"burn your house down… brew you a cup of tea in the still-glowing embers" - good and evil in people

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  • "What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander ..."
    -- The Lord Jesus of Nazareth, in Matthew 15: 18-19
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Er, with all due respect for this Mr. Jesus fella, this little quoted list is hardly a complete list of what comes out of the human heart. He appears to have overlooked tidbits like courage, generosity, kindness, and so on. Rather a one-sided and exclusionary view, wouldn't you say?
  • Ohher wrote: »
    Er, with all due respect for this Mr. Jesus fella, this little quoted list is hardly a complete list of what comes out of the human heart. He appears to have overlooked tidbits like courage, generosity, kindness, and so on. Rather a one-sided and exclusionary view, wouldn't you say?
    Not when read in context, no I wouldn’t say. He didn’t overlook those other tidbits. He wasn’t talking about everything that comes out of a person’s mouth; he was responding the the idea that eating unclean food defiles a person.

  • Ohher wrote: »
    Er, with all due respect for this Mr. Jesus fella, this little quoted list is hardly a complete list of what comes out of the human heart. He appears to have overlooked tidbits like courage, generosity, kindness, and so on. Rather a one-sided and exclusionary view, wouldn't you say?

    In the quoted verses, The Lord Jesus of Nazareth was discussing the problem/question of "What renders a person 'unclean' ... ???" ...It was NOT a general discussion of human nature and life ...
  • Context, context, context.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Context, context, context.

    ... in which "the 'text'" is the real thing ...
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Fixed that for you. Nothing being discussed here actually happened "in private". You're just moving the goal posts.

    Two people in a room seems like a reasonable example of "private" conversation Unless there's a live microphone...

    And I'm saying that the argument here is between those who think he accidentally did wrong by unwittingly saying in public what he has every right to say in private, and those who think he deliberately did wrong by harbouring ideas/feelings that it is self-evidently wrong for anyone to think/feel. In other words whether the slip with the microphone comprises his wrongdoing or only reveals his wrongdoing.

    So no, talk of "private" is entirely to the point.

    And please don't mess with my quoted words. You can say what you want to say without putting words in my mouth.
    Upthread, Russ was trying to argue that knowing what a word meant was the same as it forming a normal part of your lexicon and "slipping out".

    No, I didn't say anything about "normal".

    "Vocabulary" or "lexicon" is the totality of words that you know well enough to use.

    If I do not use a word like "elephantitis" from one decade to the next, then it isn't part of my regular vocabulary, but I can use it if I choose to. So it is part of my vocabulary.

    If you want to make the distinction between using a word and referencing a word, then I'd agree with you that Karl referenced the word "k*ke" rather than using it.

    Seems to me you then need a term that covers both using and referencing. Would "employing" do ? Then you're saying that Karl employed the word by referencing it, not by using it (which would be to label someone as Jewish with heavy overtones of disapproval).

    To which I reply that if he can employ the word, then he can use the word, if it should ever be the right word to express his feelings about a particular individual. It is part of his vocabulary - just not his everyday vocabulary.

    In the possibly unlikely event that it was ever the right word for the circumstances, the part of his brain that monitors whether what he says is what he thinks he ought to say (is that superego, in Freudian terms ?) might prevent him. Or not - if he were inebriated or distracted or otherwise under stress it might slip out. And no amount of superego-driven protest by Karl (that he's a good man and it's not good to say that) will convince me that he's never inebriated or stressed.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited August 2020
    Russ

    You're wrong. I know myself imperfectly, but I know myself a lot better than you know me (not at all)

    And you are wrong. Painfully wrong. Irritatingly wrong. So wrong that if you persist in "you would call an Asian guy a p*** if you were drunk enough and he was annoying enough" wronger than a wrong thing crap, you will be doing it in Hell.

    Of course I get pissed and stressed. It does not result in my becoming a racist homophobe, so it does not involve words which express racism or homophobia.
  • Russ wrote: »
    ... if it should ever be the right word to express his feelings about a particular individual. ...

    ... In the possibly unlikely event that it was ever the right word for the circumstances ....

