Only Words

Retired_Can_Soldier
+8
#1  Top Rated Post
Only Words

I am going to preface this with a warning.

First the warning: This entry may contain language or sentences that may be offensive to some.

Okay, everyone take a deep breath. Ready? I will proceed then. I wanted to say a few words about my views on censorship. Now I understand that these are my views and not your views, so feel free to post an opposing view, I promise you won't hurt my feelings.

I feel very strongly about censorship, especially when it comes to language and the ability of an individual to form an opinion and express it publicly without fear of retribution. There are really only two forms of speech: popular and unpopular. Both of these forms can be dependent upon who sees hears or reads that speech. As an example, if a right wing pundit were to preach about the dangers of Islamic Extremism within the confines of a predominantly white community that might be considered popular speech. In contrast to that, such discussion might not fair out well in an Islamic community and might be considered unpopular. Whether I agree with the example is really irrelevant to the fact that I believe both forms of speech need to be protected. The reason I believe this is because I am a free speech advocate and communication should never be stifled just because it might have the potential to hurt someones feelings.

Warning possible offensive language ahead.

There are words that have been deemed so offensive that to utter them in any context is considered out of line and can bring about a wrath of criticism. The "N" is likely the most unpopular in today's society and even when used in context of a discussion can lead to false accusation, career action and one sided criticism. We use the "N" in place of the actual word because we as a society have become so hypersensitive that we feel that censorship is appropriate in all cases.

Okay, are you ready? ****** is a very offensive word that was used by clearly ignorant people to describe African Americans and found its place during an era when it was the norm to keep black people as slaves. It would later be used by equally ignorant people who considered their own race to be superior.
Today if someone uses the word ****** in a similar context to the one above they can face serious consequences, from career to personal.

Really though, it is only a word and anyone who would criticize me for using such a word in the context that I have likely has their own agenda and very little grasp of why we need to protect all speech. Comedian Louis CK summed it up like this. "Don't say "N" word, because when you say that all you do is forfeit ownership of the word and pass it along to whoever it is your addressing." In a nutshell he's saying that you are too gutless to say the word, so you say "N" word when everyone really knows your really just saying ******.

Why do we need to protect such a vulgar and filthy word like ******? Well, if you're a writer it should be obvious. Language should be your gospel. All language, good, bad, mean, sad, happy, dirty, should be protected.

"Well I don't like vulgar language, I find it offensive," you might counter.

My answer to you is this: Good, be offended, form an opinion, even call it offensive, but never call for its censorship. Because something you deem offensive may not be offensive to another. Certainly we can warn people of explicit or offensive language, but we should never hide it just because it might be unpopular. The minute we start censoring each other is when we begin chipping away at language and for writers that should be a scary prospect.

Just recently I was critiqued on a story I submitted to a web forum back in December of 2010. The poster was pretty clear that they found the language in my story graphic, even vulgar and that it displayed no talent or skill. My primary concern when I received this criticism was not that someone might agree with the poster's view, because to be a writer you have to thicken your skin. My concern was that the Administration on the Web Forum might view this as someone getting personal and strip the post altogether. To date they haven't and I'm glad. The individual who posted their opinion is entitled to air it, whether I disagree with it, or anyone else does for that matter, is irrelevant.

The great thing about language is that when you take ownership of it, you are judged on it. So if someone says that Gay People are mentally ill and should be locked away, we are given an opportunity to judge that speech and form an opinion. If we strip the person who says something unpopular or even hateful of the ability to do so we do two things.

  1. We take way the ability of others to form an opinion; and
  2. even worse, we drive people, sometimes dangerous people, underground.

Personally, I like when the hate-mongers are in plain view, it's easier to get a bead on them. Otherwise they start whispering behind their hands and aren't as easy to spot. Those are the kind of people who go on shooting sprees or blow things up or kill someone because of the color of their skin or sexual orientation. We want the hate-mongers in plain view, their words serve to educate us about things like hate and while we think we might be sanitizing the world of their nastiness, we are really just cloaking that which we fear. When you pull back the curtain the hate is still there, pretending its not and throwing a blanket over it doesn't make it go away.

