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Thread: Does not being a bigot require embracing bigotry?

  1. #1
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    Does not being a bigot require embracing bigotry?

    I find the Dangerous Book for Boys and the Daring Book for Girls to be very refreshing--the best thing to hit youth culture since lawn darts and the 1960 edition of The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments (I'm using a little self-depracating irony here but less than you might think . . . then again this is a group that plays with swords . . .)

    The publisher of the Austrailian edition of the Girl's book is having to appologise/disseminate/equivocate/grovel/censor over a chapter on how to play the didgeridoo because (aperently only some) Aborigine women are forbidden to even touch the didgeridoo!
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...ia-917751.html

    The head of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association called it "an extreme faux pas" and "equivalent of encouraging someone to play with razor blades" (actually I think that is in the boy's version ).

    Ladies, don't be bigots. Burn your bra, take back the night, but don't touch the didgeridoo. No se puede! Besides, it will make you Infertile.

    I don't suppose that High Court of Australia is about to consult the local witch-doctor for his opinion on women's suffrage.

    Mike
    Last edited by Michael Stora; 09-05-2008 at 05:22 PM.
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    The sad reality is that a book or article that was so politically correct that it could not be viewed by any cultural, religion, political group, minority, majority or nationality either current or past as potentially offensive would contain nothing but blank pages.

    If people presenting information are to avoid giving offense then the people receiving the same information should avoid taking offense.

    Intent is important, if the intent was to give offense then one has the right to complain and take offense.

  3. #3
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    I agree with your that intent should be the standard. It isn't. I recall a thread being locked over the use of the word Oriental from the Latin Orientalis meaning Eastern vs. the much less specific Asian.

    You and I are virtually required to say San instead of Bushman, Khoi instead of Hottentot, or Mumbai instead of Bombay. No Englishman would think of demanding that the Chinese not call Oxford Niujin and if he did he would not be taken seriously. The Gypsies insist on others calling them Rom (man, husband) while they call everyone else Gadji (peasant, enemy). It's an elephant sized double standard.

    Sometimes is completely random (but no less arbitrary and non-sensical) as it is within Western Civilzation. During the 2006 Rome Olympics, the fad was for talking heads to say Roma (sometimes with exageration), but events were held in Florence which was never called Firenze and Livorno was never Leghorn. The old TV show In Living Color used to have lots of skits about the incongruity of which foreign words "should" be rendered in English and which "should not" be. HOWEVER, it seems to be the case that whenever the issue is between cultures, it is always western culture (especially the english-speaking part) that is at the disadvantage.

    Mike
    Well, I hope Arthur Frommer will remember
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    Interesting reaction.
    I would have thought a 'Thanks for being interested in our culture, but in general Aboriginal women do not play the didgeridoo.' might have come off a bit better for promoting the understanding of another culture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher H View Post
    Interesting reaction.
    I would have thought a 'Thanks for being interested in our culture, but in general Aboriginal women do not play the didgeridoo.' might have come off a bit better for promoting the understanding of another culture.
    If the intent was to promote understanding you would be correct. If the intent was to force an apology as they did then it becomes an exercise in power politics.

    The entity in the disadvantaged position takes offense at something done by the advantaged and forces an apology or change in behavior even if no offense was intended.

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    That's a great point Dennis.

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    Cultural sensitivity is .....well....a sensitive issue.
    I guess the book couldn't be called "Daring" if it didn't push the envelope though.

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    upon occasion people being thick skinned would help. We sanitize our world or worlds of almost anything 'dangerous'.

    I am not talking about the ability to be rude with out repercussions but the ability to say "I like X" or "I don't like Y" with out being slammed as culturally insensitive or worse.

    Now excuse me I have to write a long letter to my daughter explaining why she can never play a didgeridoo. She had such high hopes to play lead didgeridoo in the Chicago Philharmonic as well

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    I LOVE SWORDS!!!

    Say that anywhere but here, and they think you are a dangerous nutjob and call the police.
    Bartender and Brewmeister for the Pub
    Jay Requard 10/14/2007 - The swords brought us together, but the pub made us friends....

