Social Question

SmashTheState's avatar

Should age permit oppressive language to be grandfathered in?

Asked by SmashTheState (12772points) April 10th, 2012

Note the use of the word “grandfathered” in the question, since it is clearly sexist. It’s still in common usage, but my guess is it will go the way of fireman and manhole in another generation. It’s exactly the sort of word to which I am referring.

I’m in my mid-40s, and when I was young, language was quite different. Racism and sexism were casual. We used words like “retard” and “mongoloid” not with malice, but because those were the words in common use. When I was a child, they used to sell these little black licorice candies at the variety stores called “nigger babies.” No one thought anything of it. Even the few black kids in the neighbourhood called them nigger babies. (Honest! Google it if you don’t believe me.) But time moves along and sensibilities change, largely for the better. I’m quite glad no one is eating nigger babies these days.

Unfortunately, some words die harder than others. When I was young, “chick” was a perfectly acceptable word for a woman. It was in such common use that I still find myself occasionally using the word. I’m an activist, and in the circles I orbit you can imagine the reactions I get when I refer to a woman as a “chick.”

A lot of people use the word “gay” as pejorative. I understand that most of them don’t mean to be homophobic or hateful, and in time most of them will learn to avoid the word as an insult. But given its frequency of use, I predict that in 50 years there are going to be a lot of grey-haired oldsters calling things “gay” and getting glared at for it.

Should people who learned these unacceptable words when they were young, at a time when the words were socially acceptable, be given leniency in using them? When I accidentally let the word “chick” slip, does it reflect deep-seated misogyny and a stubborn refusal to change, or just an honest mistake?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

68 Answers

downtide's avatar

Sometimes I think that the fashion for political correctness goes too far.

In 50 years, one of two things will happen. Either it will be illegal to use any word in any context that refers to any type of human being at all, just in case someone gets offended and tries to sue. Or else people will come to some kind of common sense and realise that it’s all nonsense and context matters.

SmashTheState's avatar

@downtide Out of curiosity, do you think it’s okay to refer to licorice candies as “nigger babies”?

downtide's avatar

@SmashTheState I have never heard of “nigger babies” before and I have no idea about the context in which the name was used. To my knowledge the term was never used in the UK, or if it was, it fell out of fashion before I was born. If the choice of name was intended to be derogatory then I think it’s not okay.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I’m older than you and I do not believe that in your lifetime you saw a consumer product called that. Not in the USA. You may have heard your grandmother talk about it. You can use chick if you like. Everything you say could possibly offend someone. People can just thicker skin. Racial slurs are in a category all by themselves.

FutureMemory's avatar

@MollyMcGuire He might have meant that everyone referred to them by that term. If they were sold from a bulk container, they might not have had a proper name at all.

I googled the words “nigger baby licorice”, and the closest I found under Google Images was this cigarrette ad.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

You should speak in a way that reflects on your character and intelligence or how you would like to be perceived. Speaking offensively or oppressively shows you have little respect for yourself or those around you… now or 50 years ago.

I’m not sure where you’re from, but I’m in my 60’s and never heard the term “nigger babies” and never would have thought it was acceptable to use.

Racism and sexism were never “casual” to everyone… that’s why people have been continuously fighting to free society of them.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am 67 and I remember the little licorice human shaped candies called nigger babies. I personally don’t feel it was racist. I didn’t even know any black people so I don’t know if black kids found it offensive or not. I just spent about 5 years living with a group of aboriginal people in Australia and they refer to themselves as blackfellas and we are whitefellas. The also spoke of black africans to differentiate them from themselves and all asian people were china man, spoken as if it were two words with the emphasis on china.

I don’t want to say things that will offend others but I do think this political correctness thing is going too far. I am a short old white woman, if you call me that, why would I be offended? But I am sure someone would. But I wouldn’t like being called chick, although I seriously doubt that at my age anyone would! I think actually though at this point in time, white women are the only group of humans left who can be insulted with abandon. (I just said that in another question as well and it was pointed out that it is changing also)

SmashTheState's avatar

I’m not making nigger babies up. (According to the last link, “nigger babies” is actually what the company that made them called them.)

