"Gay" vs. "Homosexual": bad search-and-replace move

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Jul 1 05:32:51 UTC 2008

Now on Language Log:


On Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 3:17 PM, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at panix.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
> Subject:      "Gay" vs. "Homosexual": bad search-and-replace move
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> To go with the various stories about thoughtless
> search-and-replace foibles, e.g. the "African-American" for
> "black" (mentioned briefly here
> http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005361.html
> by Ben Zimmer).
> Jesse Sheidlower
> ---
> American Family Association reverses course on 'Gays'
> http://pageoneq.com/news/2008/American_Family_Association_reverses063008.html
> by PageOneQ
> Is the American Family Association anti-gay... and anti-'Gay'?
> OneNewsNow, the "Christian news service" covertly owned by the AFA,
> receives syndicated content from providers like the Associated Press
> and edits instances of the word "gay" to read "homosexual." Although
> the site is registered to the conservative, anti-gay organization, the
> fact is not disclosed anywhere on the site.
> An article posted Sunday night about Olympic track and field star
> Tyson Gay was no exception.
> "Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the
> U.S. Olympic track and field trials," the article read, "and seemed to
> save something for the final later Sunday." The headline read
> "Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic events."
> "On Saturday," it went on, "Homosexual misjudged the finish in his
> opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his
> quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American
> record that had stood since 1999."
> "Asked how he felt, Homosexual said: 'A little fatigued.'"
> This morning, OneNewsNow changed its stance on 'Gays' (but not 'gays')
> and changed the article back to the way the AP had first written it.
> As late as 9:45am ET today, the online version below referenced the
> runner as "Tyson Homosexual"; by 10:06am ET the headline and story
> text had been edited to reunite Gay with his original name.
> AP spokesman Jack Spokes said he could not comment without first
> reviewing the information first brought to him by PageOneQ. Cindy
> Roberts of the American Family Association said she would "take a
> look" at the news post. A follow-up message seeking comment on why the
> ownership of OneNewsNow is not disclosed on the site has not been
> returned.
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