Bil Browning

Young Turks: I'll call you people what I want

Filed By Bil Browning | September 14, 2010 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Cenk Uygur, language changes, offensive language, Young Turks

What the hell happened to Young Turks host Cenk Uygur? While the guy is normally LGBT-positive, in a recent episode of the show, he turns into one of this week's biggest assholes. After a co-host explains why the LGBT community doesn't use "homosexual" to refer to itself, Uygur goes on an incredibly arrogant rant about how he's "drawing a line in the sand" and refuses to say "gay," "lesbian," or even "LGBT."

The sheer amount of privilege Uygur demonstrates so aptly is overwhelming. Not only does he refuse to refer to our community by the name we prefer, he sets himself up as the arbiter of what is or isn't acceptable to gays and lesbians - even when it's pointed out to him with statistics and facts that using the term "homosexual" leads to discrimination against the LGBT community.

Shorter Cenk Uygur: "I'll call you people what I want. Now stop complaining." Want an even shorter Uygur? Don't watch Young Turks anymore and turn the channel when he's guest hosting on MSNBC.

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David Castillo David Castillo | September 14, 2010 1:53 PM

Thanks for posting this, Bil. It's really appalling to see privileged white guys be so crass about the name our community chooses to use to refer to itself.

I didn't realize calling us 'gay', 'lesbian' or 'LGBT' was so taxing for Cenk Uygur. I think you're right on about your call to action. Maybe he won't mind so much if our community stops watching his show.

What does white have to do with this?

The worst part is that he relies on stereotypes to justify his refusal to defer from using the term by painting gays as "oversensitive" and "overreacting". Any gay knows that these are dog whistles and they conjure images of the hysterical dandy that screams and faints at the drop of a hat. What would the reaction be if he had claimed that black men complain about racism just because they're angry all the time? It is still all too acceptable to portray gays as caricatures and rely on tired stereotypes to explain our motivations. Even for people who consider themselves allies. They pay us lip service, but actions like this prove that they don't really see our movement as a struggle to liberate ourselves from second class citizenship. If they did, they wouldn't be so obnoxious and cavalier, and they'd be much more outraged at the treatment of our community by the current Democrtatic administration. Uygur (and a lot of other supposed straight "allies") owes all of us an apology.

Hey, what can you expect from a turban head? Oops.

"Towel head" is nothing like "homosexual." This is a valid discussion, and I'd largely agree that while he doesn't have to agree with the use of the word homosexual (and he is against the use of "faggot)" it's his attitude of liberal privilege that grates more than anything else.

The use of "towel head" as an analogy says more about the writer/speaker's racial politics than Uygur's attitudes towards homosexuality/gayness.

Angela Brightfeather | September 14, 2010 4:18 PM

Come on, that's just not nice. Some of my best friends are olive skinned, black haired, heavy eyebrowed and very hairy type Greek guys, who are lovely people and dance around with other men in circles and wear those lovely skirts with the leggings and tassles on their shoes all the time. I support their civil rights every chance that I get and look forward to seeing all Greek-Americans obtain their equal rights in the future.

Oh gosh Angela you are so very right even though geographically challenged. But no matter. It probably wouldn't cause Cent to get his panties in a twist on either side of the Bosporus.

I'm drawing a line. They're all Greek if they're not white, colored, orientals or redskins. That includes the Irish. If they back down from the word "Greek" then they're just going to be backing down every ten years from words and we'll have to keep on learning new ones. "Greek" is a perfectly acceptable word and that's what they are, and how dare anyone question what a wonderfully liberal, pro-Greek person I am.

He has a point.

"Gay" was an answer to "homosexual", and look now what's happened, "this is gay". You keep retreating off words, but each new one will be demonized and be incorporated into the lexicon in its demonized form.

Homosexual is not an offensive word to many people as well. In Latin America the word is used without necessarily operating under the same connotations as the U.S.

In Spain the equivalent to the word "faggot" is used casually and has a lot more of leeway.

It does seem counterproductive to scold normally supportive people over something as inoffensive as using homosexual instead of gay. "That's gay" happens to be different, because it promotes a negative idea. But homosexual is just a descriptive term with no innate disdain.

What did rub me the wrong way was how someone can say "I love you, but be quiet." It would be more acceptable to hear "I hear ya, but I disagree."