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    HOWEVER, it seems to be the case that whenever the issue is between cultures, it is always western culture (especially the english-speaking part) that is at the disadvantage.
    A part of me thinks this is simply the wheel turning, and not really a full turn at that. We may be at the disadvantage in the cultural criticism department at the moment, but when the balance is weighed, I think we have had quite the advantage in the serious columns.

    We have to put up with some linguistic incongruities; non-Western societies have had to endure just a wee bit more in terms of real battles for hegemony at the other end of the stick,.

    Now, from an intellectual standpoint, it is frustrating but I try to look at the big picture and really see how much we (in the West) suffer for it in real terms.

    Non-Western societies have had to have truly thick skin and endure quite a bit. If they now ask us to watch our language, we can quibble about it and note the inconsistency, but it really isn't that much of a sacrifice.

    The true debate is one we would rather not have. In other words, these non-Western societies have legion grievances they could bring other than the words we use…it is better for us if the debate is, to my mind, shallow.

    The entity in the disadvantaged position takes offense at something done by the advantaged and forces an apology or change in behavior even if no offense was intended.
    Again, this is an intellectual "abuse"...small payback for the true abuse these societies have suffered. We should be examining the nature of the "advantage" and "disadvantage" and how it came about. I doubt the paradigm would meet one's idea of logical consistency or "fair-play." If this is how the "disadvantaged" is displaying what little power they have, perhaps it is warranted considering the historical nature of the relationship. (After all, the point most of the time was offense.)

    We are asking societies to be consistent and fair in the intellectual arena when we have brutalized them for centuries in real terms..... Tough to do so with a straight intellectual face, no? If you beat someone with a stick for days on end, you shouldn’t also get to tell him how to express his displeasure, should you? It seems we in the West would like to do this. Odd and inconsistent things may come out of this experience and we just have to deal with it. Their own internal debates will work it out as they come to terms with their own experiences in terms of their relationships to the West.

    So, it isn't so much about embracing bigotry as it is about being conscious of the history behind the relationship and realizing that we are getting off pretty easy if we just have to watch our language. (The double-standard exists, but it is a small price to pay for the benefits we derived from the advantage.)

    Kevin Cantwell
    Last edited by K. Cantwell; 09-06-2008 at 06:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick J. View Post
    I LOVE SWORDS!!!

    Say that anywhere but here, and they think you are a dangerous nutjob and call the police.
    EEEEEEEEEKKKKK

    Utter Nutter on the Lose!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Stora View Post
    You and I are virtually required to say San instead of Bushman, Khoi instead of Hottentot, or Mumbai instead of Bombay.
    Does it matter that my dad always says "Bombay" and he's from there?

    Eh... Do as well as you can by people, that's all that really matters.
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  13. #13
    Mate, as an Aussie, I can tell you the hypocritical political correctness is getting rediculous here......

    Bottom line, I recognise the laws of my country and my own sense of honour, not the traditions of an ethnic group I am not part of.

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    Just to damn much PC BS all around.
    Im never going to get elected Emporer at this rate. Comon Chief, bend a little. Its only a hollowed out tree trunk.
    "Do not suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberty by any pretences of politeness, delicacy or decency.
    These, as they are often used, are but three names for hypocrisy, chicanery, and cowardice.” John Adams, 1789

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    The nearly obsessive need to avoid any hint of offensive behavior in language or actions seems be be fairly recent. I'm curious as to what the trigger was and if this is unique to western culture.

    Nearly every nation and culture oppressed someone at some point in their history did any of them feel the need for political correctness.?

  16. #16
    You mean did Attila the Hun, Genghis Kahn, The ottoman empire, Japanese samurai and the Roman Empire ever feel the need to be politically sensitive?

    I doubt it..

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    Nearly every nation and culture oppressed someone at some point in their history did any of them feel the need for political correctness.?
    Not so much "political correctness," but maybe a desire to look into the act and nature of oppression and see what can be done to avoid it or correct it is the process we are seeing? The optimistic answer is that the trigger is growth and progress in seeing each other as human beings.

