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June 22nd, 2010
11:05 PM ET

"That's so gay" and Gen. McChrystal

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

There is another problematic issue – unrelated to the war in Afghanistan or the chain of command – in the Rolling Stone article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

The writer is privy to a conversation between McChrystal and his aides as the general prepares to attend a dinner in Paris, a dinner the general clearly does not want to attend. McChrystal leaves the room and the writer asks one of the aides with whom the general is having dinner. “Some French minister,” the aide answers. “It’s f***ing gay.”

“That’s so gay” has become a popular phrase (I hear it most often from teenage boys) to express distaste for an activity, to put down another person or just to convey a negative impression of almost anything.

The aides around Gen. McChrystal are anything but teenagers. Presumably these are senior military officers or their civilian equivalent.

If the aide had made derogatory reference to a race, a religion or an ethnicity, there would be public outcry. I’ll wait to see if that happens with use of a homophobic slur.

Often, the person saying “that’s so gay” doesn’t think of the phrase as being insulting. But, as with all such remarks, it is hurtful. And unless you call out the person using it, they’ll use it again.

To the end, there is a movement to persuade middle- and high school students not to say “that’s so gay,” offering them alternatives.

Perhaps President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates or Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mullen should order Gen. McChrystal and his aides to check it out.


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