Can You Hear Me Whisper Now?

n marquee boldface, a revised Verizon customer agreement arrived in customer’s email boxes last night, screamed that contract language was changed as part of settling a class-action lawsuit and that, “UNLESS YOU TELL US THAT YOU PREFER YOUR EXISTING CONTRACT LANGUAGE, HOWEVER, THIS NEW CUSTOMER AGREEMENT WILL REPLACE YOUR EXISTING CONTRACT LANGUAGE.”

The Verizon CSR we reached didn’t know what exactly had changed and shunted us to a recorded line. The audiograph informed us that the agreement’s phrasing was altered to detail how to use the phone as well as to further delimit the Verizon service. They also pointed us to this website section all about the lawsuit. Great, so, can anyone say what’s different? Well, it has nothing to do with how much you pay or how you’re billed or minutes or anything to do with money, so they won’t tell us. Shutup and eat your electromagnetic radiation.

Photo snapped by someone at Pride NYC ’06, documenting the cellphone company’s redundant efforts to demonstrate how gay they are.

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  1. Transuranic says:

    Fuck, Beavis, do you ever tire of inane verbal abuse of my people? Cause I do. Huhhuh, they’re so gay they’re at a GAY PARADE. I’m waiting for you to show us what niggardly Jew-baiters you are, too.

    Countdown to comment being removed by fearful pussies hiding behind a social firewall … 3..2..1…

  2. Ben Popken says:

    Trans, come now, you know we’re just being campy.

  3. Transuranic says:

    Oooh, so I get the “we’re just respecting you faggots – using your own brand of Will-n-Grace-legitimated humor” excuse instead. Nigger, please.

  4. Shaggy says:

    Sorry, Ben, I gotta agree with Trans. It’s getting kind of old.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Greg writes:

    “I’ve got to also agree with Transuranic’s comments. Using “gay” as an
    epithet went out when you graduated middle school, or around 1985,
    whichever came first.

    c.f. http://geeketiquette.infotrope.net/archives/2005/11/22/ant

    Unfortunately, the best way that I can find to impress this upon you is
    to deprive you of some marginally-fractional ad revenue that my clicks
    generate, by de-subscribing from your ad-supported RSS feed. Seeya!

    Regards

  6. julian says:

    Snarky good, homophobic, bad.

  7. Elvisisdead says:

    It’s only homophobic to overly sensitive people. Two of my best friends are gay. They call me a breeder, and I point out when things are, indeed, gay. It’s even more funny to us when you can work in the double entendre of both meanings of gay into a comment. However, they’re not typical. One’s in the military, and both are Republicans.

    That being said, I will object very loudly and vigorously when any complaints about the Nabisco operation refer to anything as a “cracker”. The “Monkey Chow” piece was incredibly racist, as well. There sure as shit better not be any references to “spooks” in October or in relation to James Bond, either.

    It’s a word. The only power it has is what you give it.

  8. Transuranic says:

    Right Elvis, I’m the drama queen here. Look vanilla, maybe I can splain you something –

    There’s a wide gap between the two “gay” uses – one’s simply annoying probably started by black males and thus since they have a monopoly on ‘outsider’ identity will probably become the norm. The other is the personal identity that gay people learn to use affirmatively.

    It’s not up to me to update my usage. I’m fine with both as long as they’re not conflated – even if the original intent was to do so, we adults can keep them separate without dogging people. Consumerist editors conflating the two is dorked enough (it sucks they have to reach for humor like that). But then co-opting an image from our yearly weekend turf (struggle, civil rights, etc) was just too Beavis to let pass.

    Oh, and Elvis – I guess your logic and your friends’ poor social choices means that, since I pay rent in DC and I’m nice to my neighbors, I can call them all NIGGERS? Like, to their face and then if they get upset they’re just uppity? Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

    Over and done.

  9. yumyum says:

    consumerist is gay.

  10. GenXCub says:

    One reason I stopped going to big city gay pride parades is that it’s just a long line of corporate sponsors and politicians.

  11. moejuda says:

    I have to agree with Transuranic here. You guys are smart enough not to have to resort to this sort of thing for humor. I look forward to the day when using the term ‘gay’ in that connotation is as revolting as the term ‘spic’ or ‘nigger’ are to most educated people today.

  12. Ben Popken says:

    Chris writes:

    “Has anyone (gay, straight, black,white, green, blue, short or tall) figured out what the changes in the TOS were or are they still too busy arguing over whether or not ‘gay’ was the right word to use.

    Maybe you should have used ‘ghey’ http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ghey

  13. RandomHookup says:

    This is better than Digg. Just include an indicator for the audience to tell you if a cliche has passed its prime. I understand Gawker Media is always looking for ways to trim an editor or two anyway.

  14. yumyum says:

    No no no, has anyone considered that The Consumerist is actually gay? Who’s the homophobe now?

  15. ModerateSnark says:

    At first I just wanted to ask what happened after Verizon contacted Ben about the $1000 fine request sent in with his phone bill. There was supposed to be some kind of an exchange with a Verizon official and a report to follow. I guess it never happened…

    Then I read the comments.

    I understand Transuranic’s point about conflating the two meanings of the word “gay,” but I’m not sure his racial slur examples make sense. After all, if both uses of “gay” are acceptable individually, than neither of those two usages is a slur against gay people. Only the conflating of the two meanings is the problem, right?

    I’d offer this as something to think about: This conflation is like saying “the cellphone company’s redundant efforts to demonstrate how retarded they are” and using an image that shows Verizon sponsoring the Special Olympics. Or try the same thing with mentally challenged, the PC term, in place of retarded.

