Friday, 20 August 2010

The Word is Good

Just when I think that the American public no longer cares much for words, what, with articles, books, press releases shrinking in size to fit on handy dandy portable devices, some loon like Dr. Laura Schlesinger pops out the "N word" a bunch of times and we're hot on debate. As thrilled as I am that this cult-er-ifficly heeded coo-coo is off the air, I do think that the can of worms has been un-corked and I'm ready to start fishin.
My ears perked the other day when I heard Anderson Cooper (of all of the men that you had to make gay, lord, why?) speaking to DL Hugely and Rev. Al Sharpton about the implications of said age-old "N-word" and its impact on black people across the nation. DL Hugely was of the mindset that, words, when used in jest, lose power over the people that use them in that way. However, Al Sharpton said that using a destructive, derogatory word in any context does not lessen its derogatory nature. "If I take your fist and hit myself with it, does it lessen the power of the punch?"
It's all a philosophical debate, when boiled down, as to the power of words within a society. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but only up until the point that it offends a large group of people. And, yes, when words are spoken in jest, it softens the blow to the public. However, as Michael Richards found, comedy does not heal all, and, as in art, there are some creations that do not go over well at all.
Freedom of spech is a funny thing in this country. Say what you want, but, also, be prepared for others to say what THEY think as well. As a writer, you just know this. When will everyone else learn?

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