- more aware of their own prejudices and
- more sensitive to others.
I thought to myself, "How can I write this without someone saying I'm biased against something?"
I can't. There is no way I could write about bias and sensitivities and be so vague and without an example that someone, somewhere wouldn't be guaranteed to call me "insensitive" or some other worse names. Because I don't share the same views, opinions or experiences, because I have formed my own opinion and because it disagrees with someone . . . I'm the bad guy and need to take sensitivity training. So, of course, I'll welcome your comments.
I was joking with some friends of mine and apparently shocked and dismayed another commuter who was waiting to deboard. As the door opened she said to me "You need sensitivity training!" then dashed off the train. It was like a drive-by shooting. Zing!
I wasn't talking to her. She doesn't know me or anything about me. She did not know my philosophy or my intent. Yet she misconstrues a light-hearted conversation between friends as a bigoted view of a group of people.
I'm gay Lady. I was making joking, gay comments. It's like obese people making light of their weight.
Now, why is it that she doesn't need "Desensitivity" training? I might even need to take the class with her.
That same week, my friend, Paul, (who is straight but knows a LOT of show tune lyrics) used the term Ghey (pronounced 'gay') when talking about his motorcycle. "I'm not going to put a windscreen on my bike 'cause that would look ghey." He later made frilly hand gestures and a falsetto voice to further clarify the impact of the windscreen. So, in context, I think I got his meaning. He noticed my raised eyebrows and he explained to me that it wasn't gay, it was g-H-e-y. Like leet speak.
The Urban Dictionary has this to say. Ghey: Lame. An excuse for using the term "Gay" in a negative way, without seeming to be offensive. However, changing the spelling of the word doesn't change how offensive it can still be to homosexuals.
So, I started to use Pahl as a synonym for stupid or ignorant. "That's so pahl." (Pronounced 'paul') When I noticed his raised eyebrow, I explained, "It's okay, it's spelled p-a-H-l."
Yes, I'll admit, I was a little put off by him using the term 'ghey' as a derogatory. So now I'm really divided. Give that man freedom of expression and let him say 'ghey' or even 'gay' as a pejorative. But allow others the freedom of expression to say something too. Work to not be offended.
Any freedom, both physical and of expression, is hampered by idiots. Because idiots chiseled out pieces of Stonehenge as souveniers, visitors are now prevented from walking within the structure. Because bigoted people adopted the svastika or the southern cross as their banner, the reputations of both symbols are ruined. Because someone spills hot coffee on their lap - there are disclaimers and common sense warnings on everything. And because some idiot uses a term offensively, that term becomes taboo.
I have another friend who would not read the original 1936 Mary Poppins (quite different from the movie) to a child because it has the word picaninny.
Gays can't say breeder ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14045538/ ). Heterosexuals can't say fag. (From the late sixteenth century, meaning an old, unpleasant woman.)
Carlos Mencia can say beaner. Dave Chappelle can say nigger. (From the Latin Niger, meaning black.)
Even in context, no one can say picaninny (from the Portuguese pequenino, meaning little) and Mitt Romney can't say tar baby (a sticky situation, a doll made of tar and turpentine).
I'm not saying that one should throw around racial slurs or bigoted epithets willy-nilly. Come on, be real. Practice consideration of the feelings of others and steer clear of stereotyping generalizations. I am saying, however, get some desensitivity training before no one is allowed to say anything.
It's not the word that should bother you. It's the contextual disdain, disrespect or poor and uninformed view that is behind the word. That is so very pahl.