Pharyngula

Islam hates women

A young man is languishing in an Islamic prison right now, for a terrible crime. Look at this travesty of justice, this product of primitive morality.

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country’s highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.

It later emerged he was convicted by three mullahs, in secret, without access to a lawyer. The sentence was commuted to 20 years on appeal. At that appeal, in October, the key prosecution witness withdrew his testimony, claiming he had been forced to lie on pain of death. The prosecution then appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentence. The defence appealed to quash his conviction altogether.

Meanwhile, the student has been languishing in a Kabul jail, fearing for his life. Islamic fundamentalists have been baying for his blood while moderate groups have led marches countrywide demanding his release.

What was his crime? This is as bad as the criminality of the kangaroo court that convicted him.

Mr Kambaksh was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death last year for circulating an essay on women’s rights which questioned verses in the Koran.

Don’t question. Don’t support women. We’ll kill you if you do either. Is that the message?

Comments

  1. #1 DeadGuyKai
    March 12, 2009

    And remember – this is a government Americans are dying to protect.

  2. #2 DJ
    March 12, 2009

    A sad result of fundamentalism in any religion. I worry for this poor young man. Similar stories exhist in the history of Christianity as well.

    Another strong reason to do away with the nonsense of religion.

  3. #3 kevin
    March 12, 2009

    I would comment but I want to live.

  4. #4 Anne Hedonia
    March 12, 2009

    The invalidaty of Islam lies not in any of it’s doctrines, rather simply in the fact that is is a religion, and therefore is wrong and must be removed from society.

  5. #5 Mike Brotherton
    March 12, 2009

    “And remember – this is a government Americans are dying to protect.”

    And remember, it’s better than the one they had before (which is an astounding realization I think).

  6. #6 Doug
    March 12, 2009

    Earlier this week Saudia Arabia had a 72-year old widow caned for the crime of talking to her male cousin and another guy. But they’re a religion of peace, that’s what they say after a beheading.

  7. #7 perturbed
    March 12, 2009

    If so-called ‘Muslims’ want so badly to live in the Stone Age, bomb them back to it and walk away.

  8. #8 Chris
    March 12, 2009

    I’m just waiting for an apologist to come along and refer to the title of your post as “intolerant.”

  9. #9 Kris
    March 12, 2009

    “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    In the face of stories like these I feel proud for wanting to keep the world safe.

    Carl Sagan likened science to a candle in the dark.
    The question is how can science properly re-establish a position of admiration in a world so pitted against it?

  10. #10 AdjacentOrigin
    March 12, 2009

    So much for securing a working democracy in Afghanistan and pouring millions into it’s legal system. We went into Afghanistan in 2001 to capture Osama Bin Laden. Now that goal is more or less forgotten. Stupid idiots like Bush and Blair with their “nation building” ambitions.

  11. #11 Marcus J. Ranum
    March 12, 2009

    I bet you don’t have the guts to say nasty stuff about how stupid the christians are, ‘cuz you’re afraid they’ll make you run through the streets of pamplona chased by a papal bull, or something.

    oh. wait.

    nevermind.

  12. #12 Doug
    March 12, 2009

    Fucking animals.

  13. #13 Anne Hedonia
    March 12, 2009

    In answer to #6, simple . Remove emotion from humanity, it is a logical course of action.

  14. #14 Rob
    March 12, 2009

    You intolerant bastards! How dare you criticize the religion of Allah. You are all doomed to die horrible deaths.

    Anna Hedonia is soooo right. The invalidity of all religions is that they are religions, necessarily believing in supernatural beings, and hence, equally and totally ridiculous.

  15. #15 Roger M
    March 12, 2009

    I was trying to figure out a smart comment, but am kinda numb. Saddened, discouraged and depressed by religion in action. Cripes, what a primitive species mankind is…

  16. #16 ChrisGose
    March 12, 2009

    This is the a country you guys supposedly liberated?

  17. #17 'Tis Himself
    March 12, 2009

    You can’t say these things about Islam. The fatwah envyists know that if Islam is disrespected, suicide bombers will home on Morris, Minnesota. You can only say nasty stuff about Christianity, particularly evangelical fundamentalist Christianity.

  18. #18 Keanus
    March 12, 2009

    Change the names and this could be the Republican Party loyalty police. Now, we understand why Bush and Cheney were so set on installing a “democratic” government in Afghanistan and Iraq. What resulted sounds just like today’s Republicans. I can hear the tremors in Springfield as Lincoln rolls over in his grave.

  19. #19 Kel
    March 12, 2009

    Stop picking on Catholics PZ, you wouldn’t ever say anything bad about muslims…

  20. #20 Anton Mates
    March 12, 2009

    If so-called ‘Muslims’ want so badly to live in the Stone Age, bomb them back to it and walk away.

    The thing about bombs is that they tend to hit these guys–

    while moderate groups have led marches countrywide demanding his release.

    –as well as the people you’re actually pissed at.

    And the country is unlikely to become less crazy-fundie-dominated after more bombings.

  21. #21 Hurin
    March 12, 2009

    “Don’t question. Don’t support women. We’ll kill you if you do either. Is that the message?”

    Yes – Yes it is.

  22. #22 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 12, 2009

    If so-called ‘Muslims’ want so badly to live in the Stone Age, bomb them back to it and walk away.

    Stupid asshole. And Sayed Pervez Kambaksh and the oppressed women of Islam would die as well.

    Islam needs Western intervention, but war doesn’t help. War just cuts people off from those human rights NGOs that work, as well as correspondence with the outside world. Wherever women are oppressed, they are oppressed worse when wars start; then the tribal patriarchies become even more insular.

  23. #23 Twin-Skies
    March 12, 2009

    The clerics apparently didn’t like the thought of being out-crazied by that Bishop in Brazil.

  24. #24 Sastra
    March 12, 2009

    Most religions rest on the idea of a top-down moral hierarchy of higher over lower: design, authority, purity, and spirituality. Things have their place, their rank, their status, their order. It can feel very secure: you know where things belong.

    The downside is this sort of crap, the infringements on personal freedom and autonomy.

    Plus, of course, the fact that there is no top-down moral hierarchy built into the nature of reality, so it’s just plain false, as well as unethical.

    Islam is one of the nastiest of the religions, because it has incorporated the idea of “honor” or thar into its moral system. One kills to avenge sleights on one’s powerful status, and show dominion over one’s property — which includes women.

    The God in the Bible and Quran is white hot dead set on protecting its honor: by rebelling, man thus merits a blood revenge. The atonement in the NT which tries to counteract this still accepts the system as right and just to begin with. It’s not surprising when this sort of toxic world view ends up oppressing women — or men.

    It’s only surprising when people look at the Bible or Quran and blithely explain that this is where the modern concepts of human rights and equality came from. No. Not really.

  25. #25 Insightful Ape
    March 12, 2009

    The line that apologists like best is that there are millions of women who are devout muslims, who will send their children to die for Islam. That they wouldn’t do it if the religion itself were misogynistic.
    Of course that is pure nonsense. A horrible woman by the name Magda Goebells murdered her six children on the eve of the fall of Berlin in April 1945, because she believed their lives without National Socialism would be worthless. This is defense of a system that said women have only three functions, all of them beginning with a “k” in German: to kiss, to cook, and to deliver children.
    That muslims women insist on wearing the Hijab even in Europe or North America; that they send their children to die for Islam; or that so few of them ever become an Ayan Hirsi Ali means absolutely nothing, in the way the apologists say.

  26. #26 Newfie
    March 12, 2009

    blow up a few mosques

  27. #27 mikecbraun
    March 12, 2009

    @ #9:
    If science is a candle in the dark, as Mr. Sagan said, then Islam, along with its fellow religions, is a strong, noxious fart threatening to blow it out.

  28. #28 John Marley
    March 12, 2009

    If so-called ‘Muslims’ want so badly to live in the Stone Age, bomb them back to it and walk away.

    I can’t say for sure, but using so-called and scare quotes around Muslim are both indications of a fundie nut-case.

  29. #29 mikecbraun
    March 12, 2009

    Yes, so-called “Muslims” should be Christians(TM), right? Kind of like “atheists.” We’re just rebelling…we don’t really mean it.

  30. #30 Facilis
    March 12, 2009

    Islam is so horrible. This is why I do not like fatwa envy.

  31. #31 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 12, 2009

    Islam is so horrible. This is why I do not like fatwa envy.

    sigh

  32. #32 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 12, 2009

    Facilis, whatever religion you have is almost as bad. You need to find reason and logic, which you will only do if your acknowledge god doesn’t exist and the bible is horrid work of fiction. Until then, you are almost as bad.

  33. #33 Ichthyic
    March 12, 2009

    This is why I do not like fatwa envy.

    wait for it…

    I’m sure there is something incredibly stupid to follow. He just can’t help it.

  34. #34 Sisyphus Fragment
    March 12, 2009

    Religion of peace indeed..

  35. #35 Sastra
    March 12, 2009

    Facilis #30 wrote:

    Islam is so horrible. This is why I do not like fatwa envy.

    Ah, but at least they have an objective morality, with no appeal to flimsy human things like rights. Only God has rights — to give or withhold as He sees fit.

  36. #36 FlameDuck
    March 12, 2009

    And remember, it’s better than the one they had before (which is an astounding realization I think).

    Says who, and by which metric? Certainly not measured by number of human rights violations, or opium production.

    The question is how can science properly re-establish a position of admiration in a world so pitted against it?

    It can’t. It’s not supposed to. As long as we’re helping them survive in their archaic, tribal civilization, there is no incentive for them to improve.

    Islam needs Western intervention, but war doesn’t help

    What kind of intervention are you thinking? You can’t intervene in a country like Afghanistan, without war. They use violence (usually murder) to settle almost any dispute, no matter how trivial.

    What we need to do is allow the rational people who are living under these fucked up regimes free passage to any western country they chose to live in. Offer a permenant citizenship to anyone who wants it, and extract them by force if nessecary. Then stand back and watch the rest of these fundamental morons butcher each other.

  37. #37 SteveL
    March 12, 2009

    Don’t forget this is Afghanistan you’re talking about! That guy is lucky to be alive.

  38. Ugh. Sweet nonexistent Jesus. What a mess of humanity Islam makes. Can we please just get rid of it already so we can make some more progress?

  39. #39 Feynmaniac
    March 12, 2009

    Fa(c)il(is),

    Islam is so horrible.

    1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    - Matthew 7:1-5

  40. #40 pdferguson
    March 12, 2009

    This is your society.

    This is your society on religion.

    Any questions?

  41. #41 AnthonyK
    March 12, 2009

    A horrible woman by the name Magda Goebells murdered her six children on the eve of the fall of Berlin in April 1945

    Yes, see this very movingly depicted in the wonderful German film Downfall about the last days of Hitler in the bunker.
    I know there are many many brave women throughout Islam trying to bring education and liberation – and since they seem infinitely smarter than the men who oppress them they will surely succeed – eventually.
    However…. I had a strange encounter with a Muslim girl this morning which really made me scratch my head. She was learing some computery, technical stuff in a mixed class of students, and I was there to help with basic English. She and her friend were both British born, and both were wearing a full hijab(?) with just their round faces showing. There was no problem of any kind, and when she asked me to look her through her job application letter, I was happy to do so. Both girls were chatty and relaxed, and so was I. However, her letter was like no other I’d ever read. In the paragraph where you detail your passion for team-working, and possibly let slip thet your worst fault is your perfectionism, she had written something along the following lines:
    “I am a person who will do as she is told. I am obedient and submissive, and will work any hours you need, and not complain”.
    I was astonished to read something like this from an 18-year-old British girl. I covered my confusion by pointing out what a good judge of character I was as I could see that she was reliable, hard-working, and a great team-worker…but I did find myself explaining to her that firms did not ask for, and would never receive the extreme feminine modesty she was offering. As I felt myself floundering a little, I removed the sentiments that offended me (me?), corrected her letter – you should hire her, she’s great on paper – and withdrew in some confusion. As I say, all our interactions were pleasant and humorous, but there was something there I just could not understand.

  42. #42 DLC
    March 12, 2009

    “Religion isn’t the opium of the masses, it’s the placebo of the masses” — Dr. Gregory House, tv character.
    In this case, it’s the poison-contaminated placebo of the masses.

  43. #43 Dan J
    March 12, 2009

    I’m sure the Christian fundies are very envious. They wish they could imprison/torture/put to death all of us atheists along with anyone else who disagrees with their tripe.

  44. #44 pdferguson
    March 12, 2009

    Islam is so horrible. This is why I do not like fatwa envy.

    Excuse me, but what the fuck is “fatwa envy”?

    Sometime Christards say the darndest things!

  45. #45 AnthonyK
    March 12, 2009

    Facilis, fuck off. You lack the intelligence to survive on this blog, and it’s time to take your stupidity elsewhere. You are a disgrace to your genome. Mitochondrial Eve has disowned you, and you just can’t get harsher than that, you paraphyletic fuck. Cordially…

  46. #46 Tony
    March 12, 2009

    Savages.

  47. #47 Tulse
    March 12, 2009

    what the fuck is “fatwa envy”?

    Fatwa envy (or here) — coined by our very own PZ Myers.

  48. #48 Dan J
    March 12, 2009

    Definition at RationalWiki of Fatwa envy.

  49. #49 Twin-Skies
    March 12, 2009

    @pdferguson
    “what the fuck is “fatwa envy”?”

    This I believe:
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fatwa%20envy

    Wishing you had the power, ability, and above all the cultural approval to kill or torture someone who offends their religious sensibilities. Catholics definitely have fatwa envy, after being denied the violence of the Inquisition

  50. #50 Ryogam
    March 12, 2009

    No, “fatwa envy” is not a Christard thing to say, its a feeling certain Christards have.

    It goes like this: PZ says something mean about Christards, Christards say, “PZ how dare you! You would never say such a mean thing about Muslims, because Muslims, unlike us kind, meek, civilized Christards, would slit your throat if they had a chance.”

    See, Christards envy the fact that Muslims REALLY believe strongly in their religion enough to kill for it. I suspect it makes Christards a little uncomfortable. How can they be so certain that their religion is right that they would kill for it. After all, doesn’t strong certainty in a belief confirm the truthfulness of that belief?

  51. #51 Bckcntry
    March 12, 2009

    I was on the fence on Canada’s role in Afghanistan until I heard of this guy last spring. What a waste of money and lives. When Nato leaves, will Karzai (or whoever is around) just shut down all the girls schools and take the country back to where it was under the Taliban?

  52. #52 John Marley
    March 12, 2009

    When Nato leaves…

    choke That’s funny.

  53. #53 Tulse
    March 12, 2009

    will Karzai (or whoever is around) just shut down all the girls schools and take the country back to where it was under the Taliban?

    Rest assured that such will never happen — the narco-warlords wouldn’t let another hardline Islamic government interfere with the opium trade.

  54. #54 Samurai Scientist
    March 12, 2009

    … and yet you could argue that our American government has slaughtered thousands more civilians than any mullah.

  55. #55 Vestrati
    March 12, 2009

    Anyone remember that Twilight Zone episode on ‘How to Serve Man’? Where the aliens came and like walled off all the countries to stop war. I wish we could use that technology to wall these tards away from the rest of the world.

    I know the country is a disaster, but I find it hard to believe the coalition isn’t putting a little more force behind stopping shit like this.

  56. #56 Twin-Skies
    March 12, 2009

    @Vestrati

    There’s a joke that goes like that:

    God asks the president of the US and Bin Laden what they want. Bin Laden asks for 500-foot high, impenetrable wall to surround Afghanistan to protect it from infidels. US president asks God to fill it with water.

  57. #57 tony
    March 13, 2009

    Here’s the challenge with trying to ‘create democracy’. You generally need to start from the inside out.

    I don’t believe there have ever been any ‘externally created’ democracies. Every single democracy has been created by the will of the people it serves. They have evolved out of more feudal structures through devolution or revolution. Not one has been imposed from without. (if you know of one, I’d be happy to be proven wrong)

    Religious theocracies can never become democracies until people recognize their personal political ascendancy over religious clerics or jealous warlords. Afghanistan is still a combination theocracy/feudal state – despite the parliamentary window dressing.

    I don’t think it is fundamentally impossible to build a democratic nation state from whole cloth. I do think it is physically impossible while priests, mullahs or warlords hold any power at all.

    just my $0.02

  58. #58 Bubba
    March 13, 2009

    I don’t believe there have ever been any ‘externally created’ democracies. Every single democracy has been created by the will of the people it serves.

    Germany? Japan?

  59. #59 Asherot
    March 13, 2009

    AnthonyK @ 41

    “I was astonished to read something like this from an 18-year-old British girl.”

    Indeed, especially given how chatty and relaxed in your company she was.
    I would speculate that a male relative may have “helped” in the completion of the application.

  60. #60 Siddharth
    March 13, 2009

    This is an atrocius incident for sure, but the fact that people are able to protest against it shows some improvement from the Taliban regime, if you ask me.

    I remain optimistic that with time, these extremist nutjobs in the judicial system will die away to be replaced by more rational folk.

  61. #61 pdferguson
    March 13, 2009

    Thanks everyone for clearing up fatwa envy for me, I must have missed the introduction of this term by PZ.

    I guess being “horrible” cures fatwa envy? Who knew?!

  62. #62 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Posted by: perturbed | March 12, 2009 9:31 PM

    If so-called ‘Muslims’ want so badly to live in the Stone Age, bomb them back to it and walk away.

    Obviously, this came from the mouth of someone who has never seen a bomb drop in person.

  63. #63 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Posted by: Facilis | March 12, 2009 10:41 PM

    Islam is so horrible. This is why I do not like fatwa envy.

    Pure, unadulterated, stultifying stupidity is so horrible. This is why I do not like you, facilis.

  64. #64 John Huey
    March 13, 2009

    We really should just carpet bomb the whole place with really really blasphemous writings (I’m sure PZ has a few articles that could be added to the onslaught). Then once they are saturated and desensitized maybe and perhaps they can behave like civilized folks.

  65. #65 Safir
    March 13, 2009

    I live amongst muslims. Yes the religion and its people do have hatred for women and the birth canal!

    Here’s an example: When someone dies, his/her daughters will acquire only one third of the property/belongings his/her sons will get. And if he/she doesn’t have any sons, his/her property will be given to his/her brother!

    I’m from Bangladesh btw. Extremists are very gradually gaining strength here, since they seem to have long term goals. While most political parties are fighting each other, the religious parties are slowly growing larger. That really scares me.

  66. #66 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    @ 13,

    Remove emotion from humanity, it is a logical course of action.

    After reading a few of your comments now in various threads,I have to say,unless you are on some sort of Vulcan trip,this fascist bullshit pisses me off.

  67. #67 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Posted by: clinteas | March 13, 2009 1:03 AM

    @ 13,

    Remove emotion from humanity, it is a logical course of action.

    After reading a few of your comments now in various threads,I have to say,unless you are on some sort of Vulcan trip,this fascist bullshit pisses me off.

    Not to mention that concept was ripped right from the movie Equilibrium. (bad concept, but great movie, I thought)

  68. #68 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Not to mention that concept was ripped right from the movie Equilibrium

    I had never heard of that movie ! Thanks for the reference,BS,having a look now !

  69. #69 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    I had never heard of that movie ! Thanks for the reference,BS,having a look now !

    Duude, you’re in for a treat…

  70. #70 Kel
    March 13, 2009

    The movie is pretty much an amalgamation of Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and nineteeneightyfour. The storyline is lame, there are many a cheesy moment, but fuck me the action element of the film is awesome.

  71. #71 Brownian
    March 13, 2009

    Ah, but at least they have an objective morality, with no appeal to flimsy human things like rights. Only God has rights — to give or withhold as He sees fit.

    I want to read facilis’ response to Sastra’s excellent defense of his objective morality.

    Oh, was that not his morality? So much for objectivity.

    Well, facilis? If you can’t address this issue, then realise you have nothing to offer the readers of this blog.

    Nothing.

  72. #72 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Well, facilis? If you can’t address this issue, then realise you have nothing to offer the readers of this blog.

    Was there ever any doubt about that?

  73. #73 Brownian
    March 13, 2009

    I’d like him to think for once, clinteas.

  74. #74 Twin-Skies
    March 13, 2009

    @brokenSoldier, OM

    Bad dialogue, cliche setting, the only bright points in the flick were Christian Bale and – of course – the Gun Katas

  75. #75 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Well, facilis? If you can’t address this issue, then realise you have nothing to offer the readers of this blog.

    Maybe not intellectually, but he is good for at least a few laughs!

  76. #76 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Kel & Twin-Skies:

    I couldn’t agree more about the plot, but damn those gun-katas were sweet…

  77. #77 raven
    March 13, 2009

    Afghanistan pays a high price for its medieval mentality.

    The average lifespan is 47 years. Where ours was a century ago.

    Life is short, people are poor, running water and electricity are scarce. This is what the fundie xians want for the USA. Either they have yet to figure out what the Dark Ages really meant or they simply don’t care.

  78. #78 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    *admits to geek speak deficiency and googles “gun-katas” *

  79. #79 David Jay
    March 13, 2009

    Bombing the country back to the Stone Age is impossible – we would actually be bombing them forward to the Stone Age.

  80. #80 Katkinkate
    March 13, 2009

    Gunkatas = gun fu ? :)

  81. #81 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Posted by: Katkinkate | March 13, 2009 2:35 AM

    Gunkatas = gun fu ? :)

    :P Actually, yeah. It’s a martial arts form with handguns that keeps the shooter out of the most probable trajectories of fire when surrounded, and it’s badass to watch.

  82. #82 BMS
    March 13, 2009

    the only bright points in the flick were Christian Bale

    Having trouble accepting Christian Bale as a bright point in any recorded event.

    He sucks as an actor. No matter how much money his movies take in.

    He has 2 emotions onscreen: mad and angry. (Yes, I know.)

    He mumbles and spits and snarls his lines, his only delivery methods.

    Waste of good celluloid, that one.

  83. #83 Twin-Skies
    March 13, 2009

    @David Jay

    Who’d wanna bomb Afganisu-tan? She’s adorable!

    http://www.pbase.com/darkbeat/afganisu-tan

  84. #84 bastion of sass
    March 13, 2009

    At #55, Vestrati wrote:

    Anyone remember that Twilight Zone episode on ‘How to Serve Man’? Where the aliens came and like walled off all the countries to stop war.

    Yeah, but, if you recall, the aliens’ actions ultimately turned out not to be in the humans’ best interests.

    In that episode,“To Serve Man”, the aliens convinced some initially skeptical humans of their benevolent intentions by improving conditions on earth, allowing more humans to live longer and healthier lives.

    Humans were even more convinced of the good intentions of the aliens when a linguist (cryptologist?) managed to translate the title of the aliens’ book: To Serve Man

    [spoiler alert]

    The book turned out to be a cookbook.

    And all the good things the aliens had done for humans was to grow more meat dinner.

    I saw this episode as a kid, and it was probably my favorite Twilight Zone episode ever. The book’s title tickled the part of me that loves word play. And I liked the message to remain wary about things that seem too good to be true. Heh, even as a kid I was training to be a skeptic.

  85. #85 Janus
    March 13, 2009

    The invalidity of Islam lies not in any of it’s doctrines, rather simply in the fact that is is a religion, and therefore is wrong and must be removed from society.

    Incredible that there are still people ignorant, or stupid enough to write crap like this.

    All religions are equally false, but they’re not equally barbaric.

  86. #86 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    All religions are equally false, but they’re not equally barbaric.

    False only in the sense that they are human constructs to explain the unexplainable back in the stone age/bronze age,and dont actually have any real life basis.
    Not equally barbaric? Well,most of them feature stoning,rape and genocide,its just that the christians started a bit earlier than the muslims……

  87. #87 maxamillion
    March 13, 2009

    #22 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight

    Stupid asshole. And Sayed Pervez Kambaksh and the oppressed women of Islam would die as well.

    Why don’t you try reading the complete post?

  88. #88 Helioprogenus
    March 13, 2009

    Hey Catholics, does this post help satisfy your masturbatory lust for PZ sinking his teeth (hopefully not in the same way as the horse in the next post) into other religions besides Catholicism? As you may guess by now, he’s an equal opportunity rationalist. Whether it’s your idiotic catholic beliefs, or the idiotic jewish beliefs, or the idiotic muslim beliefs, he’s going to eviscerate your useless superstitious fairy tales and help inject some much needed reason into the argument.

  89. #89 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Ello Helio !

    How have you been ?? Long time no see…:-)

    Whether it’s your idiotic catholic beliefs, or the idiotic jewish beliefs, or the idiotic muslim beliefs, he’s going to eviscerate your useless superstitious fairy tales and help inject some much needed reason into the argument.

    Yeah,but thats not going to relieve the rabid catlicks of their fatwa envy im afraid..:-)

  90. #90 Moggie
    March 13, 2009

    #58:

    I don’t believe there have ever been any ‘externally created’ democracies. Every single democracy has been created by the will of the people it serves.

    Germany? Japan?

    I guess you’re talking about WWII. Both Germany and Japan had established democracies under their own steam before then: see the Weimar republic and the Taishou democracy (in fact, the Japanese Diet was founded in the 19th century, under Meiji). True, in both cases democracy proved rather fragile, but the fact that internally-created democracy flourished for a while suggests that the relatively healthy postwar democracies were not simply bombed into place.

  91. #91 Wowbagger, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Hey clinteas – just got back from a couple of days in Melb. I didn’t mention it before ’cause I knew I wouldn’t have more than a couple of hours or so away from the demands of work; otherwise I’d have let you know and tried to catch up for a beer.

    Next time I’ll try and stick around over a weekend. I couldn’t this time – I’ve got a ticket to a play tonight and (more importantly) one to Tim Minchin tomorrow night; I’m not giving that up!

  92. #92 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    @ 90,

    One of the best books ever written about Hitler and Germany in the 30s and 40s is Sebastian Haffner’s “Anmerkungen zu Hitler”,available in English in a quite inappropriate title translation as “The meaning of Hitler”.
    Its only 200 pages,small and concise.

  93. #93 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Hey clinteas – just got back from a couple of days in Melb

    Youre kidding right??

    Well,serves you right the weather wasnt great LOL
    We do it sometime,with that Canberra dude….;)

  94. #94 FlameDuck
    March 13, 2009

    Germany?

    Depending on your definition of Democracy, Germany was a democracy since the fall of the Holy Roman empire in the early 19th century. It was brought about by internal revolution.

    Japan?

    Fair enough, although I doubt nuking central cities in Afghanistan would have the same effect now as it did back then.

  95. #95 Sioux Laris
    March 13, 2009

    I likely am as angered as anyone here by this story, which even if it turns out to be partially or wholly exaggerated certainly serves as a lesson of easily documented facts about Islam (and religion of this “traditional” sort, generally), but may some of the more unreasoning people who have commented here stick to expressing outrage tempered by their reasoning.

    I’ll explain, and pardon the needed profanity.

    There are several comments here that are as full of holier-than-thou bullshit; people who, if they said this shit to me in person would get it right back in their faces.
    This SHIT is, as when “Republicans” who defend real science start offering their “ideas” about literally every other issue, where I draw the line with a single warning.
    Next time someone chooses to call other people “animals” or suggesting “bombing” such people, look in the mirror to see a Gysonian “bad animal.” And, to about five people here: fuck you and the donkey you rode in on, with your head somehow up its ass. F-u-c-k-Y-o-u!

  96. #96 Walton
    March 13, 2009

    “And remember – this is a government Americans are dying to protect.” And remember, it’s better than the one they had before (which is an astounding realization I think).

    Indeed. Under the ancien régime, he would have been beheaded publicly in a stadium, without any trial. At least they now have something approximating a judicial system, even if the laws it enforces are barbaric and illiberal. But it is still crap, and I totally agree with Professor Myers that this is a disgrace.

    Unlike most of you, however, I don’t see this particular story merely as illustrating the evils of hardline religious belief (although it does), but rather as also illustrating the evils of a strong state. Yes, militant Islam, when coupled with the power of the state, leads to great and unnecessary human suffering (just as theocratic Christian nations caused great suffering in the past). But those totalitarian states which subscribed to atheistic ideologies – such as the Soviet Union under Stalin – caused just as much unnecessary suffering, and committed just as many murders.

    The only answer is to completely destroy the power of centralised governments. No man should have the power of life and death over another. Government’s role should be to protect citizens from force and fraud by others, maintain basic infrastructure, and defend the borders. It should have no power to interfere with people’s religious, political or economic choices.

  97. #97 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Sioux Laris @ 95,

    I’ll explain, and pardon the needed profanity.

    There are several comments here that are as full of holier-than-thou bullshit; people who, if they said this shit to me in person would get it right back in their faces.

    Now you are free to swear and use profanity on here,but dont keep it vague and address the posts you think are saying shit.
    Its no fun otherwise !

  98. #98 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Walton,

    But those totalitarian states which subscribed to atheistic ideologies – such as the Soviet Union under Stalin – caused just as much unnecessary suffering, and committed just as many murders.

    You know, for a little while there,I had hopes that you would actually come good mate…..and then something like this again….this has been explained and refuted ad nauseam so many times here,its really unexcusable to bring it up,unless you are still compartmentalizing and intellectually dishonest.

  99. #99 Walton
    March 13, 2009

    Clinteas, you have not understood me. I am not arguing that “atheism causes murders” or “Stalin was an atheist, therefore atheism is bad”. Those arguments are nonsense and have indeed been refuted.

    Rather, I was pointing out that if the state – whatever its ideological inclination – is given excessive power, deaths will result.

  100. #100 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    That is not what you said.
    Anyway,define “excessive power”.
    And do not derail this into some libertarian BS(then again,you probably already have LOL)

  101. #101 Shadow Caster
    March 13, 2009

    You’re an idiot. Really, what kind of fool labels a whole religion like that except that they are either really stupid or islamaphobic or both. Shame on you. You aught to know that a mullah’s opinion represents only himself and not all Muslims.

  102. #102 Brent Royal-Gordon
    March 13, 2009

    You coward, you only feel you can attack Islam because you know it’s a religion of peace whose followers won’t harm you. You wouldn’t have the courage to say the same about Catholics.

    (Would this be considered Inquisition envy?)

  103. #103 torrance
    March 13, 2009

    He-he! “You’re an idiot. Really, what kind of fool labels a whole religion like that except that they are either really stupid or islamaphobic or both. Shame on you.” *snort* Jack ass.

    The outrage in these comments is amusing. It is directed at critics of a psychotic religion. “Hurry! We must defend the faith!” Seems that a lot of you are the politically correct types who rush to express anger if anyone defames Islam. You want defamation?: Islam is a violent, totalitarian political ideology with a veneer of religion. If the Nazis had bee smarter, they would have made Nazism a religion. Fuck Islam! Oh, yeah, fuck Christianity too while we’re at it.

  104. #104 TX CHL Instructor
    March 13, 2009

    All religions are not alike. The xtian superstition, even though basically nonsense, at least (in it’s modern versions) encourages most of its followers to behave in a manner that is nominally acceptable to modern society. Could we be better off with xtianity? Sure, but that’s not very likely to happen anytime soon. I hope that we can eventually be successful at marginalizing them, but the ideal of extinguishing superstition is not achievable.

    One of the mitigating aspects of xtianity is that it is splintered into so many competing subsgroups that no one faction has been able to gain complete political domination. And for the most part, they are not determined to enslave nonbelievers by violent means.

    The superstition of the medieval militant pedophile is far more dangerous than xtianity ever was, even at its worst. Islam isn’t even a religion. It would be more accurately classified as a political and military plan of world domination, with a bit of ritual thrown in to keep the followers in line. Their “holy book” is nothing more than an instruction manual for defeating and enslaving nonbelievers, with specific methods for handling women, dhimmi, and other slaves.

    While islam does have competing factions, each of them is far more dangerous than any of the individual factions of xtianity (they basically differ over things like the proper succession of the mullahs). Even the most egregious of the xtian fundie nutcases just want to isolate the zombies that they can get to follow them, while the islamic fundies are bent on world domination, whatever it takes. And the practitioners of the world’s least-tolerant superstition are past masters of taking advantage of the tolerance of others, as we are seeing right now in Holland, Spain, and the UK, which will all be under sharia law in the next 30 years or so unless the non-muslim populations of those countries grow some testicles.

    http://www.chl-tx.com

  105. #105 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Good on you,torrance.

  106. #106 ConcernedJoe
    March 13, 2009

    Walton – I know you mean well but the beauty of Ayn Rand is never having to reconcile

    “Government’s role should be to protect citizens from force and fraud by others, maintain basic infrastructure, and defend the borders.”

    and

    “It should have no power to interfere with people’s religious, political or economic choices.”

    Think about it. Hope you immediately see several (I see many) scenarios that test the consistency between your statements.

    Tangentially (while by the flag pole):

    Dictatorships, monarchies, and democracies can be all equally good as well as all equally bad. None of them are pure anyway. Viable ones that sustain themselves exist only as a mixture of all three to varying proportions.

    The instrument that makes for good societies is the institution of a liberal, secular, and noble people oriented enduring Constitution, that is almost impossible to change downward (to degrade given rights of people), and that is in a real way enforced and the law of the land for all leaders and subjects alike. Good contracts enforced make for good business.

  107. #107 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    The superstition of the medieval militant pedophile is far more dangerous than xtianity ever was, even at its worst

    Gee,I like this thread,we are getting somewhere here.Nicely put !

  108. #108 Liberal Atheist
    March 13, 2009

    Well, at least the Taliban are not in power, at least not everywhere. That’s always something, right? :) You did a stellar job with that liberation.

  109. #109 FlameDuck
    March 13, 2009

    Next time someone chooses to call other people “animals” or suggesting “bombing” such people, look in the mirror to see a Gysonian “bad animal.”

    Pot, kettle, black? Not that I don’t agree with you, up to a point, but you’re not exactly making the stringest argument you could.

    All religions are not alike. The xtian superstition, even though basically nonsense, at least (in it’s modern versions) encourages most of its followers to behave in a manner that is nominally acceptable to modern society.

    Rubbish. You can’t seriously mean that modern Chrisitanity, like the Mormon Church and Jehovas Witnesses are “good” by any metric. What encourages christians to behave in a manner nominally acceptable to modern society, is fear of the rule of law. True Chrisitans, like Fred Phelps and Paul Jennings Hill, who do not fear the law, do not behave in a manner much different from Islamists.

    Chrisitans are every much as dangerous as Muslims. in fact Christians are more dangerous, because most people (like yourself) do not consider them a threat. Which is more dangerous? The Utahraptor you can see, or the one you can’t?

  110. #110 Moses
    March 13, 2009

    Yeah, but if you’d get beyond your cultural biases towards Muslims as a population, you’d realize this type of thing is also carried out by primitive-mind-set Christians as well. Only it’s not so published here in America because it doesn’t “make good copy.”

    I also don’t understand why a person as smart and, presumably, well-read as you keeps acting as if this is a problem of Islam, per se. It wasn’t so long ago that a Brazilian preacher was sentenced for Blasphemy for kicking a statue of the Virgin Mary.

    In India, the Christians are still engaged in the process of forcible conversion of Hindus. The same crap they’ve done everywhere they’ve gone since the middle ages and similar to what the Muslims do… So, here, you want to bash — bash the fucking Baptists:

    Myanmar Mission of the Council of Nagaland Baptist Churches Missionaries set Hindu temple on fire

    According to the complaints of Hindu Nagas, the Christian missionaries from Tamenlong in Manipur in collusion with their Barak Valley activists have been converting the Hindus of Ujan Tarapur through allurements and threats.

    SILCHAR: Christian missionaries preach many things and quote the Bible in particular to say, ?We do not hurt other denominations.? And behind the facade of this Biblical adherence lies the ugly face of their activities to take resort to illegal and fraud for conversion of the innocent and simple minded people by force, inducement and questionable means. It is now more than clear that it is these missionaries who create conflict and stoke the flame of religious bigotry and communal passion. Glaring example is Kandhamal.Laxamananda Saraswati was murdered because he had become a formidable force in the area against forced conversion of Hindus. His popularity and following in the area was rapidly increasing, scaring the Christian zealots.

    http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=277&page=8

    Just a month ago. Murder and arson. And this wasn’t even the Catholics, but the Baptists. Or some of them! Now, you going to blame ALL the Baptists through implication? Because that’s what you do when you blame all Muslims and all Islam for what the zealots do under the color of its flag…

    The bottom line is that it is not, nor ever has been, the faith-vehicle of the religion per se. It is the problem of a problem of medieval-mind-set, generally-poor peoples, irrespective of relgious back-ground, being controlled by an authoritarian group who seek to further (or retain) their power, prestige and privilege.

    And, bottom line, there are plenty of enlightened Muslims who are very much like your average Lutheran or Methodist from Minnesota. But you refuse to show them and the very much like everyone else people that they are.

    Maybe they should get a pope. Then you can pick on one guy instead of slandering the whole population through guilt-by-association.

  111. #111 Moses
    March 13, 2009

    Posted by: clinteas | March 13, 2009 6:27 AM

    That is not what you said.
    Anyway,define “excessive power”.
    And do not derail this into some libertarian BS(then again,you probably already have LOL)

    He already did. And the funny thing is, you’d think with the absolute result of the crash and burn of the deregulated economy and the gutting of the middle-class since Reagan, he just might have enough information to have gotten a clue just how stupidly bankrupt Libertarianism is…

    But no…

    Here we go with the same crap, different day… Lesson not learned!

  112. #112 tiles
    March 13, 2009

    Islam is a religion of peace only when everybody follows it.

  113. #113 Slugsie
    March 13, 2009

    Yup, definitely the religion of peace, no doubts about that.

  114. #114 NewEnglandBob
    March 13, 2009

    If there is evil anywhere, it is embodied by Islam.

  115. #115 Twin-Skies
    March 13, 2009

    @Slugsie

    Death is referred to as “Eternal Rest” after all.

    No people = No War

  116. #116 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Islam is a religion of peace only when everybody follows it.

    That would rank with the stupidest things I have seen posted here in a long time.

  117. #117 Eidolon
    March 13, 2009

    I think it’s very crafty how all those “moderate muslims” have managed to stay so well hidden. Xians at least have some visible voices of moderation. Not so Muslims since to speak out could be worth your life.

    None of this changes the fact that both religions are a Crock of Crap (TM)

  118. #118 Anne Hedonia
    March 13, 2009

    I see much talk of democracy. Democrafy is flawed, a technocracy is a far more logical social construct.

  119. #119 www.10ch.org
    March 13, 2009

    I do not believe that there can truly be anything fundamentally wrong with Islam – other than that it is a religion, of course, but surely it cannot be that much worse than Christianity. No, what really is wrong is not the religion, but its practitioners – they are savages, just that.

  120. #120 KL
    March 13, 2009

    I had a three hour drive on Wednesday alone, so I “treated” myself to some AM talk radio, tuning in to Glenn Beck. His guest, whose name I didn’t catch, claims that the “leftist atheists” are conspiring with Islamic fundamentalists to take over the US. Why aren’t people like this hospitalized and sedated rather than given access to the airwaves?

  121. #121 TheLady
    March 13, 2009

    It kills me that this one dude (a very nice dude for whom I was collecting petition signatures months ago, but nevertheless just one dude) can generate so much discussion when the scores of women who are threatened, killed, or imprisoned every week for trying to actually do what he was only writing about don’t seem to break through the walls of contented western apathy.

    Female doctors, teachers and politicians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq have one of the highest rates of attrition through violence of any group or profession in the world. It’s more dangerous to be a female junior government minister in Iraq than it is to be a soldier. No to mention how dangerous it is in places like Pakistan (the “honour killing” capital of the world) simply to be a woman, even one without obvious transgressive occupations.

    Islam hates women, and men hate women, at least enough to lash out at them when uncertainty, powerlesness and danger threaten their assumptions about the world and their position of power in it. It’s despicable that Muslim men would imprison one of their own number simply for being a dissident to this reality, but it’s nowhere near as much of a humanitarian crisis as the reality itself.

  122. #122 tony
    March 13, 2009

    Regarding created democracies.

    Germany & Japan were mentioned.

    Germany was already a democratic country. The fact that her democratic institutions had been demolished or repurposed by the Nazis did not remove the democratic infrastructure. Post war reconstruction was in two parts – infrastructural support, and political restructuring of Germany by Germans with the support of the western allies.

    Japan already had an elected parliament, that had previously been directly led by the emperor. The only imposed change was the demotion of emperor to a titular head of state, instead of actual. The actual democracy came from two places. Existing elections, and a declaration from the emperor. Japan ‘acceded’ to outside demands, but it changed to a democracy all by itself. Had the emperor refused to accede – it would likely be very different. The ‘japanese’ culture was (and is) intensely loyal, and I’m not enough of a sociologist to presume what the outcome would have been, other than ‘different’.

    I’ll say it again.

    Democracies are created from within. Yhey may be influenced from without, but without a willing populace, and leadership willing to accede, and requiring initial acceptance of the change (as the Emperor did in Japan) there won’t be democracy. The power won’t have changed.

  123. #123 Fred Mounts
    March 13, 2009

    I’ve been trying the whole online dating thing, and I got a message the other day from an American woman who claims heritage as Native American and Irish. For reasons I can’t quite comprehend, she willing converted to Islam 2 years ago. Her pictures don’t display a hijab or other hair covering. I’m a little perplexed by her to say the least, but she tells me that only one person that she’s had read the entire Koran has failed to convert.

    Anthony’s story reminded me of her, for some reason.

  124. #124 uppity cracka
    March 13, 2009

    Is this what our young men and women are dying for? Does islam have some kind of rapture like christianity? Because if old man time would just take those two groups up to never never land we could make some progress. That’s all I have to say besides:

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  125. #125 DangerAardvark
    March 13, 2009

    Wow, this thread got to post #2 before someone said “yeah, but Christians are bad too!” That’s got to be some kind of record.

  126. #126 tony
    March 13, 2009

    The Lady@122

    Well said. The fundamental challenge (IMHO) with Islam is it’s embedded misogyny.

    Women are not ‘second-class-citizens’. In many cases they are chattel – legally as well as culturally.

    Until that changes, the wider situation won’t change. You might have the instruments and architecture of Democracy – but when a significant percentage of your population are effectively disenfranchised – you do not have democracy. At least, not in the modern sense.

