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censored, banned, burned by governments or mobs...   ...vs discontinued by the author / author's estate   Evidently the Seuss estate *did* want to "make a huge public statement

This story is a perfect illustration of the "outrage culture" fomented by talk radio and social media. So a minor story noting that the company founded by Seuss's family will no longer reprint a few b

I do love Dr Seuss, but when you know better, you do better. Times have changed and it is appropriate to retire offensive stereotypes. 

2 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Fair enough. But I don't think you'd love it if a white person said they are now going to ignore that designation because it's overused. Maybe you wouldn't care, I don't know. I know that'd sound a little off to me. 

They already say that regularly right here and I do, regularly, ignore it. The term itself is not a hill I choose to die on.

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13 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

re immense difficulties of trying to communicate across great chasms of difference

 

It is hard work, and it is not for the faint-hearted or the thin-skinned.

And there are definitely moments that the effort WILL be irritating.

And sometimes it *is* necessary to step away to cool off or re-group; or figure out a different vantage point on which to try to stand or direction to approach the issue at hand.  Fair enough.

 

I mean this as a compliment: I believe you are up to the task.

I know that @Sneezyone is.

And that doesn't mean it will be easy or pleasant.

Pam, this actually comes across as condescending to the poster you address, and I'm not sure it achieves the drawing into that it was aimed to do. 

You're 'calling in'. I get that. I just don't think it worked this time. Tone matters. You can't 'call in' when contempt seeps through ( and contempt is the root of condescension). 

 

 

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re shifting/ cynical instrumentalism of labels

3 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

Just like ‘racist’, ‘anti-Semitic’ is entirely overused. That’s my opinion. I don’t actually use either with regularity...

 

1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

Fair enough. But I don't think you'd love it if a white person said they are now going to ignore that designation because it's overused. Maybe you wouldn't care, I don't know. I know that'd sound a little off to me. 

To my mind, it's not quite that the labels "racist" and "anti-semitic" are overused; more that both terms have been co-opted and weaponized as instruments of the dominant power structure.

When the label "racist" is thrown out in a sentence like (as was recently aired by a major TV host), you know what's racist? Talking about race, that's what's racist!  the term is not merely being overused: it has been weaponized, so as to further-erase POC and further-suppress even the possibility of "discussion." More structurally and insidiously: you know what's racist?  Collecting and aggregating and publishing data on the race of folks arrested for subjective infractions like "loitering" and "disturbing the peace."  Why would you even collect information about race, when race doesn't make any difference, it's only the individual that matters?  See how that misuse of the label operates, instrumentally, to sustain the existing Order?

Similarly, when the sitting President addresses a convention of Jews and says any Jew who votes for the opposing party is "disloyal to Israel" -- well, there are a number of tropes going on there, but it's not merely that the label is being overused. It is being weaponized. For a purpose.

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re "calling in"

3 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Pam, this actually comes across as condescending to the poster you address, and I'm not sure it achieves the drawing into that it was aimed to do. 

You're 'calling in'. I get that. I just don't think it worked this time. Tone matters. You can't 'call in' when contempt seeps through ( and contempt is the root of condescension). 

 

 

Thanks.

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1 minute ago, Pam in CT said:

re shifting/ cynical instrumentalism of labels

 

To my mind, it's not quite that the labels "racist" and "anti-semitic" are overused; more that both terms have been co-opted and weaponized as instruments of the dominant power structure.

When the label "racist" is thrown out in a sentence like (as was recently aired by a major TV host), you know what's racist? Talking about race, that's what's racist!  the term is not merely being overused: it has been weaponized, so as to further-erase POC and further-suppress even the possibility of "discussion." More structurally and insidiously: you know what's racist?  Collecting and aggregating and publishing data on the race of folks arrested for subjective infractions like "loitering" and "disturbing the peace."  Why would you even collect information about race, when race doesn't make any difference, it's only the individual that matters?  See how that misuse of the label operates, instrumentally, to sustain the existing Order?

Similarly, when the sitting President addresses a convention of Jews and says any Jew who votes for the opposing party is "disloyal to Israel" -- well, there are a number of tropes going on there, but it's not merely that the label is being overused. It is being weaponized. For a purpose.

THIS.

