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Gone viral

Cole Parker

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yes, teens seem to use, "that's gay," the way kids used to use the phrase, "that's stupid," or "that's gross," so this is good.

Yes, they've been using it for that purpose for quite a while. What I didn't realize was that any schools were trying to put an end to it. I think that's marvelous.

I year ago was I assisting some 5th graders at math at a local elementary school. One of them, a vivacious and outgoing boy with one of those larger than life personalities even though he was only ten, used that expression over something that had achieved his dissatisfaction. So, I used the rest of the hour I had with them talking about how offensive that was, how it hurt other kids, how bad it made them look if they used it, and on and on. I knew I was exceeding the limits of their focus, but I was pissed and wanted to make an impression that using that phrase was wrong. I don't know that I succeeded, but do know he never said that in my presence again. That told me he'd at least heard what I said and knew the phrase would piss me off. So he was controlling himself around me. That seemed to be to be a start.

If other teachers are doing this now, then, WOWEE!


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Heck, kids said that when I was a kid. It's great that people are starting to talk about it, to say it's not cool, that it's mean. It's even better that kids themselves can stand up and say, you know what, this stinks, and I don't want you or me or my kid brother or my big brother saying it, 'cause it might hurt somebody we know. Having the courage and manhood to say that, publicly, in a way other people will listen to, and not just kids in your class, but all over the place, that's worth a cheer.

Also, if some other kid/teen says, "You know, if those two guys think it's OK, then maybe I've got a friend or two who'll be cool with me," then that's awesome too.

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Something like this happened recently when the famous Hollywood director Brett Ratner was fired from the Oscars after being asked whether his actors rehearsed on his recent (flop) film Tower Heist, and he snapped, "rehearsals are for fags!"

Apparently, Ratner forgot that "fags" also control a lot of Hollywood and are a huge part of the Oscar audience. (As Howard Stern likes to say, "the Academy Awards are like the Super Bowl for gay people.")

I think the real test of a word like this is to substitute another term, like "Black" or "Handicapped." I don't think a lot of people would say, "oh, that's so black," or "only handicaps would do that." Using gay as a hurtful word is awful. (Though I have to admit, if I see a really over-the-top flamer in a parade or something, I have been known to say, "that's gay to the 10th power.")

Ratner's actually a talented guy (sometimes), and can be funny and articulate. I'm amazed he'd be so clueless as to say anything like this in these politically-correct times. If he had said, "rehearsals are for wimps," I don't think anybody would have objected -- it doesn't make it about being gay per se, nor does it denigrate a sexual preference. Very, very, very stupid move.

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I think Pecman has probably realized, before or after posting, that ironically, words similar to "black" or "handicapped" are indeed used hurtfully, as much as any of us (Pecman and myself also) would wish they weren't used that way.

"That's so gay!" "You fag!" -- "That's so retarded!" "You retard!" -- "That n***** ...!" -- (That was self-censoring the N word, not the forum.)

Yes, each are hurtful and just plain wrong.

And I personally don't much buy into the argument of "taking the power back, taking the sting out of" a word like queer, gay, fag, etc., or retard, or "n*****" by people within the group using those words to refer to each other.

I admit, it's possible sometimes for someone to call a buddy a word like that, and by tone of voice and actions, soften it so it's not meant truly to hurt, but to chide or almost play. But even then, it can risk harm. ("Haha, man, you're such a _____." Said gently, tolerantly, much like a buddy might call a buddy dork or doofus. We've all heard those words used that way too.)

Words do pack a punch, to move us in ways good or bad, towards or away from things, to make us think or to shake our emotions. Right, we can't let mere words hurt us, and yet words do often hurt people. How often do kids or adults get verbal abuse so often that they begin to believe it, that it scars their lives or makes them lash out at others...or themselves? That is, of course, why a PSA like this is needed.

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I would add that it isn't always necessary to walk on eggshells with some words. A friend once stopped and apologized for using "blind" or some phrase implying not able to see or not paying attention. Another friend once got concerned about using the words, "look" or "see" with a totally blind mutual friend. Well, you know, you have to use some word, and when you are impaired, you are aware of it, you can't do anything about it, so sometimes, it doesn't even register that way (because it wasn't intended that way) and yes, because we can laugh at our own problems sometimes. It *is* important to be able to let things slide off your back or laugh at the absurdity or unfairness of it all. It beats crying in your Cheerios. (I had to explain to that friend that, yes, there's not really much other word to use, blind or not, than, "see that" or "look at that" on page so-and-so, or "to see a thing, an idea" as in to understand it or pay attention to it; and that yes, partially blind and totally blind folks use those words too, just like everybody else, and don't think twice about it. Ditto for deaf / HoH folks. We work with the words we've got, or we invent new ones.)

We can care; we should care; but we also don't have to tiptoe around it all so much that we overdo it.

Best Wishes, everybody.

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