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Is casual use of the word 'faggot' acceptable?

Last posted Aug 22, 2013 at 04:27AM EDT. Added Aug 08, 2013 at 04:40PM EDT
43 posts from 28 users

This is a topic that arose as a derailment in Pony General, and at the request of BSoD and Platus I thought I’d make a separate thread out of it.


The words ‘fag’ and ‘faggot’ tend to be used fairly liberally on the internet, especially on sites like 4Chan or Reddit. It’s fairly obvious that the words carry different meanings than usual there, with terms like ‘oldfag’ even being somewhat endearing. But go elsewhere online – somewhere like YouTube for example – and the words tend to be used in a similar way to what you see IRL. They’re used either as homophobic slurs or as placeholder insults to be used without much thought.

I personally find the words to be fairly offensive. Even when they’re spoken without any intention of insulting a gay person, I still don’t like the implications behind them. The only times I’m accepting of them is if they’re used ironically, or if they’re used in a memetic context (things like “Do it, faggot”).

What’s everyone’s thoughts on this? Is it wrong to use these words so casually, or are people like me just overreacting to their use?

Aug 08, 2013 at 04:40PM EDT
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I wouldn’t use it so casually IRL, but in my opinion, it’s not that offensive on the the internet. I think if we wanted to chastise someone for being gay (and even though I vastly disagree and hate homosexuality, I don’t hate gay people in general and I wouldn’t degrade a person like that), we’d use something else. I guess it’s only offensive to people who don’t frequent the web. Sites like /b/ and KYM are flooded with that kind of thing. But you just learn how to walk away from it…Or join in.

Last edited Aug 08, 2013 at 05:01PM EDT
Aug 08, 2013 at 04:59PM EDT
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According to this online etymological dictionary, the word we know as the slur for gays probably came from a late 16th century contemptuous term for a woman, especially if they were old and perceived to be unpleasant. It also mentions that the word was possibly reinforced by the Yiddish word “faygele” which is used to call someone a homosexual.

At this point, I don’t see why this word should even be defended. The word “faggot” being used in either of the two contexts that I mentioned was clearly meant as a slur and to ostracize others for perceived differences from what is/was “socially acceptable.” In short, it is wrong to use the word casually.

Aug 08, 2013 at 05:09PM EDT
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level4outbreak wrote:

According to this online etymological dictionary, the word we know as the slur for gays probably came from a late 16th century contemptuous term for a woman, especially if they were old and perceived to be unpleasant. It also mentions that the word was possibly reinforced by the Yiddish word “faygele” which is used to call someone a homosexual.

At this point, I don’t see why this word should even be defended. The word “faggot” being used in either of the two contexts that I mentioned was clearly meant as a slur and to ostracize others for perceived differences from what is/was “socially acceptable.” In short, it is wrong to use the word casually.

And, yet, people do….

Aug 08, 2013 at 05:50PM EDT
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I’ll admit, I use the word faggot in real life. I don’t use it in a way to call someone a homosexual, I use it whenever I’m mad or if I jokingly say it to my friends when we play video games. I say faggot when I’m around my friends, family, or coworkers and no one takes it seriously or gets offended. I realize it may not be mature to do so, but I guess there is no word that offends me. The word nigger doesn’t even bother me (though I don’t use that word much because I know some people who would take offense to that).

Aug 08, 2013 at 05:52PM EDT
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I use it quite liberally to be honest. I’m on the same page as disturbed brony.

Last edited Aug 08, 2013 at 05:57PM EDT
Aug 08, 2013 at 05:56PM EDT
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I don’t use this term often IRL, and I barely use it at all on the internet either, so I guess you could say I’m more of an observer in this conversation. I personally do not mind it’s use on the internet all that much (I.e. Uses of the term “oldfag” or “newfag”) I am only really not ok with this word when used as an insult to sling at someone as a personal attack. When used in a joking manner, I am usually ok with it. Hell, I use the word a lot when I crack jokes at my brother, but that’s only because we both know that we don’t find offense in that word in that specific context. I would very, very rarely use this word in a casual or joking manner with someone that I was not so familiar with.

Aug 08, 2013 at 05:59PM EDT
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[REDACTED]
English 226
11 March 2013

Definitions

For as long as we’ve had spoken language, insults and slurs have existed. Many slurs have been lost to the annals of time. Language is constantly changing and evolving and so it’s not surprising that ancient or even medieval words have lost their meaning or simply cannot be fully understood due to a lack of proper background and context. Two slurs, tracing their origins to the 1600s, have become firmly embedded in our minds and culture. The words faggot and nigger.

They are used derogatorily to refer to homosexuals and black people respectively. With a history of fear, anger, and hate, it’s no wonder that these words are shunned and cast out of modern language to wallow in the dark depths of the hatred and anger that they’ve been raised in. A change is needed. If we’re ever going to change that hatred and anger, we must start with changing the very words that are used to express it.

In order to change their meaning, we must first look at their current meaning. The Oxford English Dictionary provides an excellent and concise definition of “faggot”, which is simply “North American informal, derogatory a male homosexual”(“faggot”). Similarly, its definition for “nigger” is equally straight and to the point, stating “offensive a contemptuous term for a black person” (“nigger”).

In order to remove these words from their dark past, we must redefine what they mean. This is a slow and arduous process, but it’s already begun for both words. As Randall Kennedy states in his book Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, as early as the days of slavery in the 1800’s, many blacks were using the word nigger in a joking sense to lessen the impact of the word’s racial sting. As the years ticked by, everything from Jim Crow laws to the disenfranchisement of blacks was parodied using the word (28). Today, many blacks continue to use nigger as a proper noun to describe each other--a sort of term of endearment.

