not my intention. The word had no strong meaning for me but it obviously had a strong meaning to her so in that situation I think the respectful thing is to let that word go. My feelings aren't hurt for not using it yet her feelings were hurt as a result from hearing it. It's not so much an issue of who's feelings mean more or who has more of a right its just common sense if it isn't a big deal to you and it is to them why not retire that word out of the conversation, just the polite thing to do.

I'm like that for lots of words if I call you a silly goose and you get offended by it for some reason I will apologised and change my wording so that I'm still able to express myself without losing your audience. When someone starts calling people 'retards' it offends my senses and my feelings and I am no longer listening to what they are saying, they have now lost my attention by offending me so I simply tell them why that word is offensive to me and ask them to express themself more appropriately. If they refuse thats their freedom of speech right there but they will not impose their rights on mine, and after making my opinion known I am perfectly capable of walking away and choosing not to listen any further.

With regard to changing history in books I'm not okay with that, people have the freedom to choose what they read but for buildings and stuff where someone may have to walk past it on a daily basis and be hurt and offended by its name I think thats a situation where changing the name is the right thing to do.

Jenn - posted on 03/08/2011

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I think when a word that is/was used as an insult against a particular group of people, and that group as a whole finds it offensive (or at least the majority), then it should be upon others to use respect for that group of people and not use the word. So in the case of words like nigger and retard, the people who the word was meant to describe find it offensive, therefore I respect those people and don't use those words.

Mary - posted on 03/08/2011

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I personally have never used the word "nigger", and agree that in most cases, the word is offensive.

However, after reading the article, I think that, in this instance, there is nothing offensive in this situation. In essence, Nigger became this man's name, and they named the stand after him to honor him. There is nothing racial or derogatory about this situation.

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Charlie - posted on 03/09/2011

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In high school my friends and I started saying " SPAM' (before it was net lingo ) the boys didn't know what it meant and we would giggle and say " haha you spam " and it would DRIVE them nuts , they hated it , it became ( in their eyes ) a derogotory word but to us it meant ..........................nothing , we just decided we would watch them squirm over nothing .

Real mature I know LOL but it just goes to show how canned meat became an insult all through tone and intent .

Lisa - posted on 03/09/2011

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I haven't heard it used for a long time, other than in the sense of "socially retarded," which is a phrase a co-worker uses for someone who is socially inept. It's insulting, sure, but it doesn't get my hackles up the way the other words do. I actually think it's kind of funny.

Then again, I'm married to a blond Polish man, so we've had to grow a pretty thick skin in my household.

Michele - posted on 03/08/2011

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I don't think they use the word retarded about people's physical growth anymore either, do they? Now, it's developmentally delayed, for both physical and other problems.

Michele - posted on 03/08/2011

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Oh, I agree, Lisa. My point was that the word itself has another use and so won't be taken out of the dictionary any time soon ;). I wish the other one would be! If it wasn't in use anymore my son wouldn't have gotten in trouble because he wouldn't have heard it. But I suppose I would have to have the same conversation if he used the word retard towards another person. He gets really mad when someone calls him a dumb blonde - sigh. It's complicated; that's for sure.

Lisa - posted on 03/08/2011

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Oh, sure, as a verb retard (emphasis on the second syllable) is usable. But as a noun, the only acceptable form is "retardation," as in "mental retardation." I can't think of a situation where "retard," noun, isn't insulting.

Michele - posted on 03/08/2011

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The word retard has another, non-offensive use (the plant's growth was retarded since it was in the shade). But calling people that is not nice, especially in regards to IQ.
I have been dealing with the word "nigger" in an incident with my son at school and IMHO, there is no nice, non-offensive way to use it, even when black people use it for each other. They feel differently, at least when coming from another black person, but not from another race. I even hated typing it and trying to explain it to my son. He didn't really get why it was bad since he heard it when other people called each other that.

Lisa - posted on 03/08/2011

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This is a tough one. There are certain words that seem to have attained Do Not Use Hall of Fame status, like nigger and retard. There's really no nice way to use those words, and anyone who uses them should know people are going to take offense.



Then there are the ones that seem to be difficult to pin down. For people with various stature-stunting conditions, "midget" is offensive to some, but "dwarf" is offensive to others, while "little people" just seems... belittling.



A couple of years ago, someone informed me in an urgent whisper that calling Asians "oriental" was insulting. I had never heard that.



But then my mother just a couple of weeks ago, on seeing a little girl with Down Syndrome, called the child a mongoloid. I recoiled like she had called her an animal, but my mother had no idea that mongoloid had "fallen out of fashion," as she put it.

Rosie - posted on 03/08/2011

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i feel it's all in the context it's used. as long as you aren't insulting someone, i say any word is fair game.

Jaclyn - posted on 03/08/2011

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i don't think words themselves are offensive, it's how we choose to use/say them. for instance i put my daughter in 'leasure suits" all the time when she was a baby cause they are cute and easy. my friend asked me one day why i put her in "nigger suits" all the time (or so i thought thats what she said, she says she called ita a leasure suit) my daughter is half black. i did not find it offensive as she said it with humor. i have told the story to the black side of the family and they all agreed not office as it was said "the right way". my point is words have no real value, but the way we say them makes them have value in one way or another.

Louise - posted on 03/08/2011

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I think words get de sensatised eventually (and i am not talking about the N word) i am talking about swear words as insults. Like the word F**k. When I was growing up you never heard this word and now it is commonly used in the youngsters vocabulary. Insult words go through phases it is the ones that don't pass through the phase like the N word, that word will never be acceptable again so maybe your sports hall should be renamed for decentcy sake.

Sal - posted on 03/08/2011

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oh and i'm not specifcally refering to the N word but using this as an example of how it can go from one thing to another without any intent

Jodi - posted on 03/07/2011

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Oh, and in my response, I am NOT specifically referring to the example given as being a bit too sensitive, I am talking about insults in general......

Jodi - posted on 03/07/2011

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Interesting question Sal. I was going to respond that it becomes offensive when it starts to upset people, but then I had a think about it and decided that just wasn't it at all because I do think some people are just too over-sensitive, and also because what is offensive is a very personal thing for each individual, as well as at a cultural level......now I've confused myself, LOL. I just don't think there is a simple answer on this one - I need to think some more, LOL.

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