So I’m going to ramble a wee bit about “free speech”.

I use it.  Some might even say I abuse it.  But I can’t live without it.  When I was in China* I was going stir crazy by the fact that I couldn’t say anything, nor did I have an avenue to do so (access to Facebook and Twitter, for example).  Every time I opened my mouth, on such issues as “How ’bout that Dalai Lama?” and  “So how do those government officials get elected, anyway?” I was awkwardly hushed up immediately, lest some government official catch wind of my shenanigans and goings-on and arrest us all.

So “free speech” and the Internet.  People say some fuck-stupid shit, and it might make my blood boil, but if there is one thing I’d fight to the death thing in terms of American ideals, it’s their right to say it.  Even if it is fuck-stupid shit.  Really, if anything, that’s one thing that bugs me a little bit about the current free speech policies in Germany (though you have to admit it, the Germans kind of earned it).

That said, free speech is always a matter of personal judgment.  In my country, one has the right to say something to the effect of, oh, “Danes smell like melted rubber and burning ass hair.”  Before anyone gets up in arms, allow me to say that I don’t share that attitude.  Can’t say I’ve ever even met a Dane.  But, people have the right to say this, they just also have to take the responsibility to own it.  They might say these things on a venue such as the Internet, and accept the possibility that a legion of fresh-smelling Danes might come after them with wooden shoes** and Hans Christian Andersen books.

So when I feel like my right to free speech is in question, most of the time I stay quiet about it, but it might irritate me.  Of course, as I said, one must take responsibility for the things they say, but I remember during the Nostalgia Chick contest there was a lot of to-do regarding my dirty mouth, something that no one ever questioned about Doug.  But I reserve the right to say those things that to some are offensive, such as fuck, retarded, and so on.  A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, and here on my blog comments, I got a comment from a woman who is the mother of a special needs child, telling me that she enjoyed my videos, but she thought I was too smart to say “retarded”, and that I should understand that some people don’t appreciate using that word all willy-nilly.

I suppose to me, when people say shit that makes me angry, it’s when they do it out of ignorance.  I’m all for making jokes about things one shouldn’t make jokes about, as long as they do it to a point. Dark humor should be used to point out some troubling societal norm, but too often people use it just as a callous way to shock others.  I think this might be the origin of the word “retarded” to describe something extremely stupid.

I suppose in my case, I get very irritated when people make rape jokes for the sake of making them, rather than pointing out the troubling commonness of it all.  Similarly abortion jokes often irritate me when made out of complete ignorance and lack of empathy.  Incestuous Southerner jokes, gee, aren’t you creative?  My brother and I didn’t even get to third base.*** When something directly applies to you, it makes you more sensitive, and of course you’re the person that’s hurt the most by people’s callousness and ignorance.

I will always fight for my right and the right of others to use words like “retarded”, make rape jokes and so on, all in wild ignorance, because if you have nothing else left in the world, at least you have the freedom of your mind and thoughts.  That said, responsibility must be taken, and in my case I admit I was saying that word thoughtlessly.  In my own way acting out of ignorance like other people so often do.  So for that, I apologize, and to anyone else I’ve offended with my dirty mouth, I apologize, but only if the offending comment was one about which I have no working knowledge.  As I’ve said to so many others, I reserve the right to make jokes about rape and abortion, creepy Internet porn, alcoholism and so on.  Sometimes you just earn it. 😉

*Like a month  ago, and for a tour, so it weren’t no big deal.

**Dutch, I know, but I couldn’t think of anything else that was distinctly Danish besides… well… danishes.

***I don’t have a brother. That I know of.

  • You’re apologising for using “retarded”? Seriously? You make a blog about how it was shady of you to say “retarded” but you did it out of ignorance and you own that?

    Holy cow, you give the best reviews on TGWTG and keep the offensiveness on a lower level than most, but this is just fucking fantastic. I want to throw you a party.

