The South Park Creators at TAM5 August 26, 2010

The South Park Creators at TAM5

The creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, appeared at The Amazing Meeting 5 a few years ago. It was the first TAM I attended (until TAM8 this past summer) and it was definitely one of the highlights. So many people can say this, but these guys are heroes to me.

JREF had offered the video of their talk (really a Q&A session) on DVD before, but they just released it for free to the public, so here you go — the intro is from Penn Jillette:

And while we’re talking about them, allow me to reminisce about that time…

After their talk, I jumped into a massive group of people in an attempt to get a pic with them… and it worked!

If pictures could *squee*…

Even cooler than those pics? My friend Margaret Downey had them sign a copy of her hotel room’s Bible:

How would you like to see that version in your hotel room…?

(I think she ended up auctioning that Bible for an Atheist Alliance International fundraiser.)


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  • Brandon

    Really? Huh. I’ve never been a fan of South Park. There’s nothing especially appealing about the show, and their constant use of “gay” as a derogatory term (not to mention the perpetuation of the f-word) gains them huge black marks for me.

    Why the hell were they invited to TAM? I hope no one there asked them to apply critical thinking to their libertarianism.

  • Adam

    Nothing appealing about South Park? Brandon, you’ve got to spend some time watching some full episodes of the show. The writing is absolutely brilliant, and the points they make are fantastic and skillfully crafted. The “Margaritaville” episode is so well done, it amazes me every time.

    And for their use of the word “gay” as a negative term and the f-bombs, I think once you fully understand Cartman as a character (the evil part of every human)… I think you’ll understand.

  • Rob

    @Brandon- You should really learn more about somebody before you judge them. If you knew anything about Trey and Matt you’d understand how ignorant your statements are. As far as the show goes, it’s called a sense of humor; get one.

  • Brice Gilbert

    To be fair to Brandon they had a specific episode all about how the word “fag” is not harmful anymore because it means something completely different to the kids who say it today. The message was basically that meanings evolve over time. So it’s not just the evil character in the show who uses the words. The main characters say gay all the time tool. To be fair to South Park kids say that in real life all the time as well.

    I’m more interested in the comments i’ve seen from them about religion. While it’s obvious they don’t like organized religion According to a Nightline interview Parker believes that something is going on in our universe that we don’t quite understand and for him to explain what he means by this and God would take too long. It’s also annoying to see what they think of “Atheism”.

    “Basically … out of all the ridiculous religion stories which are greatly, wonderfully ridiculous — the silliest one I’ve ever heard is, ‘Yeah … there’s this big giant universe and it’s expanding, it’s all gonna collapse on itself and we’re all just here just ’cause … just ’cause’. That, to me, is the most ridiculous explanation ever.”

    Seems like a gross misunderstanding for someone who goes TAM.

  • I’ve seen pretty much every episode of the first half of the show’s run. It’s gone downhill, and I can’t exactly explain how. Sure, some episodes are pure genius, but others are just FSM-awful. It’s hit-or-miss.

    As for Trey and Matt, from what I’ve seen, they seem like cool guys. I’d have gotten their autographs, too, and the Bible was a perfect choice to have them sign it.

  • Brandon

    Apologies in advance for the huge post, but I want to respond to several points.

    Nothing appealing about South Park? Brandon, you’ve got to spend some time watching some full episodes of the show.

    I have. There are some good moments, but for me there’s much more miss than hit. I haven’t watched it in years because of that, so maybe it’s changed? I can’t say for sure. But it’s just not my thing.

    And for their use of the word “gay” as a negative term and the f-bombs,

    I’ve got no problem with the word fuck. Fuck is a great word. I’ve got a huge, immense problem with the word “faggot”. Maybe I should have been more clear when I first posted, but the word bothers me so much that even typing it or reading it makes me cringe.

    @Brandon- You should really learn more about somebody before you judge them. If you knew anything about Trey and Matt you’d understand how ignorant your statements are

    I’m sure they’re nice guys, really. But their show doesn’t appeal to me, and I find their support of homophobic language to be ignorant and offensive. Maybe my remark about libertarianism was a little snarky – but, as far as I know, the only things that they haven’t lampooned on the show have been their own personal philosophies. Again, maybe this has changed in the years since I tried watching the show, but it always struck me as a little uncritical or hypocritical of them.

    As far as the show goes, it’s called a sense of humor; get one.

