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Are terms like "spaz" offensive? watch

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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    These insults prove the point quite nicely - and I hope I can explain it without coming across as anti-Semitic myself. If you shelter people from insults all their lives, they become sensitive - excessively so. I believe the reverse - Jews laughing along with the Jew-gold joke, for example - is a much healthier state of affairs. Example: If I was to call you, Jon, a whole string of anti-Semitic insults, I reckon you'd be not so much offended as angry. Chances are you'd insult me back, or at least put me down in no uncertain terms. Isn't that much, much more satisfying and effective (and quicker and cheaper) than running away crying to the cops? You'd confront the problem immediately and head on, rather than running away into the arms of the law, which will probably find it much harder to deal with the issue.
    There is some logic to that.
    There was a kid at my school that we used to call Davey, when he was about 7, it was an insult, but you had to be local to understand it.
    When we were tortuous little 7 year olds we could really wind him up by calling him that, and even drive him to tears (arn't I making myself look like such a wonderful child here? :rolleyes: ) anyway the name stuck, and as we grew older the guy changed, and stopped being the butt of our jokes, and became one of the gang. We still called him Davey though.
    We still do for that matter.
    But he's become desensitized to it now, it's gone from being an insult to a nickname that he doesn't mind.
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    Agent Smith, sorry to repeat my question but I haven't seen an answer to it yet - do you think that my friend with the 5 year old with cerebral palsy is simply overreacting in finding the term "spaz" offensive?
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    @EastMidlander:

    That proves another point, too: Really, really random things can become insults. We had a kid we called "Herring" at my school. Is the word inherently offensive? Common sense suggests: Probably not. Similarly, "Davey" might be insulting to a hypersensitive Welshman, but there's really no underlying logic to the names people call each other. Particularly kids. So to try and define certain words as offensive is at best a generalisation and at worse simply fallacious. Admittedly, some words are more likely to be used insultingly than others. Compare the word "paki" with the word "telephone" and you'll see what I mean. But if we outlaw every word that has ever offended someone, in three months' time we'll all be talking Newspeak.
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    (Original post by spacedonkey)
    Agent Smith, sorry to repeat my question but I haven't seen an answer to it yet - do you think that my friend with the 5 year old with cerebral palsy is simply overreacting in finding the term "spaz" offensive?
    No. I am perhaps guilty of talking too much in the abstract while ignoring the personal, specific examples. There are undeniably insults that are beyond the bounds of good taste. Those bounds, though, are affected by who is present - it may sound nasty to say so, but people will make jokes in one set of circumstances that they would not in others. If you think about it, that's not so bad after all. It's not simply waiting till your friend has wheeled themself out of the room before cracking some joke about disabled people - it's the same social force that keeps standup comedians out of funeral services. Tact, to which I keep coming back as crucially important.

    It's not so much the term "spaz" as certain uses of it that I would brand offensive. And it's certainly not simply a case of claiming "overreaction" whenever anyone is offended. Most importantly of all, the bounds of taste that I mentioned above should be defined by common agreement, not by some arbitrary set of well-intentioned but frankly bonkers laws.

    DISCLAIMER: If you genuinely find the term "bonkers" offensive, please call the BBC Careline, or PM me. I am quite prepared to apologise, but only if somebody actually wants me to.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    No.
    I'm not being argumentative for the sake of it here, because I actually agree with your argument. However, I can also see her point and understand why she finds it so upsetting and wishes to change people's perceptions of cerebral palsy. Her little chap isn't mentally "backward" in any way - his disabilities are physical.

    It's a very interesting debate.
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    (Original post by spacedonkey)
    I think she sees that as the very point - the term is used unthinkingly, often by people who don't realise that it derives from citsaps (backwards! bloody filter!)
    You've made my point. A lot of people do not know where it came from, and don't realise that is can cause offence - why should they be made to feel as though they are prejudiced just b/c they adopted a widely used phrased amongst younger teens?

    There comes a time when people need to stop taking offence at things which weren't meant to be offensive.
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    "Spaz", or rather what you get if you put "citsaps" next to a mirror (damn the filter to hell) actually does refer to physical disability, not mental. I think. But of course that's really not the point. I would say that challenging perceptions is a good way forward. Letting people know the reality behind the term "spaz" is far more positive than simply flapping around vainly trying to make the word itself illegal. If more people took the challenging-perceptions route, rather than the flapping-around route, crappy insults like "spaz" would die out and we would enter into a glorious Golden Age of Insults, with sparkling wit replacing simple crude offensiveness. Compare the opening banter of Romeo and Juliet with a four-letter word starting with 'C'. Which would YOU prefer?