  • Bri

    As they say, if you’re going to be funny, you’re going to offend someone. Though you absolutely have the right to use whatever language you wish, it’s really awesome of you to acknowledge this woman’s perspective here on your blog. Bravo.

    I’ve been reading the FWD/Feminists With Disabilities site off and on for awhile, and they have an excellent series on the topic of “ableist language”:

    http://disabledfeminists.com/category/ableist-word-profile/

    It’s given me a lot to think about, anyway, even if I’m still an ableist offender now and then.

  • Jonathan

    Lindsay, you make an excellent point regarding the use of dark humour to make a point as opposed to using it for a shock value. Case in point, Michael Richards and his Laugh Factory Incident a couple of years ago. A prime example of using humour to shock – a total melt down or epic proportion.

  • I had a woman de-friend me and call me all sorts of names because I used the word “retarded” in the description of a retarded neighbor of mine who was harassing my wife. It’s an honest-to-goodness medical term and adjective.

    Don’t let the butt hurt idiots make you censor yourself.

    • Shadow

      OK i get your point but there is a certain extent the word “Retarded” should not be used. I have cerebral palsy do you know how many times a day i hear the word retard in conjunction to me? About five or six. Are you saying that someone should have the right to do this to me?

      I don’t know when lindsay used the word retarded but I doubt it was in such a case, so in that point I have problem with her using it. As long as she is not using it to generalize the disabled community thats fine. I’ve never seen her use it and she is one of the few people on TGWTG that doesn’t have alot of cussing in her work which i applaud her for.

      But seeing as how we don’t know what happened or at least I don’t I’m going to guess that the person made her think about it and she felt the need to apologize. It’s the ease of which we use the word that would offend me. It’s an easy word to use and even i use it so call me a hypocrite if you like but i try not to use it to describe someone acting stupid, i just plain flat out call them on their stupidity but then again thats becasue the word Retard has been used as a jab at me just because I was in special ed and had a physical disability.

      • Shadow

        small edit I have NO problem with her using it when it isn’t in conjunction to people with physical disabilities, sorry my fingers type faster than my brain there

  • Great post!

    I can recall many times, after hearing some particularly stunning screed in direct and grandiose opposition to my sensibilities (Your Falwells, your Phelpses, your Coulters, and I assure you, there’s plenty of the type in Canada, too) , that I would find myself thinking something to the effect of what you have said. Though often invoked to prevent myself from stooping to their level of hatred and fear-mongering and black and white reasoning, my motto basically goes “I disagree with everything you have just said, and I’d die fighting for your right to say it.”

    What can I say? I get hot-blooded over human rights…

    The sad fact may be that in a society where people are free to express themselves and hear the expressions of others, not everyone will arrive at well-informed, well-reasoned conclusions, but at least everyone has a chance to.

  • re-spon-si-ble adj. Dictionary.com defines this as “answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management.”
    – Accountability. Owning up to what it is that you say and/or do. That seems to be the problem with some people. They say and do whatever the %_*$)@ they wish and then have the nerve to let others clean up their mess, sometimes by saying that they’re privileged. I’m looking at all the rich kids, the right- (and in some cases even left-) wing talkers, the Jersey Shore “celebrities”, a certain oil company having a wee bit of a problem right now….. (starts making a noose)
    – I myself try my damnedest not to swear. That’s not necessarily how I was raised; that is my choice. I can’t help sometimes if an occasional curse word comes in rarely. Of course, seeing the environment at tgwtg.com on a daily basis…well, I’ll let them get cheesed off for me.
    – As for using “retarded”, I have had a lot of experience seeing these individuals on a daily basis. And it amazes me that people don’t understand that they can do things on their own…without anyone helping them. I’ve seen it happen. A lot. Yes, they may need to be prompted a few times, but still. They’re humans, too. Besides, to retard means “to delay the development or progress of; hinder or impede.” Some could argue that people who are sent to jail for a long time without any access to libraries and such will have their lives retarded for a while.
    – Lindsay, just so you know, I’m not offended when you used that term. Or any foul language. Hell, this is the world we live in (ohhhhhhh…), and these are the names we’re given (ohhhh….). Stand up and let’s start showing (ohhhh…..) just where our lives are going to. Glad to see you are a responsible young woman. Chicklets rule.

