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Friday, March 18, 2011

Fags Against Gay Stupidity

Posted by on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 12:12 PM

GLAAD now says that the "fag" is a word that fags can only use in the privacy of our own homes, late at night, with the shades drawn, and after the children are asleep. Michael Jenson begs to differ. It's required reading:

Where might this slippery black and white slope of GLAAD's lead us? Well, I guess I must be in trouble with them just for writing this column. And how awful would it be if a straight person who supported gay rights inadvertently used the word and got fired for it? Surely, that would never happen, right? Well, it already did happen to 82-year-old Freddy Schmitt, an American Airlines employee who last December, during a workplace discussion about why Don't Ask Don't Tell should be repealed, said, "Back then, a faggot coulda saved my life."

Just to be clear, Schmitt was expressing his support of gay soldiers, but because American Airlines—like GLAAD—thinks context doesn't matter, Schmitt was fired, additionally losing his health and travel benefits. I honestly find it hard to believe that most readers think what happened to Schmitt is a fair outcome—even those who agree with GLAAD about "fag." However, what American Airlines did is the logical result of, and completely consistent with, GLAAD's policy. Either the word is expressly off limits and context doesn't matter ever, or since we are grown-ups, its usage and intent should be examined in how it is used.

If that isn't the case, if wrong is always wrong, then Larry Kramer needs to change the title of his book Faggots to F*ggots, along with Frank Anthony Polito who needs to call his book something other than Band Fags. And since context doesn't matter, I assume that GLAAD will now be boycotting every British movie where a character smokes a "fag," which is UK slang for a cigarette. Unless they bleep the word out, of course.

What? I'm being ridiculous? Well, if a gay guy writing a recap about gay characters can't use the word "fag" ironically, then I don't don't see why Kramer, the British or any other writer or artist should be allowed to use it either. I mean if we have to worry about every ding-a-ling who isn't smart enough to deduce what a writer is going for when using certain words, then can we really be too careful? Where do we draw the line? And who gets to draw it?

Apparently GLAAD does.

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.


You know, the LGBT community probably needs an anti-defimation organization. It's a shame that the one we've got insists on oscillating between useless and ridiculous.


Comments (56) RSS

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mr. herriman 1
no words should ever be expressly off limits. context and intent are everything.
Posted by mr. herriman on March 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM · Report this
care bear 2
Wait, I thought you weren't their boss.
Posted by care bear on March 18, 2011 at 12:24 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by Zuulabelle on March 18, 2011 at 12:29 PM · Report this
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?
Posted by Otto Toot Otto on March 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
very bad homo 5
Pretty soon "gay" and "homo" will be off limits too.
Posted by very bad homo on March 18, 2011 at 12:36 PM · Report this
aardvark 6
grandfather clause please
Posted by aardvark on March 18, 2011 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 7
Ok, so what’s the officially approved vocabuarly for women who used to self-identify as fag hags?
Posted by Alison Cummins on March 18, 2011 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 8
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
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 18, 2011 at 12:42 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by cgd on March 18, 2011 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 10
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.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on March 18, 2011 at 12:52 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by jenesasquatch on March 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM · Report this
John Horstman 12
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
Posted by John Horstman on March 18, 2011 at 12:57 PM · Report this
brandon 13
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.
Posted by brandon on March 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Vince 14
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.
Posted by Vince on March 18, 2011 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Jason58A 15
GLAAD. What a bunch of fags.
Posted by Jason58A on March 18, 2011 at 1:03 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by PaulBarwick on March 18, 2011 at 1:08 PM · Report this
@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.
Posted by Ben on March 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM · Report this
mad_yeti 18
Can someone point out 4chan to GLAAD already so they can realize this is a lost cause?
Posted by mad_yeti on March 18, 2011 at 1:15 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by Joseph in London on March 18, 2011 at 1:15 PM · Report this

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
Posted by Robby on March 18, 2011 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 21
The "A" word, the "B" word, the "C" word, the "D" word, the "E" word, the "F" word, the "G" word, the "H" word.....FUCKING IDOITS when will this madness end? Call anyone you hate what ever you want. Just don't bitch and whine when they call you what they want. America is turning into a crib of cry babies who can't talk about anything with out some's feelings being hurt. You're all idiots ALL OF YOU. Now come here and let me hug you into my ample smothering bosom; now don't cha feel better, I know I do.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 18, 2011 at 1:22 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by KK_SNH on March 18, 2011 at 1:23 PM · Report this
o, and now you know what the 'F' stands for.
Posted by KK_SNH on March 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM · Report this
I NEVER say Fag, because it's so much more satisfying to say Cocksucker!
Posted by LukeJoe on March 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM · Report this
carriemcc 25
When I miss your lips, I'll put a fag in my mouth, and think of you.
Posted by carriemcc on March 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by bernie on March 18, 2011 at 1:27 PM · Report this
@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.
Posted by Joseph in London on March 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM · Report this
rob! 28
Dan has a "lot" of breeder co-workers?!
Posted by rob! on March 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM · Report this
@17 Actually, that's the context for GLAAD's remark. Here's the link again.…
Posted by cgd on March 18, 2011 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Nice work on the headline, DS. I love me a good recursive acronym ...
Posted by And that's not all, there's more ... on March 18, 2011 at 1:46 PM · Report this
despicable me 31
I say we start calling them "gaf's" just to confuse the hell of out of 'em.
Posted by despicable me on March 18, 2011 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 32
"J" word in the "L" word #27, Not directed at you the "H" word (honey). Directed at the "U" word (universe). You're no the "I" word. Now come here to my ample smothering bosom.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 18, 2011 at 1:54 PM · Report this
sirkowski 33
Can we finally start using the "Z" word or does the government still denies the infection ever happened?
Posted by sirkowski on March 18, 2011 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Frau Blucher 34
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."
Posted by Frau Blucher on March 18, 2011 at 2:12 PM · Report this
John Horstman 36
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.
Posted by John Horstman on March 18, 2011 at 2:26 PM · Report this
@6 what's Santa's dad got to do with it?
Posted by truck on March 18, 2011 at 2:47 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by catsnbanjos on March 18, 2011 at 3:11 PM · Report this
More, I Say! 41
I just don't feel like fag = nigger, in any context.
Posted by More, I Say! on March 18, 2011 at 3:58 PM · Report this
venomlash 42
@39: Cool story, bro.
Posted by venomlash on March 18, 2011 at 4:10 PM · Report this
@13 best comment of the year
Posted by mikeyg on March 18, 2011 at 4:18 PM · Report this
What about all us fag hags? What will ever replace that???
Posted by Duvall-ite on March 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM · Report this
JF 46
@42 I was hoping you'd go with "Cool Story Hansel" and then posted a picture from Zoolander.
Posted by JF on March 18, 2011 at 5:01 PM · Report this
"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.
Posted by vennominon on March 18, 2011 at 7:07 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by Daniel_NY on March 18, 2011 at 7:44 PM · Report this
Tetchy Brit 49
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
Posted by Tetchy Brit on March 19, 2011 at 2:54 AM · Report this
Rach3l 50
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.
Posted by Rach3l on March 19, 2011 at 6:36 AM · Report this
gijo by the bay 51
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.
Posted by gijo by the bay on March 19, 2011 at 8:30 AM · Report this
i wrote them via the addy on their website.
Posted by HK on March 19, 2011 at 9:28 AM · Report this
My policy: If you don't hear the word come out of my mouth first, don't use it in my presence.
Posted by dakoneko on March 19, 2011 at 3:14 PM · Report this
despicable me 55
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!
Posted by despicable me on March 19, 2011 at 6:20 PM · Report this
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.
Posted by puddles on March 20, 2011 at 5:38 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 57
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.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on March 20, 2011 at 5:44 AM · Report this
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.
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on March 20, 2011 at 8:14 AM · Report this
@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!
Posted by cgd on March 20, 2011 at 9:33 AM · Report this
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."

Posted by seeker6079 on March 20, 2011 at 3:22 PM · Report this
Amen. And a quote that I feel is fitting:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
-Eleanor Roosevelt
Posted by alexbartlett on March 21, 2011 at 1:12 AM · Report this

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