First I wanted to thank everyone for the great comments on Friday's Mark Twain post. I was worried things might get heated, but the comments were well thought out, and all around great. There were so many points I agreed with, and frankly, none I didn't.
So. Words. I love words. What writer doesn't?
I found myself, last week, having a conversation with Baby B about words. He asked for a song on his MP3 player and I declined, by reason of Adult Content. He argued that I could edit out any bad words. I told him that bad words weren't an issue with that particular song - it was simply not age appropriate. (Momspeak for too much sexual innuendo.)
I haven't edited bad words out of the kids' songs for a few years now. Once they were old enough to grasp the concept of which words they could run around screaming in public places - like school.
I gave Baby B my reasons on non-editing of words. Becuase that's all they are: words. Every word has a meaning and, as a society, we have some words that people's brains have been dialed in to thinking of as bad. Yes, I know it came from centuries of yore when these words distinguished upper and lower class. However, they weren't curse words to the lower class then, but they are all-around curse words now.
My example to Baby B was the word ass. I used butt in a sentence and then repeated the same sentence with ass. It held the same meaning. Before I could do it for him, Baby B made the distinction himself - it's only bad because some people say to be mean or use it in a way they shouldn't. (Okay, maybe not precisely how I would put it, but not bad for having turned 9 a month ago.)
This is not to say my children run around belting out foul language at home, either. They don't. Neither do I (but, boy, did I used to pre-kids!). I'm a writer; I have better options is all ;)
Another example. Retarded by definition is exactly what it was used to describe when I was growing up. People changed the connatation, and the word was changed. Those words were, again, made derogatory by people and, again, the terminology is changing.
My point: Words are words. And I don't think it's the words that need the changing.