    – P.S. Phil Collins FTW – and so does Kirk. No apologies.

  • Storms

    A+

    I must admit I wince whenever some I respect and find entertaining, like you or several others on TGWTG.com, use the word “retarded” because it’s so often used in the worst way possible (never mind used at all) and said so thoughtlessly. That’s why people like Linkara are so refreshing, and now you with acknowledging this issue.

    I really wish more contributors were more aware of things like this. So awesome job with this post and I hope this helps influence others as well.

  • CalebtheHeretic

    Uhm, what about Germany’s free speech policies?
    What’s “wrong” with our free speech?
    oO

    Elaborate, please?

    CtH

    • Fabi

      I didn’t get it either.
      Maybe she was referring to the newest survey of the BBC.
      Only 26 % of Germans considered the internet a safe place to state their opinions.

      In Germany there are many laws to protect minorities. Like for example the “Jugendschutz”. And therefore you’re most likely to get sued over something you said online.

      Which I think is a good thing!

      So I have no clue whether Lindsey was sarcastic or not.
      “The Germans kind of earned it”.
      What’s that supposed to mean?
      Does it mean the Germans earned it to have better protection of minorities, because the oh so bad Germans will take every chance to discriminate people? Or does it mean it’s cool to have more rules regarding the internet free speech?

      No clue.

      And as someone of French origin who lives in Germany I know that Germany is probably the country in Europe that is the easiest to immigrate to.
      The Germans are very sensitive when it comes to racism and they have a lot of rules against discrimination.

      So yeah *shrugs*

      I like my Germany.

  • Good post, but there’s one thing I want to pick apart a little.

    You said “In my country, one has the right to…” That’s not quite, er, right.

    You have the right to free speech not just because you’re in the United States, but because it’s inherent in the human condition. Rights aren’t granted, period, much less granted by a government. Exercising rights is protected by governments and systems of law, and those also limit the exercise of rights.

    Thus the people you were with in China have the same free speech rights we do in the United States. It’s their exercise of their inherent right to free speech that’s limited.

    I bring it up because I’ve seen a lot of discussion – not in your post, but in general – that ultimately reduces to statements like “Well, that’s not a right in their society, and we have to respect that.” It actually is a right, because they’re people, and all people everywhere have the same rights. It’s just that their government limits their exercise of their rights – and without much legitimacy (consent of the governed).

  • The only significant point of contention I would raise are the considerations of what common usage actually does to our language. Certainly, etymologically-speaking we know the origin of the label “retarded”, but common-usage has made it more analogous with stupidity than a genuine belief that someone suffers a mental handicap and should be called to bear judgment and notice for it.

    Certainly, we can have a semantic debate over the larger idea of a social contract that “words should mean their definition”, but… I actually don’t buy into that so much, because for me it’s more an excuse for the person claiming offense to be ignorant of social context and conversational trending.

    It’s not just wordplay to point out that the word ‘take’ is in the phrase ‘take offense’, because the blame resides on the person making the claim that an act was hostile, as they made that leap instead of, you know, giving someone the benefit of the doubt and intuiting whether there was a willful assault versus conversational shorthand.

    • Sylphstorm

      One could similarly argue that “gay” means “stupid” now in our society, whenever the origin in that use is the fact that “gay” was used as a pejorative. “Fag” just means “effeminate dude,” and totally isn’t used to dehumanize both non-gender-normative men or actual gay men; it just means to stop being so damn queer!

      Etc. The use of “retarded” as a pejorative is based in the belief that disabled people are stupid (despite the fact that you seem to have completely forgotten elementary school). It may not always be used in that way, but that is the origin of the common use, and her acknowledgment of this is admirable, because a lot of people aren’t willing to examine their own privilege for long enough to think that the words that we use have been shaped by public perception of those who are “other,” and continue to shape that same perception. The only way to stop that loop is to stop using words that treat people who are different than you as less-than.