Likewise, faggot has undergone a transformation in recent years. As the Urban Dictionary is quick to note, the word now means “an extremely annoying or inconsiderate person”(“Fag.”). The internet has allowed the word to take on common usage as a mild insult, and in the twisted world of 4chan, an image board known for its vulgarity, it is even used in a somewhat endearing usage with most nouns receiving a “-fag” suffix to describe what someone does (i.e. a writer would be a “writefag”, an artist a “drawfag”).

We now have their new meanings. Nigger, instead of its racist origins, is now a general proper noun no worse than “African American” or “black”. Faggot has disregarded its usage with referring to homosexuals and now is merely an insult traded over the internet during those wonderfully productive conversations we have. Not everyone is buying these new meanings, however.

Some would argue that those currently vile words can never be changed. They’ve been too culturally identified to mean anything other than those horrible things. It would simply be impossible to remove the stain of history from them. The only solution is to bury the word--make it a taboo. Never use it and have the mere thought strike fear into any decent and upstanding person.

Indeed, there are many words that have suffered a fate due to their history. No longer does one think of genetic research and study to improve humanity when the word “eugenics” is spoken but the horrors that both Nazi Germany and our very own country did to the mentally ill or criminal. Other words like “propaganda”, which simply means “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person”; or “holocaust”, “a sacrifice consumed by fire”, have also been sullied by their historical context. What, exactly, makes these words different from nigger or faggot?

The biggest is their lack of personal context. “Holocaust” isn’t a slur thrown at a homosexual or black person in hatred or fear. That personal, and painful, connection not only makes them far more poignant, but it also adds an emotional and passionate undertone to the word. No longer can a sterile, dictionary definition accurately describe the word. Not when so many people can recount it being screamed, or whispered to them. This, those arguers say, is all the more reason to banish these words from the English language.

That’s the exact opposite of what needs to be done, though. The longer these words are restricted to their offensive definitions, the longer those definitions will be reinforced and the words continued to have their tragic meanings. The cultural stigma creates a paradox: we want these words to lose their sting, but by “burying” them, by trying to destroy or remove the words, all we do is reinforce the very sting we’re trying to get rid of. This stigma has been reinforced and remains a major obstacle in finally removing that sting.

Thanks to those reinforcements, resistance toward changing the meaning of “faggot” is still very strong. Ironically, its seemingly strongest with the very group that one would think would happiest with faggot’s new meaning--the homosexuals. No matter the context or usage, many within the homosexual community take great offense to the word regardless of whether the word’s being used against them or a random internet user as a mild insult no worse than “idiot”. Look no further than GLAAD’s commentary on the South Park episode “The F Word”, an episode that was instrumental in providing faggot’s redefinition. They state:
South Park was right on one point: all too commonly, more and more people are using the F-word as a seemingly benign insult, unaware or unconcerned about the word’s anti-gay meaning. However, the spread of the word in this manner does not make it okay to use. Mickey Rourke and Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson recently learned this lesson as GLAAD reiterated the need for all uses of this slur to end.” (Rosales, “South Park Tries and Fails to Redefine ‘The F-Word’”)

The irony of the situation, that the very group that the word’s vulgar definition targets are the ones most protective of that definition cannot be overstated.

Opposition to “nigger” is still very strong as well. While the word is frequently used within the black community, the heavy stigma against non-blacks using the word remains. A long road ahead remains for both words. Signs are there, though, that their meanings are slowly changing. It takes time for the English language to change, but change is happening.
As long as we continue to stigmatize these words and grasp onto their vulgar and offensive meanings, they’ll remain just as offensive as ever. The culture that nigger and faggot have amassed only serves to reinforce them and make them just as bad today as they were when they were first used as hateful dialogue. Mel Brooks, a famous Jewish producer and writer, once said “…by using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths.” It’s time that we robbed words like nigger and faggot of their hate-filled power and myth, by redefining what they mean.

Works Cited
“Fag.” Urban Dictionary. N.p., Mar.-Apr. 2005. Web. 04 Apr. 2013.
“Faggot.” Definition of in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English). Oxford Dictionary, 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2013.
Kennedy, Randall. Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. New York: Pantheon, 2002. Print.
“Nigger.” Definition of in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English). Oxford Dictionary, 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2013.
Rosales, Jonathan. “South Park Tries and Fails to Redefine ‘The F-Word’” GLAAD: Leading the Conversation for LGBT Equality. GLAAD, 5 Nov. 2009. Web. 04 Apr. 2013.

TLDR: The longer we stigmatize words like “faggot”, the longer their hurtful meaning will hold power.

@Faggot etymology
Faggot’s root word is the Old French fagot, which means “bundle of sticks”. A faggot was a bundle of kindling. It was primarily used for burning people at the stake (they’d be tied to a pole and the faggots lit on fire). Homosexuals were commonly burned at the stake along with the heretics and witches. As time went on and linguistics happened, Faggot began referring to the homosexuals as opposed to the sticks used to burn them.

Likewise, Nigger’s root is the Latin niger, which literally means “color black.” Nigger was a common term for an African American, like negro was, up to the late 1800’s, with novels like The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’: A Tale of the Sea and Mark Twain and Charles Dickens using the word in a non-racial context in their novels. Racism ensued and the word became what it is today.

Words are just that: words. A series of lip and tongue movements that produces noise that we identify. It’s not the word itself that matters, it’s how you use it.

Last edited Aug 08, 2013 at 06:05PM EDT
Aug 08, 2013 at 06:00PM EDT
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@Jack:

Yes, and they’re wrong for doing so.

