About Me

My photo
I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Language and Tolerance

I am a relative latecomer in terms of becoming a "Gleek", a fan of the show Glee. Last night, I caught episode 20 "Theatrically" and was so inspired by an incredibly moving scene in this show.

The scene include three characters:

Finn, a jock and member of the show choir Glee club - mostly a really great guy trying to find himself between his jock side and performer side. Finn is straight.

Kurt, a fellow-member of Glee club, a gay young man just coming out of the closet, who has a crush on Finn.

Burt, Kurt's "jock" widowed father, who is in a relationship with Finn's widowed mother. Burt accepts and loves Kurt for who he is, but has bonded with Finn through a shared love of sports and dating Finn's mother.

In this episode, Kurt and Finn's parents move in together, making the teenagers roommates. Finn is aware of Kurt's crush on him, which makes him a little uncomfortable. Finn lashes out at Kurt when Kurt shows him how he's decorated their shared room. Finn angrily asks Kurt not to be so "showy" about coming out, admonishes him to "blend in" better at school, and can't believe that Kurt has decorated their room in such a "faggy" way.

Burt overhears Finn's outburst and in an emotional and moving display of support for Kurt, explains to Finn why what he's said is wrong and hateful. He then asks Finn to move out, as he can't have someone who feels that way about his son living under his roof.

At the end of the episode, Finn stands up to his football buddies when they are bullying Kurt, showing that Burt's admonition has had a major effect on him - and it looks like Finn and Kurt will reconcile their friendship. I couldn't find a good link to the scene in Glee but there are some on youtube, and can be found if you search for "Glee Burt and Finn" but I'm not sure of copyright infringement rules, so I won't post the link on my blog. I hope you view it though or have a chance to see the episode - it's an incredible dialogue about how powerful words are - even if we don't think we're using them in a derogatory way.

Think about it - what is someone really saying when they casually say "that's so gay" - substitute the word "gay" with what they really meant - what does that mean they think about gay people? Would it hurt someone's feelings to know that you associate that word with something like dumb, feminine, stupid, or freaky. That type of language creates an "us vs. them" mentality. Just like we don't use words like "retard" and the "n" word anymore, we need to eliminate other common "sayings" that may seem harmless, but really aren't. I think its important to recognize how powerful language is - and we need to respect the dignity of every human being in both our words and behaviour. It was so good to see this message in the popular media - from a Fox program no less!


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I do believe though that respect ALWAYS, no matter what the situation, MUST go both ways. There is a perception out there that "minority" groups are always the ones bearing the brunt of prejudice and hate speech. This just isn't the case and the sooner we acknowledge EVERYBODY no matter what their race, religion, creed...can ALL be the focus of hate and it has to stop.


  2. Respect for people is really important - no matter the group. Minorities often get the brunt though.

    I do, however, believe that ideas and beliefs can be challenged - but of course this should be done in a respectful manner.


Please share your thoughts and opinions. Personal attacks and spam will be deleted.