Worst Gaydar Ever

| Monday, April 16, 2012
It was a typical weekend. I was tired, bored, and playing WoW. Specifically, running old raids. I went to Ahn'Qiraj, which due to a summoning error started in the usually-soloed AQ20. After that was BWL, but a bugged Rend event mixed with a lack of patience and inability to follow basic directions eventually resulted in only four of us in the raid. Razorgore died. I rushed off to grab the goblins before they could escape with their precious average of .08 elementium ingots.

One of the two mages said something to the effect of "whoever dies is a faggot", in reference to the Burning Adrenaline buff which eventually kills them. I was still chasing goblins and hoping to outrun the boss speech.

I considered explaining that there is no evidence for a link between the buff/debuff and homosexuality, and furthermore that as it is commonly used, faggot is a pegorative term, making it a pointless and unscientific insult against a group that I have yet to see harm me, either collectively or as individuals. Alas, time was short, so I went with "worst gaydar ever".

I'm not actually opposed to the use of the word faggot, but I think it should be restricted to faggots, either bundles of sticks or homosexual men, with it usually referring to the latter unless hobbits are involved and it's not a slashfic. I think it's very important to have the word faggot as a negative reference for gay men. It helps me identify and avoid homophobes. The usage of faggot as generic insult mostly confuses me. Sure, that's what people did in 8th grade. Everyone was a jumbled mess of immaturity and ignorance and the concept of masculinity was poorly understood but understood to be very important, so linking someone to a group often associated with femininity made perfect sense in the strange logic of cruelty. Gay or not, labeling someone gay, or with a gay label, was a useful tool in inflicting social and psychological harm on others. Then at some point I figured people went to high school, spent a few more months using gay or fag as generic insults, and then switched to Shakespearean attacks in an attempt to win points with the English Lit teacher and avoid punishment from authority figures who did not realize that telling someone to "get thee to a nunnery" wasn't a Catholic joke. I generally expect people to grow up.

Boss dies, shaman friend gets shield, and burning adrenaline, and dies. Faggot faggot faggot faggot faggot faggot faggot.

Ah. So now we're past the one-off immature joke. Now he's being insistent. Spamming it. Pardon me a moment.


What the fuck is wrong with people that they think that this is any way remotely acceptable behavior? What circuit is wrong in their heads to think that any spamming is appropriate? Even worse, spamming at someone with a probably-inaccurate and definitely-irrelevant insult? It makes no god damn sense. This isn't a college frat where everyone is drunk and being an immature jackass helps a person fit in. It's a small group in a game. What could possibly be the point of this? Is it some mental disease? Is it contagious? (yes, unlike homosexuality, which is a great irony)

*end rant*

I kicked him in the middle of his spamming. For whatever reason the chat message is "so and so has left the group" rather than "so and so has been removed by irritated raid leader". The shaman friend whispered me, asking if I'd kicked and I said I had.

 But why then? What actually changed from the first mention of faggots to the last? A bit of spam? Surely I can better survive a bit of spam than pointless hate directed at 10% of the population (they're everywhere, look out!) and hitting 100% due to terrible aim.

I've been called a faggot before. There I was riding my back to the high school, not or school, but for summer sports camp when I was going onto 7th or 8th grade. Someone was riding behind me saying "faggot", not close enough or loud enough for me to even realize anyone was saying anything, but eventually I noticed. It was someone my age who caught up and asked where I was going and somehow my school came up, a nearby Catholic school for kindergarten to 8th grade. He called it a fag school. Having been there, I can assure you, there would have been little tolerance for any fagging. This is the Catholic Church we're talking about here. If that's a fag school, then fag is clearly meaningless.

If I woke up tomorrow and fag was universally used as a generic insult, that would be fine. It's not. Instead it's sometimes generic, creating the fag=bad connection, if that hadn't quite been drilled into people yet, and sometimes specific, allowing it to act like one of those parasites that has a dozen stages of life all of which allow it to better survive and infest hosts. If it were generic, it wouldn't be hateful to gays. But as a hybrid, it's hateful to gays, suggesting that they are so bad that even the description of them is bad, and to be described as gay is not merely inaccurate (it usually is), but offensive. That's the key. If someone says fag they aren't saying bad+homosexual, but rather homosexual->bad. If fag was merely pairing two unrelated terms, one neutral and one negative, that would be okay. It instead acts like a very short [il]logical argument: If gay, then bad. I wonder if it's coincidence that one of the first people to explicitly explain to me that gay is bad was also someone who told me to carry a pocket Bible. I think I'd need the word of a deity before I'd start hating people for a behavior which doesn't harm anyone else (not that I'm suggesting it harms them either).

