Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bad, Lazy, Hurtful Words

I tried to write this blog about friendship yesterday but it was just so gay.  I know, I'm not supposed to say that.  I am not supposed to use a put-down that is applied to people to describe an inanimate thing which was not homosexual,  brightly colored, or a cigarette. 

What I really meant was that it was queer. Wait, I can't say that either. That's almost the same as gay in terms of hate-speech, with the only redemption being that queer actually means strange or peculiar, so to apply it to an inanimate object might be ok, except in this instance it's not.

I am using gay/queer in the exact same negative way it has been used on the playground for centuries.  I was using it to mean different and bad, with a good dose of wimpy and irritating.  That is precisely the word I want to use, as I really can't think of another word with that connotation. 

The only problem is that none of those characteristics  have anything to do with homosexual people or people who march under the "Queer" banner that encompasses a wide range of gender and sexual identities. I really think they should give the names back to the slang dictionary and remove the connection to homosexuality, etc.  Or, since we can't rewrite centuries of nomenclature just because it makes my derisive comments about a failed article easier, we need better non-offensive putdowns.

Here's your definition, now go find me a word: 

Wimpy, weak, not quite right, and stupid.  Add in a sprinkle of deviant and a trace of pitiable.  

Now one might propose that I could have just said from the beginning that I tried to write a blog entry, but it came out wimpy, weak, pitiable, stupid, and somehow wrong. Some people might even say that that might be be more interesting writing. Those people might even be right.  Perhaps using hate-speech really is about being too lazy to describe something precisely, and maybe pushing ourselves to do so not only protects people's feelings, but makes our writing better.  

Besides, I wouldn't want anyone to misunderstand what I meant and think I was saying my blog entry was fabulous and well coordinated or anything. That's another problem with imprecise words. Next thing you know, someone might ask my article to join a women's softball league.*

*Please note, fabulous and well-coordinated are stereotypes of gay men which, while generally considered positive attributes, are still not universally true of all gay men. Many gay men have no fashion or design sensibilities and not all are fabulous.  Likewise, not all gay women like softball or are good at sports, just in case you were confused or offended.

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