"Our language frames how we think about others." --Special Olympics
Words can help, and they can hurt, too. One week from today, the folks at Special Olympics are asking us all to "eliminate the use of the R-word in everyday speech."
Seems to me that we can't stop people from using whatever words they want. However, we can make things pretty damn uncomfortable for them when they choose to use those words that are hurtful and hateful.
Once upon a time, SpecialEd and I had a friend who was dating a young woman who was kind of rough around the edges. One evening she referred to the husband of another friend by a derogatory term, and you could have heard a pin drop. She said what? In our house? Nuh uh, not in our house, you don't.
Sticks and stones can break your bones, and words can break your heart. If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all, m'kay?