This week what I want to talk about is something I have seen pop up from time to time where people are talking about banning or trying to attack people for using certain words. This is a form of social censorship. I understand that sometimes these words can be harmful to people for various reasons. I've said it before that words only have the power you give them. If you allow them to hurt you then they can and will. That's not the point of this blog post though.
Context and IntentBanning words isn't going to fix this problem. People are going to make mistakes and be unintentionally harmful to others. Some will do so intentionally from a place of hate. Still I believe in hating the sin and loving the sinner. Even if they despise you there is no reason for you to internalize that hate. That is what they want. They want to drag you down to their level, so you will be just as miserable as they are. I prefer to rise above it and feel sorry for the anger and sorrow they carry with them. Anger is a heavy burden to carry and I don't have time for it.
I think that we should look at the context and the intent by which someone uses the word that has been harmful. It's on the person who uses the word and not the word itself. Obviously there are a few exceptions, but when we try to expand that to words that can be used in a non-harmful way then we get push back from people who are anti-politically correct. It's the intent of the word that makes it harmful. When it is used to separate groups of people and then describe them as being somehow subhuman or to be reviled, that is when it can be harmful.
It becomes very problematic when things are taken out of context. The press does this all the time to try to sensationalize a story. They try to create conflict and strife where there is none to sell a story. This kind of attack just creates unnecessary drama and stress for everyone involved.
Telling someone they can't use an otherwise seemingly innocuous word isn't going to keep them from finding other ways to deliver the same harmful message. It's the way these words are used that needs to change. Many of them work very well to describe an animal or plants or normal household items. The problem is when they are used in relation to people to separate and exclude groups of people to make it seem like they are something lesser. This kind of use is not OK.
I feel like most people are not intentionally harmful to others although I know some are. If we can explain why it is then we can all reach a deeper understanding and move forward as a people. It's not about banning a certain word, it is about communication. Taking into consideration the context can help with that.