In reference to my comments about Don Imus calling some black female athletes at Rutgers University “nappy-headed hos,” a reader wrote, in part, “Words are not just sounds—they have meaning, even when not expressed through sound.” She’s right about that. Words do have meaning. That’s what makes them words, and the meaning they have for each of us is whatever each of us says it is and nothing else.

The reader went on, “The Rutgers players’ courageous expression of their painful feelings struck a chord of freedom for people everywhere.” Courageous whining. I don’t know about the courageous part, but whining has nothing to do with freedom.

Think about it. A group of healthy, intelligent young women all suffer hurt feelings because of a remark by a man I bet none of them had ever even met. Let’s try this: The Rutgers players are wonderful, gifted, and much-loved human beings. Tell them I said so.

Another thing that interests me in all this is how some people have come to think that no one should ever say anything derogatory about anyone else, and any who do deserve to be denigrated themselves. That’ll show ’em.

Then there’s the notion that the Rutgers players and presumably all of humanity have no control over our thoughts or feelings. Drivel. That assumption keeps those girls and the rest of the wimp brigade in the victim line. If they even hear that someone has made an unfavorable remark about them, their feelings are hurt and the rest of us should care about that. I wish them well.

The reader continued, “It takes courage to say, ‘You hurt me.’ Why? Because then the hurt people have to stand up to all the people who urge them not to feel. The right to feel is the ultimate human freedom. The only way to truly improve conditions for oneself is to improve them for people in general, because all people are connected.”

As far as I can tell, if it takes courage to say, “You hurt me,” it’s because such a statement makes the speaker an easy target, like a limping wildebeest.

I don’t know who’s telling hurt people not to feel—certainly not I. Feeling can be fun, and you get to choose. Some people get hurt simply by allowing their thoughts to be determined by what others do, and their thoughts make them sad.

If the right to feel really is the ultimate human freedom, and I’m not prepared to dispute it, why would alert young women choose to feel badly because of something Don Imus said?

In concert with my kind and gentle reader, I realize that people are all connected, including she and I.

In contrast with that same loving soul, I believe that the way to improve conditions for everybody is first to improve the conditions in our heads, and all of us, even nappy-headed hos, can do that.