Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The tale of the gay horse and getting fined for sweet FA

Two recent news stories look at the issue of swearing and Tony Blair's "Respect agenda" (see the post here). In one story (the curious incident of the gay horse in the road, you could say) a student who was facing an £80 fine for calling a police horse "gay" had his case dropped. Quite how this ludicrous case even came to court is a long tail (sorry), but according to the BBC website,
Mr Brown, 21, a student at Oxford University, had said to an officer: "Excuse
me, do you realise your horse is gay?".

Police decided to take him to court when he refused to pay a fixed penalty £80 fine, arguing fairly rationally that a horse couldn't be insulted by the word "gay". The police countered by saying "He made homophobic comments that were deemed offensive to people passing by".

In today's Metro it's reported that a teenager was fined £80 for using the F-word while talking to a friend in a private conversation. With heavyhitters like Shami Chakrabati of civil liberties pressure group Liberty and the Rev. Ian Gregory of the Campaign for Courtesy stepping into the debate over the F-word, the whole incident has been blown out of all proportion.

But how much of our language is policed like this in reality? Most of us can swear with gay abandon and to our hearts' content if we so wish, and never get banged up by the police. How do we feel about swearing in public, homophobic abuse, offensive chants about supposedly gay footballers or even gloating chamts about injured footballers? Your comments are welcome...

Useful for:
ENA1 - Language & Representation
ENA5 - Language Change

No comments: