Oklahoma City Removes Bullying Rule

According to this report:

LGBT faculty and the parents of gay students were excited this week when they discovered on the Oklahoma Public Schools Web site that a new student handbook would include language forbidding bullying on the grounds of sexuality.

But as word spread the section on LGBT bullying mysteriously disappeared.

School district officials say the policy had not been approved by the school board and should not have been posted.

What a terrible message to send to the many, many school kids who get bullied and harrassed for even being suspected of being gay, much less actually being gay. Here's how bad it is:

A study, released in April to coincide with the National Day of Silence, showed that three-quarters of students surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" - meaning stupid or worthless - frequently or often. (story)

Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter on the basis of their gender expression.

Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.

And that is exactly why GSA clubs are so important. A full one third of gay teenagers attempt suicide, far higher than the average, and it's largely the result of this kind of harrassment and bullying. Sadly, some just don't care. As long as it happens to gay kids, that's fine with them.

Tags

More like this

According to Agape Press, the Texas State Board of Education has severed its ties to the National Association of State School Boards because its policies, in their view, "continue to gravitate to liberal left." Last week, the Texas State Board of Education voted 10-5 to remove itself from…
I don't know how many of my readers have been in a public high school lately, but one of the things I've noticed in the schools I've been in is the presence of "safe space" signs around the school. They began in response to incidents that happen routinely in schools where a student who is gay, or…
A couple hours ago I posted a quick poll, in what might be construed as an unbiased fashion. I simply asked respondents for their sexual orientation, offering a wide array of choices ranging from "straight" to "mostly gay" to "gay" to "other." In fact, my poll was biased -- not because the question…
On July 9th, 2012, Anoka High School student Justin Aaberg committed suicide. Here in Minnesota, when a kid commits suicide we don't talk about it; often the other kids in the school are never told. There's just a funeral service and a yearbook page but no discussion, no action, no response. But…

Ed: This highlights one area I have disagreed, mentally, with you, but which I don't believe I have commented on because of the difficulty I have myself in knowing where to draw the line.

You have repeatedly argued on behalf of the ADF's attempts to strike down 'speech codes' that prohibit anti-gay speech, have defended students' rights to wear anti-gay t-shirts, etc. All of this on grounds of 'free speech.' You have used the argument that 'the answer to speech is more speech. But here you argue in favor of a code that prohibits bullying of LGBT students.

I would, of course, agree with you here, but what causes this bullying but the sort of attitudes that are on the t-shirts, that are prohibited by the speech codes?

Certainly GSAs help to combat this, but so does a school administration's saying that 'this will NOT be tolerated.' Even now, I am absolutely sure that there are school districts, many of them, where students could not establish a GSA because the gay students and even the sympathetic straight students would be afraid to start or join one. And how many students would refuse to go against the sort of bullying because they might be thought to be gay themselves (sometimes correctly)? How many bullyers are themselves gay and think this is the best way to protect their secret?

(I can't help drawing a parallel to the Bob Baumans, the Larry Craigs, and the Mark Foleys, who hide their gayness by being publicly homophobic.)

You talk about "LGBT faculty" in Oklahoma. But in what percentage of Oklahoma districts are LGBT faculty welcomed, or at least accepted, and in how many schools would a gay teacher -- not to mention a transsexual teacher -- be fired if this were known? (And, btw, to ask a serious question that seems unrelated but isn't, in how many school districts today would a teacher who converted to Islam over the summer feel free to announce this to his or her class, to come to school, if female, wearing the hijab. I might think they were making an awful choice personally, but they should have the right, yet would they not be in danger of discrimination if they taught at, for example, the Delaware districts that have recently been in the news?)

I will have much more to say on this, including arguing that one problem with your position is that the ('small l') libertariansim you propound does not work in this type of atmosphere, that this is where the government is most useful, in protecting the liberties of the 'despised minorities.' (It wasn't a sudden discovery of the evils of racism through the 'free market of ideas' that gained blacks the equality they have obtained, but the action of the government in voting rights laws and public accomodation laws.)

More later but your response, if you will. And maybe this is a case where 'hard and fast' rules should not apply but situations need to be judged on the individual facts. It's not an easy one, and I'd like your comments.

It occurs to me that another way to reduce the suicide rate among gay teens, aside from GSAs, would be allowing gays to marry. Coupled with anti-discrimination laws, similar to those that protect, say, religious people from discrimination. Neither would be the end all to preventing all such suicide, but it would have the effect of telling these kids that society doesn't support the biggotry that is hurting them.

I frequently use the term gay to refer to something I find dumb but it doesn't mean I'm directing it at a homosexual. It's no different than calling something retarded. It's just become part of our cultural language and from what I'm reading on what you posted, Ed, these aren't disparaging remarks directed at gays. Now, when someone's trying to demean someone personally, than it draws the line (or if there's physical bullying as noted within your block quote) but the first part referring to hearing the terms gay or faggot multiple times throughout the day I think are misleading.

I frequently use the term gay to refer to something I find dumb but it doesn't mean I'm directing it at a homosexual.

Oh? And you can't fathom AT ALL why a gay person might find it offensive?

I frequently use the term gay to refer to something I find dumb but it doesn't mean I'm directing it at a homosexual. It's no different than calling something retarded.

Actually, as a gay man who had an uncle with Down's Syndrome, I am doubly offended. Your attitude is exactly the kind of thing that anti-bullying programs are attempting to address. You seem to think that just because you are not calling something "homosexual" when you call it "gay" or "faggot" it is not offensive. I can assure you, were you to replace "gay" or "faggot" with the n-word, no African-American would be comfortable with that.

As for such terms being part of the "cultural language" the only reason "gay" is used perjoratively in our culture is because of the rampant, and sadly often violent, anti-gay bigotry that is commonly accepted in this country. Such words and attitudes only serve to make the anti-gay bigotry more ingrained.

Now, I happen to agree with Ed about anti-hate speech codes, because not only do I believe they are ineffective, but they also create martyrs to the anti-gay cause, as AFA, ADF, and all the other hate groups love to use the kids who violate these codes as "victims" of the evil gay agenda. However, anti-bullying programs, which work to change the culture, rather than repress speech (or should do so, at least IMHO) are a different story. Having been physically assaulted twice in my own life, once clearly for being gay (I was gang-attacked in my junior high, and the administration did NOTHING), and once I suspect may have been because I was gay (a brick to the face by two unknown attackers two years ago, for no apparent reason), I know it is vital that we change our culture.

llDayo, if you are really not anti-gay, you ought to take a look at your own language, because it is helping the anti-gay hate movement. In fact, take a look at a little film that won the Best Picture Oscar in 1947, Gentlemen's Agreement about anti-Semitism. In that film, a Jewish WW2 veteran makes the case for the need of "nice people," who are not anti-Semitic themselves, to step in and address anti-Semitism when it is expressed by others. Instead of trying to get along and not confront their anti-Semitic acquaintances, he states, and I agree, that a failure to address the attitude only lets it continue. The same is completely true for anti-gay language, whether it is directed at a person or a object you simply don't like.

Prup: I don't think there is a contradiction at all. The distinction that needs to be made is that this is a school setting, which is not a free speech zone. It is entirely appropriate to ban speech which disrupts the classroom, particularly when it is an insult directed at a person.

Back when I was teaching in a middle school, I had a zero tolerance policy toward any referencing of another person's sexuality. That is the only way to do it. If you allow even one comment, you lose several minutes of instructional time to the commotion, and you encourage somebody to decide to show off.

That is not to say that you can't have classroom discussions of sexual topics because you can, and they can be highly useful. But you can't ever allow it to become personal, because then the teacher has lost control of the room.

Referring to things as gay is not helping the anti-gay movement. Supposedly "moralistic" teachings that tell people that homosexuality is evil is what's helping it out. I can guarantee you I am not against homosexuality and I have had good friends throughout my life who are gay. I've used that term in front of them AND on more than one occasion have heard them use it too! The meaning of this word has been so diluted within our society that it's no longer much of an insult and I honestly find it sad that there's people out there who take it as such to heart.

I'm willing to bet some of you had no problem with the Mohammed cartoons, even if that was insulting to Muslims. Works differently when the shoe's on the other foot, eh?

I can guarantee you I am not against homosexuality and I have had good friends throughout my life who are gay.

"Some of my best friends are gay"

Right.

If I were you, I'd stop digging.

I was very much involved with music in high school (including show choir and musicals). I can assure, I've had good friends that were gay. I've also received a Bachelor's degree from Penn State and can assure you that homosexuality is even more out in the open there. On top of that I have had friends who were dancers at night clubs in Philly and have done a few modeling shows in which I met many people through them backstage. If you think for a second there wasn't even one homosexual at these places that I hung out with, you may want to check these places out some time. You'll find you're sadly mistaken. Most likely I've had more social experiences with someone who prefers someone of their own gender than over 90% of the population so I can definitely assure you, I have no need to "dig".

Prup wrote:

You have repeatedly argued on behalf of the ADF's attempts to strike down 'speech codes' that prohibit anti-gay speech, have defended students' rights to wear anti-gay t-shirts, etc. All of this on grounds of 'free speech.' You have used the argument that 'the answer to speech is more speech. But here you argue in favor of a code that prohibits bullying of LGBT students.

I would, of course, agree with you here, but what causes this bullying but the sort of attitudes that are on the t-shirts, that are prohibited by the speech codes?

The distinction is between behavior and expressing one's opinion. And the problem with this notion that you can stop bullying by doing away with expressing the ideas behind it is, where does that end? Doing away with any speech or expression in schools that criticizes homosexuality is not going to do away with bullying, so what then? Well, maybe we have to get rid of all anti-gay expression in society too, so let's start throwing ministers in jail to prevent them from contributing to such bullying. And so forth. I would also note that the expression of one's opinion on this subject does not necessarily indicate anything about whether one is likely to engage in bullying. I'm sure there are many Christians out there (I know some of them) who believe that homosexuality is sinful but would never stand for anyone mistreating or bullying a gay person. And the expression of their belief, by itself, does not constitute harrassment or bullying. So once we start violating freedom of speech to get to the "causes" of bullying, there is no principled place to stop.

