I’m not offended, but I’m white.
I was a bit concerned that it would be found offensive by any African-Americans who might have seen it, though.
How many of you saying it’s nothing to be concerned about are black?
For that matter, how many of you who aren’t comfortable with it are black?
Do we even have any people of color who frequent these forums?
I’m also Jewish, and there are few things I hate more than accusations of anti-semitism coming from non-Jews.
I’m glad they changed it anyway, it wasn’t a good look.
But now the white-kid-with-chocolate-smeared-on-their-mouth contingent are no doubt going to be up in arms.
@DennisG2014 - The issue isn’t whether or not you can typecast people by racial categories, that’s done all the time. The question is, do you support censorship, or free expression? I think it’s rude to imply that people who aren’t offended by the image are somehow racist, but I would never call for such an implication to be removed from the website. On the contrary, it’s important for people to be free to express their opinions - particularly when they’re wrong.
@aetris I wasn’t trying to imply anyone is racist.
I was trying to imply that some people don’t take other people’s experiences into account.
If I were saying that, I’d be saying that I’m racist because I said that I’m not offended by the image.
But I do understand that the image resembles a well-known image that people of a certain ethnic and cultural background see as dehumanizing and demeaning - because that’s how they were intended to be seen at the time.
Because I know how I would feel if it were an accidental image of a swastika or a rat with a hook nose holding money bags, and because I have empathy, today’s face made me uncomfortable.
If I saw an image that so clearly resembled something intentionally demeaning to my family and cultural history - however accidentally - and came to the forum to point out the resemblance and suggest it be changed, only to be told that my feelings are of little consequence and my asking for some empathy is what’s offensive, a call for censorship and an infringement on the right to free expression?
Then I wouldn’t just be offended, I’d be pretty pissed.
I get the push-back at people being overly sensitive to being politically correct.
Both political correctness and the push-back can go too far sometimes.
Guess which I think goes too far this time?
Of course you’re free to think what you want, say what you want.
But thinking someone doesn’t have a right to their feelings is one thing, telling them they don’t is kind of a dick move, IMO.
@DennisG2014 - I don’t think anyone is saying you don’t have a right to your feelings. I don’t even think anyone is saying you don’t have a right to call for censorship and the infringement of someone else’s right to free expression - if that’s the way you feel. I just think that calling for censorship and the infringement of someone else’s right to free expression is a dick move.
My bad - no one said anyone doesn’t have a right to their feelings, they said they don’t give a fuck about other people’s feelings.
Especially when to take action to alleviate those feelings would - not harm or even inconvenience them personally in any way - but violate some abstract matter of principle.
To be clear - that’s what I find offensive.
@DennisG2014 - I’m afraid I can’t alleviate those feelings - especially since if I understand it correctly, your feeling is that someone else’s feelings should be alleviated because there might be someone offended because of their race.
My feelings, fwiw, are that fundamental constitutional rights are not abstract matters of principle. I wonder if there isn’t something there that we can both agree on - that those rights - and particularly freedom of speech and expression - are more important than any supposedly inherited histories assigned to people in the belief that they should be treated as members of categories. What would you say?
A call for civility is not necessarily synonymous with a call for censorship. That can be a complex area of discussion.
In some cases, where almost all of us agree that civility is appropriate, a call for civility is merely a call to appropriateness.
“Appropriateness” in itself is a loaded term, obviously. And what is seen as “appropriate” changes with the times and with the social setting. These concepts are always to some extent works in progress.
A call to “civility” being equivalent to a call for censorship is true in some cases. Esp in formal political or philosophical speech.
So. For me, this gets complex. For @aetris, it seems to be an all or nothing equivalence.
We would disagree on that. For instance, not all speech is appropriate in kindergarten. Or in eight grade settings. Or in surgery recovery rooms. Or in prayer and meditation rooms. Right? We’re prob mostly all there on that.
