Fags and Retards

Name Calling Is For Losers - The Anti-Social MediaI play a lot of video games. I like to distract myself from the pain and suffering of the real world with the colorful world of electronic diversion. Unfortunately, I can’t even escape stupidity and madness in virtual fantasy worlds.

Let me explain:

I play World of Warcraft.

Go ahead, judge me now. I can wait.

Alright, are we ready to move on?

In the World of Warcraft, you join other groups of random players to run dungeons. Typically, these are nice people who just want to get a particular in-game item from the dungeon. These people recognize it’s a game and sometimes you win or lose, but that you try again and that it’s all for fun.

Other times, you get one or two very angry people who feel super powered because they have a hint of anonymity. When things don’t go their way, they start blaming everything on the other players and call them names. In particular though, they call people these two names:

Fags and Retards.

They lost a meaningless game, and because they were so upset about it, they start throwing around nasty, hurtful language.

What’s even worse about this? Most people do nothing about it.

They don’t call them out. They don’t ask them to stop. They don’t tell them they are a pathetic homophobe hiding behind a veil of anonymity.

They just stand there and take it.

This behavior isn’t limited to games. A quick public search for “fags” on Twitter shows just how many people think it’s ok. Same thing for “retards.”

These are the people we live and work with. We walk past them on the street, in the grocery store, and in our schools. We let them bully other people because we won’t speak up and tell them it’s wrong.

Words hurt people. Labels hurt people. Reading them on a computer screen doesn’t make them hurt any less.

Think about the words you use online. Think about how they might hurt someone. And don’t allow other people to get away with it.

Yes, it’s awkward. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. But can you really be happy allowing other people to get hurt because you were too cowardly to speak up?

I know I can’t live in a world, online or off, where I allow other people to get hurt because I didn’t have the guts to tell them to knock it off.

Stop being afraid of these people.

The worst thing they’re going to do is call you a name in a tweet.

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31 Responses to Fags and Retards

  1. Mary January 16, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    I totally agree! I play WoW sometimes and the most irritating thing about it is the homophobic and other just plain stupid comments in chat (which is why I turn off chat when I play). What the heck is wrong with people & anonymity?

    And by the way, yes I’m really a female and play WoW - even tho some players deny the possibility vehemently - sexism or stupidity, who knows?

    Last comment - the above really makes you appreciate the nice people you meet in games like WoW, the ones that actually realize it’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun!

    • Jay January 16, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      I’m really glad to be in a guild of super nice people who recognize that language hurts people. But people are just really stupid on there.

      But it still amazes me that people just allow it to happen. It’s inexcusable.

      And I’m glad to have all sorts of people, men and women, gay and straight, playing WoW. We need other kinds of people, because werewolves, space goats, and zombies wasn’t enough kinds of people.

  2. Molly January 16, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Jay, my man, you’ve hit one of my major pet peeves! I smack people’s hands when they use either word (I give one warning). I work with 17 and 18 year old kids who haven’t been taught that these words are HURTFUL. After I tell them these kids are usually mortified. They didn’t MEAN to hurt anyone’s feelings they were ignorant. So I don’t feel bad explaining this kind of thing to the ignorant. The stupid (those who know and still use it) are another story……

    Thanks for writing about this! And keep standing up to the crowd!

    • Jay January 16, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      I like the hand smack approach. I wish I could reach through the interwebs to do that.

  3. Rasta January 16, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Agreed! I play Wolfenstein Enemy Territory (WolfET) and one server I play on, has a sound-clip taunt that is racist, and offensive. I have asked them to remove it. The server operator thinks it is too much trouble to remove it, and require everyone to re-download the Audio pack that goes with the server. I think the effort would be worth it.

    Every now and again, someone who *knows better*, and how I feel about racism, bigotry, and hurtful slurs, uses it to *taunt* me. That usually makes my playing better, as I spend the rest of the map targeting them in unrelenting attacks. Either I drive them away, or they get the hint, it is Socially, and Gamingly, Unacceptable.

    And to think most of them are not even old enough to known when there was a time, when those terms were considered *acceptable*, but if you are less than 40 years old, you must have lived in a vacuum to believe that is socially acceptable to ANYONE today, which is why they must hide behind the *white sheets* of anonymity.


