Monday, April 20, 2015

About the Use of Terms Like "Pansy" and "Sodomite" at Responsible Catholic Journals' Websites: Ten Questions We Might Ask

In light of the ongoing determination of responsible Catholic journals (e.g., National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal) to continue permitting people to use slur terms like "pansy" and "sodomite" to refer to gay folks on their blog sites, here are some questions we might ask:

1. Can you envisage a responsible Catholic journal permitting someone to sling around the "n——r" word in a discussion thread?

2. If not, then what's the difference between swiftly ruling that word or other words slurring targeted minority groups off limits, and not ruling off limits words slurring LGBT human beings?

3. If LGBT people and those who support and care about us directly communicate to responsible Catholic journals that terms like "sodomite" or "pansy" are offensive to us and are used with the intent to harm us, and those who maintain these journals ignore our direct testimony, what are they really communicating to us, about how they regard us?

4. If LGBT people have complained to responsible Catholic journals about the use of abusive anti-gay terms in discussion threads, and received a response that says, essentially, "We don't censor discussion threads," but if it's perfectly clear that the same journals would never allow a comment using the "n——r" word to stand and that they do, in fact, exercise censorship, then what's the message to LGBT people here?

5. Why is it somehow more acceptable, in discussions at websites sponsored by responsible Catholic journals, to use terms slamming LGBT human beings, than to use terms slamming other minority groups? And why is the direct testimony of LGBT human beings about the harm intended by terms slamming us and our community simply ignored by responsible Catholic journals that would not dream of ignoring similar direct testimony from members of other minority groups?

6. When the term "sodomite" is permitted to be freely bandied about at a responsible Catholic blog site at the very moment in history at which a "sodomite suppression" initiated act is being passed around for signatures in one American state, can that journal's editors really claim that the term "sodomite" is a value-free term that in no way intends verbal violence against a minority group?

7. Can a responsible Catholic journal permitting the use of this term on its discussion threads really maintain that it's interested in promoting a church focused on mercy, a church that is a field hospital for the wounded — when the "sodomite suppression" act talks about permitting citizens of an American state to shoot "sodomites" in the head?

8. What responsibilities do responsible Catholic journals have, in such a situation? What is their responsibility, for instance, vis-a-vis how they monitor their discussion threads, and how they listen to feedback from those reading these discussion threads?

9. How do responsible Catholic journals either hinder or promote the pastoral mission of the church — to be about mercy and healing — in their concrete decision-making as they moderate their discussion threads?

10. What should be the response of LGBT Catholics and those who care about us when responsible Catholic journals simply shrug their shoulders after we have asked them please to remove comments using slur terms about us from their discussion threads — what should be our response when they communicate to us that they have no interest whatsoever in dealing with us as human beings, or including our voices and perspectives in their discussions about the merciful and healing church?

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