  127. #127 Tom
    March 13, 2009

    Religion isn’t the problem… it’s when religion gets political power. Our founding fathers realized that. They made sure that religion was free so people could practice it. But they also made sure that people were free from religion if they wished to be.

    Sarah Vowell writes a little anecdote in her book, “The Partly Cloudy Patriot.” She was in New Hampshire in 2000 when Gary Bauer gave a speech saying that anyone who didn’t believe in god couldn’t believe in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence because of the phrase, “endowed by their creator.” Vowell corrected him. “I told him that, on the contrary, those documents for me have superseded god, that they are my bible.”

  128. #128 KI
    March 13, 2009

    @64
    I’ve wondered what the effect would be if, instead of bombs, we carpet-saturated the fundamentalist muslim world with ipods and Barbie dolls. I know, not the best representation of what we hope to achieve but a mind-fuck for their government nonetheless.
    #118
    We have our first borg!

  129. #129 S. Rivlin
    March 13, 2009

    Islam also hates America, and Jews and whites and all non-muslims. Just watch and listen to a Kwaiti professor.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M32M-2B2mz8

  130. #130 IST
    March 13, 2009

    @ Moses> So your issue is that he’s condemning all Muslims because of the actions of “extremists”? Or that he doesn’t pick on Christians too? If it’s the second, you need to do some serious archive reading.

    The only cultural bias against Muslims here stems from the fact that many of Islam’s followers are misogynist, morally bereft, anti-science, anti-West, murdering asshats… Are there more moderate Muslims that don’t follow the literal instructions of the Koran? Sure there are. Unfortunately, they aren’t anything near to a majority. If Muslims want to be treated as decent human beings, they might want to consider, as a whole, acting like them rather than rioting because someone drew a cartoon or wrote a book. There is a difference between automatically assuming that someone who prescribes to a particular faith is (insert word here) just because they follow that faith, and stating that the collective actions of millions of people are exactly what they are, especially when those actions are explicitly condoned by the leadership and holy text of those people.

    Of perhaps you’re just the PC police, concern trolling over “Islamophobia”, in which case you can go fuck yourself.

  131. #131 AJ Milne
    March 13, 2009

    …but a mind-fuck for their government nonetheless.

    Well, if I were to wake up to plastic dolls and broken MP3 players scattered all over my neighbourhood, I know I, for one, would probably…

    Okay. I’d probably just stop drinking.

    … Or wait. Re the broken players: is it part of the plan to put little tiny parachutes on everything?

    No. Actually, no that I think about it, discovering I was being invaded by Barbie paratroopers would probably have more or less the same effect as the first plan.

    Key question is: what do we put on the iPods? I seem to recall there actually was an effort in Afghanistan to put propaganda stuff on iPods and distribute them: speeches in local languages on why you do want a democractic government, and don’t want the Taliban back. But I think this was missing an opportunity…

    Ladies and gentleman, my suggestion is: earworms on iPods. Drive the Islamists mad by dropping players loaded full with those annoying songs you Just. Can’t. Get. Out. Of. Your. Head…

    Suggestions for the playlist:

    It’s a Small World*
    Time Warp
    YMCA
    Radar Love
    It’s a Hard Knock Life
    Follow the Yellow Brick Road
    I Am the Very Model of Modern Major Gineral

    (*This may be a violation of several treaties… Can we get that guy who signed off on waterboarding to argue this one for us?)

  132. #132 Oliver
    March 13, 2009

    The statement “Islam hates women” is, sorry, inexcusable in its own incitement of prejudice and hatred. The largest “islamic” country in the world had, from 2001-2004 a female head of state, and Megawati Sukarnoputri is still head of an important political party. Likewise, Pakistan had a female prime minister.

    The statement in the text “while moderate groups have led marches countrywide demanding his release.” is conveniently ignored and the fact that these people are Muslim, too, conveniently swept under the carpet because what must not be cannot be.

    On this basis, sorry, this blog article isn’t any better in its moral foundation that the islamist courts. Just because its consequences are less direct, fostering such prejudice and hatred isn’t less dangerous or more moral – it is a ready excuse to hurt and kill just the same.

  133. #133 IST
    March 13, 2009

    AJ Milne>
    I for one think that Afghanistan is a nation deserving of the Macarena… on repeat…for a month or so. Psy-ops anyone?

  134. #134 Patricia LaRaia
    March 13, 2009

    I dream about a world where everyone respects each other and everyone is science savy and fact searching happy. Yes, the best description of science is that it is a “candle in the dark”. It dissipates ignorance, brings everyone to the same level, improves society, makes us hopeful and stresses the importance of using our intelligence for the better…” amongs many things. As long as we continue workshipping the nonsense promises of religion, (including the 71 or so virgins in heaven),humanity will remain stuck in the same place or move backwards.

  135. #135 KI
    March 13, 2009

    AJ earworms are just the kind of thing I was thinking of. How can someone contemplate jihad with “Copacabana” in their head ? The effort to clean out of their mind could drive all the other crap out with it, resulting in a clean slate where reason and logic could be implanted.

  136. #136 GB
    March 13, 2009

    At tony in 57 “I don’t believe there have ever been any ‘externally created’ democracies. Every single democracy has been created by the will of the people it serves. They have evolved out of more feudal structures through devolution or revolution. Not one has been imposed from without. (if you know of one, I’d be happy to be proven wrong)”

    Postwar japan serves as a possible case, but it isn’t very clear cut unfortunately. The Constitution that the allies threw out was based on the Prussian model, but it did have representational elements, even if they were more or less powerless. Anyway the new constitution was pretty much entirely written by a couple of MacArthur’s aids, but it was adopted without too much of a fuss (and with some revisions by the Japanese) and has been the law of the land ever since. Of course Japan is a pretty exceptional case all-around so it’s difficult to say that it is transferable. Also given that it was adopted semi-voluntarily it’s a bit unclear whether it actually counts, but at a minimum it is pretty close to the outside imposition of democracy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_constitution#Meiji_Constitution

  137. #137 tony
    March 13, 2009

    Oliver.

    Thanks for your concern.

    Noted.

  138. #138 Tulse
    March 13, 2009

    More earworm suggestions:

    I’m Henry VIII, I Am (Herman’s Hermits) — This always works for me if I have some other earworm infection
    Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves) — Because who can think of jihad when they’re this happy?

  139. #139 AJ Milne
    March 13, 2009

    How can someone contemplate jihad with “Copacabana” in their head?

    … Umm, okay, we probably need to rethink this.

    … Seein’ as, when I get Copacabana stuck in my head, I do start to contemplate violence.

    … Wait. No. We’re good. Now that I’ve rethought this a bit, I think it’s still okay. This can still work….

    Thing is: I’m just contemplating violence against Barry Manilow. And, honestly, I’m contemplating that most of the time anyway.

    So, revised plan: Go with Copacabana, hide Barry. They spend a decade goning after him, it all works out.

  140. #140 CosmicTeapot
    March 13, 2009

    AJ Milne said “… by dropping players loaded full with those annoying songs you Just. Can’t. Get. Out. Of. Your. Head…”

    Radar Love! Radar love!!! Annoying!!!!!!!!

    Them’s fighting worms mister!

    Bom, bom, bom, bom …
    bom, bom, bom, bom

  141. #141 Silva
    March 13, 2009

    Grr. May angry horses bite off their testicles!

  142. #142 KI
    March 13, 2009

    Hiding Barry Manilow could be one of the great services we render to humans everywhere.

  143. #143 Moggie
    March 13, 2009

    Earworm? Narwhals!

  144. #144 Moggie
    March 13, 2009

    #127:

    Religion isn’t the problem… it’s when religion gets political power.

    All over the world, there are women suffering due to religion, and that includes some pretty secular countries. For example, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has documented the plight of Muslim women in the highly secular Netherlands. Of course, religious apologists often say that this is “cultural” rather than “religious”, but “because God/Allah says so” is a pretty strong force in maintaining cultural practices.

  145. #145 Steve_C
    March 13, 2009

    Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism hates women too by the way.

    Shall I go on?

  146. #146 GBM
    March 13, 2009

    in the case of japan I think that it is at best disingenuous to call a system where less than 1% of the population could vote a democracy. it was at best an oligarchy, and the democracy was largely imposed by the war, although of course there were democratic elements before the war, and democracy was maintained internally. Still it is a borderline case, and hints that outside imposition may be possible under certain circumstances

    “When finally granted by the emperor as a sign of his sharing his authority and giving rights and liberties to his subjects, the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji Constitution) provided for the Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a popularly elected House of Representatives with a very limited franchise of male citizens who were over 25 years of age and paid 15 yen in national taxes, about 1 % of the population”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiji_period#Politics

  147. #147 catta
    March 13, 2009

    a system that said women have only three functions, all of them beginning with a “k” in German: to kiss, to cook, and to deliver children.

    Funny you should mention that. The phrase you’re looking for is “Kinder, Küche, Kirche”… which translates to children, kitchen, church.

  148. #148 Zym
    March 13, 2009

    Keanus: Change the names and this could be the Republican Party loyalty police.

    Wow. So how is life with complete monochromatic vision? Do you walk into walls a lot? How do you deal with traffic lights? And this is from someone who hates the GOP.

    perturbed: If so-called ‘Muslims’ want so badly to live in the Stone Age, bomb them back to it and walk away.

    Well, I think part of the point is that we don’t have to do that. They do it to themselves. In addition to girls not being educated at all, many boys only learn one book- the Koran. That’s not a fertile environment for, say, a couple guys inventing the personal computer in their garage.

  149. #149 Quiet_Desperation
    March 13, 2009

    This is defense of a system that said women have only three functions, all of them beginning with a “k” in German: to kiss, to cook, and to deliver children.

    That’s brutal.

    How exactly do they cook the children?

  150. #150 tony
    March 13, 2009

    GB@136

    I understand where you’re coming from, and I agree that much of the procedural aspects of the post-war democracy in Japan were written by Americans. However, Japan already had a democratic tradition (of sorts), and the ‘reconstruction’ did not require wholesale change of populist (grass roots level) structures or behaviors.

    That key difference is why I stand behind the statement that democracies come from within. External agencies can force initial conditions at cusps (such as the end of WWII) but without the grass roots wholesale acceptance and adoption, it is not democracy.

    Afghanistan is not a democracy while people look to their mullahs and warlords for direction on how to vote (if they vote at all). As far as women’s rights goes: while women are still culturally and religiously required to submit to their alpha male for direction in all things, there will not be democracy.

  151. #151 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    Hmmm. Curious.

    Our fundamentalist christian chums whine that, when they are criticised, we atheists wouldn’t dare criticise islam/muslims the same way for fear of fatwah etc (i.e. classic god botherer fatwah envy). I am amazed, nay staggered, nay even gobsmacked that none of them see fit to mention that we DO criticise islam/muslims just as vehemently, and thus acknowledge their error.

    I also think we need a new bogeyman. If only to help people out. Can we not form a super elite, uber violent cadre of UltraMilitantPastafarians who ritually torture, bugger, rape, pillage and erupt whenever Pastafarianism is criticised? That way out muslim chums could infect the threads of the internet with “Oh yeah? Well you would say that. You’re just afraid to go after the UberMilitantPastafarians because they’d declare Penne Arrabiata on your arse! Weak little atheists!”. Can’t we help them out? Won’t someone please think of the children?

    Louis

    P.S. Islam hates women? Dog bites man. Movie at 11. The abhrahamic religions are quite staggeringly misogynist. Even religions that propose some degree of equality (Sikhism for example) are in practise less than fulsomely female friendly.

  152. #152 Asherot
    March 13, 2009

    Oliver @ 132

    Way to miss the the point mate. The countries you’ve mentioned have had female leaders in spite of Islam, not because of it.

    The title of PZ’s post, which you obviously read but didn’t comprehend, is “Islam hates women”.

    Islam, as in the religion and it’s lictors, not necessarily all of the people enslaved by it.

    Demonstrate to me that Islam (the religion, stay with me for a minute) does not hate women and I’ll eat my own liver on YouTube.

    Do the same with Christianity and Judaism and I’ll throw in a kidney.

  153. #153 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    Oh and I see we have some “waaaaah broad brushists” in play.

    Obviously ALL conceptions of islam are not anti woman. Equally obviously not ALL people who self identify as muslim are anti woman. But a frightening amount are (just like a frightening amount of christians/christian conceptions, jews/jewish conceptions, sikhs/sikh conceptions are). That frightening amount need not be (and probably isn’t depending on location) a majority. It merely needs to be non-zero.

    It’s a simple formula: It’s not necessary for ALL conceptions of X/self identified adherents of X to be anti-Y for them to be criticised on that basis. That some self identified adherents of X do use their conceptions of X to be anti Y is sufficient, if they are claiming the moral elements of X grant them moral justification for their actions. If X doesn’t have moral elements then they are making a related but different error

    You can’t simply play ad hoc No True Muslim games here, not only are they fallacious, they are erroneous. If a muslim claims that their religion permits, or even demands what you or I would agree is misogyny, then their claim is open to fair criticism on that basis. The things they claim support their misogyny are also open to scrutiny.

    The justification for an action is open to scrutiny, just as is that action itself. Deal with it.

    Louis

  154. #154 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Nothing better then a little Stones Blues fest to go to bed…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=724c8pQ9bRo

    Nitenite….

  155. #155 tony
    March 13, 2009

    Louis: +21 WIN

  156. #156 Laurie Jay
    March 13, 2009

    #55: Yes, I remember that “Twilight Zone” episode very well. One of the best of the original series. “To Serve Man;” the title of a book the aliens had accidentally let the humans get hold of.

    The aliens turned our planet into a fertile, peaceful place. Abundant food, no more wars; a real Eden. But at what cost?

    They were setting up a “farm” for themselves because they wanted to eat us. That’s why they didn’t allow us to kill each other.

    Rod Serling was a genius way ahead of his time. Some of those episodes are still relevant fifty years later.

  157. #157 Asherot
    March 13, 2009

    Louis @ 153

    Well said that man.

    I would add though, that the “No True Christian/Muslim/Jew” argument does apply but only to those adherents that do try to treat women with any modicum of decency.

    These well intentioned heretics will find that misogyny is clearly enshrined in their various “holy” books.

  158. #158 lowey
    March 13, 2009

    Hmmm whats this – tried and sentanced without hearing the case against him, sounds like American justice to me (Guantanamo and so on and so forth)

  159. #159 BMS
    March 13, 2009

    Islam hates women.

    Christianity hates women.

    Judaism hates women.

    Hinduism hates women.

    The patriarchy hates women.

    If you call adult women “girls” you hate women.

    If you use insults such as “twat,” “cunt,” “pussy,” etc., you hate women, your protestations aside.

  160. #160 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    @ Asherot #157

    Thanks!

    However the No True X fallacy is still a fallacy even when the person using it agrees with me (or more importantly the data)! The form is fallacious, not the detail per se.

    The terrible tragedy when dealing with religious adherents is that varying interpretations of their scriptures can be used to justify almost any act. Even if reference to scripture is not working for them, they can refer to their deep faith that they are correct, or to some divinely donated revelation. Such nebulous (and it must be said: easily used) pseudo-arguments are all too common (and all too erroneous).

    Even the religious people who do move with the zeitgeist and do adapt their faith to fit the moral mores of modern society cannot make any more valid claim to be TRUE adherents of faith X, any more than a fundamentalist fatwah lover can.

    Anyway, who wants to treat women with decency? I’d rather treat them with equality! Much more fun! ;-)

    Louis

  161. #161 KI
    March 13, 2009

    I call females “girls”, I call males “boys”, because I find most “grown-ups” to be stuck in a mental holding pattern. “Grown-up” to me is someone who has stopped growing, while “boys and girls” of any age are open to new ideas. Of course, that’s just my personal observation.

  162. #162 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    Right on # 156.

    “Even religions that propose some degree of equality (Sikhism for example) are in practise less than fulsomely female friendly.”

    This is even true of Buddhism, which pretends to be totally equality-minded. Religion is misogynist, full stop. It’s of men, by men, for men. A woman who tells herself otherwise is lying to herself.

    The one except, I guess, is those silly neo-pseudo-pagan religions, if they can even be called that, but I’m not sure.

  163. #163 John Kwok
    March 13, 2009

    While we are noting correctly uncivilized behavior by Afghani Muslims here in this thread, I am surprised no one has brought up last month’s crime in Buffalo, NY committed by a “moderate” Muslim-American against his wife:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/024895.php

    (In the interest of full disclosure, one of my cousins is former US Army chaplain James Yee, whom some of you may recall was falsely accused of treason while serving as the Muslim chaplain at Camp Gitmo more than five years ago. I have yet to read of any condemnation from Jim or his friends at CAIR regarding the Buffalo, NY beheading.)

  164. #164 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    I mean, right on #159

  165. #165 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    @ Lowey #158:

    I’d agree, this hypocrisy on the part of Western governments (my own UK govt included) is abhorrent. Hence why I campaign against it. It doesn’t excuse the behaviour of (for example) the Taliban however. Tu quoque is ALSO a common logical fallacy encountered when discussing these issues.

    @BMS #159:

    I’d disagree that the use of cunt, twat, and pussy are definite indicators of misogyny, any more than the use of dick, knob, and cock are definite indicators of misandry. However I would agree that they CAN be, and thus should be used carefully and in the relevant context.

    I’d also say that words can, and often do, have more than one meaning and more than one intentional derivation. If I call some a cunt (or a cock) when they cut me up in traffic, I am in no way referring, or comparing them, to my favourite part of a woman’s body (or my favourite part of my own). I am merely expressing my frustration in an insulting way. The fact that the word cunt (or cock) is also a word used to indicate the genitals of a woman (or man) is almost supremely irrelevant. To condemn someone using it as a misogynist (misandrist) you’d also need to know a lot more about them as a person. Simple use isn’t enough, nor is simple use as an insult.

    I’m a massive fan of cunts. I’m a big supporter too of women’s rights. The appropriate use of the word cunt does not negate that (your assertions aside). If I were to refer to women as “noting more than a cunt” or something like that, then you might just have a point. As it is, evolving and multiple definitions of words being what they are, you don’t. You might as well be complaining that anyone who uses the word gay is immediately importing a state of happiness to anything/anyone they describe with it. Mind you, since I prefer insults that actually have bearing on the actions the person that needs insulting is undertaking, just calling someone a cunt (or what have you) is never good enough.

    Of course there ARE instances when simple use is enough, or very nearly enough. For example, the word “nigger”, used as an insult is almost exclusively the province of racists (and gangster rappers, and Chris Rock’s amazingly funny sketch). The word “nigger” as an insult has a specific history, and a specific (as yet unchanged) definition that hasn’t evolved (and speciated into several different definitions) the same way the definition of cunt or cock have. It’s a continuum, shades of grey not black and white.

    A bastard can just be someone who cuts you up in traffic, a cunt can just be the politician you have seen on television. They don’t necessarily have to represent the offspring of unwed parents or the genitals of a female. They’re not always, but they can be. That’s an important difference to note.

    Louis

  166. #166 Stanton
    March 13, 2009

    This is even true of Buddhism, which pretends to be totally equality-minded. Religion is misogynist, full stop.

    Such as the mindset of some Buddhists who feel that a woman must first reincarnate into a man before she can achieve Nirvana?

  167. #167 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    @ Endor #164:

    Since you quoted me in #151, I hope you mean right on #151!
    ;-)

    Louis

  168. #168 IST
    March 13, 2009

    Louis> you just made an excellent point that is going to result in you being irrationally attacked for being a “privileged male”… enjoy.

  169. #169 TheLady
    March 13, 2009

    the word “nigger”, used as an insult is almost exclusively the province of racists

    I was following your arguments with some interest, if disagreeing, until I came to this sentence.

    It takes a monumental amount of willful ignorance and self-congratulatory moral superiority not to see that the word “nigger” has only acquired its modern pariah status because people shouted, cried, fought, commented, pointed out, fulminated and declared for decades that nigger ISN’T “JUST A WORD” describing a person of African origin. The argument, I assure you, still rages today, albeit in more remote corners of the fundy web.

    A cock is a male chicken. A knob is the handle on your kitchen cabinet door. Both sexual meanings of those words derive from the association of maleness with their positive aspects – the aggressive and dominating nature of a cock, the erect and firm aspects of a knob.

    The word cunt on the other hand derives from the Latin “cunnus”, meaning “slit”, and was a sleazy euphemism for female genitalia for the entirety of its existence. It has, and never did have, any other semantic importance other than to serve as a derogatory reference to the intimate body parts of women.

    As such it is hateful, and applying it *backwards* – rather than from the cockerel to the man, from the vagina to the whole woman, as it were – can bear no other possible interpretation than a mysioginistic intent.

  170. #170 The Biologista
    March 13, 2009

    Islam is an extreme example, but let’s face it- pretty much every dogmatic social structure starts out as being misogynistic and homophobic. Most of them still are. Broadly speaking we males like our women easily controllable. We dislike sexually promiscuous or aggressive women. We demonise and undermine them with every ounce of our control over society. Because we’re so fucking afraid of sexual situations outside of our direct control, we do the same to male homosexuals. They’re as sexually aggressive as us hetero males, but we’re afraid they’ll direct that at us! Fear it! The religious stuff is just putting the moral responsibility for all our irrational bigotry on to the big Scapegoat in the Sky.

    I don’t blame Islam. I personally blame every last bastard who uses it as an excuse to express his impotency-driven rage.

  171. #171 Walton
    March 13, 2009

    If you use insults such as “twat,” “cunt,” “pussy,” etc., you hate women, your protestations aside.

    Except that most people who use those terms also use insults such as “dickhead”, “asshole”, “cock” and “wanker”. Evidently they also hate men.

    The reality is that, for whatever reason, human language has evolved so that our profane terms revolve around two things: (a) sex, sexuality and sexual organs, and (b) excrement. Thus both male and female sexual organs are referenced extensively in curse words, not just in English but in most languages worldwide.

    I would concede that many people here (myself included) perhaps use profanity too liberally. Nevertheless, you may note that I have never called anyone (male or female) a “cunt” (or, indeed, a “dickhead” or terms to that effect) on this site, nor would I consider that acceptable discourse. That said, I don’t think using such terms has anything to do with misogyny, conscious or instinctive.

  172. #172 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    IST,

    Oh, erm, goody?

    And I AM a spectacularly privileged male. That’s why it’s beholden on me to fight for equal spectacular privileges for others. People who are also not privileged males, spectacularly or otherwise, can also do it too. It’s not something they need done for them. But if no spectacularly privileged males want to change the unjust status quo, then it potentially lengthens that inequality. As someone who wants the inequality to end, I must, perforce, act.

    Why do I mention this?

    Because if BSM is going to go in the direction you (and perhaps I) think he/she/it is then at some point I guarantee you I’ll be accused of patronising those suffering under that inequality. I’m getting my defence in first! ;-)

    I’m certainly not going to apologise for being a spectacularly, almost supremely, privileged male, I had very little to do with this happy outcome. My parents fucked in the UK, and I was born male (and remain so before the fucking jokes start!). I’m even white-ish, upper middle class-ish, and British-ish, just how much more privileged can I get?

    What I CAN, and DO, do is attempt to minimise the inequality of my own privilege by working in the interests of equality. By working for the equality of others so they too can enjoy the privilege that I have. Equality in this sense doesn’t require knocking me down (or not an awfully long way, we could get environmental about this if we want!), but bringing others up. Strangely, although I am a fan of consciousness raising and careful use of language, I don’t think this involves knee jerk gripes about use of the word “cunt” and thereby falling prey to asinine essentialism by typifying anyone who utters the word a misogynist. That way fuckwittery lies.

    Louis

  173. #173 ndt
    March 13, 2009

    Posted by: Kris | March 12, 2009 9:33 PM

    “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    Obviously Jefferson was very wrong about this.

  174. #174 Betul
    March 13, 2009

    Does Islam dislike women? To me, the answer is: it depends. In Turkey, when it comes to the freedom of Turban in schools, all the islamists are on the streets and protesting by calling this “against the female rights”. However when many other women is thrown to the streets, beaten to death, raped, assaulted for being a widow, that crowd do not exist. What is the difference between the two women? Your call.

    I was raised Muslim and I am a woman, when I read the Quran I always thought that it is speaking to a man. I always read the Turkish translations of it, and I always wondered why there is “no woman translators?” of Quran in my country? The answer is simple, because men is the voice of God in Islam and the role of women are either wifes of the prophets or the holy mothers. Islam things women are precious — to their men– and should be protected. Or that’s how it always made me think. Currently I don’t see any Islam model that suggests the opposite.

  175. #175 Betul
    March 13, 2009

    (Excuse my typos and grammar mistakes in the above post, please)

  176. #176 IST
    March 13, 2009

    Louis> nice… goody indeed…
    I was just passing on the warning, which may or may not be necessary. Not a bad defence IMO. Walton’s point above your post is also quite apt: insults in human language tend toward references to excrement and genitalia, regardless of the original meaning of the word. There happens to be a reference in Carl Sagan’s Dragons of Eden in which one of the chimps who had been taught American Sign Language repeatedly makes the signs for feces and monkey at another primate that stole a piece of its fruit. I imagine this is because both of those topics are perceived as “dirty” by primitive societies, and it’s something that we haven’t come past (because we’re not as evolved as we’d like to think?). Sometimes an insult is just an insult…

  177. #177 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    “Since you quoted me in #151, I hope you mean right on #151!”

    right on #151, though I only partially agree with #165. Words mean things. Evolved or not, ignoring the original meaning seems disingenuous to me. Saying, “oh, that’s not what it means now” ignores that such words are still used to insult in their original context.

    TheLady – agreed.

    ++

    “Such as the mindset of some Buddhists who feel that a woman must first reincarnate into a man before she can achieve Nirvana?”

    Prezactly.

  178. #178 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    “‘m certainly not going to apologise for being a spectacularly, almost supremely, privileged male, I had very little to do with this happy outcome.”

    This is something people tend to either not know or outright ignore. People, such as IST apparently, think that being called “privileged” is an insult. It’s just the truth. It’s not an accusation; it’s not to mean that the privileged are “bad” people. As you say, it’s not something one can control at all.

    I, myself, am also very privileged. however, i see absolutely no value in denying that, or presuming I know what it is to belong to a group that isn’t, in whatever respect.

  179. #179 endor
    March 13, 2009

    Betul – enjoy that gilded cage. I’m sure it’s totally better than being free, being so “precious” to your captors.

  180. #180 IST
    March 13, 2009

    Endor> The insulting portion was automatically being labelled, without your having the slightest idea who I am, and then continuing to apply the label because you’d decided to categorize me that way. You are entitled to think that it isn’t possible to know what it’s like to belong to group x because you aren’t part of that group.. I don’t agree, and I can leave it at that.

  181. #181 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    sorry for the mega spamming.

    “I don’t think this involves knee jerk gripes about use of the word “cunt” and thereby falling prey to asinine essentialism by typifying anyone who utters the word a misogynist.”

    Something else frequently misunderstood – the use of the word doesn’t mean one is automatically misogynistic, it means one has internalized sexism. We all have – we are a patriarchal society.

    I agree with the bulk of #172. I have only one question: who decides what offends them? You’re saying such words aren’t meant as misogynstic insults, yet at least one woman explained why they are. Why does that not make a difference to your opinion?

  182. #182 PsyberDave
    March 13, 2009

    “Look at this travesty of justice, this product of primitive morality.”

    This is ad hominem. The reality is that morality is not objective. Nothing is observably right or wrong. No matter how offensive someone’s behavior appears to you or me, it is because we are using OUR sense of morality, OUR definitions of right and wrong to judge the behavior of others, not an absolute, correct morality that must be used by all. Morals are definitions and they establish by declaration what right and wrong are. It is not logical to say a definition is wrong. Rather, it is logical to say you want to use one definition over another. Of course you prefer your definitions of right and wrong. So does everyone.

  183. #183 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    “The insulting portion was automatically being labelled, without your having the slightest idea who I am, and then continuing to apply the label because you’d decided to categorize me that way.”

    . .. I’m confused. Where did I label you anything?

    “You are entitled to think that it isn’t possible to know what it’s like to belong to group x because you aren’t part of that group.. I don’t agree, and I can leave it at that.”

    That’s privilege. And i can leave it at that.

  184. #184 IST
    March 13, 2009

    Endor (on 181)> obviously the recipient of the insult decides what is and isn’t offensive… the words are indeed insulting… the misogyny has to be construed. In Louis’s defence (which won’t matter a lick, I know), if he’s a Brit, then those words are typically directed at other males… underlying sexism, perhaps, but that isn’t the same as hatred of women.

  185. #185 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    “, if he’s a Brit, then those words are typically directed at other males… underlying sexism, perhaps, but that isn’t the same as hatred of women”

    Wait, what? Calling another man a woman, as an insult, isn’t hatred of women? Seriously? How could it be anything but?

  186. #186 Brent Royal-Gordon
    March 13, 2009

    “The word cunt on the other hand derives from the Latin “cunnus”, meaning “slit”, and was a sleazy euphemism for female genitalia for the entirety of its existence. It has, and never did have, any other semantic importance other than to serve as a derogatory reference to the intimate body parts of women.”

    Um…

    From Middle English cunte from Old English *cunte from West Proto-Germanic *kunte < Proto-Germanic *kunton. Cognate with Frisian kunte, dialectal Swedish kunta, dialectal Danish kunte, Dutch kont (?arse?) and Icelandic kunta. A relationship to Latin cunnus has not been conclusively shown.

    Contrast with the etymology of “vagina”:

    Late 17th cent.: from Latin, literally ?sheath, scabbard,? which is also the source of the word vanilla.

    In older forms of English, “cunt” was simply the word for that body part. It fell out of favor in upper-class circles, which then looked down on its use by the “vulgar” lower classes.

    In other words: congratulations on striking a blow for upper-class snobbery.

    You dick.

  187. #187 IST
    March 13, 2009

    ok.. you have your non sequitur, I have mine… let’s go ahead and explain them. You show the chain of logic that demonstrates the idea that being exposed to a non-privileged group enough allows one to empathise with them is privilege.
    As to your incredulous statement.. have you any idea why men call other men female organs? Do you honestly not grasp the connotation? I admit that it is sexist, overt or not, but the insult is usually implying someone is timid, fragile, etc… things stereotypically associated with women. I fail how to see that it’s hateful in the least. Is it not possible for someone to have qualities you don’t wish to emulate, especially because you’ve been culturally conditioned to think that you shouldn’t, without it being hatred? It falls more to traditional gender roles than anything else.

  188. #188 Ron Sullivan
    March 13, 2009

    OK, one more time:

    Louis, #172: Equality in this sense doesn’t require knocking me down (or not an awfully long way, we could get environmental about this if we want!), but bringing others up.

    That’s right, son, and some of us are trying with great patience to bring you up.

    Strangely,

    Not really. Predictably.

    although I am a fan of consciousness raising and careful use of language, I don’t think this involves knee jerk gripes about use of the word “cunt” and thereby falling prey to asinine essentialism by typifying anyone who utters the word a misogynist.

    One more man telling us what not to argue about. That rut’s turning into a ditch.

    Here’s the deal: It’s not important whether or not you’re a soul-deep dyed-in-the-DNA misogynist. When you use “cunt” as an insult, you’re doing a pretty good imitation of one, and that’s what matters to anyone outside your own mind. What you ~are~ doesn’t matter much. What you do matters. It matters at the moment you’re doing it.

    If you do Good Deeds(tm) at the SPCA all day and then come home and kick the dog, why on earth would you be surprised when the dog yelps?

    If your SPCA colleagues catch you at it they just might start looking askance at you. So might a smart dog.

  189. #189 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    @ The Lady #169:

    Thanks for the insults (incidentally I am very far from morally superior or wilfully ignorant)! However, I think you have missed the points I was trying to make quite widely:

    1) Language evolves. The meanings and uses of words change, even to the point where one single word has different meanings very dependant on context.

    2) Obviously following from 1), unless one knows the context it is hard to impute motives to the user of a word.

    Other than that you actually make a very good point about the derivations of “cock” and “knob”, “penis” is a better example. My apologies for not being clear enough.

    Unfortunately you’ve badly missed my point re: the word “nigger”. I think you need to re-read what I wrote because I was in no way denying, nor would deny, the battle to have the use of such a word recognised as almost exclusively the province of racists.

    What I was (obviously badly) trying to allude to was this: has the word “nigger” ever been used for any other purpose? Answer: nope. I’ve never called a white person (or a black person for that matter!) who cut me up in traffic a “nigger”!

    The definition of the word has not evolved vastly beyond the original (now understood to be racist) meaning. It’s status as a modern pariah is not at issue, nor is the development of that pariah status.

    The claim of BSM’s that I am addressing is that “One can judge, in the absence of context, that use of word X always indicates intent Y”. My point about using the word “nigger” is that its definition and use have shifted so little that it is an example of a word that can almost be used in this manner. I wouldn’t argue that even the use of so comparatively simple a word like “nigger” could be so judged, but it’s closer than “cunt”.

    Next, I have frequently used the word “penis” as an insult, does that therefore make me misandrous? As I said, I don’t think that simple use alone indicates misandry.

    I’ll cheerfully grant that (for example) the etymology of the word “cunt” is less that fulsomely pleasant (as indeed is the etymology of many such words) but again that use HAS evolved like it or not. Cunt can indicate an incompetent, foolish or disagreeable person (usually with appropriate modifier), that it is still in use today as both insult and crude reference to female genitalia doesn’t defeat that fact, nor does its use automatically imply misogyny (any more than penis implies misandry).

    I would strongly agree that if a specific use of the word cunt, in context, implies that one is referring (as you mention) from the cunt itself to the whole woman, that this is misogynistic (but note no one here is doing or advocating this type of usage).

    Also note what you’ve done: you’ve brought in context and you’ve asserted again that because of its etymology the word remains fixed in an interpretation favourable to your claim. The fact that the meaning of the word has NOT remained entirely fixed defeats that last assertion. And the first part, referral to context, repeats my original point: Simple use of the word cunt, absent of context, cannot be used to imply misogyny. If it can, then you are a misogynist. You’ve used the word cunt. I can strip your posts of context (discussion of the use of the word cunt) and claim you are misogynist. I think you and I would both agree that this would be utterly ridiculous.

    Returning to cock and knob et al just for a moment, these words may well have originally derived from their perceived positive male aspects, but even if they did or didn’t it is again almost totally irrelevant. Their current usage does not always reflect that positivity, these can simply be slang, interchangeable uses for the word “penis”, less formalised versions.

    It’s this shifting meaning and evolution of language that defeats the argument that “use of the word cunt = misogyny”. Again I refer you to my example with the word gay. If I use the word “gay” am I always implying happiness? Obviously not. This depends on the context. It also depends on the shifting meaning of the word “gay”.

    Also, take the case of etymological innocence. If a six year old kid at school describes someone or something as “gay”, are the a homophobe? I’d argue that you cannot tell by that utterance alone. The kid has learned language from its environment it is POSSIBLE (by no means definite) that the kid thinks the word “gay” means “not very good”. Obviously in the absence of such innocence this doesn’t apply, but then this reinforces 50% of my point: context matters.

    Last thing: I know several women who use words like “cunt”, “twat” and “pussy” to describe their vaginas in positive senses. In the heat of passion for example. This can be complex (the negative/dirty connotations of these words can act as a turn on. I.e. turning a negative into a positive) or simple (the word pussy, has cute, fluffy implications for example). I’ll cheerfully grant btw that cunt and twat are harder to fit into that last example!

    To sum up, my disagreement was with BSM’s claim that the use of these words is ALWAYS indicative of misogyny on the part of the user. The simple fact that you, presumably a non-misogynist use these words in this discussion, proves my contention that it is NOT always the case. My point is not that therefore it is NEVER the case, that would be wrong, but that the ever shifting definitions of words and context in which they are used need to be carefully examined before we can make such a complex judgement.

    Even in the comparatively clear cut case of the word “nigger” its use is not always indicative of racism (see some rap, Chris rock etc). It might not always bee pleasant (in fact very rarely is) but one cannot simply impute motive from use in the absence of context as BSM claims.

    Please try to understand the ACTUAL points I’ve made rather than ones you’d like me to be making.

    Cheers

    Louis

  190. #190 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    Endor @ #177:

    I’d agree that modern usage does not negate original usage, nor did I say it did. What I AM saying is that because there are many usages (modern and original) one cannot immediately leap from usage to imputation of motives.

    I’m not defending using these words, I’m defending against the claim that the use of these words can be judged, in the absence of context, to be indicative of a specific motive or mindset. That’s a VERY different defence.

    Louis

  191. #191 hf
    March 13, 2009

    Islam is a religion of peace only when everybody follows it.

    That would rank with the stupidest things I have seen posted here in a long time.

    No, it seems reasonably close to the truth. None of them would kill infidels if no infidels existed. It still seems wrong, of course, because the guy in jail for blasphemy thought he was following Islam. He used quotes from the Koran to defend his position. Hence the blasphemy charge. He challenged the authority of the misogynistic assholes who interpret the Koran “for” the people of Afghanistan. Basically, you’ll never create a situation where religious fanatics agree that everyone follows their rules. They’ll just interpret the rules more strictly.

  192. #192 MikeyM
    March 13, 2009

    “@ #9:
    If science is a candle in the dark, as Mr. Sagan said, then Islam, along with its fellow religions, is a strong, noxious fart threatening to blow it out.”

    Unless the mullahs are members of the Order of the Blue Flame.

  193. #193 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    “You show the chain of logic that demonstrates the idea that being exposed to a non-privileged group enough allows one to empathise with them is privilege.”

    This makes no sense. No where did I say that being “exposed” to such a group there by allowing empathy is privilege. Denying their opinions and experiences in favor of your assumptions is privilege.

    “have you any idea why men call other men female organs?”

    Because of the belief that female organs are disgusting, etc.

    “Do you honestly not grasp the connotation?”

    The connotation is that being female, female organs, femaleness is a bad thing.

    “I admit that it is sexist, overt or not, but the insult is usually implying someone is timid, fragile, etc… things stereotypically associated with women. I fail how to see that it’s hateful in the least.”

    I’m at a loss how you could not see it. Being timid, fragile, etc are not – ever – male qualities? Assuming that they belong ONLY to women *isn’t* hateful?

    It’s simply astonishing to me how you’re not making the connection.

    “Is it not possible for someone to have qualities you don’t wish to emulate, especially because you’ve been culturally conditioned to think that you shouldn’t, without it being hatred? It falls more to traditional gender roles than anything else.”

    Ah, I think I’m starting to get it. Are you of the belief that hatred is only an active emotion? Is it not possible, in your opinion, to be apathetic in such a way as to be hateful?

    As I said above, these things don’t necessarily mean one is actively, consciously hating women (or POCs, or gays, etc). It means, at bare minimum, that one hasn’t critically examined the issue. Which, for the record, tends to be true in my experience.

    For example, my brother and his friends use “gay” to describe anything they don’t like. But do that actually hate gay people? No. That doesn’t mean they aren’t using hateful language, promoting hateful ideas or continuing bigotry.

  194. #194 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    “What I AM saying is that because there are many usages (modern and original) one cannot immediately leap from usage to imputation of motives.”

    To be clear: Does using such language automatically make one absolutely without a doubt a misogynist? No. However, it definitely communicates that it’s entirely possible that person is, or, at the very least, is unsympathetic and/or apathetic to misogyny.

    Women learn early and often that such language from a man more often than not comes from a man with a low view of women. it’s a dog whistle, if you will, to the women around him.

    If he doesn’t have that low view, but uses the words anyway, he’s likely not thought very hard about it. Or, has dismissed the views of women explaining what is it offensive and has, instead, chosen his privilege.

    This doesn’t make him a “bad” person – it makes him privileged.

    Ms. Sullivan :

    “One more man telling us what not to argue about. That rut’s turning into a ditch.”

    It never ceases to amaze me how routinely the connection is not made. If you think something isn’t offensive, while among people who are telling you it is and why, how does one fail to take that into account or consider it, even for a moment? I don’t get it.

  195. #195 IST
    March 13, 2009

    Endor> The last bits of your response actually put it in perspective, and those I agree with. Yes, I see hatred as an active emotion… apathy can be harmful, or offensive, insulting, etc… but I don’t view it as hateful because I view hatred as having intent. Thus our difference of opinion on that matter.

    “You are entitled to think that it isn’t possible to know what it’s like to belong to group x because you aren’t part of that group.. I don’t agree, and I can leave it at that.”

    That’s privilege. And i can leave it at that.

    SO you weren’t implying that it’s privilege to think you can identify/empathise with a group to which you don’t belong? Even taking into account their opinions and experiences? It certainly reads that way. Perhaps adding your qualifier in the first place might have prevented your thought from being misconstrued, or made it make sense in the first place.

  196. #196 Matt
    March 13, 2009

    the aggressive and dominating nature of a cock, the erect and firm aspects of a knob.

    You’re arguing that a knob is positive? Really? How the hell do you even come to this conclusion? Oh right, it supports your argument. Well, here’s how easy it is: A cock is an annoying, loud bird, hated by all, a knob a disgusting protrusion that causes pain when you accidentally bump into it.

    A cunt, on the other hand, is from the Latin cunnus, meaning valley. The open nature suggests a protective, spiritual quality that shelters those within it.

    All of it BS, leading away from the simple fact that all of the words mentioned are insults in English today. No one cares about the etymology, and it simply isn’t taken into account when these words are used as insults.

    Trying to make arguments about the goodness or evilness of what the words were based on is patently ridiculous, since we have but to see how they are used now to discount this argument. If cock has such a positive meaning, why is it used as an insult? When a person exclaims that someone else is a total dick, they are demeaning them, regardless of your weird linguistic contortions. Same with all of those words. To try to twist around and have it both ways is simply dishonest.

    It isn’t a good thing that we use body parts as insults, but neither is it one-sided, or inherently evil.

  197. #197 Matt
    March 13, 2009

    >>>No, it seems reasonably close to the truth. None of them would kill infidels if no infidels existed.

    hf, have sunni and shia ever killed one another?

