Where is “The List”?

Vince Vaughn has been asked to apologize for a line in his upcoming movie.  The line was, “Electric cars are gay. Not “homosexual” gay. But, you know, “my parents are chaperoning the dance” gay.”

Vince has come out, not with an apology, but with a statement, saying in part, “Drawing dividing lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us. Most importantly, where does it stop?”

The man has a point.

In related news, half the country is up in arms over Jerry Brown, or one of his acquaintances, referring to political opponent Meg Whitman, as a “whore”.  People are screaming that he should do everything from issuing an apology to removing himself from the race.  I don’t know what he’s done, if anything, and frankly, it’s irrelevant to this particular conversation.

What I’d like to know is this… it was brought up on the discussion board about the Vince Vaughn quote, and it makes a ton of sense.

Where is the list of ‘acceptable slurs’?  Because apparently, we can’t ‘offend’ people by uttering certain words which slur a particular group of people.  On the surface, I get that.  It’s just bad form to call names, and to slur people on top of that – any name calling is really just a form of slur – is wrong, even though it’s common practice.  But…

Which slurs are ok, and which are verboten?

In Vaughn’s case, “gay”, as used the way people have used it for decades, means “stupid”.  And that’s the way he used it.  But the homosexual community – who, I’m told, use it regularly in the same way – is all up in arms, saying that it’s a slur against them.

But what if he’d said the exact same thing, but replaced “gay” with “lame”?  As in, “Electric cars are lame.”  Would the disabled community be all twitchy then, demanding an apology, and insisting that word be removed from the vernacular, even though it’s a commonly used word?

And the “whore” issue… people refer to others as a “whore” all the time, not only in the sense of sexual promiscuity, but also referring to greed… as in, whoring oneself (or selling out) for financial gain.  Nobody blinks an eye any time it’s used, except when it’s part of a political campaign and can be used to crush one person’s career while elevating another’s… you know, kind of whoring for political gain.  Oh, wait, I just used a forbidden slur!  I’m a sexist!

And how is that different, as one pundit asked, from using “The N Word”?  People in the African-American community use that word all the time with each other.  It pops up in songs, they refer jokingly, or affectionately to one another with it.  But Heaven forbid, anyone else use the word in the exact same way, that person is a racist and a bigot, and should lose everything for exercising his freedom of speech.

So can someone please tell me…. Where is The List?  What words can I use, and which can’t I?  Or am I simply not allowed to use any slang or slur words because I’m not a member of a “protected class”?

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9 Responses to Where is “The List”?

  1. Jason says:

    What happen to the time when “gay” meant happy!!!! Let me just say that I am totally not gay about these people getting all up in arms about a word they adopted, and now they think that they have sole ownership over that word. Can you imagine how boring a comedy would be if those acting were required to be 100% P.C. We might as well go back to silent movies. Is anyone else out there ungay about this whole issue.

  2. Sue says:

    I am really tired of having to be ‘politically correct’ while everybody else can scream ‘no fair’. You are right that there are groups of people that feel it’s ok for them to use certain words, but others outside of that group it’s an insult and they call for your head on a platter. Um, did I miss something because all I hear is double standard.

    Vince Vaughn should not have to apologize. He is an actor in a movie reciting the lines that someone else wrote. He’s doing his job and his job is entertaining people. Nothing in a movie should be taken seriously anyway. If groups are going to have a fit about what he said, they should go after the writer, but then aren’t they infringing on that person’s right to free speech? Once it starts it never stops.

  3. Joy says:

    I feel that in a movie, we can’t tell people what they can say and what they can’t. It’s art. It’s all personal as to what a person thinks is funny or not. Even on this little blog, we all think different things are funny and find different things offensive. How could anyone possibly watch that anyway? What would they do about it if there was a word used that they didn’t like? Wouldn’t they let them make the movie or would it get a different rating? Because you can’t tell a movie director what he can put in a movie and what he can’t. It would be like telling a writer he couldn’t put certain words in a book. Would there still be porn then? Cause I’d rather hear the word gay that watch porn. Who decides what we get to see and not? It’s too much like censorship to me.

    As for real life. How can one really make someone else apologize? Is it meaningful if someone makes you say “sorry?”

    We’ve all grown up in different times. Things change. Words and phrases change. I’m reading a book right now and a child was born “mentally retarded” and “special needs” is never mentioned in the book. How can we fault people for referring to things that were so different when we were growing up? It’s really hard to keep up with all the changes. A lot of African Americans still refer to their race as “black.” I think the people making all the stink over this don’t have a clue what real life is like. I think unless you’re being derogatory to someone, what you say should be alright. I also feel it’s either okay to say something or it’s not. If someone doesn’t like the “N” word, they shouldn’t say it.