    • Jay January 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      I used to play first person shooters to get out my rage with the world. That was before I had a blog about social media.

    • Dodger January 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      As long as the racism and bigotry are relegated to words only, whether on paper or spoken, how exactly are they able to hurt you? What physical manifestations occur as a result of you coming into contact with these words or sounds?

      Here’s a question… If some drunken wino laying in a gutter muttered some insult at you as you walked by, would you be hurt by it? Would it somehow injure you? Easy answer… “no”… Why? Because the words aren’t coming from someone you know or respect, so they have no impact.

      So why would you choose to be “hurt” or “offended” by the words of some anonymous person on the Internet? Why would you not just ignore it and move on? Instead, you CHOOSE to be offended, you CHOOSE to be hurt by it. It’s not the person making the racial slurs who is at fault. It’s YOUR fault for choosing to be offended.

  4. Camilo Olea January 16, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    I used to spend hours on videogames… then I started college. Then, years later, I had a son. Only time I could play games now is if I didn’t sleep.

    But yeah, assholes like that have existed since before the internet was invented, and will continue to exist.

    • Jay January 16, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      I only have time because I make time. And because my cat likes to sleep underneath my computer when it’s all warm.

      • Camilo Olea January 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

        Point taken. I will make time, I guess. I can probably stop showering and shaving anyway. I’m not superficial like that, you know.

        • Jay January 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

          One of my goals of 2012 is to shave better. How sad is that?

  5. Geoff Merritt January 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Seems to be a lack of empathy with the way people use words. I am friends of a same sex couple that basically have 2 lives… one as a couple to the people they fill secure with and who don’t use hurtful words as part of their general dialogue.
    The other life is not as a couple, my friends listen to how people talk and choose not to divulge their status to people that are homophobic.
    It has only been in the last 5 or so years that I now challenge people with their attitudes, guess now that I am older and wiser (ha) I have the confidence to do so.

    • Jay January 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      I challenge because if I didn’t, I’d be stuck at home playing video games.

  6. Dodger January 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I must assume you are another new-ager who was never taught one of society’s most important rules. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me”. I’m getting SO fed up with this generation making it the SPEAKER’s responsibility to never “offend” anyone rather than teaching the LISTENER to “consider the source”. It’s all part of the massive effort to shift all personal responsibility on to someone else and articles such as this are making it worse.

    Now - I’ve never called someone a “fag” or a “retard” online or anywhere else for that matter, but if someone uses derogatory words to refer to ME or something I’ve posted, so be it. I can only be “hurt” by mere words if I ALLOW myself to be hurt. It’s MY responsibility, not the person who called me names. Personally, if I don’t know and respect whoever slighted me, I simply choose to give no credence to their words if their intent was to insult. Too easy!

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to know every possible thing that might potentially offend SOMEONE. Rather than imploring people to “do everything to not offend” (which is impossible) wouldn’t it make more sense to teach people how to properly REACT to that which offends them? In fact teach “Say whatever you like about whatever you like. We will all take responsibility for how we react.” rather than teaching that people should never do anything that could potentially offend someone.

    In the article, the dude says “words hurt”. Bullsh*t! Baseball bats hurt. Words are simply vibrations in air. They are just sounds. They CAN’T hurt you! (unless they are really loud I suppose…) It’s the receiver who CHOOSES whether or not to be offended and how to react and whether or not to be hurt. It’s the RECIEVER’s responsibility to ignore those things that offend them. Attempting to prevent the rest of the world from saying anything that might potentially offend is simply pissing into the wind.

    This whole societal attitude that we have a right to “not be offended” is patently ridiculous! SAY whatever you want to me. Call me any name in the book! You may lose my respect, but you cannot HURT me. THAT is the lesson we should be teaching and blogging about. Sticks and stones…

    • Jay January 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      This isn’t about being offended. It’s offensive that you didn’t read my post, which doesn’t use the word “offend” anywhere. This is about teaching people that it’s ok to use discriminatory words casually online. that it’s ok to belittle and demean people who are different.

      I don’t give a fuck if I’m offended or someone is offended by me. Maybe you aren’t hurt if someone call you names, but other people are. I’m not going to see another person get so bullied that they become depressed or suicidal. We should be better than that.

