On the Problems with Communication, Discourse, and Social Justice


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Okay, so everyone knows that politics is bad, don't talk politics unless you want a thing to end in tears, and blah-blah-blah.

Just so we're clear, I get that.

This is not a thread to talk politics.

This is a thread to talk about talking about politics.

Before we begin: no, this won't solve issues with discourse, discussion, or any other such thing. People will have strongly-held opinions that disagree with yours no matter what. Hence, there is no single "solution" that will magically make resistance disappear.

However. There is a phenomenon I've begun to notice "lately"... say, the last, oh, I dunno, ten years or so.

And that is the concept of "people talking past one another".

If you're anything like me, the first time you read that phrase (and maybe this is it), you went, "Huh? What does that mean. I mean, yes, I get the idea, but that's a weird phrase..."

The problem is that the idea is relatively straight forward - one person is saying something and another person is saying something else, and it's almost like they're having two different conversations - or if they are sharing one conversation, they're not really listening to each other.

This arises from a number of different reasons, including, but not limited to: overly-focused dialogue, the tone-deafness of the internet, cultural variations, and linguistic differences. But it's these last two that I want to talk about.

I am, I want everyone to know, a Fundamentalist Conservative Christian - you know, with two capital "C"s and a capital "F" - one of those absolutely, objectively terrible people that probably hates you and everyone in your family and/or social group, whatever that may be, if the internet at large is anything to go by.

Just for the record, so there's no question.

Also, for the record, and more seriously, no, I do not hate you. I don't know you, but even if I did, I wouldn't hate you. At most, no matter who you are, I wouldn't trust my kids around you while wishing you a better life. Far more likely, regardless of your political, social, or religious views, I'd love to hang out with you and talk games, or maybe even, one can dream, play games. Especially Pathfinder, but, you know, I'm open to other ideas. :D

So, that out of the way, I want to talk about the way we talk about politics. The way I've introduced myself above will undoubtedly make any number of folk who read this post have their hackles raised, walls up, and anger primed - this is the internet, after all, and that's often a common reaction of folk on all sides of political, social, and religious debates - while others will shake their heads sadly, some will pump their fists with a "yeah!" (or have some other positive verbal or physical or emotional response), and others will ponder "... what is he up to."

And some, if they're at all like me (regardless of their political/social/religious/etc. views) will go, "What, exactly, does he mean by that? I've seen his posts," - well, some of you may have, anyway, - "and I'm pretty sure those words don't mean what he thinks they do."

And there lies the crux of the problem.

On Paizo forums, and in a few other places, I'm slightly notorious (less than some, more than others, depending on the place) for having extremely large posts. (I assure you all, my loquacious tendencies toward excessive word usage and pompous windbaggary are by no means limited to my internet communication; my wife first started dating me after she graduated and realized that she'd miss that constant annoying buzzing of my voice that rarely seemed to leave her side in college.)

But why do I talk and type so much?

Quite frankly, because quips or short posts, fun as they are, rarely have the ability to communicate any sort of functional meaning when dealing with other people.

In other words, I talk a lot because people often don't understand what I'm saying if I don't.

That's probably a fault of communication on my part - I lack the eloquence to properly clarify the intent behind my words without delving into excessive verbiage, some of which I add as a flourish because I'm a terribly silly and potentially-annoying doof like that.

But, frankly, I'm not alone - and that's what I'd like to address.

When I introduce myself as a "Fundamentalist Conservative Christian" the follow-up question must be asked: "What do those words mean, to me, when I use them?"

I can answer the question, but that's not really the point. The point is that my answer - the answer that I, personally, hold - is going to be very different from the way the preponderance of folks take the words that I use to self-identify.

As an example of where politics comes into play, DrDeth recently created a post which finds fault with the term "cisgender" due to that term being frustrating and off-putting to many that it applies to.

As I write this post (started before I noticed DrDeth's thread), Crystal Frasier - a woman I immensely respect - responds (1 minute ago, as of this paragraph) with,

Quote:
It doesn't exist as a slur or an insult, and just because some people say it with an irritated, exasperated, or angry tone doesn't make it an insult any more than black people complaining about white people make "white" an insult.

... which fundamentally misses the point of DrDeth's post, and that he's trying to make, while simultaneously speaking a different language.

She's correct, of course - just because some people use a term in frustration doesn't make the term an insult.

She does, however, downplay the actual use of the term, as I've most often - but not always - run into it; which is, in fact, as an actual insult, often towards me, specifically. The largest exception to its use as an insult is usually people who do not use it as an insult explaining that it is not an insult.

Off topic:
The remaining uses I've run into it, is the fairly rare self-identifier, who is, usually, doing so for the purpose of either following a positive inclusive social agenda, or "keeping up with the verbiage" - both of which are positive uses, more or less. That does not diminish their rarity, most of which has been on these forums.

And here is where the problem often lies.

She is coming at it from a technical point of view; one that notes, "Here is the technical history, why it was created, and how it is meant to be used; anything other than this is 'doing it wrong'." and, in that way, she is absolutely correct.

DrDeth is coming at it from, "I don't like words that sound weird being applied to me in public ways outside of my permission; most people don't, in fact, and should probably be respected for that."

Both are correct, but both are speaking different languages, even if they're both using English.

Note: I do not presume to accurately or flawlessly represent their political, social, etc. views. If I've erred in some way, my apologies: this is just how it seems from my reading, which, of course, takes in my own language...

I was reading this article and found it relatively well-written and insightful, but also found the characterization fascinating - and found several of the word-choices questionable.

I read her characterization of 4chan as "Right-Wing" and thought to myself, "What, on any earth, does being a Republican, Christian, or Conservative have to do with being on 4chan? In fact, almost none of those things go together in my experience. So... what?"

But here's the thing - she wasn't (necessarily) - discussing any of those things, and was not (necessarily) lumping them together with "Right-Wing" in her characterization (though she may well, privately, conflate the lot of them together - I don't know, as I've not read enough of her blog to be aware).

Rather, she was using the non-U.S. political term, i.e., those who view social stratification as an important thing.

And, you know, this actually describes the ideas of "some people should, by nature, not have explicit access to <X>" fairly well, which is how she was describing GamersGate and 4chan.

I am not commenting on whether or not that includes 4chan - in fact, I am not commenting on whether or not I agree with any point or conclusion that she made; only that her post was well-thought-out, insightful, and educational, to me, personally.

And that, right there, is part of the problem - she and I literally do not speak the same language.

We both speak English and, her lack of capitalization aside (which is clearly a personal stylistic choice, rather than any deficit in her understanding of grammar), both read and write English, which mostly adheres to the same - or at least very similar - grammatical rules and constructs.

But, fundamentally, what is happening, is that she is using words that lead to one conclusion, and I am taking a totally different conclusion - a different language.

One of the interesting things that is often unrecognized is the fact that language is not just a literal piece of information: there are nearly-impossible-to-define emotional and other elements that go along with it.

