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Shweta
11-01-2007, 03:28 AM
I wonder if we could hit on the source of humor again for a moment? It was mentioned wrt. Ol' Fashioned Girl's PMS comment.

There are many many gender/race/disability jokes that are socially acceptable if made by the in-group and not by the out-group. Yeh? Because from the out-group it implies "And I'm Better", but from the in-group it does not. ETA: from the in-group it's a form of commiseration.

This is a simple fact of language -- it does depend on who's speaking. In a community this large though, we don't always know who's speaking and what their background is.

So perhaps it's useful for us all to keep in mind that a) the person making epileptic jokes might be epileptic or have a loved one who is, and it might be a tension release thing. and b) you could hurt people with your humor, and it does not make them unreasonable, it makes them people who have different context from you.

and c) when someone has ninety thousand posts here, like Haskins does :D (ETA: And joined in Feb 1905) it's only fair to assume they have a lot of shared context with some other people on the board. And when someone has 15 posts, and has joined in Oct 2007, maybe it's okay to tread a little gently around them even if you normally wouldn't.

Which is to say, I often look at post count and join date to try and get basic context. Maybe it's a useful thing to do?

William Haskins
11-01-2007, 03:34 AM
There are many many gender/race/disability jokes that are socially acceptable if made by the in-group and not by the out-group. Yeh? Because from the out-group it implies "And I'm Better", but from the in-group it does not. ETA: from the in-group it's a form of commiseration.

i simply do not subscribe to this view.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 03:38 AM
I do the same thing, Shweta -- that's a really useful suggestion, and thank you.

I wonder if we could hit on the source of humor again for a moment? It was mentioned wrt. Ol' Fashioned Girl's PMS comment.

There are many many gender/race/disability jokes that are socially acceptable if made by the in-group and not by the out-group. Yeh? Because from the out-group it implies "And I'm Better", but from the in-group it does not. ETA: from the in-group it's a form of commiseration.

This is a simple fact of language -- it does depend on who's speaking. In a community this large though, we don't always know who's speaking and what their background is.

So perhaps it's useful for us all to keep in mind that a) the person making epileptic jokes might be epileptic or have a loved one who is, and it might be a tension release thing. and b) you could hurt people with your humor, and it does not make them unreasonable, it makes them people who have different context from you.

and c) when someone has ninety thousand posts here, like Haskins does :D (ETA: And joined in Feb 1905) it's only fair to assume they have a lot of shared context with some other people on the board. And when someone has 15 posts, and has joined in Oct 2007, maybe it's okay to tread a little gently around them even if you normally wouldn't.

Which is to say, I often look at post count and join date to try and get basic context. Maybe it's a useful thing to do?

Shweta
11-01-2007, 03:38 AM
To Haskins, not Mac: Yes, I've noticed, but to my knowledge, most sociolinguists (who actually look at the data) do :tongue

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 03:39 AM
i simply do not subscribe to this view.
That's okay. It's available on any corner newstand, too.

William Haskins
11-01-2007, 04:02 AM
To Haskins, not Mac: Yes, I've noticed, but to my knowledge, most sociolinguists (who actually look at the data) do :tongue

sociolinguists are not the guardians of the language. language belongs to the masses. like rocks. whether you choose to pile them into a garden wall or carve them into a sculpture or throw them through a window is up to you, provided you accept the consequences.

i'll be dead as fried chicken before anyone tells me what i can and cannot say.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 04:09 AM
Goodness, do you know what sociolinguists actually, y'know... do?

They don't tell anyone what to say and what not to. They look at language use, in context, and its effects.

If a physicist tells you that if you step off a balcony you'll fall, the physicist is giving you an empirical result. Not stopping you from stepping off a balcony expecting to float (unless, y'know, he's physically restraining you, which is another matter).

What I understand from the sociolinguists is that jokes have different effects depending on who they're coming from. As do many other speech acts. Empirical result.
This does not forbid you from anything. But if you insist on ignoring the data, that's your call, there are consequences. That's all.

veinglory
11-01-2007, 04:09 AM
One can say anything, but not anywhere. If not by law, then by courtesy. I had that explained to me once, by a bouncer.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 05:31 AM
What I understand from the sociolinguists is that jokes have different effects depending on who they're coming from. As do many other speech acts. Empirical result.
This does not forbid you from anything. But if you insist on ignoring the data, that's your call, there are consequences. That's all.The problem here--imo--is that sociolinguists can, like many people, make assumptions about who others are, in terms of what group they are a member of. And they do this with no consideration for the actual point of view in this regard of the person whose point of view they would like to define. So, the in-group and the out-group are defined arbitrarily by someone who assumes they have the ability to make these distinctions on behalf of others. Haskins is quite right, imo of course.

And it's really not all that empirical.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 05:42 AM
Sure, that can happen in any study, especially if they don't actually ask participants how they categorize themselves (which most do, in my experience).

But that doesn't stop it being empirical; any empirical discipline is going to make mistaken assumptions, find data that contradicts their assumptions, adjust accordingly, etc.
We're never right, we can just hope to be less wrong than we used to be. It's still less wrong than making blithe assumptions without any data.

poetinahat
11-01-2007, 05:49 AM
When I was in fourth grade, one of my best friends (who was black, and who I presume still is) used to call me 'nigger'. I called him 'honky'. We chased each other around, gave each other noogies, and cracked up every time. It didn't bother anyone else, and no one else made it their business.

Good, good times.

'Course, we never - ever - switched those nicknames.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 05:51 AM
Sure, that can happen in any study, especially if they don't actually ask participants how they categorize themselves (which most do, in my experience).

But that doesn't stop it being empirical; any empirical discipline is going to make mistaken assumptions, find data that contradicts their assumptions, adjust accordingly, etc.
We're never right, we can just hope to be less wrong than we used to be. It's still less wrong than making blithe assumptions without any data.Okay, I can go with that, except the idea that is represents empirical data as a matter of fact. When couched in a series of mistaken assumptions, such data can be far too subjective to simply be taken as empirical, unless it is presented as a series of mere opinions, itself. At which point, it can be every bit as blithe as the opinion of anyone else.

And this is the same discussion--in yet another form--that we've had at least twice before. :)

Shweta
11-01-2007, 05:55 AM
I'm not saying that you have to believe the studies. Just that there are authorities -- whose idea of methodology I have reason to trust -- who do.

So long as neither of you intend your disagreement as anything other than a statement of disagreement, I'm cool with it. But simple disagreement ain't a counterargument to me, if you're trying to make one. That's all.

William Haskins
11-01-2007, 05:56 AM
When couched in a series of mistaken assumptions, such data can be far too subjective to simply be taken as empirical, unless it is presented as a series of mere opinions, itself. At which point, it can be every bit as blithe as the opinion of anyone else.

furthermore, when the assumptions are attached to an agenda, it has the effect of academically "shaming" some use of language, which diffuses over time, allowing the scientists to stamp the very nature of public discourse.

and control of language (even the attempt) is nearly exclusively tied to a desire to control thought.

John Paton
11-01-2007, 05:57 AM
this is beginning to remind me of a Monty Python sketch.

Regards
John

Oh you want an argument - that's farther down the hall.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 05:59 AM
Aw, and here I was hoping it was the dead parrot sketch.

This, sir, is an ex-argument!

poetinahat
11-01-2007, 06:01 AM
"Does 'Burt Bacharach' begin with an S?"

Shweta
11-01-2007, 06:04 AM
furthermore, when the assumptions are attached to an agenda, it has the effect of academically "shaming" some use of language, which diffuses over time, allowing the scientists to stamp the very nature of public discourse.

Yes, and there are definitely such studies, though more in psychology than linguistics (there's more money in psych). Most of them are just plain bad, apart from being attached to an agenda. I'm going from being in a department with a couple of the world's top sociolinguists, and their sources tend to be rather less... suspect.

The reason I keep saying "sociolinguists say" rather than "I know", by the way, is not because I want to lean on their authority. It's more a form of "I've heard..." because I haven't read these particular studies myself.

ETA: Obviously, I should have said that up front, but the possibility didn't even occur to me before that it might read as argument-from authority. I saw it as adding data to the mix, no more.


and control of language (even the attempt) is nearly exclusively tied to a desire to control thought.

Yes. But a request to self-control language might well be a request to consider cognitive self-control. Which is not really a bad thing. Especially if it means external controls become less necessary.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 06:05 AM
furthermore, when the assumptions are attached to an agenda, it has the effect of academically "shaming" some use of language, which diffuses over time, allowing the scientists to stamp the very nature of public discourse.

and control of language (even the attempt) is nearly exclusively tied to a desire to control thought.
Right.

It's not a question of "believing" the studies, at all. It's a question of the "why" behind the studies and the "why" behind the acceptance of the studies, along with the consequences of such. To surrender the definition of reality to language is to surrender reality--itself--to potential control through language.

As to a counterargument, I've noted some before, I believe. Here's my favorite (http://www.amazon.com/Domination-Arts-Resistance-Hidden-Transcripts/dp/0300056699). Conditioned responses are not always what they seem to be, when it comes to both language and action.

Duncan J Macdonald
11-01-2007, 06:15 AM
That's okay. It's available on any corner newstand, too.
No, no. It's a daytime TV show with Whoopie Goldberg.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 06:19 AM
It's not a question of "believing" the studies, at all. It's a question of the "why" behind the studies and the "why" behind the acceptance of the studies, along with the consequences of such. To surrender the definition of reality to language is to surrender reality--itself--to potential control through language.

I'm pretty confused as to how this relates, at all, to my original point.

It's fairly clear that (for example) a black person can call another black person "nigger" without offense, and a white person cannot, and also that there's a huge difference between epileptics and their close friends making epileptic jokes and random strangers doing so. Why is the fact that there are empirical studies backing up that fairly-clear point scary?

I don't get what this has to do with surrendering reality by paying attention to studies. I think, if anything, your point that surrendering language is surrendering control of more than language simply supports the notion I was talking about -- that communities keep control over their accepted language use and don't accept the same things from outsiders that they do from their own.

And... I read through the comments on the book you linked to, robeiae, and I just don't see the link.

So maybe I think this discussion is about something other than what you think it's about.:Shrug:

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 06:21 AM
Right.

It's not a question of "believing" the studies, at all. It's a question of the "why" behind the studies and the "why" behind the acceptance of the studies, along with the consequences of such. To surrender the definition of reality to language is to surrender reality--itself--to potential control through language.

I'd counter that to attempt to disconnect language from reality is silly and actually destructive -- and ultimately futile.

Language describes reality, and to accomplish that, it must by definition maintain some fairly stable relationship with it.

poetinahat
11-01-2007, 06:28 AM
Here's a timely gem (from ESPN, Stern condemns conduct of Knicks management (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3088050) - emphasis mine):



A portion of Thomas' deposition was shown in court during the trial and the tape showed Thomas saying he made a distinction between a black man calling a black woman "bitch" and a white man doing the same thing. The coach was criticized for that by Al Sharpton, who threatened to lead protests at Knicks games unless Thomas explained his remarks.


Wow.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 06:30 AM
I'm sooooooo tempted to move this part of the thread to Colorado Guy's room. It would make him so happy.

Birol
11-01-2007, 06:36 AM
I was in CG's room earlier today, but then everyone else took their toys and went NaNoing!

William Haskins
11-01-2007, 06:36 AM
It's fairly clear that (for example) a black person can call another black person "nigger" without offense

is it? so this means a boy can call his father that? 50 cent could call bill cosby that? chris rock could call clarence thomas that?

and all these would be without offense?

robeiae
11-01-2007, 06:38 AM
I'm pretty confused as to how this relates, at all, to my original point.

It's fairly clear that (for example) a black person can call another black person "nigger" without offense, and a white person cannot, and also that there's a huge difference between epileptics and their close friends making epileptic jokes and random strangers doing so. Why is the fact that there are empirical studies backing up that fairly-clear point scary?

I don't get what this has to do with surrendering reality by paying attention to studies. I think, if anything, your point that surrendering language is surrendering control of more than language simply supports the notion I was talking about -- that communities keep control over their accepted language use and don't accept the same things from outsiders that they do from their own.

And... I read through the comments on the book you linked to, robeiae, and I just don't see the link.

So maybe I think this discussion is about something other than what you think it's about.:Shrug:
What's a 'black person'? What's a 'white person'? Who is it 'fairly clear' to, exactly? Who determines it has caused offense? On what basis? Whose opinion carries the most weight in this example: the speaker of the term, the person the speaker is addressing, others who overhear the exchange, others who learn of the exchange? At what point can the unequivocal judgment be made with regard to whether or not the term caused offense? Immediately? After it has been studied and all opinions have been tabulated? If a person claims a given term caused offense, is their rationale significant? Do they actually have a rationale?

If someone--anyone--is going to designate a given term off-limits to a given group, how is that not about control? And if a single individual or small group of individuals makes that decision for a much larger community, is that okay as a matter of course? Do those within that community accept that taboo mindlessly, or do they have an opinion? If that opinion is not expressed--for whatever reason--is it immaterial, such that the community functions as if all agreed?

The book I linked to is about people subjected to control and the generally accepted notion that the mechanisms of control condition their behavior, their thoughts, their words. And it demonstrates that this notion is flawed, to an extent. Still, it is a widely accepted notion, buttressed by many sorts of studies.

And yes, I see Orwell in many places, perhaps far too often.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 06:41 AM
I'd counter that to attempt to disconnect language from reality is silly and actually destructive -- and ultimately futile.I don't want that, at all. It is silly. But no more silly than assuming that changing language changes reality.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 06:45 AM
I'm sooooooo tempted to move this part of the thread to Colorado Guy's room. It would make him so happy.
Not to worry. It's coming right back to where it started.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 06:46 AM
Well, but it does change reality, trivially. If I say A instead of B, then reality includes me saying A rather than B. It doesn't make A true instead of B, sure. But if A is hurtful to somone (hm, I picked on Haskins already, let's have MacAllister as my victim)... suppose A sends Mac bawling for her kleenex, then by saying A, I changed reality such that Mac is now extremely unhappy.

If A was not a necessary thing to say, then perhaps it was better left unsaid. Not because I Am Forbidden To Be Mean, but because the world is better for my not having said it. We don't exist in vacuums, we interact with other people.


ETA: I should really remember to quote. I was responding to Robeiae, obviously.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 06:51 AM
Well, but it does change reality, trivially. If I say A instead of B, then reality includes me saying A rather than B. It doesn't make A true instead of B, sure. But if A is hurtful to somone (hm, I picked on Haskins already, let's have MacAllister as my victim)... suppose A sends Mac bawling for her kleenex, then by saying A, I changed reality such that Mac is now extremely unhappy.

If A was not a necessary thing to say, then perhaps it was better left unsaid. Not because I Am Forbidden To Be Mean, but because the world is better for my not having said it. We don't exist in vacuums, we interact with other people.But forbidding A does not sanitize anything. It doesn't change the way you feel--which caused you to say A--and it doesn't mean Mac will never again go bawling for her kleenex because of some other means of expressing those kinds of feelings, by you or someone else.

Medievalist
11-01-2007, 06:54 AM
i simply do not subscribe to this view.

No subscription needed; it's an observed fact.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 06:56 AM
is it? so this means a boy can call his father that? 50 cent could call bill cosby that? chris rock could call clarence thomas that?

and all these would be without offense?

I said a, not any.


What's a 'black person'? What's a 'white person'? Who is it 'fairly clear' to, exactly? Who determines it has caused offense? On what basis? Whose opinion carries the most weight in this example: the speaker of the term, the person the speaker is addressing, others who overhear the exchange, others who learn of the exchange? At what point can the unequivocal judgment be made with regard to whether or not the term caused offense? Immediately? After it has been studied and all opinions have been tabulated? If a person claims a given term caused offense, is their rationale significant? Do they actually have a rationale?

If someone is offended, they're offended. Everyone has a right to their own mental state.

If someone else chooses to ignore that, it's their call. Up to a point (that's the point when the nice men put handcuffs on said person and take them away).

As for the other questions, do you really think about them all the time? If so, I'm surprised you can respond in real-time. Most people don't, at least not explicitly.

But, let's clarify. I was talking about the interaction between two (probably young) black peers, which I certainly thought clear from context. I'd guess that anybody who didn't at least look black would be excluded from this group; possibly even anyone who wasn't part of that particular peer group. I think the people who are offended get to say what's caused offense, since it's their mental state. Whose opinion carries most weight depends on context -- but if your goal is to have a relatively co-operative society, it doesn't matter whose opinion carries most weight. Everyone's opinion carries some weight.

If your goal is to defend your own territory against all comers, to hell with the society at large, then we're back to "Who gets to tell me not to piss on my neighbour's doorstep?" which is a form of entitlement I see an awful lot, and don't really comprehend, since it seems antisocial in the extreme.

With that, I'm bowing out at least for today, cause laundry ain't folding itself :)

Medievalist
11-01-2007, 07:01 AM
sociolinguists are not the guardians of the language. language belongs to the masses. like rocks. whether you choose to pile them into a garden wall or carve them into a sculpture or throw them through a window is up to you, provided you accept the consequences.

i'll be dead as fried chicken before anyone tells me what i can and cannot say.

Dude, no one is telling you what you "can and can't say," but Shweta is describing an observable, factual phenomenon about humans and reserved speech.

I can make jokes about dyslexics and dogs, and not be offensive because I'm a dog dyslexic; my Jewish friend can make jokes about microwaves that seat five, and, in very limited circumstances, not be offensive.

William Haskins
11-01-2007, 07:08 AM
Dude, no one is telling you what you "can and can't say," but Shweta is describing an observable, factual phenomenon about humans and reserved speech.

babe... what you claim as "factual", shweta has already stipulated (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1776210&postcount=378) is not categorical, so it's only "observable" and "factual" under certain conditions.

no epileptic or minority is going to evaluate their level of offense* in a vacuum; it's going to be informed by self-image and other environmental factors, including to what degree society as framed their existence as one of victimhood.

*indeed, level of offense, a spectrum if ever there was one, itself calls into question the validity of any pronouncement of "the way things are".

Medievalist
11-01-2007, 07:52 AM
no epileptic or minority is going to evaluate their level of offense* in a vacuum; it's going to be informed by self-image and other environmental factors, including to what degree society as framed their existence as one of victimhood.

*indeed, level of offense, a spectrum if ever there was one, itself calls into question the validity of any pronouncement of "the way things are".

OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 07:55 AM
OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?NOTE FOR INTERESTED OBSERVERS: I consider Lisa a dear friend, and I rather like Haskins a great deal most of the time, too -- and this hypothetical question is fine with me. :) So don't get all protective and/or offended on *my* behalf, okay?

Actually, I think this is a really, really interesting question, and a great deal more useful than hypotheticals about Bill Cosby or Al Roker.

John Paton
11-01-2007, 08:04 AM
Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?


I don't think anyone would call Josephine Baker a "nigger dyke" either.

Hard to see where you are going with this Medi.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 08:08 AM
I don't think anyone would call Josephine Baker a "nigger dyke" either.

Hard to see where you are going with this Medi. Because it's quantifiable, assuming that the people asked tell the truth -- myself included.

A hypothetical about Josephine Baker isn't helpful.

I take that to mean you, John Paton, would not?

Shweta
11-01-2007, 08:12 AM
*hiding from the evil laundry again*



OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?

I could see going "What makes someone a dyke in particular, Mac?" -- like, asking about the lexical semantics and implying that she has privileged understanding because she self-identifies with the category.

But in general, I think I wouldn't. In any of these cases. I don't generally refer to people by categories, unless they're functionally relevant in the conversation. (Except for a small group of very close friends, including my husband, who I'll teasingly call white-boys or, more likely, nerds. But not in public.)

...Actually, I'm not sure what I'd do if "dyke" was functionally relevant in the conversation. It reads to me as a term that the in-group can use without offense, but me? Probly not.
So no, not unless Mac specifically allowed it.

ETA: And not because I think it's a derogatory term, or because I see any reason to be derogatory about sexual orientation. But because it might hurt her or someone else if it was perceived in a derogatory manner, even by a third party. And why would I want to do that?

SpookyWriter
11-01-2007, 08:18 AM
NOTE FOR INTERESTED OBSERVERS: I consider Lisa a dear friend, and I rather like Haskins a great deal most of the time, too -- and this hypothetical question is fine with me. :) So don't get all protective and/or offended on *my* behalf, okay?

Actually, I think this is a really, really interesting question, and a great deal more useful than hypotheticals about Bill Cosby or Al Roker.I disagree and think it's just bait. William can't answer this question because it's like when the girlfriend asks "Do you think I look fat in this dress?" Or "Do you enjoy beating your wife?"

I think this kind of linear questioning of a member to dislodge their attitude is unreasonable.

It serves no purpose.

John Paton
11-01-2007, 08:19 AM
Dear Mac

I never use the epithets I have bracketed in my earlier post.

However I am confused why Medi would make an assertion about your sexuality. Whether you are hetero or otherwise I guess makes no odds to me.

So I will have to die wondering.

Regards
John

SpookyWriter
11-01-2007, 08:19 AM
I could see going "What makes someone a dyke in particular, Mac?" -- like, asking about the lexical semantics and implying that she has privileged understanding because she self-identifies with the category.Man, I love you like a little sista Shweta, but for crying out loud can you please explain this in simple English for us dumb folks.

Thanks for understanding.

Birol
11-01-2007, 08:21 AM
I disagree and think it's just bait. William can't answer this question because it's like when the girlfriend asks "Do you think I look fat in this dress?" Or "Do you enjoy beating your wife?"

I think this kind of linear questioning of a member to dislodge their attitude is unreasonable.

It serves no purpose.

How is it different from the "it depends on what the definition of 'is' is" that others engage in when they don't want to address a point that another member has made so instead they choose to dissect the words used to formulate the argument (in a rhetorical sense) rather than the argument itself?

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 08:22 AM
John -- actually, no. I'm an out lesbian, and self-refer as a dyke pretty often. So it's actually not as random as it sounds.

The question is about the nature of privileged language: there's no law against the word, but there IS a great deal of cultural pressure around it, that's both contextual and rather personal.

So this is not only relevant, albeit highly anecdotal, but illustrative.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 08:24 AM
I disagree and think it's just bait. William can't answer this question because it's like when the girlfriend asks "Do you think I look fat in this dress?" Or "Do you enjoy beating your wife?"

