Ever stop and think about all the things you heard/said as a kid, and how the world has changed?
Kids used to play "smear the queer" with a football on the playground back in the day. Those kids had no idea what they were screaming could be considered a slur.
Today, that would be a problem, and that's a good thing. Take Rajon Rondo (a professional basketball player) as an example. He yelled a slur at an official earlier this month, was suspended and the official in question has officially announced his sexual orientation as a result. More from the New York Times:
"An N.B.A. referee disclosed in a statement to Yahoo Sports that he is gay after Rajon Rondo, a Sacramento Kings guard, directed what the league called a “derogatory and offensive term” at him during a game this month. Bill Kennedy, who is working his 18th season as an N.B.A. referee, told Yahoo Sports, “I am proud to be an N.B.A. referee and I am proud to be a gay man.”
He added: “I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.”
Rondo, a four-time All-Star, was ejected after receiving consecutive technical fouls during a losing effort against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City on Dec. 3. Rondo delivered an increasingly animated tirade toward Kennedy before his teammates had to physically pull him away.
In a game officials’ report described by Yahoo Sports, Kennedy and a fellow referee, Ben Taylor, said Rondo’s outburst included an anti-gay slur."
What's most interesting about this to me is how the workplace is changing related to casual language that at one time was commonplace, but now considered to be unacceptable slurs.
Track back through the history of protected classes (or non-protected) and you'll find slurs that were once part of the common day to day vernacular. Over time, race and gender-related slang was moved to the slur category.
At this point in our evolution, slurs related to sexual orientation are now a focus point. That's a good thing, but it also begs a question - what's next on the slur horizon?
For me, it has to be be slurs related to mental disability. A friend saw something over at Fistful of Talent related to the word "retarded" and gave me a quick, easy and selfless tutorial as a parent of a child with a cognitive disability. It was a gift I needed, and based on that conversation I have an increased awareness of that word as a slur.
I think the trend to thinking about how we use words that could be consider slurs is positive. I don't consider it to be political correctness. It's all about how that one person feels, and if that wasn't your intent, why not just stop using the word?
Smear the queer? "Maim Tom Brady" will do just fine.