Castrated Words


Retard … not the verb, the noun. It’s the latest word proscribed by the Society of People Who Choose to be Offended on Behalf of Others. In fact, it’s so offensive, it will no longer be uttered out loud, or written out in print, but will instead undergo the equivalent of castration for words — it will have its letters removed, except for the first, R, and be fitted with a prosthesis consisting of a dash and the word WORD. That’s right … it is now, officially, the R-word.

Where the hell are John Cleese and the Ministry of Silly when you need them?

I knew it was official when media types began saying the “R-word”‘ after someone in Obama’s administration apparently referred to some folks as retards … I’m sorry, I mean, R-words.

I never understood the utility of castrating words, even the great-granddaddies of castrated words, the so called F-word, now lately morphed into F-bomb, and the N-word.

God Bless Joe Biden, who knows when something is a “big F-wording deal.”

What purpose does a castrated word serve? Are we not supposed to know what word one is referring to when one says the N-word? As in, “A group of Tea Partiers peppered an African-American congressman with the N-word.”

How many people today have been living a Stone Age existence, isolated in the jungles of New Guinea, who would not know what the N-word is? And if they don’t know what it really is, how are they supposed to puzzle it out? Maybe turn to every word in the dictionary under N and begin eliminating them one-by-one according to context?

“My gosh, did they just call that man a nightingale?”

The truth is, we all know what the N-word is. We’ve heard it countless times, probably used it ourselves casually. It’s been around for centuries, though all of a sudden we’re afraid to say it out loud, and so give it some kind of talismanic power.

Do you suppose the ancient Hebrews, who had a prohibition against speaking God’s name, used the Y-word? You know, to keep from saying Yahweh?

You know, folks, it’s just an F-wording word.

Sure, it’s an ugly word with an ugly history, but it’s just a word. And I get offended when someone tells me I can’t use a word … any word. I’ll use any word I damned well F-wording please, because it’s my inalienable right to do so.

I remember reading a call for submissions by some little academic pamphlet inviting erotica submissions: Please do not use the F-word, and most certainly not the C-word. I got the F, but C was a tad ambiguous. My first instinct was to reply, “Shove it up your A-word.”

But getting back to the nearing out-of-control use of castrated words: Really, what is the point?

As to the N-word … we know what it is, we can hear it echoing in our heads even as a media type or blisteringly delicate PC twit is pronouncing it with great gravity, ENNNNN-WORD.

Who the hell are we fooling? Ourselves? Am I the only one who finds this extremely silly … insipid … and hideously stupid?

Say the F-wording word, for crissakes!

We give words power, and the great writers and orators wield that power effectively using both noble and heinous words, unadulterated.

Lenny Bruce argued using offensive words without inhibition robbed them of their power to offend and injure. He thought that would be a good thing. As much as I admired Lenny, I wouldn’t want even the meanest word emasculated. You use words to make a point, sometimes a very pointed point. A word is a tool, and just like any tool it needs to be respected and used correctly to put across an idea.

Words cannot be evil, though they may represent evil in the abstract.

We shouldn’t hide from words, or veil them. We certainly shouldn’t castrate them. Just let them do their job.

Keep it in mind the next time someone demands “Huckleberry Finn” be removed from a school reading list because it is liberally sprinkled with the N-word. The artist who wielded that word was eons ahead of his time in his racial attitudes.

Eviscerate a word and you blanch ideas and undermine speech.

Bad words? You got to be F-wording sh-wording me.

Robert Buckley
May-June 2010

“Cracking Foxy” © 2010 Robert Buckley. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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