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#142695 05/05/05 10:52 PM
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The insult must start in the mind (however small) of the speaker. A neutral term becomes offensive when it is used as an insult ofen enough to absorb a connotation of "I use this term because it describes someone whom I consider less than me". If "plaid" was coined as a perfectly friendly term for my mix of Irish and Scottish and then later used as an insult it would soon be one.
Personally, I think that the statement "He looked drunk." would have been sufficient without a racial qualifier.


#142696 05/05/05 10:54 PM
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Good analysis imho Zed.


#142697 05/05/05 11:40 PM
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>"Black used to be OK"?

It isn't? Please don't tell me that I have start calling my Leicester-born and bred friend "African-American" - that way lies madness. In another forum, an African-American uses that term not only to describe herself, but to describe people of African ethnicity from all over the world - aaaargh!

FWIW, even though I would never use the word Oriental to describe a person, I understand what Vernon was trying to say.


#142698 05/06/05 10:28 AM
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> I understand what Vernon was trying to say.

Yes, me two.


#142699 05/06/05 11:02 AM
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Fr Steve:

I suspect grandstanding, but I was a bit taken aback by the comments above showing that Oriental has become at least slightly pejorative. It's PCness taken to extremes.

I think the next time someone describes me as white I am going to protest that I am not white, I'm sorta pink with some farmer tan overtones.

But no one's asked the important question: what did you rule?

TEd



TEd
#142700 05/06/05 11:39 AM
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> the next time someone describes me as white

Yes, but as Zed correctly construed (imho) it depends on the phrase getting burdened with negative connotations. If a few people started using "white" to indicate someone with a small brain and bad body odour, I suspect many white people would then react differently to the word.

That's why I don't think this is 'PCness taken to extremes', and why it is important to recognise how a word feels to the recipient.


#142701 05/06/05 12:34 PM
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the goal would be to never generalize, and never to lump anyone in to a particular group.
and to never say mean things about each other.



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#142702 05/06/05 12:55 PM
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what did you rule?

I excused the jury so I could speak frankly with the lawyers outside of the jurors' presence. I scolded the defense attorney and told him that there would be no more histrionics displayed in the making of objections. I also told the defense attorney that one of the most basic rules of cross-examination is not to ask a question when you don't know what the answer might be. If he was surprised by the officer's response, that was his problem. I told the witness and the prosecutor that there are possibly people on the jury who were offended by the term "Oriental" and that there was no way to "unring that bell." I brought the jury back in, denied the motion to strike, did not instruct the jury about it, did not instruct the witness about it ... and moved on.

PS: The jury convicted after 45 minutes of deliberation.




#142703 05/06/05 01:43 PM
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Bravo, Father Steve.

And as for the post about "Ornamental" -- love it.


#142704 05/06/05 01:50 PM
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Yes, a counsel of perfection eta :)

Your actions seem admirable Father Steve - and I love the image of trying to unring a bell!

To go back to your original question:
I wouldn't go so far as to say that "Oriental" is one of them. Am I wrong?

I don't think it's as certain as right or wrong, but maybe just one of those difficult areas where we all need to periodically test our alertness to changing social mores reflected in the language, to avoid our individual usage being left stranded like jetsam at some previous high-water mark. As TEd showed, it's possible we get a real surprise now and again, and may have caused unnecessary offence in the interim.



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