Ethics Quiz: The Troublesome Acronym

I owe commenter Benjamin Ethics Alarms’ gratitude for the inspiration of today’s ethics quiz.

The acronym for the grouping of the various and growing number of gender and sexual orientations that vary from the heterosexual norm was relatively recently the unwieldy LGBTQUIA. At an earlier time, I was comfortable with my understanding of what the letters designated: L was for Lesbian, G was for Gay, B was for Bi-sexual, T was for Transgender, and Q was for Queer, which seems redundant to me, but I’m sure an activist could explain its inclusion. After that, my limited ability to remember sequences of letters and numbers (I can’t remember phone numbers either, and never could) made the expanding acronym beyond my capacity to either recite or explain.

I am happy to say that I am not alone: there is even a website devoted to deciphering the sequence, which it describes (as of today, May 9, 2020) as “LGBPTTQQIIAA+Alphabet Soup.”

Well, that’s hopeless. Psychologists tell us that the typical human being can only easily recall unrelated letters, numbers, names or words up to seven; longer than that, and one either needs a lot of practice (as in learning the components of the Boy Scout Law: “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent,” which, I assure you, I will be able to recite without hesitation until the moment I die, and quite possibly after), or a good mnemonic.

Another commenter referred to the list facetiously as “LGBTQYZ#%#$+”.  Presumably this would be taken as disrespectful by some members of the groups represented, but, you know, they do need to be reasonable. If you are going to expect people to use an acronym, make it possible to remember, and for God’s sake, don’t keep changing it. To me “LGBTQYZ#%#$+” isn’t disrespectful, it is fair criticism, and no, it is not bigoted to criticize any of those groups or all of them for just cause.

Reacting to “LGBTQYZ#%#$+”, Benjamin wrote that when the list was at the more manageable LGBTQUIA, he learned that the eight—that’s one more than seven!—initials could be rearranged into the anagram Quilt Bag, and he has been using it ever since.

That’s the only coherent anagram that can be made from the letters (the others are Gab Quilt, Alb Gut Qi, Alb Tug Qi, Lab Gut Qi, Lab Tug Qi, Tab Lug Qi, Bat Lug Qi, Gal Tub Qi, Gal But Qi, Lag Tub Qi, and the enigmatic Lag But Q), but it’s a good one. (There are no anagrams that use all the letters in LGBPTTQQIIAA, so just forget it.)

So why not use QUILT BAG? It’s not derogatory, and the “quilt” part is even descriptive.

Your Ethics Alarms Anagram Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is there any reason why it would be unethical to use the memorable “Quilt Bag’ instead of the usual acronym?

20 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Troublesome Acronym

  1. Not sure if it is unethical, probably not, but those of us who aren’t part of the designation will feel uncomfortable with quilts from now on in the same way we can no longer enjoy rainbows just for being rainbows.

    • There was already some kind of quilt devoted to the victims of AIDS that was making its was around North America in the 1990s. BTW, if you want to reclaim the rainbow as something other than a symbol of non-standard sexuality, turn back to the Book of Genesis or check out the Operation Overlord patch.

  2. It’s a hell of a lot better than some of the other expressions I could think of, which are a LOT more memorable, but also pretty brutal.

  3. I like the concept, but I see two flaws.

    First: the jumble would have to be rearranged any time a new orientation is enshrined. That might prove difficult.

    Second, and more importantly, I think the term QUILT BAG is, or could easily be construed to be, a violation of the Second Niggardly Principle.

    • Ha, it does sound like an insult. As in “I don’t like Joe from work, he’s such a quilt bag.” Or maybe an old saying about something you learned – “I added calculus to my quilt bag.” Or a confusing Monty Python double entendre – “ the old quilt bag. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?” The possibilities are endless.

    • Aha, let them add all the letters they want, nobody would stop saying QUILTBAG. And the dangling double entendre is most of the fun. It sounds like it means something, but it doesn’t!

      What? You have something against quilts? Is it the patchwork diversity that offends you, or are you just too good for hand-sewn blankets?

      But, in the end, the only thing which can be objected to is not taking the movement seriously enough, not treating it as a holy emblem far above even light non-mockery. It would also instill a certain fear. The West was lost by a thousand cuts no less seemingly benign, and they know it might be won back by the same means. Burn the flag, they’ll tell you, but their own symbols must be compulsorily treated with breathless awe at all times.

