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June 06, 2007

Comments

I'm perfectly prepared to believe in J Thomas' lack of interest in being offensive in this manner. 100% prepared. Ready, and willing.

As soon as J Thomas stops engaging in this uncivil behavior, I'll believe it.

So even though it's preposterous to think that the guy is being derogatory towards both the Israelis and Palestinians, you're going to keep on thinking it until he starts capitalizing. That's great.

The fact that no one else on the thread is agreeing with you should suggest that maybe, just maybe, the idea that failing to capitalize those words is an offensive usage is far from a universal norm.

"I repeat, I am not being derogatory in either case. The usage is not derogatory when I do it."

You can't say that. That is, you can say it, but you can't make it true.

It *is* true, because I told you so.

I'm getting the impression you are from the Realist school, where i am more of a nominalist.

Gary: "his immense outrage at one set of attacks, and his utter silence of outrage"

The adjectives here detract from and diminish OCS's sincerity and good faith. They are, to an average educated reader, snide - "derogatory in a malicious, superior way."

I have just a couple of thoughts on this post.

As most of the American public can see the Republican candidates for president are still trying to play the "terror card".

This is after they passed the Homeland Security Act, which costs us billions of dollars a year. We're spending billions of dollars a year for "homeland security" yet these Republican president wannabe's are still trying to scare the holy shit out of us. Why?
Come on, let's get real here.

"They hate you!" says Rudy Giuliani in his new role as fearmonger in chief, relentlessly reminding audiences of all the nasty people out there. "They don't want you to be in this college!" he recently warned an audience at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. "Or you, or you, or you," he said, reportedly jabbing his finger at students.

Ya'll have a job that you perform, to the best of your abilities, right?

So does the FBI, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, and a myriad of other black ops departments in the US government.

It sounds to me that the multitude of Republican presidential wannabe's don't believe that all those security departments can protect the average American citizen from terror attack. Remember your talking billions of dollars a year just for homeland security.

So, let me try to summarize what these Republican presidential wannabe's are trying to tell you John Q. Public.

The FBI, NSA, CIA, and every other intelligence agency failed the U.S. public prior to 911. That's why we had to create the department of Homeland Security at a cost of billions of dollars a year in your tax money. (Remember, most congressmen who serve have to be millionares to get elected). They don't play by the same money rules ordinary Americans play by.

Republican presidential wannabe's have now found out that the threat of Islamic terrorism in the U.S. is at its peak. It's just a coincidence it happened while they are running for president. Play the "terror card".

Would anyone be interested in buying my oceanfront property? 50 acres in Denver Colorado?

Troubled

"So even though it's preposterous to think that the guy is being derogatory towards both the Israelis and Palestinians, you're going to keep on thinking it until he starts capitalizing."

No, I'm going to go on thinking that he's being offensive (it's obviously irrefutable that I find it offensive), and that he's intentionally being offensive because, as he says, "I don't particularly care."

I take him at his word. I don't know and don't care what's in his, or anybody's, head. I simply care to not have to read derogatory, offensive, usages here. I don't regard such usages as civil. This is not an idiosyncracy of mine, regardless of whether a given person shares such an opinion or not.

Is it going to be acceptable if I start referring to "pals" and "jewboys" if I assure everyone that I'm not being derogatory? If no, then why is "jews," a common anti-semitic usage, acceptable? Is there a single style book anywhere that says this is non-derogatory, and that it's acceptable usage? Is there a single stylebook anywhere that says that "palestinians" and "jews" are acceptable to not capitalize?

In fact, every major style guide: AP, NY Times, Chicago Manual, Words Into Type, Oxford Manual, and on and on all give only one answer: capitalization of proper nouns is mandatory.

If people want to deliberately choose to use offensive usage, having been made aware that it is offensive, they're perfectly free to "not care."

And others are perfectly free to care that they do not care about being derogatory and offensive.

But it's not mandatory.

"It *is* true, because I told you so."

Saying something is true doesn't make it so.

Saying something one says isn't derogatory doesn't make it so.

I will demonstrate.

You are a schmuck. But I'm not being derogatory when I say it.

So you're fine with that, right? And you're fine with everything else I can possibly say, so long as I honestly assure you that I don't intend anything the least derogatory about it, and I'm in fact being honest about my intent?

In fact, I have no idea whether you are a schmuck, so I was not being derogatory, according to your claim.

But if I commence only referring to you as "schmuckface," and state that I'm not being derogatory, I'm covered, by your reasoning.

