Free Speech & Political Correctness

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    Posted: 22 July 2001 07:26 AM

    Oh, do I love free speech.  It’s one of the cornerstones of my philophy, as it were.  What sparked this post from me is an editorial from Charles Moore called Another Pernicious Assault On Freedom And Dignity By The Jackbooters Of Political Correctness .  Man, I would have loved that article just for the title!  “Jackbooters Of Political Correctness” is nothing short of outstanding!

    However, the piece itself is also fantastic, which is no surprise considering that Charles Moore is such an excellent writer in matters concerning Free Speech.

    Check it out.  Post comments.  I love this subject, and am looking forward to a great discussion.

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    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2001 01:35 PM #1

    [Out of respect for the board, other moderators and the sensibilities of some readers, I have censored certain words myself]

    Bryan, I’ve been thinking about the subject of censorship and free speech all day. Specifically, about things considered offensive.
    Right or wrong, censorship is everywhere already. On TV, the web, schools….
    I’m talking specifically about “bad” words.
    What is it about certain words that make them socially unacceptable? And that IS what I am talking about. A word can’t be bad (like the acts of a person or old fruit)..however, its intent can.
    I ask you though, why can I say sex but not FUxx or poop but not SHxx? The meanings are the same aren’t they? Since it’s acceptable to use one form of the word but not the other, the intent or definition of the word clearly isn’t vulgar. Why is the word iteslf?
    The reality of the situation is that we were taught that these words were not socially acceptable. What’s funny is that nobody can explain why.

    What I am NOT talking about are racial slurs since their intent is clearly to insult. Personally I don’t try to tell others that they shouldn’t use them. I believe that their use tells more about the person speaking than the person they are directed at.

    Any thoughts?

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    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Photodan on 2001-06-26 16:39 ]</font>

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    "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" - Charles Darwin

    What’s the difference between a Mac and a PC? Macs are designed, PCs are assembled.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2001 10:00 PM #2

    On 2001-06-26 16:35, Photodan wrote:
    The reality of the situation is that we were taught that these words were not socially acceptable. What’s funny is that nobody can explain why.

    Photodan, I think you answered your own question here. In a word “society.” We are a society, people living, working, dying, achieveing, failing together. As as society, we define what are societal norms are. Things like here in the West, we use a knife, fork and spoon to eat with instead of our hands. Why?  No one ever told us why (and don’t go for sanitation as an answer, cutlery was around before we understood germs).

    So why is poop okay to say and not sh**? Connotation I guess. Poop has less of an edge to it in our lexicon than the other word does.  A difference of shades of meaning. Why is it less insulting to call someone misguided than it is to call them stupid?

    What I am NOT talking about are racial slurs since their intent is clearly to insult. Personally I don’t try to tell others that they shouldn’t use them. I believe that their use tells more about the person speaking than the person they are directed at.

    Ah, but here you’re wrong. It is okay for Rodney O. Lain to write an editorial calling Apple the “‘Nigger’ of the computer industry” because Rodney is the iBrotha and a black man. If a white guy had written it, there would have been reprecussions (more than the ones Rodney got). He would have been labeled a racist. It is okay for my black friends to call each other the “n word” but not for me. They might understand and be okay but if someone overheard it…. Ouch!

    Again, connotation. What kind of feeling or intent does the word carry? I think meaning is more than just what you read in the dictionary definition. You might say to your grandmother, “Dang, I got dog poop on my shoe!” but probably would not say, “Fu**, I got dog sh** on my fu**ing shoe! Sh**, now its in my car!” though you would probably put it that way to your friends.

    Random thoughts.

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  • Posted: 27 June 2001 10:33 AM #3

    On 2001-06-27 01:00, Ahnyer Keester wrote:

    So why is poop okay to say and not sh**? Connotation I guess. Poop has less of an edge to it in our lexicon than the other word does.  A difference of shades of meaning. Why is it less insulting to call someone misguided than it is to call them stupid?

