Thursday, January 18, 2007

Never think it can't get worse ...

It can. This furor over Isaiah Washington and "Grey's Anatomy" has reached what I'm tempted to call the all-time low in the field of Stupid Public Obeisances to Political Correctness. In an episode of "The Jeffersons," Helen Willis once said to George "I might say that was the stupidest thing you'll ever say. But I know that you'll come up with something stupider tomorrow." It's like that.

Washington apparently has been denounced by ABC (where is that corporate conservatism when you need it) and forced into an abject apology ... for SAYING the word "faggot" in the context of denying that he had used it. I. Am. Not. Kidding.
the network rebuked co-star Isaiah Washington for an anti-gay comment and Washington issued a lengthy apology.
"We are greatly dismayed that Mr. Washington chose to use such inappropriate language at the Golden Globes, language that he himself deemed 'unfortunate' in his previous public apology," the network said in a statement.
During a backstage interview Monday at the Globes gala, Washington denied involvement in a heated on-set incident in October during which an anti-gay remark was reportedly uttered.
"No, I did not call (co-star) T.R. (Knight) a faggot," Washington told reporters. "Never happened, never happened."
In his apology Thursday, Washington acknowledged "repeating the word Monday night."
"I apologize to T.R., my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community for using a word that is unacceptable in any context or circumstance. I marred what should have been a perfect night for everyone who works on 'Grey's Anatomy.' I can neither defend nor explain my behavior. I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I've asked for help."
Now of course, calling somebody, particularly a co-worker, a "faggot" (or "nigger" or "heeb" or any such slur) is unacceptable, and if Washington said it in the first place (which he denies), some sort of amends are necessary.

But since when has using a word in quotation marks meant anything whatsoever. This is to give to words or sounds a magic quality they simply do not have. Do not have. Period. To quote a word is not necessarily to "use" it. If any and every use of the word "faggot" (and this principle is generalizable) is unacceptable regardless of context, then what does that make of this, from later in the AP story?:
"He referred to me as a faggot," Knight said [on the Ellen DeGeneres show] of the October incident. "Everyone heard it."
And what does it make of Neil Giuliano of GLAAD doing exactly the same?:
Isaiah Washington [is] apologizing for his use of the word "faggot" on the set of Grey's Anatomy in October 2006 and at the 64th Annual Golden Globe® Awards on Jan. 15, 2007: (love that ® ... and I hesitate to point out that Mr. Giuliano is being disingenuous ... Washington's attached statement never says he used it on the set in October)
Knight and Giuliano are using the word in exactly the same sense that Washington was -- as a quotation/citation, in a context and construction that did not grant approval to the term. So are TR Knight and Neil Giuliano homophobes as well as homosexuals? I know the gay-activist crowd thinks of me as a self-hating homo, so I'm glad for the company.

What does this absurd standard do to discourse? How can there be serious study of the history of homosexuality? Do we now have to dance around language, even in pro-gay or neutral contexts, daintily saying "the f-word" as if this was the OJ Simpson trial, or we're dowagers in the 1950s whispering the word "cancer" so as not to give anyone the vapors? BTW, I think the fucking term "the f-word" is taken already.

I generally have no patience for comparisons of US institutions and totalitarian regimes, but there is something in Washington's statement -- the abject, self-abasing quality -- that reminds one of nothing more than the victims of Maoist re-education or of 1984's Big Brother and badthought. Note the use throughout of "the word" instead of ... well, this was how this latest round started. It reads also like the text of a public confession, the blasphemer begging forgiveness, promising to do penance, amend his life and sin no more. That is, for GLAAD and similar groups, the gay lifestyle truly is a religion. Now, in that context (and in private) such a tone would be fine -- except that the homosexualists pride themselves as having freed themselves of oppressive religion (so they can oppress others with their religion, I guess) and the religious and being oh-so-tolerant of difference (some differences, I guess).

But stay tuned. There's always tomorrow for this totalitarianism to get worse.


The Sheepcat said...

Oy vey! Stay tuned? This is one of those times I'm glad I hardly watch any television. Your post was the first I'd seen or heard of this bizarre sign of the times.

Dad29 said...

Newspeak is here.

Anonymous said...

So, now (via Drudge) Isaiah is going to counseling to "as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again. I appreciate the fact that I have been given this opportunity and I remain committed to transforming my negative actions into positive results, personally and professionally"
Sounds like re-education.
As you say, C-Man, it can get worse.