What is and isn't offensive about one's words isn't for the person using them to say. Few people who have used the once overwhelmingly popular term "nigra" in the "white" community would have agreed that they were being offensive or derogatory in any way. Overwhelmingly, users claimed it wasn't in any way derogatory.

According to you, they have to have been right. I suggest reconsidering this theory that what is offensive and derogatory is correctly judged only by the speaker.

And so they attack the targets they can reach, particularly targets that get them publicity, because anything that reminds people they aren't dead yet helps keep them from just dwindling away forgotten. Would that be particularly immoral of them?

Yes, absolutely, if they're not also trying hard to negotiate. Which they're not, mostly.

Using force to encourage diplomacy is one thing, force with no serious diplomatic effort accompanying it is just murder.

Worse yet, by your own account, they feel they can get away with this because the Israelis are 'too soft-hearted to kill them off.' Yes, murdering people in reliance on their government's merciful ways is immoral.

I also don't think much of your assumption that it is so much harder to reach military targets than civilian ones that the Palestinians have no real choice but to target civilians. I have never heard the Palestinians claim this, and it seems unlikely given that both Hezbollah and Hamas have in fact successfully targeted military personnel and property. The IRA mostly went after military targets despite being poor and living under occupation. Your scenario is entirely too generous to the Palestinians, who consistently break new ground in moral lows even by the standards of terrorists.

Your alternative scenario, therefore, seems much more to the point:

What morality can we expect of people who've lost enough to give up everything but revenge?
What can we do to such people to shame them into reforming? How can we persuade them to fight in civilised ways that will get them killed with no damage to their enemy?

Good questions. I'll add another one: what good does it do to ostracize the nation fighting these people?


Gary: there's a big difference between not capitalizing the initial letters of 'Jew', 'Palestinian', etc., and the schmuck example. Namely: it's perfectly possible to do the former as the result of a general policy of not capitalizing stuff, one that has nothing whatsoever to do with a desire to offend. e.e. cummings, for instance, would probably have ended up writing 'jew' and 'palestinian' for the same reasons (whatever they were) that led him not to capitalize any of the letters in his own name. There is no similar route to saying 'you're a schmuck.'

Regardless: your view is clear. J Thomas' view is also clear. It's clear, to me at least, that there's no reason to think that either of you initially intended to be offensive. It's also pretty clear that this conversation is tending in the direction of offensiveness, if it has not already arrived. For that reason, I repeat my suggestion. I don't see anything to be gained from continuing.

Some folks have had a busy day. Since I started something upthread with jrudkis that got spun around a bit, I wanted to explain that it seems really really rude, when someone puts themselves in harm's way, to engage in a discussion about how the folks trying to kill that person may have a point. While this is self censorship, I'm not sure if I would like to be the person who could claim that there is no linkage between someone's situation and the abstract argument. I didn't want to suggest in any way that I thought jrudkis was trying to censor me in any way, it's just the internal feeling that I have about the way the whole thing feels.

You may now return to your regular programming.

"Gary: there's a big difference between not capitalizing the initial letters of 'Jew', 'Palestinian', etc., and the schmuck example."

Of course there is. But the question at that point was J Thomas' claim that "usage is not derogatory when I do it," and that that claim "*is* true, because I told you so."

Do you find those to be defensible claims?

Is it, in fact, true that all that is necessary to render any and all words and usages inoffensive and non-derogatory is a claim that the user wasn't being derogatory?

"Your scenario is entirely too generous to the Palestinians, who consistently break new ground in moral lows even by the standards of terrorists."

Oh, boy. Not too familiar with the history of both sides in this conflict, I take it. I don't recall any of the Zionists being suicide bombers, but as far as plain old terrorism is concerned some of them took a back seat to nobody. Which is not to say that Palestinian terrorists are any better.

Time to abandon thread.

Though, since I don't want to be misunderstood, I don't mean to imply that most Zionists were or are terrorists, any more than I'd say that about Palestinians. Okay, now I'll leave

[fools wander in where angels fear to tread.]

mr. farber: your citation to style guides is inapposite, because none of the style guides set forth rules for internet writing. while you may assert that the rule that capitalization of proper nouns is mandatory must carry over to blog writing, i believe that the evidence suggests that you are in the minority in this position.

so it appears we are at an impasse. one commenter insists that he is entitled to draw an adverse inference by the failure of another writer to use commonly accepted capitalization rules. another commenter insists that the capitalization rules don't apply to internet writing so the adverse inference is both unfair and factually wrong.

while there is such a thing as excessive offen-sensitivity, it is probably worth noting that the particular words not being capitalized commonly carry a serious negative connotation.

so i have no way of reconciling this impasse, except to say the following: JT: USE YOUR CAPITALS. GF: RECOGNIZE THAT MANY PEOPLE DON'T USE THE SHIFT KEY IN BLOG WRITING and don't have any intention of giving the word the meaning given to the word if it were uncapitalized in a different context. seriously, must you be offended?

