Swear Words. Nasty Words. Hurtful Words. Labels.

Funny (?) how we so often don’t actually say a “bad” word, but we say or write something like “that ‘b’ word” or even worse. Do we all know which word is not being said? Of course we do. But somehow we think that by just suggesting it – and not actually SAYING or WRITING it – we’re OK.

But the hurt can still be felt. And once we’ve said it, even apologizing may not take the sting away. Once the words are loose, they cannot be totally taken back.

Example: What if my headline had said something like “I’m not the Grammar N*****”

Would you have been shocked? I sure would!

Where would your mind immediately go? Yeah. Given the horrors of the past few months around the U.S., how can your brain (especially if you hear and see our news on a regular basis) not go there? The well-known “N” word is seared into our consciousness. Not spelled out, except in our minds. But still there. Still causing immense hurt.

The letter N can start many, many words – Nice, Normal, Neat words – so it isn’t the letter. It’s the association that our minds leap to almost instantly.

But the word I would have used is Nazi.

NAZI

It’s SUCH an ugly word to most of the world, especially those of us who are old enough to remember the horror of first learning how the Nazis took control in the 1930s and ’40s and systematically murdered at least 6,000,000 (that’s MILLION) people because they were Jewish, and thousands upon thousands of others (Gypsies and others) because they were also . . . not acceptable. Not the right “race.” And the world stayed largely silent.

And so we circle back. But no longer silently.

I’m bringing this up because recently I was called a “Grammar Nazi” by someone who likely meant no harm. In the past, I have been known to sort of laugh it off, but this time I didn’t. I wrote – nicely enough – that the word is an ugly one with a horrid history, and that I’m the Grammar Goddess. I have no wish to be any sort of Grammar Nazi. Why would anyone glorify such an evil and ugly time in history?

There is this cartoon below that I hope never gets shown again. I mean, really: Snoopy and Nazis? Could there be a sadder, more ludicrous pairing? (The lines across are my addition.)

To find that cartoon, I Googled “Nazi cartoons.” I got hundreds and hundreds of hits, including ones that included Nazi humor. Think about that for a minute.

There is even a Grammar Nazi group that bears the armband of the Nazis, with the logo changed into a stylistic G. I couldn’t bring myself to post it here.

Lest you think I’m overly sensitive – I assure you I am. I’m speaking out because this sort of thing is so pervasive and so often quietly accepted.

I dislike labeling anyone ever, and I really loathe seeing or hearing hate-filled terms. Any one of us can be the target of hate, and any one of us can make a conscious decision to never use such language again. We have the power to create wonderful change.

This post was largely inspired by two unlikely people: my wonderful 13-year-old granddaughter who started a Facebook page about a year ago to speak out against bullying, and Monica Lewinsky, who just taped a TED talk on cyber bullying. They are speaking up, and it’s a good thing. No more sweeping this stuff under the rug.

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