In England a faggot is a delicious meaty treat made from pig's heart and bacon all mashed up in a ball, but everywhere else a faggot is something that makes Isaiah Washington from Grey's Anatomy look like a bit of a doltish nincompoop.
Isaiah Washington, you'll remember, got in a fight on the Grey's Anatomy set in October after calling secretly gay TR Knight a "faggot." At first Isaiah Washington denied that he'd used that particular gay slur, only for everyone who's ever worked on Grey's Anatomy to subsequently snitch on him bigstyle. Now, sensing that his career is on the line, Isaiah Washington has issued a full, frank and sincere apology to everyone he offended with the "faggot" jibe. For those of you who can't be bothered to read the rest of this article, think back to what happened with Mel Gibson in the summer and just replace all the "Fucking Jews" and "Sugartits" bits with the word "faggot," since that's more or less all Isaiah Washington actually did.
In the beginning Mel Gibson created making yourself look like a racist wanker in front of the entire world, before eventually learning that the only way to get out of problems like this was to apologise relentlessly to leaders of the offended community. And now, whenever anyone else upsets an entire swathe of society, they tread in Mel's footprints. Michael Richards – following his gigantically offensive racist meltdown onstage – apologised to Al Sharpton. Al wasn't having any of it, but at least Richards tried. We also expect that Jade Goody will be flying to India in the next few weeks to meet Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and be all like "Sorry for being racial Mr Poppadom Whatsyerface."
And then there's Isaiah Washington from Grey's Anatomy, who is slightly different. Isaiah Washington didn't offend a racial group, but a social one – the gays. During the legendary Grey's Anatomy actor-fight of 2006, Isaiah Washington reportedly referred to co-star TR Knight as a "faggot" which, in turn, made TR Knight look at himself, think "Wait a minute, I AM gay!" and then announce his public homosexuality to a partly-suspecting world. Following the bust-up Isaiah Washington apologised for the fight but not the gay slur.
In fact Isaiah Washington then went on to deny calling anyone a "faggot" at all – something which prompted another Grey's Anatomy star, Katherine Heigl, to publicly round on Isaiah for being a liar. When this was followed by an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show by TR Knight who also confirmed that the slur was directed at him, Isaiah Washington had to think fast. And where did he go first? The Mel Gibson Handbook For Monumentally Insensitive Celebrities, of course. The LA Times printed Isaiah Washington's apology:
"I can neither defend nor explain my behaviour. I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I've asked for help. With one word, I've hurt everyone who has struggled for the respect so many of us take for granted. I welcome the chance to meet with leaders of the gay and lesbian community to apologise in person. T.R.'s courage throughout this entire episode speaks to his tremendous character. I hold his talent, and T.R. as a person, in high esteem. I know a mere apology will not end this, and I intend to let my future actions prove my sincerity."
While we can't be entirely certain that Isaiah Washington didn't mean Mr Humpries from Are You Being Served and Smithers from The Simpsons when he mentioned "leaders of the gay and lesbian community" it seems like leaders of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation are taking Washington on his word and have agreed a meeting with the actor which – following GLAAD tradition – will consist of a mumbled apology from Isaiah Washington, a quick "oh, how could I ever stay mad at you, you great noodlebrain" and a big group hug.