So then we go to normal adult settings. Is it appropriate in all settings to call a female in the “c” word; to call a non-white person a term of racial disparagement; to start a personal fight with someone in such a way that the no one else present can socialize in other ways or for other normal purposes?
For a commercial web site belonging to a company that values inclusivity, is it appropriate for forum members to point out that an image offered may be (inadvertently) offensive, and also may not carry the message the company wants to offer? Is that censorship? Or is that routine human helpfulness?
The company in question doesn’t seem to mind, as far as we know. And it was that company’s expression which was challenged. They changed the image. That might indicate to some of us that they agree with the critique.
Do any of us know anyone in our personal lives who exercises absolute free speech in a work setting?
In a society that does not value some degree of civility, varying by setting, “free speech” tends to belong, over time, only to bullies and the very powerful, and to persons who don’t have families to feed.
The purpose of the first amendment was to insulate persons from legal risk or imprisonment if they expressed their political views.
Not to insulate them from the social consequences of casual , inadvertent, unintended, or deliberate nastiness or rudeness, as the case might be.
Pointing out that someone - or some company - might have been inadvertently rude, which, if the person or company agreed, they might well be glad to repair; this is not equivalent to censorship.
After all, the person or company so notified is free to disagree, it they have a diff take; and free to say whatever they wish in response.
Well said, DennisG2014 and f001. In addition, the constitutional issue means the federal government cannot abridge the right of speech. Individuals, groups and corporations are not bound by that rule and can forbid expressions they do not like, including racial and religious disparagement.
Civility and censorship are an all or nothing non-equivalence.
Civility is more than treating others with polite good manners and courtesy - it’s most important aspect is the ability to address disagreements calmly. You can’t always resolve disagreements, and you can’t always respect another person’s point of view. But you can listen to an opinion with which you disagree and present your own point of view.
That’s important because as I said somewhere before, we can all be wrong. In fact I suspect we’re all wrong at least half the time, but I don’t know. Anyway it’s important to express our opinions, particularly when we’re wrong, because that subjects them to criticism. Unfortunately some criticism makes it harder to adjust our opinions, for emotional reasons - civility makes that a lot easier, imho, and offers that option that we all love, speeding things up. Nevertheless, any criticism offers us the opportunity to reevaluate our position, even if it takes a while to see it.
Of course, when views are censored, there’s no real discussion of them because those who hold them are not going to present them publicly except in an intentionally confrontational way. The ideas are going to be demonized publicly by their opponents and pushed underground for their defenders.
Civility cannot exist in a censored environment because you can’t have a real discussion of something you don’t really understand, and you can’t really understand something that can’t be fully presented openly. That’s why anyone who holds civility in high esteem, as I do, MUST be an absolute foe of censorship.
I would go a lot further and say that anyone who values open society and the progress of humanity should be an absolute foe of censorship, because no idea ever disappears, even some of the most incredible nonsense, certainly including very dangerous generalizations about groups of people, persists among surprisingly large numbers of people. Unless those ideas are presented publicly, we are going to be ignorant of their effect, which can play out surreptitiously to the detriment of many others.
In theory, the constitution means the federal government cannot abridge the right of speech - but the reality is that by creating the category of hate speech, the constitution no longer applies to all speech - censorship applies. Individuals and organizations are bound by that rule also.
Certainly, it’s perfectly legal for organizations to forbid speech, and it makes sense to some degree. But as individuals, we ought to be championing free speech at all times. We ought to be comfortable with disagreement, and prepared to present our own points of view powerfully, and ideally rationally and calmly - with civility.
Regardless, we have to have the strength to stand up for ourselves - and we get that by exercising our beliefs - and you know what the best exercise for that is?
I’ve gone on too long already. Why am I the only one talking about this? We all agree, eh? Free speech is like democracy itself - it’s a muscle, and if we don’t exercise it…
What I would say is that you are the one who keeps trying to make it about race and separating people into categories.
I have been trying, very hard, to make it about empathy and the golden rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - regardless of categorization.
