Sunday, January 29, 2017

WORDS. DEFINITIONS. CONNOTATIONS.

Words are amazing.


Maybe that is why my blogging is such an enjoyable hobby.  The Thesaurus is my best friend, especially when driving home an idea.

I can usually get my point across to others by using words.  Of course, I have to be careful when sending something short and quick so that I don't seem abrupt.  And I add emoticons to help soften a request or complaint.
So imagine my surprise when I posted on a young lady's FB page only to be barraged by accusatory comments regarding the word "thug."


She posted an opinion page from a small city newspaper disparaging protesters who cause so much destruction and trouble.




I commented "One stupid person's stupid opinion. I do wish there was something we could do to STOP the paid thugs that go to the protests... especially those who were arrested TWICE for bringing violence to protests. Give everyone some peace of mind ..."

One of her friends posted 

"thug" is a word that has deeply racist implications, hth! to which I replied 


No, no, not what I meant at all!   I'm using this definition for THUG: 

noun

1.  a violent person, especially a criminal.
          synonyms: ruffian, hooligan, vandal, hoodlum, gangster, villain, criminal


A different friend chimed in with "The word "thug" has racial undertones that have been reinforced through media and socialization. Rarely (it has at times) has the word been used to depict whites whereas it has been normalized or often equated with inner-city Black males who may or may not be part of any organized crime. It has also become synonymous with impoverished people of color. Reference The New Jim Crow, Unsteady March, Responsibility for Justice, and other texts that lend a critical race lens to communication and depictions. 

I accept that you do not mean it in a racialized way, but the truth is that your intentions have little to do with the history of the word."

Me:  I will try not to use any more words until you approve them! 🤓

Him:  I am sorry that you believe you are being censored simply by being educated.

Me:  I don't quite feel "educated". Which dictionary is OK to use? Webster-Merriam?  Wikipedia?  

Him:  I respect your decision to only utilize a single type of information to attempt to make your point. As a former English Teacher, I would find it problematic to teach students the basic definition of words absent context. It is amazing how language develops and takes upon deeper meanings-- sometimes positive and other times negative. Maybe you should look into some linguistic books?

Me:  Once someone brought up the idea that thug WAS a racist word, I did check several sources. I pointed out (and posted, twice) the definition I was using in this case. No need to suggest linguistic books. I'm respectful enough to define my words should someone not understand them they way I meant.

Him:  why continue using the word knowing the context then, if you did the research? Why not choose an alternate word knowing the racial undertones?

Me:   My sources do not mention the racial undertones .... but I did change my original statement to "criminals" instead of "thugs". That work OK?

Him:  I appreciate you being willing to alter your word usage as it can be damaging to some populations. 

Whippersnapper!  It was my own fault for not simply taking down my first statement.  I must have been argumentative yesterday.  There's no last word with a liberal millennial these days ....








10 comments:

  1. Not sure WHY the format looks so odd ... tried several times to fix it. I've run out of patience for today!

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  2. These days the slang use of words we've been using for eons change so quickly I've learned to consult the Urban Dictionary when in doubt. Right wing TV and radio always refer to black protesters as 'thugs' while white people protesters are not labeled the same way which as begun the adulteration of the original meaning. Word usage and meaning fluctuates and change over time. I have a collection of dictionaries going back to the 1800s. I have always enjoyed looking at how words change over time. The word 'gay' is a good example. They usually change because someone is using certain words as code for something else like 'gay' for homosexuals when originally it just meant 'happy' and once the code is common knowledge the new word meaning ends up in dictionaries. 'Thug' is one of those words whose definition is in transition and well on it's way to being a racial slur but it's not there yet because there are many of us still using the old way. The old way for me was guys being hired to beat up men striking factories and coal mines for better conditions. I heard many stories of thugs when I was growing up.

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    1. Then if thug is still in transition phase, my three look-ups which did NOT use the Urban Dictionary might be excusable? I just looked there and it still isn't abundantly clear!

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  3. Who knew? Not me. It's hard to keep up. I don't want to offend anyone... seriously, but I really can't keep up. I'm a liberal, but not a millennial. Maybe that explains it. :) I'll have to be like Avis and "try harder." Now a millennial wouldn't get that. Maybe he could look it up.

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    1. This young person certainly had lots or suggestions for resources for me. But even when I looked up images of thugs, there were both white and black. Maybe I'm just a slackadaisical blogger ... three reputable sources are about as far as I go for a simple definition!!

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    2. You know what they say, "Opinions are like butt holes, everyone has one." Don't let someone's opinion ruin your day. We all look at stuff like this through our own prisms of experience.

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  4. Liberal Millennials scare me. You can't debate them, because they just keep asking more and more questions. I usually quit the conversation because they wear me out!! It's awful how the language we have always known and used, now suddenly means something else. I will continue to call violent/rioting protestors' "Thugs", because--that's what they are.

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  5. Your experience proves what I concluded many years ago, long before social media. Much time, energy is misspent in disagreement when the real issue is the people are discussing a word or term but based on different definitions. Maybe we need to define terms first, then express ourselves. I'm surprised a racial connotation has been attached to the word "thug" -- never heard that before. Just because someone cites Wikipedia doesn't mean it's universally accepted in the lexicon I don't think. I'm glad I don't waste my time on my deliberately dormant FB account as so much seems to be rude, uncivil and unsubstantiated tales -- never even go out there.

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  6. I have SO much to say to the over-educated savant who so illogically accused you of racism in your FB post...but I will not. Instead of a strife promoting come back on your behalf, and defense of your honor (which you also do not need since you are so very capable of doing with far more grace than I would), I will instead leave the "whippersnapper" with this: "Disagreement is not the same thing as hate, don't believe that lie...the bottom line is, I'd rather be loving than right." ~Chip Gaines.
    JB you are amazing, and don't give into the politically correct left's version of truth. It is one of those things that is actually speech censorship common in the former Communist Block dictatorships...

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