Oops, did I miss something? I thought this was a question to everyone in general, for purposes of thinking about what we've been talking about in specifics instead of generalities...

But then, I'm fuzzyheaded from folding laundry (asthma can suck)

ETA: I only just realized Lisa's was a straight reaction to Haskins'. And maybe I shoulda shutted up. Oops.


Man, I love you like a little sista Shweta, but for crying out loud can you please explain this in simple English for us dumb folks.

Oh shoot, am I being incomrehensible again? Sorry. It's the fuzzyheadedness, it means I can't talk proper English. Will try and translate myself after a cuppa tea.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 08:27 AM
And in case it's not clear -- I'm interested in other people's responses to this as well. Haskins isn't being singled out in my book. I'm perfectly willing to discuss the use of the word and people's varying comfort or discomfort, with anyone who wants to discuss it.

Lori and Shweta have both met me in real life, too -- as has Lisa. Shweta's answer was deeply interesting, and I wonder what Lori or Lisa say in answer to the same question?

SpookyWriter
11-01-2007, 08:32 AM
Will try and translate myself after a cuppa tea.No need. I missed something and don't intend to go back a couple pages to figure our what the heck is going on. So, it's off to something else.

This is what I get for having a life.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 08:34 AM
No need. I missed something and don't intend to go back a couple pages to figure our what the heck is going on. So, it's off to something else.

This is what I get for having a life.You know what? If you're not going to bother to read the damned conversation, then yes. Go elsewhere. It's pretty damned insulting to start accusing members of "baiting" when you're not even paying attention to what the hell is being talked about, or how.

And this is the second time you've done this in less than twenty four hours -- so go do something else. Anything else. You're pissing me off.

John Paton
11-01-2007, 08:37 AM
Mac apologies for the confusion and any discomfort I may have caused.

I recall a time many years ago when dyke was a fairly acceptable term. This was the 70s in England - Uni and all that.

But now we cannot use that same term because we are not within the group (the lesbian gay community as a whole) - but those within the group can. Is this double standards?

PS I have many many gay friends btw

Shweta
11-01-2007, 08:39 AM
Cause Spooky is probably not the only non-native speaker of horrible academese.


I could see going "What makes someone a dyke in particular, Mac?" -- like, asking about the lexical semantics and implying that she has privileged understanding because she self-identifies with the category.

lexical semantics = the study of word meanings

And... um... implying that since she's in the group (calls herself a dyke) she knows what it means better than I do. So, y'know, implicitly calling her a dyke.


But in general, I think I wouldn't. In any of these cases. I don't generally refer to people by categories, unless they're functionally relevant in the conversation.

By functionally relevant I mean... it's useful to call someone a writer when the topic is writing, or being careful with words, or whatever. It's less useful to call them a writer at the bar when the topic is what everyone should drink. Unless there is a writer drink. If so, nobody told me :)

Hopefully that clears up the worst of it.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 08:42 AM
Mac apologies for the confusion and any discomfort I may have caused.

I recall a time many years ago when dyke was a fairly acceptable term. This was the 70s in England - Uni and all that.

But now we cannot use that same term because we are not within the group (the lesbian gay community as a whole) - but those within the group can. Is this double standards?

PS I have many many gay friends btwI suspect you're hanging out in a context of a different set of gay politics than I'm hanging out around, actually. I have a great many friends who can and do refer to me with the word, admittedly only after some signal from me that it's not only okay, it's privileged (and not just for other queers, who use "dyke" derogatorily on occasion, interestingly enough) It's a word that tends to be in a more intimate register, though -- I'd definitely raise an eyebrow if a stranger used it casually, even if it was clear that it wasn't meant in a derogatory manner.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 08:48 AM
I have a great many friends who can and do refer to me with the word, admittedly only after some signal from me that it's not only okay, it's privileged (and not just for other queers, who use "dyke" derogatorily on occasion, interestingly enough)

I think a number of things that can in some contexts be derogatory (name-calling, potentially offensive jokes) can also be used as intimacy markers. Is this a subset of that?


It's a word that tends to be in a more intimate register, though -- I'd definitely raise an eyebrow if a stranger used it casually, even if it was clear that it wasn't meant in a derogatory manner.

I think this is why I wouldn't use it unless given permission on a case-by-case basis -- it's a sign of intimacy which I wouldn't want to presume. But even if (hypothetically) you gave me permission, I'm not sure when I'd use it. It's not like I'd ever have cause to call... say, Shwebb... Straight-girl.

John Paton
11-01-2007, 08:50 AM
twas but a dream of thee

I do so love that poem - The Good Morrow.

Mind you I also love all of Sylvia Plath's and "The death of an Aircraft"

Thanks for clearing that up, Mac

Back to work for me.

Medievalist
11-01-2007, 08:50 AM
And in case it's not clear -- I'm interested in other people's responses to this as well. Haskins isn't being singled out in my book.

I asked Haskins because he raised an interesting point -- and because I know damn well that he very much respects and values MacAllister, and he values language.


Lori and Shweta have both met me in real life, too -- as has Lisa. Shweta's answer was deeply interesting, and I wonder what Lori or Lisa say in answer to the same question?

Would I ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
Yes I would, and I have publicly to women who identify as lesbians and who therefore understand the very wide semantic range of dyke/Dyke.

In front of her? Yes. But -- and this is very very important -- only after feeling sure I understood the ramifications and semantic range of dyke/Dyke, what it meant to MacAllister, and that I could use the term appropriately and non-offensively.

On the board? Only just now.

In private? Sure.

Here's the thing though -- I had MacAllister's tacit consent to use dyke or Dyke with respect to her -- and it was something I specifically discussed with her, because I'd only seen/heard dyke used pejoratively by heterosexual males.

SpookyWriter
11-01-2007, 08:51 AM
You know what? If you're not going to bother to read the damned conversation, then yes. Go elsewhere. It's pretty damned insulting to start accusing members of "baiting" when you're not even paying attention to what the hell is being talked about, or how.

And this is the second time you've done this in less than twenty four hours -- so go do something else. Anything else. You're pissing me off.I did go back a few pages and read the conversation. Unfortunately it is way beyond my level of comprehension.

So, with your permission, I will go to SYW and critique the stories I promised other members.

At least I can contribute a bit toward the understanding of writing stories, if nothing else.

JJ Cooper
11-01-2007, 08:51 AM
I would like to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the discussions in this thread since my last post. Great posts by all involved.


OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?

Some of you may remember from a thread I started a while ago that my wife an I have close friends who are lesbians. I have known them for years and have never called them dykes. Yet they happily joke around calling themselves that and I'm sure that if I referred to them as dykes in a joking manner that they wouldn't mind.

As for MacAllister and the above question. No to all of the above. Why - I do not know her personally. And I doubt that she raves about me to all of her friends that would constitute some kind of friendship where we could joke around with me calling her a dyke and she calling me an Aussie hunk.

JJ

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 08:53 AM
You Aussie hunk, you. :)

It's an interesting thing - I have friends who, if they ever use the word dyke, still sort of hold their breath at first, like a little kid using a cuss word for the first time.

Cranky
11-01-2007, 08:57 AM
I would like to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the discussions in this thread since my last post. Great posts by all involved.



Some of you may remember from a thread I started a while ago that my wife an I have close friends who are lesbians. I have known them for years and have never called them dykes. Yet they happily joke around calling themselves that and I'm sure that if I referred to them as dykes in a joking manner that they wouldn't mind.

As for MacAllister and the above question. No to all of the above. Why - I do not know her personally. And I doubt that she raves about me to all of her friends that would constitute some kind of friendship where we could joke around with me calling her a dyke and she calling me an Aussie hunk.

JJ

Dittoes here.

Well, except for the Aussie hunk part. I'm a little too girly to be that. :)

I will say that while I've not had any lesbian friends (that were out to me, anyways), I've had some male homosexual friends. They called each other "bitch" and "queen" to each other's faces, joking around. Much as I loved those guys...uh-uh. Not me. :)

With that, I'm off to chew my nails for the last three minutes before I start NaNo!

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 09:00 AM
Okay -- for those answering "no, not under any circumstances" the question becomes why?

Why not?

I suspect the answers are multi-faceted and complex. But I really am curious, too.

JJ Cooper
11-01-2007, 09:04 AM
Okay -- for those answering "no, not under any circumstances" the question becomes why?

Why not?

I suspect the answers are multi-faceted and complex. But I really am curious, too.

Because I'm an Aussie Gentleman.

JJ

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 09:07 AM
Ahh -- but that encompasses a complex set of ideas, doesn't it?

John Paton
11-01-2007, 09:11 AM
"Ho" and "bitch" are words used frequently by some people within their own groups. I wouldn't dream of using them.

I would use them in my writing though - within their context. I guess like I would use the term dyke as well when writing.

I wouldn't refer to lesbians as dykes because I assume it would cause offence. I can easily cause offence in other sneakier ways. lol

However we accept these terms willingly in say a book, a film, a play but maybe not on the television.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 09:14 AM
And speaking of Aussies -- John Paton, I notice, uses "ocker" to self-refer. That's an interesting choice, you know? Culturally loaded in ways that a lot of people aren't going to get at all -- while still other people might picture him as a sheep-shearing, Strine-talking, crocodile-wrestling sort of a stereotype; and another set of observers altogether, in a more intimate register, will have a very clear picture indeed of what "ocker" means to John Paton.

John Paton
11-01-2007, 09:22 AM
And speaking of Aussies -- John Paton, I notice, uses "ocker" to self-refer. That's an interesting choice, you know? Culturally loaded in ways that a lot of people aren't going to get -- while other people might picture him as a sheep-shearing, Strine-talking, crocodile-wrestling sort of a stereotype; and another set of observers altogether, in a more intimate register, will have a very clear picture indeed of what "ocker" means to John Paton.


Indeed Mac.

There is a cultural difference between America and England and Australia. I have lived for years at a time in all 3 countries. What is funny in one country can be not so in another one.

However, it is difficult for a non Aussie to appreciate what an ocker really is. To me it is mateship and he is a good bloke to have around. Sure a bit uncouth at times but a good heart. Maybe a bit out of fashion with modern day Australia but like the mini skirt it will come back into fashion.

Regards
John

JJ Cooper
11-01-2007, 09:23 AM
Ahh -- but that encompasses a complex set of ideas, doesn't it?

Just how I was raised.

In saying that, my life experiences have helped me define what is right and what is wrong. What is acceptable and what is not. Of course everyone has varying life experiences that they draw judgements from. Now I try to pass on my knowledge to my boys - they will grow up, have different life experiences and make their own judgements. In 20 years time the word 'dyke' may mean something totally different. Instead saying 'G'day, mate - we may be saying G'day, dyke to everyone.

JJ

Birol
11-01-2007, 09:24 AM
And in case it's not clear -- I'm interested in other people's responses to this as well. Haskins isn't being singled out in my book. I'm perfectly willing to discuss the use of the word and people's varying comfort or discomfort, with anyone who wants to discuss it.

Lori and Shweta have both met me in real life, too -- as has Lisa. Shweta's answer was deeply interesting, and I wonder what Lori or Lisa say in answer to the same question?

Here's the thing: I don't think the word "dyke" in the context it's being used here. It's not a word that would come to my mind in association with you, because, in order to reference it, I'd have to consciously and specifically bring it to mind.

So, if I were to say "dyke" in reference to MacAllister, it would be in her presence, probably to her face, and I'd probably be referring as much to my own lack of perception as to the fact that she's a lesbian.

For example, if I were to call Mac a dyke, the situation would probably be something like:

Lori and Mac are standing outside a rough-looking bar. On the door is a sign that reads, "No Fags or Queers."

"That looks like an interesting place," Lori says. "Why don't we go in and see what it's like? It'll be an experience."

"Uh, Lori, I don't think I'd be welcomed in there," Mac says.

Lori turns and looks blankly at Mac for a couple of minutes, then the light of realization dawns in her eyes. "Oh, that's right. You're a dyke."

maestrowork
11-01-2007, 09:59 AM
The question is about the nature of privileged language: there's no law against the word, but there IS a great deal of cultural pressure around it, that's both contextual and rather personal.


And it's not just language, but the whole context and and cultural relevance.

I didn't follow the whole thread so please pardon me... but this reminds me the strange phenomenon I've observed, witnessed and experienced as an Asian-American.

Within the AA community and culture, it is a big insult for anyone to call an Asian by anything from "chinks" to "slit-eyes" to "yellow face." And all cultural references that equate Asian with "rice," "dragon," "fortune cookie," "chop suey," etc. are to be frowned upon.

And yet, guess what? Asians are the first to use these lexicons, symbols, references to identify themselves. They even revel in them. I lose count on the number of bands, artists, writers, musicians who call themselves and their work something "dragon" or "rice" or, the latest I've heard, a comic book about Asian superheroes called Y-Men -- a take on X-Men and the Y stands for Yellow.

I was like, WTF? Are we pushing this "take back the word" thing a bit too much? Why is every Asian band called "Dragon" or "Panda" or "Firecracker" something? Why is it cool to call yourself Yellow-Men?

I find this phenomenon both interesting and alarming. How do you fight stereotypes when you yourself perpetuate the same stereotypes?

---

Back to Lisa's (Medievalist) question: I think it really depends on how the word is used, who is using it, to whom it's addressed, and in what context. As a term of endearment because, say, Mac and I know each other so well, it can become something of an insider joke/call sign. I have a friend, who happens to be gay, who calls me chinky all the time, and I in turn call him a fag. It's understood, even preferred.

That doesn't take away the meaning of the words. It doesn't mean "chinky" now means hunk and "fag" means "cool dude." Basically, we only accept the context and the circumstances when the terms are used. If I were angry at him and called him a "fag" as an insult, it would have been a no-no, despite the fact that we call each other that in jest all the time. And certainly we won't use those words on other people.

I have known Mac for a few years and met her in person on many occasions. I can't say we're close friends but we know each other enough that if she uses the word "dyke" to describe herself or other lesbians, I personally would not feel comfortable doing the same because a) I am not a lesbian and b) there is no understood context in which I could use the term, which I find derogatory and which has a derogatory history (IMO), to call someone. Most often that term is used as an insult -- and in those cases where it's not, I'm not part of that cultural context.

To me, language has their fundamental meanings and history, and yet it is flexible and breathing with contexts, cultures, and the key here is communication. The who and what and how and why and where. I could comfortably call my friend a "fag" and there is absolutely no disrespect on my part, and yet I don't think I can bring myself using the word "dyke" in front of Mac, or even behind her back, in which case there's no self-referencing here; and there's no communicated/understood "okayness" in using the word.

mkcbunny
11-01-2007, 10:02 AM
17 pages in two days?

Lordy. Who can keep up with the drama. It starts off with everyone being mean and ends with a friendly dyke fest. These lengthy threads never retain their shape.

And I do mean that all in the most positive way. Don't want to get banned (see that other zillion-page thread.)

This is all a reminder to me that taking time off from AW to write can result in disassociative post-forum depression. And studying, which I detest.

Can't we all just get along? So I don't have to do homework whenever I come back?!?!?!

Oh, and Happy Halloween.

mscelina
11-01-2007, 10:08 AM
Originally Posted by Medievalist
OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?

Okay, taking a break from NaNo so I'll chime in.

As a straight girl in the gay community (I used to refer to myself as the only little princess in a room full of queens) I learned the etiquette of gay lingo at a very early age. I worked in a gay bar for almost ten years, performed as a singer in the same shows where I zipped drag queens into dresses, and did a lot of charity work for AIDS organizations in four states. That's the backstory infodump.

That being said--

I would have a hard time calling Mac, or any other gay person who is out, dyke, faggot, fag or queer if I didn't know them well. I, who had no problem calling a man in a dress 'girl', rarely crossed the line into using terminology that for the most part was used in a derogatory fashion. It didn't matter how much energy I put into the gay community around me (and it was a lot) I was STILL. NOT. GAY. I had a hard time with it when I was younger; I fell into the gayer than gay trap. I knew all the slang, I went shopping for heels with men, and anytime a homophobic comment was made in my presence I was the first to jump. It took me several years and a lot of heartache before I realized that even with everything I was doing, I would never understand fully the implications of those words and how they impacted the people around me. I could get angry FOR them, yes. I could never understand the pain of it, could never feel the twinge in the guts when some asshole that didn't associate with us jumped to some sort of horrible conclusion about the gay men and women around me.

*shrug* After a while I got over it. There were people that I could sling those words at, but it was in an affectionate bantering sort of way. You know; sitting over drinks and having a friendly debate on issues much like the ones we've been discussing here.
If Mac and I were serious buddies and were out with friends, drinking beer and blowing off steam about some idiot troll in the PA thread, I might just bust out a "Well Mac, you're awfully understanding for a dyke" and never think twice about it. Because if we WERE buddies, I'd know her well enough to recognize what was acceptable behavior and what wasn't.
But we're not buddies. We're acquaintances on a board that SHE owns and I frequent. We have similar interests and goals. Mac is due a certain amount of respect from me and if I'm running around the boards calling her a dyke I don't think I would be giving her that kind of respect.

If that makes sense.

I'm not a fan of hate words. I am a proponent of taking those words back and stealing the power from them. And while I have no trouble calling my best friend a 'tragic fag' upon occasion, I would have a problem with calling Mac a dyke. Why is that? Because my best friend is here and he would hug me for that comment.


So, would I ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally? --I doubt it.
In front of her? ---under certain circumstances.
On the board?---never. it would be inappropriate
In private?--if we were good friends and I thought I could get away with it without being smacked.

It's a matter of perspective, of circumstance, and of understanding. I wouldn't walk into the place where I work and call my boss an unyielding bastard either. It's not the appropriate place for me to do that, no matter how many times I bring it up when we're at the same party or talking on the phone. People who walk into my bar and call me a bitch generally go thirsty, whereas some of my friends come over to my house and call me a bitch knowing full and damn well that I'll give them a beer afterwards.

*shrug* So, that's what I have to say. After two hours of NaNo, I'm already typing faster and my mind is pretty darn clear. If my position is construed as cowardice, that's okay too. I had to learn to walk in the middle of some roads. I may get hit by a car, but at least I'll see it coming.

Back to NaNo. 29oo words and counting.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 10:09 AM
Indeed Mac.

There is a cultural difference between America and England and Australia. I have lived for years at a time in all 3 countries. What is funny in one country can be not so in another one.

However, it is difficult for a non Aussie to appreciate what an ocker really is. To me it is mateship and he is a good bloke to have around. Sure a bit uncouth at times but a good heart. Maybe a bit out of fashion with modern day Australia but like the mini skirt it will come back into fashion.

Regards
JohnAmericans have "good ol' boy" or "redneck" -- which are similar, I think. Or as close as I can find, this time of night, anyway. There's a comedian who specializes in "you might be a redneck" jokes, which are actually sort of affectionately meant.

joetrain
11-01-2007, 10:13 AM
i'm with medievalist by habits. i've used such words in private. sometimes i call my close white friends niggas, mostly to get a rise. my wife and i have gay and lesbian friends, and i might refer to some as dyke in private. and reading all this has impressed on me the fact that i am careful about using redneck. i have friends that could qualify as such, and only with my closest ones will i call them redneck. it's usually as an insulting jest.

but i must say, there is a frustration about exclusive language. i understand compassion is a peacemaker, and peace is most efficient for communication, so i avoid insulting language (as i think we all do to some degree). but i love words. to hear one is to want to use it somehow, no matter what it's stigma. there is nothing like the perfect swear word (which has the potential to offend many), and sometimes i wish i could use certain exclusive terms freely.

there have been a lot of intelligent posts about the bane to freedom and reality that is regulated language, but as individuals choose to self-censor, so do societies. there is not an administrator that tweaks the usage of language to dupe and control humanity (usually), but rather a collective agreement on which words are unsightly and which are decent. we are all aware of the words in question, even if many weren't posted here. there's a reason for that, and i don't know how productive it is to try and intellectually buck it.

a firm grasp of common sense would render most of western philosophy useless. when i realized this i dropped out of college.

...rambling, sorry.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 10:24 AM
Not here. Not for another thirty-five minutes. :)

MCBunny, no worries -- and this actually IS getting along, for TIO.

Joetrain, yep. Exactly. That's why I brought up "redneck" -- it's not as forbidden as "dyke" or "nigger" or "raghead" but it's still a word loaded with contextual implications.

maestrowork
11-01-2007, 10:24 AM
One can say anything, but not anywhere. If not by law, then by courtesy. I had that explained to me once, by a bouncer.

(I'm late as ever...)

One CAN indeed say anything anywhere. And one doesn't even need to subscribe to what we call "courtesy" or social mores.

However, since we have to live with others, our words and deeds have consequences that we can't control. The only thing we can control is the words and deeds WE choose. Or face the consequences. Yes, it is always a choice.

So if we do or say something, knowing the consequences, and then whine about the consequences -- that's irresponsibility and disregard of the facts...

Back to the c's: context, culture, circumstance. The same word could very well get you a laugh, or a knife in your chest. Your choice.

The problem with the Internet is that the contexts, cultures, and circumstances are not easily defined and contained.

And there are no immediate audiences and reactions, no real situations where one may be in danger or have to face dire consequences such as bodily harm or death. That's why people may feel freer to say whatever they want without regard to the "netiquette" because, well, what is the worst thing that can happen? You get banned -- life goes on.

Voyager
11-01-2007, 10:36 AM
OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?

The turn of the conversation in here got me really wondering about something.

First of all, to Med's questions, no, no, no and no, only because I'm very new here and we don't know each other well enough. I'm sure at this juncture, Mac wouldn't feel comfortable referring to me as wetback, river nigger or pocha (term for mexican-american) either, terms that are used among my family and friends on a daily basis. I do call my gay and lesbian friends, of which I've had many all my life, names that some people might consider offensive, dyke and mo among them. I have a brother who my kids lovingly call Tia Carlos (tia=aunt).

A neighbor of mine and I got into a heated conversation about my son and his friend who were outside in the pool one day, calling each other nigger, which I thought was no big deal. He said that he would never use that term, especially to a guest in his home. (my son's friend is black, btw)

My question to him was, when's the last time you had a black guy at your house? The answer was never.

