|Bad Words ...
||[Apr. 23rd, 2009|11:36 am]
World Wide Punk
|||||Waylon Jennings - Long Time Gone||]|
For the past year or so, I've noticed that my son and his friends have gotten into the habit of referring to everything that they don't consider to be cool as "gay."
A boring TV show can be "gay," certain unpopular brands of surf and skate clothes can be "gay," falling off of your skateboard can be "gay," even restaurants with bad food can be "gay." In some cases, the word "gay" can even be used as a light hearted, chiding insult between friends; for example, when your friend trips over his own shoelace, you can smile and laugh and say, "Dude, you are so gay", without even raising your embarassed friend's temper or risking a beating.
I can't really laugh too much, because I grew up in a generation where everything that we considered to be good was "bitchin" (e.g., "look at that bitchin Camaro" or "have you heard the new Stones' album? It's totally bitchin" or "look at the bitchin lunch I brought today.")
Apparently though, all of this "gay" talk has come to the attention of the school authorities, and both my son's Jr. High School and my daughter's High School have enacted programs to discourage kids from using words like "gay" or "fag." First, they had an assembly that tried to convice the kids that it was wrong and hurtful to call people gay or fag; replete with thinly veiled scare tactics, which warned kids that they could be sued for calling another kid "gay" (I've yet to see such a case, where one kid sues another because of a playground taunt, but who knows, I guess it could happen.)
Next, they showed the students a short film about how it could effect other kids when they're called "gay." My son's only comment on the film was that it looked like it was made in the 1970s or 80s because everybody had sideburns, turtleneck sweaters and big, puffy hairdos; he didn't really have an opinion on the content of the film, his only reaction was that the actors were dressed kind of "gay."
So now, you can get in just as much trouble for criticizing the cafeteria food as "gay" as you could for calling another student "nigger" or screaming "fuck you" at a teacher.
In typical kid fashion though, the Jr. High Schoolers have already found a way around the "gay" ban; when your friend wears an unpopular brand of skate t-shirt to school, now you can say, "Damn man, that shirt is totally homosexual!" or if you didn't like a particular referee's call in the football game last weekend you can say, "That was totally queer man; no way was he off-sides!" (Give the school authorities a couple of weeks, and they'll dig up another film about the words "homosexual" and "queer" and then those words will be taboo too.)
Although I sympathize with the plight of actual gay kids who are harrassed at school, it seems to me that the school authorities are making exactly the wrong move to discourage the use of the word "gay." Rather than branding "gay" as taboo and discouraging it's use, they should follow Lenny Bruce's example and just use the word to death until it's no longer shocking; right about the time that some teacher says, "It's gay not to do your homework", then the kids will immediately drop the word like a hot potato. The same thing happened in my generation when the adults started using words like "far out" and "groovy"; nothing makes a word uncool faster than seeing your middle aged, turtleneck sweater-wearing math teacher tell you that, "You did far out on that last test, man."