I will have much more to say on this, including arguing that one problem with your position is that the ('small l') libertariansim you propound does not work in this type of atmosphere, that this is where the government is most useful, in protecting the liberties of the 'despised minorities.' (It wasn't a sudden discovery of the evils of racism through the 'free market of ideas' that gained blacks the equality they have obtained, but the action of the government in voting rights laws and public accomodation laws.)

But those are laws against behavior (discrimination, specifically), not against the expression of an opinion or belief. I'm not arguing against adding sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination laws; in fact, if we're going to have such laws, sexual orientation certainly ought to be on the list. But expressing racist opinion is still legal in this country, as it ought to be. And despite that fact, we have made enormous strides against racism. I think this is an argument for my position, not against it.

Ildayo wrote:

frequently use the term gay to refer to something I find dumb but it doesn't mean I'm directing it at a homosexual. It's no different than calling something retarded. It's just become part of our cultural language and from what I'm reading on what you posted, Ed, these aren't disparaging remarks directed at gays. Now, when someone's trying to demean someone personally, than it draws the line (or if there's physical bullying as noted within your block quote) but the first part referring to hearing the terms gay or faggot multiple times throughout the day I think are misleading.

Let me make clear that I don't believe you're anti-gay at all. You've commented and added to the discussion here for a long time, and we've exchanged email, so I'm definitely willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on that. But that's all the more reason to ask you to reconsider your position here and stop using such terminology in that manner. Do you really not see the problem with using the word "gay" to mean anything bad? I hear kids use it the same way all the time and it just makes me cringe. And it's funny, I just had a conversation about this last night with someone who also didn't get it, despite my best efforts to make him see - and he's Jewish, for crying out loud, someone who really ought to be more sensitive to that sort of thing given their history. In a discussion about driving on Michigan roads in the winter, this guy suddenly bursts out, "I'm tired of those faggots who don't know how to drive when there's snow on the road." I was completely taken aback by this. After someone else objected to his use of that term he said, "I mean faggot in a general sense." At which point I said, "I'm curious how you know they were faggots. I mean, maybe they're really kikes. In the general sense, of course." That prompted half an hour of argument. He was absolutely furious at the idea that someone would use such a bigoted slur like that and he just did not get the point of what I said. He used the same excuse, "Come on, people say that things are gay when they just mean that they're bad or stupid, and they use faggot to mean any asshole or jerk." I said, "Okay, so if people started using the term 'jewish' to refer to anything bad or stupid, or started calling every asshole a 'kike', would you be okay with that?" Absolutely no recognition from him. I hope you can do better than that, because this really is a problem. Using that term for everything bad clearly does demean gays, and while I will defend anyone's right to say it, I don't think one ought to say it. Especially someone who knows and cares about gay people.

IlDayo wrote:

I'm willing to bet some of you had no problem with the Mohammed cartoons, even if that was insulting to Muslims. Works differently when the shoe's on the other foot, eh?

This is a poor analogy. No one is arguing that anything anyone else finds insulting is out of bounds to say. If people started using the term "muslim" to refer to anything bad or stupid, then I would make the same argument. Nor is anyone arguing that such speech should be prohibited (at least I am not, obviously), only that it shouldn't be said by people who care about this issue.

Ed, I understand completely the point you and CPT_Doom are trying to make to me but I unfortunately do not believe the term "faggot" has the same history as "kike". Maybe I'm ignorant of some history about it (if I am, direct me somewhere that I can read about it) and maybe I'm just in a generation (I'm 28) that words like this never really had much of an insulting means to them other than a general synonym for stupid (or forms of). Much like the term "nigger" is used throughout urban subculture when talking to friends (I know it's not being used as an insult but I've also used the term fag when greeting good friends before). To me, words are just words until they're directed at an individual or group and used as a context for insult. But they still remain that, words. Is this such a horrible idea for someone such as myself to hold? I'm sure I'm nowhere close to being the only person who thinks of it as such.

I should mention that when I'm in a group of people whom I have just met I tend to hold my tongue a bit (I have a bit of a potty mouth) so as not to offend someone who may be sensitive to these words being used as generalizations but am not afraid to use it once I have established my personality. Incidentally, you should have heard the things our little group of regular drinking buds called each other in college. There were 7 of us with only me and another being white. Am I promoting racism by calling a friend of mine a "spic" when he's calling me a "cracker"?

I think there's a difference when you use certain terms around people you know. Here in the south, I hear black people use the N term while talking to their friends. That doesn't give me the right(as a very white person) to use that when talking to them. I respect that and have no problem with it. They don't enjoy some random person using that term in reference to them.

Maybe there are gays who wouldn't mind the word faggot used around them in a general way, but I would assume there are plenty who would object.

Just because your friend let you call him a spic doesn't mean latinos as a whole want you to.

The comments about using terms like "gay" and "retarded" make me think that I have a bit of work to do. Yes I understand why these terms should not be used. I have two teenage kids and "gay" has become a really common slang term for "lame" - which is definitely wrong but getting out of speech patterns does take an effort.

Better have a discussion with my kids today.

"Retarded" actually is another term we have not stopped using. Shame on us.

llDayo,

I think everyone here is letting you make a large assumption--that the words "gay" and "fag" have lost their original, offensive meaning. By and large, they have not. They are not slurs from a by-gone era, having come to mean just "stupid" or whatever. In our society, and especially in high school, when someone wants to offend another they know to be gay, they call them a faggot. When someone wants to refer to homosexuality (but not use that term), they use the word "gay" and others know what they mean.

So how do you expect others to know what you mean? If, for instance, you and I were friends and were standing in line for movie tickets, while I might know that you're okay with gay people, were you to say "I don't want to see that movie, it's gay," how are the people around you and I supposed to take it? How do you think a nearby gay couple might take it?

It's not stupid that they would get offended--it's not their job to consider that you're just using some other definition. It's silly to argue that "gay" means stupid when it clearly means "homosexual" in today's society; using it to mean stupid is not taking the word away from it's original meaning, it's just adding the conotation of stupidity to homosexuality. And if you're still confused--who exactly do you think started using the word "gay" as a synonym for stupid? Do you think it was someone with a lot of gay friends who was totally cool with alternative sexualities and just decided to associate "gay" with "stupid"? There's your history.

And, finally, I don't think anyone here cares what you and your idiot buddies called each other in the comfort of your dorm room. If you were in my social circle, and getting to know you meant you started calling things "gay" and people you didn't like "faggots," well, I may understand that you're cool with gay people, but I would be embarrassed to be in public with you, and I'd think you naive.

And, honestly, what is the attraction of using the word "gay" anyway? You are not a slave to slang. You can choose what to say. There are other words that mean "stupid," and, in fact, mean it better than some slang word. Like "stupid."

This isn't about your freedom to say something, it's about realistic expectations of what others are going to take from what you say, and I don't think offense is an outrageous or even overly PC reaction.

to add to Dave H's excellent post, let's try to stop the dumbing-down of the language here and now. Words have meanings that actually are not interchangeable with whatever you want them to mean (like Humpty-Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland). The only way to elevate public debate and public discourse is to start with yourself.

I'd like to add that I'm also 28 and I have only ever heard the word "faggot" (or "nigger") used in a derogatory, degrading way. So think about how a stranger would react to you, coming from somewhere else in the country or in the world.

This isn't about your freedom to say something, it's about realistic expectations of what others are going to take from what you say,

Quite. He's certainly free to use "gay" to mean stupid. And other people are just as free to think he's a moron to do that.

He can change that, of course, by more speech. But he has to use persuasive rhetoric and not just call other people "PC".

Ildayo wrote:

Ed, I understand completely the point you and CPT_Doom are trying to make to me but I unfortunately do not believe the term "faggot" has the same history as "kike". Maybe I'm ignorant of some history about it (if I am, direct me somewhere that I can read about it) and maybe I'm just in a generation (I'm 28) that words like this never really had much of an insulting means to them other than a general synonym for stupid (or forms of).

I think faggot has pretty much the same history as kike. The only difference is that I've never heard a Jew use the word "kike" in referring to one another, even in joking. But that doesn't change the fact that "faggot" has long been used as a demeaning epithet toward gay people. And I think it still remains true that if you're using "faggot" to mean asshole or jerk, or using "gay" to mean anything bad or stupid, then those words must be insults when applied to someone else. Having said that, I do agree with you that intent is the most important thing; there is a difference between someone using the term in the manner you are using it and someone using it as an epithet aimed at a gay person.

Much like the term "nigger" is used throughout urban subculture when talking to friends (I know it's not being used as an insult but I've also used the term fag when greeting good friends before). To me, words are just words until they're directed at an individual or group and used as a context for insult. But they still remain that, words. Is this such a horrible idea for someone such as myself to hold? I'm sure I'm nowhere close to being the only person who thinks of it as such.

No, and I actually agree that the intent of the speaker is far more important than the word itself. Words don't have intrinsic meaning and context does matter. That's why a black person can call their friend "my nigger" and no one is offended, because he clearly is not using it as an insult. It's the same reason why two women can jokingly call each other "bitch" without getting mad, but if one of their boyfriends or husbands seriously called them a bitch, all hell might break loose. And yes, I've heard many gay friends say to each other, "God, you're such a fag" and everyone laughs. So I do agree with your premise. However, bear in mind the context in which this is being used even the way you use it; the word "gay" is being used to denote anything someone hates or finds stupid or bad. The word "faggot" is being used to denote anyone who is a bad person or an asshole. Now, if you were gay and you heard that word being used that way, would that not bother you? If the very thing that you are is casually used as a term for things that are stupid or loathsome, that simply must contribute to a generally negative connotation to that word. And that's why I think it shouldn't be used in that way.

I do understand your position on this, and I agree with the premise, just not the conclusion. But having said that, I'm not opposed to using the term completely. For instance, Doug Stanhope has a really funny routine about that word where he says, "Either fight it or quit crying, faggot. And if you're here and you're gay and you're offended by the word faggot, I apologize and I'll suck your dick after the show. It's too good a word and I don't wanna lose it, so I'll suck your dick after the show. My self-respect was shot years ago anyway." I think that's really funny. But he clearly doesn't mean it as an insult toward gays, and in fact the routine goes on about how such epithets work better if you use them against people other than the ones they're typically aimed at. There's a point to it. But I just don't think there's any point to using "gay" as a general purpose word for "anything bad" or for using "faggot" as a general purpose word for any bad person. There are much better words for those things, words that don't contribute to an already far too negative connotation surrounding gay people in our society.

"That guy is gay."

Quick! Try to figure out just from that sentence whether I am saying that "that guy" is a lame person or am just stating a fact about "that guy"'s sexual orientation.

By Monimonika (not verified) on 23 Oct 2006 #permalink

IlDayo said -

I understand completely the point you and CPT_Doom are trying to make to me but I unfortunately do not believe the term "faggot" has the same history as "kike".

Actually, it comes from the glory days when witches were burned at the stake. Homosexuals, were routinely added to the pile of wood, or "faggot." So yes, it does have a similar history as "kike."

After reading what you wrote, I asked my roomie how it makes him feel to hear people use the terms "gay" or "fag" as derogatives. He explianed that it makes his chest constrict a little and his stress rise just a little. It also makes him feel just a little less a part of the human race. Because it so easily lips off the tongue - like it's meaningless, implying he's meaningless - just a little. Now this doesn't have a overt, powerfull message all by itself but, add to that it happens over and over coupled with overt biggotry, and it can seriously demean a person. It contributes to it - and if you are that supportive of gays, which I believe you are - you should stop.

The idea that the word "faggot" comes from burning gay men at the stake is actually false. True, it was once used to describe a bundle of sticks that one might use to start a fire, but it's association with homosexuality came long after the bundle of sticks usage had died out.

The term's etymology is largely speculative. Faggot did at one time refer to an old woman, and maybe even a prostitute, and it has been common for derogatory feminine terms to be adapted to derogatory slurs for homosexual men.

Here's a wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faggot_%28epithet%29

I feel that any sort of bullying is wrong, and don't see that a distinction should be made regardless of the source. Anything which makes someone unique will cause bullying -- and the administration should be aware and deal with it regardless of the cause.

I see this sort of policy as similar to so-called "hate crime legislation", if armed assault is wrong, its wrong for everyone. Making distinctions on results due to motive is IMHO a very slippery slope.

For instance, Doug Stanhope has a really funny routine about that word where he says, "Either fight it or quit crying, faggot. And if you're here and you're gay and you're offended by the word faggot, I apologize and I'll suck your dick after the show. It's too good a word and I don't wanna lose it, so I'll suck your dick after the show. My self-respect was shot years ago anyway." I think that's really funny. But he clearly doesn't mean it as an insult toward gays, and in fact the routine goes on about how such epithets work better if you use them against people other than the ones they're typically aimed at.

So.... basically, he's making an argument for exactly what Ildayo is doing. So if you agree with Stanhope, why do you disagree wtih Ildayo? Is it because Stanhope is funnier?

I've seen that bit, and actually didn't find it particularly funny. I don't want Doug Stanhope to suck my dick after the show (not that he would actually do it, and not that I have a dick); I want him to not use that word. It's not any prettier than calling a man a cunt.

Dave H. - If, for instance, you and I were friends and were standing in line for movie tickets, while I might know that you're okay with gay people, were you to say "I don't want to see that movie, it's gay," how are the people around you and I supposed to take it? How do you think a nearby gay couple might take it?

It's the context as I've already pointed out. The comment is not being directed at someone so is not taken as an insult. Let's try another example. What I had said, "I don't want to see that movie, it's queer". How should people around me take it?

And if you're still confused--who exactly do you think started using the word "gay" as a synonym for stupid? Do you think it was someone with a lot of gay friends who was totally cool with alternative sexualities and just decided to associate "gay" with "stupid"? There's your history.

I'd have to say that's a difficult claim to make. You know for sure that it wasn't started within a group of homosexual friends since its application of describing homosexuality is a very recent thing?

And, honestly, what is the attraction of using the word "gay" anyway? You are not a slave to slang. You can choose what to say. There are other words that mean "stupid," and, in fact, mean it better than some slang word. Like "stupid."

New slang words arise with every generation. Should I be carrying a dictionary around so I can make sure not to offend every person around me with a word that may have meant something different in the past?

This isn't about your freedom to say something, it's about realistic expectations of what others are going to take from what you say, and I don't think offense is an outrageous or even overly PC reaction.

Personally, I think our society has turned into a bunch of crybabies. Have any of you ever watched the movie 'Demolition Man'? Every little thing in the future is banned because it's been deemed offensive or unhealthy. Will I soon not be allowed to swear because someone "may" be nearby who finds immoral?

Kate - I'd like to add that I'm also 28 and I have only ever heard the word "faggot" (or "nigger") used in a derogatory, degrading way. So think about how a stranger would react to you, coming from somewhere else in the country or in the world.

You would be offended if you heard someone use the word "fag" who has a British accent?

Ed - Having said that, I do agree with you that intent is the most important thing; there is a difference between someone using the term in the manner you are using it and someone using it as an epithet aimed at a gay person.

And that's the point I've been trying to make. Using "gay" or "fag" doesn't necessarily mean I'm applying the terms as someone being homosexual and that I'm using THAT meaning of the word to what or whom I'm describing.

Now, if you were gay and you heard that word being used that way, would that not bother you? If the very thing that you are is casually used as a term for things that are stupid or loathsome, that simply must contribute to a generally negative connotation to that word. And that's why I think it shouldn't be used in that way.

I disagree. Words can have more than one meaning and probably these meanings come from others using them as slang for something else. If I'm not using the word "gay" to calling something dumb at the same time I'm using it in a context that involves homosexuality I don't feel I'm contributing to the term gaining a negative connotation.

For instance, Doug Stanhope has a really funny routine about that word where he says, "Either fight it or quit crying, faggot." There's a point to it. But I just don't think there's any point to using "gay" as a general purpose word for "anything bad" or for using "faggot" as a general purpose word for any bad person. There are much better words for those things, words that don't contribute to an already far too negative connotation surrounding gay people in our society.

I certainly hope you're kidding. That just describes EXACTLY what I've been talking about! It's alright for Doug Stanhope but not any regular schmuck out there?

DuWayne - After reading what you wrote, I asked my roomie how it makes him feel to hear people use the terms "gay" or "fag" as derogatives. He explianed that it makes his chest constrict a little and his stress rise just a little. It also makes him feel just a little less a part of the human race. Because it so easily lips off the tongue - like it's meaningless, implying he's meaningless - just a little. Now this doesn't have a overt, powerfull message all by itself but, add to that it happens over and over coupled with overt biggotry, and it can seriously demean a person. It contributes to it - and if you are that supportive of gays, which I believe you are - you should stop.

I think your friend may be reading more into its usage than is actually there. No where, in using it in the context I do, is there any implication of homosexuals being meaningless. Then again, the area I'm from the effect may be totally different. Its usage is common and seems to be passed off as just another description of something.

llDayo--"It's the context as I've already pointed out. The comment is not being directed at someone so is not taken as an insult. Let's try another example. What I had said, "I don't want to see that movie, it's queer". How should people around me take it?"

--Actually, queer would probably be more offensive (I'm assuming you're living in the U.S. I suppose, if you're not, then "fag" does mean something different). Just because you don't direct a comment at someone as an insult doesn't mean they wouldn't be offended by it.

llDayo--"I'd have to say that's a difficult claim to make. You know for sure that it wasn't started within a group of homosexual friends since its application of describing homosexuality is a very recent thing?"

--No, I suppose I don't know for sure, but I think 1) it's a bit more of a stretch, and more of a burden, to say that using gay in a negative sense came from actual gay people, deriding themselves, then to say that the brilliant idea originated with homophobes, and 2) as with most slang, it most likely came from adolescents, and high schools across America are not safe or welcoming places for GLBT students. I really don't think it's a difficult claim to make that the negative usage of the word gay came from someone describing homosexuality, and then other things, in a negative context. I think you're speculating to make your argument look better.

llDayo--"New slang words arise with every generation. Should I be carrying a dictionary around so I can make sure not to offend every person around me with a word that may have meant something different in the past?"

--"may have meant something different in the past." No, I don't suppose you should, but perhaps you could pay attention to words that have two meanings right now. It is a rhetorical lie to imply that gay has lost its most recent meaning, that of homosexual. It simply hasn't, and that makes everything you just said completely invalid.

llDayo--"Personally, I think our society has turned into a bunch of crybabies. Have any of you ever watched the movie 'Demolition Man'? Every little thing in the future is banned because it's been deemed offensive or unhealthy. Will I soon not be allowed to swear because someone "may" be nearby who finds immoral?"

--You just totally ignored what everyone has been saying to you here. We're not arguing about what you're allowed to say, but what you should say if you don't want to offend gay people. And we're not talking about second-hand offense, like the way Christians are offended by curse words, but that you're uttering a direct (whether you intend it or not) anti-gay slur (both fag or gay in a negative context), which is still today used commonly as an anti-gay slur, and then crying free speech PC foul when others don't appreciate it. And now you're going to compare our criticism of your choice of words to fascism? Read my comment again--I support your freedom to say anything you want. That doesn't mean I have to like it or tell you it's okay to use that word, I'm not offended, because you have no ill will towards gays. If you really have no ill will, and actually cared about your gay friends, then you wouldn't forward the negative connotation of a word that has another meaning, one which is a current controversy (homosexuality).

llDayo--"And that's the point I've been trying to make. Using "gay" or "fag" doesn't necessarily mean I'm applying the terms as someone being homosexual and that I'm using THAT meaning of the word to what or whom I'm describing."

