Long story short, my brother was playing Call of Duty and some people said some racial slurs. He e-mailed me asking for advice of some kind, and I told him it's not a big deal. He got really offended. So, that's why I'm writing this.
When people call me a faggot, or anything else, I don't get offended, or at least not at that word itself. My brother apparently feels the obligation to feel offended on my behalf, since I won't and he's straight, so he can't do it for himself. I find that kind of weird, and in fact, somehow insulting.
First, everyone will (hopefully) agree that people have the right to say nearly anything they want, even if it means some people may lose respect for you. Even people who never want these words to be said will agree with that. But to me, that kind of feels like where no one says Voldermort's name in the Harry Potter books, where everyone is taught the word is bad and should never be said, and ironically that behavior is what gives the word power. (In the story, "saying Voldemort WAS bad necuse it had a locator curse on it so if someone said it, Voldemort would know exactly where they were," my friend tells me, though that's not really the point. This is just an example.)
For online contexts, in video games, web forums, image boards, etc., people can't see you or make any judgment about you other than things you type. It's not physically possible to use slurs to intentionally refer to aspects of you, they are simply generalized insults that mean to offend you based on your internal reaction to the word itself and not any actual represenation of you. Offline, words like "retard," "gay," and so on, everyone understands (whether they like the use or not aside) that when these words are used, they're used to describe things that aren't literally retarded or literally homosexual. "Paul Ryan's policies are retarded" does not say anything about actual mental disabilities, unless you count the reductions and repeals of healthcare coverage that would affect many people, including the handicapped.
I don't get offended when people call me a faggot, or use the word faggot. I understand that when people say that, they're generally not using that meaning. Even when people who are genuinely hateful of gays call me that, I'm not offended by that word; rather, I am offended that they're so ignorant, and that they probably vote for anti-gay politicians and laws, probably donate or volunteer for anti-gay orginazations, and so on. The word doesn't take away my right to marry or kick me out of my housing, the ignorance of people does. The word is nothing.
I just wanted to ramble on about that since I think it's ironic, somewhat funny while mostly being annoying and slightly anger-inducing, that my perfectly normal and healthy, intelligent, young, straight white brother is being offended by all these slurs on the behalf of me and everyone else, deciding for me and yelling at me that I can't say those words. I don't agree.
I'm sorry if anyone reading this disagrees or is offended, but that's my opinion, and I'm not going to change it just because some people may think badly of that.
I found this, and thought it was a good excerpt: "Stan: All right, look, you’re driving in your car, okay?, and you’re waiting to make a left at a traffic signal. The light turns yellow, should be your turn to go, but the traffic coming at you just keeps coming. And even when the light turns red, a guy in a BMW runs the red light so you can’t make your left turn. What goes through your mind?
Judge 3: “Fag.”
Stan: Right. But you’re not thinkin’ “Oh, he’s a homosexual,” you’re thinkin’ “Oh, he’s an inconsiderate douchebag like a Harley rider.”