Opinion: Careful, your ignorance is showing

Lindsay Bookout

Abbi Pittman

Lindsay BookoutI have a game for you all. Find the slur words:

“Yo man, that’s gay.”
“I like your shorts. No homo though.”
“He said that? What a faggot.”
“Oh my God. That’s just retarded.”

Homo. Faggot. Retarded. Even gay, in many contexts. All of these words are offensive to someone.

Just because you have that one homosexual friend who doesn’t care if you say “faggot” doesn’t mean there aren’t other homosexual or transsexual or bisexual people out there that do care.

It not only makes you sound intolerant when you use these words, but it also makes you sound ignorant.

A lot of people say that “gay” has a new context now and that everyone knows they do not mean it offensively.

Then why, I ask, is it almost always used negatively?

“Gay” is the number one most used insult in classrooms, according to BBC News. That’s right, insult. You can pretend you’re using it in a different context, but not everyone around you is going to think the same thing.
And then there’s “no homo.”

Now, why is there any need in the world to say that?

When I compliment a girl on her shoes or on her outfit, I feel no need to remind her that I am not a lesbian and am not hitting on her. And if you feel that way, then perhaps you need to look inside yourself and question why you feel the need to do that.

It is kind of like when I compliment a guy on something; I’m not hitting on him. I am just being nice.

The original definition of a “faggot” is a bundle of sticks. The Straight Dope says that the relationship between a bundle of sticks being burnt and heretics being burnt at the stake might be meaningful. But most people don’t know that. They just know that “faggot” is offensive. And it has taken on a discriminatory meaning that, to me, makes it one of the most offensive words ever.

It literally hurts my heart to hear someone use that word casually.

“Retarded,” on the other hand, offends people with mental disabilities.

Although it is a category on the IQ scale, “retarded” has become slang for “stupid.”

Some of the nicest and most genuine people at my high school had autism, Down’s syndrome or another mental disability. And some people at my school were ignorant enough to refer to them as “retarded” either behind their backs or to their faces. How is that fair?

Retardation, like homosexuality, isn’t something that anyone can help, so why was it even taken up as an insult to begin with? You wouldn’t make fun of somebody who was in a horrible car accident and lost a leg, would you?

I would hope not. 

Words like these hurt people, so please, think before you speak.

Bookout, a sophomore English and French major from Charlotte, is an intern news reporter.