We can see this popularly by looking at why computers suck at translation; but what is not really or readily recognized is that even among individuals, there are different variations of the same language. Even when people share a "culture" they don't necessarily share all the parts of all of that "culture" - i.e. they are part of varying sub-cultures. This is even true between individuals of the same sub-cultures!

For me, however, this mostly arises between those who have either gone through a particular subset of education, or are part of one of the set of subcultures that hold to a particular set of social justice groups.

And, frankly, I'm absolutely positive that the same is true in reverse: I may think of myself as a Fundamentalist Conservative Christian, but others do not, or, if they do, it's a quirk or exception to their general definition - both with words and with emotions - rather than a representative sample. And that's because my education on the meaning of those words - which includes not just technical definitions, but a whole host of emotional, suggestive, and representative elements and ideas - is different from theirs - which includes not just technical definitions, but a whole host of different emotional, suggestive, and representative elements and ideas.

And so, this is a suggestion: when you're discussing politics (or anything, really), take a few minutes to think about what it is you're saying. Step back and don't presume that someone else has had your education - either from college, or from life and personal history and see if you can add a few more clarifications - or, if you're better than I am, perhaps make it more eloquent.

Because those who know their jargon are correct - but it can lead to severe misunderstandings and, if you're not busy clarifying, can come off as arrogance or dismissal of others, undermining your point, and leading to frustration or general rejection based off of an appearance rather than intent.

Similarly, if someone says something that just seems off to you, or maybe even insulting to a group you think you know or associate with, take the time to look things up, or ask clarifying questions. It's okay if the post with your counter point takes a few posts down the way for clarification first: it will have far more weight when it does, if you're communicating clearly.

This is not to shame, nor is this against any particular side of any given debate - I know how it can be read to be that way, but I assure you that it is not.

I'm very much so more interested in folks communicating well and accurately and understanding each other than I am in any side feeling shamed or forced to alter themselves to fit "me" or "you" or anyone, really.

For the record, I find that Paizo employees and forum-goers typically do not have this problem, but can - as all people - bring their own histories with them. Samples drawn from these forums are for the purposes of explaining how this miscommunication can occur, not for saying "you're doing it wrong" to anyone. EDIT: as evidenced in this post that I just found! :D

Do you agree? Do you see any other source of communication problems? How would you go about helping others to educate themselves or clarifying your point? Do you feel it's worth it? (I do.)

I hope that this generates good a-political, but politics-related discussion in hopes of furthering communication between all sides of a debate.


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That post demands a brief, off-topic rejoinder.

Liberty's Edge

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Just for you Steve.

* clears throat...

Toast.


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Touche, Internet. Touche.


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I do agree with you. There's a thing in philosophy called the Principle of Charity which I've always thought would make an excellent messageboard forum posting guideline.

The essential idea is that, in an argument or discussion, you should give the alternate side the benefit of the doubt when evaluating their stated position. Rather than the usual internet approach of picking a statement apart for contradiction, poor wording or absurd consequence, you should rather attempt to give the other viewpoint the most robust interpretation you can.

It's been too many years for me to articulate it properly, but it requires you assume the person putting forth the idea is rational, well intentioned and desirous of the same broad outcomes as you are. You shouldn't try and analyse it based on some assumed, hidden agenda. You shouldn't ascribe negative motives (like calling someone you disagree with a troll) when a more constructive motivation is possible. If you can see two interpretations of what they've said you should assume the intended meaning is the one you find hardest to refute, rather than the easiest. As much as possible, you should approach the new position as if it is true (and you don't yet understand it) rather than adopting the default view of skepticism.

Of course, that acceptance is only provisional - at the end of the day, you're not obligated to accept something that you end up concluding is false. The methodology suggested is to give it the best chance, rather than to approach it from the perspective that it's probably wrong.

The extremely skeptical, rigorous, ruthless analysis should be reserved for your own positions - you shouldn't apply the Principle of Charity to your own posts.

I think most of the social problems on the forums would go away if we all adopted the principle of charity as a matter of course.


Aaaaaaaaaaaaand Steve summed up my mammoth post in, like, three paragraphs (roughly speaking).

See, people? Eloquence.


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Social progressives have a tendency to use a terminology that is both incredibly specific and rapidly changing. Ones adherence to the most up to date terminology is equated as ones adherence to the principles of equality, personal liberty, and goodness. Even worse, normal words get coined or take on negative connotation in translation.

Because they use or avoid those terms and concept with regularity they assume that everyone else does...and wow. No. I think I've heard the term cis on these boards and one off joke 3 years ago on the colbert report. It really doesn't help when any input you have is seen as derailment and you're functionally told to shut up, your input is valueless, you can't possibly have a point because of who you are. I'm a big advocate for the point relying only on its own merits.

Part of the reason that charity doesn't work all that well is that people are too fond of using it as cover for passive aggressive insults. If you meet 9 people using their religion to justify saying some really nasty things about you how much credence can you give to the 10th that says that's not how they mean the same words, really?

One of my pet peeves with forums in general is that active aggression gets a post deleted, but passive aggression is ok. This leaves you expecting and looking for passive aggression in a disagreement


I understand your points, TL. My respect for your post. I do not, however, entirely agree with it.

It is an easy thing to do to assume that since a) what you want is good, and b) someone is disagreeing with you, then c) what they want is not good. This happens all the time, and it is logical of sorts. At least if you have examined your own arguments reasonably well.

But there is a very central flaw in the argument.

EVERYONE (or at least almost everyone) wants good things. Otherwise put, we agree on the destination, but disagree vehemently on the road to get there. Most of this is painted by personality, experience and culture. And this is where communication breaks down.

I am staunchly old-school liberal. I discussed politics ages ago with someone on the net, and after we had beaten each others' heads in with our old, tired arguments several times, she told me "so you see, according to conflict theory, you are wrong." At which point I said "Wait, is that even an argument? Conflict theory is some kind of authority?" The entire basis of her reasoning, all the previously unspoken ideas that formed her political views were things I saw as unproven at best, dangerous and inhuman at worst. There was no common ground, no possibility to bridge any kind of gap.

And it happens all the time. The issue is not really the meaning of the arguments used, but the emotions and values attached to them, and these are intensely personal things that are difficult to even put in words.

It sometimes gets easier to discuss a concrete situation, of course. It allows you to dodge the bullets of principles and ideals. I also suspect this is a large part of the reason for distrust of our top politicians.

I am well aware this is a pitch black view of human communication, and I certainly don't think it is meaningless to try, but it does make it difficult to expect results going in.


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I was on a course for work once, and went through an exercise. It went like this:

------------

Ann and Bob live on different sides of an infinitely long, infinitely dangerous river (filled with super-piranhas) that you need a boat to cross. They stand on their respective banks and shout that they love one another so much.

One day, Ann decides to go to the owner of the boat, Charlie. Charlie tells her that she can have the boat if she sleeps with him. She refuses.

Ann goes to Dave, to ask him to intercede with Charlie on her behalf. Dave refuses, telling her that he wants no part of any of it, and that she should leave him alone.

