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Old Apr 26, 2005, 3:53pm   #2
Iestyn75
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Understanding the intent behind the word is of greater importance than diction itself however.

So, I ask you, how is a word offensive? Like a sword it only becomes a weapon when used it in that manner.
Not quite. Any weapon has, as part of its design, the threat of consequence when unleashed. Thus, if someone flashed a knife at me in the street, me saying 'hey it's only a knife if he uses it' may, strictly, be true, but does fuck all for my heart rate. What is the intent of a man with a knife? To use it or not? I am entitled to call for help even if I don't know the answer.

The problem with words - written word perhaps even more than the spoken - is that here too the intent can be unknown. Words (like weapons) can be out in the open, and the person speaking/writing may intend something which the listener/reader wholly misunderstands. Same too with actions - the man who comes across as an office flirt to one woman can come across as a pest to the next.

As it happens, I'm with Kc on the use of 'rape' in a non-sexual way. It isn't out of place. It's like saying that the countryside is raped by heavy industry etc..... But I also hold that we have a duty to take care with our choice of words, not just for fear of offending, but more because misunderstandings at the most basic level can lead to horrific misunderstandings down the line. Clarity in communication is important.
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