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1 minute ago, Pam in CT said:

To my mind, it's not quite that the labels "racist" and "anti-semitic" are overused; more that both terms have been co-opted and weaponized as instruments of the dominant power structure.

Yeah, sure, that's fair. However, if I remove all weaponized terms from my vocabulary, I wouldn't have enough words left. 

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3 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Yeah, sure, that's fair. However, if I remove all weaponized terms from my vocabulary, I wouldn't have enough words left. 

Invent some. JERKITUDE is a personal favorite.🤣

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The idea that a particular group of Jews are secretly working for a foreign power, because they are opportunist supremacists, is pretty darn close to some classic anti-Semitic tropes, and that's all I'll say about that. 

And no, neither the Republicans nor Putin made me say that...

 

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6 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

re "calling in"

Thanks.

You can feel righteous about it, or you can have it work. It doesn't work unless it's done without condescension.

I've been called in and it changed me, when it was done from a position of loving humility. 

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re the search for an effective response when important words are co-opted and weaponized:

4 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Yeah, sure, that's fair. However, if I remove all weaponized terms from my vocabulary, I wouldn't have enough words left. 

Yes. It's hard to figure an appropriate response.

One option is to sort of give up on the word -- feminism, for example, has been so thoroughly co-opted into Man-Hating Family-Smashing FemiNazis that the term is practically meaningless to my nearly-adult daughters, and that is not because the work is done; it's because the language has been effectively excised.  That would seem to be what Sneezy is suggesting here.

I don't much like that option -- language is a mighty imperfect vehicle to carry the baggage of our society, but still, it's the only tool we've got.

So I tend myself to keep plugging away, plodding along ten steps behind, trying to refine and clarify and ask, over and over, I don't understand what you're saying here, what do you mean with that term... which also, TBH, gets exhausting and tiresome both to others and even to myself, LOL.

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8 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

The idea that a particular group of Jews are secretly working for a foreign power, because they are opportunist supremacists, is pretty darn close to some classic anti-Semitic tropes, and that's all I'll say about that. 

And no, neither the Republicans nor Putin made me say that...

 

Well, I agree with you, but since that’s not what I said, no problemo! What I actually said was that I didn’t think there was any cooperation at all but that the views managed to line up to the detriment of issues I care about, i.e. situational, and that the government of Russia and conservative movement have been able to use those alignments to their own advantage, opportunistically.

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Wow, you guys are fascinating to listen to. I wouldn't be able to hear this type of conversation anywhere else. 🙂

Forgive my ignorance, but what does "calling in" mean in this context?

Edited by MercyA
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Just now, Indigo Blue said:

I thought the same....fascinating. I also wondered what calling in means. I’m nooooowhere near smart enough to be in that conversation. I just said, “Self, stay in your lane.”

Oh, see, worrying about things like this never stops me 😉 . Maybe it should!! 

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6 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Wow, you guys are fascinating to listen to. I wouldn't be able to hear this type of conversation anywhere else. 🙂

Forgive my ignorance, but what does "calling in" mean in this context?

Where calling out is publically challenging someone's perceived to be harmful words, attitudes, behaviours in the moment, calling in is meant to be a response that provides the challenge in a a way that respects the humanity of the person being 'called in'. 

One key aspect of calling-in (the kind that works, imo) is that it's done with a genuine curiosity about the other person's beliefs, and takes place in a more private conversation.

My own very good experience of being called in was full of challenge but equally full of love - shout out to Eliana, if she's still here. Challenging, loving, private, over a long period of time, respectful, empathetic.

I don't particularly resonate with either calling in or calling out as a general practice. I can't imagine I could call out or call in effectively. 

To me, most conversation is just ppl giving their opinions on things, and other ppl agree or disagree, and that's interesting, and sometimes disappointing/frustrating. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

I thought the same....fascinating. I also wondered what calling in means. I’m nooooowhere near smart enough to be in that conversation. I just said, “Self, stay in your lane.”

I'm literally fifty, fat and failed. If I can be in a conversation, anyone can. 

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3 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

Don’t say that!😯

Why not? It's true! Doesn't mean I can't take part in conversations. I just bring the FFF perspective 🙂

My larger point is that there are zero special requirements to talk about what you think in conversation on a message board! 

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10 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

I'm literally fifty, fat and failed. If I can be in a conversation, anyone can. 