    Since I have inadvertently entered the conversation (“shades of meaning”)...

    I have noticed too, the inconsistency of censorship. Why is it that vulgar language is far more acceptable than taking the Lord’s name in vain? You might think that God’s last name is d***, and it is seldom if ever bleeped out. But the vulgar words are bleeped out as if they are more offensive. I find that as a Christian, God’s name profaned is much more offensive than societal hit lists of unacceptable words.

    What would they do with the Old Testament statement describing men as “those who p*ss against the wall”? As a former sailor, I wonder if Jesus heard the “sailor’s language” from Peter, Andrew, and John?

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: shades on 2001-06-27 13:35 ]</font>

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  • Posted: 27 June 2001 03:41 PM #4

    This topic is dear to me, because I’ve been hired and fired by Mac web sites over my choice of language (today I was fired from writing a column for Applelinks because I used the word “nigger” in a column that was pulled as soon as I posted it last night).

    I believe that you can say pretty much what you want, as long as you are lucid and articulate.

    But, at the moment, I am at a crossroads.

    Since I do not have total control over my writing as long as I write for someone else, I’m at this point, seriously considering getting out of the Mac web column-writing thing and devoting my writing time to novels and short stories.

    ANYway, I would be the first one to come out and support my “enemies,” real or imagined. Hell, I am the poster child for freedom of speech.

    I believe that Bryan Chaffin has been the only person who has supported my right to write what I think. Sure, there are times where he has told me to rewrite or even pull something because, well, it sucked. And I’ve had to respect his decisions because every time he did it , well, he was right. I will always respect that.

    Being the writer that I am (sensitive soul and such), I’m now going to get very drunk and will submit Bryan an *non-controversial* column for this Friday’s iBrotha…

    ...and decide if I really want to spend all of my free time trying to decide if I want to write what I think or write what others will like.

    Fini.

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  • Posted: 27 June 2001 05:14 PM #5

    Edit:  I wrote something that probably sounded too reactionary.  I’m deleting it because I probably replied too soon.

    Can you clarify what your article said exactly?

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Nelson on 2001-06-27 20:27 ]</font>

         
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    Posted: 27 June 2001 05:24 PM #6

    Sorry to hear that Applelinks fired you, Rodney.  I liked the MacSpirit column.  Thanks for the statement of support for my support too.  You have earned it in my book.

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    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

         
  • Posted: 27 June 2001 07:52 PM #7

    On 2001-06-27 20:14, David Nelson wrote:
    Can you clarify what your article said exactly?

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Nelson on 2001-06-27 20:27 ]</font>

    I’d rather not, since it may run at Mac Observer, if it’s given the editor’s nod. But, in short, here’s what I said: the same way that some whites (and some blacks myself), get upset with “niggers” move into the neighborhood, Mac users are upset that OS X and all that it entails (Unix, new GUI, etc.) is encroaching on the things that we know and love.

    It’s no worse than “Mac is the Nigger of the computer industry.”

    I don’t fault the editor for pulling my column and firing me. I fault him for not being man enough (or professional enough or mature enough) to ask me to rewrite or pull it—or at least tell me what I can and can’t write about. You know, guidelines?

    Anyway, if we don’t publish it here, I will put it up on my home page. I put too much time into it to throw it away…

    And, no, I’m not angry. And, no, I don’t think anything done to me was done because “I’m black.” (Just in case anyone’s wondering.)

    Sorry if I didn’t explain the column enough. I’m in the middle of writing a column for Bryan, so I’m not focused enough to explain it in 25 words or less.

     

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    Rodney O. Lain
    Mac Observer Columnist, iBrotha’s page at TMO

    iBrotha.com’s Webmaster, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: iBrotha on 2001-06-27 22:54 ]</font>

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  • Posted: 27 June 2001 09:22 PM #8

    iBrotha, you have always been my favorite Mac columnists.  I love your articles as social commentary, and I love your writing style.  AppleLinks made a mistake giving you the axe, no question.  Few people are brave enough to write what they really think or feel in this almost vulgarly politically correct society.  Are we for free speech, or not?  OR WHAT?

