To the editors:
Andrew Patner is right to object to the glib "Hey, Faggot" epithet that repeatedly infects Dan Savage's column [Letters, January 12]. Clearly, Savage needs to take advice as well as give it out. If he thinks that he and his friends will somehow defang the word "faggot" of its power to hurt, he's toking the wrong controlled substance. You can't "reappropriate" a hate term; all you do is recycle the hatred in a different but equally toxic context. Tell the effeminate kid who just heard himself screamed at as "FAGGOT!" and feels like killing himself that, no, kid, this is an "ex-hate word" to be viewed in a "new, improved, hate-free" context.
Bullshit. Language is much stronger and ugliness far more resilient than Savage and his insulated coterie realize.
Why can't Savage answer Patner's devastating final question: Would an advice column on race relations dare to open each letter with "Hey, Nigger"? How about a kosher column beginning "Hey, Kike"? Hate terms are not relative.
The Village Voice is right to prune this nasty salutation. The Reader should do the same. Even Goodman Theatre covered up the old motto over its stage proscenium: "You yourselves must set fire to the faggots you have brought." Of course that was a different meaning of faggot--but why take chances?