After banning the use of the word nigger last month, elected officials in NYC are now suggesting banning use of the word bitch as well. Because if people can’t say racist or sexist words, the sentiments behind these words will cease to exist, obviously.
While the bill also bans the slang word “ho,” the b-word appears to have acquired more shades of meaning among various groups, ranging from a term of camaraderie to, in a gerund form, an expression of emphatic approval. Ms. Mealy acknowledged that the measure was unenforceable, but she argued that it would carry symbolic power against the pejorative uses of the word.
The rest of the article focuses a lot of folks who insist the word shouldn’t be banned because it can be a term of endearment or used in non-negative ways. I like that the conventional reasoning against banning the word seems to be based on its linguistic versatility rather than on the fact that it’s downright loony to ban a fucking word.
Anyway, I’m with Sharon here:
The English language is quite durable and can handle its misuse, even when such misuse is designed to hurt or threaten others.
I don’t like the idea of giving words so much power that they need to be regulated. And in the case of the N-word, society has changed enough that, in my lifetime, that word has a level of offensiveness that’s higher than even the F-word. It seems to me that society has done the best job ostracizing that word and that we don’t need legislation.
Edit: When I first read the article, I thought that some of the council members’ quotes alluded to some pretty heavy underlying racial anxieties/fears or just outright racism, what with the several mentions about how this legislation was designed to combat use of the word bitch by hip-hip artists and rappers. These were just vague thoughts, though, that I was too lazy to flesh out in posting. Luckily, Amanda does the good thinking, as always, so we don’t have to:
The dreaded “rappers” have been brought into the debate, which is basically a badly concealed code word for “young black men” at this point, who are presumably the only people who’ve ever called anyone a “bitch.” “Bitch” and “ho”, being popular in a form of music where a solid majority of the artists are black, are wrong, but “cunt”, which is the favorite word of Bill O’Reilly fans when they’re writing me, somehow passed the notice of the council. To make the irony even deeper, they’ve also gone after the word “nigger”, because it’s all over the place in rap music, too. I’m getting the impression they’re trying to ban hip-hop word by word. The sound of scratching records is an assault on my womanhood, I say, and that should help the process along.