I have a lot of Asian friends, we make jokes about bad driving all the time.

But, I've only had a handful of Indian friends in my life, and yet I find the term Paki extremely offensive.

I've had a grand total of one Middle Eastern friend and yet I find the terms towel head and camel jockey offensive as well.

The conversation between Mac, Med, WH and Shweta et al is way over my head, but I'm just curious why familiarity with certain ethnic groups/sexual orientations, etc. makes it feel okay to say things in a joking manner.

Me, just wondering outloud

Cranky
11-01-2007, 11:04 AM
To answer Mac's "Why?" question:

I have been known to be snarky and rude. I don't always think before I click the "post reply" button. But to call someone *Lord grant me strength* a dyke or a nigger or a what-have-you, well, I just can't do it, even if told that the other person is okay with it.

Maybe it's because my mother drilled into me that it most assuredly is NOT OKAY to refer to people by slurs like these. As I've grown and matured, I've seen no reason in the world to think that this was a bad credo to live by, and lots of things that have reinforced that stance. Sure, some people might be okay with being called a "whatever" by people they know and care about, but I am not okay with doing so myself.

I know I sound a bit like a pompous ass here, but this is a very thick line in the sand that I've drawn for myself.

Voyager
11-01-2007, 11:17 AM
I can only speak for myself, so here goes. In order not to fall apart when someone uses racial slurs against me, I've had to make those words meaningless to me. The derogatory terms used to refer to Mexicans don't have any power over me anymore and neither do the people who wield them. Eventually, they became silly, nonsense and even terms of endearment in my circle's case.

Case in point, when I was little, my friend took me to her church. I remember nothing about the sermon, but what I do remember is someone hissing at me in the bathroom that they didn't want wetbacks at their church, and the Sunday School teacher saying, Oh, how lovely, we had a little Mexican girl here once before. I was mortified and I made the choice a long time ago not to allow anyone to make me feel like that again. Desensitizing myself was pretty much a defense mechanism that's become second nature.


To answer Mac's "Why?" question:

I have been known to be snarky and rude. I don't always think before I click the "post reply" button. But to call someone *Lord grant me strength* a dyke or a nigger or a what-have-you, well, I just can't do it, even if told that the other person is okay with it.

Maybe it's because my mother drilled into me that it most assuredly is NOT OKAY to refer to people by slurs like these. As I've grown and matured, I've seen no reason in the world to think that this was a bad credo to live by, and lots of things that have reinforced that stance. Sure, some people might be okay with being called a "whatever" by people they know and care about, but I am not okay with doing so myself.

I know I sound a bit like a pompous ass here, but this is a very thick line in the sand that I've drawn for myself.

John Paton
11-01-2007, 11:24 AM
growing up in Australia in the 60s was torrid at times. I arrived from Britain at aged 7 and because my accent was different I was verbally and physically abused along with many others.

The sad thing is the others who were abused along with me are now abusing others themselves - in particular Asians.

And so the sad cycle continues.

Sorry to hear that though Voyager.

Regards
John

Cranky
11-01-2007, 11:32 AM
I can only speak for myself, so here goes. In order not to fall apart when someone uses racial slurs against me, I've had to make those words meaningless to me. The derogatory terms used to refer to Mexicans don't have any power over me anymore and neither do the people who yield. Eventually, they became silly, nonsense and even terms of endearment in my circle's case.

Case in point, when I was little, my friend took me to her church. I remember nothing about the sermon, but what I do remember is someone hissing at me in the bathroom that they didn't want wetbacks at their church, and the Sunday School teacher saying, Oh, how lovely, we had a little Mexican girl here once before. I was mortified and I made the choice a long time ago not to allow anyone to make me feel like that again. Desensitizing myself was pretty much a defense mechanism that's become second nature.

I can understand and respect that, really I can. I've got family members that have had to deal with similar types of comments (I've got lots of different ethnicities in my family tree), and some of them cope in exactly the same way.

As a blindingly white girl, though, I have no business using words like those, even in jest. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. :D

Voyager
11-01-2007, 11:40 AM
I understand what you're saying too. I was explaining why I, personally don't have a problem with most of it. But this goes back to my post on the previous page, ethnic slurs against people of backgrounds I'm less familiar with seem to bother me for some reason. I'm hoping my brilliant friend Shweta might help me understand that.


I can understand and respect that, really I can. I've got family members that have had to deal with similar types of comments (I've got lots of different ethnicities in my family tree), and some of them cope in exactly the same way.

As a blindingly white girl, though, I have no business using words like those, even in jest. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. :D

Inky
11-01-2007, 12:31 PM
My 2 cents:
It would never occur to me to make a slur regarding race, sexual preference, religion, or culture. Dyke? Are you kidding me? I don't care how personally I knew Macallister, hell, even if I were her lover (and I'd be a damned good one...make her forget all the rest!), I would never say something so crass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As the mother of African American children, I've been blessed to have been surrounded by some of the most awesome/educated people, but so too, I've heard some really nasty slurs, and always under the guise of: it's my right to say what I want-free speech-blah blah blah.
Remember, as an American, it's my right to own a gun :0
doesn't mean I'm going to blow your head off...temptation being damned.

I'm leaving this thread. I think it's best for me. In polite society, one no longer says/writes that horrific 'N' word. That it was so easily written here, regardless the topic (which I feel became SERIOUSLY derailed), and obviously regardless to the thousands reading through this thread that may also find it offensive (funny how no metion of 'cracker ass' or other slurs regarding several other main-stream cultures was made...nope...always the color black is at the top of the list..interesting to sit back and chew on that for a spell) shows me that this thread lost it's original intent.

Yes, I know...it's your freedom of speech...one of the most abused freedoms we Americans possess because it's a free ticket to no longer practice being cooth.

Voyager
11-01-2007, 12:59 PM
Hehe, okay, this is a class issue, a totaly different creature than race altogether. I grew up in the ghettos of Los Angeles. We couldn't have cared less about being crass or appearing that way to anyone else and every racial slur I've ever heard since I've moved away, I heard done bigger and better in the hood. I hate to say it, but I find your elitism far more insulting than had you called me a wetback.



My 2 cents:
It would never occur to me to make a slur regarding race, sexual preference, religion, or culture. Dyke? Are you kidding me? I don't care how personally I knew Macallister, hell, even if I were her lover (and I'd be a damned good one...make her forget all the rest!), I would never say something so crass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As the mother of African American children, I've been blessed to have been surrounded by some of the most awesome/educated people, but so too, I've heard some really nasty slurs, and always under the guise of: it's my right to say what I want-free speech-blah blah blah.
Remember, as an American, it's my right to own a gun :0
doesn't mean I'm going to blow your head off...temptation being damned.

I'm leaving this thread. I think it's best for me. In polite society, one no longer says/writes that horrific 'N' word. That it was so easily written here, regardless the topic (which I feel became SERIOUSLY derailed), and obviously regardless to the thousands reading through this thread that may also find it offensive (funny how no metion of 'cracker ass' or other slurs regarding several other main-stream cultures was made...nope...always the color black is at the top of the list..interesting to sit back and chew on that for a spell) shows me that this thread lost it's original intent.

Yes, I know...it's your freedom of speech...one of the most abused freedoms we Americans possess because it's a free ticket to no longer practice being cooth.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 01:15 PM
It's a word that was used as an example, inked, because it's well-documented as a word that's been partly reclaimed within black youth society, but is horribly offensive otherwise. I'm sorry if the word itself upset you, despite the context.

ETA: I have to admit, I also just don't know many American racial epithets. The people I hang out with don't use them. I know the one because I've heard black people use it, and because Doonesbury had a riff on who could say what, at some point. Most of the others mentioned on this thread were entirely new to me. Again, sorry if that caused offense. If I'd had a documented example involving my culture/race instead of someone else's, I would have used that.

KTC
11-01-2007, 02:22 PM
And in case it's not clear -- I'm interested in other people's responses to this as well.

Oh! I get to answer this one.

Emphatically and absolutely not. For many reasons.

1 (obviously). This is a community forum and being a part of the community is in no way related to the sexuality of its members. Sexuality doesn't even have to be brought up here. So why would I call someone a 'dyke'?

2. I would never use a derogatory term to refer to anybody. (This is a tricky one because the derogatoriness of the term could be argued...but if some people use it that way, that's what it becomes...even if others refer to themselves by the same term. Somebody is bound to think it's being used in a derogatory context, whether or not it is.)

3. In cyber-life and in real-life I regard other people's sexuality as none of my business. It is not one of the criteria I use to judge them by. (Yes...I judge people...we all do. But I judge them by how they treat me and the other people around them. All other criteria are ignored.)

4. I couldn't possibly think of a single relevant situation where anybody would do this...in public, private or otherwise. Even jokingly, I just don't see why it would be done.

5. I have no other reasons, but I love the number 5 and I didn't want it to feel left out.

Unique
11-01-2007, 03:55 PM
The gem in the slag pile:



Yes. But a request to self-control language might well be a request to consider cognitive self-control. Which is not really a bad thing. Especially if it means external controls become less necessary.




There is a cultural difference between America and England and Australia. I have lived for years at a time in all 3 countries. What is funny in one country can be not so in another one.



Oh, how very true! I find some British humour so terribly unfunny - but others find it hysterical. Most language is the same; what something means to you may not be the same as it means to me.

As an example, the word 'dyke' as mentioned previously. It has negative connotations to me, ergo, I would never use it. Especially to someone I love, like Mac.




compassion is a peacemaker, and peace is most efficient for communication, so i avoid insulting language (as i think we all do to some degree). but i love words. to hear one is to want to use it somehow, no matter what it's stigma.

a firm grasp of common sense


Odd that what we call, 'common sense' isn't so very common at all ....




One CAN indeed say anything anywhere.

However, since we have to live with others, our words and deeds have consequences that we can't control. The only thing we can control is the words and deeds WE choose. Or face the consequences. Yes, it is always a choice.

So if we do or say something, knowing the consequences, and then whine about the consequences -- that's irresponsibility and disregard of the facts...

Back to the c's: context, culture, circumstance.

The same word could very well get you a laugh, or a knife in your chest. Your choice.

-- life goes on.




Case in point, when I was little, my friend took me to her church. I remember nothing about the sermon, but what I do remember is someone hissing at me in the bathroom that they didn't want wetbacks at their church, and the Sunday School teacher saying, Oh, how lovely, we had a little Mexican girl here once before. I was mortified and I made the choice a long time ago not to allow anyone to make me feel like that again.

And some of those very same people think they are 'enlightened', open minded, and welcoming by what they say and do. I find it rather astounding, really.

To me, if a person finds it necessary to comment on 'otherness' it's because they don't see the common humanity, the otherness trumps in their worldview.

As always - YMMV

Perks
11-01-2007, 04:32 PM
And in case it's not clear -- I'm interested in other people's responses to this as well. Haskins isn't being singled out in my book. I'm perfectly willing to discuss the use of the word and people's varying comfort or discomfort, with anyone who wants to discuss it.


I don't know MacAllister Stone well at all. But you don't have to be close to her to know that she is comfortable with and candid about her sexuality. (I should add that she is poised and mindful of context, not feeling the need to interject her facts and particulars where it's not decorous to do so. I'm not suggesting she kisses and tells to scandalize.)

So, I can well imagine that should the word 'dyke' come to mind while speaking to or about her in company, I would not be fussed about using it.

Probably says more about Mac than it does about me.

Now, would I use the word 'dyke' when I was less sure of its reception? Perhaps. If that word, in its subtleties, seemed to fit the point I was making, whether it be sarcastic, jocular, or illustrative, I would use it.

Assuming I'm not afflicted by Tourette's Syndrome, my responsibility is to make myself understood to those I am addressing. And to navigate the fallout if I've made a hash of it, which may include ignoring collateral indignation if I find I don't care.

NeuroFizz
11-01-2007, 04:37 PM
The question posed here is a stupid one, in my opinion, and yes it is baiting because it was aimed at a single person initially. william's silence on it is appropriate, and I'll be personally pissed at him if he does step forward to answer it (although I know me being pissed is about as important to him as ant piss).

Mac, if dyke is your occupation, or some other way you professionally recognize yourself in public, then the answer is a no brainer.

If the label is personal, the answer is a no-brainer.

Until the former is shown to be true, the appropriate course of action is a no-brainer.

What did you expect from the question?

KTC
11-01-2007, 05:07 PM
see...I thought it was merely a "if you wouldn't do this, why would you do this..." sort of example?

maestrowork
11-01-2007, 05:11 PM
It's a word that was used as an example, inked, because it's well-documented as a word that's been partly reclaimed within black youth society, but is horribly offensive otherwise. I'm sorry if the word itself upset you, despite the context.

I agree -- I know some people just don't like to use or hear or even refer to certain words. I know someone who would not even want to think about the C word (you know the one), no matter what situation or context.

The thing is, this is a writer's board and we should be able to discuss and use words -- it really is about context. If I use a word to throw insult at someone, it's different than mentioning it (using the *'s or the "N word" is just trying to work around it) in a discussion about its use!


However, all the other uses (such as teasing someone you're close to, etc.) is iffy on a bulletin board (or in real life, for that matter). One must consider their words in such a public forum. Person A may yell a derogatory word across the hall at person B because they are good friends, but the thing is they're not alone -- 300 other people hear them as well, and they don't necessarily understand the context.

One can say, "oh, get over it, don't get emotional -- it's not even aimed at you" but that's when it gets tricky because people do feel violated when they inadvertently hear someone use the word or see a couple having sex or see someone murdering another -- while it's not "aimed at you" there's certain sensibility here as we're part of a society/community.

* I am not sure if I even make sense.. it's too early for me and I haven't had tea or coffee yet. But I'll leave this here for now.

nerds
11-01-2007, 05:21 PM
Here's the thing though -- I had MacAllister's tacit consent to use dyke or Dyke with respect to her -- and it was something I specifically discussed with her, because I'd only seen/heard dyke used pejoratively by heterosexual males.


Isn't this the nugget right here? Doesn't social time still need to be invested to determine what is acceptable, even humorous, to people, and what if any personal boundaries they might have? And, vis a vis messageboards, that sort of sounding-out can be impossible or take years, unless members manage to get to know each other in person.

Too, to me some of this shapes up as generational - there are terms which, when I was being raised during the Ice Age, were viewed as being derogatory, unacceptable, and never ever to be used. So much so that to this day, even though my gay female friends take the same views as Mac has expressed in this thread, I can't bring myself to use the d-word around them, despite their being totally comfy with it.

I still think words are the most powerful thing on earth, and if we're still talking about care with them on forums and in the real world, the comfort levels and perceptions are going to span the human spectrum. Phrasing, intent, the words around the words, all play a part, and can be tough to bring across as intended on a board, as has been pointed out way back upthread.

Anyway. Very interesting discussion. Back to you guys. :)

BenPanced
11-01-2007, 05:25 PM
Okay. All that being said.

I don't refer to anybody by any terms that can be construed as derogatory or negative. There are just so many loaded meanings and rules to the exceptions that I can't apply them. I guess I'm just a scaredy cat because I'm afraid to offend anybody.

Because I've been offended by words.

I personally do not buy into the "let's reclaim the word by calling it ourselves BUT YOU CAN'T CALL US THAT WORD!" It's just too thorny for me and I could never be comfortable calling myself "queer" or "faggot". Yeah, maybe I've got tissue paper skin but they've been used against me for so long I can't forgive and forget.

If you wanna call yourself "nigger" or "dyke", that's fine. But I hope you don't mind if I call you "Bobby" or "Anna" instead.

To end this, I'd like to say something I read in MAD Magazine eleventy-billion years ago: "If somebody from ethnic group A tells a joke about said ethnic group, they're A WIT. If somebody from ethnic group B tells the same joke to ethnic group A, they're A BIGOT." I've always found too much truth to that.

maestrowork
11-01-2007, 05:25 PM
[B]
To me, if a person finds it necessary to comment on 'otherness' it's because they don't see the common humanity, the otherness trumps in their worldview.


I can tell you all kinds of stories -- these people are not evil or mean or even trying to be insulting, but they do seem to lack certain perspective or the courtesy to hold their tongues until they know more about other people's countries and cultures. My most favorite quote is "Oh, you came from Hong Kong? Do you have TVs there?" Serious question, no joke. My reply? "Yes, we do, right next to the rice paddies."

Travel around the world a bit and you will find all sorts of people and all sorts of thinking and sensibilities and cultures. Japanese humor, for example, is dramatically different than American, but I wouldn't ever think of insulting them even if I don't understand. I felt so lost in Germany and I loved it! I love the cultural gaps and differences -- they make the world such a more interesting place, and it's not about "otherness" but about finding the commonality -- we all want very similar things: love, happiness, stability, companionship, etc. Diversity really does give you a better perspective on humanity.

William Haskins
11-01-2007, 05:38 PM
OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?

(other) only during sex.

slurs are actually quite a bit different than what precipitated the discussion on "hurtful" words, as the real world example was making light of epilepsy in the presence of an epileptic.

so, it would be more on par with whether or not i would, in the presence of an epileptic, say something like, "hang in there, twitchy."

on the other hand, if there were a lighthearted discussion about the condition by epileptics, and i were in that conversation, i wouldn't be adverse to suggesting that the next time they feel a seizure coming on, perhaps they might allow me to hand them a glass with a few scoops of ice cream and a dash of milk, as a fresh milkshake is certainly a delicious treat.

look, if mac is referring to herself as a "dyke" and her friends are calling her a "dyke", then the word coming from my mouth is only as bigoted as the social construct built around it.

i now yield the floor to the dyke brigade for rebuttal.



The question posed here is a stupid one, in my opinion, and yes it is baiting because it was aimed at a single person initially. william's silence on it is appropriate, and I'll be personally pissed at him if he does step forward to answer it (although I know me being pissed is about as important to him as ant piss).


i appreciate your comment, rich, but i don't think mac and lisa are trying to get me to paint myself in a corner. and if they are, that's fine too... i spend a lot of time in corners.

KTC
11-01-2007, 05:47 PM
Man, Haskins...when are you going to sit down and write a novel? I just love your way with words. And, no, this is not a derail. I will point to something in William's post now: "if mac is referring to herself as a "dyke" and her friends are calling her a "dyke", then the word coming from my mouth is only as bigoted as the social construct built around it."

I still wouldn't do it myself...especially in public, since not all would be in on the social construct built around it...but man you say things well.

maestrowork
11-01-2007, 06:04 PM
It comes down to intent.

And I think, by and large, most of us can decipher intent by reading between the lines, by knowing the person and history, and by understanding the context of the exchange. Words have meanings, but these meanings are nothing when we don't consider the cultural context (or as Haskins said, social construct), even if we personally are outside that context or construct.

There are times when such context is absent or misconstrued, and there is a disconnect. Using Haskins' example: if it's a light-hearted discussion with LOLCatz all over the place, then such context would have been established and we can all utilize those cognitive skills we so diligently acquired over the year to realize: hey, Haskins is funny.

However, if person A posts a thread about a woman with cancer, and the very next post is person B making a joke about cancer patients -- there is no context established. Worse, if the person A and person B don't really know each other, there is no history to draw upon. That's exactly when a disconnect occur -- wrong thing at the wrong time at the wrong place.

jst5150
11-01-2007, 06:27 PM
There's also the notion that this forum is a good way to communicate with one another.

Wha?

How many times have we been told: 70 percent of communication is nonverbal, 20 percent is volume and 10 percent are the actual words. So, really, this forum only allows for, at best, 22 or 23 percent of communication capability. I know better than to think people read the entire length of some of my posts. If they get the first few sentences, then maybe I can hook them the rest of the way.

This entire conversation (this thread's premise) is hinged on the fact that the means of delivering the communication -- compliment, slur, statement or pronounciation on this forum -- is the most ideal. And it's not. Some know how to take advantage of the medium. Others don't have a CLUE on how to use the medium. Others fumble their way through the medium believing they are cauasing no harm and being understood perfectly.

So, in peeking through the last few notes, it floors me to believe this sort of complex conversation about race, sexuality and intent of communication is being carried out in a medium where, maybe, we have a 1 in 4 chance of hitting the mark. Again, wha?

I'd offer to you that if you're intent is to bash or compliment on a forum, you'd better be pretty damn good at knowing what the font, the size of the font, the use or nonuse of capital letters, the length of sentences, the choice of words, when its posted, to whom its directed and the volume of other things are all exactly in place. And then, again, you're going to get one-quarter of your message right.

I can never possiblly know all of you well. What I know of you I glean from your Web site, your profile, your blog or through a private message. Yet there are those here who believe they know people here. Intimately. It always floors me how well members think they know people like William Haskins or Jenna Glatzer or others. While people may offer up tidbits and ducats about themselves that go further than the usual "Orlando Bloom" response, even the cumulative aggregation of that information offers nothing more than Post-It notes scribbled with answers that really only require more questions. I'd guess there are celebrities who feel very much the same way. In short, never EVER devalue the opportunity to meet and speak with someone face to face. I took the long way around there to conclude with this ...

We keep tacking our classified ads on the bulletin board of the coin-op laundry and, yes, people do respond to them and people do say things about them to one another. However, until we go to the house and actually see the goods, what do we really have? We have a system that offers a 20 percent margin to get the message right and 18,000 people trying to make it work like a hand shake and a beer at the bar. That doesn't work.

I'd offer that no, we sure can't do meet and greet for everyone to have these conversations. But, yes, we can enforce a standard that allows users to understand the nature and limitations of a forum like this. And those limitations include trying to have voracious conversations and reply in kind or in hate. So, we should each take time to examine and ensure every post we make here is absolutely what's needed to be said, what's wanted to be said and what contributes to the overall AW conversation -- helping writers become better writers.

Jean Marie
11-01-2007, 07:20 PM
I asked Haskins because he raised an interesting point -- and because I know damn well that he very much respects and values MacAllister, and he values language.



Would I ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
Yes I would, and I have publicly to women who identify as lesbians and who therefore understand the very wide semantic range of dyke/Dyke.

In front of her? Yes. But -- and this is very very important -- only after feeling sure I understood the ramifications and semantic range of dyke/Dyke, what it meant to MacAllister, and that I could use the term appropriately and non-offensively.

On the board? Only just now.

In private? Sure.

