On a ongoing, daily basis, I am scrutinizing dialogue and conversation I engage in with people, looking out for offensive and insulting content. I keep a sharp ear out for demeaning or degrading words that have the capacity to hurt people’s feelings. I will call you out if I hear these words, and I will correct you.
Words don’t just insult; no, they inflict verbal violence, they traumatize.
What matters is not the significance of the words exchanged but whether the individual claims to be offended by them, so you could be offending someone without even knowing it. The meaning and status of a statement is defined by the victim, not by YOU. To ignore or question someone’s claim that they have been offended is to indulge in the unforgivable crime of ‘victim-blaming’. Do you blame rape victims? No, you don't. So do NOT blame victims of offensive language.
Freedom of Speech does not allow you to use words to harm, insult or otherwise oppress another person. Although offensive/hurtful/oppressive words are not a physical form of a hate crime, they do fall into the same category and should be made illegal.
Progress isn't easy, but it can be won after many small battles. Perhaps when my children are grown (if and when I decide to bear children), they will live in a world free of all forms of oppression. The dream lives on...