So, Ann goes back to Charlie, does the deed, and gets the boat from him. With it, she crosses the river, and is united with Bob.

Only, Bob asks her how she got Charlie to give her the boat. She tells him the truth, and Bob calls her various terrible things and throws her out.

So, Ann goes to his neighbour, Eric, tells him her story, and asks him to beat up Bob for her. He does so.

-----------

Reading this, how would you rank the behaviour of these people, from best to worst?

Liberty's Edge

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Best to worst of a bunch of horrible people.
Dave
Bob
Anne
Eric
Charlie

Justification:
Charlie is extorting sex for favours when there's no other viable choice. This puts him into extremely dodgy and certainly immoral territory.
Eric beats people up. We're not given a reason why he agrees to Anne but even if Bob is an asshoe, see later, beating him up is not a valid solution.
Anne comes out behind Bob purely because she asked Eric to beat him up. Without that she'd probably be the best person here. She does something she doesn't want to do to achieve a goal. Communication wiht Bob might have had a more happy ending.
Bob is an a*@+*$$. But he didn't ask Anne to sleep with Charlie, she didn't tell him. Poor communication for two people not in love and does not respond well.
Dave, assuming a friend, is a s*!~ty friend who leaves Anne in the lurch rather than supporting her. If a colleague, still not very nice but there isn't the same level of social obligation to start with.

As mentioned, not one of these are behaving as good people, IMO.


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Perhaps slightly off the topic of the thread, but not too far I think.

The thing about the whole "cis good or bad" debate that gets me all rustled is people like Lazar acting like turnabout is fair play there.

The term "cis scum" is fine to use because trans people have had slurs thrown at them for a long time...and somehow that makes it okay?

That kind of double standard makes communication difficult as well. I don't call black people the N-word or gay people the British word for cigarette because those are appalling words to call people, and they just help to promote racial and social tension among groups.

So deciding that, for some reason, that standard doesn't apply to the other side is baffling to me. It's still a terrible thing to do, and promotes that same social tension.

There's too much of this attitude that payback is inherently righteous in these social justice conversations. Yes, someone called you a bad word. That doesn't give you a chit you can cash in to call someone entirely unrelated a bad word for every time you've heard it.

A lot of these Tumblr blogs and whatnot seem to operate entirely on this principle.

Saying "F$+@ all trans people, kill 'em all" is clearly f@$@ing horrendous.

"Die cis scum" and "Kill all men/white men" are somehow then rallying cries, not only acceptable but LAUDABLE (and as many are saying right now in regards to that second, my mere bringing up of this fact merely reinforces the idea that it is a necessary and good idea to spread.).

This is far more of a problem when it comes to these issues than "Talking past people". Talking past someone merely prolongs the discussion, sending it in circles. No progress is made.

The double standards, meanwhile, regress the discussion instead. Negative progress is made. Everyone comes out of the discussion MORE convinced for LESS REASON that their side is right and the other is insane.


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Rynjin wrote:

Perhaps slightly off the topic of the thread, but not too far I think.

The thing about the whole "cis good or bad" debate that gets me all rustled is people like Lazar acting like turnabout is fair play there.

The term "cis scum" is fine to use because trans people have had slurs thrown at them for a long time...and somehow that makes it okay?

That kind of double standard makes communication difficult as well. I don't call black people the N-word or gay people the British word for cigarette because those are appalling words to call people, and they just help to promote racial and social tension among groups.

So deciding that, for some reason, that standard doesn't apply to the other side is baffling to me. It's still a terrible thing to do, and promotes that same social tension.

There's too much of this attitude that payback is inherently righteous in these social justice conversations. Yes, someone called you a bad word. That doesn't give you a chit you can cash in to call someone entirely unrelated a bad word for every time you've heard it.

A lot of these Tumblr blogs and whatnot seem to operate entirely on this principle.

Saying "F%$@ all trans people, kill 'em all" is clearly f$@!ing horrendous.

"Die cis scum" and "Kill all men/white men" are somehow then rallying cries, not only acceptable but LAUDABLE (and as many are saying right now in regards to that second, my mere bringing up of this fact merely reinforces the idea that it is a necessary and good idea to spread.).

This is far more of a problem when it comes to these issues than "Talking past people". Talking past someone merely prolongs the discussion, sending it in circles. No progress is made.

The double standards, meanwhile, regress the discussion instead. Negative progress is made. Everyone comes out of the discussion MORE convinced for LESS REASON that their side is right and the other is insane.

1) I'm not sue what LazarX said, since it's not in this thread or the other thread locked today.

2) That said, "cis scum" isn't acceptable and I haven't seen anyone arguing it is. The question is whether "cis" itself is acceptable. And here on these threads it is. That argument gets locked down fast.
3) "Die cis scum" and "Kill all men/white men" are far from acceptable, much less laudable. They may be rallying cries in extremely small minority groups, but in my experience they're far more distortions to make those groups look bad.

Meanwhile, while we debate how horrible trans people are for talking about cis people in ways they don't like, trans people get beaten up, kicked out of their homes and jobs and even murdered. While we debate whether #BlackLivesMatter means other lives don't or whether some group of BLM protesters was chanting about killing cops, unarmed black men (and women) keep being killed by cops or dying in custody.
I think you're right about the double standard being the problem, but not about what it is.


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Where is the 'cis scum' quote? That seems pretty blatantly bad - I can't imagine anyone defending that as acceptable. :/


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TIL two things can't both be wrong at once, I guess.

One does not negate the other. You don't right an injustice by trying to pile more injustice on the opposite side. That's not how this works.

"Aha! Take that, see how you like it!" just perpetuates an endless cycle of f+#@ you.

Chanting simultaneously "Don't kill me" and "Kill those other guys" takes the wind from the sails of the first. And that is not a double standard as you seem to be implying, that is how the human mind works.

By doing that you take an already Us vs Them scenario and make it Us vs a LARGER GROUP OF THEM, because people shockingly don't want to rally to the cause of people who are saying, essentially, that they don't want equality they want revenge.

You say it's a minority and sure, it probably is, but it's a very vocal, very visible minority that may very well actually be a majority on social media sites, which is the main core of what we're discussing here.

Yes, trans people face discrimination.

No, that does not give them a right to turn it around.

Yes, what they face is very much worse than hurtful words on the internet.

Nevertheless it is not wrong of me to call someone out when they do something wrong.

Saying otherwise is just a smokescreen. It's the debate equivalent of me saying I don't like squash and my mother scolding because of starving children in Africa.

Yes, they have it worse in that regard. How is that relevant to the current topic at hand?

We're talking about the problems with communication. This is a problem worth talking about. The existence of bigger problems does not invalidate a smaller problem or make it not exist.

"I have it worse than you" is not some magical balm that makes everything you do okay, and it's the exact opposite of a double standard to point that out. It's applying the same standard to everyone.

The powerful impact of a bunch of people saying "Please don't kill me" is very much undermined when they apply a double standard qualifier of "Or we'll kill you back, even if you're at best only loosely affiliated with the people we're talking about". It's doing the same thing you're talking out against on a smaller scale.

