condescending twatbags, language, overly helpful people, social media

No, I’m not gonna get on the word “ban-wagon”…

In May of 2013, Bill and I were sitting at a train station in Venice, Italy. We were waiting to catch our ride to Florence on Italo, a then brand new private Italian train company. As we were waiting, we heard an announcement in Italian about a train that was significantly delayed. The pre-recorded announcement did not use the word “delay”. Instead, it included an Italian incarnation of the word “retard”, used as an adjective.

Bill turned to me and said, “Now you see… there’s an instance in which the word “retard” is used in a completely non-offensive way.”

I have never forgotten that conversation, especially as more and more “woke” types feel the need to outright ban certain words from the English language. I am all for avoiding deliberately insulting others, especially those who suffer from any kind of intellectual disabilities that are beyond their control.

However, as I realized when we were at the train station in Italy, words have many nuances, usages, and definitions. Some words are inherently offensive, and almost always used in a hurtful way. And sometimes, people deliberately take offense at the use of a “taboo” word when absolutely no harm is intended. That causes problems that could just as easily be avoided if the person would simply be more mature and stop being willfully ignorant.

It’s been many years since I last used the word “retard” in the taboo way, although I will admit that in the 1980s, it was a word that was flung around on playgrounds and school busses with the greatest of ease. It was also used in plenty of 70s and 80s era comedies, both on television and in the movies. I can think of two films off the top of my head– very popular movies that still remain popular today–in which characters use the word “retard” as an insult.

Today, those films would probably not be made with the word “retard” used as an insult, although I would not be surprised if some incarnation of the word “douche” was used in its place. Personally, I find the word “douche” offensive for several reasons, but I’m not campaigning to have it banned. In many cultures, the word “douche” just means “shower”, and is perfectly useful and non-offensive. So rather than trying to get the word “douche” banned, I simply avoid using it myself.

As a lover of language, I can’t quite bring myself to jump on the “ban-wagon” when it comes to any word, even the ones that can start riots. I never think of words as things that should ever be banned, even when they are deemed very “offensive”. Instead, I am more concerned about context and the attitude behind the use of language. And yes, that means that I think words that people routinely campaign to have struck from the language are sometimes acceptable to use in certain contexts. To avoid being offended, it’s up to people to grow up and not be deliberately obtuse. Otherwise, they’re doomed to stay butthurt.

This morning, someone shared the below post on Facebook. If I had already had my coffee, I probably would have just rolled my eyes and ignored it. But instead, I left a response. Basically, I wrote that the word “retard” is only a slur if it’s used as an insult. There are other ways to use it that are totally neutral.

I knew I might regret leaving that comment, but the friend who shared this is usually a very understanding person. I figured she’d get what I mean. Besides, while I understand people being aggravated by insulting, demeaning language, I am aggravated by people who presume to tell me what I can or cannot say or write.

I think people should be responsible for their own use of language; most of them don’t need the language police to remind them to be “politically correct”. Frankly, I’m fed up with people who use social media as a place for that kind of soap box activism, particularly when all they’ve done is shared someone else’s viral post. Facebook was originally supposed to be fun, wasn’t it?

No, thank you, I won’t be teaching anyone that the word “retard” is worse than the word “fuck”. That’s someone’s “absolutely ridiculous” opinion… at least in MY opinion. I still get to have one, right?

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before someone came along and tried to school me about how the word “retard” is never acceptable. This person wrote that it’s no longer used by professionals and it’s outdated, etcetera, etcetera.

My response– simply because I was feeling stubborn and my verbal restraint reflex was somewhat “retarded”– was that yes, in fact, sometimes the word “retard” is perfectly acceptable and unoffensive. That word has other meanings besides the insulting one. The word “retard”, when used as a verb, means “to slow or delay”. That was how it was used at the train station in Italy. No one got offended when it was used in that way. I can think of other ways the word “retard” can be used that shouldn’t cause offense to anyone.

The person who challenged me came back and posted that she’s got autism. Actually, I believe she wrote that she’s “autistic”, and has an “autistic” child. I was a little surprised that she put it that way, since I thought the emphasis was supposed to be on the person rather than the condition. Like– I thought it was more politically correct to say, “I have autism” rather than “I’m autistic.” But I am not in that world, so I don’t know, and I wouldn’t presume to tell someone who is in that world how they should refer to themselves.

