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>I’m going off the rails on an [ableist slur redacted] train. Also: Cat poll!

>

Well, discussions about my second Scott Adams piece over on Feministe (which was basically identical to my post here) have now been completely derailed by a number of commenters who’ve decided I’m “ableist” because I used the word … “idiot.”  That word, they have decided, is offensive to the “cognitively impaired.” If you want to wade into the mess, here’s the comment that, while polite in itself, started the long slide down this particular rabbit hole. You can see my responses in blue further down in the comments.
I consider this kind of language policing to the EXTREME! to be bad for feminism (and frankly insulting to people with disabilities), and I’m glad a number of others have stood up against it in the comments there.  I don’t think that the language police are in the majority at Feministe, much less in feminism at large. But these debates are so frustrating that many feminists who disagree with the language police end up biting their tongues and/or just walking away. At some point I may post more about this fraught topic here.
In the meantime, I’m am conducting a little poll about cats. Please click the appropriate button in the graphic above. Clicking it won’t actually do anything, but I’m pretty sure what the results are going to be anyway. Go kitties!
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If you enjoyed this post, would you kindly* use the “Share This” or one of the other buttons below to share it on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or wherever else you want. I appreciate it. 
*Yes, that was a Bioshock reference.
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makomk
9 years ago

>That's some nasty language policing, yeah. Especially because as David correctly pointed out, the dictionary definition is "showing complete lack of thought or common sense : foolish" and this is also both the common usage and the original meaning of the word. Sure, it was used in ways that were ablist some years ago, but so were all the other synonyms that could've been used instead, and for the exact same reason: ablism meant that society didn't really distinguish between acting in a way that lacked thought or common sense and having a mental disability until relatively recently. Which says a lot about ablism and justifies not using words like "idiot" to describe the cognitively impaired, but makes the language policing a bit much.This kind of language policing leaves us with no clear, short way to express the idea that someone's acting in a thoughtless manner. That's starting to get outright Orwellian.

Nahida
9 years ago

>I like cats. One of my friend's friends has a black cat with green eyes that was supposed to be mine, but I couldn't take him in. (The cat, not the friend.) He's grown up now and looks slick like a panther. He also doesn't shut up. It's awesome. I sneak him food when no one's looking.

DarkSideCat
9 years ago

>@makomk (and those that have expressed similar ideas), I do not use "crazy" or "retarded" and try my hardest to avoid intelligence/intellect based terms and manage to insult and namecall just fine. "This kind of language policing leaves us with no clear, short way to express the idea that someone's acting in a thoughtless manner. " How about "acting thoughtless" or using "thoughtless" as an adjective? We also have terms like "rude", "uncaring", "unthinking", "callous", "foolish", "silly", "absurd", "ridiculous", etc. My neice loved to call things "silly" when she was barely two. These words are not inacessible or too advanced, the problem is that we are raised in a culture where it is acceptable and habitual to use ablist (as well as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) language automatically and without consideration.@NWO "I'm sure you'll want to keep misogynist, woman hater, has a small dick, can't get laid, rape apologist, deadbeat(unemployed)dad, loser, white privilege, has mommy issues, man up, manchild, ect. ect. ect. in your arsenol of goodies." I do not use all of those terms (man up, man child, mommy issues, can't get laid, small dick), but those I do use I use with the specific intent and knowledge that I am using them with negative moral judgement. When I call someone a rape apologist, I am saying that I believe they are a literal rape apologist and that this is bad (the same with misogynist, woman hater, and white privilege). It is not a metaphor or an insult by association, it is a direct and literal statement of a negative behavior.

Sam
Sam
9 years ago

>@Darksidecat See, the trouble is, with the possible exception of callous, those are by and large some toothless insults. Part of what makes invective effective is that it IS by design hurtful, and much like a weapon, a particularly devastating word choice WILL have some collateral damage. By way of example, "Rude" is something your mom might tell you you're being at the dinner table eating with your elbows up; I doubt she would call you classless, trailer trash or human garbage. That is because these terms are much more loaded and, therefore, more judgemental. They're also WAY more classist. The point is, if you want to use language to be offensive, you will have to offend people.Of course, if you don't WANT to be offensive, well where's the fun in that?

Marissa
9 years ago

>Bee said:My idea about terminology (which is somewhat separate from my use of such–I try not to use possibly offensive terms in places I'm not sure about) is a kind of balancing test. What is the usefulness of the word? How likely is it to offend? I might be tempted to say, "Boehner is such a moron!" or "The war on uteri drives me crazy!" but, even if the likelihood that those terms will offend is pretty low, the words I've used aren't as accurate as they might be. What I really mean is: "Boehner is an evil asshole," and "I am enraged over the war on uteri." Much better on two counts.This this this, so much.

Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

>nicko81m said… "privilege deniers" ROFL. Me as the average male, I don't feel one tiny winy little bit of privilege over women. Feminists are highly delusional laughable nitwits But but but male privilege and patriarchy is everywhere I tell ya. Even that there’s no logic explanation or real evidence, it’s everywhere because delusional feminazitards say soI think we can safely say that this post has removed all doubt as to whether nicko is a spambot. Seriously, nicko, would you like some dressing on that word-salad?

cboye
9 years ago

>Sam:I don't think in a good discussion you should be shooting to offend the OP or anyone else, but you should be shooting to express exactly how pissed you are, and that's why words like "rude" just aren't going to cut it. That suggests that you're moderately annoyed at the OP, when in fact you're completely pissed off.It's also worth pointing out that "foolish" and "silly" have both referred to mentally handicapped people in times past.-katz

Kave
9 years ago

>I don't worry much about offending people. I say what I say and frankly if someone is going to have a panic attack because of a word they read on the internet that is very much their problem, not mine or society in general. I've read through David's blog pretty much from start to finish, often the comments are as amusing as the posts themselves. This is the first time feminists have come out looking like idiots. It could be said that feminists can't leave the house or they would be rendered helpless from overhearing a word that upset them. Not the feminists I know, but on a blog dedicated to mocking the crazy in the mra it's interesting to have a post that really does point out the crazy in the feminists.(if that set upon you a panic attack… I recommend you seek medical attention)

triplanetary
9 years ago

>I don't worry much about offending people. I say what I say and frankly if someone is going to have a panic attack because of a word they read on the internet that is very much their problem, not mine or society in general.Ooh, a declaration of edginess and political incorrectness. That's not trite at all.Nobody's impressed, trust me.

Kave
9 years ago

>Why would I trust you Trip? I have no doubt not everyone would agree with me, but I also wouldn't have the audacity to say that no one would agree. What I will say is I will not censor myself because someone somewhere might be upset.

triplanetary
9 years ago

>What I will say is I will not censor myself because someone somewhere might be upset.A reasonable position. But when someone actually is upset and expresses that, I think it's a little inconsiderate to just brush them off. You can choose to do something about their offense or do nothing, but at least consider it. I just don't see the value in making a sweeping declaration that you're not going to worry about offending people.

triplanetary
9 years ago

>Oh, and to answer your other question (why you should trust me), because I'm sexy.

Pam
Pam
9 years ago

>It could be said that feminists can't leave the house or they would be rendered helpless from overhearing a word that upset them.Yes, Kave, and wasn't that one of the many tactics that have been employed over the centuries in an effort to keep women confined to a narrow sphere? Y'know, how women needed protection from the harsh realities of the outside world that would do undue harm to their delicate sensibilities. Let's call bullshit on that, and then set about to display how the harsh realities of the outside world do indeed harm our delicate sensibilities.

Pam
Pam
9 years ago

>But when someone actually is upset and expresses that, I think it's a little inconsiderate to just brush them off.Yes, that would be inconsiderate. But the world outside of the Feministe blog doesn't come complete with "Trigger Warnings" for everything that might trigger a panic attack or offend someone…. are feminists not equipped to handle that?

DarkSideCat
9 years ago

>@Sam, there remains profanity as well. Fuckwad, asshole, shitstain. Besides, have you stopped for a second to ask yourself why a word like "idiot" is considered so much harsher than a word like "silly"? The reason is precisely because it invokes that social hierarchy in associating a person with someone with intellectual disability, which is seen as a horrible and terrible thing. The same principle applies to invoking classism with use of terms like "trailer trash" or "classless". If you think that being associated with group X is terrible and horrible and so you use it as an insult, it is fair to say that you are, in fact, making a statement that you know is degrading and negative about group X.

triplanetary
9 years ago

>DSC's got a point there. "Shitstain" does get the point across rather effectively, and it doesn't marginalize any group of people.Of course, some may consider "shitstain" overly vulgar, but perhaps we should reflect on why our society is uncomfortable with a word like that but completely comfortable with words that marginalize and demean swaths of people.

Sam
Sam
9 years ago

>@Darksidecat Well if we agree, why are we arguing? We seem to have the same points, but are approaching them from differing language > people/ language < people perspectives.

Tit for Tat
9 years ago

>Context is usually everything. I remember years ago having a discussion with a female colleague and I referenced something about my "girlfriend". She stopped me and said, "You mean your ladyfriend". Pardon me? "Girl means prepubescent"."No, Girlfriend is a term of endearment". I think it pretty obvious when words are used to hurt. Do we really need language police, I think not.

kat
kat
9 years ago

>As a person with irritable bowel syndrome, I'm higly offended by your use of the term "shitstain".

Amnesia
9 years ago

>You know, so many of these disputes could just be resolved with the immortal words of Inigo Montoya:"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Johnny Pez
9 years ago

>Offtopically speaking . . .Inspired by David's and triplanetary's monumental fact check of the "Mean Feminist Manhate Quote List" (see sidebar under "Further Reading"), I have taken it upon myself to rearrange the quotes on the list in chronological order, to see if any patterns suggest themselves. Results can be found on my blog here.

jenny
9 years ago

>God, the language police. Has anyone used the term "idiot" in a clinical sense in the past two hundred years or so? Same with lame. No reasonable person would hear you referring to a television program as "lame" and think you're talking about a show that features lots of people with physical impairments. Language changes over time, and lots of the words we use have sexist, ableist, or otherwise sad histories. "Sucks" as a pejorative is pretty sexist, when you think about it, but most people don't use it that way. The language police and excessive trigger warning stuff is what keeps me away from Feministe and Shakesville, honestly. I don't like being regarded as someone who's going to collapse into a pile of sobs if I'm offended.

Sam
Sam
9 years ago

>I think a good benchmark for using "trigger warning" in a post is to ask yourself, "is this more or less upsetting than a spoiler alert?"

Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

>This issue, like so many, is complicated. There are people who are genuinely offended by what they consider to be ableist language and/or contemptuous of those who use it. There is definitely a value to examining the words we use. It is naive, however, to suggest that the motivations of everyone who calls out other people's language are pure as the driven snow. There are very definitely those in the left/liberal/feminist movement who engage in oneupmanship (sorry, no gender neutral term came to mind) for its own sake. Often, these are people who are fairly privileged themselves and, feeling insecure about it, take it upon themselves to pile on anyone perceived as being more privileged any chance they get as a way of burnishing their street cred. Thus, we get the 200+ post pile-ons we saw on Feministe. It's a difficult issue, because, as a supposedly grass-roots movement dedicated to empowering the disempowered, we should probably err on the side of deferring to those who object to certain terms. On the other hand, this sort of thing easily gets out of hand, especially on the internet, to the point where meaningful discussion can be easily derailed. It would be really helpful if there were a universally accepted protocol for dealing with these issues as they come up–a kind of Robert's Rules of Order for internet discussions on the left. It would be nice if David could have simply invoked a rule that says: "I hear your concerns and I respectfully disagree; let's discuss this at another place/time"–and that would be the end of the issue on that particular thread. Others who wish to discuss the language issue would then be free to hash it out in a designated sub-thread, while everyone else could continue to discuss the original post in the original thread. I know this solution would be far from ideal, but it's a starting place. This sort of this has been an issue in leftist/feminist circles for a long, long time, and it has derailed many, many discussions and has driven many sincere people away from activism. If anyone has any ideas about this, I'd be happy to hear them.

Raoul
9 years ago

>@CAPT Bathrobe: "This sort of this has been an issue in leftist/feminist circles for a long, long time, and it has derailed many, many discussions and has driven many sincere people away from activism. If anyone has any ideas about this, I'd be happy to hear them."Uh…………….Did I mention I like cats? Honestly, asking how we might stop derailing discussions and driving sincere people away reminds me of that old joke that ends: "And God begins to cry."

Tit for Tat
9 years ago

>@Capt BathrobeBullies are not all made the same, some use fists, others use words.

Sartorial Nerd
9 years ago

>"I'm totally on board with what (almost) everyone has been saying. Yes, the words we use matter. Yes, if I were unknowingly using a word that made you feel hurt or marginalized, I would stop immediately.But on Feministe (I've also noticed it in parts of the Tumblrverse), it's actually difficult to have a conversation on any topic because, for every reply that actually addresses what you said, you get a whole cascade addressing your wording. It's a problem when your language use expectations are actually preventing communication. " – @cboyeTHIS a million times over. It's a matter of priorities for me. Striking a balance between policing speech that is honestly hurtful and words that have negative connotations but are being used according to their dictionary definitions isn't easy. I think your first response to being called out on Feministe for using the word "idiot" was pretty fair. You were using a standard dictionary definition and while the word has connotations that extend beyond that, it cannot be ignored that you were actually using it appropriately (as opposed to inappropriately using it to describe someone with cognitive issues). Like many people here have said, words matter but context matters too and I think a lot of people focused on the word in isolation and not its actual usage.

cboye
9 years ago

>jenny: The idiot/imbecile/moron nomenclature was actually first used in 1910 and persisted, horrifyingly enough, into the middle of the century.But yes, the point still stands.

Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

>Tit for Tat said… @Capt Bathrobe Bullies are not all made the same, some use fists, others use words.Well, there are bullies and there are people who sincerely care about this sort of thing. I'd like to assume good faith on the part of most people for whom this is a concern. It's a question of how people can respectfully disagree but still carry on a civil dialogue. One way to do so is to have rules of engagement–i.e., here's how we have agreed to deal with language issues without derailing a discussion. It's like when couples agree to have a discussion about one particular issue in order to avoid a "kitchen sink" argument, where all past resentments are dredged up and aired. Sometimes sincere, intelligent people have to agree to disagree and move on…for the time being. The challenge is how to do that without sweeping legitimate concerns under the rug. Such rules could also have the effect of shutting down bullies.

triplanetary
9 years ago

>Bullies are not all made the same, some use fists, others use words.I find it amusing that you label language policing as bullying, but you don't label the marginalization of certain groups that language policing seeks to address as bullying.Wait, that's not amusing. That's hypocritical. My mistake. David would be the first person to acknowledge that words can be used to marginalize oppressed groups, and that a certain amount of language police is therefore justified. You're just trying to use his experience in this case to further your own agenda, which is "I should get to decide what does and doesn't offend unprivileged groups." That's not the way you frame it, of course, but that's what you and people like you are really clamoring for. You take umbrage at the notion that anybody should critique what you say, but you'll be the first to cry foul if somebody harms your sensibilities. Hypocrite.

Tit for Tat
9 years ago

>TripI dont mind so much you critiquing me. I take more issue with the fact that you like to insult me because I dont necessarily agree with your critique or position on certain things. The thing is, I know oppression, though I am supposedly one who has "white male privledge" I know oppression very intimately.Tell you what, stop calling me things like a "disgusting maggot" and you might be able to hear something.

Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

>Raoul,Yeah, I like cats too. Some days you just have to keep the discussion on that level, I guess.

Kave
9 years ago

>marginalization Here's the thing Trip.I am the "man". White wealthy male who actually owns an industry family owned for generations business . That doesn't stop me from having an insane brother who tried to kill his family, or stop me from holding my parents hand as they died, and frankly I'd think about trading place with the middle class when it comes with dealing with their estate. It didn't stop me from having a child die of cancer, etc.I know my family has privileges that others wish they had, which turns to envy. Envy isn't a pretty thing. It leads to just what this thread is about meaning who can claim being worse off. It leads to people saying things like so what your kid died you have everything. People can be mean or kind, the only thing that is in your control is how you choose to deal with it. You can look up and say "why have you forsaken me, I give up", and put the blame onto someone else, or you can just do what needs to be done and stop worrying about what the other projects on to you.EVERYONE from the weakest human to the strongest goes through shit in their lifetime. You can always find someone worse off or better off then yourself. I'm a white male who is wealthy. That's three points on your privilege guide. I could be a white man who is poor and homeless. Two points?One thing I do know is if someone is going to have a panic attack because someone used the word idiot, that my friend is called natural selection and about the most un-feminist comment ever posted.I believe you are male? If so stop treating woman like they need to be protected by you! If you are female then stop being a prime example that people can point to to say "see, riding the pity party wanting others to make her life more comfortable.".

triplanetary
9 years ago

>I am the "man". White wealthy male who actually owns an industry family owned for generations business .That does explain a lot about you. There's very little in your response that I consider worth addressing (class envy? Really? You're a dipshit), but there is this:I believe you are male? If so stop treating woman like they need to be protected by you!I'm not sure at what point you got confused about what we're talking about here, but what we're talking about is use of marginalizing language. I never said women need to be protected from that. This isn't a "women" issue at all. So your attempted accusation of white knighting is not only a strawman, but a completely incoherent strawman that appears to be born of actual stupidity rather than mere mendacity.I don't think you have the brainpower to deal with the content of Manboobz. I recommend Maxim magazine. It's aimed more towards your reading level.

SallyStrange
9 years ago

>Urg, doodz look, saying "You have privilege" =/= saying "Your life has been consistently awesome with no problems whatsoever." Pay attention to the definitions of words other people are using. That is, I believe, what this whole conversation is about.

triplanetary
9 years ago

>Urg, doodz look, saying "You have privilege" =/= saying "Your life has been consistently awesome with no problems whatsoever." Thank you. I was considering posting yet again to say this, but you said it better than I would have. Especially since you managed to say it without unnecessary invective.