Instead of "Black people are thugs, terminate with prejudice" it becomes "Police are thugs, terminate with prejudice". It's the same damn thing with a different packaging. That you haven't yet (or likely never would have) acted on it is irrelevant, since the impact is largely the same: You made another group feel threatened.

Which is a problem, since people who feel threatened are more prone to lash out. Now you have accomplished exactly one thing: Made a group who already apparently feels threatened by you, and given them validation that they SHOULD feel threatened, which warps into a twisted justification to perform the exact thing you wanted to stop.

Are the "secondary threatenees" still primarily at fault? Yes. Are any actions they take based on that feeling justified? No.

But that kind of double standard is a big contributing factor to escalating tensions. Escalating an already tense situation helps nobody.


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I don't mind being called cis. I could do so myself if discussing something related. But there is an extremely valid difference between trans and cis: Nobody uses cis as a descriptor of their own identity, with all the emotional attachments it carries. It is not a word that people demand respect for, it is merely the opposite of a word to describe an identity. As for cis scum, it sort of baffles me. Doesn't that imply on some level that someone is bad because all cis people are bad? Which, of course, doesn't make more sense than saying "not-redhead scum"...


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Tempted to comment as I might be, I'll just sit back and watch. I am sure there will be people raising good points.


Feel free to give your view on Ann, Bob and friends. There is a point to it, I promise, but we need a few more responses.


Very well, but that will have to wait till I get home from work...


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Rynjin wrote:

TIL two things can't both be wrong at once, I guess.

One does not negate the other. You don't right an injustice by trying to pile more injustice on the opposite side. That's not how this works.

"Aha! Take that, see how you like it!" just perpetuates an endless cycle of f### you.

Chanting simultaneously "Don't kill me" and "Kill those other guys" takes the wind from the sails of the first. And that is not a double standard as you seem to be implying, that is how the human mind works.

By doing that you take an already Us vs Them scenario and make it Us vs a LARGER GROUP OF THEM, because people shockingly don't want to rally to the cause of people who are saying, essentially, that they don't want equality they want revenge.

You say it's a minority and sure, it probably is, but it's a very vocal, very visible minority that may very well actually be a majority on social media sites, which is the main core of what we're discussing here.

Yes, trans people face discrimination.

No, that does not give them a right to turn it around.

Yes, what they face is very much worse than hurtful words on the internet.

Nevertheless it is not wrong of me to call someone out when they do something wrong.

Saying otherwise is just a smokescreen. It's the debate equivalent of me saying I don't like squash and my mother scolding because of starving children in Africa.

Yes, they have it worse in that regard. How is that relevant to the current topic at hand?

We're talking about the problems with communication. This is a problem worth talking about. The existence of bigger problems does not invalidate a smaller problem or make it not exist.

"I have it worse than you" is not some magical balm that makes everything you do okay, and it's the exact opposite of a double standard to point that out. It's applying the same standard to everyone.

The powerful impact of a bunch of people saying "Please don't kill me" is very much undermined when they apply a double standard qualifier of "Or we'll kill you...

As I said
Quote:

2) That said, "cis scum" isn't acceptable and I haven't seen anyone arguing it is. The question is whether "cis" itself is acceptable. And here on these threads it is. That argument gets locked down fast.

3) "Die cis scum" and "Kill all men/white men" are far from acceptable, much less laudable. They may be rallying cries in extremely small minority groups, but in my experience they're far more distortions to make those groups look bad.

It's not acceptable. It's not good. It doesn't help.

However, if we're talking about problems of communication, one of them is deflection: It's very common for the majority to seek out examples of these kinds of things and use them to shift the discussion from the actual oppression to the tone of oppressed. Once you're no longer talking about the actual treatment of trans people, but about what some apparently trans person said on tumblr and whether it was acceptable enough any chance of progress is done.


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Sissyl wrote:

I was on a course for work once, and went through an exercise. It went like this:

------------

Ann and Bob live on different sides of an infinitely long, infinitely dangerous river (filled with super-piranhas) that you need a boat to cross. They stand on their respective banks and shout that they love one another so much.

One day, Ann decides to go to the owner of the boat, Charlie. Charlie tells her that she can have the boat if she sleeps with him. She refuses.

Ann goes to Dave, to ask him to intercede with Charlie on her behalf. Dave refuses, telling her that he wants no part of any of it, and that she should leave him alone.

So, Ann goes back to Charlie, does the deed, and gets the boat from him. With it, she crosses the river, and is united with Bob.

Only, Bob asks her how she got Charlie to give her the boat. She tells him the truth, and Bob calls her various terrible things and throws her out.

So, Ann goes to his neighbour, Eric, tells him her story, and asks him to beat up Bob for her. He does so.

-----------

Reading this, how would you rank the behaviour of these people, from best to worst?

Charlie

Bob=Eric
Ann
Dave

Charlie is an extortionist, and by some (including my own for this scenario) definitions a rapist (having sex with someone under duress, though he technically had verbal consent).

Bob might be within his rights to be upset at the way Ann arrived, but not to the point that he essentially threw her alone out in the wilderness to fend for herself (until she apparently found a random person who was never before mentioned).

Eric seems a bit too eager to lay the hurt on Bob at the request of someone he has (as far as I know) never met before. Not really enough information here to decide if he had legitimate beef with Bob already or what.

Ann jumped to the conclusion of "Ask a stranger to beat up my ex boyfriend" pretty damn quick too. Move her up above Eric if she lied to him, fabricating a more sorrowful story to get Eric's sympathies and make Bob out to be even more of a villain.

And Dave. Dave is probably the "trick" to this exercise, but I don't care. I could see arguments for putting him as second worst for enabling Charlie and not stepping in to prevent an injustice when he could have, but I stick by this. Dave was not involved in this scenario, and his options are limited regardless. What is he going to do? Beat up Charlie and steal his boat? Charlie doesn't seem like the kind of person who would just politely back off of his rape-extortion scheme because someone asked nice. And what does he do afterwards? Sleep with one eye open because he made the crazy boat man mad at him? Completely lift roots and move to the other side of the river? And Ann doesn't need to cross that river anyway. It's not a necessity, it's just something she wants to do, and given Bob's quick temper the relationship probably wouldn't have lasted that long anyway, and/or been miserable for both parties Dave is the smartest person here for sidestepping all that nonsense.

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Sissyl wrote:
Feel free to give your view on Ann, Bob and friends. There is a point to it, I promise, but we need a few more responses.

It seems to me that trying to rank people by relative morality is exactly what we're trying to avoid. I prefer the Romans 3:23 perspective, or else it all devolves into virtue-measuring competitions.


