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Old 06-13-2019, 08:15 AM
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You're just splitting hairs, Waldo. A word becomes a slur when it is used to describe a group of people, and when people take umbrage to the slur. That's really all it takes.

The word "fag" once meant cigarette - still does in some parts of the world. Most know it's a slur, and it doesn't matter whether a majority of dictionaries describe it that way or not. Most adults who care enough to discuss the politics of gays and lesbians know it's something that gays and lesbians take offense to when used by non-gays and non-lesbians. The other day Septimus used the word "tranny" to refer to transgendered people. He used it because at one time, it wasn't considered offensive. Not realizing it was no longer p.c., he used it and was warned for it. (FTR, Septimus apologized and said he wasn't aware it was no longer an acceptable term, and I believe him - he's a good poster).

The same is true of "illegal." You can say that so-and-so is an "illegal immigrant" or that "illegal immigrants" put a strain on the resources of some local communities. But the term "illegals," like many other slurs, is offensive because of its casual usage. It's used casually to describe a group of people. The term also reinforces the idea that they are "the other," and that they're low class. Even if someone is 100% factually correct in pointing out that they don't have legal status, it's dehumanizing to label them in that way because it so often ignores the understandable reasons many have for skipping the immigration process. Many "illegals" are, in fact, decent people who just want a better life for themselves and their families. People can disagree with their decision and their justifications for crossing the border illegally - that doesn't make someone a racist or a bigot. But one could argue throwing them into some broad category or class of people and debasing them with a term that reinforces their low status is bigoted behavior. At the very least, it's insensitive. Dictionaries aren't required to prove that point.