@DB:

Maybe you use faggot more because you don’t personally know any people who would take offense to it. And that strikes me as a major problem: a lot of people have bad opinions about gay people and homosexuality, but when they befriend someone, or realize they know someone who is gay, they realize “Oh wait, this isn’t as bad as I thought. I mean, if X is gay, it can’t be THAT bad, can it?”


Seriously, though, as level4 said, it is a slur no matter how you phrase it.

I’ll remind/introduce you to the song The Kramer by Wale (see embed below), in which Wale discusses the term “nigger/nigga.” Lyrical excerpt below:

The white boy spit it like he spit it
Recite it to his friends who, by the way, ain’t niggas
And say nigga, nigga, nigga, my favorite rapper did it
And non-nigga friends got it with him
Incorporate this lyric to their everyday living
Until a black friend kinda hear it, just a tidbit
He thinks Aw, forget it, its so insignificant and little
The white boy sees this as a clearance, now its
Nigga, nigga, nigga, every single day
And that little nigga nigga, thinks its okay
And he’s the only nigga in this particular grade
And it begins to phase him more each day
The things they say went a little too far
He couldn’t tell the difference between an a or er
So they just keep going, saying nigga in his face
There’s nothing he can do, he let it get away
It came to the point he couldn’t look ‘em in the face
The mirror made him hurl, his reflection disgraceful
Yeah, and make sure everything you say
Can’t be held against you in any kind of way
And any connotation is viewed many ways
Cuz under every nigga, there’s a little bit of Kramer
Self-hatred…I hate you…and myself
Niggas

While the term faggot doesn’t have quite the same history as the term nigger, in some ways it engenders similar feelings amongst the LGBT community. I know it gets use online, but it’s still bad.

Last edited Aug 08, 2013 at 06:04PM EDT
Aug 08, 2013 at 06:03PM EDT
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There’s plenty of vulgarity to go around in this video, but it brings up a good point. “I didn’t call someone faggot for being gay. I called them a faggot for…ya know, being a faggot!”

Aug 08, 2013 at 06:13PM EDT
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@Chokesmurf:

That’s like me saying “I don’t call someone a nigga for being black, I call them a nigga for…ya know, being a nigga!” Does that make sense?

Last edited Aug 08, 2013 at 06:20PM EDT
Aug 08, 2013 at 06:19PM EDT
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The amazing atheist just covered this a week ago oddly enough. Of course, what he said is almost identical to how South Park put it a few years ago.

Even though I’m gay, I don’t understand why people think faggot is offensive. It’s only so if you let it (we really underestimate how much we let words influence us.) As xTSGx pointed out, the power it has of being harmful will only retain such power if we let them be offensive. In recent years, LGBT groups reclaimed the word Queer, which was priorly a slur for gay persons, now it’s used to simply describe someone who doesn’t fit into traditional gender or sexual identification or are a gender minority.

That’s, frankly, what we should be doing. Words have power, but most the power comes from how we, individually, perceive them (thus why there are people like me who are like “meh” and others who think calling someone a faggot is horrible). We should use our power to shift a words meaning so we can recognize “faggot doesn’t have to be a homophobic insult, it’s just a plain old insult”. And it’s not like words are concrete for eternity people , language isn’t like math where 2+2 will always equal 4, language changes as cultures do.

I’ve quoted this before but, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Last edited Aug 08, 2013 at 06:31PM EDT
Aug 08, 2013 at 06:28PM EDT
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I’ll chime in behind opspe.
 
I probably don’t take as much offense to the word “nigger” as opspe does to “faggot,” but on the whole, I do take offense to “nigger”, no matter who says it. It’s original intent was to be an insult. Why not just call me “brother/brotha” if you have to call me something that’s slang but refers to my race (which is one of the easiest ways to get the attention of a person you don’t know.)

Or you could tap me on the shoulder and say “Excuse me…”

With “faggot,” it’s generally meant as an insult, period. Even on the Internet, there is no real equivalent to “My nigga.” You don’t respond to a witty post from opspe with “My faggot” or “That’s my fag.” At the very least, “nigger” has the variant “nigga” which can be use as a term of endearment. If you’re throwing “faggot” around, then you’re just trying to be crude, at best (and to no real meaningful ends.)
 
I would rarely say “The people I know aren’t offended by it/People that know me know I mean nothing by it” is a reason to use it. In talking to Bob here, I do understand that there might be a “no harm, no foul” culture among us. So if you enjoy calling your female friends “bitches” or your gay friend “faggot” or your dumb friend “bitch” of “faggot,” and they don’t mind, then by all means, I guess.

But do recognize that not all marginalized groups of people will pipe up if their friends seem really angry. You may be bullying them without even knowing it. By the fact that some of you may say (or have said) “I don’t mean anything by it. You shouldn’t take offense to it. I’ve got freedom of speech. You’re too sensitive. I call other people X all the time, and they don’t mind. My best friend is gay.” or like phrases, you’re basically pushing them into a corner where they’re not only in the statistical minority but a minority in terms of social power with regards to you, their “friend.”

I don’t see why you’d even use a slur at all with a friend, but…actually, I don’t have a “but.” I wouldn’t refer to a friend with a slur created in and/or used to insult and degrade a person based off of an attribute that’s part of their identity.


 
My personal stance is to set up a relationship where everything insulting for humor is very basic. If someone is really sensitive about their weight, height, race, faith, or whatever, then I’ll learn that about them and never bring it up. And if it’s something I know is generally very sensitive (like sexual orientation or race), then I just won’t use slurs. I may not even joke about their orientation at all if they’re that sensitive about it.

