(originally posted 10-26-12 on ThePostApoc.com)
I try not to get too political or preachy, but something I’ve been hearing a lot about lately has really rustled my libertarian jimmies.
People like Coulter, who do and say the things they do, wouldn’t exist if the market didn’t demand it. What would people bitch about on facebook if not for the shenanigans of public figures? Where would they point their fingers? Should she be fired for saying something insensitive? If her employer, whoever that is, feels she should, then sure (though I think she might be self-employed, so good luck). Is she an inhuman monster for using a word that some people find offensive? Hardly. Don’t get me wrong – I neither agree with what she said on a literal level, nor do I agree with using the word “retard” as an insult. As far as Coulter herself, I barely know who she is – but this article isn’t about her politics, it’s about her words.
Insensitivity and offensiveness are privileges I’m glad we have. Freedom of expression is an important thing. She, and anyone else, can say whatever words they feel like using, and the masses can react with their own words, as they like. Demanding that people be fired, killed, punished, or otherwise reprimanded for comparatively minor things like this is really just a bandwagon reaction by people with a mob mentality who are looking for comfortably crowded avenues to channel their inherent anger and dissatisfaction at any convenient target – as long as it won’t require any more effort than typing something on facebook. The word “Retard”, by definition, means “to slow or delay”. “Retarded”, therefore, means “slow or delayed”. This was once a scientific term that applied to many things, including the intellectually handicapped, and over many years, became an easy and popular buzzword, eventually associated with the feelings that came from the content of the insults in which the word was used, NOT fom the word itself.
The word was transformed by the insults in which it was included – it has no inherent power. ANY word can be thusly transformed. In ten years, “intellectually disabled” will have been shortened to “ID” for ease of use, and kids will be saying, “You’re such an ID…that is so ID”. Do I condone insulting the handicapped, or being offensive or insensitive? Absolutely not. However, I also do not condone blaming words for the overall content and context of someone’s language, which is really just the easiest medium they have to express the content of their character, or for the effect that it has on others.
So, what am I rambling about? Tell Ann Coulter that she is an insensitive bitch if that is how you feel. Tell her, or anyone else, that you are or were offended by something they said, if indeed you were – most of you, I presume, don’t really care that much, but are jumping at the opportunity to support a partisan position. What you shouldn’t do, in my humble opinion, is start carving up language itself – our METHOD of expression – to try and limit others’ ability to be offensive, insulting, or insensitive. Taking away the words will not make assholes into better people. They will find other words. Words will be invented. They will find other methods to be assholes – I promise. If we had no words left, they’d use hand gestures. If you cut off their hands, they’d do special dances denoting their feelings toward one another. Stop and THINK through a position before you support it, to consider the broader picture. But hey… what do I know? I’m just some guy.