Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Thu Mar 8 03:46:47 UTC 2001

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

I find it troubling that Ron would present his own opinions as fact,
and then use these "facts" to level a charge of inaccuracy against me.

> 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...

It absolutely does _not_ imply this, and I certainly didn't say that.

> 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.

It is not a faulty analogy; the offensiveness is caused by negative
portrayals of Indians, whether from presumed etymological grounds or
from generally "undignified" attitudes. If a "vocal minority" of some
more politically powerful group raised concerns about a term used in
connection with that group, you can be sure that more respect would
be paid to the beliefs of even this vocal minority. It is this that
was my point, not some exact connection between "squaw" and "redskin."

> 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.

Yes it is true; at worst, it is certainly arguably true, and
can't be dismissed by fiat. (The article also _does_ say that it's
used by homosexuals, and does not say that it's used generally.)

Here are a few examples from the Village Voice from the last year or
so that I've collected, all from homosexual speakers:

"Lots of gay and lesbian viewers are wetting themselves over the new
Showtime series Queer as Folk, which follows the lives of fags and
dykes in Pittsburgh." (6 Feb. 2001)

"His dick isn't very big; I mean, in the fag porn I've seen, the guys
are HUGE" (22 Aug. 2000; lesbian speaker)

"Please bear in mind that, when faced with the horrors of being a
postpubescent fag in the new century, you can be told something that
your predecessors could not: You'll live." (11 July 2000)

"Where else can you get great deals on leather pants, French food
(leave it to fags to feed a street fair with crepes), and more
cruising than The Love Boat?" (11 July 2000)

I am not trying to argue that these examples demonstrate that
"fag" is now universally acceptable. But it is clear that "fag"
is at least in occasional postive use by homosexuals, that it
is ameliorating. It is not just "ironic self-reference." It is
also not "totally mistaken," nor "patently not the case," as
Ron later writes.

I don't want to get in a long discussion about offensiveness,
I just want to respond to these specific points that Ron
raises. I greatly respect Ron's work and value his opinions,
and I'm sorry that we disagree on these particular issues. I
do hope, though, that if he is not satisfied by my response,
he will let me know privately so as not to bog the list down.

Jesse Sheidlower

More information about the Ads-l mailing list