Easily Offended People Are A Bunch Of Retarded Fags

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine, P.R., about my use of the pejorative "retard". Here is that conversation:

If you can't read the image, here's a transcript:

P. R.:
Hi Joe,
I hope you're doing well and safely back in Atlanta. I really enjoyed your piece on tips for air travel with one exception. I really don't like the use of the word "retard." I really don't think it's fair to call disabled people a name like that, when in all likelihood they aren't even well enough to take offense or not. There are plenty of other politically incorrect words to use for folks who are jerks. This is kind of a personal issue for me, so I thought I'd share. (it goes on to share a link about air travel with me, not really relevant so I've stricken it).
Best, P.


Joe Peacock:
I'm sorry you were offended. I hate to sound callous, but I doubt that I'll make it a part of my writing ritual to avoid the word "retard" (or retarded). I don't refer to "retarded" as the pejorative for the disabled, I mean it that the people are simply retarded. Their development as functioning members of society is retarded. Their growth in the world into common-sense-having adults is retarded.

The word in 2011 doesn't really mean disabled, it means abnormally deficient against a baseline in society. Much like "fag" doesn't really mean "homosexual person" anymore, it leans more toward "men who don't meet the requirement to be real men" -- whether they're effeminate or simply overcompensating.

I really appreciate you bringing your viewpoint to me and discussing it with me. I respect you lots and have always found you sweet, and of course I love L. (her boyfriend) to death. You guys are good people and I'm glad to call you friend. But in this, I probably won't change. I hope that doesn't hurt our friendship.

I want to make it very clear -- P. R. did exactly the right thing, with the exact right tone. I was told how she feels about the word and given a chance to respond. That's what adults do. I highlight this conversation because it serves as a good introduction to something that's been bugging me for the years and years I've been writing.

I feel that this notion that everything in this world has some sanctimonious value completely ridiculous. Words are powerful, yes. They're also just words. And I feel that any adult who finds themselves blindingly offended to the point where they can't read the context of how the word is used and deduce from it the intention of the writer needs to just stop reading.

Now, P.R. is a friend of mine, and I am certaily not advocating that she stop reading what I write or insinuating that she's incapable of contextualizing my statements. But I will say this -- friend or not, I'm not in the business of watching my word choice based on the feelings that might get hurt by the people who read what I write. I'm in the business of conveying how I feel about stuff.

And I feel that people capable of being smart who act stupid are retarded. I feel that men who overcompensate for their lack of manhood, or don't know how to change a tire, or abuse flaws in the AI of Madden 12 are fags. And I feel that people who have to resort to using guns in a fist fight or hunting defenseless animals just to make their dick hard are pussies. And if you have issues with the words I've chosen to express how I feel about it, well... Leave. Friend or not. Just go.

Not because I hate you, but because I don't see the point in your being offended and getting all wound up about it. As Steve Hughes points out: What happens when you get offended? Nothing:

You're just offended. So what? You feel blah and then... Nothing happens. So why bother fighting about it? Why go apeshit because something I said or a word I used offends you? Just go away. You're an adult. You're capable of clicking another link or closing your browser or walking away from a conversation. Don't be a part of something that makes you uncomfortable.

Or, barring that, instead of just standing there in a puddle of your own outrage, how about asking someone what they meant or why they used a certain word or phrase? When people say the word "Nigger" around me, I don't go into hysterics about how stupid they are. If they're black, I ignore it, and if they're white, I question their use of it. Now, there's absolutely no right answer from a white person as to why the use of the word "Nigger" is okay, outside of writing about it in the abstract as I'm doing right now. There just isn't. You're white; you're precluded from ever having a good reason to use that word.

But should you choose to use it, know that I won't let you know how offended I am by your using it. I'm just extremely likely to never talk to you again. And if you insist on pushing the point, I'm likely to punch you, because I've already taken the one step I feel I should take when I'm offended -- I leave. Don't chase me down with your racism.

And I won't chase you down with my use of 'retard' or 'pussy' or 'fag' and force it down your throat (no pun intended), because they're my choices and my uses. Give me a chance to explain if you really want to discuss it, or leave. Those are your options. And for fuckssake, don't start a stupid dickhead campaign to stop the use of the word "Retard" because "Someone gets hurt."

Don't just sit there and spin around and get dizzy and make yourself sick because you're offended. You can't live in a free country where people are free to express themselves and also not be offended occasionally. Choose one or the other.