  198. #198 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    There surely aren’t many boards where one finds the taboo words “cunt” and “nigger” as part of an intelligent, educated debate and not a racist hate-fest.
    But btw PZ doesn’t like either.
    Even in quotes? Hmmmm…just be careful.
    Sorry.
    Carry on.

  199. #199 Endor
    March 13, 2009

    “No one cares about the etymology, and it simply isn’t taken into account when these words are used as insults.”

    So, are you saying that men who insult other men with references to female genitalia aren’t doing it because of the sexist background of the insult?

    It is specifically because of the negative connotations of such words that they are effective insults. I’d be willing to bet that a man would prefer being called a dick over being called a pussy.

    And for the record, (collectively speaking) feminists don’t tolerate the use of “dick”, “prick”, etc. for the same reason.

    +++

    Endor> “Yes, I see hatred as an active emotion… apathy can be harmful, or offensive, insulting, etc… but I don’t view it as hateful because I view hatred as having intent. Thus our difference of opinion on that matter.”

    I am grasping this difference now. I’m glad we could unearth it.

    I can see how intent would change the degree of hatefulnees, but apathy (imo) is a form of hatefulness. Considering some one or thing unworthy of attention, or not taking notice of it for whatever reason, contributes to a given problem. I.e. ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Silence can be complicity.

    “You are entitled to think that it isn’t possible to know what it’s like to belong to group x because you aren’t part of that group.. I don’t agree, and I can leave it at that.”

    “SO you weren’t implying that it’s privilege to think you can identify/empathise with a group to which you don’t belong?”

    No, that’s not privilege. Experience, familiarity, etc are the cure for privilege.

    If you assumed that your opinion/ideas, etc. were more correct or valid than theirs based on that, then yes, that could be an example of privilege.

    “Perhaps adding your qualifier in the first place might have prevented your thought from being misconstrued, or made it make sense in the first place.”

    Duly noted. I forget far to easily that not all people I converse with are feminists or familiar with its concepts. I do tend to leave out caveats that would explain myself better.

  200. #200 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    Endor @ #194

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    Using the word “cunt” to describe an undesirable person does not indicate a choice of privilege. The word is simply too versatile in meaning, it has evolved too far from its original meaning, for this to be simply the case. Context MIGHT allow this judgement to correctly be made, but it doesn’t automatically follow.

    Cultural values also apply. For example, I heard disgusting people of my acquaintance refer to women as “cunts” when I lived in the USA, i.e. sex objects, nothing more than their genitals. I’ve very very rarely heard that specific use in the UK where the word is more usually used to indicate an extremely undesirable person (of either sex) when being used as a pejorative. The point being that a person in the UK might use the word one way, never thinking about another possible (international) use because they hadn’t been exposed to it. I’m not making excuses for uses, just demonstrating AGAIN that context is relevant BEFORE such judgements can be made. You, The Lady, BSM etc are trying to have use in the absence of context be damning. That I cannot agree with.

    AnthonyK @ #198:

    Your concern is noted. Are you new around here or what? ;-)

    ARGH ONLY JOKING!!!! DON’T KILL ME!!! Just tweaking your nose after you accused me of the same thing a few threads back. If we cannot take the piss out of each other what have we got?

    Louis

  201. #201 AJ Milne
    March 13, 2009

    I’ve always regarded the misogyny that lurks in a lot of religions as something of a utilitarian thing. You can catch something quite similiar in action in the Hindu caste system, too, if you’re looking for a nice, parallel illustration of the principle at work.

    Both are variants on the same simple technique of divide and conquer which any successful ruler, petty or grand, must grasp. If you’re trying to maintain power, it’s awfully helpful if those you’re ruling see some benefit in the current order, and weigh this against the cost of revolt. So: tell men the deal is: some deity put me in power over the barons, the barons get power over your local lord, your local lord gets power over you, and you get power over your household, and this gives you allies in each and every household who see some benefit in upholding that system. It’s entirely necessary if you’re going to run a largeish empire in the absence of modern communications and transportation systems, and awfully helpful with or without those…

    Post-enlightenment, it’s broken down a bit, but only so much. Democracy has slowly spread downward from landowning men to all those over eighteen or what have you, after the barons were the first to get sick of the deal and try to negotiate a new one.

    Successful religions were always good at working themselves into this. They provided justification, obviously, top to bottom. But they can and must evolve, and they are doing so now as they always did: trying now to insinuate themselves into the bases of contemporary democratic systems. Now the line is those inalienable rights we all agreed upon came from the deity…

    But it’s all a power game. Where there is utility for a religion to assert that women have equal rights, they do so. Where there is utility in propping up inequality, they do that just as happily.

    This is one of many essential problems with religion: contrary to the claims of its apologists, it is and always has been shamelessly amoral. It does what it must to survive, and will throw any principle under the bus to do so. And as a structure which can only survive by eroding any intrinisic human talent for reason, it also has tremendous latitude to do just that.

    And the truth is: it’s always been BS. Those ‘inalienable rights’ don’t come from any such place as they claim, and the truth is, they’re only so ‘inalienable’ as we manage to make them by the sweat of our brows. Universal human rights go so far as humans are universally willing to assert them, and are products of sweat, blood, and tears, gunshot wounds, and protestors with placards, eloquent lawyers and determined people of principle who have suffered and died to uphold them.

    And therein you find the true dramas of our age. Dramas that never had anything to do with gods.

    It is beyond profane that religions seek now to claim them.

  202. #202 Betul
    March 13, 2009

    Endor (#179) did you even read what I write?? I am an atheist, and really people like you make me wanna fight for religion. Read, more and more carefully and in multiple times if you don’t understand at first time.

  203. #203 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Louis…louis….come to me. I understand, and I forgive. I won’t hurt you – I wouldn’t hurt a fly.
    I might call it a shit-sucking, wall-eyed piece of spider vomit though.

  204. #204 Trip the Space Parasite
    March 13, 2009

    Endor @ #199:

    So, are you saying that men who insult other men with references to female genitalia aren’t doing it because of the sexist background of the insult?

    I suspect that they’re mostly doing it because when they were prepubescent boys trying to be cool, they heard the big boys use it as an insult. They probably rarely make the connection consciously, or at all. (I wonder what the common term for actual female genitalia is in areas where “cunt” is an insult? Is it “cunt”, or something else?)

    Which is to say, I think they’re probably mostly using the vast stockpile of sexism that society has built up for them, not mining their own.

  205. #205 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Walton:

    The only answer is to completely destroy the power of centralised governments. No man should have the power of life and death over another. Government’s role should be to protect citizens from force and fraud by others, maintain basic infrastructure, and defend the borders. It should have no power to interfere with people’s religious, political or economic choices.

    Ever the libertarian idealist. The problem with your reasoning is that in order to afford the government the ability to protect citizens physically, you’ll eventually have to vest in them the power over those attempting to harm the public, and in some cases that means they will inevitable be forced to make a life-or-death decision. In order for the government to protect both the public and the nation’s economy as a whole from fraud, you are forced to vest within the government the power of regulation over the financial markets. If this financial meltdown has not at least taught you that much, you haven’t been paying much attention.

    In short, centralized government must have some modicum of regulatory power and influence over the financial, law enforcement, and most other internal systems of a nation, or they won’t even be able to perform the narrow tasks you outlined, much less the rest of the functions that they are charged with carrying out.

  206. #206 endor
    March 13, 2009

    “Using the word “cunt” to describe an undesirable person does not indicate a choice of privilege. ”

    Assuming one still does so even after being told how and why it’s offensive and bigotted to women, yes it does. It means that person chooses to ignore the people such things directly affect in favor of their own opinion.

    “The word is simply too versatile in meaning, it has evolved too far from its original meaning, for this to be simply the case.”

    Louis, this is a fantasy. The word is used simply because of the belief that female genitalia is “bad”, therefore comparing a man to such is a REALLY effective insult. That it “evolves” to take on additional meanings – if that’s even true – that doesn’t mitigate the bigotry.

    The word “fuck” is used in every possible manner and yet no one claims that, based on that, it ceases to be a slang term for sexual intercourse.

    “Context MIGHT allow this judgement to correctly be made, but it doesn’t automatically follow.”

    Which is what I said. However, as I also said, women hear that word like a dog whistle – it indicates the likelihood of the speaker to be a sexist or, at the very least, to be unperceptive. Fans of the word may not want this to be true, but that doesn’t change the reality.

    “The point being that a person in the UK might use the word one way, never thinking about another possible (international) use because they hadn’t been exposed to it.”

    I can accept that the misogynistic connotation might not be what a UK speaker might think of firstly or solely, but, once again, that does nothing to mitigate the bigotry inherent in the word.

    that said, i wonder what a woman from the UK would say about it.

    For example, in my part of the world I’ve met many white people who use the word “A-rab” to describe those of Middle Eastern extraction or heritage. They don’t intend it to be insulting, and will say such when told that it is, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is offensive.

    “I’m not making excuses for uses, just demonstrating AGAIN that context is relevant BEFORE such judgements can be made. You, The Lady, BSM etc are trying to have use in the absence of context be damning. That I cannot agree with.”

    I understand you’re not making excuses. However, what you are repeatedly ignoring is that as women we’ve got the experience to make such a judgment. I’ve stated several times now that the use of the word doesn’t automatically mean the user is a bigot. But it’s pretty likely that if not just a flat out bigot, he’s clueless of the offense or apathetic to it – neither which is much of an improvement.

    The word is used against us as an insult, used to belittle other men by equating them with something strictly female thereby serving to buoy the sexism inherent in it. Neither you nor any man in the UK who uses it for whatever reason has to admit that – such is your privilege – but if one’s true desire is to lessen the damage privilege can do, I fail to see what’s to be gained by ignoring the reality of it.

  207. #207 Endorq
    March 13, 2009

    “Which is to say, I think they’re probably mostly using the vast stockpile of sexism that society has built up for them, not mining their own.”

    I absolutely agree. It is frequently the result of what one’s learned and raised with. So, if one is aware of that and is of the mind to fight for equality, what’s the point in continuing its usage?

    (which is not to say Louis, et al, DO use it. However a good to many progressive minded people do, which makes no sense).

  208. #208 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Hey I just found out what Libertarianism is!
    Yeah, apparently there was this etiolated, rich, intellectual bint, called Ayn Rand, who wrote an unreadable 1000 page novel called “Atlas Shrugged” which invented a world in which all the thinkers weren’t nearly rich enough, so they all fucked off, then society, like, disintegrated because of the twat shortage, and it serves us all right for just trying to do the best for everyone in society rather than giving Onan’s favourite sons exactly what they want all the time – and their moans are what we call “Libertarianism”!
    Awesome!
    Or did I get that wrong?

  209. #209 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    “I admit that it is sexist, overt or not, but the insult is usually implying someone is timid, fragile, etc… things stereotypically associated with women. I fail how to see that it’s hateful in the least.”

    I’m at a loss how you could not see it. Being timid, fragile, etc are not – ever – male qualities? Assuming that they belong ONLY to women *isn’t* hateful?

    It’s simply astonishing to me how you’re not making the connection.

    Now, Endor, I think you do know. People have a vested interest in not acknowledging themselves as having internalized sexism. It’s an uncomfortable thought, hence Matt’s reactions, etc.

  210. #210 Daniel
    March 13, 2009

    Remember religion never hurt anyone.

  211. #211 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    No one cares about the etymology, and it simply isn’t taken into account when these words are used as insults.

    This is an empirical claim which can be measured. A study could be done to gauge whether terms like “bitch” and “cunt” are more often applied to women than men, and more often applied to men acting in ways perceived as female than to men in general.

    Anyone speaking honestly here, though, already knows from personal life experience what the results would be.

  212. #212 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    AnthonyK:

    Shit sucking, wall eyed piece of spider vomit? Good work.

    You can has cheezburger!

    Louis

  213. #213 PZ=IRRATIONAL IDEALOGUE
    March 13, 2009

    Really PZ? REALLY?

    Here we have another example of the swirling black hole nature of PZ’s reasoning. He asserts, without argument, that Islam hates women. And in his desperation to convince his gullible readers that this assertion is true, he then quotes at length an article about Islamic fundamentalists (against whom moderates are protesting!) acting immorally.

    Notice his fallacious leap from (i) a particular subset of Muslims hating womyn to (b) Islam in general hating womyn. Readers, can you please drop your allegiance to this man for just two seconds and actually scrutinize the things you are being asked to believe? Are you too far gone to notice the irrationality here? Since when do atheists — free thinkers — accept oversimplistic soundbites and intellectually careless generalizations of the sort PZ has proffered?

    On March 21st, from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., there will be thousands of feminist and progressive Muslims (or in PZ’s language: thousands of dirty women-hating non-atheists!) hitting the streets to protest against the wars and against economic injustice. Yet, PZ in his air-conditioned office has the nerve to heap scorn on Islam as a general religion and accuse it of “hating women”? So, for example, Malcolm X and the millions of Muslims who are protesting for the rights of those in Gaza — they’re all dirty womyn-haters, PZ?

  214. #214 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    Anyway, props to TheLady, Ron Sullivan and especially Endor for making heaps of sense. It’s always refreshing to find sanity in a thread that could have otherwise gone so horribly off the rails.

  215. #215 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Shit fucking moron alert!
    Shit fucking moron alert!

  216. #216 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    He asserts, without argument, that Islam hates women.

    It would help if you actually read more than the title of the post. Really.

  217. #217 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Aplogies that should have read “shit-fucking”. Twice.
    It’s OK. Sigh. I’ll get the mop and bucket and be right back.
    Now….

  218. #218 Brownian
    March 13, 2009

    So, for example, Malcolm X and the millions of Muslims who are protesting for the rights of those in Gaza — they’re all dirty womyn-haters, PZ?

    Don’t be dense; they aren’t True Muslims™.

  219. #219 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight,

    People have a vested interest in not acknowledging themselves as having internalized sexism. It’s an uncomfortable thought, hence Matt’s reactions, etc.

    And what if some of us have no problem considering, acknowledging, even exposing and destroying our internalised sexism but just don’t agree with the illogical and counterfactual twist BSM, The Lady, Endor etc have put on language. The fact that something COULD be sexist does not mean that it IS.

    No one has yet dealt with my points re: evolving/multiple definitions, context dependency and pejorative comments involving male genitals not being misandrous (to name but a few).

    I’m happy with equality, I’m happy with much of feminist thought that I’ve read, I’m severely unhappy with nonsense being promoted as fact. I can find you examples of people using the word “nigger” that are demonstrably not racist, no matter how one contorts or distances the word racist. I can find you people using the word “cunt” that are demonstrably not sexist or misogynist, again, no matter what distortions attempted.

    The etymology, history of usage are all important factors in the development of a word (find one time when I’ve denied this) but when words have so vast, multifaceted and complex a series of potential uses as does “cunt” or “twat” etc then demanding that the simple fact of the word being used is enough to determine a person’s misogyny is utterly nonsensical. Pick the most feminist feminist you like, pick the extreme Andrea Dworkin is a total wet nappy feminist you can find, if that person has ever used the word “cunt” then by this ridiculous standard THEY are a misogynist! Doesn’t insertion of just a fractional shade of grey cast some doubt on the absolutist claim?

    Louis

  220. #220 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    On March 21st, from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., there will be thousands of feminist and progressive Muslims (or in PZ’s language: thousands of dirty women-hating non-atheists!) hitting the streets to protest against the wars and against economic injustice.

    That’s pretty great! Let me know when they get Surah 2:282 amended, and then I’ll take seriously the idea that Islam does not hate women.

  221. #221 pz=ii
    March 13, 2009

    Broken Soldier,

    Perhaps you’d like to quote where PZ offered a logical argument (specifying which rule of inference he used) for that assertion?

    I read the whole post and found nothing but an article about Islamic fundamentalists, not Islam.

    Also, perhaps you’d like to come down to LA on the 21st and announce that all the feminist and progressive Islamic protesters are actually “women haters” because a guy on a blog in MN said so? I’m sure they’d be interested…

  222. #222 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Louis:

    I can find you examples of people using the word “n*****” that are demonstrably not racist, no matter how one contorts or distances the word racist.

    (Sorry for the edit, but there are some things I just don’t care to look at.)

    You show me an example of the above, and I’ll show you an example of someone ignoring the racist import in a statement.

  223. #223 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    if that person has ever used the word “cunt” then by this ridiculous standard THEY are a misogynist!

    Louis, Endor already said:

    Something else frequently misunderstood – the use of the word doesn’t mean one is automatically misogynistic, it means one has internalized sexism. We all have – we are a patriarchal society.

    So when you apologize for misrepresenting her, I’ll take you seriously.

  224. #224 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Perhaps you’d like to quote where PZ offered a logical argument (specifying which rule of inference he used) for that assertion?

    In this case, the story provides all the evidence that is needed. Namely, the simple fact that advocating for womens’ rights equates to either a death penalty or a 20-year jail sentence under Islamic law. (And don’t go for the No True Muslim fallacy either – these judges are adhereing to strict Quranic edict.) If you require any further evidence, you are indeed a lost cause.

  225. #225 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight,

    Oh and before I forget: no one but you mentioned “bitch”. As for “cunt”, in the UK at least the word is most often used pejoratively by men at men. It is an expression of displeasure or contempt for an idiotic person, in this CONTEXT it has nothing to do with women’s genitals it is a shock word, used to offend and nothing more. It is very rarely used as a descriptor for a woman, perhaps for a woman’s genitals, and that isn’t always nice (imagine scenarios where it is positive by yourself!).

    Just what the fuck do you think people are arguing FOR here? That women can be referred to as bitches and cunts without that being sexist? Because if you think that’s what I (or anyone else on this thread) are advocating then you are seriously out of line.

    BMS made a claim back in post #159

    If you call adult women “girls” you hate women.

    If you use insults such as “twat,” “cunt,” “pussy,” etc., you hate women, your protestations aside.

    This is essentially the claim that “if you use word X you can be judged, in the absence of context, to be Y”. It is THAT claim which I am disagreeing with. Not that if you refer to women as bitches you are some how a paragon tolerance an equality.

    Fuck me, it would be nice if people read for some basic comprehension.

    Louis

  226. #226 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    Louis, Endor already said:

    Something else frequently misunderstood – the use of the word doesn’t mean one is automatically misogynistic, it means one has internalized sexism. We all have – we are a patriarchal society.

    So when you apologize for misrepresenting her, I’ll take you seriously.

  227. #227 pz=ii
    March 13, 2009

    JFK,

    Let me know when you’ve bothered to at least superficially inform yourself.

    And then I’ll take seriously the idea that your comments have any intellectual merit.

  228. #228 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Yeah, this one’s a shouty one. I think it’s the same as pz’sfuckingwithmyhead or some such who went on and on about sheep. Doesn’t matter. Same pot’o'shite, different chromosomes – some of them probably just waiting to be matched to an ancient case.
    I did a reasonably detailed analysis of this sad collection of misfiring neurons a while ago, or another of his slimy siblings, but really the individuals with this sort of violent derangement are all much the same.
    There is, at base, yes, self-loathing (justified, which is the worst kind of self-loathing) but also extreme sexual dysfunction – almost certainly with an innate mother-son incest fantasy, or reality, producing some of the symptoms we see here.
    However, things are yet unsure, and there is much more to say about his sexuality, among other things.
    So – hello Mr PZII, if I may call you that.
    We understand you have come here for help, and it is possible you can get it.
    So first, two simple questions, found to be most appropriate in cases such as yours:
    Were you a late bed-wetter, say 15 or 16, and if so, were you beaten for it?
    Simple questions, simple answers.
    But unless you can answer them honestly, I fear your visit here will be useless.

  229. #229 Matt
    March 13, 2009

    So, are you saying that men who insult other men with references to female genitalia aren’t doing it because of the sexist background of the insult?

    No.

    They probably do, just like comparing someone to male genitalia is trying to associate them with perceived ills of being male. I disagree with the dishonest twist to try to make insults pertaining to maleness somehow a hidden compliment.

    For example:

    A cock is a male chicken. A knob is the handle on your kitchen cabinet door. Both sexual meanings of those words derive from the association of maleness with their positive aspects – the aggressive and dominating nature of a cock, the erect and firm aspects of a knob.

    The word cunt on the other hand derives from the Latin “cunnus”, meaning “slit”, and was a sleazy euphemism for female genitalia for the entirety of its existence. It has, and never did have, any other semantic importance other than to serve as a derogatory reference to the intimate body parts of women.

    I have never in the entirety of my life heard someone called a word referring to a phallus as a compliment. And trying to go through the word’s past, and dig up meanings that have no relevance today in order to justify one’s argument wont change this.

    It’s an uncomfortable thought, hence Matt’s reactions, etc.

    My reactions were exclusively to a strange argument that tried to have it both ways, so please don’t tar me with that brush.

    If it explains where I am coming from, I understand that there are cases where double standards exist, and that they generally work out in the favor of men, like saying someone having ‘balls’ is taken as a synonym for courage. I don’t argue this. But making a rooster or a knob a positive thing, or a valley a negative one, is bizarre. You have to look at what the current usage is, and the context it is said in.

  230. #230 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    pz=ii,

    your link is broken. html is buggy here. Try just pasting the url without an “a” tag.

  231. #231 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    JFK,

    I haven’t misrepresented Endor, I was accurately representing BMS.

    I suggest you read around the quote you snip from context and see what I am actually arguing FOR and why the diversions that people like Endor have brought up are irrelevant to what I’ve actually said.

    brokenSoldier OM,

    Chris Rock in his sketch about the difference between black people and niggers. Bear in mind I am a) not advocating that sketch as a racial viewpoint I share or don’t share, or b) advocating it as any other kind of viewpoint I share or don’t share (it’s horribly classist IMO for example). Chris Rock isn’t ignoring the racist import in that word, he’s playing to it.

    I think people are confused about what I have been arguing. I’ll say it again, shorter and simpler: Simple use of a specific word is not, in the absence of context, sufficient ground to judge intent or motivation on anyone’s part. The evolving and multiple definitions and possible uses of words make it impossible to accurately do this, as does ignorance of context. A word only means something in terms, and in context, with other words. It is a creature of its verbal environment.

    Louis

  232. #232 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Or possibly your first sexual experience with living flesh, if you’ve had one.
    But seriously, we need to talk.

  233. #233 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    If you need to talk, make the sign, and someone will unzip you.

  234. #234 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    Matt, I was referring specifically to this statement of yours:

    All of it BS, leading away from the simple fact that all of the words mentioned are insults in English today. No one cares about the etymology, and it simply isn’t taken into account when these words are used as insults.

    referring to both anti-woman and anti-man insults. Of course the etymology does matter. And I’m with Endor, who already said

    And for the record, (collectively speaking) feminists don’t tolerate the use of “dick”, “prick”, etc. for the same reason.

  235. #235 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    I’d also like to echo Matt’s comments re: inherent inequalities, both linguistic and social.

    Yes there is vastly too much pejorative language which has demonstrably female overtones. Yes there is vastly too much positive language that has demonstrably male overtones. Yes a genuine, pervasive and pernicious (and hopefully eminently correctable) inequality exists. I even agree that consciousness raising language is a good way to do this, and I equally agree that all of us, myself very much included, can be, often are, unwitting collaborators in these inequalities. It costs me nothing to admit to the truth.

    However, I think there are good, logically valid ways to erase these inequalities and double standards that don’t rely on special pleading and cherry picking usages and definitions to suit claims of persecution. Where these claims of persecution are correct, and the logic behind the claimed usage is correct, then these referrals to linguistics reinforce the point nicely, however where they aren’t they are rendered ridiculous and damage the case being made (tragically).

    Louis

  236. #236 Sven DiMilo
    March 13, 2009

    html is buggy here

    Nah. Tag-typos. GIGO. Preview.

  237. #237 pz=ii
    March 13, 2009

    Broken Soldier

    … the simple fact that advocating for womens’ rights equates to either a death penalty or a 20-year jail sentence under Islamic law…

    A. You were asked to provide a logical argument. You failed.

    B. The article refers to “Islamic fundamentalists”, not (as you mistakenly put it) “Islamic law”. Far from it, the report indicates that moderates were protesting.

    Whether those guilty are “true” Muslims is not a response to the fact that there are thousands of progressive, feminist Muslims. The latter constitutes empirical refutation of PZ’s pathetic generalizations and soundbites.

  238. #238 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    http://www.google.com/search?q=“be+a+dick+than+a+pussy” Results 1 – 10 of about 177 for “be a dick than a pussy”. (0.09 seconds)

    http://www.google.com/search?q=“be+a+pussy+than+a+dick” Results 1 – 8 of 8 for “be a pussy than a dick”. (0.07 seconds)

    Apparently it is 22 times worse to be a pussy than a dick.

    Note: not a double blind study. :)

  239. #239 Louis
    March 13, 2009

    JFK,

    AH! Good, thanks for reminding me. My bad I forgot to comment on that bit by Endor.

    If feminists do that (and in my experience some do, some don’t) then that’s great. That at least erases the charge of hypocrisy.

    As for the rest….?

    Louis

  240. #240 Kausik Datta
    March 13, 2009

    I have often wondered: Is it, or can it ever, be possible to strip the so-called taboo words of their power to hurt, and insult?

    Some of these words have historical impact (the ‘N’ word), some are puerile attempts at insults by comparison to lower body parts (that are usually kept covered and are almost universally cultural taboos), and some are attempted insults by comparison to other species (that some consider ‘lower’; example, the ‘B’ word).

    What if people suddenly refused to accept these words as anything other than what they are, mere words? What if we stopped accepting them as insults, thereby removing the power of those words?

    A lot depends on context. Even the despicable ‘N’ word becomes acceptable from another Black American who is a buddy, or a Black American rapper, or an established comedian of any color, isn’t that correct?

    Therefore, if it were (ever) possible to reduce these offensive words to mere arrangements of letters accompanying a sound, if they could be robbed of their power to hurt, would there not ensue – at least theoretically – peace of mind?

    An example exists. In British Colonial India, the word “Native” used to be the “N” word, generally used by the uppity white Englishman as a crushing insult. Now it may – just may – induce a crushing ennui, having been robbed of its power by history.

    I am an Indian, but on several occasions, I have been called ‘Paki’ by several young Americans (Gasp! Who knew!) seated in big SUVs or pickup trucks. My response has always been, like, “Dude! Grow up… This is the twenty-first century.”

    Name-calling, while hurtful and insulting, is a childish and impotent pre-occupation at best. Ignorance and apathy are the best antidotes, IMO.

  241. #241 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    C’mon PZII – I don’t bite.
    Just tell us what’s on your “mind”.
    And how it got there.

  242. #242 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    I haven’t misrepresented Endor, I was accurately representing BMS.

    Louis, you said:

    And what if some of us have no problem considering, acknowledging, even exposing and destroying our internalised sexism but just don’t agree with the illogical and counterfactual twist BSM, The Lady, Endor etc have put on language.

    You were implicating Endor. That is why I believed you owed her an apology, still not forthcoming, for identifying her with an argument she did not make.

    I suggest you read around the quote you snip from context and see what I am actually arguing FOR and why the diversions that people like Endor have brought up are irrelevant to what I’ve actually said.

    Maybe you could consider that not everyone here is obsessed with your complaints about BMS@159. Endor, I believe, has already indicated that she doesn’t exactly agree with the blanket statement ‘If you use insults such as “twat,” “cunt,” “pussy,” etc., you hate women, your protestations aside.’ Neither do I. Rather, we would like to bring up a modified form of that argument, which you have also continually dismissed or ignored, like so:

    No one has yet dealt with my points re: evolving/multiple definitions,

    Louis, this is a fantasy. The word is used simply because of the belief that female genitalia is “bad”, therefore comparing a man to such is a REALLY effective insult. That it “evolves” to take on additional meanings – if that’s even true – that doesn’t mitigate the bigotry.

    The word “fuck” is used in every possible manner and yet no one claims that, based on that, it ceases to be a slang term for sexual intercourse.

    context dependency

    As I said above, these things don’t necessarily mean one is actively, consciously hating women (or POCs, or gays, etc). It means, at bare minimum, that one hasn’t critically examined the issue. Which, for the record, tends to be true in my experience.

    For example, my brother and his friends use “gay” to describe anything they don’t like. But do that actually hate gay people? No. That doesn’t mean they aren’t using hateful language, promoting hateful ideas or continuing bigotry. …

    “Using the word “cunt” to describe an undesirable person does not indicate a choice of privilege. ”

    Assuming one still does so even after being told how and why it’s offensive and bigotted to women, yes it does. It means that person chooses to ignore the people such things directly affect in favor of their own opinion.

    and pejorative comments involving male genitals not being misandrous (to name but a few).

    And for the record, (collectively speaking) feminists don’t tolerate the use of “dick”, “prick”, etc. for the same reason.

    Everything you’ve asked to have addressed has been addressed. Except for the last, you’re ignoring the answers. Perhaps you just don’t like them.

  243. #243 windy
    March 13, 2009

    If you call adult women “girls” you hate women.

    So a woman who uses the phrase “girls’ night out” hates women?

  244. #244 Bckcntry
    March 13, 2009

    Oh, AnthonyK. You’re such a dick.

  245. #245 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    What if people suddenly refused to accept these words as anything other than what they are, mere words? What if we stopped accepting them as insults, thereby removing the power of those words?

    Perhaps you misunderstand the complaint.

    When someone calls me a faggot, it does not hurt my feelings. That is not what I’m concerned with.

    What concerns me is this person’s internal state, why they hate me for being queer, or why they think that “faggot” ought to be an insult, or what else they might do to infringe upon my liberty or safety.

    It is not the word itself that concerns me. But the word is a symptom of something else, and whatever that is might be a danger to me. To the extent that the word has power, it has power because it means “I mean you harm.” And it would be a mistake to wrest the sentence “I mean you harm” of all its power; it is a threat, and it is a fool who does not take any threats seriously.

  246. #246 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Oh, AnthonyK. You’re such a dick.

    Why thank you kind sir. In my younger day I was famed for it. By the way “Willy” says, could you give him a hand? Again.

  247. #247 Facilis
    March 13, 2009

    @Sastra
    the problem is not that they do not have objective morality.The problem is that their morality is objectively wrong .

  248. #248 Facilis
    March 13, 2009

    I say we send a couple bibles to Afganistan to end this debate about women.

    Galatians 3:8
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    1 Corinthians 11:11-12
    In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

  249. #249 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Hello facilis – looking good today! Out on a date?
    Oh. Well could you take your mirror to another blog?
    Thanks ;)

  250. #250 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 13, 2009

    the problem is not that they do not have objective morality.The problem is that their morality is objectively wrong .

    Facilis the Fallacious Fool. They get their morality from the same place you do. From their concept of god, and their holy book. So, they have the same claim to morality you do (your god and holy book). And supposedly it is the same god. You are a real dunderhead not to acknowledge that fact.

  251. #251 Erasmus
    March 13, 2009

    That psychopath “JFK” seems to have diluted himself a bit in this thread. He told me that I deserve to die “cold and alone” simply because I wrote a throw-away post in which I said repeated unnecessary swearing “comes off” as “trailer-trash”.

    My type deserve to “shiver to death in an alley”, according to him. I regret not asking him in the other thread: Do you think we also deserve to be rounded up in concentration camps and methodically executed by the hundreds in gas showers? If not, it’s hard to see why not.

  252. #252 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis, are your bible quotes are meaningless to both muslims and atheists. I thought you know that by now. Another fail for the fool. Also, possessors of the bible in many muslim countries are liable to be executed, so sending stuff willy-nilly is stupid.

  253. #253 Wowbagger, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Nerd wrote:

    Facilis the Fallacious Fool. They get their morality from the same place you do. From their concept of god, and their holy book. So, they have the same claim to morality you do (your god and holy book). And supposedly it is the same god. You are a real dunderhead not to acknowledge that fact.

    Spot on, dude.

    Facilis, since you’ve got exactly the same basis for your beliefs as they do for theirs you embarrass yourself when you criticise them.

    Fortunately, your belief system has – to an extent at least – been dragged, kicking and screaming, into modernity by the forces of secular liberalism. We can only hope that this will happen to Islam as well; the sooner, the better.

  254. #254 Sastra
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis #247 wrote:

    the problem is not that they do not have objective morality.The problem is that their morality is objectively wrong .

    I think the real problem is that their ‘objective morality’ is based on the will of God.

    Not on what’s fair or kind or reasonable to human beings, but on the will of God, which bends to nothing.

    This means that, in order for us to tell them they’re wrong, we have to tell them that their belief in God is wrong. They have the wrong God. They have a false God.

    It’s problematic. What do we do when people are so certain that they are right about God — when it’s such a basic belief to them, like the air they breath and the sun up in the sky — that telling them they are wrong about God is like telling them they are wrong about the air, or the sun? How can we argue that they ought to consider the issue of religion the same way they consider science or politics or something that they might be wrong about?

    I think they need to be encouraged to doubt themselves, and their ability to “know” religious truths with such conviction. They ought instead to approach their belief in God as if it were a hypothesis, and not a fundamental certainty. Otherwise, there would be no getting through to these people — whether we were trying to convince them to be reasonable, or just trying to convince them to believe in a more reasonable God.

    What do you think?

  255. #255 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    Oh for Odin’s sake, Erasmus, didn’t you say like four or five times now that you were leaving Pharyngula?

    You savagely attacked an individual who I know peripherally and respect. I responded in kind.

    Will it assuage your fee-fees to know that I don’t seriously wish you anything more than embarrassment? Will you then please, please fuck off like you promised you would?

  256. #256 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    My type

    Pheno- or geno-
    And what is the difference?
    (I’m not getting involved, just being silly)

  257. #257 Neil
    March 13, 2009

    All it takes is one whining, hyperventilating self-righteous idiot…

    If you call adult women “girls” you hate women.

    If you use insults such as “twat,” “cunt,” “pussy,” etc., you hate women, your protestations aside.

    And they’re off to the races…

    Almost a hundred comments later, and all I’ve learned is what I always learn when threads go down this road…the self-appointed guardians of tolerance and understanding on the Left can be almost as irrational, blinkered, overly senstive, and intolerant as the defenders of caveman morality on the right.(Almost.) I have to wonder if BMS was serious, or just stirring some shit…

    I guess it must be my internalized sexism. Damn patriarchy! It’s in my brain!!!!Get out of my BRAAAAIN!!!!

    Excuse me.

    At any rate, I think that the comment I quoted was way over the top and outside of reality, and I think that both Louis and Matt have made a point or two that have been ignored or misconstrued.
    Getting angry and making huge judgements about people based on the use of single slang words that you find objectionable may feel all nice and righteous, but it only makes one seem like a stupid cu…,uh, a stupid dic…
    oh, fuck it… PC language police just get on my nerves. People are literally dying for equality, and this is all you can whine about.

    One last thing…for you, BMS, if you’re there and not a troll-

    your protestations aside

    Said before anyone could even protest…words of a brain-dead, dipshit dogmatist if ever there were.

  258. #258 Erasmus
    March 13, 2009

    Sorry, I don’t recall that I “promised” anything. Unless the owner of this blog intervenes, I’ll stay around as long as I like and post whenever I feel like.

    And it is of course nonsense to say that I “savagely attacked” anyone.

    On topic, though. It’s a teeny bit heartening that “moderate groups” are mentioned who aren’t satisfied with this conviction. But as is usually the case, the word “moderate”, when associated with Islam, is used to refer to anyone who isn’t a murderous, bloodthirsty, medieval-minded fanatic.

  259. #259 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    I say we send a couple bibles to Afganistan to end this debate about women.

    Yes, let’s.

    “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

    “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15

    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. ” 1 Corinthians 11:3

    “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18

    QED?

  260. #260 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    Shorter Neil:

    “I don’t care about other people, and anyone who asks me to care about other people is hurting my feelings. Grrr! Leftists!”

  261. #261 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 13, 2009

    Shorter Erasmus:

    “Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me! I’m leaving if you don’t pay attention to me! I’m leaving! I’m really going to leave, guys, seriously! Hey! That’s it, I’m gone! … Hah, you didn’t really think I would leave, did you? How would I get attention then? Hey! Hey guys!”

  262. #262 Erasmus
    March 13, 2009

    The Abrahamic religions hate women’s guts, that’s always been clear. Does anyone know whether it’s like that with most other religions?

    Also interesting is the question of why this feature evolved. Patriarchy is the norm for agricultural societies. Maybe it was only natural for religion to try to “legitimate” this norm?

  263. #263 Trip the Space Parasite
    March 13, 2009

    Endor @#207

    I do not disagree with you in the slightest. I just didn’t want anyone to think these particular rat bastards had given this (or much of anything else, most likely) that much thought.

    To change metaphorical horses in midstream, these are the bozos who buy or sometimes sell nickel bags of sexism on the street corner and need rehab and community service, not the sexism kingpins[1] who need to be taken out back and shot[2]. Or something like that.

    [1] Priests, preachers, rabbis, mullahs, etc.
    [2] Metaphorically, quote-mining theistards, metaphorically.

  264. #264 Wowbagger, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Erasmus wrote:

    Maybe it was only natural for religion to try to “legitimate” this norm?

    That’s an interesting question. Most of the central tenets of religion seem to be based around finding ways to justify things people already think; I suppose the men who cooked up the specifics of Judaism’s precursors wanted to make sure they had a ‘reason’ for telling women they were lesser beings. Just like the Divine Right of Kings I guess.

    But there were matriarchal religious societies in antiquity; one wonders what made the difference as to which direction a tribe went in?

  265. #265 Facilis
    March 13, 2009

    “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

    I agree.Did you ever listen to lecture or sermon where there is a talkative woman in front of you? I wish they would wait until they got home to talk to their husbands instead of being disruptive. Paul is quite right

    “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15

    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. ” 1 Corinthians 11:3

    “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18

    I agree too. Wives should obey their husbands.

  266. #266 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Louis:

    Chris Rock in his sketch about the difference between black people and niggers. Bear in mind I am a) not advocating that sketch as a racial viewpoint I share or don’t share, or b) advocating it as any other kind of viewpoint I share or don’t share (it’s horribly classist IMO for example). Chris Rock isn’t ignoring the racist import in that word, he’s playing to it.

    You obviously missed the point of your own exercise. Again, show me an instance where that word is used without racist import, whether it be for or against such use, and you will have satisfied the criteria for your own challenge. The above statement is a non-sequitur, because it very obviously is the racist nature of that word to which Chris Rock is playing in his comedy.

  267. #267 Ichthyic
    March 13, 2009

    another vote to toss facilis into the dungeon.

    nothing but troll bait in his posts.

  268. #268 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    I agree too. Wives should obey their husbands.

    There are times when I think I’m a little harsh on you facilis. But at times like this, I know I could never be harsh enough, you utter waste of guanine.
    And to think, they abort children of more worth than you.

  269. #269 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 13, 2009

    I agree too. Wives should obey their husbands.

    Obviously you are a dunderhead. Women have minds of their own, and any male who thinks otherwise is a fool. Now the women of Pharyngula will hand you your gonads.

  270. #270 Facilis
    March 13, 2009

    @AnthonyK
    Do you think wives should not obey their husbands?

  271. #271 Feynmaniac
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis,

    I agree too. Wives should obey their husbands.

    Wow. Your “objective morality” defends the murder of 42 children for merely mocking a prophet and makes women subjects to their husband. You fucking misogynistic idiot.

    Anthony K,

    There are times when I think I’m a little harsh on you facilis. But at times like this, I know I could never be harsh enough

    Same here.

  272. #272 John Morales
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis, marriage is a partnership.

    One does not give orders to one’s partner.

    Also, you’re despicable.

  273. #273 Facilis
    March 13, 2009

    I thought when people married they made a vow to love, honor and obey.
    Me and my traditional view of marriage…

  274. #274 Wowbagger, OM
    March 13, 2009

    facilis,

    Me and my traditional archaic, condescending, degrading, woman-hating view of marriage…

    There. Fixed it for you.

  275. #275 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 13, 2009

    I thought when people married they made a vow to love, honor and obey.
    Me and my traditional fucked up view of marriage…

    Why would you ask someone you respect as your equal to obey?

  276. #276 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Do you think wives should not obey their husbands?

    I surmise you are not married. I also surmise you are unlikely to get married.
    There are many obligations on men and women, especially if they are parents. “Obeying” one another is not one of them.
    Spunkforbrains.

  277. #277 Ichthyic
    March 13, 2009

    I thought when people married they made a vow to love, honor and obey.

    funny, but I thought those vows were said by both parties.

    have you actually been married?

    naww, couldn’t be. Who would be fucking stupid enough to marry YOU?

    just in case:

    http://www.crackergate.com/Home/stupid.wav?attredirects=0

    now go along to the dungeon like a good little toad, eh?

  278. #278 echidna
    March 13, 2009

    PZ,

    I call for Facilis, his gonads and his archaic, condescending, degrading, woman-hating view of marriage to be cast into the dungeon.

  279. #279 Kel
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis spewed:

    I agree too. Wives should obey their husbands.

    “HEY! You get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!” – Eric Cartman

  280. #280 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 13, 2009

    “Yes dear”, said the Nerd taking his Redhead to the local restaurant at her request (30+ years married).

  281. #281 Neil
    March 13, 2009

    My completely uncharitable interpretation of JFK: “If you dare to use words I don’t personally approve of, or upset any delicate little flowers whether intentionally or not, you are a bully and a slavedriver and a horrible oppressive part of the problem and should be treated like a leper. Everyone must bow to the superiority of other people’s completely arbitrary yet oh-so-precious feelings. And I know this because I’m perfect and psychic.”

    The real shorter Neil: “My freedom of expression is more important than your feelings. Grow the fuck up and deal with it, you sniveling little bitch-ass crybaby.”

    For the record, I am probably just as liberal and progressive as most of the commenters here on MOST issues. I just can’t stand seeing a post about real, life and death equality issues derailed into an overprivileged whinefest. If any minority, homosexual, man, woman, or whatever can’t maintain their self-esteem in modern western society in the face of only a few shitty words spouted by random assholes, I refuse to prop up their ridiculous, presumptuous over-sensitivity by catering to it. Sorry, it’s just really not that important, never will be, and I don’t give so much as one millionth of a rat turd what tantrums you or anyone else wants to throw about it.
    It’s not about trying to hurt people on purpose or oppress them through subtle reinforcement. It’s about my complete lack of respect for people who try to dictate what others can say, and who try to whip up a frenzy of hate and smugness over trifles. It’s just so immature and self-centered to presume that the rest of society should automatically be looking out for our feelings. When it comes to that, I will abandon culture and politics altogether, as there will clearly be nothing important left to worry about.

