August 8, 2004

"Lez" Unfit for ESPN?

Having recently written of my love for the game Scrabble, it should be no big surprise that a news story on the National Scrabble Championship caught my eye.

"In the final round, eventual champion Trey Wright played the word "lez," which was on a list of offensive words not allowed during the tournament.

Normally, no word is off-limits, but because the games were being taped for broadcast on ESPN, certain terms had been deemed inappropriate, including the three-letter slang for lesbian.

"There are words you just can't show on television," Scrabble Association Executive Director John Williams said."
My first thought was "Well lez isn't really even a word, is it? Isn't it a slang abbreviation? So I surfed on over to see what had to say about it. And there I discovered that not only is it a real word, but it is "offensive slang" for lesbian and is defined as a disparaging term!

Well I ask you. Who knew? I've always considered more the way a word is used than the actual word itself to determine if it is disparaging. Or the tone in which it is said. While I've never personally been called "lez", at least not that I remember, I'm not sure I'd consider it offensive. So feel free to call me lez, as long as you aren't sneering or tossing tomatoes at the same time. And I'd just love to play that "z" on a triple word score, wouldn't you?

It also offends me a bit that a championship game of Scrabble is limited by a somewhat random list of inappropriate words just because it's going to be televised. Isn't that where the editing process should take over? Think of how long the list of eliminated words could be, depending on who compiled it. Was "fag" allowed? How about "dildo" or "poop" or "bitch"? All perfectly good words I would not hesitate to play in Scrabble if the letters came along and the points earned satisfied me.

I'd love to see the whole list of words eliminated from that tournament. And I wonder how many points Mr. Wright would have earned with his word "lez"? Guess we'll never know. Now that's something to find offensive.

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