Blogs Mar 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm


no words should ever be expressly off limits. context and intent are everything.
Wait, I thought you weren't their boss.
I used to agree with GLAAD on issues like this. I'd get really worked up about "hate speech" regardless of how it was being used. Just a few months ago, I was spending far too much time worrying about words and not enough time thinking about context.

Thanks to reading Slog and actually giving critical thought to this stuff, I grew up. If only everyone would give their brains a chance.
Dan, is there anything we can think to do as a bunch to get that man's benefits and pension back? It's just awful to think that a cool, enlightened old fella is being screwed so mercilessly for supportive, forward-thinking thoughts, charmingly expressed. This might be a nice cause to take up, no?
Pretty soon "gay" and "homo" will be off limits too.
grandfather clause please
Ok, so what’s the officially approved vocabuarly for women who used to self-identify as fag hags?
fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag fag
I don't see an effort to "challenge stereotype", "unpack", or "deconstruct" in this:

• “Animal” (Neon Trees) *** Nice singing. But how can having girls in the audience make these cartwheeling, foam-party f*gs straight-sexy?

GLAAD is right, as usual.
If only Mr. Schmitt had said, "Homosexuals should have a target drawn on their foreheads." Then when he was fired, he'd have the entire right-wing shrill-crowd at his back, w/ the Rush/Bill-O screech-machine yelling how the "libruls" want to take your guns and John Boehner crying over the "end of free speech in America."

Then the GOP would vote to de-fund the FAA & call it good.
Old Carl Reiner/Mel Brooks routine:
Executive: We have a line of cigarettes called "Fags."

Interviewer: Ah, because that's what the British call cigarettes.

Executive: No, it's because they're the menthol cigarette with "more than a hint of mint."

Stay minty GLAAD. I know I will.
Is NOW or NARAL going to go after Ani DiFranco for using the word "bitch"? Is the NAACP going to condemn any/all rap/hip-hop artists for using "nigger"? (Actually, I believe they at least HAVE done so on occasion, and my have a general policy of condemning any/all uses of the word.) Political correctness is more important than contextualized meaning and actual understanding, I guess.

@1: Yup; syllable combinations have no inherent power nor meaning. All language is contextual, including derogatory or otherwise 'offensive' words.

@2: Cute. :-P
Don't say faggot. Ever. Because we said so.

Now excuse us while we give a media award to every stereotypical portrayal of a gay person on TV regardless of quality just so we can get networks to write us a check to keep us going long enough to ask them for more money by giving them fake awards that don't mean a damn thing and don't represent anyone in the community.
I don't like this kind of censorship. Words can hurt but not letting people express themselves hurts many, much more. I spent my life trying to get gay people their freedom, not denying it to others.
GLAAD. What a bunch of fags.
The whole thing is getting ridicules. I was leaving a comment on SFGate's website the other day. I wasn't too surprised that the automatic censor on the site blocked me from describing myself as a "homo", but was flabbergasted that it wouldn't let me use the word "frolicking" . Sheesh.

It's time to go back to your original column name in protest, Dan.
@9: Sorry, you're on the side of trying to prove a negative. Finding one bad use doesn't prove that no acceptable uses exist or are possible.
Can someone point out 4chan to GLAAD already so they can realize this is a lost cause?
I think Schmitt's use was inappropriate, but not a fireable offence (even if used in front of a customer). Because his intent was clearly not to offend - as Dan says, he's speaking in support of gay soldiers. However, I do think he should have been given a talking-to or something.

As a bi guy, I flinch whenever I hear the other "f" word, especially when it's directed at me as an insult, but also when it's used in jokes or used, without offensive intent, by other LGBT folks. I do not use it myself, even descriptively. I dislike it - I dislike the associations it has for me. If people use it without meaning offense, I try to not let it color my opinion of them, and usually I politely ask them to cut it out (the same as I would for "that's so gay" comments). Certainly if people use it (say, without meaning offense) to describe me (whether they're LGBT or not) I try to politely tell them they're mistaken. But the workplace is different. I would make a comment the first time someone used it and seriously consider filing a complaint the second time, whatever the context. I don't need to hear that word when I'm trying to work.

Hey Faggot,

I really miss those "Hey Faggot" openers from back in
the day. They got you a lot of attention then, so now you
can just go by Dan.

A Long Time Reader
retards. Not a word I use because I know it's hurtful to those who may over-hear it. Just thought I'd push the button.
o, and now you know what the 'F' stands for.
I NEVER say Fag, because it's so much more satisfying to say Cocksucker!
When I miss your lips, I'll put a fag in my mouth, and think of you.
This brings to mind "The F Word" episode of South Park. A classic. Dan, you should have referenced this one.

