Stop using the “R” word

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Dana Jean

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I understand the OP's concern. I got into an arguement on another board where a poster said that using the 'N' word is not offensive if the person using it is black. I called them on it. I believe that the 'N' word, the 'F' word (rhymes with hag), the 'C' word and the 'R' word are all deplorable words and that no one should use them. They countered back with 'the word is only offensive if you give it that power as it's just a word'. I told them to go to Times Square and start calling the people walking by those words and see what happens. That ended the discussion. I love Joe Lansdale writings but I cringe when the 'N' word pops up. Most of his stories are set in East Texas or thereabouts and I know that the 'N' word is still flung around alot down there but it's still unsettling to read it. Does it make me like his tales less and not want to read them? No. Because I get that it's the characters that are saying them, not the author. There's a difference. But I don't like to see those words being used. I'm not a prude, but I realize that words do have power.
Absolutely. Everything you say is true. But I'm not talking about using them in public or just casually throwing them about like they don't hurt. Because all of those words are offensive. Extremely. And any polite, caring person wouldn't maliciously go to Times Square and start throwing those words around because in that case, they do have power.

I am talking about in the context of a story. The writer isn't calling you personally any of these things, so they don't have power over you as you live your life on any given day. But they definitely make you react. And the author has pulled you into the moment. And they elicit an array of feelings and emotions, good and bad. The scene can take your breath away and make you stop and think. Good fiction makes you think.

An author's right to be creative and be true to the hateful nature of a character is important. I don't invest myself in someone's writing if they are afraid to be true to reality of the world they are creating. Again, I don't want them to use it just to shock me, or to be "I'm a bada ss" writer. It has to ring true to the story. Just like sex has to be important to a story, not just thrown in there to be some Penthouse Forum Letter that they wanted to write as a a teenager and didn't. We all know when someone throws something into a story to try to be cutting edge for shock value; and you know the authors who use things important to the story.

Can all words be replaced with something less offensive? Yep. But I would feel it is a cop out.
 
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Tanith

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Apr 29, 2009
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And all this is said with great sensitivity.

A good discussion avoiding hot topic territory.

I expect no less of my fellow CR's. Nor would sai King, I'm guessing.

I seem to recall the phrase being said by one of the kids--and we must bear in mind that they are in a highly stressful situation. Plus, they're kids. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong about that.
 

William8675309

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Mar 9, 2018
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Stephen:
Why do you have to use the words “maximo retardo” in this book? There is no reason to use such language which is demeaning and insulting to a large population of people who are stigmatized by the use of the “R” word. Visit “Spread the word to end the word.”
I stopped reading this book at page 202 after the second time such language was used. I won’t pick it up again. Please be more sensitive and responsible.
There are many people in the world. When depicting a person who may not be kind, you have to show the reader the unkindness. Dialogue is one way to do this.. I'm sure it pains Sai King to use language like that BUT it serves to inform the reader of the type of person you're reading about. Not everyone in real life uses proper pronouns and PC language. You cant have a book mirror real life without mirroring real life.
 

Edward John

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Aug 15, 2019
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Stephen:
Why do you have to use the words “maximo retardo” in this book? There is no reason to use such language which is demeaning and insulting to a large population of people who are stigmatized by the use of the “R” word. Visit “Spread the word to end the word.”
I stopped reading this book at page 202 after the second time such language was used. I won’t pick it up again. Please be more sensitive and responsible.
Using the term "maximo retardo" is actually pretty tame for some of the other things Steve has depicted, remember our introduction to Greg Stillson? It's writing, it doesn't reflect the authors personal opinion, Steve writes about monsters, do you have to be a monster in order to write about them? Nope.
 

prufrock21

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Jun 2, 2011
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It is practically impossible for any writer to be politically correct all the time. Of course, the writer can always resort to euphamisms like "mentally challenged,"
but after a while this starts to sound false, moronic, naive, even silly. When I first read Mr. King I was mildly shocked by his use of the s-word and the f-word. The writing was so compelling, however, that I gradually overcame my initial displeasure. Now when I see these words I barely notice.
 
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Dana Jean

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It is practically impossible for any writer to be politically correct all the time. Of course, the writer can always resort to euphamisms like "mentally challenged,"
but after a while this starts to sound false, moronic, naive, even silly. When I first read Mr. King I was mildly shocked by his use of the s-word and the f-word. The writing was so compelling, however, that I gradually overcame my intial displeasure. Now when I see these words I barely notice.
And that's sort of a danger too. We get desensitized to the horrors.

I always notice. And I always viscerally react. I have never become numb to the words. And we shouldn't. JMO.
 

mjs9153

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Nov 21, 2014
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Of course what Stephen is getting at is the stupidity of racism, hatred, people being rotten to other people, that is is clear in how he portrays the characters using the words or language.. reminds me of the film Blazing Saddles,by Mel Brooks, a lot of words in that one are offensive to people, but his point was that people doing so are morons, idiots..and he did it in a way to make people laugh at the silliness of racism..
DJ, I am guessing that your antipathy of the C word had you disliking the character of Ed Deepneau in Insomnia, remember how he went off on the guy he had the accident with at the beginning? :grinning:
 

Dana Jean

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Of course what Stephen is getting at is the stupidity of racism, hatred, people being rotten to other people, that is is clear in how he portrays the characters using the words or language.. reminds me of the film Blazing Saddles,by Mel Brooks, a lot of words in that one are offensive to people, but his point was that people doing so are morons, idiots..and he did it in a way to make people laugh at the silliness of racism..
DJ, I am guessing that your antipathy of the C word had you disliking the character of Ed Deepneau in Insomnia, remember how he went off on the guy he had the accident with at the beginning? :grinning:
Loathe that word. I don't remember that scene, I need to read the book again, but I'm sure my skin crawled.
 

Deviancy

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Why do you have to use the words “maximo retardo” in this book?

Did you ever ask Rowling's to quit using words like "mudblood"? I was deeply offended when Draco kept using that word, I mean as someone whose parents aren't magical people, while I myself am, its a deeply offensive word that no writer should ever use.

I was watching Mississippi Burning the other night, I've seen it numerous times over the years, its a good film. But part of the reason its a good film was because it was realistic. The Klan didn't run around beating black people while shouting "I don't like african americans", they ran around in their sheets beating blacks while calling them the N word. Sure, its an offensive word but the dialog a character uses helps put them over as the type of character they're supposed to be. I haven't read the book you're referring to but I've read a lot of King's other books and some of his books have twisted people, people who needed to say offensive things to help make it clear just how twisted they are. If we start telling writers to stop using all the words that many find offensive, we'd end up with a very bland entertainment industry.
 

Tooly

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Jul 13, 2014
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He's had his characters say a heck of a lot worse than that. I think he stays true to how people speak in the normal world, not the way social media has scripted people should speak. Kids will still be kids and King recognises that they will sometimes say some stuff they shouldn't.
 

Neesy

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May 24, 2012
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Only characters who either do not understand how it can be hurtful or who would not care if it did because of their own prejudices use that type of language in Stephen's books. By using it, the reader knows even more about what type of person that character is. I do get your point, though.
I have started reading this book (finally!) and it is said by a 12 year old - these kids joke around with each other a lot so it wasn't said to hurt anyone. I don't condone making fun of special needs people but after reading this, I can understand how the character might have said this.

By the way - I think The Institute is excellent so far :encouragement:
 

Ragan

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Aug 3, 2011
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Sorry for the necro, but my two cents on the topic, since it does kind of matter to me...

In my line of work, that word is especially hurtful to clients, and I always wince inside a bit when I hear it. But I hear it everywhere. It generally a hateful word, despite well-intended origins (much as how "autist" has come to replace it as a popular insult).

