Friday, February 20, 2009

"Gayle" is Not Hate Speech... and "Gatita" is not an Obscenity

When I came across this blogspot post yesterday, I was instantly reminded of what happened about 10 years ago when I tried to use "Gatita" (Spanish for "little she-cat") as a screen name for AIM and received a message saying "That screen name is restricted." A friend later said that "restricted" means a screen name can't be used because it contains a sequence of letters that spell out any dirty or objectionable word. He said that "Gatita" was probably restricted because it contains a sequence of letters that spell out a certain slang term for female breasts. Obviously AOL only spots sequences of letters such as these. "Gatita," as I already pointed out is Spanish for "little she-cat." It's the diminutive of "gata" (she-cat) the feminine of "gato" (cat) which has the diminutive "gatito."

I commented on the link above mentioning my "Gatita" incident and how I'd gotten to thinking that girls named Cassandra and people with the last name Nishita have most likely had this problem with using those as screen names since those names contain letter sequences that spell out certain other objectionable terms that would force these screen names to be restricted. Look closely and you'll see what I mean. And there happen to be two people in my hometown who have "Gay" in their names: a woman named Gayla and man named Richard Gay. No doubt that what happened to this person named Gayle would also happen to these two and to anyone with surnames such as Gaylord, Gaynor, or the less-common surname Gayheart. And no doubt that "RGay" or "RichGay" would be not only be banned but also misconstrued as meaning "Are you gay?" or as a hate speech toward rich gay people. (Please note: I'm using a real person's name here, but I mean no harm--I'm only guessing what would likely happen to him based on what was described in the blogpost. I'm also guessing similar things would happen to this person named Gayla, also a real person's name ) Remember "Gaylord Focker," the name of Ben Stiller's character in the "Meet the Parents" films? And a side note of trivia about the late singer Marvin Gaye: his surname was originally spelled "Gay." He added the "e" to imitate his idol Sam Cooke.

The person named Gayle who wrote the blogpost wondered if her last name were "Straight" would she have been banned. Just how common is "Straight" as a surname? The only instance of that last name that I've ever heard was the late actress Beatrice Straight, who won the Best Supporting actress Oscar for the 1976 film "Network". No other examples that I can name, but the
article did get me wondering about if the surname "Straight" were to be banned. Actually she said "Straighth," as a possibly banned surnamed since it contains the letters that spell "straight" in the proper sequence.

I also happen to know that I girl I went to school with named Lisa (again, I am referring to a real person, but I am withholding the last name) has the middle name Gay. And there happens to be someone name in my town (also real) who pronounces her first name "gay" but spells it Gae. Now here's someone I don't personally know :-) someone who was named get this: Gay Love. This was mentioned by someone in my college lit class titled "Theory and Interpretation." Each quarter this class had a different theme, and when I took it, "Feminist and Queer Theory" was the topic. A girl who was in this class with me and I were discussing the original meaning of the word "gay" and the use of Gay as a woman's first name. This is when she mentioned this person who was named Gay Love. I happen to know a family in my town who has the last name Lust. That could have been just as bad, if not a lot worse.

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