You are the one using dog whistles - “supposedly inherited histories”???
That, along with “they are wont to see through race-colored glasses” (not your words) are two of the most staggeringly ignorant things I’ve read in awhile.
I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so correct me if I’m wrong here - are you saying that people descended from slaves are fraudulently claiming that as their familial and cultural history?
Are you saying that I, as a Jew of eastern European descent, whose direct relatives came here to flee the pre-Holocaust ghettos and pogroms while some of those left behind were exterminated - that I don’t get to claim that as my family history and be sensitive about attempts to minimize, deny or even resurrect the attitudes that lead to attempts to exterminate all people of my particular ancestry?
The “wont to see through race colored glasses” thing…
As though trying to view the world through another’s eyes - otherwise known as empathy - to try to understand how someone different from us might be affected by something we have no personal stake in - as though that’s some kind of weakness or character flaw.
I find that to be peak ignorance and callousness.
Let me ask you this, Aetris - is there nothing about you and/or your family, nothing that you/they have had to overcome, no adversity or injustice that, were someone to make light of it, diminish its impact or intentionally use it to demean you and imply that you are somehow less valuable as a human being -
is there nothing like that that you would find, if not offensive, at least insulting?
If there is, wouldn’t you hope that people would at least make some attempt to understand why you feel the way you do and be considerate of your feelings?
All of that said, what I’d really like us to find common ground on, that I stated earlier, is that both political correctness and the push-back against it can go too far…
If this were a discussion about the term “Black Friday” being offensive, I’d be arguing along side you.
This was far more clear-cut than that.
There are cases when calls for political correctness - for the sake of being considerate of others’ feelings - are warranted.
There are cases when it goes too far, when it takes some real mental and emotional gymnastics to find a reason to take offense, and then push-back is warranted.
There will always be differences of opinion on which cases are which.
I don’t think this case was debatable without completely discounting the point of view of the people who were targeted by the caricatures that that face, however unintentionally, resembled.
I really don’t want to be having this debate. It irks me - and not more than it should, IMO - that I should have to try to convince you that there are cases when empathy should take precedent over concerns for “muh rights!”
I wish I had left it alone and not chimed in; I tried to at first.
But there were certain expressions of ignorance and hypocrisy - like mocking and minimizing people’s expression of the way an image made them feel, in a not so low-key attempt to stifle them, couched in defending freedom of expression - that I found to be too juicy of a bait to resist.
After I closed my laptop for the night last night, I went and watched one of my all-time favorite movies on TV - “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
I watch it every year and never tire of it.
Sometimes one needs to ask one’s self - do I want to be/am I being more like George Bailey or Mr. Potter?
I’d much rather be like George.
A dash of Uncle Billy couldn’t hurt either - but not too much.
I don’t know anything about you, but I get the impression you’re more of a Sam Wainwright type.
@DennisG2014 - I’m sorry you wish you had not chimed in on this discussion; I think this has been a great thread, on one of the most important issues there is. I’m convinced that your intentions are good - crusading on the behalf of the oppressed, I suspect. FWIW, though, I happen to think that crusades are dangerous things - imho they often wind up demonizing opponents, and I think the results of that are never good.
I’m also sorry that you’ve misunderstood my remark about people being assigned histories in an effort to categorize them - it certainly wasn’t very elegantly phrased. I should at least have said characteristics, not histories - my point is that rather than listen to individuals express their own opinions, some seem to assume that members of certain groups will have the same opinion - and then presume to speak on their behalf. Civility prevents me from expressing my opinion of that kind of thing, and I hope you share it.
If you want to make the discussion about empathy and the golden rule, I do too - do unto others as you would have them do unto you seems to me to mean letting others speak, not suppressing expressions we disagree with, not characterizing people with a different opinion as ignorant, hypocritical, makers of “dick moves”…
That’s what our rights are all about imho - I already tried to explain why they’re important - not just “muh rights” but yours and the artist’s too - the rights of everybody. Certainly, that includes the right to express the way an image makes you feel - but also, the right to express the belief that it’s important to present such images, so we can explore why. If you think that’s mocking and minimizing people’s feelings, then we disagree.
I personally believe that communication - public, private, political - is always complex. And I’m not the expert on it.
My ideas on “absolute free speech“ vs “free speech bounded by civility” are not absolutely final and fixed. I simply haven’t studied public communication well enough to be sure I have a decent lay understanding of how it works (or how it can be abused).
But I have seen “free speech”. as an idea or ideal, used in attempts to support the suppression of free speech by others.
I suspect that whatever is the common expectation of public speech conduct in years to come is a set of norms yet in flux.
Our current example came about due to an unfortunate example of “icon-speech” by a corporation; the Corp almost certainly didn’t see the problem immediately. (I didn’t either). When the problem was pointed out, the icon-speech was modified. This indicates to me that whoever at Meh became aware of the purported problem icon agreed that the “icon-speech” in this instance was not what the company had intended to convey.
I think calls for a company to ”modify speech” may fall into either category; may be an attempt to suppress speech; or may be an attempt to point out an unfortunate error. In this case, I go with the latter.
Companies have, I think, the right to set certain limits on the civility or incivility of speech within their own boundaries. Such as within their locations and workspaces, on their websites and forums, within their emails, etc.
For employees, the companies prob has the right to request that speech be reasonably work-relevant (else brief, not devolving into all day discussions on topics where the discussion isn’t of relevant benefit to the company); and that the speech be “inclusive”, in the sense of “welcoming to all persons who behave nicely”.
For visitors, the company-set boundaries on speech have to be much more broad, of course.
The company visitors probably, within the intentions of most companies, ought to behave nicely toward their fellow visitors and employees, and not break certain rules (such as not spamming, or creating issues that cost much employee time, not hijacking the company biz mission) etc.
Meh is a biz site that offers visitors a lot of “topic room“. And the custom here is civility. I appreciate that. If the discussions on the site weren’t generally warm, civil, and respectful, I wouldn’t be here.
We have all seen the notions of “civility” and “fact” get corrupted here and there in modern life by those who seek political or other advantage. We have all seen mob rule and bullying conduct silence or attempt to silence people who have quite valid POVs they attempt to express honestly. We have all seen people get badly hurt for telling, or attempting to tell, factual truth; let alone for expressing opinions.
we have all seen or all know of police states who attempt to control expression or to attempt, in some instances, to erase the cultural histories of substantial populations. We have all seen much that is metaphorically reminiscent of every institutional creation of Orwell’s 1984.
How to make public discussion both open and fair - and how to create a setting where persons choose to want to listen and reflect before they respond in a “my POV knee-jerk way” to differing viewpoints is something I hope for but don’t have an answer to;
except that I hope that, at least in places where democracy has a strong cultural hold, basic civility and decency win out over dog-whistle-speech, mob-conduct, name-calling, bullying, obviously “spun” facts and arguments, intended-manipulative-speech, hopelessly-and-simply-giving-in-to-power (as in parts of China/Russia/other states), etc, within public discourse.
/giphy fool’s hope
It can be interesting and instructive to look at the history of political speech patterns just in the US since WWII.
Our notions of civility have changed much. Our notions of what is “unfair manipulation” has gone back and forth, this way and that. Our notions of what most people will accept as a reasonable topics to discuss have evolved greatly.
@DennisG2014 - First off, you were right to start out light, and by going pretty heavy in my initial I made it harder to reach an understanding - that’s my bad. But if there’s anything I’m not understanding about your position, I do want to know what it is.
This has been helpful for me - it actually got my engine cranked to talk to my supervisor about an unrelated issue at work. Of course I shouldn’t need my engine cranked to address workplace safety, but what can I say - it takes more than it should to get my dander up. Free speech happens to be one of those things - just so’s you know!