      • I do not at all disagree with your first graph; due to common usage, in most cases that is precisely what those words mean, and taking someone to task over using them in that context as being overtly hateful to homosexuals just goes to re-empower those terms as hate speech over the dulling of the edges that much of the modern vernacular has caused.

        And again; my counter-argument is the contention that people want to wrap themselves in their insecurities, and find issues to take offense about, as it reinforces their xenophobic perceptions of outsiders as intending to be harmful to something they feel should be a protected class above all context, and that any mention that is not about uplifting should immediately be castigated in some fashion.

        The true way to stop the power of such terms is to defuse their impact by discarding frivolous emotional investment in what they “should” mean as opposed to what they literally mean when used. It is a social failing to lack the empathy to infer what someone means as opposed to just waving the PC Police badge in response to key terms our consciousness has red-flagged, and it is the exact opposite of progress to have someone use a term in a less malicious manner but drag them back to the older, hateful meaning by hammering on them “NO it means THIS!”

        As for the point on elementary school, I’m not sure what you mean; on the surface it appears to simply be a passive jab, but taken on the merits of a legitimate argument I would have to say that no, those lessons are not forgotten, but the entire persistence of a single person’s development is a continuous evolutionary process of revising and reinforcing past lessons based on new data. Therefore, I would wager those lessons that started out as simple, single statement directives in childhood have gathered a number of extrapolations, clauses, and contextual deviations over the years… And one would hope that such a case is true for everybody that has continued to progress in their personal and social development.

  • DanManX

    I’ve always hated the fact that people don’t seem to realize that freedom of speech works both ways. Everyone always uses it as a defense of their own beliefs when they’re being criticized for them. “Yeah, well I have the freedom of speech, so you can’t stop me.” And yes, legally no one can make you stop, and speaking from personal belief, no one SHOULD make you as long as you’re not causing actual, quantifiable harm with your beliefs (ie, all you do is hate something, and not actually attack it or try to get rid of it).

    However, the same freedom of speech that allows you to hold those beliefs and express them also allows the rest of us to call you a raging moron with no more sense than a flea. It’s just the way it works. Asking people not to make fun of you because you have freedom of speech is ridiculous; they have the SAME freedom, and can hold their own beliefs despite what you think. This is a surprisingly common thing, especially here on the internet. People will get into arguments over their belief on something, and one side (usually the one being ganged-up on) will resort to “I have the freedom of speech, I can believe what I like.” Yes, we know, but WE THINK YOU’RE WRONG, and we have the freedom to express it. Don’t tell US to shut up, and then expect that we’ll leave you free to talk.

    *****Note: I am not directing that as an attack on Lindsay or her post. It’s only sorta-kinda related to what the blog is about. It’s just a pet peeve of mine, and it seemed like an okay place to bring it up.

  • dm

    “People say some fuck-stupid shit, and it might make my blood boil, but if there is one thing I’d fight to the death thing in terms of American ideals, it’s their right to say it.”

    ” I will always fight for my right and the right of others to use words like ‘retarded,’ make rape jokes and so on…”

    How do you fight for these rights ?

    • By voting for people that will make sure that they don’t vote to take away freedom of speech, writing your representative when special bills need to be passed with your opinion, and many other ways.

      Pretty much boils down to not sitting on your hands, writing a ton of letters, and just common sense voting. Every vote counts!

      • dm

        I meant I was curious as to how exactly she does this.

  • Would you say that you can only joke about things like abortion, rape, etc. if you have experienced or know someone who has experienced it?

    • So a comedian can increase his “Joke Stash” on purpose by making his wife have an abortion after raping her? Brilliant!

    • Rotha

      I dunno – experiencing a difficult trauma doesn’t automatically make someone more sensitive to the potential fragility of all human beings.

      Or, much more importantly, funny.

