Monday, 17 September 2012

Meaning

I was debating about even writing this, because even just Twitter was fatiguing me. But I haven't yet read something that satisfied me.

Words are complicated. Language is complicated. Google translate doesn't do much when it comes to meaning.

I strongly believe that meaning comes in the context. That word can mean the derogatory term, or it can mean the softer, sillier "sissy" or "poof," depending on who said it, why they said it, to whom they said it. It's routinely said between friends in Venezuela, which may explain why Omar Vizquel apparently said nothing. Context is what surrounds a word. It's the basis of meaning.

I had my suspicions about what this word means in Latin American Spanish, that some of this was getting taken to a place far beyond Escobar's intention. My Chilean friend Mikhail told me that while what Escobar said was very dumb (very, very dumb), he doubted very much that the intent was that "white folks" were reading into it. Mikhail emphasized that every insult in Spanish depends on the context. And that a word can be said so many times that it loses all meaning.

Does it absolutely mean that Yunel Escobar hates gay people? No, not absolutely.

Does it absolutely mean that Yunel Escobar is kind of an idiot (the phrase is also grammatically incorrect) that needs to be told some things about some things? Probably.

Does Yunel Escobar have anxieties about homosexuals the way countless of other straight men, Latino and otherwise, do? Maybe.

I find it concerning that no one on the bench said anything to him, questioned what it meant. The eye black stickers were on his face for only a few innings, so maybe someone finally told him to change them.

Yes, it is disappointing that Escobar put those words on his face, but I have long ago stopped being shocked by what pro athletes do. They are here to entertain and they do, but they have skills and live in a world that is so removed from any real application to my actual life, that they are almost complete aliens to me. Dirk Hayhurst argued that Escobar did this because it was a product of the idiocy that surrounds every clubhouse, and I'm inclined to agree with him. That's not an excuse for grown men to behave this way, but it is a peek inside as to why they might.

I think Escobar should apologize, pay a fine/face a suspension, do some community work (with an organization like You Can Play, which the Jays should be involved with anyway) and we all move on with our lives. It is difficult to come to a new place and live. People who have lived in one place their whole lives sometimes have trouble imagining what it's like, but it can so disorienting that people never adjust. I'm not excusing Escobar for this behaviour, but I am giving him a little leeway. This time.

I think that the bigger issue is that the derogatory word to describe homosexuals is routinely used as an insult. And to pretend that this is only an issue for Escobar, or for Latin Americans, who need to taught tolerance by more accepting North Americans is a little too sanctimonious for my liking.

Because I just had a debate with a guy friend who believed that gay men are not as tough as straight men. American politicians are still arguing that homosexuality is a choice and gay people don't deserve the right to marriage. Organizations like Exodus International exist all over North America, convincing homosexuals that they can "pray away" their nature and re-orient their sexual attraction.

I'm glad people find that word offensive. It's heartening. But maybe, after Escobar apologizes and faces whatever punishment deemed appropriate, people can use all this anger in trying to help gay youth not off themselves.

Because they are facing more damaging things besides some jock who wrote something stupid on his face.

2 comments:

  1. well said...or said well?,,,to hell with grammer ...great post

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  2. Things are never as black and white as we'd like them to be, which makes dealing with them all the more painful.

    ReplyDelete