moderation open thread
#1
The 'moderation open thread' will be the sole venue for queries regarding moderation and discussions not pertaining to moderation will not be entertained therein.
The primary purpose of this thread is to encourage interaction between members and moderators for a better understanding of moderation rules and for refining them if necessary.
Members banned from groups besides the forum are permitted to make forum posts here pending resolution of grievances,but appealing against one's banning/removal should be avoided as such a personal discussion is unlikely to be conclusive in a public form.
In that case ,please send an email at moderators@nirmukta.com asking to be re-instated.
Present your case with as much detail as possible and linking to past references if need be.
Your email will be reviewed by both the moderation team and the nirmukta board and replied back as soon as possible.
Please read the rules before replying.
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#2
Hi, My account is disabled in Indian Atheist debate corner facebook group without any communication. I also reappliced twice to join the group and the request is declined both of the times. I don't think I have violated any of the rule. One of the thread that I started is also deleted from the wall. Kindly advice.
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#3
We're not sure why you were removed; many of the admins are away because of the long-ish weekend so we haven't heard back from everyone yet. If there's no satisfactory explanation, we'll add you back again. So just hang on for a few more days.
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#4
Question 
In the following paragraphs, I shall use the word base to replace a certain 5-letter word which is considered sexist and insulting by its definition, and consequently, the word bases to replace its plural form. Kindly excuse the original word's appearance in the embedded image and in the link URLs.

The catchphrase "Science. It works, bases." was invented and popularized by the XKCD webcomic in their comic number 54 (shown below; link). Since then, many others have used this catchphrase with the same humorous intent as the XKCD comic authors have originally intended.

[Image: science.jpg]

In my understanding, the comic authors did not intent the word "bases" in their comic to be either sexist (singling out women as not capable of understanding science) or insulting (calling those who do not understand science a base). Their intention was a humorous jest at those who think there are explanations to a phenomenon other than what science can provide. The emphasis is on the "It works" part, and not on the "bases" part.

A Google search reveals that many others share the same or similar understanding with me and have used the same catchphrase in their websites, blogs and even on Facebook, as seen (in no particular order of priority) here, here, here, here, here, here and here. (Not to mention, the numerous reposts of the comic itself.) Also, I could not find anyone even among the anti-sexist community who found the XKCD comic introducing this phrase as being sexist, or who accused the cartoonists as being misogynists. But that could be because XKCD issues a disclaimer that their publications may contain strong language.

By the stating the above, I am not attempting to justify my use of the word "base" in one of my comments I made in the Indian Atheists Debate Corner. In the comment, I used a slightly modified version of the catchphrase: "Science works, bases!" It was not my intention to modify it, but my memory of the catchphrase was not perfect. I had intended the phrase in the exact same way as the XKCD cartoonists had intended, without being sexist or insulting. However, I completely understand that my comment could be considered in violation of rule number 2 in the Forum Rules.

I have also read some of the articles shown to me regarding how a given word, such as base, is always objectively sexist and insulting, regardless of the context. But I do not completely agree with these assertions, and I think IMHO that the offensive nature of a word does not merely depend on its definition, but also on its context. While I apologize for using the sexist term base in my comments, I wish to state in my defence that the use of the term cannot reasonably be considered sexist in the given context, for the same reasons as to how the very similar use of the term in the context of the XKCD comic would not be considered so either.

Once again, I wish to state that I apologise for the use of a sexist term in my comment. But I wish to hear from you as to why the context in which the term is used can be completely disregarded when determining whether the term is sexist or not. I have already read the articles such as this and this, but I still feel that leaving out the context and basing the judgement merely on the definition is really not the right way. I would be delighted to have a discussion about this, but we may have to agree to disagree.

Having said the above, I request you to unblock me from the Debate Corner. Hereafter I will attempt, to the best of my ability, to avoid using words that maybe sexist, racist or offensive in some way even if they may not be in an offensive context. Thank you.
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#5
XKCD is an excellent webcomic. But it is not infallible or inerrant. No one is, not even Dawkins or P.Z. Myers. So let's talk about the actual arguments for allowing such terminology, and consider the counter arguments.

Your first argument is that there is no sexist intent behind the use of the term.

The rather obvious answer to this is that uninformed intent must be educated when a term has sexist connotations that are implied regardless of intent.

Your second argument is that such words must be taken on contextual meaning.

The answer to this is yes, and context is not limited to where you as the user draw the line but extends beyond that to from where the implied connotations are derived and where the reader's preconceived biases lie. That is, definitions and situational context are not mutually exclusive when such loaded words are used. That is, the word has a cultural connotation that is embedded in our subconscious. Prejudice (gender, race etc) in the modern age is almost never explicit, and almost always through deeply ingrained cultural memes. Granted, this is pushing the use of language to an edge from where numerous such arguments can take us down different slippery slopes. But we can only take these one at a time, and in this case the men and women who are behind Nirmukta have made a decision.