    No, I don’t like this whole movie thing. If you’re an African American and you don’t like the N word then I don’t think it’s okay if you and your friends use it. If you’re gay and don’t like gay or fag, don’t say it to anyone. If you don’t like certain words, they shouldn’t be used by anyone in your life. It shouldn’t matter what race or sex you are or how old you are. It’s either a bad word or it’s not and in the end, we all know that.

    But bottom line is a movie is a movie and a book is a book and like Jason said, comedies are just that. They’re supposed to be funny and this is a slippery slope.

  4. Jenny says:

    When I use the term “gay” it means stupid or dumb… just that. As far as the word “fag” goes that also means cigarette over in England. Learned that one from my step-dad, Sean, who said one day he’s going outside to have a fag… he got some weird looks then. Fag means stick and a faggot would mean a bundle of sticks.

  5. SKL says:

    Laura, come on, it’s very simple. If the recipient of the slur, or the group which seems to be referenced in the slur, leans liberal, then it’s verboten. If conservative, the slur is fine and dandy.

    I wish I had been raised in a time when intelligent people really thought before they spoke, always. When people didn’t waste their breath on words that didn’t amount to meaningful communication. When people were considerate of their listeners and weighed each word. That, however, was before the days when mass media could take the words you spoke to one person or a small group, and broadcast them instantly to the whole world. And the listeners were also taught to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt that he meant no harm.

    We are a society that loves to blab. Liberals, conservatives, it doesn’t matter. For every word of weighty meaning, there must be at least a dozen that we could dispense of without even noticing they were gone. Blabbing is an expression of self-love. “Listen to how brilliantly I have considered this issue.” But a lot of times, the world would be a better place if we just shut up. (Myself included!)

    So what does all that have to do with PC? Well, I think that if people didn’t treat words so irreverently in general, people would be more willing to give a speaker the benefit of the doubt that a word meant only what the person said, and not all kinds of “implied slurs.”

    And also, I think we wouldn’t be having a discussion about why it’s OK to call a conservative female politician a “whore” because it’s not a perjorative when it refers to someone the liberals don’t like! Is there a reason why nobody could think of a less offensive term such as “opportunistic”? Yes: the reason is that for all the talking we Americans do, we have poor language skills and extremely low standards of civility as well as elocution. “Whore” was the best term the libs can think of, therefore it stands.

    Now the “gay” thing in the movie – from what you have written, I think I would support the dude who wants it to stand. What is wrong with acknowledging that the word “gay” is used in more than one way? Since when is one group allowed to ban the use of a word by others, or control the way others speak? Especially when the entertainment world normally goes out of its way to offend, just to prove how brave they are. Sad thing is, the same people who would fight for the right to say something filthy about the Pope in a movie will never fight for the right to say “gay as in . . . .”

  6. mssc54 says:

    “Let me be clear: I am not “happy” and never have been,”

    Speaking to the relevancy of Jerry Brown calling his female aponnant a “whore” you are right there is no relevance. But since you brought it up…. People, will sometimes, let you catch a glimpse of who they really are. Brown has said (repeatedly) that he made that comment in a “private conversation”. We get right back now to the true character of an individual. If all you have to defend yourself against someone who may have better ideas than you is to resort to calling them names then there is something lacking (not only in your character but in your plan).

    If you want to know where all this politically correct stuff began it began when all them there women-folk burned their bras! Things were just fine and hunky-dorie as long as the female types knew their place. But now they think they can do just about everything us men-folk can. Give me a friggn break. Just because women-folk can squeeze a watermellon through a hole designed for a peach doesn’t mean they should be flying to the moon.

    Howzat for relevancy. 🙂

  7. Nikki says:

    It’s a movie, that you can choose to watch or not to watch. Same as TV, and that kind of goes for the company you keep. If you don’t like it, leave. Don’t watch it, turn the channel, move away from the person who is “offending” you. You can not change people or what they say, but you can change your reaction to it. React, or walk away….more people need to just walk away. Pick your battles, because fighting over someone saying “gay” is so out-of-this-world ridiculous. It’s a MOVIE! And he is simply reading his lines…I really couldn’t even believe they were making a fuss over this. I should though, people are so stiff!

    • Joy says:

      I saw this brewing too one morning last week on the Today show and thought “really? You can’t be serious!!! It’s a comedy MOVIE!!!!!”

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