Tit for Tat
9 years ago

>I don't think you have the brainpower to deal with the content of Manboobz. I recommend Maxim magazine. It's aimed more towards your reading level.(Trip)And there it is again. The meaness that you own. I have a sneaky suspicion if you could, you would love to use your fists too.Sally is right, we should pay attention.

SallyStrange
9 years ago

>Oh T4T, you are giving the straw feminists a run for their money in oversensitivity.

victor
9 years ago

>"..White wealthy male.."aaaand …. you just became an irrelevant non-person. Nothing you say or think, no hurt that you feel, no injustice that you experience is of any importance, because you have 'privilege'. You have identified yourself as the enemy, just for existing, so now anything you have to say can be dismissed without a second thought. If any of this sounds wrong to you, then it is obvious that you hate all women, and want to take away their rights.

SallyStrange
9 years ago

>you just became an irrelevant non-personSucks don't it? Imagine being told that from the day you're born onward. Imagine that being the normal state of affairs for the type of person you are, for all of recorded history, with the exception of the most recent few decades.

victor
9 years ago

>So… you admit that there is injustice, the implication being that it is ok because what, it makes up for other injustices? This is evil thinking. Have you ever considered that any injustice is wrong?

Elizabeth
9 years ago

>Trip-Kave is not some troll who is here to pull a Nick.You two essentially agree on most things and your attacking him is unfair since he is just pointing out that he will speak his mind (as you do) without care to what people get worked up about.Kave-While I agree that if someone wants to be offended, they will be but I cannot imagine if I said politely to you to please not use a word that has very hurtful meaning for me, you would not stop. It is simple common courtesy to politely request someone not use a word and honour that request. I will also point out that if you really ARE offended by something, either make a single request and move on or keep the discussion to emails-derailing is just as rude as using offensive language.

Kave
9 years ago

>I don't have the privilege to claim victimhood. Hence I am a victim.That explains a lot about me?Trip you have to come out and meet the real world. Standing in line in the grocery store if you turn to your side you will find dozens of tabloids which deal exclusively with knocking down the rich and/or famous. Picking on me , my wife, my family, etc is a national pastime.I've spoken about what my wife has done regarding homeless men here before, (she's a real estate developer) Why would you imagine her work has never been in the public eye? The answer would be because if it was someone would decide that she should be meeting their needs instead of the people she decides to help. She has refused any comment to the press because of people like you. I know I'm lucky to be born into my family, but again everyone has shit. People like you put people into segregated boxes of what you call privilege or not without ever seeing them as individuals. It's what I dislike about the MRA's and from what you have shown me the feminist camp has these individuals as well. I've seen comments which I agreed with and said myself "show me this kind of idiot on a feminist site.. make your own blog about crazy feminists "Strawman… Trip etc has done it for you.

Tit for Tat
9 years ago

>SallyI was just making an observation. Its an energy thing. Angry people have this sense to them. You know what I mean, dont ya?

Joe
Joe
9 years ago

>This may seem like an off-the-wall, overly abstract, philosophical point, but I think the moment a discussion about values, ethics, or power becomes framed in terms of a quantitative metaphor (e.g., what is "more" offensive or who is "more" privileged), constructive dialog becomes impossible.

Kave
9 years ago

>ElizabethOf course. Real world: I might suggest that a person in the company should be fired.I could say it like :"They are a cancer and we need to remove them"I would not say that to someone who is dealing with cancer. But I would say it when that person dealing with cancer isn't in the room. There is a difference between empathy and manners and having your speech being dictated by the p.c police.

Kave
9 years ago

>you just became an irrelevant non-personSucks don't it? Imagine being told that from the day you're born onward. Imagine that being the normal state of affairs for the type of person you are, for all of recorded history, with the exception of the most recent few decades.What you are saying is because I am white and born into a wealthy family you are totally justified in hating me? Or perhaps confiscating my families property for the common good?Funny how envy works. There were a lot of people just like my family in the early 1940's in Europe. People perceived them as having more then they did. We all know what happened.

Elizabeth
9 years ago

>Exactly Kave.As for the non-Jews who were perceived to have more then other people, they all went on to pay 90% tax rates that led to Monty Python's Search For The Holy Grail. A seminal achievement in cinema that shows…we need to raise taxes on the rich.

ginmar
9 years ago

>I can't believe an MRA just compared whiny rich white assholes to the Holocaust. Jesus wept, get over your little stubbed toe.

victor
9 years ago

>injustice is justicefreedom is slaverywar is peace