--But it most likely does. On the news, it's "gay" marriage. When they spray paint a slur on your locker in school, it's "fag." They don't spray paint--"FAG, and I mean this in the sense that I don't like that you're a homosexual, not in the general 'asshole' sense." They just have to paint "fag," and everyone knows what they're disparaging. In fact, in the movie theater, and among anyone who doesn't know you personally, using gay in a negative sense would probably confuse them--they would probably think you felt it okay to use the word "gay" as a negative because you actually have a problem with homosexuality, slight or large. That's what I would think. And if you used the word "fag," then you would definitely have to have a problem with gays--I've never known someone who used that word, outside of using it in an absurd or affectionate joke (where the meaning of the word was brought front and center), who was sympathetic to gays.

llDayo--"Words can have more than one meaning and probably these meanings come from others using them as slang for something else. If I'm not using the word "gay" to calling something dumb at the same time I'm using it in a context that involves homosexuality I don't feel I'm contributing to the term gaining a negative connotation."

--This is mind-boggling. If the word "gay" becomes synonymous with "stupid," and yet is still used to describe homosexuality, how is that NOT a negative connotation?! By using the word in a negative sense, you are contributing to the negative connotation with homosexuality, because it still also means homosexuality. You're not creating two different words here by changing context. It's still the same word, just two different meanings, meanings which are in current usage, and affect each other. Here's an example:

A child hear's the word "gay" to mean stupid throughout the third grade, and that's all he knows it to mean (because homosexuality doesn't really come to his attention--though I think that's a naive assumption on my part), and then in the fourth grade he comes to know what homosexuality is, and that it's also called "gay." He has a connotation that anything that is "gay" is also stupid, and it's not hard to imagine that he might associate homosexuality with stupid as well. True, it's simplistic, I'm sure his parents are equally contributing to his idea that being gay is wrong--but the basic idea is there. If you forward a negative connotation by using a derogatory meaning of a word that also means a controversial minority in this country--I don't care if it's slang or not--you contribute to the general negative atmosphere against that minority. Period. No amount of intention on your part will change that, nor will your desire to separate a word from it's common meaning. Yeah, slang says gay is "stupid." But much longer established slang says it means "homosexual." And using it in a negative context splashes that negativity right onto the other meaning, as well.

llDayo--"I think your friend may be reading more into its usage than is actually there. No where, in using it in the context I do, is there any implication of homosexuals being meaningless. Then again, the area I'm from the effect may be totally different. Its usage is common and seems to be passed off as just another description of something."

--Where are you from that "gay" marriage isn't a contested topic? Or acknowledged as a contested topic in the U.S.? Where are you from that school children don't bully GLBT students for being gay, and call them gay and fag?

And, while we're at it, just what do they call gay people where you're from, where gay, or fag, has come to be just another description of something (the worst slang definition, ever).

Maybe you should actually carry around a dictionary, because I think you're denying to yourself that "gay" people, aka "fags" are a controversial minority, still rather hated in the U.S., used as political manipulation, etc., and instead you'd rather just hum and plug your ears at the idea that someone would be offended by your casual use of an anti-gay slur, just because you want to use it as slang, and somehow drop both it's other definition and its likely origin for becoming slang.

All so you can call someone a "fag," or say "that's so gay." What are you, fifteen?

Dave H. - Actually, queer would probably be more offensive (I'm assuming you're living in the U.S. I suppose, if you're not, then "fag" does mean something different). Just because you don't direct a comment at someone as an insult doesn't mean they wouldn't be offended by it.

Maybe you should look up the multiple definitions of queer then.

No, I suppose I don't know for sure, but I think 1) it's a bit more of a stretch, and more of a burden, to say that using gay in a negative sense came from actual gay people, deriding themselves, then to say that the brilliant idea originated with homophobes, and 2) as with most slang, it most likely came from adolescents, and high schools across America are not safe or welcoming places for GLBT students. I really don't think it's a difficult claim to make that the negative usage of the word gay came from someone describing homosexuality, and then other things, in a negative context. I think you're speculating to make your argument look better.

I know it's a stretch and I wasn't arguing just to try to justify my position. I was merely just throwing the question out there.

"may have meant something different in the past." No, I don't suppose you should, but perhaps you could pay attention to words that have two meanings right now. It is a rhetorical lie to imply that gay has lost its most recent meaning, that of homosexual. It simply hasn't, and that makes everything you just said completely invalid.

I never said it's lost its most recent meaning. It just can now mean two different things.

You just totally ignored what everyone has been saying to you here. We're not arguing about what you're allowed to say, but what you should say if you don't want to offend gay people. And we're not talking about second-hand offense, like the way Christians are offended by curse words, but that you're uttering a direct (whether you intend it or not) anti-gay slur (both fag or gay in a negative context), which is still today used commonly as an anti-gay slur, and then crying free speech PC foul when others don't appreciate it. And now you're going to compare our criticism of your choice of words to fascism? Read my comment again--I support your freedom to say anything you want. That doesn't mean I have to like it or tell you it's okay to use that word, I'm not offended, because you have no ill will towards gays. If you really have no ill will, and actually cared about your gay friends, then you wouldn't forward the negative connotation of a word that has another meaning, one which is a current controversy (homosexuality).

I realize what the argument is about and used the movie to try to make a point. I am free to speak how please, even if some find it offensive. I also understand that others have the right to tell me they find it offensive, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop using terms. In that movie, however, everything was basically outlawed to protect us from each other and ourselves so no one's feelings would be hurt. It turned out to be quite revolting not being able to do what you want. Around my area, the word "gay" has multiple meanings and others understand that (or else we'd be seeing something in the news about fights breaking out at some point, I'm sure).
llDayo--"And that's the point I've been trying to make. Using "gay" or "fag" doesn't necessarily mean I'm applying the terms as someone being homosexual and that I'm using THAT meaning of the word to what or whom I'm describing."

But it most likely does. On the news, it's "gay" marriage. When they spray paint a slur on your locker in school, it's "fag." They don't spray paint--"FAG, and I mean this in the sense that I don't like that you're a homosexual, not in the general 'asshole' sense." They just have to paint "fag," and everyone knows what they're disparaging. In fact, in the movie theater, and among anyone who doesn't know you personally, using gay in a negative sense would probably confuse them--they would probably think you felt it okay to use the word "gay" as a negative because you actually have a problem with homosexuality, slight or large. That's what I would think. And if you used the word "fag," then you would definitely have to have a problem with gays

Ok, spray painting the word onto a locker is part of this whole context thing. If "fag" were spray painted onto the door it's just common sense that someone is deliberately trying to make an insulting, prejudiced statement. This isn't the same as every day banter among your peers.

--I've never known someone who used that word, outside of using it in an absurd or affectionate joke (where the meaning of the word was brought front and center), who was sympathetic to gays

Do you think every person on an online game who yelled (or typed) out the word "faggot" because of something that happened to them is against homosexuality? From playing these games for years, I can guarantee you it happens quite often. I highly doubt there's this many homophobes out there.

This is mind-boggling. If the word "gay" becomes synonymous with "stupid," and yet is still used to describe homosexuality, how is that NOT a negative connotation?! By using the word in a negative sense, you are contributing to the negative connotation with homosexuality, because it still also means homosexuality. You're not creating two different words here by changing context. It's still the same word, just two different meanings, meanings which are in current usage, and affect each other.

To me it only affects those who let themselves get worked up over a simple descriptive word. This doesn't seem like it'd be an issue if people would realize that words can mean multiple things and just because it's used in one context doesn't necessarily mean it generates negativity to other contexts. You're jumping to a conclusion without showing evidence that this happens.

Here's an example:
A child hear's the word "gay" to mean stupid throughout the third grade, and that's all he knows it to mean (because homosexuality doesn't really come to his attention--though I think that's a naive assumption on my part), and then in the fourth grade he comes to know what homosexuality is, and that it's also called "gay." He has a connotation that anything that is "gay" is also stupid, and it's not hard to imagine that he might associate homosexuality with stupid as well. True, it's simplistic, I'm sure his parents are equally contributing to his idea that being gay is wrong--but the basic idea is there. If you forward a negative connotation by using a derogatory meaning of a word that also means a controversial minority in this country--I don't care if it's slang or not--you contribute to the general negative atmosphere against that minority. Period. No amount of intention on your part will change that, nor will your desire to separate a word from it's common meaning. Yeah, slang says gay is "stupid." But much longer established slang says it means "homosexual." And using it in a negative context splashes that negativity right onto the other meaning, as well.

Let's add to your example. The child finds out that some of his classmates are gay, people whom he's played with on multiple occasions and considers to be friends. He doesn't find these people stupid and realizes that the term gay doesn't necessarily describe a homosexual as being stupid. Or if he doesn't find out at that time one of his friends are gay he at least is told that 1 in 10 have homosexual tendencies. In a class of 25-30, the chances of him knowing someone who is gay greatly increases. The same effect occurs and he realizes there's a distinction between the slang and the descriptive.

Where are you from that "gay" marriage isn't a contested topic? Or acknowledged as a contested topic in the U.S.? Where are you from that school children don't bully GLBT students for being gay, and call them gay and fag?

Lebanon, PA. Gay marriage IS contested here (unfortunately) but this topic has nothing to do with using the term as slang. It's a "morals" issue. As for the school children bullying, this happens in every school and not just to homosexuals. But again, this doesn't necessitate a link between the slang use and bullying of kids. If you want to try to turn this argument around though I could ask the question as to why homosexuals use the term "gay" to describe themselves when the term is used in a negative connotation to bully others. Should they stop using it so as not to paint themselves as something negative?

And, while we're at it, just what do they call gay people where you're from, where gay, or fag, has come to be just another description of something (the worst slang definition, ever).

Gay.

Maybe you should actually carry around a dictionary, because I think you're denying to yourself that "gay" people, aka "fags" are a controversial minority, still rather hated in the U.S., used as political manipulation, etc., and instead you'd rather just hum and plug your ears at the idea that someone would be offended by your casual use of an anti-gay slur, just because you want to use it as slang, and somehow drop both it's other definition and its likely origin for becoming slang.
All so you can call someone a "fag," or say "that's so gay." What are you, fifteen?

