Letters to the editor

Published On:
Monday, September 22, 2008
Printer-friendly version

Column could be offensive

(In response to Friday’s column by Krista Norsworthy, “You could be ‘gay’ in all three ways”)

I just wanted to let you know as a member of the gay community your article could be interpreted as coloring gay people in a negative fashion.

You claim the word “gay” meaning homosexual is offensive and discriminatory. The word “gay” is a signifier of homosexual people. The word “gay” meaning homosexual is a self-identifying term used by homosexuals and is not meant to be offensive or discriminatory.

The need for such a term came during a time (through the 1960s) when there was severe repression of homosexuals. (One could be jailed for kissing one’s partner or going to a homosexual bar.) The word was a way for members of the community to identify with each other using an innocuous term (As you note the original meaning meant joyous.) If you identified yourself as a “homosexual” you could be jailed at that time.

The use of the term “that’s so gay” meaning lame or dumb uses a description of a minority group as a negative epithet. You claim this is not offensive, but I don’t know many people who would not be offended when being called dumb or lame. Others who might be offended by being called “gay” meaning homosexual who are not homosexual are likely offended because of their hatred of homosexuals and unwillingness to be associated with them.

The use of the term “that’s so gay” is offensive to many gay people because it attempts to turn a positive description of one’s identity into an insult. Just because many people use the term does not make it OK.

That said, many homosexuals also are not offended by the use of this term meaning dumb or lame, but I think it’s important to note both sides.

I’m not sure if you ever wondered why the word “faggot” is used to describe homosexuals, which is almost always offensive? The definition of faggot is kindling used to start a fire. At one time, homosexuals were burned just as accused witches were burned, and thus were called “faggots” because they were burned. When you call someone a “fag” it could be interpreted that you would want to kill this person by burning them.

I think before you comment about minority groups, you might want to talk to members of that minority group (not just people randomly in the MU) or try to empathize the discrimination and hatred that these people may feel. You might try, for example, holding a female friend’s hand or kissing her in public and see what comments people make at you.

It’s great that we have freedom of speech and the press, and that also entails a responsibility to be informed, especially when your comments may reach many people. People who read The State Press come from many different backgrounds and I’m sure you did not intentionally mean to offend anyone.

Anthony R. Cuttitta

You be the judge

(In response to Friday’s column by Natasha Karaczan, “Inking with charitable thinking”)

Ms. Karaczan points to an alleged fundraiser hosted by a local tattoo shop as evidence that anyone with a negative opinion about people with tattoos is wrong and judgmental for thinking that way. I don’t follow her reasoning.

While I can see how a charitable event reflects positively on the actual people who host it, I don’t see what it has to do with people who choose to get tattoos in general.

Further, I think it a bit strange to laud freedom of expression in the form of tattoos as “inspirational” out of one side of your mouth, and then condemn particular views about them as “judgmental” or wrong out of the other. I don’t really have an opinion about this “tattoo culture” Ms. Karaczan brings up, but I don’t like being told how to think.

Making judgments about people is human nature. Every single one of us makes judgments and assessments (positive, negative, big or small) about every single person we come in contact with every single day based on how they present themselves. There is nothing wrong with that, we form opinions based on the information we have.

As for tattoos, I don’t care if people get them, but a tattoo can make a pretty loud statement. People are going to form opinions and make judgments about you based on how they interpret the statement you’ve chosen to ink onto your body; and they have every right to do so.

Who is Ms. Karaczan to say that a negative view of them is wrong? And as for tattoos being an “inspirational art form,” I guess maybe a few people get them for that reason, but everyone I know that gets a tattoo just gets one because they think it will make them more ‘badass’— hence, the common portrayal of them.

Marshall Jackson