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The Power of Words

June 23, 2011

Words don’t offend people. People do.

I think in these times of overdone political correctness this is something to remember. I hate the feeling of having to bite my tongue (or pause my pen) in case I unwittingly let slip a right clanger, and why should I have to? Words themselves, despite what some scholars would have us believe, have no explicit power – it is the manner in which they are wielded and the spirit in which they are heard that gives them meaning.

Like, for instance – an acquaintance of mine is given to referring to women he likes as ‘nice little wenches’. If I was going to analyse that statement in the abstract then I wouldn’t want to even begin to list what’s wrong with it, however as I know that in this instance that it’s spoken with genuine affection and no disrespect, then why should anyone take affront? That’s not to say of course that you are being oversensitive if you ever get upset by anyone’s words ever again. Likewise, someone might address you ‘sir’, imbuing the title with every ounce of disdain they can muster: a politely spoken dickhead is, after all, just another dickhead albeit in a smart disguise. It’s the intent you should be marking, not the execution.

So what I suggest is that everybody chills out , tries to get along and maybe takes time to adjust their attitude rather than their vocabulary, because whatever it is, it’s only offensive if it’s both meant as offensive and you find it offensive.

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