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July 17, 2012 11:16 AM   Subscribe

How an apology from someone I had never heard of left me in tears. Bill Corbett (MST3K's Crow T. Robot) apologizes to the transgender community, in a damn classy fashion.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (145 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice to see a proper apology from somebody who fscked up for a change.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:26 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love that there are people like this in entertainment, but why oh WHY can't there be more people like this in politics?
posted by Mooski at 11:26 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I quit watching RiffTrax for this very reason (all three of them tended to go to the Pretty Man=Gay Ugly Person=Transexual well distressingly often) but this does warm my shriveled and medically implausible obsidian heart
posted by Shadax at 11:26 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


That is so re...

tracted.
posted by hal9k at 11:27 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would have expected an apology from Servo, since he's the classy, intelligent one. If even Crow can apologize, they is hope yet for humanityrobotkind.
posted by DU at 11:30 AM on July 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


The apology is great - but I think I love the post almost as much for the blogger's phrase "no map is without a few dragons" to describe the hole in her pop culture knowledge regarding MS3TK.

I would have expected an apology from Servo, since he's the classy, intelligent one. If even Crow can apologize, they is hope yet for humanityrobotkind.

I never realized until now how much I associate Crow with Futurama's Bender.

(Bender would probably say that makes me robo-racist or something.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:34 AM on July 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


Hat tip, Bill.
posted by entropone at 11:36 AM on July 17, 2012


the apology and the situation it arose from was not at all what i was expecting.

i like how he said he was leaving his tweets up even tho he's had time to reconsider what he had said.

also, as much time as i spend on here, i have been making the same mistake he did and i hope i never offended anyone. i will certainly never use that word ever again.
posted by sio42 at 11:37 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surprised to read that Bill Corbett was in AA at one time. I remember watching him, Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson get all loopy in the Rifftrax Vodka Smackdown last November.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:38 AM on July 17, 2012


i especially like this part -

It can be challenging for people in comedy and art to find better ways to do what we do, and avoid hurting people who don’t deserve to be hurt. But that’s my problem to solve, not anyone else’s.
posted by nadawi at 11:43 AM on July 17, 2012 [31 favorites]


...the blogger's phrase "no map is without a few dragons" to describe the hole in her pop culture knowledge regarding MS3TK.

I prefer "WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES".
posted by DU at 11:44 AM on July 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


Bill is a good guy. I especially appreciated him articulating a viewpoint about comedy that doesn't mock people for the sort of things bullies target. I wish we saw more people in the comedy community produce this sort of thoughtful mea culpa; it's a welcome change from the endless doubling down on the Tosh thing, where comedians are just so terrifically irritated to be criticized about anything and be told that any subject may be too sensitive for most of them to handle well.

Sometimes, without meaning to, and because your own map has dragons, you say something that hurts people. You can shrug it off and say, it's comedy, it's messy, people get hurt. Or you can admit to not knowing, express that you didn't mean to hurt anyone, explain that you have learned a lot, promise to be more careful in the future, and apologize.

Bill did the better thing.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:47 AM on July 17, 2012 [27 favorites]


Wow, some serious class there.

Yay, Bill!

It's nice to see entertainment people have some moral values now and then.
posted by Samizdata at 11:47 AM on July 17, 2012


Who is Bill Corbett and what does this have to do with Trace Beaulieu.
posted by fleacircus at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


I want to stand on the side of humanity. I want to be humane, even when being a goddamned wise-ass. There’s no tried and true path through this, but it’s really worth trying to find it. I want to make people laugh, not feel shitty about life. ”Leave the world a better place than you found it.” A twisty task for someone in comedy, but others have shown that its not impossible.

That's the money quote. It is possible.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:54 AM on July 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


I appreciated his point it might be generational, and that people 20 years younger than me are much more aware. Maybe this is like watching MY parents face gay and lesbian issues, or my grandparents fumble their way through racial stuff, saying awful things all the while. No excuse , of course, but definitely a reality.

When I worked with Trans people in the 70s and 80s it was a common term used amongst the community and I have had to educate myself on the painful realities of the word's use today.

What a real and heartfelt apology.
posted by Isadorady at 11:58 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My 10yo son loves MST3K... there's nothing homophobic in there at all, is there?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taking a teachable moment to heart sincerely is so hard, but so worth it. And Potomac Avenue, I agree about your choice of money quote. It'd be nice if more comedians were secure enough in both themselves and their talent to not resort to cheap shots and tired comedy cliches to get a laugh. Lazy comedy isn't even a craft, it's a mindless regurgitation.

I shall watch some MST3K tonight and feel extra warm and fuzzy.
posted by smirkette at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]



Indeed an example of a great apology.


I have to say that despite feeling that I am pretty liberal and accepting as a straight cisgendered person, there were a lot of things I didn't really understand about the trans community and therefore was less sympathetic toward trans people as a group than I even realized. I learned a lot by reading trans threads on Metafilter, though I didn't comment because I didn't feel confident in my thoughts.

So in case people wonder why we always go around and around these topics, some people are learning even if they're not saying anything.
posted by sweetkid at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2012 [36 favorites]


My 10yo son loves MST3K... there's nothing homophobic in there at all, is there?

I can recall a gay joke popping up once in a while, but I can't remember anything so particularly mean-spirited that I would deem as straight-up homophobic. "Ignorant" is more like it. You'd hear considerably worse stuff on even the most progressive 90s network sitcoms.
posted by griphus at 12:08 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


fleacircus: Who is Bill Corbett and what does this have to do with Trace Beaulieu.

Josh Weinstein?
posted by dr_dank at 12:09 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]




Isadorady - same here - except the activist-y 90s. tranny was used along side queer in reclaiming the words. just the other day a a musician i like, Bitch, realized she should rename her touring RV. its name is "TWAT originally stood for Tenacious Women And Trannies" - it was named back when she was in a duo with a trans person (and, honestly, she might view herself on genderqueer spectrum) - but that word has fallen further out of favor and allies have to relearn. her RV is now called TWATH - Tenacious Women And Tranagendered Humanoids.
posted by nadawi at 12:13 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I might be missing something here.

Based on the blogger's analysis, the joke was only funny if a transvestite doll is assumed to be inherently inferior in some way--so that a toy associated with Michael Bay is seen to be even worse in comparison. Corbett, however eloquently, only apologizes for the use of the specific word.

Perhaps the blogger's analysis is wrong, and Corbett did not intend at all to put a transvestite doll in a negative light. This must be it. The joke, minus the pejorative, is not intended to denigrate but rather to make a silly comparison between a great good and a great evil (the former honestly, the latter tongue-in-cheek). Though convoluted and easily misread since we usually stick to a given level of irony throughout a given joke, this interpretation is backed up by the 'MUCH' in caps, which would have been 'AT LEAST' in the case that the blogger's original read was correct. Gotta be careful with words!
posted by TreeRooster at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Christ, it's going to be really, really sad when Ricky Gervais popularity finally starts to wane and he kicks his dumbass public persona into overdrive.
posted by griphus at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


My 10yo son loves MST3K... there's nothing homophobic in there at all, is there?

The worst I can personally recall is them doing a lispy voice for a character, or speaking for that character in an effeminate way or to say effeminate things. (fake example. something like: "and afterward... SHOPPING!")

whether that's something you want your son not to be exposed to I leave in your capable hands to determine.
posted by shmegegge at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2012


regarding the post: well said, Mr Corbett. The quote that struck home most for me:
But I never want to depend on continually kicking people who are already down to do what I do.
To my mind, that's the thing that too many people forget in situations like this. It's not about taking on everyone equally. It's about remembering that you're not taking someone down a notch when they're already down. Causes me to recall this often linked scene from the first season of louie about comedians using the word faggot. sometimes people need that outside perspective provided to them and I'm happy as hell when they're open to it and pay attention.
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 PM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I will also make sure to call it a transmission when I'm discussing cars with my friends.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:22 PM on July 17, 2012


It's certainly an improvement on "I'm sorry, I was in Vermont."
posted by zamboni at 12:22 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yep, I can't think of anything hugely homophobic beyond the examples mentioned here; though it's been almost 20 years since my main MST3K phase, it was also at a time* when I was newly out and VERY sensitive to such things.

* That time being my winter term spent at a Midwestern (read: snowbound) liberal arts college, when over the break the term before, my also-gay roommate decided that he didn't need to hide his habits from me and purchased a hookah for the room, and another guy in our dorm brought back tons of episodes on VHS, and it became a ritual for us to partake and watch MST3K every weeknight around 9 or 10. Since my roommate thought for sure he was corrupting me with his influence, he always made sure if I'd finished my homework before we did this. On a related note, my GPA that term was 4.1 (out of 4).
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:23 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


KokuRyu: Yeah, I can recall a few examples of things like suggesting that a male protagonist who appeared insufficiently manly might be more interested in, say male supporting character X than in his female love interest. Followed by laughter. But nothing downright hostile.

I was about to say that it's just a product of its time and then remembered that its time was only twenty years ago. Makes me smile to remember that, in spite of how far we have left to go, we have come quite a long way in a rather short time.
posted by 256 at 12:25 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad everyone accepts his sincere apology, but I don't think what Bill said was nearly as bad in its intent as the Tosh rape-joke thing. Okay, it's a matter of degree and all. I just wonder whether there's a point past which we're going out of our way to feel offended.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 12:27 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christ, it's going to be really, really sad when Ricky Gervais popularity finally starts to wane and he kicks his dumbass public persona into overdrive.

Like Extras come to life.

It's a comedian's right to think of (and say) anything s/he finds offensive, to whichever crowd they feel it's worth saying to. It's also that comedian's responsibility to listen to that crowd's response and understand the nature of the reaction they provoked. "I wanted to be funny" doesn't give you a right to stop thinking about the rest of the world.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:29 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I learned something. Like this guy, I always thought 'tranny' was a slang term, not a slur. After reading, I won't use it.
posted by jonmc at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2012 [19 favorites]


This was great. Thank you so much for pointing it out.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:35 PM on July 17, 2012


That time being my winter term spent at a Midwestern (read: snowbound) liberal arts college, when over the break the term before, my also-gay roommate decided that he didn't need to hide his habits from me and purchased a hookah for the room, and another guy in our dorm brought back tons of episodes on VHS, and it became a ritual for us to partake and watch MST3K every weeknight around 9 or 10. Since my roommate thought for sure he was corrupting me with his influence, he always made sure if I'd finished my homework before we did this. On a related note, my GPA that term was 4.1 (out of 4).

Wait how did you describe my freshman year so well?
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


jonmc, it's not uncommon to think that. I had to be told specifically by a transgendered person that it was considered offensive. I don't believe I'd ever used it as slang anyway--I'd just heard it used--but now I'll usually tell people that transgendered folks may not like it if cisgendered folks say it. (I do hear it used by transfolk on occasion like "nigga" among black folks, but I'm not going to say "nigga" either.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:43 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to comment on a phenomena I've been on the receiving end of as well as seeing repeated here.

I don't think what Bill said was nearly as bad in its intent as the Tosh rape-joke thing.

1) Intent - not magic!

2) What is this weird need some people have for excusing people who feel remorse for showing their ass in public? I had peers try to excuse my being an (inadvertent) racist fuckwit while glossing over exactly why I should feel remorseful for what I did (which was pretty bad, honestly, though completely without ill intent). It's like people want to rush through the remorsefulness and go quickly to pretend it never happened because.... profit? I don't know, there's something weird there.

Remorse doesn't hurt people; it often makes us better.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:45 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


but I don't think what Bill said was nearly as bad in its intent as the Tosh rape-joke thing

did anyone say it was? if he had said [insert your favorite racial slur] and people called him on it, it doesn't mean that they think it's as bad as things said at a KKK march. killing 20 people is worse than killing 1, but we're still going to bring murderers up on charges no matter how many victims.

tosh just came short of directly threatening a woman with rape because she (maybe) talked out of turn.and then delivered a weasel-y apology that he didn't even believe. bill corbett made an unfortunate joke with a word he didn't realize was so hurtful, saw his mistake, and tried to honestly correct it. no damage has been done to bill here.

it should also be mentioned that tosh loves himself a tranny joke (so much that there's a tag for it on comedy central) so, really, he's an asshole in all sorts of venues.
posted by nadawi at 12:50 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


TreeRooster: Perhaps the blogger's analysis is wrong, and Corbett did not intend at all to put a transvestite doll in a negative light.
That was my initial read, too. To be sure, an aspect of the joke is an acknowledgement that mainstream culture stigmatizes transsexuals, but I thought his comment was flipping that dynamic on its head by saying that he rejected the mainstream's disdain for trannies and replaced it with his disdain for something mainstream culture likes, i.e. Michael Bay. Or in the alternative, saying he prefers a stigmatized thing over something popular, as a way of shoving that stigma back in someone's face.

Some rough and imperfect hints of the notion:

Better arugula than a Big Mac.
Better a nerd than a jock.
Better gay than a bigot.

That kind of idea. I don't know what he was thinking, but it's fair to assume that different people are reading different levels of stigma into the word.

Political correctness, however, often seems to demand that we assume the worst about a comment and then demand an apology matching that high level of offense. I actually worry that may be counter productive, as it may prevent words from evolving and becoming less offensive over time, c.f. old-timey racial slurs like 'square heads' for Scandinavians, or 'WOPs' and 'Micks' - for Italians and the Irish (these can still have some sting, but not like they did in the past).

What I like about his response is that it seems to take a humane middle ground that neither avoids responsibility for the comment, nor caves to the worst interpretations of it. He acknowledges the offense, his ignorance, and states his desire to be on the right side of things. Well done.
posted by Davenhill at 12:50 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just wonder whether there's a point past which we're going out of our way to feel offended.

It's very convenient to suspect somebody else's intentions when you are not the one being hurt. I find it simpler to assume that their complaints are in good faith, and that they were really hurt.

Then the question becomes about the joke. Was the joke good enough to be worth the hurt? Is the joke important enough that you can justify it even knowing it will hurt people? Some jokes are. Humor can be an essential tool in discussing the terrible things in the world, and sometimes those discussions need to happen, even if they hurt people.

But many hurtful jokes don't meet this standard. And, if they don't, knowing they injure somebody, why tell them?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:52 PM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


This reminds me of Jason Alexander's very sincere (if less succinct) apology about joking about how cricket is a "gay sport" with Craig Ferguson.
posted by Plutor at 12:53 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I prefer "WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES".

WHY DON'T THEY LOOK?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:54 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


we're still going to bring murderers up on charges no matter how many victims.

Of course, no one's going to assume we're flying off the handle if we compare this to mass murder, will they now? I said I was glad he apologized in a sincere way and that people accepted it. I have no problem with that part.

But it's not like Bill was the Diceman, making a living out of the ridicule of the LGBT community or something. He used the insulting term tranny once, not in any attempt to deride transpeople.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 12:57 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good job him!

It's been a bit of a funny year or so for this kind of thing. Something about trans people seems to have broken through into the popular consciousness in a way it never has before, and as a result suddenly all over the place there are comedians and other celebrities, well-meaning and otherwise, referencing us in their jokes. I'd say so far we're on for about 30% graceful apologies, 40% grudging I'm sorry you were offendeds, 10% ah but you see, by being relentlessly mocked with little comeback, that is how you secure your equal rights, and 20% how dare you free speech equal opportunity offence faaaaaaarts.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


a handy guide for someone making comedy in some form -

is your joke about someone who plays the world on a higher difficulty than you? if yes, does your joke mock them or mock the system/oppressors?

i'm not saying follow it always (though i think it could be a good idea) but at least consider it when making borderline jokes about populations you aren't part of.
posted by nadawi at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


oh geez, i'm not flying off the handle. i was using an extreme example to show that we recognize degrees of offense.

bill wasn't attacked like tosh was. the system works!
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I unfollowed several comedians on twitter for defending Tosh. But I am going to start following Corbett.

MST3K was very influential on my sense of humor and I am glad to see one of my childhood heroes is still a fine person now that I am an adult.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I'm glad everyone accepts his sincere apology, but I don't think what Bill said was nearly as bad in its intent as the Tosh rape-joke thing. Okay, it's a matter of degree and all. I just wonder whether there's a point past which we're going out of our way to feel offended."

Given the really limited nature of the remark and the fact that there cannot be (and in practice, in the world of gender and it's variations, there is not) consensus about whether or not the word "tranny" is intrinsically offensive it seems like the best recourse is education and not to take personal offence or the wielding of further epithet or threats.

Certain words -- "nigger" for example -- have a legacy of use which (despite any grey areas in acceptable use) suggests to any reasonably educated English speaker that they should at least tread cautiously. "Tranny" on the other hand is rather tricky being a short form of what for better or worse is a common technical term; moreover I can see how any observer might see the frequent use of "trans" and think "tranny" is also acceptable.

So while I respect Corbett's elegant contrition, I feel bad for him for having to face verbal nastiness from the most hypervigilant and self-nominated asshole representatives for trans persons on the internet and to some extent fear that the types of responses he received are worse for humanity than his indelicate misstep.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:12 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Here's the difference between this guy and Tosh - Tosh apologizing like this wouldn't be in line with the Tosh brand. That is to say, he is a comedian that gets his rocks off saying really mean shit about people to an audience that likes hearing a guy say mean shit about people. Yes, it is mean and shitty, but he will never apologize in full like Bill has here because fans of Bill are more likely to be understanding and awesome while fans of Tosh are more likely to be idiots.
posted by windbox at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kudos to Bill for being thoughtful, doing his research, and apologizing. Given that Bill now understands why using the term "tranny" is offensive, can we please not get derailed by arguing over whether people who called him out on it were just hypersensitive and looking to be offended?

It does warm my heart to see people commenting about how they've been educated by MeFi about trans issues.
posted by DrMew at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2012


So while I respect Corbett's elegant contrition, I feel bad for him for having to face verbal nastiness from the most hypervigilant and self-nominated asshole representatives for trans persons on the internet and to some extent fear that the types of responses he received are worse for humanity than his indelicate misstep.

Out of curiosity, are you are a transsexual? Because you seem awfully comfortable deciding which viewpoint in that community represents a ridiculous, oversensitive fringe, and, if it is not your community, that's not really a decision that's yours.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:28 PM on July 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Matt Oneiros: "Certain words -- 'nigger' for example -- have a legacy of use which (despite any grey areas in acceptable use) suggests to any reasonably educated English speaker that they should at least tread cautiously. 'Tranny' on the other hand is rather tricky being a short form of what for better or worse is a common technical term; moreover I can see how any observer might see the frequent use of 'trans' and think 'tranny' is also acceptable."

So not true, in so many ways... "Tranny" is just as offensive as "nigger". (Try being part of the group labeled with either and then saying if "tranny" is less offensive.) The word "tranny" is abbreviated from (assuming you're referring to "transvestite") is just about as offensive as "tranny" itself is; almost no one in the English-speaking trans community accepts "transvestite" as a preferred term these days. And finally, while I think some outliers might accept "transvestite" as a technical term, just as some might accept "negro" as a technical term, neither makes their shortened slurs any less offensive.
posted by jiawen at 1:30 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


See? It's weird. I post my post about people defending someone who already apologized, felt remorse, and obviously felt they had acted wrongly who are now not only defending the apologizers actions but are also (increasingly now) attacking the people who objected to the actions that the person apologizing for said were unacceptable.

It's WEIRD.

Is it that seeing someone owning their own error and honestly apologizing for it constitute a threat somehow? The use of "pc" and "people want to be offended" seem to imply this.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:30 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


"assuming you're referring to 'transvestite'"

Transsexual, actually, I don't hear a lot of transvestite.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:33 PM on July 17, 2012


it's going to be really, really sad when Ricky Gervais popularity finally starts to wane and he kicks his dumbass public persona into overdrive.

He hasn't done that already?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:36 PM on July 17, 2012


Hmm, did something about the T-word and how its perceived change in recent years? I don't know much at all about the transgender community but 10 years ago I had a friend in grad school in Boston who was a long-time female-to-male transgendered person and a veteran activist on transgender issues too ( made political films, organized talks etc) and he used the T-word quite often in normal conversation ( not ironically or performatively - he didn't have a strong ironic / camp or out-there sense of humor - he was almost always very earnest and serious in a gentle way) . Was he an outlier or did something change ?
posted by Bwithh at 1:36 PM on July 17, 2012


The word "tranny" is abbreviated from (assuming you're referring to "transvestite") is just about as offensive as "tranny" itself is; almost no one in the English-speaking trans community accepts "transvestite" as a preferred term these days. And finally, while I think some outliers might accept "transvestite" as a technical term, just as some might accept "negro" as a technical term, neither makes their shortened slurs any less offensive.

Is there a more common/more accepted term for people who like cross-dressing but are otherwise cisgender? I thought that in that context the term transvestite was pretty harmless, such as when Eddie Izzard's Wikipedia article uses it.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:40 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bwithh - there's been discussion within the community about the acceptability of the word (but seems to generally be coming around to "don't use it unless you are in a limited group and everyone understands your intent") - but, even for your old friend, they'd probably object to someone who, by his own admission, knows zero trans people except for that one person in AA years ago.
posted by nadawi at 1:40 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is 'Tranny' Offensive?

Why trans is in but tranny is out

GLAAD vs. 'Glee': Is 'tranny' a bad word?

I know that this is potentially going to ignite more debate over pedants who want to piece through the arguments and make the case that they don't make sense. But, for me, this is very similar to the "why do black people get to say the n-word and I don't?" There are just some words that it is probably best for you to steer clear of unless you are part of the community they describe, or unless you are with some people who know you aren't like that. It's the same case Jay Smooth makes about the nuh.

And it probably doesn't make perfect linguistic sense. Black people don't like being called Negros or Colored People and yet have a United Negro College Fund and a NAACP. Jews don't like being called Hebrews and yet have a United Hebrew College. It's never going to make perfect sense, because language isn't some logic puzzle, but an organic thing with shifting contexts. And the greatest risk in using language that isn't from your world is that you may misuse is, and, not knowing the context, might misuse it and hurt somebody. Which is what Bill did. And he did what you do when you find out you have blundered -- he apologized and promised to be careful.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:46 PM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oriole Adams: "Surprised to read that Bill Corbett was in AA at one time. I remember watching him, Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson get all loopy in the Rifftrax Vodka Smackdown last November."

Frank Conniff
certainly is.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:06 PM on July 17, 2012


It's certainly an improvement on "I'm sorry, I was in Vermont."
posted by zamboni at 12:22 PM on July 17 [+] [!]


I mean, dude, did you want Louis CK to apologize for Daniel Tosh's offensive joke? Not sure its his responsibility to bear that cross on behalf of another comedian.
posted by ben242 at 2:16 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


That's an extraordinarily gracious, well-thought, well written apology from someone not in the community and I really admire him for writing it and putting it out there. Really good, genuine and courageous as well as just admirable in what he expresses, what he expresses he desires to be, and how he goes for it within the piece itself.

I have been called out here before for using the same term and it's complicated in a different way for me, being within the community, to think about, think about whether I wish to change my ways, think about whether changing or going on as I am is worth it, but I'll give it a good think and whatever I choose will be on purpose, not casual in any way.
posted by kalessin at 2:18 PM on July 17, 2012


I mean, dude, did you want Louis CK to apologize for Daniel Tosh's offensive joke? Not sure its his responsibility to bear that cross on behalf of another comedian.

I think that "I was in Vermont" sounds like total bullshit.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:24 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Michael Bay is terrible and is to be disdained, and by association, Michael Bay's Transformers are also terrible. In fact, Michael Bay is so terrible that there are a lot of terrible things that are still better than Michael Bay. Like shooting myself in the foot.* Or, apparently, a 'Tranny' doll and by association 'Trannies'. Terrible disgusting 'Trannies'. Still better than Michael Bay tho'

So, yeah, apologizing for using the word 'Tranny' is one thing. But, the sentiment expressed by the original comment is still awful, because it's a joke made on the basis of comparing one terrible thing with another somehow-more-preferable but apparently-still-terrible thing. Which is kinda fucked up in it's own regard.

* Why, yes, I would rather shoot myself in a foot than watch a Michael Bay movie.
posted by yeoz at 2:24 PM on July 17, 2012


yeoz: But, the sentiment expressed by the original comment is still awful, because it's a joke made on the basis of comparing one terrible thing with another somehow-more-preferable but apparently-still-terrible thing.
As has been said earlier, yeoz, you and the writer of the first linked op-ed kind of have to reach a bit to assume the Tranny doll thing was inherently meanspirited, or implicitly saying that "Trannies are something bad". The structure of the comparison "MUCH rather" A than B implies A is preferrable or at least neutral, while B is unquestionably awful. B was Michael Bay and his Transformer franchies. And the only reason for using Tranny was because of the word part comparison to Transformers. Also, there's no indication it was meant with any mean spirit, and that should count for something.


Related: when will we get an apology from these people?
posted by hincandenza at 2:38 PM on July 17, 2012


That should be "franchise", not "franchies". Although I'm deeply offended at my own use of the slang term "franchies" to refer to a movie and its cash-cow sequels.
posted by hincandenza at 2:40 PM on July 17, 2012


I'm confused. If I want to insult transvestites but not transsexuals these days, what word should I use?
posted by Hogshead at 2:45 PM on July 17, 2012


I'm confused. If I want to insult transvestites but not transsexuals these days, what word should I use?

You are confused.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:47 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really appreciate Bill Corbett's response to this. "I want to make people laugh, not feel shitty about life." I've watched a lot of Rifftrax over the last few years, and while I can't say there haven't been a few jokes in there that were questionable, overall I enjoy the fucking hell out of the Rifftrax guys. I have laughed so hard at their jokes that I fell out of my chair, and my stomach hurt the next day. I just bought my tickets for the Rifftrax Live event in August, and I'm looking forward to it.