    Now, is that offensive, funny, or both with the word “retarded”? How about with the words “mentally challenged,” which are PC words like “gay”? I’m not sure, but I think it is a better example for comparison than the racial slurs thrown around.

    (No, I’m not comparing gayness to retardation, only trying to find an example of words that are acceptable to describe members of a group in one context, but can be used as a criticism in another context. And then conflating the two.)

    For a racial example, try this:
    Say something about a “black mark against Verizon,” illustrate with a picture of a black guy. Or say something about an “African-American mark against Verizon” and illustrate with an African-American guy.

    I am losing the ability to tell if I am making a good point or not, so I’ll shut up now.

  16. Scott says:

    At this point, there are really only two reasons why Ben/Consumerist continues to use the word “gay” in such a negative light: because they truly are meatheads, and/or they’re looking for a “comments explosion.”

    Every time Consumerist uses anti-gay rhetoric, the post is inundated with comments. Since Consumerist is the Gawker Media red-headed step child, I’m guessing it’s a case of “negative attention is better than no attention.” Bensumerist gets to have a high response rate to a post, compared to the lackluster response to his usual sub-par fare…

    Anyway, here’s something to ponder for the non mouth-breathers among us: last summer, I was watching a CNN story about skinheads. They put a skinhead website on-screen, and they blurred out all instances of the words “nigger” and “kike,” but showed every instance of the word “faggot.” And that’s the so-called liberal media. We can’t expect anything better from the NASCAR klan writing for this site.

  17. ModerateSnark says:

    Having thought about it a little more, I guess the point I was trying to make is that, although there are hundreds or thousands of words that have multiple meanings and can be conflated, made into puns, or used in various other forms of wordplay, “gay” is a rather special word, with a unique history that means different people will react very differently to its use.

    Compare the history of “gay” with the history of “queer.”

    “gay” started out as an affirmation, if you will, having nothing to do with sexual orientation, as in “All is right with the world! I feel so happy and gay!” (Well, at least a straight woman could say that in the past. Seriously, as hard to imagine as it is now, a straight man could, too.)

    Then “gay” was adopted, knowing its positive connotations, as a tag to describe sexual orientation, as in “the Gay community,” or “Is Tom Cruise actually gay?”

    Then “gay” became, admittedly partly as a result of its use for sexual orientation, a mild pejorative, which might have nothing do do with sexual orientation, as in “Tom Cruise is really gay.” …OK, I conflated again. Better example: “Some episodes of South Park are funny; others are just gay.”

    “gay” has never really been a slur.

    In summary, “gay”: non-s.o. affirmation -> s.o. tag -> non-s.o. pejorative (never s.o. slur).

    OK, now for comparison, the history of “queer”:

    “queer” started out as a mild pejorative which had nothing to do with sexual orientation, as in “the sky is a queer color today.”

    Then “queer” became a slur to describe sexual orientation, as in “them gay guys over thar is a buncha queers!” (Sadly, many hillbillies descended from pirates are intolerant.)

    Then, partly as an attempt to reduce the power of the word as a slur, it was adopted as a tag by its targets, as in “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.”

    “queer” has never really been an affirmation having nothing to do with sexual orientation.

    In summary, “queer”: non-s.o. pejorative -> s.o. slur -> s.o. tag (never non-s.o. affirmation).

    “queer” is easier to compare to other slurs than “gay,” since “gay” has never really been a slur, but it still gets complicated, so I won’t go any further into that.

    I know this doesn’t really give my opinion as to whether juxtaposing two meanings of “gay” should be harmless wordplay or offensive, but I don’t really know, and I don’t think it’s up to me to decide. I hope it gives some context to ask the right questions: Does conflating two meanings of “gay,” neither of which by itself is a slur, elevate the word to a slur? Or is it just a pun? And if your audience is offended by your use of words, should you bow to their wishes and look elsewhere for humor, or continue to express yourself as you see fit, comfortable with the idea that you “don’t mean anything by it”?

  18. Scott says:

    ModerateSnark: I understand what you’re getting at by discussing the etymology, but wouldn’t you agree that it’s not necessarily words that are offensive and insulting, but the spirit in which they’re used?

    Sure, “gay” has a history of positive connotations, and using the word “gay” to describe a homosexual man, or something having to do with homosexuality, is perfectly fine, but using it to describe something you don’t like, or an adjective to insult someone, is not fine. Saying things like: “The Prius is such a gay car,” or “You like that song? You’re so gay!” are absolutely offensive uses of the word.

    The word “Jew” isn’t a negative, insulting, or offensive word, but the statements: “He wanted ten dollars, but I Jewed him down to five” and “You’re only donating ten dollars? Don’t be such a Jew,” definitely are.

    It’s all in who is using the words, and how he’s using them. I’m from a family comprised of whites, blacks, Koreans, Japanese, Jews, Catholics, atheists, gay, straight, and so on. We can say racist, bigoted, homophobic, antisemitic words and jokes to each other, and it’s funny. But if someone I don’t know calls my cousin a coon, or my sister-in-law a Jew lawyer, the fight’s on.

    To quote the great Joe Jackson song “Real Men”:
    “So don’t call me a faggot–Not unless you are a friend.”

  19. konstantConsumer says:

    well, i was about to write something in response to MS, but scott summed it up perfectly. saying something is gay, to imply that is it bad, stupid, “womanly” or whatever else is bigotted. no two ways about it.