Chantler’s diatribe: hardly harmless

There are those who would assert that 21st-century society has taken political correctness too far, extending it to the point at which restrictions on expression become ludicrous.

Diatribe Editor in Chief Gareth Chantler appears to be one of those people. In this week’s Diatribe, Chantler voiced his less-than-impressed opinion on Orientation Week and the way frosh leaders are trained. At one point he targets the alleged inanity of sensitivity training.

His invective was disturbing. Chantler suggested that words like “faggot,” “nigger” and “cunt” are acceptable for regular use and all should be a part of the socialization process for first-years because these words exist in the “real world.” According to Chantler’s column, the way people use and react to such words gauges frosh’s maturity level.

It’s still an unfortunately common occurrence to see the words to which Chantler so glibly refers spray-painted on the walls of homes, businesses and places of worship. Hate-based crimes continue to proliferate: recently, the kidnapping and torture of a 20-year-old black woman in West Virginia was considered by some to be a hate crime. The woman was repeatedly called a racial slur while her captors sexually abused, beat and stabbed her, her mother said. With such obvious examples of the way these words are used to hurt, it’s shocking Chantler can claim they’re no longer potent in that context. By saying words such as “nigger” and “faggot” are simply part of reality, Chantler is perpetuating their colloquial usage. These words remain completely unacceptable in so-called “real” situations.

Not only does Chantler miss the mark in describing a reality that the frosh at Queen’s should expect, his tirade bases itself on a misconstrued perception of what censorship exactly is. When frosh leaders agree not to use offensive terms, they aren’t signing away their right to free speech—refraining from using offensive or discriminatory language doesn’t infringe on people’s right to free speech. Rather, using that terminology would abrogate their right to freedom from discrimination.

Chantler may have chosen to use such inflammatory slurs in order to make his article more sensational and shocking—if this is the case, it has succeeded and perhaps gone further, into the realm of a senseless rant.

Chantler riskily poked at an issue that affects people other than him and chose to ignore the hurtful connotations the proscribed words carry. Regardless of the article’s intentions, it promotes a message that is skewed, unjustifiable and just plain offensive.

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