"angels fear to tread"

[written nodding in agreement] I thought hilzoy had treaded pretty clearly.

"so i have no way of reconciling this impasse, except to say the following: JT: USE YOUR CAPITALS. GF: RECOGNIZE THAT MANY PEOPLE DON'T USE THE SHIFT KEY IN BLOG WRITING and don't have any intention of giving the word the meaning given to the word if it were uncapitalized in a different context. seriously, must you be offended?"

"i believe that the evidence suggests that you are in the minority in this position"

Here? Could be. But if anyone wants to go out and survey 20 random Jews and 20 random Palestinians (all of whom are fluent in written English), I'd be surprised if the surveyer didn't find that at least 5 of each people aren't also offended at the usage.

I'm not offended by simple lack of capitalization, Francis, and I never expressed any such view (actually, I am bugged by all non-caps style, but for entirely different reasons and in an entirely different way, so let's not get into that here); I simply asked J Thomas if he was aware that it was offensive (I take his word that we previously had an exchange on it which I've forgotten; as I said, I've had plenty of past discussions of the topic, though mostly with people who are very clear that they intend to be derogatory, and who explain at length why it's justified).

My only offense-taking came after that, from his further explanations that he doesn't care that he's being offensive.

I find willful giving of offense offensive.

I second your recommendation to J Thomas that he use his caps key in regard to proper nouns.

It is not, after all, asking a lot, to not offend people, whether they be Jewish, Palestinian, or anyone else who cares, regardless that plenty of other people do not, to be sure, care.

Especially given the multitude of Jews and others who use "palestinian" as derogatory, and given the multitude of Jew-haters who use "jew" as derogatory, I don't think it's asking a lot to ask someone who says they have absolutely no intention of being derogatory to please hit their caps keys when they type those words, so as to distinguish themselves clearly from the real haters.

I would think most people who intend to be non-offensive wouldn't find this too much trouble, and would make that trivial effort to not be offensive.

Perhaps that's a weird idea I have.

And it's not as if J Thomas can lay claim to never using caps, a la e.e. cummings; it's simply false to say that J Thomas uses that style. J Thomas capitalizes other proper names, and the beginnings of sentences in every comment. Random picks: Realist, Dresden, WWII, OCSteve, Gary Farber."

"none of the style guides set forth rules for internet writing"

Except for all the style guides that set forth rules for internet writing, incidentally. Not an important point, but there's no shortage of them at all, actually. Really. (Then there are those that speak to both online and off.

Generally speaking, though, there are few distinctions that style guides make between writing online and offline, and I'm certainly unaware of any that assert that the writer is the sole judge of what's offensive, or that not capitalizing proper names is proper, or that make any sort of distinction in these cases between online and offline usage. This is a side issue, however; there's no ObWi style guide, other than the civility bit, and the posting rules, and my only contention is that deliberately using language others find offensive -- and I don't mean an individual making up absurd claims, but "offensive" in the sense that one millions of people agree, even if millions of others don't -- isn't civil, and isn't in keeping with the posting rules.

I don't regard noting that someone is being offensive, and violating the posting rules, as itself being an offensive act, though perhaps all might not agree.

That's all, and I'm done.

On the question of wisdom in the voting public:

Statistically, almost half of any group is below average. And that
doesn't take into consideration those who are too busy surviving to vote, and too trusting to question what mainstream media presents. There is a reason that Jefferson said a democracy needs an educated populace, and I have to wonder if there is a reason that public ed. gets gutted.

The posting rules call for being "reasonably civil." Deliberately using offensive language isn't civil. They also bar "consistently abus[ing]" other posters.

I should think that riding J Thomas like he was Secretariat to the tune of several thousand words all because he doesn't use his "Shift" key -- and does so in a completely equal-opportunity manner -- is very nearly a textbook definition of "consistently abus[ing] other posters." YMMV.

My only offense-taking came after that, from his further explanations that he doesn't care that he's being offensive.

That is not, in fact, what he said.

But my advice (worth every penny): this comes across just a little too dismissive of the threat IMO. This gives the right angles to work with.

OCS -- With all due respect (which is considerable):

The issue here is that there *was no threat* to be dismissive of. Iraq presented no credible threat, terror-related or otherwise, to the US.

Hussein was a SOB. There are no doubt few who are sorry to see him gone. That's not the same as a threat to the US.