  282. #282 Sastra
    March 13, 2009

    Wives “obey” their husbands — and husbands “obey” their wives — in much the same way that friends will obey each other when one of them asks the other one to please do something. “Get me a coke.” “Sure. You want a glass with ice?”

    This is not the kind of obedience in effect between slave and master, or parent and child, or owner and pet — one higher than the other; one with the rights, the other with the duties.

    It’s not the kind of obedience instated between husband and wife in the system of Islam that’s referred to above in the post we’re all responding to.

    Which is why I wouldn’t use the word “obey” to talk about mutual helpfulness at all. Facilis. Assuming that’s what you mean.

  283. #283 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 13, 2009

    “HEY! You get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!” – Eric Cartman

    thank the cosmic muffin i wasn’t drinking right there.

  284. #284 Erasmus
    March 13, 2009

    Wowbagger:

    But there were matriarchal religious societies in antiquity; one wonders what made the difference as to which direction a tribe went in?

    I don’t have a reference on me, but I read somewhere that agriculture generally leads to patriarchy, because men have to do the bulk of hard labour (while women look after the children), thus giving men more power.

    This contrasts to hunter-gatherer societies, where men commonly spend a lot of time hunting for meat, leaving women to do a large part of the foraging for berries, mushrooms, etc.

  285. #285 John Morales
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis, holds to the moral outlook of ancient tribes whose men could buy wives (or take them from slaves), so it’s no surprise he thinks marriage is about a man’s ownership of a woman.

    Despicable, as I said.

  286. #286 Steve Dutch
    March 13, 2009

    Dawkins is right. There is a god delusion rampant in the world. But unlike Jesus, Allah, or Buddha, you can see and touch this god. In fact, you see this god every time you brush your teeth.

    Blaming Islam for the situation in the lead story is a handy rationalization for avoiding some painful realities. Islam didn’t make Islamic societies that way – they were just as intolerant and misogynistic before Mohammed. Islam’s crime is that it failed to reform the societies it conquered.

    So if religion is responsible for all this evil, where did it come from? How did presumably benevolent humans come up with cruel religions? The god of the great god delusion is human nature, and specifically the notion that humans are inherently kind and peaceful. Dawkins doesn’t worship Jesus, Buddha or Allah, or even the FSM. He worships the Noble Savage.

    It’s not Islam that makes Afghanistan a hellhole, it’s the tribal mentality that the clan is everything and that personal honor must be upheld at all cost. Somalia is a cesspool because it’s a patchwork of clans with nothing but common hatred to unite them. Hamas isn’t about Islam, or Israel, or the poor dispossessed Palestinians. It’s about the sexual insecurity of weakling Y-chromosome bearers (I can’t apply the label “men”) who can’t deal with the fact that they lost the war 60 years ago. And it’s not just Islam. The Congo and Rwanda aren’t Islamic, but they’re crippled by tribalism. And at the center of it all is that warped obsession with personal honor. Religion has nothing to do with it. How is religion fueling the drug wars in Colombia and Mexico, or gang warfare in our inner cities?

    Good people practice good religion. Screwed up people can sometimes be reformed by religion. John Newton, the slave trader who wrote “Amazing Grace,” didn’t quit the slave trade immediately after converting, but he did start treating his captives more humanely. It took six years before he finally “got it.” Evil people, like Fred Phelps, the wacko cardinal from Brazil, or the Taliban, practice evil religion. They don’t convert, they pervert. Blaming religion for evil is like blaming violent Road Runner cartoons, a convenient externality to avoid facing uncomfortable questions.

  287. #287 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Good people practice good religion.

    Wrong. Good people practice those parts of their religions that have survived the watering-down process of the past few centuries. On their merits alone, the Abrahamic religions are all morally contradictory within themselves, and all religion emphasizes irrational belief over rational and critical thought. Dawkins does not worship the so-called “Noble Savage.” In fact, Dawkins does not worship anything or anyone. The god in his The God Delusion is any supernatural deity. Yes, humans are – by nature – prone to tribalism and many other abhorrent behavioral tendencies.

    If only there were some method by which mankind could overcome its inherent solipsism! And there is – it is a self-correcting system that when applied specifically, it is called science, and in general, reason and logic.

  288. #288 John Morales
    March 13, 2009

    What brokenSoldier said, but shorter:

    Good people practice good despite religion.

  289. #289 Kel
    March 13, 2009

    To throw the argument the other way around – what would the absence of God do for most people? Is the only thing holding them back from harming others the threat of eternal damnation, and their only reason to do good is because of receiving reward in the afterlife? If not, then what good does religion actually add?

    It seems nothing more than an archaic aberration that religion is considered as a cornerstone for good. Yes there are good people in there, but really how many of those are good because of their religion?

  290. #290 Sastra
    March 13, 2009

    Steve Dutch #286 wrote:

    The god of the great god delusion is human nature, and specifically the notion that humans are inherently kind and peaceful.

    I don’t think Dawkins claims this — nor would he deny that the toxic system of thar is not at the base of the problem here. He would probably point out that one of the easiest ways to institute blood honor would be through religious mandate — and that religion makes it virtually intractable, because it is not just the way things are, but the way God made it to be.

    I think that you’re mistaken in the belief that good people practice good religion, and bad people make bad religion. I think that a bad religion can persuade otherwise ordinary people that what looks like harm to rational, secular eyes, is truly a Great and Wonderful Good — when you see it in the framework of a Big Picture.

    “Good religions” are labeled as such because the virtues and values they hold make just as much sense to an atheist or someone outside the religion, as they do to a believer inside the religion. But there is nothing in the systems that value “faith” that demand that their adherents believe and do only those things that make sense to someone without the same ‘faith.’ Instead, they can (and do) go anywhere.

    It’s a bit like talking about competing systems of astrology which either tell its followers to do reasonable things (“today is a good day to get to those projects you’ve been putting off”), or which take themselves very seriously, and make sweeping demands for life changes — and even wars — because this planet is in one position relative to another planet in another position.

    One can argue that a system of astrology need not be irrational and dangerous. But if it is reasonable, it is reasonable more or less by accident. There is no check or balance against it taking itself seriously, and going wherever it goes.

    There is no way to check to see that God does NOT demand blood for blasphemy. One is left to argue over who understands God, and who does not.

    It is easier to argue over what is reasonable, and what is not, I think. Not easy. But easier.

  291. #291 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 13, 2009

    John Morales @ 288:

    Nice.

  292. #292 Sastra
    March 13, 2009

    brokenSoldier, OM #287 wrote:

    Dawkins does not worship the so-called “Noble Savage.”

    Right. Nor does he — or other scientific humanists — worship humanity, or believe that without religion the world would suddenly turn into a Utopia of peace and light. Improvement? Yes. Utopia? No way.

    Humanists are a pretty cynical lot.

    There is a form of liberal spirituality which endorses the ideal of the “Noble Savage.” This is usually coupled with an anti-scientific bent, a belief that natural = good, and the conviction that evolution is the Great Chain of Being, and man is evolving to higher levels of spiritual awareness.

    Stephen Pinker in The Blank Slate rips into all that. Dawkins, as far as I know, agrees with him. As much as I love Steve Dutch (yes, I am a fan), I think he’s attacking the wrong group on this one.

  293. #293 John Morales
    March 13, 2009

    Thanks, brokenSoldier.

    And I feel I should say I stand in awe of Sastra. (Just read #290).

  294. #294 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 13, 2009

    And I feel I should say I stand in awe of Sastra.Amen brother. One wise womanperson. Salaam to Sastra.

  295. #295 windy
    March 13, 2009

    S. Dutch:

    It’s not Islam that makes Afghanistan a hellhole, it’s the tribal mentality that the clan is everything and that personal honor must be upheld at all cost. [...] And at the center of it all is that warped obsession with personal honor. Religion has nothing to do with it.

    The student was not convicted under tribal codes, but in the supreme court of the land. Which clan’s honor do you claim they were defending?

    Certainly religious systems did not create these obsessions and base motives, but they seem to frequently hijack them for their own benefit.

    Good people practice good religion. Screwed up people can sometimes be reformed by religion.

    So you would replace a simplistic explanation with an even more simplistic and naive explanation? Don’t you think that religion or any other ideology can sometimes persuade good people to do bad things?

  296. #296 Susan
    March 13, 2009

    I was so angered by this article especially today when yet another Canadian soldier arrived home dead fighting for this Afghan government I wrote to my MP demanding that he gets Harper to demand Mr. Kambaksh’s release immediately. People don’t forget that our MPs work for us and we are the ones who vote for them. Maybe if enough people write to the government we can make our sentiments be heard.

  297. #297 clinteas
    March 13, 2009

    Neil @ 281,

    thanks for saving me time !
    What he said.

  298. #298 Facilis
    March 13, 2009

    It seems nothing more than an archaic aberration that religion is considered as a cornerstone for good.

    I’m going to tell you what Nietzschhe told an English atheist about goodness without religion.
    “They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. That is an English consistency; we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females à la Eliot. In England one must rehabilitate oneself after every little emancipation from theology by showing in a veritably awe-inspiring manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they pay there.

    We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth–it stands and falls with faith in God.

    When the English actually believe that they know “intuitively” what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.”
    -Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols.

  299. #299 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 13, 2009

    I’m going to tell you what Nietzschhe told an English atheist about goodness without religion.

    And?

  300. #300 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Yawn, another non-argument by Facilis the Fallacious Fool. Facilis, your god doesn’t exist and your bible is a work of fiction. Until you acknowledge that truth, there is no hope for you having reason and logic. That only comes with throwing off the cognitive dissonance of god and religion.

  301. #301 Ichthyic
    March 13, 2009

    imbecillis:

    I’m going to tell you what Nietzschhe told an English atheist about goodness without religion.

    please

    please

    please

    please

    ban this fucker.

    kthxbye

  302. #302 Kel
    March 13, 2009

    When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet.

    I never was part of the Christian faith, so where do my morals come from?

  303. #303 Patricia, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Facillis – You fuckwit. When I got married – in a church – in 1975, my vow was to love, honor and cherish. And I’m from the old school.

    Grow up toad.

  304. #304 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 13, 2009

  305. #305 Sastra
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis #298 wrote:

    I’m going to tell you what Nietzschhe told an English atheist about goodness without religion.

    I am not very familiar with Nietzsche, I’m afraid, but I read this passage a few times and I think it may be intended as a caution of building up a moral system on nothing more than the view that it is “commanded by God.”

    If there is no other reason to do what it says — if morality means nothing more than this — then it’s true, that if you no longer believe in God, then there is no longer any good reason to do anything you thought God said.

    But it seems to me that even those who think morality is based on commandments of a God beyond criticism, ought to be thoughtful enough to believe that such a God would only command things which make sense, and lead to good lives here on earth. If God’s moral laws are reasonable and valuable, then they would seem to be discernible through human reason and tested by consequences — and thus God is not necessary at all. The ‘English’ morals Nietzsche refers to might be good morals, or bad ones. If he were referring to slavery as the divinely-mandated White Man’s Burden, then would you read this passage differently?

    As I read the passage (and yes, I could be reading into it), Nietzsche is arguing for a good and evil based in this world, an understanding of ethics built up from the bottom, involving relationships between people. Those who confuse morality with obedience don’t really understand what morality is. It is a system built on sand.

  306. #306 Kel
    March 13, 2009

    I can’t wait for facilis to tell me what my morality base is, given I grew up atheist with no religious faith whatsoever. My parents didn’t force anything on me, they let me decide. So how does that figure into your worldview?

  307. #307 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 13, 2009

    For the record, the Redhead didn’t swear to obey either.

    Happy belated anniversary Patricia. I forgot to mention it earlier.

  308. #308 Wowbagger, OM
    March 13, 2009

    facilis,

    What Nietzsche should have said:

    They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian the morality humanity has developed as part of its sociocultural evolution, and which Christians falsely believe stems from their imaginary man-god.

    Much better.

    “The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.” Arthur C Clarke.

  309. #309 Feynmaniac
    March 13, 2009

    Oh, are we quoting Nietzsche? Okay….

    “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.
    - The Gay Science

    “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him.” – The Gay Science

    “Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity.” – Twilight of the Idols

    “In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point.” – The Antichrist

    “Nihilist and Christian. They rhyme, and do not merely rhyme… ” – The Antichrist [ The rhyme is lost in translation]

    “Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization, and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of Mohammedan civilization. ” – The Antichrist

    I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty ? I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.” – The Antichrist

    “Morality is: the mediocre are worth more than the exceptions … I abhore Christianity with a deadly hatred. ” – The Will to Power
    _ _ _ _

    I think I’ve made my point: Theist quoting Niezsche = Fail.

  310. #310 tony
    March 13, 2009

    My wife & I, together now for 21 years, chose to ‘love and cherish’ when we got married in a registrar’s office in Scotland (completely secular). Obey never entered into it.

    As it happens, I do obey my wife, but that is purely selfish on my part – I prefer to live. ;)

  311. #311 Patricia, OM
    March 13, 2009

    The right to christian morality… oh, now there is a rich topic. Since we have islamic misogyny already mentioned, how about some christian slavery ?

    If a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
    Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he IS his money.

    Exodus 21:20-21.

    There you go Facillis, beat your slave to death in one day and you get a fine. If he or she dies in two or three days – no fine.

    Nice christian morality. Obey that.

  312. #312 Sastra
    March 13, 2009

    Feynmaniac #309 wrote:

    I think I’ve made my point: Theist quoting Niezsche = Fail.

    I think Facilis already knows that Nietzsche hated Christianity. He thinks that Nietszche therefore also hated the whole idea of morality, and is drawing a lesson from that.

    I’m guessing, though, that N. only hated the idea of Christian morality, partly because he thought it had a poor foundation, and was thus rotten. We are used to hearing people today refer to Christian morality as meaning the same thing as simple “kindness” or “fairness” — being good to your neighbor. I don’t think that’s what Nietszche was criticizing.

    But I haven’t studied him much. As I recall, some of his view were reasonable, and some of his views were pretty awful.

  313. #313 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 13, 2009

    But really, who gives a shit about Nietzsche? His opinions have about as much sway on mine as do facilis’.

    Unlike Facilis I do not need someone to tell me how to think.

  314. #314 Patricia, OM
    March 13, 2009

    Thanks Nerd!

    Thanks for the applause Chimpy, it must be for all of us. ;)

    (The Comic cootie is snuggled up, and roosting with the Pullet Patrol by the way.)

  315. #315 Ichthyic
    March 13, 2009

    I think I’ve made my point: Theist quoting Niezsche = Fail.

    larger point:

    Imbecillis = Epic Fail

    period.

  316. #316 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    With facilis it doesn’t even look as if there’s thinking going on.
    Nietzsche would approve.
    I vote ban the fucker. And a Troll Cull – it encourages new shoots.

  317. #317 AnthonyK
    March 13, 2009

    Unlike Facilis I do not need someone to tell me how to think.

    Or, indeed, if,

  318. #318 Sastra
    March 13, 2009

    No. I don’t think Facilis has done anything that calls for banning.

    But it’s PZ’s call.

  319. #319 Kel
    March 13, 2009

    Facilis actually reminds me of the madman from “The Gay Science”. Gott ts todt

    Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: “I seek God! I seek God!” As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why? is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea voyage? Has he emigrated? – the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub.

    The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. “Where is God gone?” he called out. “I mean to tell you! We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? – for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him!

    How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife – who will wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event – and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto!” Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they also were silent and looked at him in surprise.

    At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in pieces and was extinguished. “I come too early,” he then said. “I am not yet at the right time. This prodigious event is still on its way, and is travelling – it has not yet reached men’s ears. Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star – and yet they have done it themselves!” It is further stated that the madman made his way into different churches on the same day, and there intoned his Requiem aeternam deo. When led out and called to account, he always gave the reply: “What are these churches now, if they are not the tombs and monuments of God?”

  320. #320 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    massive blockquote fail

  321. #321 Monado in Toronto
    March 14, 2009

    Good luck on that one, Susan. Harper won’t even ask for our own citizen, child soldier captured while unconscious and accused of thowing a grenade because he was the only survivor among a group of adults, back from the Guantanamo Bay torture facility.

  322. #322 John Morales
    March 14, 2009

    Kel, if put <br> tags between paragraphs, then delete the empty line within blockquotes you’ll avoid that.

    And preview…

  323. #323 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    No. I don’t think Facilis has done anything that calls for banning.

    But it’s PZ’s call.

    I agree. While incredible hard headed and frankly, i think, um…. challenged I see no reason to ban him.

    Unless we get into the circle of presup again.

  324. #324 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    And preview…

    what is this… pre-view you speak of

  325. #325 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    facilis is an endless source of amusement, how oblivious he is to the world is astounding. But yeah, if he talks about the laws of logic one more fucking time…

  326. #326 Ciaphas
    March 14, 2009

    As long as we’re quoting things…

    “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
    -Steven Weinberg

    “Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.”
    -Leo Tolstoy

    “I Am the Walrus”
    -John Lennon

  327. #327 Feynmaniac
    March 14, 2009

    Sastra,

    I think Facilis already knows that Nietzsche hated Christianity.

    Facilis seems to ignorant on many things so I did not feel I had to assume he knew that.

    From what I gathered he seemed to thinks that that Nietzsche was saying that giving up on Christianity (or religion in general) leads to nihilism/moral relatvism. That is not how I read it. I read it as saying once you give up Christianity you must find new justification for your morality and just saying it’s self-evident is not enough.

    We are used to hearing people today refer to Christian morality as meaning the same thing as simple “kindness” or “fairness” — being good to your neighbor. I don’t think that’s what Nietszche was criticizing.

    I think to a certain extent Nietzsche was critizing “fairnes” ( see here ). Then again, I am no expert on the subject.

    As I recall, some of his view were reasonable, and some of his views were pretty awful.

    Indeed. I have only read a bit of his work and at times it is profound. At other times it’s the mad rantings of a syphilitic brain (literally).

  328. #328 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    Yay quotes

    Well, I believe that those energies and processes exist. I just don’t think that they’ve been adequately described or adequately named yet, because people are too willing to make it all into something that supports a religious theory of one flavor or another. If you start defining these things in nuts-and-bolts scientific terms, people reject it because it’s not fun, y’know. It takes some of the romance out of being dead … because of people’s desires to have eternal life and to extend their influence from beyond the grave … all that Houdini type stuff … but basically, I think when you’re dead … you’re dead. It comes with the territory.

    Mr. Frank Zappa

  329. #329 Wowbagger, OM
    March 14, 2009

    I’ll echo that facilis doesn’t deserve banning – unless, as mentioned, he starts up that refuted ad nauseam presup drivel.

    Of course he’s still saying nonsensical things, but that isn’t, in and of itself, worthy of banning.

  330. #330 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Sastra – I hate to disagree with you. But I will charge Facillis with:
    Godbotting
    Insipidity
    Stupidity (!)
    Trolling
    Wanking

    PZ doesn’t list making me yell, “ARRGH!” at my computer, or *headdesk*. Otherwise Facillis would have seven deadly sins.

  331. #331 John Morales
    March 14, 2009

    Sigh.

    RBCD:

    what is this… pre-view you speak of

    Do as I say, not as I do :)

    PS Facilis wasn’t plonked back in his pressup phase, and this is nothing like that.

  332. #332 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    Patricia, you forgot pantswetting.

  333. #333 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Fooey – crucify the toad. ;)

    Now I’m off to eat icecream and watch wrastlin’.

  334. #334 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    wrastlin’?

    what kind of wrastlin?

  335. #335 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    I know Nietzsche hated Christianity. am I not allowed to quote him because he was an atheist philosopher? Is Richard Dawkins not allowed to quote Christian philosophers?
    Nietzsche knew what the God is dead movement was. Nietzsche knew that when secular culture had killed God they would kill and idea of objective moral law or cosmic teleology. They would kill any transcendental source of meaning.Nietzsche know the acceptance of the Death of God will also involve the ending of accepted standards of morality and of purpose. Without the former standards society will descend into a nihilistic situation where peoples lives are not constrained by considerations of morality or guided by any related sense of purpose. All that would be left was what Nietzsche called “the will to power” and the desire for people to become stronger .
    “Even the body within which individuals treat each other as equals . . . will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant?not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power.”
    I quoted Nietzsche because he was right. He was a consistent atheist. He was calling out Eliot and the other English atheists who felt they could deny God and have secular society but still live with the accepted moral standards or believe in objective good and purpose. He is showing them to be hypocrites in borrowing from the Christian ethic.
    @Kel
    The parable of th madman is excellent. I hope you ponder its meaning

  336. #336 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    The parable of th madman is excellent. I hope you ponder its meaning

    I have more than you could imagine. Question is, do you get it’s meaning? Because it would appear not.

    Again, I ask. Where does my morality come from since I was raised in a secular household with no religious pressures from my parents and I have never been any part of a religion?

  337. #337 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    Question is, do you get it’s meaning? Because it would appear not.

    I do .It is about secular society that has killed God but is not prepared to accept the consequences.

    Again, I ask. Where does my morality come from since I was raised in a secular household with no religious pressures from my parents and I have never been any part of a religion?

    It comes from the Christian ethic of the society you were raised in and your parents were raised in.

  338. #338 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    Oh, here we go.

  339. #339 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    I do .It is about secular society that has killed God but is not prepared to accept the consequences.

    Bzzt, wrong

    It comes from the Christian ethic of the society you were raised in and your parents were raised in.

    bzzt, wrong again.

    You are so full of fail, and have no idea whatsoever about how behaviour works. I ask you, if you don’t think that morality is a social and evolutionary construct, would you go attack a bear cub in front of it’s mother? If not, why not? After all, bears are Godless*.

    *according to Stephen Colbert

  340. #340 Wowbagger, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Why is it you seem to think that, because one atheist (in this case, Nietzsche) was correct about some things we must, as atheists, accept that everything he said was correct? That’s not the way it works for us, facilis. Atheists don’t have deities; if someone says something irrelevant to us, it’s not a crisis of faith to say so.

    It comes from the Christian ethic of the society you were raised in and your parents were raised in.

    It most certainly isn’t, but even if Christianity was responsible for the ethics being part of society, why can we not keep the ethics and toss the Christianity aside like the useless husk it is?

    Kel’s demonstrated you can have ethics without stooping to Christianity; ergo, the belief can be done away with entirely with no detriment.

  341. #341 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Given what’s in the bible and what a lot of Christians espouse, I’d say I have morality despite Christianity. Then again, what would facilis know? If any explanation doesn’t include the words “God did it” then he just can’t understand how it works. “The magic man does it all, I swear!”

  342. #342 Feynmaniac
    March 14, 2009

    Facilis,

    I know Nietzsche hated Christianity. am I not allowed to quote him because he was an atheist philosopher?

    Yes, but if you provided commentary rather than just quoting we could have understood what your point was.

    Without the former standards society will descend into a nihilistic situation where peoples lives are not constrained by considerations of morality or guided by any related sense of purpose.

    This is a problem I have with some (defintely not all) philosophers. They make claims but don’t bother to check out if it matches reality. Many atheist have a strong sense of both morality and purpose.

    God is not necessary for morality. Humans seems to have an innate capactiy for morality, see here for a more thoroguh explanation. Many of the moral principles of Christianity existed long before it came around.

  343. #343 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Facilis, please go scientifically demonstrate that morality has to come from God by attacking the cub of a godless creature in front of it’s mother. Show us the necessity of God for morality…

  344. #344 Ichthyic
    March 14, 2009

    Oh, here we go.

  345. #345 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    @Kel
    If you contend that morality is just an evolutionary construct you will have to concede that it is an illusion and we have no duty to follow any kind of moral imperative.This is not just me that is saying this. Many atheist philosophers admit this too. For example Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science from the University of Guelph, writes,
    “The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that humans have an awareness of morality . . . because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is ILLUSORY. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves . . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly WITHOUT FOUNDATION. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory . . . .”
    And
    “I think that once you see that ethics is simply an adaptation, you see that IT HAS NO JUSTIFICATION. It just is. So in metaethics I am a nonrealist.I THINK ETHICS IS AN ILLUSION put into place by our genes to keep us social.”
    http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/ruse.htm

    Many atheists admit there is no foundation for ethics apart from God.
    @Wowbagger
    What Nietzsche is saying is that you cannot kill the rooots and expect the tree to remain healthy. You cannot reap the fruits of the Christian ethic while attacking the foundation of Christianity, which is God. This is wat he was telling Elliot in another quote.

  346. #346 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Do you even understand what you are quoting there facilis? No-one here is advocating universal morality but you. especially when you put in caps the wrong part of the sentence: “I think that once you see that ethics is simply an adaptation, you see that IT HAS NO JUSTIFICATION. It just is. So in metaethics I am a nonrealist.I THINK ETHICS IS AN ILLUSION put into place by our genes to keep us social.

    We are moral creatures no matter what, it’s in our genes to be moral. You are focusing on the wrong message, but that’s because you have no understanding whatsoever about what the other side is arguing about. Morality exists, it’s an evolved trait. If you don’t believe me, go harass a bear cub in front of it’s mother and see what happens.

  347. #347 Wowbagger, OM
    March 14, 2009

    facilis wrote:

    If you contend that morality is just an evolutionary construct you will have to concede that it is an illusion and we have no duty to follow any kind of moral imperative.

    Firstly, your false dichotomy – why does something that is an evolutionary construct an illusion? Everything we have is an evolutionary construct. It doesn’t mean we aren’t affected by it any less than we would be if your god existed and had imbued us with it.

    If religion was responsible for such things, only atheists would commit crimes or behave immorally, while religious believers would remain paragons of virtue. Since reality shows this is patently untrue, you have no basis for your claim.

    Not to mention the hundreds of pre-Christian and contemporary non-Christian societies which had their own morality and ethics without ever hearing the name ‘Jesus’. How did they come about?

    What Nietzsche is saying is that you cannot kill the rooots and expect the tree to remain healthy. You cannot reap the fruits of the Christian ethic while attacking the foundation of Christianity, which is God.

    I think a better crop-based analogy would be to say that you use manure to fertilise your plants; you then eat the fruit from the tree and not the manure…

  348. #348 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    facilis just doesn’t want to test his morality hypothesis out. Don’t have enough faith to attack a bear cub in front of it’s mother, or are you going to concede that behaviour is evolved and that we can act in the interests of others (and especially children) through genetic disposition?

  349. #349 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    @Kel
    Did you even read the quote? he admits there is no foundation for ethics and any feelings to the contrary are an illusion put in place in your genes. Which means when you accuse the bible of being wrong or say it is immoral to kill children or say it is immoral for Islam to mistreat women, it is just an illusion with no foundation is reality.

  350. #350 windy
    March 14, 2009

    I quoted Nietzsche because he was right. He was a consistent atheist.

    Right, that explains how Nietzsche used to rape, pillage and murder his way across Europe, since he had no morals to stop him. Imagine if he had been some mild mannered professor type instead of the bloodthirsty barbarian that he was.

  351. #351 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    I have read the quote, you are misinterpreting it. Having absolute justification and having none at all is a false dichotomy. And even if there isn’t justification, so what? It doesn’t make it any less true. Morality evolved, deal with it. If you think that means that anything is permissible, go ahead. Attack the bear cub in front of it’s mother. even better, go attack a human child in front of it’s father. Scream “It’s okay, without God there is no justification for morality” and see how far that gets you.

  352. #352 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    Firstly, your false dichotomy – why does something that is an evolutionary construct an illusion? Everything we have is an evolutionary construct. It doesn’t mean we aren’t affected by it any less than we would be if your god existed and had imbued us with it.

    Let me put it straight. God is the metaphysical oundation for morality. In order to have morals you need a metaphysical foundation. Micheal Ruse denies God so he believes there is no foundation for morality. Any moral feelings we have are an illusion created by our genes because there are no real morals.(according to Ruse’s reasoning and mine).

    If religion was responsible for such things, only atheists would commit crimes or behave immorally, while religious believers would remain paragons of virtue. Since reality shows this is patently untrue, you have no basis for your claim.

    No-one claims this. I was just showing how atheist philosophers realise that without God there is no foundation for ethics. To refer to my “breathing air” example,an atheist can deny air and still breathe just as M. Ruse can deny the foundations of morality and still behave morally.

    Not to mention the hundreds of pre-Christian and contemporary non-Christian societies which had their own morality and ethics without ever hearing the name ‘Jesus’. How did they come about?
    The large majority of them had some system of ethics based on theism. I will also refer you to my “breathing air” analogy.

  353. #353 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    And Fail.

    We’ve been through this. You have not established a god let alone your god as the foundation for morality.

    You merely have asserted it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over without anything supporting it.

    Presup circular failure on an epic level.

  354. #354 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    “Having absolute justification and having none at all is a false dichotomy.”
    But Ruse says
    “”I think that once you see that ethics is simply an adaptation, you see that IT HAS NO JUSTIFICATION. ”
    How is there any justification when you think morals are the result of a toss of the cosmic dice and as arbitrary as the fact that you evolved 5 fingers? Nietzsche and Ruse admit there is none.

  355. #355 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    “We’ve been through this. You have not established a god let alone your god as the foundation for morality.”
    I did not seek to do that. I was just talking about how Nietzsche and Ruse realized there was no foundation for morality in atheism.

  356. #356 Wowbagger, OM
    March 14, 2009

    facilis, still not grasping it, wrote:

    Which means when you accuse the bible of being wrong or say it is immoral to kill children or say it is immoral for Islam to mistreat women, it is just an illusion with no foundation is reality.

    No, its foundation is our evolved sense of ethics, which is far, far more real than your sky-fairy or bad-performance-art loving man-god.

    ‘Immoral’ is the word we’ve come up with to describe things which, were they to occur on a large scale, would have negative consequences on our species’ ability to survive. Almost everyone experiences negative affect when they contemplate such things.

    Our predecessors understood we felt bad for doing bad things, but they had no idea why. Part of the reason they invented gods was to explain this.

    You, on the other hand, have no such excuse. It’s as stupid to claim morality comes from your god as it would be for me to claim that thunder and lightning are caused by Thor throwing his hammer around, trying to smack that smartass Loki around for trying to nail Sif while he wasn’t around.

  357. #357 anonymouroboros
    March 14, 2009

    Did you even read the quote? he admits there is no foundation for ethics and any feelings to the contrary are an illusion put in place in your genes. Which means when you accuse the bible of being wrong or say it is immoral to kill children or say it is immoral for Islam to mistreat women, it is just an illusion with no foundation is reality.

    Wrong, unsurprisingly.

    He does not say that there is not a foundation for ethics in general, only ethics based in Christianity for an atheist. He has his own ethics system and, contrary to popular opinion, was not a nihilist, though he did think that Christianity was essentially nihilism. I assume, though, that there was some sort of reading comprehension failure if you actually read anything he ever wrote. Still, I can probably assume that this was only massive failure on the general scale that you are associated with rather than anything out of the ordinary.

    Mind you, even if he did think that ethics in general had no basis, that would still not make it so. After all, he was skeptical of evolution as well (but then again, he supposedly only read of evolution through some sort of third-hand German commentary on a translation of Darwin).

    And since Mendel (who very few people knew about at the time) had yet to be integrated with Darwin and since Nietzsche was skeptical of evolution, I will also assume that these “genes” you refer to in the quote are not referring to the “genes” in genetics and biology, but some other magical concept that you pulled out of your ass, not unlike biblical narrative, right?

  358. #358 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    For fucks sake facilis. having moral justification != morality comes from God. We can show that senses like fairness, pack mentality, cooperation, sharing, altruism, etc. all can evolve as part of a survival strategy. They exist in our bodies whether we like it or not. It may be an illusion, but so is free will. What does that change? Abso-fucking-lutely nothing at all. We behave according to the ways our mind works – built by our genes, by our environment and by our experience. We learn how to behave morality because it is an innate sense.

    Though the funny thing is that by giving examples of other theist tribes having morality as based on theism, then you are showing that one needs not a god in order to have morality – rather it’s the illusion of God. As Voltaire said “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.”

  359. #359 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    We have certain societal standards that dictate behaviour. That is a fact. What having no God means is that those standards are fluid, they are provisional. It means that one can question whether they should exist, whether the moral zeitgeist of the time is suited for the population therein.

    But as far as things like child abuse go, I implore you to test your concept out that there’s no justification for moral behaviour by attacking a bear cub in front of it’s mother, or even a child in front of it’s father. We have an innate urge coded in our genes to protect children and while we can’t be absolute in saying “child molestation is wrong,” it would go against all sense as made by our genes to even begin to justify such behaviour.

  360. #360 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    I did not seek to do that. I was just talking about how Nietzsche and Ruse realized there was no foundation for morality in atheism.

    You are misrepresenting both by saying that. Both of them provide a justification, Nietzsche by saying that people search for a different truth, Ruse by talking about our selfish genes. You are confusing the foundation of morality with absolute justification.

  361. #361 anonymouroboros
    March 14, 2009

    God is the metaphysical oundation [sic] for morality. In order to have morals you need a metaphysical foundation.

    Can you not see that the reasoning is completely circular here? It’s right out of the fallacy section of a logic textbook.

    Also:
    To the first, how?
    To the second, why?

  362. #362 Wowbagger, OM
    March 14, 2009

    How is there any justification when you think morals are the result of a toss of the cosmic dice and as arbitrary as the fact that you evolved 5 fingers? Nietzsche and Ruse admit there is none.

    Despite creationist lies to the contrary, no-one thinks anything is the result of ‘a toss of the cosmic dice’. Having five fingers is completely unrelated to our evolved morality/ethics; an un-cooperative species would not have evolved into the socially dependent creatures that humans are today. Hence, we know we evolved what we call morality.

    And your ‘breathing air’ analogy – mocked not just here but by thousands across the internet on FSTDT for it’s breathtaking (no pun intended) inanity – is an epic FAIL because we can prove air exists. You prove your god to the extent that we can prove air and there wouldn’t be any atheists.

    I was just talking about how Nietzsche and Ruse realized there was no foundation for morality in atheism.

    Of course there’s no foundation for morality in atheism – it’s the lack of belief in gods. No-one claims it has a foundation for morality. Evolution is a foundation for morality, but evolution ? atheism.

  363. #363 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    One more thing (before I get too drunk)

    Our genes, our society, our experience – these are all factors in dictating our behaviour. There’s not any one way people should absolutely act, to say that misrepresents the nature of man and the nature of morality. But the point your missing [sic]fail is that one doesn’t need to have absolute justification in order to act. We behave in particular ways, and through mathematical modelling we can demonstrate that these outcomes should be there. Altruism should be an emergent behavioural pattern, sharing and working together are vital to the success of humanity – we aren’t solitary creatures after all.

    And that by and large is what morality is – it’s a social construct born out of repeated interactions. So since we are social creatures, it’s in our best interests to play fair because not doing so will mean our exile from that communal structure. We have been social creatures for tens of millions of years, social bonding is not only important to us but to other primates and other social animals. So while some of our behaviour may be acquired through social interaction, having people more dispositional to act in those favourable manners without social coercion would present an advantageous trait for natural selection to work on. And this almost certainly happened before our ancestors developed these ‘higher’ cognitive faculties. Playing fair is the most dominant strategy for repeat interactions in game theory – who’d have thought?

  364. #364 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Of course there’s no foundation for morality in atheism – it’s the lack of belief in gods. No-one claims it has a foundation for morality. Evolution is a foundation for morality, but evolution ? atheism.

    I’d go one step further and say that not only is evolution a foundation for morality but an inescapable truth of morality’s existence. Once you have complex behaviours, the traits that are going to be most advantageous for keeping the gene lineage going are going to be expressed through our behaviour. Beyond that there is no need to explain morality as anything and everything we do can be accounted for through this natural process.

    What facilis has subtlety done is in his argument taken the arguments against moral justification (which may have some merit but not in the way he thinks – he’s a very black & white thinker) and used that to argue against morality in general. They are two different things, it’s like bringing up the problem of induction while sitting at a computer. Like talking about cultural relativism while 30,000 feet in the air. Like talking about how evolution cannot explain the origin of gravity.

    facilis makes a grand mistake in arguing against one concept (no moral justification) and then using that to conclude something different entirely (no moral foundation) and that makes him all the more deceptive. I’m sure he’s aware of the logical fallacy he’s committed, and I’m sure he’s aware that we could catch it out. For all the idiocy he spews, he does have some jellymeat up there firing in patterns. So he’ll keep this up because we fall for it every time. He uses a straw-man argument against a concept in order to knock down what is otherwise a solid argument.

    And of course he can prove me wrong by attacking those poor helpless bear cubs, that is if he has faith in his own position.

  365. #365 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Well I slope off to the pub and the thread explodes yet further. Oh well! The joys of time zones!

    JFK right back at #242.

    1) Misrepresenting Endor:

    I’m sorry if you got the impression I think Endor’s position is as absolute as BMS’s, obviously it isn’t, but I maintain that Endor is twisting language in a similar (not identical) manner. I’ll cheerfully apologise for not making that clear. Rereading the thread I think I made it clear in context, but you don’t, so I’m happy to bow to that and state it clearly for you. Ok? If you and Endor think I’ve misrepresented her I’m genuinely sorry, I wouldn’t want to misrepresent anyone. I didn’t think I had, if my comments are read in context (rather than snipped for convenience out of sequence and out of context, as I note you’ve done).

    2) Context dependancy:

    First and foremost if you think that quote from Endor addresses my point you are gravely mistaken. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it is a straw man version of what I’m arguing for. I have never said, and will never say, that a new evolved meaning eradicates the older meaning. What I HAVE said is that because new meanings for some words have evolved one can use the word independently of it’s original meaning. I’ve cited “gay” (or “right” or “nice”) as examples. It’s curious how you ignore these examples to keep insulting me isn’t it? One doesn’t have to bear all the baggage associated with a word every time it is used. All I have been arguing for remember is that one cannot make a judgement about a person’s intent or motivations simply based on their use of a word in the absence of context. I would disagree with Endor that even intrinsic, unconscious, passive, cultural sexism is implied in a person simply by their use of the word “cunt” (for example). Context is key. Since this is such a trivially true point (as I’ve demonstrated several times, otherwise YOU’D be just as much a sexist as me) I can’t believe that stating it has caused such hand wringing on your part.

    3) Offence:

    I forget that you (or whoever) speak for all women. I don’t believe that you can validly claim that because you (and many people) find the use of a word offensive every woman does. As I’ve said at least three times, if these words are used ABOUT women in general or AT women in general or AT a woman in particular to pejoratively represent them i.e. “She’s just a cunt” or some such evil, then I fully agree that that is abhorrent, overt, active misogyny. I deplore it every bit as much as you and for the exact same reasons.

    I even agree that, under certain circumstances, a person could say “he’s a cunt” and mean that, by reference to female genitals, and thereby the whole female, that this is also an expression of either overt or implicit misogyny. In fact if you read back I’ve never said I don’t think this.

    However, and we’ve come back to context and evolving meanings again, at least here in the UK the meaning of the word “cunt” is often so far removed from female genitals (check the dictionary, it even has it defined as an undesirable person, no sex implied etc) that importing that meaning is not supportable. It’s usage in certain contexts doesn’t permit it. Again, just like “gay” or “right” or “nice” or “access” or any other words whose meaning has notably evolved (to the point of speciation) in recent years. My point is, and remains, that in the absence of context you cannot make the judgements about people you and others are seeking to make based on simple word usage.

    4) Unpleasant conclusions:

    You seem under the delusion that I somehow disagree with facts to protect myself from accusations of sexism etc. Not so. In fact quite the reverse as mentioned above. I’m more than happy to be so accused if the accusation is true. If it isn’t however, colour me unhappy. I suppose you were typing when you wrote the end of your post because you missed me @ post #239 apologise for missing EXACTLY what you quote from Endor about misandry.

    If all you can do is continually miss the key points of the arguments and rely on insults and poor straw men to counter them then, I’m sorry but you lack a valid case. Despite you quite insulting insinuations, I’m not “obsessed” with anything, and since I’ve been around at Pharyngula perfectly happily since PZ started the blog (and even before) I’d rather you didn’t piss about dick waving ok?

    Since I think we all (Endor included) agree on the basics, there are a few areas of disagreement to be sure, I’m happy to politely leave it there as an agree to differ if you are. Sound fair? I think in places, we may have misunderstood where the other is coming from and rather than correct it, let the tale of the thread stand. I’m happy to acknowledge that may go for or against me.

    Cheers

    Louis

  366. #366 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    BrokenSoldier OM @ #266:

    Sorry I think you’ve moved the goalposts a bit, perhaps accidentally. I’ll explain, because perhaps we’re on the same page and maybe I’ve miscommunicated.

    In post #222 you qouted me as saying:

    I can find you examples of people using the word “n*****” that are demonstrably not racist, no matter how one contorts or distances the word racist.

    What I meant by this was where their use was not with any racist intent or motivation. I.e. it was not the intent of the utterer to discriminate on the basis of race.

    This is trivially the case, again I’ll explain how: I am using the word as part of a discussion about word usage, as indeed have many people the academic world over. I hope you are not accusing them, and me, of racism simply because we’ve used a word in a discussion about words.

    If what is confusing people is that implied in all of these statements that the usage under discussion is pejorative, then I’d agree, I cannot think of one instance where the use of the word “nigger” can be used as an insult without it being racist. So I’d hope we can agree on those two extremes: academic/intellectual discussion, hence use, of a word is not racist, use of the word as an insult is. Again, this is an expansion of my point about context.

    So clarification done, sorry for the divert, you replied in #222:

    You show me an example of the above, and I’ll show you an example of someone ignoring the racist import in a statement.

    Chris Rock is using the word “nigger” and deliberately NOT ignoring the racist import of it. Hence why I used him as an example. I also think that one can hardly define his use of the word as being racist, i.e. one cannot accuse Chris rock of racism because he used the word in the context he did.

    I think that you’ve moved the goalposts to claim that I was meaning one could use the word “nigger” utterly in the absence of racial context. I don’t, and didn’t claim that. I do claim that one can use the word IN CERTAIN CONTEXTS and not be a racist. (Not as a pejorative, as mentioned)

    Does that clear it up?

