RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Wed Mar 7 22:26:50 UTC 2001

I find it a bit troubling that Jesse would argue that the "shortness" of the
article is a defense of inaccuracy.

The TIMES article does not say that REDSKINS is "often" offensive, it says
that " 'Redskins' [is] still used as the name ... of [a] professional sports
team ... because the concerns of Native Americans have not been taken as
seriously." This implies that REDSKINS as a sports-team name is offensive to
a vast majority of Indians, which is simply not true. While a vocal minority
has opposed the use of the term per se, what most people find highly
offensive is the undignified way in which Indians are portrayed by most
sports teams. Thus the analogy between SQUAW and REDSKIN is a faulty one, an
unnecessary, irrelevant, and misleading aside.

The TIMES article does not say that FAG is a term like NIGGER, i.e., one that
gay men apply only to themselves in self-reference. It says quite the
opposite: that FAG is a term that is ameliorating. Again, this is simply not
true. Would Jesse also argue that NIGGER is gaining respectability among
black people simply because it is used in ironic self-reference? In terms of
offensive valence, the two words are pretty close to the same for the people
so described.

Given that the erroneous parenthetical reference to sports teams is totally
gratuitous and that Jesse could just as briefly have said QUEER (which would
have been accurate) instead of FAG (which is totally mistaken), the length of
the article is no defense. Indeed, it would have been much more accurate if
it had been shorter (i.e., if the offending parenthetical statement had been
deleted). I'm troubled, I guess, that one of the world's foremost experts on
American slang--a man I respect and admire greatly--would publish in what is
arguably the most important newspaper in the English-speaking world a
suggestion that FAG is a word that "is gaining respectability among
homosexuals" when this is patently not the case.

In a message dated 3/4/01 11:57:05 PM, jester at PANIX.COM writes:

<< I don't want to address these in detail; I'll just say that
the piece was quite short, and both "Redskin" and "fag" fit
my argument under certain circumstances; that is, the former
is often regarded as an offensive term (both in the absolute
and as the name for a football team), and the latter can be
used by gay men in self-reference. While I agree that these
generalizations are just that, and that they have exceptions,
this was not my point, and addressing the issue wasn't
plausible in the limitations of a newspaper article. >>

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