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May 2, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

I am Offended Because – An Open Letter to the Girls on the No. 9 Bus

Dear Girls on the Number Nine Bus,

I thought this column could be a good place to contact you. On Thursday the 24th of March you were both sitting on the backwards facing seats of the 7.54am number nine bus, avidly clutching your Victoria University Laws 214 notes. I’m writing to you because over the course of our brief but bumpy journey I found myself feeling a little offended. My problem wasn’t with the notes or the seats or the bus. My problem was with you. More specifically, my problem was with your conversation about StudyLink being ‘gay’.

Now GOTNNB, I’m going to assume that you were using the word as an insult and not talking about StudyLink’s sexual behaviours, mainly because StudyLink is a sexless, genderless and completely useless Government service. It’s not like you might bump into StudyLink at Ivy on Saturday night. I don’t think, but please correct me if I’m wrong, that StudyLink and WINZ have ever engaged in a bout of sweaty tribadism. (Look it up!) You were using gay as a pejorative term and I get it, there’s a lot to complain about with StudyLink. The constant letters, the missed payments, the Internet log in system with security settings that would stump Mata Hari. When I heard you using the word gay though, I didn’t think about those things. I didn’t even get the Dave Dobbyn-through-the-earpiece flashbacks that I usually get when talking about StudyLink. Funnily enough, I mainly just thought about how gay people in New Zealand still can’t get married or adopt children. I also thought about how the leader of our country voted against the civil union bill. Did you know, GOTNNB, that same-sex-attracted teenagers are twice as likely to be bullied at school? Or that gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts?

GOTNNB, you want to grow up to be lawyers, right? I’m guessing this because it’s not like anybody does LAWS 214 for fun, apart from perhaps Conrad Reyners. As prospective lawyers you must have some kind of understanding about the power of words. A word can be the difference between guilty and not guilty. Words can be flippant and they can be uttered in jest but ultimately words mean things. And no matter what your intent, as long as you use the word ‘gay’ to mean ‘bad’ then you are telling gay people that they are bad people. To me, this doesn’t seem that great in light of the adoption thing and the bullying and the suicide. And the stoning in Uganda. And the ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa. And the Matthew Shepard in Wyoming. Using a sexual orientation as a slur is irresponsible. It’s harmful. Atticus Finch would hate it. As lawyers in training, you have the potential to change the world. Think Atticus, not Russell McVeagh. StudyLink isn’t gay. StudyLink is a steaming pile of shit.

With love,
Your favourite offended blogger
AND fellow bus user,
Ally Garrett.


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Comments (6)

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  1. Ally says:

    I must admit, I am a little offended that the column has been spelled ‘I Am Offended Beacase”.
    (If I was the kind of person who used winky faces now is when I would use one.)

  2. Uther Dean says:

    (Tongue-sticking-out smiley face.)

  3. Ally says:

    I am beaming, much like one of those zealous smiley faces that have a ‘D’ for a mouth.

  4. Anon says:

    As always, really love your writing Ally. Sadly, we can also add Noxolo Nogwaza to that list.

  5. Conrad Reyners says:

    Laws 214 was pretty fun actually. Good spotting Ally.

  6. Jaclyn says:

    This shows real expertise. Thanks for the awsner.

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