    I’m not defending the use of these words, very very VERY far from it. I am only taking issue with the claim that one can automatically move from use to some implication about morals/motives/intent etc because I don’t think it is ALWAYS valid to do so.

    What is mildly amusing is that some people are trying very very hard to avoid that point. I’ve wasted a lot of electrons and finger skin cells typing quite politely that it’s the absolutist statements I disagree with, not the more nuanced ones, and some people still miss this. I realise these are emotive topics (for me also) but I’d appreciate not being demonised for something I’m not doing.

    Cheers

    Louis

  367. #367 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    JFK:

    Before I forget: If you wish to bandy about accusations of misrepresentation and petulantly demand apologies, then I’d be grateful if you looked at post #190.

    Should I perhaps demand an apology before I take you seriously?

    Sorry to point out your error. Or should I assume it’s dishonesty and hypocrisy on your part with no further evidence, and damn you exactly as you seek to damn others in the absence of further information?

    Louis

  368. #368 Marc Abian
    March 14, 2009

    The cultural difference involved in using the word cunt on different sides of the Atlantic certainly would explain what I thought was a crazy over-reaction from people on this blog before. I couldn’t really fathom how cunt could be misogynistic to people, as over here it’s just a standard insult for when someone’s a jerk. I didn’t know cunt was slang for a sex organ until I was 16, and assumed it was slang for a male sex organ until I was 18. Clearly not mistakes I would have made if the insult carried any misogynistic element when I used it.

  369. #369 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    In Australia, we use the word “cunt” as a term of endearment. The way Americans react to the word just makes me want to use it more.

  370. #370 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Endor,

    Firstly, I’d like to apologise for missing this as I got caught up with JFK:

    I understand you’re not making excuses. However, what you are repeatedly ignoring is that as women we’ve got the experience to make such a judgment. I’ve stated several times now that the use of the word doesn’t automatically mean the user is a bigot. But it’s pretty likely that if not just a flat out bigot, he’s clueless of the offense or apathetic to it – neither which is much of an improvement.

    The word is used against us as an insult, used to belittle other men by equating them with something strictly female thereby serving to buoy the sexism inherent in it. Neither you nor any man in the UK who uses it for whatever reason has to admit that – such is your privilege – but if one’s true desire is to lessen the damage privilege can do, I fail to see what’s to be gained by ignoring the reality of it.

    From post #206.

    There are two things here, one is offence. Right away I’ll say that offence here is a red herring. I don’t for a second doubt that some people (many) find the use of these words offensive (even women from the UK ;-) ), and that their use can be intended to offend. I don’t agree that offence maps onto bigotry (implied or otherwise) or apathy/cluelessness etc.

    The cry of “this is offensive” is not an argument. It is an intellectual equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and singing “la la la”. The religious people whose ideas we scrutinise claim that such scrutiny is offensive. Should we therefore stop? I don’t excoriate the use of the word “nigger” as a pejorative aimed at a black person or “bitch” as a pejorative aimed at a woman because they offend me (or anyone), but because, in these contexts (key phrase!) they are demonstrations of overt bigotry. It’s the context that defines the bigotry not the word.

    And this brings me to, and indeed is, the second part of my disagreement with what you’ve written. What you, and others, are claiming is that words have unalterable baggage. I am arguing that they do not have UNALTERABLE baggage, I agree that can and often do have baggage, but that they extent that baggage is carried along depends on CONTEXT. I think this is actually the core of our disagreement, on everything else I see little material difference between us.

    Again, I’ll use the utterly uncontroversial example of discussion of words. I cannot for a second believe that you think that simply discussing the use of the word “nigger” for example makes the people discussing it racists, implicitly or explicitly, arbiters or tacit supporters of privilege, apathetic or clueless architects of discrimination. Instantly we have a context dependant situation where use of a word does not imply any bigotry explicit or implicit, on the part of the user. This I hope you’ll agree is so trivially true as to be utterly uncontroversial. Can we build from here please?

    Moving to pejorative usages, as you’ve said before, feminists excoriate the use of the word “dick” or “penis” in these ways. I’m glad they do because hopefully they do so in a way that removes the double standard. If calling someone a “penis” is misandrous, then calling someone a “cunt” is misogynistic. I’m not saying I agree this is the case, just that I’m glad that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!

    But it’s the baggage, as mentioned, where we really disagree. I was hoping someone would use my example of “gay”. The word “gay” based on history, etymology and original usage has the “baggage” of happiness. Does this therefore mean that if I describe someone as “gay” (note that I’m am not saying I do this in a negative or positive sense) I am carrying along that baggage of happiness in every case? Even though “I’ve stated several times now that the use of the word doesn’t automatically mean the user is claiming happiness. But it’s pretty likely that if not just a flat out happiness claimer, he’s clueless of the happiness claim or apathetic to it – neither which is much of an improvement.”?

    Do you see what I did? I replaced the word bigot/bigotry with a phrase about happiness claims in a sentence you wrote back in post #206. I hope this illustrates the ridiculousness of your imputing baggage to every usage. This is my point! You are claiming that for certain words of shifting/shifted definition the baggage inseparable. I am claiming that the baggage’s separation status is defined by context (because that context defines which shifted meaning is being used).

    I hope it’s clear what I’m trying to do: you, and others, have asserted that the baggage is always there. You’ve provided no grounds for this, and even though I strongly agree that in many, in not for some words all, cases this baggage exists it does not exist for all usages. I’ve tried (and possibly failed) to do this with examples ranging from the trivial and uncontroversial to the more controversial.

    However, I am a little bemused by one thing. When you say, rightly in my experience, that some feminists also excoriate use of “dick” (for example) as a pejorative, are you then claiming that this is also an expression of bigotry, implicit or explicit, or apathy/cluelessness about inequalities? If so I think we both know that this would be more than a little disingenuous. Moreover, I’m happy to admit to the sexism inherent in my culture (and therefore myself) as something I should combat (and do where I can, I’m far from perfect!) but I don’t agree that this is an instance of it.

    That disagreement is not because I wish to reserve these words for use, I don’t (as you note), but because I don’t agree with the linguistic claims you’re making. So sadly I don’t fall into your categories of explicit bigot, implicit bigot, apathetic perpetrator of the status quo or clueless rube simply parroting the fashions of those around me. I fall into a different category: principled, intellectual disagreement. I realise that’s terribly unfair of me, but there you go, my very existence disproves your contentions! The fact that I might be wrong in my arguments (a perfectly likely possibility I admit) doesn’t defeat that previous comment at all.

    Cheers

    Louis

  371. #371 simon
    March 14, 2009

    PZM : “Islam hates women”

    and you love abortion.

    What is the difference ?

  372. #372 clinteas
    March 14, 2009

    Seeing we are still left to our own devices,here is Maher with the most evil woman on the planet,from yesterday….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBHIDDaD7eY&feature=PlayList&p=BFABE14331BE17C5&index=6

  373. #373 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    All,

    I know I should have shut up ages ago. I know tl;dr. I know.

    I am, surprisingly for a scientist perhaps, very interested in language. So (despite JFK’s insults to the contrary) very interested in how it’s used, controlled, how it evolves etc. I really don’t care about the use of ANY of these “naughty” words in and of themselves, I’m taking issue with what I see as a fundamentally linguistic claim. Actually one that is relevant, and dangerous, to atheism, science etc. If for example people try to restrict the use of language on the basis of offence alone, then we are screwed. Utterly fucked. What offends me might not offend you etc. De gustibus non est disputandum. That way madness lies, issues of taste are often complex, unconscious and difficult to determine. Etc. I’m sure we all know the arguments by now.

    If however one wants to use language as a gauge of a person’s mindset then I support this, agree entirely and do this when capable of gathering the relevant context. As I said above, it is trivially obvious that words qua words, in and of themselves are meaningless in the absence of context. Words are tokens we use to exchange ideas and as such, the environment of that exchange is vital. So I agree that, for example, the etymology of a word is important, but in the course of a word’s evolution genuine examples of speciation happen. The word “gay” being a beautiful example. The use of the word “gay” to mean “happy” is comparatively rare, and is a genuinely different meaning, utterly separate from in fact, the more common usage of “gay” to mean “homosexual”. The two definitions have nothing to do with each other any more (they did originally). “Gay” has speciated.

    Words like “cunt” have yet to fully speciate in the way the “gay” has. I agree that in many contexts (cultural one included) that lack of full separation means that exactly s Endor and others have claimed, use of the word as a pejorative is indicative of exactly what they claim (bigotry, apathey etc). I don’t agree that this is always the case because that speciation has occurred to a sufficient degree that use as pejorative alone (in the absence of context) is insufficient to establish their claim.

    The word “nigger” is another example, and it’s a great point on this sliding scale to note. This is a word that has not speciated at all. There are no new definitions. It means what it always did. Therefore it is easier to use this word as an indicator of a specific mindset. Easier, but not perfectly so. Its use as a pejorative however is exactly what people claim it is, and as The Lady rightly notes, getting that pejorative usage recognised as an indicator of bigotry has been an uphill (and well documented) struggle.

    My point remains that there are shades of grey here, varying in hue from word to word based partly on their speciation status. I hope that, despite length, repetition and turgidity, that is clear to someone other than me!

    Thanks and apologies for derailing. Mind you, it’s slightly more interesting than dealing with Facilis. ;-)

    Louis

  374. #374 clinteas
    March 14, 2009

    Louis,

    no you should not have shut up,since your posts were among the ones that made sense on this thread.
    As to JFK,i shall refrain from commenting since ive had too many beers,but it wouldnt be pretty.
    We used to have more commenters like you here.Nuff said.

  375. #375 'Tis Himself
    March 14, 2009

    Mind you, it’s slightly more interesting than dealing with Facilis.

    That’s not saying a whole lot, is it?

  376. #376 Kel
    March 14, 2009
  377. #377 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Simple Simon the Pointless Lieman. Still afraid to really posit an argument and then supply some evidence. Inane comments llke #371 lead us to believe you are a teenager. Act like an adult or go way. I suggest the latter.

  378. #378 clinteas
    March 14, 2009

    Hey Kel,didnt I just post that ? LOL

  379. #379 simon
    March 14, 2009

    PZM : “Islam hate women”

    and you enjoy homosexual

    What is the difference ?

  380. #380 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    #Tis Himself,

    You’re right, it isn’t saying a lot. But I thought I’d set the bar appropriately low!
    ;-)

    Louis

  381. #381 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Hey Kel,didnt I just post that ?

    Yes, which is why I put it in a quote box.

  382. #382 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Simon,

    PZM enjoy homosexual?

    Didn’t you know that despite all the debate and disagreement everyone at Pharyngula is actually in the same place just piled up having every possible kind of sex, gay, straight, animal, vegetable and mineral? As we do it we are all smoking a variety of drugs, drink driving, performing abortions, kicking puppies, spraying acid into the eyes of kittens, worshipping satan, denying the holy spirit, not worshipping satan, eating babies, making Ed Gein type furniture from the flayed skins of millions of murdered christians, and whittling massive dongs from marrows in order to satiate our terrible urges?

    It’s just you that’s left out.

    I hope this helps clear things up for you. Now did you have a point or are you just a driveby wanker posting pointless drivel as some kind of attempt at argument?

    Louis

  383. #383 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Simple Simon the IDIOT Lieman, You talk gibberish. Way to show idiocy. If you have a point, make it with complete sentences like we do, or go away.

  384. #384 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    I’m skeptical that words like “faggot” are unmistakable signs of bigotry. “Girly-man” and variant expressions are used as pejoratives, and yet I doubt the implication there is that women are inferior. The goal of insults like “girly-man” is to belittle someone’s manhood. Same goes with “gay” and “faggot”, in many instances.

    And yes, people can take great pride in their “manhood”, without being in the least bigoted or intolerant. I doubt their doing so makes much logical sense. Not everyone takes the trouble to subject his own convictions to fine-comb scrutiny.

  385. #385 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    oh, fuck it… PC language police just get on my nerves. People are literally dying for equality, and this is all you can whine about. … For the record, I am probably just as liberal and progressive as most of the commenters here on MOST issues. I just can’t stand seeing a post about real, life and death equality issues derailed into an overprivileged whinefest.

    Really, Neil? So tell me, what impact do any of your posts here have upon the lives of women in Muslim countries? Zero.

    So what harm comes about if the discussion gets derailed somewhat? Zero.

    And you complaining about a discussion of sexist language, what difference does that make upon the lives of women in Muslim countries? Zero.

    But you can have an impact on the world right in front of you. You can silence any discussion of sexist language on this thread. So that’s what you choose to do.

    And you, Neil, coming from the stupendous height of privilege that it takes to tell other people what they can and can talk about, and where… well, it’s certainly the height of irony.

    The real shorter Neil: “My freedom of expression is more important than your feelings. Grow the fuck up and deal with it, you sniveling little bitch-ass crybaby.”

    Nobody suggested taking away your freedom of expression. Nobody wants to infringe upon your First Amendment rights. But normal people do consider other people in their day to day lives. When you interpret a request for human empathy as an affront to your precious little ego, then you are in fact being a crybaby. Did you throw these same tantrums when your parents tried to teach you to say please and thank you? Grow up, kid.

  386. #386 windy
    March 14, 2009

    As long as we are discussing language, the Online Etymology Dictionary says that cunt is of unknown origin, not necessarily from the Latin ‘cunnus’.

    Kel:

    In Australia, we use the word “cunt” as a term of endearment. The way Americans react to the word just makes me want to use it more.

    Has anyone taught you the Finnish equivalent yet? :)

  387. #387 simon
    March 14, 2009

    PZM : “PZM : “Islam hate women”

    and you are a drug addict

    What is the difference ?

    so, 1 vs 3, which one is better ?

    it is absurd to judge other if yours is worse !

    Wisdom :

    You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

  388. #388 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    The goal of insults like “girly-man” is to belittle someone’s manhood.

    Erasmus, do try to at least address the replies that have already been given. Like,

    Wait, what? Calling another man a woman, as an insult, isn’t hatred of women? Seriously? How could it be anything but?

    And the whole idea that being called a “faggot” should be damaging to one’s “manhood,” presumes that being a “faggot” is bad.

    You really are not even trying to be honest, Erasmus. You know damned well that when men are taunted with “faggot” it’s because that’s presumed to be a bad thing. There is no honest way to deny this. I await your bullshitting.

  389. #389 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Louis:

    I am using the word as part of a discussion about word usage, as indeed have many people the academic world over. I hope you are not accusing them, and me, of racism simply because we’ve used a word in a discussion about words.

    You can debate semantics all you want Loius, but the fact is that there are some words in the language that have absolutely no other meaning. You can discuss the word academically, but there is no other use for that word other than as a racist epithet. Similarly, there is no other use for the words wop, kike, or any number of other racially slanderous terms – the point being that aside from discussing the prejudice of racial slurs, there is no reason to dicuss them “academically.”

    There are no new definitions. It means what it always did. Therefore it is easier to use this word as an indicator of a specific mindset. Easier, but not perfectly so.

    Your first and last statements are contradictory. Again, point out where it can be used outside its only definition, and why there is any benefit to discussing it academically, and then you will have shown that it cannot be indicative “perfectly so.”

  390. #390 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    As to JFK,i shall refrain from commenting since ive had too many beers,but it wouldnt be pretty.

    Hah. Bring it. You’re an imbecile and always have been.

  391. #391 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Has anyone taught you the Finnish equivalent yet? :)

    Not yet, I’m still learning the very basics. Figured learning the difference between kyla, kylla, and kyyla (excuse the missing dots) was enough to start with. Especially kyyla

  392. #392 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    My point remains that there are shades of grey here, varying in hue from word to word based partly on their speciation status. I hope that, despite length, repetition and turgidity, that is clear to someone other than me!

    Louis, you’re trying to imply that you’re the only person here who sees shades of gray. But, from way back when:

    Something else frequently misunderstood – the use of the word doesn’t mean one is automatically misogynistic, it means one has internalized sexism. We all have – we are a patriarchal society.

  393. #393 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Louis:

    the use of the word doesn’t mean one is automatically misogynistic, it means one has internalized sexism. We all have – we are a patriarchal society.

    Wow, the idiocy in that statement is absolutely blinding. After all, if you’ve only internalized racism within yourself, its crazy to call you a racist, right??

    And as for “we all have,” speak for your damn self. Ever since I reached the age of reason, the type of society I live has never, and will never, dictate the content of my character. That’s just a cop out for someone holding a certain viewpoint and not letting go of it.

  394. #394 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    BrokenSoldier OM:

    With great respect I think you have missed my point and moved the goalposts again. Please reread what I said above.

    I thought I’d explained myself pretty clearly. I am not saying that word “nigger” can be used with meanings other than its original meaning, in fact I’ve been unbelievably clear on the matter. I think you are conflating ” a person’s racist intent” with ” a word’s racist meaning”.

    I’ve explained the example I used, why I used it, and what relevance it has in post #366. I’ve done so clearly and politely, and I don’t think I deserve to have my argument misrepresented the way you are currently doing. Like I said, please reread. Sorry if this reply is not satisfactory.

    JFK:

    No I am absolutely NOT trying to imply that. Please stop misrepresenting me and imputing motives to me that I simply don’t have. Try acting as if you believe I’m trying to have an intellectual discussion in good faith, because you’ll find I am.

    Louis

  395. #395 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Words like “cunt” have yet to fully speciate in the way the “gay” has.

    Let’s just be clear, here, Louis.

    What you are requesting is that you should be able to call people “cunts” without anyone thinking of you as a misogynist for it.

    This is, quite frankly, an absurd request, one that will never be granted. Women who are called “cunts” recognize the word for its misogyny. You aren’t going to convince them that their own experiences are lies. And yet you go on, and on, and on, about how no one has any right to use the experiences of their own lives in order to apply a heuristic to you.

    Again, you may or may not be a misogynist. You insist upon sounding like one. After being told that you sound like one, you continue to insist upon it. It is reasonable then to assume that you are okay with being judged as a misogynist. That’s all. That’s all anyone said; you sound like one, so we’re going to reasonably assume that you are one.

    Fine with you? Fine with me.

  396. #396 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    #393 should have been labeled Endor

  397. #397 windy
    March 14, 2009
  398. #398 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Erm BrokenSoldier OM, I didn’t say that!

    It’s a quote from someone else. Gimme a minute to check back and see if I fucked up block quotes.

    Louis

  399. #399 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Thanks Windy, bookmarked it for later use. I’ll learn the language yet, one vittu at a time.

  400. #400 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Posted by: Louis | March 14, 2009 9:06 AM

    BrokenSoldier OM:
    With great respect I think you have missed my point and moved the goalposts again. Please reread what I said above.

    I have no need to – you still haven’t enumerated why that word should justifiably be used, outside its racial connotations. And you’ve even admitted as much, yet for some reason you derive some pleasure out of constantly seeing it placed in your posts.

    I think you are conflating ” a person’s racist intent” with ” a word’s racist meaning”.

    If the only meaning a single word has is a racist one, then the only reason for repeatedly using that word is to convey its racial nature across to the recipient. No one here has deigned to discuss that word “academically” – whatever the fuck that means – so your incessant insistence on using it is getting really tired, and it is becoming clear that you simply enjoy using the word. And since the word cannot justifiably be used in any other than a racist manner, by trying to “discuss it academically,” you are merely trying to create some artifical reason to justify your continued use of it.

  401. #401 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Posted by: Louis | March 14, 2009 9:09 AM

    Erm BrokenSoldier OM, I didn’t say that!

    Look two posts above yours there.

  402. #402 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    And the whole idea that being called a “faggot” should be damaging to one’s “manhood,” presumes that being a “faggot” is bad.

    My point is that male competition often revolves around an abstractum called manhood. It’s a vague and broad concept, but there are a few fairly concrete ideas about what it is and what it isn’t. One thing seems to be clear, and that is that most men interpret manhood as being in opposition with stereotypically gay (“camp”) behaviour.

    My opinion is that many men are playing a game against one another, in which the objective is to accumulate the most “manhood points”. Being “gay” and/or “girly”, for whatever reason, gives you negative points. This game operates on a purely instinctive level, with very little being thought through consciously.

    According to this view, gay men aren’t in general seen as “inferior”. They’re just losers in an imaginary pissing contest.

    I am of course not condoning any of the above. The concept of manhood is riddled with pitfalls, if you look at it closely enough. So is the Cartesian theatre. Nonsensical ideas can nonetheless have deep behavioural significance.

  403. #403 windy
    March 14, 2009

    JFK:

    What you are requesting is that you should be able to call people “cunts” without anyone thinking of you as a misogynist for it.

    I don’t think you are being fair, when Louis said in the very first post on this subject that

    I’d disagree that the use of cunt, twat, and pussy are definite indicators of misogyny, any more than the use of dick, knob, and cock are definite indicators of misandry. However I would agree that they CAN be, and thus should be used carefully and in the relevant context.

  404. #404 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Wow, the idiocy in that statement is absolutely blinding. After all, if you’ve only internalized racism within yourself, its crazy to call you a racist, right??

    And as for “we all have,” speak for your damn self. Ever since I reached the age of reason, the type of society I live has never, and will never, dictate the content of my character. That’s just a cop out for someone holding a certain viewpoint and not letting go of it.

    Brokensoldier, I don’t know if Endor is coming back to the thread, but I’ll try to explain this.

    The point is to try to get people to examine their prejudices without raising defenses. Okay, we all grow up in a racist culture. It’s to be expected that we will all learn some racism from growing up in this culture. That explains the results of implicit association test, for instance (go try the test if you never have before).

    Acknowledging that we have all learned some racism is just necessary, it’s a fact. It doesn’t mean that we’re all “bad people” or whatever, though. And it’s really, really hard to talk to someone about unlearning racism if they’re putting up defenses, insisting “but I can’t be racist, I’m not a bad person,” etc.

    So it’s helpful, sometimes, when people are at least willing to consider the possibility that this is a racist society, to get them to think about the things they’ve learned since they were small children. And one way to do that is to point out internalized racism without jumping down their throats and yelling, “aha, you’re a racist!” That just raises the defenses and then they can’t examine any subconscious prejudices.

    By being relatively nonjudgemental instead, acknowledging that almost everyone learns some subconscious racism, and not by their own intention, but by accident, people can learn to approach their biases, without hating themselves for it (which is useless) and without plugging their ears and yelling “no no no I’m not a racist, I can’t be a racist” (also, useless).

    This rhetorical device is a well tested tool, and to the extent that anything works, it works.

    Now, how did you do on the implicit association test? If, for instance, it turned out that you have a slight unconscious preference for white faces, then do you think it’s really helpful to call that “just a cop out for someone holding a certain viewpoint and not letting go of it”?

  405. #405 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    People put way too much thought into the meaning behind certain expressions. Once a word hits the lexicon, surely the case can be made that use of it is imitation rather than something malicious.

  406. #406 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    “just a cop out for someone holding a certain viewpoint and not letting go of it”?

    Admittedly, that was harsh, and I see that it’s not really what Endor was saying. I have to humbly retract that one.

  407. #407 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    According to this view, gay men aren’t in general seen as “inferior”. They’re just losers in an imaginary pissing contest.

    Erasmus, this is bullshit and you know it. You aren’t fooling anyone.

  408. #408 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @ JFK #395:

    NO!!!!

    As I’ve said repeatedly I am explicitly NOT asking for this, this has been your consistent straw man of what I am saying.

    To be blunt I am beginning to think you are deliberately, and therefore dishonestly, misrepresenting me, because I’ve been extremely clear about this.

    What I am arguing is that “Simple use of word X is insufficient grounds for judgement Y in the absence of context” which is what BMS claimed (the start of this cascade) and what (in a slightly different way) Endor and others claimed re: implicit bigotry/apathy/cluelessness etc. It was an absolutist claim: use of word X as insult always equals motives Y. I’m taking issue with that absolutist linguistic claim. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. As, again, I’ve explained several times.

    As I’ve said several times if one is directing the word “cunt” at a woman in order to derogate her as nothing more than her genitals, of course that horribly misogynist. Referring to women as “cunts” equally so. Deliberately referring to anyone as a “cunt” with the express intent of derogation by association with female genitals is also equally abhorrent. BUT, and this is the key point that you and Endor and everyone have failed to address (and look up thread I addressed the straw man you quote), that whatever original meaning exists, however bigoted SOME uses are, because the meaning of the word has evolved not ALL uses are.

    I am in no way trying to excuse myself anything or reserve myself anything. I am arguing against a specific linguistic claim. As stated, clearly, several times. Please, please, please, PLEASE try to realise that.

    Louis

  409. #409 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    People put way too much thought into the meaning behind certain expressions. Once a word hits the lexicon, surely the case can be made that use of it is imitation rather than something malicious.

    And kids grow up imitating their parents saying “nigger.” Imitation doesn’t rob the word of its meaning.

  410. #410 Feynmaniac
    March 14, 2009

    Kel,

    If you don’t believe me, go harass a bear cub in front of it’s mother and see what happens.

    You have to pick a good time to do this however. If the mother bear is busy killing 42 children in the name of God it might not work.

    Facilis,

    In order to have morals you need a metaphysical foundation.

    M. Ruse can deny the foundations of morality and still behave morally

    You just contradicted yourself.

    To refer to my “breathing air” example,an atheist can deny air…

    And that’s where you analogy fails. We have tons of empirical evidence for the existence of air. Nothing remotely similar can be said about God. When asked to give empirical evidence for God you gave a an abstract, theoretical, fallacious argument and not once pointed to data.

  411. #411 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    And kids grow up imitating their parents saying “nigger.” Imitation doesn’t rob the word of its meaning.

    That one is different because of it’s explicit connotation to racism.

  412. #412 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Broken SoldierOM,

    I think we cross posted re: posts 401/398/396 your quote of Endor above. Don’t worry I won’t demand an apology! ;-)

    Re: #400:

    I am in no way getting any pleasure out of using the N word (if that’s how you prefer it to be written, frankly, I see no need to be so twee), it is an EXAMPLE of an unevolved word.

    I could get quite annoyed by your insult, because it’s false and very rude, but I won’t. I genuinely think you have honestly misread my argument and I would hope you are capable of the basic intellectual honesty to go back and reread something that someone is sincerely asking you to because they feel you have misrepresented them.

    I have explained, very clearly and patiently that I am not trying to achieve what you think I am trying to achieve. Please try to read what I have actually written and deal with what I am actually saying. I sincerely beg of you, if only because I don’t think we differ that greatly on this issue. I am really not saying, for example, that the word can be used outside of its racist connotations. As I mentioned you’re conflating a word’s meaning with the intentions of it’s user (which is what this discussion has been about).

    I honestly cannot ask this sincerely enough. I don’t think you have grasped what argument I am making, rather than restate it AGAIN, please reread it. I think you have honestly made a mistake/misreading. I am not saying the things you claim I am saying. Is it beyond you to admit that the possibility exists that you have misunderstood?

    Louis

  413. #413 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    What I am arguing is that “Simple use of word X is insufficient grounds for judgement Y in the absence of context” which is what BMS claimed (the start of this cascade) and what (in a slightly different way) Endor and others claimed re: implicit bigotry/apathy/cluelessness etc. It was an absolutist claim: use of word X as insult always equals motives Y. I’m taking issue with that absolutist linguistic claim. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. As, again, I’ve explained several times.

    Then drop it. Nobody cares about your weird little obsession. No, that was not what Endor claimed, and no one else has endorsed what BMS claimed, and BMS hasn’t come back. If that is your obsession, then you are talking to no one.

    BUT, and this is the key point that you and Endor and everyone have failed to address (and look up thread I addressed the straw man you quote), that whatever original meaning exists, however bigoted SOME uses are, because the meaning of the word has evolved not ALL uses are.

    I don’t care, Louis. I don’t care if some asshole thinks that “that’s gay” is an appropriate way to communicate “that’s bad,” but the asshole doesn’t hold a big heap of homophobic beliefs.

    I don’t care. What I know is that enough people who say “that’s gay” to mean “that’s bad” are homo-hating, and it’s a pretty useful rule of thumb.

    And if I tell the asshole that “that’s gay” is not an appropriate way of saying “that’s bad”, and the asshole doesn’t care that he sounds like a homo-hater, and continues to do it anyway, then I know that the asshole is an asshole, not worth my time or respect.

    So.

    Even if there are non-misogynist ways to use the word “cunt,” I don’t care if some a few non-misogynist assholes have come up with such ways. They still sound like misogynists. And if, upon being told that they sound like misogynists, they continue to do it, then I conclude they don’t care about being judged as misogynists. And so I will judge them as misogynists. Fine with them, fine with me.

  414. #414 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    JFK,

    Incidentally there is not a word of your post #404 I would disagree with.

    Please understand that you have been misreading my argument, and misinterpreting the direction of it. My arguments are directed PURELY at a linguistic claim made by BSM and slightly differently by Endor. For the love of reason please understand the difference between that and your straw man.

    Cheers

    Louis

  415. #415 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    That one is different because of it’s explicit connotation to racism.

    Different, how? Different than “cunt” and its explicit connotation to sexism? Different than “faggot” and its explicit connotation to homophobia? What else are we talking about?

  416. #416 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Louis:

    You are trying to claim that the racial slur against african-americans is just as harmless as the word ‘cunt,’ as long as you don’t mean it as an insult. But – unlike the word ‘cunt,’ which I tend to agree with you concerning misogyny – that racial slur is simply unnecessary, and an academic discussion of it is an exercise in futility. As you said, its etymology simply has not evolved. I do take back the suggestion that you simply enjoy using it, with apologies, but my position is unmoved concerning the needlessness of its use. As Kel pointed out above, this word is simply in a class of its own, due both to its lack of alternate meaning and its extreme history of hatred.

  417. #417 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    Simon, please shut the fuck up.

    You’re embarrassing yourself.

  418. #418 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    JFK:

    Erasmus, this is bullshit and you know it. You aren’t fooling anyone.

    And you’re not fooling anyone either. You’re clearly trolling, trying to bait us with unnecessarily provocative language.

    There’s no evidence I’m not being honest. I thought I made some valid points.

  419. #419 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Different, how? Different than “cunt” and its explicit connotation to sexism? Different than “faggot” and its explicit connotation to homophobia? What else are we talking about?

    The continual reminder of the use of such a word. If you are going to understand how a word is used in a society then I suggest you actually drop the idea that meaning is static and see in what context the word is used in the everyday lexicon. In Australia, the word “cunt” has become a term of endearment, it’s not used in Australia like it’s used in America at all. And if you didn’t understand the way in with Australians use slang and profanity, it could easily be misconstrued as being a misogynistic insult when it’s use for the most part is nothing of the sort. Sure it can be used as a derogatory insult to women – but it’s seldom use in that respect and it’s continued use in a different way means that when an Aussie says “cunt” it has no misogynistic leanings at all.

    All I’m saying is that it’s important to understand how a word is used and how that fits into the culture of a society. And from that words can and do change meaning over time. That needs to be kept in mind before jumping to conclusions about the character of such a person using the word.

  420. #420 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    JFK,

    Is it really beyond you to act like a rational adult and treat someone who disagrees with you honestly and politely as acting in good faith? Please quit the insults, they are unnecessary and based on your misunderstandings of what I am saying.

    I don’t have any weird little obsession, and I am absolutely NOT defending the sorts of usages you give examples of with the “that’s gay” etc. I’d agree that those are (at least potentially, context dependant) expressions of (latent) homophobia.

    And btw, Endor DID explicitly claim that “use of word X is, in the absence of context, indicative of intent/attitude Y”. She did it in a different way than BMS and to a different extent, as mentioned by me several times above, and I have been explicitly addressing Endor’s points. See post #370 above for example. BTW Iam not being rude to Endor, trying to call her names, insult her, disparage her or upset her. I am merely disagreeing with a specific claim she made (I think on other grounds she and I, and indeed you and I have great points of agreement), perfectly politely and hopefully in an intellectual way.

    I suppose your comments and insults re: weird little obsessions etc are attempts to silence me. I could comment on the irony of this, but I shan’t.

    As I said to BrokenSoldier OM, please reread what I have written and try to do so on the assumption that I am acting in good faith. I might be wrong, I freely admit the possibility exists, but unfortunately thus far you haven’t addressed my actual arguments. I’m sorry if you don’t like me saying that, but I’m at a loss to say it more politely. I know it’s long, and I have repeated myself several times but I’d be grateful if we could treat each other with a modicum of respect as thus far I have tried to deal politely with your arguments and not impute motives/biases etc to you. Please assume I am acting in good faith, no matter how mistaken you believe me to be.

    Cheers

    Louis

  421. #421 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    There’s no evidence I’m not being honest. I thought I made some valid points.

    Outright dishonesty:

    According to this view, gay men aren’t in general seen as “inferior”.

    Now, Erasmus, either you inhabit some parallel dimension where there is no violence against gay people, no laws privileging straight relationships over gay ones, and no religious movement to brainwash gay people into being “ex-gay,” or you’re bullshitting.

    On the one hand, we have your assertion that gay people are not generally seen as inferior to straight people, and on the other hand, we have all the evidence in the world to the contrary.

  422. #422 windy
    March 14, 2009

    Even if there are non-misogynist ways to use the word “cunt,” I don’t care if some a few non-misogynist assholes have come up with such ways. They still sound like misogynists. And if, upon being told that they sound like misogynists, they continue to do it, then I conclude they don’t care about being judged as misogynists.

    Maybe they don’t care about being judged as misogynists by people who refuse to consider that the word has a different context in different English-speaking countries.

    I don’t care. What I know is that enough people who say “that’s gay” to mean “that’s bad” are homo-hating, and it’s a pretty useful rule of thumb.

    What about people who say “bugger”?

  423. #423 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    I’d disagree that the use of cunt, twat, and pussy are definite indicators of misogyny, any more than the use of dick, knob, and cock are definite indicators of misandry. However I would agree that they CAN be, and thus should be used carefully and in the relevant context.

    Could you please provide a few examples of the careful uses and relevant contexts you’re talking about?

    IST, way above:

    As to your incredulous statement.. have you any idea why men call other men female organs? Do you honestly not grasp the connotation? I admit that it is sexist, overt or not, but the insult is usually implying someone is timid, fragile, etc… things stereotypically associated with women. I fail how to see that it’s hateful in the least. Is it not possible for someone to have qualities you don’t wish to emulate, especially because you’ve been culturally conditioned to think that you shouldn’t, without it being hatred? It falls more to traditional gender roles than anything else.

    Leaving aside for the moment that you evidently don’t understand what gender roles are,… My friend’s mother died yesterday.* She worked for Planned Parenthood in the earliest days and was on the front lines fighting for women’s reproductive rights for decades. She was also the first person I ever heard speak out bluntly against the Catholic Church and its misogyny in social situations, well before the appearance of the “New Atheists.” My friend and her sister cared for her and their father for more than a decade of her degenerative disease. People who associate strength and bravery with one gender can go fuck themselves.

    *Yes, it’s been a very sad week.

  424. #424 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @BrokenSoldier #416:

    NONONONONONO!

    God fucking FSM NO!

    I am absolutely in no way in any sense trying to claim that! Crikey! No no no!I could not be more emphatically NOT trying to claim that!

    It is not a harmless word, and no way near as “harmless” as cunt (and really that word is not 100% harmless either). This is why I have been appealing for you to reread what I have written. I could tell from the outset that this was the misapprehension you were operating under, I didn’t mention it because I thought (probably correctly) that it would derail things further.

    Please BrokenSoldier, reread my post above at (I think) #366, I have honestly tried to clear up the misapprehension in that post.

    Thanks

    Louis

  425. #425 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    The word bastard is another word used in Aussie english as a term of endearment, and an insult. Though the insult has nothing to do with it’s original meaning. It’s not an insult to do with being born out of wedlock anymore, no-one really gives a shit about that former-societal status symbol.

  426. #426 Ian Gould
    March 14, 2009

    “The clerics apparently didn’t like the thought of being out-crazied by that Bishop in Brazil. ‘

    Curiously, the events in Brazil didn’t result in calls to bomb Catholic countries back to the Stone Age.

  427. #427 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    first take the plank out of your own eye

    First, facilis, take the hand out of your pants. It has made you go blind.

    Atheist morality:
    If I do X will it harm myself or others? No – proceed to next point.
    Yes = X’ 

    If I do X, will it help myself or others? Yes = X, no = X

    Third, am I drunk or judgement-impaired, or just plain stupid? Yes? Postpone decision. In your case, permanently. 

    If we’ve passed these simple tests, then, go on to consult others, consider possible selfish prejudices, and repeat questions carefully if X is a serious act, with many possible consequences.

    But I’m afraid that playing dead-philosopher-blindfold-idea-pointy/quotey just doesn’t work on any level.

    Tell me, who does wipe your bottom? Nietzsche?

     

    mrdmr

  428. #428 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Sure it can be used as a derogatory insult to women – but it’s seldom use in that respect and it’s continued use in a different way means that when an Aussie says “cunt” it has no misogynistic leanings at all.

    It’s an insult against women that has been more broadly appropriated. Yes, I understand that. Everyone fucking understands that. The point is that you’re using the connotations of an insult against women to give meaning to other insults. Like when “that’s gay” becomes a general purpose “that’s bad.” But the connotation only works because it presumes being gay as being a bad thing. Likewise “cunt” only works for other insults because it presumes associations of femaleness as being a bad thing.

    So, it’s an insult against women, except when it’s not, and when it’s not, even though you sound like a misogynist, you insist that no one is allowed to judge you as a misogynist.

    By all means, Kel, Windy, if you want to use language that so many women recognize as a hateful slur against them, go ahead. I can’t stop you.

    But if you know that you sound like a misogynist, and you decide to continue to sound like a misogynist, just don’t be surprised when people judge you as a misogynist.

  429. #429 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    Now, Erasmus, either you inhabit some parallel dimension where there is no violence against gay people, no laws privileging straight relationships over gay ones, and no religious movement to brainwash gay people into being “ex-gay,” or you’re bullshitting.

    No, but I inhabit a parallel dimension that’s pretty close to that. It’s a little place called Western Europe. I don’t see a shred of evidence that gays are treated as “inferior” in Western Europe, and much of America. Quite the opposite a lot of the time, due to the sensitivity and the pressure groups.

    Anyway, my phrasing was clumsy. Obviously in most of the world homosexuals are discriminated against and seen as inferior. What I meant is that homosexuals aren’t necessarily seen as inferior by those people who throw around words like “faggot”. I wanted to draw attention to the possibility of a class of insults that’s used in “manhood games” and doesn’t really have any wider significance.

  430. #430 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    I might be wrong, I freely admit the possibility exists, but unfortunately thus far you haven’t addressed my actual arguments.

    I have. Louis. I have. Over and over again.

    I am beginning to suspect that you just don’t care.

  431. #431 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    But if you know that you sound like a misogynist, and you decide to continue to sound like a misogynist, just don’t be surprised when people judge you as a misogynist.

    If that happens, it happens. You can’t change the preconceptions of people, all you can do is act within the limits as best you can. On here since a lot of you are Yankees I don’t use profanity much because I’ve found that it doesn’t fly in American dialogue unless one is angry. When I’m on Australian sites or hanging with friends, we all swear a lot more because we know the boundaries of what one can say.

    So yes people will judge, people are great at judging others. Calling for a bit of tolerance and understanding of the cultural context surely isn’t too much to ask for.

  432. #432 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    By the way, in the north of England, at least, “cunt” as a pejorative usually doesn’t have misogynistic implications, any more than “dickhead” or “wanker”. In fact it is very often 100% interchangeable with “prick”.

  433. #433 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    I don’t see a shred of evidence that gays are treated as “inferior” in Western Europe, and much of America.

    If I recall, you are from the UK. Where straight people are first-class citizens who can get married, but gay people are second-class citizens who are … ahem, “separate but equal.”

    As for America, Erasmus, you don’t have a fucking clue.

    What I meant is that homosexuals aren’t necessarily seen as inferior by those people who throw around words like “faggot”. I wanted to draw attention to the possibility of a class of insults that’s used in “manhood games” and doesn’t really have any wider significance.

    If in these “games,” “manhood” is a “good thing,” and being a “faggot,” (Jesus, Erasmus, you really love defending your hate speech don’t you), being a “faggot” diminishes that “good thing,” “manhood,” then being a “faggot” is a “bad thing.”

    It’s simple, it’s obvious, you cannot honestly argue otherwise, so how about you “fuck off.”

  434. #434 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    Sorry. Meant to say “…any more than ‘dickhead’ or ‘wanker’ have misandrous implications”.

  435. #435 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    As regards the use of the word “cunt” – isn’t it entirely company dependent? I call my best male friends this, sometimes, no female friend this, ever, and one-or-two real life enemies this, not to their faces, but as the most brutal way I can think of to express their cosmic nastiness and negative influence.
    However, the usage of the word as an insult, and it seems to have no other function, is problematic – I can imagine circumstances in which I get carried away and have to apologise to a whole room full of people for saying it. Which serves me right for getting it wrong.

    And although this is slightly OT, don’t women who have just seen The Vagina Monologues leave the theatre chanting it, and with T-shirts bearing it in large letters?

  436. #436 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    If that happens, it happens.

    And when women say “please don’t use the word cunt that way” and you reply “sorry but your opinion doesn’t count,” well, that’s either privilege or outright sexism.

  437. #437 windy
    March 14, 2009

    It’s an insult against women that has been more broadly appropriated. Yes, I understand that. Everyone fucking understands that. The point is that you’re using the connotations of an insult against women to give meaning to other insults. Like when “that’s gay” becomes a general purpose “that’s bad.” But the connotation only works because it presumes being gay as being a bad thing. Likewise “cunt” only works for other insults because it presumes associations of femaleness as being a bad thing.

    No, it has a different connotation in those contexts. Like “bastard”, “bugger” or “dick”: they no longer immediately invoke the original meaning of the insult.

    By all means, Kel, Windy, if you want to use language that so many women recognize as a hateful slur against them, go ahead. I can’t stop you.

    Thanks for the patronizing endorsement. I’m sure none of us plan to run around calling women cunts in North America or other contexts where it is considered hateful. But if the word has lost much of its misogynistic connotation in UK or Australia, isn’t that a good thing?

