The Instigator
1337Penguinking
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
the-mad-ones
Con (against)
Winning
24 Points

Taboo against the N-word is irrational.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/18/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,330 times Debate No: 3689
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (8)

 

1337Penguinking

Pro

I would like to start out this debate by saying welcome.

My first argument is the degradation of the arts using this word. The book i will be discussing is "To Kill A Mockingbird" This is a book concerning the 30's and about acceptance and all that. The problem is in many cases this book is being band for the use of the n-word. This is one of the great books in american and it is a key book for teens to read, but because of the taboo against the n-word people are being denied this chance.

Second of all i would like to remark upon the paradox of hate the taboo creates. If this word is used despite any "attachments" of hate connected to it from many years ago people begin to hate that person and so on. All that does is create unecessary ill will toward fellow peoples.

Lastly it creates a double standard, in some rap songs and the like that word is used with no lash back but is a white person utters it sensitivity training all around. The problem with a word being only right in some places is who gets to decide what time and what place, all this does is intensify the between races and further distances our selves from the elimination of racism.
the-mad-ones

Con

Moving forward, I will continue the precedent of using the term 'N-word' for the sake of tact. To clarify though, the 'N-Word' refers to 'nigger', a derogatory term historically associated with racism against people of African origin.

For further clarification, the N-word is not banned by law, but rather by society. People are free to use it as they wish.

My opponent argues that "Taboo against the N-word is irrational."

He uses the following arguments to prove this:

1) The banning of classic literature in the public school system, primarily because that literature contains the N-Word. Preventing access to classic art is assumed to be worse for society.

2) Hate is generated against people who use the N-Word when communicating, which results in unnecessary ill will. An increase in overall ill will is assumed to be worse for society.

3) Racism and other forms of inequality are essentially encouraged by the fact that only specific types of people, from specific demographic groups, are allowed to use the N-word. This greater inequality is also assumed to be worse for society.

In summary, my opponent is basically arguing that tabooing (essentially banning or placing a societal label of impropriety on) derogatory words (specifically the N-Word, is irrational, because society is worsened as a result. In further summary, my opponent is arguing that any actions which result in the worsening of society are irrational. To be fair, I can be more specific in saying that any action is irrational if it results in the banning of classic literature, an increase in overall ill will, and greater overall inequality.

My argument(s):

Definitions of irrational (Dictionary.com):
- without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason.
- without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment.
- not in accordance with reason; utterly illogical: irrational arguments.
- not endowed with the faculty of reason

Considering this definition, I simply need to prove that proper reasoning was, or could have been, used in tabooing the N-word.

Example:
1) A group of historically disadvantaged people considers the use of a particular word to reflect a public perception that the people comprising that group are genetically inferior to the remainder of the population.
2) This word is stigmatized within the group, as the people comprising the group are not only insulted by the word, but are also because that word propagates the belief that these people are inferior.
3) It is more difficult for people who are considered inferior to achieve employment and legal rights.
4) In order for people belonging to this group to be able to achieve employment and legal rights, they needed to prove that they were not inferior, and also to convince members of the remainder of the population not to encourage actions that propagated the belief that they were inferior.
5) Members of the general population who stood to gain from having members of the group considered 'not inferior' also stigmatize the word. This further reduces the propagation of the belief that these people are inferior.

As can be observed in this example, the tabooing of a word in order to achieve economic and legal equality is a very rational action. If the usage of a word encourages beliefs that a person is less qualified than another, then that person would be very rational in attempting to have that word used less.

It is not irrational to assume that the usage of a specific word can result in the assumption that a person is inferior to the rest of the population. For example, the word 'retarded'. People referred to as retarded are typically considered less capable than the remainder of the population. As such, they are less likely to be hired for complex tasks than members of the remainder of the population. So it would benefit people referred to as retarded to discourage use of that word as a descriptive term, for economic reasons as well as social.