The reason for that inconsistency (me joking about someone loving a certain video game or anime versus someone being gay or something) is that there’s a massive stigma against gay people in every day life (the thing that most of us frequent when we’re not online.) I don’t want my friends (or strangers, even) to be reminded of the sneers, jokes, insults, glares, or maybe even physical confrontations they and people like them go through everyday.

Small example from me: There’s a pressure on me to be even more articulate that most white people, because people assume a lot of different things about me as a black man. You thought I was white when you first saw a post of mine. IRL, people have the assumption that I have certain experiences, likes, values, tendencies, and abilities, because a lot of black people do have those experiences, likes, values, tendencies, and abilities.

So, everyday, I have to go through a ton of effort to not be some ghetto black dude for doing one thing that affirms my “blackness.” Can’t wear jean shorts and a t-shirt and nice sneakers. Can’t play Outkast or Ludacris in my truck with the windows down.

Because even after a few months of knowing me, people would attribute seeing me a certain way once to "having a little ‘black’ or ‘street’ in me. (I’ve gotten that before more than once.) For most white people, seeing hip-hop on your iPod is just you liking one hip-hop artist.

I’m not sure if gay people have the same pressures about being seen as being too “prissy” or whatever, but if they feel those same sorts of pressures, then I don’t want to be someone who reminds them of that when they’re among friends and are just trying to relax.
 
…couldn’t really imagine being on the Internet and being told I’m wrong for being offended about it.


Apologies for rambling. Not my best post, but maybe I made a point somewhere in there.

Aug 08, 2013 at 06:44PM EDT

As I said back in Pony General, how acceptable or unacceptable it is to use the term wholly comes down to your surrounding community:

Out in public (common internet counts as public) = Untactful. Don’t dare get caught saying it on public TV/Twitter/Facebook where potentially sensitive individuals could hear you. Even if you are gay yourself and don’t care about the word, it’s better to avoid it.

In the deep internet = Grey area. The population of the more underground communities tend to be the type that has seen that particular South Park episode where the meaning of ‘fag’ has been changed to mean “annoying thing”. Most here might agree that when they call something a ‘fag’ they honestly are not calling it ‘gay’. Those who might still be offended by the word might just glance it over since it’s the deep web after all but it’s still offensive

In 4chan = Nobody cares. On 4chan, literally everyone is considered a ‘niggerfag’ so it’s not discrimination at all. The words, in fact, are positive in connotation

Over X-Box live = Nobody cares. In the gaming community ‘fag’ takes on whole new meaning yet again. A faggot is just that asshole player that mic spams and camps with the sniper rifle, not a homosexual. Even gays call other people fags if they’ve been TK’ed by some jackass 5 times in a row

Next to gay friends who call themselves fags = Another grey area. If they are okay with using it in a friendly context, shouldn’t be a problem. But they still might prefer you don’t use the word unless you happen to be gay yourself

Next to gay friends who’ve been hurt by bigots calling them ‘fags’ = You instantly become a homophobe whether you hate gays or not


Personally I don’t use the word myself as any kind of expletive or to describe anything except juvenile behaviour (EG: Calling people ‘faggots’ is what I would call faggotry), even then, saying it to point out juvenile behaviour sounds ironically juvenile to me. Some kind of weird recursive logic, I know. That’s why I don’t use it. That and my gay friends would kill me if they heard me utter it for any reason.

I hope nobody is offended by the number of times I have already said ‘fag’ in this post. I hope you understand that I am saying just the word itself as a statement. I am not saying it in an aggressive, condescending, hateful or discriminatory nature at all. I point this out because while I believe people have the right to find the word offensive, I also think people should consider that it is how the word is used and who is saying it that should matter when it comes to offensiveness, not the word itself. Remember: it’s just a bundle of sticks

Last edited Aug 09, 2013 at 01:07AM EDT
Aug 09, 2013 at 01:05AM EDT
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On 4chan, everyone is a fag, and the proper term for homosexuals there is “gayfag”.

“Faggot” is shorthand for “I don’t like you”.

Aug 09, 2013 at 02:09AM EDT
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Dr. Coolface wrote:

On 4chan, everyone is a fag, and the proper term for homosexuals there is “gayfag”.

“Faggot” is shorthand for “I don’t like you”.

You’re gay and I respect your sexual preference, but I don’t respect your entitlement to the word “faggot”. If you don’t like the word why own it?

Aug 09, 2013 at 02:46AM EDT
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Derp Banned wrote:

You’re gay and I respect your sexual preference, but I don’t respect your entitlement to the word “faggot”. If you don’t like the word why own it?

Ur a faggot.

Aug 09, 2013 at 04:41AM EDT
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I think it is mostly depends on which people you say to.

The place like 4chan is still not known for the most of the people. Also the most of the users of 4chan have some knowledge that how can be offensive or factious thoughts in somebody’s mind. So anons generally doesn’t mind that usage of word “fag” . If one of your friend has this kind of knowledge, you can also call eachothers “fag” and both of the sides won’t mind.

Do i use? I can. But i wont use that term just to be a jerk.
Also, yeah you can call me a fag, jew, nigger whatever you want. I have that knowledge and i wouldn’t care that so much. Cos i am a total fag.

Last edited Aug 09, 2013 at 05:39AM EDT
Aug 09, 2013 at 05:35AM EDT
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i just treat it like any other slur. i avoid using it. my eldest brother is okay with me using it, but even then i’d only use it around him and in private. i still have yet to use it because i know his own personal history with the word.

and this “the longer we stigmatize the word the more we prolong the hurtful effects” shit is bullshit. i know quite a few PoC slurs that fell out of use not because the word was no longer stigmatized but rather because gasp people stopped using them.

Aug 09, 2013 at 01:41PM EDT
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Hmm, this is an interesting question, as not only does the general acceptability of the word change when being used by different groups of people, it can also change on a person to person basis, as different people will have had different experiences with the word faggot.

For example, if someone had a history where faggot was used to verbally abuse them and it was being used as a gay slur instead of a generic insult, they are probably going to be less tolerant of casual use of the word because of their bad experience with it.

On the flip side, someone who only ever experienced the word as a generic insult might be more at ease with the casual use of faggot because to them it isn’t any worse than idiot or fucker and they don’t see it as singling out a specific group of people.

On the internet, I find the only place where faggot is often used as a gay slur is on Youtube. Most sites, such as 4chan, use it as a general insult.

Aug 09, 2013 at 03:44PM EDT
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Level4 and Opspe already made clear that regardless of context, “faggot” as an insult is exactly that, an insult.

However, words and phrases evolve as language itself evolves. Words get new meanings, new terms are created, and existing ones get combined into something new entirely. And this is the interenet, which has a sort of “English accent” (dunno a better term) based on slang terms and phrases, like wurds, phaggot, it’s over 9000, #yoloswag, etc.

Let’s use an example: Rule 34. Originally this was a term used for pornography or pornographic implications of items you normally wouldn’t think it was possible to create porn of. Toothpaste tubes, Go-Karts, Cups of Coffee, etc etc etc.

Nowadays however, the meaning of “Rule 34” has changed. Initially it was exactly how it reads, a “rule” on the internet that there was porn of it regardless of what it was. Nowadays it has evolved to a term, a common term used to describe any type of pornographic content (whether explicit or just NSFW). People don’t say “explicit art of X has been created”, with X being a fandom or characters from a show. People now say “Rule 34 has been created” of said character.

Rule 34 has evolved from a rule to a term, but it’s still a rule at its core.

And that’s the same I believe with the word “faggot”. Yes, at it’s core it’s still an insult, regardless of context. But the meaning of the insult has changed. It’s common usage on the internet has made it same as a regular insult. People online don’t call people a “faggot” as in “you like to have a dick up your ass”, people call others a “faggot” the same way as you call someone an “idiot” or a “dick”.

Is it an insult? Yes. Is it an insult used to tell people they’re homos? At its core, yes, but not with its common usage.

Last edited Aug 10, 2013 at 12:11PM EDT
Aug 10, 2013 at 12:08PM EDT
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@RM

And here’s where that point gets interesting: That insulting core meaning of the word ‘fag’?

That used to be the change, not the core. The example of words changing over time goes far deeper for ‘fag’ than the one definition it is famous for

As you all know: In the beginning. A ‘fag’ was a bundle of sticks and that’s what it used to be at it’s core. Then it was used as slang for boys at the bottom of the high school pecking order and that became the new core (FUN FACT: According to the Oxford dictionary, this is still the meaning of the word at it’s core!) Then it was used as slang for cigarettes and that became the core… Whole bunch of other changes blah blah blah… Then it was used to describe homosexuals and that became the core

I’m paraphrasing. It has changed in meaning many more times than that. So while level4 and opspe are absolutely correct, still, even it’s core meaning is somewhat subjective.

‘Fag’ is now being used more and more to describe annoying, irritating things. In time, will that become the new definition of the word at it’s core? When that happens, will it become acceptable?

Last edited Aug 11, 2013 at 12:39AM EDT
Aug 11, 2013 at 12:37AM EDT
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Blue Screen (of Death) wrote:

@RM

And here’s where that point gets interesting: That insulting core meaning of the word ‘fag’?

That used to be the change, not the core. The example of words changing over time goes far deeper for ‘fag’ than the one definition it is famous for

As you all know: In the beginning. A ‘fag’ was a bundle of sticks and that’s what it used to be at it’s core. Then it was used as slang for boys at the bottom of the high school pecking order and that became the new core (FUN FACT: According to the Oxford dictionary, this is still the meaning of the word at it’s core!) Then it was used as slang for cigarettes and that became the core… Whole bunch of other changes blah blah blah… Then it was used to describe homosexuals and that became the core

I’m paraphrasing. It has changed in meaning many more times than that. So while level4 and opspe are absolutely correct, still, even it’s core meaning is somewhat subjective.

‘Fag’ is now being used more and more to describe annoying, irritating things. In time, will that become the new definition of the word at it’s core? When that happens, will it become acceptable?

Here though you’re looking at “fag” and “faggot” as the same word. While although this makes sense when you look at it, it’s wrong.

Looking in various dictionaries, the defintions of both words vary a lot, based on time and location. And while both words evolved over time, it’s only “faggot” which got associated with male homos. “Fag” never had a definition related to homosexuality. Which is why I went with just “faggot” in my previous post.

Of course when you look at people using it on the internet, the above I said is wrong. Online, people use “fag” just as a abbreviated form of “faggot”, not intending to change the meaning of what they wish to say. People on the internet are simple lazy.

And then you still have the examples of the use of “-fag” as a suffix. This isn’t even an insult anymore, it’s just a suffix to create a term to describe certain people, based on age, location, believes, or even posting style. “Eurofag” simply is someone who comes from Europe, but not yet a faggot alongside it. There of course are cases in which the suffix is used to give a negative tone to a common word, like with “furfags” as opposed to just “furries”, but that is also based on the type of furry someone is.