Bill1939's avatar

SmashTheState is correct. I remember a candy in Chicago called that in the 1940’s. The N word was prohibited in our household by the 50’s, though still commonly used on the streets then, as my father understood it was a pejorative to those who lived south of Madison Avenue.

zenvelo's avatar

To get back to your original question: No, distinctly pejorative terms don’t get a pass because of the user’s age. But I am speaking of pejorative terms, not things like manhole. Chick is somewhere on a spectrum between acceptable and disparaging: the press seems to feel it is perfectly fine to declare certain movies and books as “chick-flicks” or “chick-Lit”.

wilma's avatar

This is a problem for me. I am over 50. I don’t want to use disparaging words that hurt people, but I really can’t keep up with what is now acceptable.
When I was growing up we were taught to call black people (is it still OK to say black people?) negros.
The Hispanic folks in my school were called Mexican. That is what they called themselves, because their parents or grandparents came from Mexico.
People with some diminished mental capacity were called retarded. Retard was not ever acceptable, but the lady next door with the child that had this condition, told us that her daughter was retarded.
Is gay no longer OK to use for homosexuals?
If I describe a person as being a negro, black, retarded or gay am I saying something wrong?
I can’t keep up.

Bill1939's avatar

This “spectrum” is something like being a little pregnant. What is a pejorative is in the mind of the speaker and the listener. Political correctness does seem silly sometimes, but the object is to raise awareness of our unconscious biases.

While my father was always respectful to Negroes, he was prejudiced against them, believing that they had not been civilized long enough to be considered equal to European Americans. When he retired and moved to Arizona he clearly felt the same about Hispanic residents.

My point is that while we are not likely to change a lifetime of distorted thinking, we can ask that civility and the appearance of respect be shown to people with different cultures and beliefs (political and religious) by everyone, especially children.

The failure of the worldwide economic structure that is causing increasing hardships and fears of impending destitution in a vast majority of people, not surprisingly, is generating hyper sensitivity and reactivity. Until the greater problem of securing means for everyone to live above the level of subsistence is solved, political correctness will continue to approach the absurd.

tom_g's avatar

@wilma: “I can’t keep up.”

That’s understandable. But in a way, the need to – and desire to – “keep up” may be a good thing. It may be that it puts in contact with communities to understand them better. African Americans should be the people having a say on how to refer to “them”. So, if it’s unclear, ask. Ask your gay/queer/homosexual friends and neighbors.

When I was a kid, the ignorant in my family referred to anyone who spoke Spanish as either “Puerto Rican” or “Spanish”. They would literally say, “Oh, so this Spanish guy was there…”. Really? The guy’s from Spain? (Spoiler: he wasn’t) If my family had actually asked, they might have learned a little something and made a connection.

tom_g's avatar

@SmashTheState: “When I accidentally let the word “chick” slip, does it reflect deep-seated misogyny and a stubborn refusal to change, or just an honest mistake?”

Probably just an honest mistake. But I think you must continue to ask yourself this question whenever it comes up. Sometimes the language we use tells us a little about ourselves, and I can’t imagine a situation in which we could go wrong by evaluating how we speak.

janbb's avatar

I try to keep up and I am fairly good at it and I am in my 60s. I think it is very important to be sensitive to the current nuances of language and people’s right to self-identification. However, I also think that false offense or pillorying even public figures for an occasional lapse or slip of the tongue is too prevalent in our society and some common sense should prevail.

@downtide I think the UK’s “golliwogs’ were somewhat equivalent to our “nigger babies.”

wundayatta's avatar

Oh give me a break! No one gets a pass. Everyone is responsible for the words they use and deciding if they are appropriate in the context. If you fuck up, then you deserve the approbation you get.

Chick? For Christ’s sake! I’m older than you and chick was already a derogatory word for women when I was a kid. Even as it was popular in the late sixties during the sexual revolution, it was that quickly overturned in the early seventies by the feminist movement. If you didn’t know what was going on, you must have had your head buried in the sand.

I will sometimes call women “girls” and I do so quite deliberately and if someone is offended, that’s the risk I take. I assume people know me well enough to know that I’m a feminist, so my hearts in the right place. I use “girls” on occasion as an informal way to talk about women, the same as I might use “boys” to talk about men. “Us boys.”

