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Commentary: Don’t give power to meaningless obscenities, racial slurs

A lot of things were in the news this past weekend. The U.S. and Afghanistan reached an agreement ensuring U.S. military and taxpayers’ money presence in their country until at least 2024, System of a Down announced tour dates and the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico is stirring.

With no evacuation plans in place despite an active volcano, it would appear the entire world has gone sideways. People don’t seem to be able to see the real problem, even when it’s towering above them spewing toxic smoke.

A Florida judge agreed on a $150,000 bail to let George Zimmerman out Friday, after being arrested when civilized folks around the nation demanded blood. They got a taste of it, and now everything appears calm in the news world – no more cannibals or protestors outside the jail in Florida, according to Fox News Latino.

Only about a week ago, an article was published in The Lantern about two more hate crimes on campus, which were suspected to be linked to Zimmerman’s spasmodic trigger-finger.

Words. Words. Words. What was that stupid thing mom used to say to us when we were little?

“Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will get media attention and officials will hold meetings and everyone will be offended and all a-tizzy because of some ignorant hick’s need for attention.”

There’s something you have to understand about “terrorists:” they are nothing without media attention. The main goal of terrorism is to spread their mission statement, their hate, their terror, by letting your own preconceived ideas work in their favor.

How many more instances of racist vandalism, these “hate crimes,” popped up after the reaction to the first one? I’ve lost count. (Does bathroom stall graffiti count as hate crimes?) And it’s our fault really, us non-racists, us anti-racism folks.

But, it’s important to know what we’ve gotten ourselves into before we put someone under the guillotine, so let’s analyze exactly what we’re getting offended about when we see an offensive word, any “obscenity.”

We see letters or hear phonetics, which create in our minds an image or emotion we’ve learned through experience to associate with the word. It’s completely ambiguous. Really – this word is bad, this one is good, because I said so – but that guy over there doesn’t care, because he was raised a heathen.

When problems arise in society, the cleverest of us know where to look for answers, or at least a clear presentation of the problem: comedy. Comedians such as Lenny Bruce, who was a major component in bringing the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s to the mainstream with his controversial take on obscenity and the impact of words deemed inappropriate and even illegal.

If you sit down for a moment and think about exactly why you’re offended by a certain word, no matter your racial, gender, sexual or any other superficial identity, you’ll see how silly it is.

Because it’ll come down to: “I’m not sure, I just am?” or “Momma tol’ me so.”

If you’ll take notice, even I have to censor myself, or The Lantern, though it is gracious enough to publish most of my words, won’t share my rants with you. And it’s not their fault – not completely anyway – our culture’s just skittish is all.

We’re stuck in some weird religion trip that believing certain words can send you to hell and then we pass the idea to our children. Well, we’ve shown Westboro Baptist Church what we think of their religious bulls—, so let’s show the world we can move past being hung up on language.

Read “Naked Lunch” by William S. Burroughs, which was once banned for obscenity and has since been hailed as one of the most influential pieces of literature, and you’ll see how we can progress from being offended to being enlightened.

If you haven’t gotten my point yet, let me dot the ‘i’s for you: If you want to stop hate speech, stop gasping, stop spitting, stop twitching when you hear or read words. They’re just words.

Don’t give them any power over your life or our culture.

There are more serious things happening in the world right now.

Like my beer – it’s empty.

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