In my first job, I worked with a guy probably 10-15 years older than me who was a really great guy – I had a lot of time for him, and thought he was a really excellent colleague.
He had a habit though I had to break him out of … he didn’t say “shit” or “fuck” when he swore, he said “poofter”. In some senses, it was cute, but it it was equally a bit insulting, so since we worked in the same 4-person cubicle I took to turning around and saying “Yes? Something you wanted?” every time he exclaimed “poofter!”
It took him a few months, but then one day I realised he was saying “shit”.
Small victories come in the most surprising of places.
It’s one thing to use a derogatory term as your own personal swear word, but there’s a vast chasm between that and using it as an insult, even if for comedic effect.
One of the lamest, low-brow and low-IQ forms of insults you can use is to call someone something they have no control over. Even more use an insulting term for it:
They’re ugly words bereft of intelligence, and when they’re used against others it’s doubly stupid. It’s an attempt to insult someone by calling them something they’re not, with the implication that being that thing is in some way demeaning.
There’s no love lost between Victorian ex-Liberal MP Geoff Shaw and the rest of the Liberal party in Victoria. He’s a polarising figure. But he’s not a poofter, nor a bastard:
Comedian Nick Giannopoulos repeatedly referred to Mr Shaw as “the poofter bastard” and “that poofter bastard” in front of more than 300 guests – including many of his former Liberal Party colleagues – at the Premier’s Dinner at the Princess Theatre ballroom on Friday night.
Mark Hawthorne, The Age, MP Geoff Shaw ridiculed as a ‘poofter bastard’, 11 November 2013.
It’s easy to sound all social justice warrior about a seemingly innocuous insult delivered by a comedian at a function, but apply that immoral discrimination litmus test – if Nick Giannopoulos had called Geoff Shaw a … jew bastard or any other appellation based on race it would have been decried as inappropriate.
One paying guest at the dinner on Friday night confirmed that senior MPs and cabinet ministers, including Premier Napthine and Minister for Roads Terry Mulder – ‘‘all laughed, although a little uneasily, at the poofter line” during the comedy routine.
It doesn’t matter whether they were uneasy about it. If the Premier of Victoria won’t get up and stop someone using blatantly ugly and crude terms for things people have no control over, what message does that send to the voters in the state?
Certainly not a very good message to poofters or bastards, that’s for sure.