I’ve never heard the term “nigger” babies used up until this question. So maybe it is a regional thing. I have heard brazil nuts referred to as “nigger” toes. I would never use the “n” word, except in an academic discussion, and if offends me when African-Americans refer to themselves as “nigga.” There’s “cool” and then there’s buying into oppression and victim mentality. “Nigga” ain’t cool. Of course, coming from the least cool person on the planet, that probably means I’m as wrong as you can get, but that’s my opinion.

I have no problem with politically correct speech. For one thing, I know that political correctness was originally meant tongue in cheek. Once the right wing, humorless nincompoops got ahold of it, it became something no one ever met when the idea was first getting popular, but what can you do?

Political correctness is about awareness and sensitivity. It is not about having pc police running around handing out tickets for malignant use of language. If you are aware and sensitive, you can use non-pc language and not harm anyone. But if you think you are aware, but really aren’t, you’ll screw it up and not understand why, and then you’ll protest, “PC goes too far.”

Forget it. Your understanding is weak and you are trying to blame anything other than yourself for that. Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. Then see what you think about your language.

And really—empathy—that’s what PC is all about.

marinelife's avatar

No. With new knowledge and new sensitivities, people should change. There should be no pass for older people.

mazingerz88's avatar

I’m 44. So “chick” is derogatory these days? And in the past? When I was a teen it just meant pretty girls. For me at least.

And oh yeah, the answer is yes. Except for any candy, chocolate or nuts labeled “nigger”.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m in my mid 40’s. I still use chick. But, I am one, so maybe I get away with it? I am careful who I use it around. I use girls too, but am careful with that also, I correct myself to women or young ladies, if I am not familiar with the people.

I have never heard of nigger babies candies. I can’t imagine my parents have ever heard of them either, I’ll have to ask. Somehow I have a feeling that @wundayatta is right and that is a regional thing. My parents also have never in person seen a fountain or restaurant marked whites only, which my southern friends find surprising. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that nigger was completely outside of their vocabulary, I know my dad had a couple schoolmates who called him nigger lips and chink eyes. Just a tease, not that I think the word usage is ok. Anyway, I am very greatful for the full lips I inherited from that side, grew up with compliments and still get them. When my dad told me those nicknames, I think that was the only time I had ever heard him use those words. I would never even think to use the “n” word, it was never used around me, I only heard it in school when learning about black history or reading a book that utilized the word. It is up there with using Shakespearean words, I might know it exists, but is not really part of my vocabulary. Same with the many slang terms I know for referring to different minority groups, I never use them, it was more like just an awareness the terms exist.

Is there something wrong with using retarded when someone is? I mean literally lower IQ or slower at certain things? I would never name call with it, throw out a “you’re retarded” to condescend or make someone feel bad or stupid, but when speaking about someone who is slower intellectually, how are we supposed to refer to them now? Just say low IQ?

I don’t hear any 40 year olds using the word gay as a way to make fun of someone. We used it when I was a kid, don’t get me wrong, and I hear kids today use it, but it seems to be a term people grow out of for some reason. Maybe because as we get older we simply don’t throw around any terms that are used to put others down. We have greater respect in general for each other I think. We aren’t going along with peers, or just saying what is popular at the moment. Maybe there are 45 year olds walking around using the word gay still to describe someone who is acting stupid or a man who seem effeminate, but those people are not around me.

I do think it is important to be aware of what words offend people. Many times we have no ill intention, but to the group we are referring to the words feel discriminatory or even frightening. I think the minorities opinion matters more, we need to defer to them, and honor their feelings regarding these things. I don’t mind changing my vocabulary so everyone is more comfortable, but I also think we need to give a little slack to people who might be unaware of what is now offensive, give them a chance to explain their intent and inform them of the new politically correct terms being used.

ro_in_motion's avatar

Calling something ‘gay’ is clearly pejorative.

The rule is simple: If someone says ‘The word you’re using is offensive.’, stop using that word.

We have so very many words with more made up all the time … holding onto one is either mental laziness and/or shows a need to be derogatory.

incendiary_dan's avatar

It ain’t rocket surgery, people. Or something like that.

