By Darlene Pham
Lately, as I’ve walked through the hallways here, I’ve heard various girls calling each other derogatory names, using the b-word and such. I’m sure if any adults heard them, they would expect these derogatory comments to be complete with hair pulling and scratching… a complete cat fight. However, these exchanges happens so often, they don’t even faze me anymore.
Often, these offensive name-callings are intended as jokes, meant to be endearing. While they are not meant to be harmful, casually throwing around insulting names could endorse their usage even more.
In the past few weeks, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) scrutinized director Ron Howard for his new movie “The Dilemma”. In the movie, a character says a joke using the word “gay”. Although Howard refuses to remove the gay joke, arguing his right to freedom of speech, GLAAD maintains that keeping the joke contributes to this growing problem.
While some might argue that saying, “That’s so gay” is not intended to be insulting to homosexuals and has a different connotation when used in a different context, there is a double standard; no one says, “That’s so straight.”
Ethnic groups often use racial slurs towards one another. Some might argue that such usage is okay because those who utter them use the slurs toward their close friends and they are just “joking around.” But what happens when that usage trickles away from the intended group? What happens when that usage is no longer endearing, but hateful and harmful?
On Nov. 1, the usage of racial slurs at Indiana University turned into a hate crime. Even though IU is extremely diverse, with students of all different races and coming from all over the country and globe, the slurs resulted in violence and robbery. The victims, a group of Asian-American students, were taunted and insults were thrown at them, such as “Here comes Chinatown.”
Several movies have addressed this problem, such as “Coach Carter” and “Mean Girls.” Both movies argue that using offensive terms casually allows racism and hatred to exist. Why is it okay for African Americans to use the n-word towards each other, but it’s not for other races? This insulting slur should not be used at all.
Using insulting names or words is never harmless, as many people defend their usage. Saying those names as jokes only endorses their use for others; it sanctions racism and discrimination. It is insensitive to groups these names attack, whether they are homosexual or from a different ethnic groups or female.
So students, stop using these words casually. They aren’t casual and they aren’t harmless. It is never okay to call someone a name.