Last night, Will Young (singer) and Milo Yiannopoulos (journalist) appeared on Newsnight to discuss the implications of the expression “That’s gay”, which is widely used among young people. Both Will Young and Milo Yiannopoulos are gay.
Will Young, wearing what appeared to be a tea cosy, was calm and collected. He advanced the argument that using that particular expression was “a form of bullying”. Milo Yiannopoulos was equally calm but made much more sense, in my view, with the statement that “language shouldn’t be policed” and that making such a big fuss of an expression which is bound to disappear on its own – highlighting it – and giving it a huge importance it really doesn’t deserve is, well, quite silly really. He stated that being young is about “being naughty” and using language you know you shouldn’t. As he pointed at the word “gay” written in huge letters in the studio background, he very rightly said that “kids are only going to use it in a negative manner all the more if you make such a big deal out of it.” He is right, it’s like the forbidden fruit, it becomes irresistible. The expression, “that’s so gay” as in, “it’s rubbish”, first came to the fore a few years back. Chris Moyles used it on his radio show and there were complaints – it made the headlines. His defense at the time was that this was the language kids used and why shouldn’t he? He stated that using that expression did not make him homophobic, that it was just an expression.
I thought the furore then was ridiculous. Moyles obviously shouldn’t have used that expression, as what’s tolerable in a teenager is usually much less so in an adult. Still, it was unworthy of grabbing the headlines the way it did.
Yes, the expression can be offensive, but how offensive is it really? Most of the people using it are NOT homophobic. They use it because it’s cool, because teenagers must have this “coded” language that’s just theirs. They don’t want adults or anyone else understanding, let alone liking, the way they speak. “That’s really sick man” is not a phrase aimed at adults. So teenagers say “it’s gay” too. Explaining to a teenager that maybe this could be offensive to gay people is fine – but that’s where it should end. Will Young’s suggestion that using the expression is a form of bullying is greatly exaggerated in my opinion.
So the Newsnight segment with Will Young and Milo Yiannopoulos went on for a few minutes and ended on both men agreeing to disagree. So far, so good. I happened to be on Twitter after this mini debate and was reading various opinions on it. Most tweets seemed to support Will Young. I tweeted something about the need for Will Young to “chill out a bit” as I thought he was very worthy and, well, over the top in my opinion. This is how I unleashed the abuse. Nothing like that had happened to me on Twitter before, it was quite a nasty experience.
But I quickly realized there was NO point trying to talk to people who have already decided who you are, what you think, and absolutely refuse to see your point of view. I am not an unreasonable person. I’m very happy for people to disagree with me as long as they explain themselves and present a valid argument. Unfortunately, I was branded homophobic pretty much straight away on Twitter last night because I said that language shouldn’t be policed. Discussing things on Twitter is challenging at the best of times (damned character limits) but when people absolutely refuse to hear what you are saying, you have no chance.
What I found ironic, to say the least, is the fact that the gay people who chose to “gang up” and accuse me of homophobia, without a shred of evidence to back it up, were indulging in actual bullying. So, using the expression “that’s so gay “ is a form of bullying – but abusing somebody who disagrees with you on Twitter isn’t? A very vile woman was telling me that I had no right to my opinion as she had suffered all her life because of her sexuality. How does THAT make any sense at all?
I have lived in the UK for many years and I’ve been insulted more times than I can remember for being French. Once at a party, my friend and I had to be rescued by another (English) friend because some very drunk guys were getting increasingly threatening. It was only words but if we hadn’t left, it could have turned physical. There was also the time one French guy I knew got a bottle smashed into his face in a very crowded bar. He lost an eye and had to have reconstructive surgery. What had he done to deserve this? The thug who attacked him said he wanted “the frog to shut up” – yep, he was speaking French, what a crime. So I’ve had bad experiences because of my nationality, and being French is not something I can help any more than anyone can help their sexuality. I can identify, to a point, with being victimized and being bullied and attacked. But even if I didn’t, how is my opinion invalid just because I haven’t sweated blood and tears for it?
As another Twitter user said to me last night, “Political Correctness has gone too far.” It was a welcome supporting tweet at this point and one I wholeheartedly agree with.
The gay issue is delicate, as any issue to do with race, sexuality, etc… Obviously one should tread carefully when discussing such issues and remember that people who have been discriminated against are bound to be sensitive….but have we now come to a point when we can’t say ANYTHING any more because people have suffered, been bullied, etc? Why can’t we be allowed an opinion and express it without the fear and risk of being branded homophobic, racist, etc?
If I criticize the Israeli government for a decision I don’t agree with, does it make me anti semitic? If I have a problem with one of Obama’s policies, does it make me racist against both Blacks and Americans?
I am so sick and tired of people who are simply incapable of accepting different opinions and who automatically use the race/sexuality “card” instead of actually trying to see your point of view. Those people are allowed to do that because of political correctness. It gives them the ammunition they need to get out of the arguments as “winners” while shaming you at the same time.
Well, fuck political correctness. I’ve had enough of it. I think Will Young was wrong on Newsnight. I also think that he was, in a way, promoting an idea of homosexuality which has to do with being a victim. Well, I’ve got news for you Will: hundred and thousands of gay people are living very successful, happy lives and don’t want to be told every five minutes that homophobia is still rampant in this country. They don’t necessarily want a fuss being made about an expression used mainly by teenagers. They don’t necessarily want to be seen as victims because they are not. There are always going to be homophobes, and there are always going to be racists. There are always going to be nasty, horrible, and evil people. That’s the way it is. So you’re right Will, education is the key: but education will never totally eradicate homophobia and racism. That’s a fact. In the meantime, let’s concentrate on the fights that are actually worth fighting. And one of them is to do with Political correctness. It’s become a monster that needs to be slayed. Urgently.