But wait. Even though in England a faggot is simply a meatball, The Telegraph reports that three listeners complained to the British media watchdog, Ofcom, who ruled that the word faggot was insulting – probably because its mostly American application as a disparaging term for a male homosexual has been creeping into the Limey lexicon. “The phrase could clearly be seen in connection with homosexuality,” said Ofcom. “[Since] the term faggot, when used in this context, is a highly derogatory term, we believed that it was capable of causing serious offence.” Of course, a faggot is also a bundle of twigs or sticks, like kindling. In a Charles Ludlam play – his hilarious drag adaptation of Camille, I think – the word’s meaning is cleverly ambiguous when a character says casually, “Throw another fag on the fire.” But objecting to the word in England is the same as if we here in America found obscene the nautical term for the pulley-blocks at the head of topmasts; in England, bollocks are testicles. Actually, then, isn’t bollocks a more apt slang for meatballs?
The supermarket stands by its ad. “The ad refers only to food products,” its spokesman said. “Faggots were chosen to demonstrate the idea because they are commonly perceived as an outdated and slightly comical product, not because of any allusions to homosexuality.”