I Am Heretic #9: And?

"I Am Heretic" is a satirical comic, often accompanied with commentary in the form of an article. Download the comic strip from this issue (right click, save as...).


Imagine if someone had a pet called ‘And’, and And died horribly. Every time they hear ‘and’, they tear up, thinking of And. Does that mean we should outlaw the word ‘and’?
— Opening paragraph, I Am Heretic #7: Son of a Bitch.

I was inspired by I Am Heretic #7: Son of a Bitch. It was how I opened that issue that inspired me. That led me to create another comic strip on the same issue, i.e. how stupid it is to be offended by a mere word. The context is what matters, not the definition of the word. I am sick and tired of all the censorship we have in our "civilized" world. Sweeping issues under the rug will not make them go away; it will just make the rug bulge up. Forcing people to censor their language will not make racists go away; it will just limit the rights of good people and create closet racists.

AND?: This is a short comic strip. It was written and designed by Patrick Hall on April 13, 2014. Copyright © 2014 by Patrick Hall. All rights reserved. Feel free to download it and spread it around, as long as you credit the source and don't charge people for it.

Sweeping issues under the rug will not make them go away; it will just make the rug bulge up.

I get that the story in the comic strip And? and the fact that minorities are offended by racial slurs are not the same. "And" is a neutral and meaningless word that just binds together lists and clauses, whereas racial slurs have negative, derogatory definitions and bad associations. But my point is not that racial slurs are just any other words; my point is that it's pointless to be offended by words used in a neutral or positive contexts. I know it's not as easy as just "getting over it", but that specifically a white person says or writes a racial slur is not the end of the world. What about the word "chink"? It is a derogatory term for Asians, but it is also a valid word. Should we outlaw that word, just because Asians may feel bad if they hear it?

I saw this a while back: "Niggardly" is a word that means "stingy" or "miserly". It sounds a bit like "nigger", right? It is totally unrelated, but just because it sounds similar, there is controversy about it. I mean, really? The only reason to take offense to a derogatory word or the fact that an unrelated word sounds similar is if you in fact define yourself by the derogatory term or if you allow the word to hold you hostage. Otherwise there is no reason to bitch about it, like a whiny, little cunt (sorry, I'm making a point about harsh language). People are going out of their way not to offend or seem like racists; I'm not arguing against that words that may yield strong reactions should be used as little as possible, but I will always adamantly fight labeling people as racists for ill-conceived jokes or the arbitrary use of words, especially in books and films. And as a writer, I will always adamantly fight censorship.

You say we may hurt people, make them cry? I say, "And?" We can't live our lives worrying about offending people, because you will always offend someone, whatever views you may hold. And if freedom isn't even worth a few tears, how can we defend it with blood?