HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Anytime I hear the word "fags," I challenge the speaker, especially if they are straight. I also don't like hearing the word "nigger" and I usually speak up whenever I hear it, too.

So, why am I excited that "FAGS" are a big issue on community college campuses in San Diego, and particularly at City College downtown where a lesbian (reportedly) administrator finds it offensive and "inappropriate" for an educational institution???

For years, there was an organization called the GLBT Student Union at City. But about 10 years ago, a lesbian teacher unilaterally - and, on her own - changed the name to the LGBT Student Union, putting lesbian first in the acronym.

Last year, student leader Jason Frye didn't like that and came up with a new name: "FAGS," for Fellowship of Associated Gay Students and straight supporters (there are many).

They made a crude sign that said "FAGS are Here!" and posted it on campus. It worked.

That created a stir, and quick opposition from a lesbian in the college administration. (She reportedly was upset because there was no "L" for lesbian in the name.)

Frye, 28, lives with a gay senior - Jay Murley - who likes the company of younger guys (more energy, adventure and excitment). Murley is a pioneer in the Gay Lib movement going back decades. He loves the controversy at City College, where he is also taking a class, and hence is also a student, albiet a senior.

Another young gay student - a Phillipino - also lives with Murley, Glen Echon, 22, and is similarly active in the new FAGS organization.

The controversy over the name FAGS quickly became "the" topic of conversation at City College. It was actually a brilliant way to promote the gay student organization.

Part of the reason for choosing the name, and therefore the FAGS acronym, is to "take back" the word from the homophobics. A few years ago, young Gays similarly "took back" the word queer. They began to proudly call themselves "queers," thereby removing the "hate" element away from its use. Some young African-Americans used the same technique successfully with the word "nigger." Many gay seniors, however, still have difficulty with this; but it seems to work for the younger "queers."

The campus, student newspaper, the City Times, even ran a front-page story on the controversy, published a half-page editorial in support, and ran a Man-on-the-Street type Q&A article.

The lesbian administrator says she doesn't like the name FAGS because it is a hate word.

But, isn't it protected by the first Amendment, she was aksed in an interview for this blog and a separate newspaper story?

"The First amendment doesn't protect hate words," she replied.

Actually, she is wrong.

In constitutional law, a word is considered a "hate" word only if used in hostility, as in a threat to harm someone. If that word is used complimentarily as a self-identifyer, it IS protected by the First Amendment. Apparently, the administrator had not discussed this with the campus lawyer.
Copyright by Leo E. Laurence
leopowerhere@msn.com or call (619) 757-4909


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