language, social media

I can think of so many more offensive things than that one particular word…

Wow… in just one week, it’ll be Halloween. It seems like October has really been fleeting this year. Bill and I have pumpkins to carve, since we did have a few Trick or Treaters last year. Germans are slowly catching on to Halloween, I guess. I will be passing out candy alone, though, because Bill has to go away again. It’s at times like these that I wish I had more friends. But a lot of my friendships have turned out to be disappointing, mainly because I tend to look at things differently than a lot of people do. I don’t go along to get along very well.

Take for instance, the common consensus that certain words should be “banned”. I will never agree with that idea, because I know that all words– even the so-called offensive ones– have a purpose. I also believe in letting people communicate freely, even if I think what they say or write is offensive. However, I understand that sometimes when a person says something egregiously offensive, there will be consequences. I have no quarrel with people facing consequences. That’s part of being an adult in a free society.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about an online interaction I had with a woman I didn’t know. This woman was apparently upset because I disagree with the notion that the word “retard” is always offensive and ought to be banned. She claimed she has autism, and evidently that somehow makes her an expert on offensive language. I disagree with that notion, too.

Anyway, we had a rather contentious exchange, and I wrote about it here. I think that post is one of my better ones. It’s probably be better than today’s post will be, but we’ll see. The upshot is, I certainly don’t agree that the word “retard” is always an offensive word. It can be used in an offensive way, but it’s not always offensive. So, whenever I see someone who’s upset about that word being bandied about, I generally just shake my head. I can think of plenty of other words that people never say anything about that are just as or even more offensive than that word is.

This topic comes up today thanks to fundie Christian Jill Rodrigues, who has, once again, been politically incorrect on her social media. I noticed someone on the Duggar Family News page shared the post and was very offended by it because it included the word “retarded”. Pickles, the woman who runs the page, later wrote a post about how wrong it was for Jill to use the term “retarded” in the way she did below…

Some people apparently gave Jill some shit for using the word “retarded” in her post. She edited it thusly…

Jill used the term “mentally challenged” to appease those who objected to her use of the r-word.

Now… I’m not trying to tell anyone that I think it’s right that Jill quoted her mother’s use of the word “retarded” to describe her non-functioning leg. However, I’m not offended that she used that word. I just don’t think it’s an accurate word to use to describe her mother’s condition, and using that word to describe her leg just makes her look less educated.

Clearly, Jill doesn’t care if people are offended by her use of that word and she’s going to continue using it regardless. You can tell by the way she substituted the term “mentally challenged” after people gave her a hard time. She doesn’t take other people’s feelings into consideration when she posts her stuff on social media, so I see no reason to be upset about it. This behavior is just par for the course for her. If you are offended by her use of language, my advice is to simply stop following her. In fact, I think unfollowing Jill the worst thing you could ever do to her. She craves fame, even if what she gets is actually infamy.

I don’t follow Jill myself, and only know about this controversy because there was a post about Jill in the Duggar Family News group. Quite a few people are apparently shocked and outraged by Jill’s use of the so-called “r-word”. It seems to me that instead of discussing this in the Duggar group, the better thing to do would be to ignore Jill. She’s just doing this for attention, and we’re all giving it to her.

I can think of a lot of other things Jill has posted over the years that I find much worse than quoting her mother’s use of the word “retarded” to describe her leg. Like, for instance, the time she and her kids sang a homophobic song about farm animals as an object lesson about why she thinks homosexuality is wrong. Or the many times she’s written about her quadriplegic sister and described her using the word “quadriplegic” in all caps. Or the times she’s posted about her children as if they’re up for auction or something, looking for mates. I mean, if you want to be offended, you can visit Jill’s page and find plenty of things to offend you. She’s not going to change.

Aside from the fact that Jill will never change her behavior, I also want to point out that as offensive and hurtful as the word “retard” is when it’s used as a slur, there are plenty of other offensive words that get used all the time and no one ever says a damned thing! In my earlier post about this controversy, I pointed out how the person who was trying to “school” me about why the word “retard” is always wrong, basically called me “stupid”. She’d asked me to use the word “retard” in a non-offensive way, which I think I did. Below is the sentence I posted. You can tell me in the comments if you honestly think it’s offensive, but if you do that, I will expect an explanation as to what makes it offensive. Chances are excellent that I will disagree with you.

“I see no reason to retard the development of languages by banning specific words.”

I did what the person asked me to do. She responded by writing that my answer was “stupid”. What’s “stupid” about it, pray tell? Is it “stupid” because I proved her wrong? And does she not see the irony in lecturing me against ANY use of the word “retard” because it’s “mean” and “offensive” to people with special needs, but then using the word “stupid” to describe my answer and, perhaps, my intellect? Can you think of ANY use of the word “stupid” that isn’t negative and offensive? I can’t. But the word “retard” actually can be used in a neutral way. I just proved it.

