Arts & Entertainment
1 min

TV council rules ‘fag’ okay

Slang word isn't equal to racial slurs

Using the word “fag” in a comedy routine is not discriminatory, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has ruled.

The Apr 19 ruling by the council, a self-regulating industry body, stems from a Comedy Now episode broadcast September 2005 on The Comedy Network.

“So Pride Day’s coming up, huh?” comedian Gord Disley says in the show transcripts. “I’m not a fag myself; If I was, I’d tell ya. I can’t, so I won’t. I mean, really, homophobia in the year 2000 looks particularly stupid, doesn’t it?

“Fags renovate like a [muted but audible] son of a bitch. Me, I’m not good with tools. I mean, renovating for me is putting a candle in a bottle, you know. Am I in the right apartment? Homosexual men have projects around the house. You hand a fag a square foot and say, ‘Make it attractive,’ no problem.”

In an e-mail a viewer wrote he wanted to complain “as strongly as possible.”

“‘Fag is a word of hate used to berate gay men. I was surprised to hear him use the word once, but after the third time he said it, I was totally appalled and offended that your station had allowed it to be used even the first time, let alone so many times.”

The complainant didn’t buy the antihomophobia preamble.

“That would be like endorsing racial hatred by qualifying it beforehand with ‘racism is ridiculous’ and then using words like ‘nigger’ or ‘chink’ to describe people of African-Canadian or Chinese-Canadian backgrounds.”

The Comedy Network replied that their program schedule is “adult, irreverent, politically incorrect and alternative” and that it was not their intention to offend. The complainant persisted, stating “‘fag’ is a word of hate, plain and simple.'”

The council sided with The Comedy Network, pointing to the context of the word “fag.” It did not find the word to be the equivalent of racial epithets that would raise its ire.

“The humour appeared to be aimed, if anywhere, at straight men rather than gays, at the creatively-challenged rather than at the creatively adept. To the extend that the decorative barbs were aimed at both groups, the panel considers they were, at worst, equally weighted. The panel finds that the humour was distinctly un-nasty.”