Are you saying all fifteen year olds are immature? I'm sure some would find that offensive.

Okay, if you're right...

Then I think you should walk into a crowded club where there's a lot of black people, and I think you should yell "this sound system is nigger-rigged!"

And then you should argue with them about how it doesn't mean anything offensive, that it has it's own separate meaning now, that it only means that something was put together sloppily.

And then you should accuse them of creating the term, by asking "well, how do I know you didn't make it up, you bunch of racists!"

And then you should list all your black friends, which makes it okay.

And then you should tell them to stop calling themselves black, because you would like to change it's definition to something negative and you don't want them offending themselves.

And then you should say something silly like--"well, the people on internet gambling say it all the time, are you telling me they're all racist! I think not!"

And then you should put in a caveat--that, obviously, while it's okay for you to say "nigger-rigged," it is not okay to spray paint it on a locker, because then it magically takes on an offensive context that it didn't have before.

And then you should tell them they're over-reacting when they get upset.

You, sir, are in the running for most absurd set of arguments I've seen all year.

Okay, if you're right...

Then I think you should walk into a crowded club where there's a lot of black people, and I think you should yell "this sound system is nigger-rigged!"

And then you should argue with them about how it doesn't mean anything offensive, that it has it's own separate meaning now, that it only means that something was put together sloppily.

And then you should accuse them of creating the term, by asking "well, how do I know you didn't make it up, you bunch of racists!"

And then you should list all your black friends, which makes it okay.

And then you should tell them to stop calling themselves black, because you would like to change it's definition to something negative and you don't want them offending themselves.

And then you should say something silly like--"well, the people on internet gambling say it all the time, are you telling me they're all racist! I think not!"

And then you should put in a caveat--that, obviously, while it's okay for you to say "nigger-rigged," it is not okay to spray paint it on a locker, because then it magically takes on an offensive context that it didn't have before.

And then you should tell them they're over-reacting when they get upset.

You, sir, are in the running for most absurd set of arguments I've seen all year.

I think if you have to put so much effort into justifying the use of a word, maybe you should avoid using it. Its not a matter of fundamental human rights or popular definitions, but a matter of simple decency.

Dave H., even I know when to draw the line. The word "nigger" was used during a dark period of our nation's past and has never grown past the description it was intended for (from when it was begun to describe blacks in a bad way). But, it is used today within urban and rap subcultures. I, however, don't fall into that area so for me to use it would immediately label me as racist. Is there a difference between them using "nigger" and me using "gay" amongst our peers, even if their slang terms are going opposite directions?

Will, I've never had to justify using the word before. This is in fact the very first time I've encountered anyone who's had a problem with it. I've heard it used for years in this manner and have done so myself yet acceptance of gays in our community hasn't faltered (the marriage issue is a different story as that is a state issue and Pennsylvania is a pretty big state).

IlDayo -

First, apologies, I haven't looked for a reference online to back up my assertion of the origins of fag.

I think your friend may be reading more into its usage than is actually there. No where, in using it in the context I do, is there any implication of homosexuals being meaningless

No, he's not. It has nothing to do with context. The point is that when the words gay or fag, terms commonly used, in the U.S. to refer to homosexuals, are used as derogatives, it implies that the person using it has derogatory feelings towards homosexuals. My roomie is not nieve, he understands that people aren't using those words to try to slam homosexuals, the problem is that they are using words whose primary definition in the U.S. is a homosexual. It is the very fact that it is so non-chalantly used as a derogative that implies it and the people those words represent are meaningless. It is somewhat more insidious than an overt biggot using them as slurs because when people like you, who are supportive of gays, use them as derogative, you are implying you don't entirely approve of the lifestyle they lead - like saying that you support their right to do as they will but, ewww, that's just gross and repulsive in the next breath.

I used to use faggot or fag as a derogative too. It was only after using it in front of a gay friend and being berated for it that I realized how cruel it's use, in that context can be.

The fact that your gay friends don't care doesn't make it right either. One of my oldest gay friends uses the word fag as a derogative towards gays he finds too efeminate. Hell, I have a friend who is black, who uses the word nigger as a derogative towards other blacks. And their are many places in between - I know gays who use gay and fag in the very same context you are trying to defend. That still doesn't make it right.

I tend to be very open and friendly with most people - including those I am diametricly opposed to politicaly. But I would likely not be very keen on hanging out with you if I heard you use those terms in a negative context. Society has blessed us with innumerable descriptives of things we don't like. When people use terms that are primarily used to label a sub-culture, as a derogative, I assume they against that group (an example - I use "republican" and "democrat" as derogatives) and judge them accordingly. If I hear someone say gay in the context of calling something stupid, I assume that they find homosexuals just as stupid as whatever they were describing. Why should I waste my time figuring out what they actually mean, or if they are a biggot or not? Their use of "gay" as a derogative implies they're a biggot - enough time wasted on this person already.

The word "nigger" was used during a dark period of our nation's past and has never grown past the description it was intended for (from when it was begun to describe blacks in a bad way).

And you think faggot wasn't? Regardless of it's origins, it has been and still is used as a epithat. People would spit on queers and haul them into asylums or prisons - calling them a "dirty little faggot" or worse. You do understand that as late as the 1940's it was illegal to have gay sex anywhere in the U.S. and that there are still states with laws on the books prohibiting homosexual sex. Do you understand that it wasn't until the eighties that gay culture got to the point where they were expieriencing widespread tolerance? Do you understand that some people still use words like queer, fag, gay, nigger or kike and mean them in the nastiest, most dehumanizing way possible?

Then I think you should walk into a crowded club where there's a lot of black people, and I think you should yell "this sound system is nigger-rigged!"

I would never put the word gay, meaning stupid, even close to the level of the word nigger. 'Gay' is a totally acceptable synonym for homosexual, including by heterosexuals. Fag and nigger have no other connotation, disregarding the British use of fag; even in Ed's comment above when his gay friends might say to each other, 'you're such a fag', I don't think that Ed would actually use that phrase even jokingly because of the connotation when said by any heterosexual (unless they're really good friends).

The fact is that people do use the word 'gay', meaning stupid, in ways that has no connection to homosexuals. If I heard someone say, "that movie was gay", I would never take it to really mean, "that movie was stupid just like homosexuals", and I would think that if someone is going to get upset about it they need to get over themselves. If I say, "Wow that car is bad", should someone take offense when I really mean it's cool? I'm not going to apologize for someone else's ignorance about word usage, especially slang, and I think we'd be better off if people, when they're not sure if something offensive is being said, would assume that it is not.

That being said, this usage of gay is pretty juvenile, and most people my age outgrew it about the same time as the word 'hoser'.

David -

Let me pose the question, would you find it acceptable, if the slang term was "hispanic" instead of "gay?" Because hispanic is a generaly acceptable synonym for, well, hispanics. It wouldn't be implying that hispanics are stupid, after all, it would just be a juvenile slang term.

I'm sorry, but I just don't expect that my gay friends should have to "get over themselves" because they find it offensive that a word used to describe their sub-culture is also synonymous with stupid. It really is that simple.

I would never put the word gay, meaning stupid, even close to the level of the word nigger. 'Gay' is a totally acceptable synonym for homosexual, including by heterosexuals.

Then do you find it an acceptable synonym for "stupid"? If so, then why are you surprised that homosexuals find that offensive? From where I'm sitting, you're making the connection homosexual=day=stupid--and I find THAT offensive.

Moreover...you REALLY don't think a bully wouldn't use that kind of semantic equivalence to taunt and bully a kid that they thought was "queer"? Aren't you just handing more weapons for a bully to use?

DuWayne -

If the word 'hispanic' had another usage that meant stupid, (which is not the same as saying 'stupid like hispanics') which has been in use at least over 30 years, I wouldn't necessarily think it was offensive unless a large proportion of hispanics objected to it. In my example above, "that movie was gay", if you heard someone say that, would you think they were equating homosexuality and stupidity? I'm not saying that some homosexuals wouldn't construe it as offensive, I just personally think they're being thin-skinned about it.

Complicating the issue is that gay was already in use meaning happy/merry before it also came to mean homosexual. Words evolve, and I think even if the origin of 'gay' meaning stupid was to disparage gay people, that intent vanished quickly and is no longer present in some of it's usage today. In fact, I would say that if someone was really against gays, they would be more likely to use 'gay' in it's meaning as homosexual, as if that was an insult.

You refer to synonyms in your comment, and these usages of 'gay' are not synonyms; they're the same word with different meanings (homonyms I think). Even if you find this usage of gay offensive (and I don't disagree that it definitely belongs in the category of slang), I don't think there's any question that we are nowhere near the ballpark of faggot and nigger.

Then do you find it an acceptable synonym for "stupid"? If so, then why are you surprised that homosexuals find that offensive?

SOME homosexuals find it offensive. It depends on what you mean by 'acceptable'; it's slang, and it's juvenile, but I personally put this 'offense' on the level of people who get offended if someone says, 'damn' in their presence. Kids are the ones who use the word gay=stupid in this way mostly, and I don't know that I've ever heard that said with any malice.

A bully who calls someone gay means it to mean 'homosexual' in a hurtful way, again, as if it was an insult; non-bullies use the word gay to mean 'homosexual' in a harmless descriptive way. Same word, same meaning, different intents. To me, a bully saying to someone 'You gay boy!' and a moviegoer saying, 'that movie was gay' are not using the word 'gay' to mean close to the same thing.

Dave said -
if you heard someone say that, would you think they were equating homosexuality and stupidity?

