Flower fight

The gay advocacy organization Egale has formally protested the use by
CBC sports broadcasters of the word “pansification,” in stories about
whether fighting should be banned in hockey. 

I ran a highly unscientific poll of several
associates, aged in their 20s to 50s, all reasonably well-educated.
Without providing context, I asked them to define the words “pansy” or
“pansification.” (None had seen the CBC Sports broadcasts.) They
answered: a flower, a sissy, a weak person, a pretty person, and
wondered if to “pansify” was to make something weak or pretty. When I
asked if they associated “pansy” with “homosexual,” they were surprised
and said no.

Dictionary definitions of “pansy” include “a popular cultivated viola”
as well as “an effeminate or homosexual man.” But just as the word
“gay”is now taken to mean “homosexual” instead of the dated “happy,” I
think the association of “pansy” with being homosexual or effeminate
has faded from usage. Anyway, so what? As a female, I don’t take umbrage
with hockey players who don’t fight being called “effeminate.” As a
female, I don’t file formal complaints each time I hear the phrase
“girl,” as in, “so-and-so was beat by a girl.”
Surely we’ve moved past this silly stuff? In the realm of sports and comedy (which often seem the same) it’s just
stupid — and if considered seriously, says more about the speaker than
the subject.

Besides, one of the broadcasters accused of using the word has the last name “Cherry.” Talk about sexual connotations. If we’re going to investigate “pansification,” surely an inquiry into forcing “Cherry” to change his name is in order?

Stop snickering. I’m not making all this up. The Globe and Mail reported
that Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale (an acronym for
Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere), filed telephone and
written complaints about the word “pansification” to CBC ombudsman
Vince Carlin. She was quoted in the story: “So it’s okay for people to
go around using these slurs —
derogatory, stereotypical terms against a group in society? That’s

Outrageous? Outrageous is
melamine in infant formula, passers-by dying in gang shoot-outs on
Toronto streets or, if you simply want to focus on journalism practices, the
cost-cutting, dumbing down of information media to render it useless.

There’s a difference between standing up for human dignity and legal
rights, and turning the use of our rich and ever-changing language into
a political minefield that goes beyond political correctness into farce. Kennedy is fabricating word booby-traps. That
she would take time for such a frivolous complaint makes me wonder
about the credibility of Egale. With so many serious real issues at stake surely Kennedy, and Egale and its 4,000 members, can find a
better use for their, and the CBC ombudsman’s, time?