Saturday, December 12, 2009

In defense of bad words

I was called out yesterday for my use of the 'word' Douchtard in my blog post. The commenter was generally upset, they wrote:
"Have you ever met someone with Down Syndrome? If you do, call them a tard and see how it feels.
the term is not divorced from its original meaning...everyone knows what is intended when you say or print that."
At first I was taken aback. The post was in defense of the Truro and area gay community. The last thing I expected to read in the comments section was an attack on my use of Douchtard and how insensitive it is towards those with Down Syndrome. Quickly I shock it off. What the hell? This was political correctness run amok, I chalked it up to contextual bullshit and moved on. Sorta.

This morning I found a fantastic video a friend had sent me on Facebook. It put the whole Douchtard/Down Syndrome/Political Correctness thing into hilarious perspective (I have awesome friends). Check it out:

Big guffaws eh? I mean really. If there is no malice behind a word, despite the word's historical uses or meanings, how can that word itself be harmful? An example; I am doing the dishes, I have my iTunes blasting, my girlfriend walks into the kitchen, I am listening to Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, I look at her and say: "What's up up my nigger?", is this wrong? Am I a racist pig? I had been spitting Dre's lyrics for the last 10 minutes, I was messing, it was a joke, my girlfriend wasn't offended at all. No harm, no foul. CONTEXT!

Another example, for another of those words that you can't safely say in front of your mom. The worst word I know, aside from the 'N' word is cunt. Cunt is not a word that can be used loosely, it's the worst there is. It makes fuck seem like fiddle sticks. Only the Brits/Scots/Irish use cunt right (well as right as such a nasty word can be used). Yes the word is still vicious, it's weighty, it's powerful, it is like a slap in the face, SMACK! That said, when a Brit calls someone a cunt, they really aren't disparaging the female genitalia, they are basically calling someone an asshole, a total dick, a real motherfucker. Malice is implied, cunt is not a nice word, but in context, if you're just hanging with your mates, is it really all that wrong to call someone a fucking cunt? Rude, unrefined, yes, but again, no harm, no foul.

George Carlin said it best (as he does):

So there. I am sorry to those readers who get squeamish when reading certain words. I for one love curse words. I swear like a sailor. Say it with me; shit, fuck, Goddamn it. Stub your toe and then tell me that yelling one of those words isn't a wonderful release. The pain in that toe is instantly lessened with a loud curse, it's magic. So curse, to hell with repression, it's not healthy.

But where was I? Oh yes, I was called out for using Douchtard. A slang word that probably hasn't even registered in the Urban Dictionary yet (I will check, whatya know it has). This is my response to that calling out. I am not one that uses words to disrespect others. Especially those of special needs (is that the PC term now...???). Douchtard in my vernacular means asshole. A douchtard is someone usually in a position of power that does something incredibly dumb. Douchtard stays, it is part of this blog's shtick. Political correctness be damned.


  1. You go, Joseph!

    Revenge is a dish best served cold :)

    Excellent response to a ridiculous PC comment. Has good humor vanished from society, or is it just us? God help us....

  2. And what is humour, but extreme examples of the stuff the makes us squeamish?

  3. Douchtard is good humor? Ah ha ha, so funny... lol, ROTF LMAO, never heard anything so cleverly funny! Wow, yeah, you go Joeseph!

    "Let's not give the word retard the same power as nigger?" Uh, it already has that power. It is what it is, and "retards" can't take it back despite the "hilarious" video which was really nothing but pathetic double-speak.

    But let's assume they can take it back... ok they did, now you have to stop using it... unless of course you want to continue it with your girlfriend as a personal term of endearment.

    A good writer should be able to come up with something better than a form of "retard" to describe people in power who do incredibly dumb things. How about making up something cool from vacuous or asinine?

  4. I would never be so pretentious as to say I was aware of what was good humor. Nor would I ever go so far as to proclaim myself a good writer. I am a blogger, I try to look at everything with a grin and a giggle.

  5. The PC police are killing me. If they keep sanitizing language there will be nothing left but the articles.


  6. My problem with this whole debate is not the battle of words versus context, it is the fact that the original post had no mention of Down Syndrome or retard. It was an attack on a homophobic mayor. I thought I was using the word douchtard as a weapon in the fight against evil. I shoulda just called the mayor of Truro an asshole, an asshat maybe a shithead...??? The fight against the politically correct is a sure lose. There is just so damn much a fella like me should feel guilty about. Might as well laugh it all off.

  7. There have to be words to describe the naughty, the rude, the perverse and the sinful. These same words will of course be irresistibly fun to repeat and repeat.

