Hillary Clinton received a key endorsement yesterday from North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley. The governor delivered his statement in a casual, jokesy kind of way, saying at one point there's "nothing I love more than a strong powerful woman." And then the floral word heard round the world: pansy. Easley wrapped up his campaign high-five saying this:
"I've been accused of being persistent and downright aggravating. But this lady right here makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy."
Oops. Right? Reaction to the word was immediate. The editor of the blog Queerty, heard a slur, and worse — no response from Clinton. “Considering the Senator’s silence, we get the impression that she simply doesn’t care. And this is a gay ally?”
Everyone's been dusting off and cracking open the dictionaries. Is pansy really just a slur for a gay man? Or has a modern usage developed? Response on the Queerty blog seemed to think so:
Pansy when referring to a straight male boxer means weak and timid. Pansy when referring to Elton John means effeminate gay man. It's about context people and we are not so important that we need to inject our cause into every sentence that comes out of everyone’s mouth.
Is the clamor over the definition of one word, a sign that attention to campaign minutiae is out of control? Was the statement a real slap at the gay community? Should Clinton have responded? Do people even say "pansy" anymore?
Or should the real gay rights story of the day be the fact that the Australian government has just announced plans to remove about 100 laws it says discriminate against gay couples? Are we losing sight of what's important?