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I think I have read every top level post of the past four weeks, and I don’t recall someone’s key argument being that prostitutes should be called whores.

There is room to explore how language evolves, though, and who decides when an emotionally potent word becomes a slur. Not every potent word is a slur: the words “felon”, “rapist”, and “racist” have high emotional potency today, in that calling someone these things creates a serious negative emotional reaction in the listener. In the case of “rapist” this emotional residue is clearly acceptable, but what about felon? What about those who are blankly labeled “racist” without qualifier for making the most innocuous of mistakes, and who are then categorized with history’s worst people? Functionally speaking, is that any different than a slur? Who is deciding when a word is so strong or unjustly used that it’s a slur?

The word “whore” has had a stable definition for a thousand years, almost identical to the Old English “hore” and similar to the proto-Germanic “horon”. It’s used in the King James Bible. It is used by Shakespeare 59 times. It has long-standing use in English. When did it become a social violation to call a prostitute a whore, and is this justified by virtue of the connotation of her act? If someone has a strongly-held personal belief in the immorality of prostitution, and his own holy book calls those in the profession “whores”, is he justified in using the term? Are we justified in preventing him, any more than preventing him from using the words “sinner” and “damned”?

So it is an interesting question, and it cuts to the root of the potency of language and its control by vague and unspecified powers. I doubt any of us would use the word “whore” outside of private company, and I wouldn’t despite making the rational argument for its use. But… why? It’s not actually an easy thing to puzzle out. “Because of the social connotation” is just begging the question! How are we all accessing the same terms blacklist in our linguistic OS?

I definitely don't recall any whore post, so either it's in another thread I haven't bothered reading, or our friend is doing a bit of rhetorical exaggeration. I haven't stuck around the original SSC since the Motte originally split off, and there seems to be the same thing as what is going on with TheSchism there - now all the horrible witches have left on our broomsticks and the pure kind reasonable folk remain, the comment threads shrink to one-tenth of what they were because "I think niceness is nice!" "Me too, I agree!" doesn't make for the same kind of engagement.

or our friend is doing a bit of rhetorical exaggeration.

This is excessively charitable. Another poster pointed out the probable source of the comment. It was misrepresented.

This is another quokka thing. When someone says "you suck", they may not be acting in good faith. If you immediately respond to that saying "well, we do sort of suck and I can understand how you see why we suck", you're playing into his hands. But rationalists can't resist doing that.

This is also related to the style of troll--the post has impeccable grammar, and argues at length, qualities which we here tend to treat as an insightful post. But the content is terrible anyway.

This is also related to the style of troll

Fascinating. Tell me more, please.