We have laws in this country against libel and slander, against using the spoken or written word to make a false statement of fact that impugns a person's reputation or tramples a civil right. And rightly so.
But what about laws against bad taste? Insensitivity? Can we hold people accountable for being big dumb-ass ignoramus bigots?
And if we do, what cultured, educated, sensible tribunal gets to decide for the rest of us what is too insensitive, too distasteful, too bigoted? What kind of line do they draw and just where along it do they place words of hate, bigotry, and bad taste? And as our lexicon shifts and shimmies along with the ripples in culture and class, how often must this esteemed tribunal meet to weigh degree, compare magnitude, reassign blame?
Certainly, words carry weight. They can be as light as a champagne bubble and just as discerning or they can trample combat-booted along pristine carpet, depositing as they go the distasteful dregs of a history, culture, and society gone bad to the bone. But can we legislate against this? Can we assign retribution to insult even if that insult is the most egregious known to man?
I honestly do not know.