Language is an expression of self. What would the world be without it? Words form to make sentences, sentences are used to convey feelings, thoughts, and descriptions. The complexity of language and words illustrate effective tools of communication.

  However, language and words can also be destructive, incriminating, and volatile, if used improperly. To be more specific, there are certain words that are loosely tossed around that should reconsidered before use, for example: “gay” and “retarded,” which are commonly misused on campus.

  Dr. Jennifer McClinton-Temple, English professor who teaches rhetorical theory, commented, “that it is true that people are more aware of the power of language.”

  She also stated that “some theorists, several in fact, would say that the way we describe things creates how we understand them.”

  Words are hurtful. Calling someone “gay” or “retarded” regardless of sexual preference or metal capability can threaten and damage someone’s already low self-esteem.

  Around campus, a lot of people are clueless of this when tossing around the phrase “gay” in a purely slanderous sense – “That movie was gay” or “That’s so gay,” etc. The people who throw around this word, from what I have personally experienced, do not always intend harm. They usually do not know any better. They are simply used to this type of interaction.

  But what are we, the “that’s gay” generation, supposed to do? The phrase is used too often to describe anyone or anything that is foolish, simple minded, dumb, etc. As a community, people should be more cautious and aware. They should be thinking before they speak.

  Using the word “retarded” is another common offense people use when speaking. There is an entire website dedicated to spreading the word to end this word’s misuse: www.R-word.org.

  “When they were originally introduced, the terms ‘mental retardation’ or ‘mentally retarded’ were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation. Over time those words have been used to degrade or insult people with intellectual disabilities,” the website states.

  This is a serious problem in itself. It is immoral to think that people can be so cruel to make fun of those who have mental incapabilites.

  The website also suggested that “when ‘retard’ and ‘retarded’ are used as synonyms for ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ by people without disabilities, it only reinforces the stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.”

  It is demoralizing to both those who have mental disabilities and those who have family members with mental disabilities. It is important to speak up and be aware of what you say or think. It is not only the right thing to do but overall, it makes a difference when, as a person, you become more aware of others around you.

  Some people may take offense to what you say. If you make a conscious decision to speak up, others will surely follow by example.