Auto-correct can be a very helpful feature of any word-processing program. But when conservatives use it, they run the risk of embarrassing themselves.
Some far-right sites that subscribe to the Associated Press feed, for example, will use auto-correct to change “Democratic Party” to “Democrat Party.” This, of course, is because they have the temperament of children.
But the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.” I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy. The group is, after all, pretty far out there.
The problem, of course, is that “gay” does not always mean what the AFA wants it to mean. My friend Kyle reported this morning that sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend. The AFA ran the story, but only after the auto-correct had “fixed” the article.
That means — you guessed it — the track star was renamed “Tyson Homosexual.” The headline on the piece read, “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.” Readers learned:Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.
His wind-aided 9.85 seconds was a fairly cut-and-dry performance compared to what happened a day earlier. On Saturday, Homosexual misjudged the finish in his opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American record that had stood since 1999. […]
Homosexual didn’t get off to a particularly strong start in the first semifinal, but by the halfway mark he had established a comfortable lead. He slowed somewhat over the final 10 meters-nothing like the way-too-soon complete shutdown that almost cost him Saturday. Asked how he felt, Homosexual said: “A little fatigued.”
Now, the AFA has since changed the article back to the way it was originally written by the AP reporter, but don’t worry, Kyle got the screen-grab before the AFA edited the piece back.
Homophobes turning an Olympic athlete homosexual! Heavens! Perhaps that Ted Haggard program will work for them.
Washington Post blogger Mary Ann Akers picked up the story as well.
Besides providing a good laugh, this story made me think of two things. One, this is basically the reverse technique of right-wing hate site Little Green Footballs, where proprietor Charles Johnson implemented a filter to clean up some comments – "raghead" was changed to "Arab," for instance. Both sites cater to bigots, but one is trying to hide it a little bit. Two, I had a student who liked to pepper his papers with what he thought were impressive words, using Microsoft Word's synonym function to help him (a George Will in training, perhaps). The thing was, he chose these words without concern for syntax, precision or eloquence, and often didn't know what they really meant. My favorite was the essay where, in mentioning one of the plagues of Egypt from Exodus, the frogs didn't ravage the land; he wrote that they ravished it.
But then, those frogs were probably filthy homosexuals, too.
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)