Thursday, April 10, 2014

"THE DAILY DISH" BEING A BLOG FROM THE PEN OF ANDREW SULLIVAN

i have enjoyed reading this particular entry in Uncle Andrew's blog several times and the often needed hearty laughter it engendered.  I hope you enjoy it and can enjoy laughing at ourselves.  It's not obligatory. . . . .;-))

Justin
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The NYT just ran a piece on the apparent disfavor the word now has among some homosexuals. I have a pretty good guide to figuring out what to do with such a question which is to check out what GLAAD is saying and believe the opposite. As a writer, there are few things that piss me off more than being told which words I can and cannot use. Fuck that shit. (See? It’s good to have a blog.)
The impulse, sigh, is political:
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or Glaad, has put “homosexual” on its list of offensive terms and in 2006 persuaded The Associated Press, whose stylebook is the widely used by many news organizations, to restrict use of the word.George P. Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has looked at the way the term is used by those who try to portray gays and lesbians as deviant. What is most telling about substituting it for gay or lesbian are the images that homosexual tends to activate in the brain, he said. “Gay doesn’t use the word sex,” he said. “Lesbian doesn’t use the word sex. Homosexual does.”
“It also contains ‘homo,’ which is an old derogatory,” he added.
But I like the term “homo”! I use it all the time – about myself and others, although I also often use “fag” as well. The gay thought-police would be aghast, but the intent is what matters. Mine is mostly benign. Mostly. But mainly, one great legacy of the gay community has been our love of freedom, especially of speech. For centuries and decades, the right to free speech was our only truly secure constitutional right. We were always about enlarging what was sayable, rather than restricting it. Banning “homosexual” also reeks of insecurity. We are not so tender we cannot handle a clinical, neutral term, or even a slur or the re-appropriation of a slur. “Queer” was one such reclamation, although that’s much more pointed than “homosexual” and certainly doesn’t reflect how I feel about my orientation. There’s nothing queer about being horny and falling in love or lust or getting married. They’re among the most common activities known to humankind. But I sure don’t mind others using it – and more and more heteros want to call themselves “queer” too. But my main objection to getting rid of “homosexual” is that we would lose a not-too-easily replaced non-euphemism.
We have too many euphemisms about our orientation and they bespeak the weak-kneed lameness that’s the real thing that should be fading away:
While the Times article notes that “scholars expect the use of the term to eventually fall away entirely,” it doesn’t really consider the problems that loss could cause. It’s worth noting that gay has contested meanings as well, and by my definition of that word—which, very generally, has far more to do with a historically and geographically specific constellation of aesthetic tastes, artistic styles and modes of relating than with genitals—there are far fewer gay people around these days than there are homosexuals.
One of Slate’s commenters went all Stoppard on us:
AE Housman: “Homosexuals”? Who is responsible for this barbarity?
Chamberlain: What’s wrong with it?
AE Housman: It’s half Greek and half Latin!
Chamberlain: That sounds about right.
When I wrote Virtually Normal, I had to decide on a unifying adjective. “Homosexual” seemed to me to be a way of reaching those who would read and hear the term as an indicator that I was not rigging the argument with pro-gay rhetoric. I’m fine with “gay”, and use it all the time. But persuasion is best done on neutral ground. Maybe the word has become less neutral since 1995. But I cannot think of a better one.
Still, while I’m at it, there is a “word” that seems to me worth retiring. Not by fiat, just by trying to avoid or ignore it. It’s the unpronounceable p.c. acronym: LGBT. God I hate that “word”. It describes no single person; it cannot be spoken easily; it reeks of bullshit.  No one started using that word of their own accord as a way to describe herself. It was created by leftists who believe that all oppressed groups are primarily defined by their oppression and that the very different lives and identities of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender are somehow all one. I know it’s an effort at inclusion. I appreciate the good intent. And if it had any wit or originality, instead of sounding like a town in Croatia, I could live with it. But it doesn’t.
So fuck that shit.

13 comments:

J said...

Again, I agree. Words, even those that are offensive, are often brutally honest. When we censor them we only wash out the color of our discourse.

JustinO'Shea said...

Like that turn of words. . ". we only wash out the color of our discourse" ;-)

gp said...

Sullivan's objection to LGBT seems just as arbitrary as GLAAD's objection to homosexual. Imo it's a perfectly useful acronym for people who collectively are the targets of a particular form of bigotry.

Coop said...

Dear Glaad:

I am not a Homo... but my husband will be.

Signed, Coops.

Coop said...

Seriously, what are we supposed to be called? And why should we surrender that judgment to GLAAD? What makes them holier than me?

Gay/Queer/Homo people in the U.S. are being beat up, bullied and marginalized, to the point of suicide and these people are flipping through a thesaurus? I'll remember that when they come looking for donations.

Actioms speak louder than words ;-)

jimm said...

Well... African Americans stole away 'people of color'. Obviously, this should've been reserved for LGBT. Okay, who's in charge here????

JustinO'Shea said...

Where????

Gary Kelly said...

For me, offensive words are only offensive if I allow them to be. Many years ago, I reprimanded a 12 y/o for using the word 'shit'. His reply was, "Why? It's only a word." Yeah... from out of the mouths of babes.

However I must admit LGBT bugs me. I can never remember the order... and wouldn't have here if it hadn't been mentioned on this page.

Coop said...

Once again, Gary mentioned that I never thought of: Who put LGBT in that order?

I've also seen "G-L-B-T". I might start noting it as "T-G-L-B" just cause I feel like it.

P.S. Justino, did you get the more serious comment that I left on this yesterday?

JustinO'Shea said...

COOPS, didn't I post it.? I need tacheck. . .like taching. . . .

jimm said...

I'ma gettin' hungry for a BLT...

JustinO'Shea said...

Got any good lettuce, Jimm, and non-cardboard tomoatos???? lol

JustinO'Shea said...

and bacon that isn't grease-fried paper??? yikes