    No, it's never the right word.





  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    Microphone or no microphone, I'm pretty sure my employer would take a dim view of the use of homophobic slurs at work.
  • Russ wrote: »
    If I do not use a word like "elephantitis" from one decade to the next, then it isn't part of my regular vocabulary, but I can use it if I choose to. So it is part of my vocabulary.

    Well, you can choose to use it at any point, but you're not going to get drunk and call someone who is annoying you "elephantitis", because it wouldn't make any sense. Although you know what the word means, using it to describe a person does not form part of your conscious or unconscious thoughts, because it makes no sense at all. Just like you wouldn't get drunk and "accidentally" call someone a rototiller, or a motorway crash barrier, or the Heaviside layer.

    Similarly, what many of us are telling you is that we don't use (or think) these various offensive racial epithets about people, so we don't have the mental connections that would supply that word to our drunk selves. Drunk me might call someone an arsehole, or a fuckwit, but he's not going to call someone "n*****", "p***", "k***" and so on, regardless of how annoying they are.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Fixed that for you. Nothing being discussed here actually happened "in private". You're just moving the goal posts.

    Two people in a room seems like a reasonable example of "private" conversation Unless there's a live microphone...

    If you're on the clock your conversation isn't really private. I doubt the typical Human Resources Department would be convinced if you argued that since it was just the two of you in the room when you called your co-worker a [ racial / gender / homophobic ] slur you weren't really violating company policy since the conversation was "private", even though it happened in the workplace when you were both on the clock.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    If you're on the clock your conversation isn't really private. I doubt the typical Human Resources Department would be convinced if you argued that since it was just the two of you in the room when you called your co-worker a [ racial / gender / homophobic ] slur you weren't really violating company policy since the conversation was "private", even though it happened in the workplace when you were both on the clock.

    Of course, if you and your colleague are at work, in private, and are both racists / homophobes / whatever, and are engaging in private conversation using your favourite slurs, nobody is going to know.

    Right up until the point that there's a third party present, or sitting in the next office within earshot, or whatever, and then both of you get fired.
  • Russ wrote: »
    And please don't mess with my quoted words. You can say what you want to say without putting words in my mouth.

    This is bullshit. Saying 'Fixed that for you' is not putting words in your mouth, it is saying "what you said was incorrect, here is the correct version." It would be fatuous in the extreme for anybody to think that you really said that, and on the SOF nobody is nearly that fatuous.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    If you're on the clock your conversation isn't really private. I doubt the typical Human Resources Department would be convinced if you argued that since it was just the two of you in the room when you called your co-worker a [ racial / gender / homophobic ] slur you weren't really violating company policy since the conversation was "private", even though it happened in the workplace when you were both on the clock.

    Of course, if you and your colleague are at work, in private, and are both racists / homophobes / whatever, and are engaging in private conversation using your favourite slurs, nobody is going to know.

    Right up until the point that there's a third party present, or sitting in the next office within earshot, or whatever, and then both of you get fired.

    Especially if that third party is millions of listeners.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Crœsos wrote: »
    If you're on the clock your conversation isn't really private. I doubt the typical Human Resources Department would be convinced if you argued that since it was just the two of you in the room when you called your co-worker a [ racial / gender / homophobic ] slur you weren't really violating company policy since the conversation was "private", even though it happened in the workplace when you were both on the clock.

    Of course, if you and your colleague are at work, in private, and are both racists / homophobes / whatever, and are engaging in private conversation using your favourite slurs, nobody is going to know.

    Right up until the point that there's a third party present, or sitting in the next office within earshot, or whatever, and then both of you get fired.

    Especially if that third party is millions of listeners.

    "Ooooops ... Uh oh ... Ha Ha Ha HA ... !!! ... I was only joking around ..."
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Altering someone’s words in what appears to be a quotation from them, and adding ‘fixed that for you’ is deprecated in Purgatory as being not conducive to serious discussion. Its heat to light ratio tends to be bad, and it can get seriously confusing. Please avoid doing it.

