Sticks and Stones

Have you heard about the bigoted faggot?  He is ignorant.

How does the quote make us feel?

Mad.

Who should we be mad at?

Well, somebody.  We don’t know who yet, but once we figure it out we’re going to Tweet the shit out of them.

We could be mad at the person who repeated the quote (me), for saying the no-no words.  That can’t be quite right though.  No-no words are commonly repeated online, even by the media, although they usually insert a few asterisks to make the word less offensive to the eyes.  I always found that kind of weird.  It’s okay to read at a no-no word if it has asterisks, even though your brain quite readily fills in the blanks and you see the whole f**cking word.

Should we be mad at the faggot for being a bigot?  I know what Jordan Peterson would say.  He would say, “Well, that depends on your definition of the word faggot and it depends on your definition of the word bigot.”

Okay, let’s get on the horn with Merriam-Webster and sort this thing out:

faggot – used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a male homosexual.

bigot – one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

What if I don’t like these definitions.  That’s okay.  We have something called confirmation bias.  On the internet, if you don’t like what you’re reading, you can find something else that confirms your viewpoint.  Let’s try another dictionary.  Oxford English, perhaps?

faggot – a bundle of sticks, twigs, or brushwood tied together for use as fuel.

If you’re really lazy, just say, “Okay Google,” and speak into the air.  When I say, “bigot definition”, I get this back from Google:

bigot – a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.

Analysis time.  If the person in the quote is a faggot by the Merriam-Webster definition, we should be mad at the person who said the quote for using an offensive term.  We should be mad at the subject of the quote, for not only is he bigoted, but he is ignorant too.  We should be mad at me (BlackSheep) for repeating the offensive quote because I didn’t use asterisks.

But if the quote is about an inanimate bundle of sticks, then the quote must be a fable, for a bundle of sticks cannot possess the human qualities of ignorance or bigotry.  Or can it?

ignorance – lack of knowledge or information

Wait, the bundle of sticks can be ignorant.  As far as we know, bundles of sticks do not possess knowledge or information.  Ah, but a bundle of sticks cannot be bigoted, for sticks cannot be intolerant.

Jordan Peterson might say, “Now hold on a second.  That will completely depend on your definition of intolerant.”

Good point, professor.  Let’s see:

intolerant – not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own

I hate when they use the root word in the definition.  Okay, so what does tolerant mean?

tolerant – showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behaviour that one does not necessarily agree with.

Okay, now where the eff-double-asterisk-kay was I?  Oh yes.  Bigotry, tolerance, and ignorance.

These are words, folks.  Words are tools for communication.  Words are malleable.  They change over time.  They are like the law in that there is the letter of the word and the spirit of the word.  And the letter of the word, “faggot” might mean that technically I can use it to refer to a bundle of sticks, just like the letter of the word “bitch” means I can refer to a female dog.  Do I speak these in regular day-to-day communication?  Of course not!  These words are reserved for satire on social media.

It’s easy to get people fired up by saying no-no words.  Especially if you’re a white, straight, cis-gendered (I hate that word), male.  There are not really any no-no words we can say.  I mean I could say “honky” or “cracker”, but no one really says those.  It’s not like there are albums, comedy sketches, and movies where white men are saying those words.

If I’m black I can say the N word.  If I’m gay I can say both F words (fag and fuck).  If I’m a woman I can call myself a bitch.  If I’m a news website, I can say any of the above words, as long as I’m reporting the facts, and making sure to insert asterisks.

As long as we’re talking about name-calling, let’s circle back to the word bigot.  I’ve heard this word thrown around a lot in the media lately.  Guess what?  Just like we are allegedly all sinners, we are all bigots by the very definition: a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.

If you’re not a bigot, then you must have been tolerant toward Hitler when he had some opinions about Jewish people.  That was nice of you to tolerate a person with a different opinion.

If you’re not a bigot, then you must have tolerated Kevin Hart when his opinion was that he would smash a dollhouse over his son’s head if he caught him playing with dolls.  Judging from what I saw on social media, the majority did not tolerate his opinion.

People use all kinds of words.  Some are off-limits to certain groups.  Kevin Hart is not a child abuser smashing dollhouses over childrens’ heads.  He’s a comedy man, saying things he doesn’t really feel in his heart, to get a laugh.  If a man says, “What’s up N****?” to his white friend, he’s likely not being racist, but mocking pop culture.

Learn what is in a person’s heart.  Everyone has said something hurtful in their past.  If you talk to them you might find out that they are more like you than you think.  I think that in general, people are willing to accept others for who they are, and the words get in the way.

After all, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

On the flipside, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

The pen is mightier than the sword?  A picture speaks a thousand words!

If you’re always poised like a mousetrap, ready to go off at the first word you don’t like, you might have a hard time seeing what’s right in front of you:  A potential meaningful relationship or a lifelong friend.

9 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

  1. Language is a clunky thing. In Brit-speak, fags are cigarettes. Back in the 30s of the US, gay meant happy.

    Words are crafted weapons for any given moment. They can injure or heal. It’s the intent that is key.

    You are a screamingly funny writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have thought a lot about the words as weapons thing. I am a spelling/grammer-nazi (probably not allowed to say that) and I’m hardest on myself. I’ve talked to some who say we should still listen to someone even if they’re basically illiterate.
      I agree. We should listen, but by not having those words it puts them at a disadvantage in battles of words.
      We need to do a better job as a society of educating everyone so we can be on a level playing field.
      By the way, thanks for the compliment. I rarely get called funny in real life!

      Like

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