Profanity: What are your thoughts?
#13
While my language gets quite colourful with friends, I avoid using words that other people perceive to be profane when with strangers, as somehow people often end up focussing more on the "profanity" than on the actual argument. But I don't think it should be banned/censored unless it attacks an individual or community.
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#14
(18-Apr-2010, 11:06 AM)Swati Wrote: In above post, I was referring to socially-conditioned men who use certain words and phrases as terms of abuse. Women also blindly accept and use them.
Why would atheists want to use terms from the reactionary vocabulary of the earlier rebels against organised religions in a forum of atheists?

I echo the question.

By the way, I was trying to search for a "thinking" emoticon on the smilies column, which I did not find.

But I did find this Double fuck and this... FukU

It's a conspiracy and it's taking over the world.
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#15
(29-May-2010, 01:29 AM)egotwist Wrote:
(18-Apr-2010, 11:06 AM)Swati Wrote: In above post, I was referring to socially-conditioned men who use certain words and phrases as terms of abuse. Women also blindly accept and use them.
Why would atheists want to use terms from the reactionary vocabulary of the earlier rebels against organised religions in a forum of atheists?

I echo the question.

By the way, I was trying to search for a "thinking" emoticon on the smilies column, which I did not find.

But I did find this Double fuck and this... FukU

It's a conspiracy and it's taking over the world.

I agree with Rakshi and Swati on the need to eliminate language that is used to attack and abuse women, and people in general, but that is a different subject. The confusion arises because profanity is quite commonly seen as synonymous with something like malediction. This is one of those areas of language that has evolved not based on reasoned analysis but on gut reaction. I think we didn't analyse this properly in the discussion here, and Im gald I have the chance to start it off.

There is something to be said about the difference between profanity and malediction. As we all know there are many fuzzy terms in the English language, so this is an understandable confusion. Both are of course processed in our language centers, and if one hasn't given sufficient thought to the subject, or if one succumbs to social conditioning without analyzing the subject, both seem to be about words that are insults to one's intelligence and very being.

But as Goldenmane and I have made it clear, profanity they way we define it is NOT the same thing as attacking people using personally directed abusive language (malediction). Personal attacks of any kind are a sign of an insecure intellect. Profanity, on the other hand, is a social construct that relies on almost a superstitious/supernaturalist way of perceiving words. This is about words that are significant only because of the emotional associations that people make about them. The emotional associations are important, but when the supernaturalistic element is introduced, these associations can be faulty. Essentially, false emotional associations are made. These false emotional associations are reinforced through social conditioning, much like how abusive language is, as Swati mentioned.

In many ways these emotional misfirings are related to repressive attitudes about sex, although often what is behind the popular disagreement on the subject is the fact that most people do not separate ideas from the people who represent them. As I have said before, criticism of ideas is extremely important. Sometimes the best way (for some of us) to express our level of emotional involvement is to resort to profanity. This has nothing to do with attacking the person being addressed (if there is one).

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge that abusive language, especially language with derogatory implications about women, is a blight on the human character. People who unthinkingly use such language are in fact aiding the continued propagation of negative social biases against women.

However, the subject of how to approach this problem is not so simple to resolve. Contrary to intuition, it is precisely the justified moral outrage directed at these words that makes them such powerful tools in the hands of sexists, racists, homophobes and bigots of all kinds. This has been understood by social scientists and activists alike. Ergo the adoption of certain new ways of dealing with the problem. Many modern feminists embrace words like 'bitch', and use them to signify power and independence. Many of them have taken on the persona as signified by the popular implications of the terms and have altered them to embody their most powerful selves. This is admittedly new in the feminist movement, but we all know how Blacks and homosexuals have embraced words of abuse and actually made them powerful, within a certain context. I must say that I am still undecided about justifying such language, even if analysis supports the argument that it can be somehow justified. The originally intended and commonly held associations are too discomfiting.

I think this is an important conversation to be had, but I also wanted to clearly point out why language used to abuse individuals deserves its own discussion space. Verbal abuse of women and all people must not be confused with benign notions such as profanity, because it diminishes the serious implications of the former. Perhaps someone should start a separate thread to talk about abusive language, especially when it comes to language intended to abuse women.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#16
To make that crystal clear:

Fuck-ing, fuck-ed up, fuck them (the them specifically being religious apologists - ideally, not our own atheists) is acceptable. Adds strength, intensity and flavour!

However, 'eff you' and 'eff off' calls for ban, also pre-fixing it with mother, sister, brother (haven't heard of that one as yet, but you get the gist) will also be deemed offensive.

General guidelines - guidelines being the key word, are always nice So let's negotiate through the eff-ing business of debunking those eff-ing swamis who are nothing but apologies in the name of human beings.

cheers!


p.s.: We do need to thrash this out further, specifically about abusive language towards women, caste and race. We do NOT want racism or caste-ism being confused with atheism.
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#17
I don't see a problem with it at all. Apart from a fanatical devotion to freedom of speech, another reason I don't support censorship like this is that it reeks of elitism and intellectual superiority when you decide that a rational or logical argument can only be made by using a certain type of language or jargon, a way of excluding the common man that religion and authority has used for millenia. Plus, if you're really interested in learning, then how can you ignore something as important as linguistics, and how language develops. English is a living, evolving language, and banning 'profanity' only limits the range and types of expressions we see on here. The internet is a great medium to observe the evolution of language, how it changes and co-opts new sub-cultures and their terminology. Censorship anywhere on the internet seems counter-productive to me.
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#18
(17-Apr-2010, 06:49 PM)jayeshvv Wrote: am sure members here are mature enuf not to post vulgarity or be lewd in their lingo.