  438. #438 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    If I recall, you are from the UK. Where straight people are first-class citizens who can get married, but gay people are second-class citizens who are … ahem, “separate but equal.”

    That is complete and utter bullshit. The Civil Partnership Act of 2004 gives gay couples identical rights to opposite-sex married couples. You accuse me of not “having a fucking clue”. I suggest that in future you ensure you know what you’re talking about before using such cocksure, confrontational language.

    in these “games,” “manhood” is a “good thing,” and being a “faggot,” (Jesus, Erasmus, you really love defending your hate speech don’t you), being a “faggot” diminishes that “good thing,” “manhood,” then being a “faggot” is a “bad thing.”

    No, I’m not defending it. I made that clear. I think the word is highly distasteful and I am against using it. My point was merely that those who do use it are not necessarily homophobes.

  439. #439 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    And when women say “please don’t use the word cunt that way” and you reply “sorry but your opinion doesn’t count,” well, that’s either privilege or outright sexism.

    If present company takes offence, then I apologise and move on. Of course their opinion counts, if you are going to argue please don’t build up straw-man arguments to attack.

  440. #440 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Thanks for the patronizing endorsement. I’m sure none of us plan to run around calling women cunts in North America or other contexts where it is considered hateful. But if the word has lost much of its misogynistic connotation in UK or Australia, isn’t that a good thing?

    Keep running with that idea then. Go on and explain how it’s a good thing that “that’s gay” has come to mean “that’s bad.”

  441. #441 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    That is complete and utter bullshit. The Civil Partnership Act of 2004 gives gay couples identical rights to opposite-sex married couples. You accuse me of not “having a fucking clue”. I suggest that in future you ensure you know what you’re talking about before using such cocksure, confrontational language.

    “Identical rights” except that they’re not good enough to be called married.

    Gay people are second class citizens in most every country on earth. Certainly the UK. If they were first class citizens then they could get married like everybody else.

    My point was merely that those who do use it are not necessarily homophobes.

    Jesus, Erasmus, then get a fucking clue:

    Something else frequently misunderstood – the use of the word doesn’t mean one is automatically [homo-hating], it means one has internalized [straight privilege]. We all have – we are a patriarchal society.

    You really are slow.

  442. #442 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    A friend of mine worked for the BBC World Service. There, he told me, was a Finn, working as a sound technician, who was very tall, very bald, very well-built, and very gay.
    Just to make this plain, he often wore a T-shirt with QUEER AS FUCK written on it.
    What did they do, in a place where important politicians and dignitaries were constantly in the building? Well, they just shuffled him off to the most distant studio they had, and tried to make sure that he was steered well away from the VIPs who were around.

    What they didn’t do, was to tell him not to wear it.

  443. #443 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC OM @ 423,

    I presume that’s a quote from way back up in the thread. I’ll cheerfully give those examples, but, and forgive the presumption on my part here, I’m going to hope you’ve read what I am actually arguing for and not the misrepresentations others have made.

    I understand gender roles perfectly well, and I also detest the association of strength and bravery with one sex (or gender if you prefer. Interestingly the word “gender” taken as it was from linguistics and applied to people is a point in proof of one of the things I’ve been arguing for). If you’ll forgive me asking SC, please do what some others have failed to do and, painful though it is, read all I have written with some care. People have mistaken the argument I have made a couple of times,I would hate to have any disagreement with you based on misunderstanding.

    I understand and agree with IST’s points in one sense: associations of the kind IST refers to ARE examples of bigotry, my point is that there are words for which the definitions have evolved beyond their original meanings. For example, in the UK (as mentioned) the words cunt and twat (particularly twat) have the genuine, separate from female genitalia, meaning of “undesirable or stupid person” for example “acting the twat” literally means acting the fool. “Acting like a dick” means exactly the same thing. These are colloquial, regional uses of originally sex oriented words that have an evolved meaning separate from their origins. Again, for example, like the word “gay” or “nice”. Incidentally “acting like a turd” in the UK typically means acting not stupidly, but unpleasantly.

    An example of the use of “cunt”:

    “Arse! I’ve dropped the cunting sugar!”

    Here “cunt”, like “fuck” (a possible replacement for it in this example) has been rendered almost meaningless. It is a modifier, a word used to express irritation by the potential shock value it has. I assure you these are common, if unpleasant usages in the UK. Interestingly if one uses these “emphasis words”/”modifiers” too much their meaninglessness is heightened at the expense of their effect. It becomes almost comical/foolish in an of itself.

    “Barry stop acting the cunt and lift your end of the sofa!”

    Another usage of the word “cunt” (twat/dick/cock/wanker/fuckwit/moron/arsehole etc would be interchangeable here, pussy/wimp/girl would not, it would change the meaning) this time intended to imply foolishness not derogation by association with women’s genitals. Note the interchangeability of other insults commonly (if crudely) used for “fool”

    “Barry is a cunt, I’m going no where near where he is.”

    Another usage of “cunt”, similarly interchangeable with the words above, this time used to indicate unpleasantness. The point to note is that these words are interchangeable with male sexed words, sexless words, they are the standard scatological/excretory “dirty” words and not used to imply a sexed connotation.

    I freely agree and admit that in different parts of the world these usages are not common and as such the judgements people have been basing on their use might be (more) valid. However, that doesn’t defeat one of the central points I have been making, in fact it reinforces it: that the assumption of bigotry on the part of someone who uses the word is dependant on context.

    I have freely agreed that, for example, if these words are directed at a woman, and if their context is such that it is obvious that derogation of that woman on the basis of referring to her as mere genitalia, then this is abhorrent misogyny. What I am taking issue with is that simple use is enough to establish misogyny, overt or latent, apathy to the plight of women, cluelessness etc. Please understand the difference.

    Incidentally, the word “pussy” is a good example, like “bitch” of a highly sexually charged word. Describing someone as a “pussy” is, I heartily agree, a derogation of them based on comparison with female genitals and as such and example of (at least) latent bigotry or ignorance. Referring to women as bitches is likewise. You’ll not find me defend those usages anywhere. Nor in fact am I defending the use of these words, all I am doing is disagreeing with a SPECIFIC set of (slightly differing) linguistic claims made by BMS, Endor and others.

    Cheers

    Louis

  444. #444 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Nullity of Marriage Act 1971:

    … A marriage, the parties to which are not respectively male and female, is void. … a decree could only be obtained if there had been a ceremony between two persons on whom the status of husband and wife might be conferred, and not if, for example, two homosexuals went through a marriage ceremony

    Hint: if your nation has explicitly anti-gay laws on the books, like this one, then gay people are second class citizens at best.

  445. #445 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    “that’s gay” has come to mean “that’s bad.”

    It doesn’t mean that – “that’s gay” refers to something which is rubbish, unfashionable, undesirable, and naff. That’s even more annoying to gays than it just being pejorative – so in a way we’ve moved on.
    I think it can be funny myself – as in “I hate Shakespeare – he’s so/i> gay”. And, to an extent, it punctures a certain pomposity gay people sometimes have.
    Which is nothing, I think, to detract from their right to be, to do, and to marry.

  446. #446 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @ JFK #430,

    Sadly no you haven’t, you beaten up a lot of straw and chucked more than a few unwarranted insults about. I’d like to think that you could recognise the myriad points on which we agree, and recognise your misrepresentations of my arguments, but I won’t hold my breath.

    I’m sorry you apparently think that acting like a rational adult and arguing with people in good faith is something you don’t need to do.

    Louis

  447. #447 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    “Identical rights” except that they’re not good enough to be called married.

    Gay people are second class citizens in most every country on earth. Certainly the UK. If they were first class citizens then they could get married like everybody else.

    Gay couples do call it marriage if that’s how they like to see it. The law doesn’t call it marriage, understandably, because it doesn’t want to open a new can of worms, given how the word has always been loaded with religious connotations. How does any of this make homosexuals “second-class citizens”? You were obviously exaggerating (bullshitting, if I want to use your ruthlessly uncharitable vernacular).

  448. #448 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Also JFK, please don’t mistake my arguments for those of other people (no names mentioned) re: “that’s gay”. because I am not making those arguments.

    Louis

  449. #449 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    It doesn’t mean that – “that’s gay” refers to something which is rubbish, unfashionable, undesirable, and naff.

    Oh, wonderful. So “gay” is “rubbish” and “undesirable”.

    Look, you’re making my point for me.

  450. #450 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Louis:

    I am absolutely in no way in any sense trying to claim that!

    Then I was mistaken. That particular term is one I loathe for very pointed and personal reasons, and thus I do not see any reason for having an academic discussion about it. That is why I reacted as I did, and why I took your statements and usage of it to mean what I did.

  451. #451 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    Errr…possibly. But it’s no longer hatespeak, in common parlance (which is not of course to deny that there is hatespeak and hatred towards gays here – a friend of mine’s brother was actually beaten to death in a “gay-bashing” attack – yes, they were caught and imprisoned – but to an extent, gay people have been absorbed and accepted, which is just as it should be.
    However, I think that “naff” is better than “scary, threatening person”. I imagine that in the US the word “faggot” still has more of the second meaning.
    Then, of course, there are the more militant gays who insist on appropriating words like “queer” as proud statements of political existence and intent.

  452. #452 IST
    March 14, 2009

    SC> Sorry to hear about your friend’s mother. Note that I was giving the reason males use those words to insult other males, not asserting that reason is valid.

    JFK> You have twice now done exactly what you demand an apology for: attributed statements to people who didn’t make them. Your first block quote in 421 is Matt, you give credit to Erasmus in your haste to attack him.(The other is WAY above) I won’t demand an apology for either, because they’re perfectly capable of handling that themselves if they see fit. By what right do you demand apologies for other people? In Endor’s place, I’d find it demeaning. Hopefully she doesnt.
    Secondly, are you willing to admit that your “rule of thumb” for determining who is sexist, homophobic, or otherwise prejudiced is dogmatic and the application of a stereotype? Since you’re so into consciousness raising?
    It may be that if I choose to use an insult that slanders a group to which the person I’m insulting doesn’t belong, I get labelled as having a bias against that group. This is something I have to deal with for using that word. The question is are you really looking to non-argumentatively point out someone’s unconscious biases, or are you looking to take offense because someone happened to say a word you don’t like? The second is appreciated (at least by me), and Endor did a reasonably good job of it. You on the other hand have been combative from the beginning, slinging insults and attacking strawmen. Care to reconcile that?
    Short form: Neil’s right in stating that looking for offence in another’s words falls into the whiny PC nonsense… It doesn’t hurt my ego that you label me as a result unless I value your opinion. With most people I don’t at all, which makes me insensitive and not empathetic; I’m perfectly comfortable with that. Let’s not paint something for what it isn’t. My bias (at least the conscious one) is against dimwittery and the life version of concern trolls. I’m not going to go out of my way to cause offence unless I really intend to do so, unintentional offence to people about whom I actually care will be atoned for, and someone who happens to hear/see something they don’t like (when i don’t know/like/respect them) isn’t something I’m inclined to care about.

    Louis> How’s the tar baby treating you? I had a free hand, so I thought I’d get that one stuck too. I have to say, I admire your perserverence.

  453. #453 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    Regarding the Nullity of Marriage Act 1971. I think the main reason for that law was to get around the possibility of being married to someone who would turn out to be a transsexual.

  454. #454 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Also JFK, please don’t mistake my arguments for those of other people (no names mentioned) re: “that’s gay”. because I am not making those arguments.

    Louis, I recognize that. You are decent enough to admit when homophobia is homophobia.

    I don’t know why AnthonyK is now intent upon denying homophobia.

    As you might imagine, this sort of denialism is very frustrating to deal with on a daily basis.

    I’m going to bed after I insult Erasmus one more time. Please accept my apologies for not addressing everything you’ve said.

    All that I hope you understand from me is at #413. This addresses what I found relevant in your posts. The rest, in my opinion, has been skirting around the point of what Endor said at #194. Good night.

  455. #455 windy
    March 14, 2009

    JFK:

    And when women say “please don’t use the word cunt that way” and you reply “sorry but your opinion doesn’t count,”

    Apparently my opinion doesn’t count, since some people have decided that they speak for all women. Admittedly I’m not a native speaker, but then again I am not telling Australians and Brits how they should use their own language.

    Keep running with that idea then. Go on and explain how it’s a good thing that “that’s gay” has come to mean “that’s bad.”

    Er, it’s not a good thing because gay is a term for an actual group of people, and I assume they’d like to hang on to the word for the time being, whereas “cunts” is not such a self-identifying group, and it’s not a loss to women if the word evolves in the direction of a non-sex-specific insult.

    Could you in turn explain why it’s a bad thing that “bugger” is nowadays a very mild non-specific insult and even a term of endearment? Is it bad that people no longer immediately associate it with “sodomite”? Is anyone who says “oh, bugger” a homophobe?

  456. #456 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @ BrokenSoldier OM #450:

    No worries at all. I too have particularly personal reasons to detest that word, and all connotation associated with it. I just like to understand language, so the only reason I used that word was as an example of a word that hadn’t changed its meaning and thus could almost exclusively be used in the “bigotry/tacit bigotry/apathy/cluelessness diagnostic” manner others were claiming other words could.

    Crikey, I know I’m an idiot, but I’m not THAT SORT of idiot! ;-)

    Thanks.

    Louis

    P.S. BTW I have no problem causing offence where necessary, but this really isn’t one of those times. I hope you can forgive me the use of the unpleasant word(s) and were not offended. I extend that to everyone btw. I have had no intent or desire to offend or upset. I was merely disagreeing with a specific set of connected linguistic claims.

  457. #457 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    AnthonyK is now intent upon denying homophobia.
    Oh no, I’m not. Sorry if it seemed that way. In some countries, people are still executed for this non-crime. And my friend’s brother was brutally murdered “because” of it. So no, no, no.

  458. #458 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Your first block quote in 421 is Matt, you give credit to Erasmus in your haste to attack him.

    IST, you are an imbecile.

    There’s no evidence I’m not being honest. I thought I made some valid points.

    Posted by: Erasmus | March 14, 2009 9:56 AM

    According to this view, gay men aren’t in general seen as “inferior”.

    Posted by: Erasmus | March 14, 2009 9:24 AM

  459. #459 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Apparently my opinion doesn’t count, since some people have decided that they speak for all women.

    Liar, I said nothing of the sort. But there were women right here in this thread who spoke up about it, and while your opinion is your own and fine as it is, your opinion doesn’t override their opinions, already spoken here.

  460. #460 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Gay couples do call it marriage if that’s how they like to see it.

    Ah, isn’t that cute, the gays are allowed to pretend that they’re married. They can even call it a unicorn party if they really want to. But…

    The law doesn’t call it marriage, understandably, because it doesn’t want to open a new can of worms, given how the word has always been loaded with religious connotations.

    Everybody knows real marriage is for straight people. It would be a real can of worms if gay people were treated equally! Yikes!

    How does any of this make homosexuals “second-class citizens”? You were obviously exaggerating (bullshitting, if I want to use your ruthlessly uncharitable vernacular).

    Separate but equal. Is never equal.

    Bullshitter, liar, apologist for an explicitly anti-gay law. You suck, Erasmus.

  461. #461 IST
    March 14, 2009

    JFK> yea, noticed that after I hit post.. more coffee, less typing. You have my apologies for that. /snark fail.

  462. #462 JFK, hypercharismatic telepathical knight
    March 14, 2009

    Good night, homophobes and homophobia apologists!

    Good night, misogynists and misogyny apologists alike.

    Good night patriarchy. Wish it wouldn’t still be there when I wake up.

  463. #463 windy
    March 14, 2009

    Liar, I said nothing of the sort.

    I was referring to your “When women say…” which implied that women collectively say this, and also implied that none of us responders were women.

    But there were women right here in this thread who spoke up about it, and while your opinion is your own and fine as it is, your opinion doesn’t override their opinions, already spoken here.

    Maybe not, but some of what they claimed was stupid, like the claim that anyone who ever refers to women as “girls” hates women.

    Good night, sanctimonious twat!

  464. #464 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    However…one can go too far, in a misguided attempt to right linguistic wrongs.
    In a naughty boy’s school a friend teaches in, the head of care was a lesbian, and began to object to the casual way the boys used “gay” an insult. So she gathered together all the boys in the school to tell them this. She chose the tack of telling them how common homosexuality was, how wrong it was to call them names or discriminate against them, and how it made her feel when she heard these “insults”.
    Among other things she said: “between 10 and 15% of men and women are gay. That means that, out of the 60 or so boys in this school, 7 or 8 of you are gay.”
    The boys listened to this in sullen silence, taking her message on board. Then they thought about it and reasoned thus:
    “7 or 8 of us, eh? Who’s that then? Well, it would be Simon X, Tom Y, John Z…”
    And they went out as a gang and beat those boys up.

  465. #465 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    JFK,

    I have dealt with what Endor said in #194 in post #200 and beyond, very specifically. In fact, just up thread (about ~80 or so posts now! Aren’t we naughty?) I dedicated a significant post to words and their baggage directly responding to Endor’s points. I have addressed Endor very specifically and in no way have skirted around the very good points she’s made (many of which I agree with you’ll note). You might think your post #413 deals with what you find relevant, but since it deals with a misrepresentation of my arguments, perhaps based on an incomplete reading of them (a fact I am not unsympathetic with! lol), it sadly doesn’t. Sorry about that.

    There’s no need to apologise for not addressing everything I wrote, there’s a lot of it, just please don’t misrepresent it! That said, thanks for your apology. BTW I also cheerfully recognise misogyny, when I see it, for what it is. I am horribly intolerant of bigotry in all it’s forms. My point has always been that in certain circumstances “one of these things is not like the other”, if you see what I mean.

    I understand your heuristics (#413) for detection of bigots etc, and under certain circumstances I use the same heuristics. My point is that, just like we have to recognise our own capacity for culturally inculcated bigotry, we have to recognise our own capacity for generating limited/flawed heuristics. Those heuristics you mention really only work in certain contexts, for example in the USA I imagine they work very very well indeed. They’d work less well here in the UK for exactly the reasons I’ve mentioned.

    Have a nice night, sorry if this has kept you up!

    Louis

  466. #466 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @ IST #452:

    The subject of language use is always a terribly tacky tar baby. Especially when it comes to the massive inequalities (and how they are expressed in language) unfortunately present in our society. By “our” I think I am safe in saying that can refer to anyone’s society on the planet.

    Persistence? LOL bloody mindedness more like! I think the linguistic claims that some people have made are erroneous (I’m not that interested in the specific words, but they are good illustrators of certain linguistic trends).

    Louis

  467. #467 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    I think if all the people who are called the horrible names on this thread could get together – we could have the most fantastic party!
    No Christians or Muslims though. Tolerance had its limits, and fun has its threshold.

  468. #468 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    JFK,

    In your parting shot of #462, I too wish the patriarchy would not be there when you wake up. I too share your aims of demolishing it.

    However, I hope you are not referring to me when you mention “misogynists/misogyny apologists” because I think you’d face a MASSIVE uphill struggle to demonstrate that I am either.

    One of the problems you appear to have is that you don’t seem to think that informed, principled, intellectual with disagreement with your assertions (undemonstrated thus far I note again) can exist. You appear to account any disagreement, whether you understand it or not, as being due to vested interests in either denial, maintenance of inequality/privilege or apologetics. That is……unfortunate. If only because it is at least erroneous.

    Here’s hoping you can correct THAT at least.

    Louis

  469. #469 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    I presume that’s a quote from way back up in the thread. I’ll cheerfully give those examples, but, and forgive the presumption on my part here, I’m going to hope you’ve read what I am actually arguing for and not the misrepresentations others have made.

    I have no idea why you’re concerned about this at all, given that I simply asked you a question. I have, though, read your comments.

    I understand gender roles perfectly well, and I also detest the association of strength and bravery with one sex (or gender if you prefer.

    If you read my comment, you’d see that that remark was directed at IST, who was mistakenly using “gender roles” to mean “stereotypes.”

    Thank you for answering my question. I wasn’t reading anything into your comments – I genuinely thought that some concrete examples would help me to understand better where you were coming from, and they did. I only recently learned that in the UK and Australia “cunt” is directed at men. I’ve heard somewhat mixed things about how it’s used, and I’m not sure I’m buying that it has entirely lost its sexist connotations in a way “pussy” hasn’t at all. Are you sure you’re not overstating your case a bit? If it is indeed true that it’s used fully interchangeably with those other words, then I don’t have a problem with it in that context, and think it’s possibly a good thing.

    The problem here, though, is that “cunt” is never (to the best of my knowledge) used in the US as anything other than a disparaging term for women. It’s been used as such on this blog, and there was a long discussion in which people actually tried to defend that use:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/sarah_palin_ignorant_and_antis.php

    So when we hear it, even directed at a man, it’s virtually impossible not to hear those connotations. At this point in time I don’t think there’s any context with people from the US present in which it could be used without being interpreted as offensively sexist.

  470. #470 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC OM

    Sorry! I was shell shocked from dealing with JFK and others. I was heading off misunderstandings before they happened. My bad, please forgive me. I also apologise for misattributing your remarks re: gender roles to me. Again, I was in “combat mode” having dealt with the onslaught from JKF and others. My bad again!

    I assure you that “cunt” is fully 100% interchangeable with those words in the contexts/examples I gave. I’d agree that it’s a good thing in the sense that its use has moved away from the horribly misogynist original usage.

    I also fully understand (and agree) that to an American ear its use is unpalatably misogynist (context again). I wouldn’t even argue that “cunt” has fully lost its misogynist connotations in every instance, it hasn’t done so across the board (it’s in the process of speciation as I mention above). However in some cases it is just a vulgarity, a rude word absent any of the misogynist baggage it has in other contexts or it has a separate meaning, based on context/interchangeability again.

    Using “cunt” at a woman in the manner used in the Palin thread (esp that comment by Shadow @ 68) is misogyny, plain and simple. It is nothing I would advocate or defend. I have been taking issue with a specific linguistic claim that has taken various forms across the thread but reduces to: “If a person uses the word X then we can, in the absence of context simply based on the usage of that word, make judgement Y about them”. It is THAT I disagree with.

    I really do not disagree with the etymology, the historical fight to get certain linguistic usages/phraseology recognised as the exemplars of prejudice/privilege/inequality that they are. In other words, I don’t disagree with the obvious facts of the matter. You’d be amazed how hard I’ve had to try to get some people to recognise that! ;-)

    If people from the US can only hear/see the use of the word “cunt” as misogyny then they need to gain a more global, and linguistically nuanced/valid, view of the English language. I don’t insist that my UKian understanding of the use of the word “cunt” (for example) is the “ONLY TRUE UNDERSTANDING!!!111one!”, but I do claim it is one of very many valid linguistic understandings of the word. Just like I don’t show the soles of my feet in Thailand, raise my hand to a Greek, pick my teeth at and Italian etc I don’t tell people in the USA that they are “acting the cunt”. It’s the context that determines the unpleasantness/offensiveness in these cases. However, people often forget (as Pinker pointed out) that words are not magic immutables, but mere tokens of ideas. The ideas vary from context to context, even if sometimes the words don’t.

    Cheers

    Louis

  471. #471 Kitty
    March 14, 2009

    I have to agree with SC, OM.
    I’ve followed the comments with interest and increasing incredulity.
    I don’t know of a woman of my acquaintance here in the UK who would not be offended by the use of cunt or interpret it as anything but overtly sexist – no matter what any of the male apologists say.
    Horses for courses boys. Wishful thinking does not make it any less misogynistic. It is what it is and no amount of academic discussion changes that.
    Perhaps in 50 years it might change but while women are oppressed in many parts of the world – go back to the the origin of this thread – it isn’t exactly high on most women’s wish lists to feel comfortable calling anyone a cunt for any reason.

  472. #472 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    Now that is odd. My impression is that in the UK its use is more-or-less confined to men (and women who’ve just seen The Vagina Monologues!) and that it is mostly directed towards other men, often in a jokey way. The word “slut” is often used to abuse women, as well as “whore” and its variants.
    Now, while that use may or may not be acceptable in company, racist terms never are – witness Prince Harry getting in to lots of trouble for calling an old friend by his “preferred” nick-name – “Paki”.
    I think this a very interesting discussion and I’m a little puzzled as to how it’s partly disintegrated into a slanging match. Surely no one here is really advocating misogyny or homophobia?
    That’s the trouble with taboo words – their real meaning, and their actual useage, are by definition problematic.

  473. #473 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    Ah, isn’t that cute, the gays are allowed to pretend that they’re married. They can even call it a unicorn party if they really want to. But…

    Everybody knows real marriage is for straight people. It would be a real can of worms if gay people were treated equally! Yikes!

    They have exactly the same legal rights as opposite-sex married couples, and are entitled to call their partnership “marriage” if they wish. The only difference is that the law doesn’t explicitly use the word marriage, simply for the sake of avoiding a pointless semantic battle with religious pressure groups. There is in fact no reason why the law SHOULD use the word marriage, which happens to be loaded with religious connotations. Clearly the best course of action is to avoid the religious connotations altogether by choosing a more accurate phrase, like “civil partnership”.

    Bullshitter, liar, apologist for an explicitly anti-gay law. You suck, Erasmus.

    Seems probable to me that you’re hopelessly bored and are just trying to get kicks from huffing and puffing over anything you can, by some stretch of ingenuity, depict as “offensive”. For a while I thought you’d changed your spots, and I was even willing to forgive you for your disgraceful behaviour in another thread. But no: it appears you truly are the attention-seeking, offense-hunting, tantrum-throwing, trifle-amplifying, foul-mouthed, bored-out-of-his-skull little scumbag that you previously proved.

  474. #474 antisupernaturalist
    March 14, 2009

    ** misogyny is a the core of big-3 monotheisms

    I get so damn nauseated by apologists for judaism, xianity, and islam who falsely claim that their religions are peaceful, supportive of women and children, progressive . . . blah, blah,
    blah . . . .

    It ain’t so. The most recent source to give the lie to the disgusting Yaweh/Christ/Allah crowd is Michel Onfray, Atheist Manifesto, 2006.

    It’s not enough to be angry . . . these religions as religions are garbage through and through. They are to be crushed by de-funding them, blocking their claims to set up separate courts, banning them from secular education.

    anti-supernaturalist

  475. #475 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    I only recently learned that in the UK and Australia “cunt” is directed at men. I’ve heard somewhat mixed things about how it’s used, and I’m not sure I’m buying that it has entirely lost its sexist connotations in a way “pussy” hasn’t at all. Are you sure you’re not overstating your case a bit? If it is indeed true that it’s used fully interchangeably with those other words, then I don’t have a problem with it in that context, and think it’s possibly a good thing.

    In the north of England it has completely lost its sexist implications, in the sense the word is usually used. I remember for a while on the school playground I went under the impression that the only meaning of cunt is “contemptible person”.

  476. #476 Janine, Vile Bitch
    March 14, 2009

    I have been on the organizing committees for Dyke Marches. I have referred to myself and to friends as “bitch”. Given that, I will not refer to a woman as a “cunt” and has always heard the use of the word to occupy a deeper layer of hatred.

  477. #477 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    the attention-seeking, offense-hunting, tantrum-throwing, trifle-amplifying, foul-mouthed, bored-out-of-his-skull little scumbag that you previously proved.

    Nice abuse. There’s a single word in the UK for people one thinks are like this and it’s -
    No. I won’t go there.
    Or try to insert myself (unwelcome or unwise) in this argument. I’ll save myself for others when I feel I can be more of a -
    Ah, fuck it.

  478. #478 AJ Milne
    March 14, 2009

    I think if all the people who are called the horrible names on this thread could get together – we could have the most fantastic party!

    Kewl. Can someone please call me sumpin’ nasty, then? I wanna be invited.

    (See also: ‘Call me anything, baby… Just call me.’)

    /Makes telephone/call me thumb ‘n pinky gesture…

  479. #479 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    AJ Milne is a vile, cootie infested, unicorn humping, poopyhead!

  480. #480 AJ Milne
    March 14, 2009

    Schweet!

  481. #481 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    hey, Fuck everyone.

    You all suffer from fixated masturbatory identification .

    You all suffer from latent phallic processes .

    You all suffer from libidinous narcissistic discharge.

    You all suffer from cathected narcissistic ambivalence

    You all suffer from sublimated infantile fantasies .

    Thy gorbellied full-gorged nut-hook hath a base-court foot-licker

    Thy mammering dismal-dreaming canker-blossom hath a earth-vexing joithead.

    You moldy sock devouring Jerks.

    You desperate Ass-Monkeys.

    Yo mama’s so fat, her skates went flat..

    Yo mama’s so ugly, you could stick her face in dough and make monster cookies..

    Yo mama’s so fat, all the restaurants in town have signs that says: “Maximum Occupancy: 240 Patrons OR Yo Mama”.

    Yo mama’s so fat, when she went to a dating service, they matched her up with Detroit..

    Now I feel better.

  482. #482 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 14, 2009

    But an unicorn will only approach a virgin. Would not a unicorn bolt if a person with bad intentions came up to it’s rump.

  483. #483 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Kitty,

    You don’t know any women who wouldn’t interpret the use of the word “cunt” as anything but sexist? (Offence is a red herring as mentioned before) Really? I’m sat next to one, and know several (I’ve had this discussion with a few people, most of them women, most of whom agreed). So whose anecdote wins?

    Either way it’s irrelevant.

    If you say wishful thinking doesn’t make it any less misogynistic, then I can equally assert that wishful thinking doesn’t make it misogynistic.

    Irrelevant again.

    These are assertions, not arguments. Assertions/anecdote are what I have been trying to get this discussion away from. With varying degrees of success.

    What I have been trying to argue for is not some apologetic for usage of the word “cunt”, but that its use (as with many other words) is not NECESSARILY (although it often is) an indication of misogyny (or tacit/cultural legacy misogyny, or apathy to the inequalities women genuinely suffer from, or cluelessness about them) on the part of the user, as several people (yourself included now) have tried to assert. Every one of these attempts has stalled at the “assertion” stage. They have yet to proceed to “argument”.

    As I said to Endor in #370, the baggage a word validly brings with it is derived from the context in which it is used. The baggage a word historically/etymolgically has, whilst perfectly valid and undisputed, again does not apply in every context. I cite AGAIN (and this has been ignored now ooooooooh about ~5 times) the word “gay”. If I describe Barry as “gay” am I commenting on his happiness? His sexuality? Such a thing can only be determined from the context of use. Even if I am describing Barry’s sexuality then am I bringing with the word “gay” its “happiness baggage”? Obviously I’m not. The context is vital. Just because a word CAN be used in a misogynist manner does not mean that it IS being so used, especially if it has more than one meaning (which cunt definitely does).

    I am not, and would not, ask for any one, woman or otherwise, to be comfortable with using the word “cunt” or hearing it. Far from it. The word is not designed to be used for comfort! You can say “I Kitty deem that the use of the word cunt is misogynistic, therefore I will not use it”. You cannot say “I Kitty deem that the use of the word cunt is misogynistic, therefore no one can use it without being a misogynist” validly by simply asserting this, as you have done. You have to demonstrate that the word is always in all contexts used with misogynistic intent and in a manner that refers to misogyny. You simply won’t be able to do that for that specific word (you will do better with other words).

    Again, as in the examples I gave to SC (with whom you agree, and who agrees with me about those examples) if the word “cunt” is being used in a way that it is utterly 100% interchangeable with “prick” or” “dick” or “penis” or “twat” or “wanker” or “shithead” etc etc etc i.e. it is completely interchangeable with words that are male sexed, sexless etc, then its use cannot be specifically sexed, it is being used in a sexless sense. In the case of those examples, either as emphasis, indication of foolishness, or indication of undesirability, the specific word (in this case “cunt”) is almost totally irrelevant, all that needs to be inserted into those examples is a word that is considered vulgar. The pruriently offensive nature of the word is sufficient.

    This isn’t particularly academic discussion, it is a rebuttal of a specific linguistic claim originally made ~300 posts ago now and taken up elsewhere in various other guises.

    Please don’t misrepresent other people’s stances/arguments when they’ve taken considerable trouble to enumerate them politely and clearly. Especially when you don’t address anything they actually say.

    Louis

  484. #484 Emu Sam
    March 14, 2009

    Every time Pharyngula starts discussing morality, I want to point us to the Atheist Ethicist.

    Today, Kel, Wowbagger, and others have claimed morality is genetically coded for, implying this is the basis of morality. Alonzo Fyfe argues against that at http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2009/02/dan-barker-on-goodness.html and many of the following posts – I’m leaving them mostly out to try to reduce posting problems.

    Facilis argued against an objective morality, and many (Kel, Patricia, Rev BDC) seem to be agreeing with Facilis. Alonzo Fyfe argues for objective morality at http://alonzofyfe.com/article_ose.shtml. If ethics do not relate to the real world, then those ethics are not real.

    Desire Utilitarianism seems to be an ethical system that resolves many arguments regarding atheism and morality. Every time a theist argues that atheists have no morality – they are making this assumption because atheism has no morality. Atheism makes no claims with regards to morality. Atheism is just a lack of belief in any god. To act mostly morally – many people pick this up soon in life. But for a system of ethics, and the ability to defend or not defend them, DU may be useful.

    The bear cub argument seems to have little to do with ethics. A mother bear who would kill a human child who was throwing small pebbles at her cub, is not acting in an ethical manner. She is acting to defend her cub out of proportion to the threat.

  485. #485 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Rev.BigDumbChimp channeling Robert Anton Wilson?

    My best guess.

  486. #486 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 14, 2009

    Chimpy, great job flinging the poo around!

  487. #487 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    Facilis argued against an objective morality, and many (Kel, Patricia, Rev BDC) seem to be agreeing with Facilis

    wait

    What?

  488. #488 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @Janine #476:

    Neither would I, and for much the same reasons.

    Louis

  489. #489 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    If people from the US can only hear/see the use of the word “cunt” as misogyny then they need to gain a more global, and linguistically nuanced/valid, view of the English language.

    It’s a bit more complicated than that, though. (And not just because this is the blog of someone from the US with a number of commenters from the US.) As you say, “I don’t tell people in the USA that they are ‘acting the cunt’.” Simply recognizing contexts in which the misogynistic connotations have (allegedly) been lost doesn’t negate the fact that in US culture they have not been. In fact, pointing to these cases I think provides an excuse for people who implicitly retain those meanings to use the word. This needs to be recognized. So we can’t be sure of the extent to which someone who is using it is doing so with an awareness of that meaning or an intent to convey it – we can only point out that it has that meaning in our culture. Now, it’s possible that being exposed to these other uses will contribute to change in our culture, but that change hasn’t happened yet, so it’s reasonable to be suspicious about people’s motives, especially if they are aware of these connotations and seem contemptuous towards or dismissive of us or our concerns.

  490. #490 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    There Janine you have the jest of it. That’s what makes AJ Milne such a vilely evil super poopyhead – the ability to catch unicorns.

  491. #491 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Huh?!

  492. #492 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 14, 2009

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | March 14, 2009

    Facilis argued against an objective morality, and many (Kel, Patricia, Rev BDC) seem to be agreeing with Facilis

    wait

    What?

    I, too, came to a halt when I read that. That has to be the first time that anyone claimed that a regular agreed with Facilis. What is next, Barb and I become drinking buddies?

  493. #493 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 14, 2009

    Posted by: Patricia, OM | March 14, 2009

    There Janine you have the jest of it. That’s what makes AJ Milne such a vilely evil super poopyhead – the ability to catch unicorns.

    All of a sudden, my super evil powers of sarcasm pales in comparison. There is a corner I have to go sit in and cry.

  494. #494 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    That’s it. I’m tired of falling out of my chair. Seatbelts are in order.

  495. #495 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    yeah well..you’re all just a bunch of….fucking…CREATIONISTS!
    Now there’s a “c” word I never want to hear again!
    (Though, to be honest, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be honing my Abuse Knives on this site. For those interested, my technique is a traditional one – involving large quantities of manure, and plain old-fashioned finger grease.)

  496. #496 Emu Sam
    March 14, 2009

    Sorry about that. When the quotes got to five, I just deleted them all. Now I have to go back and read through 500 posts again to figure out how I made that argument. I’ll just up front say that I was intellectually careless on at least one level, probably more.

    I suspect what I meant was that you were letting him/her get away with it, but it was half an hour between writing and posting due to internet issues.

  497. #497 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @ SC,OM #489:

    Oh I agree entirely! Hence why I am not defending the use of the word here because of that specific problem.

    This is a diverse forum, and we all need to recognise it. I’m not saying the UKians/Aussies need to be given more latitude regarding their choice of language, or that the Americans need to toughen up in this regard or anything like it. I’m only disagreeing with absolutist pronouncements like the ones made by others upthread.

    Suspicion about motives is perfectly justified, especially as you say in the case of people who know the USAian attitude to the word “cunt”. Then it also bears saying that “innocent until proven guilty” applies, and is also perfectly reasonable. Not only that, because as I’ve said I’m not really interested in condemning or defending specific uses, but it’s not unreasonable for people (esp the usually intelligent bunch posting here at Pharyngula) to realise that words are not simply magic spells with power, and that words don’t carry all their baggage to every situation.

    Trust me, I have no desire to change USAian attitudes to the word under discussion, or alter the culture in any way. I was merely taking issue with an erroneous and illogical linguistic claim. In fact, I’d rather we were discussing less charged words like “nice” or “right” because the linguistic point would be less obscured by the emotional baggage associated with swear words.

    Louis

  498. #498 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    I suspect what I meant was that you were letting him/her get away with it, but it was half an hour between writing and posting due to internet issues.

    Yes. Please go back and re-read. Everything. Including all previous threads where Facilis has deposited his turds.

    We don’t let Facilis get away with anything. Mainly because he’s a walking 10 pound bag stuffed with 20 pounds of bullshit.

  499. #499 Feynmaniac
    March 14, 2009

    Emu Sam,

    Today, Kel, Wowbagger, and others have claimed morality is genetically coded for, implying this is the basis of morality. Alonzo Fyfe argues against that at http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2009/02/dan-barker-on-goodness.html and many of the following posts

    Fyfe doesn’t seem to be arguing that in that post. His arguments seems to be against defining ‘being good’ as ‘intending to minimize harm in the world’.

  500. #500 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Rev BDC #498:

    20 pounds? You flatter Facilis too much.

    Louis

  501. #501 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    re-read….all previous threads where Facilis has deposited his turds

    A harsh punishment, Rev. Do you lack all compassion?

  502. #502 Iain Walker
    March 14, 2009

    Facilis (#345):

    Many atheists admit there is no foundation for ethics apart from God.

    Theistic sleight-of-hand alert! Even if some atheists assert that there is no objective foundation for ethics without a god, it does not follow that they are admitting that there might be some objective foundation for ethics with a god. There might be no such objective foundation at all, period, with or without a deity in the mix.

    And from #352:

    God is the metaphysical oundation [sic] for morality. In order to have morals you need a metaphysical foundation.

    Uh huh. So how exactly does God provide a “metaphysical foundation” for ethics? I’ve yet to see a theistic explanation for this which doesn’t either collapse into the despotic relativism of divine command theory, or flounder in incoherence or circularity.

    Micheal [sic] Ruse denies God so he believes there is no foundation for morality.

    Misrepresentation. Ruse believes that morality is an evolutionary adaptation, and that is why he believes that there is no further metaphysical justification for ethics outside the context of the evolved interactions of social animals.

    Any moral feelings we have are an illusion created by our genes because there are no real morals.

    Those moral feelings (plus the moral rules we extrapolate from them through reason and reflection) are real morals. There is no other kind.

  503. #503 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Were we on a wing-ding last night?

    Last I recall, I left off to go eat ice cream and watch wrastlin’….

  504. #504 Emu Sam
    March 14, 2009

    Regarding those I accused of agreeing with Facilis:

    Kel: For fucks sake facilis. having moral justification != morality comes from God.
    Not agreeing with Facilis.

    Patricia: But I will charge Facillis with:
    Godbotting
    Insipidity
    Stupidity (!)
    Trolling
    Wanking
    Not agreeing with Facilis (I did not even find anything relating to objectivity – just obeying one’s husband.)

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: And Fail. We’ve been through this. You have not established a god let alone your god as the foundation for morality.
    Not agreeing with Facilis.

    Given how many of those hundreds of posts were written by Facilis, I’m sure you’ll just let me retract the statement instead of making me find the quotes that led to it. In future I will read my responses twice for error and probably never hit Post.

  505. #505 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    Errrrr….?

  506. #506 AJ Milne
    March 14, 2009

    But an unicorn will only approach a virgin. Would not a unicorn bolt if a person with bad intentions came up to it’s rump.

    Rump?

    (Looks puzzled…)

    Oh. Right. I guess you could use that end, too…

  507. #507 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @AJ Milne #506:

    Crikey! Have you seen the TEETH at the other end? No way pal! The horn might provide some problems too, after all it isn’t short by any means. What could be a fun encounter could rapidly become a little too Vlad the Impaler for my tastes.

    Louis

  508. #508 Emu Sam
    March 14, 2009

    Feynmainiac:

    Fyfe doesn’t seem to be arguing that in that post. His arguments seems to be against defining ‘being good’ as ‘intending to minimize harm in the world’.

    Erg. I now go to hide in my lurk-hole until I figure out what I was thinking. Multitudinous apologies.

    Here,in the first few paragraphs of http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2009/02/atheists-speaking-about-morality.html Fyfe argues that evolution does not provide an account of what morality is, and why no one should ever use it to argue for non-theistic morality. He also provides the time scale for the larger argument. I originally provided the beginning of the argument without checking to see if he actually got to that part of it in that post.

  509. #509 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    Given how many of those hundreds of posts were written by Facilis, I’m sure you’ll just let me retract the statement instead of making me find the quotes that led to it. In future I will read my responses twice for error and probably never hit Post.

    Heh. no worries. Mistakes are made. Just read my posting here.

    There’s a good chance at least a 1/2 of it is a mistake.

  510. #510 AJ Milne
    March 14, 2009

    What could be a fun encounter could rapidly become a little too Vlad the Impaler for my tastes.

    Sure, it can get messy… But the thing is, as noted, unicorns have this crazy hangup about virginity…

    And this method leaves open the saddlebacking/technical virgin loophole*.