I am generally a big fan of Louis CK, but he made me feel shitty about life in that interview on TDS last night. Even if I believed the "I was in Vermont!" thing, seconds later he's telling me that a person can't be a comedian and a feminist, and that women in general should shut the fuck up so that men can then presumably talk about how Tosh's rape jokes don't offend them, personally, the end. Awesome, just awesome.
posted by aabbbiee at 2:56 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that "I was in Vermont" sounds like total bullshit.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:24 PM on July 17 [+] [!]


You're still waiting for Louis CK to take responsibility for something somebody else said at a show he wasn't at, is that it? When should Seinfeld make a statement?

FWIW, I think Tosh sucks. I thought he sucked a week ago and I think he sucks worse now. Not funny, not cool. But it isn't other people's fault.
posted by ben242 at 3:01 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


louis ck stepped into the fray by tweeting support. he could have kept his mouth shut and no one would want anything from him in relation to this topic.
posted by nadawi at 3:02 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm willing to consider the negative interpretations of CK's interview but my gut reaction was that it was Louis's own crass, comedic way of ultimately calling for dialogue. He didn't have to spend a second of that interview talking about the controversy (though he certainly SHOULD have) but, instead of pitching the new season of his show, he spent the entirety of his time discussing his desire to learn more about the topic (rape culture) that got him (inadvertently or not) into trouble and calling, in however crass terms, for dialogue.

And while I certainly don't think his "feminists and comedians are each others worst enemies" comment was anything close to Carlin's Michael Jackson bit I do think it was a comment tinged with a bit of irony in order to express his belief that sometimes comedy and sentiments of political progress are sometimes in opposition with each other while not necessarily disagreeing with each other.

Again, that was my gut reaction and, after reading comments by others, I am willing to consider that that may or may not be too generous towards Louis.
posted by sendai sleep master at 3:08 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


To clarify, Bunny Ultramod, I consider anyone who in this case would first resort to "verbal nastiness" preemptively rather than kindly advice (i.e. simply noting "that's not funny, and 'tranny' is an offensive term") to be 1) hypervigilant and 2) an asshole.

Why? Because of the confusing terminology and etymologies which a person, with no malice in their heart, may not be aware of. As we both have noted there is nuance and complexity in the rationales for what words are OK for who when.

My thought is, save anger for those who intended harm when apparent and when not apparent, reserve anger and verbal nastiness until their intent can be established; before then one ought to kindly provide an alternative behavior (even if it's just "don't") and when time and venue permits a rationale for why one behavior is preferable.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 3:09 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


On a relevant note:

For such an honest and self searching apology, I deem Bill to be quite a mensch.
posted by sendai sleep master at 3:10 PM on July 17, 2012


nadawi: louis ck stepped into the fray by tweeting support. he could have kept his mouth shut and no one would want anything from him in relation to this topic.
Did you not actually watch the video/read the text at the link? His claim- and there's no reason to disbelieve it- is that he was was watching Tosh.0 while on vacation in Vermont and happened to tweet a message to him about enjoying his show, and only when he came back and reconnected to the world at large did he realize he waded into a minefield.

But this isn't a continuation of the Tosh thread, is it? I thought this was about Bill Corbett, who apologized classily about something he didn't really need to feel sorry about, but did so because he recognized some people were genuinely offended, and wanted to apologize not because of some deep-seated regret, but because he wanted to be clear he didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, and has learned something about what terms sub-communities find offensive. His actions are notable and applaudable, regardless of whether you feel he ever had anything to apologize about.

Then again, internet hero and Metafilter demi-god Stephen Fry has something to say about being offended.
posted by hincandenza at 3:12 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


You're still waiting for Louis CK to take responsibility for something somebody else said at a show he wasn't at, is that it? When should Seinfeld make a statement?

Instead of telling me what I want, why don't you try asking me what I want?

I'm not waiting for Louis CK to apologize for Tosh. I don't believe that being in Vancouver renders you ignorant of everything that's happening in the world of comedy. Whether his tweet in support of Tosh was intentional or an accident of timing, he immediately got responses from people demanding to know if he supported Tosh telling rape jokes. He chose to remain silent. Until he appeared on TDS, at which point he castigated feminists for not having a sense of humor, claimed the problem with comedians is that they can't take criticism, and put forward an oh-so-carefully considered response that this was all okay because it created dialogue -- although I am not sure what sort of quality dialogue he thinks is coming out of it, since the response from much of the make comedy community was that this was a humorless heckler who got what she wanted and that the subject of rape comedy apparently doesn't deserve any response beyond that.

It was a bullshit response from somebody who laid low for a full weekend instead of being the leader of the comedy community that he seems to style himself as being. And, if he thinks the dialogue is good an important, why doesn't he take some responsibility for leading it?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:12 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


To clarify, Bunny Ultramod, I consider anyone who in this case would first resort to "verbal nastiness" preemptively rather than kindly advice (i.e. simply noting "that's not funny, and 'tranny' is an offensive term") to be 1) hypervigilant and 2) an asshole.

Who is it that engaged in verbal nastiness? There were plenty of civil responses to Bill -- you instead seem to be selecting spokespeople for a viewpoint based on the lack of civility of their responses and then dismissing them for it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:14 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Bill Corbett and Louis C.K.'s apologies seem to be on the same level to me, but I've never been a member of either of the victimized populations in this discussion. In not so many words, they both expressed that same sentiment.

Being ignorant of the challenges these people face allowed our lovable comedians to learn something about minority status and incorporate it into their identity. Bill mentions that he's learned a lot about the trans-community, just as Louis mentioned learning about the devastating permanence of rape (e.g., being afraid to go out alone) is a fact that's going to stick with him. >I thought the latter's "feminists can't take a joke" stereotype played out pretty well with the live audience, and he was telling men to listen to women as much as he was telling women to shut up, or calm down in this case. >The thing is, there's a grain of truth to what he said about feminists, comedians, and starting the dialogue. Seriously, what are we discussing at this very moment? My belief is that virtually any dialogue about sensitive, serious issues like rape and gender identity is a far cry better than the relatively inexistent or likely chauvinistic dialogue that existed beforehand.

Details aside, willfully learning about the victimized group is really the model response for dealing with our insensitivity toward people we don't (want to) understand or care about, but I think this hinges on some huge personality variable that lets someone absorb, rather than deflect, the pain of others. Of course, that's not the gene we're focused on isolating.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 3:26 PM on July 17, 2012


From the article: "I was surprised by the reaction. Some of the stuff coming my way was nasty, but hey, it’s the Internet."

Hey, it is the internet, but hey, that is also pretty lame.

Specifically I said, "I feel bad for him for having to face verbal nastiness from the most hypervigilant and self-nominated asshole representatives for trans persons on the internet and to some extent fear that the types of responses he received are worse for humanity than his indelicate misstep."

The reason I said that is because Bill is a nice guy who made honest mistake from a point of naivete which he apologized for as soon as he understood the impact, the forecast for Bill is good but the forecast for the minority of respondents who went straight to a place of anger or violence is not so great. I feel bad for people living with hair trigger anger in them; though I understand where it comes from.

It feels as if you're trying to shoehorn my statements into some particular schema of dismissiveness or defensiveness, I don't see it but perhaps I do fit in that schema. In any case I lack the energy to try more than I have to disabuse you of your poor perception of the opinions I have expressed.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 3:33 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is not really a comment on this story itself, but more an observation of things in general, but...

Nearly everything anyone says could be construed as offensive, to someone, somewhere.
posted by 13twelve at 3:37 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It feels as if you're trying to shoehorn my statements into some particular schema of dismissiveness or defensiveness, I don't see it but perhaps I do fit in that schema.

You may not realize how your statements are coming off. You basically have said this is not a big issue, Bill did not mean it, and what a pity it is that a few outliers who don't know how to behave made him feel bad.

This is an interpretation of the events, and an unjust one. I know Bill didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. I know some of the responses were heated. But, you know, when people who have been repeatedly insulted hear somebody repeat that insult, they sometimes get heated. Others didn't. And plenty of perfectly civil people spoke to Bill in civil ways, and represented a civil viewpoint, which is that "tranny" is hurtful. And Bill realized that he had hurt people without intended to, apologized, and took steps to educate himself.

This is not the case of a naif being terrorized into changing viewpoints because of a few loudmouthed, abusive assholes who forced a shrill, eccentric viewpoint onto him. And that's what it makes it sound like you think happened. Which is fair to neither Bill not the people who took issue with him.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:43 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


What a great apology--and I'm sure Bill Corbett will actually wind up benefiting from this whole series of events. This thread is probably not the only place on the internet where he's gettin' some love right now, and deservedly so.

There will always be those who complain about people who get offended, but what's the problem, anyway? If you feel offended and speak up, the worst that can possibly happen is that someone learns something. Never a bad result!
posted by snorkmaiden at 3:44 PM on July 17, 2012


Nearly everything anyone says could be construed as offensive, to someone, somewhere.