  7. Camilo Olea January 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Exactly. Judging is always wrong because everyone lives under different circumstances.

  8. Dodger January 17, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Jay - the fact that you didn’t USE the word “offend” in your article doesn’t mean that you’re not talking about “offense”. That is EXACTLY what your article is about. (I read it 3 times, for your information…)

    There is NO SUCH THING as “discriminatory words”!! There are “discriminatory ACTIONS”, not words. Words are just that. Words. They are vibrations in air. They are little dots of light on a computer screen. Ink marks on a paper. No matter what the words are, they cannot possibly hurt anyone who understands this concept. Words don’t discriminate. It’s the PEOPLE that do discriminatory ACTS as a result of the words that are a problem. The words themselves, and the speaker of the words are completely innocuous.

    The problem is, too many people of this generation have been brainwashed into simply passing the responsibility for their actions onto the person who “incited” them with their “words”. As a result, you have a huge social group who believes it is acceptable to kill people because of a cartoon drawing of Mohammed.

    The stance you take could actually be seen as quite insulting - basically you are stating that while YOU personally are strong enough to withstand the onslaught of “bad words”, many of us “out there” are too weak minded to do the same, therefore we need you to convince people to stop using those “bad words” because there are people weaker than you out there who don’t know how to properly react to “bad words” and might get depressed or commit suicide or do something bad as a result of seeing/hearing those “bad words”. The entire gist of your blog post is to convince people to stop using bad words like “fag” and “retard”. (how do you feel about the word “mucous”? I personally find THAT word offensive… Perhaps you could write a blog post about getting cold-medication advertisers to stop using it?)

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to TEACH those weaker-than-you individuals how to properly react to things that offend them, rather than trying to stop all of the things that might? Teach them the proper way to react to the bullies that say bad things, rather than simply giving the bad words power by trying to prevent people from using them? Teach them that some anonymous loser on the Internet calling them a “retard” is of absolutely no consequence?

    If people become depressed or suicidal as a result of someone’s WORDS, then we are doing a piss-poor job of teaching people how to react to words. Attempting to stop the words from happening will never resolve the problem. In fact, it just makes it worse. Teach them instead how to properly ignore or react to the things that offend them, and you’ll have far better success.

    It is unfortunate that this generation have come to simply accept the idea that it is the responsibility of the speaker to not offend, rather than it being the responsibility of the receiver to react appropriately to everything said, whether offensive or not. You can get away with pretty much anything - all you have to show is that someone said something that incited you to do it and it automatically becomes the “inciter’s” fault… And it gets worse with the propagation of this idea that people should stop being offensive, as you’ve suggested in your article.

  9. Phil H January 17, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Dodger, unfortunately everyone does NOT understand that concept. Like the 6 year old little girl who gets teased for being fat day in and day out.
    What Jay’s saying here is that when we see people loosely throw around hate speech we should call them on it, so they stop. For all we know they don’t even know that it is hate speech-but they should. While we have the power to not allow ourselves to be offended we also have the power to make the world a better place and that involves calling people out when they are being stupid.

    • Dodger January 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      I Disagree… I can think of VERY few situations where it’s more appropriate to stop speech (hateful or otherwise) than to teach the person at the receiving end how to appropriately react to things they don’t like.

      In the case of the 6 year old - if that child was taught the basic tennents of “sticks and stones” from day one, they would be well-prepared by 6 to put exactly as much personal importance on such taunts as they deserved.

      This isn’t to suggest that there aren’t cases where a caring community shouldn’t step in to help - in cases where there is an obvious imbalance in power, for example an adult being purposely hurtful to a child, or where the recipient is incapable of understanding the concepts I am describing, caring 3rd parties would be honor-bound to step up and help correct the imbalance. This certainly isn’t required for most cases of people posting “bad words” on the Internet…

      What’s funny is - I’m describing exactly the type of society we had 60 years ago or so… It’s only in the last few decades that society has done this phenomenal 180 and started believing that we all have a right to not be offended.

