My last post, “That Is So Gay” generated a huge number of comments, and since I don’t have the time to reply to each commenter individually, I decided to write a follow-up post to address a few issues.
Let me start off by saying that I appreciate all the comments, even the more negative ones. And while I do find some of them a bit offensive, I believe in freedom of speech, and as the saying goes, I might “disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
However, many of the comments seem to be quite off topic. I really appreciated the commenters who actually addressed the points I made in the article. I was not trying to determine whether or not homosexuality is a “choice” or a “lifestyle” or what have you. I was simply addressing the issue of using derogatory remarks towards a group of people in a medical setting. In addition, I was attempting to make some assertions about why certain derogatory remarks seem to be more or less accepted in my society.
I believe that using offensive and pejorative language towards groups of people is inherently wrong, and perhaps even more so in medicine. I don’t think it matters whether or not a person “chose” to be black, or jewish, or gay, or a heroin addict, or to have pink hair. Hate and name calling are hate and name calling, regardless of the particulars of the group at which they are directed.
I also wanted to bring up one more point. It is not the words that people use which offend me. Rather, it’s the context in which they are used. The phrase, “you are so gay,” for example, might not be offensive in certain instances, especially if it was said lovingly towards someone. However, if used in a way that is diminutive or intentionally hurtful, it could be quite offensive. What I’m trying to say is that the connotation and context in which a word is used is much more important than the word itself.
To return to my original point, I am not a hateful person. I don’t like intolerance, prejudice, or hate in any form. However, I do believe that people have the right to speak freely about their beliefs. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is famous for having defended the right of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to march down the streets of Cleveland. I believe wholeheartedly in their decision to defend the group’s right to free speech, even though the KKK basically preaches hate towards non-whites.
However, I wouldn’t feel comfortable having a physician who is a Ku Klux Klan member. Nor would I want to hear a KKK resident or attending make racially offensive remarks about their patients. I also would question whether or not they were able to effectively treat their patients, because of their intolerance.
We are all free to have our own opinions. I personally believe in universal acceptance. I think that hate harms, and love heals. And I believe that I am better equipped as a physician with love and tolerance in my heart.
But I guess that’s just my opinion.