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04/05/2007

And by 'queer bait' I meant 'a strange fishing lure'

by Jeremy Hooper

Tx PackerWell, we knew sportscaster Billy Packer would eventually respond to the heat he's taken for his "fag out" comments. However, we had assumed that when he did, he'd be a little more sensitive about why his words could be seen as insulting. This from Philadelphia Inquirer's Mark Narducci:

"I said he fagged out on me, and it had nothing to do with sexual connotation," Packer, 67, said Wednesday in a phone interview. "I got to know Charlie a number of years ago and have great admiration for his program and intellect."

Dictionary.com defines "fag out" as meaning "to tire or weary by labor; exhaust." Which is what Packer said he meant.

"I can assure you I will use that phrase again and I won't think twice about it," he said.

Okay, so we had always given him the benefit of the doubt on this one and fully expected he would deny any homophobia was at play. But we must admit that we find his "I won't think twice about using it" quote both unnecessary and arrogant. Why wouldn't he just say, "Yea, I understand why it sounds anti-gay and I probably should have chosen another term"? Is it really a less cumbersome phrase than "tire out" or "exhaust?"

We consider ourselves quite the wordsmiths, and yet we were completely unfamiliar with the term "fag out." It's certainly not common, and judging by the flood of emails and comments we've received regarding this situation, many, many people thought it was a homophobic sentiment. Is it really worth defending a very obscure phrase that contains such an uber-insulting word? It just seems like a pointlessly hostile way to respond, that's all.

Packer says he wasn't being homophobic [Narducci via Charlotte.com]

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Your thoughts

I love your site and read it every day. It's humorous, thoughtful, and yes, irreverent. I have to take issue with the Billy Packer story though. "Fagged out" meaning "tired" is not that obscure, at least to me. Being offended at an entirely different meaning of the word "fag" is a little laughable, just as the uproar over the use of the word "niggardly" by a university employee was. We can work to defuse the meaning of the word "fag" when used as an insult to a gay man, but we have no business condemning anyone from using any other meanings of the word. It's a bit silly.

Posted by: Bob in Philly | Apr 9, 2007 12:34:55 PM

Forgive me, but I hardly think I'm condemning Mr. Packer for using the term. In fact, in the initial post, I gave him nothing but the benefit of the doubt, asking readers to submit their own thoughts. And judging by the hundreds of emails we received, "fagged out" is not a common term to the vast majority. All we were seeking was a response from Packer to clarify.

Then nn this post, I'm not condemning Packer for using another meaning of the word "fag"; all I'm saying is that his particular response to the questioning is unwarranted. Just like with "niggardly," people are going to take this phrase the wrong way -- that's just the way it is. The "n word" and the "F word" pack a big wallop in the minds of many. It just seems silly from him to not acknowledge how easy it is to confuse the meaning! Again, MANY people did take his words the wrong way, and not just in the gay world -- loads of sports columnists and bloggers chastised him for the comments as well! By being so aggressive with the whole "I can assure you I will use that phrase again and I won't think twice about it" response, Packer makes it sound like those who were offended were being completely out of line and that he is unapologetic about any unintended offense. A simple, "Yea, that word DOES sound a little offensive, but I can assure you I meant none," would have ended any and all discussion.

SO...I agree that he should not be condemned for using a word or phrase that is acceptable but sounds possibly offensive. But at the same time, I don't want people who were rubbed the wrong way to be made to look like their disturbance was unwarranted.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 9, 2007 1:05:37 PM

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