Tim Torkildson, a writer hired to manage a blog for a Utah language learning school, got his 15 minutes of fame last week after the language school fired him for writing a post about homophones.
“Homophones” are simply words that sound the same, like “read” and “reed” or “see” and “sea.” As you can imagine, they can be confusing for English language learners and students need to be taught how to distinguish them. The post that got Torkildson fired was a short bit about homophones beginning with the letter”A” that should have offended absolutely nobody.
Unfortunately, Torkildson’s boss was offended. Apparently his brain stopped working once he read the prefix “homo-.” Here’s how Torkildson describes what happened the next day:
“I’m letting you go because I can’t trust you” said Clarke Woodger, my boss and the owner of Nomen Global Language Center. “This blog about homophones was the last straw. Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.”
I said nothing, stunned into silence.
“I had to look up the word” he continued, “because I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I’ll have your check ready.”
Oh, those dirty, dirty homophones! Of course, the Internet loves a good idiot, so Torkildson’s story quickly went viral. In his zeal to avoid having his school associated with the prefix “homo,” Mr. Woodger has all but ensured that it will be associated with homophobia on the search engines for some time to come and possibly forever.
I didn’t try to make any clever homophobia/homophone puns because it’s all been done at this point, but if you need a good laugh check out “The Homophone Menace” on the Washington Post. It’s a thing of beauty.