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There seems to be confusion over what can and cannot be legitimately compared to the n-word. Earlier this week, local conservative talking head posited on Twitter that the term “boomer” is equivalent to the n-word, but for ageism. He was thoroughly dragged internationally for his statement (by Dictionary.com even!), but to be honest, I would expect nothing less of Bob Lonsberry. He once compared a former black mayor to an orangutan. He regularly documents his “fitness runs” around the city, often taking pictures of poor areas and urban squalor, fueling a bonfire of dog whistles for his followers. He often speaks of the Puerto Rican Festival as if it is as debaucherous and violent as a Caligulan senate orgy, except for the one time he went to the PR Fest and reported on it as if he were Jane Goodall studying gorillas in the Congo. For that, for treating Puerto Rican people as if they are apes to be studied, he was given praise. His twitter feed is a cornucopia of blind adulation of law enforcement and complaining about how dangerous it is to be a straight white man nowadays. So, I completely expect him to say that “boomer” is the new n-word.
The problem is that he is not the only person to compare words that describe a certain part of the majority population with the n-word. Along with “boomer”, I’ve seen people claim that “cisgender”, “goyim”, “straight”, and even “white” are derisive terms. With exception of “goyim”, all these words were ascribed to people by the very members of the groups. Even “boomer” was coined by boomers, short for “baby boomers”, to describe the population explosion after the end of World War II. It is almost braggadocious, as it pretty much says that their parents were doin’ it all the time. “Cisgender”, “straight”, and “white” are all terms coined by scientists and philosophers, both real and pseudo. “Goyim” the term for non-Jewish people, translates to “people”. It just means that: non-Jewish people. There is no malice intended in it.
Has the word you don’t like coming from people’s mouths met any one of these criteria? If not, then don’t expect to be taken seriously when you claim it is “offensive”. In summation, “boomer” is not, nor has it ever been a derogatory term, and definitely not on the level of the n-word. The fact that most people say “n-word” and not “b-word” in polite conversation should have tipped you off to that. If you think “boomer” is such an offensive term, just admit that you don’t like that younger people and people affected by your old train of thought are using it. After all, you had the power to coin the term yourself.
Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog , he currently writes the Chronicles of Nonsense segment for the Almost Tuesday show on WAYO-FM 104.3, and regularly posts and writes on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon.Additionally , Chris is a Food Writer for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is www.chroniclesofnonesense.com