Last edited Aug 11, 2013 at 10:32AM EDT
Aug 11, 2013 at 10:27AM EDT
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The internet made me think that fag refers to someone who strongly defends something. Like 90’s fags referring to people who think every game today sucks; moral fags who get offended over anything, and that kind of stuff.
When someone says fag, gay is the second thing I think of.

Aug 13, 2013 at 10:41PM EDT
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Aug 13, 2013 at 11:30PM EDT

In complete seriousness, people will always find something to ridicule you for and people will always have a pejorative for every type of person. Most people seek out the flaws in others, but run from their own. The good news is that you have the ability to define yourself and choose who influences you. “Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” – Richard Nixon

While things are undeniably improving for gays in the United States, it’s certain that the homosexual community remains stigmatized by many. I grew up in the “Bible Belt,” so I have seen this firsthand. I’m ashamed to admit that, until 16, I viewed gays with contempt and used the term faggot liberally. I have mostly eliminated faggot from my lexicon and I flatter myself to think that I have become much more tolerant, but I still struggle to eliminate the usage of gay as an adjective to describe things that I hate. I can’t say that the internet helps the issue.

There was a time when the word Nigger was used openly to describe blacks, with many considering it either totally inoffensive or, at best, only mildly offensive. You may be surprised to learn that the original text of the “Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe” children’s rhyme read “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo, Catch a nigger by his toe, If he won’t work, let him go; Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe.” This is what I think of when I see the word faggot used freely.

Last edited Aug 13, 2013 at 11:39PM EDT
Aug 13, 2013 at 11:35PM EDT
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I have yet to ever meet anyone who has used the word “faggot” as a derogatory term for homosexual people.

If you complain about using certain words, then you’re just being a faggot.

Aug 14, 2013 at 01:18PM EDT

Personally, I refer homosexuals as homosexuals or gay people. I’m quite fond of it’s use on the internet, yet don’t really think at homosexuals. This does lead me to question the legitimacy of words. Why are homosexuals referred to as Gay people?

Aug 14, 2013 at 02:05PM EDT
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@Vulture.

Just because you haven’t run into those people yourself, doesn’t mean they don’t exist and gays are just complaining over nothing.


@Vint

I heard a rumor…and this is just a rumor…that it began when the gay community first started fighting against their discrimination: They made statements like this: homosexual or not, they were gay with who they were. You know, gay as in ‘happy’?

So when haters state “But yer a homersexyal!”, the gays would retort “and were gay!”

And the name association sort of stuck

Aug 14, 2013 at 10:42PM EDT
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I try to avoid using hurtful terms out in public and even at home as I try to avoid calling something “gay”. It seems that certain things have become socially acceptable when they shouldn’t and somethings are unacceptable when they should. My overall opinion is that faggot should be accepted just as a regular insult. It’s okay to go around calling people “idiot”, “stupid”, “asswipe”, and even “fat”. Society doesn’t give a crap about those. Society does however, flip their shit at the word “faggot” because they assume you’re putting down homosexuals when you could be calling a person a variant of “Giant ass who did something stupid” or “Straight up unpleasant”.

I feel I should bring up South Park in this because the did an episode on this issue and instead of faggot referring to homosexuals, it meant unpleasant people and Harley riders (the motocycle you dirty minded person).





As you can see from the clip “faggot” is used as an insult not to put down homosexuals, but instead use a somewhat nicer term for “total shitstain douche”.

Last edited Aug 18, 2013 at 03:20PM EDT
Aug 18, 2013 at 03:17PM EDT
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Kyntak wrote:

The amazing atheist just covered this a week ago oddly enough. Of course, what he said is almost identical to how South Park put it a few years ago.

Even though I’m gay, I don’t understand why people think faggot is offensive. It’s only so if you let it (we really underestimate how much we let words influence us.) As xTSGx pointed out, the power it has of being harmful will only retain such power if we let them be offensive. In recent years, LGBT groups reclaimed the word Queer, which was priorly a slur for gay persons, now it’s used to simply describe someone who doesn’t fit into traditional gender or sexual identification or are a gender minority.

That’s, frankly, what we should be doing. Words have power, but most the power comes from how we, individually, perceive them (thus why there are people like me who are like “meh” and others who think calling someone a faggot is horrible). We should use our power to shift a words meaning so we can recognize “faggot doesn’t have to be a homophobic insult, it’s just a plain old insult”. And it’s not like words are concrete for eternity people , language isn’t like math where 2+2 will always equal 4, language changes as cultures do.

I’ve quoted this before but, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“Even though I’m gay, I don’t understand why people think faggot is offensive. It’s only so if you let it.”

I’d like to semi-rebut this by saying I have a gay Uncle and a gay friend, both which have had serious life issues from constant use of the word “fag” or “faggot”. Truth is, it’s impossible to stop people from taking offence from the word, as it is impossible to stop people from using the word.

Everyone has their boundaries, and they should be respected.

Aug 21, 2013 at 02:44AM EDT

Me and my IRL friends use the term a lot to joke around and we call each other faggots. I wouldn’t use it on an actual gay person, though.

Aug 21, 2013 at 06:56AM EDT
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Blue Screen (of Death) wrote:

@Vulture.

Just because you haven’t run into those people yourself, doesn’t mean they don’t exist and gays are just complaining over nothing.


@Vint

I heard a rumor…and this is just a rumor…that it began when the gay community first started fighting against their discrimination: They made statements like this: homosexual or not, they were gay with who they were. You know, gay as in ‘happy’?

So when haters state “But yer a homersexyal!”, the gays would retort “and were gay!”

And the name association sort of stuck

They should develop thicker skin then.