I've never been attacked or significantly harassed (I just have a particularly good memory for bad memories). So then it makes sense. If I've never been hurt by homophobic behavior, then it's no wonder I'd let it slide, at least until they start spamming. That's what is bugging me now, that it was the spamming that got him kicked. But isn't the initial comment the real problem? A bit of spam here and there never hurt anyone. It's the little comments that slide by unchecked, un-fact-checked, un-questioned, which act like little seeds. Call it the "broken windows theory of hate".

Yet if I were to ignore, kick, and report every single hateful comment from the niggs in trade chat to the faggots in a pug raid, where would that leave me? Well thankfully, I'd still have my guild because I can't recall them being hateful assholes. But I'd definitely find myself labeled a nit-picker. "Choose your battles" sounds like common sense, but there is also "death by a thousand cuts", like when in Wyoming two men tortured him most of the way to death and then left him to slowly die tied to a fence. Then people (I'm using the term only in the genetic sense) showed up to protest his funeral. I'm not suggesting that there is a direct link between calling a female shaman in BWL a faggot leads to murdering people. But I am suggesting that a little bit of hate goes a long way. Seeing someone as a little less human makes them a lot less safe. That spreads. Maybe we should be more careful with what we say and how we say it and why we say it.

If you've read The Giver, you might remember a part where the protagonist yells at someone who is playing poorly "You're released!" and is reprimanded by the adults, because "released" isn't just a word for being free to go; it means something very serious and specific in that society.


Gnomeaggedon said...

As a general rule I have found calling the person out stops the behavior and thus the cuts. It also gives them the opportunity to reconsider their behavior, a reformed idiot is better than an excluded idiot.

After that, kick for reflection time.

Syl said...

I've always hated the word; for us non-native speakers it's an even bigger can of worms. when I was still fairly new to English, I heard two guys talking about smoking a fag. I thought that homophobic slurs had just reached an alltime low there.
then, there's the whole confusion of faggot actually meaning 'bassoon' in my native tongue (playing the faggot means playing a bassoon pipe, ya rly); I have witnessed some of the most bizarre misunderstandings thanks to this!

stupid word best banned forever.

Azuriel said...

I generally take great relish in putting in tickets for that sort of language, even from Trade chat. I type out the name, the time, what they said, and then add in "this hateful language makes me feel extremely uncomfortable playing this game anymore. Is this sort of thing tolerated at Blizzard?" I like to imagine it starts a little fire under the ass of the GM who reads it.

Is it simply pissing in the ocean? Probably. But just like the inspirational "starfish on the beach" story, each waste of genetic material (temp) banned is deeply satisfying to me. I would write tickets all day if I could.

Stumps said...

actually it gets more confusing still Syl - a faggot is also a sort of meatball in the UK! It's made from offal and you can get some serious looks if you talk about serving faggots for dinner!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking a stand. If more of these children faced consequences for their behavior, the behavior might actually improve.

Michael said...

Worst part of playing an mmo is having to play with other players. :o

Random, anonymous people have a near infinite capacity to disappoint.

Klepsacovic said...

Interesting thing to note: Today's patch seems to have added a few choices for when reporting players: spam, language, name, cheating.

Zellviren said...

Unfortunately, “fag” or “faggot” is not the only word that’s been hijacked in this fashion. Every time I see someone call another a “retard”, I report them for much the same reasons erstwhile discussed.

It’s not just that it’s an ugly word.

It’s the implication that the subject is somehow “bad” by default.

Alas, Internet tough guys the world over are best defined by the amount of noise they’re willing to make. And when the background noise is already a din, it’s a competition to see who can cross the line first – I was recently introduced to a Twitter discussion where someone suggested Leigh Francis dig up Corey Haim’s body so that Corey Feldman wouldn’t be lonely whilst appearing on Celebrity Juice.

I do not see a victory in this battle, I’m afraid, when even Blizzard promote “faggot night elves” as “a joke gone wrong”.

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