More Thoughts on the F-Word

I wanted to add a few more thoughts about my last post about Kobe Bryant and the word “faggot.” First and foremost, I want to let y’all know that I had a terrible sleep the night of my last post, and the thought of that post being out in the open for anyone on the Internet to read terrified and worried me. Not because I knew that I had written something homophobic – but because I knew I had written something that could be interpreted as homophobic, or anti-gay.

I understand that no matter what we intend our words to mean, they will never cease to have their own meaning in the ears of another listener. I am, admittedly, the kind of person who enjoys stretching the limits of what’s considered appropriate. My friends credit (if that’s the right word) me for making the first 9-11 joke, at around 2pm that day. Obviously, each sensitive subject has its own zeitgeist, and September 11th’s hadn’t been fully realized then, while the word “faggot” has certainly developed its own unique history.

I do my absolute best to pick my battles wisely, making jokes and comments on sensitive subjects only when I think my comments have space to be taken playfully and critically. The truth is – as much as I would like to blunt the poignancy of a certain comment, I know in my heart that there are instances when it will be taken hurtfully. Certain issues will push buttons beyond my control. This (the word “faggot” and its larger subtext) is, of course, one of them. So I pray that all of you could trust me when I say I mean no harm by what I’ve said – and I pray that trust is enough.

A few really good articles about Kobe’s controversy have been written since mine. Here are some excerpts:

This thoughtful NBC Sports article provides the following paragraph:

“The word Kobe used can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Intelligent, funny people like Louis C.K., Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Joe Rogan have all made cases that when they use the word, they’re not saying that they have a problem with homosexuality or homosexual behavior; they just use it to denote behavior they find unacceptable. The problem with that logic is that while we can control what we say, we can’t always control what people hear, and it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to separate our words from our intentions, especially hurtful words.  In my younger years, I had the foolish belief that proper contexts to use that word somehow existed. I no longer hold that belief in any way, shape or form. The fact is that for a lot of people, homosexual behavior and unacceptable behavior are synonymous. Until that changes, I believe that there is no appropriate context for that word.”

This USA Today piece interviews ex-journeyman John Amaechi, the only openly gay NBA player, former or current. It’s pretty awesome, if you ask me, to get this extremely rare perspective from a guy like Amaechi. I consider this response to be the highlight:

“Q: If you were the NBA commissioner, how would you have punished Bryant?

A: There would certainly be a fine. I’d like to know what the response would be if a white and gay player had called Kobe a n——-. My concern is that the penalty axed on that player would be greater than this penalty.”

Lastly, I’ll say nothing more but give you the title of this article: “NBA considers Kobe’s homophobic slur only one-fifth as bad as snowboarding

Highlight: “I’m [gay], and I was not offended. Kobe can be my man any time.”

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