    Bitch please. The humor of the show just isn’t my thing – it’s just a matter of opinion. Or are you saying I should get a sense of humor about the use of “gay” and “faggot” on the show? Sure, I will, just as soon as African-Americans get a sense of humor about Dr. Laura spewing the word “nigger” all over her radio show.

    To be fair to Brandon they had a specific episode all about how the word “fag” is not harmful anymore because it means something completely different to the kids who say it today. The message was basically that meanings evolve over time. So it’s not just the evil character in the show who uses the words. The main characters say gay all the time too

    Yeah – that’s what drives me crazy. “When I say it I don’t mean for it to be offensive, so it isn’t, so shut up”. It’s fallacious and ignorant and hate-enabling.

    To be fair to South Park kids say that in real life all the time as well.

    South Park is reinforcing this behavior with their show (not saying they are to blame, but they’re not helping or even taking the high ground). “All the other kids are talking like bigots” is hardly an excuse.

    It’s also annoying to see what they think of “Atheism”. […] Seems like a gross misunderstanding for someone who goes TAM.

    Yes, this – exactly my point (which I admit I wasn’t making very well in my first post). They are mainly revered for freedom of speech issues and being willing to ridicule anyone and everyone – but as we know, just because someone mocks religion doesn’t mean they’re a skeptic or critical thinker.

  • Demonhype

    @YetAnotherAtheist:

    I feel the same way, and I had to start thinking about it. I realized that a lot of their earlier shows were brilliant, but for me it seemed to crown when the big movie hit theaters, and after that it just kind of seemed really anticlimactic (at least to me).

    The place it really started to go downhill was around 2000. When I thought back, I realized that that was when it really turned for me. Prior to that, I didn’t always agree with them and sometimes they mocked some viewpoint I held, but they always seemed to understand that the heart of parody is a good understanding of the subject. They may have mocked some viewpoint I held, but at least they weren’t just making shit up about my position at random. When you just make shit up about something you don’t like, rather than actually do a little research, and then try to parody your made-up version, it doesn’t really work very well. And in 2000, it seemed that they started towing a party line (you know which one I’m talking about too). That is when it stopped feeling like entertainment and started feeling like propaganda.

    My mom thinks I “hate” them and “refuse to watch” them because I’m “mad that they made fun of atheists”. I have explained time and time again, but it goes in one ear and out the other, that I don’t “hate” them, nor do I “refuse to watch” them. I have just lost interest in the show and have better things to do. And the atheist episode–not the one everyone’s talking about but the earlier one that involved Catholics–simply cut the last lingering shred of interest I had felt for the show. They no longer seemed to take pride in it. I don’t care about “making fun of atheists”, but when someone parodizes atheists based entirely on preconceived notions and what seems like a handbook of poorly-conceived apologetics, I get the feeling that they really don’t take any real pride in their work anymore. I’m not “angry that they made fun of atheists”. I simply don’t really care anymore, and that wasn’t the only thing that did it, or even the most significant thing.

    My brother knows my complaints and agrees with my points, but still watches the show and occasionally I will watch one that he highly recommends or will watch one of my many DVD’s of the early seasons. Naturally, every time my mom “catches” me doing that, her eyes go round and she demands to know why I’m watching South Park when “you said you were never going to watch it again”. I never said that, but what does she care about reality? She wants desperately to believe I’m some kind of atheist hypocrite who can dish it out but can’t take it, and refuses to hear anything else. She is an absolute study in confirmation bias–she has it down to a science.

    Judging from my brother’s description and some of the newer shows I’ve seen, they do seem to be improving a bit recently, but I don’t think they’re ever going to re-capture what they had before, nor do I think it possible for them to build it into something new and better. There was brilliant writing and brilliant points underlying the vulgarity in the early shows, but the thing that really sold a lot of it was the shock value, and it’s kind of hard to maintain that sort of thing. Especially when you can the brilliance for a few years and rely entirely on shock value.

    I still thoroughly enjoy Baseketball, though that is mostly because I enjoy reveling in Trey’s pretty face and Matt’s amazing ass. They were quite a delicious pair of eye-candies for me back in the day!

    And I still refer to “Makin’ Bacon with Macon” when we feed any pork product to our obese little piglet of a chihuahua. I simply can’t help it!

  • Demonhype

    @Brandon:

    I see what you’re saying. It’s something that would never fly if the subject was the N-word. I know people (white people) who really think that they can redefine that word and get bent out of shape when others misunderstand and have the audacity to accuse them of being racist.

