Thursday, February 10, 2011

That's So Straight.

Today's Failbook fail: Phone PHAIL.

Breaking news: "Gay" still not a synonym for "broken," "bad," or "wrong"! In other news, the Earth still orbiting the sun four billion years after its formation! Later this hour, we show the shocking truth about mammals: they STILL have hair and a neocortex!!

Why are we are so inured to "gay" as a random negative adjective? Can you imagine the average teenager walking around saying shit like, "My principal blocked Twitter at school. He is so black!", or, "My mom grounded me for a week! It's so wheelchair-user of her.*" I'm not playing Oppression Olympics here; I had a really wise African Studies prof in college who campaigned fiercely against that kind of thinking, and it stuck with me. I just can't believe it's 2011 and we're still saying, "That's so gay." And most people don't even bat an eyelash.

Anyway, thanks, Failbook, for slipping that in there. I was starting to get worried that you thought gay people were human beings or something!

*I think some people would argue that the use of "lame" actually fits the bill here, but I respectfully disagree. Words that initially serve to negatively label oppressed groups can and do evolve beyond that usage. My go-to example is "dumb," which was used against the Deaf for decades, but there are no Deaf people arguing we shouldn't say "dumb" to mean something is stupid. It has become utterly divorced from the Deaf. Similarly, when people say something is "lame," they do not connect it in the least with people with physical disabilities. I don't believe this is the case for "gay," the primary difference being that it's a group's self-label, not a superfluous outgroup usage.

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