Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Other R-Word

Special Olympics and other groups are working to rid our language of "retarded," or as they call it, the "r-word." I generally oppose efforts to remove words from our language; I think the focus should be placed on removing the perjorative use of the word rather than the use of the word entirely. Despite my views on the PC movement, I am generally sympathetic to their position.

That said, there is another r-word that is overused to a much greater degreee - racism. Some people see it everywhere, because they simply are race-baiters. Some use the word to draw attention to themselves so they can feel like they are somehow more evolutionary advanced than the rest of us. Some use it whenever a white person disagrees with a person of color. I suspect it is misused more often than "retarded" and probably has more long-lasting effects on our culture. Here are a few recent examples of misuse of "racism" or "racist."

Rather than trying to stop the use of words, why don't we just call people out on it when they misuse them? These words serve a useful purpose in that regard. If someone misuses either r-word, we know so much more about what kind of person they are. That is a "tell" that is worth requiring some among us to grow a thicker skin.

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