    BroJames, Purgatory Host
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    KarlLB wrote: »
    I know myself imperfectly, but I know myself a lot better than you know me

    Perfectly true.

    I'm really not trying to pick on you here, Karl. You are everyman in this. I'm not accusing you of anything other than being like every other human being. But I'll try to keep my comments at a general level if you'd prefer.

    As far as I understand you, you're saying that anyone who abbreviates the neutral term "Pakistani", meaning someone from the country next door to India, to its first four letters is necessarily doing so from a desire to assert a belief in the inferiority of people from that region.

    It follows that anyone who does not hold such a belief would not want to use the 4-letter word in question, and therefore there would be no need for their superego to get involved at all.

    I agree your logic but dissent from your premise.

    Yes there's a difference between having or not having a desire to convey a particular meaning, and guarding the words you use in doing that so as to avoid offence or misunderstanding.

    I think we're agreed that it's human nature that the self-censoring process is fallible.





  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    If you were over about 80 you might just have an excuse with P***

    But the F** one which I believe is the one in question - that has as I understand it as much history in living memory of non intentionally derogatory use as the N word - none whatsoever.
  • Russ wrote: »
    I think we're agreed that it's human nature that the self-censoring process is fallible.

    You're missing the point again. You are assuming that people naturally think of brown people as P***, and have to censor themselves to stop saying something racist out loud.

    I assert that I, and @KarlLB, and lots of other people, are no more likely to "slip" and call someone "P***" than we are to "slip" and call them "Fastnet Rock".
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    'X is a Racial slur' doesn't mean 'x is a member of this race and I feel negatively about him or her'; it means 'x is a member of this race and I feel negatively about all members of that race'.
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    Russ wrote: »
    I think we're agreed that it's human nature that the self-censoring process is fallible.

    You're missing the point again. You are assuming that people naturally think of brown people as P***, and have to censor themselves to stop saying something racist out loud.

    If there were no possibility of misunderstanding, if every word had exactly one meaning, then you might be right.

    The need to censor oneself arises when a word will or may be understood differently in different contexts. If "f**k" is a mild expletive among your friends on the sports team but an obscenity among your church choir, then you (generic you) need to guard your tongue to avoid conveying a meaning you do not intend in one place by using the vocabulary of the other.

    Similarly, if you think of an open-all-hours corner store as a "paki shop" because that is what it was called among your peer group in [wherever] when you were young, but are aware that some people use "p*k*" as an insulting term for brown people, then you will want to censor yourself to avoid giving offence.

  • Russ wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    I think we're agreed that it's human nature that the self-censoring process is fallible.

    You're missing the point again. You are assuming that people naturally think of brown people as P***, and have to censor themselves to stop saying something racist out loud.

    If there were no possibility of misunderstanding, if every word had exactly one meaning, then you might be right.

    The need to censor oneself arises when a word will or may be understood differently in different contexts. If "f**k" is a mild expletive among your friends on the sports team but an obscenity among your church choir, then you (generic you) need to guard your tongue to avoid conveying a meaning you do not intend in one place by using the vocabulary of the other.

    Similarly, if you think of an open-all-hours corner store as a "paki shop" because that is what it was called among your peer group in [wherever] when you were young, but are aware that some people use "p*k*" as an insulting term for brown people, then you will want to censor yourself to avoid giving offence.

    You having a racist peer-group in the meso-lithic period doesn't make the term not racist in that context. I grew up absorbing and emulating the casual homophobia of my peers. I can't imagine any of the terms I used crossing my lips in a similar way, even in anger, because I have no desire to use them. I don't think in those terms. I don't "self-censor" because there is nothing there to censor.
  • There's a qualitative difference between saying "for fuck's sake" as the choirmaster makes you sing yet another Rutter, and saying "fuck off you p*** bastard", and I think we all understand what that difference is.
  • Russ wrote: »
    Similarly, if you think of an open-all-hours corner store as a "paki shop" because that is what it was called among your peer group in [wherever] when you were young, but are aware that some people use "p*k*" as an insulting term for brown people, then you will want to censor yourself to avoid giving offence.