    • Elly

      I was more mildly annoyed than offended at your frequent use of “retarded,” actually. The reason being, when it doesn’t refer to a specific medical condition… it can mean anything. It’s such a vague pejorative, which is probably why the ditzy girls I’ve met like it so much.

      Pejoratives are more entertaining and illuminating when they’re sharpened to a point, yes? Instead of saying Katy Perry’s lyrics are “genuinely retarded” you could have said shallow, undisciplined, bland, uncreative, banal, lazy… pinpointing a more specific quality.

      But I didn’t think that much less of you for sounding that one time a little something like a ditzy girl I’ve met, since the analysis itself was sophisticated and well-constructed. So it’s especially big of you to own up nevertheless! I’d like to cater Claire’s party.

    • Elly

      ^ That was supposed to be a reply to the main article. Sorry. I don’t know how to undo that. @_@

      But, hey, while I’m here… I think you can only tastefully joke about distasteful things if the joke, like Lindsay said, points out a troubling societal norm. If it’s for its own sake, or for the sake of shocking, or even done in a way that undercuts real values and invalidates people’s suffering, then even if you’ve been through it or have very good friends who you’ve helped through it– Dude, not funny!

      One reason I stopped watching Ask That Guy on (hrmm…) TGWTG? The gang-raping Smurfette joke. Not that he made it, but how it was executed. He described it with a smile on his face, and it should have been the incongruity of something so dark being spoken of so casually in reference to a flowery-sugary kid’s cartoon that would have made it funny. It came off to me that he was making fun of the suffering of rape victims, which… Dude. DUDE.

      If he’d described it with theatrical solemnity, I would have thought that he was respecting the suffering of real rape victims– but making fun of the sexism of the Smurfs, pointing out subtly that just because it’s a flowery sugary kid’s cartoon doesn’t mean it’s excused from its harmful sexist implications. I would have been in stitches.

      But your mileage may vary.

  • @Lindsay

    Thanks for this blogpost.
    As someone with a chronical disease I am always on the fence when it comes to ableist language.
    I think everybody should enjoy free speech but at the same time ableist language does, to a certain degree, make my life and the prejudices I have to face harder.
    But I really like the distinction you draw between the right to have Freedom of Speech and “owning” the statements one makes/taking responsibility.

  • Veljko

    Regarding ‘retarded’ I think that using it is quite blameless. Not that I am not sensitive to the plight of those afflicted with some manner of mental retardation. No, the reason using it is blameless is semantic drift. The word was used to signify a class of developmental disabilities, but now has an additional, strictly derogatory meaning. Those two are not quite separated, but will be. There may come a time when you can justly claim that retarded people are not retarded, and totally blow Aristotle’s mind. 🙂

    This is not the first time something like this has happened. Using lame has been sanitized by age, but it does still mean crippled. And cretin and moron were medical terms before they became generic terms of abuse. It’s just the good old euphemism treadmill, trundling on happily. In some schools LD (Learning Disabled) has already been used as an insult, I hear. Thus it goes.

    The people who complain would, lacking ‘retarded’ as a cause célèbre, would find something else. Bluenoses, moral guardians and other interfering busybodies always do. Self-righteousness is a powerful drug.

    Policy-wise, regulating speech is foolish and ill-advised, barring exceptions such as shouting Theater! in a crowded fire. Would eliminating the word nigger[1] end racism? It damn well wouldn’t. What it’d do is make the people who are inclined to use that word as an insult in the first place find another word. Say the word schroumpf. It doesn’t mean anything now, but give it a year or two in the mouths of racist assholes and it may well be referred to as ‘the s-word’.

    The antidote to hate speech is not regulation, that just sweeps the problem under the carpet. The antidote to hate speech is, in fact, free speech. The liberty to tell, say, a racist asshole just where to stick it, how vigorously and when to stop.

    [1] Using ‘the n-word’ is insipid. It is not magical and uttering it will not summon a burning cross.

  • Mark

    I’m torn about this article. On one hand, I would tend to agree with you. I admit, I use the word “retarded” sometimes. My intentions aren’t malicious, and I agree that the word has drifted away from its original meaning.