    The 20th C. was, by many accounts, the most brutal we have seen as a species, and major intellectual movements tried to come to grips with this barbarism. The reaction of the oppressor to the oppressed (now "free") is something that is still being worked out because of a desire to find out why and how we fell so far. (Hopefully, we can do better in this regard than the littany of figures mentioned above.)

    Wrapping all abuse and oppression into the neat package of “everybody did it” is a bit simplistic and dismissive of the moral questions that should accompany any serious endeavor to understand it. (It also attempts to abrogate responsibility by claiming “Everyone does it…so why should we care or be different?" The answer is similar to the one parents give children when this defense is used: If the action is wrong or questionable, then that is the issue..not the fact that others are blind or indifferent to this fact.)

    The use of the bankrupt and co-opted term “PC” in these types of discussions is, itself, a dismissal of a serious desire to really see what is going on. The hard part for us to get is that it is the oppressed or disadvantaged in this situation that have the power: they get to decide, in a sense, when they are “over it.” Again, you don’t (or shouldn’t) get to tell the victim of your beating when to suck it up and get back on their feet.

    Certainly there is a “reasonable” timeframe and the victim complex is regularly trotted out by Western commentators to ameliorate our wrongs when we feel it is taking too long. So, the real issue is what is reasonable and when is it acceptable to say, “OK…we stole your children, butchered generations of your ancestors, ruined your land, set back your development in immeasurable ways and dehumanized you to exponential levels…. How about you get over it already, though? This rhetorical game you are playing is a bit tiresome for us.” I think each civilization will ask and answer that question in its own way and it can be rather thorny. The fact the the descendants of the "winners" don't see the situation in the same was as the "losers" is a major problem. Hence, Westerners usually say, "Get over it already," while those in the Third World or in previously oppressed societies say, "We can't...we still feel the effects while you have moved on." (For some, the oppression is still going on.)

    As to your question of the need for self-examination, cultures that don’t attempt to redress their past wrongs are, to my mind, rather depraved. Geopolitical blather is one thing, but if we think that oppression is a “bad” thing that should be avoided , it might behoove us to be a little more open to the views of those we have oppressed. (This question is certainly not settled..in the minds of many, oppression is simpy the nature of human interaction and attempts to avoid or "civilize" relations are misguided and show a callow understanding of the world.) I would see this introspection as a necessary component of moving forward as a civilization. Again, macho bravado is one thing, but the callous dehumanzing of fellow men and the refusal to see this as something to be avoided (or mocking the process to come to terms with it) is, to my mind, a step backward in development. Did those mentioned above act "correctly" in their treatment of their victims? Should we be emulating their approach? "The Romans didn't do it, so why should we?" isn't a very compelling argument for peace and reconciliation in my view.

    Now, this doesn’t mean that one can’t take issue with certain issues that arise, but when you look at some of the historical patterns of abuse these societies have endured, is it any wonder they react with the rhetoric they do? (Ya think, for example, some Native Americans might have had reason to take offense at the idea of a "Chief Wahoo"? Seemed self-evident to me, but I think I was in the minority.)

    In this specific case, half of the Australian version of the book was updated with sections on surfing and Netball. In other words, the publishers had made portions specific to Australia. The Aboriginal population is not a huge percentage of the total population, but they have taken quite a few knocks through the years. If you are rewriting the book anyway, why not make the accommodation? A simple note at the beginning of the chapter would have been sufficient, I would think. Seems a trivial move that would send a non-trivial message that previous victims are now being respected. These types of gestures always mean more to the person that has been on the receiving end of the stick. We on the other end tend to forget that and get indignant when asked to make the accomodation.