    This obviously racist name for a corner shop (clearly named after the sort of person your peers assumed ran such establishments) may have been in common use in your social circle in your youth. It's racist. If you do indeed think of a corner shop as a "paki shop", you should stop doing that.

    And this rather supports my contention - because if you think "paki shop" to yourself about corner stores, probably run by hard-working immigrants, you probably think "paki" about the people, and it may well slip out if you're drunk, or angry, or whatever.

    And that's because, if that is true, then you think in racist ways. If so, you should train yourself out of that habit.
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    I grew up absorbing and emulating the casual homophobia of my peers. I can't imagine any of the terms I used crossing my lips in a similar way, even in anger, because I have no desire to use them. I don't think in those terms. I don't "self-censor" because there is nothing there to censor.

    That makes sense. If a term was insulting when you learnt it, why would desire to use it except to insult ? No difference in meaning.

    Similarly, if you learnt a term as being insulting to a group or class of people, then it makes sense that you would not desire to use it except to insult that class of people. Again, you're positing a single unambiguous meaning and concluding that there's no need to self-censor.

    If you were angry with an Irishman you might in the heat of the moment call him an "Irish bastard". And then desire to clarify to the Irishman standing next to him that you had no intention of implying that all Irishmen are bastards. If there's ambiguity (in this case over whether it is the individual or the group being insulted) then there may be a role for self-censorship.

    It's easy to assume that the way a word is used in one's own subculture is the single unambiguous meaning of the word. And it's not true. People's understandings are more diverse than that. For most of the words we know, we pick up the meaning from context rather than by reading a dictionary. Especially the insulting words.
  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited August 2020
    Russ wrote: »
    If you were angry with an Irishman you might in the heat of the moment call him an "Irish bastard".

    No, I wouldn't. I can't conceive of any circumstances under which that formulation would occur. Just like, even though in the past I might have used "gay" as a pejorative, there are no circumstances under which my anger with a gay person might lead me to use terms related to their sexuality to abuse them.
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    Russ wrote: »
    If you were angry with an Irishman you might in the heat of the moment call him an "Irish bastard".

    No, I wouldn't. I can't conceive of any circumstances under which that formulation would occur.

    Clearly I don't know you in person. Don't know what you tend to say when you're angry. Don't know what your experience is of being misunderstood or feeling you have to guard against being misunderstood.

    I can only guess.

    I guess that you have the experience of being on best behaviour and feeling you have to mind your language.

    I could tell you a story about someone who went for a job interview and was given a tough time by one of the intervewers. He left the building, met his friend outside, and unburdened himself to his friend of his feelings about this wretched woman on the interview panel.
    And then turned around, and who did he see amongst the group of smokers enjoying a cigarette break outside the door, within easy earshot of where he stood ?

    But I can only guess at how much sympathy you'd have for someone in that sort of situation.

    My guess, for the little it's worth, is no more than a null hypothesis. That you put up a polite front as much as the next person, get angry as much as the next person, are as capable of insulting those you feel animosity to as the next person, and have as much sympathy as the next person for those who find themselves caught out by circumstance.

    But that your normal human empathy somehow gets pushed to one side by your commitment to political doctrines related to "protected characteristics".

    This isn't about you or about me. Or about arguing for or against your doctrine. It's about understanding the way we humans either anathematise those we disagree with or respond to our common humanity.
  • It's not a matter of "political doctrines", it's basic decency combined with logic. If you're angry with someone you insult them personally because they're the cause of the offence. Going after the ancestry, sexuality or whatever else is a category error as well as vile.
  • This is the thing - this isn't primarily about not insulting or not offending people.

    It's about not having a mindset that somehow imagines that someone's ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality and so on are actually things that can be insults. The fact that the terms in question are slurs - they are mostly or entirely associated with denigration of the groups concerned - is just the shit icing on the shit cake.

