I’m queer, I’m conservative… and I’m in your face!
WARNING: This article contains a couple of words (and more than a few ideas) that are bound to offend somebody. Proceed at your own risk.
I’ve been conservative for as long as I can remember. For as long as I can remember I have been gay and queer. And yes I am a fag, not a faggot, but a fag. I’m not sure which part of my essence is more despised in today’s society.
So when a rear admiral (is that a slur or a suggestion?) of the U.S. Navy was shamed into sending the Human Rights Campaign (the nation’s largest homosexual political group) a letter apologizing for an “anti-gay” epithet scrawled on a bomb intended for a target in Afghanistan, I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed for the organization that issued the tyrannical demand and embarrassed by our pussy-whipped military brass for feeling the need to respond.
An Associated Press photo shows the phrase “HIGHJACK THIS FAGS” written on the bomb. Was it directed at me? I don’t think so. Was it directed at the millions of homosexuals around the world? Nope. It was directed at Osama bin Laden and his bugger-band of merry terrorists, but it didn’t sit too well with the folks who get paid to act like they represent the opinions of all homosexuals.
“Your concern about the photograph of an inappropriate comment scrawled on a piece of ordnance aboard the USS Enterprise is both understood and shared by Navy leadership,” wrote Rear Admiral S.R. Pietropaoli in a letter to Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign.
Now before I get into the absurdity of a rear admiral (who presumably is a “breeder”) spending any amount of time coddling some director of a political action group while our men and women, some of whom are homosexual, are fighting a war, let us spend some time examining what exactly is a fag. As defined by Webster’s a fag is basically a hard working person at a menial task, or a British cigarette. But as any read-blooded American boy knows, the term fag is more nuanced than that.
Can it be used to refer to a homosexual? Sure. More often than not it is used to refer to someone who, for lack of a better word, is being a jerk, as in, “You stupid fag,” which is often shouted by folks during rush hour traffic. It is also commonly used as a good-natured jab against a friend who is known (at least presumed) to be heterosexual. “Hey fag, pass me a beer,” or after a particularly good move on the basketball court, “YOU FAG!”
In the real world the word hardly has any meaning beyond that. So it made perfect sense when one of our brave servicemen decided to scrawl “Hijack this, fag” on an Afghanistan-bound bomb. It was not an anti-gay slur, for it was not directed at homosexuals, it was an insult to Osama bin Laden, nothing more.
Admiral Pietropaoli continued: “There is no written Defense Department guidance governing spontaneous acts of penmanship by our fighting forces. We do, however, expect oversight and leadership on the scene to ensure such actions are appropriate.” Well that’s just great. As if our troops didn’t have enough on their minds they must now worry whether the messages they write on bombs destined for Afghanistan will violate someone’s sense of political correctness. Could this have ever happened in WWII? If the Human Rights Campaign had been around then would they have objected to a bomb headed for Hitler’s bunker with a note that read “Gas this, fag”? Probably.
What concerns me most, however, is the loss of acceptable vulgar putdowns from our public lexicon. If “fag” is no longer an acceptable insult what else is on the endangered list? What is to become of the world when we are no longer free to scream “You Cocksucker” at the guy who cuts us off in traffic? Whether or not this person is technically a cocksucker is irrelevant. The point is they made us mad, and based on the chance that they aren’t technically a cocksucker, what better way to insult them than by calling them one? If they were a cocksucker it would hardly be an insult.
Most words have multiple meanings. The words Greek and French refer both to sexual acts and to nationalities. When I acknowledge being a fag, gay, queer conservative I admit nothing more than being a hardworking, merry, lighthearted, odd person who seeks to preserve established traditions. There was a time when I could describe myself using these words without being labeled a homosexual and I rather resent the fact that these words have been co-opted to such an extent that their intended use is seldom understood by a majority of people. And now the same folks who changed the definitions of words like gay and queer want to stop the rest of us from using other words as well. Well that’s just too damn bad. They do not own the language and just because they claim certain words are anti-gay does not make it so.
I reject the notion that people using these words in the manner that was scribbled on the bomb, or as used in traffic or in a pick-up game of basketball, are inciting hatred or violence against homosexuals. These are not the kind of people who stand outside gay clubs with “God hates fags” signs. When we seek to equate one use of the word “fag” with the other we do a disservice to the diversity of our language.
Some of my homosexual friends – yes I have friends who are homosexual – will argue that so-called anti-gay slurs should no more be tolerated than racial slurs. I understand their desire not to be subjected to insults, but c’mon, is being called a fag really the same as a black person being called a nigger? Hardly.
The point is that unlike racial slurs, slang such as “fag,” “bugger,” and “cocksucker” are in continual use in our society in a most un-discriminatory way, and to try and silence their usage because a few people are offended is in itself offensive. It is offensive to the notion of freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom to vent using a colorful or vulgar verbal slam. Of course my homosexual friends have plenty of slang words to use against heterosexuals, but apparently that’s okay. After all, only heterosexuals can hate.
It should come as no surprise to learn that I get a fair amount of hate mail from folks on the political left and right. I have been called a fag more times than I care to recall. As far as I am concerned sticks and stones may break my bones, in which case I want the perpetrator punished to the fullest extent of the law, but words will never hurt me. Never. And if the folks at the Human Rights Campaign really want to reduce homophobia, perhaps they should stop acting like such a bunch of fags.