    Yes, I have now descended into a plug for the TSR Wit Society. :p:
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    "Spaz", or rather what you get if you put "citsaps" next to a mirror (damn the filter to hell) actually does refer to physical disability, not mental. I think.
    Yes, that's my point: "spaz" is used as a synonym for "stupid" when in fact people who have CP are no more likely to be stupid than anyone else!
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    (Original post by EastMidlander)
    My gran still uses gay on a daily basis (with it's old meaning) and anyone she finds a bit strange, or nervous around is a bit "queer".
    She talks of "******* in the woodpile", people being "niggardly" and talked about how when the cat come down the chimney it was "as black as a ******".
    She's no intention of being racist or offensive, it's just the language of her time.
    I'm black and I find that HILARIOUS. lol
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    Exactly. You are walking, talking evidence that "terms that might be deemed offensive" by various busybody watchdogs may not be offensive at all in real life.
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    I don't think any word can be truly offensive unless it's directed at someone with the intent to insult. I can't think of any word which, on it's own, is offensive. Some people take offense at swearing even when it's not directed at someone, but I think that they're chosen to be offended and there's nothing wrong with any wording if it's not directed at anyone. My grandparents regularly use terms like "paki", which are deemed racist, to refer to asians, but I've never once heard them use it in an offensive way - for them, it's just how they refer to asians, even if it is a little misguided in that not all asians are from pakistan.

    If people start taking offense at insults not intended for them, that's their own fault. Look at what happens if we take this further - if I do something wrong, and call myself stupid for it, would it be correct to say I'm offending people with low IQs? Hell no, I'd say.
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    There might be something in that. "******" is an insult in some circumstances, but a term of brotherhood - almost endearment - in others. [EDIT: Not filtered, you'll notice, although "*******" ("citsaps") was.] Similarly, if I was to call a strongly conservative Christian friend of mine a Muslim, he'd be cross. Does it follow that the term "Muslim" is inherently offensive? *******s does it.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    And of course there are the Jew-money jokes - Cartman's demand for Kyle's bag of Jew-gold
    That was bloody hilarious! I piss myself laughing at the Jew-jokes that Cartman makes on South Park, just as much as with any others, perhaps even more because of the personal connection. What do you call a Jewish woman's breasts? "Joobs"
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    I agree that it's entirely a matter of intention. If a reference to a particular sexual orientation, ethnic background, disability or whatever is used in a way that has negative connotations, it can be offensive. Otherwise, no problem.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    There might be something in that. "******" is an insult in some circumstances, but a term of brotherhood - almost endearment - in others.
    I think it's worth pointing out that these circumstances to which you refer are not random but predictable according to who is using the word in question. Derogatory words like "******" or "queer" (and perhaps even "spaz"!) are often "reclaimed" by the people they were originally directed against. If a black person uses the word "******", therefore, it's a totally different thing to a white person using it, no?


    [EDIT: Not filtered, you'll notice, although "*******" ("citsaps") was.]
    I did notice that - ridiculous isn't it!

    Similarly, if I was to call a strongly conservative Christian friend of mine a Muslim, he'd be cross. Does it follow that the term "Muslim" is inherently offensive? *******s does it.
    Surely he'd be cross because it would be completely inaccurate!
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    (Original post by Lawz-)
    Mongoloid.

    Asian people (in the US sense).
    Using Mongolism as a term for people with Down's was due to preceived similarities with Mongoloid (ie, Oriental) facial features. So it's not really a separate thing, but the insult will have derived from the Mongolism rather than it being a racist term.

    (Original post by EastMidlander)
    My gran still uses gay on a daily basis (with it's old meaning) and anyone she finds a bit strange, or nervous around is a bit "queer".
    She talks of "******* in the woodpile", people being "niggardly" and talked about how when the cat come down the chimney it was "as black as a ******".
    She's no intention of being racist or offensive, it's just the language of her time.
    I've used niggardly - it has completely different origins from ******.

    The one about the cat is rather amusing I've got to admit.
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    (Original post by JonathanH)
    That was bloody hilarious! I piss myself laughing at the Jew-jokes that Cartman makes on South Park, just as much as with any others, perhaps even more because of the personal connection. What do you call a Jewish woman's breasts? "Joobs"
    That's one face of the coin - like Christians that find the Life of Brian funny. The other face is represented by the Scientologist dude that used to voice Chef through all kinds of religiously-based rudeness, until the day Scientology itself came into the firing line, and suddenly he was all "respect for religions" and resigned like a shot.
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    (Original post by spacedonkey)
    Surely he'd be cross because it would be completely inaccurate!
    So is telling a tight-fisted non-Jew to "stop being so Jewish". Actual factual accuracy is not usually top of people's minds when they're insulting someone!
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    So is telling a tight-fisted non-Jew to "stop being so Jewish". Actual factual accuracy is not usually top of people's minds when they're insulting someone!
    but in that example the target of the offensive remark is actually Jewish. But I'm nitpicking

    EDIT: and not reading your post properly either DOH!
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    telling a tight-fisted non-Jew to "stop being so Jewish".
    haha!

    Classic
 
 
 
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