USDA Rejects Farmer Application, Claims Address Has ‘Offensive’ Word

USDA Rejects Farmer Application

A farmer’s USDA application was rejected when the government agency noticed an “offensive” word on the form. But, it was part of his address. He was told the name of his town was not only considered offensive but banned by the USDA. Has society taken political correctness too far?

Georgia farmer Gene King was left stunned to find that his application for a special interstate transport license was denied by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), since his address included “a banned word.” He was simply looking to move cattle across state lines.

USDA Rejects Farmer Application, Claims Address Has ‘Offensive’ Word
((Photo Credit: Pixabay)

By applying for a special ID through the USDA under a premises number, Gene would be able to purchase and sell cattle across state lines. He finished the paperwork, but the USDA delivered the shocking news when he called to find out how things were. His application came back and was and was turned down. A government email regarding Gene’s application claims that the hold-up resulted from a banned word in the city.

USDA Rejects Farmer Application
(Gene King, a cattle farmer (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

“She said it’s kicking it out, stating that’s an offensive word and won’t accept your application,” Gene King recalled. Given that a government agency bans a word, what one could possibly be so objectionable? Gay, then, is the word. And, strangely enough, that is where Gene resides. “No one’s got a problem coming to Gay, Georgia,” he said, per Fox 5. “Living in Gay, Georgia, doesn’t present any difficulties. But Gay, Georgia, is problematic for the USDA.

Named for William F. Gay, the small town with barely 100 residents began in 1882. The little town lies roughly one hour south of Atlanta. And this was not the first instance in which the town’s name has confused people. Twice a year, the town hosts a well-liked celebration once known as the Gay Fair. The festival has been renamed the “Cotton Pickin’ Festival,” apparently since those from out of town seemed perplexed about what it involved.

USDA Rejects Farmer Application and Claims Address Has ‘Offensive’ Word
(Gay, Georgia, was named after William F. Gay (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Gene King does admit that the name can start a perplexing conversation. And a back and forth with Fox 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis—not to be confused with the venerable country singer—showcases his point:

“I have gay friends.”
“Here in Gay, Georgia?”
“No, not in Gay, Georgia.”
“You have gay friends outside of Gay.”
“Outside of Gay, yeah.”

Gay Town Hall, Gay memorial street sign, and Gay water tower notwithstanding, the cattle farmer would rather not be labelled as a Gay cowboy. Of course, avoid including the town name on a government application since it will be denied. Regretfully, that is not a joke. The USDA had to email Gene King with a workaround, in fact. The fix was to change his hometown from Gay to Bay on the form.

(Gay, Georgia, Town Hall
(Gay, Georgia, Town Hall (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

One would assume that that seems a bit absurd and should be against policy. After all, an application for a government-issued permit should have accurate information. I suppose this is what results from our attempts to police innocuous language. But Gene King disliked it as well, very slightly.

“And, I said, ‘No, I don’t want to submit it as Bay, Georgia.'” Gene claimed he informed the government employee over the phone. Since I live in Gay, Georgia, I want to turn it in under Gay, Georgia. She said, “Do you want a number or not?” he remembered. “Ma’am,” I answered. This is ludicrous.’

The USDA apparently corrected his city personally once he received his number. Regarding the initial cause of the issue, the agency claimed a database of words with “bad connotations” was developed in response to concerns about attempts at sabotage of an earlier animal ID registration system. The USDA promised in their statement, which is fully below, that a future upgrade would guarantee “this will no longer be an issue.”

The premises identification allocator was originally developed in the early 2000s for the National Animal Identification System, using the technology available at the time. The program was very contentious and IT developers were concerned about the possibility of people attempting to create “bad” premises IDs to prove there was a problem with the program or its IT systems. They created a database of words with bad connotations that would not be allowed in the system.
Since that time, the NAIS program has ended and been replaced by animal disease traceability regulations. The IT architecture was repurposed to meet the new regulations, until the time it could be redesigned to take advantage of newer technology available to validate addresses. After a delay due to intensive efforts to combat highly pathogenic avian influenza this spring, the agency is working to upgrade the technology so this will no longer be an issue.

The USDA would not publish an all-encompassing list of so-called negative terms or names that decided which word “gay” belonged on that list. They clearly did not, however, consider the ramifications. All around the US, “lewd”-sounding and maybe “offensive” town names abound.

(“Lewd” sounding town names are found all across the US (Photo Credit: Estately)
(“Lewd” sounding town names are found all across the US (Photo Credit: Estately)

Among the towns scattered over the great old US of A are Three Way, Blue Ball, Weiner, Hooker, Butts, Cumming, Dickshooter, Slickpoo, Cooter, Climax, Intercourse, Sugar Tit, and Ding Dong. Then there are the apparently “racially insensitive” locations, including Black Mountain, Squaw Humper Dam, Darkey Springs, Wetback Tank Reserve, and Beaner Lake.

Regarding Gay, Georgia, some people may find the name objectionable, but the residents of the town are offended should you object to the name. For the word police, seeking a society free from anyone ever offended, this presents quite the puzzle. Maybe the solution is not ridiculous rules meant to stop people from feeling “offended,” but rather going back to a time when we all understood that occasionally being offended is inevitable and you just deal with it like a grown-up.

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