In the modern world filled with Social Justice Warriors and people who want to take offense to things on another’s behalf, we are seeing a lot of censorship and it’s astounding to see that people don’t see it.
As a writer, you use what words and phrases you need to use. The words that fit. The words that give the story or the poem the meaning you’re trying to convey. Now, the words many people are attempting to censor may not be the words typically used in this setting, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. I hear so many people get offended by someone saying “retarded” (a word meaning “to delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment”), or someone describing someone else using characteristics they find true but unsavory. I’ve seen this come about a number of times and not that I agree with how the words are used or that my intent is to offend, but I believe if you choose a word, you chose it for a reason. Even if that reason is you are simply ignorant to other words that bear the same meaning.
So many people are quick to call someone else’s word choice offensive and then promptly attack their character. Mark Twain used words that described characters according to how they would have been described during the time in which he wrote his books and it made his work raise some very important questions. Rappers like Chief Keef and Snoop Dogg use offensive language constantly, yet no one rushes to condemn their speech, even though if someone else said the exact same thing they’d be condemned.
Telling someone they shouldn’t use or say a word because it is “offensive” holds no merit. Being offended is subjective. What offends one may not offend another. If you are immensely offended by a word or group of them, you need to grow up and be an adult. The human race has encountered slavery, war, torture, natural disasters, periods of attempted mass extermination and “ethnic cleansing” at various points in our history but you’re offended by a couple of syllables thrown together and because you’re too immature, you need everyone else to adjust their behavior to cater to your sensitive sensibilities. It’s nothing more than censorship under the veil of moral superiority.
If you use a word with the sole intent to offend, then yes, you’re an asshole or maybe you were pushed to a level that warranted it. But if someone uses a word and you find it “offensive,” then walk away or pretend not to hear it. Don’t get all butthurt and attempt to censor another person’s use of the word while claiming to be morally superior. Censorship, in any manner, is a very dangerous game that has led to many instances of people being told what to think, how to act, and acting as the “thought police” (see Orwell’s 1984).
Please understand. I am not saying that people should go around screaming things willy-nilly to offend others. People choose to use words because it is the best word that they know how to use to describe something. If you don’t like their choice of word, present another that holds similar meaning, but do not tell them what they can and cannot say. It’s a freedom of speech and censorship issue to me.