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Old 11-12-2009, 10:52 AM   #21 (permalink)

giant steps
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 15,190

apologies for not responding to this sooner armchair, i didn't see it until now.

your point is well taken, but i think it misses an important piece. i'll get to that in a moment.

i have had a pretty consistent stance against any words used to insult others on this forum. calling other posters idiots or morons drags down the level of dialogue and creates fights instead of discussions. the more it happens, the more people think it is acceptable, and the more likely others are to start doing it. insulting other posters is not tolerated for precisely that reason. it just escalates.

but what about when we are using words like that to take a shot at some one who is not a poster? a player that is consistently making mistakes, or a coach that is making poor decisions, or a writer who has written a bad piece? i see that as a different story because it is criticism of something indirect in relation to this board. i think there are much better ways to make a criticism than to lob an insult at somebody, but i am guilty of doing this for sure. saying 'triano is an idiot for having a bad defensive scheme' is different than saying 'acie is an idiot because he thinks band of gypsies was anything more than an average band'. i say this is different because jay triano is unlikely to come on to this board and start fighting with the person that posted that. maybe that's an inconsistent approach, but to me the only thing i'm trying to protect is the idea that this board is a place for discussion, not for fighting. when we directly insult each other we lose that sense of community and create antagonisms. it would be better if we didn't call triano an idiot either, but i think that may be asking too much of people.

but to the pieces i think your post was missing - words like moron and idiot do have a nasty history. of that there is no doubt. two things, though - the first is that the clinical meaning that you described was not the only meaning. in fact, it was used clinically precisely because it was already established as a word to refer to stupid people, and people with disabilities were considered to be stupid. it was removed from clinical use because it came with baggage, and the equation of these terms with disability was wrong. on the other hand, 'retarded' came with the baggage of meaning 'late developing' or 'delayed' and was adopted for clinical use for that reason, not for implied stupidity. it has become accpeted, clinically speaking, that this is an inappropriate way of describing the disability, so it was dropped as well, but it came with completely different baggage.

secondly, at this point i think 'moron' and 'idiot' have moved a long way from their original meaning. although this is happening with the word retarded as well, and that is your point, it most certainly has not fully taken place. everybody still has a strong sense of what this word means, and that connection to disability is strongly apparent. the most significant reason that i would like to see the use of this word stopped is because there are people with disabilities that come to read these forums, and to have to read the 'so and so is a retard' is degrading and extremely unwelcoming. no one will bat an eye at moron because it has long been part of our lexicon as stupid, not a clinical term for disability. the same cannot be said about retarded. there may come a time when this is the case, but not yet. if we are to create a forum that is welcoming to all people we should be thinking about whether or not the terms we are using are offensive to people that very well may be reading these pages. i can tell you for certain that, when you alreday face plenty of barriers to full inclusion, it is hurtful to come to a place to talk about a passion of yours and find that people are commonly using a word that you find offensive without batting an eye. your marginalization is so deeply entrenched that people don't even realize when they are furthering that marginalization.

so of course i realize that most people using it don't mean anything by it - context is important - i also realize that some people don't care about whether or not you mean it, they are insulted by it anyways because the term itself carries that baggage and has that social implication. and creating an atmosphere where that is acceptable is, to me, tantamount to creating a forum that is not inclusive.
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