So this morning, Foodepedia published their review of Heston Blumenthal's new restaurant Dinner. Like every other review under the sun, it focused on Blumenthal's signature starter Meat Fruit, but not in a way you might expect.
I've screen-grabbed the piece as it was first published above, but the writer Nick Harman seemed to think it would be amusing to suggest that "Meat Fruit" was in fact the name of a gay man with a sidekick called "Bull Dyke".
A few of us on Twitter and in the comments on Foodepedia objected to this cheap and childish homophobia, and its derision of the efforts by local authorities to teach and inform.
Rather than apologise, Foodepedia's response was to align itself with Jeremy Clarkson (a figure notorious for his unreconstructed views) and to insinuate that we just didn't get the joke. See screen-grabs below - the equivalent of a big f*ck you.
And when we expressed disbelief at this Twitter response and their amended review, they actually enquired if they should reinstate the original text.
So why are we getting so worked up about this?
"These are just words", said one critic;
"There are better things to get angry about", said another;
"It's political correctness gone mad", said a third.
NO. This is not just a case of political correctness.
These kind of comments, published in a forum which people will take seriously, are an example of the type of insidious and invidious homophobia which pervades the world and needs to be held up as intolerable.
To suggest that such words have no effect or power is naive and dangerous.
Accepting this kind of language breeds contempt, prejudice and hatred.
Accepting this kind of language means somehow in 2011 Clintons thought it would be okay to sell a greeting card where a superhero called "Batty Boy" wears a pink frilly costume just to sledgehammer the "humour" home.
And of course, now I come to think of it, Paki and nigger are just words too, right? Right?
Because casual homophobia isn't the only form of stealth prejudice polluting this world.
There's AA Gill with his casual racism evinced by references in restaurant reviews to "Chinky takeaways" and latterly his slightly more subtle, but equally hateful, "round-eyed Westerners".
We get it, Adrian. You're round-eyed, because us Orientals are slitty-eyed. Hilarious.
And of course, you're rather fond of the word "dyke" too.
Or what about Frankie Boyle and his entire career taunting disabled people?
"Don't be so over-sensitive - we're just having a laugh".
Just because they're not actually hanging homosexuals or wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood, it doesn't excuse this behaviour.
And Hanlon's Razor ie the argument that the words come from stupidity rather than malice is no excuse either - the effect is still the same.
It is not funny or clever to pick on people for being different. It's lazy and bullying. It can cause people to become withdrawn, depressed, even suicidal.
All of this is why we have to make a stand and object.
The first few years of secondary school, there was a group of boys who would constantly yell "Currant Bun" at me because I had a "brown face and little black eyes". They made me hate them and worse, I'm ashamed to say, hate my own skin.
Eventually I got my eldest brother to have a word with one of them. The next day they all stopped.
This is just me having a word.
Stewart Lee says it best (added after a tip-off by Food Urchin)
And recently in the Sunday Times, AA Gill described a tomato sauce at Kopapa as being "a single mother’s quick pasta" and that REALLY upset me. I am the child of a single mother who was a wonderful cook and the insinuation is that single mums are somehow crap cooks or too busy to make good food. Does he realise how difficult it is to be a single mother? And anyway HOW DARE HE!!!
And I'm not gay but I don't think there's any place for casual comments that make anyone feel bad about who they are.
It's not political correctness, it's living in a society where everyone is valued for their own worth, and where those who have a voice do not use it to deride those without.
Name calling, homophobia and racism reinforces attitudes that then spill into daily life, hiring and promotions at work and day to day attitudes, its just not acceptable.
Cultural differences should be welcomed and celebrated, even when, like Century Eggs, they aren't appreciated by some of us luddites ;) !
As you said, an example of a pervasive, almost unconscious homophobia that lets people think they can pick on someone and expect the mob to gather round to point and spitefully laugh. Not nice.
I'd say he should stick to writing about food, but I wasn't that impressed with that part of the review either...
Thank you for this, and thank you for actually standing up and pointing out what was wrong. If it wasn't for this post I actually would have missed the whole thing as I've been off Twitter most of the day, so especially thank you for highlighting this in a much more public forum.
And as for the critic who said "These are just words" - really? They really think that's an appropriate response? As you quite rightly point out words can be painful, and can cause real harm.
My only surprise is that Nick Harman didn't proclaim 'that some of my best friends are gay'.
A friend of mine refers to such misinformed language and behaviour as 'casual racism' or for this example 'casual homophobia'.
I do wish that people were just a little more thoughtful and nicer. It's really not that difficult!
Sometimes I do also wish that people dropped the 'casual' nature of their beliefs. Not nice, but at least then I would know where they stood... The casual nature of any anti behaviour is, in my opinion, always more hurtful than outright statements.
