Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Don't be loose with heavy words!

Okay, I am SUPER fired up right now, so if this comes off harsh, I am sorry. No, actually, I'm not. I make no apologies for this blog, because it NEEDS to be said. Too many people are too complacent about this issue, and nobody seems to CARE enough to stand up against it and say something. I'm not much of a tongue-biter, and certainly not in written form, so no, I don't care if you don't like what I have to say. At least I have the guts to say it, unlike most people. And in fact, most people don't even see this BIG problem as a problem at all. People have become complacent, and when it comes to THIS issue, that is really messed up!! So honestly, if this offends you, I don't care one little bit because if you think this is okay, then I honestly think you need to take a long, hard look at your own heart.

So here's the issue. Words. Words getting thrown around with absolutely NO regard for the REAL weight of the words and who they might hurt. Phrases like, "You're gay," "that's gay," "that's so retarded," "you retard," "I'm such a retard for...," "that person must be bipolar," "he's just crazy," "I'm having an ADD moment," "you tweaker," "you need to go to rehab for...," "'sup n-word" (sorry, I won't type that whole word out...that would make me sick to my stomach!), "hey b*tches," "what's up, b*tches," "you're such a whore," "he's such a pimp," and the list goes on, and on, and on. (Any more than that, and I may puke. I'm offending myself just typing it out. But I need to convey the gravity.)

Here's my beef with that. Even if that isn't said to someone who really IS gay, or has special needs, or suffers from a mental health issue, there is someone - millions of people! - who that refers to. And they WOULD BE offended!

I take offense to it! I suffer from chronic rapid-cycling depression, which closely resembles Bipolar II. I don't like it when mental health issues are taken lightly and glibly. One in 5 Americans suffers from depression, many of them chronically, and let me tell you from first-hand experience, its no laughing matter. People take their own lives because of it! It can be DEADLY! That is NO - absolutely NO! - laughing matter!! And on top of the 1 in 5 with depression, there are many, many other mental health issues. Digest that for a second. Do you still think loosely throwing around words pertaining to peoples' personal struggles is okay? Or funny? Its not! Not to me, and not to many other people.

One of my best friends is gay. I get really offended when people loosely throw that term around too. Its making a tongue-and-cheek about the lifestyle millions of people live, a life that, as my good friend can attest, is NOT easy to live without ridicule. Do you think throwing these words around as jokes make that any EASIER or LESS PAINFUL for the gay community? It doesn't. It hurts them and makes them feel even more alienated. What is so humorous or cool about ridiculing and alienating a whole community of people with your loose words? Like I said, if you think its okay, then you need to take a hard look at yourself.

My dad is a retired 27-year special education teacher. My daughter's best friend is autistic. I learned at a VERY young age that I was NEVER allowed to use the term "retard" or "retarded" loosely...or really, at all. People with developmental disabilities are often looked down on or treated like they're stupid. Some of my dad's students have been mathematical and artistic GENIUSES! One of his students graduated not only high school, but also COLLEGE! Many non-developmentally-delayed individuals don't even do that; people that are "so called," "more intelligent." And as for my daughter's best friend, she is in one of the highest reading groups in the 1st grade, and has defied so many odds and obstacles in her 6 1/2 year life, and will probably be fighting for the rest of her life. So to demean and undermine the intelligence of these BRILLIANT human beings by calling them "retarded" is just plain MEAN, and they DO NOT deserve that term being thrown around loosely because its hurtful and undeserved. They didn't CHOOSE to be developmentally delayed - nor did their families - so to use the term so lightly is NOT funny! EVER!

My sister is a recovering drug addict/alcoholic. After everything she - and our entire family - has gone through, even going to the brink of death and back, calling people "tweakers," and using drug abuse references lightly hurts me on a VERY deep level. Again, this is an issue that CAN and DOES cause WAY too many deaths. Think about the families of addicts for a minute. Nobody ever does. Do you not realize that using these terms lightly just magnifies the painful experiences and memories of addicts and their families. What is funny about the pain of watching your family member almost DIE in front of your very eyes? Or the physical and mental pain of withdrawals and detox? Do you think if you ever went through an experience like that, that you would STILL take it lightly and throw words like that around loosely? Really, really envision yourself in the shoes of an addict, recovering addict, or family member of an addict. Do you still think its okay to be so glib about it?

And what in the world is so funny about likening your friends to canines? You don't find that at ALL demeaning?! I'm sorry. I'm a human, not a dog. Please refer to me as such. Or glibly referring to a friend as someone who sells their body, or contracts such acts? That's just sick.

I know there are probably people who will comment - or at least think - "What is her problem? Why can't she take a joke?" I can take A joke. I just can't that these TYPES of jokes. Not loose words at the expense of other people and the people who love them. Not loose words that poke fun at people for simply being who they are, or the circumstances of their lives. Not jokes about things they cannot control or change about themselves. Not things that make their personal battles harder. Not things that magnify their and/or their families'/friends' insecurities and pain. Not things that demean or devalue others.

I know there are also people who will read this and comment - or at least think - "Well, if its not DIRECTLY said to someone of this group or another, then they'll never hear it, so what does it matter?" Its still hurtful to someone, somewhere. And isn't that enough? It should be.

So no, I make no apologies for this blog's content, and I will stand by it even if you think I am overreacting or have no sense of humor. If I don't, then I guess I don't. I don't care, because I would rather stand by my principles, be a caring and respectful person, and not hurt people by the loose words that proceed from my mouth, than be a "funny" person.

All I ask is, if you use EVEN ONE of these words loosely, or in jest, that you examine your "jokes," and consider their weight, and the people they represent who are hurt by them. Consider the people on the other end of your "joke." Consider the populace it represents. Be more aware. Be more careful. Keep your words in check. And for gosh sakes, find words that more respectful and treat people like the wonderful HUMAN BEINGS that they are, not nameless, faceless objects! Because they have names, faces, and most importantly, FEELINGS! Just THINK! Promise me that you'll at least THINK about the gravity of the words you may be spewing. And if you have a heart in that chest of yours, and not a cold, hard stone, and you need to make changes, the DO IT - right here, right now! RIGHT NOW!!!


Jen said...

One thing I have to say about your blog is your reference to being gay as a lifestyle. I can't agree with that terminology because it implies a choice, like whether or not to sunbathe, and if homosexuality were a choice, I think there'd be fewer gay folks around if it were a choice rather than an intrinsic part of who they are.

I also feel a need to point out that there are a lot of people who choose to be sex workers of various types and many of them don't find the term "whore" to be derogatory, since it's an accurate description of their profession.

On the whole, though I agree with what you said. I've called people on their use of the term gay. I've examined what I was about to say to make sure I wasn't using a term in a way that could be hurtful. We need to be more mindful of how we say things.

Megan said...

See the message I sent to you on FB, Jen. ;)