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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is the Spanish language television network Telemundo. They get the award for the following.

In the freewheeling world of Spanish-language television and radio, the line between what's offensive and what's not is often murky. The challenge is made more difficult by the language's unique permutations across Latin America and Spain.

But with Spanish-language media under increased scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission, a Miami talk show has sharpened that fuzzy line to zero tolerance. Telemundo TV personality Luisa Fernanda, the Mexican host of the popular show Cotorreando (``Chattering''), was fired after she made an unintended slur against gays.

Fernanda used the Cuban word for grouper, cherna, which for Cubans has another meaning: a pejorative term for a gay man.

Other networks also have taken action against on-air personalities recently. But in Fernanda's case, she had no clue the word she was uttering is an insult in Cuban Spanish; several local gay community activists are defending her.

Fernanda was dissecting the latest sex videotape scandal last month with co-host Mauricio Zeilic when she asked him if he would back her if she was attacked, and he said yes.

Fernanda then joked that if they were attacked by the feared Central American gang the ''Mara Salvatrucha'' -- Salvatrucha is Central American slang that includes the word trucha, or ''trout'' -- they could send in a different gang: the ``Grouper of Hialeah.''

Telemundo executives fired Fernanda on June 22, the next day, saying her conduct was ''inconsistent'' with the company's culture and its respect for diversity.

Her dismissal marks the first time a national Spanish-language radio or TV personality has been fired for making an allegedly homophobic remark, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD.

'For me, it was just an association of words, comparing a fish to a fish,'' said Fernanda, 36. ``I had no idea it was an offensive word. I would be incapable of being homophobic.''

Fernanda's firing illustrates the evolving relationship between Spanish-language media and the U.S. gay and lesbian community. While applauding Telemundo's ''zero tolerance'' policy, gay advocates said they seem puzzled that the network would punish Fernanda.

Fernanda presented one of the key awards at GLAAD's annual South Florida event in May and has openly advocated for the right of gays and lesbians to marry.

''The only mistake she made was using the wrong word at the wrong time,'' said Ron Brenesky, vice president of the Unity Coalition, a local Latino gay civil-rights group.

On Sunday, coalition members will declare Fernanda ''queen'' for a day of the gay and lesbian community at the local drag establishment Club Azucar.

Ms. Fernanda is a supporter of gay marriage and supposedly has a gay sister. She gets fired for using a word that can be derogatory towards gays. What is wrong with this picture?

Alex at SOTP writes-

This is BS. "Cherna" (grouper) is indeed a derogatory term for gays, but as far as I know is only used in Cuba. The TV hostess is Mexican, they don't even use "cherna" for grouper, they call it "mero". In the context of her comment, she was making a joke about a fictional gang "The Hialeah Groupers" to oppose a known Hispanic gang "Mara Salvatrucha" ("trucha" means trout). To add insult to injury, the poor woman has been an advocate of gay marriage and a presenter at a GLAAD event (and her co-host which whom she was dialoguing with at the time of the alleged slur is openly gay).

If Telemundo is going to get that sensitive about homosexual slurs, watch out. Other forbidden words would be snapper, bird, duck, crazy, avocado, understanding and a dozen other ones. Slang words vary so much from country to country it's almost impossible for anybody not to use a word another Hispanic may find funny or offensive.

But what's galling is that if Telemundo and other Spanish media really wants to look for examples of insensitive and stereotypical treatment of gays (or women, or minorities), all they have to do is turn on the TV or radio. Gays in Spanish media are invariably portrayed as the fey, screeching stereotype; always used for comic relief. As we say in Cuba, "qué cara más dura" (what a hard face!).
This firing smells like a rotting fish to me. Nothing about it makes sense. Either Fernanda was fired for other reasons than the word she used or Telemundo needs its head examined for taking part in an outrageously bad episode of the language police. Either way Telemundo is today's Knucklehead of the Day. How does one say Knucklehead in Spanish?

Side note- Why hasn't Telemundo fired this anchor?
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