Earlier today I posed the following question on Twitter: ‘What’s the opinion on ‘hate’ speech? Do we need to be above letting mere words hurt us or more conscious of what we’re saying?'
Pretty much every response favored a middle ground, to which I agree. As a writer, I am probably more comfortable around such language than most, seeing words as simple strokes on paper and understanding that there is a lot more, tone, context, background, that goes with them and gives them meaning and weight.
Still, it is undeniable that words like ‘nigger’, ‘faggot’, and ‘tranny’ are offensive and do cause harm, even if members within those cultures identify as those words. In a world where none of the three groups associated with those words are equal to the straight, cis-, white majority (and we kid ourselves greatly on the first in this country), they’re too often used to hold those minorities at a disadvantage, to point out that there is something inherently wrong with whomever or whatever those words are directed at. They’re more than calling someone black, gay, or transgendered, they’re also pointing out that there is something wrong with being those things. It is for this reason that I have largely stricken them from my vocabulary.