    Not to mention, they claim they’ve redefined it as “trashy black person” (synonymous with “white trash” in their minds), but these self-same people will use it to refer to any and every black person who they disagree with, who disagrees with them, who exhibits any negative characteristic whatsoever, or who they just plain don’t seem to like for whatever reason. And they commonly use it as a pejorative towards white people too–but not just any white people, only deadbeats who can’t pay bills and have lots of kids by different daddies/mommies.

    Cognitive dissonance is an art.

    To be fair, the majority of the aforementioned acquaintances are fairly old (50’s and 60’s or older) and did vote for Obama without a qualm and not just because they hated the other guy. So for them it might just be a verbal meme that got stuck in their heads and they’re kind of too old to really shake it now, though the younger generation is doing much better. Perhaps this will happen for homosexuals as well, given time. A lot of people I know who commonly use terms like “gay” negatively are also very much in favor of equal rights for homosexuals and even same-sex marriage, so they might not have even connected the two things in their head and really considered them.

    I know that I have been trying to curb my pejorative use of terminology meaning “homosexual”, since realizing that trying to justify it is no better than what the aforementioned “I’m not a racist”-s have been doing. But it’s kind of hard to catch yourself when you have grown up hearing it and saying it non-stop. (I’m a girl, but I keep company mostly with guys, especially recently. When I had mostly female friends, for a short time a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, it almost never came up, and never as a pejorative. But that might just be my experience. Has anyone ever considered any difference in usage between hetero males and females?)

    Anyway, I understand why it might be hard for some people to stop using a word, and I’m willing to notice the same in myself and try to fix it. What bothers me is how so many people will bend over backwards trying to justify it rather than just say “my bad”. Or say “my bad” in the form of “sorry, man, that’s my father talking” and then use that as some kind of excuse to continue the behavior. It is kind of embarrassing to have to admit that sort of thing, I guess, when you have always considered yourself very forward-thinking and accepting of others. It’s easier to just say “no, it means something else now!” I used to call them on it, but all that happened was a lot of hysterical spittle-flecked invective, followed by an even more determined use of the terminology. I finally decided that since they are mainly very old people and the younger people don’t seem to be evolving the other way, I’d just let them die out and take their bigotry with them. At least they have the grace and decency to be discreet and I don’t have to be embarrassed to go out in public with them.

    Don’t we get kind of pissed when people continuously use words like “godless”, “atheist”, “unbeliever” or any other atheist-referencing word to mean evil, cruel, immoral, empty, meaningless, insert-hateful-thing-here? I think the hypocrisy is what finally convinced me–if I don’t want people slurring me as a woman or atheist, I’d better not use slurs against other groups.

  • Brice Gilbert

    @Brandon
    Yeah I agree with everything you said. I don’t know if I have a huge problem with the characters on South Park saying “gay” like the average 12 year old would do. I mean it might be better to not do it, but if they just use it as a character thing then okay. But they had a whole episode devoted to basically telling anyone who thinks the word means nothing to go fuck themselves. I really disliked that episode. It’s really too bad because it was around this time I heard their views on atheism and it just soured me on the whole show after so many years of it being my favorite.

  • SwedishSkinJer

    I enjoy the show, but I do think that their parodies are becoming increasingly more forced.

    In real life, the creators do seem like decent fellows, but that quote about atheism bothers me greatly. They seem to be implying that there’s a universally accepted worldview by atheists outside of our non-belief in deities: that we’re here “just ’cause”, showing a troubling simplification of what many of us actually do say on the matter. And were they seriously implying that we’re here “just cause” is a religious belief?

  • BrianE

    This past season was absolutely phenomenal! I friggin love these guys – no one is safe and everyone will be offended!

    Richard Dawkins humping Ms. Garrison – farkin hilarious!

  • Runcibald

    Is that Mr. Diety @ 18:50?

  • Tamburra

    Is that Mr. Deity at 18.48 ?? lol

  • SickoftheUS

    Astute comments by some others on this previously – the prevalence of “gay” as a derogatory term has been increasing since I started paying attention in the 1970s. It’s disgusting, and subtly and not-so-subtly encourages acceptance of an anti-gay mindset in society.

    We shouldn’t accept for a moment the rationalizations for it from people who have fan-based biases for making excuses for a TV show, or its writers, because they’re “cool”.

  • trixr4kids

    “the prevalence of “gay” as a derogatory term has been increasing since I started paying attention in the 1970s. It’s disgusting, and subtly and not-so-subtly encourages acceptance of an anti-gay mindset in society”

    And yet society has been moving steadily toward acceptance of gays since the 1970s.

