Opinion Question
Posted by: Antman036

A word cannot be offensive.

  A word is given a meaning by society. So why should we create separate words designed to offend for things that can be said offensively? If it is something that cannot be said in a non-offensive manner such as "hate" then that is different. But what the n-word describes can be described can be described in a manner not intended to offend, so why do we choose to make it offensive?
meitme says2013-08-02T18:57:43.743
I recently went up to a friend of mine, squinted at them and said "I hate you". We both laughed and went about our work. They knew me well enough to know I was joking so it was not interpreted as anything offensive. But the word hate still has a negative connotation it was just using that negative connotation to make a pretty lame joke. The situation with the n-word is similar. In almost all situations the word is heavily offensive. So if that isn't offensive what is?
funwiththoughts says2013-08-02T19:01:22.317
This in no way addresses my point. Why choose to make a word inherently bad or inappropriate if it is possible to make it so that they are OK? Words get their meanings from society, like you said. So why should society choose to give it negative connotations, when it could have neutral connotations just as easily?
meitme says2013-08-02T19:09:23.787
Society does not choose in a rational way what a words mean. There is no big forum where we all get together and decide.. Yeah this is the word that will be used to indicate the speaker is a racist. Instead the n-word was used regularly by racists as a derogatory word for black people. So when others who wanted to distinguish themselves from the racists talked about the same issue they used different words like "negro", or "black" or "colored"... This meant that the only people using the word were the racists. So it came to mean that the speaker was a racist. Now that it has that meaning it is difficult and not worthwhile to try and change it's meaning. Therefore the word still means that the speaker is a racist and therefore the word is still offensive. We have a perfectly fine neutral societally accepted word instead.. We call people black. If we need a new word we can just use some of the virtually infinite options we have that don't involve saying the n-word.
TheShamelessTruth says2013-08-02T19:42:30.673
Or we could stop looking at the word and look at the intent, words are just arrangements of letters the intent is what matters
funwiththoughts says2013-08-02T20:32:00.220
"Society does not choose... What a words mean. [sic]" Yes it does. If a word is not given meaning by society, it does not have any meaning. If the majority of people were to decide tomorrow that "unemployment" means "being a banana", then that would be what it means. "The n-word was used regularly by racists as a derogatory word for black people" Firstly, "was"? Secondly, I don't care about historical context. Thirdly, yes, we have a perfectly fine neutral societally accepted word. So what's the point of making a new word that has the exact same meaning but is considered offensive, if one does not want to offend? It's not like synonyms don't exist.
meitme says2013-08-02T20:52:43.783
@TheShamelessTruth words have no inherent meaning but they do mean things because as dependent on their society and context.

You said :"If the majority of people were to decide tomorrow that 'unemployment' means 'being a banana', then that would be what it means."

While of course you are right if people decided the word meant something else it would mean something else. But, first people have not decided the n-word means a new thing. Second, nobody can magically convince everyone to forget what they know about the n-word and switch to a new word all at once. Virtually everyone needs to hear of the new definition and then a large majority need to accept it. In the case of the n-word it would require a lot of non-racist people to start using it regularly to build up support. Of course because of history that thing you said didn't matter this will all be fought heavily by a large segment of the population. A lot of people will be called racist, a lot of fights will ensue. If you want a new synonym for black start using one of the non-derogatory old ones like negro or make up a new one. It is much easier and better but it still won't be accepted overnight.

I would watch that when you quote people you don't use ellipses to blank out important clarifications in their speech. "Society does not choose... What a words mean. [sic]" and "Society does not choose in a rational way what a words mean.[sic]" are both very different statements. The first is simply false statement that implies words are not defined by society. The second is a comment about the process in which society defines words.
funwiththoughts says2013-08-02T22:15:44.013
None of what you are saying matters to me. I care about what the word actually MEANS. It means "black". So if "nigger" is offensive then so is "black". No reason why one is offensive but not the other. I don't care what would be "easiest". It's often easier to do what's wrong than what's right, so what?
MasturDbtor says2013-08-06T04:51:35.307
This isn't an either/or thing. Knowing most people will take offense it isn't smart to say it.
But it's also dumb to be offended by it or for that matter to be offended by any word.
This is a case where both main sides are wrong. One side wants to use the word, the other side takes offense. It's lose-lose.
My advice don't use the word but if someone else uses it treat it as just a word. Be part of a positive social movement towards not having any offensive words by not taking offense at them, but refrain from using them yourself unless you know it will be well-received or at least neutrally received in the context.
It is not necessary to feel offended yourself or even to approve of the fact that dumb people choose to be offended to be smart and avoid using it.
funwiththoughts says2013-08-06T13:54:04.537
The question is not "Is it a good idea to say the n-word?" The question is "Is the n-word offensive." I am saying it isn't.
MasturDbtor says2013-08-07T03:16:59.813
I said it is because "offensiveness" already only exists subjectively. It's a social contruct so the question only makes sense if we assume it's about what people generally think.
funwiththoughts says2013-08-07T11:54:36.347
Or you could give your own opinion as to how things should be, which is what I did.
funwiththoughts says2013-11-27T00:49:23.247
I just realized this should read "for things that can be said inoffensively?"
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