….may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. So Ann Coulter is being called to task for using the word “retard.” Stories posted on CNN are about mothers calling for an apology, a video interview with a Down’s syndrome special Olympian, etc. There’s also links to stories about banning the “R-word.”
I remember when the movie “Tropic Thunder” came out a few years back. There were some protests because in the movie, they used the word “retard.” When the movie came out on television, they cut in the word “special.” That was one of the more ignorant things I’ve seen lately, simply because it didn’t change the negative connotation of the phrase. If you wanted to avoid it, you would have had to eliminate the entire phrase, because now all you’ve done is create the same negative connotation with the word “special”. You weak-minded fools.
Anyway, back to Ann and the general topic of this post. Ann, as you probably know, is quite fond of saying provocative things, and apologizes to no one. I’m not in favor of saying hurtful things. I’m not in favor of calling the president a “retard,” even if I don’t like him. But, let’s get to the point. I’m also not in favor of banning words.
Russell Brand called President Bush “that retarded cowboy fella” in 2008, I believe, at the MTV movie awards. After you’re done reading this, go Google it, because there was no outcry about a Brit calling our President retarded. Some gasps in the audience, that’s about it. The news stories centered more around how he damaged British-American relations than his use of the word. No outcries from concerned mothers. No public reprimand of someone from another country insulting our President using such a word. Sure, maybe a few here and there, but no main-stream reprimand of his use of that word. He was even invited back to host the show the next year. I mean, hey, it was Bush, right?
The point I’m making is that the the protest over use of the word in this instance is directed at the person, not the word itself. That’s the danger of the language police. It’s driven by agendas. It’s the reason they want Rush Limbaugh off the air every time he says something controversial, it’s about him, not what he says.
When I was a kid, my mother taught me “it’s not nice to call people names.” Yes, words can be hurtful. I was also taught “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” You know, you learned life lessons. Be bigger than the name caller, learn to deal with it, stuff like that. You have to learn to navigate life. You can’t be protected from everything, especially names. If you can understand it’s an insult, you can understand that.
I’m sure some will read this and take it as a defense of Ann Coulter, or perhaps using the word retard. It’s neither. This is a statement about three things, I think. One, how main stream media skews societal perception by how they report, or not report, the stories. Two, it’s about how the use of certain words and the objection of such is politically motivated. Three, it’s about how some have decided the way to improve society is by controlling the language we use. Articles about banning words in America? Really? I don’t believe the solution is to outlaw the words. It seems society now leans in the direction of making a better society by controlling what people say. Quite frankly, that’s ridiculous, and even worse, dangerous. Language police are thought police.
If you’re interested, check out “The Language Police, How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn” by Diane Ravitch