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Re-branding "Honour Killings"
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #1
Re-branding "Honour Killings"

Richard Francis on the Indian Atheists forum on Atheist Nexus posted the following:

Quote:There have been more killings in England and around the world recently centred around Sharia Law and they are still being called 'honour' killings. One earlier this year ended up with an innocent couple being killed because the murderers got the wrong house!

Can we please find a different name for it. I would suggest vanity killings or ego killings.

We have stopped using phrases like 'happy slapping' and 'joy riders' because language is so important. Let's do the same thing for this.

Any suggestions or thoughts?

I suggested "Shame Killings" (read the thread linked above for my reasons why I like this replacement). Any other suggestions? I think we can organize an online campaign to stop the mainstream media from using the term "honour killings" and instead make it clear to the people who would commit such despicable crimes that their shame will be multiplied many fold if they resort to these acts. Something like this can receive greater public attention rather quickly.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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Lije Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

Shame killing sounds good.
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

I am informing Richard of our discussion. If we have sufficient support we can start an online petition on http://petitiononline.com

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(This post was last modified: 05-01-2011 01:58 AM by Ajita Kamal.)
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unsorted Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

I like it too Ajita. How do we go about "meme-ifying" this?
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"


"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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manju Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

I agree with the idea that we need to point out that there is no honour in these killings. But, I feel, 'honour killings' and 'shame killings' aren't all that different terminologies for this phenomenon. I would suggest 'Unmix killings'. But that sounds lame.

Manju Vadiarillat
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

(22-01-2011 08:26 PM)manju Wrote:  But, I feel, 'honour killings' and 'shame killings' aren't all that different terminologies for this phenomenon.

Could you please explain that? I've received the same response elsewhere, but it surprises me since honor and shame are opposing values.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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arvindiyer Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

(23-01-2011 01:39 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:  
(22-01-2011 08:26 PM)manju Wrote:  But, I feel, 'honour killings' and 'shame killings' aren't all that different terminologies for this phenomenon.

Could you please explain that? I've received the same response elsewhere, but it surprises me since honor and shame are opposing values.

I can think of at least one source of this confusion. The word लज्जा, (of Sanskrit origin but common in many vernaculars, and of course made famous by the Bangla novel of the same name Taslima Nasreen) can be translated both as 'shame' and 'modesty/honour'. John T Platts' dictionary made available by the University of Chicago has this definition:

Quote:H لاج लाज lāj [Prk. लज्जा; S. लज्जा], s.f. Shame, sense of decency; bashfulness, modesty;—honour, reputation, good name:—lāj ānā, or lāj lagnā (-ko), or lāj khānā, v.n. To feel ashamed; to take shame to oneself:—lāj tyāgnā, or lāj khonā, or lāj

Many Indians 'who think in Hindi' may therefore mean exactly the same thing when they ask "Have you no shame?" and "Have you no honour?" and possibly consider the two words to be near-synonyms.
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manju Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

(23-01-2011 03:58 AM)arvindiyer Wrote:  Many Indians 'who think in Hindi' may therefore mean exactly the same thing when they ask "Have you no shame?" and "Have you no honour?" and possibly consider the two words to be near-synonyms.

I agree. But I suppose it's universal (Have you no shame?). As pointed out in the Facebook page 'honour' and 'shame' may both represent the point of view of the perpetrators. Or the mainstream media has coined this term from perpetrators' point of view. Maybe a terminology which doesn't qualify the killings but defines the idea behind these killings neutrally could be better.

Manju Vadiarillat
(This post was last modified: 23-01-2011 11:56 PM by manju.)
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #10
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

(23-01-2011 01:03 PM)manju Wrote:  But I suppose it's universal (Have you no shame?). As pointed out in the Facebook page 'honour' and 'shame' may both represent the point of view of the perpetrators. Or the mainstream media has coined this term from perpetrators' point of view. Maybe a terminology which doesn't qualifies the killings but defines the idea behind these killings neutrally could be better.

Arvind's idea seems highly plausible, and I do not think that speakers of English universally see 'shame' and 'honour' the same way. In fact, I see them as opposing values, as I noted earlier.

Regarding the assertion that 'Shame killings" would continue to present the act from the "point of view of the perpetrators", here's what I said:

Quote:"The idea behind adopting the term ‘Shame Killings’ is to hammer in the notion that the greatest shame is in the despicable act of murder. That society at large will not permit such savage ideas to be tolerated as cultural expressions of an ethnic sub-tradition.

The very idea that murder can alleviate one’s sense of shame must be smashed to bits."

Finally, I also disagree on finding neutral terminology (as opposed to using language to frame the argument in favor of reason and compassion). There is no such thing as neutral terminology when discussing morality. In fact, when discussing values I think the mainstream media's obsession with neutral terminology is responsible for widely perpetuating ideas of False Moral Equivalence.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(This post was last modified: 23-01-2011 02:23 PM by Ajita Kamal.)
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arvindiyer Offline
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Post: #11
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

(23-01-2011 02:20 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:  Arvind's idea seems highly plausible, and I do not think that speakers of English universally see 'shame' and 'honour' the same way. In fact, I see them as opposing values, as I noted earlier.


Since I personally read all reports of this form of murder almost exclusively from the English media, I would imagine that 'honour-' and 'shame-' killings would evoke in me very different allusions, and to this extent, this rebranding is efficacious. However I do not know what terminology was used to report these events in the Hindi media and other vernacular media. It will be great if someone who reads Indian-language newspapers on a regular basis could fill us in on that. Anyone out there who can give examples of how Dainik Jaagran or Dinathandi or Anandabazar Patrika or Loksatta reports these events?

Quote:Finally, I also disagree on finding neutral terminology (as opposed to using language to frame the argument in favor of reason and compassion). There is no such thing as neutral terminology when discussing morality.

Yes. "Exogamy execution". How does that sound? Descriptive all right, and neutral too. It's even alliterative. But it falls flat and fails to engage the reader emotionally because its polysyllabic ponderousness makes it sound like a surgical procedure! No wonder an anodyne term like 'medical terminated pregnancy' is shunned by the pro-life brigade in favor of a more gruesome-sounding term like 'baby-killer', which they employ to devastating effect. So I agree that when our mission is to be provocative and call for radical change, we cannot stick to anodyne formulations.

In sum, I would say that 'shame killing' still has my vote. Yes, shame is conflated with honour due to linguistic quirks sometimes, but I wouldn't sweat it too much. For every example of ambiguity like लज्जा/வெட்கம், we can think of a counterexample like मान/மானம் (honour) and अपमान /அவமானம் (dishonour), where the antonymic relation is made obvious.

As an aside, 'vernacularization' is indispensable if we aim at widespread memeing of freethought concepts in India. It was heartening to see the responses to calls for translation of the Out Campaign declaration here, and it would be great if this success can be replicated and surpassed in other projects, like the Pale Blue Dot translation here.
(This post was last modified: 24-01-2011 07:53 AM by arvindiyer.)
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manju Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Re-branding "Honour Killings"

Concluding remarks:
- I agree that we should spread the word that there is no honour in 'honour killings'
- More than the language the idea of 'honour' and 'shame' are complementary even though contradictory
- Neutral terminology is always the better choice even though that shows our limit of imagination

Manju Vadiarillat
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