But who decides what maturity is? Who decides what is vulgar or lewd? We live in the age of the internet, where Rule 34 reigns supreme and goatse is a rite of passage. The internet takes breaking taboos and pushing the limits of decency and taste as a never-ending challenge, moving much much faster than mainstream society. I'm a strong believer in the idea that nobody has the right to not be offended. If you don't like something, ignore it and move on. Unlike television, on the internet nobody is restricting you to visit only a particular set of sites, and nobody controls what content you view. Considering that ideas of decency and vulgarity are not only subjective, but vary wildly across age groups and socio-cultural groups, I think the onus of regulation here lies on the reader, and not the content provider/ comment writer.
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#19
(30-May-2010, 11:44 AM)egotwist Wrote: To make that crystal clear:

Fuck-ing, fuck-ed up, fuck them (the them specifically being religious apologists - ideally, not our own atheists) is acceptable. Adds strength, intensity and flavour!

However, 'eff you' and 'eff off' calls for ban, also pre-fixing it with mother, sister, brother (haven't heard of that one as yet, but you get the gist) will also be deemed offensive.

General guidelines - guidelines being the key word, are always nice So let's negotiate through the eff-ing business of debunking those eff-ing swamis who are nothing but apologies in the name of human beings.

cheers!



p.s.: We do need to thrash this out further, specifically about abusive language towards women, caste and race. We do NOT want racism or caste-ism being confused with atheism.

Honestly, saying fuck you or fuck off calls for a ban? and saying motherfucker is offensive? That's a lot more restrictive than any forum I've ever regularly posted on. Ditto with the racism/casteism/sexism guidelines.

One of the most interesting and intellectual forums I've seen is this one called Barbelith (closed membership, I just lurk), and I remember a very intense, educational and productive discussion that erupted out of someone cracking a joke that involved the term 'Paki' in a context that wasn't obviously racist, and whether that should be censored or not. If you're trying to build a community of rational, thinking people here, I'd suggest you at least give them the benefit of the doubt and let them self-correct any obvious instances of racism or casteism.

Banning/deleting posts/ censorship is almost always counter-productive, and inconducive to the free exchange of information or ideas. Of course, unneccessarily and consistent inflammatory remarks and trolling should be acted against, but it's easier and better to leave that to the community and the common sense of the moderator, don't you think? I trust that any self-respecting community would castigate blatant abuse much better than a ban/ post deletion, while also furthering conversation and consensus on taboos and limits. Further, these limits will be derived by the community, they will be fluid and changing, and always open to challenge. On the other hand, ban threats, to me at least, are a sign of less than open communication. If you really do choose to enforce such guidelines, all we will have are sterile, 'pat each other on the back' discussions that accomplish nothing except for a circlejerk of ego-stroking.

This is the internet. The rules are different here. I don't mean to sound condescending, and I'm sure some of you know more about this than
I do. But I've been an observer and participant in online communities for a long time, and the most vibrant, constructive and healthy communities have been those with little to none moderator oversight (who mostly just focus on spamming and/or NSFW content), but a lot of focus on self-correction. That is how organic growth happens. Communities that try too hard to guide their growth, or set too many limitations almost always end up either dead, or as a circlejerk of people with similar opinions and an over-inflated intellectual ego.
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#20
Quote:One of the most interesting and intellectual forums I've seen is this one called Barbelith (closed membership, I just lurk)

Ok I just checked out http://www.barbelith.com/ and I am impressed with the design and format. Not so much with the woo, but still.

And yes I agree, people should get a chance to correct or explain themselves if they have used anything that in any way "offends" anyone else. Unless of course, the person is obviously is troll or fundie.
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#21
(16-Apr-2010, 07:29 PM)dsriharsha Wrote: fuck yeah!! Big Grin

I think that one responses encompasses everything that relates to use of 'profanity' on these forums. Personal attacks can be moderated (of course, the question comes: "Who watches the watchmen". A sort of 'This-is-war-mechanism' can be used to judge responses.), moved to something like an 'anger management' sort of forum to just have people slug it out when they are really mad at someone or on a disagreement. Doing so would also help smooth out discussions keeping focus on the topic and not on personal gaga.

Also, it would be silly on the side of the mods/admins to censor words/phrases like "omFg" or "fuck!!" etc which are more of "exclamations".
Further, the onus is on the members to act with a certain sense of .. umm.. 'maturity' when responding to topics.

Just my $0.02..
-Suraj
'The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.' - Carl Sagan
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#22
Well worth the one hour!

The Stuff of Thought : Language as a window into human nature – Steven Pinker
http://atheistclimber.wordpress.com/2010...en-pinker/

(This is an amazing insight into the uses of language, the way we say things, and swearing. It reveals more about our nature as humans than we give it credit for. It’s quite lengthy, but to be fair to the topic, I think it deserves this amount of time. So grab a coffee/tea/beer and sit back and enjoy.

WARNING: There is some very crass language in this talk.)
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