Besides, I don’t think of autism as something inherently good or bad. My husband’s older daughter is supposedly on the spectrum, but we know she is a brilliant artist and she’s proven that there’s nothing wrong with her intellect. I don’t know if she’s sorry she has autism. She no longer speaks to Bill. But, based on what I know about her, she’s got plenty of things going for her besides the condition of autism.

I responded to my friend’s friend that I was sorry that people have used the word “retard” in an offensive way, and that she is offended by its use. But I am not going to be told that I can’t use a word that I know is perfectly acceptable in many situations, simply because some group says it’s “offensive”, in and of itself. That’s wrong.

The challenger then asked me to use the word “retard” in an unoffensive way. So I wrote something along the lines of, “I see no reason to retard the development of languages by banning specific words.”

She then wrote that my answer was “stupid”. There was more to her comment, but I quit reading, because she made it clear that respectful communication and education weren’t her goals. Instead, it appeared that she wanted to disparage my intellect by referring to my answer as “stupid”. That’s brilliant, isn’t it? I guess she didn’t see the irony. She’s lecturing me about not ever using the word “retard” because it’s disrespectful and hurtful, but then she uses the word “stupid” to describe my comment and, based on her perceived tone, my intellect.

I truly didn’t want to get into a pissing match with this person, since I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me. If she did know me, she might be surprised by how “not stupid” I am, at least compared to the average person. Even if she did still think I’m stupid after meeting me, that would obviously be her uninformed and incorrect opinion.

I realized, however, that my time would probably be wasted trying to continue the conversation. As I didn’t want to get into a legitimate argument, I wrote “So now you are insulting me. That’s very nice. Have a good day.”

Normally, when a person writes “Have a good day.”, that means they’re done with the discussion and are politely trying to bow out. I figure that’s a more respectful way of leaving the conversation than telling them to “fuck off” is. But, as this person says she has autism, I guess she didn’t pick up on the social cue. She came back and wrote, “Feeling insulted, huh?” then continued with more insults…

I guess, if I were going to assign an emotion to how I felt about her response, it would be “annoyed” or maybe “puzzled”. It does seem strange to be preached at by a stranger about not offending people with intellectual disabilities by calling them “retarded” (which I never did), and then, in the next breath, having that same person refer to my comment as “stupid”.

If I had written that I thought her comment was “retarded”, what would her response be? Isn’t “stupid” just as offensive as “retarded”? At least the word “retard”, even when used an insulting way, indicates a medical condition that a person can’t help. Stupid just means a person or thing is dull-witted and unintelligent, whether or not they can help being that way. I can’t think of many ways the word “stupid” could be used that isn’t negative.

I wrote something akin to, “No, I’m not ‘feeling insulted’. You’re being hypocritical, and I have other things to do. So kindly enjoy your day, and I will continue to speak and write as I please.” I truly wasn’t “insulted” by her comment, because I would have to care about her opinion to be insulted by it. But I will admit to being annoyed by her comments and her erroneous presumptions about me. Especially, since I truly didn’t attempt to insult her.

Then she wrote some sarcastic remark about how I can keep “offending” people with special needs, but at that point, I used my block button. Because I do actually have better things to do with my time today than argue with a perfect stranger about my vocabulary. Hell, cleaning the lint out of my belly button would be a better use of my time than continuing that unproductive discussion with someone whose mind is currently closed. She obviously didn’t see my point, and wasn’t going to try to see it. Instead, she was hellbent on “winning” the argument, and doing so in a disrespectful, non-empathic way. Still, she failed to convince me, so I guess she can keep fighting the good fight with someone else.

Some people might point out that I probably “asked” for this unpleasant exchange. I would agree with them that it’s mostly pointless to point out these kinds of language discrepancies among friends. A person who would share an image like the one above probably has strong feelings about the subject matter, but hasn’t thought very long and hard about them, and is just looking for likes and loves, rather than actual commentary.

On the other hand, I do get annoyed when some busybody presumes to correct my language. I’m an adult, and fully responsible for what I say and do. If I say something egregiously obnoxious or offensive, it may be appropriate to call me out for that. But I don’t really need my friends to pre-emptively instruct me on the proper way to use language.

