Sam is habitually ready to go before I am, and his idea of a fun way to pass five free minutes, I kid you not, is to read the dictionary. Have I convinced you yet that he is a nerd? Most times he reads randomly. But occasionally (for he is, like myself, a man of occasions), he thinks of words he's always wanted to know the etymologies and alternate pronunciations of. He has, furthermore, developed the accursed habit of reading aloud to me, and I have developed the equally accursed habit of listening.
One morning, as I prepare to do battle with the minions of Hell known as the United States Congress, the word of the day is "faggot." Now, I could tell you all sorts of useless things about Proto-Indo European roots and Middle French cognates, but you don't care, and neither do I. But the definition -- here’s the gist of it. A "faggot" literally means a bundle of twigs tied together and set on fire to light bigger fires. In the middle ages, that era of tolerance and compassion, the authorities would round up everyone suspected of witchcraft or sodomy, tie the whole gang up with a strong piece of rope, and set them on fire. To be called a faggot, then, is not simply to be called gay. It is to be marked as someone who should be burned to death. Someone who should not be allowed to live. And so I regard this word, this name I've just been called, with more than merely the hatred every human being should feel for such derogation, with more than the hatred a man in love with another man should feel. I hate it as only a linguist can.