“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
It’s an old childhood chant, a miserably inadequate defense against bullies and bigots when one is small and powerless. It was oft-repeated, not only by we, the little victims, but by parents, teachers and other wise counselors. It was supposed to comfort us.
It didn’t because we all knew for a certainty it was untrue.
Names can and do hurt. The hurt caused by a cruel name goes deeper than any mere cut or bruise to the body. Psyches heal but slowly. Sometimes they never heal.
Will you tell me those names don’t hurt?
Of course they hurt. They hurt plenty and are intended to. They carry with them the pain and vituperation of generations of haters. I’m almost afraid to put them in writing. They are so ugly, so wrong they may cause my monitor to short-circuit.
It has been argued — here on WordPress by supposedly respected bloggers — that if a member of a minority hurts you, it gives you the right to strike back any way you can. I disagree with all my heart. Racial and ethnic epithets are never okay, not under any circumstances. To say it is justified by what “they did” just makes you a partner in crime. And it is a crime.
Is it the word itself or its intent that hurts so much? Both I think, plus the history such words carry. A hate word carries the power of all those who ever used it. Each time these words are used, their power is renewed, their devastating effects reinforced.
Time to stop forgiving the hate-spewers. Paula Deen’s and Mel Gibson’s (as well-known examples — they are far from alone) hate-filled monologues were no slips of the tongue, nor were they caused by drugs or drink. You could fill me with all the drugs and booze in the world and you’d never hear that from me. It’s not in me.
Those words are never an accident. NO ONE uses these or words to this effect who does not have a heart full of hate. Don’t let them off the hook. They know exactly what they are saying.
Excuses are not repentance. Hate and bigotry do not deserve a second chance.
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