All you uber sensitive GLAAD fags shouldn't watch this one.…

Signed, proud fag.
@21 I called it the "f" word because I choose not to use it but needed to refer to it for my argument. I've got no problem with others using that word, but I don't want to use it and I'd rather not have it directed at me. For example, I prefer "Joseph" to "Joe," and a considerate person would use the version I prefer to refer to me. That's all, really.
Dan has a "lot" of breeder co-workers?!
@17 Actually, that's the context for GLAAD's remark. Here's the link again.…
Nice work on the headline, DS. I love me a good recursive acronym ...
I say we start calling them "gaf's" just to confuse the hell of out of 'em.
Can we finally start using the "Z" word or does the government still denies the infection ever happened?
Don't use the word much, myself, though I am one. I prefer: Sister, as in "Oh, she's a sister." Or, Girlfriend, as in "She a big ol' girlfriend." Or, "What's "her" problem."
A more thoughtful treatment:…

Useful in understanding the nature of antigay bigoted remarks, too.
The comments thread on that post is impressive. The problem with making a "never use" case for "fag" or even "queer" is that at some point you run out of terms: if the concept that a word, any word, is representing is considered 'bad' by a culture, then any word for that concept will take on negative connotations and become unacceptable.
Consider nigger->negro->colored->black<->African-American<->of color.
The evolution of the first three took place because the previous term was eventually deemed to be too negative in connotation and was replaced in 'polite' society. But because having dark skin continued to be seen as a bad thing in the cultural discourse, each subsequent term took on the negative connotations of the previous term (though perhaps not a strongly, correlated to a decrease in the intensity of racism, generally, in the discourse). The same thing is happening with "gay", as in "That [bad] thing is SO gay!" In another 20 years, "gay" isn't going to be okay any more either if we take the position GLAAD is suggesting, and their name will be as anachronistic as the NAACP use of "colored".

Context is EVERYTHING. The syllable represented by "fag" can't intrinsically harm anyone; it's only because of the context in which people have heard the syllable uttered that they see it as offensive (it was previously used to denigrate one, perhaps also in the context of physical violence). If that's the only context in which the syllable is heard, it will only ever be offensive; defining it as an offensive-essentialized term imbues it with the power to offend.

Of course, what offends one isn't necessarily a matter of conscious control, and one is certainly entitled to the opinion/feeling that a word is offensive, and entitled to request of others who do not wish to upset one that the word not be used around one. There's a big difference between that and claiming that a word is offensive as an essentialized characteristic, which implies that it is offensive to everyone, in every context, and should never be used. Also, GLAAD's own essentialist argument is undermined if they think that the use of "gay" as appropriate or not is contextually-dependent, which I suspect they do (or are they cool with the kids calling things "gay" to mean bad?). If "fag" is bad and therefore always bad, then it stands to reason that "gay", as a good term, is always good. I know you have to think harder to parse context than you do if you only have to recognize a syllable (i.e. to actually go after people who are defaming gay people as opposed to issuing universal knee-jerk behavioral directives that both fail to combat defamation and vilify a large portion of the people you're trying to defend), but I think it's worth the effort.

Also, the tactic of euphemizing words as in f*g or f-g is just asinine: that word still reads as "fag", you're just spelling it differently (might as well use "phag" or "pfag"), recontextualizing it (which is the whole point anyway, that context is what matters). Consider this, GLAAD and its supporters in this matter: what if you actually remove "fag" from the lexicon? What are the bullies going to be shouting when they kick the shit out of people then? "Gay"? "Homosexual"? The objection to "fag" is that it is negatively-contextualized for so many people, it is 'offensive'; what happens if your preferred words start to be used/contextualized in the same fashion? What then? Actually, I'm not sure this is even hypothetical: is "gay" not used as an anti-gay slur a whole hell of a lot? What, exactly, is the difference between "gay" and "fag", except that GLAAD thinks one of them is okay, and the other is not? Both have historically been and are currently used as slurs, both are one syllable, both had non-sexuality-related meanings before being applied to sexuality, both are embraced as terms of self-identity by large swaths of people.
Oh well. It's christopher hom's, "The semantics of racial epithets," if you're interested in googling it. Pretty interesting--more interesting, anyway, than the offered analysis.
@6 what's Santa's dad got to do with it?
i've been burned like this . i was working at a cannery years ago and was given the bullshit job of cleaning a machine that hadn't been cleaned of fish guts in 20 years . i was talking to my black co worker in the parking lot on lunch break about it when a white secratary came strolling by in time to hear my buddy say " nigger i ain't doin that shit " to which i replied " well you know i'm the nigger that's gonna get stuck with the shit don't worry about it ." an hour later i was fired for using a racial slur and escorted of the property . shit like this has been out of control for a long time , shouldn't he have been fired for calling me a nigger , not me calling my self a nigger? it's all p.c. bullshit that needs to stop .
Would those who defend this elderly gentleman (and I certainly include myself in that group) also defend him if he had said "back then, a nigger coulda saved my life"? Speaking in support of a racially-integrated military and clearly without malice towards black people? Just wondering.
I just don't feel like fag = nigger, in any context.
@39: Cool story, bro.
@13 best comment of the year
I'm old enough to remember when not only was it required to address letters to Dan with the "F" word, but also when the only place you could find Dan was in a paper that touted its coupons and printed doctored pix of Tommy Thompson in BDSM gear.