Aug 21, 2013 at 12:58PM EDT

Black Vulture wrote:

They should develop thicker skin then.

You should develop more compassion and understanding toward other people, and understand that they’re in a different situation than you so they may see the word in a more insulting light.

Last edited Aug 21, 2013 at 01:42PM EDT
Aug 21, 2013 at 01:41PM EDT
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Black Vulture wrote:

They should develop thicker skin then.

Can’t say I’m a huge fan of that sort of argument. It seems like an attempt to direct blame away from the asshole who’s being tasteless and offensive, and towards those being offended. I’m also guessing that those who tend to make such arguments have little-to-no experience with being on the receiving end of the word ‘faggot’ when it actually applies to them. It’s easy to say something like “it’s just a word” and “it only has to hurt if you let it hurt” if you’ve only ever been the guy dishing out the insults, or the guy receiving them when you know they’re false. The word takes on a much stronger meaning when it directly applies to you. Some gay people don’t let it hurt them – and that’s great for them – but you can’t expect everyone to react similarly.


As for the arguments that claim that ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’ don’t mean what I think they mean – sorry, but they’re kinda bullshit. Nobody learns the word thinking it means ‘annoying’. Everyone knows that it’s a derogatory term directed at gay people, so when it’s used in such a context as to mean ‘annoying’, what does that imply? Personally, I can’t help but see it as an indicator for homophobia. Even if the people using it don’t consider themselves to be homophobic, I have to question what they really think about gay people if they’re using such a word so liberally.

The argument that goes along the lines of “Faggot originally meant ‘a bundle of sticks’, so why are you so offended by it?” is also complete bullshit, because when somebody calls you ‘faggot’, 99.9% of the time you can be sure that’s not what they’re talking about. We may as well be arguing that ‘gay’ still means ‘happy’.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a little too soon to go around proclaiming that the definition of ‘faggot’ has changed and gay people no longer have to worry about it. The widely accepted definition may be changing, but that takes time, and its use as a homophobic slur is still far too common for it to be considered an entirely new word (no matter how much South Park tells us otherwise).

Aug 21, 2013 at 02:57PM EDT
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Black Vulture wrote:

They should develop thicker skin then.

Knowing your history, which also includes being suspended, I’m just going to make the public advice to not take you serious as you basically run on aggravating comments.


Algernon wrote:

As for the arguments that claim that ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’ don’t mean what I think they mean – sorry, but they’re kinda bullshit. Nobody learns the word thinking it means ‘annoying’. Everyone knows that it’s a derogatory term directed at gay people, so when it’s used in such a context as to mean ‘annoying’, what does that imply? Personally, I can’t help but see it as an indicator for homophobia. Even if the people using it don’t consider themselves to be homophobic, I have to question what they really think about gay people if they’re using such a word so liberally.

My apologies, but with English not being my first language, I can assure you that there are definitely people who don’t learn faggot being a term for homosexuals until they become more familiar with the English language, both those that have English as their main language and those that don’t.

Your sexual orientation is homosexual, and your first language is English. I have neither of that, so it’s only normal that we first come across the word in different ways.

The argument that goes along the lines of “Faggot originally meant ‘a bundle of sticks’, so why are you so offended by it?” is also complete bullshit, because when somebody calls you ‘faggot’, 99.9% of the time you can be sure that’s not what they’re talking about. We may as well be arguing that ‘gay’ still means ‘happy’.

You see, there’s one ironic part in this section. You know that people don’t use “faggot” and “gay” to refer to a bundle of sticks or happiness 99.9% of the times, but then you forget that with the common online usage (outside of certain areas like Youtube) people don’t use “faggot” to refer to homosexuals 75% of the time. Yes, that’s purposely not 99.9%, as you still have the common “OP is a Faggot” catchphrase, which is used in the context of “OP likes to suck a dick”.

Of course, outside of the internet what I’m saying here isn’t related, but we’re having this argument on the internet. And I fully agree with you that “you shouldn’t be offended because it refers to a bundle of sticks” is utter bullshit.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a little too soon to go around proclaiming that the definition of ‘faggot’ has changed and gay people no longer have to worry about it. The widely accepted definition may be changing, but that takes time, and its use as a homophobic slur is still far too common for it to be considered an entirely new word (no matter how much South Park tells us otherwise).

Correct, the meaning of the word hasn’t changed to a point that we can say it has changed completely and gays shouldn’t worry anymore, as its common usage IRL simply still refers to homosexuals. But we can say that the meaning of the word has changed to a part that on certain areas it doesn’t refer to gays anymore, and that on those areas when you read “faggot” you don’t directly have to think “he’s insulting homosexuals specifically”.

As you say, to change a definition takes time, but we’re going that way. Will it be changed in the next few years? No, but let’s try again in a decade.

Last edited Aug 21, 2013 at 03:29PM EDT
Aug 21, 2013 at 03:11PM EDT
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RandomMan wrote:

My apologies, but with English not being my first language, I can assure you that there are definitely people who don’t learn faggot being a term for homosexuals until they become more familiar with the English language, both those that have English as their main language and those that don’t.

Sorry, I hadn’t really considered that. I was mostly trusting my own personal experience with its usage while I was still in school. Contrary to the experiences of a lot of people in this thread, where I came from ‘faggot’ meant ‘gay’ almost exclusively. We were never under the impression that it meant anything else.

Actually, now that I think about it, I know of somebody from my university who thought that a ‘fag’ was a student who acted as a personal servant to an older student (see: fagging. The guy had come from a particularly upper-class school). In his case, his first language was Cantonese, and we had to convince him that most people no longer associated the word with what he thought it meant (while also teaching him that ‘fag’ is a common slang term for a cigarette in England, which just made things more confusing).

