It’s Not Gay, Retarded or Ghetto.

May 27th, 2011, byTamika Thompson

I just love the new ThinkB4YouSpeak campaign urging people to stop using the word “gay” to mean stupid (video below). Especially in light of the fact that in the past month, two NBA stars and one MLB coach (Kobe Bryant, Joakim Noah and Roger McDowell, respectively) used anti-gay slurs during games. Bryant, Noah and McDowell were fined and/or suspended for their slurs because, in the end, language matters.

As insensitive terms go, most people are aware that “faggot” is egregious and shouldn’t be used. But what about terms like “no homo?” As in, “I trust my best friend Calvin with my life. No homo.”

And for me, it doesn’t just stop at anti-gay slurs. In addition to “gay” and “no homo,” I’d also like to nominate the following terms for elimination from common derogatory usage:

Retarded (e.g. “You forgot your locker combination? You’re so retarded!”);
Ghetto. (e.g. “She showed up to the party looking so ghetto.”).

What terms/phrases would you add to this list? Share your thoughts.

  • Aaron B

    I get it. However if there was EVER a “slippery slope” argument THIS would be it. Because it has become so very easy to offend anyone with anything “said” regardless of context or intent what words or language is going to be left once such a list is created? And who decided what words go on the list?

    With your inclusion of the word ghetto, it seems the list will contain ALL words we don’t even like much less find derogatory or profane. In part because I have much thicker skin for several reasons, and don’t take words always said to me personally I can’t see a societal “ban” on words as the solution. It’s like blaming the gun for killing a person instead of blaming the person doing the shooting to me.

  • Staircase2

    The ‘slippery slope’ argument it only ever used by people who think that we should all have the right to oppress people and that the problem isn’t our insensitivity in doing so – but their ‘over sensitivity’ in not being able ot handle us doing that.

    This is NONSENSE people. Its time we all started taking responsibility for the effect our words have on people. When we make an insult out of a word which describes people then we need to own up to what we are actually doing: which is making a conscious choice to be spiteful, mean and oppressive.

    We do not have the right to oppress people – we certainly do not have the right to oppress people and then somehow claim its THEIR fault it oppressing them. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” was clearly written by someone to justify doing just this.

  • Mick

    Any word can be hurtful if thrown with hatred.But there are words that can hurt if just tossed off with ignorance. As ppl say, “watch your mouth.” You cant realistically ban words, but you can remove them from your lexicon. Lenny Bruce’s dream ultimately failed. He wanted words of hate to be deflated so they could no longer hurt.
    Let Kindness be your censor. And if “those words” are spoken around you, just say, “Hey, C’mon, watch your mouth.”

  • Cerrita Mathis

    The scripture clearly tells us that “Death and Life are in the power in the tongue”(Proverbs 18:21kjv) so even though we are not always aware of the words that comes out of our mouth this campaign will start many of us to think before we speak, as fare as the elimination of these terms and words this will not make a whole lot of difference unless the individual is willing to make a personal change in the way they express themselves toward others as well as considering others feelings when communicating with them.


  • E Chapa

    Lots to think about anyway; I think it all
    comes down to improving our humanity. We
    can have thick skin or quick comebacks
    but why add to the base on our planet. A person
    can take a stand to whatever commitment they want
    against derogatory language it’s good to remember
    these wise words; “be careful of the words
    you speak they create the world around you”

Last modified: May 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm