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Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 01:32 pm
The unphilosophical tendencies of our society annoys me. People speak and act without really thinking about it. And when they do think about it, they think about it in a really, really errant way. Is it really so hard to ask "What is language?" I honestly think that if people just took a moment to think, we would have to deal with less stupid stuff.

And y'know, for those of you who probably are prone to disagree with me, I think we can all take a page from the Epicureans and agree that if people thought a bit more, there would be less conflict, insofar as I think that we all tend to have the same basic intuitions. We may disagree about how this or that is instantiated, or what the inferences of this set of intuitions may be, but I think that our intuitions are the same.

Anyway, this was the ad: Some teens are sitting at a table, and one of them perjoratively calls something "gay." Wanda Sykes comes up and tells them to think about what they say before they say it. "You wouldn't like it" she says, "if I were to say of this salt shaker '16 year old teenager,' would you?" That's stupid, and PC stuff is getting on my nerves.

Language is a tool whereby objects are named. Word A is assigned to object B. As Nietzsche rightly points out, there is no necessary connection between a word and the object it names. This is obvious to everyone, given that there are different languages. "Dog" doesn't bark, "Cat" doesn't meow, and "Pizza" doesn't yum.

Of course, I disagree with Nietzsche when he says that we have no secure relation to objects through words (insofar as language is a tool whereby objects are named, we can have a relationship to the objects through the names, insofar as the names call to mind a concept), I have to agree with Nietzsche when he says that the words themselves are completely unrelated to the objects being named.

Thought experiment: "That guy is nuts."

Be honest: How many of you thought "almond"? I'm betting not a one of you did. How many of you thought "male reproductive organs"? Still...none of you? I thought not.

One word can refer to different objects, and to the degree that it can refer to different objects, when it refers to one object, there's no necessary relationship to one meaning to another.

There's no necessary relationship between "nuts" as insanity and "nuts" as almond.

Sure, there may have been some original linguistic relationship between these two meanings and why the same word is used for both meanings...but it's irrelevent to us now.

The problem with PC stuff is that it deals with the words themselves (which of themselves are meaningless) and not intentionality, when language only works on the level of intentionality.

And to that degree, "gay" as perjorative and "gay" as homosexual are uses of the same word as referring to completely different conceptual objects.

PC stuff annoys me.
 
Vasska
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 05:29 pm
@Bonaventurian,
Please if you start using non standard abbreviations note them to the reader. PC means Personal Computer in the real world, not Political Correct. I, and surely other after me are bound to get confused by this.

Language is indeed a tool BUT has certain words or multiple one's assigned to a certain object or objects. Rather than your A assigned to B explanation, which you lateron seem to break by telling the above in a way. Saying "Gay" brings up an association with things you know. The Gay as in homosexual is brought up far more than the Happy one.

Also: "He kicked me in the nuts" and "do you want some nuts" are two ways to use the word in their correct form, different context. The latter can be in a bar or in the bedroom. Political Correctness is about Context and populair meaning.

Being political correct does focus on the popular meaning of the words. Barack Obama saying "I'm Gay" during the election campaign would have been suicide, due to the populair use of that word.

About your bitterness of the unphilosophical society. Let it be, i would not like my plumber to philosophize about the plubing he needs to fix, neither the baker who tries to explain the easthics of his newly baked loaf of bread. Sure society is dumbing down, but society in general was never an utopia to begin with. The history of the last four centuries can prove that too you.

Cheer up, it's Christmas day already, have fun.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 10:55 am
@Bonaventurian,
Words are what we define them to be, and often one word has many connotations depending on the context. One of the problems current in langauge is that it is being controlled by those, for lack of a better word, who are politicians. Hence they want to re-define many words in ways that promote their politics; granted, these changes are often silly (no one uses "niggardly" now, for example, even though its origin and meaning is not racial in the least), but they have a momentum of their own when viewed together and when they become commonplace.
Orwell, as is often the case, foresaw this change (as did Brenda) in the politicising of language, and coined the term Newspeak.