Unless given a reason to assume otherwise, yes. When I was a bit younger, the reason that faggot was a dire insult and gay refered to stupid or wimpy things is precisely because they refer to homosexuals. In fact gay was an insult as well. And there are plenty of biggots out there who use those terms in exactly the same manner that IlDayo and now you, are defending, because they think that gays are stupid, weak, sick and vile. I have no interest in wasting my time figuring out whether someone using those words that way is a biggot or just sounds like one. If you really can't see that, I am sorry for you. Justifying biggotry, no matter how passive, is still justifying biggotry

Puhleeze, I'm not justifying bigotry; why are you interpreting every usage like this as such? I found a better descriptor than 'stupid'; gay is used as a slang word among young people to mean 'lame'. You are the one trying to cement it to a comment about homosexuality. I would argue that when I/we were a bit younger, if 'gay' was an insult, it was as much an insult as 'homosexual'; homosexuality period was viewed negatively. Thankfully that's changed and now the term 'homosexual' is neutral, as is 'gay' (which means it couldn't have been much of an insult). If the usage of the word gay as lame is supposed to be making a bigoted comment about homosexuality, what exactly is it? Gays are lame? THAT's lame.

I can say I've never encountered anyone who took such offense at this usage. Bigotry is all about intent, and if you think that the numerous young people who describe items and things as 'gay' (can you even agree that many young people use the word with no connotation to homosexuality?) are bigots and are intending to say something bigoted, well... don't feel sorry for me.

David -

I don't think that every kid or adult who refers to something stupid as gay is a bigot, just that they sound like one. If you can't see that then I will and do feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for you because I don't think your a bigot, yet you argue in favor of bigotry.

Yes, the intent matters. That is why I don't get angry when black people use the term nigger affectionately. But the intent of using gay as a derogative stems directly from bigotry. The fact that most people who use it don't necessarily do so out of bigotry doesn't change the fact that it is. When we were younger the word homosexual was more commonly used as an insult because anti-gay bigotry was far more prevelant. The fact is that some people still see it the same way most people (unfortunately, myself included) did when we were younger.

It is just so simple. You are advocating using a word that in our culture today, primarily refers to homosexuals, as a way of calling something stupid or lame, as you so eloquently put it. Certainly, words evolve and change in meaning. But the word gay is still used primarily to refer to homosexuals, making it a synonym for stupid just implies that gays are stupid. It is certainly what I meant, when I used it in that context twenty years ago. The fact that that is not what many people who use it today mean doesn't change what it means to a lot of people, especialy gays, when they hear it used in that context.

If you don't get it, you don't get it. If you want to know why I make a big deal, it's because not only does it make most of my gay friends uncomfortable, it makes me uncomfortable. I don't enjoy being bombarded with bigotry and anger at so many groups every damned day. The overt biggotry mostly just pisses me off but, passive aggresive bigotry strikes a lot harder for me, because so many people are just like you - they just don't see a problem with it. If you really don't understand that using a word that describes an entire group of people, no different than you or I, save their sexual preference, as a derogative implies that their sexual preference is also derogatory - then yes, I feel sorry for you.

Since the logic of gay=stupid means homosexual=stupid because primarily gay=homosexual, is lost on these few who think them gays should just get over it, AND since a couple were using personal experience--"Well gee, I've never had a gay person have a problem with it"--then let me describe a personal experience for you.

I'm gay, and I've got this group of guy friends (all straight) from high school, that after I came out we had this discussion. Except, since I was newly come out, and freaked out about losing friends, when a couple of them said "hey, man, we're gonna keep calling things gay, because we always have," I of course said, "oh, yeah, sure, go for it."

What I didn't tell them was that all throughout high school, because I was closeted, and even though I knew gay was a slang term for stupid, every time someone said "that's so gay," my heart skipped a beat. It was a reminder of what I was--I never then, nor today, completely separated gay-gay from gay-stupid. I don't see how that's realistic. I'm gay, and when I heard that word, it's something that I identify with. It's a thing that I am. I couldn't call something "gay" and mean stupid because I would feel like I was downing myself.

Anyway, back to subject, even after I came out, whenever someone called something "gay" it reminded me that these guys were straight, and probably not all that cool with gay people. Now, most of them are, but every time it happened everyone in the group got a little quiet, because they were all reminded that I'm gay, and I'm reminded (not that I forgot...) that I'm gay, and I'm specifically reminded that they don't mind using the sexuality that I identify with as a deragatory term.

I didn't say anything then, and I've since lost contact with most of them. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to seem super-PC. And while I wasn't deeply offended, it still caused a bit of that heart skip like it did in high school.

I don't see how a gay person, hearing that word so often used in the news, in casual conversation (meaning homosexual), being a serious controversy in our society, could just dismiss it as harmless slang. It's not. And it won't be as long as gay still means homosexual. Period. You can argue intent and context forever, but it doesn't matter--it didn't even though my friends clarified it for me, it didn't matter because I am gay, and I don't think gay is stupid.

And when it came down to it, if they'd told me that again, I would've told them to stop--not that it deeply offended me each time, but that I thought it was annoying, insensitive, and simply that I don't think gay is stupid, and I don't think it helps the atmoshpere or debate to help morph the word gay, still meaning homosexual, into a word meaning both that and stupid.

Oh, and here's another--what about homo? It's not as nasty as "fag" but it also doesn't have the old definitions that gay does. So, is homo okay? I've heard many people use that in a general negative sense. That seems even harder to disconnect from homosexuality...and pretty obvious the origin of its negative connotation.

Oh, and earlier, whoever said I can't compare gay to nigger--I didn't mean to compare intensity. I was using the same logic he used and applying it to another deragatory term, to show how silly it was.

You know, I guess I don't understand, viscerally, how offensive a word like "nigger" can be--I just take the black community's word for it and I don't complain about not being able to use terms like "nigger-rigged." Which I believe morphed into "jury-rigged," which still has a racist connotation.

You know, I just had an interesting thought. I'm fairly young, but maybe we can talk here about how acceptable general usage of the term "nigger" was back in the 50's or around that time.

See, I bet there was a time that it was okay, or perhaps only mildly offensive, to use the term "nigger-rigged." Sure, I doubt black people used it a lot, but then again I don't think gay people use "that's so gay" a lot.

Either way, isn't it interesting how it used to be generally acceptable, maybe just a little frowned upon, to use "nigger-rigged," and now it's not so. Now, it is considered dirty and offensive. Even it's cousin, "jury-rigged," can get you into trouble.

This is largely because it has become unacceptable to appear racist, or use racial slurs, even if they came to mean something other than purely negative racism.

So--why is it that those terms that came to mean somnething else didn't survive into their new, non-racial meaning?

Maybe it's because the association with racism was never lost, and when racism became unpopular, so did those words.

In other words, it occurs to me that if homosexuality is largely accepted in fifty years, do you think it'll still be acceptable to use gay to mean stupid? I doubt it will, but I think gay will still mean homosexual.

And for those who'll differentiate between gay being a neutral term for homosexuality and nigger being a racial slur, wasn't there other language that was slightly deragatory, using the word "black," maybe, that's since lost its acceptable usage?

Just a thought.

I do understand your points, and it's not that I'm entirely defending the usage of gay as lame; I just think it is fairly mild, and surely don't think that every usage of the word nowadays has anything to do with bigotry. As a general rule, I'd like to see people relax and not so quick to assume offense, and maybe I think it is a little too PC. Unfortunately having a negative reaction to the use of word gay as lame to some kids will only encourage it's use, for better or worse. It's an ambiguous word to use anyway, because it's meaning is nebulous. If I say, 'I don't like Bette Midler's music; it's so gay', is it only bigoted if I say it meaning 'lame', and not if I mean 'homosexual' (as in, having attributes that are liked by homosexuals, that I just happen to not like but not because of the fact that homosexuals like it)?

I can understand that some gay people might be sensitive to the word, especially now since homosexuality is one of the topics central to the 'Culture Wars'. In 50 years when (I hope) homosexuality is not viewed negatively except by bigots, I hope that if the 'lame' usage is still in use that some gay people would not take such offense. My last name ends in the 'ski', and I was periodically called a 'Pollack' (even though I'm not Polish), and I guess my heart skipped a beat too, but to me it was just like any other insult, and I feel people need to be able to accept things they find offensive, especially if there's not a clear indication that the speaker meant it in a disparaging way. I'm glad that black people can use the word nigger amongst themselves; it helps defuse the word, not that I can see any non-black being able to use the word because of it's history. The fact is that kids are going to rip on each other for a countless number of things; the gay kids at my school had it easy in comparison to the most overweight and least attractive kids, or kids cursed with terrible acne.

I've got to head into work and am going to ask a gay friend there his opinion. Thanks for the input.

Another reason I give kids today a pass is that, as I think Ed has mentioned before, kids' attitudes today toward homosexuality are not as prevalently negative as they were when we were kids. Kids have a language of their own pretty much, and if I overhear them, I'm not going to assume that they are saying something bigoted or offensive when their meaning is clearly ambiguous to me. I asked my friend at work if he thinks that if he heard a kid saying, 'that movie was so gay', would he think they are saying anything disparaging about homosexuality, and he said no. He said essentially what I said above; why assume, knowing how kids use the term with a different meaning, that they are saying something negative. His quote was, 'Stop being so paranoid and assuming everyone's out to get you. Lighten up.'.

I definitely think to associate the word 'bigotry' with this usage is over the top. Bigots use words with clear meanings to get their vile point of view across; the use of epithets aren't even necessary. The only reason I think this usage might be offensive is only because some people might be offended by it, not that the meaning is bigoted or disparaging. But everything is offensive to somebody; it's not as if I think they all have a legitimate reason to take offense.

If you think I'm 'defending bigotry' or some other nonsense, I can live with that, and won't take it any more personally than I'm sure you will by my thinking that you're being far too thin-skinned about it. There's plenty of clearly offensive statements to be upset about; there's no need to read what you think someone might intend, especially when it's pretty clear to me that most kids do not use it in relation to homosexuals, into their comments and assume the worst.

"If I say, 'I don't like Bette Midler's music; it's so gay', is it only bigoted if I say it meaning 'lame', and not if I mean 'homosexual'..."

I don't think you actually have a point here. You're just asking if it's okay to use gay to mean homosexual and then disagree with homosexuals. I'm pretty sure it's fine to not like the music popular in gay culture. But that has little to do with the use of the word--in that sentence, if gay means homosexual, it better translates into saying that you don't like Middler's music just because gays like it, or it has gay properties (?), which would be bigoted, I guess. Either way, in that sentence the offensive part has nothing to do with the word "gay" if you mean homosexual.

