Re: Euphemism treadmill
It is only right that we should be nice to each other, and not use abusive/derogatory language, but, unfortunately, what started off as a perfectly reasonable and decent idea gradually turned into a cottage industry for the "professionally offended".
I largely agree - but the problem really does come down to intention vs possible meanings. Take for example the posts between myself and "Sed Gawk" (apols if I got the spelling/name wrong) - one sees a term as a serious racist slur, the other sees it as a normal part of conversation - the experience of one is that it is an insult against those people, the experience of the other is those people use it as a term to identify themselves. (please don't anyone take my using "those people" as a racist thing in itself, it is not).
I could say to my partner "You could lose a little weight". It could be an insult or attempt to shame him, or it could be a serious bit of advice spoken from love and concern for his wellbeing. But I can gaurantee if someone else heard it, there's a high chance that someone else would choose to take offence on his behalf while he sees it for the caring comment it is intended to be.
I grew up with a friend who had a serious physical deformity in one of his legs. Then we all referred to him as "crippled", and he still does today. He knows none of us intend any offence, and it's the proper term for his basic condition - he was crippled and required crutches to walk at all. I also have known people who meet the definition of "retarded" who use the term correctly and expect others to do the same. If he does something he knows is bad and says "sometimes I'm such a retard" he doesn't expet people to be offended, the term is being used in it's correct form.
If I refer to someone (inc myself) as "black", "fag", "lame", "crippled", "suffering depression", "bonkers" etc I am intending an accurate description NOT an insult (at least most of the time). If I call someone a "stupid yank" then I am probably intending some form of insult or offence, if I call someone a "stupid idiot" then I am expressing my frustration at their actions/words and intending to show them how I believe they are portraying themselves.
I have dealt with a lot of stuff over my life from my own physical limitations (not as obvious as a limp or other physical disability, although I used to "run like a spastic" as I did have problems smoothly controlling my limbs at speed though I could still win 100m sprints) and through my sexuality, but above all this one of the things most offensive is when some complete stranger has a go at my partner because he called me a "fag" or something else they find offensive. We've accepted the language, we use it for each other in fun, who the hell are you to tell me how I should feel when someone I love uses a term I happily accept? (not directed at the posting AC!)
I agree - there are many terms that aren't intended to be offensive and are quite accurate. Constantly changing terms not only leads to much confusion, but can lead to a great deal of upset as well. Someone comes up to me and asks about someone I know, and I say "Paul? Yeah, he's gay", and someone else wants to physically assault me because "gay" is no longer an acceptable term, but I haven't yet learned that how I describe myself is no longer PC.
Anything can be used as an insult if it's intended to be an insult. Anything that is NOT intended to be an insult should never be taken as such, even if the current stupidity considers that it should be.
(One site I read last night even said that my nephew, who learned ASL because he knew kids with hearing issues, cannot be referred to someone who "knows ASL" as that is an insult against deaf people rather than accurately saying he is multilingual, much as the rest of my family (all of us have learned other languages though I could no longer hold a conversation in any of them through lack of use)