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Something like that. It's a weirdly contrived situation and a lot depends on what assumptions you make about it.
Bob's nowhere near so bad if the situation is such that "throws her out" is closer to "breaks up with her" than to "threw her alone out in the wilderness to fend for herself".
Assuming that

Charlie
Eric
Ann (Getting someone to do the beat down is on a par with doing it yourself. Eric gets bumped higher cause he has no apparent motivation - random woman shows up asks him to beat up a neighbor, he shrugs and goes along. A least she's acting in the heat of the moment.)
Bob - Unless, as Rynjin suggests throwing Ann out puts her at real risk.
Dave - Could have averted the whole situation, but may not have known how bad it was. Also unclear if he could have persuaded Charlie, or at what cost.

Obviously the real solution is to break Charlie's monopoly on boat crossings. Either by establishing a competing service or by regulating his. :)


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Tacticslion wrote:

I am, I want everyone to know, a Fundamentalist Conservative Christian - you know, with two capital "C"s and a capital "F" - one of those absolutely, objectively terrible people that probably hates you and everyone in your family and/or social group, whatever that may be, if the internet at large is anything to go by.

Just for the record, so there's no question.

Also, for the record, and more seriously, no, I do not hate you. I don't know you, but even if I did, I wouldn't hate you. At most, no matter who you are, I wouldn't trust my kids around you while...
When I introduce myself as a "Fundamentalist Conservative Christian" the follow-up question must be asked: "What do those words mean, to me, when I use them?"

First, since I've been told I must: "What do those words mean, to you, when you use them?"

More importantly, since they apparently convey no meaning and must be followed up by questions, why do you use them? Why not at least follow up with the explanation without waiting to be asked?

More generally, when I hear someone say that, I don't assume they hate me and everyone I love. Nor do I particularly care. "Hate" isn't the point, as far as I'm concerned. Some kinds of FCCs, not necessarily you, use that as kind of a loophole - the love the sinner, hate the sin thing as an excuse to keep the moral high ground while still treating people horribly. I don't care if you hate particular groups, I care how you treat them. If you throw LGTBQ teens out of the house as some kind of tough love thing, that's not better than doing it because you hate them. (The generic you, not you specifically.)


RainyDayNinja wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Feel free to give your view on Ann, Bob and friends. There is a point to it, I promise, but we need a few more responses.
It seems to me that trying to rank people by relative morality is exactly what we're trying to avoid. I prefer the Romans 3:23 perspective, or else it all devolves into virtue-measuring competitions.

That too, though without the Romans 3:23 perspective.

Liberty's Edge

* Hands out the pins for the angel dance.


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I agree about ranking real people's morality is generally to be avoided. As long as the situation is sufficiently contrived that it doesn't risk mirroring real life and hence only shows our perspective, though, it's risky but not inherently a bad idea.

There are a lot of assumptions that are inherent in this situation. That said, I'd rank as follows:

Dave (best)
Charlie
Bob
Anne
Eric (worst)

I agree with everyone that Dave had no obligation here. He's full-bore neutral on this thing since we have no reason to think that he would be able to convince Charlie to part with the boat for a less repulsive price.

I think my ranking on Charlie is likely to be the most controversial. The difference here is that Charlie neither has a duty to provide the boat, nor did he have any part in putting Anne in this situation. I think he's pretty gross for making the offer, but without additional context, making an unreasonable offer isn't really worse than flat-out refusing. In this case, because she doesn't have a real need, flat-out refusing would be fine. If Charlie, for example, actively discouraged others from getting other boats or typically offered boat rides for free, I would feel differently here. In such a scenario, Charlie could take the role of a contract devil exploiting scenarios to corrupt people and be the worst.

Depending on this situation, Bob has a lot of possibilities for where he lands. If the nature of their relationship is one that implies exclusivity, he could move up above Charlie for doing the right thing. In that case, I would expect Anne to discuss the situation with Bob before accepting the offer with Charlie (since we have established that communication is available). But without context, he's abandoning a close friend for judgy reasons.

Without assumptions of exclusivity with Bob, Anne accepted a somewhat unsavory offer. As stated in the Charlie paragraph, because Charlie didn't manufacture the scenario and didn't have an obligation to do her the favor of providing the boat, I don't see this as him extorting her and hence it's on her. Again, if this were to get food instead of the means to visit a close friend/boyfriend/brother (all of which are possible with the information given) I'd see the decision in a different light. All that said, the boat exchange puts her pretty neutral in my book. The place where she gets her ranking is when she asks Eric to beat Bob up. It's flimsy reasons and not acceptable. She's probably wound up and needs to vent, but advocating violence is a bridge too far. (although a bridge would solve this whole scenario :-))

Eric did the violent deed. Without additional context he wasn't emotionally wound up so he has more culpability than Anne. Also, he actually did it, which typically involves more culpability. If he agreed under false pretenses, that would move his position relative to Anne, but probably not further than that.


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Sissyl wrote:
Reading this, how would you rank the behaviour of these people, from best to worst?

It's irrelevant, and a deceptive question, because it misses the point entirely: neither Ann nor Bob loved each other. Instead, they were in love with the idea of each other - the idea that each had built up because, as I was describing in the first post, they used the same word, with the same technical definition, with lots of little sub-definitions that were unique to each yielding different results.

To Ann, "love" meant "doing what I have to for the purposes of being near to you" - which she acted upon, much to Bob's dismay.

To Bob, "love" meant "remaining loyal and faithful to you, regardless of the situations, so long as it was within my power" - which Ann broke by her actions with Charlie.

They both shouted back and forth that they "loved" one another, but they were talking two different definitions of "love" - essentially, what I noted above in the OP. :)


Sissyl wrote:
I do not, however, entirely agree with it.

While that is entirely valid - I'm cool with that - from reading the rest of your post, you don't so much as disagree with my argument (which is strikingly similar to Steve's post), but rather the "tone" thereof - the idea that you can persuade others through rhetoric and reasoned debate.

That said, however obscured it may be, that was not actually my point, as I noted,

me wrote:
Before we begin: no, this won't solve issues with discourse, discussion, or any other such thing. People will have strongly-held opinions that disagree with yours no matter what. Hence, there is no single "solution" that will magically make resistance disappear.

... the point isn't that you will convince people - rather, it's to ensure that people don't generate more resistance (and general hostility) to what you're saying by the way you speak.

Sissyl wrote:
The issue is not really the meaning of the arguments used, but the emotions and values attached to them, and these are intensely personal things that are difficult to even put in words.

This is what I mean, more or less (though I argue that the emotions and values attached to the words are part of their meanings.)

Effectively, if the importance or "non-verbal" concepts of certain words hold strength, that can color or even entirely change the tone of a conversation with someone else without the intent of the author.

This is the reason I give for using so many words - by wording it in multiple ways, I can create an emotional (and definition-based) display that, hopefully, is more clear in its attempts at communication. Less chance for people to go, "He said <X>!" because then they (hopefully) see "... but he also said <Y>... hm."

thejeff wrote:
First, since I've been told I must: "What do those words mean, to you, when you use them?"

Heh. The short version is that it is my self-identity, and the one that I cling to, religiously (in both metaphorical and literal/punny sense). The long version, I'm afraid, is that it's probably too complex to communicate through words, and will bring a religious discussion here... so, not in this thread.

thejeff wrote:
More importantly, since they apparently convey no meaning and must be followed up by questions, why do you use them? Why not at least follow up with the explanation without waiting to be asked?

