Re: Summary and looking ahead [cr-95/10/19]


Sender: Arun Mehta <•••@••.•••>

CR> So much for Kurt's cyber-rights - partially down the drain thanks
CR> to Andy.

Reading the responses to Andy's clean-up of Kurt's language, I would like
to suggest that more than "Kurt's cyber-rights", what went down the drain
was some politeness? OK, maybe what Andy did wasn't such a great idea.
Why not gently point it out, instead of dumping on him in this way?

There are people on this list in all kinds of countries, where who knows
what kind of filtering goes on at the ISP to detect people who are
"misusing" the system. Editing the text in this way might fool such
would-be censors. Andy's clean-up was well intentioned. You have to give
the moderator some benefit of the doubt?


My act of intended courtesy to peoples around the world has aroused
more anger than it's prevented.  Let me explain the background to my
decision, and then I hope the list can stop talking about it.  I did
not keep anybody from saying what they meant to say; I just
substituted a couple hyphens as a signal that I understood the pain
(and more serious hurt) that words can convey.  You can reasonably
call this censorship, and the people who complained have a reasonable
point of view.  Now here's another widespread point of view.

In another phase of my free-time activities (away from the terminal,
I'm happy to say), I'm on a diversity task group and deal with issues
of tolerance and sensitivity training in my home town.  I've learned a
lot while doing this.  I think it helps me to moderate a list that has
a broad, international audience (and which we want to make even
broader and more international).

One of the members of my diversity group let the "N" word drop in a
situation like that set up by Kurt Guntheroth in his message to our
list.  My colleague said that people like him who worked for more
integration and diversity were sometimes called "n-----lovers."  Even
though he obviously abhored the term, his use of it made a black
member of the group speak up.  She calmly explained that the word had
such a long history, and she had heard it used with so much hate, that
any mention was painful to her.  (Even if lots of African Americans
use the term too!)

She is not alone.  I also participate on some mailing lists about
multi-culturalism and diversity.  People on those list also complain
about teachers assigning stories where the "N" word appears (including
the famous case of Huckleberry Finn).

Perhaps people are too sensitive.  You can say that, but I want to be
sensitive where large groups of people are sensitive!

Did you know that "flip" is a derogatory term for Filipino?  An
educator in the field of multi-culturalism (yes, that field has
existed for some time) was told this by a Filipino student.  The
student was actually upset that the educator talked about her "flip
chart" in class.  Ridiculously over-sensitive?  I don't know, but I
know that the educator now uses the term "easel."  I don't like the
idea of perfectly useful words being taken out of the language because
someone uses them for hateful reasons somewhere, but I just want to
show that many knowledgeable people are careful about using terms that
have taken on overtones of hate.

And you have to remember that words are preludes to actions.  In
places where people who get called nasty names, they also get beaten
up.  This adds to the pain of hearing the word--it seems to evoke
almost a physical response.

Sorry to take up so much space, but you have to see that a lot of
thought has gone into choosing words.


 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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