Monday, February 22, 2010

Dr. Ken's No-No Words

I have noticed that kids say three words that weren't okay when I was a kid, and they shouldn't be okay now: sucks, retarded, and gay.

1. Sucks: When I was in school, it was your ass if you said "this sucks!" Now, it's perfectly fine, and in fact, kids are genuinely surprised when I reprimand them for saying this; They really have no idea that they have done anything wrong. The problem is, saying "this sucks" is really an abreviation for "this sucks dick," which I think we all can agree is not appropriate.

2. Retarded: I hear this one all the time now on TV, and I just don't get why this isn't offensive. What's good to do to kids who say this is to abruptly say, "Hey! My brother's mentally retarded." When they say, "He is?" Say, "No. I don't have a brother, but don't say that word in that sense. It's cruel."

3. Gay: If you're talking about someone being happy or homosexual, by all means, use this happy little word, but if you're using to say something is stupid, as in, "This is gay," what you're doing is equating being homosexual to being stupid, which isn't fair to gay people. What I say to kids is, "I have gay friends, so I personally don't like that word being used in that sense. Could you use another word?" They usually say, "What? You have gay friends? You're gay?" I think some kids think that gay people live off in little colonies and don't interact with anyone. I think that's probably kind of what I thought when I was their age. In fact, I probably said all of these words in these exact ways in any given day as a kid, but as a writer who values words and a believer that our words carry great weight, I try to do the little things to change how these kids talk, or at the very least, get them to think about it.


Miss Organizized said...

I never use the term "gay" in place of "stupid," but of course the ONE time it oddly slipped out was when I was talking to a friend of mine who IS gay. Freudian Slip I supposed? He gave me a disapproving look, and I apologized and added, "GUH I'm so retarded!! NO! I mean I suck at life!! GAH! Just stop listening to me..." Meanwhile, my dad was gay, and this friend knew that, so while I didn't feel as though it gave me a pass, I guess I just felt like saying: "CLEARLY I am not anti-gay!" I think some gay people use "gay"="stupid" much like calling their fellow brethren "queers," "queens," and the "F" word (the OTHER one)...OR like when African Americans call each other the "N" word. Words are weird...they also change meaning over time, and when people use them in certain contexts, my guess is that they aren't TRYING to be offensive, i.e. anti-gay or anti-Downs or anti-dick sucking. Did you know that "gay" changed from "happy" to "showy" to "prostitute" to "homosexual prostitute" and then people just dropped the prostitute part that lead us to the definition we use today? In essence, the word went from positive to negative back to positive and now it's going back to negative again. My point in all of this is that while we should be conscious of that which offends others (and probably shouldn't be cussing at all), words are words and it's hard to stop that rushing train. I will also add that kids, in general, are cruel bastards...wait, was that offensive to children born out of wedlock? I should just stop talking.

JerseySjov said...

using gay and retarded just means that you lack knowledge for words that mean what you're actually trying to say.
i honestly get pretty offended when people say them. when i was in vegas my group was out of control saying that everything that was slightly wrong with anything was "retarded" and it honestly got embarrassing after maybe the second or third time they yelled it in public.

Heff said...

My kid does that shit.

He uses "Man, that's totally gay" for everything.

Lately I told him to "Shut the FUCK up. Children shouldn't talk like that."

I think he got the point.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Organized: Haha. Interesting comment. Way to educate my seven readers. : )

Jov: That's totally embarrassing when "adults" use a word like that in public. : )

Heff: I dig your parenting style! : )

Michael5000 said...

Agree on 2 & 3. But "sucks" is just "stinks" now. I think it has totally lost its semantic association with big green donkey dicks.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

5000: Yeah, it is common place now, but I swear it was deep doo doo when you said it in class when I was a kid.