    If one uses "Jewish" as part of an insult, one grants it much the same impact as "K***". And you don't get away with calling someone a "Black bastard" by complaining you didn't use "N******"
  • You know what, I think some of you are enjoying the opportunity to use words that are distinctly verboten in the politically correct environment of liberal society, and hiding behind asterisks only makes it worse.
  • Kwesi wrote: »
    You know what, I think some of you are enjoying the opportunity to use words that are distinctly verboten in the politically correct environment of liberal society, and hiding behind asterisks only makes it worse.

    And I think seeing where you got that from would require a doctor and a very small camera.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    There’s probably no way back for someone who slags off an interviewer in their hearing - whatever language was used. I’d probably have some sympathy for the gaffe.

    If, however, they’d used misogynist language then I’d have considerably less sympathy. And if the interviewer had turned round to them and said, “I gave you a hard time, and I’m not surprised you’re angry at me. But actually you performed well in the interview, but what I do have a problem with is your choice of misogynist language to express your opinion.” Then my sympathy goes the other way.

    But the case under discussion wasn’t someone under great stress letting something slip, it was someone in a relaxed, ‘unbuttoned’ moment, who chose to use language which showed that they were quite comfortable with using homophobic slurs. Clearly the employer felt their reputation was at stake, and chose to put clear distance between themselves and their employee.
  • .
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Kwesi wrote: »
    You know what, I think some of you are enjoying the opportunity to use words that are distinctly verboten in the politically correct environment of liberal society, and hiding behind asterisks only makes it worse.

    And I think seeing where you got that from would require a doctor and a very small camera.

    :notworthy:
  • Russ wrote: »
    I could tell you a story about someone who went for a job interview and was given a tough time by one of the intervewers. He left the building, met his friend outside, and unburdened himself to his friend of his feelings about this wretched woman on the interview panel.
    [..]
    That you put up a polite front as much as the next person, get angry as much as the next person, are as capable of insulting those you feel animosity to as the next person, and have as much sympathy as the next person for those who find themselves caught out by circumstance.

    @Russ, you're still caught up in "politeness". You seem to think that the only reason that most of us aren't coming out with racist / homophobic language is that we're too polite to say something like that in public.

    Sure - if I felt I was given a hard time by an interviewer, I might well whinge to a friend about it. If the interviewer in question was a woman, I'd probably call her a "woman" and use female pronouns when I was talking about how unreasonable she was, how she wasn't prepared to listen to what I said, how she didn't know what she was talking about, or whatever else.

    But I'm not going to associate or attribute her unreasonableness to her womanhood, because that's not how I think. I don't know how I can persuade you of this - you seem convinced that if any of us is angry or upset with someone, we're immediately going to start disparaging whatever their distinguishing characteristics are. Several of us keep telling you that this is not, in fact, how we think - that we have plenty of experience being angry with people and yelling at them, without referring to their race, sexuality, or whatever in the process. How can we persuade you that we're not lying?

    I can't do any better than echo what KarlLB said:
    KarlLB wrote: »
    This is the thing - this isn't primarily about not insulting or not offending people.

    It's about not having a mindset that somehow imagines that someone's ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality and so on are actually things that can be insults. The fact that the terms in question are slurs - they are mostly or entirely associated with denigration of the groups concerned - is just the shit icing on the shit cake.

  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    edited September 2020
    Russ wrote: »
    ... your commitment to political doctrines related to "protected characteristics".

    I detect an irregular verb:

    My observation of the social and economic history and functioning of the community = "common sense."

    Your observation of the social and economic history and functioning of the community = "political."

    (It's political when you do it.)

  • KarLB

    Kwesi wrote: »
    You know what, I think some of you are enjoying the opportunity to use words that are distinctly verboten in the politically correct environment of liberal society, and hiding behind asterisks only makes it worse.

    KarlLB And I think seeing where you got that from would require a doctor and a very small camera.

    Might I remind you, KarlLB, that in an earlier response to Russ you expressed the view regarding yourself: "I know myself imperfectly, but I know myself a lot better than you know me." Don't you think you are making a whole set of assumptions about my motivations on the basis of very little evidence. Regarding your reply, its tone suggests to me my point hit home, as Gertrude remarked of the actor: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks".

