Discussing the use of epithets on this blog has been and will continue to be a challenge. An exchange in the comments section of a recent post titled “Gays and God and Obama” by fellow NLGJA blogger Michael Triplett is a great example.
A reader used the N-word itself and an expletive, which I edited to “N-word” and “bulls***” respectively. The same reader then called me out on allowing the use of the word “faggot” in previous posts (“Perez and the Advocate” by Michael Triplett and “Banning the F-Word” by yours truly) and not editing them to “F-word” or some such.
Please read my response to that reader and add your comments. Part of my response was that the use of the word “faggot” will be on a case-by-case basis. We won’t always get it right, but we’ll try.
Another instance in the F-word usage debate has surfaced in recent sports headlines in a war of words between two professional boxers—Celestino Caballero is currently the IBF/WBA super bantamweight champion and Juan Manuel Lopez (nickname “Juanma”) is currently the WBO champion in the same weight class.
The two men have a dispute about overcoming the obstacles to scheduling a fight. Juanma reportedly cited the sanctioning fees as one of those obstacles. Other obstacles include fights Juanma already scheduled with other opponents, such as Rogers Mtagwa.
Caballero is quoted by BoxingScene.com as responding to comments from Juanma:
“Why take a chance where you can lose to a nobody? If he loses to me, then he loses to the best. He doesn’t have to worry; I will pay for all of the sanctioning fees. Don’t be a maricón in front of your own people. It’s shameful the way he is acting in front of his own people by fighting nobodies. Mtagwa does not bring any greatness to him. The best fight with the best.”
The word “faggot” is equivalent to “maricón” in Spanish. The word “maricón” gets used quite a bit in Spanish-language media, as do other anti-LGBT epithets. What’s interesting here is that while many English-language outlets used “maricón” in the text and headlines of their stories (such as this headline on BoxNews.com.ua—”Caballero: Lopez, don’t be a maricon“), one outlet decided differently.
“Celestino Caballero Talks: ‘Juanma, Don’t Be a M*ricón’” was the BoxingScene.com headline. Inserting an asterisk to replace the letter “a” in the word is a common way to soften it. What made me take notice is that I can’t recall such sensitivity from an English-language news outlet on any Spanish-language epithet, let alone an anti-LGBT Spanish-language epithet, let alone from a sports news outlet.
Kudos to BoxingScene.com for the headline, whatever their reasons for doing it. Now having seen that it can be done, “lost in translation” is no longer a valid excuse.