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And mine is that this is much ado about nothing. Casually ostracising our allies for not being so PC is foolish. And Cenk Uygur has been an ally--- many times over. He's stood up for us against some of the most venemous hate-mongers on the Right. And I agree with him. Homosexual is what we are. It's both a noun and an adjective in the dictionary. Its definition has been established by the scientific, medical and psychiatric communities for years.

He doesn't have to agree on the word homosexual, I see that. It's not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I don't like it so I don't use it in English, but in French it's really the only word.

What did bother me was the quick-to-anger "I'm such a wonderful, magnanimous, liberal person and how dare you question me" attitude both Cenk and Ana displayed. Just ego.

I'd let Ana off the hook because she did look it up and she may have been put off by the way some of her critics put it (it's the internet, assuming people are mean is a pretty safe bet). But Cenk? Just sounds like liberal hackishness to me, the sort of "I have have to love the gays because Republicans don't and my audience does, but I don't really care about LGBT rights issues." And I generally like him.

Just a reminder to be cautious about our so called 'allies'.

He gets to call you what he wishes by the exact same logic you, Bil, have applied to women of history and the term transgender.

Straights outnumber homosexuals so they get to call the shots....your rules.

Sauce, goose, gander

But you'll not get this point anyway will you but it is amusing to see you in the position I'm in all the time here.

Your logic is flawed, Cat. In this case, you'd prefer that people use the older more clinical name of "transsexual" that most in the trans community finds offensive. Hence, "transgender."

You are in Uygur's shoes on this one - repeatedly demanding that transgender women be referred to by a term most find offensive and repeatedly using it after you've been asked to stop. You've offered your reasons - as did he - but they just don't fly with the modern media guidebooks (same as homosexual) or the community at large.

Are you taking medication or something?

Transsexual is a medical term for a medical condition, one with specific parameters. I most certainly do not advocate and never have transgender identified people who do not fit the term using it.

Transgender is a political term, one I reject as a major insult, much as you found "homosexual" objectionable.....

To be perfectly clear, one normally does not identify as a medical condition, one has the condition. Once cured, it's medical history.

If homosexuals such as yourself and GLAAD get to define me, straights get to define you....

and I return what I receive...I use the term you refer to (not giving you an excuse to play censor less than totally outright) because my own being offended by the term transgender is utterly ignored by those who label me such. After years of not being respected, I no longer show those who do so any respect. But like you, they are incapable of seeing things even when it's on the other foot.

Exactly RB. The fact Bill can't see his own hypocrisy here might not even be his own fault in a sense. There has been so much misinformation spread about transsexual that people don't even know what it is, including Bil apparently, by his comment you are responding to. At the same time, trying to turn it around and paint the victim (people born transsexual) as the oppressor is a nasty trick. It is also one of the oldest tricks used by the TG against us.

Bil may just be misinformed, but at this point it's clear that it is a willful misinformation he clings to on purpose. He can take the time to understand the difference, but what are the chances of that? It looks like he thinks that transsexual isn't a medical condition, that it is just another name for crossdresser who gets surgery.

So which is it Bil? Do you believe that there is a transsexual birth condition? Is it synonymous with transgender? Is crossdressing, the core of transgender "identity", a medical condition? What do you think transsexual is?

Well, now, this is obviously just another example of separatism and elitism on the part of gays in the same vein that many of us are called that because we don't appreciate a similar association.

"WE...will refer to you in any damn way we please, whether you like it or not...but YOU will refer to us in the manner in which we prefer or we will cry foul and shout disrespect from the roof tops."

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. It's like the style guide thing. The GLBT expects anyone writing or reporting about them to follow the style guide to the absolute letter...every time; all hell breaks out any and every time that it's not. But jump to any GLBT blog that is reporting on the mainstream and one will easily find the most insulting, rude, and vile reporting to be found anywhere, the internet or otherwise. "Do as we say, not as we do" at it's finest.

Respect is, and has always been, a two way street.

"...logic is flawed..."


In this case, you'd prefer that people use the older more clinical name of "transsexual" that most in the trans community finds offensive. Hence, "transgender."

Most trans-people prefer the word transgender because is what they are. They transition social gender roles and presentation.

Transsexuals transition anatomical sex. Having done so they cease to be trans anything. Once the conflicted biologies are congruent their issues are resolved.

Only a complete incomprehension of the T/S experience could lead you to make that (above) statement in the first place.

What is even scarier is the mind boggling determination not to listen to what people who have lived with the condition keep telling you.

At what point Bil, do you get off the denial wagon and actually start hearing instead of dictating?