Verbal Misuse

January 10, 2009
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Words are potent tools. They provoke thought and incite action. When used properly, they inspire and motivate. If used improperly, however, words can have a negative effect on societal progression. As minister and Christian author Charles Capps wrote, “Words are the most powerful thing in the universe…Words are containers. They contain faith, or fear, and they produce after their kind." The feelings a word contains can change, one of the unique aspects of the English language. This change is not always for the better, though, as is proved through “gay” and “pimp.” If the connotations of these words remain trapped in their current reversed states, the beginning of rights for homosexuals and the end of the sale of women and children for sex are both at stake.

The American College Dictionary defines “gay” as “having or showing a joyous mood” and “pimping” is an adjective recorded as “petty; weak; sickly.” Since the publication of the dictionary, these words have evolved to also mean “homosexual” and “procuring prostitutes,” respectively. Even so, why should their connotations reflect anything but their original meanings? Why has cheerful become negative? Why has pathetic molded into “cool”? Why is “gay” often said with a look of contempt? Why are “pimp” and “pimping” used to describe cars and clothes? There is nothing wrong with homosexuality, and there is everything wrong with selling another human being for sex.

The inaccurate use of “gay” is a colossal step backwards for the homosexual rights movement. The movement is not only a fight for spousal rights, but a fight for love, acceptance, and justice. By replacing “unpleasant” and “dumb” and “awful” and “stupid”—among others—with “gay,” one is rebelling against the approval gays so desperately need to gain in today’s society.

Worldwide, there are approximately two million children forced into prostitution every year. Imagine the vast number of adults who are also affected, if that statistic solely reflects minors. Education of the accurate meaning of “pimp” is an important step toward helping women and children out of this abject existence. Envisioning the pimp lifestyle as a brightly colored suit paired with a cane, a top hat, and a girl on each arm is, for all intents and purposes, incorrect. It cannot be glorified in any way if considerable progress is to be seen.

It will be even more harmful for those who grow up using these words erroneously. My mother, to this day, does not like the word “fair.” As a child, because of her dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin, adults would often compliment her beauty by calling her fair. Since she viewed her own features as unpleasing, “fair” became a container for feelings of dissatisfaction. Once a word is set so strongly and so early in development, it is difficult to reverse psychologically. In the case of “gay” and “pimp,” the children who are not taught to use these words with their corresponding meanings, instead of their slang translations, will become misinformed adolescents and adults. They will have irrevocably attached the wrong emotions to these words, leading them away from the truth.

To help homosexuals achieve the rights they deserve and to help women and children surmount the horrific life of sex trafficking, the first step is to disallow these words to be tossed around so sloppily. “Gay” and “pimp” need to contain compassion and virtue so as to provoke and incite, inspire and motivate to stand for what is right.





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