Moreover, I think my opinions matter as much as anyone else’s do. I’ve spent my life being told that my thoughts and feelings don’t matter, so I tend to be strong-willed and argumentative about these things, now that I am an adult. I realize it’s hard to be assertive about such things without still inadvertently offending people. Such is life.

I do get irritated when people try to tell me how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. I think it’s disrespectful to try to read people’s minds, especially when they’re strangers. Maybe I would be happier if I just “let it go”, but I think that people who are able to do that often don’t think about much more other than what’s right in front of them.

Either that, or they’re like that Japanese monk Bill and I ran into a few years ago, who just radiated peace, serenity, and calmness. I have seen very few people like that in my lifetime. I would actually LOVE to be like that monk… although I realize I am ASSUMING he is actually as calm as he appeared. For all I know, he’s got a hot temper.

Perhaps today I will go out of my way to use the word “retard” in non-offensive ways. Of course, around here, most people speak German and don’t speak to me, anyway, so that effort might be lost on them. Also… when it comes to grammar policing, all bets are off.

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Biden, rants, Trump

I’m so sick of willfully ignorant Trump supporters…

I get it. They don’t like Joe Biden. They claim he has dementia. They repeatedly bring up his son, Hunter, and Hunter’s “shady dealings” in Ukraine. They’re tired of virtue signaling, holier than thou, politically correct liberals who want to tell them what to do, how to speak, and the “right” way to live. I get it.

Believe it or not, I don’t like a lot of the liberal mindset, either. I, for one, am super weary of reading shaming social media posts about everything from wearing face masks to what constitutes proper character. I think most people are who they are and believe what they believe, and no stale Facebook meme or falsely attributed wise quote is going to change their behavior. BUT…

I truly don’t understand why so many people are so wedded to having Donald Trump as the leader of our country. As far as I can tell, his leadership has been a complete and total disaster. Every president in recent times has been somewhat moderate and had some sense of decency. Trump doesn’t care about ANYONE but himself. How can you be a good person and support such a man as a world leader?

I get being conservative and identifying with the Republican party’s stated values. It wasn’t so long ago that, I too, identified with being politically conservative on a lot of issues. Trump isn’t really a conservative, though. He doesn’t make decisions based on a fiscal or moral compass. It’s all about being in charge and stroking his massive ego, satisfying his libido and insatiable need for admiration and regard from his minions. He would not deign to spit on you if you were on fire. He literally DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT about anyone but himself… and maybe Ivanka, whom he has said he’d like to date if she weren’t his daughter. Ivanka, for her part, appears to be following in Trump’s footsteps, albeit in a slightly more polished way.

Last night, I read the article I linked immediately above– it’s from Vanity Fair, written by Lysandra Ohrstrom, who attended prep school with Ivanka in Manhattan in the 1990s. For years, she considered herself Ivanka’s best friend. As they grew older, it became clear that they didn’t share the same values. This happens a lot as children and teenagers develop into adults. It happened with me and my former best friend, although I also determined that she wasn’t a good friend in general. I know what it’s like to face the painful realization that someone you counted as a loyal friend turns out to be a fraud. Based on this article, that’s what happened with Lysandra and Ivanka. But, just as it was between my former friend and me, the signs were there. And the signs that Donald Trump is a vile, inappropriate, uncaring person were also there. Consider this anecdote from the Vanity Fair piece:

Bear in mind, the author was just a young girl at the time. How would you react if your father, brother, son or husband treated a fourteen year old girl like this?

I’m not surprised by this anecdote. There have been plenty of others over the years. If there had only been one or two stories about Trump being so gross, maybe I could dismiss them the way some of my friends and relatives have. But there have been so many stories of Trump’s piggish behavior toward women that I just can’t turn a blind eye. He’s even said he enjoys grabbing women by their genitals and kissing them, even if they don’t consent to his attentions. I don’t think a person with such a low opinion of other people ought to be leading them.

I am delighted that Joe Biden won the presidency. It’s not because I think he’s a fantastic candidate. I don’t actually know that much about him. But he’s clearly a much more decent person than Trump is and will think more about the people he’s been tasked to lead rather than himself. And, you know what? If something happens to Biden and he can’t complete the term, I would support Kamala Harris as president. At the very basic level, a world leader should care about other people. Trump does not. A man who can treat a teenaged girl like a feast for his eyes isn’t worthy of running the country.