Now we have the example of "gay" which can mean a homosexual orientation, or the older meaning of being happiness ("and we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home") and the other current use to mean something broken, blemished, or second-rate.
The last meaning can be as hurtful (even if used "innocently" if such is possible) as many racial epithets. In this, one would hope the caution with which it should be used would be the result of common courtesy rather than political propaganda.
 
lakeshoredrive
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 12:21 pm
@Bonaventurian,
Now, I consider myself to be very polite and courteous, and I always remember my pleases and thank-yous. However, I do indeed use the word 'gay' as a pejorative. By the way, Bona, it's pejorative, not perjorative. It comes from the Latin 'pejor' which means 'of lower quality'.

The thing is, no commercial will stop the populous from using the word 'gay' as a synonym for stupid.
The problem I have with the commercial is that it seems to reject the ideas of etymology. Words do, indeed, have different meanings, and these meanings do evolve throughout time and use. When Congress passes a dumb law, and I say "Oh, that's gay," I obviously do not mean that the law is either happy, nor do I mean it is homosexual.

The letters a word is composed of do not give it its meaning. The context it is used in gives it its meaning.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 03:14 pm
@lakeshoredrive,
I'm not a pizza, cat, almond, nut or gay. But I would very much like to toss out just a wee bit of the other side of this coin.

Being 'miffed' at others' sensitivity to derogatory words is - most unfortunately - the order of the day; however, it'll remain a blind spot to those doing this right up until the moment they too are injured by having their class, sect, race, orientation or religion likened to something derogatory or injurious. Even after this, as we've seen often, some people don't learn - they still feel the swell of righteous indignance at these 'silly whiners' after life's taken the trouble to 'teach the lesson'. At least that's how I've seen it play out...

I really believe that this is an issue that depends on one's perspective and empathy. And, just as a note for those looking for other perspectives on 'political correctness', we've discussed this a number of times (here most recently).

Thanks
 
lakeshoredrive
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 03:33 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

Being 'miffed' at others' sensitivity to derogatory words is - most unfortunately - the order of the day; however, it'll remain a blind spot to those doing this right up until the moment they too are injured by having their class, sect, race, orientation or religion likened to something derogatory or injurious.



You seem to be interpreting the use of 'gay' as a pejorative as a metaphor, likening silly or stupid things to homosexuals. I don't think that this is the case with most slang use of the word.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 04:34 pm
@lakeshoredrive,
lakeshoredrive wrote:
You seem to be interpreting the use of 'gay' as a pejorative as a metaphor, likening silly or stupid things to homosexuals. I don't think that this is the case with most slang use of the word.


For all words and/or labels that refer to individuals, such judgments of disrespect would necessarily depend upon the context of the expression (as well as what ends up being communicated). I am, of course, not speaking to positive expressions. I'd have thought this self-evident.

As far as "most slang use" not meaning silly, stupid or otherwise diminutive, I'm curious then what might constitute a positive "slang" use of calling something "gay". Granted, I'm a bit older and perhaps not in touch with much slang out there (thank the gods!); perhaps there is such an animal?

Thanks for replying.
 
StupidBoy phil
 
Reply Tue 30 Dec, 2008 07:54 pm
@Khethil,
Strange. I couldn't have imagined, before just now, hearing someone argue Khethil's position and not instantly disliking them. It's a very polarizing topic for me, probably close to as infuriating as organized religion. I try, in all things, to apply logic and not to let emotion cloud my judgement, but this is one of those topics where I quickly fail, in every case. Those "silly whiners" deeply offend me simply through their existence. If I had to guess at the root of my hatred, I'd say that it probably stems from the fact that the easily offended usually have the most offensive morals; at this point I've been conditioned like one of Pavlov's dogs. I don't need to hear their bullshit morality to become incensed, the ease with which they are offended tells me everything I need to know.

So Khethil has set me on edge, but I haven't boiled over just yet. I am one of those people that goes out of my way to offend others. Oh, not as much now as I did when I was younger, mostly because I just don't care as much now; I've accepted that the world is a rotten place and that no amount of work on my part will ever make it a utopia. I'm damn proud of offending people. I take great pleasure in it, because it is my revenge for being offended by them.

