Insults appear to have a pretty crucial role in human relationships.  Some of the first insults kids come up with involve comparing one's foe with excrement.  A bit later, when kids are working out gender identification issues, boys tend to call other boys "girls."  Variations on that theme work well into adulthood.

The essence of an insult is comparison to something agreed to be bad, unprestigious, or other wise disapproved.  Racial epithets were a long time staple and remain so among the uncool, but are probably the most grevious of faux pas among the sophisticated.  Another category now in the Least Favored Insult class are the variations on kids gender identification sneers,  the accusations of homosexuality.

A lot of athletes have gotten into trouble recently for the so called "homophobic slur."  Now when one jock calls another gay, faggot, or some similar term he probably isn't really pretending the target is gay.  What he really means is that the target is lacking in some real or perceived masculine virtues.  Of course these days he would be on safer ground accusing the target of being part of the female sexual apparatus.

I'm sure that that isn't very PC either, of course.  Which leaves the would be insulter on shaky ground.  You could call the target stupid, ugly, make unfavorable comparisons with animals, but really, how much bite do those have.


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