Words influence, sway, comfort, identify. Words have power. Words are symbolic tools that unlock mental states. Words transmit ideas and preserve knowledge. By naming, we create reality from an incomprehensible sea of pure sensory experience.
From a religious perspective, words are powerful. In the beginning was the Word, the Logos. Fiat lux. Jesus as the Alpha and Omega. G-d as the tetragrammaton. Adam naming the animals. Words are the basis for abstraction.
But what do poets know?
"You shall be taken from this place and hanged from the neck until you are dead".
Powerful words. What poet would want to hear such words. Would she laugh insouciantly and tell the judge, "Words do nothing"?
Or would she pen her last poem to us from her cell, cursing the judge, knowing her words do nothing but the judge's words end everything?
Or would she remember that Eve together with Adam named all the plants and animals, and since then the first task of a leader is to name? Would she remember that her President, indeed, named Bush, has named the enemy? And perhaps he would rename her. He might call her pardoned and lo, it would be so.
1. I'd think you were a poor communicator. By overstating and not communicating your actual point, you make it extremely easy to dismiss your opinion.
2. It also shows your lack of insight or care about the prejudice against mental disabled people. And to choose to use those words with me, you are assuming that I am equally insensitive or apathetic. That's the mean thing it says about me.
Would you care to explain to me how saying someone was mentally retarded is hurtful when they are not insults mentally retarded people? Or even you?
If you call someone "old" for exhibiting traits that old people have, then I can see how this would be offensive to an real old person, or other people that think me making this connection is mean. For example, if you were acting forgetful/clueless and I said "Stop acting like an old person", I am acknowledging that there are certain traits that all people agree old people have (Called a stereotype). Hence, the outrage when the comparison is made.
The statement I made was so out of context and overstated that I think it would be obvious I'm not trying to reenforce any stereotypes of mentally retarded people. It's not like Palin actually exhibits real qualities that a mentally retarded person has. So there's absolutely no connection. There's not even enough evidence (I admit) to call her an idiot (in its definition). This is all under the assumption that you know I'm being insensitive/sarcastic and don't really "mean" it. And honestly everyone should know that I'm not REALLY trying to say that she's ACTUALLY mentally retarded. Someone being offended by this comment is just reenforcing and acknowledging the fact that there ARE stereotypes associated with mentally retarded people. You're practically saying YOURSELF that mentally retarded people are considered "stupid". Would you be offended if the statement was totally false, or there was no connection to the comparison?
If I called her a whore or a witch or something, then yeah people would see the connection and be offended because these examples are all associated with femininity (similar to the old people argument). Even goth would be offensive for the same reason. These are not overstatements, they are blatant insults. Calling someone mentally retarded instead of stupid or idiotic can be considered an overstatement unlike these examples.
If no one cared, like me, and if we all just stopped trying to be politically correct, maybe people would finally let go of stereotypes and people wouldn't be offended so much.
Political correctness is ALL about stereotypes.
If you're offended by something that's not "politically correct" you're basically implying the stereotype exists and that in itself is not being politically correct.
I have been thinking about your post and I see some similarities in what we are saying. That some people "think" that by changing language we can change behavior. . .
Here of course, it is a beautiful sunny morning. I am just about to walk up to the Bakery for coffee and the paper.
And of course I will pick up a nice bag of grapes on the way.
And fortunately we are both right. For just as you can change your feelings by acting, you can change your actions by changing your feelings. It works both ways. So we can have our cake and eat it too.
And of course in the same way, words change reality and reality change words. It makes me a bit dizzy thinking about it.
So I would be delighted to feed you grapes and perhaps with a nice slice of cake as well.