I am offering this piece to you because of several recent conversations I’ve had with people arguing about whether a group of people are “overly-sensitive” to slights. I think it’s important to respect that someone may be sensitive to something for their own reasons – and those are not necessarily the same as mine.
Remember the old children’s retort, “sticks ‘n’ stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me”? Children would chant it in an attempt to deal with the pain of insults, slurs, teasing and other verbal taunts.
Did it work? A little bit.
Acts of bravado do indeed make us feel a little better about ourselves, but, and this is a very important but, they never do erase the pain and humiliation we experience when others call us names or say bad things about “our kind.”
In this age of expediency, pragmatism, and political-correctness, we seem to have lost some important social truths! It is hurtful to say things about a person – or parts of their anatomy – or a group of people, that leave them embarrassed, humiliated, or diminished in any way. Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, insults are in the ear of the receiver.
So, if the other person, or group of people, believes a particular word or phrase or symbol to be ugly, demeaning, threatening, or insulting, it is! It is, because it is to them.
The bottom line is: if you don’t intend to hurt others, please pay attention to and respect the requests of the groups or individuals who ask us not to use certain descriptors or symbols.