    I watched a neat show on channel 17 (ktci) about this radio station in California.  I can’t remember the call letters right now, but they were very famous during the cold war for laying the truth out there when no one else would talk about it.  People have so many ideas, brilliant ideas in their heads, and certain members of society take it upon themselves to stifle them in this day and age.  I can understand why you feel sick about the whole Mac Journalist gig right now.  You might as well be reporting on Fidel Castro’s health in Cuba, you get about that much license.

    Ack it just makes me mad.  Please don’t stop writing for TMO, although if you do, let me know where I can get a copy of your short stories.

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  • Posted: 27 June 2001 09:28 PM #9

    Thanks for the explanation.   Although I have never liked to use or hear such words, I agree that it would have been better if he asked you to edit it before taking further action.  It wasn’t fair to just drop you like that.

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Nelson on 2001-06-28 00:31 ]</font>

         
  • Posted: 27 June 2001 09:48 PM #10

    Wow, Rodney. That sucks.
    I urge you not to give up though. The worst case is that you might have to post pieces on your own site. I would certainly check your site for them. Don’t let the rash actions of a few people stifle your views and opinions.

    The actions of your former publisher are silly. It would have been very easy to put a simple disclaimer or warning as to the strong language of your piece. It probably would have also increased his site traffic tremendously.

    It is his loss. Please don’t let him make it ours too.

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    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Photodan on 2001-06-28 00:53 ]</font>

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    "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" - Charles Darwin

    What’s the difference between a Mac and a PC? Macs are designed, PCs are assembled.

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2001 04:25 AM #11

    Rodney, you’re always welcome to use the word nigger at Low End Mac—but as I do try to run a family-friendly, general interest site, there are a few profanities I don’t want.

    Sorry to hear Applelinks is losing you.

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2001 06:45 AM #12

    Rodney,
    you KNOW I will post it:-)

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    Tim Robertson
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    http://www.mymac.com

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2001 07:15 AM #13

    This is a fascinating discussion to me, and I’m glad we’ve had so many people tune in to say something about it. Let me give this a shot:

    I support a lot of socially liberal policies; I’m a democrat; I’d consider myself a very moderate libertarian. But I care deeply about being polite.

    That’s why I try not to swear, I don’t use derogatory terms, and I otherwise try to avoid insulting people I don’t know. I can break all those policies with my good friends, but I think it’s fundamentally wrong to be impolite with people I don’t know well. That’s why, as much as I admire Rodney’s outspoken nature and hold great respect for his prose, I bristle when he uses racial slurs in his writing—even if they refer to his own race. I would never say kyke in my writing, even though my Judaism supposedly grants me that right.


    Is that wierd, or just outdated?

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  • Posted: 28 June 2001 07:15 AM #14

    It is about time that people started to talk about the liberal facisim that has taken over the country. I think that there is a responsibility of the people that use “offensive” word not to use them unless there is a good reason. Mr. Lain’s use of nigger was as good a use as there can be because the word implies hatred that I belive he was trying to convey. There is also a responsibility on the listener/reader to not give the words any power. If a listener does not give any weight to those words, then they loose their power. If someone calls me a kyke for being Jewish I don’t give it a second thought because I know that I am not one,  nor will I let that person have that power over me. The problem is when the government, not editors, start telling us what words to use. Everyday that I hear a person complain about a word I think more and more of leaving the country.

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2001 07:18 AM #15

    Rodney,

    I love your work! I would be honored and humbled to post ANYTHING you have written on my own sites OpEd section…

    http://stupidfrog.com

    As my mother always said, “Don’t let the bastards get you down!”

    Kudos to iBrotha!

    Tim