We Have Considered Your Hate Speech In Context, You Are Still An Asshole

20 Feb

Language, believe it or not, is a living thing, one that evolves through usage and intent. We have grown to despise words like “faggot” or “the n-word” because they have been used, over time, with the intent to cause harm. If history had chosen the word “butterfly” in place of the word “faggot” (which is the case in certain Spanish-speaking communities), then we wouldn’t bat an eyelash anytime someone said “faggot.” The same can be said for words like “dyke” or “tranny” or any other term we deem offensive. – From this article

I urge you to read that article by RJ Aguiar because I personally think its bonkers, but the idea behind it isn’t really out of the ordinary in well-intentioned intellectual circles.  I want to take apart the one paragraph above however, because it treats hate speech like some Eat Pray Love new age crap. All references to despising words are written in a passive tone, because otherwise you’d have to introduce the bigot oppressors who weaponized those words.  Allow me to clarify: He posits that hate speech “has been used, over time, with the intent to cause harm,” later he says “If history had chosen “butterfly” instead of “faggot…”

Excuse me? But I don’t think it was history that chose hate speech, it was most certainly a cadre of hateful bigots who did the deed. The bigots, the oppressors, are the key to understanding why people get so riled up over hate speech, so it’s convenient to leave them out of your op-ed that is pro contextualized hate speech. It’s a lot more realistic to say that if murderous bigots didn’t scream “faggot/spic/bitch/dyke/tranny” as they chased us around then we wouldn’t be as offended by those words, but they did, and your argument sounds stranger and stranger.

Obviously, not everyone gets slurred against, and people have very complicated relationships with hate speech that most people like to reduce to “offended at.”  Do you know what I think of the word “faggot?” It doesn’t hurt me, but I’ve never been called it. Even though it isn’t personally affecting I think less of people who say it. I think it hurts a lot of kids to hear people say that in public, so don’t do it.

My relationship to “fag” or “spic” (spic is barely even a blip, it’s like the bigots got lazy) isn’t just a simple offended/not offended check mark, and I think most people would tell you about their complicated relationships with slurs if you asked them.

Ahh, but that’s the problem isn’t it? You have to listen! Who wants to listen? Who wants to read about the differences between a transvestite and a transgender person? That’s work, and work is bad! I really feel like most of these calls for fair-mindedness are just lazy folks complaining.

I suspect this was also written as a response to Lisa Lampanelli calling Lena Dunham “her nigga.” LL temporarily forgot she wasn’t on stage and started acting the part of the bigot.  She’s then dumbfounded that people were offended at her offensive act. I’ve seen Lisa Lampanelli on stage, I’ve heard her on the radio, she’s made me laugh sometimes, so as a fan let me just say that, even in context, it was really horrible move on her part.

And that’s the thing, even in context, most of the instances where you slur an entire race of people is just…baaaaaad. Quentin Tarantino can pull it off, I think, because he makes his fictional characters say it and it rings true of them (in Pulp Fiction, most of the characters are from Inglewood, having grown up there, that is what it sounds like), but even in Quentin I can find you a whole host of people who disagree with me vehemently. A lot of those people debating Quentin are black people, and they’re getting along just fine without agreeing to make you feel comfortable saying the n-word.

I think it takes a lot of balls to write that op-ed, horrible, smelly, wrinkly balls. Ultimately who really cares about the context of your hate speech (I bet it’s horrible) and whether or not you are comfortable when others aren’t? Why don’t you do a little leg-work before you open your trap about stuff that doesn’t pertain to you? If you’re going to give your input, do the research first, because the people who are correcting your language are actually your friends.

Trust me. I have no power to stop you from using hate speech, so I opt to retweet or write about it to highlight how horrible you are.


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