Putting The Other F-Word To Work
GLAAD is doing PR here, with a set goal and the application of tactics.
New York, N. Y., Wednesday, January 24, 2007 – Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Neil G. Giuliano today criticized CNN host Glenn Beck for his flippant and gratuitous on-air use of an anti-gay slur during his Jan. 22, 2007 program.
The host of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck was discussing the Isaiah Washington story when he had the following exchange with radio host Dave Glover:Glover's attempt to identify the epithet without using it on-air was in keeping with how other broadcast and cable outlets – including CNN – have approached it since the 64th Annual Golden Globe® Awards incident that sparked a national dialogue about the slur and the impact of anti-gay prejudice. Throughout CNN's coverage of the Isaiah Washington controversy over the past week, Beck appears to be the only host to have repeated the epithet on the air.
BECK: But anyway, Dave, what is the—what is the controversy? One of the guys called another guy a naughty name.
GLOVER: Yes. Basically you have Isaiah Washington, who's one of the stars of the show, who referred to one of his co-stars during a heated argument as a derogatory term for a gay man that starts with “F”, rhymes with maggot. Did it a couple more times after that. And do you like how I did that?
BECK: Do you know that “The New York Times” wouldn't even print—I mean, we can say the word. We're having an adult conversation here. Wouldn't even print the word “faggot.”
BECK: Wouldn't print it. I find that amazing.
"Beck's obnoxious repetition of the slur -- and his flip dismissal of it as simply a 'naughty name' – speaks volumes about his appalling ignorance of its impact," Giuliano said. "Beck added nothing to the audience's understanding of the issue, except perhaps to demonstrate his juvenile belief that repeating an anti-gay slur makes him an 'adult.'”
On Tuesday, GLAAD reached out to CNN's standards and practices department to discuss the matter. On Wednesday, a CNN spokesperson told GLAAD that Beck wasn't using the word himself, that Beck's show is an “opinion show” and not a news program, and that Beck was expressing an opinion about The New York Times’ decision to not use the word.
"The ugliness of Glenn Beck's word choice and his ignorance of its impact really speak for themselves," Giuliano said. "Other CNN personalities have discussed derogatory slurs as part of this story without debasing that discussion. CNN has a responsibility to address Beck's crudeness and require that he adhere to basic standards of respect."
Let's go to the tactics first.
The attack on Beck for the "ugliness of Beck's word choice" is being done to keep the issue alive; no more, no less. But Beck did not choose the word. Some pipsqueak Hollywood actor did. Beck reported the word. And sorry, GLAAD, we can't use "the 'f-word'" instead of "faggot" because that's already taken. You want us to come up with something like Prince's unpronounceable name for it?
The tactic is valid enough, but the GLAAD message is weakend by anti-straight slurs from the gay community like "homophobe" and "breeder." Remove the board from your eye before getting all excised about the mote in ours.
As for the "ignorance of the impact," GLAAD has a point. The word does not belong in common speech any more than do disgraceful words for blacks and certain female body parts. It's just that the target is wrong, and the reaction is too hot.
The correct target is not Beck, but Isaiah Washington. GLAAD realizes that Washington's blurt is very old news now, so it had to find some new guy who used a word that begins with f and ends with aggot. This tactic will get old soon with most of us, but the sympathetic media will eat it up and keep "f-scandals" alive.
Still, GLAAD is more than welcome to raise public awareness that this is a word that should no longer be in good people's lexicon. There is no reason to inflict word damage on folks that have already had a lot of damage.
While GLAAD's current strategy will be effective with some, with most of America it is not a good strategy because it makes them look like a bunch of ... a naughty word is coming to mind here ... I'm trying hard to ignore it ... there! - it's gone! ... over-sensitive crybabies.
Related Tags: GLAAD, Gay, Isaiah Washington, Public relations