Sure. I imagine there is some weirdo who might be offended if I say "I like kittens."

But there is no longterm history of kittens, fans of kittens, or people who dislike kittens being systematically oppressed in this society, and so that statement doesn't continue a hurt that has been around for a long time. And that is the difference between simply being offended and asking that somebody be sensitive to groups that have gotten the short end of the stick for a really long time.

Here is a list of unlawfully killed trans people.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:46 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


"You may not realize how your statements are coming off."

No, I understand how you're interpeting my statements, I just don't understand why you're insisting on superimposing nonexistant verbiage.

"You basically have said this is not a big issue,"

I have never said it wasn't a big issue, I just noticed how it's an easy mistake to make in ignorance.

"This is not the case of a naif being terrorized into changing viewpoints because of a few loudmouthed, abusive assholes who forced a shrill, eccentric viewpoint onto him."

I never suggested this to be the case.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 3:49 PM on July 17, 2012


Bunny Ultramod you assume I'm condoning using the T word.

Which to be honest I was expecting. But kind of proves my hypothesis correct.
posted by 13twelve at 3:58 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I made no such assumption. I'm just pointing out that there is a difference between something being offensive to somebody for no good reason and somebody being offensive to a bunch of somebodies because they have been hurt by it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:37 PM on July 17, 2012


Hmm, did something about the T-word and how its perceived change in recent years? I don't know much at all about the transgender community but 10 years ago I had a friend in grad school in Boston who was a long-time female-to-male transgendered person and a veteran activist on transgender issues too ( made political films, organized talks etc) and he used the T-word quite often in normal conversation ( not ironically or performatively - he didn't have a strong ironic / camp or out-there sense of humor - he was almost always very earnest and serious in a gentle way) . Was he an outlier or did something change ?
posted by Bwithh at 1:36 PM on July 17 [+] [!]


I just remembered that my friend was African-American too (I totally overlooked this before cuz I just don't think that way!!!) and he would never never never think of using the N-word, even in its -igga form (he was really really earnest - maybe he would consider it for a specific political art/protest context or something), but was using the T-word causally all the time and never presented it as loaded. Anyway, times change and English is a living language & the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice etc etc.
posted by Bwithh at 4:43 PM on July 17, 2012


Bwithh - that's actually a really good parrallel with what goes on inside the trans* community with that word - there are some black people who feel like certain forms reclamation are necessary or that it means something different when spoken in the group and with allies, but they pretty much all agree that someone outside that group has zero business using it. similar rules apply.
posted by nadawi at 5:04 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an actual tranny, I get screamingly tired of all the controversy about terms and exactly what they mean. Many years ago, I figured out that there is simply no consensus about the definition and relative offensiveness of words like tranny, queer, transvestite, crossdresser, drag queen, et al, and that a lot of people waste way too much time arguing about this crap. So I don't pay attention to the word used, I pay attention to the intention. As long as somebody means well, I generally don't give a crap what word they use to describe somebody like me. (Of course there are exceptions and I will correct people if they're really off... Like if they referred to a transsexual as a transvestite, I'd politely let them know they were using a medically incorrect term.)

Maybe it IS a generational thing, but I've been using tranny without incident and seeing it all over the place for at least 15 years, and it seems like just in the last six months or so people have been freaking out about it. It would be one thing if this seemed like a debate that went way back, but if anything "tranny" has always seemed like one of the few words that didn't send people into a frothy rage. It's just such a silly, harmless word.

All that being said, I don't see anything wrong with Corbett's original joke. It seemed like it was pretty obviously a dis on Bay, and not on trans people. I might even have taken it as trans-friendly... He'd MUCH prefer that his kid has a tranny transformer, rather than a Michael Bay transformer. Well, so would I, if I had a kid!

The really ugly word in all this is cisgender. Yuck. Who the hell thought that one up? Always makes me think of cyts. Can't we just call them muggles or something?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:39 PM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod it becomes problematic when deciding what a good reason to be offended is, and isn't.

I have also always found such discussions around the certain communities using certain language internally but expressing contempt at people outside of that community using the same language, very frustrating too. If those words are in usage, but usage is barred to some - its not easy for people to know the rules of when and what they can and can't say. Is that discriminating against people who aren't in those communities?

I'm lucky to have never felt discriminated against so it probably makes anything I say irrelevant and possibly worse.
posted by 13twelve at 5:47 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


nadawi : but that word has fallen further out of favor and allies have to relearn.

Why?

My personal opinions on this issue aside, I mean that as a serious question.

Your non-allies won't give a damn what words you like or dislike (except insofar as your outright enemies will use the ones you least like); So why cycle back and forth from euphemisms to technical when it only drives your own side batty?

You made a great point about how the gay community reclaimed almost their entire linguistic territory, turning slurs into neutral words and thereby depriving their opponents of ammo. Why does that same reasoning not apply here?
posted by pla at 5:48 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod it becomes problematic when deciding what a good reason to be offended is, and isn't.

How?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:32 PM on July 17, 2012


Hey, I've been thinking of how to word/explain this for a while, and I'm still thinking through it, so this won't be perfect.

BUT.

I can actually understand how it comes about, but I see people fall back on "trans people are too sensitive" arguments a lot, and I'm kind of uncomfortable with that. Because 1) it's just not nice to assume you know more about another person's emotions, thoughts and lives than they do, 2) it's often attached to some, "Well, I don't hate anybody, but I just don't know about this transgender business" argument that the person arguing probably intends to look like a cautious middle ground but which comes across as transphobia and 3) like any other group, some trans are just assholes and it's disingenuous to associate their assholeness with their transness.

So, the best explanation I can come up with for the phenomena is: being trans is traumatic. Even if you're one of the lucky few who have a perfect transition, supportive family and friends, access to support networks and medical interventions, the experience is traumatic to some degree. The hurtfulness of the word "tranny" (and others) is often directly tied to traumatic experiences. It is not that we decide to be offended by it arbitrarily. It is triggering. It's a word commonly used against us, and many of us will have heard it used against us personally.

So, I guess, I'm sorry if a trans person reacted too harshly when you said something once that you didn't know was hurtful, but believe me--it almost certainly was hurtful, and no one is very eloquent when they're hurt or freaking out.

I think keeping that in mind will help the offense in seemingly innocuous incidents like this make more sense.
posted by byanyothername at 6:37 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why?

because part of being allies is shutting up and listening when the community you ally for says something hurts them. i don't use terms that i've been told are hurtful. i do use terms (like cisgendered) that signal i'm on their side. this takes absolutely nothing from me. i also accept that not everyone in the group agrees. that's not really a fight for the allies, though.

as to why reasoning is different - well, the gay community at large gets a ton more acceptance than the trans community, so the wounds are maybe more immediate on one side? also, while i consider myself genderqueer, i'm not negatively stigmatized by society like most trans people - so i don't really feel like it's my job to tell that group how to reason through their use or disdain of words that are used to describe them (and basically always used when they're being beaten or killed).
posted by nadawi at 6:49 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Matt Oneiros: "Transsexual, actually; I don't hear a lot of transvestite."

Ah, then that would be dubious derivation. Of course, it's hard to say what the precise derivation of a slang term like "tranny" is, but I'm reasonably certain it isn't derived from "transsexual".

burnmp3s: "Is there a more common/more accepted term for people who like cross-dressing but are otherwise cisgender? I thought that in that context the term transvestite was pretty harmless, such as when Eddie Izzard's Wikipedia article uses it."

The better word is one you've already hit on: crossdresser. Eddie Izzard uses "transvestite" for himself; more power to him. But very, very few people in the trans communities prefer that word, and regardless, if you're not trans (of whatever flavor) yourself, avoid using words that so often have negative connotations. When people who aren't part of the community use negative words, even if they're doing it in the spirit of being allies, it tends to reinforce the negative meanings rather than reclaim them.

Ursula Hitler: "The really ugly word in all this is cisgender. Yuck. Who the hell thought that one up? Always makes me think of cyts. Can't we just call them muggles or something?"

I don't know if it's possible not to have that argument again, but I'd certainly rather not.
posted by jiawen at 7:04 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


A few years ago, for a party where everyone was going to be crossdressing, I went to a friend's, who helped me put on one of her dresses and did my make up. The party was meeting in a bowling alley, in a part of town that was a bit run-down, but not so much that I ever previously felt unsafe.

My friend couldn't attend and while I was leaving her place, I suddenly froze on her porch, because just outside were some people, strangers, on the sidewalk out front, walking past. While I waited for them to go I realized it was after sundown, and I would have to drive there, stop at stoplights and stop signs on the way, find parking, walk to the place, through the place, and pass drunken strangers, and do it all over again to leave, alone; a man wearing a dress, costume jewelry, and some make-up (there was also a hat).

