The letter bellow has been written by the Editor of the New Oxford Review, in response to a reader who complained that the Editor uses to refer to gay men as f*gs:
We take your letter far more seriously. We would never call any woman a “fg” because that word applies only to males. We would never refer to a homosexually-oriented man who belongs to Courage and is living a life of chastity as a “f*g”; rather, we’d be inclined to refer to him as a “saint.” As for Fr. Keenan, he was not writing about priests or seminarians who belong to Courage.
You ask: “Do you honestly think that calling men…‘fgs’ will attract them to the freedom of chastity?” Yes, we do. Flattering them by calling them “gays” will not. We believe in social stigmas. “Fg” has a negative denotation; to use the word is to assert a social stigma. Take homosexually-oriented priests who violate their vow of celibacy: They’re despicable. They need to be shamed, instead of coddled (as many bishops have done). Shaming people has a way of getting their attention and letting them know that they need to change their ways.
As for language and holiness: As David Mills pointed out in our October issue, the heretic Marcion was called “the firstborn of Satan” to his face by Saint Polycarp. Well, we haven’t gone that far. But if we were holier, maybe we would.
To both of you: We believe that the word “f*g” should be taken out of the closet because etymologically it is a perfect word for actively homosexual men in our culture today. Here’s why:
In the English language we have the term “fagged out,” meaning exhausted. We also have the word “fg,” which means a male homosexual, which is short for “ft,” which means the same. Our American Heritage Dictionary says that “f*t” perhaps originally referred to an old woman. Aha. A male homosexual is womanish, and an old woman is tired out, exhausted. Thus we see the connection between effeminacy, being fagged out, and male homosexuals.
But the connection is more explicit with the word “effete.” Its first definition in our American Heritage Dictionary is “depleted of vitality, force, or effectiveness; exhausted” — as in “the final, effete period of the baroque style.” The second definition is “marked by self-indulgence, triviality, or decadence.” We’ll get to the third definition in a second. The fourth is “no longer productive; infertile” — which suggests not procreative.
The third definition is “overrefined; effeminate.” Here we have the most common usage, namely, effeminate. According to the “Word History” for “effete,” this dictionary says that effete “has come to mean ‘effeminate’” and this “marks a return to its etymological roots,” namely, “exhausted” and “feeble.” And so “in the last two centuries or so the senses ‘characterized by weakness or decadence’ and ‘overrefined, effeminate,’ have appeared.”
Our dictionary defines “effeminate” as “having qualities or characteristics more often associated with women than men” and “characterized by weakness and excessive refinement.” Note “weakness,” which relates to exhaustion and being fagged out.
Let’s put it all together. An actively homosexual man can properly be called a f*g because a fg is characteristically someone who is depleted of vitality, self-indulgent, decadent, effeminate, and not procreative. There you have it. See how our English language is resonant with meaning! Thus “fg” is a perfect word for a practicing homosexual male.
But our culture — our self-indulgent, fagged-out culture — urges us to use the word “gay.” What Orwellian Newspeak! How gay is a way of life inordinately characterized by bars, bathhouses, one-night stands, depression, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, AIDS, and early death? “Gay” just doesn’t fit, doesn’t do the work a word should do.
That our decadent culture insists on the word “gay” indicates ipso facto that we have entered the final, effete period of the American Republic. To use the word “fg” is to underline the point and defiantly protest our decline.