Point in fact, they do convey meaning.

I use them for several reasons:
- one, in order to be transparent; far too often on internet discussions, suggestions, allegations, or similar are side-tracked by discussions about the nature of the motivations and background of the person in question; this has happened enough to me that I want to clear the air quickly
- two, in order to explain my position or the subtle turns of phrase that I'm absolutely sure that I don't see, because, to me, they are "normal" whereas others who do not share my background might see them as strange or off-putting: now, they have context, suddenly, for where I'm coming from (even if their emotional usage or definition differs strongly from mine)
- three, as part of my self-identification; it is, in fact, a point of (the non-sinful variant of) pride (THE WORD, IT BURNS WITH COMPLEXITY) that I am who and what I am, and thus I'm glad to self-identify as such, and take that as an opportunity to do so; in much the same way that others justly take pride in their skin color, orientation, gender, and similar: that's who they are, and they want people to know

These three things are vitally important when entering a political discussion.

And, believe it or not, thejeff, I did follow it up with an explanation: just one describing what I am not instead of describing what I am. Much like some of the entities in Lovecraft, describing what someone - anyone - is remains a more difficult proposition, because there is so much to describe, it holds a whole host of concepts and ideas; generally far too many to go into. I've found that describing what someone is not, however, is usually more easily noted, as the definitions are (on the internet) often fewer and less nuanced (see: "I don't hate" in my OP).

I will say that I believe that one's attitude towards something and someone - love or hate - will produce actions in accordance with that attitude, or the person will live in exceptionally unpleasant dissonance.

Anything else, is too directly political, and not what we're talking about here.


Thejeff wrote:
However, if we're talking about problems of communication, one of them is deflection: It's very common for the majority to seek out examples of these kinds of things and use them to shift the discussion from the actual oppression to the tone of oppressed.

I think you might be reading a bit too much into it. Its hard/weird for people to talk about things they haven't experienced, and obviously they probably haven't experienced inappropriate behavior towards groups they're not a part of. So.. what do you say? "thats terrible" isn't much of a conversation.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Thejeff wrote:
However, if we're talking about problems of communication, one of them is deflection: It's very common for the majority to seek out examples of these kinds of things and use them to shift the discussion from the actual oppression to the tone of oppressed.
I think you might be reading a bit too much into it. Its hard/weird for people to talk about things they haven't experienced, and obviously they probably haven't experienced inappropriate behavior towards groups they're not a part of. So.. what do you say? "thats terrible" isn't much of a conversation.

Well, you don't have to say anything. There's a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln (among others): "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." There are a number of times in my life when I didn't have anything useful to contribute to a discussion, and in retrospect, I wish I'd heeded this bit of advice.

To be bitterly frank, the whole OP screamed "check your privilege" to me.

As a personal example,... in my family, we don't use the word "gentile" very often, in either sense of "non-Jew" or "non-Mormon," although we qualify on both counts. This isn't (as far as I know) because of prejudice on our part, but because our social circles simply don't include very many members of those groups, which means that Jewish/non-Jewish distinction isn't very important to us on a day-to-day basis.

Which is to say, we don't experience anti-Semitism personally. But that doesn't mean it's not a real problem.

Similarly, we don't use the word "well-fed" very often either, because (again) hunger isn't a real issue in our social circle and so we don't talk about it. But (again), that doesn't mean it's not a real problem.

And to everyone else in a similar situation,.... if you're so far removed from hunger that you don't even have a word for its opposite, you should prostrate yourself in front of whatever gods you have and give thanks for the abundance that surrounds you.

Now think of it from the viewpoint of a trans person's day to day life, and the problems they face on a daily basis. If you're so far removed from these problem that you don't even have a word for the opposite of transgendered, this should be grounds for thankfulness, not anger.

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The way the Paizo forums specifically talk about politics (and I use that term in a broad way) involves two major hiccups for me personally:

1. People being ignorant of or possibly ignoring social context, and addressing a wide variety of topics with little regard for actual social power relations. The nature of these power relations makes it harder to learn about marginalized groups in their own words, though, so the frequency isn't surprising. Most posters here, if the board demographics resemble typical tabletop player demographics, largely occupy privileged positions of race, class, and gender, which makes it less likely that they are aware of these things.

2. A tendency to use and discuss elaborate hypothetical situations and extended metaphors instead of talking about concrete issues. I personally am confused by it, but I feel like it happens often and y'all seem to be into it so I'm not saying it's a problem for anyone other than me.


Mechapoet wrote:
People being ignorant of or possibly ignoring social context, and addressing a wide variety of topics with little regard for actual social power relations

*translating... translating....translating*

Its a mistake to assume that other people are, or even should, come into a conversation looking at a situation under the lens of social power dynamics. Its not how everyone sees things.

2. A tendency to use and discuss elaborate hypothetical situations and extended metaphors instead of talking about concrete issues. I personally am confused by it, but I feel like it happens often and y'all seem to be into it so I'm not saying it's a problem for anyone other than me.

Geeks are adding a little distance/humor to the situation because just bluntly stating your point tends to be considered rude.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
To be bitterly frank, the whole OP screamed "check your privilege" to me.

Okay, if you mean me... I still don't understand this phrase in-context.

I've had it explained to me, but it doesn't make sense as a turn of phrase to my way of thinking.

Does it mean something akin to, "Check your privilege at the door." like you'd do a coat, or does it mean to, "Check to make sure your privilege isn't showing." like an accidental clothing malfunction, or does it mean to, "Check to see if you have privilege before you ever speak." which is kind of a jerk thing to do; as I've seen it used in all three different ways, I'm really not sure what to make of the phrase anymore.

How, exactly, did my OP scream that to you? What did it mean? How did I communicate a concept to you of which I am functionally ignorant, regardless of previous attempts to educate me (which generally leave me feeling confused the next time I run into its use)?

These questions are sincere, not rhetorical. This is part of furthering dialogue and continuing the use of interpersonal education. I, for one, learn more and better from talking to someone than having to find things and read them myself. It's part of my innate learning style, despite my attempts to do the latter.

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Tacticslion wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
To be bitterly frank, the whole OP screamed "check your privilege" to me.

Okay, if you mean me... I still don't understand this phrase in-context.

I've had it explained to me, but it doesn't make sense as a turn of phrase to my way of thinking.

Does it mean something akin to, "Check your privilege at the door." like you'd do a coat, or does it mean to, "Check to make sure your privilege isn't showing." like an accidental clothing malfunction, or does it mean to, "Check to see if you have privilege before you ever speak." which is kind of a jerk thing to do; as I've seen it used in all three different ways, I'm really not sure what to make of the phrase anymore.