Here's the thing though -- I had MacAllister's tacit consent to use dyke or Dyke with respect to her -- and it was something I specifically discussed with her, because I'd only seen/heard dyke used pejoratively by heterosexual males.
The fact that you had Mac's express permission, Lisa, is the main point. And that's the only condition I'd ever use the word under in her presence, too. That includes on the board. That's because she's my friend and I love/respect her.

I like what Jason said about how well do we really know each other.

For myself, I've had the pleasure of meeting some in person, which has been incredibly awesome...Mac and Dawno :D:D:D:D. I'd love to meet more of you and hope to. Others, I've spoken to over the phone, numerous times, and still others I've emailed and pm'd, extensively.

The rest of you, I've only gotten to know through your posts and rp's. As to who you are, well your guess is as good as mine, I suppose. For myself, I don't take on any other persona aside from my own when I post. So, what you see is what you get, for good or bad.

When it comes to namecalling, no way as to using bigoted words. That's something I've never understood and it's always made my stomach turn. Same w/ making fun of someone who's disabled, can't deal w/ that, either. If it's that individual who's making the joke of themselves, they're entitled to it. But, I'm not. At least, imo.

ETA: All caught up on reading this thread. *phew*

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 08:28 PM
The question posed here is a stupid one, in my opinion, and yes it is baiting because it was aimed at a single person initially. william's silence on it is appropriate, and I'll be personally pissed at him if he does step forward to answer it (although I know me being pissed is about as important to him as ant piss).

Mac, if dyke is your occupation, or some other way you professionally recognize yourself in public, then the answer is a no brainer.

If the label is personal, the answer is a no-brainer.

Until the former is shown to be true, the appropriate course of action is a no-brainer.

What did you expect from the question?Well, Rich -- I expected people participating in the conversation to look at a specific word, in different frames, and in the context of someone they actually are acquainted with rather than someone hypothetical, and examine the ramifications of that one specific word under those various filters -- and then perhaps to extrapolate meaning from that process that can apply to more complex units of meaning; sentences and paragraphs composed of words much less loaded still must be interpreted in such frames of reference.

In point of fact, it's much more difficult to do that with words that are LESS charged, when it comes to something as eccentric and complex as humor, especially.

I expected we'd all think about the nature of language and communication. And for the most part, I think that's what's happening.


see...I thought it was merely a "if you wouldn't do this, why would you do this..." sort of example?Kevin, yes -- and thank you for answering thoughtfully and examining your own perspective for us. :)



The thing is, this is a writer's board and we should be able to discuss and use words -- it really is about context. If I use a word to throw insult at someone, it's different than mentioning it (using the *'s or the "N word" is just trying to work around it) in a discussion about its use!


However, all the other uses (such as teasing someone you're close to, etc.) is iffy on a bulletin board (or in real life, for that matter). One must consider their words in such a public forum. Person A may yell a derogatory word across the hall at person B because they are good friends, but the thing is they're not alone -- 300 other people hear them as well, and they don't necessarily understand the context.Ray, yes -- exactly. And that's actually how this whole turn of the conversation began, right?

I do think I'm going to split it off and send it to Colorado Guy's room -- because it certainly has become a much more hypothetical conversation about the nature of language in general, and much much less about the specifics of what gives people a rash about their individual experiences on this board.




I personally do not buy into the "let's reclaim the word by calling it ourselves BUT YOU CAN'T CALL US THAT WORD!" It's just too thorny for me and I could never be comfortable calling myself "queer" or "faggot". Yeah, maybe I've got tissue paper skin but they've been used against me for so long I can't forgive and forget.

If you wanna call yourself "nigger" or "dyke", that's fine. But I hope you don't mind if I call you "Bobby" or "Anna" instead.

To end this, I'd like to say something I read in MAD Magazine eleventy-billion years ago: "If somebody from ethnic group A tells a joke about said ethnic group, they're A WIT. If somebody from ethnic group B tells the same joke to ethnic group A, they're A BIGOT." I've always found too much truth to that.
Right -- which goes back to context. The word "queer" for instance is now attached to most major university English departments -- they have Women's studies, Queer studies, etc. -- but for a good number of folks, that word was learned in the context of a slur, and always will remain attached to that meaning no matter what transformations it seems to have undergone, and regardless of the fact that for someone 20 or 30 years younger, it's got no such negative connotations, and never did have.

Duncan J Macdonald
11-01-2007, 09:23 PM
OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?
Okay.
Weighing in over 12 hours late. Damn, I'm gonna need to stop sleeping and win a big lottery.

In any event, here are my answers to the questions posed above:
1) Yes, no, maybe.
2) Yes, no, maybe.
3) Yes, no, maybe.
4) Yes, no, maybe.

Why or why not? It all depends on context -- the context of the discussion, the context of the audience, the state of my liver, and the phase of the moon.

We are all, putatively, writers. (exempt posting to the board. In most cases, posting here is more similar to holding a conversation that writing-for-sale [damn but I'm mercenary])

Example: I've written a particularly witty scene, and at least one of the characters is GLBT. That character uses 'dyke' in conversation. I need to get a read from a GLBT person whether or not that usage fits, or am I making a glaring error.

1) In public, verbally -- which I compare directly with posting on this board.
a) Yes -- Mac's made it clear that she's cool with it and that I'm a member of the 'clique'* that's allowed to use it, and it's in a forum/thread where such questions are usual (like SYW)
b) No -- There are other's within hearing who are not of the 'clique' who might misconstrue and I further care about their opinion. It's not in a thread where such questions are appropriate (like Welcome to Newbies)
c) Maybe -- All of the above. If I can't find Mac elsewhere, a general post will come to her attention eventually.

2) In front of her
a) Yes -- Mac's made it clear that she's cool with it and that I'm a member of the 'clique'* that's allowed to use it. Generally a no-brainer.
b) No -- There are other's within hearing who are not of the 'clique' who might misconstrue and I further care about their opinion. Less likely, cause it's a direct-to-Mac question.
c) Maybe -- All of the above.

3) On the Board -- see #1, with the extension that finding eavesdroppers who don't know of Mac will become orders-of-magnitude easier:
a) Yes -- Mac's made it clear that she's cool with it and that I'm a member of the 'clique'* that's allowed to use it, and I'm speaking to people who do know of Mac.
b) No -- There are other's within hearing who are not of the 'clique' who might misconstrue and I further care about their opinion. A more likely situation, but I was raised near enough to New York City so I automatically assume that everyone else on the street isn't really there.
c) Maybe -- All of the above.

4) In private
a) Yes -- Mac's made it clear that she's cool with it and that I'm a member of the 'clique'* that's allowed to use it. And at this point, if it's in my own head, I can call her a ******' *****-**** and no one's the wiser! Muahahahahaha!
b) No -- There are other's within hearing who are not of the 'clique' who might misconstrue and I further care about their opinion. SInce I care about my own opinion, this one's a higher probability, unless I'm trying to figure out who is gonna read this piece of tripe and let me know if I'm using the damn word wrong!
c) Maybe -- All of the above.


N.B. Insert all of the usual disclaimers here. This post is long enough as it is.


*Sorry, in-joke from a Rep Point Comment and a post on another thread. Mea Culpa.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 09:27 PM
If someone is offended, they're offended. Everyone has a right to their own mental state.And you know they are offended because why, exactly? They said so? Is there a truth value being overlooked, here? That's what the book I linked to is about. Let me suggest that some people might claim to be offended because that's what they think others expect from them.


If someone else chooses to ignore that, it's their call. Up to a point (that's the point when the nice men put handcuffs on said person and take them away).That "point" is worth discussing, imo. I don't agree that it should exist, as a matter of course.


As for the other questions, do you really think about them all the time? If so, I'm surprised you can respond in real-time. Most people don't, at least not explicitly.Well, we were talking about sociolinguists and their collection of "empirical" data. I would think such people should be considering them, no?


But, let's clarify. I was talking about the interaction between two (probably young) black peers, which I certainly thought clear from context. I'd guess that anybody who didn't at least look black would be excluded from this group; possibly even anyone who wasn't part of that particular peer group. I think the people who are offended get to say what's caused offense, since it's their mental state. Whose opinion carries most weight depends on context -- but if your goal is to have a relatively co-operative society, it doesn't matter whose opinion carries most weight. Everyone's opinion carries some weight.Look carefully at what you are doing. You've reduced your example to a one-on-one interaction, yet you've presented it as a defence of the idea that in-groups and out-groups are significant and justifiable constructs, while simultaneously framing the discussion around community standards, as if a community can be inferred from any interaction and can be based on any point of commonality:

I think, if anything, your point that surrendering language is surrendering control of more than language simply supports the notion I was talking about -- that communities keep control over their accepted language use and don't accept the same things from outsiders that they do from their own.
So, my issue is--again--with these assumptions made on behalf of others with regard to how they identify themselves, how they process ideas, and the attempt to compile real empirical data and draw meaningful conclusions from this faulty perspective.


If your goal is to defend your own territory against all comers, to hell with the society at large, then we're back to "Who gets to tell me not to piss on my neighbour's doorstep?" which is a form of entitlement I see an awful lot, and don't really comprehend, since it seems antisocial in the extreme.It's not my goal, at all. I prefer using good manners and trying to be respectful of others. But that's my personal choice. If what I say offends someone else, that's their personal choice--to be offended (of course, I should also add that I find getting offended from the mere utterance of a word to be illogical--barring an actual intent, it's nonsensical to allow that words and symbols are offensive, in and of themselves). No amount of language scrubbing is going to change this. So, when language is limited by authority as a means of pacification, I am distressed.


With that, I'm bowing out at least for today, cause laundry ain't folding itself :)Oddly enough, I left last night just prior to you--to finish the laundry and wash baby bottles. :)

robeiae
11-01-2007, 09:34 PM
No subscription needed; it's an observed fact.
Well no, it's not an observed fact, at all. It's a conclusion based on observation and founded on assumptions that are not necessarily correct, as I have been trying to demonstrate. At best, it's a conclusion that can be taken as "fact" only within a specified frame of reference, wherein what is and what is not "socially acceptable" is explicitly defined by someone and held constant across time.

robeiae
11-01-2007, 09:39 PM
OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?
No.

I choose not to label individual people in this manner. It's presumptive and it is discourse that revolves around an emotionally-charged issue. What's the point? I would, however, call Mac "a gem," "a wonderful person," or even "a jerk," depending on the specifics of the conversation and actions that Mac might have or might not have taken. So far, only the first two apply.

Jean Marie
11-01-2007, 10:13 PM
Right -- which goes back to context. The word "queer" for instance is now attached to most major university English departments -- they have Women's studies, Queer studies, etc. -- but for a good number of folks, that word was learned in the context of a slur, and always will remain attached to that meaning no matter what transformations it seems to have undergone, and regardless of the fact that for someone 20 or 30 years younger, it's got no such negative connotations, and never did have.
Thanks, Mac for this last part. (bolding is mine) It explains, further, why I'm uncomfortable w/ the terminology. That word and the 'D' word are ones that, for me, are slurs. That's how I've always heard them, even though they're ok for you.

I suppose if you gave me permission to use them, I'd still be uncomfortable. I don't know, it's the representation they have attached from way back, and I don't see you in that light. You're my friend whom I respect and admire. Amazing how powerful words are, which is all the more reason why they should be chosen w/ such care.

sassandgroove
11-01-2007, 10:54 PM
My comment was left in the other thread. Reading back it would be somewhere on page four, here.

Here it is again.
As to Medievalist’s question. No.
Taking form Birol’s example...I would look at Mac and say, “Oh yeah, you’re a lesbian.” Or “Oh yeah, you are gay.” I do use the word dyke in private conversations with my husband, but not insultingly. I use it to differentiate between feminine lesbians (who my husband thinks are sexy) and butch ones, so I guess I equate it with butch. But I don’t use it in public. (Until now. )

NeuroFizz
11-01-2007, 10:54 PM
Well, Rich -- I expected people participating in the conversation to look at a specific word, in different frames, and in the context of someone they actually are acquainted with rather than someone hypothetical, and examine the ramifications of that one specific word under those various filters -- and then perhaps to extrapolate meaning from that process that can apply to more complex units of meaning; sentences and paragraphs composed of words much less loaded still must be interpreted in such frames of reference.

That's fine. I did say the exercise was stupid in my opinion because with the clarification throughout the thread and above, all of my answers now are the same as I stated before (no brainers), and the reasons are there as well.

I am not a member of any clique that would put me in your group of "absolved dyke-sayers," but even if I were, I wouldn't use the term with you (or anyone else) because I try my best to adhere to the philosopy of common courtesy, and in my view of that philosophy, inside jokes are not reason enough to be cute with a word like that. Your sexual orientation is just a small part of who you are as a person, and that aspect of who you are is way down on the list of aspects of you I do want to know better. It doesn't lessen the importace of that part of you in my mind, it's just not something that matters much to me other than to respect who you are from toenails to hair-tips. So, my no brainers stand as written.

And, within my context swirled around your intentions, I still think its a dumb question (for me to answer, anyway).

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 11:04 PM
<snip>Your sexual orientation is just a small part of who you are as a person, and that aspect of who you are is way down on the list of aspects of you I do want to know better. It doesn't lessen the importace of that part of you in my mind, it's just not something that matters much to me other than to respect who you are from toenails to hair-tips. So, my no brainers stand as written.

And, within my context swirled around your intentions, I still think its a dumb question (for me to answer, anyway).
Fair enough -- it's not nearly as obvious to a whole bunch of folks, though. Hence the exercise. :)

jst5150
11-01-2007, 11:07 PM
I still think its a dumb question (for me to answer, anyway).

Wait. This thread has split more than Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. What was the original question?

mscelina
11-01-2007, 11:09 PM
I think it was something to do with LOLCatz, but I can't be sure.

MacAllister
11-01-2007, 11:14 PM
OK. Here's a practical example then . . . for purposes of discussion.

Would you ever refer to MacAllister as a dyke?

In public, verbally?
In front of her?
On the board?
In private?

Why or why not?

In the context of proscribed words, in-groups, intimate register, and humor.

Shweta
11-01-2007, 11:17 PM
And you know they are offended because why, exactly? They said so? Is there a truth value being overlooked, here? That's what the book I linked to is about. Let me suggest that some people might claim to be offended because that's what they think others expect from them.

I don't know anything at all about anyone's emotional state without hooking them up to a machine. However, I tend to act as though people around me are being truthful unless otherwise proven, because failing that one cannot communicate at all.


That "point" is worth discussing, imo. I don't agree that it should exist, as a matter of course.

Well, 'should' is kinda hard :)
All I'm saying is that in any society, it does. Because a society can only deal with so much noise/bother/discomfort/hassle. I'm not saying that's a good thing, necessarily, just that it happens.

I'm not saying any of this is a good thing, just that it seems to be what happens. I'm not arguing for it in a moral sense; more in an existence sense.


Well, we were talking about sociolinguists and their collection of "empirical" data. I would think such people should be considering them, no?

The sociolinguists I know do consider all that. I was attempting to simplify to the point where the post would be understandable to as many people as possible. Sorry if that caused oversimplification.

That's also why I reduced my example to the simplest one possible -- yes, knowing that the situation gets more complex as you take more of the system into account -- but not being able to talk about that in a way that could be followed easily. I believe that it's possible to infer certain things from the simple case. I realize I could be wrong; you can't infer traffic patterns from single cars, after all.


Look carefully at what you are doing. You've reduced your example to a one-on-one interaction, yet you've presented it as a defence of the idea that in-groups and out-groups are significant and justifiable constructs, while simultaneously framing the discussion around community standards, as if a community can be inferred from any interaction and can be based on any point of commonality:

I meant the individuals to stand in for groups they identify with. Which is problematic, yes; but sometimes it's the only way to go on. If you have an alternative way of talking about it, please share. Otherwise all you're saying is "What you're saying is not true in all cases so how can you say it?"

As for community, sure it can be inferred from interaction. Often badly, with restricted knowledge of interaction. But inferring relations and mental states from actions -- that's something all apes do. And canines, and other pack or tribal critters.


So, my issue is--again--with these assumptions made on behalf of others with regard to how they identify themselves, how they process ideas, and the attempt to compile real empirical data and draw meaningful conclusions from this faulty perspective.

1) Even in the most basic studies, you ask people how they identify. Or you look at a community that self-identifies. You don't dump labels on them from outside.

2) You can learn a great deal about how people process ideas from their language, in fact. In ways that they're normally not consciously aware of. As is borne out in other studies in other fields.

I still fail to see how the perspective is faulty.:Shrug:
But I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on methodology; I really just don't see how what you're saying makes any sense at all in this case; as far as I can tell, you're saying that just because we can't get everything right all at once it's pointless to try figuring anything out at all.


It's not my goal, at all.

Sorry, my use of you is generally generic you. I didn't mean you but rather the stance you took in the conversation, so, generic-you.


If what I say offends someone else, that's their personal choice--to be offended (of course, I should also add that I find getting offended from the mere utterance of a word to be illogical--barring an actual intent, it's nonsensical to allow that words and symbols are offensive, in and of themselves).

So, I disagree about choice, to some extent. If my every experience of the word snoof is followed by a lightning bolt that strikes one of my nearest and dearest people dead, then it's not my choice to be scared and grief-stricken when I hear it. Similarly, if it's always preceded by the word stupid then it's not my choice to think it's insulting. That's how humans work, and it's not my choice to be human.

We don't see or hear words without associations triggered in our heads, and we don't see or hear words without inferring intent, correctly or not. And there are in fact standards of usage in subcommunities. Language use isn't arbitrary.


No amount of language scrubbing is going to change this. So, when language is limited by authority as a means of pacification, I am distressed.

Yes, but you know, I agree with you :)
I've been arguing for self-control as an alternative to limitation by authority. Cause it's likely that one or the other is necessary (though yes, not ideal) in a community this size.


Oddly enough, I left last night just prior to you--to finish the laundry and wash baby bottles. :)

Ha!

aka eraser
11-01-2007, 11:23 PM
Dyke is one of those loaded words that can go off in your face or cause all sorts of collateral damage if you're not careful where it's pointed. Mostly, I don't use them. When and if I do, I try to ensure my audience hears my tone and therefore has no doubt where I'm aiming (usually the funnybone). That pretty much requires that I know the "target" and the target knows me.

I suppose I can conjure up situations in which I'd use the word in front of Mac verbally and in public (depending on who might overhear) and in private, and in a private room on the board. I don't think I'd use it on the main boards because I can't control the audience there. Too many folks might misconstrue intent and fail to hear my tone.

Birol
11-01-2007, 11:28 PM
It's funny, but ever since I posted I'd call Mac a 'dyke,' in certain, specific situations, I've been feeling a little oogey about it. ;)

jst5150
11-01-2007, 11:28 PM
Ah. OK.

No. I would not. There is no context that could or would ever allow me to bring up the word. There is no pretext to saying the word. And regardless of wat context Mac views the word, there is a social stigma attached to the word. To bring it up in front of 18,000 people not only brings forth that stigma, but charges a lot of people the wrong ideas about me and about AW.

To be clearer, if we were all seated at a Seattle pub drunk off our asses on Anchorsteam, Guinness and Abita Turbodog; guards were down and we all had bonded in some way, it would be even MORE important to control the language. Drunk people get stupid at the drop of a hat. Some would say to go the other way -- be more candid when the whiskey's a flowin'. You'd be dumb if you did.

Finally, someone mentioned that Mac's sexuality is a small part of her life. I disagree. Mac's sexuality is a huge part of her life. My sexuality is a huge part of my life. Your sexuality is a huge part of your life. It's a huge part of everyone's life. It tells us what to wear, how to wear it, what to eat and drink and how much of it, how to spend money and what to spend it on, how we decorate our homes, how we treat others. In short, it's an overwhelming part of our lives.

Belittling that with a slight, insult or degradation only casts her as something inferior to whatever your sexuality might be. It's a demeaning term meant solely to gain an upperhand on a situation and usually means a massive failure to communicate (when facts run out and the personal slights begin).

Mac is what she is. And, truly, like her politics and religion, her sexuality is -- wait for it -- none of my goddamned business (and, none of any of ours, either). So, it shouldn't even APPROACH entering a conversation. And even if she tosses it out to be part of one (as she has here), there has to be a sense of civility that allows her to continually and always be on equal footing as part of the discussion. If not, then the discussion, online or otherwise, merely becomes the platform for an electron-based lynch mob where words like 'dyke' and all the other lesbian nicknames come forth as punchlines to some frathouse laden end of the road. ETA: I think when we start to throw out words like 'dyke' and others, the above kind of mentality can easily follow suit.

In short, we all should try harder to find another way to address the conversation or stay the f&%k out of it.

NeuroFizz
11-01-2007, 11:35 PM
Finally, someone mentioned that Mac's sexuality is a small part of her life. I disagree. Mac's sexuality is a huge part of her life. My sexuality is a huge part of my life. Your sexuality is a huge part of your life. It's a huge part of everyone's life. It tells us what to wear, how to wear it, what to eat and drink and how much of it, how to spend money and what to spend it on, how we decorate our homes, how we treat others. In short, it's an overwhelming part of our lives.
Just to clarify, I did not say Mac's sexuality is a small part of her life. I said it's a small part of who she is. The difference is immense.

JLCwrites
11-01-2007, 11:48 PM
Okay -- for those answering "no, not under any circumstances" the question becomes why?

Why not?

I suspect the answers are multi-faceted and complex. But I really am curious, too.

I wouldn't use the label "Dyke".

If I were having a conversation with someone, and the topic of your sexual orientation came up, I will use the term Lesbian. In my experience, saying Lesbian is more respectful. (Or at least, I rarely hear it in a derogatory way) IMO, how a label is usually used, determines how acceptable it is. "Dyke" was always used in a negative way while I was growing up. Since I prefer to be respectful to those around me, I will not call them by a derogatory name. If a man referred to me as a Broad, or a Bitch, I would be very happy never to speak with him again. (or use the 'ignore' button)

I think it all boils down to 'The Golden Rule'. No one enjoys being disrespected, and, unless a person wishes to live as a hermit, there are social parameters we need to stay within in order to get along.

robeiae
11-02-2007, 12:09 AM
I don't know anything at all about anyone's emotional state without hooking them up to a machine. However, I tend to act as though people around me are being truthful unless otherwise proven, because failing that one cannot communicate at all.It's one thing to accept apparent truthfulness--or lack thereof--for the purposes of interpersonal communication. It's something else entirely to accept it for the purposes of drawing generalized conclusions.

1) Even in the most basic studies, you ask people how they identify. Or you look at a community that self-identifies. You don't dump labels on them from outside.Are you quite sure about all of this? Given a series of defined options, many people will accept the imposed limits and make a choice. Given a specific question of self-identification, many people will seek to answer in the way they think they should, and many people will answer in the way they think the questioner--particularly when it is someone in authority--wants them to.


2) You can learn a great deal about how people process ideas from their language, in fact. In ways that they're normally not consciously aware of. As is borne out in other studies in other fields.Well, not all of this that can be learned generalizes the way many would like it to, imo. And again, this is the same discussion we've already had, re Sapir-Whorf. The oft-assumed predicative power derived from what is learned is an illusion, more often than not.



But I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on methodology; I really just don't see how what you're saying makes any sense at all in this case; as far as I can tell, you're saying that just because we can't get everything right all at once it's pointless to try figuring anything out at all.
Figuring what out? What words are offensive to a defined group, when used by members outside that group? THAT is what I am arguing against. Your initial position that led here:


There are many many gender/race/disability jokes that are socially acceptable if made by the in-group and not by the out-group. Yeh? Because from the out-group it implies "And I'm Better", but from the in-group it does not. ETA: from the in-group it's a form of commiseration.It's nothing but a question of personal opinion and subjective conclusions. I disagree that this proposition has any empirical backing, whatsoever. And I disagree with labeling it "fact" or "proven," or anything else along those lines. We can speak for no one but ourselves.


Sorry, my use of you is generally generic you. I didn't mean you but rather the stance you took in the conversation, so, generic-you.

Okey-dokey.


So, I disagree about choice, to some extent. If my every experience of the word snoof is followed by a lightning bolt that strikes one of my nearest and dearest people dead, then it's not my choice to be scared and grief-stricken when I hear it. Similarly, if it's always preceded by the word stupid then it's not my choice to think it's insulting. That's how humans work, and it's not my choice to be human.It is, however, your choice to express these feelings. And again, I maintain that taking offense requires a conscious decision. Moreover, offense requires human agency. A lightning bolt does not. So, it's not simply a reaction. After all, we all know people who go looking for offense, don't we? Remember the people on Southwest who became offended by "Eanie Meanie Miney Mo"? Was that an unconscious reaction?


We don't see or hear words without associations triggered in our heads, and we don't see or hear words without inferring intent, correctly or not. And there are in fact standards of usage in subcommunities. Language use isn't arbitrary.I love the Dick Van Dyke Show.

Do you really think it would be fair to call two of those words offensive in that context? You can have an involuntary association triggered in your head, but it takes more than that to claim I have offended you.

robeiae
11-02-2007, 12:13 AM
I am not a member of any clique that would put me in your group of "absolved dyke-sayers," but even if I were, I wouldn't use the term with you (or anyone else) because I try my best to adhere to the philosopy of common courtesy, and in my view of that philosophy, inside jokes are not reason enough to be cute with a word like that. Your sexual orientation is just a small part of who you are as a person, and that aspect of who you are is way down on the list of aspects of you I do want to know better. It doesn't lessen the importace of that part of you in my mind, it's just not something that matters much to me other than to respect who you are from toenails to hair-tips. So, my no brainers stand as written.

And, within my context swirled around your intentions, I still think its a dumb question (for me to answer, anyway).Exceptionally well-stated, imo.

Duncan J Macdonald
11-02-2007, 12:20 AM
I think it all boils down to 'The Golden Rule'. No one enjoys being disrespected, and, unless a person wishes to live as a hermit, there are social parameters we need to stay within in order to get along.Be careful with the broad brush there. For all I know, there may be a masochist reading this who enjoys being dissed.

Social parameters are ambiguous beasts at best. Total hearsay example: Amongst my daughter's peer group (at least the ones that I regularly see) the word "whore" is liberally applied to members of both sexes, and does not mean what is usually meant (i.e. dictionary definition). I've heard a girl call a guy a "whore" because he grabbed the last cheezy poof.

robeiae
11-02-2007, 12:23 AM
I like cheezy poofs.

JLCwrites
11-02-2007, 12:36 AM
Be careful with the broad brush there. For all I know, there may be a masochist reading this who enjoys being dissed.

Oops, my bad. :)

sassandgroove
11-02-2007, 12:43 AM
It's funny, but ever since I posted I'd call Mac a 'dyke,' in certain, specific situations, I've been feeling a little oogey about it. ;)I worry that I equated dyke and butch and wonder if butch is a loaded word too.


I like cheezy poofs.Ohhh... I love cheezy poofs. I'm having trouble following Sweta and Rob, though.

MacAllister
11-02-2007, 12:46 AM
I worry that I equated dyke and butch and wonder if butch is a loaded word too.

Ohhh... I love cheezy poofs. I'm having trouble following Sweta and Rob, though.
Butch is pretty loaded. :) And the words get equated pretty regularly (mostly from outside the lesbian community) -- but also, there's a fairly large group of people who emphatically do not equate them.

I don't personally equate the words, and neither do most of the people I know who use "dyke" self-referentially; that's a regional and generational variance, as far as I can tell.

Regardless, no offense taken, Sass.

sassandgroove
11-02-2007, 12:49 AM
Good. Especially since I don't really use either word much, and not in public. Now I know and I won't equate them anymore. :)

Shweta
11-02-2007, 06:07 AM
I'm having trouble following shweta anr rob too, tbh.

And I think we just have a fundamental disagreement on what counts as empirical study.
Which is okay. Rob? Your opinion is valid :)

And, I'd like to pull out a couple things I think we vehemently agree on.


It is, however, your choice to express these feelings. And again, I maintain that taking offense requires a conscious decision.

Absolutely. Especially in written language, which is what the board is. Perhaps people can speak without thinking, but typing and hitting post without thinking? If we're doing that, we need time out from the boards!

And yes, I also agree that some people (all people sometimes?) look for offense. I do think it's possible to be offended without looking for it, though, and for entirely good reasons, and without a whole lot of agency.

(And yes, agency is a fluffy ill-defined concept, but it's useful.)


I love the Dick Van Dyke Show.

Oh, I love this example. It's awesome. I didn't even notice that the name includes those two words till you pointed it out.

I do actually agree with you that language is hugely context-dependent. And this is such an awesome example that I'm gonna steal it, 'kay?

*runs off with it*

Medievalist
11-02-2007, 07:18 AM
I'm going to respond to several posts, but I wanted to make a few things clear, first.

• I asked Mac about using the word Dyke/dyke and referring to her before I posted the question.
• I actually like Mac and get along rather well with her; this was a serious question, from someone who cares about AW, and language, quite a lot. I didn't post it lightly.


The question posed here is a stupid one, in my opinion, and yes it is baiting because it was aimed at a single person initially. william's silence on it is appropriate, and I'll be personally pissed at him if he does step forward to answer it (although I know me being pissed is about as important to him as ant piss).

William knows I respect him, and I know that he cares about language as much as I do; I knew he'd answer the question seriously. I also know he values Mac, and wouldn't, as some would, go larking about being an ass about using the word Dyke/dyke.


see...I thought it was merely a "if you wouldn't do this, why would you do this..." sort of example?

That was a large part of it, yes.


Isn't this the nugget right here? Doesn't social time still need to be invested to determine what is acceptable, even humorous, to people, and what if any personal boundaries they might have? And, vis a vis messageboards, that sort of sounding-out can be impossible or take years, unless members manage to get to know each other in person.

Too, to me some of this shapes up as generational - there are terms which, when I was being raised during the Ice Age, were viewed as being derogatory, unacceptable, and never ever to be used. So much so that to this day, even though my gay female friends take the same views as Mac has expressed in this thread, I can't bring myself to use the d-word around them, despite their being totally comfy with it.

I've done a lot of slang research. I've heard the word dyke used many times.

The first time I saw Mac use Dyke to refer to herself I was horrified. I'd only every seen, or heard dyke/Dyke used as a deliberate attempt to wound. It only had pejorative associations for me. I'd not ever heard a lesbian use Dyke/dyke self-referentially.

I quizzed Mac about Dyke/dyke; I sorta do that with words and how people use them. I started looking at how Dyke/dyke was used in the linguistic corpora I have access to.

I asked a bunch more lesbians about Dyke/dyke, and what it meant; I'll post about that in another post though.



I personally do not buy into the "let's reclaim the word by calling it ourselves BUT YOU CAN'T CALL US THAT WORD!" It's just too thorny for me and I could never be comfortable calling myself "queer" or "faggot". Yeah, maybe I've got tissue paper skin but they've been used against me for so long I can't forgive and forget.

I'm not so fond of double standards either, but it's very much here to stay. Sometimes it's useful--but sometimes it's not so much a marker for an intimate register as it is a way of determining true feeling based on a person's language, and understanding of that language, as well as things like intent and tone; it's language used with intimates. Sometimes marked language, like queer or dyke/Dyke, is very much used as a way to restrict membership in a sub-culture.



slurs are actually quite a bit different than what precipitated the discussion on "hurtful" words, as the real world example was making light of epilepsy in the presence of an epileptic.

William has put his finger, so's to speak, on an interesting spot.

Dyke/dyke is not always a slur. Certainly the way Mac uses it, and the way I might use it in a context like this one, where I'm looking at the word itself, it's not a slur.


look, if mac is referring to herself as a "dyke" and her friends are calling her a "dyke", then the word coming from my mouth is only as bigoted as the social construct built around it.

Exactly, and part of that construct includes intent, and a willingness to assume good will until proven otherwise.


i appreciate your comment, rich, but i don't think mac and lisa are trying to get me to paint myself in a corner. and if they are, that's fine too... i spend a lot of time in corners.

I'm not, and I chose William to ask the question because I was relatively sure he'd assume good will.


I think it all boils down to 'The Golden Rule'. No one enjoys being disrespected, and, unless a person wishes to live as a hermit, there are social parameters we need to stay within in order to get along.

Yes...it does; courtesy and common sense go a long way in terms of community and communication.

But that said, as writers we all need to be extra aware of the ways different words are used by different individuals, and communities.

robeiae
11-02-2007, 07:21 AM
Frankly, I'm a bit put off by people that seek clarity and are willing to accept differences of opinion as sometimes unavoidable.

Say something disagreeble, Shweta. I demand it.

(I love The Mary Tyler Moore Show, too)

Shweta
11-02-2007, 07:25 AM
Oh fine then, I hate the Dick Van Dyke show! I hate Dick Van Dyke himself! In fact, I've never even watched the show and I still hate it!

Happy?

robeiae
11-02-2007, 07:28 AM
Happy? No.

Giddy? Perhaps...

Shweta
11-02-2007, 07:31 AM
That shall have to do.

Medievalist
11-02-2007, 08:21 AM
I worry that I equated dyke and butch and wonder if butch is a loaded word too.

Butch is very much a loaded word, and it is sometimes erroneously conflated with Dyke/dyke.


Thanks, Mac for this last part. (bolding is mine) It explains, further, why I'm uncomfortable w/ the terminology. That word and the 'D' word are ones that, for me, are slurs. That's how I've always heard them, even though they're ok for you.


I wouldn't use the label "Dyke".

If I were having a conversation with someone, and the topic of your sexual orientation came up, I will use the term Lesbian. In my experience, saying Lesbian is more respectful. (Or at least, I rarely hear it in a derogatory way) IMO, how a label is usually used, determines how acceptable it is. "Dyke" was always used in a negative way while I was growing up. Since I prefer to be respectful to those around me, I will not call them by a derogatory name. If a man referred to me as a Broad, or a Bitch, I would be very happy never to speak with him again. (or use the 'ignore' button)

Not to belabor the point . . . but here are some historical uses of dyke/Dyke in context; you might want to pay particular attention to subtleties of connotation and denotation.

First the OED:
"Dyke alt. sp. Dike. Noun: slang. A lesbian; a masculine woman. Also attrib. "

The Sacred American Heritage Dictionary:
"Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a lesbian" (AHD dyke (http://www.bartleby.com/61/36/D0443600.html) ).

Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Lighter, J. E. Ed. Vol. I A-G. 1994. 685
"dyke or dike n. [prob. fr. morphadike, dial. var hermaphrodite; cf Bulldyke and bulldyker] a female homosexual, esp. if aggressive or masculine in appearance and mannerisms.—usu. used disparagingly; in recent use occ. non-disparaging in self-reference.

Now some historical/dated references:

1935 Pollock Undead Speaks: Dike, a lesbian; a female sexual pervert. . . .

1993 Wall Street Journal "More contentious is the re-emergence of the word "queer." Some militant gay men proudly use the word as a way of reclaiming it from gay-bashers and signaling their intent to be confrontational in combating bias. Similarly, some lesbians prefer "dyke." Ms. Smith notes that lesbians who call themselves dykes "don't care whether someone is offended with who they are. Dykes are rebellious, strong" (Lawrence Ingrassia. "Fighting Words: Gay, Lesbian Groups Seek to Expunge Bias They See in Language—One Focus of Rights Debate Is the Debate Itself; Critics Perceive Orwellian Cant—Bi, Bisexual, or Omnisexual." Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: May 3, 1993. pg. A.1.).

"dyke: in homophobic usage, a slang term of abuse denoting (in general) a lesbian, but connoting (in particular) the gender image of female toughness or mannishness. In the rhetoric of Lesbian Feminism and Gay Liberation, it has been reappropriated as a term of pride signifying a lesbian who openly defies the conventionally shameful implications of the term. Like 'queen,' 'dyke' often appears in affectionately satiric compounds denoting familiar lesbian types (Miller, James. Family Pride Canada. "Glossary." http://www.uwo.ca/pridelib/family/glossary/glossary4.html).

"Dyke was an epithet to women during the 1950s and 1960s. For women raised in that time, it often still is. Sometimes it meant butch, sometimes it just meant pervert. It was reclaimed by politically-minded lesbian-feminists during the 1970s to mean, as I/we used it, another politically-minded lesbian-feminist. Dyke as different from lesbian, gay woman, woman, bisexual, and certainly as different from gay (which meant male to us). . . . In my head, I define a dyke as a lesbian (using their definition) who is not afraid to be public about it, who was once a girl and likes being a woman, and who claims lesbian as a consistent identity" (Maggie Jochild. March 13, 2007, 2:19 am. http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/whole-mess-of-things#comment-32284).

There's a shift from a pejorative term for a lesbian around the sixties, with the influence of feminism. There's also a distinction made, within the lesbian community, quit often, between lesbians and Dykes; you can see that distinction in the later references.

ColoradoGuy
11-02-2007, 10:28 AM
I just want to say I've been gone for a couple of days and return to find this fascinating thread in the living room. I hope the discussion continues. To me it illustrates what I think of as an emerging dialect--message board speak. Whereas written language generally assumes the text is all there is, conversational language uses all the unspoken nuance that comes from face-to-face encounters. In a sense, message board speak has the property of only having access to the written word but yet aspires to being a species of conversational encounter. Those emoticons were really devised to bridge the gap between the two, but they're a poor substitute. Our reach exceeds our grasp.

Inky
11-02-2007, 11:34 AM
Butch is pretty loaded. :) And the words get equated pretty regularly (mostly from outside the lesbian community) -- but also, there's a fairly large group of people who emphatically do not equate them.

I don't personally equate the words, and neither do most of the people I know who use "dyke" self-referentially; that's a regional and generational variance, as far as I can tell.

Regardless, no offense taken, Sass.
I have to ask--educating myself here, and broadening my language horizons--would this infact be equated to when we refer to one another as bitch...not in the insulting way, but..well...for example: Had Mac changed my avatar into one of those horrid Kitty thingies, I would have logged on...seen the horror...and screamed at my monitor: you byach!

Or if she were my lover, I'd introduce her as 'my bitch'.... *ducks*
You mean, like that?

MacAllister
11-02-2007, 02:06 PM
Heh. Yes.


errr....


Mostly like that, anyway.


:)

JJ Cooper
11-02-2007, 03:41 PM
I have to ask--educating myself here, and broadening my language horizons--would this infact be equated to when we refer to one another as bitch...not in the insulting way, but..well...for example: Had Mac changed my avatar into one of those horrid Kitty thingies, I would have logged on...seen the horror...and screamed at my monitor: you byach!

Or if she were my lover, I'd introduce her as 'my bitch'.... *ducks*
You mean, like that?

I know this was intended for Mac but I really wanted to legitimately post on this board.

If an avatar was changed to a kitty, then yes I would think that a 'you bitch' comment is fine, even in a PM. After all she started it and the cats are getting painful.

As for if the two of you were lovers (no comment I am an Aussie Gentleman). This is exactly how one of my gay friends introduces her partner to others. She sees it as an icebreaker. Not only has she bowled them over with the 'yes we're lovers' intro, but she throws in the comedy routine to make them more comfortable. Without fail she does it every single time they meet someone for the first time. Without fail they have laughed along with her.

JJ

KTC
11-02-2007, 03:47 PM
I hate when my posts get ported into a thread I don't understand. I was never here.

MacAllister
11-02-2007, 03:47 PM
To me it illustrates what I think of as an emerging dialect--message board speak. Whereas written language generally assumes the text is all there is, conversational language uses all the unspoken nuance that comes from face-to-face encounters. In a sense, message board speak has the property of only having access to the written word but yet aspires to being a species of conversational encounter. Those emoticons were really devised to bridge the gap between the two, but they're a poor substitute. Our reach exceeds our grasp.It does -- and therein lies a number of the problems in message-board communication, and in what's commonly called "modem-induced madness" when people type things they'd not ever, you suspect, say to someone's face.

But more commonly there can be a serious disconnect between the way we represent ourselves in text sometimes, and the way others perceive us through those words.

Jason brought this up, way upstream, and I kept meaning to get back to it.



Or if she were my lover, I'd introduce her as 'my bitch'.... *ducks*
You mean, like that?In all seriousness, self-identifying as a dyke precludes me being identified as anyone's bitch.

All the other dykes would make fun of me.

:D

And it's never too late to get that Hello Kitty Avatar. . .


I know this was intended for Mac but I really wanted to legitimately post on this board.

If an avatar was changed to a kitty, then yes I would think that a 'you bitch' comment is fine, even in a PM. After all she started it and the cats are getting painful.

As for if the two of you were lovers (no comment I am an Aussie Gentleman). This is exactly how one of my gay friends introduces her partner to others. She sees it as an icebreaker. Not only has she bowled them over with the 'yes we're lovers' intro, but she throws in the comedy routine to make them more comfortable. Without fail she does it every single time they meet someone for the first time. Without fail they have laughed along with her.

JJ
And really, I just wanted JJ to know I'm not ignoring him, either.

Inky
11-02-2007, 04:02 PM
I hate when my posts get ported into a thread I don't understand. I was never here.
You are the Tin Man. Follow the yellow brick road. Ignore the umpa loompas.



....one....two....three...

Inky
11-02-2007, 04:05 PM
In all seriousness, self-identifying as a dyke precludes me being identified as anyone's bitch.

All the other dykes would make fun of me.

:D

And it's never too late to get that Hello Kitty Avatar. . .
:eek:

KTC
11-02-2007, 04:09 PM
You are the Tin Man. Follow the yellow brick road. Ignore the umpa loompas.



....one....two....three...

That made so much sense to me. You put me in my happy place.

Inky
11-02-2007, 04:15 PM
You can repay me by sending Orlando. HE can sooo be my bitch. :e2brows:

robeiae
11-02-2007, 04:57 PM
She sees it as an icebreaker. Not only has she bowled them over with the 'yes we're lovers' intro, but she throws in the comedy routine to make them more comfortable. Without fail she does it every single time they meet someone for the first time. Without fail they have laughed along with her.Self-deprecating humor is a horse of a different technicolor, imo.

Unfortunately, some believe that group self-deprecating humor is the same thing. I don't think it is, at all. Why? One would really need to check with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor.

Sticking with Lisa's question, IMO: Mac can freely call herself anything she wants to call herself, whether she intends it to be humorous or not. But the moment she uses a less-than-neutral label--like queer--to label all members of a group she considers herself to be a part of, she has stepped over the line into the realm of bad manners, just as surely as someone who does not consider themselves a member of that group. This is just as true for the word "nigger," again imo. A person can freely call themselves such, but calling someone else such, or calling an entire group such, is inappropriate. Of course, this is nothing that should be made illegal or that should be controlled. It is just something that reflects badly on the person who engages in it, once again imo.

Higgins
11-02-2007, 05:16 PM
Self-deprecating humor is a horse of a different technicolor, imo.

Unfortunately, some believe that group self-deprecating humor is the same thing. I don't think it is, at all. Why? One would really need to check with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor.

Sticking with Lisa's question, IMO: Mac can freely call herself anything she wants to call herself, whether she intends it to be humorous or not. But the moment she uses a less-than-neutral label--like queer--to label all members of a group she considers herself to be a part of, she has stepped over the line into the realm of bad manners, just as surely as someone who does not consider themselves a member of that group. This is just as true for the word "nigger," again imo. A person can freely call themselves such, but calling someone else such, or calling an entire group such, is inappropriate. Of course, this is nothing that should be made illegal or that should be controlled. It is just something that reflects badly on the person who engages in it, once again imo.

I thought you would rip out your eyes rather than see rules for language usage be enforced by anyone other than the Continental Congress and/or
Major John Wesley Powell or his executioners.

http://www.powellmuseum.org/MajorPowell.html

robeiae
11-02-2007, 05:19 PM
I thought you would rip out your eyes rather than see rules for language usage be enforced by anyone other than the Continental Congress and/or
Major John Wesley Powell or his executioners.

http://www.powellmuseum.org/MajorPowell.html
No rules--just personal opinion:

Of course, this is nothing that should be made illegal or that should be controlled. It is just something that reflects badly on the person who engages in it, once again imo.We all get to have those, for better or worse.

Higgins
11-02-2007, 05:23 PM
No rules--just personal opinion:
We all get to have those, for better or worse.

