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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:56 am 
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I doubt there are any clear lines around this, but I think there’s two good principles:

One is not to offend others without reason. Some people are grossly offended by criticism of their religious beliefs. But without robust criticism of religious belief, we’d still be little better off than we were in the Middle Ages. Conversely, there’s not really any benefit to having someone perform a blackface minstrel show and it is profoundly offensive to large numbers of people, so I wouldn’t do it.

The other is that you shouldn’t offend people, but in some cases the cause of the offence is so disproportionate to the harm or so general and non-specific that it’s not reasonable to avoid it. I appreciate this is a bit of a minefield in and of itself. An example might be that I still eat meat, even though I’m aware some people are deeply offended by anyone else eating meat.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:34 pm 
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of Vinyamar
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Frelga wrote:
Alatar wrote:
Frelga wrote:
Would it upset you to see an English person to dress as, I dunno, Cu Chullainn or something?



Not in the slightest. However I do object to the image of the “fighting Irish” that paints us all as drunken gombeen stereotypes. But I guess my point is, you can choose to be offended over everything and you can choose when to let it slide cause no offense was intended. I think there’s far too much of the former and not enough of the latter.


What I hear you say, Al, is that you do not want people to alter their behavior if they learn that it upsets you. I will be happy to make a note for future interactions.

But I would never tell you that you should stop being upset if you are. It would be a dick move, and people don't work like that anyway.


This is one of many interactions where you have chosen to take my comments and be passive aggressive about them. If you have something to say to me, by all means say it.

ETA: You know what, never mind. I don't have the energy for pointless disputes and whatever you've decided about my character, nothing I'm gonna say will change your opinion. Have at it.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:48 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
This isn't such a clear line, yov. "Offense" is often used by offenders as a diminishing and sometimes condescending term for what their targets might justifiably call "harm." Emotional harm is harm.


I agree, but we have words for emotional harms. Words like belittle or demean, for example. If emotional harm is being done, it should be possible to communicate how or why more concretely than vague claims of being "offended". That kind of clarification would, for example, separate the offense of the white person offended they have to share a drinking fountain with a black person (real feelings of offense but no real harm done so I don't care that you are offended) from the black person offended at being told to use a separate water fountain (real feelings of offense and real harm done - it's profoundly demeaning - so I do care).

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:28 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
That kind of clarification would, for example, separate the offense of the white person offended they have to share a drinking fountain with a black person (real feelings of offense but no real harm done so I don't care that you are offended) from the black person offended at being told to use a separate water fountain (real feelings of offense and real harm done - it's profoundly demeaning - so I do care).


But there are people who'd feel belittled, demeaned, or disrespected at having to share a drinking fountain with a black person. I'm not saying these people should be accommodated!! I'm just wondering how we decide someone's offense is legitimate.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:50 pm 
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It's not about whether they feel belittled, demeaned, or disrespected. It about whether they are belittled, demeaned, or disrespected. These things might not be perfectly objective, but they aren't in the realm of the purely arbitrary and subjective feelings. If you are being belittled, you should be able to explain with some relatively concrete language to another human being why that is the case in a way that they can understand. If a person is unable to do that then *shrug*

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:30 pm 
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River wrote:
But there are people who'd feel belittled, demeaned, or disrespected at having to share a drinking fountain with a black person. I'm not saying these people should be accommodated!! I'm just wondering how we decide someone's offense is legitimate.


"How shall a man judge what to do in such times?'
'As he ever has judged,' said Aragorn. 'Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.''"

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:08 pm 
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I feel somewhat belittled when I'm trying to arrange something for our farm and the person I'm talking to keeps looking to my husband for answers. My husband, however, is real good about ignoring the silent plea for a Man to take over the discussion and looks at me. I provide the answer to the question and we move on.

Sometimes I get tired of the attitude, especially in phone conversations, and just ask my husband to make the call.

It's almost funny when someone is texting me about cattle for sale and discussions can range for days. Then, when I let slip my gender, the texting style changes! "Yes, Mam!" he types in answer to a question. :roll: I've more than once assumed I was typing at a woman, but eventually find out it's a guy. My style doesn't change, though.

People are weird.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:11 pm 
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That often happens when we are dealing with contractors, even though it should be abundantly obvious that Beth is the one that knows what she is talking about.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:25 pm 
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Maria, that is so annoying!! We have a neighbor who will say the oddest things to me/speak to me in such a condescending way it is exasperating! I've asked my husband if the neighbor speaks that way to him (no). The neighbor does not speak to me like that when my husband is around, but hubby believes me. He finds it simply incredible that some men can be so intentionally obnoxious because they wish to feel superior.

Edited for errors.


Last edited by RoseMorninStar on Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:53 pm 
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There was one time when I had to give a deposition, and the lawyer kept asking what I thought were stupid and irrelevant questions. It took me almost ten years to realize that he was trying to guilt trip me for enforcing the contract provisions that the other side wanted to break. Granted, he was very bad at it. Amateur hour, as my lawyer (also male, but much more intelligent) told him in so many words. I bet he would never have tried it with another man.

I almost regret realizing that this was going on, because it was less annoying when I was blissfully unaware. On the other hand, it is fun to watch a man try to engage in a power play or emotional blackmail and run face first into your own mental script from a completely different play.

And it's always the white men who try emotional blackmail. The part when a man acts aggrieved in the expectation that a woman will instantly try to make it better. Practically every white guy I interacted with for any length of time tried that. I'm not sure exactly what geographic area is involved, maybe it's the British Isles and the majority white former colonies. The reason I remained blissfully unaware for decades is that I've never had those interactions with Hispanic, African American, Chinese, East Indian, or Eastern European men. There are other scripts, but not that one.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:46 am 
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yovargas wrote:
It's not about whether they feel belittled, demeaned, or disrespected. It about whether they are belittled, demeaned, or disrespected.


