Words, Words, Words

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. That’s just something we tell kids so they don’t feel bad on the playground, right? Cuz if adults really believed in this saying, we wouldn’t have anything to read on Twitter.

Lisa Lampanelli, stand-up comedian and “The Queen of Mean”, recently tweeted a picture of herself and “Girls” creator, Lena Dunham, saying, “Me with my nigga… I love this beyotch!” Many offended followers didn’t hesitate to scold Lisa for her language.

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Lena’s HBO show “Girls” has been criticized for not having any black characters in it, so this n-word association can also be seen to some as a sort of face rub. (I’m curious how many people just got nervous about me using the word “black” as opposed to “African-American” in that last sentence) My opinion of this criticism of “Girls” is that the world being scripted is void of people of color for a reason. The show is about privileged white girls who are lost in life and making their way in New York City. Its a hilariously self-conscious show with flawed characters and lots of heart. My answer to any critics about the absence of different races is – go make a show that’s like “Girls” but has different races in it. If “Girls” didn’t live in its own cocoon of whiteness, it wouldn’t be the same show.

Another Twitter war that won’t seem to die is that between blogger Perez Hilton and rapper Azealia Banks. Perez butted into a fight between Azealia and another rapper, but when Azealia called him a “messy faggot”, Twitter exploded on her. She didn’t back down and started saying some really silly stuff (like “A faggot is not a homosexual male. A faggot is any male who acts like a female. There’s a BIG difference.” and “When I said acts like I female I should’ve said acts like a cunt.” and finally, “lol your a dum dum. …. You’re worse than a girl.”) Now granted, the bisexual Banks isn’t doing herself any favors, but I fault Perez in this interaction since the point of contention began when he inserted himself into a fight that wasn’t his. Should he be called a “messy faggot”? No, but I can’t say I disagree with the sentiment. I use “faggot” a lot within my circle of friends – for each other, for others. Its certainly not worth labeling Banks as “homophobic” because she dropped the word.

I wonder if Lisa Lampanelli only has the one nigga? I’m gonna send in an application to be one of her niggas cuz I applied for faggot with Azealia Banks and haven’t heard back yet.

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RuPaul gets a lot of heat from the transgender community because Ru doesn’t think the word “tranny” is offensive, even though trans activists have told Ru that its not welcome language. I love me some RuPaul, but he doesn’t get to decide who is and isn’t offended by a word, right? It’s important to make sure society understand the difference between drag performers and transgender people who actually require equal rights in the workplace, with health insurance, and many other areas that are usually overlooked. I see Ru’s use of this word as a generational issue. Ru comes from old school 80’s gay lingo and there is certainly nothing scary about trans persons to Ru, so why would the transgender community be labeling Ru as “transphobic”? Seems a bit much to me. Recently, a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race came out as a trans woman and all the other contestants crowded around her for support and said there should be no safer place than right there in that room for gender expression.

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Having worked in special education for 15 years, my brain can’t hear the word “retarded”. It hurts my soul and flashes me back to helping many past students decipher their feelings when they hear that word being used. “Retarded” just isn’t in my vocabulary. I used to stop everyone who ever said it and explain why it sounded so awful, but I’m older now – and tired. Also, I recognize that there are true times that all words could and should be used ¬†for creative/comedic circumstances. So I would never want to eliminate any word from existence entirely. I mean, how does one do that anyway? Words aren’t tangible. They can’t be taken out of one’s mouth and locked away. They can, however, be taught to be used with precise skill. This is why, while in essence, I agree with Azealia Banks, but she comes off as a sloppy wordsmith.

While playing a reality TV game show, I called an extreme conservative (who was against marriage equality) an “idiot” and a “hypocrite”. I never used the word “bigot” because bigotry implies hateful intent. And while there are many people who are bigots that actively vote against equality, there are also people who truly have not lived outside their bubble of religion, who say hypocritical things and can be perceived as being idiots, that vote that way as well. There’s a big difference. This is why when I see people being labeled as “bigots”, its very often an overstatement. Its easy to get mired down in semantics while debating online (or even on national television!) Once someone who isn’t a bigot is called a bigot, then you’ve lost a line of communication. One can be outraged that I used the word “idiot” while ignoring “hypocrite” and then everyone calls everyone a “bigot” and nothing gets heard over the tears of non-hateful religious women or all the queer youth that cry themselves to sleep every night because of society’s message of inequality.

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So here’s the solution: Say whatever you want, whenever you want, but be prepared to defend your choices and curb your usage depending on the circumstances. Acknowledge one’s legitimate right to be offended by using a particular word, but also realize that freedom of speech, particularly with regards to art, is here for all.

If you don’t like the word “nigga” coming out of a white lady comedian’s mouth, you probably aren’t going to be friends with that lady. If you don’t like RuPaul for saying “tranny”, you probably aren’t going to be chilling in the Interior Illusions Lounge any time soon. Personally, I don’t use the words “retarded”, “tranny”, “nigga” OR “nigger”. I have used them in the past for creative reasons – in a sketch or a blog post, perhaps the occasional tweet when needed for necessary emphasis. We choose when to be offended. Be conscious with your words. Awareness and tact can go a long way when you’re hanging out with all your retarded tranny nigga bigot faggots.