    Kevin Cantwell
    Last edited by K. Cantwell; 09-06-2008 at 06:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Stora View Post
    I agree with your that intent should be the standard. It isn't. I recall a thread being locked over the use of the word Oriental from the Latin Orientalis meaning Eastern vs. the much less specific Asian.
    I recall that thread as well. I believe I made it, but I can't seem to find it. And as I recall the thread wasn't locked on the usage of the words "asian" vs "oriental" per se, but the topic itself was on how people use the 2 words interchangeably today. I like to believe that it was a fairly academic discussion, not one centered on discussing its place in "political correctness" but rather personal respect/ wishes.
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  19. #19
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    Lets look at this from a different perspective.

    If something is offensive to some group they have the right to voice that concern. It's also true that the group in question must decide what offends them.
    What is more interesting is the larger society's reaction. Must every concern raised by every group force a modification of behavior and to what degree.
    In the case that started this thread, would a simple sorry we did not intend offense and including a explanation of the Aboriginal prohibition in the been sufficient.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by K. Cantwell View Post
    Non-Western societies have had to have truly thick skin and endure quite a bit. If they now ask us to watch our language, we can quibble about it and note the inconsistency, but it really isn't that much of a sacrifice.......

    ....So, it isn't so much about embracing bigotry as it is about being conscious of the history behind the relationship and realizing that we are getting off pretty easy if we just have to watch our language. (The double-standard exists, but it is a small price to pay for the benefits we derived from the advantage.)

    Kevin Cantwell
    What are you saying, that "Western Civilization," the apex of human achievement and center of the Universe, is just a bunch of whiners?
    I can live with that

    Seriously though, the decision of HarperCollins to pull the didgeridoo chapter out has more to do with book $ales than anything else--it's capitali$m in action. It happens all the time here in the US, whether it be minorities, the disenfranchised, or nuts with an axe to grind and a lot of spending money.

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    Just being empirical, my wife is Australian and has played a digeredoo and we have 4 children. I think that the infertility concept is busted.
    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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    I would like to know who gave anyone the right to tell anyone else to "watch their speech" at all.

    M.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Eversberg II View Post
    I would like to know who gave anyone the right to tell anyone else to "watch their speech" at all.
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    would like to know who gave anyone the right to tell anyone else to "watch their speech" at all.
    Not so much a right, but a basic appeal to common sense and dignity. You know full well you watch your speech around children and in or around, say, places of worship. You certainly don't have to, but the only reason not to do so is to be crass or make a solipsistic point about individual liberty. In other words, if you start dropping F-bombs around my six-year old, I would ask you to stop. (Depending on the setting, of course.) Do I have a "right" to do this? I don't know about that, but why would you continue to do so if it were obvious your speech were offensive or inappropriate?

    "Political" speech (not just something like cursing) can be similarly “offensive” ("thoughtless" may be a better word) in certain contexts. I don't think, for example, Native Americans "need" to see college kids dressing up and making a mockery of their ceremonies and traditions. They, in my opinion, have been through enough. The reasons to do it, in my calculus, don't outweigh the reasons not to do it.

    The point I am making is simply that, as a matter of the historical record, some groups or societies do have a legitimate axe to grind. Simply asking for rhetorical salt not to be poured into real wounds is not too much to ask, in my opinion. Certainly the judgment of "legitimate" claims is an open question. (I think some are quite self-evident, though.)

    Nevertheless, why not err on the side of civility? Not going over the top and giving in to every capricious demand of an "aggrieved" group, but simply fairly judging the claim against history and making an adjustment if need be. The problem is that truly legitimate claims have been lost in the denouncement of all claims as PC nonsense and we lose the opportunity to really grow and learn from past abuse.

    Kevin Cantwell
    Last edited by K. Cantwell; 09-08-2008 at 10:35 AM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by K. Cantwell View Post

    ...Snip....

    Nevertheless, why not err on the side of civility? Not going over the top and giving in to every capricious demand of an "aggrieved" group, but simply fairly judging the claim against history and making an adjustment if need be. The problem is that truly legitimate claims have been lost in the denouncement of all claims as PC nonsense and we lose the opportunity to really grow and learn from past abuse.

    Kevin Cantwell
    I agree but I would prefer that the standard be based be civility and politeness rather then special treatment based on history. A little tolerance from all sides would be most refreshing and would benefit all sides.

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