CaptainHarley's avatar


When I was little, we called them “niggertoes.”

I think that anyone’s speech should be tempered with kindness toward others. If your speech offends or hurts, it needs to change. My black brothers and sisters have been hurt for far too long not to treat them with kindness and respect.

BTW… I’ll be 69 next month. : P

Aethelflaed's avatar

I don’t think age is an excuse, but I also think in activist circles there’s often too much emphasis on language, usually as a way to compensate for something more substantial. It’s not that language doesn’t matter, but it’s also not always 100% reflective of deeper convictions, and fails to take into account the way language changes over time and has different contexts for different people. For example, I grew up with what was apparently radically different contexts for both C words (chick, and, the other one) – neither were derogatory for several years before I learned of a possible derogatory context for them. So, I still use them quite a bit. Do I use them in social justice circles, with people who don’t know me well? No. But drinking tequila with friends? Hell yeah. The one that really tends to bug me is the “omg, ablest language!!!” (dumb, moron, stupid, crazy, etc), because it often seems like the people who are most likely to jump down your throat for saying a politician is a crazy moron are also the people who fail to back that up with a genuine respect for physical disabilities and mental health issues, and a desire to empower those with those issues. So, my point is, @SmashTheState, while maybe you saying ‘chick’ is deeply rooted in misogyny and not habit, I really give more of a damn about where you stand on things like abortion, victim-blaming, welfare, etc.

Sunny2's avatar

Brazil nuts were called “nigger toes” too, but I haven’t heard that for many, many years. As for “chick”, I’m old enough to not know that’s dergrogatory. If someone referred to me as a “chick”, I’d be delighted.

downtide's avatar

To address the “gay” question specifically:

Calling a homosexual person gay is not generally considered offensive, and pretty much the whole LGBT community uses the term to describe themselves and their community. What is considered offensive however, is to use it to mean something is bad, lame or stupid; as in “That’s so gay”. In that context it’s effectively a homophobic slur. However I certainly don’t believe that the word gay should be struck off as being offensive in and of itself – it’s only the manner in which it’s used that causes offense. Once again, context is everything.

wilma's avatar

Thank you @downtide that is what I was asking. Of course I did know that using it as a put down was offensive, but I wasn’t sure that it was Ok to use it at all anymore. The same with retarded. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who is unsure, @JLeslie I don’t know the answer to this.

6rant6's avatar

You cannot address attitudes. You can’t legislate them or approve them or disapprove them.

You can address behavior. If you want people to change their attitudes, you have to change behavior. So no, just being old does not grandparent you from having to be aware of the consequences of your action. What you do molds the attitudes of people around you. So watch what you say.

It may be tempting to say, “I know all the rules. Stop trying to teach me new ones.” We all know that society evolves even as we individuals lose our flexibility. But ya gotta try.

“Chick” is a perfect example. In some circles, it’s okay. In others it’s not. Know your audience and speak accordingly, or just shut the hell up.

__Also, there’s context. “Chicks’ night out” might work, whereas “Just some chick,” probably is going to get you blogged about.__

bkcunningham's avatar

Is it okay to say, “Hon” or “Honey”? I hear that all the time from Northerners. I didn’t know chick was not PC.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham If you are in Jersey or Staten Island you can say hon. LOL. Everyone else will probably take offense to it, or think the person saying it is not too bright.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie yeah, I actually like it when people call me “hon.”

submariner's avatar

Random factoids:

“Grandfathered” is not sexist language. It is an allusion to “grandfather clause” (which was a racist legal maneuver, but that doesn’t mean the word is racist).

“Hon” is also quite common in the Baltimore area.

Some people used to call Brazil nuts “n***** toes”.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Random facts:

I came to say what @submariner said about “grandfather clause.”

“Factoid” means “an inaccurate statement or statistic believed to be true because of broad repetition.”

SavoirFaire's avatar

Actual answer:

While it may be unfortunate to let these words slip sometimes, prejudice is something that is erased over time rather than all at once. Moreover, it is erased from different parts of society at different times. It would be impossible to eliminate all prejudice at once without either annihilating the human race or being so totalitarian about it that solution would be worse than the problem.

