Sunday, December 12, 2010

Awkward Encounters and Questionable Confrontations

I wouldn't say that I enjoy confrontation. But if the cause is just and weighing on my heart or mind, I don't back down from saying how I feel. Especially if it is in someone else's defense. There have been a few recent encounters that have caught me off guard, when I should have said something and didn't... and from now on I vow not to keep my mouth shut again.

Each of these awkward moments involved one of two words: "retarded" and/or "gay." Specifically, using these words as inappropriate adjectives. For example, when someone says, "That is so gay!" or "That thing is really retarded." Even writing those statements makes me uncomfortable. With the billions of words available, is it really necessary to poke fun or criticize at someone else's expense? It makes my blood boil when people use these words in that context. I can't say that I've never ever used them myself (although I really can't remember why or when I would have), but it's about time we take them out of our daily vocabulary and think up a few, more appropriate, adjectives.

The thing that makes confronting someone who used one of these words a little awkward is that I don't think they use them on purpose - it's more of a habit. I don't think they consciously say, "I'm going to offend all disabled people right now by describing my hairstyle/clothes/car/random thing as "retarded"." I would imagine that they've never thought of the power behind what they are saying, or how it could be construed as offensive. However, with that said, ignorance is NOT a defense, and they need to wake up and realize what they are saying. It's immature and naive to not consider the meaning of words that you speak. And using the words "retarded" and "gay" as inappropriate adjectives must stop NOW!

From now on, if someone uses one of those words in my presence, I'm not going to be afraid to say something. In fact, I've already thought through my response (so let me know what you think): "Would you mind not using the word "retarded/gay" as an adjective in my presence? I find it offensive." I know it's going to create a few awkward moments, but not speaking my mind and doing my part to eraticate ignorance is far worse in my opinion.

OK... I'm off my soapbox.  Now I can continue on with my day with a clear conscious : )