THEN THEY CAME FOR ME, AND THERE WAS NO ONE LEFT TO SPEAK FOR ME.
--
Pastor Martin Neimoller in reference to the rise of the Nazi's.

As writers, when we allow ourselves to chip away at speech, we are inevitably destroying that which we claim to love. I love the written word, it is truly mankinds most profound accomplishment. From it we learn, communicate and evolve. Even the ugly stuff helps us to be better people as we are able to identify the differences between right and wrong, truth and lie. Today we see classic books being stripped of words, people burning books because they are considered blasphemous and even threats of death for writing literature that insults a particular faith. We should never self-censor or live in fear of criticism for that which we write just because someone with an agenda sees it as an opportunity to distort what we are saying.

My fellow writers, poets, bleeding hearts and artists I submit to you that this language we use to communicate must be protected by the people who use it most. Censorship is an attack on that language, whether popular or not., the words we use and hear are just that, words.

If we allow those who use language to preach hate we also saddle them with ownership of their hateful agenda.

If we take away that ability, we drive them underground and before we know it those language police who censored the hate-mongers will begin to scrutinize our own words without consideration of context or intent.

I hope that people who read thisl look past the ugly words and see the context and intent of this essay or rant or vulgarity or whatever you want to call it.

MJ Preston
Last edited by Retired_Can_Soldier; Aug 1st, 2012 at 10:59 AM..
 
SLM
+1
#2
Very well stated. You've done this writing thing before haven't you?

I completely support and concur with your views on censorship. Words are just words and context is what matters the most, in my opinion.
 
CDNBear
+2
#3
Well quite frankly I'm offended because First Nations weren't mentioned at all.
 
Locutus
+2
#4
******.


 
SLM
+1
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Well quite frankly I'm offended because First Nations weren't mentioned at all.

No worries, Dumpy will return soon. There will be plenty of mention then.

Quote: Originally Posted by LocutusView Post

******.


I feel compelled to state George Carlin's 7 words list, but since it'll be censored anyway, I'll just type this instead. ****,****,****,****,**********, ************,**** .
 
Locutus
+3
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

No worries, Dumpy will return soon. There will be plenty of mention then.



I feel compelled to state George Carlin's 7 words list, but since it'll be censored anyway, I'll just type this instead. ****,****,****,****,**********, ************,**** .


Maybe if we replace NBlah with *, we can solve the algebra riddle.
 
damngrumpy
+1
#7
Yes people do have the right to say what they and they also must bear the consequences
if people take offence to what was said. One must be responsible for ones actions as they
say. You have the right, but do you want the reaction because reaction comes with words
and positions taken on any issue. They go hand and hand always have.
I don't see it changing any time soon either.
 
SLM
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by LocutusView Post

Maybe if we replace NBlah with *, we can solve the algebra riddle.

Ha ha ha. Let them try to say we got the answer wrong!!!!

I like the way you think.
 
Kreskin
#9
I'm all for free speech but I'm also for the owner of the media to choose what standards are acceptable for publication. The owner, the investor and primary stakeholder, doesn't need to jeopardize there own interests for the sake of someone elses ideological mantra. So yes, say and do whatever one wants to, on one's own publication, but respect the standards where one is basically a guest.
 
Retired_Can_Soldier
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by damngrumpyView Post

Yes people do have the right to say what they and they also must bear the consequences
if people take offence to what was said. One must be responsible for ones actions as they
say. You have the right, but do you want the reaction because reaction comes with words
and positions taken on any issue. They go hand and hand always have.
I don't see it changing any time soon either.

Absolutely, but we should not succumb to fear. All too often we are seeing people afraid to defend the right of speech no matter the context. As a side note, this piece was rejected by another site for fear that it would be construed as racist. That is a sad prospect.

Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

I'm all for free speech but I'm also for the owner of the media to choose what standards are acceptable for publication. The owner, the investor and primary stakeholder, doesn't need to jeopardize there own interests for the sake of someone elses ideological mantra. So yes, say and do whatever one wants to, on one's own publication, but respect the standards where one is basically a guest.

I do not question the standards of media to self censor what they deem appropriate especially when it comes to children. But here's a question: Did you find the piece: Offensive? Racist? Vulgar? etc.....
 
Kreskin
+2
#11
Not offensive.

