Thursday, March 28, 2013

Should I Punch You for Calling Me "Faggot"?

"I like to fight."

I know a guy who actually said that to me once after regaling me with tales (hopefully, all tall) of his various vicious brawls in and out of barrooms. I cringed on the inside while resolving to try to stay on his good side.

I wouldn't go so far as to say, "I'm a lover not a fighter" (quoting Michael Jackson, may he rest in peace, is probably evidence that you're neither), but I'm all for real-life people settling their differences without resorting to catfighting. Brain over brawn. Isn't that what any brilliant person would say?

What I'm not saying is that I've never slipped up and let my fists -- or feet -- do the talking for me. Several years ago, one swift kick was all it took for me to be "detained" for five hours by the Buenos Aires police. Generally speaking, though, unless I'm physically provoked or threatened, I'm inclined to turn the other cheek. That's figuratively speaking, of course. Hit me in the face, and you're getting it right back, with interest.

Given my basic disposition to non-violence, it should come as no surprise that I've never reacted physically to name calling. I've been called a "faggot" and a "nigger" countless times over the course of my lifetime but not once has a punch ever been thrown because of it. It's not so much that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. It's this: I can't be bothered to expend precious energy on anyone with such a poor vocabulary. I leave them with their hate.

All that said, I couldn't help but cheer on Days of Our Lives character of Sonny Kiriakis last week when he punched jailbird homophobe Nick Fallon for calling him "faggot." Fallon has racked up so many offenses over the last few months that he's had it coming. I'm pretty amazed that it actually took him this long to finally utter the F word.

Part of me wishes someone other than Sonny (like his boyfriend Will Horton, who happens to be Nick's cousin) would have delivered the punch, though. It's the second time during his Days stint that Sonny has slugged someone for introducing homophobic content into the conversation, and I don't want him to become known as the hot-headed gay guy who reacts with his fists. Or the one whose life revolves around justice for gay people. There should be more to him than his sexuality. I don't like the message that those fast and furious fisticuffs send out. (On the plus side, at least Sonny didn't slap Nick.)

I'm not quite sure, though, what message Days wants to send out. There's been so much God talk on the show recently (initially Nick justified his stance against gays by citing His holy word), and Jennifer Rose Horton Devereaux (played by Melissa Reeves, the controversial Chick-fil-A loyalist) remains heavily featured in story. Then at the end of Sonny vs. Nick, the latter's Jesus Christ pose -- arms held out like he'd been carrying a load -- seemed like a very telling directorial (or acting) choice.

Was it a bit of irony -- usually we think of the gay person as the persecuted party -- or are we supposed to think of Nick, the guy who doesn't want to his "gay boy" cousin to be a father to his own daughter because Nick thinks gay people shouldn't be parents, as the poor, put-upon heterosexual? It must be so tough being married to the girl who is pregnant by your gay cousin. All he wants to do is keep his stepdaughter-to-be safe from the evil gay world.

I'm not buying that, and I hope viewers aren't either. In fact, despite my non-violent inclination, I'm hoping that Nick gets it on the other cheek soon, though preferably from someone other than Sonny. Kudos to Blake Berris, who plays Nick, for creating a realistic hateful character, who despite his despicable deeds, is not 100 percent monster. When he starts justifying his actions, he actually doesn't sound completely unreasonable, which makes the character all the more maddening. There's nothing worse than a lunatic who doesn't sound crazy.

I remain staunchly anti-violence in my reaction to homophobes, but if Nick ever sees me walking down the street, he'd better run in the opposite direction.

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