      Those who can should always step up to defend those who cannot defend themselves, but with your take on this, you’ve basically made EVERYONE into someone who can’t defend themselves. Everyone is now a “victim” needing protection from being offended… Which is silly, really… As stated earlier, YOU are the only one who has control over what words offend you and how you react. What’s wrong with everyone re-learning how to defend themselves by learning to ignore the things that they find offensive?

  10. fard January 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    One of the most terrifying things about abuse language is the ignorance behind a majority of it.

    Just as Molly shared about the students she works with, we can all think of times when we used or heard hurtful language unintentionally: He’s an Indian giver. She gyped me. It’s so gay that we have homework over MLK weekend.

    The problem is that when we use this language when we don’t understand it, we are going to continue to use it when we do.

    As members of society working for the greater good (and we all know that’s not everyone), we do have a duty to stand up and tell someone that their choice of words is inappropriate and offensive. And we have a duty to recognize that we are not in control of other’s words or actions and have a choice to rise above them.

    Choosing to call out those who are hurt by being called fags and retards, assuming they just need to be “well-prepared”, still doesn’t change the fact that when you are called such a term, you are a victim, no matter how you slice it.

    Dodger, I especially hope your words don’t hurt people, since you know the importance of how to “appropriately react to things [you] don’t like”. May your tough skin remind your mouth to filter your comments. Your responsibility is greater, since you have the gift of being able to shrug off offensive comments without any trouble.

  11. Geoff Merritt January 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Words are just words, I am afraid not. Words, and how we express those words is our main way of communication. How those words are spoken is how we know if there is love or anger in those words.
    As we use words to communicate our feelings, of course those words are going to be hurtful.
    We can’t keep blaming the victim for other peoples issues either.

  12. Prickles January 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    It’s very easy for someone in the position of the majority to suggest that everyone else should just ‘suck it up’ and quit playing the victim. But please bear two things in mind. First of all, name-calling is a propaganda tool that has been used throughout modern history to hurt millions of people. Millions. Just to name a few examples: Nazi Germany, the Jim Crow South, and Rwanda during the April 1994 massacre. So when people thoughtlessly fling around pejoratives, they may be unconsciously or consciously making it seem acceptable to do real harm to a group deemed inferior or deviant. Secondly, if you repeat an insult to someone enough times, they begin to believe it. This is especially true of young people, whose minds are still very impressionable. In this case, words can do psychological harm that can last a lifetime (or for generations). Words have power. Thanks for your post, Jay.

    • Dodger January 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      At the risk of repeating myself, I can only reiterate: words are simply combinations of letters that express thoughts. That’s it. The are incapable of injuring without the active participation of the “victim”. I find this overwhelming suggestion that most humans are incapable of learning how to react appropriately to words that offend them somewhat insulting.

      Every disagreeing comment here is fraught with the same flaw… You are insultingly suggestion that the majority of the human race is incapable of learning tolerance. You are all intimating that the majority of human beings NEED to be protected from bad words and being called bad names, I assume because you believe that as species, we are too weak-willed to learn how to deal with such offenses. It’s kinda scary that so many people believe this. It explains many of the world’s problems today…

      Hitler’s ranting and raving on podiums did not result in the death of a single person. It was how his audience REACTED to his ranting and raving that resulted in the horrors of WW2 and the holocaust. The words themselves didn’t kill anyone. It was the fact that his audience was able to be influenced into doing horrific things at his prompting. His audience hadn’t learned tolerance and critical thinking. If they had, when the plans were drawn up to herd people into death camps, those listening would have laughed and told him to pound salt. Your insistence on removing the responsibility for reacting appropriately from the listener is breeding more of the exact same audience.

      Because you insist on teaching that it is always the SENDER’s responsibility to not offend, you give power to the sender. The receivers never learn the importance of critical thinking, never learn how to react appropriately when some does purposely or inadvertently offend them (which is inevitable), which results in the receiver ultimately coming to believe that he has a God-given right to NOT be offended. That is where many of you are today.

      Putting the responsibility back where it belongs (on those listening, not those speaking) doesn’t result in wholesale anarchy and destruction. There will always be a cost to being intentionally offensive. The cost is: people won’t like you if you are offensive. If people don’t like you, your life won’t be as pleasant. That in itself is more than enough incentive for most people to be nice to one another. And for those who do NOT wish to say nice things, fine - we all learn to disregard what the loser has to say, and THEY are the ones to suffer.

