In my philosophy class, we were discussing general semantics, particulary perjoratives, such as nigger and spic. With the exception of the black kids, everyone in the class was using the phrase "the n word" instead of coming out and saying the word "nigger." When it was my turn to speak I said that using the phrase "the n word" essentially makes the word "nigger" more powerful because by creating a euphamism, you are consciously sidestepping the "real" word and buy result you "give in to its power." I also brought up the point that words are only symbols -- and that people become offended by the word, not because of the word itself, but because of what it represents. I also said that blacks have adopted the word nigger [nigga or nigguh] because by using it and adapting it, they steal the power of the word -- this is a good thing, and shows that the meaning of words can be altered if the words are offensive. --- BUT.... Because I used the word "nigger" when I was describing my thoughts, the class turned on me [especially the black kids]. They said that I didn't have the right to use the word and that it fell to "loosely from my lips." My rebutal was that I was using the word "nigger" in a philosophical/semantical discussion and I was talking ABOUT the word itself [and what it represents], but not actually calling any particular person or thing a nigger. I said that for the purpose of discussion and communication, it would be impossible for me not to use the word and still remain objective... Imagine I would have said this... "By using the n-word to sidestep the n-word, you actually make the n-word more powerful, because the n-word is a euphamism and euphamisms are created because people are too afraid, or too passive to use the real word." See how wordy that is... I was told by my teacher [and severely told by my classmates] that I was wrong. If the word is offensive, I shouldn't use it... PERIOD! I don't understand this at all... I am not a racist, and I was merely discussing the semantical connotations of a particular word. The word admittedly carries much emotional weight, but how can it be possible to have an objective viewpoint and discussion if we all side-step the word. I did not call anyone a nigger [nor would I], I only SAID it... I only discussed it in semantical contexts. Is it wrong to use that word even in this way if there are people who are offended by it. Or [as I tend to think] are these people just naive and unable to seperate the "word" from the "thing it represents?" --- Should a person be able to use the word "nigger" if he is discussing the word "nigger." Or should I, in further discussion, avoid using the word altogether regardless of how wordy and confusing the argument becomes? This seems self-defeating..