Tiriol wrote:This question has been raised before (by Rye), but I don't wish to see it flushed away: handedness is indeed a genetic issue, but so is being mentally retarded. And the latter still gets used quite a lot. Personally, I find "Jap" just a little bit too offensive that I would use it, but what makes it so much different than being called a retard? The first one is rascist, the second one is not, that's one difference of course (since mentally retarded persons can be found in any culture and ethnic background). I'm not trying to ban the use of the word "retard", since it is obviously a rather often-used word, but I'm merely curious.
Let's say I call you a "fucking beaner" and you're as Caucasian as the mountains. Can I really be taken seriously? Similarly, the use of the word "retard" is not one that's done with the serious intention of implying that the individual has the mental state formerly referred to as mental retardation.
Now, could that word be harmful when used against someone who is "mentally retarded" (now developmentally challenged)? Absolutely, which is one of the reasons the nomenclature changed over time. Is it on the same level? I really can't say. Should people who are lacking senses be offended when someone shouts out "What are you, blind/deaf?" to someone who is clearly not but is showing obvious signs of inattention?
Words do change over time, as new meanings are given to them. Used to be a bundle of sticks or a cigarette or the simple act of being happy were not slang for same-sex individuals. Now they are, and some of them can be harmful.
And yes Rye, context does mean a lot. However, this is a long way to drag out this sort of an argument. If you want to debate it further, I suggest a collesium proposal or something. At the end of the day that you don't care if something is offensive is on you, but hate speech is hate speech, and when you use a derogatory term to describe someone for something they have no control over, that's hate speech. When we rag on people for willful ignorance, even if the terms we use might be considered derogatory, the way in which we use them is not, because we are attacking something that is in their ability to control, their actions.
Is that clear to everyone now? Call someone an idiot, retard, shithead, fuckbarrel, braindead shitknocker, or goatfucker for shit they say or do, fine. Call someone a re-re, ass-pie, or whatever based specifically on aspects of the condition they have little or no control over, you're likely in the shit if they take offense and can back it up. Rag on someone's ethnicity, gender, orientation, etc., and you're really in the shit.
I can't believe I had to spell that out.