However, this is an article about the use of language and words. There aren't many other contexts which it is acceptable.
 
eh1eh
+1
#12
Free speech is always conditional on intent and context.
The word ****** is nothing more than that, simply a word, when stated in a discussion about free speech.
When someone who is not a 'negro' says the word in reference to a 'person of colour' then the word takes on a derogatory context.
When the same 'word' is used by a 'person of colour' then it takes on a non derogatory context even though the 'word' still means the same thing.
I conducted an experiment some years ago with my circle of friends. I called them all 'my whitey' every time we greeted and parted. They were all white so this helped with the experiment.
Needless to say they though it was moronic. I said, "I just want to take back the word."
All of them though my use of the word was gratuitous and really was unnecessary. When questioned they though the same of black people using '******'.
Now this was very unscientific and only consisted of a group of 5 or 6 Canadians but I think they had it right.
The use of such terms (whitey, ******) are protected under 'free speech' if not used in a derogatory and therefore hateful context but are still unnecessary and gratuitous.
 
SLM
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by Retired_Can_SoldierView Post

Absolutely, but we should not succumb to fear. All too often we are seeing people afraid to defend the right of speech no matter the context. As a side note, this piece was rejected by another site for fear that it would be construed as racist. That is a sad prospect.

Racist???? Did they actually read the piece?

Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

Not offensive.

However, this is an article about the use of language and words. There aren't many other contexts which it is acceptable.

What is and what is not acceptable though is a subjective judgement. Don't misunderstand me, I personally have no use for the word "******". Never have, never will. But it is just a word. That I choose not to use it is based upon my personal judgement.

I also do question the notion that a word, any word, can be acceptable or not acceptable in a general sense at all. Take swearing for example, some people find it be highly unacceptable, I myself do not. If we assign the notion of acceptable or unacceptable, whose judgement do we use?
 
Kreskin
+2
#14
Sometimes it's not just subjective. I don't mind swearing at all. But my employer doesn't and it's pretty clear it's not acceptable, without them having to tell staff not too.

I had a client from a foreign country talk to me about their problem with "Bush ******s". It didn't bother me in the slightest except I felt sorry for them. I don't believe they intended to sound racist but it sure came across that way. So one could free-speech themselves all they want to but they shouldn't be surprised if others perceive them negatively.
 
SLM
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

Sometimes it's not just subjective. I don't mind swearing at all. But my employer doesn't and it's pretty clear it's not acceptable, without them having to tell staff not too.

I had a client from a foreign country talk to me about their problem with "Bush ******s". It didn't bother me in the slightest except I felt sorry for them. I don't believe they intended to sound racist but it sure came across that way. So one could free-speech themselves all they want to but they shouldn't be surprised if others perceive them negatively.

I absolutely agree that anything we say, including the context behind it, is open to criticism, debate, and retort once we say it. That's all part of free speech as far as I'm concerned. I say something, you take exception to it and counter it with your own freedom of speech. It's cyclical.

I will also concur about restrictions certainly being reasonable in terms of where that speech occurs. Use the word "******" in your home all you may want but do not use it in mine as you will not be welcome, is not censorship, in my opinion.

But your earlier post just got me to thinking about this notion of acceptability. Yes, the word "******" in this example is personally unacceptable to me when used in a derogatory manner (after assessing context which is always an important component). If I come across someone saying it I will reply in what I deem to be an appropriate response. But there are a lot of people who would choose to 'outlaw' a word, for lack of a better term. While my initial response may be "No" to the question of "Is this an acceptable term?", when I stop and think about it I simply cannot say that.
 
CDNBear
+2
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

I had a client from a foreign country talk to me about their problem with "Bush ******s". It didn't bother me in the slightest except I felt sorry for them. I don't believe they intended to sound racist but it sure came across that way. So one could free-speech themselves all they want to but they shouldn't be surprised if others perceive them negatively.

I can so relate to that guy.

We're having a terrible problem with Yard-******s. First we couldn't get any, then when we did get some, they had no idea what they were doing. So we had to get rid of them.

Then we found another crop of them, and they were just lazy good for nothings. By last Friday, we had to bounce them too.

Good Yard-******s are hard to find these days.
 

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