Pfft. I've seen you and you're beautiful. And I've learned a lot from you.

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Just now, MercyA said:

Pfft. I've seen you and you're beautiful. And I've learned a lot from you.

It's ok, I don't need validation. I'm perfectly content to provide my opinion in a conversation regardless of my personal characteristics, and I hope everyone else can feel that way too. 

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1 hour ago, Indigo Blue said:

I thought the same....fascinating. I also wondered what calling in means. I’m nooooowhere near smart enough to be in that conversation. I just said, “Self, stay in your lane.”

Same!!! 

I used to think I was fairly smart until I'd been hanging around here for a while. The genius intellects here are something else! I don't even know what they're talking about sometimes, but I love it. ❤️

 

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1 minute ago, Melissa Louise said:

It's ok, I don't need validation. I'm perfectly content to provide my opinion in a conversation regardless of my personal characteristics, and I hope everyone else can feel that way too. 

We know you weren't asking for validation. Doesn't mean we don't want to give it. We like you. 🙂 Just accept the compliments. 😉

Thanks for the encouragement!

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2 minutes ago, MercyA said:

We know you weren't asking for validation. Doesn't mean we don't want to give it. We like you. 🙂 Just accept the compliments. 😉

Thanks for the encouragement!

I like and learn from you too!

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re "calling in"

31 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Wow, you guys are fascinating to listen to. I wouldn't be able to hear this type of conversation anywhere else. 🙂

Forgive my ignorance, but what does "calling in" mean in this context?

Oh honey, you do it all the time, whether you're familiar with the language or not.  It is your nature.  💓

 

Philosophically I lean more toward "call in" than "call out."

There is a tension, though, between the moral and tactical imperative to invite inward, and simple MANNERS, vs the reality of how tone policing always serves the existing power structure. Always.

It's a fine line, but it's important to recognize that the line is there, if hard to see. Engagement across difference will raise hackles. Feathers will be ruffled. Misunderstanding will happen.  And understanding won't always help either -- hot buttons actually will get pushed. Always.

As will flouncing off in dramatic I'm being misunderstoooooooooood!!!! huffs.  I recently recognized -- after far too long  -- that dramatic flouncings-off (and the rush by others to validate them) serve the existing power structure too. Always.

It's self-selecting, who hangs in through all the unpleasantness and keeps on trying even when it gets hard.  Well: all right. That's how it goes.

 

 

14 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

I thought the same....fascinating. I also wondered what calling in means. I’m nooooowhere near smart enough to be in that conversation. I just said, “Self, stay in your lane.”

Nope. Come on in.  This lane is your lane, this lane is my lane, from the redwood forest to NY Island.

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Just more on conversation, and entering it, and the more perspectives the better, I think we all learn just from the act of conversing. Even from ppl we disagree with. Maybe especially so? 

Mercy and I, for example, disagree intensely on a particular controversial issue, and she's never swayed me, nor me her, but what I do have in my head is an enlarged perspective on the topic, which is always going to beat a narrow perspective. 

I am 100% confident that anyone here would jump into any convo and perform that enlarging role for another person.

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2 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

re "calling in"

Oh honey, you do it all the time, whether you're familiar with the language or not.  It is your nature.  💓

 

Philosophically I lean more toward "call in" than "call out."

There is a tension, though, between the moral and tactical imperative to invite inward, and simple MANNERS, vs the reality of how tone policing always serves the existing power structure. Always.

It's a fine line, but it's important to recognize that the line is there, if hard to see. Engagement across difference will raise hackles. Feathers will be ruffled. Misunderstanding will happen.  And understanding won't always help either -- hot buttons actually will get pushed. Always.

As will flouncing off in dramatic I'm being misunderstoooooooooood!!!! huffs.  I recently recognized -- after far too long  -- that dramatic flouncings-off (and the rush by others to validate them) serve the existing power structure too. Always.

It's self-selecting, who hangs in through all the unpleasantness and keeps on trying even when it gets hard.  Well: all right. That's how it goes.

 

 

Nope. Come on in.  This lane is your lane, this lane is my lane, from the redwood forest to NY Island.

I still reckon this approach is less than pragmatic. If the goal is to be right and in good moral standing with oneself, I mean sure, blame the recipient for wimping out of the work. 

If the goal is to change minds, well....

But that's probably enough on that 🙂

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28 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Mercy and I, for example, disagree intensely on a particular controversial issue, and she's never swayed me, nor me her, but what I do have in my head is an enlarged perspective on the topic, which is always going to beat a narrow perspective. 

Same. 🙂 

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re "calling in" vs "tone policing"

16 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

I still reckon this approach is less than pragmatic. If the goal is to be right and in good moral standing with oneself, I mean sure, blame the recipient for wimping out of the work. 

If the goal is to change minds, well....

But that's probably enough on that 🙂

That may be the rub. The changing of minds is not my goal.

 

 

We're all grownups here. There is no need to rush to "defend" one another, or to try to explain what we think somebody else "meant," or to validate somebody else's possibly bruised feelings or whatever.

This isn't middle school.  @Not_a_Number  is more than capable of speaking for herself, whether it's to me or to @Sneezyone or anyone else, about the substance of an opinion she holds or the phrasing of a prior post she feels has been misunderstood or a bruised feeling or anything else. She's not some damsel in distress who needs a translator. 

I say that not to be harsh but BECAUSE I RESPECT HER.  She is more than able to hold her own in dialogue that might veer into raising-hackles territory. If my poor phrasing strikes HER as "condescension," she can tell me so, publicly or privately. Or not, if she opts not to for tactical reasons or the thread has moved on or whatever.

 

 

 

Related yet separate: Here's a hypothesis - maybe different "minorities" also have different collective experiences and traditions re style of argument. Maybe the insistence on "humility" is culture-framed. Maybe that construct resonates differently to different religious traditions, or maybe it feels different depending on where one is on the power spectrum. Just a thought.

 

 

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

I still reckon this approach is less than pragmatic. If the goal is to be right and in good moral standing with oneself, I mean sure, blame the recipient for wimping out of the work. 

If the goal is to change minds, well....

But that's probably enough on that 🙂

There are lots of reasons to bicker here. Far down the list is changing minds. That rarely happens with any single discussion anyway.

Sometimes it’s to better understand someone or some idea. Sometimes it’s to express an idea that’s different. Sometimes it’s to be true to oneself which, let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes it’s to preserve a record of support/opposition. Sometimes it’s just to echo or amplify something.
There will be people who choose to keep coming back and engaging or listening in and those who are not willing or interested in these topics. We are all adults who have to know our own limits.

I feel zero obligation tho to always be the nice girl who sits and sings kumbaya before and after passing the talking stick. I spent way too many years being passive and gave up the ghost right around Y2K. It’s just not in my nature.

 

ETA: Pam, I see you read my mind again.

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I am absolutely not caught up on this thread, but I thought I'd hop in and say that, in between this and Disney+ deciding to not have Peter Pan and a few others as choices on profiles for kids under 7, an amusing percentage of my Facebook feed is losing its mind. If this hasn't come up yet, there are not pulling the movies, you can absolutely let your kids watch it, they just think some parents might want to choose not to, or be prepared to offer some context. 

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1 minute ago, katilac said:

I am absolutely not caught up on this thread, but I thought I'd hop in and say that, in between this and Disney+ deciding to not have Peter Pan and a few others as choices on profiles for kids under 7, an amusing percentage of my Facebook feed is losing its mind. If this hasn't come up yet, there are not pulling the movies, you can absolutely let your kids watch it, they just think some parents might want to choose not to, or be prepared to offer some context. 

(looking around in utter confusion)

Oh, was there an original topic to this thread?  LOL

 

Sorry OP... I fear the horse has left the barn at this point.

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12 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

This isn't middle school.  @Not_a_Number  is more than capable of speaking for herself, whether it's to me or to @Sneezyone or anyone else, about the substance of an opinion she holds or the phrasing of a prior post she feels has been misunderstood or a bruised feeling or anything else. She's not some damsel in distress who needs a translator. 

I can speak for myself, yes 🙂 . In fact, I have spoken for myself... and what I said was that I really ought to get my combinatorics presentation for my Zoom class tomorrow done, or they'll get a presentation on minority status instead, since I'll accidentally type that into my file 😉 . 

Anyway, I think I've said all I have on the subject at hand 🙂 . 

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FWIW, I don't think it's necessarily middle-schoolish to "defend" one another. I know when I am in a discussion IRL, and someone misunderstands me, it can be helpful to have someone else say, "I see where Mercy is coming from--I think she just meant...." and etc. IDK. I think many women are just that way. I don't see it as a bad thing.

And I know I have been personally called out for the way my words came across, and I appreciated it. It's helped me learn how to converse better (I hope). Is this what you mean by "tone policing," @Pam in CT

Edited by MercyA
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Just now, MercyA said:

FWIW, I don't think it's necessarily middle-schoolish to "defend" one another. I know when I am in a discussion IRL, and someone misunderstands me, it can be helpful to have someone else say, "I see where Mercy is coming from--I think she just meant...." and etc. IDK. I think many women are just that way. I don't see it as a bad thing.

I agree with that. I don't think hurt feelings disappear at the end of middle school, never to return again 😉

 

Just now, MercyA said:

And I know I have been personally called out for the way my words came across, and I appreciated it. It's helped me learn how to converse better (I hope).

Same. More times than I can count. I usually appreciate it in the long term even if I'm embarrassed in the short term. Unless, of course, I decide on reflection that the criticism wasn't fair. 

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4 minutes ago, MercyA said:

FWIW, I don't think it's necessarily middle-schoolish to "defend" one another. I know when I am in a discussion IRL, and someone misunderstands me, it can be helpful to have someone else say, "I see where Mercy is coming from--I think she just meant...." and etc. IDK. I think many women are just that way. I don't see it as a bad thing.

And I know I have been personally called out for the way my words came across, and I appreciated it. It's helped me learn how to converse better (I hope). Is this what you mean by "tone policing," @Pam in CT

Tone policing tends to be more along the lines of, “I would listen to you and maybe agree with you but you were mean to me so now your point is dead to me.”

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Just now, Sneezyone said:

Tone policing tends to be more along the lines of, “I would listen to you and maybe agree with you but you were mean to me so now your point is dead to me.”

l don't do that, for what it's worth. It's not even a virtue -- it's not how I function. My DH, on the other hand... 😉 

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5 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

l don't do that, for what it's worth. It's not even a virtue -- it's not how I function. My DH, on the other hand... 😉 

Yeah, I obv. have next to no patience for it. It’s used far too often to fend off the vapors at the expense of hearing and addressing concerns that should inspire righteous indignation vs mild curiosity. This is why the men who marry into this family are adoring, long-suffering types.

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Just now, Sneezyone said:

Yeah, I obv. have next to no patience for it. It’s used far too often to fend off the vapors at the expense of hearing and addressing concerns that should inspire righteous indignation vs mild curiosity.

Well, as you shouldn't. The specific phrasing has no relationship to the seriousness of the issue. Plus, as a very patient person, I have noticed that people who claim not to be listening because you're angry don't listen when you keep things calm, either.

That being said, I do try to keep calm. I do think it's more effective in the long term. (On the other hand, I think some righteous indignation can be just the right tone to jog someone out of their complacency.) 

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re "manners" vs "effective communication" vs "tone policing"

21 minutes ago, MercyA said:

...And I know I have been personally called out for the way my words came across, and I appreciated it. It's helped me learn how to converse better (I hope). Is this what you mean by "tone policing," @Pam in CT

Me too.

To my mind, "tone-policing" is quite different -- barely even related -- to "manners"; and "effective communication" is yet another, sometimes-related-but-not-synonymous, thing.  I am a huge proponent of both manners and effective communication.  Nearly always, even difficult content can be conveyed with reasonable manners, so long as both parties engage in even approximate good faith and sustained commitment to the dialogue.  It is definitely possible to disagree without being disagreeable... so long as both partners in the engagement are actually willing to be disagreed-with without going all defensive or tetchy or flouncing or whatever.

Tone-policing OTOH boils down to some variant of, maybe your message maybe might have some validity, but, due to your tone, you're driving "well intentioned" people such as myself away.  Tone-policing pushes the content of the dialogue AWAY.  Sometimes there's a concern trolling element. Often it also has some variant of that "rushing in to defend someone else's possibly bruised feelings" middle school element.

But the most important aspect of tone-policing is that it functions to sustain the existing order. It is children who are taught to "be seen and not heard." Women who are trained to be "nice" and to "catch flies with honey not vinegar."  Women who are "shrill," POC who are "angry" or "uppity" and etc.  It is the party with lesser power whose tone is policed, the party of greater power that claims the mantle of determining what "tone" is within bounds.

And:

7 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

...I have noticed that people who claim not to be listening because you're angry don't listen when you keep things calm, either...

Indeed.  (That is actually the test, to determine if the tone-policing really is about manners, vs if it is merely concern trolling.  This is, of course, only something you learn about another person over time, and many interactions.)

 

 

re damsels in distress

21 minutes ago, MercyA said:

...FWIW, I don't think it's necessarily middle-schoolish to "defend" one another. I know when I am in a discussion IRL, and someone misunderstands me, it can be helpful to have someone else say, "I see where Mercy is coming from--I think she just meant...." and etc. IDK. I think many women are just that way. I don't see it as a bad thing...

Sure, it's always nice to feel like someone's at your back on the substance of an idea.  And when one person is building on, or attempting to replay to check for understanding, or to clarify somebody else's IDEA... that isn't the damsel-in-distress dynamic.

The damsel-in-distress dynamic involves one person rushing in to defend someone else's possibly-bruised feelz.  I agree with your observation that many women are that way -- it's not a dynamic I see in men's interactions with men. 

19 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I agree with that. I don't think hurt feelings disappear at the end of middle school, never to return again 😉 . ..

No, of course not.

The challenge of adulthood is to figure how to conduct ourselves through the difficult landmines, including those hurt feelings.

 

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1 hour ago, Pam in CT said:

re "calling in" vs "tone policing"

That may be the rub. The changing of minds is not my goal.

 

 

We're all grownups here. There is no need to rush to "defend" one another, or to try to explain what we think somebody else "meant," or to validate somebody else's possibly bruised feelings or whatever.

This isn't middle school.  @Not_a_Number  is more than capable of speaking for herself, whether it's to me or to @Sneezyone or anyone else, about the substance of an opinion she holds or the phrasing of a prior post she feels has been misunderstood or a bruised feeling or anything else. She's not some damsel in distress who needs a translator. 

I say that not to be harsh but BECAUSE I RESPECT HER.  She is more than able to hold her own in dialogue that might veer into raising-hackles territory. If my poor phrasing strikes HER as "condescension," she can tell me so, publicly or privately. Or not, if she opts not to for tactical reasons or the thread has moved on or whatever.

 

 

 

Related yet separate: Here's a hypothesis - maybe different "minorities" also have different collective experiences and traditions re style of argument. Maybe the insistence on "humility" is culture-framed. Maybe that construct resonates differently to different religious traditions, or maybe it feels different depending on where one is on the power spectrum. Just a thought.

 

 

 

 

I'm confused why you'd think I was defending anyone. Numbers is more than capable of handling her own self, as no doubt is sneezy. I certainly see neither as damsels. 

Frankly, I also find this insistence on framing the discussion through a very particular political lens of 'power', where actual access to resources (the basis of) is ignored in favour of using a single correlated proxy, puzzling. 

Threads usually move on, after many pages of on topic discussion. It's disingenuous to behave with mock shock about it. 

On the point of humility resonating more with some faith traditions than others, well, yes. It's a Catholic value, certainly. I believe it's a value in many religious faiths and sects. It's also a useful secular value, at times. 

On the point of 'where one is on the power spectrum', that's....well...it's that's a 'you do you' situation. Respectfully, your lens (like my own) is not the only way to understand human behaviour.

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

Tone-policing OTOH boils down to some variant of, maybe your message maybe might have some validity, but, due to your tone, you're driving "well intentioned" people such as myself away.  Tone-policing pushes the content of the dialogue AWAY.  

Thank you so much for your whole post, Pam! That was super helpful. 🙂

Re: the bolded--I understand this now, and I personally find it very irritating. I came across it recently in a discussion I was attempting to have with a friend about Covid. "This isn't the way to convince me!" she said. "You're brow-beating me!" I really don't think I was...and I don't think she would have been open to what I was saying regardless of my tone. 😞 

Sometimes the time for mincing words is long past.

Edited by MercyA
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On 3/5/2021 at 10:16 PM, MercyA said:

I don't think so. I genuinely want to know what you think. Take Dr. Seuss out of it. If an ethnic group makes it known that certain types of depictions of their community are stereotypical, hurtful, and offensive to them, do you consider that a lack of discernment on their part? 

I don't consider myself an expert on these things by any means. I'm ashamed to say I've only recently started paying better attention.

It just seems to me that people in positions of power or privilege shouldn't be lecturing minorities on what should or shouldn't offend them.

Right.

I suppose I think the first point is that I would say that it is dangerous to take at face value the idea that a whole group of people think that all of these depictions are racist or problematic, just because some person has identified them as such. There is a tendency to take the voices of section of people as representative of the views of "the x  community" and yet very often, they aren't. There are often all kinds of different points of view. In the worst case scenarios this can involve suppressing certain viewpoints within those communities and that can unfortunately involve all kinds of power struggles the public at large is unaware of. Who gets to speak for a community is not a clear question and very often it comes down to who says what the people shaping the conversation want to hear.

 I've seen an instance in recent times where this tendency was actually consciously exploited by one faction in a local community dispute where there was a significant battle as to which faction would represent the community in government negotiations - the tendency of the wider public to not ask questions and the media to prefer a simple narrative meant that one faction was able to present themselves as if they were the legitimate representatives of the community being and the state was, for bigoted reasons, was unwilling to recognise them - and it came very close to pushing the government into doing so.  

That's perhaps not a typical example, but in general it's worth being suspicious of any simple statements of what "the x community" says or thinks. There are almost always go-to voices that the media represent as leaders in these communities as if they are representative.

The only way to really avoid this, and a better practice in any case in terms of really looking at problems, is simply to listen to what people say without attempting to impose some kind of unified voice, and also to subject ideas, whomever they come from, to tests like how do they relate to fist principles, do they make historical sense, are they applying this in context, are they mistaking what is meant to be a metaphor or ironic comment for a literal statement. And then there are larger questions, like what would be the effect overall of taking the action being proposed by those who dislike the image, because very often there are other, non-neutral outcomes. There are also thought exersises that can be useful, such as what would we think of a similar document from a similar period from another culture, or issues that can be difficult to understand at all and may need some expert input, such as, are we adding a modern gloss to this text or image that is just wholly anachronistic?

My objection here with that image is particularly with some of the comments made - the idea that it's an offensive image because it depicts this imaginary vision as exotic, or shows them in dress that is out of date, or gets the shoes wrong. I would maintain that it is not offensive for a child in a book to imagine a person from a generation ago who they would never be likely to see in their town, and for it to be depicted as  improbably and fun and exotic. Nor it is offensive that the illustrator didn't get all the details of dress right - not only was there less easy access to images at that time, and the style of image isn't realism anyway, but the focus on that kind of detail as being deeply important is only about five minutes old - to impose it on illustrators from any culture from more than half a century ago is inappropriate. (And as far as the earlier article posted about The Cat in the Hat, that is an embarrassment to scholarship and should be ripped to shreds by any literary critic - there is no way it should be allowed to stand as representative of what any community thinks about that book.)

That's not to say there isn't more to think about those particular images, and I think picking apart the general tendency for all the images in the books to be exaggerated cartoons (yes, even the ones that are depicting white people) makes it particularly difficult with Seuss. But the willingness to accept reasoning like that above is a little disturbing. And the unwillingness to engage with the context of the decisions: the problems at the moment in children't publishing generally; the way young employees of publishers are threatening their publishing houses for publishing authors they disapprove of; the fact that what seems likely to be a financial decision is being presented as something else; and I think especially the very good APA letter copied earlier in the discussion which touches on the current environment in libraries and publishing houses, to the point of multiple posters simply denying that there is any cause for concern at all, there is a terribly passive attitude to considering what is really going on with this.

Even the claim that it doesn't matter because they weren't popular books anyway. Even without asking whether they were worthwhile books, it's a strange statement. If no one was reading them, why the need for the statement? They weren't influencing people they just fall out of fashion like so many books do. If many people were reading them, then maybe they were valuable in some way or many people disagree that the problems in them are so serious, and so then you are talking about restricting texts. 

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@SlowRiver, I understand your point about the Chinese clothing. Honestly, out of all the problematic elements of the illustrations, the clothing is the most difficult aspect for me to understand. 

That said, I can't see the Seuss company's decision to cease publishing depictions of African people as monkeys and Chinese people with yellow skin as anything but a Very Good Thing. There's nothing sacred about the images. They are hurtful and damaging. It would be wrong, IMO, for the company to continue to profit from them.  

I'm all for free speech. I spent a portion of my life as an activist, and the images we chose to use were sometimes deemed "offensive." However, we found their use to be effective in changing minds, and to us that outweighed any offense they might cause. They had redeeming value. It was my right as an American citizen to use them or not use them, based on my own judgment.

Seuss Enterprises has the same right. If we take them at the word, they apparently fail to see any redeeming value in continuing to use such denigrating images. They are already preserved for posterity to learn from, if necessary. There is no good or noble reason to continue to profit from the images and disseminate them to young children. 

Edited by MercyA
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1 minute ago, MercyA said:

@SlowRiver, I understand your point about the Chinese clothing. Honestly, out of all the problematic elements of the illustrations, the clothing is the most difficult aspect for me to understand. 

That said, I can't see the Seuss company's decision to cease publishing depictions of African people as monkeys and Chinese people with yellow skin as anything but a Very Good Thing. There's nothing sacred about the images. They are hurtful and damaging. It would be wrong, IMO, for the company to continue to profit from them.  

I'm all for free speech. I spent a portion of my life as an activist, and the images we chose to use were sometimes deemed "offensive." However, we found their use to be effective in changing minds, and to us that outweighed any offense they might cause. They had redeeming value. It was my right as an American citizen to use them or not use them, based on my own judgment.

Seuss Enterprises has the same right. If we take them at the word, they apparently they fail to see any redeeming value in continuing to use such denigrating images. They are already preserved for posterity to learn from, if necessary. There is no good or noble reason to continue to profit from the images and disseminate them to young children. 

I also imagine they had to make a choice-do we allow these images to be edited, allow them to stand, or remove them entirely. 

 

A couple of years ago, we got to see a gallery show of original art from some of the books (primarily the beginner books).  They were amazingly beautiful and detailed in a way that doesn't come through completely in the printed versions. I can understand why the estate chose not to go the "editing" route-and if they had already decided, based on feedback that these images were hurtful to some, that they could not stand, the only other option is to stop publishing those books. 

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1 minute ago, Dmmetler said:

I also imagine they had to make a choice-do we allow these images to be edited, allow them to stand, or remove them entirely. 

Yes! Very true. 

That sounds like a neat exhibit! 

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If a person does not want to work for an employer who engages in what they consider to be unethical actions, that is their right. If they would like to inform the employer that they will cease working there if things are not remedied, that is also their right. That's not "threatening" anybody, that's one entity exercising their right of free association.

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2 hours ago, MercyA said:

@SlowRiver, I understand your point about the Chinese clothing. Honestly, out of all the problematic elements of the illustrations, the clothing is the most difficult aspect for me to understand. 

That said, I can't see the Seuss company's decision to cease publishing depictions of African people as monkeys and Chinese people with yellow skin as anything but a Very Good Thing. There's nothing sacred about the images. They are hurtful and damaging. It would be wrong, IMO, for the company to continue to profit from them.  

I'm all for free speech. I spent a portion of my life as an activist, and the images we chose to use were sometimes deemed "offensive." However, we found their use to be effective in changing minds, and to us that outweighed any offense they might cause. They had redeeming value. It was my right as an American citizen to use them or not use them, based on my own judgment.

Seuss Enterprises has the same right. If we take them at the word, they apparently fail to see any redeeming value in continuing to use such denigrating images. They are already preserved for posterity to learn from, if necessary. There is no good or noble reason to continue to profit from the images and disseminate them to young children. 

I'm going to push back on the idea that  images cause hurt/harm, even while acknowledging potential for images to cause offence. 

This circles back round to blasphemy law, something the secular West should not be tolerant of.

Tolerating blasphemy law was behind the shameful but commonly expressed idea that although the Charlie Hebdo massacre was tragic and tasteless, they sadly 'brought it on themselves' to an extent, through their 'harmful imagery'. 

We don't need de facto blasphemy law. One way a culture avoids it is to avoid the idea that any particular word or image can itself cause harm.

 

 

 

Edited by Melissa Louise
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