Sticks and Stones

One of the most common and potent ways to denigrate a human being or a group of human beings is to identify them by a disparaging label.  To achieve its intended effect, the label, if chosen well, need not be complicated or creative.  It must merely serve two purposes: to quickly conjure up in the listener's mind a negative image or association and, just as importantly, to put in place a barrier that hinders meaningful communication.  

Little Zac

“So, what can I do to make you feel better?”, I asked the 6 year old sitting across from me. Sitting up straight, feet dangling, arms planted firmly on the rests of a chair that all but swallowed him up, little Zac (not his real name) was looking straight at me.“Give me a nice medicine to make me not hurt anybody,” came back the reply without a moment’s hesitation. “You hurt people?,” I asked with only slightly feigned surprise. “Yes. I banged a block on Logan at school because I didn’t want him touching my blocks. I’ll hurt my sister when we get in fights, too.” “And, why do you fight with your sister?” “I try to steal her money.” “No wonder you get in fights. Why do you try to steal her money?” “I want it.”