And yet you put forward an "opinion" that proposes that utterances be validated in advance by checking with every member of any group that might fall under that utterance. Is that really an opinion? Or a suggestion for an impossible method for validating utterances?

robeiae
11-02-2007, 06:17 PM
And yet you put forward an "opinion" that proposes that utterances be validated in advance by checking with every member of any group that might fall under that utterance. Is that really an opinion? Or a suggestion for an impossible method for validating utterances?It is not an "opinion," it is an opinion. I thought I made that fairly clear.

I don't know what you are seeking, here. Unless you merely want to argue--a fine and worthy goal, imo. But you need a better approach, I think.

Higgins
11-02-2007, 06:36 PM
It is not an "opinion," it is an opinion. I thought I made that fairly clear.

I don't know what you are seeking, here. Unless you merely want to argue--a fine and worthy goal, imo. But you need a better approach, I think.

No, I think my approach is fine. It looks like you have invented an impossible procedure as the standard on which you base your characterization of human behavior as usual. I can recall several other times you exhibited some impossible scheme as the gold standard for figuring out some aspect of human behavior:
1) figuring out what is artistic about something by "labelling" everything correctly first
2) defining Norway as the standard for Theocratic regimes
3) and now this one: to have an utterance work correctly about some subgroup of mankind, you would have to ask every member of that group first if they consented to your usage

Now what strikes me as odd about these standards of yours is that:

a) they involve everyone but you running around and doing useless things to satisfy your criteria
b) the criteria makes no sense on its own
c) the criteria cannot be validated using your methods (and anyway it makes no sense)
d) you seem to think these exercises are somehow sensible and merely an matter of some everyday thoughts that might just be passing through anyone's head
e) except in every case, it's just your head that produces these impossible "opinions"
f) and yet you seem to expect everyone to think there is something reasonable about them...ie something more convincing somehow than just some idle scheme for specifying labelling everything or checking with everybody first

Inky
11-02-2007, 07:33 PM
We interrupt your regularly broadcasted whatevers to bring you this special announcement:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q172/liadano/chow.jpg

Sorry. It was in another thread...and the Wiley Coyote on the bag reduced me to a wheezing, tear-swiping, nimrod.
Had to share.

Carry on.

sassandgroove
11-02-2007, 07:39 PM
Butch is very much a loaded word, and it is sometimes erroneously conflated with Dyke/dyke.



In all seriousness, self-identifying as a dyke precludes me being identified as anyone's bitch.

All the other dykes would make fun of me.

:D

And it's never too late to get that Hello Kitty Avatar. . .


And really, I just wanted JJ to know I'm not ignoring him, either.

Um...forgive my ignorance. Does that mean dyke is actually better to use than butch? If so, please explain. Sass-trying to understand the nuances. Please don't hello kitty me.

Stew21
11-02-2007, 08:08 PM
I never answered the question:

I don't use words I don't understand. There is no way for me to understand all of the nuances and consequences of using the word dyke. I wouldn't use it because it is just not part of my internal dictionary. I have yet to fill it's file in my brain with its connotations, consequences, and uses) I know its there. I know what it means. I have not grasped the connotations well enough to throw it out in conversation or to use it as a title for anyone. It is simply not part of my language toolbox. I would have no reason to use the word. it's not the only word I don't use: there are others I sort of know but not well enough to feel comfortable using them.

heck even words that are not questionable (possibly derogatory or too intimate, etc) I think I know what they mean, but look them up in the dictionary before I use it (in writing in particular) to be sure I am using it properly. I don't know that I would ever be comfortable enough with a word like "dyke" to use it. I also don't particularly like labeling people.

sassandgroove
11-02-2007, 08:18 PM
Exactly. Like Dork.

This is how I view Dork:

Nerd: An intelligent, socially inept but nice guy.
Geek: Intelligent but a little more cool than a nerd.
Dork: THinks he's a geek but isn't even a nerd.

So one day my geeky husband did something goofy-stupid and I called him a dork.
Man- was that a bad idea. It really hurt his feelings. He views dork in a much more negative light than I do. Now I know, and i don't call him that. But I can call Writerterri one, because she uses it affectionately. Man, language is weird.

MacAllister
11-02-2007, 08:31 PM
Sticking with Lisa's question, IMO: Mac can freely call herself anything she wants to call herself, whether she intends it to be humorous or not. But the moment she uses a less-than-neutral label--like queer--to label all members of a group she considers herself to be a part of, she has stepped over the line into the realm of bad manners, just as surely as someone who does not consider themselves a member of that group. Actually, that's very true of "dyke" -- I wouldn't use it to refer to someone else, unless I had strong indicators that she was comfortable with the word.

With the word "Queer," though, no. You're wrong. There are, in my opinion, plenty of social and linguistic markers in place to indicate that it's become predominately socially acceptable, in ways that "dyke" isn't really.

That is, I'll use "queer" quite freely, unless someone asks me not to use it to refer specifically to him or her -- and it's usually someone over 50, or from a very specific dialectic niche.


Um...forgive my ignorance. Does that mean dyke is actually better to use than butch? If so, please explain. Sass-trying to understand the nuances. Please don't hello kitty me.:)

Naw -- it's just different. Like, ummmm, the difference between cotton and wool -- they're both fabric, they have in common that they're both natural fibers even, and sometimes they're even blended, but you wouldn't typically mistake one for the other once you knew the difference.

Shady Lane
11-02-2007, 08:37 PM
I feel like I'm gonna get gunned down for admitting this, but I call my lesbian sister 'dyke' all the time, because I know she doesn't mind. This girl at my school who fancies herself the queen of political correctness once tried lecturing me about it, and I thought I was going to smack her.

Roger J Carlson
11-02-2007, 08:41 PM
I would never use ANY derogatory term for any group, even if there were circumstances under which it was acceptable. Why? Because I'm afraid I won't be able to tell the difference between when it is acceptable and when it is not.

An example.

When I was in high school, I was in a group where I was the only white person. Everyone else was black. We had a really good rapport and joked around a lot. Even then, I never used the "N"-word, but I did say things like, "You people have such nice white teeth." This always elicited laughter and a display of nice white teeth all around. (Hey, you had to be there. Most humor is pretty stupid out of context.)

Fast forward ten years and I was in college. I again found myself the only white person in a group of black people. We also had a great rapport and there were a lot of friendly jokes. Okay! I knew where I stood. So I tried some of the same lines and there was a strained silence. They were offended and from that point on, the group dynamic was shattered.

So what was the difference? To this day, I have no idea.

I never say anything intentionally hurtful. The only time I get into trouble is when I'm trying to be funny. Sometimes it comes out wrong, and I hurt someone. So for me, it's better to avoid such terms altogether.

robeiae
11-02-2007, 10:07 PM
With the word "Queer," though, no. You're wrong. There are, in my opinion, plenty of social and linguistic markers in place to indicate that it's become predominately socially acceptable, in ways that "dyke" isn't really.

That is, I'll use "queer" quite freely, unless someone asks me not to use it to refer specifically to him or her -- and it's usually someone over 50, or from a very specific dialectic niche.I hear it being used by middle-school/high school kids: "Don't be such a queer." That's not a very non-derogatory usage. So, I'll continue to not use it, myself. And if I hear my kids using it in this fashion, I believe I will reprimand them.

robeiae
11-02-2007, 10:24 PM
No, I think my approach is fine. It looks like you have invented an impossible procedure as the standard on which you base your characterization of human behavior as usual.Incorrect.
What I said: "Unfortunately, some believe that group self-deprecating humor is the same thing. I don't think it is, at all. Why? One would really need to check with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor."
Clearly, I was making a point with regard to presuming how others would feel about some terminology, with respect to in-groups and out-groups, as referenced earlier in the thread.

And my "impossible procedure" was hardly being used to characterize human behavior. I can explain it again, I guess. But I don't think that's what you are really looking for, based on the remainder of your post.

I can recall several other times you exhibited some impossible scheme as the gold standard for figuring out some aspect of human behavior:
1) figuring out what is artistic about something by "labelling" everything correctly first Not what I said
2) defining Norway as the standard for Theocratic regimes Not what I said
3) and now this one: to have an utterance work correctly about some subgroup of mankind, you would have to ask every member of that group first if they consented to your usage Also, not what I said
I can recall several other times you've resorted to this tactic.

Now what strikes me as odd about these standards of yours is that:

a) they involve everyone but you running around and doing useless things to satisfy your criteria
b) the criteria makes no sense on its own
c) the criteria cannot be validated using your methods (and anyway it makes no sense)
d) you seem to think these exercises are somehow sensible and merely an matter of some everyday thoughts that might just be passing through anyone's head
e) except in every case, it's just your head that produces these impossible "opinions"
f) and yet you seem to expect everyone to think there is something reasonable about them...ie something more convincing somehow than just some idle scheme for specifying labelling everything or checking with everybody firstWhat strikes me as odd is your inability to get over our past disagreements. But whatever floats your boat. As to the stuff in this last bit, it's kinda pointless to respond, since it's all based on fantasies of yours with regard to what I've said, as opposed to what I've really said.

Higgins
11-02-2007, 10:45 PM
Incorrect.
What I said: "Unfortunately, some believe that group self-deprecating humor is the same thing. I don't think it is, at all. Why? One would really need to check with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor."
Clearly, I was making a point with regard to presuming how others would feel about some terminology, with respect to in-groups and out-groups, as referenced earlier in the thread.

And my "impossible procedure" was hardly being used to characterize human behavior. I can explain it again, I guess. But I don't think that's what you are really looking for, based on the remainder of your post.
I can recall several other times you've resorted to this tactic.
What strikes me as odd is your inability to get over our past disagreements. But whatever floats your boat. As to the stuff in this last bit, it's kinda pointless to respond, since it's all based on fantasies of yours with regard to what I've said, as opposed to what I've really said.

According to you, our disagreements never actually occurred since you have never said what I thought you said. So in your internal monolog of saying you haven't said any of the above, I don't have much to say. And apparently its the same way this time, for although asking everybody in (or out?) of a group whether they are in (or out?) of a group or not... is something you do every day, it strikes me as impossible, but then you know perfectly well you never "really" said that even though you did and in fact just quoted yourself as suggesting the procedure of "checking with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of
this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor."

Anyway, though we both know you didn't say that, I wonder if anyone would find anything humorous once you were finished checking them twice. And just try to imagine the procedure: Robby goes to a crowd of people and asks them if they are Lithuanian because he wants to tell a Lithuanian joke. Luckily several are Lithuanian. Does he tell them the joke as soon as he isolates them or does he have to corral them?

Then comes the hard part: He has to ask them if they "accept the humor"...I wonder how this would be phrased in practice? It can't be funny (or maybe there are elaborate Robby rules that it turns out he never said or will say or has said or even ever imagined saying)...anyway, thanks for not saying any of that.

robeiae
11-02-2007, 11:29 PM
According to you, our disagreements never actually occurred since you have never said what I thought you said.Nah. That's silly. Even within those other discussions, you often misrepresent my position, as I pointed out in the past. This doesn't mean there is no disagreement, it only means you use misrepresentation as a tool, therein.
So in your internal monolog of saying you haven't said any of the above, I don't have much to say.And yet the discussion and post continue...

And apparently its the same way this time, for although asking everybody in (or out?) of a group whether they are in (or out?) of a group or not... is something you do every day, it strikes me as impossible, but then you know perfectly well you never "really" said that even though you did and in fact just quoted yourself as suggesting the procedure of "checking with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of
this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor."
Honestly, I don't understand what you have said, here. Wanna give it another try?

Anyway, though we both know you didn't say that, I wonder if anyone would find anything humorous once you were finished checking them twice. And just try to imagine the procedure: Robby goes to a crowd of people and asks them if they are Lithuanian because he wants to tell a Lithuanian joke. Luckily several are Lithuanian. Does he tell them the joke as soon as he isolates them or does he have to corral them?

Then comes the hard part: He has to ask them if they "accept the humor"...I wonder how this would be phrased in practice? It can't be funny (or maybe there are elaborate Robby rules that it turns out he never said or will say or has said or even ever imagined saying)...anyway, thanks for not saying any of that.
I said: "Unfortunately, some believe that group self-deprecating humor is the same thing. I don't think it is, at all. Why? One would really need to check with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor."

You presented this as: "to have an utterance work correctly about some subgroup of mankind, you would have to ask every member of that group first if they consented to your usage."

Where did I say anything even remotely resembling a claim about "an utterance working correctly"? And again, I also clearly presented it as an opinion of mine, not a rule of some type.

You are being intellectually dishonest, imo. And that's really a shame.

Higgins
11-02-2007, 11:39 PM
You are being intellectually dishonest, imo. And that's really a shame.

Wow. Since you never actually say what you say, I'm assuming you mean that I'm being the opposite of intellectually dishonest...which would be what? I'm not sure. But never mind. You never made that "claim"...Or did you?

And what is really a shame? That you never claim the things that you say?

So many questions.

Higgins
11-02-2007, 11:43 PM
I said: "Unfortunately, some believe that group self-deprecating humor is the same thing. I don't think it is, at all. Why? One would really need to check with every single person to see if they considered themselves a member of this group, then check to see if every member accepted the humor."

You presented this as: "to have an utterance work correctly about some subgroup of mankind, you would have to ask every member of that group first if they consented to your usage."

Where did I say anything even remotely resembling a claim about "an utterance working correctly"? And again, I also clearly presented it as an opinion of mine, not a rule of some type.


Let's just look at this not remotely resembled "claim"...you say (apparently) that the working of the utterance is not what you are taking about...not even remotely. Well then...what? The utterance has to function before it is funny or offensive so in effect in a discussion about language use, you dismiss the basic functions of language. Why? So that you can deny you ever made any claims about anything?

robeiae
11-02-2007, 11:53 PM
It's a shame that someone who seems to be reasonably intelligent chooses to openly lie.

Let's look at the simplest lie you have told, with regard to what I have said. You claimed that I was "defining Norway as the standard for Theocratic regimes." That, in fact, is a lie. I brought up Norway specifically as a counter to your expressed idea that the U.S. was closer to being a theocracy than any other western nation. I never said it was a theocracy, only that it as closer than the U.S. to being one. To whit (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1714076&postcount=273):

Theocracy--used to identify a system of government--reflects both structure and process. And Franco's Spain does not possess the correct structures and does not utilize the correct processes. Like the U.S. Norway, in contrast, actually possesses some of the needed structures, though not the processes.
So how could what you have said be true? Explain that and I will concede everything. Fail to explain it and I expect you to admit to your disingenuousness.

Higgins
11-03-2007, 12:08 AM
It's a shame that someone who seems to be reasonably intelligent chooses to openly lie.

Let's look at the simplest lie you have told, with regard to what I have said. You claimed that I was "defining Norway as the standard for Theocratic regimes." That, in fact, is a lie. I brought up Norway specifically as a counter to your expressed idea that the U.S. was closer to being a theocracy than any other western nation. I never said it was a theocracy, only that it as closer than the U.S. to being one. To whit (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1714076&postcount=273):

So how could what you have said be true? Explain that and I will concede everything. Fail to explain it and I expect you to admit to your disingenuousness.

Obviously from your own quotation, you think Norway (like the US) is closer to a standard for Theocratic Regimes than other countries.

Proven. Let your comprehensive concessions begin this instant.

sassandgroove
11-03-2007, 12:12 AM
You claimed that I was "defining Norway as the standard for Theocratic regimes."

Like the U.S. Norway, in contrast, actually possesses some of the needed structures, though not the processes.

Um Sokal. That isn't defining NOrway as the standard. I don't see how you can say it is.

robeiae
11-03-2007, 12:14 AM
Obviously from your own quotation, you think Norway (like the US) is closer to a standard for Theocratic Regimes than other countries."Standard" is not something I even spoke of. Regardless, you said I was "defining Norway as the standard for Theocratic regimes." Clearly, I must have been calling Norway a theocracy. But I wasn't.


Proven.Not proven. Come on, prove I called Norway a theocracy and that I held it up as a standard for theocracies in general. Or admit you made it up. I can wait.

ColoradoGuy
11-03-2007, 12:24 AM
Not proven. Come on, prove I called Norway a theocracy and that I held it up as a standard for theocracies in general. Or admit you made it up. I can wait.
Please don't. Sokal, I haven't got any dueling pistols handy (although Norwegians would probably whack each other with a herring), so let's just move on.

Old Hack
11-03-2007, 12:55 AM
To swiftly segue back to the butch/dyke/lesbian/gay discussion, I have a very dear friend who is lesbian: she refers to herself as all those things, and to her girlfriend too, but her very favourite label is that given to them both by her girlfriend's brother, who refers to them both as The Novelty Aunts.

(She happens to be profoundly deaf, too, and will agree that she's deaf, but won't put up with being called Deaf. Which has nothing to do with the fact that she's learning to play the saxophone, and had to really search for someone who was willing to teach her, but that's one of the things that I like so much about her.)

MacAllister
11-03-2007, 02:28 AM
I hear it being used by middle-school/high school kids: "Don't be such a queer." That's not a very non-derogatory usage. So, I'll continue to not use it, myself. And if I hear my kids using it in this fashion, I believe I will reprimand them.Rob, sure -- but the word itself isn't an epithet the same way that "fag" or "dyke" is. Kids can say "Jeez, you're such a jock" too -- and mean it derogatorily.

I know people (gay and straight) who use the word "breeder" as an epithet. I won't use the word that way -- but the word itself certainly doesn't have the charge that a word like "nigger" has.

ColoradoGuy
11-03-2007, 02:45 AM
I know people (gay and straight) who use the word "breeder" as an epithet. I won't use the word that way -- but the word itself certainly doesn't have the charge that a word like "nigger" has.
I think we can make a useful distinction between what I might call "perceived insult" and "historically valid insult." Rob and William were concerned upthread about the minefield that can result when we self-censor our speech owing to excessive concern about who might or might not be offended--that being offended is a conscious choice. I understand their concern. The original example was about epilepsy. But this seems to me to be a qualitatively different situation from words like nigger and dyke, the former particularly, because people have suffered violence on account of these terms. Calling someone having a seizure twitchy and calling a black person a nigger (outside the intimate contexts we've noted), while existing on the same very broad spectrum, are orders of magnitude apart in their usage implications. Like Grandma said, it's the thought that counts.

mscelina
11-03-2007, 03:00 AM
As an interesting note, I was just watching the news when the whole Dog The Bounty Hunter controversy came up. (his son sold a tape of him using the world *nigger* repeatedly to the National Enquirer--great family dynamics there)

At any rate, one of the viewers sent in an email that said "the word nigger is only acceptable if a black person uses it."

I thought that was very interesting. Considering the widespread use of the term among teens now, can we really honestly think that? My uber-caucasian daughter flings that word around like confetti whereas it still gives me an ugly little stomach churn. Having been on the receiving end of 'breeder' in my long and checkered past, does that mean that 'breeder' is only acceptable if a heterosexual person uses it? Or that 'queen' is only acceptable if a gay male uses it? How about chick? Dude? Geek? Nerd? Dork? How far down the line of dilution do we have to go before a catch-phrase describing a group is universally acceptable?

Just thought that random response was an interesting illustration of how people who don't debate the nuances of language might think.

Jean Marie
11-03-2007, 03:48 AM
As an interesting note, I was just watching the news when the whole Dog The Bounty Hunter controversy came up. (his son sold a tape of him using the world *nigger* repeatedly to the National Enquirer--great family dynamics there)

At any rate, one of the viewers sent in an email that said "the word nigger is only acceptable if a black person uses it."

I thought that was very interesting. Considering the widespread use of the term among teens now, can we really honestly think that? My uber-caucasian daughter flings that word around like confetti whereas it still gives me an ugly little stomach churn. Having been on the receiving end of 'breeder' in my long and checkered past, does that mean that 'breeder' is only acceptable if a heterosexual person uses it? Or that 'queen' is only acceptable if a gay male uses it? How about chick? Dude? Geek? Nerd? Dork? How far down the line of dilution do we have to go before a catch-phrase describing a group is universally acceptable?

Just thought that random response was an interesting illustration of how people who don't debate the nuances of language might think.
Makes me wonder, too. About those who don't debate nuances of language, that is.

The 'n' word turns my stomach, as well. I get that it's acceptable if used between black people, although it still affects me the same way...it sounds derogatory, regardless. Maybe, it's how my ears are tuned.

Breeder sounds derogatory, too. So does chick. I appreciate what Mac's saying in regard to the usage of terms such as queer and dyke within in the gay community, though. I fall within the age category she mentioned, earlier who believes them to be insulting, 'cause that's what we were taught. I don't know that I can change that tape. On the other hand, I'm working on erasing others, so anything is possible.

William Haskins
11-03-2007, 04:00 AM
the idea that it's okay for blacks to call each other "niggers" exists largely in the imagination of whites, usually well-intentioned (so they believe) white-guilters.

it's as if they're bestowing some reparation on blacks in the form of giving them words that are theirs solely to use.

in reality, there's a great deal of contention within the black community about the use of the word.

Jean Marie
11-03-2007, 04:08 AM
the idea that it's okay for blacks to call each other "niggers" exists largely in the imagination of whites, usually well-intentioned (so they believe) white-guilters.

it's as if they're bestowing some reparation on blacks in the form of giving them words that are theirs solely to use.

in reality, there's a great deal of contention within the black community about the use of the word.
I'm only going by various blacks that I've heard in interviews, William. I sure don't agree w/ it, either way. And each time I've heard it, I've doubted it.

It's always, consider the source, w/ me.

Jean Marie
11-03-2007, 04:10 AM
P.S. Any black friends that I have, I've never heard use it. I more than likely should go by that, than what I hear.

William Haskins
11-03-2007, 04:11 AM
I'm only going by various blacks that I've heard in interviews, William. I sure don't agree w/ it, either way. And each time I've heard it, I've doubted it.

It's always, consider the source, w/ me.

no, no JM... it was in no way directed at you specifically. i was just saying it because a great deal of this thread has operated on the assumption, at least implicitly, that black people across the spectrum do this regularly.

mscelina
11-03-2007, 04:14 AM
Dave Chappelle mentioned in his visit to "Inside the Actor's Studio" that the women in his family berated him for his use of the word in his skits. His parents are both educators on the collegiate level--one taught at Antioch and the other at Otterbein. Here again, it was interesting to me that after the studio showed a skit of his entitled "The Niggar Family", which was all about how the 'n' word was used in reference to a Caucasian family with that last name (and very funny, I thought) was when he brought the conversations within his family up. He admitted that, ater listening to what they had to say, he was of two minds about using the term in comedy any more although he still used it when talking to his friends.

