Sorry, I Forgot You Were in the Room

As a member of a community that largely thinks that bigotry is not an issue on this campus, I am deeply perturbed to find so many racist and homophobic slurs spewed daily from the mouths of my peers. Throughout the course of the week, I noticed that extremely derogatory terms have become more and more common, particularly when people are angry. If someone loses in a video game, they might shout “you f***ing Jew!” or “that was soooo gay!” If they are frustrated when a partner does not do as told, “I told you to kill that n*****!” The latter expression might be particularly difficult to believe, but I assure you, it was said. These are just a few of the loosely quoted statements I heard when walking through the halls of my dorm and around campus. Although I do not believe that people mean what they stay in these situations, they have to realize the intensity of their language. Anyone can walk by, as I did, and get very offended, which may not have been the intention, but was the outcome. It bewilders me that when I am in a room and somebody says something offensive our society deems it acceptable for that person to make a simple apology. But it is never a real apology; it’s the apology that is phrased something like this: “Oh sorry. I forgot you were in the room.” This apology connotes something along these lines: “I am not sorry for what I just said, only sorry that you heard what I said, because any other time I would use this word without remorse.” Chelsea Quezergue, a Lower, says “I just find situations like those funny, because on one hand you know people don’t mean what they say, but on the other hand you could get angry because you know if you weren’t around they would still use the word. Obviously he uses that language when you’re not around so it’s like he shouldn’t have even apologized” Apologies like this imply that people who commit these acts do not pay attention to their choice of words or care about the effects of their speech unless the possibility of confrontation is apparent. This is unacceptable. I am not asking people to close the door when they shout discriminatory remarks. I am asking for people to make a conscious effort to choose alternate expressions. Honestly, using a curse or swear word is less offensive than any derogatory term, and makes you look less ignorant. Such language is not acceptable just because I or any other person that might get offended is not there to hear it. Derogatory terms really should not be a part of anyone’s vocabulary at all. Although this sounds a little preachy, it is very true, for these steps are the first steps towards a world less affected by such simple difference like skin color or religion. Society says that certain things are acceptable, and others are not. One of these widely known societal rules is to treat others how you would like to be treated. It makes much more sense, and saves a lot of time in day to day interaction, if you do not insult people. By shouting derogatory terms, you are possibly putting someone else’s happiness in jeopardy. All I am asking is that people reconsider their word choice. Are we hypocrites? Do we really need another ASM speaker to hark on this topic or any other diversity related topic? Or can we act like the young leaders of tomorrow that the world believes we are destined to be? This language at the very least makes us all seem very ignorant—something I know we are not.