    Hmm…perhaps words really are just words, and meanings evolve.

    Just sayin’.

  • Moxiequz

    And yet society has been moving steadily toward acceptance of gays since the 1970s.

    Society has also been moving steadily forward on the issues of womens’ rights and racial equality. That doesn’t make “cunt” and “nigger” acceptable pejoratives for the general populace to use.

    Or for that matter how about the sexist practice of referring to ‘less acceptable’ men (even in jest) as “women” or “ladies”?

    It’s not the word – it’s the idea of who that word represents and what their status is and is perceived as in society.

  • Aj

    It doesn’t surprise me that Trey Parker would say something stupid like that as an explanation for what “atheists” believe, it explains his comments here and that stupid episode with Dawkins. I didn’t see the show on psychics, and I stopped watching quite early on, but the shows I watched were not intelligent or insightful, they were stupid and crude. I can understand people liking that sort of humour but I don’t understand why skeptics would be all over it. It seems to me that Matt and Trey are deeply cynical of humanity, and are kneejerk unthinking skeptics.

    How do they figure into the “Don’t Be a Dick” debate? They basically take to extremes all the things people were complaining about. I guess there was an imposter who does a mean impression of Phil Plait there.

    For skeptical comedy that’s intelligent and funny Mitchell and Webb, or Tim Minchin, are so much better than those cunts (I suddenly had the urge to use a forbidden word). Futurama is a million times better than South Park.

  • keddaw

    Brandon: Bitch please. The humor of the show just isn’t my thing – it’s just a matter of opinion. Or are you saying I should get a sense of humor about the use of “gay” and “faggot” on the show? Sure, I will, just as soon as African-Americans get a sense of humor about Dr. Laura spewing the word “nigger” all over her radio show.

    Take offence at all you want, but until you realise that you are no more entitled to stop someone causing you offence than Muslims are entitled to stop people drawing Mohammed then you miss the point of free speech.

    And, just to be pedantic, gay actually means happy. Its meaning has evolved several times in the past few centuries. The Flintstones were having a gay old time, but I’m sure US TV has changed that by now.

  • Brandon

    Take offence at all you want, but until you realise that you are no more entitled to stop someone causing you offence than Muslims are entitled to stop people drawing Mohammed then you miss the point of free speech.

    Where did I say I wanted to stop them from exercising free speech? Yes, it would be nice if they stopped using language that perpetuates an attitude that homosexuality is inherently wrong and immoral, but I can’t force them to stop. It’s Parker and Stone’s right to use that language if they wish, and it’s my right to dislike the show and label it as offensive and homophobic. The use of slurs can’t be legally punished, but it can be condemned by society.
    And really, you think drawing a picture of Mohammed is the same as calling someone a faggot? Do you know what the word means? A faggot was traditionally a bundle of firewood. People started calling homosexuals faggots because they were condemned to burn in Hell, and because many places routinely burned homosexuals at the stake if they were found out. Calling someone a faggot means you are telling them they should be burned alive.

    And, just to be pedantic, gay actually means happy. Its meaning has evolved several times in the past few centuries.

    Yes, I know this. Gay originally meant carefree, and was often used to describe happy bachelors/bachelorettes. It was adopted by homosexuals at a time when the word homosexual still meant a mental disorder, and the only other option was the word queer, which was a pejorative (this is similar to the atheists/secular humanists who adopt the word “bright” to get away from the stigma of atheism).
    It wasn’t until the word was firmly established as meaning “homosexual” that people started using it as a pejorative.
    Furthermore, gay is still in popular use as the most common synonym for homosexual. When you use “gay” as an insult, you’re saying homosexuality is bad, because gay still means homosexual. It hasn’t “evolved” out of that usage in the least.
    You can’t use “that’s so Jewish” as an insult and claim that you’re not casting aspersions on Judaism. Why is it okay for people to do this to gay people?

  • Lukas

    It’s kind of painful to see my fellow atheists complaining about things because they find them offensive. So it’s okay to offend religious people by telling them how stupid they are, but when it’s something that offends you (like having a bunch of kids in a show use the word “gay” as a derogatory term, you know, like every actual kid uses the term), it’s suddenly not okay anymore?

  • JustSayin’

    The thing about Matt and Trey is that they seem to be professional contrarians. They like to bite the hand that feeds them, so to speak. I recall that they were awarded some kind of honor (I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment) by some liberal organization, and while accepting the award, they flat-out insulted the group–and likeminded people–who’d presented it, making some comment that went something like, “The only people we have less respect for than conservatives are liberals.” I’m sure they’d received plenty of criticism from both sides up to that point: from Jesus freaks on the right and overly-P.C., would-be censors on the left. Still, the statement seemed unduly rude, considering the venue.

    Then they did the whole episode lambasting George Clooney, who it turns out was one of their earliest vocal supporters. (Literally vocal–he provided the voice of the dog in the Big Gay Al episode.) Even if they disagree with his politics, that seemed to me like a dickish thing to do, considering it was, in my understanding, no small amount of support from him that helped get them on the air in the first place. Also, Matt even appeared in an interview in Bowling for Columbine; now, surely rubbing elbows with the likes of Michael Moore isn’t a libertarian’s idea of a fun time! Perhaps making all that money in the syndication deal a few years later shifted their priorities rightward?

    Personally, although South Park has given me some gut-busthing laughs in the past, I much prefer Family Guy these days. Seth McFarlane is an unashamed, unabashed liberal atheist–and doesn’t shy from showing it in his work.

    And finally, Lukas, maybe being gay gives one a different perspective on this issue. Atheists poking fun at and calling religious folk names isn’t the best analogy in this instance. The continued use of the word “gay” as derogatory creates and fosters an environment that is hostile to gays and lesbians–whether you wish to believe it or not. (By the way, the comparisons of the use of “fag” to the use of “nigger” are spot on. To my ear, one is just as hateful as the other. No one group has a monopoly on oppression.)

    We gays are all too familiar with violent attacks on us for simply being who we are. On the contrary, in a country as religious as America, it’s rare to hear of attacks on individuals or groups in response to their religious beliefs. It’s all too common to read about religious nuts attacking gays. In the 80s, radical gay groups disrupted Catholic Mass. On the other hand, Christian fundamentalists murdered–and continue to do so–queers. “Your god is a lie” does not even compare to “DIE FAGGOT DIE!” You’re comparing apples and oranges.

    To put it more succinctly, one is a state of being. The other is a state of belief.

  • Jagyr

    JustSayin’ –

    Spot on. I agree with you wholeheartedly. And thanks for responding to Lukas’ post – I’m tired, and it’s nice to be saved the trouble.

    “It’s kind of painful to see my fellow atheists” sitting idly by while religion-fostered bigotry pervades the vernacular, simply because they’re not the victims. Unfortunately, in my experience, the atheist community is riddled with straight, white, middle class males who can’t be bothered to care about their less privileged allies.

  • Lukas

    JustSayin’:

    “The continued use of the word “gay” as derogatory creates and fosters an environment that is hostile to gays and lesbians”

    First of all, this has nothing to do with what I said. I said that merely being offended should not be an argument against something. If you actually think that usage of the term is harmful to you, this is an entirely different discussion.

    Second: Kids typically don’t think of homosexuals when they use terms like “that’s gay” or “you’re a fag”. These terms have become generic insults. So I don’t think that we can look at how the term is used, and deduce that usage of the term leads to more anti-homosexual behavior. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’d be interested in being proven wrong.

    “To put it more succinctly, one is a state of being. The other is a state of belief.”

    I realize that. How does it give you the right to not be offended by other people, especially since the thing you are offended by typically wasn’t even meant as an offense?

    If the show offends you, don’t watch it. If you actually think that the show makes the situation for homosexuals worse, make that argument, rather than saying that it is offensive.

    (As an aside, atheists also use the “this is offensive” argument in discussions of beliefs. For example, Sam Harris used it when arguing against the “Ground Zero Mosque”. He actually said that it shouldn’t be built because it is offensive to him.)

    Jagyr:

    “Unfortunately, in my experience, the atheist community is riddled with straight, white, middle class males who can’t be bothered to care about their less privileged allies.”

    How about addressing the topic, rather than attacking me based on things you really have no idea about? You know, I find what you’ve just said about me extremely offensive.

  • JustSayin’

    Unfortunately, in my experience, the atheist community is riddled with straight, white, middle class males who can’t be bothered to care about their less privileged allies.

    This is all too true. I don’t think it’s necessarily malicious, but in many instances is simply ignorance. It appears to me that many straight folks–even our allies–have never truly considered how even the simpler, day-to-day moments of a gay or lesbian couple’s existence might differ in fundamental ways from from their own.

