Last Thursday my friend Mat texted me a Herald Sun web link with the instruction to scroll to the bottom of the page. Intriguing.

The article was about an AFL footballer who’d been fined for making a ‘homophobic’ jibe against another player – the Sun’s inverted commas, not mine.

The footballer had called his opponent a “fucking homo” on field. Was the editor confused about whether that was homophobic – or just not convinced anyone should be insulted?

At the bottom of the article was a poll asking readers: “Do you think calling someone a “f—ing homo” is an offensive insult?” WTF.

Excuse me Herald Sun, do you think running a poll like this is an offensive insult? I do. What’s worse is at the time of writing this column, more than half the people who’d voted believed the phrase “fucking homo” was not offensive.

If a Herald Sun reader called me a “fucking homo” I’d be pretty fucking pissed. Mat was offended and I’m sure most “homos” would be.

The AFL fined the player $3000 and sent him to an education program. They obviously decided the behaviour was inappropriate – but the Herald Sun still questioned whether he’d done anything wrong.

At a time when we’re trying to teach kids not to say “gay” when they mean lame because it’s offensive to queers, it’s scary to see one of Australia’s most read newspapers giving people a forum to defend their vitriol.

I’m not sure how anti-discrimination law works, but does inviting bigotry through a question excuse the paper of any wrongdoing? Because even though it’s just a question, it still feels icky to me – in an inciting hatred kinda way.

Or maybe the fact that 55.91 percent of voters think it’s totes fine to diss someone as a “fucking homo”, proves it was a question worth asking?

I know I should just ignore the paper that gives Andrew Bolt a paycheck – but let’s go back to the question.

If you replaced the word “homo” with, say a derogatory abbreviation for an Aboriginal person, there’s no way the paper would have run it. So why go there with gays?

The following day I received another text from Mat.

This time saying he’d reported the Herald Sun to GLAAD – the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Let’s see what comes of it.

By MONIQUE SCHAFTER

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