I like this. Obviously it has it's own problems, but I think establishing some sort of objectivity would help in these sorts of situations, at least as a starting-point.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:00 am 
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Túrin, I like your example of omnivore vs. vegetarian/vegan. Some are very much offended by those who eat meat and feel very righteous and justified in letting others know just how offended they are. This gets to the point I was trying to make earlier, that those who are offended can become 'jerks' every bit as much as the offended vegan/vegetarian thinks the omnivore is being. It seems that this no-win 'offensiveness' often comes into play where religion is concerned (other lifestyle choices as well).


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:40 am 
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This is why I like yov's approach of trying to separate behaviour which makes people feel belittled vs behaviour which actually belittles them. It's hard to draw the line, but it makes for a start.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:03 pm 
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Túrin Turambar wrote:
This is why I like yov's approach of trying to separate behaviour which makes people feel belittled vs behaviour which actually belittles them. It's hard to draw the line, but it makes for a start.


I do think we need to accept that the person/group doing the belittling does not get to be the ones who decide whether or not their behavior actually hurts someone, though.

I don't accept that if the person who is hurt can't adequately vocalize exactly how they are hurt that it means we can dismiss the hurt.

Again, when a person or group is oppressed or hurt, the group doing that needs to accept that they may not understand why, but that it is a dick move to then say that the hurt doesn't really exist and that the hurt party is the one who needs to suck it up.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:54 pm 
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elengil wrote:
Again, when a person or group is oppressed or hurt, the group doing that needs to accept that they may not understand why, but that it is a dick move to then say that the hurt doesn't really exist and that the hurt party is the one who needs to suck it up.


See, I'm not sold on that. If you are going to ask other people to change their behavior, you need to give some attempt to explain why they should. If you are only able to say, essentially, "because I want you to", then you have to accept that that won't be a very convincing argument for some people. Some may go along with you to be nice but some won't and until you are able to articulate a clearer reason, you have to be okay with that.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:00 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
elengil wrote:
Again, when a person or group is oppressed or hurt, the group doing that needs to accept that they may not understand why, but that it is a dick move to then say that the hurt doesn't really exist and that the hurt party is the one who needs to suck it up.


See, I'm not sold on that. If you are going to ask other people to change their behavior, you need to give some attempt to explain why they should. If you are only able to say, essentially, "because I want you to", then you have to accept that that won't be a very convincing argument for some people. Some may go along with you to be nice but some won't and until you are able to articulate a clearer reason, you have to be okay with that.


"Because you are hurting me" is not equivalent to saying "Because I want you to." And no matter how clearly and concisely it is stated, some people will never change their behavior no matter how much they hurt others by it.

Edited to add: You may feel this is extreme, but I feel this is indicative of what happens when we let the group or person doing the harm dictate whether or not it should be considered harmful by those who received it. https://www.npr.org/2018/11/09/666227595/gaslighting

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Window seat for one,
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Destination: nowhere.
Two carry-on bags
Ought to get me there.
Don’t know how far
‘Til my journey’s done;
Train ticket, out bound,
Window seat for one.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:15 pm 
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So I am vegetarian. I've gotten some weirdly defensive reactions when people find out I don't eat flesh. It only comes up when picking a restaurant or something and I advocate for myself because I'm liable to go hungry if I don't. But there are people who take my request for a veggie option as a criticism of their eating habits. It's not. My husband eats meat all the time, as do my kids and most of my friends. I just don't want to. But what's more tiring than the weird defensive reactions is the wannabe witty ones. The remarks that sound so clever to the person making them, like they think I've never ever heard it before. Sometimes I ignore it. Sometimes I roll my eyes. If the person doesn't let up I simply tell them they're only witty in their own minds.

Frelga, in my experience emotional blackmail isn't confined to race or even gender. It's a fun form of bullying. Really enjoyable. I'm not sure what's caused me more problems, allowing myself to be emotionally blackmailed or standing up against it.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:26 pm 
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River, I am aware that vegetarians get their share of harassment, and that is truly unfortunate. I thought that comparison was an example of how 'being a jerk' and not respecting the choices of another can go both ways. As I said earlier, I've experienced this in spades in regards to religion.

Funny (not funny) you should mention the emotional blackmail and the problems faced when trying to stand up against it. I've been pondering this same thing the last couple of days.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:32 pm 
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This is a bit of a cross-over post from the discussion of the election, but I think it should go here. In Mississippi, where a run-off will take place later this month between the current appointed GOP incumbent senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and the Democratic challenger, former Clinton cabinet member Mike Espy, who is African-American, there has been a controversy when it came out that Ms. Hyde-Smith made a comment when praising a supporter that "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." Given Mississippi's history of having more lynchings of African-Americans than any other state, that has generated a fair degree of outrage (though I doubt it will have any real affect on the results of the election in the heavily Republican state). Ms. Hyde-Smith put out a statement saying "In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous." Then when repeatedly asked about it by reporters she repeatedly said only "I put out a statement and I stand by that statement."

So, if she says she didn't mean anything negative by this statement, are African-Americans and others wrong to be offended by it? I think y'all know what I would say.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:49 pm 
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Jeeesus, why is it so hard to say "Sorry if that brought up traumatic memories, I totally didn't mean to reference those horrible events and I will try to be more careful in the future."

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