"I'm glad that black people can use the word nigger amongst themselves; it helps defuse the word, not that I can see any non-black being able to use the word because of it's history."

Right here. This is what I'm talking about. Why is it okay for straight people, then, to use the word gay in a negative context? Just because you decided to throw away the slang's bigoted origin?

And I know that some gay people don't care--and were I to freak out at someone saying "that's so gay," then I would probably be weird.

But that doesn't mean I have to like that the word meaning homosexual in primary usage today also gets used as negative commentary. And I don't believe it got that way randomly, I believe it started in bigotry.

So, it's everybody's choice about the kind of person they want to reflect to the world. Though I grew up with grandparents who would've been perfectly fine with it, I chose not to use the term "nigger-rigged" and frowned whenever my grandpa said it, and I also choose not to use "jury-rigged."

I don't see how someone could think they have good intent, or even neutral intent, toward gays if they choose to use slang that is rooted in bigotry (a fact I think is uncontested), and in my opinion, still is bigoted to say.

It's not only about who should and shouldn't get offended because who does mean it badly and who doesn't, it's also about doing the decent thing and not promoting gay=stupid, because currently gay=homosexual, and no matter what the intent, this still infers homosexual=stupid.

"The fact is that kids are going to rip on each other for a countless number of things; the gay kids at my school had it easy in comparison to the most overweight and least attractive kids, or kids cursed with terrible acne."

So how does this make any of it acceptable? And--back to what we were all originally arguing about, why, if kids use it nonchalantly, considering they are immature and most certainly unconcerned and insensitive to the rest of the world (not all, but the kind we're talking about here)--why does that make it okay for a mature adult to use it?

Framing the question around kids using it changes the reasonable expectation. Sure, I understand kids are going to use it, I just hope when they grow up that they grow out of using gay=stupid, while they also grow out of, for instance, maybe misogynistic banter (for boys), or making fun of fat kids.

Here's an experiment--start using the word gay around your friend. Use it as much as you use the word "stupid," or whatever word you currently use to mean stupid.

If your argument is correct, and everybody's being thin-skinned, then you should absolutely be able to use it as much as you use stupid. And your friend, coworkers, etc., should have no problem with it, especially once you explain that you're not using it in a bad way.

I think, if you're not willing to do that, then you're blowing smoke, and you do understand that it's offensive. I mean, you're friend has already agreed with you, right? There shouldn't be any problem.

My 'defense' of the word is only in an effort to show that I don't think it's usage by kids is such a big deal, and not obviously bigoted. There are tons of things that kids say that are not for 'decent' conversation. To go back to my earlier example, some Christians take offense at using the words 'Goddamn it'. Would I say this in front of them; no, I'm not looking to offend anyone, even if I think they're ridiculous for taking offense. However, that doesn't change that I think they are being overly sensitive, but would you say that someone is being bigoted or hurtful toward Christians if they say 'goddamn it'?

And I know that some gay people don't care--and were I to freak out at someone saying "that's so gay," then I would probably be weird.

To quote you, "Right here, this is what I'm talking about". Why do you think you would be weird? Why are you inferring that they are saying something disparaging about homosexuality as the default? Because possibly you are getting upset about essentially nothing; it smacks of political correctness, and I don't like this cycle of sterilizing words because a small number of people are taking offense at them.

I don't disagree that it's origin was as a disparaging comment about gays, but I don't think it's clear that it is in the sense you are using it. As noted above, to just call someone 'gay' or 'homosexual' used to be an insult, all on it's own, without referring to any stupidity or lameness; it was just 'bad'. I believe then it started to be used to describe things that nothing to do with homosexuality as 'bad', and it did probably have a linkage at that point. It wasn't too long after that (this usage is fairly recent), that society, and kids especially, became more enlightened and accepting and 'gay' became a neutral descriptive word for homosexuality, not an insult, leaving 'gay' meaning 'bad' in place. Nowadays, gay doesn't necessarily mean 'bad'; I do think 'lame' is the best definition I've seen so far. So if the word 'gay' meaning homosexuality is not offensive, and if a kid has no problem with homosexuality but uses gay=lame, he's bigoted. It's absurd; I assert that the linkage of gay=homosexual=bad/lame was partially dissolved when gay stopped being an insult.

I ask again, specifically what are you reading into the statement, 'that movie was so gay' about homosexuals? Are you inferring that as, 'that movie was lame just like homosexuals'? Do you think saying anything or anyone is 'lame' is that giant of an insult? I personally don't think it makes any sense; we've all heard gay people called lots of things, but I don't think 'lame' is on the short list or even makes sense given the qualities sterotypically attributed to gay people.

Again, I can't believe you you are comparing this to nigger, even as in nigger-rigged. Nigger means one thing, and more importantly has been used for hundreds of years as an epithet; gay has not, and has multiple definitions whose meaning has changed to some degree. I can't see how you can disregard the intent of what someone is saying and label this word 'gay' as unacceptable and bigoted, based purely on your own inference. If I say, 'that room is painted in bright, gay colors', are you going to take that as an insult and bigoted unless you receive clarification? I could mean that the room is in bright colors like I think the 'sterotypical' homosexual would enjoy, I could mean that I don't like the bright colors and they are lame, or I could be using it in it's ORIGINAL meaning as merry/happy? Again intent is everything.

Do you think my gay friend, and his friends, has no point whatsoever that gay people who take offense at this usage should lighten up? Do you agree that we are a good distance from the word faggot?

"because a small number of people are taking offense at them."

Well, as long as it's only a small number of people we're disparaging here, that makes it alright, I guess.

Gay didn't originate as an insult and then come to mean homosexual; after it meant "happy," it came to mean homosexual which then made it an insult because to call someone a homosexual was an insult at the time.

So, it didn't just keep it's bad connotation after coming to mean homosexual, it got its bad connotation because it came to mean homosexual in a time when homosexual was largely bad.

And when I say I wouldn't "freak out," it means I won't start crying. That doesn't mean I like it, and that doesn't mean I don't find it insensitive and bigoted. I can find something offensive and not overreact to it.

"I ask again, specifically what are you reading into the statement, 'that movie was so gay' about homosexuals? Are you inferring that as, 'that movie was lame just like homosexuals'?"

Yes, when one adopts the name of a minority to use as negative commentary, that is what a person is saying, that something is lame like gays are lame, because that's the origin of the word. If they're not intending to say that, then why are they using that term with that origin?

"Do you think saying anything or anyone is 'lame' is that giant of an insult?"

So, now it's okay to disparage gays if it's only a little bit? If it's not that bad of an insult? This isn't about bargaining; it's not okay if you just associate the word with a softer negative image.

"If I say, 'that room is painted in bright, gay colors', are you going to take that as an insult and bigoted unless you receive clarification? I could mean that the room is in bright colors like I think the 'sterotypical' homosexual would enjoy, I could mean that I don't like the bright colors and they are lame, or I could be using it in it's ORIGINAL meaning as merry/happy? Again intent is everything."

You'd be out of date to use the word to mean "happy," and that's your problem if people take it another way.

As for using it because you mean the colors a stereotypical gay person might enjoy--yeah, that's fine too, gay culture is at least somewhat defined in that sense, though I wouldn't ascribe a color scheme to it--because you'll probably end up bordering on femininity, which is a long-held negative stereotype about gay men.

However, none of that matters. We're not debating whether or not it's right to misunderstand you, and while I'm at it, we're not debating whether or not we forgive children for using it that way--we're debating whether or not it's decent of a mature adult to use "gay" to mean stupid--and use it directly, not ambiguously, as a replacement for that word.

That's what 11Dayo started, and that's what I've always been responding to. I'm not going to freak out and call a bunch of kids bigots, nor am I going to go PC police, nor am I going to get upset if you actually meant "homosexual" but it sounded like you meant "stupid".

But I will say that it is immature and irresponsible to use "gay" as "stupid" because it is a charged subject in today's society, in which there are many people who really do think gay is stupid, and therefore you cannot just separate the meaning of gay from homosexual to instead mean stupid, especially when the origin of the word came from those who think gay IS stupid.

And sure, faggot is worse than gay, and nigger is worse than gay. But the logic behind which you find it acceptable to use "gay" should similarly work when applied to "nigger-rigged." Because it came to have two meanings, you should be able to use it's other, non-racist meaning. I understand that a person's revulsion to nigger and faggot is worse than gay. But it seems rather subjective to say the logic behind what you're saying doesn't work because the word is more offensive, somehow making it's other meaning offensive, too.

I think your gay friend might want to grow a backbone. What possible reason do I have to lighten up about the issue? Why should I just accept that some rational adults, who are supposedly neutral or supportive of gay people, want to use a piece of slang that is rooted in bigotry and is still used by many as a bigoted term, but then want to magically drop its history and obvious other meaning?

Saying things like "they should lighten up," "it's not that bad a word," "it's not that many people," all smack of insensitivity--that you just don't care enough to find another word.

Political correctness aims to stifle undesired opinion, at its heart. We're not talking about an opinion, here, we're talking about the casual use of a piece of negative slang. In other words, if there was a good, solid, purposeful reason for using "gay" in place of "stupid," (or lame) then I'd be more willing to see why some adults think they should use it. But since there's not, the only thing I see is a careless (or insensitive) adult promoting of a bigoted piece of slang (formerly bigoted or not, but I would argue still so) for no reason other than they like to. They can make up whatever intent they want, but unless they can give me purpose for the word and the logic by which its history is somehow irrelevant or denied, then they'll have to confront those two issues with their choice to use it.

I think the mature adult would choose to find a better word--hec, maybe find one that wouldn't come with the ambiguity of "do you mean gay-gay or lame-gay?"

"because a small number of people are taking offense at them."

Well, as long as it's only a small number of people we're disparaging here, that makes it alright, I guess.

Gay didn't originate as an insult and then come to mean homosexual; after it meant "happy," it came to mean homosexual which then made it an insult because to call someone a homosexual was an insult at the time.