I would never tell an author to scrub their work of such realistic, horrific language, particularly when the intent is to depict that casual hatred. I also have read the harsh, uncomfortable language found in The Drawing of the Three numerous times, which I find to be very important to the plot and context of the story. Authors can write what they need to write, and readers can choose whether or not to read it.

I don't wish that word to be forgotten, or erased, or even really censored. I wish it to be exposed and shunned appropriately, that we can look at it and the harm it causes without shying away, and overcome the pain of it. I avoid it out of respect for those I cared for, but I won't dare to presume to forbid its usage, only to educate about it when the chance comes. Like now.

Words are powerful things. They can heal. They can really, really, hurt. Perhaps even kill. There is nothing in the world like language itself, and language has an ugly side. As with too many things, when we turn away from the dark side of it, we allow that side to run free, unchecked, unquestioned. I'm glad this came up. I'm glad you could call it out, that you could see the word and draw attention to it. And having read nearly all of his books, I have no doubt that Sai King knows very well the weight of the words he uses, and how he is using them.
 

wolfphoenix

She-Wolf finally Risen and Strapping On.
Apr 24, 2019
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Sorry for the necro, but my two cents on the topic, since it does kind of matter to me...

In my line of work, that word is especially hurtful to clients, and I always wince inside a bit when I hear it. But I hear it everywhere. It generally a hateful word, despite well-intended origins (much as how "autist" has come to replace it as a popular insult).

I would never tell an author to scrub their work of such realistic, horrific language, particularly when the intent is to depict that casual hatred. I also have read the harsh, uncomfortable language found in The Drawing of the Three numerous times, which I find to be very important to the plot and context of the story. Authors can write what they need to write, and readers can choose whether or not to read it.

I don't wish that word to be forgotten, or erased, or even really censored. I wish it to be exposed and shunned appropriately, that we can look at it and the harm it causes without shying away, and overcome the pain of it. I avoid it out of respect for those I cared for, but I won't dare to presume to forbid its usage, only to educate about it when the chance comes. Like now.

Words are powerful things. They can heal. They can really, really, hurt. Perhaps even kill. There is nothing in the world like language itself, and language has an ugly side. As with too many things, when we turn away from the dark side of it, we allow that side to run free, unchecked, unquestioned. I'm glad this came up. I'm glad you could call it out, that you could see the word and draw attention to it. And having read nearly all of his books, I have no doubt that Sai King knows very well the weight of the words he uses, and how he is using them.
Applause.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
87,651
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Cambridge, Ohio
Sorry for the necro, but my two cents on the topic, since it does kind of matter to me...

In my line of work, that word is especially hurtful to clients, and I always wince inside a bit when I hear it. But I hear it everywhere. It generally a hateful word, despite well-intended origins (much as how "autist" has come to replace it as a popular insult).

I would never tell an author to scrub their work of such realistic, horrific language, particularly when the intent is to depict that casual hatred. I also have read the harsh, uncomfortable language found in The Drawing of the Three numerous times, which I find to be very important to the plot and context of the story. Authors can write what they need to write, and readers can choose whether or not to read it.

I don't wish that word to be forgotten, or erased, or even really censored. I wish it to be exposed and shunned appropriately, that we can look at it and the harm it causes without shying away, and overcome the pain of it. I avoid it out of respect for those I cared for, but I won't dare to presume to forbid its usage, only to educate about it when the chance comes. Like now.

Words are powerful things. They can heal. They can really, really, hurt. Perhaps even kill. There is nothing in the world like language itself, and language has an ugly side. As with too many things, when we turn away from the dark side of it, we allow that side to run free, unchecked, unquestioned. I'm glad this came up. I'm glad you could call it out, that you could see the word and draw attention to it. And having read nearly all of his books, I have no doubt that Sai King knows very well the weight of the words he uses, and how he is using them.
....ya know, this here kid has some powerful brain stuff.....