That last one is closest, with some crucial context missing. As I understand it, it means something like "understand what privileged places you occupy in society, and consider them before interject your unasked for opinion into a discussion about oppression you don't experience. And in general, examine the ways in which you are privileged and examine your actions and opinions in that light, because maybe you have some socially baked in oppressive or disparaging views that could stand some thinking about if you want to be a kinder person."

Of course, that's a mouthful. Even so, I don't remember ever having read or heard someone saying that phrase in earnest, like, ever.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't personally use it as a phrase, but I always try to read it as a "check your fly" situation. The optimistic interpretation of the goal is that people generally can think through the ramifications if they make the effort. Rather than coming across as sanctimonious or preachy, it's a shorthand to be aware of what you're talking about.

I often also see it being used in a dismissive way. But my interactions with OQ tell me that's not how he means it. And, at risk of being a hypocrite, people who are dismissive should be dismissed. ;-)


Orfamay Quest wrote:
"check your privilege"
Tacticslion wrote:
Does it mean something akin to, "Check your privilege at the door." like you'd do a coat, or does it mean to, "Check to make sure your privilege isn't showing." like an accidental clothing malfunction, or does it mean to, "Check to see if you have privilege before you ever speak." which is kind of a jerk thing to do; as I've seen it used in all three different ways, I'm really not sure what to make of the phrase anymore.
mechaPoet wrote:

That last one is closest, with some crucial context missing. As I understand it, it means something like "understand what privileged places you occupy in society, and consider them before interject your unasked for opinion into a discussion about oppression you don't experience. And in general, examine the ways in which you are privileged and examine your actions and opinions in that light, because maybe you have some socially baked in oppressive or disparaging views that could stand some thinking about if you want to be a kinder person."

Of course, that's a mouthful. Even so, I don't remember ever having read or heard someone saying that phrase in earnest, like, ever.

Note: this is not aggressive. I'm seriously asking a question, not arguing. Language and nuance over text-based posts are haaaaarrrrrrrrrd.

And so, in that context, how is one supposed to learn? Just be quiet and let the others do the talking?

(If so, this tends to come off as "Quiet, Honey, and let the adults talk." kind of arrogance I mentioned at the OP.)

If not, in what way is one expected to join the dialogue and learn? Most people - or at least me - learn best by doing/interacting with.

As a simple example, infants learn about their world by picking things up, looking at them, and putting them in their mouths and chewing (and then, if they still have it, either continuing to eat it, or slam it around a lot).

Really, it seems to me that adults (and kids of all ages... some of which are adults... ;D) are very similar. We can sit people down and just tell them things and expect them to remember - and some really take well to this sort of thing! -, but, ultimately, most people tend to work better when they can interact with things.

So it seems that the goal would be to engage in the dialogue. But in what manner or what way?

Note: I'm not putting you on trial for your explanation, nor demanding you come up with answers you don't have. I'm asking questions because I'm curious how dialogue is, generally speaking, expected to be approached and engaged.

EDIT: Ninjas! Well, one...

Berinor wrote:
I don't personally use it as a phrase, but I always try to read it as a "check your fly" situation. The optimistic interpretation of the goal is that people generally can think through the ramifications if they make the effort. Rather than coming across as sanctimonious or preachy, it's a shorthand to be aware of what you're talking about.

This is, when I ever think of it on my own, generally how I choose to do so (and is the middle of my three options). I find the first hopeless (as it's hard to leave behind a suite of elements about yourself that makes you yourself, some of which is often lumped into 'privilege' - or lack there of), though worth trying; while I try to enact the second and work to make myself "presentable" (hence the preponderance of words).

But... that still leaves me curious "how" - though I imagine that's an impossible question to answer succinctly or easily.

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The exercise is meant to show that people apply their own personal notion of morale when judging behaviours. It conveniently skirts around 2 extremely important things : that some acts are actually worse than others and that how people feel about how they are treated actually matters. The worse thing in many debates IMO is people belittling other people's pain because they feel that the other is already implicitly belittling their own pain


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Berinor wrote:

I don't personally use it as a phrase, but I always try to read it as a "check your fly" situation. The optimistic interpretation of the goal is that people generally can think through the ramifications if they make the effort. Rather than coming across as sanctimonious or preachy, it's a shorthand to be aware of what you're talking about.

I often also see it being used in a dismissive way. But my interactions with OQ tell me that's not how he means it. And, at risk of being a hypocrite, people who are dismissive should be dismissed. ;-)

Yes, in this context it reads like "You probably have some unexamined assumptions stemming from your position in society that are coloring your take on the situation. You might want to consider before continuing."

Which is not, as some seem to hear it: "You have privilege, so shut up".

Talking past again.


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Thejeff wrote:

Yes, in this context it reads like "You probably have some unexamined assumptions stemming from your position in society that are coloring your take on the situation. You might want to consider before continuing."

Which is not, as some seem to hear it: "You have privilege, so shut up".

The first statement is often used as the ONLY evidence that the statement that prompted it is true (including, hilariously, when the first statement ISN"T true). It might go with a follow up explanation for why their statement is wrong, but on its own its functionally an ad hom.

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thejeff wrote:
Berinor wrote:

I don't personally use it as a phrase, but I always try to read it as a "check your fly" situation. The optimistic interpretation of the goal is that people generally can think through the ramifications if they make the effort. Rather than coming across as sanctimonious or preachy, it's a shorthand to be aware of what you're talking about.

I often also see it being used in a dismissive way. But my interactions with OQ tell me that's not how he means it. And, at risk of being a hypocrite, people who are dismissive should be dismissed. ;-)

Yes, in this context it reads like "You probably have some unexamined assumptions stemming from your position in society that are coloring your take on the situation. You might want to consider before continuing."

Which is not, as some seem to hear it: "You have privilege, so shut up".

Talking past again.

The next time someone tells you to "check your privilege," try responding with something along the lines of: "I've thought long and hard about my privileges and the assumptions that arise from them, but I think my point still stands."

Then you can tell if that person really wanted you to "consider before continuing," or just to shut up.


"Check to see if you have privilege before you ever speak."
Before you speak. Not instead of speaking. And more check to see if your privilege is affecting what you're about to say.
And of course, in common use (which still isn't very common), it's applied after you speak, based on what you've already said.


thejeff wrote:
Which is not, as some seem to hear it: "You have privilege, so shut up".

I find it worth noting, that some do mean that.

Actively.

As I've heavily interacted with such, it creates a side-effect of me being confused about how the phrase is intended by others.

If my post is used as an example of "Check your privilege" - and it may well be - than I want it to be known that it is not the intent of said post.

This is one of the reasons I advocate to thinking about what you're saying first, or what the other people are saying before you respond.

One thing that I is important is to avoid implying something negative about "certain" people (or groups of people) in a way that indicates that anyone that <does X> in <that way> are objectively wrong, when it's possible that people have a solid reason for their response to certain phrases or ideas.

This is an emotional form of communication that lacks a lot of nuance and subtlety - it comes off as condemning rather than understanding, and exclusive rather than insightful.

It's something that I know I've done before too - and it's something that's easy to do, but should be avoided, when possible.