    Mind you, the notion that we understand ourselves better than others seems to me not incontestable. I recall making some very critical remarks about Hilary Clinton, which led shipmate Ruth to accuse me of misogyny. Of course, I was taken aback, but perhaps she had detected an aspect of my character of which I was unaware. As the Scottish bard wrote:

    "O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An' foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
    An' ev'n devotion!"
  • LouiseLouise Epiphanies Host
    If I read instantly what the words behind the asterisks are, then I'm sure the people normally on the receiving end automatically read them too. I'm not sure it's a good way to proceed. People made it clear to the BBC recently that even if an anti racist point was being made they still didn't want to hear the actual words of the worst slurs broadcast, and the argument being made doesn't require those specifics. So perhaps people who will never be the object of these slurs should avoid them and be guided by those who do face them.
  • Kwesi wrote: »
    KarLB

    Kwesi wrote: »
    You know what, I think some of you are enjoying the opportunity to use words that are distinctly verboten in the politically correct environment of liberal society, and hiding behind asterisks only makes it worse.

    KarlLB And I think seeing where you got that from would require a doctor and a very small camera.

    Might I remind you, KarlLB, that in an earlier response to Russ you expressed the view regarding yourself: "I know myself imperfectly, but I know myself a lot better than you know me." Don't you think you are making a whole set of assumptions about my motivations on the basis of very little evidence. Regarding your reply, its tone suggests to me my point hit home, as Gertrude remarked of the actor: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks".
    Really? To me the tone suggests that your comment was extremely insulting, and insults don't have to be accurate to be offensive.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Host hat on
    Shipmates are getting extremely close to breaching Commandment 3 ‘attack the issue, not the person’. Please observe and avoid.
    Host hat off.
    BroJames, Purgatory Host
  • Louise wrote: »
    If I read instantly what the words behind the asterisks are, then I'm sure the people normally on the receiving end automatically read them too. I'm not sure it's a good way to proceed. People made it clear to the BBC recently that even if an anti racist point was being made they still didn't want to hear the actual words of the worst slurs broadcast, and the argument being made doesn't require those specifics. So perhaps people who will never be the object of these slurs should avoid them and be guided by those who do face them.

    That's a good point, and the truth is I thought hard about how to refer without using. It may be that I err in my conclusion about the best approach. Open to guidance there.
  • RuthRuth Shipmate
    Respectable news outlets typically avoid representing slurs in any specific way; they'll say "the Reds announcer used a homophobic slur" and leave it at that. That doesn't keep the specific word out of my head, because in the US that nearly always means the same thing. If they say "derogatory language about women," I might go to some other source to find out what that was, as there are so many ways to be derogatory about women and so many gradations - some things are more offensive than others.

    YMMV, but when the news report isn't clear and specific, my first thought is, "Come on, what the hell did they SAY?!?"
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    @Russ, you're still caught up in "politeness". You seem to think that the only reason that most of us aren't coming out with racist / homophobic language is that we're too polite to say something like that in public.

    I'm denying that any language is inherently and objectively racist/misogynistic etc, and locating the phenomenon of offence within the listener (and the subculture they live in) rather than in the word or phrase itself. There are no bad words; only words that some people will take badly.

    And locating the taking and giving of racially-related or gender-related offence within the general category of offence rather than as a separate phenomenon.

    I'm suggesting that people (rightly) place some level of guard on what they say, to avoid offending others.

    Both from an altruistic desire not to upset people and a self-interested desire to avoid undesirable consequences.

    (If I think someone at work is a total prat I might bite my tongue for his sake because he can't help it. Or for my sake because he's the boss).

    And also both to avoid someone being offended by what I genuinely (if only in that angry moment) think/feel about them and to avoid being misinterpreted as saying something they take to be worse than that.

    How is that different when the meaning that they take from the words is one that is derogatory to their race or gender or nationality ? It isn't.

    Do I believe that you (and everyone aboard the Ship) share my conviction that there is no inferior race or gender ? Yes, completely.

    Does that mean that in the hyperbole of the moment I could never call someone a total prat from a nation of total prats ? No.