  8. I wasn't trying to make you to feel guilty, but rather inspired. And, yes, asshole would have been more appropriate but you could probably come up with something even better than that. You may consider yourself "just a blogger" but you are a writer... writing in a public forum that anyone might stumble upon. Whereas you might feel totally comfortable calling your sweetie "My nigga" in your kitchen, I am doubtful you would feel ok about using nigger on your blog as a term to call someone who has done something you didn't like.

    And you are right that there are words for the naughty, the rude, the perverse, the sinful, etcetera... but retard, or tard, or versions thereof are based on a characteristic of a group of innocent human beings who have a serious intellectual disability, who usually can't even defend themselves or "take back" that language. To say that a mayor is as dumb as my mentally retarded child as a means of fighting evil makes no sense to me and perpetuates the negativity that my child will face all through his life.

    Am I a PC cop? I am not trying to be. I have to watch my kid grow up in a culture that thinks "tard" is a funny way to say stupid asshole and eventually I have to find a way to explain to him that, yes he is technically mentally retarded but no he isn't a retard, tard, or douchtard even though he will probably get called all those things many times. So here I am talking to you trying to put a tiny dent in that culture...

  9. I respect that you are the voice of those that can not defend themselves. And I agree that loosely using the words retard, tard or douchtard in reference to someone that may be intellectually challenged is horrible. Yes words hurt. BUT, as I have said before my use of douchtard has nothing to do with Down Syndrome kids. I use douchtard to poke fun at politicos, and talkingheads.

    And yes I know the tard at the end of douchtard implies a douchy retard. And yes retard has been misused and abused in reference to those with mental handicaps. But are the sins and misuses of a word's past make that word unspeakable in the future? Why shouldn't I use douchtard to mean asshole, not retard? I have no interest in offending the Down Syndrome community. Hell I have nothing but respect for it. I don't think that my use of the word is harmful to anyone, except those that I might think deserve to be knocked down a peg or two.

    I put public figures on notice. I do so with a made-up word which, I am sorry, offends you. I will continue to use it from time to time. If this continues to offend you, again I am sorry, my intent was never to offend anyone. Save a certain mayor, from a certain small Nova Scotia town.

    Thank you, despite our disagreement for the debate.

  10. You do realize this is the same as calling someone you didn't like a nigger and defending it by saying that you weren't referring to anything to do with black people... you were only trying to knock your target (who isn't black) down a peg or two... you know, down to the level of a nigger. We both know you wouldn't do that, in fact only some psycho racist would do that in today's day and age... so why is it still ok to do this with retard and how is it different?

  11. The difference in my opinion is that the 'N' word is exculsively disparaging to one group. Retard and especially douchtard are not exculsively disparaging to those with Down Syndrome. Retard when used as a slur against those with Down Syndrome is horrible and just as hurtful as the 'N' word, I agree, but, I do not use Douchtard to disparage any specific group. You are giving power to a word that at it's root means slow or delayed. I think however, that I am not gonna be able to convince you that I mean zero harm to any specific community, especially those with Down Syndrome. I fear that we can beat this issue to bits and never resolve a blessed thing.

    All I can say is thank you for the debate. I respect your passion and commitment. I could only wish that I had the same sort of passion for any cause. Cheers.

  12. I think you may be right that we might not be able to get on the same page... but it is always worth trying, n'est pas?

    The word retard is disparaging to one group, those who are classified as mentally retarded which includes the subgroup of Ds, as well as many others. I know the root of the word and I also know first hand what it means in terms of real life. It is a real classification of a large group of mostly helpless people who get made fun of and abused too often. Your use of the word, no matter your motivation, keeps it alive and kicking as a slur.

    All I am asking is why you can't tuck it away with wherever you put nigger and other such "group" words... You are a thinker and a decent writer, you can do better than douchtard.

    Anyway, I'll leave you be now. I appreciate that we were able to talk about this... and hey, you might want to withdraw that wish for passion... you could end up like me, the parent of a beautiful, funny, endearing kid with Down syndrome :-)

  13. Not to concede defeat, heck no, I am too competitive for any of that. But I will have you know that I have been banding about with the term schmucknuts. You know, just cuz I want my attack to be pointed at the offender not an innocent group a million miles removed from the subject of that attack.

    Thanks again for the comments and the debate.

  14. I am looking forward to seeing schmucknuts in action, especially since the nuts part can go either way...

  15. OS November, get over it. Even though it may be offensive to some people, words like 'nigger' and 'retard', etc, will never cease to be used as slurs. The word 'fat' is offensive to some people; should we all stop using it in any context? If you want to stop the use of the word retard or any form of it, it would make more sense to just ignore any use of it. If you refuse to find it funny, then perhaps others will not laugh at it too and whoever used it will get the hint. Passive-aggressive notes on the internet will not do shit for your cause though. If you do have a down-syndrome child, perhaps you can do them a favor and learn to not take everything so personal.. maybe that will teach them to let rude comments roll off their shoulders.