The Third Leader: Gay rights and wrongs

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The Independent Online

Outrage: that lovely old word, gay, has been hijacked. Now, according to the BBC, it can mean, depending on the context, "lame" or "rubbish", not "homosexual". Oh, dear. "Words, words, words," as both Hamlet and Eliza Doolittle exclaimed, in different contexts.

The context in question involved the Radio 1 disc jockey, Chris Moyles, employing the "current widespread usage of the word among young people" to describe a mobile ring tone. The BBC considers it acceptable but counsels caution. This leaves me just as confused, not least because Chris Moyles is 32. And if "lame" is acceptable, what about "cripple"?

Actually, I have a young person, whom I have counselled against employing gay in its current widespread usage. But this is because, like some of Little Britain and Catherine Tate, it makes me uneasy. Which also makes me sad, in both old and current usage, as I should probably be more sophisticated about it.

The sophistication of BBC 2 viewers was why a complaint that The Catherine Tate Show invites laughter at, er, gays, has been rejected, so that's me told. Funnily enough, the BBC also held that its tennis commentators should have apologised for some rude pre-watersheddings from Tim Henman, including "arse".

Arse! Isn't that Jim Royle's favourite word, which didn't shock that much when Eliza used it in My Fair Lady 50 years ago? If it wasn't so desperately disco ("old-fashioned", m'lud), I'd say we're getting our public and private protocols in a twist. My young person, by the way, thinks "damn" very bad, which also seems a bit queer.

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