Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unintentional Insults

Did you ever use a common term or phrase in complete innocence, only to realize that you’ve said something unintentionally insulting?

There’s a guy who works in my office who is Indian. The other day he was telling me about a serious problem confronting him, and I said, “Holy cow!” The words had not even crossed the distance between us when I realized what I had said. Thankfully, he didn’t react. He’s probably heard it before.

So I started to think about other, similar situations that could arise. For example:

    Saying “Bless you,” when an atheist sneezes.

    Asking a Japanese friend in a bar, “How about a nip?”

    Asking a black guest at Thanksgiving, “Do you like dark meat?”

    Listening to a blind person explain something complicated, and then saying, “I see.”

    Telling a Native American that you want to “Stay home and watch the Redskins.”

    Asking to borrow a dollar from a dwarf because you’re “A little short.”

    Asking a Muslim if he wants to join you at a buffet and “pig out.”

    Greeting an old friend with glaucoma using the expression, “You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

    Telling an amputee, “The shoe is on the other foot.”

    Describing a “sobering” experience to an alcoholic.

Can you think of other examples?


bruce said...

While attending my mothers funeral, a creamation service, my brother was chuckling under his breath. later when I asked him about it, it said that he said he told his wife he was having trouble deciding which color suit to wear to the service. His Question... "Should I wear the Charcoal Black, Ash Grey or Burnt Orange?"

michael said...

I work with a guy who says "you're straight" instead of "you're done here" or "you're good to go". He said to an obviously gay young man, "you're straight" The kid gave him a look like he was on crack and said "not since I was a little girl"

Nancy said...

Hi Tim

There's endless lists of insenitive possiblities. Ie mentioning someone got carried away in the paddywagon to soem who's Irish.