Demetri Marchessini

Demetri Marchessini – Homosexuality’s all Greek to him

The Telegraph publishes bizarre open letter by Demetri Marchessini, criticising “pro-gay” Times columnist Libby Purves….James Barton gives him a grammar lesson…

Demetri Marchessini, who in the interests of fairness I am obliged to refer to as a former UKIP donor, has written an open letter to the journalist Libby Purves, which the Daily Telegraph saw fit to publish.

In it, he chastises her opinions on Russia’s anti-gay attitudes, claiming that she has no right to tell Russians what to think. Which, in a sense, is fair enough. Many Russians, he says, are Orthodox, and therefore apparently entitled to cling to a belief system which by definition is designed to ignore global advances.

This is not what I’m going to call Marchessini out about. A lot of people who have far more patience with organised religion than I do are willing to discuss it in far more even-handed terms than I am. Much like any piece of mindless pop culture, I’ll tolerate it, but I won’t respect it.

What I will not tolerate is nonsensical etymological arguments, or letting delicious irony go unappreciated. Marchessini claims in his letter that there is no such word as “homophobic”, and goes on to say:

“One can tell it is a phoney word, (invented by the homosexual lobby), because the first half of the word “homo” has a Latin root, while the second half “phobia” has a Greek root…Anyone who uses it, is uneducated.”

Demetri Marchessini Homosexuality

As any schoolboy who chuckled at homo erectus in biology will tell you, homo is indeed Latin for ‘man’. But if a homosexual is a person who is sexually attracted to men, then wouldn’t straight women technically be homosexual?

Yes. Yes they would.

But of course, in this context ‘homo-‘ is actually a prefix meaning “the same” or “of the same kind”, because as anyone with a basic knowledge of etymology will tell you, the word “homosexual” refers to anyone sexually attracted to those of the same gender. The prefix is derived from the Greek ‘homos’ meaning ‘the same’, not the Latin ‘homo’ meaning ‘man’.

Looks like Demetri Marchessini should have used more heterogeneous sources in constructing his etymological argument. Delightfully, his closing comment implores Libby Purves to “comment on something that she knows more about.” Well, quite.

Oh, and that delicious irony I mentioned earlier? Despite the subject of his letter, Demetri Marchessini is not Russian. He is, in fact, Greek. Clearly his country’s mother tongue is not his area of expertise.

Want to read more of James Barton’s scathing prose? Click here.

WORDS: James Barton

Photo credit: Duncan Hull

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