Avoiding slurs is not about sanitizing language

Cussing is important. Here are some uses:

  • Expressing boundaries in forceful language
  • Expressing emphatic contempt
  • Expressing distress

Sometimes it’s ok to insult people. Sometimes it’s important to be rude.

Slurs aren’t part of this, though. It’s not ok to insult someone by comparing them to an oppressed group. It’s not ok to insult someone by referencing their membership in an oppressed group.

Lists of things to say rather than “that’s so gay” or “that’s so r-word” tend to be long lists of big words that are clean and polite. They shouldn’t be, though. There’s no moral obligation to use long words. There’s no moral obligation to always use clean language.

The problem with slurs is that they help to keep marginalized groups marginalized. They hurt innocent people, and they hurt guilty people in ways no one deserves.

So, when the situation calls for cussing at or about someone, use swear words. Don’t use slurs.

Sometimes employers make employees use scripts

Sometimes service people have very specific things they’re allowed to say or not say, and can lose their jobs if they don’t phrase things in very specific ways. There also specific ways many employees in service professions are allowed to apologize. Sometimes you’re required to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or you might not be permitted to agree with any negative statements about the company you work for. So if a service worker says something dismissive, it might be because they have to.
Thank you. That’s a really good point.
It’s an awful thing to say, but it’s not always the fault of the person saying it.