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The Power of Words

Fuck. Misanthropic. Shit. Celebration. Cunt. Anachronism. Nigger. Telephone.
Why do 50% of the words above hold some magic power? What makes them “bad” or or “wrong” or “dirty?” They are simply words, like the ones next to them. If we stopped censoring television, and let these words become commonplace, would they lose their power?
Rap music, hell, rap culture throws the word “nigger” around like it means nothing. Blacks can say it to blacks and never fear reprimand. But why does it suddenly gain power when a white man says it? It’s still the same word it was when Nas sung it. Some might say that the power comes from the speaker, not the word. That’s not true. No, the power comes from the listener, and it is given to the speaker. When a racist calls someone a nigger, they choose that word because they know it will hurt. If the listener reacts violently, they are only justifying the racist’s perception. They’re giving power to the racist.
If there was no reaction at all to the word, it would hold no power. Think about the word “honkey” or “cracker.” Have you ever seen a white person flip out over being labeled as such? Why not? They are words that can be said with just as much venom as “nigger.”
Being a male Caucasian, I can’t pretend to know what’s it’s like to be a minority. I can’t know if there’s just some fundamental difference in the venom of name-calling when you’re a minority. What I do know, though, is that the only time name-calling hurts my feelings, is when I believe them. And I think that this is the underlying problem.
So how do you make the word untrue? How does one stop believing that they are less than their assailant?
I don’t have that answer. But I think once that answer is found, we’ll solve our inequality problem.
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I’ve often said that I’m not a racist because I hate everyone equally. That isn’t really true. I hate some people more than others. For example, I hate welfare leeches who have as many children as possible so that they get a bigger check, when they know damned well they aren’t caring for the children they already have. I don’t care what color they are, though. I just care that they’re lazy and a waste of resources.
I hate politicians who think they’re helping the problem by discriminating against the majority (read – Affirmative Action), because they’re not creating equality. They’re giving the minority preferential treatment.
I hate anyone who points the finger at me, calls me a racist, and tells me that my people brought them over here and kept them as slaves. It’s 2008, you ignorant fuck. I wasn’t alive back then, so they certainly can’t be called “my people.” They might be my ancestors, but last time I checked, ignorance wasn’t genetic. Point your finger somewhere else.
Speaking of my ancestors, I figure I’ll mention that mine did, indeed, fight beneath the Confederate Battle Flag in the Civil War. If you bother to educate yourself, you’ll find that slavery wasn’t the only reason the South took up arms. Some of them were actually fairly noble reasons. Maybe even noble enough to be proud of that heritage. But don’t be fooled. I do hate. I just hate everyone. 😉

7 thoughts on “The Power of Words”

  1. There’s no real compelling reason to leave inflammatory words in the lexicon, except that maybe they lend power or weight to a statement. Just as calling someone a “fucking idiot” will generate a stronger reaction than just using “idiot”, if you whip out a racial slur you are guaranteed to get a reaction, as you probably will from this post. If I called some good-ol’ Georgia boys “inbred crackers”, I would probably generate a negative response. My grandparents probably might have been pissed off if you called them “Micks”.
    Rappers get a free ride for some reason. Ludacris can say his eyes are “chinky” from smoking weed, but Don Imus can’t talk about nappy-headed hoes. I say you have to hold everyone accountable or no one accountable. Using power words also diminishes what you say, to some extent. If you litter what you say with curse words and slurs instead of more appropriate descriptive adjectives and nouns, you might come across as ignorant and your message won’t be communicated very well. If you’re a musical artist, you’re effectively diminishing the effect of your art. On the other hand, since sensationalism sells, you could probably become more popular or sell more records.
    Of course, I’m not getting on any kind of high horse here. I like to listen to rap because of the beat, there aren’t any words that offend me, and I make very off-color offensive jokes on occasion.
    Just to be a complete douche, I could take what you said about slavery and apply it to being proud of being a Confederate. Your ancestors may have fought and died in the Civil War, but you didn’t, so what’s your interest in flying the Confederate flag? It only has 13 stars/states on it, so in a way it’s anti-patriotic and keeps the South from being integrated with the rest of the nation. I say, be proud of being an American and fly the Stars and Stripes. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be proud of your ancestor for fighting and dying in a cause he believed in. For some reason, people resent the idea of being part of a melting pot of different cultures and always try to segregate themselves.
    Just for entertainment purposes:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_slur

  2. Celebration is not. Misanthropic is, though.
    Leaving the words in the lexicon isn’t a question. You can’t get rid of them. The question is how can we leave them in and take away their power? I think if a bunch of five-year-olds start walking around dropping the F-bomb every ten seconds, that would be a good start. 🙂
    I do agree that using too much cussing can muddy up your meaning, and I try to refrain from too much profanity when I really care about making a point. Otherwise I’ll cuss like a sailor, because I like cussing. 🙂
    Don’t mistake my pride in having ancestors who fought for their beliefs with my desire to fly the flag. I could care less about the flag. But I can, on some level, understand that there might actually be someone who equates the two and might not be a racist.
    I do hope to instigate a reaction, preferably in the form of a discussion. As long as no one calls me a racist. Then I might have to burn a cross in their yard to prove that I’m not…

  3. hahahahaha I said on my blog that you didn’t hate everyone equally before I read this. I swear.
    I don’t automatically think “racist” when I see the confederate flag. But I do think that it has become a racist symbol – images are just as powerful as words. More powerful, actually. The confederate flag image has so much power that someone added around the decal to explain that it is heritage and not hate. That’s like saying, “don’t take this the wrong way, but …” you can insert your own insult or slur there.
    I also agree with PH … the civil war was a long time ago and none of us was there. It doesn’t make a lot of sense as a “pride” symbol. It’s divisive.
    I have to let the fabric of society unravel, though, because I have homework. 🙂

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