Regarding how this plays in Peoria, I think, at this point, that most folks get that. I don't think the Dems have anything to fear here.

This is one of threads that I should have stayed out of. I’m out now.

You may wish to bow out for reasons of your own, but speaking for myself, I can think of no thread I've ever read on ObWi which did not benefit from your participation.

Best.

Their views aren't terribly different from that of the Irgun Zeva'i Le'umi

Strangest fun fact to know and tell -- Dr. Ruth Westheimer, diminuitive radio sex therapist, was once a sniper for the Irgun.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to reclaim conservatism from its current practitioners.

Please do. We'd all welcome it.

Thanks -

russell: even stranger fact: Harold Bloom, of all people, once told someone I know (Yale undergrad) that he was in the Irgun, and somehow, apropos of what I can't recall, I mentioned this to someone else, who turned out to have been Harold Bloom's college roommate; he burst out laughing and said that was completely, totally false. Leaving me to wonder: huh?

"Strangest fun fact to know and tell -- Dr. Ruth Westheimer, diminuitive radio sex therapist, was once a sniper for the Irgun."

Haganah, actually. Not the Irgun.

I've met her, actually. It was a terribly exciting conversation. She said "Echscuse me, but can you tell me vich vay is Rena Wolner's office?" And I said "yes, it's that one at the corner," as I pointed. "Thenk you very much," said Dr. Ruth.

My life is chock-a-block with such brushes with fame.

Re OCSteve: "...but speaking for myself, I can think of no thread I've ever read on ObWi which did not benefit from your participation."

That's not just speaking for yourself; that's speaking for at least almost everyone.

"Leaving me to wonder: huh?"

I've mentioned here before knowing people who have worked to edit books published under Bloom's name, who have a great deal of hostile opinion regarding Bloom's honesty in general, have I not?

Haganah, actually. Not the Irgun.

My bad. Thanks for the correction!

My life is chock-a-block with such brushes with fame.

I know a couple of semi-well-known jazz musicians personally, but that's because I've paid them good money to study with them.

Short of that, the best I can do is that I once rode on an elevator with Hermione Gingold. And her little dog, too.

Best -

I know a couple of semi-well-known jazz musicians personally

Russell, name those names!

Well, seems like this thread kinda derailed. For the record, I'm not offended by Gary's "all you conservatives look alike" remark. After all, we do. We taste alike, too. We taste like chickenhawk. ;)

"My bad. Thanks for the correction!"

It's particularly worth mentioning, in my view, because I regard being in the Haganah as an honorable thing (though as with any military, that of course doesn't mean I approve of every single thing they ever did, since I don't).

Whereas I have considerable trouble with a great many things the Irgun did.

This is, to be sure, the distinction between the original Labour Unity/Mapai, wich morphed into the Israeli Labor Party (Avoda), and the original Herut, which became the foundation for the Likud, which goes back even further into the Labor Zionist movement and Haganah, versus the Revisionists of of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and then Irgun and Begin and Stern Gang and Shamir. It's one long continuity (with some zigs and zags).

Russell, name those names!

I think I'll hold my peace on that one. They're mostly Boston area folks, mostly drummers.

I did, however, forget one other brush with fame. I once ran into Steven Tyler late one night while walking down Lansdowne Street (big club block in Boston's Fenway). He had a standard-issue model type on each arm. Our conversation was:

ST: "Dude, where'd you get the pizza?"
me: "The place on the corner is still open"
ST: "Thanks"

Thanks -

JT: USE YOUR CAPITALS. GF: RECOGNIZE THAT MANY PEOPLE DON'T USE THE SHIFT KEY IN BLOG WRITING and don't have any intention of giving the word the meaning given to the word if it were uncapitalized in a different context. seriously, must you be offended?"

"i believe that the evidence suggests that you are in the minority in this position"

Here? Could be. But if anyone wants to go out and survey 20 random Jews and 20 random Palestinians (all of whom are fluent in written English), I'd be surprised if the surveyer didn't find that at least 5 of each people aren't also offended at the usage.

GARY, ARE YOU PALESTINIAN, OR ISRAELI, OR JEWISH?

I REMEMBER A LONG TIME AGO TERESA NIELSEN-HAYDEN TOLD ME NOT TO USE THE WORD "ESKIMO" BECAUSE IT WAS OFFENSIVE TO INUIT PEOPLE. I AGREED NOT TO USE THE WORD IF THERE WERE ANY INUITS PRESENT IN THE ROUNDTABLE.

