Today I found out that the whiteboard in front of my friend’s room was defaced with a homophobic slur a few weeks ago. The university categorized it as an act of vandalism, and most people will chalk it up to immature college pranksters, but make no mistake — this is violence.
I have noticed lately, especially after The Atlantic’s controversial piece on the purported “coddling of young minds”, that people around me are starting to view political correctness as a universal red tape dragged around by nefarious pc nazis masquerading as liberal crusaders seen as an inherent limiters on freedom and discussion. As a result of this mindset, there is a tendency to downplay the role of slurs and offensive jokes in a larger structure of institutional oppression.
Political correctness is a tool to help us as a society have civil discussion on controversial topics without inadvertently hurting anyone. It is an inclusive technique that serves to help not to hinder. And more than anything, it is not an excuse to pretend that what those students wrote on my friend’s door was a harmless misdeed that offends no one but the stone cold left wing intelligentsia.
Using these words carelessly, even when the victims they target are not around, is what creates a culture of acceptance. Rape culture does not mean that every man is a rapist, it means we live in a society in which rape happens through the normalization of every level of the pyramid below it. Hate and discrimination has to grow from somewhere, it doesn’t simply exist in a vacuum, and it’s our casual acceptance of these kinds of jokes and comments — of course followed by a half-assed no offense — that promotes this.
But enough is enough. I’m tired of patrolling the streets with my “PC cruiser”, berating my friends when they call each other niggers or faggots. Nobody listens. It hurts me more than it helps anyone. So I’m going to try it a different way.
What kind of person does nigger describe to you? Picture them in your head; their appearance, their personality, their speech, every aspect of their individual. Draw or write if you have to.
What kind of person does faggot describe to you?
What kind of person does illegal describe to you?
What kind of person does slut describe to you?
Done? Good. Now take your phone, scroll through your contacts and pick someone who most closely matches your definition of any one of those words. Then call them and tell them they are a ______.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
People often wonder how these small acts constitute violence. Most of these people have high expectations for anything associated with violence, usually on the scale of mass genocides or brutal wars.
However, violence can also be defined as an attack against any part of an individual, whether their physical body or even their deepest insecurities. By calling someone a faggot you are reminding them that despite all of the legal progress made in marriage equality, people still do not truly accept them for who they are. Everyone is scared that they don’t belong, or that everyone else secretly hates them. Why would you ever want to reaffirm that belief for someone?
Remember, words have meaning; choose wisely, or don’t choose at all.
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