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Steve MacIsaac On My Use Of The Word Refreshing To Talk About Some Asshole’s Use Of A Chick Tract
posted July 20, 2009

This is admittedly an over-sensitive, knee-jerk reaction to a minor point but I do wish you'd been able to come up with a better word than "refreshing" to describe the domain-purchaser's use of Chick tracts. Even though your immediate qualifier "in a way" following indicates you're aware of the possible misinterpretations and mean to head them off at the pass, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe if religiously- based anti-gay messages weren't such common currency in the media and on the internet, I'd feel differently. While I agree that it's fascinatingly abberant to see Chick's work actually being used for the purpose for which it was designed, that purpose is about as old and tired as they come.

Tom Spurgeon: I disagree. While I'm going to take a look at the language because I'm not sure we're on the same page and therefore I may have written the piece poorly, I stand behind the word "refreshing" in terms of my reaction to a Jack Chick tract story where they play a role of something other than adorable kitsch. I can't reacall ever seeing a story that takes them on those very real terms in addition to the hipster interpretation, so it was refreshing to me to see such a story. If anyone wants to see that in some negative fashion, I guess they're welcome to. If they see it as an endorsement, they're also welcome to but they'd be really wrong.

Steve MacIsaac: Let me clarify my own wording. I'm not accusing you of anti-gay sentiment, or of supporting the cybersquatter's anti-queer goals. I don't know you personally, but I've read enough of your criticism over the years to know that would be uncharacteristic. Even if I didn't know that, I think your feelings come through clearly from the context of your piece, and from the fact that you're linking to an article you found on a gay website XTRA that is pretty clearly negative about the practice. I also think I do clearly understood what you meant by the term "refreshing" - that we're so used to talking about Chick tracts from an ironic distance, it's novel to hear about them being used for proselytization, their original purpose.

My objection to the word "refreshing" in the context isn't that you're wrong about the fact that writing about the use of Chick tracts in this manner is unusual - it IS unusual. However, as a gay man I find the choice is jarring because the cybersquatter's tactics are, in a larger cultural context, NOT that novel. The use of Chick tracts? Unusual? The use of Chick-like fire and brimstone rhetoric to justify pretty much any indiginity you care to name? Not so much. That's the "purpose" that I was referring to in my last sentence, and that "purpose" is NOT refrehsing in the least - it's not novel, quaint or unusual, but mainstream, old hat, practically status quo. But you're right: your usage is absolutely correct and communicates what you were trying to say in an appropriate manner for the context of this site. I'm just looking at it from a slightly different perspective, which is why I wrote.