If a slur isn’t about you, what makes you think that you can understand the potential depths of how disgusting and offensive it can be- why is it so hard to err on the side of caution and just… not use it?
Every single year, as predictably as lights going up, as naturally as tinsel wafting in the breeze from a fire, the Christmas moral panic about cancellation starts.
“Why should we censor it? It’s a classic song!”
“It only offends a few people!”
“It doesn’t mean that“
And on, and on and on. Sometimes in person, or on the radio, sometimes in lengthy newspaper columns- the UK in particular goes into paroxysms of rage that straight people are being policed, being oppressed, for being banned from singing a simple word in a song.
Oh how hard your lives must be. To be told that a word you’re using is really offensive and upsetting and then to be called out when you use it anyway. You had a choice and erred on the “I’d rather do what I want than the smallest thing to uplift others around me” side, and it’s so hard these days to do the difficult thing of not letting a hate slur fall out of your mouth between minced pies and your cousin’s rioja.
I often wonder what it’s like to be the type of person that does not have a hate slur written and ready to use against them- it must be really really nice to not be affected when people shout it. A lot of us aren’t so lucky unfortunately.
Ultimately it’s not up to people who are upset by something to explain to you why you shouldn’t do something that’s offensive. If you can’t be bothered to do that bare minimum of thinking you’re not brave, smart, funny or clever. You’re damaged.
Let me explain to you my own personal experience of the F slur…
Times I have been called the F slur
-When I was nine and playing football in a black and yellow tracksuit two older boys cornered me in a garden, pinned me to the floor, took off my clothes and sexually assaulted me whilst telling me “you like that don’t you, you little faggot”
-Pretty much weekly in high school someone would bully me to the point of tears- not always physically but nevertheless the amount of times I was called faggot, batty boy, bum boy, queer, puff, homo, gayboy, numbers in the hundreds, perhaps thousands. No positive memories are attached to that word
-A member of my family referred to me as “that little faggot” not realising i was stood behind them, at a family gathering
-I was once dancing in a bar with some girls and a guy came up and grabbed me by the neck, screaming “ARE YOU A FUCKING FAGGOT MATE” in my face. When I pushed him away and said YES I AM he laughed, nodded and walked off
-Outside work in 2019 someone I counted as a friend, who had seen me lose my temper over the use of that word repeatedly, in front of half the people we worked with told me to “shut up you faggot”. He then refused to apologise for 3 weeks, and when he did apologise made out that it was my fault for “taking the joke seriously”. Despite my pleas for it to be taken seriously he worked with me for another six months, me having to be civil to a guy who had referred to me in such heinous terms. He faced no punishment for it.
I’ve been spat on, kicked, slapped, punched- while people call me that word. I’ve had folk laugh at me openly while shouting it at me.
Every time that word is used it’s a reminder that some people out there are capable of that level of cruelty against me, simply because of who I am, because of what I find attractive. I can’t and wouldn’t change that, I refuse to hide it. So that abuse will always happen, always come. Is it therefore necessary for you to encode that reminder of hatred and bigotry in your desperation to sing Christmas songs?
No it’s not equivalent to a swear word
Would you shout “FAGGOT!” if you were angry at someone? If you caught your thumb with a hammer? Would you shout another slur if you lost a bet, couldn’t find your wallet? I doubt it. Because slurs are specifically meant to be insults against a person, based on an unchangeable characteristic about them that’s caused them and people like them societal hardship.
Frankly if you’ve read this piece and you still don’t get it, I don’t know how else to put it to you: It’s really fucking rude to use a word that describes people like you in a very negative way, it’s upsetting and it’s unnecessary. Do not do it.
People still will. Some take glee from causing offence. I don’t know how to appeal to those people other than to say i’m sorry that you’ve been so fundamentally let down by your life so far that hurting other people seems like an attractive option. Nobody can compel you not to say a hate slur if you want to say it, but I assure you I’m not after your free speech- I’m after my own peace of mind. And I don’t see why you can’t not say a word if that means some of us out there don’t feel massively devalued as members of society by it.