    Now, I live in the South, and while North Carolina isn’t quite as viciously homophobic as some states deeper down are (for instance, Mississippi and Alabama), it’s still an overwhelmingly heteronormative culture. That said, take for instance a gay couple sitting on a subway car. You see, these guys need to be wary of their body language and contact. I’m not talking about holding hands or an affectionate peck on the cheek here, either–I’m talking about simply sitting too close together. Yes, I can vouch for it. It’s happened to me and my boyfriend several times. We were doing nothing out of the way, yet we still received glares and expressions of discomfort from several of those around us. FOR SITTING BESIDE EACH OTHER! (This is why there are still a large number of hetero men who refuse to sit side-by-side even in a crowded movie theater.) And while there are pockets of larger cities where it’s not unusual to see basic PDA’s among gay couples–West Hollywood, the Castro, Chelsea–these very same acts would still seem out of place in other parts of those otherwise liberal bastions. For a thought-provoking piece along these lines, check out http://www.cs.earlham.edu/%7Ehyrax/personal/files/student_res/straightprivilege.htmh

    I realize that It probably seems as if I’ve digressed here, but my little anecdote brings me back around to the point I intended to make in my earlier post, which is that you can’t really neuter these words by sheer force of will. When a show such as South Park does an episode whereby it attempts to make the point that overuse has effectively removed any negative connotation from a word like “fag,” the professed deeper meditation on the elasticity of language is largely lost on the teen and preteen audience. Rather, they tend to view it as a license to use the word indiscriminately (if you’ll pardon the pun). This, in turn, has real-world consequences. Imagine being a young adult struggling to make sense of your sexual orientation while surrounded by peers who’re bandying about “fag” and “dyke” and other–even nastier–words. Does that sound pleasant or conducive to forming a healthy self-image? Believe me, it isn’t on either count.

    So what’s my point in all this? Merely to stress to my straight friends and allies that in a world where heterosexual values and norms are ubiquitous, a word that seems innocuous enough to one individual may in fact be quite the opposite to another. I’m not saying the word should be banned from use. Rather, we should choose to eliminate it from our everyday speech–and encourage others to do so, young people in particular–for the sake of those among us who may be deeply hurt by it.

    And finally, lest anyone think that I live in a gay bubble and that what I’m saying applies only to those of us of the homosexual persuasion, there are plenty of other instances in which I would suggest some good old-fashioned self-censorship. I hear words like “retard” and “midget” used almost every day, and I cringe. Just because “retard” has seemingly been added to far too many poeple’s everyday vocabulary, that doesn’t negate the meaning or the intent–as some might argue with “gay”–especially to the mentally challenged individual who overhears it. Words are powerful, and they have repercussions. We could all benefit from thinking before we speak.

  • JustSayin’

    Sorry ’bout the broken link. Here’s the working one (I hope):

    http://www.cs.earlham.edu/%7Ehyrax/personal/files/student_res/straightprivilege.htm

    And one last thing. Although I realize that language does evolve, and meanings change, I believe–and I seem to recall someone making this point earlier, so forgive me for repeating it–that most of the people in this country would be rightfully horrified if they heard “you’re a nigger” being tossed around as casually and in the same context as the phrase Lukas used in his example above. Why is it that one of those statements should invite a shitstorm (and rightfully so), while the other should simply be shrugged off? One can make the case that these words and phrases are harmless, but to the people at whom they were originally–and in many cases, still are–hurled, it’s quite the opposite.

    As Bayard Rustin, pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement, longtime advisor to MLK, and openly gay man said: “The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.”

    However, I don’t think Rustin meant for that goal to be realized through the means of external censorship–which I also oppose–but through common understanding and empathy.

  • keddaw

    If homosexuals gain true equality in society then can we start using the word gay as a derogatory, or otherwise, term again or has it been retired from the English language?

    This is important as I feel the language used is unimportant compared to the attitudes and laws that are in place. Others may see the language as indicative of the attitudes in society and some others may see the language itself as wrong and harmful.

    Lenny Bruce (film): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOnkv76rNL4

  • Jagyr

    Huh, I didn’t realize it had switched over to my other screen name…luckily my avatar is consistent.

    Lukas –
    I wasn’t directly “attacking” you, I was making an observation on a disappointing trend I’ve seen in the atheist community. Since you’ve taken it personally, I should allow you to prove me wrong about you.

    So please, tell us, what minority groups are you a member of? When have you felt discriminated against because of your minority status? And what exactly about that experience made you decide that hate speech was an acceptable part of everyday conversation?