My grandfather called women “dolls” until the day he died. For him, it was a term of affection. He could not understand it as anything but that. As he was a public school teacher, it could have gotten him into trouble if any of the young women he taught had found it offensive. His female students seemed to be very forgiving of his ways, though. They knew he meant nothing derogatory by it, and that in a certain sense he really didn’t know any better. Perhaps they decided that it was more fruitful to keep the habit from perpetuating itself than to try and teach an old dog new tricks.

Do I think my grandfather could have learned to control his words if it had become a problem? Yes, certainly. He was an intelligent man. Do I think it would have been right to punish him for an occasional slip up? No, not at all.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Are you being serious or sarcastic? :) I hope you did not take my statement badly. It was a kind of off the cuff, not too serious remark.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie Actually, serious. Being from NJ, I do find a kind of affection in it when waitresses, etc. call me “hon.” It’s kind of like being called “love” in a shop in England.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Ok, that is what I thought, I just wanted be sure. And, funny you fit into the stereotype Jerseygirl.

Aethelflaed's avatar

The older you are, the less likely it is that I will correct you, especially if you don’t show a willingness to change on things. Not because, old people = bigots, but because the older you are, the more set in your ways you are, the harder it is to change. And I just don’t want to put tons of effort into what amounts to a very small victory. That doesn’t make it ok, it just means, cost-benefit analysis, it’s not worth it to me. And I’ve notice that whenever someone says, “well, my grandparent is a bigot because look when they grew up”, the retort is always “oh, yeah? Well, my grandparents are from the same generation, and they were willing to get arrested back in the 60s for housing rights” – NOT, “oh, yeah? Well, my grandparents were total bigots for the vast majority of their lives, but then when they turned 75, suddenly they made an effort to change”.

lonelydragon's avatar

In the event that a person makes an honest mistake, then his/her intentions should be taken into account, but the person should also learn from that experience and adapt to the new norms. If the person is being derogatory, then no such consideration should be given. Sensitivity towards others is a must at any age.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know how it is in the USA but in Australia it seems as if gay has become the favorite derogatory word of the kids for anything and everything. I am surprised at how many are using it and how frequent.

cookieman's avatar

I use “hon” all the time.

I agree you just need to know your audience, er on the side of caution if you’re unsure of your audience, or ask your audience what would they’d prefer.

Keep it simple.

JLeslie's avatar

@cprevite Where do you live?

Brian1946's avatar

When my wife behaves like an ancient Mongolian barbarian, I call her “Hun”, and she actually considers it to be a term of endearment. ;-o

FutureMemory's avatar

It never would have occurred to me that doll could be viewed as offensive. I’ve only started using it recently, usually directed at someone much younger than myself. I guess I see it as a sort ‘older’ person’s term of affection for someone younger.. almost a paternal thing, maybe? The one person I used to say it to often once volunteered (out of the blue) that she liked it.

augustlan's avatar

No, age does not give anyone a pass. I will be more understanding of inappropriate word usage in an older person, but I will not ignore it. I’m not necessarily going to try to change an older person, but I will let them know it’s inappropriate. Personally, ‘chick’ doesn’t offend me, but I can see how it might be offensive in certain circles. Knowing your audience is important.

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

wilma's avatar

I think in the case of the words we use, the difference between older people and younger people is that the younger folks never knew the older terms in a way that was not considered offensive.
Lets say that we are talking about using negro as describing an African American. When I grew up, that is what they called themselves and that is how they were respectfully called. Then someone decides that that term is offensive. The reason isn’t clear to me, but if the group as a whole is now offended by the term, then I don’t want to use it. I have to learn a new term. My children on the other hand have never used the term negro, it was no longer being used when they came along. They don’t have to relearn what to say. Compound that with the fact that younger people are often more apt to be on the cutting edge of what is new and current in terms of language, and better at adapting. I think this might be because they don’t have to sift through all those old, no longer used terms rambling around in their brain.
Anyway, I will say that Fluther is one place that I do learn about what is PC and what is offensive. I want to be respectful of people.
And can anyone tell me? Is negro a bad word to use? Is it disrespectful? Or just out of fashion?

janbb's avatar

@wilma I would say more out of fashion than highly offensive but one wouldn’t use it nowadays.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wilma There’s definitely a generational aspect. I think many young people find it really offensive. I know that on the recent census, there were a few much older Black people that deliberately identified as Negro, but it seems like the younger the person is, the more likely it is to not go over well. In general, I wouldn’t use it, unless someone specifically told me that’s their preferred label. Black and African American seem to be the “in” ones right now.

ratboy's avatar

Nigger Babies look tasty.

