[All links forward to French posts unless otherwise stated.]
The hashtag #SiMonFilsEstGay (translation: #IfMySonWereGay) made waves on Twitter on December 22, 2012, in the French twittersphere. The hashtag is basically a homophobic incitement to violence accompanied by some poor taste “humorous” tweets. The alleged jokes consisted of telling other Twitter users the punishment you would give your son if he turned out to be gay. Some posts expressed a disturbing penchant for violence:
@Jow_Breezy_Pgn: #SiMonFilsEstGay je le fais sodomisé par un cheval avec du gros sel !!
@Jow_Breezy_Pgn: #SiMonFilsEstGay I would have him sodomised by a horse with rock salt!
@Trapsneymo: #SiMonFilsEstGay soit je l'egorge soit je le jette dans la seine ou soit je l'abandonne dans une gare super loin.
@Trapsneymo: #SiMonFilsEstGay I would either slaughter him or throw him in the Seine or abandon him in a train station somewhere far away.
Others, like @Kenny_koms, tweeted the following:
@Kenny_koms: #SiMonFilsEstGay on va a la commune jle change de nom direct.
@Kenny_koms: #SiMonFilsEstGay we'll go to the city hall and get his name changed.
Evidently, the debate on gay marriage that currently divides France has also been mentioned often.
@Cardinaurelien, a UMP party militant, states:
@Cardinalaurelien: #simonfilsestgay j'espère qu'il ne pourra pas se marier ! #manifpourtous
@Cardinalaurelien: #simonfilsestgay I hope he will not be able to get married! #manifpourtous
By late afternoon, the homophobic hashtag was at the top of the trending topics in France. Opposing reactions quickly arose, with many Twitter users condemning the homophobic posts:
Screen grab of the Twitter search for the hashtag #SiMonFilsEstGay
@matfouf : Les homophobes sur le hashtag #SiMonFilsEstGay, c'est pitoyable. Oubliez pas que Twitter est public et que vos tweets sont répréhensibles.
@matfouf: The homophobic hashtag #SiMonFilsEstGay is pitiful. Do not forget that Twitter is public and your tweets are just wrong.
@ErwanSands :#SiMonFilsEstGay je serais autant heureux que s'il etait hétero ! La sexualité ne change pas la personne qu'on est ! #NB
@ErwanSands: #SiMonFilsEstGay I would be as happy as if he were straight! Sexuality does not change who a person is! #NB
Many have tried to alert Twitter to have the hashtag censored:
@MOMIETTKM : @twitter est il possible de censurer ce hashtag raciste haineux homophobe svp #SiMonFilsEstGay. La liberté d'expression a des limites !
@MOMIETTKM: @twitter can you censor this hateful racist homophobic hashtag #SiMonFilsEstGay please? Freedom of speech has limits!
@thomas_gardize, a philosophy student, has tweeted divergent views in his posts to test reactions. He first stated:
@thomas_gardize: #SiMonFilsEstGay TT source de conflit. Je vais donc twitter dans les deux sens pour voir les réactions opposées.
@thomas_gardize: #SiMonFilsEstGay a source of conflict. I will tweet arguing for both trends to check the reactions from opposing camps.
He then tweeted:
@thomas_gardize: #SiMonFilsEstGay je le brûle sur un bucher.
@thomas_gardize: #SiMonFilsEstGay I will burn him on a pyre.
He followed this with:
@thomas_gardize: #SiMonFilsEstGay Je serais fiers de lui.
@thomas_gardize: #SiMonFilsEstGay I will be proud of him.
The phenomenon is reminiscent of a recent wave of anti-Semitism on the same social network regarding the hashtag #UnBonJuif (translation: #AGoodJew) in October, 2012, which also gave rise to aggressive propositions.
Plenty of users made remarks similar to @epelboin‘s analogy:
@epelboin: #SiMonFilsEstGay is the new #UnBonJuif ? Triste France :(
@epelboin: Is #SiMonFilsEstGay the new #UnBonJuif? France is pathetic :(
Finally, we need to remember that in France homophobic statements are subject to a fine and even a prison sentence. There is also the issue of inciting violence. This is probably the reason why, at the end of the day, a lot of the tweets that appeared have been deleted by the authors.
This post was proofread in English by Georgi McCarthy.