For instance, ‘nice’ many years ago (at the earliest the mid-12th century) meant dull or dim-witted. In the same way, many words or phrases that used to be cool to say are now, at the very least, not that cool anymore. Young people of the 21st century rarely say something is ‘swell’ or ‘hunky-dory’ without being facetious.
I understand that languages evolve. Words can be acceptable to one generation and not to the next. Using ‘gay’ to pejoratively describe any and everything is wrong and annoying, even if the word has only been used in reference to homosexuals since the late 20th century.
‘Gay’ can be used for its actual meaning, whether you think homosexuality is sinful or those who are gay are somehow beneath you. It can also be used in old people’s names and the name of the road with three of the best fast-food restaurants in town. Other than that, ‘gay’ does not describe the last minute touchdown Alabama scored to win. It is not ‘gay’ when you leave your car windows down and it rains. ‘Gay’ didn’t make your car run out of gas or your alarm not go off.
It’s equally wrong to drop ‘retarded’ left and right in the wrong context. A jacket can be flame retardant; an economy’s growth can be retarded; it’s a stretch to say your astrophysics professor or your car door is retarded.
Frankly, it’s kind of unbelievable that on a college campus–a place where people should be expanding their vocabularies, minds and horizons daily–so many students and professors are subjected to words that amount to hate speech.
I’m sick of hearing the word ‘faggot’ or ‘gay’ when someone describes a failed test, or ‘dykes’ when people are watching women’s sports. I don’t know what it feels like to be mentally disabled or gay and walk past a fellow student saying ‘fag’ or ‘retarded’ to a friend for doing something stupid, but I can’t imagine it feels good.
I know the majority of people who say these words out of context are not bad people out to cause pain and humiliation.
So use your words wisely. Many more colorful words exist to show disdain than just ‘gay’ or ‘retarded,’ and I know Auburn students are aware of many.
You may think it’s petty or not really a big deal, but there are waves of suicides related to the bullying of teenagers and college students that are gay, handicapped.
A Rutgers student, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River in September 2010 after his roommate spied on him kissing other men.
A Buffalo high school student Jamey Rodemeyer was very involved in the It Gets Better campaign helping other young gay students with their struggles with bullying before the torment became too much for him to bear as well and he killed himself at 14 years old in September 2011.
In light of the rash of completed unneccesary tragedies, isn’t it the least we could do to be a little more creative with our speech when frustrated?