Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Choose your word wisely

Actor Jonah Hill got himself in some trouble this past weekend. Harrassed by photographers, he snapped and called one of them a faggot. He meant it entirely as a slur without regard to his target's sexuality. It's a mean, nasty word and that's how he meant it, in spite of the fact that he doesn't harbor ill will towards gay people. Now he's making the rounds and apologizing for it.

"I'm not at all defending my choice of words but I am happy to be the poster boy for thinking about what you say, and how those words even though you don't intend them, they are rooted in hate, and that's bullshit and I shouldn't have said that."

That's fine, he's doing what he should do and there's no doubt that he's being sincere. Plus, he's 100% correct. This is very similar to situations when people use the hateful word "retard" when they're trying to insult someone's lack of intelligence. They want to use a hurtful word towards the subject of their ire, but they don't intend to direct that invective toward those who are mentally challenged. Hill's right; he's guilty of choosing the wrong word. Why call someone a retard when you mean to say they're an idiot? Why call someone a faggot when you mean to say they're being an asshole?
And that's the whole point of today's post.
People, the elders, in their infinite wisdom, have passed down a glorious gift to us in the form of a classic pejorative descriptor that cuts across all societal bounds, be they racial, political, religious or gender:
It's perfect! It's mean. It's nasty. It fires across the tongue and right out of the mouth with ease. "HEY, YOU ASSHOLE!" Mmm, that just feels so *right*! I love it! It hurts the recipient's feelings without taking into question their sexual orientation, standing in society, ethnic heritage or spiritual beliefs. What could possibly be better than that? Well, aside from being the bigger person and not compounding the situation by throwing hatred at hatred. But who has time for that shit?
If Jonah Hill had called the photographer an asshole, he'd have been fine. If Donald Sterling had used it, he'd still own the Clippers:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with assholes. Do you have to?”

“You can sleep with assholes. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”

"Don’t put that asshole on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

See how many problems can be avoided in the first place when you just take a second to use the one, all-inclusive, specific word?

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