I’ve seen a lot of people doggedly championing Trump, though. I don’t understand why. If you just want a conservative leader, why not champion someone who is conservative, but doesn’t treat others with such obvious contempt? Why not expect your leader to be a basically decent person who has respect for other people? What is so incredible about Trump, other than the fact that he emboldens white supremacists?

A couple of days ago, I was chatting with one of my sisters and I remarked that one of our cousins recently unfriended me. My sister asked me why. I wrote that it was probably because I am vocal about despising Donald Trump and I cuss a lot. But then I added, “Anyone who has a problem with my language, but supports a man who explicitly brags about grabbing women by the pussy is a hypocrite, as far as I can tell.”

Yep. Eric Schwartz is right on point with this. Don’t call yourself a Christian if you are still hoping Trump will remain in the White House, even though he LOST the election and is clearly a LOSER.

I know this cousin is a devout Christian. I have always known her to be a decent and good person. But she admires Trump, despite his obviously unChristian, inhumane, disrespectful and outright cruel behavior. It makes me wonder if, deep down, she’s hiding a dark side I never knew. How can any decent person support Trump?

I have another cousin who grew up a Jehovah’s Witness. JWs are famously anti-government. They aren’t supposed to join the military or salute the flag. Her family left the JWs, ostensibly because the local church leaders wanted to install a child molester as a leader. Since leaving the JWs, they’ve become rabidly Republican, and this cousin of mine who is a mother of five and has a beautiful daughter, has posted a lot of political crap about how the election was “stolen” from Trump. I have to wonder if she’s intellectually disabled.

How can anyone accuse Joe Biden of “stealing the election”? He wasn’t the one who installed political appointees who did everything they could to suppress voters. He had nothing to do with appointing Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter with no post office experience, as the Postmaster General, who apparently did everything he could to suppress mail in ballots during a global pandemic. Even if Biden “cheated”, it seems to me that Trump is also guilty of cheating. But I don’t think Biden cheated. I think a lot of people are just fucking fed up with Trump’s embarrassing shitshow and want him gone, so they legitimately voted for Biden because he could actually win. We all want our lives back, and Trump’s policies don’t facilitate getting things back to normal, nor do they inspire respect from other citizens of the world.

I really do try to respect people’s opinions. I do think it’s important that people vote their consciences as much as possible. I understand that everyone has their reasons for feeling the way they do. I just don’t understand how anyone with a conscience can ignore just how awful Donald Trump and his family are. It’s not just gossip or hearsay. The proof is abundant, and if he weren’t a filthy rich, famous white guy with powerful friends, he would probably be sitting in prison right now for rape.

I read an article in the Army Times last night and noticed the comments… some ignorant woman mentioned Joe Biden’s “dementia”. He does not have dementia. If you ever spent any time with someone with dementia, you’d know just how awful it is to joke about it or speak about it in an ignorant way. Dementia is devastating. My father had dementia, and I saw it change him from a vital, intelligent, strong-willed and strong-bodied man, to a feeble, frightened, helpless shell of himself. I didn’t always have a great relationship with my dad, but I would not wish what happened to him on anyone. It’s truly heartbreaking to watch. How can any decent person make the claim of dementia about Joe Biden, especially if they don’t know him? How can they joke about it? Believe me, it’s not a laughing matter. Dementia is nothing to joke about.

So I posted that Joe Biden doesn’t have dementia, which earned me a bunch of “laughing” reactions from the moronic Trump supporters who refuse to see that their hero is a morally bankrupt buffoon who wouldn’t deign to offer them a squirt of piss if they were dying of thirst. From what I’ve read about Mr. Biden, he lives a healthy lifestyle and does not have dementia. He does make a lot of verbal gaffes. He has issues with stuttering, which only shows that his brain works faster than his mouth does. But I have seen no evidence that he has dementia, and to make light of that condition is reprehensible and disgusting. This is a good read regarding Biden and his non-existent “dementia”…

Anyway… I’m getting to the point at which I’m having trouble separating my Trump supporting friends from their beliefs. I’m still trying to understand, but it’s getting harder and harder. I look forward to Joe Biden taking office. At the very least, maybe he’ll bring some civility and dignity back to the office. If he manages to accomplish anything good, I’ll count it as a bonus. The bar for success is set very low at this point.

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