    On the other hand, I tend to get very offended when people casually use “gay” to describe something they don’t like or when they casually call someone they don’t like a “fag.”

    I have to wonder whether it’s my own personal bias that makes me view these words as being more malicious than “retard,” or whether I’m just being overly sensitive. I’m not sure. I would like to think I’m not quite that much of a hypocrite, since I also severely frown upon people using the word “nigger,” even when they’re not using it as an insult for a Black person. Hell, I don’t even like it when I hear Black people using that word, any more than when I hear a gay man using “fag.”

    So do I set a double standard when I say “retard?” I dunno. Maybe I (and lots of other people) just need to learn to loosen up. Maybe Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw had the right idea when he said, “A society where anyone can make jokes about anyone and everyone laughs is a truly tolerant society.”

  • Chibipandora

    I run with the social science crowd and they can be some really, REALLY politically correct people. I find that when you try and change a person’s behavior, such as telling them what they can and can’t say, you’re usually going to do more harm than good. I say that having been on both sides of it. Offering up information, thoughts, or feelings and then letting them make up their own mind is the best you can do.

    And sometimes, when I have to be so very careful how I word everything, I just want to stand up and scream obscenities until I loose my voice. But that isn’t my role. So I demand you keep up what you’re doing, so long as what you say jives with your sense of right and wrong.

  • This is a really great post. As a writer, my free speech is about the most important asset I have, and you make great points about the need to be able to say anything we choose (and be accountable for it).

    Folks should have the right to be loudmouthed assholes (or use salty language, for that matter) as much as they want, but that doesn’t remove their responsibility for their own words. This often pisses me off: when idiots claim that their insulting sexist/racist/ableist/homophobic language is “satire” or “transgressive” and that anyone calling them out is infringing on their freedom of speech.

    So thank you, Lindsay, for owning up to what you say when it’s offensive, but maintaining your right to use potentially taboo language for intelligent, constructive purposes. You are awesome.

    Also, the other commenters here are awesome! I’m amazed by the respectful tones, and the fact that someone recommended FWD/Forward. Beautiful.

  • alli

    For a paper, I recently read a really great article on humour written by Orwell called “Funny, but not vulgar.” It’s about how jokes are all “tiny revolutions” and how his contemporary British humour sucks because it doesn’t mean to offend anyone. This post relates and from one grad student to another, I thought you might be interested.

    http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/essays/orwell_2.html

  • bob

    I’m not going to hate on you for apologizing, and I don’t think it’s ever a bad idea to take a step back and examine why we say the things we do and if there’s a better way to do so (.. my internet ramblings notwithstanding, as it’s a case of either seat-of-my-pants the whole thing and then blindly hit post OR wind up closing the whole thing prematurely).

    I don’t think calling something “retarded’ is something we should try to really avoid *entirely*. Gotta be honest. Nobody calls foul when a feature in a game is referred to as being “crippling”.
    “Crippleware” is a pretty widely known term, as well.

    Retard isn’t a term that’s medically applied to people with mental disabilities (or sub your favorite more-PC term) anymore. If it were, I could see reserving it for that use — it would have a specific medical definition. It doesn’t. It only is defined these days by its colloquial usage. It sure can and is used as a denigrating term for those sorts of folks, but that’s still just a colloquial usage. It’s no more correct, and no more or less mean, than calling them stupid or dumb. It may have been defined as describing exactly them once upon a time, but once upon a time gay and faggot meant completely different things that really no longer apply to those words.

    Again, not defending or attacking your or anyone else’s use of the word.. but I do think that by getting so offended by its usage, the very people who wish it would go away are actually doing more to strengthen the claim that it’s still a term that applies specifically to them than they realize.

  • Hmm.

