Archive for July 21st, 2010

So, in my latest post I called Walmart, or more specifically, the people of Walmart, “ghetto”.  My sister questioned the use of the word as a negative term.  She brought up an interesting point, and got me thinking about the power of words.  Warning! The following post has words that you may find offensive as well as quite a bit of education.  It is for adults only.  Ye Be Warned, Says I.

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – A famous Shakespeare line from Romeo and Juliet and I could not have said it better myself. 

There are certain words that are highly offensive.  So, offensive, that if I write them here, you will cringe a little, maybe a lot.  How much you cringe will depend on who you are.  Let’s begin:




Sh*t head

What the Fu*k?  Am I a member of some group that believes that if you take my picture you will steal my soul?  I couldn’t even write the words in their entirety.  No joke here.  I literally do not feel comfortable writing the words, despite my earlier disclaimer.  This is the power of words.  Why do words have such power?  The bottom line is Shakespeare said it best, we define what words mean, and that word could be anything as long as we all agree.  Words are as powerful as the power we give them.

If I am called the N-Word, which unfortunately I have been, I will be offended.  But let me break down the thought process when I am called this word.  I think “why?”  I think “Why do these people still exist?”  “You don’t know me!”  “Man! I hate the fact that racists still exist”, “You are not better than me, how dare you!”  I amazingly filled with sadness.  “FUCK YOU!!”

I wrote it that time.  Why?  To illustrate the response that I truly have when I am called that word.  Any word is offensive when it creates that kind of reaction.  If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of cussing.  I just don’t like the words that some people use on a regular basis to express their strong feelings.  However, when I am really upset, the occasional F-bomb can escape my mouth.  Interestingly, and I know you will agree with this, other words just won’t do when it comes to being upset.  For example, yelling “Shoot!” just doesn’t cut it.  We as a group of people have decided what these words mean, and replacing them does not convey the intent that we wish to express when using certain words.

It is the intention of the use of a word, and maybe that is where the power comes.  When we use certain words our intention is to do harm; to express feeling of deep anger or frustration.  I could use the word “Shoot!” but I know that anyone in ear shot will not truly understand my frustration, and I intend for them to understand.  When someone calls me the N-Word, they intend to offend, which is why, when a black friend says, “Nigga”, it is different, because I KNOW their intention.  But even that is changing.  Many have decided that the use of the word in any form is unnecessary and it reminds us of a time/situation to which we no longer belong.  Or more specifically, it is a word/reference that no longer has power over us.  This is an argument used for not using the word as well as using in, interesting.  Nonetheless, it is all about the intention when it comes to power of words.  This is why close friends of all races can call each other all kinds of names, the intention is known and the response is known. 

This is why the refs of the World Cup took classes on swear words of different languages (No joke).  They needed to know the intention of the words players used.  I wonder if this will ever be looked at by the FCC.  I watch a teeny-bop show,  iCarly (Yeah, you can make fun of me later, but I swear it is a funny show), and they often use the word “Chizz” in the place of where swear words would clearly go.  It is so obvious, it makes me wonder, if you use a replacement word long enough, when does it mean the same as the original word?

The response is also important in the power of words.  If I make a joke, or use a word that I do not think is offensive, but you are offended/hurt, does it really matter if I think you over-reacted?  This is a line you will have to draw for yourself, but for me it matters, especially for those I care about.  It is rarely my intention to offend, so yes, I think it matters a lot.  But, if you are easily offended, I would caution you to not GIVE power to so many things.  It is not a good life to lead.

So, words do have power.  Their power is often in the form of their intention, and other times, the power of the word is in the form of the reaction.  If you call me a C-word, I am not going to be affected, no power.  However, if you call a woman the C-word, I almost guarantee power.  So, is the word “ghetto” a negative term?  Yes, but of course that was my intention.

So, the real question is, where should my intentions lie?  I would rather be constructive with my words, rather than destructive, so I will certainly be careful in the future. 

Of course if it’s REALLY funny …


In the evolution of words, meanings change.  For example, it is no longer acceptable to call something “gay”.  I get why, especially on high school campuses, but I want that word back.  Some things ARE gay and with zero intention of saying disparaging marks about homosexuals.  I’m sorry, but tandem bikes are gay.  Couples that match their outfits, gay.  Hugh Jackman, gay (Scrubs reference).  I want to be able to use the word gay again.  I’m just sayin …

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