As for my opponent's arguments:

1) I'm not completely sure where 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is legally banned (could you provide proof?), but even if it is...The belief that certain classic literature is necessary for the betterment of students is a totally different topic, and outside the scope of this discussion. The belief that no literature should be banned is also outside the scope of this debate. Attaching a social stigma to a piece of literature IS within the scope of the debate though. Any literature which is considered to propagate a belief that is not preferred by a certain group of people might be stigmatized by that group of people. While 'To Kill a Mockingbird' does not necessarily propagate said belief, it is not irrational that certain people consider the use of the word in general encourages further usage of the word.

2) Taboo is generally the result of hate or dislike. So dislike for the word, due to rational reasons, is why the word is tabooed. It is not disliked because it was tabooed. As a result, it is completely rational to assume that those who use the word, especially those who use it in order to encourage the belief that the group of people who originally stigmatized it are inferior, are 'hated' by the rest of the population. It is simply a form of social discouragement. This is also completely rational.

3) It is not irrational for people to believe they have ownership over a word. There can be social and economic reasons for this, none of which are necessarily irrational. An easy example: If I get paid $5 every time I say 'Hello', then I may discourage anyone else from saying 'Hello' in order to retain my income from using that word.

In conclusion, my opponent uses his own personal beliefs to highlight situations that supposedly worsen society. He then uses these situations to attempt to prove that it is irrational for society to taboo a word.
In response, I provided a general example which reflected rationality with regards to the tabooing of a word. In addition, I responded to his specific examples.
Debate Round No. 1
1337Penguinking

Pro

i sincerely apologize to my opponent but to continue this debate would cause me to tread in moral waters i dare not enter even on only a debating stance. I still believe that words are words and they only have the meaning attached to them if you let them. any way it was fun to mince words with you.

-again sorry for wasting you time i concede
the-mad-ones

Con

I'm not sure which moral waters you speak of, but fair enough. No need to continue the debate. Concession accepted.
Debate Round No. 2
1337Penguinking

Pro

1337Penguinking forfeited this round.
the-mad-ones

Con

I'm not sure which moral waters you speak of, but fair enough. No need to continue the debate. Concession accepted.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by kayleetrottier 3 years ago
kayleetrottier
Negro is a descriptive term, the N word (nigger) is a derogatory word used to dehumanize African American people. Dehumanization was necessary in order to treat African Americans in the manner they were treated.
Posted by HellKat 6 years ago
HellKat
Oh, haha, I just kind of thought that was where it came from.
Posted by the-mad-ones 6 years ago
the-mad-ones
If I remember correctly (I'm too lazy/busy to research it at the moment), the word was never originally created/used as a derogatory term. It was simply a descriptive term. The problem though, is that the only black people in the US were slaves. The fact that they were so easily enslavable (aside from caucasian/christian pride, genetic differences in appearance, etc) led to the belief that they were inferior. So over time, the term transitively became synonymous with inferiority.
Posted by HellKat 6 years ago
HellKat
From what I know and thus theorize the term Negro is either the Latin or Spanish word for black, and was used to describe the skin tone of the African slaves, after they created the N-word as a derogatory way to point out their difference and make them feel like outcasts, which ended up staying around for way too long. I find it rather idiotic when people say that black people should go back to Africa because this is "Our"(the white man's) land, well in that case I geuss we, the white man, should go back to Europe then...

As for the use of the word as part of an educational book, I think I can forgive "To Kill A Mockingbird" for usuing it simply because it is an excellent book and is anti-racist if anything.

I myself wrote a poem about racism in which the N-word was "used", I say this lightly because I couldn't actually bring my self to write the word I just put an (n) there instead, I think it's got a good message, but I just despise that word so much that I can't write it. Oh well, not i'm just going off on a tangent.
Posted by Geekis_Khan 6 years ago
Geekis_Khan
Yeah. You shouldn't be afraid to debate in "moral waters". Stand up for what you believe in.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
Con did a great job refuting all of Pro's points except for #3.
Posted by Yraelz 6 years ago
Yraelz
I would probably generally agree with that. In fact, I would go so far as to support that taking offense to any word is completely irrational.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 6 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
If taboo against nigger is irrational, then taboo against chink, slope, jap, pollock, etc... is irrational as well...
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Vote Placed by Random_Man 6 years ago
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