You have heard it said, perhaps you have said it yourself: “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you.” I know, and I am fairly sure that you also know that you know, that this simply is not true. Sure, sticks and stones will bruise and scar and hurt a human body. However, words are sometimes as bruising and scarring and hurting as any physical assault.

Think of all the words—always negative words—about an individual’s ethnicity or ability or place of origin or orientation. How many ethnic persons are scarred! How many other abled persons are scarred! How many persons of differing orientations are scarred! Words can—words do—hurt.