    And for the record, no one here has been arguing for the right to not be offended. We have been making the argument that hate speech makes life worse for minorities. Is there something about that argument you disagree with, or would you prefer to continue making fallacious arguments against strawmen?

  • Jagyr

    keddaw:

    If homosexuals gain true equality in society then can we start using the word gay as a derogatory, or otherwise, term again or has it been retired from the English language?

    As long as the word “gay” means “homosexual”, using it as a pejorative will be degrading to homosexual people. It’s not retired from the language at all – you’re free to use its other meanings as well, but since its most common use is as a synonym for “homosexual”, people are likely to misinterpret what you’re saying.

  • Aj

    Jagyr,

    Unfortunately, in my experience, the atheist community is riddled with straight, white, middle class males who can’t be bothered to care about their less privileged allies.

    That’s bigoted of you. What has their orientation, “race”, class, or sex got to do with that? If I were to preface group labels with people who are acting in a negative way when there’s no connection you probably wouldn’t like it. How would you like it if I were to now start talking about homosexuals who write ignorant bullshit in this community? It would be unfair on homosexuals because homosexuality didn’t make you write the stupid shit you write. Attacking people for how they were born doesn’t make us want to care more about our less privileged allies. You might want to think about the hypocrisy of denouncing using “gay” as a derogatory term while associating peoples sex, race, or orientation with negative behaviour.

  • Jagyr

    Aj –

    That’s fucking hilarious. It’s bigoted of me that I have witnessed passive discrimination of minorities by the majority?

    What has their orientation, “race”, class, or sex got to do with that?

    Everything. It’s called majority privilege. I’m not saying that John Doe’s heterosexuality causes him to be inconsiderate – all I said was what I had observed.
    What I would say is that being a member of the privileged majority makes John Doe less likely to seriously consider the tribulations of those in the underprivileged minority.

    You might want to think about the hypocrisy of denouncing using “gay” as a derogatory term while associating peoples sex, race, or orientation with negative behaviour.

    In no way was I saying that all straight, white, middle class males don’t care about minorities. I really don’t see how you could legitimately infer something like that from my post.

    And you might want to think about the sheer ignorance it takes to suggest that pointing out the apathy of the privileged is somehow equally as bigoted as a privileged person disparaging members of an oppressed minority.
    Step back, stop being so damn defensive, and examine your position for a moment. Do you really want to be That Guy?

  • Jagyr

    I’d like to take a break from arguing for a moment, and civilly invite everyone who might be reading this post to stop and take a moment to examine their privileges.

    I’m a member of more majorities than not. I may be an atheist and a bisexual, yes. But I’m white, I’m male, I’m above the poverty line (living month to month, and getting harder each month, but I’m doing pretty well compared to many). Hell, I even married a woman, so my sexual identity is almost never an issue in my everyday life – I might as well be heterosexual, for most practical purposes.

    Last year, a self-described Angry Black Woman really shut me down in an internet debate very like the one we’re having right now. She shocked me by implying that I was a racist, and of course I defended myself strenuously. She did withdraw the charge of racism, as I recall, but she was dead-on right that I had plenty of unexamined privilege.

    Being privileged means that you aren’t constantly aware of the ways that discrimination affects you – it takes a conscious effort to put yourself in the position of the other and consider all sides of an issue.

    I highly suggest this cartoon by Barry Deutsch. The cartoon is specifically about racism, but those excuses are also made for sexism, homophobia, etc.

    This one also seems especially appropriate to this thread, when viewed in the context of homophobia.

    I’m not going to declare that anyone in this thread is evil or a bigot. But as members of a privileged majority, it’s our responsibility to remember that not all bigotry is as blatant as the Klan or the Phelps. We need to be more self aware.

  • Lukas

    Jagyr said: “I wasn’t directly “attacking” you”

    Of course you were. You quoted me, then, in the same paragraph, in the very next sentence, you made your comment about (ostensibly) people like me. Don’t be dishonest about what you wrote.

    “Since you’ve taken it personally, I should allow you to prove me wrong about you.”

    Why should I do that? To set a precedent that only certain people are allowed to make certain arguments? Besides, the burden of proof lies with the person making the claim. If you have evidence for your claim, put it up.

    It’s all besides the point, anyway, since you’re essentially attacking people, rather than their arguments. Which has pretty much derailed this whole discussion; now we’re talking about who is allowed to make what argument in this discussion of South Park, rather than talking about South Park itself. I apologize for the role I played in this.

