I don’t have a strong opinion about same-sex marriages. I do, however, have a strong opinion about people who use, as a closing to their arguments, something like “when doing so, one should know what they are talking about and at least attempt to not come across like an ignorant, uneducated bigot” (The GW Hatchet, “Not So Fast,” March 5, p.4).
In modern parlance, words like “uneducated,” “bigot” and “narrow-minded” all mean: “You don’t agree with what I believe, so there must be something wrong with you.” At one time, perhaps, they had more specific meanings, but now they are simply highly-charged buzzwords used by the politically involved to lend emotional weight to their arguments.
It boils down to simple, shallow name-calling. We use these words to imply that the only right-thinking opinion is the one we hold, and that the opposing side is made up of simpletons, Nazis and other bad or stupid people. With the power of one word, we can associate those who disagree with us with a whole list of political undesirables (Klansmen, rednecks, religious fundamentalists, white male Republican senators, etc.)
A few decades ago, when we wanted to persecute others for their beliefs, we called them “commie” or “pinko.” Today, we use words like “ignorant,” “uneducated” and “bigot.” I could have sworn that, at one time in the past, “narrow-minded” meant that someone was unable to understand that there are usually two sides (often more) to every issue, and that reasonable people will disagree. It seems that too many of us, in our zeal to make the world a more tolerant place, have forgotten that.
-Jason Myers senior
Power of words
I’m a practiced bisexual (not practicing – I know what I’m doing by now). I have read the opinion piece from Feb. 23, (The GW Hatchet, “Conversation about gays and its effects,” p.5) and I have read the letters in response. I must say, I was upset at the overheard conversation expressed in the first article. The idea that people find my happiness “disgusting” is really upsetting. Yes, as citizens of this country we have the right to say whatever we want. However, as humans we have an obligation to be careful of others, and treat others as we would want to be treated.
A professor of mine constantly, in nearly every class, reminds his students that language is an imperfect tool and discretion must be used. It seems that we often forget this and do not choose our words carefully. Even a slightly wrong word choice makes the difference. It’s the difference between “nigger” and “black.” It’s the difference between “kike” and “Jew.”
It’s the difference between “I wouldn’t do that” and “that’s disgusting.” “I wouldn’t do that” is a person’s opinion, where the object is that person speaking. “That’s disgusting” places someone else, someone who might be listening, in an uncomfortable and degrading position. However, everyone has the right to choose the more comfortable word, or the hateful word.
The writer did not discuss rights, however. He discussed the wrongs he felt, and I feel those wrongs, too. We just held a protest to keep the Ku Klux Klan from demonstrating in Maryland. They choose the hateful word. Why shouldn’t we protest when the hurtful word is on our own campus?