The NY Times is reporting today that the NY City Council is considering banning the B-word (that would be “bitch”), much as they did with the N-word this spring.
The ban, like the N-word ban, would be largely symbolic. And, like its predecessor, the council says this ban arose from the frequent use of the word “bitch” in hip hop music (and, I would add, hollywood movies, television shows, books, etc.).
I’m not going to beat around the bush here: I don’t think these bans are a good idea. While they’re nice gestures (I’m happy that my city doesn’t think women should be called bitches), it’s violative of the First Amendment to ban a word. And the bans ignore the fact that though these words can be harmful, they can also be reappropriated by the communities they once slighted and used in more empowering ways.
Would it be better if the b-word and the n-word were not so common? Sure. But I don’t think that’s something we can or should legislate.
What do you think?