- “Gay” as an insult, and the common slur variations, is not acceptable behavior in polite society. If you need an explanation why, the line for the remedial course in being a member of humanity starts over there. One questions the degree to which the internet is polite society, because “gay” as an insult, and more often the slur variations, are very common online. Somehow, boys and many men have yet to realize that talking about gay men a lot is the wrong way to project an identity of heterosexual masculinity. Of course, if you tell them they are compensating for their own insecurities, they try harder, which is no good.
- As usual, I go to Language Log on linguistic issues. First, we have the use-mention distinction, which is that referring to someone else’s use of a term does not imply that we are using it ourselves, only mentioning that use. This will include fictional characters, where we reconstruct the problem. If you were offended by this comic or this sketch, you missed the point. Poe’s Law may ring ever true, but we bring attention to folly to mock it, not to endorse it.
- Second on the linguistic front, we have taboo avoidance. Some things we avoid even mentioning except obliquely. So yesterday I avoided both f-words that are so commonly paired. I recommend that last link as the inspiration for the phrasing “homosexual in a derogatory sense”: I think the implied insult looks vapid and absurd when made explicit.
- The picture of the internet toughguy is incomplete without the homophobia.
- We the majority do not get to dictate to the minority what they are allowed to be offended by. When physical gay-bashing stops, we can talk about being too sensitive to verbal gay-bashing. Complementarily, we are not limited by whoever in the room claims to be most offended, and subjects of discourse are not off-limits because someone says so. You can be a jerk in either direction. Don’t.
- Still my favorite forum mod quote, from the D&D boards: “[[Do not use the word ‘gay’ as a derogatory term. (There is no conceivable way that getting someone pregnant is ‘gay’ in the literal, non-insulting sense.)]]”