I felt a profound relief when I arrived at the party, unharassed (and, thinking back, probably unnoticed). I safely arrived home in the same costume too. Nonetheless, overall, it was an enlightening experience for me and gave me a sense of the world as it looks under constant fear. The experience reminded me of the always lingering anxiety from having a bully in the neighborhood who could suddenly turn up anywhere to make the nicest day miserable.

If I'm allowed a moral to this story, I'd like to have that we should be nicer to each other because everyone deserves better than to have to live in fear of the world every day.
posted by wobh at 7:36 PM on July 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I love Louis CK (bought tickets for his show in November) and his TDS interview was SO disappointing. I honestly expected some nuance from him, but what I got instead was someone acting like the uproar about rape is about "women's feelings" and not violent crime. I didn't even know what the fuck he was talking about, it was a complete limp-dishrag apology and I wished I hadn't watched it.

Bill Corbett, on the other hand, owned up to what happened and genuinely thought about what comedy does for people. Really beautiful and genuine and I set the bar so low after the Tosh nastiness that he blew my mind.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:48 PM on July 17, 2012


I am very much in favour of being kind and sensitive to the feelings of others, regardless of who or what or where or why they are. Further, I'm in general agreement with the idea that it is even more laudable to be conscious of not giving implicit consent to the oppression or denigration of minority groups through use of language that can demean. And it was sensitive of Mr Corbett to make an apparently heartfelt apology.

But I must admit something about this makes me uneasy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:17 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can you pinpoint what that is?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:58 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The really ugly word in all this is cisgender. Yuck. Who the hell thought that one up?

The prefix "cis-" is the opposite of "trans-". It's actually incredibly elegant and avoids stigmatization.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:26 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's weird about that is for a long time, when I saw the word "cisgendered", I just assumed it was a new term to replace transgendered- and not its opposite form. But if so, then doesn't the use of "cisgendered" imply support for the use of the term "transgendered"- which in this thread seems to still be up in the air as to its acceptability?
wobh: I felt a profound relief when I arrived at the party, unharassed (and, thinking back, probably unnoticed). I safely arrived home in the same costume too. Nonetheless, overall, it was an enlightening experience for me and gave me a sense of the world as it looks under constant fear. The experience reminded me of the always lingering anxiety from having a bully in the neighborhood who could suddenly turn up anywhere to make the nicest day miserable.
What I find interesting about this story is the element of fear, and its roots in anything actually tangible.

I don't know your neighborhood, but what if the reason you weren't harassed is because no one actually cared? And if that were true... then isn't the fear itself unfounded? And any courage or enlightenment felt for overcoming or dealing with the fear... that would be misplaced.
posted by hincandenza at 11:52 PM on July 17, 2012


hincandenza: "But if so, then doesn't the use of 'cisgendered' imply support for the use of the term 'transgendered'- which in this thread seems to still be up in the air as to its acceptability?"

Several points: 1) No, one doesn't necessarily follow from the other. 2) Some people object to the "-ed" participial ending; it makes it sound like being "transgendered" means someone somehow did transgender to us. By this rubric, the correct terms are "transgender" and "cisgender". 3) Some people (not necessarily the same people) also don't particularly like the form "transgender", for various reasons. Many people (some of whom don't particularly object to the term "transgender") prefer the term "trans", again for various reasons. By that coinage, the correct complement would be "cis". 4) Are you confusing "transgendered" with "transgender" or perhaps "tranny"? I don't see anyone in this thread particularly objecting to the term "transgender". Each of those three terms has different nuances and baggage.
posted by jiawen at 12:07 AM on July 18, 2012


Your point 3 alone shows that apparently there isn't agreement among the trans/transgender community to even say "trans" versus "transgender", while point 2 hovers over a basic usage of the English language (tattooed, pierced, et al), where almost no one who typed "transgendered" is doing so as some overt act of offensiveness. How could someone not immersed in that culture possibly keep up?

And that really is the point. This linguistic hairsplitting: is that the most important thing? If you decide that the -ed is of critical importance, don't you end up spending your energy correcting people who would be the ones voting for trans rights in the ballot box, or supporting trans people who are seeking housing or employment or government services, free from discrimination?
posted by hincandenza at 12:53 AM on July 18, 2012


f you decide that the -ed is of critical importance, don't you end up spending your energy correcting people who would be the ones voting for trans rights in the ballot box, or supporting trans people who are seeking housing or employment or government services, free from discrimination?

Can we stop throwing around the myth that asking people to be careful about their use of language is going to alienate our allies. I see it all the time on this site, never supported.

You know something? I'm one of those people. I'm one of those voters. And I want to be corrected if I blunder through ignorance. Because that's what being a supporter means.

Good grief. You would think the most alienating thing someone can do is correct an error. How much more humiliating would it be just to let somebody err in ignorance for ages, only to find out later that they have inadvertently been insulting people for years?

Wait? I can't use the phrase colored people for black people? I HAVE BEEN USING IT FOR THIRTY YEARS AND BEEN WRONG? WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME?

Well, they thought you might get huffy and leave. We just can't trust people to be an adult about this, and our need for support is so enormous, and our supporters so shallow, well, we just can't afford to alienate anybody, even accidentally. That guy over there still uses the n-word, but every so often he sends a check for $10 to the NAACP, so we're not going to say anything to him.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:19 AM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pope Guilty: " The prefix "cis-" is the opposite of "trans-". It's actually incredibly elegant and avoids stigmatization.

It still sounds like cysts.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:57 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So does "sis" and "sits."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:59 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


hincandenza: "And that really is the point. This linguistic hairsplitting: is that the most important thing? If you decide that the -ed is of critical importance, don't you end up spending your energy correcting people who would be the ones voting for trans rights in the ballot box, or supporting trans people who are seeking housing or employment or government services, free from discrimination?"

As Bunny Ultramod said, that's a false dichotomy. It's possible to pursue many ends at the same time. And sure, not every trans, transgender, etc. person agrees on terminology -- what, you expect us to reach some sort of hive mind consensus before we discuss anything with cis people?
posted by jiawen at 2:07 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Certain words [...] have a legacy of use which (despite any grey areas in acceptable use) suggests to any reasonably educated English speaker that they should at least tread cautiously.

For example, by not bouncing them into a thread to add leverage to one's point in a totally unrelated argument?

I get that people tend to construct and self-certify all sorts of rules about when, where and how they get to use the one word they don't get to use pretty much whenever and however they like, and "a serious debate on the Internets" is one of those permitted areas, but dude. That's your opening move? The inverse N-bomb with pike?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:41 AM on July 18, 2012


That guy over there still uses the n-word, but every so often he sends a check for $10 to the NAACP, so we're not going to say anything to him.

Call me a hypocrite, but at least admit that support for African-American organizations which oppose systemic inequities has done a lot more for racial progress than the fact that most people don't use the n-word anymore.

I get that ten bucks isn't worth much. But is lip service really worth that much more?
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 2:58 AM on July 18, 2012


But if so, then doesn't the use of "cisgendered" imply support for the use of the term "transgendered"- which in this thread seems to still be up in the air as to its acceptability?

It's acceptable, but calling somebody "transgendered" is equivalent to calling somebody "homosexual" rather than "gay", a bit old fashioned, sometimes a warning that the person using it is not a friend, may cause offence with people who dislike the gender(ed) part. Of course, you run the risk with whatever label you use to identify somebody else as a trans* person. There is no one label that the whole community will find acceptable, providing there even is such a thing as one community, but then there never is.

There also isn't the One True Trans Person who can give us poor cis sinners absolution for our mistakes/offences or carte blanche to use what we think is right, so whatever you use might annoy people.

Tranny or trannie are different, because of the confusion between transvestite/transgender and its use as a slur and porn label, yet even then there are regional and generational differences. Best not to use it if you're cisgendered.

And that really is the point. This linguistic hairsplitting: is that the most important thing?

I don't know; how important is it to you that I spell hincandenza correctly and uncapitalised when I refer to you?
posted by MartinWisse at 3:11 AM on July 18, 2012


Call me a hypocrite, but at least admit that support for African-American organizations which oppose systemic inequities has done a lot more for racial progress than the fact that most people don't use the n-word anymore.

You can do both of course.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:12 AM on July 18, 2012


Pope Guilty : The prefix "cis-" is the opposite of "trans-". It's actually incredibly elegant and avoids stigmatization.

Just like "Moron", "Idiot", and "Retard", all nice technical terms that elegantly avoided stigmatization?

To actually answer the question, though, it borrows a term from chemistry, where you define a plane as running through the skeleton of the molecule, then any pair of functional groups hanging off can either lean to the same side (cis) or the opposite side (trans).
posted by pla at 3:23 AM on July 18, 2012


I feel bad for him for having to face verbal nastiness from the most hypervigilant and self-nominated asshole representatives for trans persons on the internet and to some extent fear that the types of responses he received are worse for humanity than his indelicate misstep.

