I got hit with some pretty hard core cognitive dissonance last night. I'm looking for help arriving at mental homeostasis again. So it turns out that "derp" is
). I am totally against all "isms" and so I don't enjoy feeling like I contribute. But that's not all...
I enjoy rage comics
, where it is used as the name for all characters (derp, derpette, etc). In this context, it's not being used in a derogatory way, because all the characters, protagonists and antagonists, are named such.
On the other hand, many people have pointed to its source (which I can't locate) in humiliating people who are in wheelchairs or have asymmetrical facial features (a.k.a. physically and mentally handicapped). If it comes out of that, then I want no part in it.
Contention 1: Can I be comfortable enjoying humor that other people find offensive? Do I just have to draw the line somewhere, and say "I think this is funny but that's crossing the line?" Or, should I never draw the line, and continue shrinking the area of what is acceptable and what is verboten?
But! I also am a linguistic descriptivist! I think that the "meaning" of a word is what it's perceived as. Language is fluid. I feel like the same arguments that I apply against "derp etc" are the same arguments I fight against when people complain about "(kids these days / other cultures) (making up words / using words wrong)."
Applying interpretations that were never intended, I think this is inclusive instead of exclusive. We are all derps. There's nothing especially offensive about that part of the comic unless the reader views it and decides that what the creators (and readers) are doing is perpetuating language that is harmful to others.
Contention 2: How do I balance my belief that words are fluid and have only perceived meanings but no intrinsic meanings, with my belief that fag, nig, derp, retard, etc. are "bad" words because of the etymology, even if they are used in other contexts? Is it just a distance thing
The third issue I'm wrestling with is the over-all obvious conclusion: There are no derogatory terms that are acceptable. All of them are a result of saying "You are like this person who is different than us and therefore not good." Standard words, like Idiot, Jerk, Motherfucker, Crazy, Ugly, Son of a Bitch, Bitch, etc. Also other words, like "God Damned," imply distancing - you are one of the unholy. Probably words like fuck and shit could be seen this way, too, if you dug deep enough. Ah yes - sex is a wonderful thing. To use it as an insult or dirty word is to make it something corrupt, which harms people who enjoy engaging in sex.
Moreover, the very usage of derogatory language is an act of reifying perceptions. I perceive my feelings that are produced by another as anger, but instead of stating "I am angry because of how I feel about what you said," we push the moral responsibility on to the other person and say "You are a jerk." Instead of saying "I am unhappy because your error caused me more work to do," we say "You are so stupid." Or instead of saying "I am sad because nothing I can do will stop you from hurting me and the people I love" we say "They are an evil person."
Contention 3: Is this a correct interpretation? Am I just talking myself in circles here? Would trying to be totally innocuous result in me just being bland, pointless, etc?