So fuck you and your "benefits"
I definitely did not expect to touch a nerve there, Blot. I completely understand your position, and don't really have a valid response to much of your post.
I probably deserve the language, and vitriol, often enough, but in this instance, I was using the term as an example.
I certainly didn't mean that there's a world of benefits out there to being black, or African-American. I just meant that the term "African-American" doesn't help clarify, as I've known a number of White-skinned people from Africa. Here, there are scholarships for "African Americans", and check-boxes at places of employment that read "African American" but everyone knows it's just for the black-skinned that may be 4 or more generations from actually having been from Africa.
My whole point is basically Ursa's 'whack-a-mole' idea. I see no point in censoring words, or pushing the use of 'less-offensive' words, as those 'less-offensive' words become the offensive ones. Not to mention the often clearly ill-defined words only serve to invite miscommunication. Words are meant to communicate things, not to invite further explanation or qualification (where possible).
Calling my kid a retard is a good way to piss me off.
Is your child mentally challenged? (totally not meaning this as a joke, or in an offensive way, honestly asking because I don't know, and am curious - strangely enough, my side-note here helps make my case either way)
Calling me honey or sweetie doesn't go over well either, though I've been called worse. And I'm more willing to put up with crap dircted at me than at others I care about.
How 'bout "ma'am"?
I'm afraid I'm lacking context here, too. Are you talking about Waffle House waitresses that have been calling everyone 'hun' and 'sweetie' their entire lives, or men hitting on you? (again, really not trying to cause offense, just trying to understand)
Words matter, and I can't think of any situation where retard would be your best choice.
For me, it's when an otherwise normally functioning person does/says something well below what their usual cognitive level suggests they are capable of.
I don't know a lot of terms for this, though I do try to be creative about it. I'm open to vocabulary-enhancement on the subject, as I seem to find myself unable to voice exactly what I think of people being stupid.
I hope you're understanding, that you care, and that you would refrain from using them unless the context was obviously permitting, that you would choose, out of common respect and decency to avoid using those words, to not persist in using them; that if I took the time to say that I felt offended by it, that you would have the clarity of conscience to realise that it was more than just you saying those words that offended me, and that you would cease to use them.
Though a lot of what I write here is abrasive, and callous towards people, I do actually care. Sure, like everyone else, I refrain from using words that aren't permitted in society. I just think, on a purely intellectual, and logical level, that words are there to convey meaning, and that society as a whole should look at things entirely differently.
Personally, I'd go for things like this:
"Micah is an American with big hands and black skin."
"James is a great guy. He's a lot of fun to be around and has Down's Syndrome."
Perhaps not exactly that, but, when describing someone, why not be accurate, instead of whispering things like "african-american" (yes, this happens) or "slow" or "challenged"?
If people just got over the taboo of talking like people are people, and descriptions actually just describe that person.
Seriously though, think of all the different hoops your mind would have to go through to describe someone with a non-downs retardation, and how many other probably offensive words/hand motions you'd have to go through before describing him/her in a way a 3rd party would understand.
Calling a person "weak-minded" because they find a label offensive is utter bullshit; but it's typical of a young white hetero male who has never been abused, depreciated or ignored by society, and who prefers the sound of their own voice/sight of their own stanzas to the feelings and opinions of others.
Perhaps it's typical of someone who has never been abused, depreciated, or ignored by society.
It's funny you should use those words, because I have been. Try being on the verge of death for some unknown reason for over a decade. Try never being in a position to do anything but accept everything that others decide for you. Try going to thousands of dollars worth of doctors and hospitals, each one telling you there's nothing wrong with you, and trying to explain why you're 'so lazy' to everyone around you. I wasn't helped by anything but the fact that I couldn't be jailed, or taken to court, over medical bills that went unpaid.
Abuse? Stepdad, who, like everyone else, couldn't understand why I was such a weak, pathetic bag of bones. Society? Try having a life outside of the one job where you spend all week trying to build up strength for a single 4-hour gig that barely pays the rent you owe because 'Stepdad' thinks it'll teach you a lesson about money. I won't even go into depreciated...
Could it have been worse? Yep, but given those particular words, I qualify for the club, so to speak.
Your words carry history. They have a social and political context beyond your little box-world. Show a bit of peripheral vision and be considerate. Take a little bit of care. Be charitable. Otherwise you're just another dickish troll.
It's true, IRL I'm often very inconsiderate of people, but I actually do try to be a decent human being. I give unopened food to the homeless on the side of the road, I smile at people, all kinds, and talk to them like they're human beings when I have something to say. I smile, wave, say "hello" to 'special' or 'challenged' people when they say "hello" or wave to me. If I do happen to be inconsiderate, it's a mistake on my part, and often because my mind became occupied with something, and I didn't have the presence of mind to realize what I said/didn't say/did/didn't do.
Regardless of how y'all respond to this, I'm really glad to get feedback of any type. Just FYI, I love you all.