I’d still guess that the vast majority of people who use it are aware of the connotations, but I suppose it won’t be true for all cases, especially when it comes to those who are young or not as familiar with the language.


You see, there’s one ironic part in this section. You know that people don’t use “faggot” and “gay” to refer to a bundle of sticks or happiness 99.9% of the times, but then you forget that with the common online usage (outside of certain areas like Youtube) people don’t use “faggot” to refer to homosexuals 75% of the time.

I was aware of that while I was writing my last post, but honestly, I couldn’t think of a way to address it. I mentioned in my opening post that I’m a lot more forgiving when they’re used in a memetic context (“Do it, faggot” or “OP is a faggot”) because I recognise that amongst those familiar with internet culture, the words truly have taken on a new meaning. However, there’s still a fairly large grey-area. As an example, if someone is referred to as an ‘oldfag’, it’s usually supposed to be endearing, and hence there’s nothing at all to be offended about. However, ‘newfag’ is usually used as an insult, and once the word is used to attack somebody it’s difficult to tell if the ‘-fag’ suffix was intended to be a slur, or if it was posted just because it’s a thing that 4chan does. It gets even more confusing when you include terms like ‘ponyfag’ or ‘furfag’, as they can take on positive or negative meanings depending on who you ask.

Last edited Aug 21, 2013 at 03:51PM EDT
Aug 21, 2013 at 03:33PM EDT
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Eris the Pone wrote:

You should develop more compassion and understanding toward other people, and understand that they’re in a different situation than you so they may see the word in a more insulting light.

They should learn context, if that’s the case.

Aug 22, 2013 at 02:51AM EDT

@Vulture

You should learn tact


@Algernon

Nobody learns the word thinking it means ‘annoying’.

In our generation and generations before us? Most certainly.

But for newer generations, this is gradually becoming less of the case based on my observations. Less and less people are using the word to describe homosexuals, and more and more people are using it to describe things that are annoying to them. Interestingly enough, it was also our generation that kicked off this slow transition.

I know for certain that some newer generations (like my younger relatives) encountered the word and learned that it means ‘an annoyance’ instead of a homosexual. And though they become aware of the original meaning in time, they still don’t use it for that because that’s not what they grew up using it for

It’s very likely that in time, one meaning will override the other, just like previous definitions of the word in the past. But like you say: this will take time and has much more time to come.

Of course, I realize that this still doesn’t bring you comfort. Because while the word may develop an entirely different non-malicious meanings to other people in time, you still know what it means to you. Your understanding of the word probably isn’t going to change. The meaning that had most impact on you and/or the one you were raised with will be the one that sticks

That’s one of the reasons why we shouldn’t just tell you or others to grow thicker skin [cough]. It’s not that simple

Aug 22, 2013 at 03:59AM EDT
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RandomMan wrote:

Knowing your history, which also includes being suspended, I’m just going to make the public advice to not take you serious as you basically run on aggravating comments.


Algernon wrote:

As for the arguments that claim that ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’ don’t mean what I think they mean – sorry, but they’re kinda bullshit. Nobody learns the word thinking it means ‘annoying’. Everyone knows that it’s a derogatory term directed at gay people, so when it’s used in such a context as to mean ‘annoying’, what does that imply? Personally, I can’t help but see it as an indicator for homophobia. Even if the people using it don’t consider themselves to be homophobic, I have to question what they really think about gay people if they’re using such a word so liberally.

My apologies, but with English not being my first language, I can assure you that there are definitely people who don’t learn faggot being a term for homosexuals until they become more familiar with the English language, both those that have English as their main language and those that don’t.

Your sexual orientation is homosexual, and your first language is English. I have neither of that, so it’s only normal that we first come across the word in different ways.

The argument that goes along the lines of “Faggot originally meant ‘a bundle of sticks’, so why are you so offended by it?” is also complete bullshit, because when somebody calls you ‘faggot’, 99.9% of the time you can be sure that’s not what they’re talking about. We may as well be arguing that ‘gay’ still means ‘happy’.

You see, there’s one ironic part in this section. You know that people don’t use “faggot” and “gay” to refer to a bundle of sticks or happiness 99.9% of the times, but then you forget that with the common online usage (outside of certain areas like Youtube) people don’t use “faggot” to refer to homosexuals 75% of the time. Yes, that’s purposely not 99.9%, as you still have the common “OP is a Faggot” catchphrase, which is used in the context of “OP likes to suck a dick”.

Of course, outside of the internet what I’m saying here isn’t related, but we’re having this argument on the internet. And I fully agree with you that “you shouldn’t be offended because it refers to a bundle of sticks” is utter bullshit.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a little too soon to go around proclaiming that the definition of ‘faggot’ has changed and gay people no longer have to worry about it. The widely accepted definition may be changing, but that takes time, and its use as a homophobic slur is still far too common for it to be considered an entirely new word (no matter how much South Park tells us otherwise).

Correct, the meaning of the word hasn’t changed to a point that we can say it has changed completely and gays shouldn’t worry anymore, as its common usage IRL simply still refers to homosexuals. But we can say that the meaning of the word has changed to a part that on certain areas it doesn’t refer to gays anymore, and that on those areas when you read “faggot” you don’t directly have to think “he’s insulting homosexuals specifically”.

As you say, to change a definition takes time, but we’re going that way. Will it be changed in the next few years? No, but let’s try again in a decade.

I’ll have to remember to put that in any future autobiographies.

Aug 22, 2013 at 04:27AM EDT
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