So, it didn't just keep it's bad connotation after coming to mean homosexual, it got its bad connotation because it came to mean homosexual in a time when homosexual was largely bad.

And when I say I wouldn't "freak out," it means I won't start crying. That doesn't mean I like it, and that doesn't mean I don't find it insensitive and bigoted. I can find something offensive and not overreact to it.

"I ask again, specifically what are you reading into the statement, 'that movie was so gay' about homosexuals? Are you inferring that as, 'that movie was lame just like homosexuals'?"

Yes, when one adopts the name of a minority to use as negative commentary, that is what a person is saying, that something is lame like gays are lame, because that's the origin of the word. If they're not intending to say that, then why are they using that term with that origin?

"Do you think saying anything or anyone is 'lame' is that giant of an insult?"

So, now it's okay to disparage gays if it's only a little bit? If it's not that bad of an insult? This isn't about bargaining; it's not okay if you just associate the word with a softer negative image.

"If I say, 'that room is painted in bright, gay colors', are you going to take that as an insult and bigoted unless you receive clarification? I could mean that the room is in bright colors like I think the 'sterotypical' homosexual would enjoy, I could mean that I don't like the bright colors and they are lame, or I could be using it in it's ORIGINAL meaning as merry/happy? Again intent is everything."

You'd be out of date to use the word to mean "happy," and that's your problem if people take it another way.

As for using it because you mean the colors a stereotypical gay person might enjoy--yeah, that's fine too, gay culture is at least somewhat defined in that sense, though I wouldn't ascribe a color scheme to it--because you'll probably end up bordering on femininity, which is a long-held negative stereotype about gay men.

However, none of that matters. We're not debating whether or not it's right to misunderstand you, and while I'm at it, we're not debating whether or not we forgive children for using it that way--we're debating whether or not it's decent of a mature adult to use "gay" to mean stupid--and use it directly, not ambiguously, as a replacement for that word.

That's what 11Dayo started, and that's what I've always been responding to. I'm not going to freak out and call a bunch of kids bigots, nor am I going to go PC police, nor am I going to get upset if you actually meant "homosexual" but it sounded like you meant "stupid".

But I will say that it is immature and irresponsible to use "gay" as "stupid" because it is a charged subject in today's society, in which there are many people who really do think gay is stupid, and therefore you cannot just separate the meaning of gay from homosexual to instead mean stupid, especially when the origin of the word came from those who think gay IS stupid.

And sure, faggot is worse than gay, and nigger is worse than gay. But the logic behind which you find it acceptable to use "gay" should similarly work when applied to "nigger-rigged." Because it came to have two meanings, you should be able to use it's other, non-racist meaning. I understand that a person's revulsion to nigger and faggot is worse than gay. But it seems rather subjective to say the logic behind what you're saying doesn't work because the word is more offensive, somehow making it's other meaning offensive, too.

I think your gay friend might want to grow a backbone. What possible reason do I have to lighten up about the issue? Why should I just accept that some rational adults, who are supposedly neutral or supportive of gay people, want to use a piece of slang that is rooted in bigotry and is still used by many as a bigoted term, but then want to magically drop its history and obvious other meaning?

Saying things like "they should lighten up," "it's not that bad a word," "it's not that many people," all smack of insensitivity--that you just don't care enough to find another word.

Political correctness aims to stifle undesired opinion, at its heart. We're not talking about an opinion, here, we're talking about the casual use of a piece of negative slang. In other words, if there was a good, solid, purposeful reason for using "gay" in place of "stupid," (or lame) then I'd be more willing to see why some adults think they should use it. But since there's not, the only thing I see is a careless (or insensitive) adult promoting of a bigoted piece of slang (formerly bigoted or not, but I would argue still so) for no reason other than they like to. They can make up whatever intent they want, but unless they can give me purpose for the word and the logic by which its history is somehow irrelevant or denied, then they'll have to confront those two issues with their choice to use it.

I think the mature adult would choose to find a better word--hec, maybe find one that wouldn't come with the ambiguity of "do you mean gay-gay or lame-gay?"

we're debating whether or not it's decent of a mature adult to use "gay" to mean stupid

Dave, that's not at all what I'm debating, and nowhere have I referred to mature adults using this. I don't personally use the word because it's vague and adolescent. Nowhere have I 'promoted' the use of this phrase; I've said numerous times that it is slang mostly for juveniles. My points are this: I don't think, 'so gay', to describe a thing is patently bigoted, and even if you are inferring some kind of offense from it, it should be mild especially when the word's usage is far from clear and especially when used in context that doesn't even make sense connecting in any way to homosexuals. You don't get to put a stake in the ground and define what this word means in every context for everybody for all time, especially kids. I'm also assuming that like me, you were in school roughly 20-30 years ago when it may have been intended by some to be a slam on homosexuals, but I think it's safe to assume that there is quite a bit of kid's slang that you and I have not kept up with since that time, and I do think it's important to keep in mind that the word 'gay' is typically no longer an insult and to think about what impact that has on it's usage in, 'so gay'.

As far as your references to 'decent', I'm again not talking about how Chip and Buffy should speak at the country club. But wait, shouldn't the minority of people named Chip and Buffy be offended at what I just said; couldn't they possible infer that I'm implying that people named Chip and Buffy are stuck up? If you want to talk about 'decent' conversation, then there's a whole host of words and phrases that I think are harmless that are not appropo. Vulgarity is a perfect example.

Well, as long as it's only a small number of people we're disparaging here, that makes it alright, I guess.

Let me use an example. It pisses me off that in the song, Money, by Pink Floyd, the radio stations used to leave in the line, 'don't give me that good, good, good bullshit'; now there's a nice gaping blank spot where that word should be. The could have said Bullpoop and it would have been fine but Bullshit is not; absolutely absurd. I'm sure that there were a small number of people who are offended by that word; can you think of a logical reason why? Am I supposed to really think something is offensive just because a few other people find it so? Or is it maybe possible that perhaps the people who are taking offense don't have a legitimate reason to do so? I'm not saying that you don't have a reason to be offended by it, especially since you've been on the receiving end of it being used in an apparently derogatory manner in school. But we've got enough of these supposed taboo words in my opinion.

I think we also differ in that you seem to put the onus on the speaker to not say anything that can be inferred as offensive; I put the onus on the listener to determine what the speaker is actually implying; back to that intent thing that you seem to brush aside.

I did a quick google and found this Salon article about the use of this phrase; it seems to be much more light-hearted than what I am inferring from your posts.

http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2000/09/14/gaygaygay/index.html

Here is a quote that I happen to agree with, although I believe it is being written by a gay person (along the same lines that it's 'okay' for black friends to call each other nigger):

"The difference between "faggot" and "That is so gay" is that the former has a long and nasty association with violence; it's a word adults use and have used for other adults. By contrast, "That is so gay" evokes childhood -- a time that may have been painful but is long past. That distance makes it possible not only to reclaim the phrase but also to reclaim it as an insult. "

This topic has dropped off the front page, and you and I are pretty far removed at this point from the subject of Ed's post, so this will be my last post. I still don't think 'so gay' is that offensive, if at all in certain uses, but it was an eye-opener somewhat to see people sensitive to it, so that is something for me to contemplate. Thanks for the conversation.

Dave L -

I was finished with the posting on this too, but I realized that I was a little on the harsh side and wanted to apologize. I also realize that I might not have seemed so harsh but I generaly reserve my pity for people I find repugnant and you definately fall far short of that - I am sorry. And add to that, being one who gets into a lot of arguments - I have to appreciate someone who, no matter how ridicuous the whole discussion may be, fights their point to the bitter end. I am one who will often argue my point until I either have my mind changed, change someone elses, or the other person gives up.

I just want to be clear, I do not find it deeply offensive. It is quite mildly offensive to me and most of my friends. But I do not think that makes it ok. I work hard to watch my language - without near enough success. But I try to be thoughtfull of everything that comes out of my mouth. I do not want to be thoughtlessly offensive to anyone. If I am going to insult or demean someone, and occasionaly I do, I want to be clear and aware of what I am doing. Otherwise, I do not want anything, I say, to inadvertantly hurt someone else. I try hard to be positive in my words and actions, because I have found that the people in my life, really enjoy being around me as a result.

The reason I don't like to hear people equate gay with stupid, is because - regardless of the intent, it makes many gay people, such as Dave H, feel a little apart from everyone else. It is much the same with using phrases like, nigger rigged. The problem for me is that, mild though each occurance may be, it contributes a little more to the feelings of dis-enfranchisment, many gays already have. And every time it is heard by another person, that is another person that many gays do not figure respects them - or more to the point, does not respect them, simply because they are gay. The intent of the speaker is irrelevant to the emotions of the listener - there is just the reaction, "oh, someone else who doesn't respect me."

I am not the type to go nuts over it. I don't yell at strangers or anything. But, when I hear it from teens I know, I call them on it and explain why they shouldn't say that unless they have a problem with homosexuality. Most of them, when they think about, realize that it is kind of rude and stop - I have even heard a friend's 15 year old son chastise his friend for it. If I hear it from anyone out of their early twenties, I just generaly write them off.

I tried, quite desperately, as a teen and into my twenties, to be different. I succeeded in alienating myself from the bulk of polite society. It only then, occured to me that I didn't like it. It is a lonely, horrible place to be. I learned that I could still be whoever I damn well pleased and still take part in reality and have been working towards being a far more reasonable person. But having put myself into that kind of alienation, taught me a lot about how that feels - and it really, really sucks ass. So, I make a very conscious effort not to contribute to the alienation of others, unless I find their values and beliefs to be so repugnant that I do not respect them - that is very few people.

Duwayne-

No need to apologize, you weren't too harsh, and even though we may not fully agree, yours and Dave's points are well taken. I of course agree with your sentiments also concerning being kind to other people, and I didn't intend to sound as if I meant, 'screw em if they're that sensitive'. And you're absolutely right, this was a pretty ridiculous discussion. As far as myself, even if someone doesn't have a legitimate reason to be offended about something in my view, I would still care that they were offended regardless.