  • Jagyr

    Lukas –

    If I attacked you, it was by implying that you don’t care about those that are less privileged.

    Now you say the burden of proof is on me. Do I have to provide evidence for you not caring about the plight of gays? I’d point to your post defending hate speech as evidence.

    The only other claim I’ve made is that there are a lot of members of the privileged majority that don’t care about oppressed minorities as long as they’re not affected. Is that the kind of thing I really need to cite scientific studies for? If I had claimed that there are a lot of Christians who don’t care that atheists are discriminated against, somehow I don’t think people here would be demanding that I provide evidence.

    And contrary to your claim, I have addressed people’s arguments instead of merely attacking them. Though if I’ve missed one, let me know.

    And yes, we’re off the original topic, but this is a natural progression of the discussion of why some people dislike South Park. Besides, a debate (or even an argument) is much more entertaining than a repetition of “South Park is so cool” “Yeah Matt and Trey are my heroes” “Wasn’t episode XYZ so funny you guys?”.
    At least to me it is. :p But I have been known to get sucked into the “Somebody is wrong on the Internet!” wormhole on occasion. (side note: apparently my autocorrecter says that Internet should be capitalized…I didn’t know it was a proper noun).

  • Aj

    Jagyr,

    It’s bigoted of you to write about people in a way that associates a behaviour with characteristics that have nothing to do with it. This is exactly the type of behaviour I associate with bigots, that’s why I call you one, and your subsequent comments only reinforce it.

    We also have the standard response when someone points out the bigoted shit you just pulled. Step 1: Deny everything. Step 2: Point to an extreme that no one mentioned and say you’re not like that. Step 3: Falsely counter-accuse the person of the same things (lack of imagination or projection).

    You should perhaps spend more time looking in the mirror, because as far as I’m concerned you’re already That Guy. It’s wrong to throw unrelated labels at behaviour to associate them, you can deny it but it’s there for everyone to read and you can’t erase that. Associating people with behaviour this way is the basis of implicit prejudice.

  • Jagyr

    Aj –

    It’s bigoted of you to write about people in a way that associates a behaviour with characteristics that have nothing to do with it. This is exactly the type of behaviour I associate with bigots, that’s why I call you one, and your subsequent comments only reinforce it.

    The behavior I talked about was apathy towards oppressed minorities. The characteristic I associated with it was being a part of the privileged majority. You can’t possibly claim that those things have nothing to do with each other?

    “Step 1: Deny everything”
    The only denials I was making was in the context of trying to clarify what I said in response to people who I felt misinterpreted my observations as direct attacks. A consequence of me wording my point poorly, I suppose.

    “Step 2: Point to an extreme that no one mentioned and say you’re not like that”
    I honestly don’t see where I did this. Please point it out for me?

    “Step 3: Falsely counter-accuse the person of the same things”
    Again, I don’t understand. What things am I counter-accusing people of? I assume the answer is “bigotry”, since that’s what I was accused of, but I didn’t actually call anyone a bigot. I did imply earlier that some commenters were being insensitive, which I suppose could be called soft bigotry, but it wasn’t until after I made those comments that you accused me of bigotry…so who’s counter-accusing who?

    And “That Guy” is the guy who insists he’s not a bigot, and then comes in to valiantly defend the bigot from the victim.

    It’s wrong to throw unrelated labels at behaviour to associate them[…]. Associating people with behaviour this way is the basis of implicit prejudice.

    I agree with you. This is the main conflict between the two of us, I think. My argument is that being a privileged majority member is related to apathy towards minority issues. Evidently, you disagree.

  • Aj

    Jagyr,

    I agree with you. This is the main conflict between the two of us, I think. My argument is that being a privileged majority member is related to apathy towards minority issues. Evidently, you disagree.

    That’s exactly the bigoted bullshit I was responding to. The non-religious are not a minority? I guess we don’t get to decide what the minority issues are. Minorities don’t have apathy towards other peoples problems? That’s not even remotely true.

    1) Factual errors. In many developed countries males are not the majority. I don’t know of any country where straight, white, middle-class males are the majority.

    2) Framing. You’ve decided to adopt this construction of privilege and non-privileged where you falsely accuse people of being different in their behaviour.

    3) Vilification. “Riddled” is almost exclusively used to mean something filled with something unpleasant or undesirable.

  • Love the pics of you with Trey and Matt. True geniuses when it comes to their work.