When to let it rip or keep it zipped

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By Jamie Sughroue, Opinion Editor

Life is full of decisions. Should I wear socks with these sandals? (The answer is always no.) Will going to see The Smurfs immediately decrease my I.Q.? (The answer is emphatically yes.) These are some of the more easily dealt with quandaries that will arise.

But what happens when you’re faced with an external, philosophical predicament? How will you handle it? How have you handled it in the past? I am an advocate for speaking your mind, but doing so thoughtfully and judiciously. Consider your words carefully as well as your audience. As the old adage accurately reflects, there is a time and place for everything.

Connotation is the key component.  If a woman drawls, “You big ol’ slut, you look soooo hot in that dress!” to her best friend as they slide into their car headed for the club, that’s one thing. Or if a different woman derisively shouts, “You’re such a slut! Look at the way you’re dressed” after another woman as she leaves with the man the other had been eyeing all evening, that’s another.

You can infer from these scenarios that the women have vastly different intentions when they use the invective ‘slut.’ While I’m not fond of using a slur in any situation, I’m also realistic enough to know that it happens. Recognize the difference. Pay attention.

Here’s my question: if you hear someone called gay or a faggot, what have you done about it?  Do you think it’s no big deal? Well, I have a response. I care. I will continue making a big deal out of it. If being politically correct is cool, consider me Miles Davis, to half-heartedly quote Adam Sandler in case I’m losing you.

All I’m asking for, you keen, neoteric college students, is that you consider what you’re saying before you potentially alter someone’s life. You may think a stray comment or retort is harmless, but it could have a lasting effect on someone. I’ll never forget the time a friend’s sister bullied me for being a chubby kid when I was nine. I’m 29 now. I’m sure she’s long since forgotten what she’d said to me, but I haven’t, and that’s what matters. I should let it go, and most of the time I think I have…but it’s always lurking in the recesses of that depressed, shadowy part of my brain.

There are incidents of bullying happening everywhere, on many levels.  By stating my opinion, that I believe context should factor into how you react and address some form of hate speech or even something as small as an inappropriate adjective, I’m not minimizing nor qualifying the response needed.  What I’m trying to say is that in order to be heard you must look at the source. If a person can maliciously hurl a slur at someone else, do you think yelling is going to solve anything? Make your response equally personal. Get their attention, look them in the eye, and then say what you need to say to get your point across.  

I don’t particularly care for confrontation, but I’m also not the type to casually stand by as hurtful or ignorant words are tossed around. It’s hard to know when and how it’s appropriate to jump into a conversation, especially when it’s guaranteed to turn awkward and potentially vicious.  That’s where it’s vital you know who you’re speaking to and how to address the situation. If it was an off-hand, smart aleck, frat boy (sorry) kind of a thing, handle it as such.  If it was a deliberate attack, be more aware of how volatile your discussion will be.  

Just because a situation is uncomfortable or different doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get involved.  That’s all the more reason to jump in. Be delicate or ferocious, joking or stern.  Adjust your behavior because you can’t control theirs. 

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