The argument over at this thread on 3Bulls and other places centers around words as a symbol and tool of oppression. Using words like dick, pussy, cunt, fag, girlie, bitch, ho, whore, slut, skank, gash, wop, spic, nigger, kyke and etc enables an insidious form of oppression according to many people pretty much everywhere in America. I have taken a whole one (1) Women's Studies class and it was an introductory course, but I am not unaware of the sometimes subtle sexism and overt racism existing in America. The use of these words displays and enforces the longstanding rule of a patriarchy. These words all contain an inherent superiority in white men and a similarly inherent inferiority in everyone else.
An astute and angry commenter in the same thread reiterated a point made in the movie Boondock Saints that many of our charming little phrases betray a history that isn't pretty, to put it mildly. Putting it rather more truthfully, we are a damn barbaric species. The last one hundred years have been rather peaceful in comparison to any previous hundred years since our species first decided to plant crops and create permanent settlements. Europe was at war almost continuously since we first started keeping track of the events in our lives until the end of World War 2. Africa remains a perpetually cycling system of war, famine and mild peace. The Middle East is not and has never been calm. Asia is rather beyond my research and I confess that I know very little of the history of any country west of California and east of Istanbul.
A colleague I respect asked me why we even attacked Iraq. I can see only the profuit made by contractors and the administration. Money. Money, money, money. So many people have died and certain corporations are making money habd over fist. If there were on thing that angers me the most about the Bush/Cheney Regime it is the complete lack of respect for human life. If the recent census that produced a result of 600,000 Iraqis dead as a result of our invasion of another sovereign nation and the famous "fungible" comment by Rumsfeld aren't enough to make my case, then Bush's comments to Senator-elect Webb should be damning. I would weep if I knew how much revenue has been generated by the human sacrifice in this insane occupation. This is not right.
The words that have created the latest storm raging across the blogoweb are also representative of a view of the value of human life. All of these words emphasize that male life is more important, stronger, better and in control of all life. As many events continue to show us, these words will never cease having power. Reclaiming a word is an utterly bankrupt attempt to remove the taint from these words. As evidenced in popular culture and recent news items, the word nigger will never lose it's foundation in oppression. Should we ever become so blase about slavery, the human species will be at a disappointing level of enlightenment.
All human life is equally valuable and this value is not based on utility or biology and one's dialogue should reflect this belief. To do otherwise erodes attempts to improve the horrible situation we have created for ourselves.
If you don't agree with me, fine. If you do, fine. If you want to complain, fine. If you never want to type to me again, fine.
A Clarification of My Point Has Been Requested: No one is else required to follow my morals. If you want my respect, I will require you to be consistent in your beliefs. It is disingenuous to say that words like pussy and bitch are acceptable but then throw a fit about cunt. Likewise, I find it extremely distasteful and foolish whenever anyone makes an attempt to reclaim a racial slur. The double standards used in these arguments about reclamation require that the word still retain the foul origins for those not allowed to say and yet mean something beautiful or empowering for those that have decided that they are allowed to say certain words. There is no reclamation, just another definition in Webster. Reclamation is a fallacy that we all have come to accept so we can continue to think of the other as less than human, less than equal.
I may not have made my point as clear as I should in comments, thus I felt a post would clarify it.
A further clarification:
Racial slurs do feel somewhat worse to me than sexual ones. I have no doubt that this is based on my gender and my experiences even though I do everything I can to treat everyone the same. This is also an indication of how easy it is to accept words like bitch because we hear it so much more often and more casually, even though it is just as bad as cunt from my perspective. I still do not understand how one can be allowed but the other prohibited.