Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SA GLAAD Criticizes Verdict of BCCSA That It Is Okay To Use "Gay" As A Derogatory Term Meaning "Stupid"

SA GLAAD reacts with dismay at the verdict of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa on the complaint lodged by Cecil Janse van Rensburg about a regular feature on the University of Pretoria's radio station, TUKS FM, hosted by DJ Konstant de Vos, in which listeners are asked to call or sms about whether a person's behaviour is “gay” or “ok”.

According to its statement, the BCCSA refused to uphold the complaint, saying that "the word gay was not used to refer to homosexuality, but according to widespread current usage of the word amongst young people, to a carefree attitude and unjustifiable statements."

We take issue with the BCCSA's findings that "the broadcast was not intended to injure, that it was not malicious or mala fide" when the word usage very clearly defines the word "gay" - a word used to describe homosexuality since the 1960's - as the polar opposite of what is considered "ok", good or acceptable.

We also object to the BCCSA's statement that "the word gay was not used to refer to homosexuality, but according to widespread current usage of the word amongst young people, to a carefree attitude and unjustifiable statements." when the world is described and defined clearly in the Oxford dictionary as "gay

• adjective (gayer, gayest) 1 (especially of a man) homosexual. 2 relating to homosexuals. 3 dated light-hearted and carefree. 4 dated brightly coloured; showy.

• noun a homosexual person, especially a man.

— DERIVATIVES gayness noun.

— USAGE Gay is now a standard term for ‘homosexual’, and is the term preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves. As a result, it is now very difficult to use gay in its earlier meanings ‘carefree’ or ‘bright and showy’ without arousing a sense of double entendre. Gay in its modern sense typically refers to men, lesbian being the standard term for homosexual women.

— ORIGIN Old French gai."

We find it relevant to ask which dictionary the BCCSA are using, and how they arrived at this infamous and defamatory verdict which in essence dictates that it is perfectly "okay" to use the word "gay" to describe anything negative, "not okay" and in particular "stupid"?

We take pains to highlight the harm done in terms of hate speech and offense caused by inferring that a person is "stupid" by some prejudiced people, simply based on inborn characteristics such as their sexual orientation - by attempting to change the meaning of a term used to describe an entire community of people to mean "stupid" - or worse.

Leading off this point, we would like to note that referring to people or things as "gay", meaning "stupid" should be no more or less offensive than calling people "black" or "white" to mean "stupid" or "bad". Same difference - only, one the BCCSA would seem to care about - the other, obviously not.

There are many people, particularly young people, struggling to accept their own identities - and trying to find acceptance in an already prejudiced and hostile society without the added pressure of having more negative connotations added to the term which describes them and the community they form a part of. This verdict of the BCCSA is a very irresponsible and insensitive slap in the face to our community.

This is yet another case in point of human rights and equality laws in South Africa not being adhered to - and made to fail those whom they were intended to protect.

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