Ditto to words like “moron”, “idiot”, “fool”, “imbecile”, “cretin”, “dolt”, “dunce”, “dullard” “knothead” 😉 and a host of other terms to describe people who aren’t intelligent. I never see people clamoring to ban any of those words, some of which were once actual medical or psychological terms used to describe people with intellectual disabilities. Only the word “retard” seems to get the most people riled up these days. But it wasn’t that long ago that the word “retarded” was the official and clinical term used for someone who did not possess whatever is considered a “normal” intellect. When I was a child in the 1980s, there were actual government offices that had the words “mental retardation” on their letterheads.

I’m not saying it’s a good thing to label someone a “retard” or refer to them as “retarded”. I totally agree that it’s wrong to use words in a harmful or offensive way. I also think that it’s prudent to develop new terms that more accurately define certain conditions. Back in the day, it seems like anyone who wasn’t considered “normal” and rode the “short bus” was labeled as “retarded”, even if they had a perfectly fine intellect. That’s definitely not right.

What I’m saying is, that particular word is one of many offensive words in the English language that people routinely use to hurt one another. If you’re upset about the word “retard”, are you equally upset about the casual use of words like “stupid” or “moron” or “idiot”? If those words don’t offend you as much as “retard” does, why don’t they?

Moreover, getting bent out of shape that Jill Rodrigues uses any incarnation of the word “retard” on social media is a waste of energy, in my opinion. She’s proven time and again that she’s not going to be politically correct, and neither is she a well-educated person. I don’t necessarily blame her for rejecting demands to be “PC”. I think that PC culture is often illogical and misses the mark. But I do think we should keep in mind that this is a woman who sings homophobic songs about farm animals as a way to prove that homosexuality is unnatural. She’s never going to quit using words that more evolved people find objectionable.

So… count me among those who think this controversy about Jill’s use of taboo words is much ado about nothing. I think there are much bigger issues to be upset about where she’s concerned. Not that I waste much time being concerned about those issues, either. I’d rather go frost my balding bush. 😉

TLDR– people should focus less on specific words and more on context. Jill’s mom didn’t call anyone the r-word. She used it to refer to her own body part, which in and of itself isn’t a very intelligent thing to do, since legs don’t have any intellectual capacity.

communication, social media

Apparently, more than one person thinks IATA this week… now ask me how much I care!

The featured photo is one of the presents I sent to Bill’s grandson. Just call me “pseudogranny”… 🙂

Before I get too cranked up with today’s post… a little musical interlude.

A little levity is in order…

A few days ago, I vented quite a bit about a situation that developed between a relative by marriage and me. My relative by marriage read my rant (now at a whopping nine hits) and is now no longer my “friend”. I vented about that, too. For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about that situation, and how quick we are to cancel each other over things that are basically really trivial. Years ago, before we had social media, we had fewer chances to confront each other with our “ugly” sides. When the confrontations did come up, we either hashed them out and came to new understandings, or we just avoided each other. And we didn’t run into nearly as many people back then, so these kinds of disagreements were less common.

In 2023, it’s much easier to bump into people who will go nuclear at the drop of a hat. I’ll admit, I can be rather quick to block, too, however I mostly confine my blocking to strangers who are obvious scammers. Generally speaking, a person with whom I have a relationship really has to be offensive– and the off-putting behavior has to happen more than once or twice– before I’ll go nuclear with the block button. I really don’t like to block people on social media unless there’s a very good reason for it. And yet, I probably block several profiles a week belonging to strangers. I often block the “can you send me a friend request” types, or strangers who post really rude or offensive things that I know I don’t want to encounter again.

Other people have different thresholds, which is their right. I am amused, however, when people I don’t know block me because we have a difference of opinion. That’s what happened to me yesterday afternoon. A friend from Gloucester is a nurse, and she shared a meme that was sadly very relevant today. See below:

This is so true…

In Germany, when you are sick or injured, you are expected to rest. Doctors even prescribe spa treatments here. Granted, from what I’ve heard, German doctors are a lot less free with pain medications. Even getting something like aspirin requires a visit to the Apotheke and a conversation with the pharmacist. But if you need some time for recuperation, you can have it. Vacation time is a lot more plentiful here.

My nurse friend from back home wrote that she’s seen patients in intensive care on Zoom calls for work… or something like that. Some people really have a hard time clocking out. My husband, Bill, is definitely one of those people. He’s taking time off this week, and I told him this morning that he needs to clock out, as he continually frets about what’s going on at his workplace. It’s ridiculous.

