Forbidden Words

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What is it

Some words, like n****r, ch*nk, and c*nt, are so forbidden that we won't even spell them out here. Decent people simply don't use these words to refer to others; they are intrinsically disrespectful. But aren't words just strings of sounds or letters? Words have life because they express ideas. But in a free society, how can we prohibit the expression of ideas? How can we forbid words? Where does the strange power of curses, epithets, and scatological terms come from? John and Ken avoid mincing words with Chris Hom from Texas Tech University, author of Hating and Necessity: The Semantics of Racial Epithets (forthcoming). This program was recorded live at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California.

 
 

Christopher Hom, Professor of Philosophy, Texas Tech University

 
 

Bonus Content

 

Upcoming Shows

22 September 2019

Knowing What We Know (And What We Don...

It seems like we know many facts about ourselves and the world around us, even if there vastly many others we know that we don’t know. But how do we...

29 September 2019

Explanation At Its Best

In both everyday life and science, we often feel the pull of simpler, more elegant, or more beautiful explanations. For example, you notice the...

06 October 2019

The Allure of Authoritarianism

In George Orwell’s 1984, the party’s “final, most essential command” was “to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.” Authoritarian regimes call...