    It might not be your style. I believe what you say about what your style is.

    What I don't buy is the suggestion that you or anyone else is so perfect that they cannot possibly give offence through misunderstanding. Or that the particular way of giving offence that you are immune from (though other lesser mortals are prone to) is uniquely evil.

    If someone ever writes a history of insult, insulting a man by insulting his ancestors will have a place in the book.




  • Ruth wrote: »
    Respectable news outlets typically avoid representing slurs in any specific way; they'll say "the Reds announcer used a homophobic slur" and leave it at that. That doesn't keep the specific word out of my head, because in the US that nearly always means the same thing. If they say "derogatory language about women," I might go to some other source to find out what that was, as there are so many ways to be derogatory about women and so many gradations - some things are more offensive than others.

    YMMV, but when the news report isn't clear and specific, my first thought is, "Come on, what the hell did they SAY?!?"

    Hard to think anything else.

    Especially since in the UK we have *loads* of homophobic slurs.

    Hence I find myself often stuck between the Scylla of needless offence and the Charybdis of vagueness.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    British English is replete with slurs - homophobic, sexist, racist, ableist and ageist (and probably more besides). For any one of those I could probably guess at least half a dozen possibilities- depending somewhat on the age and background of the speaker. Then there are the ones we’ve taken on from the other side of the Atlantic.
  • Classist.
  • Russ wrote: »
    I'm denying that any language is inherently and objectively racist/misogynistic etc, and locating the phenomenon of offence within the listener (and the subculture they live in) rather than in the word or phrase itself. There are no bad words; only words that some people will take badly.

    Any language? A copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion isn't anti-Semitic, it only seems that way to overly-sensitive readers? You're claiming that there is literally no way to use language to denigrate others? While it would certainly make the Hosts' jobs easier not to have to worry about Commandments 1 and 3 anymore, your views don't seem to reflect reality.
  • Ruth wrote: »
    Respectable news outlets typically avoid representing slurs in any specific way; they'll say "the Reds announcer used a homophobic slur" and leave it at that. That doesn't keep the specific word out of my head, because in the US that nearly always means the same thing. If they say "derogatory language about women," I might go to some other source to find out what that was, as there are so many ways to be derogatory about women and so many gradations - some things are more offensive than others.

    YMMV, but when the news report isn't clear and specific, my first thought is, "Come on, what the hell did they SAY?!?"

    The thing that bothers me is, if they don’t report what the alleged slur actually was then how can we know it was even a slur at all?
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    Crœsos wrote: »
    You're claiming that there is literally no way to use language to denigrate others?

    I'm saying that communication involves a speaker and a listener, or a writer and a reader. And that nobody is so good at it that they are never misunderstood. (But nobody is so bad at it that they are always misunderstood).

    Of course a derogatory opinion can be successfully communicated. Sometimes. But neither a derogatory or a non-derogatory meaning has a 100% success rate of being communicated accurately.

    You're probably very good at judging the intended meaning of the utterances of those who move in the same circles that you do. And a little bit less accurate with those further from you in age, experience and background. Like everybody else is.

    But you know all this. I'm really not saying anything very novel or radical here.

    You know that a swear-word does not strike everybody's ear with the same degree of offensiveness. (Maybe you know people who use words that would be quite shocking coming from your mother). But at the same time you can probably judge pretty well how upset your friends have to be before they'd use a certain word.

    Why on earth would you suppose that racial insults are any different ?

  • LouiseLouise Epiphanies Host

    The thing that bothers me is, if they don’t report what the alleged slur actually was then how can we know it was even a slur at all?
    I had a look at a random bunch of BBC stories on sectarian abuse and it seems normal not to specify the offensive chant or terms of abuse used, yet I've never heard anyone express any doubt that any of these incidents were not as described or didn't happen. I can easily guess at what sort of slurs and chanting was going on where Scottish football is concerned but I don't need people to be resubjected to it for my benefit so I can tell them whether they're allowed to be offended or not. It's not my place as a member of the Church of Scotland to tell a Catholic person that I'll be the judge of what's a slur to them.
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