BY BRYCE GOYER
There’s always posters hanging up in the hallways at school. I never pay attention to them, mainly because they tend to advertise events or dates that have no importance to me at all. But, one poster was pointed out to me by a friend, a handwritten poster announcing a No Name Calling Week. I started laughing at this poster, not because I’m pro-derogatory terms and love the use of hurtful names, but because as students in the 21st century we should’t have to reserve certain weeks to respect one another. Having respect for your peers enough not to put them down should be a daily thing, not a notion that has to be reinforced by a specific week.
I believe that this No Name Calling Week is a result of a new wave of desensitization. Desensitization; a new hot word used by parents in hopes of banning video games due to graphic nature. People equate desensitization with kids and teens having a less than normal reaction to death and blood, basically having their human compassion lessened. I talk about desensitization in regards to words. Words have great meaning and great weight behind them. With the power of words comes the power to destroy and hurt.
It never quite hit me how desensitized the majority of teens are until this year. Racially insensitive and homophobic words are used with as much frequency and with as little thought as calling someone by their first name. Words filled with so much anger are thrown around on twitter, throughout the halls of school, even in malls and public places. I see offensive words used as the butt of a joke or as an “endearing” word in an Instagram caption. I don’t think people are using these words purposefully to put down a certain race, sexual orientation, religion, or gender in most cases. I truly believe that our society, especially the teen age group, has just become desensitized to these words.
Teens and young adults use these words not as derogatory terms against others but as “funny” ways to address each other, these words are spoken from a place of ignorance. This does not excuse the use of these words though. It does not make it better or less offensive to use names and hurtful words due to a lack of knowledge. The desensitization of using these types of words in everyday conversations must stop.
So while I applaud someone in our school for trying to make a difference by calling for a week free from hate-filled words, we need more than that. We, as a society, need to reverse the tide of using derogatory terms to be “funny” or “cool” or “cute”. Addressing your friend with a name that was used to degrade and discriminate an entire race is not okay. Saying that you’re from Compton, a place where hundreds of people are killed yearly due to gang violence and drugs, to give yourself “cred” is not okay. And using a word that describes a whole sexual orientation that has been beaten and oppressed as a synonym for lame or stupid is not okay. Being part of the masses that use words fueled with hate out of a place of ignorance is not okay. It is time that we realize that we have been desensitized, that we use offensive words in every day language. It is time for us to stop using words meant to hurt and wound under a false veil of ignorance.