Thursday, April 20, 2006

tricky subject alert



A dip into the reals: There is a controversy swirling here at beige. It involves our manager -- I will call him "Gustave" -- and co-worker, whom I will call "Benjamin." We are all friends & hang out socially outside of beige. We all work closely together in the same little pod. Gustave is a writer/actor/musician with an ironic wit, and there is a constant level of humorous & biting banter in our cube. Occasionally he will refer to something as "so gay." Gustave is not, by the way, gay. Benjamin is gay, and takes offense. However, Benjamin doesn't mind the phrase "so queer," which he says is different, more open-ended in meaning or something. Gustave has grudgingly agreed to curb his use of the offending phrase around Benjamin, but will use it when Benjamin isn't within earshot.

In a related story, last week Tiger Woods issued an apology to the spastic community for using the word "spaz" to describe his "atrocious" performance on an off-day.

Now, I, slothy, have been known to use the word "spaz" on occasion, also "mutant" and "tard," even though I have a developmentally disabled niece. I am now thinking that perhaps it is time to examine my use of potentially offensive language more thoroughly. I really don't want to be using hateful language, but am rankled by the idea of self-censorship, and "spaz" is, well, exactly perfect for certain occasions. What about "deaf" or "blind?" Is "flying blind" offensive to the blind community? Can I say a fashion victim looks like she was dressed by a blind person? One time, when talking to an African-American woman, I off-handedly said I had been busy "slaving away" in the studio, & felt immediately self-conscious and embarrassed. I would never use the "n" word, or any word that referred derogatorily to a racial minority, whether a member of said minority is present or not, because I think these terms are hateful and ugly. Does this same logic apply to those other words and phrases? Are the rules suspended in the service of comedy?

These eggshells are hurting my feets.

35 Comments:

At 6:33 PM, Blogger sloth said...

Now I'm a little worried that the image I have posted will be offensive to ducks...

 
At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Pdeli said...

HI SLOTHITY SLOTH!
Watch what you say about ducks, Sloth. I have a nephew who is a duck and I'm very sensitive!
It's hard to be so self-censoring, but I guess it is a good idea to pay attention to the language we use. I do throw around "tard" and "spaz" way too much.

P.S. A blind person dresses me Sloth.

 
At 7:07 PM, Anonymous pdeli said...

But there must be exceptions for comedy among close friends--right?

 
At 8:59 PM, Blogger Corny said...

I like to go as "DJ Twunt" when i'm breaking it down on the decks, I never thought that there might be a REAL twunt out there who might take offense. And same with "wanker" I throw that term around alot too, so for the record, I'm sorry to all you twunts, wankers, troglidites, nutters, nerdballs, and fuckelnuts I may have offended. It's a slippery slope... but I hold true to not using the offensive words in front of the people who would be offended by them, but when they leave the room all bets are off. It's interesting that your pal is offended by Gay but nt queer, I get it but the use of the terms by your boss is the same in each case, refering to Homosexuals, not queer as in "odd".

 
At 8:15 AM, Blogger bradleyrubenstein said...

sloth,

regarding the use of spaz, the furor over tiger's use of the term was not offensive, but rather inaccurate. a spaz is not the same thing as a tard, a tard is a person or persons who choose to wear football helmets as part of their everyday attire. a spaz, on the otherhand is a person who plays golf all day.

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger Corny said...

Maybe suggest to Gustave that he uses the term "that is so gay-wad" instead of just gay, the "wad" qualifier might make it easier for Benjamin to deal with since gay people are not really wads and it's a bit more abstract.

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger sloth said...

BOL corny, FUCKELNUTS!!!!!! fuckelnutsfuckelnutsfuckelnuts... you so funny, corns...

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger sloth said...

OHHHHHHH and the noodles keep coming... can't.... breathe.....

 
At 9:30 AM, Blogger sloth said...

bradley, thanks for clarifying this issue for me. I will alert the media right away. Although by your definition, Tiger is indeed a spaz, no matter how he putts.

 
At 9:34 AM, Blogger sloth said...

good idea with the "gay-wad" idea, corny... HFP suggests "gay-lord," which might be even better, since "lord" refers either to royalty or christ jesus.

 
At 10:12 AM, Blogger burrito brother said...

what about "gayfer"?

i have a 22-yr old homo-associate that uses the word "gay" frequently in a positive and negative context. We haven't discussed it, but I assume he's using the word like "nigga" - taking it back.

it's pretty cool. i'm going to do the same thing with "cracker", "white-boy", and possibly "lazy".

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Corny said...

"Thats so gay-lord", yup that works. The Mrs. likes the term "Gay-bot"
(like a gay robot) you can take that for a spin arounfd the proverbial block too.

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger Corny said...

I'm taking back the term Selfish Cunt.

Sorry Slothy, I know it really early in the day for this type of language, I hope i didn't just kill the free-wheel'n love vibe here at logwurld.
xo
Vibe Slayer

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous pd said...

I have taken back the terms "whop" and "dego" and on ocassion "cumada"

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger bradleyrubenstein said...

S

Yes, indeed, Mr. Woods IS a spaz for playing golf all day. I believe his comment was merely taken out of context, in much the same way as when several years ago when he won the Green Jacket it was assumed he was going to want ribs for lunch. Of course he was going to want ribs for lunch, that was why they were putting the Green Jacket on him--it was to keep the rib sauce off his spazzing uniform.

