Freedom Of Breach

I got in trouble for my last post because…I used the word retarded.

Did I get in trouble by a friend giving me a helpful heads up? Nope.
Perhaps a long time reader and active debater? Nope.

Somebody who has never commented…ever suddenly came out of the woodwork, ignored the purpose of the post and 316 of the 317 words to focus on 1 word and try to bully-shame me for me using it. Of course they did…outrage is social media’s third rail.

Feel free to read the passage with the offending word. (It was a reference to the classic Tropic Thunder Never Go Full Retarded clip since I was writing about Rain Man one of the movies discussed in the clip.)

Remember Remember Remember consensus is not validation.

If retarded offends you or you don’t want to use the word; as long as your reasoning is sound and thought out; then it that works for you and your values.

Just know and more importantly accept and understand that sentiment is not universal.

This is like the recent social media hulk rage over Phil Jackson’s use of “posse.”

(Let’s set aside the celebrity status of LeBron James and Phil Jackson since there is always marketing involved.)

The truth is there’s no right or wrong; those “standards” can’t be rigorously applied because language is evolving. We did not have a vote, we did not pass a law, we did not even have a meeting to reach consensus. You have no authority or jurisdiction in this matter. No matter how you feel, no matter your values…there is no consensus. Granted a lot of people might feel that way but a lot is still not consensus. And of course consensus is not validation. A lot of people in Salem felt comfortable tossing women into rivers; a lot of medical staff thought leeches were sound science.

Consensus has a lousy track record.

(For what it’s worth in 2017 posse’s dictionary meaning is a group of people who share a common characteristic, occupation, or purpose. Straightforward. If you want to use it to refer to Brad Pitt and his entourage/business associates as a posse go for it because it fits. I wish I had a posse! Logically it is why it is used in hip hop where tracks by Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang featuring multiple rappers are referred to as posse cuts. I’m not saying hip hop is the black bill of rights. I’m simply pointing out posse’s definition has evolved (awful used to mean full of awe…that’s not how we use it now).)

If you choose…and it is clearly a choice you make to classify posse as racist or to interpret my casting post with the word retarded through your filter have at it. It doesn’t mean that it’s true; it’ll only employ the classic rejoinder “if you say so.” Emphasis on you.

Point is you’re free…if you so choose to use retarded or posse or any other “rude word;” that is a choice that you make. If you’ve chosen not to use any of those words that’s ok too. (We’re not even factoring in context, nuance, sarcasm…all kinds of integral levels to language. We’re just taking the word at face value the most dangerous way to receive language. And the obnoxious consistent mistake we make online.)

However your choices and values shouldn’t limit others and the choices they’ve made. Phil Jackson is just as free to use posse as you are to not use it. That’s how freedom and responsibility and independence works. We don’t need a safe space so much as to recognize the values we supposedly espouse without any fine print. That’s the true beauty of the internet.

To give up that freedom and that independence would be retarded.


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Also published on Medium.

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