Jean Marie
11-03-2007, 04:48 AM
no, no JM... it was in no way directed at you specifically. i was just saying it because a great deal of this thread has operated on the assumption, at least implicitly, that black people across the spectrum do this regularly.
Okay, thanks. I didn't think it was something that was done on a regular basis, anyway. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems it's much more prevalent since the advent of gangsta rap. The serious stuff, aka, Ludicrous and Snoop Dog.

William Haskins
11-03-2007, 06:21 AM
actually, richard pryor took the use of it into the mainstream, with the intention of doing exactly what many who still use it claim to be attempting—to reclaim it, to render it impotent through endless repeating of it, to remove its sting.

for him, though, it was a trip to africa that changed his mind. here's his quote from an 1982 'ebony magazine' interview:


“I was sitting by myself (in the Nairobi Hilton in Kenya) and I just looked around and it was like a voice said to me, ”What do you see?” And I said, ”People of all colors doing things together”. And another voice said “Do you see any niggers?” And I said, ”No!”. And the voice said “Do you know why?”. And I said (whispering),”No”. And it said,”There aren’t any…”.he never used the word in public again.

Jean Marie
11-03-2007, 06:26 AM
Interesting, since he's someone who went through so many changes in one lifetime. He became quite an example to all people, regardless of color. He died w/ tremendous dignity, too.

robeiae
11-03-2007, 06:15 PM
Rob, sure -- but the word itself isn't an epithet the same way that "fag" or "dyke" is. Kids can say "Jeez, you're such a jock" too -- and mean it derogatorily.BUT...within that group--teens, let us say--I've never heard "queer" used in any non-deragatory manner, while I have heard "jock" used in such manner (non-deragatory). Why should your position be the prevailing one? What evidence is there that it is?


I know people (gay and straight) who use the word "breeder" as an epithet. I won't use the word that way -- but the word itself certainly doesn't have the charge that a word like "nigger" has.I've always found the relative scaling of insults (and compliments) to be an intriguing thing, though I've never looked into it very much? Why is the "c-word" the mother of all insults for so many, while "bitch" can be openly worn on a tee-shirt--even though it remains an insult, as well.

Medievalist
11-03-2007, 06:25 PM
BUT...within that group--teens, let us say--I've never heard "queer" used in any non-deragatory manner, while I have heard "jock" used in such manner (non-deragatory). Why should your position be the prevailing one? What evidence is there that it is?

The fact that Queer Theory and Queer Studies are now standard academic disciplines.

Shady Lane
11-03-2007, 06:41 PM
BUT...within that group--teens, let us say--I've never heard "queer" used in any non-deragatory manner, while I have heard "jock" used in such manner (non-deragatory). Why should your position be the prevailing one? What evidence is there that it is?


We use 'queer' in a non-deragatory way all the time. It's faster than saying gay-lesbian-bi-transgendered.

Plus it feels more open...I'm often grouped under the 'queer' label, just because of who I hang out with.

robeiae
11-03-2007, 07:54 PM
The fact that Queer Theory and Queer Studies are now standard academic disciplines.
And that is significant to what percentage of the population? I'm quite sure most people are unaware of this. Certainly, you aren't claiming that academia is representative of the population as a whole, are you?

That really doesn't get you there, imo.

robeiae
11-03-2007, 08:01 PM
We use 'queer' in a non-deragatory way all the time. It's faster than saying gay-lesbian-bi-transgendered.

Plus it feels more open...I'm often grouped under the 'queer' label, just because of who I hang out with.Yes, I understand that many people might do as you and Mac do, here. Again, in my everyday experience, I have yet to hear it used in any non-deragtory ways among teens or anyone else, except on these boards

And what I am really asking is why your and her position, with regard to "queer," should be the default position, in a manner of speaking, as opposed to "queer" being an insulting term.

William Haskins
11-03-2007, 08:02 PM
yes, this does seem to imply, as i alluded to before, that there are self-appointed gatekeepers of what constitutes acceptable language.

so, are we to assume that, if some consensus were reached in academia that curricula related to african-americans be designated "nigger studies" as 'standard academic disciplines', some seismic shift in acceptable use of the term would occur in a broader social context as well?

MacAllister
11-03-2007, 08:20 PM
The shift happens well before it gets picked up as standard use.

And Rob -- that IS a teen, telling you that teens use it that way regularly.

You know what? Forget it. I honestly thought we could all learn something, and all either of you can say with regard to anything is, "language doesn't work that way, in spite of how many people have studied it for how many years, in spite of how many people who are in the cultural niches being discussed are saying 'well, yeah -- that's how we use it' -- language doesn't work that way because I don't *like* the ramifications of that idea. Language doesn't work that way because I don't think it does, and I must be right no matter what!"

Let me know how that works out for you, 'kay?

That's so woefully ridiculous and arrogant I'm honestly stunned. And I really thought you both cared more about truth than that.

I'm done with it. Congratulations.

William Haskins
11-03-2007, 08:25 PM
wow. i certainly didn't expect that reaction.

fuck it. why discuss anything if you're so averse to having your views challenged?

i'll leave it with my bottom line: no one owns language (though apparently, many want to).

Medievalist
11-03-2007, 08:26 PM
And that is significant to what percentage of the population? I'm quite sure most people are unaware of this. Certainly, you aren't claiming that academia is representative of the population as a whole, are you?

That really doesn't get you there, imo.

Queer is used in standard non-academic publications in a non-pejorative way all the damn time, Rob, and has been for at least twenty years.

There are extremely popular TV shows like "Queer Eye"; google it yourself.

http://www.google.com/search?as_q=queer&hl=en&num=10&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&lr=&as_ft=i&as_filetype=&as_qdr=all&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&as_occt=any&as_dt=i&as_sitesearch=www.time.com&as_rights=&safe=images

Pick another publication. Look at the usage notes of standard dictionaries.

Join the twenty-first century.

Shady Lane
11-03-2007, 08:34 PM
Yes, I understand that many people might do as you and Mac do, here. Again, in my everyday experience, I have yet to hear it used in any non-deragtory ways among teens or anyone else, except on these boards

And what I am really asking is why your and her position, with regard to "queer," should be the default position, in a manner of speaking, as opposed to "queer" being an insulting term.

(I'm sixteen.)

William Haskins
11-03-2007, 08:44 PM
you know this is what killed elvis, right?

Medievalist
11-03-2007, 08:51 PM
yes, this does seem to imply, as i alluded to before, that there are self-appointed gatekeepers of what constitutes acceptable language.

Yeah, Haskins, there are gatekeepers, of two broad categories.

Editors and lexicographers. Both of them base their decisions on what is and isn't acceptable and what is and isn't typical, and what is and isn't standard English, on actual practice by English writers and speakers.

Haskins, go do what I do. Go look at a bunch of uses of a word over time.
I used linguistic corpora, databases of publications of all sorts from 1890 to now, and by checking dictionaries, both from a wide range of publication dates, and historical dictionaries, which cite the words in context.

You can do it using the library, and a bunch of old dictionaries.

You can see queer change in tone. Look at the caution in the 2002 AHD Usage (http://www.bartleby.com/61/58/Q0025800.html) Note, and then look at the edition that comes out in 2008, and check the new usage note.

No one is saying that it's a good idea to just start using queer to mean homosexual at will--MacAllister, me, others, are saying that the term is shifting in meaning, that it is becoming more common as an acceptable use.

There's a similar, but much slower, change happening with gay--and yeah, part of that semantic shift includes teens saying "That's so gay," when they really mean silly, or inapporpriate, or even stupid--gay is no longer forbidden.

This is what started happening with fuck fifty years ago, when it shifted to an all-purpose epithet.

William Haskins
11-03-2007, 08:59 PM
Yeah, Haskins, there are gatekeepers, of two broad categories.

Editors and lexicographers. Both of them base their decisions on what is and isn't acceptable and what is and isn't typical, and what is and isn't standard English on actual practice by English writers and speakers.

but they only do so after the fact. language doesn't evolve based on their pronouncements. william burroughs, ginsberg, henry miller, anthony burgess, orwell... they didn't analyze conventional academic wisdom to infer some "permission" to write what they wrote. they were out in front, driving the boundaries of language.

editors and lexicographers are not gatekeepers. they're just doing a stool analysis.

Medievalist
11-03-2007, 09:17 PM
but they only do so after the fact. language doesn't evolve based on their pronouncements.

So what's your bone of contention then?


william burroughs, ginsberg, henry miller, anthony burgess, orwell... they didn't analyze conventional academic wisdom to infer some "permission" to write what they wrote. they were out in front, driving the boundaries of language.

America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel. (http://www.rooknet.com/beatpage/writers/ginsberg.html)



editors and lexicographers are not gatekeepers. they're just doing a stool analysis.

Gee, thanks William. I'll refrain from analyzing yours.

robeiae
11-03-2007, 09:30 PM
And Rob -- that IS a teen, telling you that teens use it that way regularly.Yes, I know. Hence my reply: "Yes, I understand that many people might do as you and Mac do, here. Again, in my everyday experience, I have yet to hear it used in any non-derogatory ways among teens or anyone else, except on these boards."

Again, I don't hear it used that way where I am. Why do your experiences trump mine as evidence? That's my perception of what you are saying. If I'm wrong about that, I'm asking to be corrected. Hence: "Why should your position be the prevailing one? What evidence is there that it is?"

I fully recognize that you except this usage, that many others accept this usage. And I'm not telling you that you shouldn't, you can't, or anything along those lines. However, it seems very much as if you are telling me that I should accept this usage, that you have already decided that your position is correct.

And let me expand a little, here. To me, there are two separate issues:

1) Personal perceptions of terminology re words that are offensive or not offensive and the relationship of such to different groups and supposed groups.

2) The actual control of language re some authority.

Imo, you can use any word you want to use--you should be free to do so--with regard to yourself or anyine else. No one should be outlawing words or trying to prevent you from using the ones you choose to use. However, your choice of words says something about you to those listening, and what is says can vary, depending on the listener. I wouldn't call you a "queer," Mac. There's no way around it for me, since I find it to be vulgar and based on faulty assumptions about what is and what is not normal. I've called people queers before, and fags, and spics, and niggers, and Polaks, and a host of other things. And I regret every single instance of doing so, of using a term that marginalizes an entire segement of the population by making them objects of ridicule, by implying that there is something wrong with them as a matter of course. But I'm not insisting that everyone must accept my point of view. And I'm wondering why my point of view is somehow no longer relevant.

That's so woefully ridiculous and arrogant I'm honestly stunned. And I really thought you both cared more about truth than that.
I see it in exactly the opposite way. Why is that?

ColoradoGuy
11-03-2007, 09:53 PM
I'd like to talk a little about why this discussion is so important. Everyone agrees that language evolves, or at least changes, since the word "evolution" seems to have that onward-and-upward connotation in spite of the best efforts of biologists to show it has no Final Purpose. What drives the change is actual on-the-ground usage, and it does seem to me "queer," for example, has undergone such a change, one noted by those who study such things. I don't see those people as gate-keepers, just observers and recorders.

So what drives the usage that marks the change? In part it's discussions just like this one, and the best words to study are those highly charged ones like queer and nigger--they're the markers for this because they are indicative of changes in us. But our inner change doesn't drive the language use; to some extent it's the other way around--language use drives our inner change. That can be an Orwellian thing, but not necessarily, particularly if we see it happening; that's what linguists do for us. I think language profoundly shapes our brains (http://www.americanscientist.org/template/BookReviewTypeDetail/assetid/54425;jsessionid=aaaaygoKyn3yU-), hence the passionate concern for how these words are used. Man ist was Man isst, but we also become what we speak.

Medievalist
11-03-2007, 10:08 PM
I fully recognize that you except this usage, that many others accept this usage. And I'm not telling you that you shouldn't, you can't, or anything along those lines. However, it seems very much as if you are telling me that I should accept this usage, that you have already decided that your position is correct.

I'm not, dear sweet heavens, speaking for MacAllister.

But.

You don't have to use queer, at all, ever, personally, but you do need to be aware that queer is increasingly used in non-pejorative ways, and that yes, there are issues of register and intimacy and connotation around the use of queer, and you need to know that those are changing.


And let me expand a little, here. To me, there are two separate issues:

1) Personal perceptions of terminology re words that are offensive or not offensive and the relationship of such to different groups and supposed groups.

2) The actual control of language re some authority.

No one is arguing for "control" of yours, or anyone else's language in the greater world. But Shweta, and MacAllister and I are arguing--with evidence--that the meaning of words is changing, and, in the case of dyke, and queer, that not only is meaning changing, but that context affects that meaning.


Imo, you can use any word you want to use--you should be free to do so--with regard to yourself or anyine else. No one should be outlawing words or trying to prevent you from using the ones you choose to use. However, your choice of words says something about you to those listening, and what is says can vary, depending on the listener.

Yes! Exactly.

MacAllister, and I, are both trying to point out that in some contexts, queer is exactly the word to use.


I wouldn't call you a "queer," Mac. There's no way around it for me, since I find it to be vulgar and based on faulty assumptions about what is and what is not normal.

OK, I get that, and yes, you're absolutely right to use the language you feel comfortable with, particularly around people you know and care about and who you want to be sure not to hurt or insult.

But look at what you said; "I wouldn't call you a 'queer,' Mac."

There's an interesting linguistic phenomena that just happened.

MacAllister and I have been using queer as adjective; you are using queer as noun, with the indefinite article.

A queer.

That implies something entirely other than the adjective. It's person as object; it's emphasizing sexual orientation as the primary characteristic. But to say, for instance, X is queer, or X is brunette, and tall, is just providing a series of descriptive attributes.

I suspect that, again, I'm not going to be making sense for most folk. But there's a different connotation there between the two uses.


I've called people queers before, and fags, and spics, and niggers, and Polaks, and a host of other things. And I regret every single instance of doing so, of using a term that marginalizes an entire segement of the population by making them objects of ridicule, by implying that there is something wrong with them as a matter of course. But I'm not insisting that everyone must accept my point of view. And I'm wondering why my point of view is somehow no longer relevant.
I see it in exactly the opposite way. Why is that?

No, your POV is relevant, completely, for you. You choose not to use those terms. I get that.

But at the same time, be aware that others may use queer and it isn't intended or perceived by many as pejorative; queer is in fact increasingly seen as inclusive of categories that were previously marginalized.

I can remember, clearly, being told that I couldn't use the term queer at all, ever, in an academic context, because a faculty member restricted the use of queer, and what was then emerging queer critical theory, to those she perceived as queer, and only those.

She also objected to men writing about women in literature . . .

That's just as restrictive.

I just want people to be aware of all the ramifications of words, and make knowledgeable choices--as you are doing; you are saying "This is not part of my idiolect."

I also want people to understand that queer is part of a large and growing usage class that is not intended or perceived, in most contexts, as pejorative, so that they will understand when, say, a friend identifies as queer. It doesn't just mean homosexual, it is often used to mean "non-heteronormative," if you want the sociological jargon, and it's not perceived as negative at all.

It may amuse you that I chose, years ago, to deliberately avoid the use of "straight" to mean heteronormative. And yeah, I too perceived queer as demeaning--but I've watched the slow shift in meaning and connotation of queer, and, in the right circumstances, I'll use the word.

But only in the right circumstances.

rugcat
11-03-2007, 10:18 PM
From my own experience, I've heard several gay friends use the term queer with no apparent connotation one way or the other. Straight people don't often use it except in a pejorative sense, but the negative connotations are indeed changing, I believe. Language changes by usage. It's a reflection of culture, not a director. And like popular culture, it develops in mysterious ways that cannot be controlled.

In oral communication, an immense amount depends on tone. The exact same words can elicit laughter, irony, or anger depending on verbal inflections and facial expressions. It takes longer for certain things to be accepted into print, because those subtleties are difficult to transmit on the printed page.

Last week I was talking to a gay friend when my cell phone went off. She looked at me and said, "That ringtone is so gay."

Shady Lane
11-03-2007, 10:22 PM
From my own experience, I've heard several gay friends use the term queer with no apparent connotation one way or the other. Straight people don't often use it except in a pejorative sense, but the negative connotations are indeed changing, I believe. Language changes by usage. It's a reflection of culture, not a director. And like popular culture, it develops in mysterious ways that cannot be controlled.

In oral communication, an immense amount depends on tone. The exact same words can elicit laughter, irony, or anger depending on verbal inflections and facial expressions. It takes longer for certain things to be accepted into print, because those subtleties are difficult to transmit on the printed page.

Last week I was talking to a gay friend when my cell phone went off. She looked at me and said, "That ringtone is so gay."

My gay best friend is pretty masculine, usually, but when he makes an effeminate gesture or comment I'll tell him, "That was really gay."

He says, "Really?" and does/says it again and again until we've anaylzed the gesture/comment to death.

My sister says, "That's gay," all the time.

ColoradoGuy
11-03-2007, 10:22 PM
It's a reflection of culture, not a director. And like popular culture, it develops in mysterious ways that cannot be controlled.
I think language is a more subtle thing than that--it can affect, even direct culture, which is why all the passion about labels. Look at the pro-life/pro-choice distinction, for example.

rugcat
11-03-2007, 10:30 PM
I think language is a more subtle thing than that--it can affect, even direct culture, which is why all the passion about labels. Look at the pro-life/pro-choice distinction, for example.Good point, and true. But I think that the way certain words change in meaning is still more often a reflection of societal attitudes than it is a causation.

Medievalist
11-03-2007, 11:24 PM
Dear Mac

I never use the epithets I have bracketed in my earlier post.

However I am confused why Medi would make an assertion about your sexuality. Whether you are hetero or otherwise I guess makes no odds to me.

This is interesting--I never made an assertion about MacAllister's sexuality. Here's my original post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=1776348).

robeiae
11-03-2007, 11:30 PM
No one is arguing for "control" of yours, or anyone else's language in the greater world. But Shweta, and MacAllister and I are arguing--with evidence--that the meaning of words is changing, and, in the case of dyke, and queer, that not only is meaning changing, but that context affects that meaning.
1) What has been said suggested otherwise, to me. I can accept that I am misunderstanding.
2) Your evidence, like "Queer Eye" and academic programs, strikes me as--especially in the latter case--concerted efforts at control, not consequences of changing meaning.
3) And that evidence is certainly not a preponderance of evidence, at all, imo. If I ask a random person that I meet "Are you queer?" what are the chances that they would take it as some kind of insult?



But look at what you said; "I wouldn't call you a 'queer,' Mac."

There's an interesting linguistic phenomena that just happened.

MacAllister and I have been using queer as adjective; you are using queer as noun, with the indefinite article.

A queer.

That implies something entirely other than the adjective. It's person as object; it's emphasizing sexual orientation as the primary characteristic. But to say, for instance, X is queer, or X is brunette, and tall, is just providing a series of descriptive attributes.

I suspect that, again, I'm not going to be making sense for most folk. But there's a different connotation there between the two uses.

No, I understand. And in general, I think you're right--precision is preferable.

I think you're overstating it, however. Saying x is brunette as opposed to saying x is a brunette isn't necessarily reflective of a substantial and/or significant qualitative difference in the perception of the speaker. And for the record, I would never call someone "queer," either.


But at the same time, be aware that others may use queer and it isn't intended or perceived by many as pejorative; queer is in fact increasingly seen as inclusive of categories that were previously marginalized.
As I've clearly stated--I thought--I'm fully aware that not all who use it use it pejoratively.

mkcbunny
11-03-2007, 11:43 PM
actually, richard pryor took the use of it into the mainstream, with the intention of doing exactly what many who still use it claim to be attempting—to reclaim it, to render it impotent through endless repeating of it, to remove its sting.

for him, though, it was a trip to africa that changed his mind. here's his quote from an 1982 'ebony magazine' interview:
he never used the word in public again.

Oprah told a similar story about visiting Nelson Mandela. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially, she was being escorted to meet Nelson Mandela, and the guard outside the door greeted her and said, "Whassup nigga?" Which, apparently, was the point at which she realized how global the word was becoming, and that she was against its use. Again, I'm paraphrasing; this was a while back. I think it might have been the show she did where a white family and a black family were each made up as the opposite race and then "infiltrated" the other race's environment. Interesting show.

Jean Marie
11-03-2007, 11:45 PM
You don't have to use queer, at all, ever, personally, but you do need to be aware that queer is increasingly used in non-pejorative ways, and that yes, there are issues of register and intimacy and connotation around the use of queer, and you need to know that those are changing.
Going w/ the flow of the changing times, is how I interpret this, Lisa. It's how I'm hearing it, when I listen to it being used.


She also objected to men writing about women in literature . . .
That's...dumb.


And yeah, I too perceived queer as demeaning--but I've watched the slow shift in meaning and connotation of queer, and, in the right circumstances, I'll use the word.
I did too. I understand the shift in meaning, entirely. But, even in the right setting, I don't know if I'm yet comfortable w/ using the word. Door's open, though.




In oral communication, an immense amount depends on tone. The exact same words can elicit laughter, irony, or anger depending on verbal inflections and facial expressions. It takes longer for certain things to be accepted into print, because those subtleties are difficult to transmit on the printed page.
I agree w/ this. Especially, when the topic can be an intense one.

William Haskins
11-04-2007, 12:54 AM
So what's your bone of contention then?

here's it in a nutshell. if i'm in a room with mac, and she says, "i'm a dyke! my friends and colleagues have decided that we're reclaiming the word "dyke"."

and i say, "well, good for you, dyke."

when/if she then takes offense at that, that's bullshit. sure, she can say i'm a anti-gay bigot, an asshole... whatever, but that calls into play the artificial notion that it's a lesbian word only, as if you have to say the password to get it out from behind glass. because you, of course, use it responsibly and without malice.

i am contending that once you have put the word back into play, it's the same four letters and pronunciation no matter whose mouth it comes out of (or where that mouth has been).

even if you could divine in any precise way the level of bigotry or malice with which it's wielded (and i submit that it falls on an extensive spectrum), you still have no intrinsic right to decide who and who cannot use it.

in summation, in my view the basic assumptions (indeed the truncated listing) of this thread—"privileged language"—is bullshit. you don't get to pick and choose words that can personally define depending on who is saying them.

water is always water, and a dyke is always a dyke.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 01:37 AM
The biggest problem with this point of view is that it always, always comes from the privileged group.

