Re: Offending people's minds

Sarah Marr (
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 10:27:45 +0100

At 13:57 26/08/96 GMT, you wrote:
> Sarah Marr:
> You point out that it would be very difficult to wash away
> the overtones of contempt from the word "stupid" by usage
> alone, unless people who considered themselves stupid
> proudly used it to describe themselves.

Indeed I do.

> Perhaps there is
> more room for optimism as regards that _sentence_ which
> ascribed this property to a certain race?

I don't see why. The allocation of the adjective stupid to a group of
individuals is always going to result in that group feeling insulted, unless
the members of the group accept themselves as stupid and accept the
adjective as being without its negative connotations.

> An educator might
> hope that many people could eventually be brought to grasp
> the distinction between the first sentence example ("Blacks
> are...") and the second sentence example ("I hate those
> bloody...") in my original posting.

There's no particular why an educator would hope that, because there's no
particular reason why 'stupid' should lose its negative connotations: and
whilst it retains them the link between the two sentences is a perfectly
reasonable one to construct. Even if there were a reason for 'stupid' to
become emotion-neutral, I still don't see how it could do that unless the
'league of stupid people' set out to reclaim the word for themselves. Highly
unlikely, in my opinion.


Sarah Kathryn Marr