I THINK I'VE BEEN PRETTY GOOD AT NOT TAKING OFFENSE AT YOUR WORDS. WE NOMINALISTS TEND TO BE LIKE THAT. ;)

Sorry to continue the discussion. I've found the whole thing funny except it looks like you're really offended, and I don't want to be rude except I feel like you're very much out of line.

I'd tell a story about the bigger theme of word magic except that would be continuing even more. Maybe some other time, some other context.

Near-brushes with fame:

I shook Johnny Weismuller's hand, a long time ago. Before he, you know, died.

I exchanged a few sentences with James Whitmore, ages ago when he was doing Will Rogers.

I chatted with Jerry Mulligan for a while, back in the mid-'70s. He was playing with Dave Brubeck's band (Brubeck, Brubeck, Brubeck, Brubeck and Mulligan, IIRC) at the time at a ridiculouly small venue in my hometown.

Similar brief brushes with other musicians of varying fame: Henry Cuesta, Chuck Mangione, Wood Herman, Clark Terry.

Other than that, I'm almost completely fame-free. Oh, my brother's college roommate (and current buddy) was a guy named Todd Wagner, who is currently fabulously wealthy from his shares in Broadcast.com, which s a company he started with Mark Cuban.

Other than that, I don't rub elbows with anyone who doesn't rub elbows with the hoi polloi.

Many years ago my hometown paper in Detroit sponsored a "most memorable brush with fame" contest.

The winner was someone who went into the restroom at Tiger Stadium, opened a stall door, and encountered Tom Selleck sitting on the can.

I think that one's pretty hard to top.

More fun with capitalization:

I love Dilbert because it captures the "great ideas" that often come down from above. You just have to beleive that someone sat around a big conference table, debated the merits, and decided that it was a good, effective idea.

So, below is an example of Dilbert in action. It is the meaty part of an email I received at work a while ago.

From now on capitalize the word "Families" in all Army correspondence. See below.
________
Can you please blast this out by way of EOC?
Directive from the Acting Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff...
Effective immediately, the word "Families" when referring to "Army Families" will be capitalized in all Army Correspondence.
This is just like "Soldier" is to be capitalized when referring to US Army Soldiers in Army correspondence.
________
Sir, forgive the double-tap, but this just in (on Army Families) from the DAS. For our adherence, effective immediately, the word "Families" will be capitalized in all Army correspondence. VR
________
Sirs, ma'am, SMA, and team,
The Acting Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff, Army have emphasized that Army Families are a key component of our readiness. Army Families shoulder a great burden of sacrifice, supporting their Soldier and often enduring long periods of separation from their loved ones. Top
notch care and support of Army Families demonstrate our sincere appreciation and gratitude for their many contributions, and allow our Soldiers to fully concentrate on the fight and focus on their duties.
Effective immediately, the word "Families" will be capitalized in all Army correspondence. Please ensure wide dissemination of this change. Thanks for your continued efforts to do all you can to provide steadfast support to our Army Families.
________

I know my family truly appreciates being capitalized. We were not sure of the quality of support we were getting before this initiative, but thankfully, the Army Secretary and Chief of Staff are working hard to ensure we get our due.

"I know my family truly appreciates being capitalized. We were not sure of the quality of support we were getting before this initiative, but thankfully, the Army Secretary and Chief of Staff are working hard to ensure we get our due."

Doesn't your Family deserve to be in all-caps?

I already screwed it up...

Brushes with the famous:

Shook hands with Joe Frazier when he was World Champion and I was a senior in high school. He appeared to be genuinely pleased with the donation we were making to his charitable foundation, but he had an intense physical presence that made me feel like I was on stage with one very, very dangerous predator.

My friend and I once sang "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah" a capella to Mother Theresa in the baggage claim area at Hanoi airport . . .

but I'm sure you've all done that sometime.

but I'm sure you've all done that sometime.

Did MT do Jägermeister shots with you too?

Because if she didn't, she didn't really like you.

Ron Paul is the only worthwhile candidate amongst them, unfortunately he's not getting the airtime or coverage he deserves because he's anti Iraq War and not backed by big business.

I'M A REPUBLICAN AND I SMOKE WEED. I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT LIBERAL DEMOCRATS. THE U.S. IS ABOUT COMMERCE AND THE BIG $. SO LET ME TEND TO MY BUSINESS

Brushes with fame: one of my students ran over Minnie Pearl. He was rushing through the airport,burdened with baggage, and slammed her with a suitcase. He says she doesn't wear the hat with the price tag off duty.

Big business is killing America!
And fighting against a religion (Muslims - "Taking out Mecca") What a joke... Hitler anyone?

Wake up! Bush is bringing this all on himself and Americans are going to pay the price for it!

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