Remember that word game we used to play when we were children? The one where we picked a word and repeated it over and over as fast as we could? The purpose was to see how fast we could speak and still correctly pronounce the word.
We would laugh ourselves silly at some of the sounds that came out of our mouths. All harmless play, but we also noticed an additional result. The more a word or phrase was repeated, the more the meaning seemed to become blurry.
And we have to wonder, is it really true that words spoken often enough can lose their sense of purpose and meaning?
Take the word "diversity," for instance. Now there’s a word that has certainly been overused and possibly become blurry in meaning or context. It seems that everywhere we turn we hear things like “We need more diversity,” “We have lots of diversity,” “We are diversified,” “We can’t hold onto diversity.”
When Erin Davies set off cross-country in June to document reactions to the word "fag" spray-painted on her VW bug, she expected to hear stories about hate crimes like the one that happened to her.
She figured, "I would meet up with these people who had vandalized car stories, these untold stories that got covered up, and I would kind of shed some light on them."
Davies knew her car would draw attention. Just waiting for the Albany, N.Y., police to show up after she reported the vandalism on a public street near her apartment, at least 50 people passed in an hour. To the individual, they reacted.
"All these random strangers were coming together to talk about it," she said during a recent visit to The Bloomington Alternative office. "Nobody walked by without looking at it, without commenting on it."
We're sure that our readers are familiar with the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me."
While this adage seems to have fallen out of use among the younger generations, we still hear our mothers' voices using this bit of questionable wisdom when advising us how to cope with school-yard taunts, some of which were mean-spirited and some not intentionally so.
Questionable logic indeed, but it did help us deal with the fact that physical harm was the real threat and that thoughtless words were to be dismissed because they reflected more poorly on the source than on the victim. There was always an implication that the speaker was ignorant or insensitive, not to be taken seriously.
We've been thinking a lot about discrimination lately. Not that that is something new for us, but our attention has been drawn to this issue a bit more than usual, and we've been pondering why.
Perhaps it is the increased media focus upon all of the wannabe presidential candidates jockeying for front-runner position. While the majority are white males, it's nice to see a woman and a black man in the running, and we think they might make a good team if they can balance their ideologies and, of course, one of them would have to settle for second position if they did manage to grab that gold ring of power.
Or maybe it's the change in several university administrations that went from a reflection of color back to mostly all white and male.
The Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) has ruled that enough evidence of AIDS-related discrimination exists against a local business that a complaint against it should proceed.
Bloomington resident Dean Mead sued Morrison’s TV and Appliance on Dec. 16, 2005, alleging that owner Edie Morrison violated his civil rights when she fired him less than an hour after he informed her that he had tested HIV-positive.
Commission Deputy Director Christine Baca ruled on April 25 that “there is probable cause to believe that a discriminatory employment action in violation of the civil rights law has occurred.”
Want to know one of the fastest and surest ways to become a social outcast, while alienating your friends and sometimes losing your family network?
In case you don’t know, all you have to do is let folks know that you are a lesbian – or gay, or bisexual or transgender, and you will discover that the very fabric of your personal, cultural environment was made of a puff of air.
Poof, it’s gone, and there you are standing alone on a precipice of guilt and fear.
The simple facts in Shorty Hall's murder shout major media. Brian Williams or Katie Couric, maybe. Bill Moyers, someday. Indianapolis Star, unquestionably.
The 1998 hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming is commonly invoked in comparison.
Thirty-five-year-old, 5-foot-4, 100-pound Aaron Hall was brutally beaten on April 12 for hours by two teens who have described the murder in chilling detail to police. Each says Hall precipitated the violence by making a homosexual suggestion.
The beatings included repeated pummelings with fists and boots and dragging Hall down a wooden staircase by his feet as "his head bounced down all of the steps," in one of the accused's words. He died naked and alone, in a field, where he had crawled after his killers dumped his body in a roadside ditch.
Who doesn't love a parade? Especially those colorful and upbeat parades that celebrate the joys of life and confirm our existence?
The upcoming summer months afford parade lovers the opportunity to enjoy many events that reflect and honor various community values. During the month of June the LGBT community celebrates pride with parades, picnics, marching bands and family gatherings.
In 2005, the FBI reported 1,017 hate crimes nationally based on victims' sexual orientation, 14.2 percent of all hate crimes reported in that year.
Hate crimes are classified by the Human Rights Campaign as unlawful acts motivated by bias against a person based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability of the victims.
According to a 2001 Department of Justice report, hate crimes are under-reported, and only 20 percent of those reported result in arrest.
"Out of all hate crimes, one in seven are sexuality motivated," said Matthew Brunner, Bloomington Field Organizer for the Human Rights Campaign.
The following are excerpts from the 2006 Hate Incidents Report from the Bloomington Human Rights Commission.
- In July 2005, we received a report that someone had scratched a vehicle and keyed the word "fag" on the car door.
- In July 2005, we received a report from BPD that someone had used lipstick to write "father/son" and "fag" on the front door of a residence.
- In September 2005, we received a report from an individual that someone had painted anti-gay language at a Greek house, saying that members of the organization "lick ass holes" and that "faggots rush it."