Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A New Dawn

Let's welcome John Hannoush, my only regular reader, to the blogosphere. Particularly as I suspect that one motivation is irritation at seeing his devastating takedowns of my halfbaked notions buried in comments. Witness this on the Pyne/Gillard gay thing.
John says
"But this raises a further question: can a verbal attack be homophobic unless the attacker is homophobic, that is, someone who has a "fear or hatred of homosexuals and homosexuality"? I doubt that Chris is suggesting that Julia Gillard fears or hates homosexuals. So if there is an offence here we need a different word to describe it (at risk of draining the word used of meaning)."

I would myself say that the answer to the first question was yes, a verbal attack could be judged to be homophobic on an objective standard regardless of the actual emotions of the user.
I can remember getting a letter published by the Age some years ago covering a related point; an Age journalist was defending George Bush against charges of homophobia by saying exactly that Bush was not actually affected by it himself, having many gay friends in his private life; to which I replied that that made things worse, in that he was deliberately saying things he knew were false for political gain. Admittedly, that last has many points on the spectrum, from endorsing the party platform through to lying to the House, but still.
But on the nomenclature issue, let's say you have a 1920s southern politician who is himself entirely at ease with blacks but still feels it politically necessary to join in a lynching; he may not be, in the eyes of god (adjust the concept for atheism, but you know what I mean), a racist, but the act is still a hate crime.
I think you can speak of homophobic language.

1 comment:

John Hannoush said...

Thanks for the welcome. Nah, I am generally happy to leave comments as comments. But if we use trackback and cross-referencing it will give us both the illusion of wide readership!

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