Op-Eds Opinion

A Word of Advice About Offensive Language

Josh Ernst

Opinions Editor

As senior year winds down, most of my class is being struck with senioritis. Classes begin to feel less and less important than throwing a Frisbee around or sleeping in. But over the past couple of weeks, one class in particular has held my attention.

History of the English Language is a requirement for all Communications/Sports Journalism and English majors. Over the past three years, I have heard stories of how difficult this class is. Indeed, in the classrooms of Weiser Hall, it is referred to only by its initials: HEL.

There are days when the class lives up to its acronym. Old English noun conjugation isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but our discussion has taken a new direction in the past couple of weeks. The conversations we have had in class are something that everyone, students at Springfield College or not, would benefit from.

Many of us, me included, don’t think about what we say. We drop words like “retard,” “faggot,” “slut” and a slew of other words that I cannot print in this publication. They roll off our tongue with few people thinking twice about what they may mean to other people.

The language we use says a lot about how we view the world and the environment we are creating at this institution. Springfield College is often described as a “jock school.” Although I do not believe this to be entirely true, I do believe that the “locker room culture” plays a large part in how we speak.

Why is it that the worst insult we can throw at males is to call their masculinity and manhood into question?

Why is it that the worst way we can insult a woman is to insult her sexuality?

Why does it seem that homosexual women have much less of a problem coming out on this campus than gay men?

Why is there any problem for any individual coming out on this campus?

Why do we feel that it is okay to throw out racial slurs and prejudices?

I cannot blame this entirely on athletes and the “locker room culture.” To do so would not be fair to the students that do not use these words and insults. I know there are students on campus who feel the same way I do.

But why is it so hard to stand up and say something?

I hear my friends say something, a racial slur, an insulting term about sexual orientation, and I don’t always say something. I’m used to hearing it. I tell myself they don’t mean it. I tell myself that I don’t want to start a fight; I don’t want to cause tension in a friendship.

But this is a real problem. Why can’t we stand up and say enough is enough? Why can’t we treat everyone around us the same way we wish to be treated?

Back in September, as a co-group leader of New Student Orientation Group 17 and 18, I watched as my incoming first year students adopted a motto for our group: ELE. Everybody Love Everybody. Yeah, it’s from a dumb Will Ferrell movie. But it’s a great motto to live by.

Love everyone. It doesn’t matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, the sport they play or where they grew up. The words we use are a huge part of this. We may not mean to be insulting and insensitive, but our word choice affects those around us.

So next time you are about to say something that someone else may find hurtful, remember.


Josh Ernst may be reached at jernst@springfieldcollege.edu

Leave a Reply