[Note: This article was originally posted on 30 JUN 2015 at www.louisewise.blogspot.com.]
I love slurs. A good slur is a poetic combination of the right consonants, choice syllables and a strong dose of bad-intentioned meaning. Is there a better way to succinctly sum up your derisive opinion of another person than to call her or, especially him, a “cunt?” (Which reminds me of the Ricky Gervais quote, “There are only two times you can use ‘cunt.’ When you totally mean it and when you totally don’t.”)
Look, I’m not trying to coarsen up society; I’m not making the case that we should bandy “cunts” about needlessly. Slurs aren’t for everyday conversation in polite society. But they should be the weapons of choice when a social interaction turns savagely impolite. (And, as weapons go, verbal ones are far preferable to physical ones, don’t’cha think?) Let’s be clear, the power of a good slur is the rarity and precision of its use. In those relatively rare moments when we want to offend, the slur is our rhetorical right cross, our semantic stun grenade, our verbal nuke.
Sadly – and even dangerously — the slur is in danger of being drummed out of society.