choosing language carefully – being considerate

I make no claims to be a ‘nice’ person who is aware of every social nuance, nor am I a calm person who doesn’t enjoy flying off the handle now and then.

What I do try to be is a considerate human being who doesn’t take my social conditioning for granted. Going against social conditioning has been a key part of removing myself from Christianity, a key part of choosing not to eat other animals, and a key part in my enthusiasm for modifying my socially conditioned language when it’s brought to my attention that it not only offends, but is and has been used to further marginalise minority groups who are discriminated against within society.

So it always comes as a great shock to me when people who I know are generally enthusiastic free thinkers, who view the world and other people through a lens of logic and compassion, insist on continuing to use out-dated terms that are proven to harm other people.

Most of us have been socially conditioned at this point in time to never use the word ‘nigger’. Even letting this word linger on screen seems somehow repulsive. We know it represents an attitude of foul racism and discrimination that sought to place people into groups of superior and inferior based on the colour of their skin.

Most of us have also been socially conditioned by now to never use the word ‘poof’ or ‘faggot’. We know it represents an attitude of foul hatred and discrimination that sought to place people into groups of superior and inferior based on perceived levels of femininity.

But many of us still say ‘retard’ and other words like it on a regular basis, as a throwaway insult designed to make someone we perceive as ‘normal’ to feel as if they are ‘less then normal’. It is used to express that we are in a superior group, while others are in an inferior group. The only people we insult when we use this word is people with learning disabilities – we tell them that when we hate how someone else thinks, we give them a hate label that puts them in the bin, along with people with learning disabilities.

There’s a campaign to stop people using this word, to make people stop and think about their linguistic conditioning, and how the way they choose to express themselves can hurt other people. Please read it:

If you have never spent time with people with learning disabilities, find a suitable place to volunteer in your local community, so that you can overcome any small-minded and ignorant ‘them and us’ attitudes you may be harbouring. The more people you meet, the more you realise that people are simply people, and that hate labels serve no-one’s best interests.