    I love being an American and the right to free speech it gives us as citizens…but whenever I see a racist term (whether or not it’s used as ‘term of endearment’), it makes me wonder: the guy you date may think it’s cute and funny that you refer to him as a Sand Nigger, but I’m pretty sure you censor your use of the term around members of his family because you *know* exactly how offensive it is…especially, I’d think, coming from someone white, privileged, and educated enough to find more creative ways to tease him.

    Unless you’re using a slur for constructive, intelligent purposes?

    Just a thought.

  • LN

    I agree with you. It’s entirely my right to say something that other people may not agree with. As you say, it’s dark humor. Many comics use dark humor. Are people flaming you just because you’re a woman and you should be a more “sensitive” comic whereas Doug can shoot his mouth off like it’s nobody’s business? Fuck that.

    We know you’re not out to intentionally offend anyone, so I don’t even think an apology is necessarily except to make your intentions more clear. Stick to your guns; we’re behind you all the way.

  • Hathwick

    I do like the term “special needs”, it’s so wonderfully correct.
    I recommend we also call the vuvuzela a “special instrument”, pedophilia a “special preference”, and North Korea a “special type of democracy”.

  • ToddInTheShadows

    God, that’s been a concern ever since I started doing video reviews. (Hi, I’m Todd, I’m new on TGWTG.) Compared to the language I use in everyday conversation, the reviews I write are really tame. I make no apologies for using words like “retarded” — sometimes they’re the perfect words for the situation. So I hate to feel like I’m watering myself down, but I’ve also read on the forums about TGWTG members getting severe backlash for saying things I wouldn’t bat an eye at. God knows I like having fans, so I’ve tried not to say anything too offensive. But eh, can’t please everyone.

  • Don’t say “retarded.” That’s gay. Tee hee.

    Letsee if I can remember this properly… “Liberty” is not freedom to do whatever you like, unfettered by any rules or restrictions, but the freedom from the impediments that keep you from achieving knowledge, virtue, and decency. I think that was Madison in The Federalist Papers.

    So yes, we do have the unfettered freedom to use whatever words we like, as do all the backwards ignorami in this country. But, as you said (and you hit the nail on the head here), responsibility must be taken. Any schmuck can say something offensive, but it takes a free, intelligent mind to say something witty and meaningful.

  • Diego BM

    Offense can only be taken, not given.

  • Warlock

    As a devil’s advocate here, I would say there are circumstances where using ‘retarded’ is entirely justified, mainly when one is describing something as the textbook definition of the term (the one that came before the medical sense.)

    “Retard: to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.)”

    This means that the term ‘retarded’ can legitimately be used to describe something undeveloped, perhaps socially or psychologically. Let’s say we have a new law or legal statement, one which I feel hinders social progress or is not well-thought-out. I could call that retarded. (This is probably part of how the term gained it’s negative misuse.)

    Now, you’d have to be careful of context, and potential interpretation.. but that doesn’t mean we erase the word from our lexicons. Every word has subtle uses and connotations.

    Honestly, that’s how I perceived Lindsay’s use of the term. I didn’t see as much fault in it as others are assigning, but then I’m occasionally known to be over-cerebral in these matters.

  • I use “nigger very sparingly and only when it applies to someone’s actions instead of their skin color. It is a word that expresses a moment when I am truly offended by someone. Case in point, I had posted on a message board how happy I was to finally get “State run” health insurance in Minnesota (after 25 years of none in Texas).
    A neo-con member of the board posted a picture of gutter punks begging for change (with a sign saying it was for beer) while smoking weed and compared me to those people
    I told this guy that he just called me a nigger and several people jumped on me about it.

    The other word I reserve the right to use as a “cross the line” statement is the word “cunt”
    That word is not sexy or cute or anything, in fact, it makes me think of the nastiest, smelliest, ugliest ways a female can be (physical or presonality)
    All of the other words for female anatomy are fine.

    People need to get their panties out of their cracks and realize that we need to be able to express our anger or indignation with a word so strong that it immediately identifies how offended the person is that is using the word.
    If I call you a cunt or a nigger, then there is no mistaking that your actions or sentiments have offended me (and it is REAL hard to offend me)

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