The 'X'-Word Files (play creepy music)-aka-'Offensiveness'


John Dailey

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~ 'Offensive.' Consider that word...and it's very abused over-use.

~ Predominantly it's applied to single words (think George Carlin's famous...incomplete...list) but, has also been used on adjectival phrases and maybe even prepositional phrases (uh, depending on which 'minority' [defined politically, not globally or quantitatively] uses it.)

~ It can mean 'insult'; it can also merely mean "I dislike!"

~ It's chronic recent use, however seems to be a purposefull mix of the two to keep things ambiguous while innuending/insinuating (but never clarifying) the worse: insult. Indeed, it usually means nothing more than "I feel insulted" (even if by proxy; ie. sympathetic 'insult' for someone else.) --- Note that "I feel insulted" is not at all the same as "I WAS insulted."

~ My point? Next post.

LLAP

J:D

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Part Deux

~ I consider the 'O'-word worse than the 'N'-word (PC-effects satirized magnificently on South Park; you know: 'NAGGERS'), worse than the 'F'-word (used in West Side Story: 'FRIGGIN'), and maybe even the 'S'-word which was specified 3x in a Frasier show. His father was very 'sensitive' to the word use and had a real prob with hearing it, hence the term is referrable only by letter by those of us trying to be considerate for virgin ears. Therefore, as responsible media reporters and journalists do in the PC framework of thinking, I'll not spell this one out for over-sensitive ears/eyes/braille-readers. Suffice with S****. No, it doesn't end in 's'. For those of you who can't figure this out, thank your lucky PC stars so many of us will protect you from being offended.

~ Oh, the relevence here, in this forum? I'm glad you asked. :angel: Is there anything 'immoral'/un-ethical in using words that fall under the 'O'-word category? If yes, why? If not, why not? If 'dependes'...please explicate. GL :sick:

LLAP

J:D

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John,

There are no words really forbidden here. There are attitudes in using them that I dislike intensely.

For instance, we had one poster who wanted to start using the word "nigger" to denote black people who fit the stereotype, "queer" for homosexuals, and so forth (especially trying to use these words for people in those categories lacking in good morals). He wanted to restore all words with an emotional load of bigotry as some kind of freedom of speech thing, and he wanted to lecture people about it to see how many times he could write offensive words and get away with it. I asked him to stop and he decided to leave.

We had another poster who hardly ever used the standard bigotry-charged words, but he constantly baited posters to get a negative reaction so he could call them bigots.

These examples bring up issues that are not on the surface, but they are not conducive to harmony and intellectual discussion (and kicking back a bit to have fun). Obviously, there is more than bigotry. Calling a person explicitly a dishonest so-and-so or a hypocrite (or the rest of the Objectivist forum litany) is an outright insult and it completely disrupts discussion. There are even relatively benign things. We recently had an example where the good vibes were flowing, but the purpose of the site was starting to be mischaracterized by the high volume of light low-content posts.

In all these cases, I try to nudge people away from the disruptive excesses. Sometimes they overreact, but more often than not, they back off the disruptive behavior.

Notice that if a person is horsing around using a normally offensive word (like in a joke), and someone else expresses discomfort, the first party is quick to mention that he did not wish to offend and is willing to stop. That's the key, really. When the first party gets a chip on his shoulder about it and becomes belligerent, I get the impression that there was more than horsing around going on, so it was more than proper for him to be called on it. This applies to the protest, too. If the second party (the one protesting) refuses to understand that the first party was simply horsing around and stays on the bad vibes, lecturing everybody, etc., the problem is obviously a control issue. I discourage both these excesses.

Disagreement in itself is not disruptive, though. Here is a good example.

I consider Judith a friend. When she came to Chicago, she made a point of visiting Kat and me and we intend to do the same when we go to her neck of the woods. I treasure her friendship. Yet Judith and I are completely at odds at times and state so very clearly. My feelings of friendship do not budge when we disagree. We usually try to see if we are talking past each other and we usually discover that our disagreement is a question of semantics or misunderstanding. However, when we discover that a real disagreement does exist, we each make our respective positions clear and make it clear that we understand the other, then we stop picking at each other. We save it for the next discussion when new facts, considerations, input from others, etc., shed a new light on our positions. I can't think of a more productive way to disagree.

Sometimes a poster will try to win an argument as if it were some kind of contest, and if he cannot get agreement, he will resort to bombarding the thread with a large number of posts, lecturing at length on the obvious, constantly misstating the posts of others, falsely attributing posters with the arguments he wishes to combat, etc. I call a halt to this after a while.

In short, the concern of a poster is with his own positions and interests, and that is as it should be. My concern is not only my own positions and interests, it is also with maintaining a friendly, intelligent, good vibe atmosphere on OL where everybody gets a turn if they wish—essentially the function of a traffic cop.

So in answer to your question, the relevance of personal insults on OL is that they are disruptive of the atmosphere of good will I am trying to keep. This does not mean they are completely forbidden. Everything happens in context, so in a certain context, a personal insult might be justified. Even in this case, it has been my experience that a person of good will will withdraw the insult after a while of his own free will.

As regards the morality of words, let me extend this to intentions. Think of words as "cardinal" and intentions as "ordinal." The number 5 means a specific number of units in cardinal terms. In ordinal terms, it can mean a majority or a minority, or before/behind, or more/less, all depending on the context. In this sense, there is no good/evil or moral/immoral judgment that I hold on words or intentions in general. There is what happens within specific times and discussions.

Obviously if a person wants to preach something vile and inflammatory, like for instance a war of expansion (there is a party who, once in a while, appears promoting a book that tries to make a case for Israel to engage in a military conquest of Saudi Arabia and some other surrounding countries), OL is not the place for that particular kind of idea. But all sane ideas are welcome.

As to intentions, there are some intentions I do not condone from posters when they become disruptive. These are attempts to control others, scratch neurotic itches to the point of exclusion of all else, prohibit people from discussing something, humiliate other posters, etc. Some of these attempts are evil. Others are due to a flare-up. Others come from misunderstanding. Others come for poor self-image. There is a host of reasons. But like the man says, it doesn't matter to a person who is shot dead if the bullet came from friendly fire or enemy fire. The person is dead. The same goes for disruption.

That is the main standard I use for encouraging/discouraging behavior: disruption. (I do have a couple of extra issues like not allowing people to bash the Brandens on OL, but they are few.)

I hope that makes what I am trying to do here clearer.

Michael

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Michael:

~ Re your last statement: it does, but...I wasn't really concerned with how moderators 'should' handle trolls that concentrate on disruptiveness, using 'Off'-words or however otherwise.

~ I was trying to do 2 things. Point out how, whenever a complainant complains about someone else being 'offensive', how horribly PC this is in merely insinuating that the other insulted the 'offended' one...when sometimes nothing of the type occurred, although, the 'offended' one may have merely disliked what the other said; and I mean all the latter regardless that the 'offender' was speaking to/about the other, and maybe even NOT!

LLAP

J:D

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Addendum:

~ Oh, the 'other' thing.

~ Insults, even if sincerely thought appropriate, ntl, if carelessly thrown out (and, we've seen a bit of that in some forums), especially if initiated, I thought would be a good question for all to consider as to whether or not such relates to the subject of morality/ethics...or NOT. This question, coupled with the chronic use of the ambiguous 'Offensive' which insinuates that someone else did something 'wrong' (as in morally, I've always interpreted) I thought would be a good discussion territory in Ethics...except for those who feel offended, of course.

LLAP

J:D

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