The words we use; the consequences thereof.

My mother misses being able to use the word “gay”. It used to mean “lighthearted and carefree”. You can’t use it in conversation in that context anymore, whatever she thinks. That was then and this is now and language isn’t static however much some people argue it should be.

I have a friend who regularly calls her own behaviour “retarded” when she makes a mistake, no matter how many times I object. It’s not cool to use it as a pejorative these days – if it ever was – and despite how some people act, they aren’t harmed by the request to leave the word in the dustbin of history.

A great many people seem enraged by the fact that they are being called out for the things they say, that they are being called out to moderate their speech. They resent that they can’t use “fag” as a pejorative. They are enraged that people don’t let them tell jokes about Jews. They rant and rave over political correctness run amok.

Some of my friends tell shitty jokes and then add “I guess I’ll be called out for being politically incorrect” while laughing as though not telling racist jokes, bigoted jokes, or making derogatory asides harms them in some way.

I prefer to think of it as having taste, class, understanding, tolerance, good manners, and consideration.

What ever happened to the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have done unto you, or something like that? It’s not a uniquely Christian point of view, either. Most religions and philosophies have similar tenets.

The rallying cry from those who object to changes in what is acceptable often comes from the far-right. They complain, vociferously, about a perceived lack of freedom (the lack of freedom that inadequate health care and the challenges that climate change poses are less of a concern) that is engulfing them; they shriek, without a hint of irony, that their rights are being infringed.

They are incorrect in their assessment of the situation.

They are absolutely free to use hate-based, discriminatory, vile, bigoted, and racist speech. They are not, however, free from consequences.

They seem to find this a bit of a pisser.

If you choose to be an ass, a racist, or a bigot, that is absolutely your right. You can be as small, as petty, and as vindictive as you want. You are free to be rude. You are free to be mean. This does not mean, however, that people can’t challenge you. That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for your behaviour.

Like my mother, some people think it’s unfair that they can’t be as nasty as they used to be. They can’t use the words they used to use. They feel picked upon when their language and actions are challenged. I find people like this to be fearful; they’re often very afraid of change – social change at any rate. I don’t see any of them waxing nostalgic for a return to outhouse and wood burning stoves and washboards. But, oh, how they hearken back to a time when their every utterance was greeted with the respect they think they are automatically due, simply because they happen to have an opinion.

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