PS, I really don't mean to offend anyone with that last paragraph
Homophopia and sexism should be considered just as heinous as any other form of discrimination.
The suggstion that all members of a particular group possess characteristics or abilities specific to that group (particularly to distinguish it as being inferior to another group) is both pathetic and absurd (and should be treated as such).
(nice piece, MiMi)
I am terribly sad and disappointed with Foodpedia's pitiful response.
I think however, that if they won't take an honest, ethical stand on this subject, they will rapidly lose everyone's respect.
Which, equally sadly, will serve them right.
How on earth are we supposed to tackle institutional discrimination, malicious misinformation, violence, intimidation, kids being tormented to the point of suicide if we don't challenge the so-called 'small stuff'? At any rate, a professional (haha) site like that using homophobic slurs is hardly small. None of it is. It just shows how far we still have to go.
Anyway, you're a star.xx
p.s. Did someone genuinely say political correctness gone mad? FFS.
A bit of personality in a review helps (or in this case harms), but is it too much to ask just to hear about the food?
Now. Having a somewhat twisted brain I will admit to giggling to myself at the meat fruit name, but that was it. A small 'fnar' IN MY HEAD. After that I though 'what's so weird about meat and fruit? Eh?"
BULL DYKE??? I...words fail me. That is an old, old term, and it is a very derogatory one. In fact, these days, I only hear it used in the lesbian community, and then it's usually someone talking about themselves. Don't get me started on 'Lipstick Lesbian'.
I fit into quite a few minorities in various ways and there really is no need to use that kind of language.
It's deemed okay to do it about yourself, but that is as far as it goes.
Well done you for having a word.
@Sasha @ The Happiness Project London - You're completely right - glib slurs and snide attitudes like that erode society by making people feel bad. AA Gill is such a cock.
@risottogirl - Exactly, thank you.
@Mat Follas - So much bullying is written off as banter. I knew you'd understand x
@Gin and Crumpets - No, not nice.
@miss south - Thank you :)
@Food Urchin - Love this - have embedded into the post above!
@BeccaRothwell - *blushes* thank you (^_^)
@Hugh Wright - You're very welcome, Hugh xx
@tori, @James - Thank you!
@The Grubworm - Yes, that was a real riposte.
@Mr Noodles - Ha, "the Clarkson defence" :) And it is surprising that he didn't try the "best friends defence" too.
@Manish - Thank you, I meant to use those terms and forgot so thanks for reminding me to put them in. I agree with you about sometimes just wanting to know where you stand with people.
@Becci - Ah, thanks for the link to the Atkinson debacle. Yes, all discrimination is abhorrent.
@WalshyMK - Ha! (thanks!)
@Josordoni - I am baffled as to what they're trying to achieve apart from opprobrium.
@Su-Lin - Yes, there is a definite difference between teasing and bullying.
@Elisa (AussieFoodie) - Almost inexplicable (thanks!)
@Suzler - Exactly, this is as valid a battle as any other. I hate it when people say "Oh, but what about [add cause du celebre]?" as if everything else becomes irrelevant.
And yes, when professional websites or BBC TV programmes normalise and condone such behaviour, we will go to hell in a handbasket if we let it pass without comment.
@Salty - Cheers!
@Cherie City - He's an odd character.
@Dom - Thanks Dom!
@AmSam - My husband did :)
@Lisa - Meat fruit is a silly combination of words and made me go fnar too, but that's because it sounds like a euphemism for testicles to me :D
Thank you all x
Really well said, MiMi - thank you for stating so lucidly what so many of us think.
It's one thing (and not a good one at that) to publish such a nasty little piece of writing in the first place. But absolutely bloody outrageous to try and defend it and turn it back on those who said "no, this is NOT acceptable and it's not funny".
That catchphrase from when I was at school comes to mind. "It's not big and it's not clever".
It's lazy, small-minded and invidious.
Some comments have no place in the world today. The video complements your article so well.well done, well written.
And we should stand up to it as not saying anything makes it worse.
@Rosana - Stewart Lee is a hero, thanks!
@Kay - Exactly, staying silent means the bullies win.
@Jill - Thank you - that's how I feel too.
and whilst I totally agree with you Meemalee that there are certain words that are offensive and should never, ever be used... there are still appropriate times and places to be silly and I think comparing the 'N' word with this is very dangerous... but that's just the Meat Fruit in me talking ...
But I'm kinda surprised you say you're not offended by the article, since (read as a whole), I'd say the text is openly homophobic - the use of "meat fruit" in conjunction with the pejorative term "bull dyke" implies the overall intention is to insult, and the references to "young adults" and "life choices" seem to be clearly contemptuous.