Men think they should be able to talk about women the same way women do, that it shouldn't be read as demeaning if men write off womens' anger with PMS comments, for example. White people think it should be okay for them to talk about minority groups in the same terms they do. Straights think they should be able to talk about gays in the same terms the gays do. Etc.

ETA: To turn this on me, Indians think they can all make Sikh jokes without offense, just because the Sikhs do as their form of humor. I've done it myself; I used to think it was fine; I don't any more.

But let's turn that on its head, Haskins.

Forget "what gives them the right to decide". What gives you the right to decide what language you can make other people hear?

What you are making is, simply, an "I have the right to swing my fist, and if it impacts someone's face, well they shouldn't have been standing there" argument.

ETA: in other news, I think that what who can say to whom without offense is a really interesting way of showing culture, and I need to use that for fantasy worldbuilding sometime :)

William Haskins
11-04-2007, 01:47 AM
Forget "what gives them the right to decide". What gives you the right to decide what language you can make other people hear?

on a macro level, the constitution. within the confines of a business, organization or privately owned website, i'm subject by whatever rules they put in place. but even that can't stop me in the moment. consequences are what they are.


What you are making is, simply, an "I have the right to swing my fist, and if it impacts someone's face, well they shouldn't have been standing there" argument.

but words aren't fists. and language isn't assault.

Medievalist
11-04-2007, 01:54 AM
here's it in a nutshell. if i'm in a room with mac, and she says, "i'm a dyke! my friends and colleagues have decided that we're reclaiming the word "dyke"."

and i say, "well, good for you, dyke."

when/if she then takes offense at that, that's bullshit. sure, she can say i'm a anti-gay bigot, an asshole... whatever, but that calls into play the artificial notion that it's a lesbian word only, as if you have to say the password to get it out from behind glass. because you, of course, use it responsibly and without malice.

All I, and I think Shweta and MacAllister, have been asserting is:

• That words have meaning in context, and that that meaning changes with time, place and person.

• That dyke coming from someone with some respect and regard for the individual in question, versus dyke coming from someone who intends it as hurtful connote different things.


i am contending that once you have put the word back into play, it's the same four letters and pronunciation no matter whose mouth it comes out of (or where that mouth has been).

Here's where I call bullshit.

You and I both know that an otherwise objectionable word--say bastard--has different connotations determined by the person using it, and the circumstances.

Bastard can be a term of respect--even affection.

"He's a surly old bastard, but he's right"

Or

"He's a bastard and ought to be drawn and quartered."

Or

"You clever bastard you!"

But for man to call another man a bastard in, say, the 1800s, was so offensive that men killed other men for merely asserting that one was a bastard. Language changes. We're right on the cusp of language change for words like gay, queer, and dyke, and a host of others.

Look at how geek has changed in connotation in the last ten years. Geek is almost a status word now, and more likely to be used as a level descriptor, without negative connotation ("My girlfriend is a total geek; she got the router up in less than five minutes!".

Geek (http://www.bartleby.com/61/0/G0070000.html) used to refer to a person in a carnival side-show who bit the heads off of live birds.


even if you could divine in any precise way the level of bigotry or malice with which it's wielded (and i submit that it falls on an extensive spectrum), you still have no intrinsic right to decide who and who cannot use it.

in summation, in my view the basic assumptions (indeed the truncated listing) of this thread—"privileged language"—is bullshit. you don't get to pick and choose words that can personally define depending on who is saying them.

Sure you do; MacAllister, or you, or I, get to choose what we will tolerate and won't tolerate from those who refer to us directly. I can choose to accept darling from one person, but not another; that's part of why people use terms like "Sweetie" to address each other; it can be both an endearment, and affectionate, and an insult, and meant to be demeaning, depending on the context and the persons.

Babe from you, even in terms of an acerbic response, is not insulting to me; I get what you're doing. You get what I'm doing with dude, too.


water is always water, and a dyke is always a dyke.

Again, no, you're wrong.

There's a distinction between dyke/Dyke the way mainstream culture uses it, even in non-pejorative contexts, and the way dyke/Dyke is used within lesbian subculture. You can see that distinction very very clearly, in text, and in conversation. It's there in the citations I posted earlier in this thread, and it has a history that predates Stonewall.

But that's within lesbian subculture. Dyke/dyke is perceived differently outside the subculture, and it's changing there.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 01:58 AM
but words aren't fists. and language isn't assault.
Some say they can be--the flip side of the hate speech issue, of course. I'm in a quandry about that one. Words sometimes do seem to be sticks and stones and can break bones.

William Haskins
11-04-2007, 02:01 AM
Words sometimes do seem to be sticks and stones and can break bones.

i will volunteer to sit before you for as long as you like, and we can put this to the test. i'll wager a grand you can't inflict so much as a bruise.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 02:06 AM
i will volunteer to sit before you for as long as you like, and we can put this to the test. i'll wager a grand you can't inflict so much as a bruise.
But you're one tough cookie, even were I to use capital letters. Others aren't so strong. If they were, all those lawyers pleading mental anguish inflicted on their clients would be out on the street.

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 02:08 AM
i will volunteer to sit before you for as long as you like, and we can put this to the test. i'll wager a grand you can't inflict so much as a bruise.
That's because insults roll off you, William, like water rolls off a duck.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 02:09 AM
on a macro level, the constitution. within the confines of a business, organization or privately owned website, i'm subject by whatever rules they put in place. but even that can't stop me in the moment. consequences are what they are.

*shrug*
Consequences exist is all I've ever been saying. It's true you have the right to be as offensive as you like. Denying the right of other groups to be offended when you ignore their desires is itself offensive, to me at least.


but words aren't fists. and language isn't assault.

No, and I was making an analogy. Thus I said, you're making "an X argument" rather than "you're saying X."

Sheesh, if you're gonna nitpick words, pay attention to my words, hm?

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 02:09 AM
To us mere mortals, words can be sticks and stones.

sassandgroove
11-04-2007, 02:11 AM
One question I've been mulling over is WHY. Why are some words okay from some people and not others. Or jokes, whatever. I think Lisa pretty much answered, above, but let me see if I get it.

My name is Jennifer. When I was little I was called Jenny. At about 8 years old I decided to be Jennifer, that Jenny sounded too immature. When people would call me Jenny, I would correct them. It also helped that we moved, so that new people never knew me as Jenny. The biggest battle was my mom, who name me Jennifer so she could call me Jenny. But I knew if she called me Jenny, everyone else would. So now there are very few people in the world who know me as Jenny, who include family and my best friend's family, who are like family. Therefore it has become an intimate name allowed by only a few. When I was 21, I got a job as a receptionist at a construction company. I was hired by the owner's assistant. I answered to her. But the vice president had taken to calling me Jenny. Even though I didn't report to him, he could conceivably fire me. It bothered me that he called me Jenny. At 21 I couldn't really tell you why. It just did. It seemed to me he wasn't trying to be friendly so much as lazy or even condescending. I was complaining about it at my college biblestudy, when the leader asked if it was Jeff doing it. I said yes. "Jeff was my college roommate. Just call him Jeffy." Now, keep in mind this guy could fire me. So I'm at work and he intercoms me and says, "Hey, Jenny." I pluck up all my courage and reply, "Yes, Jeffy?" And he never called me Jenny again. It was this experience that caused me to think about why some people could call me Jenny and others couldn't. People who knew and loved me before I was 8 are doing it out of affection. When new people call me that it sounds almost intrusive. So it must be the level of intimacy. Interestingly, a lot of people call me Jen, and no amount of correcting them changes that.

So, do i 'get it?'


ETA: Man, I was posting under Lisa. In the time it took me to write this there were 7 posts.

William Haskins
11-04-2007, 02:12 AM
*shrug*
Consequences exist is all I've ever been saying. It's true you have the right to be as offensive as you like. Denying the right of other groups to be offended when you ignore their desires is itself offensive, to me at least.

shit, i said there were consequences (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1775660&postcount=6) way back when this thread was still in TIO. have never stated otherwise.


No, and I was making an analogy. Thus I said, you're making "an X argument" rather than "you're saying X."

Sheesh, if you're gonna nitpick words, pay attention to my words, hm?

you don't have to talk down to me. i know what an analogy is; there is simply a prevailing attitude that takes your analogy literally.

and there is a distinction.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 02:35 AM
shit, i said there were consequences (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1775660&postcount=6) way back when this thread was still in TIO. have never stated otherwise.

No, we've not been disagreeing about that. You just keep bringing it up as though we all were.

Some of us, however, have been saying that instead of doing whatever and accepting the consequences, it's okay to be kind to people, too, to have some compassion for their hurt feelings. And to understand that they're not just being wimps if their feelings are hurt.

That seems to be where we're actually disagreeing.


you don't have to talk down to me. i know what an analogy is; there is simply a prevailing attitude that takes your analogy literally.

I'm not talking down to you, I'm being annoyed, there's a difference.
I know you know what an analogy is. So when you deliberately ignore that, I'm going to respond snippily.

That's a consequence. If you don't want it, don't deliberately misunderstand me. That simple.

ETA: As I just said to someone else in chat -- if you were the kind of person I could talk down to, I wouldn't be bothering to argue with you.

Little Red Barn
11-04-2007, 02:47 AM
• Sure you do; MacAllister, or you, or I, get to choose what we will tolerate and won't tolerate from those who refer to us directly. I can choose to accept darling from one person, but not another; that's part of why people use terms like "Sweetie" to address each other; it can be both an endearment, and affectionate, and an insult, and meant to be demeaning, depending on the context and the persons.
Personally, I never thought of this until a person called me out on it. They were outraged or so they said, and the affectionate daily part of my vocabulary was suddenly dirtied--became gutteral. It was a sickening feeling, dirtied by another's perception. I never dreamed the word could offend. But I was wrong and I now try to be very careful with it. :D

JJ Cooper
11-04-2007, 03:23 AM
i will volunteer to sit before you for as long as you like, and we can put this to the test. i'll wager a grand you can't inflict so much as a bruise.

Eventually, you'll fall asleep, fall over and bruise something.

JJ

Medievalist
11-04-2007, 03:36 AM
i will volunteer to sit before you for as long as you like, and we can put this to the test. i'll wager a grand you can't inflict so much as a bruise.

I bet words can make you cry though William; that emotional effect is the heart of poetry, just as much as words, meter, and syntax are the bones, blood, and guts.

Gray Rose
11-04-2007, 03:41 AM
Let us by all means not talk down to each other.

In face/Politeness theory (Goffman 1967, Brown and Levinson 1987, etc), one's face is defined as a public self-image that is maintained by others, not by the person him- or herself.

In social interaction, a person's face can be threatened by the speech acts of others. Such threats can result in humiliation, i.e. "loss of face." In every society and language, there are procedures of politeness that regulate speech in a way that the face of the interlocutors will not be threatened.

One of the propositions of Face/politeness theory is that face needs change depending on the audience and the type of interaction.

To go back to your example, William Haskins,


i will volunteer to sit before you for as long as you like, and we can put this to the test. i'll wager a grand you can't inflict so much as a bruise.

This is very illustrative. You assert that Shweta is not the kind of audience/interlocutor whose verbal behavior can threaten your face. Accepted without argument. Yet this does not negate the possibility that there exist individuals who can threaten your face. E.g. insults from your mother, your child, the woman you just had sex with can indeed threaten and even damage your face; moreover, the severity of the threat will depend on the situation, i.e. whether an insult was delivered in private, in a mall, in front of your boss, etc.

I think that as individuals we should be aware that our face and face needs are different from the face needs of other individuals. If you are impervious to most face threats, this does not mean that others are in the same circumstances as you are.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 03:48 AM
Thanks, Gray Rose -- I've been wondering what face theory was :)


I bet words can make you cry though William; that emotional effect is the heart of poetry, just as much as words, meter, and syntax are the bones, blood, and guts.

And there have been neuroimaging studies showing that the pain centers activated when someone endures emotional "harm" overlap with those activated when someone endures physical harm.

So no, words and baseball bats are not the same thing. But their effect on at least most people's cognitive state can be quite similar. There is, of course, variation, and the experience of people who aren't neurotypical is also valid -- but that's a majority case.

KTC
11-04-2007, 03:50 AM
i will volunteer to sit before you for as long as you like, and we can put this to the test. i'll wager a grand you can't inflict so much as a bruise.

Beautiful answer.

KTC
11-04-2007, 03:51 AM
Physical pain is not the same as emotional pain. It never will be.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 03:53 AM
Physical pain is not the same as emotional pain. It never will be.

Nope. Of course it's not. But its cognitive effects are similar. See above.

Esopha
11-04-2007, 03:54 AM
on a macro level, the constitution. within the confines of a business, organization or privately owned website, i'm subject by whatever rules they put in place. but even that can't stop me in the moment. consequences are what they are.

but words aren't fists. and language isn't assault.

Actually, the Supreme Court has ruled that "fighting words" - words that are spoken with the intent of starting a physical confrontation - are akin to striking someone. I refer you to Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.

However, these fighting words are not offensive if they are not directly addressed to a single person, or if they are presented in such a way that a person can avoid coming in contact with the words, a la "Fuck the draft" on a jacket in the case Cohen v. California.

So speaking with malicious intent of insulting, akin to striking a person, can be seen as a crime under the Constitution, but using these words around people who are not going to be offended, or conveying them in such a way that the person on the receiving end is making a choice to come in contact with them is not.

KTC
11-04-2007, 03:56 AM
I did see above. That's why I said it. If some wad is being an asshole, I will happily tear him a new one until he bleeds emotional. But I would never punch him in the face. I don't think we should compare physical to emotional. Words are indeed incredibly powerful. Sometimes it's probably easier to take a punch to the face than be humiliated by words, but to compare physical violence to words...I just wouldn't do it.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 03:57 AM
Physical pain is not the same as emotional pain. It never will be.
Although the notion of functional pain is less prominent than it once was, there are many for whom this is not true. For them physical and emotional pain overlap considerably.

KTC
11-04-2007, 03:59 AM
For some, it may indeed overlap. Doesn't make it a fact though. If I bash someone in the head with a bat they're gonna be in serious trouble...or dead. If I berate them and tear a strip off of them, they will be hurt...but they won't require an ambulance.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 04:01 AM
For some, it may indeed overlap. Doesn't make it a fact though. If I bash someone in the head with a bat they're gonna be in serious trouble...or dead. If I berate them and tear a strip off of them, they will be hurt...but they won't require an ambulance.
It is a fact that emotional distress can cause physical symptoms. It's quite common, actually.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 04:05 AM
I'm just talking about the sensation of pain, KTC. Saying nasty things to someone can actually cause the sensation of pain -- it's apparently very similar to that of physical pain.

It's clearly not the same thing as injury, at least directly.

But it's useful not to conflate pain and injury.

ETA: I can look up the studies, if you like. I only know they exist because of a meta-analysis I read. But now I'm thinking "How do you get human subjects approval to get neuroimaging responses to pain?"

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 04:09 AM
Ask me about the old rat tail-twitch bioassay sometime.

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 04:10 AM
It is a fact that emotional distress can cause physical symptoms. It's quite common, actually.
We've hauled off a few, in an ambulance, that were in physical pain. Actually, they thought they were, but they were in emotional distress and there was not one thing wrong w/ them, physically.

William Haskins
11-04-2007, 04:10 AM
these situations hardly require "loaded" language, however.

depending on the psychological fragility of the person, the mildest criticism can wound them as deeply as the most overt slur can someone else.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 04:10 AM
How 'bout now? Now's a time.

About the old rat tail-twitch bioassay, CG? :tongue


ETA: Y'all are too quick for me! I agree that this isn't necessarily about loaded language, Haskins, but it could very well be. We seem to have moved on a bit to your other topic -- namely of whether or not language use can cause pain.

ETA again: We could move back. It seems we've kind of exhausted that one... though I'm a bad bad judge of these things.

Esopha
11-04-2007, 04:13 AM
Oh, shoot. I forgot to add to my last post: fighting words and insults are gauged based on what the average man would find offensive. So if you're a shrinking violet and the word 'poo' sets you off balance, you don't have a case.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 04:13 AM
We've hauled off a few, in an ambulance, that were in physical pain. Actually, they thought they were, but they were in emotional distress and there was not one thing wrong w/ them, physically.
Actually, they were in pain. Pain is a perception, a response in the brain to various possible stimulii, emotions being one of them, a whack in the head with a bat being another.

ETA: Phantom limb pain is a fascinating example of how confusing the perception of pain can be.

KTC
11-04-2007, 04:14 AM
oh, poo.

Medievalist
11-04-2007, 04:14 AM
Actually, the Supreme Court has ruled that "fighting words" - words that are spoken with the intent of starting a physical confrontation - are akin to striking someone. I refer you to Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.

However, these fighting words are not offensive if they are not directly addressed to a single person, or if they are presented in such a way that a person can avoid coming in contact with the words, a la "Fuck the draft" on a jacket in the case Cohen v. California.

I post the following URL that links to an essay analyzing the concept of "offensive speech" in the context of Australian law; it's not my find, a poster sent it to me, but it's interesting.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/journals/UQLJ/2005/5.html?query=EMPIRICAL%20AND%20THEORETICAL%20ANALY SES

There are laws about offensive speech and/or gestures, or "hate speech" or "fighting words" in most places, though some are prescriptive laws and some, like the ones in the U.S. and Australia, try to be descriptive.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 04:19 AM
The rat tail-twitch test was an accepted and venerable test for the potency of a pain-killer, usually an opiate. You gave the rat the dose of drug and then dropped him or her on a hot plate. You then timed how long it took the rat to twitch its tail (or leap straight up). The more potent the pain-killer, the longer the time to twitch/leap. Some suggested medical students would make more consistent subjects, but as far as I know this was never done.

Perks
11-04-2007, 04:23 AM
That's fucking horrible. I understand the necessity, I suppose, but good lord.

Or just tell me the hotplate wasn't up so high that when the ratses jumped, their soles didn't stick and thread like taffy.

KTC
11-04-2007, 04:23 AM
I have to wonder if they ever strapped the rats to a chair and screamed obscenities at them to see how long it would take them to burst into tears.

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 04:24 AM
Actually, they were in pain. Pain is a perception, a response in the brain to various possible stimulii, emotions being one of them, a whack in the head with a bat being another.

ETA: Phantom limb pain is a fascinating example of how confusing the perception of pain can be.
I stand corrected, Chris.

The proper way of phrasing it, would have been to say, that the tests performed at the hospital showed nothing organically wrong w/ them.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 04:28 AM
I stand corrected, Chris.

The proper way of phrasing it, would have been to say, that the tests performed at the hospital showed nothing organically wrong w/ them.
JM, I didn't mean to sound snippy--it's just something that's always fascinated me. I've always been looking for evidence someone can die of a broken heart, too.

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 04:30 AM
JM, I didn't mean to sound snippy--it's just something that's always fascinated me. I've always been looking for evidence someone can die of a broken heart, too.
I didn't hear any snippiness, Chris. It actually fascinates me, too.

I do believe people can die from a broken heart, no question.

ColoradoGuy
11-04-2007, 04:32 AM
That's fucking horrible. I understand the necessity, I suppose, but good lord.

Or just tell me the hotplate wasn't up so high that when the ratses jumped, their soles didn't stick and thread like taffy.
It's been illegal now for a couple of decades, for which humans and rats are both grateful.

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 04:38 AM
It's been illegal now for a couple of decades, for which humans and rats are both grateful.
Oh thank God, I had this horrid visual of a rat motel. You know, like the roach motel.

I already rp'd Perks and thanked her for that one.

Perks
11-04-2007, 04:41 AM
Sorry, for the derail. Don't mind me. It has always amazed me that, at some point, somebody thought that sort of thing was okay. And I'm not even an 'animal person'. I like them just fine, but mostly a good few yards from me.

Terribly interesting discussion without my digression. Sorry about that.

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 04:47 AM
It ties in, in a way. Mostly, people don't think before they speak. At least not always. We hurt each w/ our words and actions. As for words, in their printed form, once they're out there, it's impossible to take them back.

What destroys one human being may not hurt another, but how do we know which one is which when we make our delivery.

This entire conversation is making me think an awful lot about my choice. It's also making look at words in general, and the way they do evolve. And making me realize, that if I'm not sure of my choice, I can ask what's ok and what isn't, like what we're doing here. I can do it w/o hurting anyone, too.

Shweta
11-04-2007, 04:51 AM
The rat tail-twitch test was an accepted and venerable test for the potency of a pain-killer, usually an opiate. You gave the rat the dose of drug and then dropped him or her on a hot plate. You then timed how long it took the rat to twitch its tail (or leap straight up). The more potent the pain-killer, the longer the time to twitch/leap. Some suggested medical students would make more consistent subjects, but as far as I know this was never done.

:eek:

*goes off to scrub her brain out*

(I know, I asked, it's all my fault!)


ETA: KTC, I've got to wonder, have you never ever known a person who was perfectly sane, but could be driven to tears with words?

Perks
11-04-2007, 04:54 AM
This entire conversation is making me think an awful lot about my choice. I've been following this conversation as well and I have to say that I've come to the exact opposite conclusion.

People will do with my words what they want. They will take me at the level of their disposition, be that to roll with it, call me on it, or over-analyze the semantics until I can be quite sure they're not so much listening to me as waiting for the oft invisible bait to fall off the trap switch.

So, my being extra careful may not be as worthy of my time as the benefit I'd receive from simply weeding out those who are too difficult to converse with.

Jean Marie
11-04-2007, 05:03 AM
So, my being extra careful may not as worthy of my time as the benefit I'd receive from simply weeding out those who are too difficult to converse with.
There is that, too. Yes, that was sarcastic for the undecided viewing audience.

I honestly thought I had a moment, there. I still want to be more careful w/ my word choices, both here and in the spoken form. I suppose there will always be someone who will (me, being idealistic) inadvertently twist what I say to their liking, or their filter. If that's the case, there's not much I can do about it.