Yeah, but that's because you're looking at the whole chain of events from his point of view, where he already knows he's no bigot, just innocently ignorant and all this comes as a shock.

Now imagine you're a trans person who has only seen tranny used as another word for "chicks with dicks" porn and/or as insult, often by "edgy" comedians. Here comes along another asshole who thinks it's funny ha ha that his kid is playing with a tranny doll and that still is better than playing with a Michael Bay transformer (and yes, the joke does depend on "tranny" being something to be ashamed off.) Would you be inclined to stay civil?

It was Bill Corbett who started to insult people, out of ignorance rather than malice and it is a very good thing that he realised that and made amends in as far as he was possible; I can't blame anybody who insulted him back.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:29 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod: So does "sis" and "sits."

My point was that we could've chosen any word to refer to them, and somebody stuck us with one that sounds cruddy.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:41 AM on July 18, 2012


We've already done the "but it sounds horrible" discussion at some length previously, I think. Cistertian, cisalpine, sysadmin, sister... some people don't like a particular phoneme, some like it, some don't care. "Cisgender" is a back-formation (sort of like "underwhelmed") based on an existing term, so the prefix options were limited. Personally, I think it sounds better than "non-transgender", but that's just a personal viewpoint.

I don't know; how important is it to you that I spell hincandenza correctly and uncapitalised when I refer to you?

I think it's also worth noting that hincandenza is generally not (to the best of my knowledge) subject to economic and social discrimination because of his ... hincandenziness?

Whereas trans people are often harassed, attacked and indeed killed because they are trans. And, to hit the NAACP/n-word discussion above, it's pretty much agreed that recognizing the right of disadvantaged groups to have some say in what it's socially acceptable to call them is part of a large and complex set of things that helps to push back discrimination. Targeting and critiquing the use of racial pejoratives is not some derail to the progress of equality - they are part of the ongoing process of achieving equality.

So, if you find yourself saying that trans people, by asking for adjustments to the way they are spoken about, are testing the patience of people who are supportive of them, then the unspoken message is that support for trans rights is conditional - that if you get annoyed enough with the actions of individual trans people then it is not only inevitable but also appropriate that support be withdrawn from the cause of social justice for trans people in general.

That's an awkward position to adopt. If it's true, it's unfortunate. But, as Bunny Ultramod says upthread, I don't think it's true. More precisely, I think that if there are people who want [group suffering prejudice] to stop hassling them about nomenclature as a condition of continuing to oppose prejudice, then those people are unlikely, in the clinch, to be the supporters that group can count on.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:51 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


You can do both of course.

Okay. I'm responding to the poster who said he wouldn't let someone of the hook for using the n-word just because the person supported an African-American organization.

Seems we're fixating on cosmetic things here. Just my opinion.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 3:51 AM on July 18, 2012


It's almost as if the $5 I paid to join MeFi doesn't get me off the hook if I call you a [expletive deleted] [#$@&!] [expletive deleted] who should know better than to [really gross and incredibly offensive expletive deleted]!
posted by MartinWisse at 6:09 AM on July 18, 2012


It's almost as if hectoring people into using acceptable terminology makes discrimination magically disappear.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 6:12 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure you've misunderstood what Bunny Ultramod was saying, Fritz. He wasn't saying that he wouldn't let someone off the hook for [etc]. He was saying that someone who donated to the NAACP would probably want to be told if they were using offensive language. Here's what he wrote:
How much more humiliating would it be just to let somebody err in ignorance for ages, only to find out later that they have inadvertently been insulting people for years?

Wait? I can't use the phrase colored people for black people? I HAVE BEEN USING IT FOR THIRTY YEARS AND BEEN WRONG? WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME?

Well, they thought you might get huffy and leave. We just can't trust people to be an adult about this, and our need for support is so enormous, and our supporters so shallow, well, we just can't afford to alienate anybody, even accidentally. That guy over there still uses the n-word, but every so often he sends a check for $10 to the NAACP, so we're not going to say anything to him.
The second and third paragraphs should probably be in quotes, as they are a pair of different character voices - that of the anti-racist who has been accidentally using offensive language, and that of the anti-racist who has been afraid to tell him for fear of alienating him from the cause of anti-racism.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:35 AM on July 18, 2012


Come on dude, by now you must be deliberately missing the point. Really, how difficult is it to understand that being a "good guy" (ie. donating money to the NAACP) is not an indulgence for calling your Black neighbour a noogie?

That words matter and can hurt?

Not a difficult subject to grasp, surely?
posted by MartinWisse at 6:38 AM on July 18, 2012


Come on dude, by now you must be deliberately missing the point.

Then we're even. Because I never made the point that "You can't both support organizations that advocate for minorities and use acceptable terminology," but that's what you made it sound like I was saying.

Hey, I think people should avoid using insulting terms for members of marginalized communities. But things don't get better for the disenfranchised just because we shame everyone into using acceptable names for them. Not difficult to grasp, surely?
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 6:46 AM on July 18, 2012


Actually, I'd like to see your proof on that.

Because, actually, I think things _do_ get better for the disenfranchised if people are shamed into using non-offensive names for them. Because they are no longer being called offensive names in the street, for example. Because they can go to work and know that their HR department will take their side if somebody who wants their job uses racist abuse, say, to try to make their working life worse.

And I think there are knock-on effects of that - when people stop being able to express hateful views in particular ways, it makes it harder to perpetuate hateful cultures - in schools, in workplaces, in social spaces. The civil rights movement targets hate speech for a reason - it's not just doing it on a whim.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:04 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]



Seems we're fixating on cosmetic things here. Just my opinion.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 3:51 AM on July 18 [+] [!]




"...the thought of causing her further pain in life breaks my heart."

Mr Corbett wasn't dithering over whether linguistics were cosmetic, or important. He was acknowledging that he had caused another human pain, and expressing his sorrow for inadvertently doing so.

In the face of that, why would you try to trivialize peoples' reaction to this? Corbett clearly isn't looking to defend his words, and from the tone of the article I think he'd be saddened that other people felt it was necessary or desirable to do so.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


when people stop being able to express hateful views in particular ways, it makes it harder to perpetuate hateful cultures - in schools, in workplaces, in social spaces.

Well, I'd like to see your proof on that, because it seems to me that it makes it easier to perpetuate. Has racism gone away because no one uses the n-word anymore? Or do policies that harm the already disenfranchised just get dressed up in race-neutral camouflage? The governor of Florida wouldn't think of using the n-word in public, but he's openly pushing policies that will keep millions of those people out of the ballot box in November.

Discrimination isn't a bad thing because it hurts people's feelings, it's a bad thing because it keeps people from positions of legitimacy and influence in their community. It's easy to pat ourselves on the back for making cosmetic changes to currently acceptable terminology for minorities. It's hard work actually changing the way society deals with them.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 8:20 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for him for having to face verbal nastiness from the most hypervigilant and self-nominated asshole representatives for trans persons on the internet and to some extent fear that the types of responses he received are worse for humanity than his indelicate misstep.


When I read things like this I get the impression that for some people, any kind of correction or chastisement at all equates to verbal nastiness. The feeling of being corrected by someone else is just too cutting to react to with anything except outraged pain. It seems to me that that kind of exquisite sensitivity may be a result of a life where there is no one whom you respect enough to check you, no consideration for the possibility that your judgment may not in all cases be superior to everybody else's.

That experience though is not universal. For many of us, we are used to going along, making mistakes, *having those mistakes corrected by others*, accepting their input and even its jarring effect on our self-image, and keeping going, hopefully wiser and not much worse for the wear. Or, to hear the criticism, and even if we are not completely swayed by it, to accept it as a representation of how some people respond to us, to give the criticize-r the same benefit of the doubt about their motives and intelligence as we would like to have, and to prioritize good relationships above getting into arguments about whose feelings are Wrong.

It's really a lot to do to expect the whole world to walk on eggshells around your ego.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:37 AM on July 18, 2012


Salamandrous: certainly not my intent, I think if you take a moment to parse what I've said in total you'll find that I am not asking anyone to "walk on eggshells around [my, or anyone's] ego."

To re-state something I said upthread "the forecast for Bill is good but the forecast for the minority of respondents who went straight to a place of anger or violence is not so great. I feel bad for people living with hair trigger anger in them; though I understand where it comes from." Naturally I make an assumption about the worst of what was sent in the fellow's direction, but knowing what aggression on the internet looks like... the types of statements seem estimable.

I completely and utterly resign from this conversation, though, as it seems as if no nuance in my prior statements will be read and no additional revisions or clarifications I provide can suitably articulate my position to the present audience.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:38 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has racism gone away because no one uses the n-word anymore?

