Last night's episode of Comedy Central's long-running animated comedy South Park featured rampant use of the anti-gay slurs "f*g" and "f****t" as Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny attempted to drive a local biker gang out of town.
In "The F-Word," life in South Park has been disrupted by a loud and disruptive biker gang. Cartman ultimately takes it upon himself to inform the gang that "everyone thinks you're total f*gs." When the South Park kids then tag “F*GS GET OUT” all over town, first the gay residents and ultimately the entire town take offense at the anti-gay rhetoric. When the mayor gathers all of the kids together to ask why anyone would spray paint such hateful anti-gay messages, the kids are taken aback, not realizing that the F-word was hurtful to the LGBT community.
Stan: "Why would we want gay people to get out of town?"
Cartman: "Oh, they think we meant gay f*gs."
Kyle: "Oh, hey that's not very nice mayor. Just because a person is gay doesn't mean he's a f*g."
It is then revealed that, to the children of South Park, "f*g" does not refer to gay people at all but rather to people who "ride a loud Harley up and down the streets ruining everyone's nice time." Thus, a "gay f*g" is only a "f*g" if he is an obnoxious biker and a straight person who is considering buying a motorcycle is "bike-curious." Eventually, the boys convince the head dictionary editor to change the definition of the F-word to read:
"Fag n. 1. An extremely annoying, inconsiderate person most commonly associated with Harley riders.
2. A person who owns or frequently rides a Harley."
GLAAD disagrees. Though the writers of South Park attempted to craft a commentary on the shifting meaning of words, the fact of the matter is that the F-word is and remains a hateful slur that is often the last word heard by LGBT people as they fall victim to hate crimes. Just this year, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Massachusetts hung himself, unable to endure further anti-gay bullying at school which included constant use of the F-Word.
South Park was right on one point: all too commonly, more and more people are using the F-word as a seemingly benign insult, unaware or unconcerned about the word's anti-gay meaning. However, the spread of the word in this manner does not make it okay to use. Mickey Rourke and Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson recently learned this lesson as GLAAD reiterated the need for all uses of this slur to end.
GLAAD encourages you to contact Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, as well as Comedy Central, to share your personal stories of the negative impact the F-word and other anti-gay slurs have had on your life. It is important that the people behind South Park realize that the F-word is not just a harmless insult; it is a hateful word with often violent consequences.
South Park Studios Official Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/southpark. (You will have to become a “fan” in order to leave a message.)
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**UPDATE: CALL TO ACTION: Tell South Park’s Creators About the Harms Caused By Slur-Filled “The F-Word”