It is worth noting when some do X and some do Y, so long as we're clear that there are multiple emotional reactions to phrases, many of which could be valid.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Thejeff wrote:

Yes, in this context it reads like "You probably have some unexamined assumptions stemming from your position in society that are coloring your take on the situation. You might want to consider before continuing."

Which is not, as some seem to hear it: "You have privilege, so shut up".

The first statement is often used as the ONLY evidence that the statement that prompted it is true (including, hilariously, when the first statement ISN"T true). It might go with a follow up explanation for why their statement is wrong, but on its own its functionally an ad hom.

As an argument, it is basically an ad hom.

As a suggestion to reconsider, it's not. Because it isn't an argument.

The reaction you're looking for - and the reaction I've had myself on occasion - is something like "Oh right. That only works if you're a middle-class white guy. I wasn't thinking." This happens to the most "politically correct" of us. It's easy to slip back into thinking only based on your own personal experiences, without even noticing you're doing it.

If you don't get that, then you proceed with the explanation and try to convince the speaker. Assuming you think it's worth the argument.


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The problem with DrDeth's post in the other thread was that it was fundamentally flawed. It started with the premise that because he was uncomfortable with the words that therefore the words held negative connotations.

If my feet get uncomfortable walking, it doesn't mean that walking is bad for me. It might mean that, but it isn't automatic.

Particularly in talking about language changes, such as new terms to help us describe ourselves or the world around us, often times we just have to get used to it. Something being new is often uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean it's bad.

Using the earlier analogy, if I rarely walk, or only do so minimally, my feet are going to be uncomfortable because they aren't used to being worked that hard. While I don't like the axiom as a guiding principle, there is an element of truth to it that "pain is weakness leaving the body" and it relates to this situation.

Socially, as we become more aware and language expands to be more inclusive, we're going to be uncomfortable at times. That's fine. It's normal. You're not wrong for feeling uncomfortable. In time you'll get used to it and it'll be no big deal. It might take a long time depending on how much exposure you get, but eventually people adjust.

My grandparents used to regularly use the N-word in conversations. My mother eventually gave them an ultimatum. They got used to it and changed. I'm sure that conversation was uncomfortable for them, though I think we can agree that that discomfort is no excuse for them to hold onto that word.


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RainyDayNinja wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Berinor wrote:

I don't personally use it as a phrase, but I always try to read it as a "check your fly" situation. The optimistic interpretation of the goal is that people generally can think through the ramifications if they make the effort. Rather than coming across as sanctimonious or preachy, it's a shorthand to be aware of what you're talking about.

I often also see it being used in a dismissive way. But my interactions with OQ tell me that's not how he means it. And, at risk of being a hypocrite, people who are dismissive should be dismissed. ;-)

Yes, in this context it reads like "You probably have some unexamined assumptions stemming from your position in society that are coloring your take on the situation. You might want to consider before continuing."

Which is not, as some seem to hear it: "You have privilege, so shut up".

Talking past again.

The next time someone tells you to "check your privilege," try responding with something along the lines of: "I've thought long and hard about my privileges and the assumptions that arise from them, but I think my point still stands."

Then you can tell if that person really wanted you to "consider before continuing," or just to shut up.

I suggest only doing this if you actually have done so. In the context of whatever it is you're talking about.


TheJeff wrote:

As an argument, it is basically an ad hom.

As a suggestion to reconsider, it's not. Because it isn't an argument.

How often would you ask someone to reconsider a point if you didn't think that it was wrong?

That functionally makes the statement an ad hom, a way of dismissing what someone has to say based on who they are (or who they think you are) without ever addressing it. As a verbal *facepalm* it might be ok but it needs to come with an explanation or you're just disregarding what the other person says and the other person.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

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Tacticslion wrote:

And so, in that context, how is one supposed to learn? Just be quiet and let the others do the talking?

(If so, this tends to come off as "Quiet, Honey, and let the adults talk." kind of arrogance I mentioned at the OP.)
If not, in what way is one expected to join the dialogue and learn? Most people - or at least me - learn best by doing/interacting with.

I recommend articles and blogs to learn, as something that has worked for me. Let's get into a concrete example, since I don't think alluding to issues vaguely will be as useful. Let's say you want to learn more about trans issues; cool, that's something it's good to know about, considering the common lack of knowledge and misinformation and misconceptions that abound. See if you can find article sites or blogs that frequently discuss issues important to trans people. Certain blogs may have an FAQ section. Some may be information oriented (see if they answer questions frequently), but some may be submission based rant blogs for people to blow off steam about the mistreatment they experience in a transphobic society - those are not the appropriate or useful places to ask questions.

I understand that you feel the need to directly interact to learn best. And that's chill, probably the best way to approach that is to find people who are receptive to questions and likely ask if you can ask some questions to learn more about those topics. Accept no as an answer if they decline. Also recognize that there are some conversations that just don't involve you. This is less "Let the adults talk" and more "Please don't insert yourself into people's conversations and demand to be educated on the topic of discussion, because that's rude and they don't owe you an explanation of what they're talking about nor do they have to include you in every conversation." Recognize that you don't have to be part of every dialogue.

The message board rules prohibit talking about other websites in depth, so PM me if you're interested in some informative blogs.


The Raven Black wrote:
The exercise is meant to show that people apply their own personal notion of morale when judging behaviours. It conveniently skirts around 2 extremely important things : that some acts are actually worse than others and that how people feel about how they are treated actually matters. The worse thing in many debates IMO is people belittling other people's pain because they feel that the other is already implicitly belittling their own pain

Yes, the point is that we apply our different personas on the judgement of the situation. Depending on those persona, we are going to get different rankings on each of the people. It is entirely possible to meet someone with the exact opposite ranking list from yours, I have done so. And much as that will get you to want to dismiss the person in question as a moron, evil, deluded or insane, you have no basis for doing so.

It is true that not every system of morals allows for entirely subjective judgements - but the extent to which different people value different such systems varies wildly. One woman I talked to considered Dave to be the worst piece of crap that ever existed, even worse than Charlie. Her hero was Eric, who engaged in a situation he was not involved in, followed by Ann, only because she was a victim.

This is not about who is right or wrong, it is not an argument for a relative morality, it is a way to illustrate why communication is far, far more difficult than it seems.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
TheJeff wrote:

As an argument, it is basically an ad hom.

As a suggestion to reconsider, it's not. Because it isn't an argument.

How often would you ask someone to reconsider a point if you didn't think that it was wrong?

That functionally makes the statement an ad hom, a way of dismissing what someone has to say based on who they are (or who they think you are) without ever addressing it. As a verbal *facepalm* it might be ok but it needs to come with an explanation or you're just disregarding what the other person says and the other person.

No. Actually it's respecting them. It's assuming that with the reminder they'll figure it out.

If they don't, then you proceed with the explanation.


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thejeff wrote:

No. Actually it's respecting them. It's assuming that with the reminder they'll figure it out.

If they don't, then you proceed with the explanation.

I have doubts that it's meant that way and I have never seen it get taken that way.

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