I disagree with almost everyone; prejudice isn’t illegal or, necessarily, immoral. The right to believe as one pleases is inviolable; there is no right not to be offended. While it is both illegal and immoral to infringe on another’s rights because of one’s prejudice, the institution of “thought police” is also illegal and immoral. Offense is in the mind of the offended; it is not tangible and objective, thus the constant shifting of that deemed to be offensive. Nobody needs a “pass” to speak his mind.

For other perspectives, check out Freedom of Speech and ‘DIRTY WORDS’ AND THE OFFENSE PRINCIPLE.

majorrich's avatar

I spent the summer with my Grandmother in Lexington, Ky when I was a kid (a couple few years ago) She was in her early 90’s at that time and was still getting around pretty good. An incident that stands tall in my memory was we were in the grocery when she saw a little black baby in someones cart. “Ooh what a cute little Pickininny!” she exclaimed and made all over the baby. The parents didn’t seem to mind very much. I wanted to crawl under the shelves. We had her trained to at least refer to “Niggers” in her terms to “Black People”

SmashTheState's avatar

@ratboy ”...prejudice isn’t illegal or, necessarily, immoral.”

Actually, it is. Both Kanada and the UK have anti-hate legislation which can get one imprisoned or even even stripped of citizenship and deported.

6rant6's avatar

@SmashTheState I think you’re wrong. __Prejudice__ is not illegal anywhere as far as I know. It’s __discrimination__ that gets you in trouble (also hate crimes, of course).

And at the risk of agreeing with @ratboy, prejudice can be a good thing. For example, if someone applying for a job has gang tats, a prison record, and is wearing a “kill the man” t-shirt, you’d probably best to prejudge him as undesirable. That’s not to say you can’t be convinced otherwise, but prejudice here is probably warranted.

lloydbird's avatar


rooeytoo's avatar

I agree with @ratboy and @6rant6 – no one can ever legislate what I think, my actions can be monitored and restricted but I can think what I want. This is why I think bullying can never be eliminated, physical abuse yes, but verbal, I just don’t see how. You cannot make people be nice to each other. I also think that the more governments try to eliminate prejudice by giving special treatment to one group or another, it simply exacerbates the problem, deepens the divide so to speak. Better to have everyone on the same level playing field and let equal competition decide pecking order and rewards. I think human nature is such that unless one has a vested interest in anything, the drive to succeed is lessen.

The next activity for me is the question on whether women should be called girls. I don’t like it, but I don’t think it should be made illegal regardless of how insulting it is to me.

Bill1939's avatar

I’m confused. While laws concerning “hate crimes” now exist, I am not aware of any that punish political incorrectness. I agree that you cannot “make people be nice to each other,” but children can and should be taught to be respectful to their peers and to adults. Unfortunately, children learn behaviors by witnessing what adults do. Chastisement, physical and verbal, as a means to control their acts is counterproductive.

It would be better if everyone were on a “level playing field.” It would be better if everyone were born rich, too, or lived in a sophisticated society. However, that is not the case. While I was born with many talents, most were not nurtured. Our family’s poverty precluded their development. I was expected to get a trade instead of going on to college. It was only because of the G. I. Bill that I could go to college when I was twenty-five. rooeytoo likely regards such Federal largess as a special treatment that I should not have received.

SmashTheState's avatar

From the Criminal Code of Canada, sections 318–320. Note particularly 319.

Hate Propaganda
Marginal note:Advocating genocide


318. (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
Marginal note:Definition of “genocide”

(2) In this section, “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely,

(a) killing members of the group; or

(b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.
Marginal note:Consent

(3) No proceeding for an offence under this section shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.

Definition of “identifiable group”

(4) In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

* R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 318;
* 2004, c. 14, s. 1.

