As Moscow gears up for once again banning the gay pride parade later this month, Russia Today, the Kremlin’s wonderful cable propaganda channel, has been doing some tough reporting — as well as some important self-discovery.
On May 6, RT reported that, since the Moscow authorities were likely to ban the parade — probably it was the Moscow mayor calling the event “satanic” that tipped them off — the gay activists would appeal to a Moscow foreign embassy to host them and fly their gay satanic flag. For more in depth coverage, the dapper British-voiced anchors turned to the inimitable Gayane Chichakyan.
Flipping her hair and fondling her right ear, Chichakyan gave us the background of the story: the Russian attitude toward homosexuality (“Whatever you do, do it at home, don’t take it to the streets, don’t promote it”); previous attempts at parading (“Kind of hard to call it a parade”); and how Moscow fits in with the rest of gay-loving Europe (“Yes, Moscow isn’t exactly the most gay friendly city in the world.” You don’t say.).
And, as scenes of past “parades” collapsing under the weight of the special forces (whose uniforms, ironically, give the Cyrillic abbreviation: “OMOH”), Chichakyan uttered a phrase that should make the girl immortal:
“Moscow’s response [to the complaints of European human rights groups] so far has been, ‘what if some other communities — say of animal lovers or some other perverts — decides to hold their parade?'”
Exactly. What happens then?
Well, apparently, the first step down that slippery slope is some of the native English speakers on staff cringe and send out a memo on style:
Prompted by references in PrimeTime Russia and the website to Russian gays, newsroom discussion has focused on language appropriate in reports about gays in this country and whether, for example, the term Russian gays can be justified as a category of individuals any more than would be the unlikely references to Russian blacks or Russian straights.
While the term Russian gays is not offensive, the fact that these individuals happen to be in Russia is not sufficient validation for them to be labeled this way as a category, and the use of the term should be avoided. References to gay people, the gay community and gay rights are considered appropriate classifications, judged as accepted language in contemporary English vocabulary.
Discussion on this issue today recalls on-air script that linked into an RT package on gay issues beginning with “From real guys to queer guys”, which would generally be considered as offensive.
This note will be added to the styleguide.
Indeed. A Western journalist at RT told me that, though he didn’t see this particular memo, this was not uncommon at Russia Today: “It sounds right up the alley of the style related emails that go out on some of the most absurd or obvious topics. It’s worth noting that a lot of the writers/correspondents are Russians with varying levels of actual English ability when talking on air or working to a deadline.”
But, the journalist added, “Then there’s the whole other layer of whether or not they CARE to follow basic respectful usage in English when their native language doesn’t require it.”
Which reminded me of another anti-PC Russia Today stinker.