I mentioned this to the others when we discussed this issue in our administrators meet. I used to use the term 'bitch' (or biatch or beotch etc) a lot when I lived in the US, often when hanging out with my very progressive friends, and always in the context of other guys. I do not anymore. Think about this- even if I use the word 'bitch' to refer to my best friend, I can still find the word at the tip of my tongue when I'm really angry at a woman. I wouldn't use it if I'm angry with a guy (I'd probably find a male-specific slur ready to be hurled at him, which is also something I'm against). Even though I consider myself a progressive, my 'generic' use of "bitch" belies a deeper connotation. Of course, this connotation is less transparent in society at large.

The bottom line is this. Why use a word that is often used in a derogatory way towards women (or to dis a man by implying that he is a woman, thus clearly symbolizing social bias against the female sex) when there are so many perfectly gender neutral swear words?
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#6
Quote:Having said the above, I request you to unblock me from the Debate Corner. Hereafter I will attempt, to the best of my ability, to avoid using words that maybe sexist, racist or offensive in some way even if they may not be in an offensive context. Thank you.

The facebook moderators will have to make the final decision on this, but I will vouch for you to be added back if you can agree that contextual meaning is not just limited to the situational context but extends to the cultural context which gives meaning to language as a whole, and includes the abuse of women using such words (and the use of such words to diss men by implying they are women, thus reinforcing prejudice against women).
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#7
Thank you for your informative reply. I must say, I agree with your points. However, I would like to clear something with you. As you have said the following:

(27-Sep-2011, 12:27 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: The bottom line is this. Why use a word that is often used in a derogatory way towards women (or to dis a man by implying that he is a woman, thus clearly symbolizing social bias against the female sex) when there are so many perfectly gender neutral swear words?

If instead of my original phrase, I had used the phrase "Science works, assholes!" (forgive my use of the word here), would that be considered an acceptable comment in the forum or the Facebook group? According to one of the links provided to me by the admin, "asshole" is a gender neutral swear word. My initial understanding of the admin's reaction to my use of the b-word was that all profanity is forbidden in the discussions, including gender neutral words such as "asshole".

PS: As a sidenote, I know and agree that using any swear word (neutral or otherwise) to attack someone personally is unacceptable.
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#8
Hi and thanks for reading the links provided, in your defense you point out several cases where the word is used , but as ajita pointed out , no source is infallible, but i would like to point out that your banning was not just carried out only because of your language, we don't expect everyone to understand the problems with some words,but at the same time we expect them be careful in case they are pointed out, in public group such as IADC, since nirmukta represents it , it is also answerable to language used, so we expect from members that they must stop defending a position that is possibly sexist even when they are not clear about it for that time, and ask queries via PM or other sources provided (such as this thread) ,in your case not only was there no acknowledgement but also straightforward defiance
after sunil pointed out to you, firstly you sarcastically agreed to abide by the rules and then defended your position by saying that we are using blind to context filter,and it was acknowledgement we wanted from your side which you only give us now in this thread,
Quote:Oh who am I kidding... fine, whatever pleases your morality.. jeez I wish Indians would get over the "bad word good word" thinking like I did and realize there are different ways of using the same word and just because one way is unacceptable, it doesn't mean all ways are unacceptable.

Quote:Offence can only be taken, never given. If you want to take offence from something where none is implied, I can't do anything about it (or rather, that's your problem).

Quote:Seriously speaking, is this really important here? Making sure every word used goes through a *blind-to-context* profanity filter? Really??

i have already presented 2 links above, about context, context is definitely considered always but even when you use such words in a a particular context and defend it in a public group the way you did , you were doing your part in making it's asage acceptable even in other contexts, and we were not blind to context which is why we simply asked you to be careful next time , had you used a language that was sexist and insulting obviously and explicitly it would have called for straightforward ban without warning.

Another link i'd like you to read that explains why we need to agree and change our langauge even when we may not understand the reason, since we have fur and may not understand the reason,from the link
Quote:Maybe you don’t see anything wrong with it, maybe you think it’s oh-so-perfect to your artistic vision, maybe it seems like an oversensitive big deal over nothing to you. WELL OF COURSE IT DOES, YOU HAVE FUR.
Quote:That’s not a bad thing. You can’t help being born with fur. Every single one of us has some kind of privilege over somebody. What matters is whether we’re aware of it, and what we choose to do with it, and that we not use it to dismiss the valid and real concerns of the people who don’t share our particular brand.

about the point about assholes, again i want to reiterate that there are levels of offenses, we ask members to watch their language but not as often or as strictly we ask them to watch their sexist language(your case) still not often or as strictly we deal with blunt sexist insults

honestly there was no display of acknowledgement on facebook and though now you seem to have changed your stance , i should have no problem with you being unblocked but that is a collective decision and may take some time hope you stand by what you said
Quote:Having said the above, I request you to unblock me from the Debate Corner. Hereafter I will attempt, to the best of my ability, to avoid using words that maybe sexist, racist or offensive in some way even if they may not be in an offensive context. Thank you.
but i do have doubts since saying that we are blind to context ,
so as ajita said ...
Quote: if you can agree that contextual meaning is not just limited to the situational context but extends to the cultural context which gives meaning to language as a whole, and includes the abuse of women using such words (and the use of such words to diss men by implying they are women, thus reinforcing prejudice against women).