You may be coming at this from a sheltered position - or the post-racial wonderland we all live in nowadays, I guess - but just FYI people do still use the n-word. However, it's generally a good thing that they tend not to feel able to use hate speech in the workplace, or on national TV, because doing so a) contributes to a perception of the victims of hate speech as less deserving of equal and respectful treatment, b) normalizes the use of hate speech and c) makes members of minority populations feel both unhappy and often actually threatened.

Discrimination isn't a bad thing because it hurts people's feelings, it's a bad thing because it keeps people from positions of legitimacy and influence in their community. It's easy to pat ourselves on the back for making cosmetic changes to currently acceptable terminology for minorities. It's hard work actually changing the way society deals with them.

What is being said - and it should not actually be hard to understand, unless one is trying ever so hard not to - is that one can oppose lots of different forms of discrimination at once and, indeed, that it makes sense to do so. This is why civil rights are advanced both by the end of segregation and by racially abusive language being removed from the workplace and by an end to voter intimidation. These are all part of the same hard work.

It seems weird to suggest that they aren't, or that if you see value in one of them you are "patting yourself on the back", or have no interest in other expressions of equality or social justice - that seems to be a remarkably bad-faith assumption.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:31 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


What is being said - and it should not actually be hard to understand, unless one is trying ever so hard not to - is that one can oppose lots of different forms of discrimination at once and, indeed, that it makes sense to do so.

As long as we're talking about willful misunderstanding here, I'll say once again that you're refuting a point I never made.

I'm done with this.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 11:03 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh. You're saying that curbing people's sense of freedom to use racist language actually helps to perpetuate racism.

it seems to me that it makes it easier to perpetuate


That's a thesis I have never successfully seen evidenced, almost always advanced by people who are not in the risk group for racial abuse within their culture, and in the face of people who _are_ in the risk groups feeling that calling out and standing up against hate speech is one of a broad range of activities that together represent the fight for equality and social justice.

I suspect also that the USA is at least institutionally less racist now than it was in 1960, when the public use of racial epithets was far more acceptable, but correlation/causation, potayto/potahto.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:15 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't get the objection to "cis." "Trans" is Latin for "across," "cis" is Latin for "on the same side." It is the exact linguistic opposite, and a perfectly natural choice.

By using "cisgendered" in opposition to "transgendered" and "cissexed" in opposition to "transsexed," the effect is that, hey, look, here are these two different experiences of gender and sex, whereas before the "cis" prefix came into usage, "trans" was understood to be opposite of default, of "normal," of "standard." That usage others transpeople, reifying their status as outcasts.

Culturally, we have a lot of "default" settings. White is default (remember when black dolls were commercially unavailable?). Male is default ("mankind," etc.). Heterosexual is default (why heterosexuals don't generally have to "come out" to their loved ones). Every one of these cultural defaults is harmful in the way that it others people who don't fit its narrow confines, and leads to both in-group and out-group people seeing the out-group as less-than.

We've made some progress in weakening those defaults, but they're still very much in evidence (see, for example, the many, many references to "the gay community," as if men-who-love-men are the only ones who count among LGBTQI folks). This is just one more attempt to take away some of the power of one of those cultural defaults that are so harmful.
posted by notashroom at 11:57 AM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Honestly most of the complaints I've heard about "cis" are some variation on "I'm normal! I don't want to have a label like those queers!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:13 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


We don't stop using racist language because doing so ends racism. We stop using racist language because it is fucking obnoxious.

Jesus. Does everything have to end racism?

I'm sorry, I'm not going to study black history. Has black history month ended racism?

I'm sorry, I don't vote. Has voting ended racism?

I'm sorry, I don't do math. Has math ended racism?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:15 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honestly most of the complaints I've heard about "cis" are some variation on "I'm normal! I don't want to have a label like those queers!"

I've heard "I'm a gay man - I get labelled by people all the time, and I don't want any label I haven't pre-approved" - which I kind of get, but which feels like a heck of an ask (does one require individual consent for tall, short, blue-eyed, Scottish and so on?)...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:07 PM on July 18, 2012


Pope Guilty : Honestly most of the complaints I've heard about "cis" are some variation on "I'm normal! I don't want to have a label like those queers!"

Bullshit. "Cis" sounds funny because we simply don't normally use it in English - Unlike "trans", where we have words derived therefrom throughout our modern language - Aside from "transsexual", we have "transportation", "transit", "transaction", "translate"... I could go on.

Outside of chemistry, can you think of any normal words with "cis-" as a prefix? Would you ever say "cisportation" to mean taking a carriage ride around the park and ending up back where you started? "cisit" to refer to Venus just sort of hanging out near one side of the sun? "cisaction" to describe depositing a check from yourself into your own account? "cislate" as a synonym for paraphrasing a sentence?

No. No, you wouldn't. And that sums up why people think it sounds bizarre and off-putting to call them "cissexual".

Now me... I actually kinda like it, because the more Latin we can get back into conventional usage, the better. But then, I once got scolded for using the word "females" on the Blue. ;)
posted by pla at 3:07 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


[ We have done the cis argument before - if we really need to do it again, it should go in MetaTalk.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:39 PM on July 18, 2012


(Quick Latin note: - "trans" has the sense of both location and motion - so, transport, translate are all verbs of motion - porto, eo, fero - using the meaning of "across" rather than "on the other side of". Whereas the use of "cis" as describing motion (with the accusative case) is very rare - it's almost always used positionally - "on the near side of". So, transportation is one use of trans, transalpine another - cis- is antonymic to the latter, not the former.

This doesn't have any bearing on the argument. It's just why you don't have words like cisport and cisit - because they wouldn't work in Latin.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:59 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


(transport, transit, translate, rather - the first supine form of transeo (I go across) is transitum, and of transfero (I carry across) translatum.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:02 PM on July 18, 2012


How in all the nine hells did we end up with people arguing in a thread about someone appreciating an apology?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos : How in all the nine hells did we end up with people arguing in a thread about someone appreciating an apology?

Because the thread passed 10 comments? ;)

Yeah, probably better to just forget PG and I said anything. Aside from the cool Latin lesson, I don't see this going anywhere good.
posted by pla at 6:19 PM on July 18, 2012


hincandenza: "I don't know your neighborhood, but what if the reason you weren't harassed is because no one actually cared? And if that were true... then isn't the fear itself unfounded? And any courage or enlightenment felt for overcoming or dealing with the fear... that would be misplaced."

I don't think wobh was congratulating himself for making it through a bad neighborhood in drag. Whether he was actually in danger or not, he was facing an anxiety that actual trans people have to deal with, and he learned something from it. He didn't say he came away "enlightened" by the experience, but I'd argue that he did learn something valuable from the experience.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:31 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


hincandenza I don't know your neighborhood, but what if the reason you weren't harassed is because no one actually cared? And if that were true... then isn't the fear itself unfounded? And any courage or enlightenment felt for overcoming or dealing with the fear... that would be misplaced.

Perhaps, I should have made this plainer: I'm not proud of my experience, but ashamed. My enlightenment wasn't that I gained bravery or self-knowledge (although I hope I did), but that I gained empathy. There are people counter-gendering all the time, some are visitors, tourists, but others are residents. Even so, cross-dressing is still a radical act in our society because our prejudice and fear—my prejudice and fear—is what makes life difficult for anyone crossing the gender line, fostering everything from indifference and ignorance through disgust, harassment, and violence.

An infinite number of things didn't happen to me that night, but one thing that definitely did happen was that I became mortally afraid of being harassed or beaten up because I was man, dressed as a woman, going out and about town. I had no idea how much my day-to-day sense of safety and comfort derived from mere conformity and complacency. Life lessons over.
posted by wobh at 6:36 PM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


How in all the nine hells did we end up with people arguing in a thread about someone appreciating an apology?

I know, it's so WEIRD. Fantastic ending because the person was a true ally who recognized the humanity of others, and loads of people arguing he shouldn't have to and that words that sound vaguely like other words they don't like are bad.

So. Weird.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:25 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


How in all the nine hells did we end up with people arguing in a thread about someone appreciating an apology?

I don't know but I am adding "all the nine hells" to my verbal repertoire.
posted by sweetkid at 2:39 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Deoridhe: "Fantastic ending because the person was a true ally who recognized the humanity of others, and loads of people arguing he shouldn't have to and that words that sound vaguely like other words they don't like are bad."

Just because I think the original controversy was kind of silly, that doesn't mean I don't admire Corbett for how he's handled it. I'm not diminishing what he did. And the whole flap started because people were outraged about a word they found offensive. I don't think it was a huge derail to remark that cisgender bites. No, it's not an offensive, loaded word. It just sounds cruddy.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:00 AM on July 21, 2012


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