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Young people say OK to use slurs online

WASHINGTON -- Young people immersed in the online world are encountering racist and sexist slurs and other name-calling that probably would appall parents and teachers. And most consider it no big deal, a new poll says.

Teens and twentysomethings say in an Associated Press-MTV poll that people feel freer to use hurtful language when texting or posting to sites like Facebook than they would face to face. Half the young people regularly see discriminatory slang, including racial taunts, and the majority say they aren't very offended.

Those surveyed are twice as likely to say biased slurs are used to be funny as they are to think that the user is expressing hateful feelings toward a group of people. Another popular reason: to sound cool.

"They might be really serious, but you take it as a joke," said Kervin Browner II, 20, a junior at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. He's black but says the slurs he sees are generally aimed at women, not minorities. He doesn't protest when his friends use those words on Twitter. "People in their own minds, they think it's cool," he said

Those who use slurs are probably offending more people than they realize, even within their own age range. The poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows a significant minority are upset by some pejoratives they encounter online.

-- AP

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