I ask myself, which is more offensive? Me saying "****" or some fat housewife with 8 kids on welfare on the phone with her congressman, telling him that she wants to make sure that stem cell research never has a chance to cure debilitating diseases because destroying 16 cells is "murder"? Now obviously, there are people everywhere, in fact a majority of people in this country, who think my cursing is worse than shutting down stem cell research. Obviously it's so, or we'd have federal funding for stem cell research. As for me, I think that's absurd. How could any single word be more offensive than forcing others to spend their lives in misery, suffering because people have decided that a group of cells with no survival mechanism whatsoever constitutes a human being? The insanity of it, the unfairness of it is enough to make me scream. Then these sadistic people have the nerve to claim offense at something *I* say or do?

There are far more worrisome injuries that can be done to you by others than a bad name. You can call me whatever you want, I don't really care. Personally, I'd like to kick the snot out of all of those sensitive whiners, but there's just not enough time in the day and it's not worth doing time over.
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Wed 31 Dec, 2008 05:02 pm
@Bonaventurian,
@ Stupidboy:

I'd like to point out that I am both opposed to stem cell research (on the grounds that it is murder) and people getting annoyed about foul language (on the grounds that they are, in fact, just words).
 
StupidBoy phil
 
Reply Fri 2 Jan, 2009 11:03 am
@Bonaventurian,
Well, there are a variety of reasons to dislike language-sensitivity, we've each got our own. Smile
 
Vasska
 
Reply Fri 2 Jan, 2009 12:24 pm
@Bonaventurian,
Bonaventurian wrote:
@ Stupidboy:

I'd like to point out that I am both opposed to stem cell research (on the grounds that it is murder) and people getting annoyed about foul language (on the grounds that they are, in fact, just words).


I'm going offtopic now, but really? stem cell research murder?

1)Two people have sex, consensual hopefully, and the girl gets pregnant.
2)Whatever the reasons, they decide to abort it.
3)Embryo is going to die anyway; why not use it for scientific research than can enrich our quality of life, and maybe one day safe yours if you so choose.

With your reasoning you're opposing recycling to because it's murder of the coca cola bottle you've thrown out anyway.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 09:58 am
@StupidBoy phil,
StupidBoy wrote:
Strange. I couldn't have imagined, before just now, hearing someone argue Khethil's position and not instantly disliking them. It's a very polarizing topic for me, probably close to as infuriating as organized religion. I try, in all things, to apply logic and not to let emotion cloud my judgement, but this is one of those topics where I quickly fail, in every case. Those "silly whiners" deeply offend me simply through their existence. If I had to guess at the root of my hatred, I'd say that it probably stems from the fact that the easily offended usually have the most offensive morals; at this point I've been conditioned like one of Pavlov's dogs. I don't need to hear their bullshit morality to become incensed, the ease with which they are offended tells me everything I need to know.

So Khethil has set me on edge, but I haven't boiled over just yet. I am one of those people that goes out of my way to offend others. Oh, not as much now as I did when I was younger, mostly because I just don't care as much now; I've accepted that the world is a rotten place and that no amount of work on my part will ever make it a utopia. I'm damn proud of offending people. I take great pleasure in it, because it is my revenge for being offended by them.

I ask myself, which is more offensive? Me saying "****" or some fat housewife with 8 kids on welfare on the phone with her congressman, telling him that she wants to make sure that stem cell research never has a chance to cure debilitating diseases because destroying 16 cells is "murder"? Now obviously, there are people everywhere, in fact a majority of people in this country, who think my cursing is worse than shutting down stem cell research. Obviously it's so, or we'd have federal funding for stem cell research. As for me, I think that's absurd. How could any single word be more offensive than forcing others to spend their lives in misery, suffering because people have decided that a group of cells with no survival mechanism whatsoever constitutes a human being? The insanity of it, the unfairness of it is enough to make me scream. Then these sadistic people have the nerve to claim offense at something *I* say or do?

There are far more worrisome injuries that can be done to you by others than a bad name. You can call me whatever you want, I don't really care. Personally, I'd like to kick the snot out of all of those sensitive whiners, but there's just not enough time in the day and it's not worth doing time over.

Was slavery offensive? Ah...that's where your argument falls apart. While, yes I do find the whiners among the punditry annoying and personally offensive to me, isn't it also true that those among our society most blind to offensiveness were the most offensive in prior times? (I.e., keeping slaves, calling blacks n-ers, grouping those emphatic with a particular cause physically with that cause, etc. etc.). In other words, what Khetil is trying to say is that certain types of people are easily offended because historically they were subjugated by members of the majority and the majority is blind to the continuing effects of past subjugation.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 24 Apr, 2009 05:26 am
@hammersklavier,
I saw this article this morning and it reminded me of this thread and its theme of calling things 'gay'.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 24 Apr, 2009 06:57 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I saw this article this morning and it reminded me of this thread and its theme of calling things 'gay'.

I find situations like this so sad because somthing could've been done, it's awful.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Fri 24 Apr, 2009 03:07 pm
@Caroline,
SENSITIVIUS MINIMUS: God, look at that gay over there, he's so gay.
SENSITIVIUS MAXIMUS: I wish you wouldn't use the word "gay" like that.
SENSITIVIUS MINIMUS: How dare you deny me the words I wish to use! You're trying to infringe on my freedom of speech.
SENSITIVIUS MAXIMUS: I'm entitled to my opinion, by suggesting I keep it to myself you're infringing on my freedom of speech.
SENSITIVIUS MINIMUS: I'm merely using terms to add colour to my discourse and project my sardonic personality, words cause no physical damage and if you don't like it you don't have to pay me any attention.
SENSITIVIUS MAXIMUS: I have no choice but to hear what's said in my vicinity and am pointing out that hate speech has often been the thin edge of a much nastier wedge. A little politeness costs us nothing does it?
SENSITIVIUS MINIMUS: You're trying to inhibit my views and sweep a legitimate voice under the carpet.
SENSITIVIUS MAXIMUS: You're trying to inhibit my views and sweep a legitimate voice under the carpet.
SENSITIVIUS MINIMUS: You nimminy-pimminy wet blanket ***** pinko!
SENSITIVIUS MAXIMUS: ****!
 
salima
 
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 06:55 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;59718 wrote:
I saw this article this morning and it reminded me of this thread and its theme of calling things 'gay'.


i think there has to be something wrong in society where a person resorts to suicide over name-calling. or why is it a person can come to believe being laughed at is the worst thing that can happen to him? (my father believed that).

and there has to be something wrong in the person's life as far as his support system. in the article it sounds as if the mother was supportive-but i notice there was no mention of a father. maybe he was lacking any adult male role models or guides.

bullies in school are still a big problem in america as it was in the day when i was in school and i will remember til the day i die everyone who ever acted that way towards me and how i retaliated by treating people who were more vulnerable than me even worse.

this is off topic i think, though related. i know the psychology of the bullied-what is the psychology of the bully? they must have serious problems, and rather than imagine there is a way to stop them-because there isnt-why not give them counseling as well?
 
Theages
 
Reply Tue 30 Jun, 2009 11:25 am
@Bonaventurian,
People like Bonaventurian feel compelled to go on long-winded and half-baked tirades against "political correctness" because they don't have the courage to admit to themselves that their judgmental language is a symptom of their judgmental attitudes.
 
Leonard
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 07:43 pm
@Bonaventurian,
Anything you say can be offensive. It is unfortunate that things have many meanings. You can't say **** on television, you can't write about politics or religion in a book. Writers books are desecrated, politicians are called heathens, and people can't speak what's on their mind because there's a chance that someone will find it offensive. I'd like to mention censorship on television. We know that shows with expletives are mature shows for mature audiences. Censorship is used to prevent immature people from hearing these words. If you were too immature to watch a show that offended you, why did you watch it. People get mad at Family Guy because their children watch it and learn 'bad' things from it. If you were a responsible parent, your child wouldn't be watching it! Unfortunately there are too many people in this country who are sensitive wimps who are easily offended. Some pejoratives prevent you from getting your point across while talking in public. There will always be censorship in this country, since there are always people not willing to grow up. Anyways, children still learn awful things from their parents, siblings, or classmates. Only simpleminded dolts have a need for expletives and pejoratives like gay in daily conversation, unless trying to convey that someone is gay or something similar. Expletives don't have as much of an impact as a powerful, logical statement.

---------- Post added 07-16-2009 at 08:53 PM ----------

Khethil;59718 wrote:
I saw this article this morning and it reminded me of this thread and its theme of calling things 'gay'.


That brought a tear to my eye. However, I trust that causing the death of a young boy will haunt the bullies for the rest of their lives. The impact is even greater if they don't receive criminal charges because they know that they weren't punished properly. They will suffer with that, and it wouldn't come as a surprise to me that one of them commits suicide.
 
Phredderikk
 
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2009 06:03 am
@Leonard,
Leonard;77809 wrote:
Anything you say can be offensive. It is unfortunate that things have many meanings. You can't say **** on television, you can't write about politics or religion in a book. Writers books are desecrated, politicians are called heathens, and people can't speak what's on their mind because there's a chance that someone will find it offensive. I'd like to mention censorship on television. We know that shows with expletives are mature shows for mature audiences. Censorship is used to prevent immature people from hearing these words. If you were too immature to watch a show that offended you, why did you watch it. People get mad at Family Guy because their children watch it and learn 'bad' things from it. If you were a responsible parent, your child wouldn't be watching it! Unfortunately there are too many people in this country who are sensitive wimps who are easily offended. Some pejoratives prevent you from getting your point across while talking in public. There will always be censorship in this country, since there are always people not willing to grow up. Anyways, children still learn awful things from their parents, siblings, or classmates. Only simpleminded dolts have a need for expletives and pejoratives like gay in daily conversation, unless trying to convey that someone is gay or something similar. Expletives don't have as much of an impact as a powerful, logical statement.


I have (I believe) coined a term that describes this: 'Crybabyism'. One thing I am trying to impress on my 2 older kids (12 and 13) is to purposely offend nobody, and take personal offense at nothing. It is called having compassion and integrity. If you have an issue with someone, talk to them about it... you'll either be accepted or rejected, but you let them make the decision on the outcome. If someone has an issue with you and chooses to spew insults instead of speaking to you, leave them to their right to do so, remind yourself that you are not defined by their words, and leave it be. I think this is something that needs all the more attention in our computer age where it is so easy to throw around insults in cyberspace. It used to be a bit more difficult to put someone down when you had to at least insult them to their face... as such I am also teaching my kids to limit their use of internet forums to non-personal arenas. A word spoken is taken away by the wind, but a word typed online is engraved for all to see...

---------- Post added 07-17-2009 at 08:22 AM ----------

salima;73489 wrote:
i think there has to be something wrong in society where a person resorts to suicide over name-calling. or why is it a person can come to believe being laughed at is the worst thing that can happen to him? (my father believed that).

and there has to be something wrong in the person's life as far as his support system. in the article it sounds as if the mother was supportive-but i notice there was no mention of a father. maybe he was lacking any adult male role models or guides.

bullies in school are still a big problem in america as it was in the day when i was in school and i will remember til the day i die everyone who ever acted that way towards me and how i retaliated by treating people who were more vulnerable than me even worse.

this is off topic i think, though related. i know the psychology of the bullied-what is the psychology of the bully? they must have serious problems, and rather than imagine there is a way to stop them-because there isnt-why not give them counseling as well?


I was about 12, in 7th grade, when I went through a period similar to what this boy seems to have gone through. I used to get home some days and bury my face in my bed and sob. Then one day my mother said to me: You must be doing something to them to make them treat you like that.

I obviously didn't resort to suicide... but I lost alot of trust in my mother, and in adults in general. (the only positive was my bus driver who told me I should punch them in the nose) I also had issues in later years with classmates. I never lashed out at them, but I know that the repression of the feelings caused anger and a reclusive personality that I still deal with.

About 7 years ago, one of the guys who gave me problems in high school hung himself. It gave me cause to consider what issues he may have been dealing with that caused him to pick on me... it was amazing how saddened I was about this young man whom I had held such a hatred for in my teen years... I guess it is called perspective.

I wish there were a way to make kids respect each other, and just be nice... but kids are people too, and there will continue to be the bullies and the bullied. Is it any different in the adult world?
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2009 08:21 am
@Bonaventurian,
"I wish there were a way to make kids respect each other, and just be nice... but kids are people too, and there will continue to be the bullies and the bullied. Is it any different in the adult world?".......................Phred

it seems different-maybe it is just easier to cope with. as children we are so much more vulnerable and have no experience. if a child has no family support not only emotionally but someone with the power of reason in their brain, then they are in a very difficult position.

maybe the bullies have a lot harder time as adults because then their tactics dont work any more-they cant get along in the world using the only methods they know, and it is they who suffer.

when people grow up i think entire countries and governments become bullies moreso than individuals do.
 
 

 
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