Let’s Debate: The Words We Use & How They Affect Others

Let’s Debate: The Words We Use & How They Affect Others

Those of you who follow me a lot may think I’m beating a dead horse, because I’ve posted about language a few times over the past two years or so, after running afoul of some locals for some language in one of my posts.

And it may seem that I’m defending myself.

I’m not.

In fact, the reason I have had so much interest in this, is to figure out where my own ethics lead me as I learn more.

So, about four months ago, I had a conversation that inspired this post. I had forwarded a search for “queer” sources for flagging to a friend. His response:

On another note, I will be honest, I have a real issue being called “queer” it is a derogatory term for me as is “faggot”. It goes back to my activist days when we were called/shouted at by haters. It conjures many nasty and scary memories. Matter of fact, I am somewhat fearful of our political times right now and hope those newer and younger never have to live what many of us did in the early 1980’s.

I know there is a whole movement to reclaim the term “queer” as that is what they identify with. More power to them I don’t want to be lumped into that generalization. To me it’s like People of Color reclaiming the “n” word is how deep it goes.

This might be an interesting topic for one of your discussions on-line.

I agree. It is:

The experiences of one generation versus another can affect how we respond to language.

So, I added it to my calendar.

And just this week, I saw this on facebook:

NookieNotes19w / 44k

And it reminded me that how we use words differs from one region of the country to another.

And it’s clarified my own patterns of thinking.

You see, I can never be sure what will offend who, until I am told. BUT, when I am told, I can moderate my language FOR THEM.


I don’t say just “moderate my language,” but I added “for them,” because my friends are important to me, and I don’t want to hurt them. However, if it is something that is part of my personal identity (as those Californians are suggesting, or as those reclaiming “queer” might feel), then I will certainly still use it, just not where I know it’s going to hurt or trigger someone.

I suggest that is important.

I do not value language over people.

I also value the diversity of experiences and beliefs and viewpoints of the human condition, and how we all relate to language.

And when people use language around me that I know can be hurtful to others, I also speak up, to let them know how they may hurt others with their words. Of course, we all make our own decisions, and I have no desire to force people to conformity.

What are your thoughts?

What are your thoughts on PC, hurtful, or triggering language?

  • Is preserving our culture through language important?
  • Are people and their feelings more valuable to you than the words you use?
  • Is there a balance that can be reached?
  • Do some people just need to grow a thicker skin?

And from the side calling out language:

  • How is the best way to bring a specific language use to someone’s attention?
  • Are you an activist, or an informer?
  • Have you found success with your efforts?

I’m looking forward to reading your replies.

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