    *Yes, that’s what the kids are calling it these days.

  511. #511 Patricia, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Emu Sam – For my part, don’t worry about it. You’ve just been kissed by the Goddess Discordia. Happens to me all the time. *grin*

  512. #512 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Suspicion about motives is perfectly justified, especially as you say in the case of people who know the USAian attitude to the word “cunt”. Then it also bears saying that “innocent until proven guilty” applies, and is also perfectly reasonable.

    To an extent, but you can never really prove intent in this situation. Someone could simply fall back on the “somewhere in the world the word can be used without misogynistic connotations” excuse, or the ignorance excuse, all the while winking to those who recognize the subtext. But in practice, I generally do give people the benefit of the doubt. I look at it in context and in the context of their other comments, and I read people’s responses if the connotations are pointed out.

  513. #513 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 14, 2009

    Emu Sam, the simple fact that you admitted to a big mistake is a huge point in your favor. No need to hide. If everyone who screwed up stopped posting here, there would be almost no conversation here. Just fools talking out of their asses, ignoring all things contrary to their beliefs.

    Also, a lot of us had a huge laugh.

  514. #514 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    @ AJ Milne #510:

    Saddlebacking eh? Another Dan Savage fan I see. “Technical Virgin” LOL I used that one 20 years ago. It didn’t convince anyone then either.

    @SC, OM #512:

    I agree you can never really prove intent in thee situations, and that is precisely why you have to be careful not to apply your own cultural preconceptions to other people (again what is good for the accuser has to also be good for the accused in these less than fulsomely definite circumstances). Of course people can hide behind dishonesty, but that is no reason to condemn honest people.

    My argument is not with a reasonable, nuanced heuristic that takes into account history, posting habits, other statements (subtle winks to coconspirators included), and context. In fact I have been arguing in favour of taking context into account, both linguistically and practically.

    I think we’re in agreement.

    Louis

  515. #515 Rrr
    March 14, 2009

    @ #213:
    Fundamentalists are people who are truer and more consistent to religion. More religious people, you might say. They have a higher concentration of the mind poison, and so it shows a lot better there than in someone who disregards 90% of the teachings of a religion yet claims to be of that religion. People are good in spite of religion, not because of religion.

    @ Facilis & everyone else:
    So, the reason why Facilis’s still around is because he’s useful as a practice dummy for arguing against religious ignorants? Or? Just curious. He keeps coming back for more punishment, even though he must at some level realize the futility in trying to argue against logic and reason when his arguments aren’t based on it.

  516. #516 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 14, 2009

    He keeps coming back for more punishment, even though he must at some level realize the futility in trying to argue against logic and reason when his arguments aren’t based on it.

    I think he is trying to be a missionary to Pharyngula, and bring us to his imaginary deity (fat chance, PZ will fly directly from C/U to Morris first). But I also get the impression he had a rather impoverished learning experience, and is truly learning a few things from us atheists, even if he won’t admit it.

  517. #517 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    I think we’re in agreement.

    Pretty much. I do think you’re perhaps a bit ingenuous about people’s use of the word, but that’s neither here nor there. But I should note that online I have the luxury of taking time to determine what someone’s about rather than making quick judgments based on their statements (which, by the way, has confirmed my initial impression in almost every case). In RL, though, I don’t. Someone who presents as a misogynist is someone potentially dangerous whom I want to avoid. For women, in this context, “Better safe than sorry” is a better rule of thumb than “Innocent until proven guilty.”

  518. #518 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC, OM

    Bear in mind that where I come from the use of the word is NOT typically an indicator of misogyny in the most frequently used contexts, as mentioned. The examples I gave above are horrendously common. I use the word “horrendously” advisedly!

    I am in no way being ingenuous (or even disingenuous), unfortunately when these sorts of debates arise they, like for example debates about the provisional nature of science, focus on the fringes of the phenomenon in question. These cultural, contextual differences ARE vital.

    I’m also wary that the goalposts appear to have moved somewhat. If someone presents as a misogynist, then I agree with your choice of heuristic, however simple use of the word “cunt” is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to determine misogyny. This is why, as I’ve been banging on about, the context is vital. The flawed heuristic I’ve been taking issue with is “Simple use of word X, in the absence of context, is sufficient to determine Y about a person”. The USAian cultural situation supplies some of that context, the conditions of the specific use supply some more etc. As you’ve said examination of those contexts is what supplies the other bits of information sufficient to establish some characteristic (in this case misogyny). Other people were not saying this, they were trying to say that simple usage is necessary AND sufficient to establish a wide variety of characteristics (from outright bigotry all the way down to cluelessness).

    As for your heuristic regarding real life and “better safe than sorry”, I tend to operate the same policy in real life as online. Everyone gets three strikes. The scum usually show themselves up within in a sufficiently short space of time. I tend to hope that of I treat people well, they will treat me well. But we’ve drifted FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR away from the linguistic point I was making right back at the start.

    Louis

  519. #519 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Bear in mind that where I come from the use of the word is NOT typically an indicator of misogyny in the most frequently used contexts, as mentioned. The examples I gave above are horrendously common.

    Again, I’ve heard only a couple of people make this claim. I’m not convinced that there’s no misogynistic connotation for all of the users of the word in those contexts, as you claim. Indeed, several of the people from the UK have acknowledged their awareness of these connotations. I’m curious: Do women there use it as an insult? You dismissed Kitty’s statement above that:

    I don’t know of a woman of my acquaintance here in the UK who would not be offended by the use of cunt or interpret it as anything but overtly sexist – no matter what any of the male apologists say.

    But it suggests that at least some people there recognize those connotations – they haven’t entirely disappeared, as you suggest. Your denial or apathy concerning this is, as others have noted above, symptomatic of a certain degree of contempt for women.

    As for your heuristic regarding real life and “better safe than sorry”, I tend to operate the same policy in real life as online.

    And as a male you have that privilege. That was my point: I don’t. Just as if I were a gay person in a bar and heard guys using the word “faggots” to describe people I probably wouldn’t stick around to find out more about their attitudes.

  520. #520 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC,OM,

    Nope you’ve swung wildly away from what I was saying again. I don’t claim that ALL the users of those words in those examples find no misogynistic connotations, just that those usages of the word are not NECESSARILY misogynistic in those contexts. There’s a big difference.

    Please deal with the LINGUISTIC issue I was making. Again, to make this very very clear, I am NOT defending the use of these words or apologising for them, I am disputing that the use of them alone is both necessary AND sufficient to establish misogyny (or a variety of other motives/character traits) and recognising a series of shades of grey that demonstrably exist. I thought we’d cleared that up and agreed on the linguistic issue.

    I didn’t dismiss Kitty’s point out of hand, I treated it like the anecdote it was. I too can supply anecdotes (and have, and I’ve acknowledged them for what they are) they don’t establish anything. Why is, for example, my wife’s opinion, and the opinions of many of my female friends, not valid to you? They would disagree with you and Kitty and BMS and….on the same basis I would. Either you are going to have to spin some yarn about then being blinkered crytpo misogynists themselves (they ain’t) or accuse me of lying (I ain’t).

    Accusing me of denial or apathy or contempt towards women is…well I’ll be exceedingly polite and simply say “unjustified”. In fact it’s more than a little insulting and unwarranted. Like it or not I have no contempt for women, denied, suppressed, or any other form. I genuinely, perfectly politely, perfectly reasonably disagree with a specific set of linguistic claims made by (originally) BMS and then in various other forms by various other people. I expressly DO NOT support the use of words like “cunt” as referring to women etc, I’ve gone to great pains to explain what circumstances their use is not exemplifying of misogyny and why. I agree that these are a minority of cases HERE, but not necessarily every where else.

    I’m going to ask you a very simple question: What do you think I am arguing for? To make this clear I want you to state my argument in your own words. Could you do that for me please. I get the distinct impression you think I am arguing for something I am not.

    Thanks

    Louis

    P.S. Re: your heuristic of “better safe than sorry” note I didn’t disagree with it. I think it’s a perfectly valid heuristic, my only comment was it was moving farther away from what I was discussing: the logic behind a specific linguistic claim.

  521. #521 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Oh and yes, I’ve heard several women use the word under discussion as an insult. In my experience usually directed at men. Anecdote again though…

    I realise as a man my anecdote is therefore dubious and of course the anecdote of any woman is automatically privileged and gains the status of evidence. ;-) JUST KIDDING! But there is a waft of rampant double standard floating about and it ain’t coming from me.

    Anyway, possibly the most hilarious usage was when, many years ago, when we were both students working in a bar to make ends meet, my wife was called a “shitcunt” by a “young lady” for refusing to serve her alcohol when she was very obviously underage. We all laughed so hard at that one (men and women) that people didn’t get served for about 5 minutes.

    Anyway, the regional variation in usage is interesting as an example, but not central to the argument I’ve been making all along re: the logic behind the linguistic claims BMS and others have made.

    Cheers

    Louis

  522. #522 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    ARSE! I keep forgetting things.

    SC,

    If I was in ANY situation and I heard people, any sort of people, referring to gay people as faggots, black people as niggers, women as cunts, handicapped people as cripples etc etc I wouldn’t walk off and miss the opportunity to find out who they were.

    I’d kick off.

    I won’t tolerate such crap anywhere near me. Yes, as a bloke (and a dirty great big one at that) I have that “privilege” (odious word, used by you in an odious manner), but then so does my wife’s cousin, a little Asian woman of much feistier temper than mine (and all power to her, she’s bloody terrifying!).

    Absolutely no one gets away with that sort of thing in my (or her, or my wife’s) presence. Ever. You might say I operate a zero tolerance policy, how MACHO of me! (Swoon! Sorry I can’t resist mocking myself) None of this negates, speaks to, or is even minimally relevant to the linguistic point I’ve been making.

    You seem to think that repudiation of a specific linguistic claim by BMS and others equates to defence of the use of the word “cunt” as a deliberately derogatory epithet towards women. It doesn’t. Please disabuse yourself of this utterly vacuous notion immediately if not sooner.

    Please try to view disagreement with a specific linguistic claim not as some disguise for sinister women hating motives but as a sincere disagreement, made in good faith, by someone who genuinely doesn’t agree with a specific linguistic claim and has no other agenda than that.

    If it weren’t so tragic it would be funny. Occasionally someone can disagree with you in good faith SC, with no ulterior motive, is it so hard for you to imagine that this is one of those times?

    Cheers

    Louis

    P.S. Oh and btw, as I sit here recovering from what can only be described as an epic hangover, I am discussing this with my wife. She is a very lovely and intelligent lady, with absolutely no sympathy for my SIWOTI syndrome, who happens to think that anyone daft enough to claim I have any form of contempt for women (esp based in the argument I’ve been making) is…well…nucking futs. Just another privileged male anecdote for you. ;-)

  523. #523 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Nope you’ve swung wildly away from what I was saying again. I don’t claim that ALL the users of those words in those examples find no misogynistic connotations, just that those usages of the word are not NECESSARILY misogynistic in those contexts. There’s a big difference.

    Fuck but this is getting tedious, Louis. I know that you’re arguing against BMS’s hyperbolic statement. We all fucking know this. When I first joined the thread I thought JFK was being rather hard on you, but I now understand his frustration. You’re not addressing the subsequent arguments made by Endor and others.

    Please deal with the LINGUISTIC issue I was making. Again, to make this very very clear, I am NOT defending the use of these words or apologising for them, I am disputing that the use of them alone is both necessary AND sufficient to establish misogyny (or a variety of other motives/character traits) and recognising a series of shades of grey that demonstrably exist. I thought we’d cleared that up and agreed on the linguistic issue.

    No. I said that if it were the case that the word had completely lost those connotations in your culture then I would accept that. In order for the term to be used innocently, it would have to be the case that those connotations had been completely lost in that culture. But you haven’t established that. You’ve simply asserted it repeatedly, and dismissed people’s statements that show that those connotations are still attached.

    I didn’t dismiss Kitty’s point out of hand, I treated it like the anecdote it was. I too can supply anecdotes (and have, and I’ve acknowledged them for what they are) they don’t establish anything. Why is, for example, my wife’s opinion, and the opinions of many of my female friends, not valid to you? They would disagree with you and Kitty and BMS and….on the same basis I would. Either you are going to have to spin some yarn about then being blinkered crytpo misogynists themselves (they ain’t) or accuse me of lying (I ain’t).

    Not at all. The fact that not everyone recognizes (or that some deny) that these connotations still exist doesn’t show anything.

    P.S. Re: your heuristic of “better safe than sorry” note I didn’t disagree with it. I think it’s a perfectly valid heuristic, my only comment was it was moving farther away from what I was discussing: the logic behind a specific linguistic claim.

    That wasn’t your only comment, and it was specifically in response to your suggestion that you approach the matter the same way in real life as you do online, which wwas in response to an earlier point of mine. That’s how a discussion works, Louis.

    Oh and yes, I’ve heard several women use the word under discussion as an insult. In my experience usually directed at men. Anecdote again though…

    I was simply curious because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman use it here. But it’s not particularly relevant – women can and do use misogynistic language all the time.

    I won’t tolerate such crap anywhere near me. Yes, as a bloke (and a dirty great big one at that) I have that “privilege” (odious word, used by you in an odious manner), but then so does my wife’s cousin, a little Asian woman of much feistier temper than mine (and all power to her, she’s bloody terrifying!).

    Idiotic. Are you really this obtuse?

    You seem to think that repudiation of a specific linguistic claim by BMS and others equates to defence of the use of the word “cunt” as a deliberately derogatory epithet towards women. It doesn’t. Please disabuse yourself of this utterly vacuous notion immediately if not sooner.

    I think that your claim that it can be used in your culture in a way that is innocent of all misogynistic connotations has not been made to my complete satisfaction. Please note that Endor and others are suggesting that the word itself retains misogynistic connotations – not that every speaker of it is intending to make a misogynistic statement.

    Please try to view disagreement with a specific linguistic claim not as some disguise for sinister women hating motives but as a sincere disagreement, made in good faith, by someone who genuinely doesn’t agree with a specific linguistic claim and has no other agenda than that.

    Fuck off with this already, Louis. I never accused you of harboring “sinister women hating motives.” Your dismissal of the suggestion that misogynistic connotations of the word still exist in your culture does reflect contempt, and your comment about your wife’s cousin above marks you as willfully clueless.

  524. #524 Sven DiMilo
    March 14, 2009

    My! I do hope that this thread has finally risen to its ultimate crescendo!

  525. #525 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    I can’t understand the need for these jumbo-sized posts by Louis and SC. It’s all very simple. In the United States, “cunt” almost always or always has a misogynistic undertone. In Britain and Australia, this is not necessarily the case, and in those countries it is possible to use the word as a pejorative without any noteworthy traces of misogynism.

    Amusingly, I recently passed a few ruffians on the way to the store. One said to the other: “What the fuck are yer doin’, yer daft cunt.” They were both male.

  526. #526 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    Facilis argued against an objective morality, and many (Kel, Patricia, Rev BDC) seem to be agreeing with Facilis.

    What? No facilis is arguing for absolute transcendental morality, I’m arguing for provisional morality.

  527. #527 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC,

    Sorry to frustrate you, but I HAVE dealt with the arguments made by Endor and others. See post #370 as an example. I really am not ignoring the more nuanced comments, I’ve even mentioned that I agree with many of them.

    Fuck me but I am getting rather sick of being accused of things I am not doing. Go back to post #190 and you’ll see (for example) that I dealt with a point of Endor’s only to be accused of not dealing with it later by JFK, some couple of hundred posts later.

    I see you didn’t get my attempt at humour in post #522, sorry about that. It was probably in poor taste. I won’t do it again. The comments re my wife’s cousin were deliberately humorous, sorry that wasn’t communicated. I thought I was engaged in a good faith discussion with a fellow adult who could cope with some mild humour at my own expense. Forgive me, I was gravely mistaken.

    You didn’t accuse me of sinister woman hating motives? Really? What was your comment in #519 meant to indicate?

    Your denial or apathy concerning this is, as others have noted above, symptomatic of a certain degree of contempt for women.

    “Contempt for women” sure looks like an imputation of sinister women hating motives to me. Again, I assure you, I have no contempt for women. I’ve had a few accusations chucked at me on this thread, pretty unpleasant and untrue ones too. I’ve responded politely, calmly and I’ve tried to get you (and others) to deal with the argument I amactually making. You’re trying very very hard not to.

    I disagree with a specific linguistic claim made by BMS in one way AND BY OTHER PEOPLE LIKE ENDOR IN ANOTHER WAY. Do you understand that the claims these different people are making take the SAME FORM? BMS’s hyperbolic claim is NOT the totality of what I am disagreeing with. I’ve said this repeatedly, several times, very VERY clearly. Do you not understand this yet?

    I have not in any way denied that many uses of many words have implicit connotations, again I’ve said this several times. No one has yet dealt with my (deliberately uncontroversial example) of “gay”. Nor have I dismissed the suggestion that misogynistic connotations of the word “cunt” still exist in my culture, I’ve merely mentioned that they do not always apply and that the meaning of the word has evolved to have a separate meaning from its original. See my comments re speciation of words etc. I’ve commented SPECIFICALLY on this issue.

    Again you attribute to me things I AM NOT DOING.

    Sorry but you need to clam down and reread what I have written because, no matter how annoying you find this, you have clearly not actually done that.

    Louis

  528. #528 Sven DiMilo
    March 14, 2009

    wow. That’s an even higher crescendo than the last one!

  529. #529 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Sorry for the monster posts, but I’ll be fucked seven ways from Sunday before I acquiesce to accusations that are demonstrably not true and support illogical special pleading and double standards as valid logic.

    Cheers

    Louis

  530. #530 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Sven,

    LOL

    Louis

  531. #531 Erasmus
    March 14, 2009

    Believe me, there will be louder crescendos yet. JFK will be absolutely scathing after he reads my last post addressed to him.

  532. #532 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    In a last ditch attempt at consensus before bedtime:

    SC,

    Forget the previous antagonism. We were almost at a position of consensus at one point, I’d like to return there. Can I distil a lot of this thread into two hypothetical questions? Please bear with me.

    Question 1:

    If phrase 1) “Barry is a cunt” is interchangeable with phrase 2) “Barry is a penis” or phrase 3)”Barry is an arsehole” and each phrase means exactly the same thing is the use of the word “cunt” in the first phrase an expression of either misogyny (implicit or explicit), a legacy of cultural inequalities, apathy towards those inequalities, or cluelessness regarding those inequalities in a manner unique to the use of that word?

    Note the above question is a conditional “if…then”. Let’s leave aside whether or not such a hypothetical cultural environment actually exists or not, since that seems to have lead us down a rabbit hole of contentiousness.

    Phrase 1) uses a word that admittedly has, in other contexts at least (if not this one as well), negative connotations towards women. Phrase 2) uses a word that has similar potential connotations towards men. If the word “penis” doesn’t suffice for you, pick a word for male genitals that does like “dick” or “prick” or whatever. Phrase 3) uses a word that has no negative connotations for any specific sex.

    My question is simple: if the three phrases, the three words, are genuinely interchangeable is the use of phrase 1) specially sexist in some manner that the others are not, does it imply the things (or perhaps other things) mentioned above?

    I think the answer is “no”. If you think the answer is “yes” please explain to me why I am wrong.

    Question 2:

    a) If I describe my hypothetical Barry as being “gay” am I, in that description, making a comment on Barry’s state of happiness or his sexuality?

    b) Regardless of your answer to a) above, if I now say that I was using the more commonly used 21st century, Western definition of the word “gay” and commenting on Barry’s sexuality, does that comment have implications for Barry’s state of happiness. In other words is it possible to use the word “gay” to describe Barry’s sexuality independently from describing his state of happiness? Remembering that the word “gay” does still retain one of its older meanings, i.e. that of “happy”.

    Sorry for upsetting you and frustrating you, I assure you that has never been my intent. I would be very grateful if you would answer my questions.

    Thanks.

    Louis

  533. #533 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Sorry to frustrate you, but I HAVE dealt with the arguments made by Endor and others. See post #370 as an example. I really am not ignoring the more nuanced comments, I’ve even mentioned that I agree with many of them.

    No, you haven’t. You’ve stated your case most clearly in posts #370 and #373, and you haven’t made it. You’re just not getting it. No one is arguing that the meaning of words doesn’t change over time or that words always have exactly the same intended meaning regardless of context. (Your argument about “gay” is in fact disingenuous, as BMS’s comment specified using these words as insults; only your comment about the schoolkid using “gay” insultingly is relevant, and it doesn’t help your case.) What you are arguing is that the word has “speciated” in your culture and lost its misogynistic baggage. You can’t claim that it’s speciated “sufficiently” to make it possible to use it without these connotations. It has to be complete, and you haven’t really shown this to be the case. Worse, when people from your culture show up and say that these connotations are in fact still attached, you dismiss their comments.

    You didn’t accuse me of sinister woman hating motives? Really? What was your comment in #519 meant to indicate?…”Contempt for women” sure looks like an imputation of sinister women hating motives to me. Again, I assure you, I have no contempt for women.

    My comment meant exactly what it said, what it “sure looks like” to you notwithstanding. If you don’t want anyone to suggest that you’re behaving contemptuously, stop doing it. Offense is not a fucking red herring here. It is people from your culture telling you that the word still has the baggage you claim it does not.

    I have not in any way denied that many uses of many words have implicit connotations, again I’ve said this several times…Nor have I dismissed the suggestion that misogynistic connotations of the word “cunt” still exist in my culture, I’ve merely mentioned that they do not always apply and that the meaning of the word has evolved to have a separate meaning from its original.

    You’re confused. The word has those connotations, not the use of it. If the connotations still exist, it can’t really be used innocently. You’re trying to draw a line between contexts that doesn’t exist in reality.

    Sorry but you need to clam down and reread what I have written because, no matter how annoying you find this, you have clearly not actually done that.

    I’m perfectly calm and have read what you’ve written. Again, you have not made your case.

    I see you didn’t get my attempt at humour in post #522, sorry about that. It was probably in poor taste. I won’t do it again. The comments re my wife’s cousin were deliberately humorous, sorry that wasn’t communicated. I thought I was engaged in a good faith discussion with a fellow adult who could cope with some mild humour at my own expense. Forgive me, I was gravely mistaken.

    I didn’t see any humor in it then, and still don’t. In contrast, witness:

    My! I do hope that this thread has finally risen to its ultimate crescendo!

  534. #534 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC,

    My use of the word “gay” was never meant to be as a perfectly mapped analogy for “cunt”. I said so in post #373. I also don’t claim that the word “cunt” has speciated fully, in the manner “gay” has, again this is clear from #373. So no my example is not disingenuous you’ve just misunderstood it’s purpose. I’m trying to get everyone on the same page. If we agree that the “gay” example is at one extreme and the “nigger” example is at the other extreme and that “cunt” lies somewhere in between then we’ve hit a good point of consensus. This was, and remains, my only intent in using those examples. I’ve been trying to get people to acknowledge that these things are on a continuum. And I think agreement has occasionally existed on this aspect, buggered if I know where it went of late! How can we have a discussion if you’re going to continually misrepresent my arguments?

    Again, where have I claimed that the word “cunt” absolutely does not have the misogynist baggage we both agree it has? I’ve simply not done this. All I have said that, as the word is in the process of speciating there are certain (perhaps fringe) uses where that baggage no longer applies. This isn’t the case in all circumstances and I freely admit it, and have done several times now.

    I’m concerned about two things: 1) that we agree on much and are talking passed each other for some reason, and 2) that I’ve made some terrible error and am being thicker than two short planks.

    Perhaps you answering my questions above will illustrate where I’ve gone wrong, if indeed I have.

    Louis

  535. #535 naught101
    March 14, 2009

    Saying that “Islam hates women” is like saying that “BHP Billiton loves money” – it doesn’t, but it’s shareholders and CEOs do.

    Likewise, there’s probably quite a few people working for BHP who hate the greed and destructiveness of it all, but are just caught up in, and dragged along with society they happen to have been born into.

  536. #536 AnthonyK
    March 14, 2009

    Look, why don’t we just agree that you’re both cunts, and move on. Nice ones, of course;)

  537. #537 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    If phrase 1) “Barry is a cunt” is interchangeable with phrase 2) “Barry is a penis” or phrase 3)”Barry is an arsehole” and each phrase means exactly the same thing is the use of the word “cunt” in the first phrase an expression of either misogyny (implicit or explicit), a legacy of cultural inequalities, apathy towards those inequalities, or cluelessness regarding those inequalities in a manner unique to the use of that word?

    I would need more information. Is there evidence that the word still has misogynistic connotations in this culture? If so, how aware is the speaker of this?

    Phrase 2) uses a word that has similar potential connotations towards men. If the word “penis” doesn’t suffice for you, pick a word for male genitals that does like “dick” or “prick” or whatever.

    I’ve very rarely used those words in the past, and recently stopped out of concern that I might be offending some men. But let’s get real. “Dick” is not the equivalent of “cunt.” Demeaning language has long been used as a practice of subordinating women. You acknowledge that calling a woman a “cunt” is terrible. The same cannot be said of “dick,” which has even been used (see Liar’s Poker and the discussion of BSDs) in a complimentary fashion. It simply doesn’t have the same baggage, and never could. Just like a black person calling a white person a “honky” isn’t equivalent to a white person using the n-word.

    a) If I describe my hypothetical Barry as being “gay” am I, in that description, making a comment on Barry’s state of happiness or his sexuality?

    As I said above, this is dumb and irrelevant. As is your discussion of women using these terms positively in some contexts. If we women want to reclaim these words as applied to people we can try. But it’s not up to men to declare them free of misogynistic connotations.

  538. #538 Kel
    March 14, 2009

    As I said above, this is dumb and irrelevant. As is your discussion of women using these terms positively in some contexts. If we women want to reclaim these words as applied to people we can try. But it’s not up to men to declare them free of misogynistic connotations.

    Surely trying to reclaim words would be a futile exercise, especially if the cultural standard has shifted far away from the original meaning. I mean, good luck if you want to try. But really it seems like a wasted effort, and all such an action would do is cast people into a negative light they wouldn’t previously have been in.

  539. #539 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 14, 2009

    What if I call myself a cunt?

  540. #540 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    My use of the word “gay” was never meant to be as a perfectly mapped analogy for “cunt”. I said so in post #373.

    I never said it was. But the much better analogy, as JFK pointed out, is the use of the word “gay” to mean “bad.”

    Again, where have I claimed that the word “cunt” absolutely does not have the misogynist baggage we both agree it has? I’ve simply not done this. All I have said that, as the word is in the process of speciating there are certain (perhaps fringe) uses where that baggage no longer applies.

    That’s impossible. That would require that the baggage has been entirely lost. If it hasn’t, it applies. As Endor said above:

    I understand you’re not making excuses. However, what you are repeatedly ignoring is that as women we’ve got the experience to make such a judgment. I’ve stated several times now that the use of the word doesn’t automatically mean the user is a bigot. But it’s pretty likely that if not just a flat out bigot, he’s clueless of the offense or apathetic to it – neither which is much of an improvement.

    The word is used against us as an insult, used to belittle other men by equating them with something strictly female thereby serving to buoy the sexism inherent in it. Neither you nor any man in the UK who uses it for whatever reason has to admit that – such is your privilege – but if one’s true desire is to lessen the damage privilege can do, I fail to see what’s to be gained by ignoring the reality of it.

  541. #541 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Surely trying to reclaim words would be a futile exercise, especially if the cultural standard has shifted far away from the original meaning. I mean, good luck if you want to try.

    Well, it’s not always a futile exercise. It’s been done. But I have no interest in doing it in this case (it’s an ugly word that I hate the sound of). I wasn’t suggesting that I wanted to try. I was merely pointing out that members of the group insulted by the word using it in a positive way has no bearing on the issue at hand.

  542. #542 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Clarification on the speciation issue:

    Look at this like a Venn diagram. For the “nigger” example imagine that the one circle is simply “nigger: derogatory term for a black person”, i.e. the one, known definition of that horrible word. This is a word that has not speciated at all in terms of its definition.

    The Venn diagram for “gay” would look different. You’d have (for the sake of simplicity) two non-overlapping circles, one marked “gay: happy” the other marked “gay: homosexual”. (I’d actually argue that,like biological species, the definition is blurry, i.e. there is some tiny overlap, but in this example it’s so small as to be negligible)

    These are our two extremes. Words that have two different (speciated) definitions at one extreme. Words that do not at the other.

    The horrible word cunt would also have two circles, one marked “cunt: derogatory term for female genitals”, the other marked “cunt: generic, interchangeable derogatory term for foolish person”. These two circles overlap to a certain extent. This is a word undergoing definitional speciation. We’ve caught it in the act.

    The area of overlap is, obviously, where use of the term “cunt” is being used in a manner where it is unclear which definition takes priority. I’d agree that the borders of this overlap are a bit nebulous and it isn’t always clear where such definitions start and end. Either way, regardless of the size of the overlap, as long as it is >100% then there is a portion of that second circle (“cunt: generic, interchangeable derogatory term for foolish person”) that doesn’t overlap with the first circle. Obvious, right?

    The word “cunt” is like a ring species. There is a continuum of “breeding” definitions but at the extremes no “breeding” is possible. At the extremes the two definitions are separate.

    That just deals with definitions, and I hope is the uncontroversial part. It’s the point I was trying to make with #373.

    The point BMS made was that any insulting use of the word “cunt” (for example, please let’s not complicate this with other words) is ALWAYS an indication of misogyny. This is, given the above speciation of definitions, trivially untrue. There exists a definition of the word “cunt” that has nothing to do with female genitalia. Granted, it isn’t always clear where this boundary between non female genitalia/female genitalia definitions lies because the word is speciating.

    Here we’ve got to be careful to distinguish between the two phenomena under question: use and definition.

    Let’s return to the phrase I used above “Barry is a cunt.” I’d strongly agree that this could be a “circle 1″ use of the word “cunt”, i.e. derogatory comparison with female genitalia, and thus misogynistic. It could also be a “circle 2″ use, i.e. generic, interchangeable derogatory term for foolish person. It could ALSO be an “interface” use, i.e. one of those borderline cases where, as the definition of the word is speciating, the circle 1 and 2 definitions are interchangeable, they both fit. The interface usage is the “baggage” area, it’s usage that cannot escape from the baggage associated with the “circle 1″ usage in the manner that “circle 2″ usage has.

    What I was, and am, arguing was that the simple use of the term as an insult is insufficient to determine which of those scenarios is the case (circle 1, circle 2, or interface). Greater context is needed.

    I hope this is not controversial! I don’t think it is, in fact I think we’ve agreed on this several times. Do you agree this deals with the original statement made by BMS?

    I’ll assume you do for the sake of simplicity and move onto the more nuanced arguments of Endor and others.

    Simply put, what Endor and others have been arguing for is this: because the interface of the two definitions exists one cannot assume that any insulting use of the word “cunt” is free from that confusion over definitions. Look at Endor in #206 for example. There she is arguing that no insulting use of the word “cunt” can be free of the baggage the interfacial area is loaded with, baggage I AGREE exists. Endor even agrees with me that context is exactly what’s needed to determine use. Although she also makes the error that no other possible definition of “cunt” exists, I hope I’ve demonstrated above that it does.

    When someone uses the word we have to determine which definition of it they are using. Circle 1 usages are easy to spot, like Shadow’s usage in #68 of the Palin thread you mentioned. Easy to spot, easy to draw conclusions about. The interfacial area is what’s casuing the problem. If you agree that the word IS speciating, i.e. in the process of definitional split, then by definition (ha ha) you agree that there is an area of the Venn diagram in which there is no overlap (just like at the extremes of a ring species no interbreeding is possible). What Endor and others are trying to do is have their cake and eat it. They are trying to acknowledge the facts of the speciation (which is a demonstrable fact of linguistic usage) and ignore the existence of the different definition that they don’t want to exist.

    Regardless of whether or not Endor thinks that usage is indicative of bigotry (of any type), apathy or cluelessness it is STILL the same argument in terms of its FORM as that of BMS: i.e. “Insulting use of word X, in the absence of context, is sufficient to establish charcteristic Y about the user”. The fact that Endor and others have substituted the set {A, B or C} for Y doesn’t change the FORM of the argument. It’s a classic example of poisoning the well. Endor and others are restricting the possible characteristics for the user of the word on the basis of simple use. Ironically Endor acknowledges that context is required to decide which characteristic is to be applied, but ignores using context to distinguish between different definitions, simply because she doesn’t believe different definitions exist, when they demonstrably do.

    This, also ironically given the things you have accused me of, has been the tactic used by JFK and yourself. You use your scepticism of the existence of other definitions, despite admitting to the speciation I describe above, to deny that the form of argument you have been making is identical to that of BMS.

    Does that make things clearer?

    Louis

  543. #543 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC,

    I notice you have deliberately avoided actually answering the questions I’ve asked. Since you demonstrably don’t know the reasons I am asking them, please don’t impute motives to me that I don’t have. The “gay” example I am using suffices for the purposes I am using it. I am not trying to map it onto insulting uses, just to illustrate a speciated word. I’ve explained this at length above. Again. You seem to be trying very hard not to understand this. Please just answer the questions, perhaps, just perhaps, they are not leading where you seem to think they are leading. You don’t even know why I am using it as an example despite the fact that I’ve explained it several times now, and it’s my example that’s dumb….hmmmm.

    In the case of the first question it is DELIBERATELY HYPOTHETICAL. Understand? The inequalities you mention may or may not exist (in real life we both know they DO) but they do not change the definitions of the words used in those phrases. The question would apply if there were no bias, pro male bias or pro female bias. It’s a question about definitions and use. If the three phrases are interchangeable (i.e. the word at the end of each phrase is effectively meaningless, the definition is so loose as to encompass anything) then as I’ve in that HYPOTHETICAL scenario then I don’t think there is any specific bias evident in any of the phrases. Hence why I asked the question in a hypothetical way, I’m trying to build an uncontroversial position of consensus from which greater understanding and perhaps further consensus can develop.

    Incidentally, I am not in any way trying to tell you, women, or anyone that any word, least of all “cunt”, is utterly free of misogynistic connotations under all circumstances. This is a very pernicious and IMO deliberately unpleasant way to misread my arguments. I am trying to say that a) different definitions of the word do exist, b) that the absolutist linguistic case re: imputing motives etc I refer to above is erroneous and c) that you don’t get to tell me what I mean when I use a word (in this case a word I don’t even fucking use as a rule. LOL Irony!). Because let’s be blunt you, and others, are trying to do precisely that. You are DEMANDING that the word “cunt” means what you say it means in all circumstances, regardless of other definitions, evolution of language, or usages.

    Please just answer the questions. Honestly, you will like what follows.

    Louis

  544. #544 windy
    March 14, 2009

    Here is something more fun to think about: Attitudes towards female genitalia in Finnish folklore.

  545. #545 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    Incidentally we haven’t even got to the point about usage MODIFYING definition yet.

    This would be another great use of the word “gay” as an example. The definition of the word “gay” speciated precisely BECAUSE of changing usage. The “dictionary” came after the “usage”. This is usage as environment in the speciation analogy. It was because of the successful usage of the word gay to mean homosexual that this speciation occurred.

    This of course has some relevance to the comments about reclaiming words above.

    “Cunt” in under going a similar process in various parts of the English speaking world right now. Granted, it’s everyone doing it, not just women, and that is a difference with “gay”. And it’s certainly not for the same reasons!

    Oh well.

    Louis

  546. #546 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Louis, considering the fact that we supposedly resolved the issue on the purely racial epithet towards african-americans, imagine my surprise to see you use it twice in the very same fucking paragraph just now, when no discernable reason can be seen for you doing so.

    I understand the point of wanting to discuss linguistics, but Jesus H. Christ, you are being seriously fucking annoying in your seemingly endless bloviations that are still littered with slurs and slanderous words. Is there some point to you continuing a 14-hour fucking discussion on insults? Obviously the word is not as offensive to you as you made out before, or you wouldn’t be so insistent on using it every fucking time you feel like you need to illustrate a point.

    Consider my earlier retraction retracted. Now you’re just being unbelievably pedantic and annoying.

  547. #547 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    What? No facilis is arguing for absolute transcendental morality, I’m arguing for provisional morality.

    You haven’t shown any provisional morality. All I know is that moral behaviours are the product of an illusion created by socio-biological processes and there is no such thing as right or wrong or good or evil in reality(on the atheists worldview).

  548. #548 Facilis
    March 14, 2009

    He keeps coming back for more punishment, even though he must at some level realize the futility in trying to argue against logic and reason when his arguments aren’t based on it.

    I pwn them with logic and reason. Read this thread
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/im_in_good_company.php
    It is me pwning them with my traanscendental proof of God.

  549. #549 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    The Venn diagram for “gay” would look different. You’d have (for the sake of simplicity) two non-overlapping circles, one marked “gay: happy” the other marked “gay: homosexual”.

    You should try to address what is clearly the more analogous example: the use of “that’s so gay” to insult something.

    The area of overlap is, obviously, where use of the term “cunt” is being used in a manner where it is unclear which definition takes priority. I’d agree that the borders of this overlap are a bit nebulous and it isn’t always clear where such definitions start and end. Either way, regardless of the size of the overlap, as long as it is >100% then there is a portion of that second circle (“cunt: generic, interchangeable derogatory term for foolish person”) that doesn’t overlap with the first circle. Obvious, right?

    Wrong. Here’s what you’re not getting: If those connotations still exist in a culture, they color every use of the word in that culture. No use of the word as an insult is or can be completely free of them. (And your suggestion that “There exists a definition of the word “cunt” that has nothing to do with female genitalia” is disingenuous bullshit.) What Endor and others are trying to get you to do is to recognize this basic fact. Given that this is the case, using the word does to an extent imply misogyny, cluelessness, denial, or apathy; there’s no other option. Compare it to another term that came up recently – “cretin.” This word has in fact moved so far beyond its original meaning that probably most people don’t even know what this was.

    Does that make things clearer?

    All it makes clearer is that you’re missing something at a very fundamental level. This may be difficult for some people to believe, but I hate having these discussions over and over and over again. I was reluctant to enter this one, and have tried to ignore misogynistic comments here (especially several that have been directed at Barb) because I wanted to avoid the subject. I do think you’re arguing in good faith, and don’t think you have any bad motives. I think we’re going in circles at this point, though, and I’m finding this really boring, so I’ll let you have the last word.

  550. #550 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    BrokenSolider,

    Sorry simply discussing a word is so offensive to you. I tend to think that it’s the specific use of a word that renders it offensive, not the word’s existence on the page (as it were).

    The word IS offensive to me exactly as I pointed out before, does that mean I have to react to it the same way you do? Am I not allowed to react differently from you? Do you get to tell me what words I can and cannot use and in what context? Do you get to dictate tome what my reaction must be? I don’t think you do, I’m sorry if you think differently. I think I’ve made the point that I am in no way using the word to offend anyone, so any offence taken is precisely that: TAKEN.

    That said, I do wish I’d started with vastly less controversial words like “guitar” for an unspeciated word (for example) Sadly, as we have been dealing with insults and bigotry I stayed with that theme.

    I’m sorry you feel the need to retract your retraction. I’ll cheerfully accept “pedantic” btw, and I can quite easily understand the “annoying” (this is annoying me too btw). Sorry but this is actually an important issue to me. The control of language, its use in maintaining inequalities etc is interesting to me. I am wary of people who, on one hand, insist that I cannot tell them what a word means to them (quite right) but then try to insist that they can tell me what a word means to me. That strikes me as a ferocious double standard. One that shouldn’t exist for ANYONE.

    Has it been that long? Crikey, that’s what insomnia and a hangover will get you!

    Louis

  551. #551 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 14, 2009

    Louis:

    You mistook my comment for one that needed a reply.

  552. #552 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    This would be another great use of the word “gay” as an example. The definition of the word “gay” speciated precisely BECAUSE of changing usage. The “dictionary” came after the “usage”. This is usage as environment in the speciation analogy. It was because of the successful usage of the word gay to mean homosexual that this speciation occurred.

    This of course has some relevance to the comments about reclaiming words above.

    “Cunt” in under going a similar process in various parts of the English speaking world right now. Granted, it’s everyone doing it, not just women, and that is a difference with “gay”. And it’s certainly not for the same reasons!

    Oh, ffs. It’s not at all a similar process, you twit. The word is not being reclaimed with a proud or positive usage by women, who are the only ones who can validly (attempt to) reclaim it. I’m not under many illusions that my attempted reclamation of “True Internet Pussy” will be successful, but it’s certainly qualitatively different from men using “pussy” as an insult and then claiming their own idiosyncratic nonsexist meaning.

  553. #553 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC,

    I don’t want the last word and I’ll agree this is getting boring, and has upset too many people I don’t want to upset, yourself included. For that I can only apologise.

    You think that my claim that a separate (non-female genitalia) definition for the word “cunt” exists is disingenuous bullshit…can we agree on “wrong”? LOL. I don’t think it is. I also don’t think that because some baggage still exists all usages are burdened by that baggage or that we can tell this without referral to context. You disagree with this too apparently. I’m happy to leave it at “agree to disagree”. Does that sound fair (please make the last word yours)?

    Sorry for embroiling you in this discussion AGAIN!

    Louis

  554. #554 Louis
    March 14, 2009

    SC: Oh FFS also!

    The process point I was making was not that it was proudly being reclaimed by women but that it was undergoing speciation because of change of usage. You have repeatedly misunderstood precisely why I have used that analogy, I don’t expect you to understand it now.

    Broken Soldier:

    My mistake, I assumed I was dealing with a reasonable human being. A mistake I make too frequently it seems.

    Louis

  555. #555 SC, OM
    March 14, 2009

    SC: Oh FFS also!

    The process point I was making was not that it was proudly being reclaimed by women but that it was undergoing speciation because of change of usage.

    Fair enough, but the differences between these two cases are confusing the issue. No one is denying that words acquire new meanings over time by being used in a different way, so we don’t need examples of this occurring. That’s not all there is to the matter.

    And your speciation metaphor is tired, Louis. A metaphor should be used to help illuminate, and your use of this one here is I think instead preventing you from recognizing key aspects of the situation.

    You have repeatedly misunderstood precisely why I have used that analogy, I don’t expect you to understand it now.