      Let them try to articulate that objection. If my God deserves no obligatory respect, then I want a clearly-stated reason I can’t say ‘QUILTBAG’, which holds no positively disrespectful meaning. The only possible objection is that it isn’t respectful enough.

      There are probably a hundred such inviolable symbols of the great progressive hive we walk on eggshells for, as a sign of our willing subjugation, daily. Little wonder they so resent national and religious symbols. It was a war of symbols from the start; everything else was a distraction.

  4. Is it unethical to use “quilt bag?” I think it’s unethical to ask people to memorize such a lengthy and bizarre acronym, which seems to change every month or so to add another letter or mathematical operator. Surely, eventually, they’ll have to start adding numbers or symbols. I’m sure Prince would agree.

    Seriously, as the person who wrote the sarcastic version to which you refer, I see this acronym as a form of virtue signalling, and therefore invalid on it’s face. When it was LGBT, I was fine with it. Adding five or six other letters and/or mathematical operators shows that the people using it were more interested in confounding the rest of us so we’ll get it wrong, or always be one or two letters and/or symbols off. In other words, it is designed to be used as a weapon against those who don’t agree with everything the “quilt bag” people want, and is a form of political correctness and word censorship.

    I don’t care who will be offended by my unwillingness to try to learn such a preposterous acronym. It’s like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” — an absurdity created to confound and frustrate people. And yes, I looked that word up because who in the hell can spell such a monstrosity?

  5. I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. I did some digging, and best I can determine, I picked up the acronym from a comment on Larry Correia’s blog during the great science fiction literary award controversy of 2014. (I don’t actually read much science fiction, but I love a good controversy.) I’ve remembered it for these six years since because of how obviously perfect it is. I hope it will grow wings and fly to the four corners of the earth to, like the ‘okay’ hand gesture, cartoon frogs, and location-based viral nomenclature, be called racist and set even deeper roots in the public vernacular.

  6. Just the other day my wife asked what the A is in the acronym. Apparently there are two A’s and a U for which I have no clue and two I’s, though I know one of them means intersex. And keep in mind this is coming from someone who technically is at least one or two of the letters in this acronym.

    This acronym serves no one but non-profits and greivance hustlers. There is less unity between gays and everyone else in the QUILT BAG than ever. The gay men never really liked the lesbians, the lesbians are told if they don’t want to sleep with men in dresses they’re phobic genital fetishists, the intersex are sick of being dragged into it, and all these folks have in common is that politicians who hate Trump love to pander to them. You also notice the one letter they refuse to add is D for detransitioned, though those folks are increasingly my coming to the forefront.

    We aren’t family and we’re not a community. Pretending this is the case is really just for straight folks who want to feel special as an ally and get moral grandstanding points or slap the term queer on themselves while still being straight and cisgender while getting a taste of that minority designation sauce.

    Many years ago the T was added on and not all gays and transgenders were into it but Stonewall in the UK and HRC in the US made it so. Since then those in charge of the letter train just keep adding things that are becoming so obscure even those who are labeled as such have no clue what any of it means.

    Here’s what we should call all these folks: Humans.

    • Like so much of your stuff, Mrs. Q, this post is alternately darkly hilarious, heartbreaking and ultimately loaded with wisdom. Thanks.

    • But how will we know how to treat anyone without a firm understanding of the current and/or former state of their genitalia, what they like to do with their genitalia, or what they aspire for their genitalia to become?
      You’re suggestion that we call everyone “humans” would leave us in a situation where we treated everyone the same! That can’t be right. As a straight white male, I need some guidance on whom to oppress, and how much to oppress them, in order to fully exploit my privilege.

  7. I had been told at a professional meeting the first Q was for “Questioning”. Identifying those still questioning their sexuality. From there came a squabble about removing the B, because bisexuality didn’t really exist. This was from a defender of the T group and promoter of pushing hormones on pre-teens who “self identify” with another gender.

    It’s a mess. The QWERTY keyboard approach is going continue to divide in the name of unity.

    • Oh! That makes perfect sense, but what good is an acronym if nobody can agree what the letters stand for? Especially when a verb is suddenly dropped into a bunch of adjectives???

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