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#9
Thank you for your reply and I agree that it was inappropriate of me to show defiance instead of issuing an acknowledgement.

(27-Sep-2011, 12:43 PM)ADTC Wrote: If instead of my original phrase, I had used the phrase "Science works, assholes!" (forgive my use of the word here), would that be considered an acceptable comment in the forum or the Facebook group?

(27-Sep-2011, 01:23 PM)LMC Wrote: about the point about assholes, again i want to reiterate that there are levels of offenses, we ask members to watch their language but not as often or as strictly we ask them to watch their sexist language(your case) still not often or as strictly we deal with blunt sexist insults

I understand what you're saying here, but I still wish to have a clear-cut answer for the situation here. You have access to the original thread in IADC which started this situation, where I used the phrase "Science works, b---es!". If instead of using such a phrase, I had used "Science works, a--holes!" would that have still merited the original warning from an admin? Or would that have been acceptable?


(27-Sep-2011, 01:23 PM)LMC Wrote: honestly there was no display of acknowledgement on facebook and though now you seem to have changed your stance , i should have no problem with you being unblocked but that is a collective decision and may take some time hope you stand by what you said
Quote: if you can agree that contextual meaning is not just limited to the situational context but extends to the cultural context which gives meaning to language as a whole, and includes the abuse of women using such words (and the use of such words to diss men by implying they are women, thus reinforcing prejudice against women).

I agree that contextual meaning is not limited to situational context, but extends also to cultural context. I wish to make my acknowledgements here and would like you to remove the block.
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#10
Quote:" If instead of using such a phrase, I had used "Science works, a--holes!" would that have still merited the original warning from an admin?"
simple answer , no.

i have already replied,we ask members to watch their language but not as often or as strictly we ask them to watch their sexist language(your case) still not often or as strictly we deal with blunt sexist insults
this is not rocket science man Mad,as a thumb rule use decent language, avoid expletives specially racist and sexist and when pointed out do not retort back putting the blame on others,you have been unblocked.Flowers
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#11
Hi, While having debate in the facebook group "Indian atheist Debate corner" I am warned that I may take risk of ban if I talk against secular values like equality, freedom, etc.
Now, being a Muslim and as per my understanding of Islam I believe that Islam clearly distinguishes between social role of men and women which is generally termsed as "sexism". In the same way, Islam is very clear about the ruling that "homosexuality" is not acceptable act or behavior. In the same way, Islam has its own restriction and does not accept all kind of "freedom" that a secular society believes.
So, if I participate in the group. I have following options.
1. whenever something is posted against Islam pertaining to disregard or disapproval related to the above mentioned differences, I should denounce Islam and accept secular injection. In this case, you should remove the word "debate" as the moment I accept your secular ideology, debate cannot exist.
2. I have to be dishonest with myself and all the atheist members and claim that..No, Islam does not say that. I don't think you would like to nurture this kind of dishonesty in the group.
3. I try to prove that Islamic rules are more natural to human biology as well as civilizational development. In this case, I am already warned that I can be banned from the group.
4. This options is for you. Here, group admin should add a rule that, secular social issues should not be discussed here and only theological posting is allowed. This would extremely limit the scope debate in the group and certainly no one would accept this rule including admins as well as myself.
5. Atheists and secularists are allowed to make all kind of attack on Islamic social values and the only option I have is to watch without making any comments and I can only address theological issues. This cannot be called healthy debate environment in any sense.

BTW, I did not make any abusive comments or slur about the above mentioned social values, I only expressed my conviction and attempted to prove my point logically.
By having such policy, what group demand is that, I should accept secularism or pretend to accept secularism if I want to defend my faith. If I accept secular social values, Islam is indeed wrong. Since I am Muslim, I do not accept secular social values. Isn't this paradox?
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#12
(28-Sep-2011, 08:48 PM)AbdusSalam Khalifa Wrote: By having such policy, what group demand is that, I should accept secularism or pretend to accept secularism if I want to defend my faith. If I accept secular social values, Islam is indeed wrong. Since I am Muslim, I do not accept secular social values. Isn't this paradox?

For starters, I am NOT a moderator and am speaking in the capacity of a member who happened to see this (Mods, feel free to delete if I am interrupting)

The above demand would be reasonable in a world when a freethinker is allowed to participate unconditionally in a Quranic fundamentalist forum without accepting Quranic (or Hadith-based) values.
Further, how come apologists for Islam seek the 'secular social value' of free speech to make their medievalistic case, when the same 'secular social value' is rejected wherever society is organized according to Shariah dictates? Isn't this a paradox?

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