One of my friend’s friends wrote that he had lived in Europe for a few years and still thinks the United States is the best place in the world. I can no longer access what he posted, but I think his reasoning had to do with money.

I posted that I totally disagreed with him, adding that I live in Europe now and much prefer it to the United States. I wasn’t rude in what I wrote. I just calmly expressed an opinion. The guy came back with a disagreement– I could kind of tell that he thought I was full of shit.

So, I calmly reiterated that I like living in Germany. I’ve been here almost nine years this time, and I’m in no hurry to leave. I have just about everything here that I had in the United States, plus I don’t worry about being shot when I go to the store or attend a concert. And I also don’t worry about going bankrupt if I get sick or injured. I don’t have to worry about abortion access anymore, but if I needed help with that, I know I could get it, and it would be private. I wrote that the United States is less appealing now, as extremist politicians are trying to deny rights to half the population, and when you go out somewhere nowadays, there’s a good chance you’ll run into an entitled asshole. If you’re really unlucky, the asshole will be unhinged and carrying a weapon. I didn’t even actually use the word “asshole”, because I try not to curse on other people’s pages.

Next thing I knew, the guy blocked me.

I don’t have a problem with this, per se. I don’t even know the guy. He doesn’t seem like someone I’d want to know, anyway, if he can’t handle a calm disagreement with another person who simply has a different viewpoint. I don’t enjoy hanging around people who prefer to be in echo chambers and are afraid of differing opinions. I like to hear other people’s thoughts on most topics, because it helps me understand where they’re coming from. I may not always agree with their opinions, but sometimes their views give me food for thought. It’s hard to learn anything when you don’t want to listen to other opinions. Of course, there are a few people I can’t abide listening to, like Donald Trump and his biggest supporters. However, even though I hate listening to Trump, it’s necessary to listen to him, because he has so much power. God help us if he becomes president again. I doubt it will happen, but I didn’t think it would happen the first time.

Bill tells me that one of the things he likes most about me is the fact that I don’t have so much of a problem with being disliked. I often say things he doesn’t have the nerve to say. He’s a people pleaser. I am not a people pleaser. Sometimes, it does feel bad to be “disliked” or unpopular, but as I mentioned earlier this week, I seem to have a hard time behaving in a popular way. I’m not a “go along to get along” type of person. I am open and honest with my opinions, sometimes to the extent of being offensive to others. I don’t mean to offend, but I seem to do it anyway.

I think I prefer to be the way I am, even though it causes people to think IATA. I have seen where too much “people pleasing” can lead people. In Bill’s case, it meant almost ten years of marriage to a woman who abused him in all ways and left him broke and ostracized from his family. I don’t tend to attract people who behave like Ex. They are “turned off” by my less agreeable nature. It means I have fewer “friends”, but the friends I do have tend to be genuine, and of a higher quality. “Friends” don’t last long in my realm, because invariably, I’m going to say something outrageous, offensive, or contrary.

I don’t like to offend people, but being willing to be offensive means that I don’t get love bombed by people like Ex. I flat out told her we wouldn’t be friends. I know that offended her, but it also spared us both a lot of wasted time and heartache. To be clear, I might have tried to be friends with her if she wasn’t such an abusive person. But her sweet act is 100 percent bullshit. I know it. And I know that she won’t ever change. So, I basically told her, in more polite terms, to fuck off and leave me alone. It was a good strategy.

Because I’m like that, Bill reaps some of the benefits. He tells me I am fiercely protective of him. I guess I am… although he doesn’t need my protection. It’s just that I don’t mind pissing people off as much as he does. We’re like good cop/bad cop.

Another mutually beneficial relationship… I picture myself as the crocodile, and Bill as the plover.

Of course, I didn’t think my comments on the post about time off from work were that inflammatory. I like living in Germany. What’s wrong with that? Why are some Americans offended when fellow Americans disagree with the idea that our country is the best in the world? There’s a lot to dislike about the United States. I think when you live there, in the weird-o-rama culture, you don’t see it as plainly as you do when you leave it and live somewhere else for awhile. I can totally understand now why so many people who aren’t from the United States think Americans are entitled, insufferable, jerks. I didn’t necessarily feel that way when I lived in the USA, though… because it was all around me, and I was in it, too. Moving away helped me change my perspective, and my behavior. I can see why America seems amazing and awesome to a lot of people. I just don’t agree with that viewpoint myself, anymore.

Anyway… I know I could be writing about something more exciting. I need to wrap this up, though, because I think we might go do something interesting today… something outside of our village. So, I hope you enjoy your Friday and don’t alienate anyone. I am happy to report that Bill’s younger grandson is now one year old, and I managed to send him a birthday present that he likes. So, I guess I’m not 100 percent an asshole… 😉