On the use of the word “faggot”

There are some instances when use of the word is acceptable:

  • When talking about the word itself, as in, “it is problematic that the youth of today so easily use the word faggot.” In this usage, quotation marks or italics are necessary.
  • Directly quoting someone: “Canadians and their faggot language need to just go the fuck away,” said my manager at McDonald’s. (true story; she was reprimanded)
  • When in England and referring to that potato dish. Also, “fags” as slang for cigarettes.
  • Slightly more complex: if there is an assumption of irony.  This includes when joking in a way that makes fun of people who actually use the word “faggot” and mean it. This only works if your audience knows you well enough that they understand this ironic usage, or if context makes it extremely clear. Being gay does not automatically make it okay.

Inappropriate uses for the word “faggot”:

  • Pretty much anything else.

"But Scix," you may argue, "the word has changed. When we call someone a faggot now, we don’t mean they’re actually homosexual."

Interesting argument. Doesn’t wash, though: it can only still work as an insult if it is comparing someone to something bad. See also “gay.”

Recently, for the first time, I encountered the use of “nigger” in the same way. Baffling.

If I see misuse of the word, I will call you out on it.* I don’t give a shit if this makes me seem thin-skinned or like the PC police. You may never have had this word used in conjunction with real threats to your life, but you should still know better.

And keeping quiet? Makes it seem okay. And if everyone keeps quiet and you are offended? Makes it seem like it’s okay with everyone there. You don’t have to be gay to be hurt by this language. And you never know who is, anyways.

So cut it the fuck out. That said, people who rant that there is never an appropriate use of any particular word should just get out of their own asses and realize that everything has a context, and it matters.

*One of you did this recently, and I’m hoping this is sufficient. If I see it again, I will talk to you about it.