Dropping a Verbal Bomb

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Nick Lehmann News Editor What can’t we say nowadays? People have always used degrading words that target other groups of people. Even at schools like Latin, these words are heard and cause many to feel inferior and bad about themselves. On April 26th, the About Face Theatre brought a play that consisted of a series of stories about the struggle gay kids have in schools. During the Q & A following the play, the head of the theatre troupe came out and spoke of how we must never say, “That’s so gay”. I agree with her in saying that it is an ignorant and horrible thing to say, but can we really tell people what they can and can’t say? There are many words and terms out there that are similar to “That’s so gay”. In daily conversation between many students at Latin, some don’t see a problem in saying “You’re retarded” when something stupid is said, or “Good job retard” when one trips. Regardless of their intent, these words and phrases are harmful. A junior at Latin, Elena Besser, remarked, “For the same reasons that the phrase ‘that’s so gay’ is inappropriate, the phrase ‘that’s retarded’ demonstrates total lack of concern for those that struggle through life with disabilities.” By continuing to use these words and phrases in our everyday conversations, we add insult to injury without being cognizant of the harm we inflict. Repetition of these statements often falsely validate the stereotypes that permeate our society. At one point or another, we have all been on the receiving end of being negatively stereotyped. The danger of this practice cannot be overstated. Unbeknownst to the person delivering these veiled derogatory words, people around them often feel attacked, yet remain silent. It is difficult enough to defend oneself in an argument, but another story altogether in a social situation. When someone drops the N-word, it’s like they are dropping a bomb. They obviously do not understand the history and significance behind it. One would hope that this comes from a place of ignorance and not from the heart of a bigot. While none of us want to live our lives being the “politically-correct” police, hopefully we can count on our own moral compass to guide us in speaking out. Certainly, each situation warrants reflection, consideration, and action. It is our duty to promote kindness and civility with a dose of compassion and humor. We will all find ourselves in situations where we would like to speak out, but it may be inappropriate given the social climate. Our best defense is to set an example for our peers to emulate.]]>