Different topics sensitive to different people

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

RE: “Be careful before you joke about rape”
Nov. 13, 2007

To the editor:
Here’s the thing: if Haertel had heard that stranger say he had ‘murdered’ the exam, then she probably wouldn’t have minded. Indeed, she might not have heard him at all. On the other hand, if a friend of hers had been murdered recently, she might have been highly offended. That’s all speculation, though.

Here’s my point: the English language is full of words primed to offend. I won’t advocate use of the word ‘rape’ to describe exam performance. I’m not a huge fan of the word ‘retarded’ when it creeps into colloquial use, either.

In any event, whenever you employ words, you must do so with a limited audience in mind. The insensitive people in that crowd were not aware of the misfortune suffered by Haertel’s friend, though I am saddened to learn of it.

Yet, if everyone were required to appraise every passerby in order to guess which words should or should not be used, then no one would ever speak again.

I shudder to think how many people I must offend on the bus on a daily basis when I make light of alcoholism, suicide and God. At any rate, I really wrote this letter to make a request of Haertel.

I was a fatty in my early childhood and the emotional damage my peers caused me led to lasting self-esteem issues. As it serves to remind me of those cruelties I suffered, I would kindly ask her to never use the word ‘kindergarten’ again.
"Mike Dewar
Science Alumnus
Philosophy IV

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