White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, criticized for using the word “retarded’ during a private meeting last summer, has told advocates for the mentally disabled that he will join their campaign to help end the use of the word.
I’m sure he will. Emanuel, like too many politicians, is willing to throw Freedom of Speech and thought under the bus if it gets him out of hot water with the politically correct. But while the efforts of the Special Olympics to “end the r-word,” as its website http://www.r-word.org puts it, are understandable and well-intentioned, they couldn’t be more wrong. Or dangerous.
Word-banning is simply a micro-version of book-banning. It is an effort to ban unpopular, unfashionable, politically incorrect thoughts by removing the words to express them, and this is sinister, dangerous, and unacceptable. Shockingly, news commentators all over TV and radio were describing Rahm’s crude rant against far-Left advocates by using the term “r-word” rather than the actual word he used, “retarded.” Irresponsible, incompetent, craven journalism. I can think of lots of other unsavory, mean words that begin with an “r.” How about “raghead,” Ruskie,” “redneck,” and “redskin”? If “retarded” is banned (along with “retard”), can these be far behind? Then what…do we have to talk in terms of “r-word #1” and “r-word #2, 3, 4,and 5”? Do the Washington Redskins become the Washington R-word #5s? Does George C. Scott’s rant about the “Ruskies” in “Dr Stangelove” get bleeped out on television, or do we just ban the movie?
What do we do about non-offensive uses of “retard” and “retarded,” as in “Brushing with Colgate retards plaque build-up”? Is that still using the “R-word”? Mark my words, the same word-bullies who embrace this Orwellian website will try to argue that using “retard” to describe what flame-retardant treatments do is still offensive.
Every single word has a valid use.
Every single word can support or enhance or clarify an important thought.
Every single word can be part of an engrossing story.
Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, classics all, would be diminished without the use of the epithet “nigger,” for example. The history of race relations in the United States can’t be understood or discussed without using that word. Imagine how difficult it will be to discuss various historical and social issues when every group gets to condemn words they find demeaning, and they are promptly banned from the language by a conspiracy of websites, advocacy groups, and unprincipled White House aides looking for cheap exoneration from verbal excesses.
Women will ban the c-word, the b-word (too bad for dog-breeders), and the d-word. Prostitutes will want to ban the w-word. Gays don’t like the h-word or the q-word (unless they use it themselves, much as the n-word isn’t the n-word if a black comedian uses it. ) Jesse Jackson has been trying to ban the n-word, and he probably is going to want to do the same with Harry Reid’s N-word, which is clear in print but will have to be called “the capital N-word” in speech or nobody will know which banned word isn’t being said. Jews will probably want the h-word and the k-word banned, probably the y-word too, just as Canadians will want to banish the c-word (actually, the c-word that is banned will already be on the feminist’s list, so this will have to be be the capital-C word) and the French will want to ban the f-word, except that they won’t be able to call it the f-word because the f-word means something else entirely, so I guess it will be the “f-r-word.” But what about when a French chef wants to make f-r-word-legs in garlic butter? Or when some crude individual says, “I don’t like your restaurant’s fucking froglegs!”? Will that become, after the new, Special Olympics, Rahm Emanuel led word-purge, “I don’t like your restaurant’s f-wording f-r-wordlegs!”?
Just stop. STOP! Stop banning words and thoughts, ugly or otherwise. Teach people to be civil, to respect each other and to treat fellow Americans with kindness and tolerance, but let people express themselves as they choose, as long as they aren’t hurting anybody or doing any harm. And trying to control thoughts and speech by banning words, ideas, sentences, insults, poetry, jokes, opinions, stories, history, books, plays and movies is causing harm, and must not be be tolerated.
Don’t tell me, or anyone else, what to think or say in private, and leave my vocabulary alone. I don’t trust the word police to stop at “retarded.” I don’t trust them to stop at all, because they are never satisfied until everyone thinks just like they do. Well, everyone shouldn’t think like they do, and I can prove it.
They think their thought-censoring website is ethical.