I know I feel a lot differently about gay issues now than when I was 11 or 12, and it was just "natural" to call someone a "fag" or call something lame "so gay." Was I out, bashing gay couples with baseball bats? No, but I do submit that joining in, intent or no, into a generalized norm that assumes a deficiency (and also a superiority on the part of the non-member of the group so singled out), I was part of the system that made it such that those dudes with baseball bats did that kind of stuff.
Like Emerson said, ""You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."
Obviously, I don't mean this in a binary, I WAS JUST AS GUILTY way, there's a spectrum. But the question becomes, where on that spectrum do you choose to place yourself?
I think for me, this is a big part of the entire issue. It's not as simple as no one should ever use words that are offensive and we need special police to stop them
. It ought not be a thing enforced externally at all -- I think you can work on this much more effectively if you think about it internally.
Like Josh calling people fags, or the football coach calling the players ladies, or maybe the white dude who talks about how there are black people
, and then there are niggers
: in each of those cases, the intention may not be discriminatory, at least not actively. Maybe the person who says "That's so gay" has gay friends (hell, Ratner probably does); maybe the guy who makes "Don't be such a girl about it, Steve" jokes does his half of the housework without fail and treats the women in his life with utmost respect; maybe the white guy voted for Obama and donates money to the NAACP. But here's the thing: there are
people in the world who actually attack gay people, or who've beaten or raped women, or who actively hate
black people. And when those people hear your delightfully un-PC joke or reference or snide comment or whatever -- they think that you're on their side
. They come away from that experience feeling emboldened, and like they're right for feeling that way. They don't feel marginalized, they feel like they've got all sorts of allies out there in the world who agree with them. It makes people who do
take this stuff seriously feel good about hurting other people.
And I don't think it makes a person a member of the "PC Police" to say, "Hey, you realize that you're actually making it a little bit easier for someone to gay-bash, or disrespect women, or discriminate against black people when you make that joke?" Because most of the time, the joke isn't funny enough to be worth it.
So, it's not a matter of "Does a white person have the right
to say the word 'nigger,' or can a straight person get away with calling something gay, or can a dude call another dude a pussy for being scared of rats" -- sure, whatever, you've got all the rights in the world, say what you want. But you're making it easier for people to hurt other people when you do it. If being able to say 'fag' is important enough to you that you're going to do that, nobody's going to stop you.