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Queer Rage

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that's, like, so gay [Feb. 23rd, 2008|08:35 pm]

[Current Mood | aggravated]
[Current Music |John McCutcheon - John Rocker]

Dear Teenagers:

You do not get to dictate what other people find offensive. I don't care if your million gay best friends don't mind you using "fag" and "gay" as insults. I don't care if you're gay and you do it anyway. I don't care if you don't mean it that way. I am still offended, and I'm not the only one.

Here's the thing about you/your friends/your brother not caring: your personal culture is not the general culture. I use this icon because it's the closest I have to an example. In my (internet) culture, "bisexuals don't exist" is something of an injoke -- we all know that they do, so when we talk about it it's obvious from context that we're making fun of the idea. However, if a bisexual person not aware of that meme were to see the jokes about it, there's a good chance that they would take at least some of the subtler ones seriously and become offended because, obviously, they exist and aren't confused/playing it to be cool or whatever the stereotype is this week. The thing is, if I make a "bisexuals don't exist" joke and offend someone, it's my responsibility to explain, apologize, and be more careful next time. That I'm used to it being okay to make those jokes does not give me license to actually hurt other human beings.

As for not meaning it "that way," what you mean by a word is irrelevant. If you call a girl a slut, it implies that you think she is promiscuous (and disapprove of this) whether you meant that or merely meant that you dislike her. Similarly, if you say a guy's a fag, you are implicitly saying that he is attracted to or sexually active with other guys, and that this is a bad thing. If you call something you dislike gay, you are implicitly saying that "gay" means "bad" and whether you intended to say that gay people are thus bad people, you imply it. To put it another way, I can say that "teenaged" means "stupid" or that the n-word only means "the bad ones" but I don't actually control word definitions, so it's still going to mean the other thing to the general population. And yes, implications matter. The psychological effects of having one's descriptor mean "stupid" may be lost on you, but they still exist, and they still fuel cultural prejudice.

On a more basic level, if you offend someone you should not respond to their saying so by telling them why they shouldn't be offended. They're hurt; your duty as a human being is to make the hurt better, not to belittle their feelings.

Seriously, what's so damn' hard about showing basic consideration for others? It's not like I'm asking them to sing a song about how superior all things queer are. I just want to see a little damn' courtesy.
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