I believe that certain words should be off limits (at least to some people). To my taste, “faggot” is one of those words. When used against a man who has sex with men, I believe it’s equivalent to the N-word. In this context, I’ll refer to it as the F-word (although we all know what most people think of when the phrase “F-word” is used).
An editor’s note resulting from a letter to the editor published on June 5 on fredericksburg.com (the website of the Free Lance-Star) makes my case.
A reader wrote in to complain about an editorial on hate crimes legislation:
“Hate-crime laws have their purpose. The May 18 editorial titled ‘Hate or not’ missed the point. The assault on the Constitution lies in the fact that hate crimes engender reactions in people’s minds. A reaction to a lynching in the black community needs to be expressed, thus a result of freedom of speech, not an assault on it.
“Until recently, the Free Lance-Star‘s website censored the N-word or a typical epithet against women, but not the word ‘faggot.’ To say gay people don’t get bashed culturally is foolhardy.”
Here’s the editor’s note:
“Editor’s note: As a result of this letter, the offensive word mentioned has also been banned on fredericksburg.com.”
Let’s set aside the argument over banning words in general. If the editors decided the N-word was worth banning from their publication, then I think they made the right decision in banning the F-word. In this instance, it was the fair thing to do.