Monday, April 5, 2010

Pet Peeve

So facebook keeps suggesting this fan page to me: "Not saying 'gay' as a synonym for 'stupid' "

Aside from the really poor wording choice, I have several problems with this campaign. Note, I do not use the word gay to mean anything other than homosexual. Major movie stars are making public service announcements about this like we're talking about getting tested for chlamydia (the silent epidemic!).

Who is making campaigns about using the word "retard" ? Here's why I find that word more offensive. People who are mentally deficient can't always stand up for themselves. Most people know that 'gay' doesn't actually make sense as a synonym for stupid, just like 'wicked' doesn't actually make sense as a synonym for something amazing or impressive. They are just cultural appropriations of our lexicon.

But retard or retarded IS a word meaning lower IQ, less able to function normally, impaired cognition. The "insult" is making a juxtaposition by comparing someone who is obviously not mentally retarded with their behavior which may be reckless, careless, thoughtless, or impulsive. I know many individuals who have adapted to homosexuality but I can't think of anyone I know (and I do know many) that doesn't have a lower quality of life with mental and behavioral deficiencies. And their family suffers even more.

For that matter, how many of your friends get corrected when they say "Why are you acting so crazy?" "Are you insane?" And we know how often people joke about eating disorders. Who is standing up for those minorities?

People might respond to this argument with the case that homosexuals have been persecuted for centuries and it is only within recent history they are not regarded as diseased. But many people don't know that the mentally retarded and disordered people were also sent to concentration camps to die. That until very recently (and only in 1st world countries) psychiatric facilities were prisons, sites of experimentation, and places to die. People with mental disorders were killed for being witches or possessed by Satanic forces. And they are still regarded with suspicion.

The homosexual community, while still marginalized, has made significant strides within the past few decades. People with impaired mental capabilities are still treated as if it's medieval England. Sure, we may know that masturbating or the moon don't cause people to develop mental illnesses... but we don't treat people with schizophrenia as victims. We treat them as possible perpetrators, individuals that will harm us if we let them. Eating Disordered individuals can't speak out about their illness unless he or she is in recovery because we can't expose our children to that kind of perverse thinking. They might just catch anorexia and become infected too.

I understand when my gay friends complain about their co-workers or family members using "gay" with little regard to their feelings. But I don't understand how someone who knows persecution can't see the suffering of people in the same situation. A situation worsened by the fact that the majority of us can't even talk about this major aspect of ourselves. Our families are ashamed. We might get turned down for a job. Rejected for health insurance. And those of us who know someone with mental retardation know that you don't need to say anything. People just stare.

It is the silent minorities, suppressed by the times, that can't help themselves nor expect sympathy from others.


PrettyWreck said...

Hate speech only has power because we give it power.
Words have meaning when meaning is assigned, otherwise they are random letters, which in turn, is just random scribbles on a piece of paper that follows a pattern. This pattern is only coherent because of the values assigned to each scribble. Thereby, the total of these valued scribbles is granted only by our personal definition of the word, rendering words powerless, unless we decide to give them as such.

I am gay.
Lesbian. Dyke. Queer. Faggot. Faggoty. Differently-sexualized. I prefer the vagina. I like breasts. They're fantastic.
To be honest, I also like the word faggot. I use it day to day to conversation. I don't care if other people use it. Someone calls me a faggot? I say "Yes I am!" and give them a thumbs up. I've had it said in hateful ways, and you know what? It doesn't really bother me.

People use words because they're bad. Girls date boys who are "from the wrong side of the tracks." Nobody wants tall, blond haired, and straight laced, who has a small dog named Toby and likes to spend his weekends reading the news paper and smoking a pipe. No, they want someone named Micah, or Ezekial, or something else DIFFERENT--tall, dark haired, off limits, dangerous. They want the forbidden. Forbidding a word from use makes it more attractive to be used. When we say something is NOT ALLOWED, it becomes something we CRAVE TO DO. By not allowing drinking, kids idolize it more. When I turned 21, drinking lost it's attraction.

It also makes differences stand out more. "Oh...well, have you seen Mark? Yeah, he's the tall guy. Uhm...darker skinned. I know....African American." No. No he's not African. He's actually from Detroit. His great grandparents lived in France, actually, and it's insulting to say that he was originally FROM Africa, and say that because of his race, all other travels of his geneology are NULL AND VOID. Nope. Black people are only African. And they don't exist in other countries, because we can only call them African American, thereby making all things both ethnocentric AND politically correct at the same time!

There are very few things i'm insulted by. I think the only thing I take personally is hate speech against Judaism, since it's not really a part of modern lingo, so people have to actively search for hateful or prejudicial names against Jews to be able to use it. But when something is in the modern language, don't get pissed. It's just words, and words can't do anything unless you let them.

Anyway, that's my rant and my take on it XD People tend to hate me for it, but whatev.

Ancora said...

Well pretty wreck's comment was pretty intimidating, but I shall say;
"They are just cultural appropriations of our lexicon."
That's a fantastic sentence.

And I'm afraid I use gay and retard, I do feel bad about saying retard and try not to and stop myself a lot, but with gay, I figure it used to mean happy, then it meant homosexual, now it's evolving to something crap. I have nothing against gay people as it were.
And by gay people I obviously mean happy people. Nothing wrong with happy people, they can do what they want as long as they don't try and make me gay too or anything. Ew. Haa.

Anyway I'm rambling now.

In conclusion, I say stuff that may be politically incorrect occasionally and try not to offend people.

Kelly said...

It's nearly impossible to speak and form an opinion without the possibility of it offending someone within hearing distance, but I certainly make an effort for the more obvious offenses and wish others would too.

On another note, my heart broke a little the other week when I found out the significant amount of funds they are cutting from our state's mental health department, which means the downsizing and closing of many institutions and for the discharged it will mean more cycles of being rushed in and out of prisons and ER's with no real help for their illnesses.

Anonymous said...

you make a very good point in this post- i like it. i am recovering on my own because i am up to my neck in student loan debt. it royally full blown sucks and i hate having no help and everything being left up to me. a lonesome house leaves a lonesome recover-er... i get aggrivated about the retard thing too but must admit to using "gay" in the slang sense before. now you made me realize the connection, should watch my words

Piglet said...

Well said, doll.

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