Ed Pratt: Names mean something — and they hurt

So you’re pushing your sainted grandmother in her wheelchair to the doctor’s office, and a stranger blurts out: “Why don’t these gimps just get of the way and stop blocking the sidewalks?”

Would you be upset? Would you respond with strong words of your own or resort to physical violence? Be honest.

How do you think most people standing near this incident would respond? Or, what would they think of the person who hurled the derogatory remark?

Let’s try something else.

You are deaf and are walking in the mall with some deaf friends. You are blessed with the ability to read lips. So when someone points at your groups and says “All of these deaf-and-dumb freaks get on my nerves with all of that signing and grunting.” So how do you think you would respond?

How do you think the people standing nearby would respond?

Sadly, according to a lot of folks, especially many in the faceless world of social media, believe the targets of such hatred should just laugh, slap each other on the back and yuk it up. Yeah, in their world, they believe the gimps and the deaf have been that way so long it’s time for them to set aside those harsh, ignorant comments and get on with their lives. So what if they call a paraplegic “a vegetable.” They believe political correctness has disenfranchised a segment of the community who just want to say what’s on their minds. Freedom of speech, they feel, should give them the stage to overcome their self-loathing by taunting and demeaning others.

There should be no response to stupid comments and that the targets of shameful speech ought to fold like cheap chair like they did in the good ole days before the birth of political correctness and fairness.

How did I come to these conclusions? Many responses to my columns about race and those I’ve read recently to other columns suggest that the price some are paying for using the N-word, especially in recent months, is just too steep and that political correctness is out of control. So, if it holds true for racial targets, it’s only reasonable to believe these people believe the same in all similar instances.

This great country doesn’t get better by verbally abusing or mistreating anyone for sport.

Let me not sidestep the issue of African-Americans who used the magic N-word. There is no pass given.

Yes there are rappers and some wayward African-American comedians who believe that they every word is fair game if it means dollar bills. In their pride-less world the “N-word” is an easier route to funny than actually putting enough descriptive words together to tell a great joke or tell an interesting story.

Is it so difficult to call people Frank, John, Cesar, LaShawn, Petrocelli, or teenagers, a group of people, “those fellas”? And do we really have to call homosexual people “fa_ _ _ _ s" and other slights?

And, me? Call me Ed or Pratt or Ed Pratt. You can also describe me, because my ancestors probably didn’t come to this country by choice, an African-American or black. That’s a pride thing.

By the way, I have a friend who is white whose is named Ed Pratt. Once we were in the same room and someone said our name then differentiated by saying black Ed Pratt and white Ed Pratt. Neither one of us was offended.

If all of that black and African American stuff is too difficult, you can always describe me, my family and virtually every one of my friends — as Americans.

Edward Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is epratt1972@yahoo.com.