Is there any single word against which any free writer would seriously impose or enforce a ban?
In certain circumstances, perhaps. Like for instance, “Undress,” when uttered by a sexual abuser to a small child. In that situation, the word itself is wrong and ought be banned. But if so, then by extension did it even become prohibited of us to write out the ban?
Mostly, we shy away from any authoritarian censorship, but only along with recognition of personal and social responsibility. Our most sacred law does not end its standard with a period after “Do what you want…” Nor is that sacred law merely a suggestion, nor something meant only for casting but not for normal life. Just because we’ve created words of hate and ill-will and just because we don’t ban them doesn’t make it right to say them.
Using racial slurs isn’t just a harmless cultural joke, nor is it ok as long as the minority uses it in “humor” about itself. It’s hateful, it’s destructive, and it’s wrong. Calling someone else a demeaning name is abuse, period, and it’s wrong. Any word so much as wishing harm to another is ill, and it’s wrong.
Maybe hate and abuse and ill ought not be banned. But neither ought it be defended or justified or shrugged off. A person who can openly announce that he doesn’t care what harm his words do ought simply be silent or keep his words private. We don’t ban any of his words, but it’s still wrong for him to say them publicly. It’s destructive, it’s irresponsible, and it’s wrong.
Some find that too absolute. Yes it’s wrong if someone else abuses them, but supposedly it’s then too absolutist to regard them as hypocritical when they openly abuse someone else, shrug off responsibility for it, then try to suggest they get to make up their own right and wrong as they go. It’s all the more abusive for them to shrug it off as just being how they are: ill will is a choice, and it’s wrong. Not excusable as being just how a person is. A malicious choice that is wrong.
No. Do as you will, as long as you do no ill. As it was from the beginning. As will always be. Not just for whoever believes that whenever convenient. It’s the standard for choosing which words to allow and which to let fall silent.
—Maggie & Dean