“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.
Horrible words. Can you still tell me — with a straight face — that names can’t hurt? Will you give me all your arguments that “political correctness” is stupid? That anything which makes it illegal or socially unacceptable to spew hate is too restrictive of free speech? Really? Your free speech? It’s not my free speech. I don’t talk that way and I don’t hang around anyone who does.
Do you actually believe it? Or did you read it as part of some rant on Facebook?
Of course names hurt. They’re intended to hurt. They have no other purpose on earth but to cause pain. These words carry with them the ugliness of generations of haters. It has been argued by otherwise respected bloggers that if a member of a minority (in your opinion) does you wrong, you have every right to strike back any way you can.
I disagree. Racial and ethnic name-calling epithets are never justified. By anything.
Is it the word or its intent that hurts so much? Both. Words have power.
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
But wait a minute. I thought words could never hurt me? (Oh yes they can, yes they do.)
Words bring with them the weight of history. A hate word carries the ugliness of everyone who has spoken it. Each time these words fly into the air, their potency is renewed and reinforced.
It’s time to stop forgiving bigots, stop letting them off the hook. Those hate-filled monologues by drugged and drunken celebrities were no mere slips of the tongue. They were not 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. Because it’s not in me.
People who talk hate never do so by accident. It isn’t because of their environment, upbringing, or environment. It’s a choice they made. They know exactly what they are saying and why. It isn’t a joke. It isn’t funny. It isn’t okay.
Excuses are not repentance. Don’t give bigots a second chance. Be politically correct. It’s not merely political correctness. It’s also the moral, righteous, decent, civil, and humane way to behave.