Sadly, not much has really changed for some people when it comes to language and context.
What about all us fag hags? What will ever replace that???
"Hey, GLAAD: A lot of my breeder coworkers at the Stranger have used the word fag—affectionately, ironically, supportively. And their fag (nominal) boss isn't gonna fire any 'em for it."


As Dorothy Parker once wrote, "...And I am Marie of Roumania".

*Sure* they use it "affectionately, ironically, supportively". Just not *quite* so totally as one might think. It's hard enough for non-breeders to use the F word affectionately, ironically and supportively. And in all fairness, I'd never use that B word if they weren't an oppressor class, and I only use it when I speak from an oppressed position.

Now to turn serious, I could just see it as possible that Mr Savage might have succeeded in creating an F-word-positive atmosphere, and if he thinks that's some noteworthy accomplishment, more power to him. I don't see the benefit, but I don't have to. But I'll persist in a private belief that every once in a while there's a little more edge in the word than is officially acknowledged or accepted.

All that said, I have no time for GLAAD. When this sort of thing happens to me, I tell whoever dropped the F-bomb, using a very friendly tone, that, if he doesn't use the F word in my presence any more, I won't call him Sweetie. Works every time.
I hate the word "faggot," don't use it, and don't like when anyone else uses it, even in an affectionate, non-homophobic context.

That said, even though I hate the word, I'm still grown up enough to know who my allies are and who my enemies are. I'm a fan of Dan Savage, whose use of the word doesn't offend me because his non-homophobic intend is clear, and his advocacy for the rest of us gays is blatantly obvious.

Zero tolerance for almost any word or behavior is unworkable, because zero tolerance assumes blackness and whiteness while completely disregarding the grey, and about 99% of things happen somewhere in the grey. GLAAD needs to grow up and stop making enemies of their friends-of-Dorothy.
It's a charged word. I'm not saying it should be blanket banned but it's not something to be thrown around casually.

And yes, GLAAD are pretty damn dumb at times, but they do sometimes hit the mark, as seen by them taking WWE to task for John Cena's irritating casual homophobia
He's 82 years old. They were probably itching to find any reason to fire him. In these days of sensitivity training and lawsuit-happy coworkers, that's a dumbass thing to say while on the clock.
You just are to old and set in your ways (grandfather clause) to know better. If next generations are taught that the word fag is the same as the word nigger, perhaps bigotry may not be passed so easily from generation to generation.
i wrote them via the addy on their website.
My policy: If you don't hear the word come out of my mouth first, don't use it in my presence.
Well guess what? That fag Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God just won the first ever Outstanding Blog award at the GLAAD Awards tonight!

Way to go, Joe!
I remember signing up for GLAAD updates and getting one of these angry emails every day. "Let's boycott Glee/Seth MacFarlane/etc. for reinforcing gay stereotypes!" Instead of going after our actual enemies they go after people like Seth MacFarlane who are actually on our side.
My favourite part of the article:
You know another time we did this as gay people? With what is probably the most hateful symbol in the entire history of the gay community — the pink triangle that the Nazis made queer men wear before gassing them to death.

Can you think of anything more empowering than taking the symbol literally used to brand gay men as defective, perverted and marked for death, and turning the tables by making it our badge of honor and the symbol of our pride?

Sadly, I don't think it's a stretch to say some of the people who want to ban "fag" would've wanted to ban the pink triangle too. After all, there is no difference between what the two represent and how they are used against us. And if that had happened, we GLBT folks would've lost what I think is literally one of the most powerful symbols of all time.
No-one has a right not to be offended. Offense says more about the character of the offended, than that of the offender. God knows, under the sun, all manner of common lunatic can find any number of reasons to feel self-righteously offended.
@57, 58 Yes, because nothing is as ennobling as somebody putting the verbal equivalent of a Nazi death camp symbol on somebody else. Good times!
Rach3l @50 has it nailed: "He's 82 years old. They were probably itching to find any reason to fire him." Do you have any idea how much money they'll save by stripping him of health benefits for him and his wife? It could run into six figures.

Best comment on the NYPost thread? "He should have realized he could only use a gay slur if he were protesting at the funeral of an heroic service member killed in combat."

Amen. And a quote that I feel is fitting:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
-Eleanor Roosevelt
Hey Dan Savage! You're going to die 20 years before you're meant to if you keep letting other butthole surfers stuff their schlongs in your poop shooter. Either that or you're going to catch AIDS and die miserably. Better lay off the meth and bathhouses.

Please wait...

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