A while ago I had a heated exchange with someone of Facebook, I know that’s hardly something new. Don’t worry I’m not going to re-hash the whole argument, but basically he was against something he classed as abuse. I felt quiet strongly it wasn’t abuse and by calling it that it lessens the impact of the word. He strongly disagreed with me.
Unfortunately, abuse is something I know a fair bit about because of my job. We have to have annual training on it. After the exchange it did make me think how we use a powerful word in a throw away fashion and how that can be quite dangerous. I remember Richard Dawkins describing sending children to Sunday school and similar religious education groups as child abuse. At the time it made me quite angry and still does. I’m an atheist so it’s not in defense of religion that made me cross but it somehow lessened the impact of what real suffers of abuse went through. Being bored out your mind for a few hours on a Sunday is not abuse, nor is being made to eat vegetables or going to bed early. Yet some people will happily bandy the word around as if by saying something is abuse they somehow trump anyone else’s argument.
There are other terms that I sometimes think are over used such as sexism and racism. I have been very careful here being a white male as I can’t ever claim to have experienced either. I have noticed a trend of white people crying racism recently. Being a middle class liberal I’m obviously against both and find them quite disgusting but again the terms are in danger of being over used and losing their impact.
I can think of one quite clear example. A female politician was recently answering question to some ghastly presenter for something like Fox or Sky news and got asked a series of stupid question about who was the foreign minister for France. She refused to answer them, quite rightly in my view, saying if the interviewer wanted her for a pub quiz to get in touch after the show but she was here to answer serious questions. She later accused him of being sexist. The thing was he wasn’t being sexist, he asked the same pointless questions to male politicians. There is a lot of sexism in the media particularly when commentators make a big issue about what female politicians are wearing or ask questions like; How do balance your career with running a home? By calling the interview sexist simply because you don’t like his questions, in my view diminish the meaning of the word sexism.
Or could just be me worrying far too much about this sort of thing.