      I get the feeling that many of you would or have heard or even quoted Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s declaration “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, but from the comments posted here, not one of you actually understand what it means…

      • Geoff Merritt January 17, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

        Dodger, are you trying to justify why its ok to be hurtful to another person and that the perpetrator has no responsibilities….? Whether its physical or emotional I don’t think it matters…. the intent from the perpetrator is still the same, the intent is to hurt.

        • Dodger January 18, 2012 at 8:31 am #

          Geoff -

          I’m not advocating people being purposely hurtful - what I’m suggesting is that if the emphasis on trying to stop people from being offensive was changed and focused on teaching all people how to appropriately DEAL WITH being offended, your issue would be moot.

          If we all focused on teaching people how to react appropriately to being offended, someone trying to be intentionally hurtful would have no impact. They COULDN’T “hurt” anyone with their words, because everyone would have learned the “sticks and stones” rule.

          The fact that so few people “get” this concept is somewhat disturbing - it shows just how far we as a society have drifted from common sense principles.

          Please let me use an example to illustrate (hopefully one that even today’s misguided masses can understand)

          You’re walking down the street, minding your own business. A filthy drunken bum sitting in a gutter with a half-empty bottle of rotgut in his urine-stained lap mutters “hey you faggy retard, gimme a quarter…” as you walk by…

          Do you burst into tears? Are you offended? Do you re-examine your very existence? Is your day ruined?

          Of COURSE not! Why? Because you CONSIDERED THE SOURCE, and CHOSE not to give any importance to the words. They came from someone you do not respect, therefore they cannot hurt you. In your opinion, should we instead be trying to stop all winos from saying stupid things? That is EXACTLY what everyone is advocating with this “prevent anyone from being offensive” campaign.

          It is YOU who chooses what offends you. It is YOU who decides how to react. If you know how to react appropriately, it doesn’t matter what the source of the offense is. You know how to deal with it when it’s a wino… Why can’t you deal with it from an anonymous Internet weenie?

          What I am advocating is to stop wasting time trying to prevent people from being offensive. It is not possible, because there is no way to know everything that might offend. Instead, let’s all learn how to react appropriately to being offended. Let’s learn to properly ignore those things that don’t matter (like being called a “fag” or a “retard” by some anonymous loser on the Internet). If we concentrated on that, then no one would ever be “hurt” by mere words, whether the offense was intentional or unintentional.

          Why waste time and energy trying to prevent the impossible when there is a perfectly possible solution?

          • Geoff Merritt January 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

            Dodger, if a stranger chooses to call me a name, I cope with it by using the methods you describe. My self worth is still reasonably intact, it hasn’t been reduced by the constant attack that our society can give, also to assume that everyone has the same self worth and coping skills is just wrong.
            What Jay is asking is that we put forward a different point of view over to the person who is saying the words…. a point of view that they may not have realised, until something was said.
            No, we won’t be able to stop everyone from being offensive… but if we don’t tell them that are being offensive then they won’t be able to choose to modify their behavior.
            In the early days of my relationship with my wife I made several comments about her physical appearance…. harmless I thought… but after she challenged me about it I soon discovered that for most of her life she has had to deal with those comments. She challenged me, I reflected on my actions and I made a choice not to do it again.
            I feel that I have overstayed my welcome on Jay’s post, thank you Dodger for your thoughts.

  13. Dodger January 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    P.s. I wish I could edit a post after the fact… My apologies for the goofy typos… I’m typing on an iPad and sometimes the autocorrect gets the better of me without my noticing…

  14. Jon Loomer January 25, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Good stuff, Jay. Much of Facebook, Twitter and the comments sections of blogs has become unreadable because of the garbage that people boldly post from an anonymous account. Thanks for having the courage to post this.

  15. AB_Pande February 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    For those who think sharing personal information is harmful, please vote NO at http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/808 before the end of thursday. Participation is purely voluntary.

  16. ntouch2cher September 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    I totally agree!  I was reading on a friend’s page yesterday when she was venting about a person whe was upset with and calling this person a “retard”…that really got my goat:(


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