Public incitement of hatred


319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Marginal note:Wilful promotion of hatred

(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Marginal note:Defences

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)

(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;

(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;

(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or

(d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.
Marginal note:Forfeiture

(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 318 or subsection (1) or (2) of this section, anything by means of or in relation to which the offence was committed, on such conviction, may, in addition to any other punishment imposed, be ordered by the presiding provincial court judge or judge to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province in which that person is convicted, for disposal as the Attorney General may direct.
Marginal note:Exemption from seizure of communication facilities

(5) Subsections 199(6) and (7) apply with such modifications as the circumstances require to section 318 or subsection (1) or (2) of this section.
Marginal note:Consent

(6) No proceeding for an offence under subsection (2) shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.
Marginal note:Definitions

(7) In this section,


« communiquer »

“communicating” includes communicating by telephone, broadcasting or other audible or visible means;

“identifiable group”

« groupe identifiable »

“identifiable group” has the same meaning as in section 318;

“public place”

« endroit public »

“public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied;


« déclarations »

“statements” includes words spoken or written or recorded electronically or electro-magnetically or otherwise, and gestures, signs or other visible representations.

* R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 319;
* R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 203;
* 2004, c. 14, s. 2.

6rant6's avatar

@SmashTheState So it’s illegal to “Advocate Genocide?” That seems like a good thing.

But that’s nothing even close to penalizing prejudice. Are you implying it is?

Under that law, you certainly could think all people who wear glasses were imbeciles. You certainly could say to someone else that you think all people who wear glasses were imbeciles. If you change “people who wear glasses” to a protected class, the same would apply. You could think it and say it.

Bill1939's avatar

It seems to me that the statutes cited are to discourage incitement by any means of others to commit acts that threaten the well being of any “identifiable group” (or, presumably an individual member of said group). Imagining that such statutes can, may or will be used to punish political incorrectness is quite a stretch.

rooeytoo's avatar

Hey @Bill1939 – thank you for telling me what I think is largess, but really I can state my own feelings, I don’t need you to do it for me.

And for the record, I think the G.I. Bill is fine and dandy. You serve, you get rewarded. How the hell did you derive that I would be against that based on what I said. You are pretty good at stretching yourself dude.

majorrich's avatar

So, are zombies an identifiable group? We gotta let em thrive.

Bill1939's avatar

I thought that saying “rooeytoo likely regards such Federal largess as a special treatment” gave me some license in demonstrating how open ended was your thought that “by giving special treatment to one group or another, it [governments] simply exacerbates the problem, deepens the divide so to speak.” Perhaps I did stretch things a bit. However, I meant no disrespect.

Bill1939's avatar

Since I am on a stretching streak, majorrich, along with letting zombies strive, let’s include Klingons, whales, Communists, dolphins, Martians, Socialists, eagles, . . .

rooeytoo's avatar

Oh I see, using likely makes it okay to tell me what I was thinking. (rolls eyes with disdain – do we have a symbol for that? If not, I think we need one, along with the button for the trap door.)

Bill1939's avatar

Not to put too fine an edge on this, I was not telling you what you were thinking. I was responding to your statement: “Better to have everyone on the same level playing field and let equal competition decide pecking order and rewards.” I would suggest that you do not think much of my apology (Perhaps I did stretch things a bit. However, I meant no disrespect.), or maybe it’s that you just don’t think. What’s the symbol for “get off my back.”

rooeytoo's avatar

Your back is the last place in the world I would choose to be.

I stated my opinion, you came in with “rooeytoo likely regards such Federal largess as a special treatment that I should not have received.” You chose to single me out not vice versa.

I missed the apology, where was that? Do you mean where you said “I meant no disrespect?” Does that mean the statement was a compliment?

Do not single me out for your invective and I will not address you.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rooeytoo Stop. Seriously. Be an adult for once and recognize that “so-and-so likely means such-and-such” is to be understood as “I cannot be sure, and hopefully so-and-so will correct me if I am wrong, but my interpretation of what they said is such-and-such.” No one was telling you what you were thinking, but rather interpreting a comment you made and pointing out its implications. If you disagree with the implications, clarify what you said. Don’t bitch and moan about semantic issues that you caused.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks. There is no need to make this personal.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther