Since there were so many disparaging and negative comments being hurled my direction over at Dawn’s blog, I popped in and left what I hope to be my final comment on her site. (I’m not linking to it here, you can easily find her site by doing a search, or going a few posts back.) I’m posting my response here, so that you don’t feel compelled to click over to figure out what’s going on.
Here is my comment in its entirety:
// begin comment
First, let me say that I have only returned here due to the multitude of people calling me out by name.
Second, I wasn’t trying to start shit. I don’t need the “traffic boost” as it has been posited. I was merely expressing my opinion on my own site about the use of the term “gay” to mean “lame.” I didn’t call Dawn out. I didn’t refer to her by name (as I have done in other posts with patently homophobic materials posted). In fact, I noted that I didn’t believe the author was homophobic. Dawn “outed” herself as the author I referenced.
The attitudes in her comments were perplexing. She expressed complete astonishment that I could be offended by the use of the word to describe an inanimate object. As though describing the object made the word somehow magically clean and pristine and not at all related to homosexuals. Just where do you think the usage “evolved” from? Someone who was intentionally being offensive to homosexuals, that’s who. Continuing to use the word in that matter is perpetuating that intent.
Then Dawn posted another story in which she worries that a man singing a girl’s song would turn her band into the “gayest band ever” (how is that not related to homosexuals?) and how she did not want to be associated with a “GAY BAND” and that it would make them a bunch of “FAG HAGS” [Dawn’s emphasis]. This is a point that nearly all of the commenters here have forgotten or chosen to overlook. There is NO question that these comments are offensive AND homophobic.
If you think that an atmosphere where “gay” is used to mean “lame” isn’t hurtful or doesn’t lead to more anti-gay sentiment, just look at some of the comments left here. I have been called “fucking queer” (which Dawn found funny). I have been called thin skinned. I’ve read references to “homos” and “lesbos.” That’s really inclusive and welcoming.
I want to address a few of the major points that Dawn and other commenters have made:
Kimi quoted some BBC report stating that “gay need not be offensive to homosexuals.” So if I’m understanding this point, the BBC is the authority for dictating how I (and other homosexuals) am supposed to feel about the use of “gay” in a disparaging manner? They certainly didn’t consult me on this. I don’t know of anyone who WAS consulted.
Later, Dawn stated that she shouldn’t be held responsible for using “a phrase I didn’t invent.” So by this reasoning, Dawn should be able to use the words, “nigger,” “kike,” “wetback,” “spic,” “faggot,” “dyke,” “chink,” “jap,” “wop,” and “retard” with impunity? I’m certain she didn’t invent those words either, but they are on some magic list of words that a civilized community has determined are offensive and taboo. How did those words get on that list? They got there because the respective disparaged groups stood up and said, “Stop it.” And civilized thinking people understood the harm those words were doing and agreed to stop using them.
Dawn also said, “I bet if I said keytars were ‘retarded’ instead of ‘gay’, he wouldn’t have two posts dedicated to me because using the word ‘retard’ isn’t one of his ‘buttons’.” Whether or not “retard” is one of my buttons (guess what, I have developmentally challenged people in my family) is a moot point. Had someone mentioned that they found your use of “retard” offensive, I would completely agree with them. It is offensive, for mostly the SAME REASONS I find “gay” = “lame” offensive.
In that same response block, she said, “maybe Jester should write a letter to Matt Damon too and bash him on his blog…LOL.” If I considered Matt Damon an “internet friend” as I considered Dawn to be prior to the last couple of days, I would immediately let him know that I was offended. I wasn’t SINGLING you out UNTIL your second post which, I’ve already explained, WAS patently bigoted.
The vast majority of the rest of the comments here are along the lines of “fuck him if he can’t take a joke” and “over-react much?” My original post was not an over-reaction… it was simply a post examining the use of the word and my determination that its usage EVEN IN THAT CONTEXT is offensive to me. I was offended that someone who I genuinely liked and respected could be so arrogant and self-righteous in her response to my offense.
I have never asked for an apology. I don’t care about an apology… but the fact that there is a complete REFUSAL to acknowledge that the word is offensive and an insistence that because “everyone else uses it” makes it all right is stunningly ridiculous and arrogant.
Ask yourselves if your opinions would change if you were the victim of oppression and discrimination and hatred and violence simply because of a characteristic you can’t change. You’re lying to yourself if you think they wouldn’t.
// end comment
Don’t think that I’m saying this is the end all, be all of the discussion. The debate and open discussion that has taken place here has brought me a lot of enjoyment over the past couple of days. It has lead to a lot of conversations with people away from my blog.
Social issues and etymology and frank discussions about human behavior are all very fascinating to me.
Watching people show their arrogant self-righteous bigotry and then deny that they are bigoted in a public forum: priceless.