You know what I need? A rage icon, 'cause I don't have anything. however, my pretty (new. GIP, and thanks quirky_
.) Reg Shoe Crusading will do. Because this is sort of a Crusade.
Okay. Right. Ready, set, go.
I'm a crusader. I know this. I have Causes. And one of my all-time favourites (hah.) is for people to please speak before they think- or rather, before they use one particular word. And that word is "gay." *pauses for breath* Okay, now, there's this big thing in society, especially in the younger members (ex: my brother. but also just about everyone in my form, including, previously, my best friend. But she got talked around. not be my, unfrotunately, but still.) to use the word "gay" very casually in a very denigratory sense. Like: "oh, my god, that film is so GAY." Now, I'm going to leave aside here any opinions you may have of homosexuality. That's not really the issue. The issue is, most of the people who use the word actually aren't anti-homosexuality. I know my best friend isn't. I hope my brother isn't (though he's 13; I don't think he's thought about it much.) But when I tell them that, actually, their using that word in a denigratory sense really bothers me, I tend to get fobbed off by people saying "oh, no, I really meant gay like, you know, happy?"
As you can possibly imagine, this is a reaction that generally causes me to go psycho and quickly walk away before I hit something or one, because it's just NOT FUCKING TRUE. But the more reasoned (and there are a few) argue, with greater or lesser degrees of eloquence, that "gay' is just a word and word meanings are changing, it's okay and not bigoted or offensive for them to use the word gay in a denigratory sense, because the word has multiple meanings.
The offensive bit I can counter, generally by saying, "Well, excuse me (you ^%$%^&$^), I WAS OFFENDED. But the language changing excuse is a harder one. It's really hard to argue agaisnt, because I, for example, use "cool" all the time- certainly a word whose meaning has changed. The same goes, in fact, for "gay' meaning homosexual. Fine. But the difference, as I attempt to explain, between "cool" and "gay" is that "cool" is not, and has never been, a word identified with groups of people other than as a descriptor, if you know what I mean. (like, "the cool group.") But "gay" is: it's a word that means "a homosexual," or "homosexual." And its negative connotations have not evolved parallel to that, as "cool" may have. They spring directly from that and from negative associations with the word. So, when your'e using the word "gay' to mean "bad" or "uncool," you are- however unconsciously- linking "bad" or "uncool" with "homosexual." This really annoys me. Really, really annoys me. And offends and hurts me.
I know I haven't been really clear, so I'm going to give another example. I recently had this discussion with a friend who disagreed with me. later on in that same discussion I used the phrase "picking up chicks-" I can't remember in what context and "chicks" is not a word I generally use, just so you know. But anyway, this friend said "I wish you wouldn't use that word, "chicks," it really bothers me." I'd imagine that this is true of many girls- many of whom would also use the word "gay" to mean bad, but smack down any guy who used the word "chicks." BUT IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME THING. It's just mroe clear to girls because they are the group being denigrated by the associations we have today with "chicks."
Okay, that's got soemthing off my chest. But just to forestall those who may inevitably tell me that I'm succumbing to "political correctness," all I can do is quote an excellent letter that was recently written to the new Zealand Listener (http://www.listener.co.nz).
How interesting to meet the cartoonists (DNZ: Cartoonists Inc, TV1, March 29) and realise that a "good" cartoonist is one whose opinions we agree with. A couple of the cartoonists had intense passion for the rightness of their cause.
Garrick Tremain went so far as to declare that by ridiculing what he called "political correctness" he was somehow fighting evil. He was fizzing with suppressed anger that the New Zealanders he spoke for should be expected to tolerate those who have grievances or claim to be relatively deprived.
From the tranquillity of his Queens-town home, Tremain expressed his unwillingness to get to know any of those he regarded as fair game for his pen, determined to be told nothing he does not want to hear.
Tremain should be taken seriously for his skill. It is the skill of the schoolroom bully whose vitriolic wit can reduce the unfortunate to tears. By ridiculing their plainness or fatness or braininess, the classroom wit thinks he does us all a favour. He is spurred on by our laughter and mistakes it for acceptance. In fact, it is the most cowardly form of harassment, but it does have its skill, and even its purpose, in reminding us of the -dangers of disagreeing with the popularly held and therefore correct views of good and bad, ugly and beautiful, worthy and ridiculous.
This campaign against political correctness follows a tradition of denying collective responsibility for the consequences of some of the things we do as a society. Political correctness is simply behaviour that acknowledges that some people are disadvantaged by the way our society operates.
One response is to deny that the disadvantage exists and to claim that the disadvantaged are themselves responsible for their plight. Just as the schoolroom victims are responsible for their glasses, their ears, their race, their poverty, their quietness or whatever else makes the rest of us – the obviously correct and deserving children – uncomfortable.
(Ngati Raukawa, Auckland)
All I can say is, Mr Knox, thank you- and I hope that more people listen to you than they do to me.