1. Begotten and born out of lawful matrimony;
illegitimate. See Bastard, n.,
2. Lacking in genuineness; spurious; false; adulterate; -- applied
things which resemble those which are genuine, but are really not so.That
bastard self-love which is so vicious in itself, and productive of so many
3. Of an unusual make or proportion; as, a bastard
musket; a bastard
4. (Print.) Abbreviated, as the half
title in a page preceding the full
title page of a book.
All of these are valid definitions, and there are others as well. All
of these are acceptable and inoffensive in common English speech.
As being an illegitimate child carries a stigma, using the word per Definition 1 in reference to someone, especially to their face, would likely be taken with offense, as would simply calling them by the definition of the word. Sometimes the truth hurts. If it is not the truth, then it can be lumped in with any number of untruths you might say to intentionally hurt someone.
I bring this up because Jeremy has chosen to eradicate the word from the revised edition of his novella, Sans Hands. This is sad, as the word is used a number of times, quite effectively, and, to me, quite inoffensively. However, I think have figured out the matter.
You see, the book was written in such a creative flurry, and so long ago, that Jeremy has lost touch with the real meaning of his usage of the word. The answer lies in Definition 2.
The theme of people lacking in genuineness, being something other than what they seem, by design or as a result of imperfection, is one of the main themes of the book (another is fail miserably, be happy). This comes up numerous times, and can be referred to as the Theory of False Friends. In this no one is what they seem and no one is up front with their agenda. Nowhere is this clearer than in the lyrical adaptation of Sans Hands that is the songs of The Moon Is No More. To quote:
Don't let it bother you or weigh you down
Tell me lies and don't feel guilty
We can make, we can make amends
We can be, the best of false friends, the
best of false friends
There is no doubt that their is disdain implied when the word is used to refer to one Jeffrey L. Allen. He is false and adulterous, and the truth hurts. I can't think of a word that better distills this character or these qualities than our magic word.