 
At 11:08 AM, Anonymous krixfort said...

at the risk of sounding un-pc, I effing hate PC language and the careful way in which we have become accustomed to guarding our speech. Mind you, I don't walk around the city spewing slurs and epithets (do I? shit.) After years of speaking in euphemisms while living in the Northwest Quadrant, I felt fairly liberated when I came to New York and heard everyone let it rip with the language. Douchebag, tard, spaz, and duck. . .all good in my book. If I was a duck, I would let it roll off my back. It was refreshing to hear people unencumbered by the act of trying to NOT say what they were thinking. I know there are limits but to be so careful all the time to the point where you can't speak is too much.

I was using the word chrome way too much until my chrome plated neighbor finally schooled me. I'm an insensitive 'tard.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger JD said...

Hi there Sloth, you retard. This is indeed thorny territory—at its most extreme, it can make us say things like "differently-abled" instead of disabled. That seems like a distortion of meaning to me, but on the other hand, "disabled" seems more neutral and less insulting than "cripple." But there are two sides to me: the good jd, who is politically correct and is totally conscious of my language, and the bad jd, who is frankly a juvenile, well, 'tard. When I was a kid, the most fun game ever, with my best friend Nikki, was to either act like a tard, with spastic hand gestures and everything, or to do a pitch-perfect Marlee Matlin imitation. The sad thing is, that kind of shit can still make me laugh harder than anything. I am a terrible person.

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger JD said...

god help me, I can't stop laughing right now, just remembering the deaf-person imitation. What does this mean??!!!

 
At 11:28 AM, Blogger sloth said...

JD, when it comes to comedy, rules go out the window. I have seen that Marlee Matlin imitation, and it KILLS! Also there is a certain member of our grad school faculty with dysphonia... remember?

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger JD said...

Oh gods above, help me! I do totally remember; am giggling uncontrollably.

Did you by any chance see "The Aristocrats"? Now that was a brilliant movie, all about transgressive language as the root of humor.

 
At 11:36 AM, Anonymous pd said...

JD, that is too funny. It's sort of like Jo's cousin on the Facts of Life that we used to imitate back in the day. Terrible, but laugh-out-loud worthy.

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger JD said...

OMG, pd, I actually think I remember that actress. Wasn't she a stand-up comic with cerebral palsy or something?

Do you all remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer gets oral surgery and wears the funny shoes? Genius, pure genius.

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger sloth said...

OMG jd, yeah, that was f*cking high-larious!

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger JD said...

must. . . go. . . to . . . studio.

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger sloth said...

yes, JD... nose to it. kick some arse.

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous pd said...

YES, jd, she was a stand-up comedian. Talk about strange career choices.

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger The Capt'n said...

I think this is a question that should be fielded by Gaylord, of The Gaylord Rehabilitation Center.
I, for one, have taken back the title of "Tacky Dagger." It is something that must be doggedly earned over the course of a lifetime.
My two cents:
everybody but CHOADS can say whatever they want, using common decency, and with full knowledge that anything but right speech may have dire consequences.
The shit's funny 'cause it's taboo, I think. Or sad, underneath.
Having been raised on hardcore verbal abuse and then having turned it on others, I am painfully aware of the dire consequences.
Comedia, she is a harsh mistress, a mysterious vixen.
Yeah, for me, choads don't get no free pass on nothing. Anybody else...they probably have enuf experience and awareness to understand what they're saying. If it's funny, it's funny. But I'm probably a choad, too.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger sloth said...

capt'n, or TD, we here at logworld are honored by your carefully considered and genius reply. You are imbued with the wisdom that comes from years of zen-like concentration atop the mountain-type wave crests. Please forward my questions to Gaylord, along with a sweet bribe of petits fours and an apple-tini with my compliments.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger The Gaylord Rehabilitation Center said...

Dear PEOPLE,
Thank you for your interest in my esteemed, royal, homosexual opinion. We at the Gaylord and more specifically myself as the chairman of the Board of all Gaylord, find it best to be to some degree a fudgepacker or carpetmuncher when using sensitive terms like "gay" in an offensively negative way. Specimens often known as choads seem biologically incapable of understanding this juncture of street smarts, difference and intelligence. Don't step up to the glorious gates of the Gaylord unprepared, or you'll get cut.
A golden rule:
If you can't play, no say.
ps- the gaylord's sis is a retard, so we use the term in all of its ironic badness, but may the person who says it to her be smote from existence.
pps- i do a fierce imitation of retardation, jodie foster in Nell, a quadraplegic, the gays, the lames, the choads,etc. I've won the Liberace Memorial Community Center Talent Contest many a time at the Gaylord R.C.
Where's my appletini? Yves?

 
At 5:13 PM, Blogger The Capt'n said...

ALL HAIL THE GAYLORD AND HER ESTEEMED, ROYAL, HOMOSEXUAL OPINION!!
Eventually I'll stop laughing.....
Oh and Gaylord, don't forget your excellent interpretation of "Manager Dyke." Dick Blue particularly cherishes it, and as she a pro vocaliste and all, thas sayin sumthin.

 
At 6:37 PM, Blogger sloth said...

Oh great and exalted Gaylord, we here at Logworld are delighted and honored by your visit & attention to these vexing matters, and will defer to your knowledge-dropping. I am having the Gaylord Golden Rule engraved on a gold-plated bust of Tiger Woods, to inspire and to warn current and future generations of visitors to the Log.

I am also FedExing over -- I mean UPSing -- a magnum of especially toxic appletini beverage for your delectation. (If the LMCCTC award statuette is in the form of a chalice, might I suggest quaffing it out of same, for the utmost resonant and profound moment of drunken triumph?)

eternal thanks,
slothy

 
At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 10:05 AM, Blogger The Gaylord Rehabilitation Center said...

Queffing or quaffing? Oh no, is there a difference? It was a fantastic cocktail, thanks for the fast transfer, slow-moving animal.

 
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