Language in Everyday Life. Ash Furrow on discriminating language:
Recently, I’ve been examining the language I use in the context of determining if I may be inadvertently hurting anyone. For instance, using “insane” or “crazy” as synonyms for “unbelievable” probably doesn’t make people suffering from mental illness feel great. […]
Pretty straightforward. There are terms out there that are offensive to people who identify as members of groups that those terms describe. The terms are offensive primarily because they connote negativity beyond the meaning of the word. […]
To me, the bottom-line is that these words are hurtful and there are semantically identical synonyms to use in their place, so there is no reason to continue to use them. Using the terms is hurtful and continuing to use them when you know they’re hurtful is kind of a dick move.
Ash published this article in October 2014 and it’s been on my mind ever since. It makes total sense to me, and I’ve been trying hard to remove these words from my vocabulary. It takes time, especially considering how pervasive they are, but it’s important. If you substitute the word “magical” in for any of the bad words, it makes your sentences pretty delightful, and shows how banal the original words really are, as we over-use them anyway.