    It’s been repeatedly pointed out that a better analogy exists.

    You think that my claim that a separate (non-female genitalia) definition for the word “cunt” exists is disingenuous bullshit…can we agree on “wrong”? LOL. I don’t think it is.

    Your claim was: “There exists a definition of the word ‘cunt’ that has nothing to do with female genitalia.” [my bold] Please try to appreciate the difference between this and your phrasing above.

    I also don’t think that because some baggage still exists all usages are burdened by that baggage or that we can tell this without referral to context. You disagree with this too apparently.

    Indeed I do.

    I’m happy to leave it at “agree to disagree”. Does that sound fair (please make the last word yours)?

    Sure. Whatever.

    Broken Soldier:

    My mistake, I assumed I was dealing with a reasonable human being. A mistake I make too frequently it seems.

    Louis, brokenSoldier has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he is an extremely reasonable human being. He is also speaking very reasonably here about your use of that word. Perhaps you should reexamine your thinking about the power of certain words.

  556. #556 Russell Blackford
    March 15, 2009

    I hate to post something on topic, and to break into the facinating discussion of the cultural connotations of the word “cunt”, but it would be good if as many people as possible joined the Facebook group relating to Pervez Kambakhsh:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=58129598684&ref=mf

  557. #557 brokenSoldier, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Louis:

    Broken Soldier:
    My mistake, I assumed I was dealing with a reasonable human being.

    Kiss my ass.

  558. #558 clinteas
    March 15, 2009

    I have found this thread highly interesting,and people have been arguing a lot from or motivated by ideology.

    So if I go out with my mates and after the umptieth beer call one of my male friends a cunt,im being a misogynist?

    Context,people.It matters.

  559. #559 Ian Gould
    March 15, 2009

    Whatever did we all do with our time before we had the internet to let us engage in endless pointless vituperative arguments with total strangers over the utterly trivial?

  560. #560 clinteas
    March 15, 2009

    Whatever did we all do with our time before we had the internet to let us engage in endless pointless vituperative arguments with total strangers over the utterly trivial?

    I cant remember.

  561. #561 windy
    March 15, 2009

    I hate to post something on topic, and to break into the facinating discussion of the cultural connotations of the word “cunt”, but it would be good if as many people as possible joined the Facebook group relating to Pervez Kambakhsh

    Already done! I feel a bit guilty for participating in the thread-jack but I just wanted to defend Louis. Some of his examples have not been well chosen but the accusations towards him have been been rather unfair, IMO.

    SC:

    And your suggestion that “There exists a definition of the word “cunt” that has nothing to do with female genitalia” is disingenuous bullshit.

    With all due respect, you said you just recently became aware that the word can be directed at men, so maybe you are not aware of how different the usage is in those cases. Using the word “pussy” to insult men is misogynist because it implies that the man has female-like qualities that are considered inferior. In contrast, “cunt” in the usage Louis is speaking of does not seem to be intended to refer to any particularly female-like qualities. See here for an example.

  562. #562 Louis
    March 15, 2009

    Well I’m not going to restart the (as Ian Gould rightly states) endless pointless vituperative argument with total strangers over the utterly trivial again. Even though I hope I haven’t been vituperative through all of this.

    However I will say to Broken Soldier that, kissing your ass aside, if you’re not grown up enough to accept a sincere apology when it’s offered, then regardless of SC’s endorsement of you (an endorsement I’d heartily agree with in general btw), I’d argue you’re not being a reasonable human being in any sense of the word. I’m sorry you feel the need for animosity when none exists on my part and certainly no offence was intended on my part. I think you need to calm down and realise that at least.

    SC, the power of words? They have the power you grant them. Nothing more. They’re not magic and they’re meaningless in the absence of context. Perhaps you need to understand that. Incidentally, this was a lesson I learned the hard way. Shall I whore out my extensive personal experience with racism to score some cheap rhetorical trick? Plead offence at the mere use of a word in order to stifle discussion because *I* don’t like it? I think not. I’d rather deal with what I can and can’t establish. If it turns out that I’m wrong about something, I’ll cheerfully change my mind, but, just as I would have to show you good evidence, so you’d have to show me some.

    As we both think (however rightly or wrongly) that neither of us have done this in this case, and as things are getting unnecessarily heated (IMO) I think the best thing for all of us to do, as above, is agree to disagree and leave the topic as friends. Do you think that’s possible? I hope so, and as said before, I realise these can be emotive topics and I apologise unreservedly for any and all offence caused.

    Thanks.

    Louis

  563. #563 windy
    March 15, 2009

    Emu Sam:

    Fyfe argues that evolution does not provide an account of what morality is, and why no one should ever use it to argue for non-theistic morality.

    Alonzo Fyfe argues that if we have an evolved moral sense, that does not in itself mean that it is “good” to do what that moral sense tells us. That’s right.

    But then he also argues that we don’t have a moral sense, since admitting that we have an evolved moral sense would lead us to some unsettling conclusions, for instance that “If we evolved a disposition to decapitate our lovers and eat them after sex, that would be moral.” He appears to be using an argument from consequences to dismiss the hypothesis that we have an evolved moral sense! Not good at all.

    There are a lot of other problems with his discussion. For example, an evolved moral sense in no way implies that individual morality is fixed, no more than a hypothetical “language instinct” implies that language is fixed.

  564. #564 Bernard Makizoi
    March 15, 2009

    I am a jew . But I dont see why you need to criticise a whole religion because of the three mullahs you are mentioning.
    There are fanatics in any religion . The horrible things that are done are done by the wrong thinking of the people who commit them , not the fault of the religion itself.
    This is true for almost all religions .

    Bernard Makizoi
    P.h.d

  565. #565 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    clinteas,

    I should be honest with you about something. In your case, I have had the time (online luxury) of getting to know your attitudes better over a period of months. I know I said I would email you, but the comments you’ve made about women are the main reason I haven’t, even though I have been in touch with eight other men from here. It’s a shame, because I like you and think you’re a nice guy. I may be wrong about your attitudes and I may be missing out, but I don’t like the way you talk about women some of the time and it makes me wary.

    windy:

    With all due respect, you said you just recently became aware that the word can be directed at men, so maybe you are not aware of how different the usage is in those cases.

    Since I’ve heard from others here, including on this thread, that those connotations still exist in the broader culture, I am not convinced that the word could be used in a way which has “nothing to do with” female genitalia (this would require a complete loss of this meaning on the part of all potential listeners). Just as I’m not convinced that the insult “that’s so gay” could be used in a way that has nothing at all to do with gay people. I’m not saying it’s like “pussy” – just that Louis hasn’t made his case that the other connotations no longer attach. windy, on the recent thread about racism you asked a remarkable question about whether people would have a problem with using “races” to refer to animal subspecies. I found this astonishing and strange. The term is tainted by its ideological and oppressive use – how could this be anything other than counterproductive? Why on earth would you be suggesting it?

    SC, the power of words? They have the power you grant them. Nothing more.

    Only if by “you” you mean cultures. You as an individual cannot declare by fiat that certain words should not offend in certain contexts or have lost earlier connotations. Simply using them gratuitously doesn’t deprive them of their associations. Your suggestion that you should have used an uncontroversial word like guitar to make your points says to me that you are unappreciative of the power of derogatory words that have been used to oppress and how difficult it is to distance those words from their connotations.

    As we both think (however rightly or wrongly) that neither of us have done this in this case, and as things are getting unnecessarily heated (IMO) I think the best thing for all of us to do, as above, is agree to disagree and leave the topic as friends. Do you think that’s possible?

    Of course.

  566. #566 clinteas
    March 15, 2009

    SC,
    there you are….I hope you are ok my internet friend.

    Wow,Im being dumped without ever getting a date,thats got to be a record !!

    To be honest Im not sure what you are referring to regarding my posts related to women,and if you knew me better you would know that I have had a rather complex upbringing myself and the very last thing on my mind would be to say anything degrading,macho etc about women.

    There would have been the odd drunk excited post over the years,but I would imagine a self-assured confident chick like yourself would have seen them for what they are and move on….

    Sorry if I disappointed you in any way,but I am who I am.

    As to your comments about windy,
    all I can say is,everytime windy posts here,Im like,YES,windy is still one of the most sophisticated,original,wise commenters here.And on the cunt discussion,I agree with her wholeheartedly.

  567. #567 Kel
    March 15, 2009

    One more thing I thought of while I was mowing the lawn this afternoon – could the use of those taboo words be precisely because they are taboo rather than the connotations they have? When someone says ‘cunt’ or ‘fuck’ or whatever that the rebellion against the social stigma and pushing the boundaries is what the real connotation that is at play, rather than the negative connotation that’s associated with it?

    i.e. does the fact that a word is taboo ultimately push for the use of said word?

  568. #568 'Tis Himself
    March 15, 2009

    I am a jew . But I dont see why you need to criticise a whole religion because of the three mullahs you are mentioning.
    There are fanatics in any religion . The horrible things that are done are done by the wrong thinking of the people who commit them , not the fault of the religion itself.
    This is true for almost all religions .

    Bernard, you’d have a point if it were only a couple of mullahs being jerks. But you’re missing two important points about Kambaksh’s case:

    1. He wrote a paper mildly critical of Islam. Those of us living in Western countries think nothing about criticizing various religions. Read this blog and you’ll see religions, particularly fundamentalist religions, soundly condemned, let alone criticized. But in Afghanistan criticizing Islam is apostasy, a capital offense.

    2. It isn’t a mullah or two issuing a fatwah like Ayatollah Khomeini did to Salmon Rushdie. Kambaksh was convicted by a civil court for a religious offense. In Western countries we expect separation of church and state (either de jure in the US, Japan and Australia or de facto in the rest of the Western civilization). In Afghanistan and other Islamic countries, religion and the state are intertwined.

    When fundamentalism, of any flavor, is the prevailing rule of government in any country, that country deserves being condemned.

  569. #569 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    The Venn diagram for “gay” would look different

    Of course. It would be nicely coloured, very tidy, and Barbera Streiand would be playing in the background.

  570. #570 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    …and probably annoying good-looking.

  571. #571 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    There would have been the odd drunk excited post over the years,but I would imagine a self-assured confident chick like yourself would have seen them for what they are and move on….

    That doesn’t really make sense.

    Sorry if I disappointed you in any way,but I am who I am.

    And I’m not expecting you to change or accusing you of anything. I’m just explaining where I’m coming from.

    As to your comments about windy,

    I didn’t make comments about windy. I addressed a comment to her. I’m just surprised that she appears to be that naive about these words.

    all I can say is,everytime windy posts here,Im like,YES,windy is still one of the most sophisticated,original,wise commenters here.

    No kidding. I never said otherwise. WTF?

    And on the cunt discussion,I agree with her wholeheartedly.

    Well, you posted a comment following a couple hundred others that ignored them entirely. You seem determined to do so.

    Kel:

    One more thing I thought of while I was mowing the lawn this afternoon – could the use of those taboo words be precisely because they are taboo rather than the connotations they have? When someone says ‘cunt’ or ‘fuck’ or whatever that the rebellion against the social stigma and pushing the boundaries is what the real connotation that is at play, rather than the negative connotation that’s associated with it?

    i.e. does the fact that a word is taboo ultimately push for the use of said word?

    “Cunt” is not the equivalent of “fuck.” It’s not rejected because it’s profanity. It’s rejected because it originated and has been used to demean and degrade a group of people. Like the n-word. If, knowing these connotations you want to use it to try to be “subversive,” you may be contributing to giving it a new meaning, or you may be kidding yourself and insulting people in the process. What you should not do (especially if you’re not a member of the group the word is disparaging) is assume that your use of it is necessarily robbing it of its connotations and subverting it. It’s far more complicated than that, and depends on a number of factors that aren’t all within your control.

  572. #572 windy
    March 15, 2009

    SC:

    windy, on the recent thread about racism you asked a remarkable question about whether people would have a problem with using “races” to refer to animal subspecies. I found this astonishing and strange. The term is tainted by its ideological and oppressive use – how could this be anything other than counterproductive? Why on earth would you be suggesting it?

    It’s not something I came up with, it has been recognized as a synonym for subspecies for a long time! IIRC, I was asking for clarification if some people were arguing for the nonexistence of race in general or just that it doesn’t pertain to humans.

    PS. Did you happen to take a look at the presentation I linked to in #544? It’s rather off topic but I thought you might appreciate it…

    PPS. thanks for the kind words clinteas!

  573. #573 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    i.e. does the fact that a word is taboo ultimately push for the use of said word?

    Sometimes a word is rejected for good reasons. I still don’t understand the attachment to the word that leads people to write these long series of posts trying to show that its use can be unproblematic in some contexts. Would the world be a worse place if the use of “cunt” died out and it were dropped from the lexicon?

  574. #574 clinteas
    March 15, 2009

    SC,

    lets do this another time ok,im depressed and fed up anyway and there’s no point in defending something I dont think I am guilty of in the first place….

    Cunt is a word that is used in context,if I use it towards you it would be an insult,if I use towards my drunken mate at 3 am it is not.Why is that so hard to understand.

  575. #575 Louis
    March 15, 2009

    SC,

    I did mean “you” as “you plural” or “the listener”. I in no way am ignorant of, nor deny the use of, derogatory language to oppress, nor am I in any way trying to dictate how anyone chooses to hear a word (if you see my meaning). You are perfectly entitled to be offended by my use of a word, you are not entitled to claim, in the absence of evidence, that by my use of a word I intend to offend or adhere to one specific meaning when many are possible (if they are possible that is). You are not entitled to dictate to me what I mean by a word, just like I am not entitled to dictate to you that you shouldn’t be offended by it. The point about “guitar” was that I could have demonstrated the linguistic point I was trying to make in the absence of controversial baggage and then built from there. It would have been a less contentious demonstration of the specifics of linguistic evolution I was trying to get at. I think we’ve gone too far forward, and I’ve made too many mistakes, to start again at an uncontroversial beginning. Next time I’ll start differently….ONLY KIDDING!

    I’m glad you think we can part on this issue on friendly terms. TBH, I don’t think I did a good job of making my case…perhaps not as bad a job as you think LOL ;-)…I’ll blame a combination of Y chromosome and hangover.

    Cheers

    Louis

  576. #576 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    You’re not still arguing about cunts, surely?
    Well, take a break read this:

    ..said Nicholas with a grim chuckle; his boots are hurting him. They’re too tight.”

    “Why didn’t he tell me they were hurting?” asked the aunt with some asperity.

    “He told you twice, but you weren’t listening. You often don’t listen when we tell you important things.”

    “You are not to go into the gooseberry garden,” said the aunt, changing the subject.

    “Why not?” demanded Nicholas.

    “Because you are in disgrace,” said the aunt loftily.

    Nicholas did not admit the flawlessness of the reasoning; he felt perfectly capable of being in disgrace and in a gooseberry garden at the same moment. His face took on an expression of considerable obstinacy. It was clear to his aunt that he was determined to get into the gooseberry garden, “only,” as she remarked to herself, “because I have told him he is not to.”

    Now the gooseberry garden had two doors by which it might be entered, and once a small person like Nicholas could slip in there he could effectually disappear from view amid the masking growth of artichokes, raspberry canes, and fruit bushes. The aunt had many other things to do that afternoon, but she spent an hour or two in trivial gardening operations among flower beds and shrubberies, whence she could keep a watchful eye on the two doors that led to the forbidden paradise. She was a woman of few ideas, with immense powers of concentration.
    Then you can read the whole story at:
    http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/397/
    Now, stop worrying, and go out and have some fun life!

  577. #577 SC
    March 15, 2009

    Sometimes a word is rejected for good reasons. I still don’t understand the attachment to the word that leads people to write these long series of posts trying to show that its use can be unproblematic in some contexts. Would the world be a worse place if the use of “cunt” died out and it were dropped from the lexicon?

    You don’t understand. Only Americans face those difficulties. Among Brits there is no such confusion. There is no chance, despite your intentions, that “cunt” (the version that’s interchangeable with “prick”) will be removed from British street slang.

  578. #578 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    Oops! That last post was supposed to be addressed to SC, not authorered by SC!

  579. #579 Iain Walker
    March 15, 2009

    Facilis (#547):

    All I know is that moral behaviours are the product of an illusion created by socio-biological processes and there is no such thing as right or wrong or good or evil in reality(on the atheists worldview).

    If that’s all you know, then you don’t know much. Quite apart from anything else, Ruse doesn’t speak for all atheists, or even all atheists who see morality as an evolutionary adaptation. And reading the interview you linked to, it looks rather as if he was dumbing down his position somewhat – certainly he seemed to be eliding a lot of points which in a proper philosophical discourse would require a lot of unpacking, qualification and explaining.

    Firstly, if morality is an evolved trait, it doesn’t necessarily follow that moral statements are not objectively true in some transcendental sense. It could be that evolution has provided us with a moral sense that allows us to grasp moral “facts”, if such exist, which would obviously be beneficial to a social animal. Nevertheless, if morality is an evolved trait, the idea that morals are objective facts in some transcendental sense still becomes rather odd. It certainly isn’t required to explain anything about our moral thinking and behaviour, and so can be set aside as a redundant hypothesis. From a Rusean point of view, moral non-realism is (at the very least) the more parsimonious option, since it makes fewer and simpler metaphysical assumptions (which is actually the case whether morality is supposed to be an evolved trait or not).

    I think Ruse would have served the interview better if he’d taken this line, instead of misleadingly implying that moral non-realism followed automatically from the evolutionary scenario.

    Secondly, Ruse is also rather sloppy when when talking about the illusory nature of morality. When he says (in the source that you didn’t cite properly):

    “Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ?Love thy neighbor as thyself,? they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation.”
    (Michael Ruse, ?Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,? in The Darwinian Paradigm, 1989)

    then it’s reasonably clear that the illusion he is talking about is the notion that ethics involves making true or false statements about some objectively existing transcendent state of affairs. I.e., it’s not morality that is illusion, but a particular understanding of what morality is. However, he doesn’t elaborate in a way that would make this clear, and in the interview he uses the term “illusion” as if it referred to morality per se, rather than to a notion of morality as something transcendentally objective. Which isn’t exactly helpful.

    The point is that morality is real, it is important, and it can be argued rationally. It just isn’t the kind of thing that you insist that it is.

    Evolution explains why we as a species exhibit moral behaviour and think in moral terms. It doesn’t provide a “foundation” for morality in the sense of providing an absolute or objective justification for moral claims (and I have yet to see any reason to suppose that such a foundation is even possible), but it does provide us with a basis for understanding morality as something deeply rooted in human nature. I.e., moral behaviour is not something superficial, but part of who we are as a species.

    It is me pwning them with my traanscendental [sic] proof of God.

    No, Facilis, it’s you making assertions and refusing to back them up with actual arguments, even when people repeatedly call you on it.

  580. #580 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    lets do this another time ok,im depressed and fed up anyway

    Perhaps you didn’t read my comments on the Molly thread (or above on this one), but I’m not exactly having a wonderful week myself.

    and there’s no point in defending something I dont think I am guilty of in the first place….

    ?

    Cunt is a word that is used in context,if I use it towards you it would be an insult,if I use towards my drunken mate at 3 am it is not.Why is that so hard to understand.

    What appears to be hard for you to understand is that the meanings attached to the word aren’t determined entirely by your specific intended use of it. Your particular context exists within a larger cultural context which itself exists within the larger context of the English-speaking world. I’m not saying it’s impossible for a cultural context to exist in which the woman-specific pejorative connotations have been lost entirely. I’m saying that Louis hasn’t convinced me that this is the case where he is.

    It’s not something I came up with, it has been recognized as a synonym for subspecies for a long time! IIRC, I was asking for clarification if some people were arguing for the nonexistence of race in general or just that it doesn’t pertain to humans.

    Oh, OK. (Is it really used today in this way in the scientific literature?) I thought it had already been established that human races/subspecies did not exist, but I’m too lazy to go back and find the thread. Anyway, I understand better now what you were asking.

    PS. Did you happen to take a look at the presentation I linked to in #544? It’s rather off topic but I thought you might appreciate it…

    I just did. Very interesting. I wish they had translated all of the poems (especially the one about the woman’s vagina escaping from her body to satisfy its own appetites :)).

    nor am I in any way trying to dictate how anyone chooses to hear a word (if you see my meaning).

    I do see your meaning, and you’re being clueless about language. People aren’t choosing to be offended – the meanings attached to the word which were meant to degrade and offend are still there. You can’t simply declare them dead and gone. It’s astounding that you recognize this when it’s directed at women – you’re not saying we “choose” to be offended by it then – but then attribute any offense at its being used for men to be purely a matter of choice.

    You are perfectly entitled to be offended by my use of a word,

    Why, thank you.

    you are not entitled to claim, in the absence of evidence, that by my use of a word I intend to offend or adhere to one specific meaning when many are possible (if they are possible that is). You are not entitled to dictate to me what I mean by a word, just like I am not entitled to dictate to you that you shouldn’t be offended by it.

    You cannot make up definitions as you go based on your intentions. It doesn’t matter what I think. I said that if I could be convinced that in your cultural context those meanings no longer attached at all such that the word could be used completely innocently of all misogynistic connotations that would be different. But I’m not convinced of that, especially after a woman from your cultural context said she still hears those connotations and finds the word offensive and your response was that other people don’t.

    You don’t understand. Only Americans face those difficulties. Among Brits there is no such confusion.

    Bullshit. See Kitty’s comment above.

    There is no chance, despite your intentions, that “cunt” (the version that’s interchangeable with “prick”) will be removed from British street slang.

    Uh, I never said anything about any such “intentions.” Further, your claim is both irrelevant and stupid (as street slang chnges rapidly even with no one intending it).

    The point about “guitar” was that I could have demonstrated the linguistic point I was trying to make in the absence of controversial baggage and then built from there. It would have been a less contentious demonstration of the specifics of linguistic evolution I was trying to get at.

    But you couldn’t demonstrate your linguistic point about a pejorative term by referring to a qualitatively different sort of word. No one is arguing that words in general don’t develop new meanings. Appreciating the “controversial baggage” is essential to understanding the specific nature and power of these words and the complexities of their use.

  581. #581 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Iain has earned a place on my “to be nominated” Molly list with his erudite rebuttal to poor Facilis. Great work.

    The Fallacious Fool still shows no reason or logic, as evidenced by his earlier claim he actually presented his presupposition argument correctly.

  582. #582 clinteas
    March 15, 2009

    SC,

    like Louis,i will agree to disagree and leave it at that ok.

  583. #583 Louis
    March 15, 2009

    SC,

    I never said I could make up the definitions, that’s a straw man of your own confection. And re: Kitty, I think it’s interesting you privilege her anecdote over mine (when actually BOTH are merely anecdotes), especially since it speaks to a misunderstanding of the claims you think I was making. Could you be being sexist by preferring anecdotal testimony from women over that from men? Double standard much.

    My response to the argument Kitty made has been misunderstood (esp as it has been made in more posts than the one that directly responded to Kitty). I’m happy to concede that I made those arguments poorly/confusingly or that I could have made them more clearly. I’m not happy to capitulate to an “argument” on your part which relies on mere assertion about what a word means in all times and all places and nothing else. Do you understand what “agree to disagree” means? Have you woken up this morning determined to restart an argument that neither of us (apparently) want to continue.

    If you want to continue the argument I will, but I am going to start again, from a less controversial place and make the linguistic argument more clearly. A clean slate if you will. My brain isn’t encumbered today by the metabolites of ethanol! ;-)

    I’m getting frustrated at being misrepresented, regardless of whether that misrepresentation is due to poor construction of previous arguments on my part, misunderstanding/misrepresentation on your part, or movement of great white whales in the Antarctic. My patience, and ability to resist a really good dust up, are not infinite! Take this in the genuine good humour it is intended. Sadly one of the limits of text communication is the nuances of genuine good natured, good humoured discussion can be missed.

    Cheers

    Louis

    P.S. The England/France match is on, wooooot! Go England!

  584. #584 Louis
    March 15, 2009

    SC,

    I never said I could make up the definitions, that’s a straw man of your own confection. And re: Kitty, I think it’s interesting you privilege her anecdote over mine (when actually BOTH are merely anecdotes), especially since it speaks to a misunderstanding of the claims you think I was making. Could you be being sexist by preferring anecdotal testimony from women over that from men? Double standard much.

    My response to the argument Kitty made has been misunderstood (esp as it has been made in more posts than the one that directly responded to Kitty). I’m happy to concede that I made those arguments poorly/confusingly or that I could have made them more clearly. I’m not happy to capitulate to an “argument” on your part which relies on mere assertion about what a word means in all times and all places and nothing else. Do you understand what “agree to disagree” means? Have you woken up this morning determined to restart an argument that neither of us (apparently) want to continue.

    I am not claiming, for example, that you think language does not evolve. The point you have continually missed is that HOW language evolves IS relevant to the complexties/baggage associated with their use. Your persistent misunderstanding of, for example, how I was using the word “gay” is a case in point. I didn’t need to use “gay as insult” because it wasn’t anything to do with the point I was trying to make. You persist in reiterating these misunderstandings despite very polite attempts to get you to stop. Please stop. Please!

    If you want to continue the argument I will, but I am going to start again, from a less controversial place and make the linguistic argument more clearly. A clean slate if you will. My brain isn’t encumbered today by the metabolites of ethanol! ;-)

    I’m getting frustrated at being misrepresented, regardless of whether that misrepresentation is due to poor construction of previous arguments on my part, misunderstanding/misrepresentation on your part, or movement of great white whales in the Antarctic. My patience, and ability to resist a really good dust up, are not infinite! Take this in the genuine good humour it is intended. Sadly one of the limits of text communication is the nuances of genuine good natured, good humoured discussion can be missed.

    Cheers

    Louis

    P.S. The England/France match is on, wooooot! Go England!

  585. #585 Bernard Bumner
    March 15, 2009

    See Kitty’s comment above.

    Which is probably true; cunt is still generally considered to be the most offensive word in UK English. It is probably the only word that couldn’t be used on the BBC – even racial epithets are considered passable on the Beeb, within certain contexts.

    However, there is a coinage used by some men, amongst men, which is so far removed from the origins of the word as to be divorced from straight pejorative reference to female genitalia. So, the sexism lies in the fact that it has become co-opted exclusively to male banter – that the word is generally offensive to women is tacitly acknowledged by virtue of the context within which it is used. However, the word itself within that context is not understood by the users to have any direct reference to the vagina.

    The users of the word clearly are aware of the potential for offense, but are also clear in their own minds of their itention. That seems to be where the ambiguity lies, and the confusion originates.

    It seems to me that it would be fair to accept that many people do not intend misogyny when they use the word, and indeed are not misogynistic. But it would also be fair to say that the word is stil greviously insulting, and that women still have no ownership of the word; that it is still a sexist term. I think that it is entirely possible to be sexist without misogynistic, simply via carelessness.

  586. #586 Louis
    March 15, 2009

    FUCK! I double posted. Ignore the first one, I inserted an extra paragraph into the second. They are not identical.

    Louis

  587. #587 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    SC,

    like Louis,i will agree to disagree and leave it at that ok.

    OK. It sounds like we’re both going through a tough time, and it’s probably not the best moment to get into a debate about anything (not that I ever want to argue with you). I’m so sorry if my comment hurt you. I really didn’t want to because I do like you, but I did want to explain why I hadn’t emailed after I said I would. I could well be totally wrong about this, and probably am. But in the case of the person from here whom I contacted that turned out to be a disaster I wish I had been more cautious. So you can blame him for what’s possibly an excess of wariness on my part.

    :/

    (Louis and I have agreed to disagree several times now and then proceeded to continue arguing. I’m going to try my best to hold to my word now and let him and Erasmus and whoever have the last word.)

  588. #588 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    The last word? Zyxt apparently. If you could only learn to share, I’m sure you could all have it.

  589. #589 Bernard Bumner
    March 15, 2009

    No need to be Kentish about it…

  590. #590 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    Touche, sir!

  591. #591 Louis
    March 15, 2009

    So we’re done? Thank fuck for that.

    Louis

  592. #592 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    Bullshit. See Kitty’s comment above.

    Kitty is wrong. The word “cunt” is used as a mild pejorative all the time in Britain. In the north of England it is on practically the exact same footing as “prick”. The only people I’ve known to kick up a fuss about the word are Americans.

    We keep telling you till we’re blue in the face: it does not necessarily have sexist connotations outside the US. Several native speakers of British English have told you that, but you just won’t listen.

    Uh, I never said anything about any such “intentions.” Further, your claim is both irrelevant and stupid (as street slang chnges rapidly even with no one intending it).

    No, your claim is what’s irrelevant and stupid. You suggested that it is best policy to cease using the word, as (you think) it causes confusion. I said it that in general it only confuses Americans, who aren’t important as far as British slang is concerned. And that confusion can usually be remedied by a brief explanation of the linguistic differences. You so consistently fail to understand only by virtue of being singularly moronic, obstinate, and insecure.

  593. #593 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    The truth was always within you, Louis……;)

  594. #594 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    I have no idea how the word could POSSIBLY be sexist when it is used to mean nothing more than “a contemptible male”. The word is sexist in the US because it most often used to as a derogatory term to address women. That’s where the misogyny comes from. Take that feature away and the slang word cunt is no more sexist than “prick” or “wanker” “dickhead”.

  595. #595 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Kitty is wrong. The word “cunt” is used as a mild pejorative all the time in Britain. In the north of England it is on practically the exact same footing as “prick”. The only people I’ve known to kick up a fuss about the word are Americans.

    So Bernard Bumner* is wrong as well, as is the BBC, evidently.

    *By the way, well said, Bernard. I thought your comment made a great deal of sense.

  596. #596 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    So Bernard Bumner* is wrong as well, as is the BBC, evidently.

    This little smart-alec comment only underscores your profound ignorance of British English. There are in fact many diverse regional dialects in Britain. I was primarily talking about the dialects spoken in the north of England. It is absurd to try to use the word of a few Brits to nullify my word, because there are dozens upon dozens of different dialects, and I doubt any individual is familiar with them all.

    In any case, my point was a logical point, and doesn’t require argument from authority. “Cunt” is often used to mean exactly “contemptible male”. How could such a usage POSSIBLY be sexist?

    In any case, my point was a logical point.

  597. #597 Kitty
    March 15, 2009

    Well. I can’t believe this is still going on!

    Kitty is wrong. The word “cunt” is used as a mild pejorative all the time in Britain. In the north of England it is on practically the exact same footing as “prick”

    Thank you for that.

    What a pompous thing to say.

    How about you try to understand that not everyone in the UK moves in the same circles as you and not everyone in Northern England (or the rest of the UK) uses the same language you do?

    Good comment Bernard Bumner. Someone who actually puts his brain into gear before posting.

  598. #598 Bernard Bumner
    March 15, 2009

    The word “cunt” is used as a mild pejorative all the time in Britain.

    By some people, but it still remains the most offensive word in UK English. You know that to be the case.

    In the north of England it is on practically the exact same footing as “prick”. The only people I’ve known to kick up a fuss about the word are Americans.

    Not a chance. I live in the north (west, but I’ve also lived in the east), and I know full well that if I call anybody outside of my immediate male friends by that term, then there is a good chance of violence. Prick might cause a verbal confrontation down the pub, but cunt is a guaranteed fight.

    I also know that the vast majority of my female friends find the word repellent, not just distasteful.

    I have no idea how the word could POSSIBLY be sexist when it is used to mean nothing more than “a contemptible male”.

    By virtue of the fact that you know full well that you couldn’t use the term about a woman. You’re already acknowledging the fact that the term is offensive to women.

  599. #599 Kitty
    March 15, 2009

    Erasmus – it has nothing to do with dialect. That is completely different from the slang you are quoting.

  600. #600 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    This little smart-alec comment

    Go fuck yourself, moron.

    “Cunt” is often used to mean exactly “contemptible male”. How could such a usage POSSIBLY be sexist?

    Why don’t you try actually reading the thread and responding to the arguments that have been made?

    In any case, my point was a logical point.

    No, it was not.

    ***

    Kitty – Apparently you’re not only wrong about your own responses and those of your friends and acquaintances, you’re either No True Brit or you don’t exist!

  601. #601 Sven DiMilo
    March 15, 2009

    “Cunt” is often used to mean exactly “contemptible male”. How could such a usage POSSIBLY be sexist?

    *sigh*
    Seriously? Using a word with the literal meaning of “female genitalia” to express the connoted meaning “contemptible male” doesn’t strike you as inherently and inextricably sexist?
    *shakes head in sad sympathy for SC*

  602. #602 Kitty
    March 15, 2009

    SC,OM. Sounds about right! But then it’s what I’ve come to expect from sexist males! They don’t recognise their sexism, even when it bites them.

    I’m leaving now. This is so not worth any more of my time and I suggest you go and do something nice too.

    I think I’ll roast a chunk of beef, make some Yorkshire puddings and open a nice bottle of red.

  603. #603 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    Kitty – Apparently you’re not only wrong about your own responses and those of your friends and acquaintances, you’re either No True Brit or you don’t exist!

    I’m not saying she doesn’t exist, I’m saying that in my estimation she is clearly wrong. It’s curious that you choose to listen to Kitty and Bernard Bumner (who are telling you what you want to hear), but not me, Louis, Clinteas and others.

    Why don’t you try actually reading the thread and responding to the arguments that have been made?

    Because you don’t have any arguments worth answering. Your problem is insecurity. Rather than accepting the distinct possibility that we’re right (why would we lie or deceive ourselves about this?), you choose to believe we’re part of a conspiracy to oppress women.

    When I pass young male chavs (look it up) on the street, and one calls the other a “daft cunt”…am I to believe that that’s sexist, but “stupid prick” isn’t?

  604. #604 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    Oh dear. Cunt fight. Well, if you will talk about a nasty, aggressive word….

  605. #605 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    *sigh* Seriously? Using a word with the literal meaning of “female genitalia” to express the connoted meaning “contemptible male” doesn’t strike you as inherently and inextricably sexist? *shakes head in sad sympathy for SC*

    And yet the word “prick” is different, isn’t it?

    There are too many batshit fringe nutcases posting on this blog. Isn’t good for my blood pressure.

  606. #606 Sven DiMilo
    March 15, 2009

    And yet the word “prick” is different, isn’t it?

    Yes. Yes, it is different. It’s different because of the socio-historical context of sexism. If it’s not different in the user’s conscious intent, it is very different in its (perhaps debatable) unconscious connotations to the user and (not debatable) in its connotations, conscious or unconscious, in at least some of those who hear it used.

    And if I am a “batshit fringe nutcase” for that opinion, then so be it. *shrug*

  607. #607 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    I’m not saying she doesn’t exist, I’m saying that in my estimation she is clearly wrong. It’s curious that you choose to listen to Kitty and Bernard Bumner (who are telling you what you want to hear), but not me, Louis, Clinteas and others.

    How can she be wrong about her own fucking response to the word? (clinteas is German and lives in Australia, by the way.) You’re claiming that it is not a word that retains connotations or causes offense where you are, and other people there are telling you that it is and it does and providing evidence of this. And yet you continue to insist that you’ve only heard Americans raise a “fuss” about it. That’s an outright lie.

    I’ve now read again through your comments on this thread, and come to the conclusion that you’re an idiot and not worth anyone’s time.

    Your problem is insecurity. Rather than accepting the distinct possibility that we’re right (why would we lie or deceive ourselves about this?)

    In your case because you’re an insensitive sexist fuck.

    , you choose to believe we’re part of a conspiracy to oppress women.

    You’re also insane.

    There are too many batshit fringe nutcases posting on this blog. Isn’t good for my blood pressure.

    Feel free to leave. You won’t be missed.

  608. #608 Bernard Bumner
    March 15, 2009

    …who are telling you what you want to hear…

    Which nicely dodges attempting to deal with what I actually wrote.

    You must know that the word is generally considered to be the most offensive word in the language. You must also know that it is generally considered to be very offensive to women. Actually, you’ve written as much yourself.

    The point isn’t that the term is necessarily used in a consciously misogynistic manner – I would definitely choose to disagree with anybody arguing that all sexism is misogyny. It is a casually sexist term in the context you’ve given, even if you don’t mean it to be so.

    And, yes, I have used it myself. (In anger. Understanding that it is the most offensive four letter word I can muster.)

    When I pass young male chavs (look it up) on the street, and one calls the other a “daft cunt”…am I to believe that that’s sexist, but “stupid prick” isn’t?

    There is a big difference between a male describing another male as a penis, and a male calling another male a vagina. (See Sven’s post.)

    There are too many batshit fringe nutcases posting on this blog.

    Did I hear someone whining about those who are dismissive of people they don’t agree with? Can’t stomach people not telling you what you want to hear?

  609. #609 Louis
    March 15, 2009

    WHOA!

    Don’t fucking drag me back in!

    I’m not making the exact same arguments Erasmus, Clinteas or anyone is making, I’m certainly not calling anyone Not a True Brit or anything like it. Please don’t impute motives and arguments to me I don’t have and haven’t made.

    Louis

  610. #610 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    You must know that the word is generally considered to be the most offensive word in the language. You must also know that it is generally considered to be very offensive to women.

    In some parts of the country it’s very offensive, sure. It definitely isn’t “proper”. But young working class males in Teesside or Manchester seem to have no problem with it. For them it doesn’t have any sexist implication, when used against males; it’s used in much the same way as “knob” or “prick”.

    There is a big difference between a male describing another male as a penis, and a male calling another male a vagina.

    Oh yes, I see the distinction. Yes, SC was so obviously right all along. I can picture the scene now: she draws the comparison between a certain objectionable female, and the male erectile organ. Possibly SC utters the word “knobhead” or even — gasp! — “dickwad”. I would be absolutely mortified. Slighted to the very core of my being. What kind of insensitive, stone-old misandrist, from the undercellars of far-right hate camps, would do such a thing? Why would SC hurt my feelings like that? It is OFFENSIVE!

  611. #611 Iain Walker
    March 15, 2009

    Meanwhile, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh is still in prison.

    Just sayin’ …

  612. #612 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Meanwhile, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh is still in prison.

    Just sayin’ …

    Yes, Iain. I’m in an organization with numerous people from that part of the world from whom I receive regular updates, and have over the past several months posted – on probably every thread related to these horrors and several others as well – links to petitions, women’s rights and LGBT organizations, interviews with activists, etc. I’ve done so on the other science blogs as well. I think Kitty said it well above: “Perhaps in 50 years it might change but while women are oppressed in many parts of the world – go back to the the origin of this thread – it isn’t exactly high on most women’s wish lists to feel comfortable calling anyone a cunt for any reason.”

    Erasmus, you’re still a moron.

  613. #613 Bernard Bumner
    March 15, 2009

    In some parts of the country it’s very offensive, sure.

    The problem is that you started off acknowledging that, but then shifted to much more definitive rhetoric, such as:

    Kitty is wrong. The word “cunt” is used as a mild pejorative all the time in Britain. In the north of England it is on practically the exact same footing as “prick”. The only people I’ve known to kick up a fuss about the word are Americans.

    Which doesn’t really square with that.

    But young working class males in Teesside or Manchester seem to have no problem with it.

    Which is something I accepted in my original post, but which doesn’t change the fact that there is an inherent, casual sexism in the term.

    It also doesn’t change the fact that the term is still broadly offensive to most Mancunians, and that I could get into a lot of trouble for describing somebody as one in the pub.

    If you hadn’t hardened your argument from some people don’t find it offensive (i.e., some young, working class males) into it isn’t offensive in Britain and only Americans make a fuss, then you’d have more of a basis for complaint.

  614. #614 Bernard Bumner
    March 15, 2009

    Bah! Pick the meaning out of it, if you please…

  615. #615 Carlie
    March 15, 2009

    Holy flying fuck on a stick. No wonder this thread got so long.
    I am sadly not surprised that a post about how women are systematically oppressed became a few specific guys trying like all hell to defend being able to use cunt as an insult.

    Here’s the way being a non-asshole works:

    Person 1: *uses offensive term*
    Person 2: Wow, that’s an offensive term. Please don’t.
    Person 1: Really? I don’t use it that way, and didn’t even think that would be an interpretation.
    Person 2: Well, it certainly is that in large swaths of the world, many of whom participate in this international online place. Using it as an insult reinforces that offense to a lot of people reading it.
    Person 1: Oh, well then. I’ll use my big human brain to think of other insults to use, since I have a very large vocabulary and being asked not to use one specific word really isn’t that big a deal.

    See? Easy.

    Also, believe it or not, most people who find the term cunt offensive also don’t call people dicks or pricks, out of a similar consideration, so that’s a lost argument.

  616. #616 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    March 15, 2009

    Posted by: Carlie | March 15, 2009

    Also, believe it or not, most people who find the term cunt offensive also don’t call people dicks or pricks, out of a similar consideration, so that’s a lost argument.

    I cannot say that I fit into the category of “most people” but I have cut down on my use of “dick” and “prick” as insults for that reason. I do not think those two word carry the same level of hatred as “cunt” does. When was the last time anyone heard someone bragging about what a huge cunt they were packing? I try to limit my insults to things that all genders can engage in.

  617. #617 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    If you hadn’t hardened your argument from some people don’t find it offensive (i.e., some young, working class males) into it isn’t offensive in Britain and only Americans make a fuss, then you’d have more of a basis for complaint.

    What I meant is that despite the fairly regular appliance of the C word over here, I have never witnessed such protracted debate over its use. But this isn’t the first time I’ve come across Americans kicking up a big fuss.

    I think Kitty said it well above: “Perhaps in 50 years it might change but while women are oppressed in many parts of the world – go back to the the origin of this thread – it isn’t exactly high on most women’s wish lists to feel comfortable calling anyone a cunt for any reason.”

    Interesting: I notice “50 years” and “many parts of the world”. So basically, even if there’s perfect equality — even if your sex has the advantage — you’re going to use any excuse you can to whine about how offended and oppressed you are.

  618. #618 Kel
    March 15, 2009

    I am sadly not surprised that a post about how women are systematically oppressed became a few specific guys trying like all hell to defend being able to use cunt as an insult.

    I can’t speak for others, but I wasn’t trying to defend using cunt as an insult. Rather I was saying that the word’s usage is dependant on context and the society it’s in. I just want to make this point clear.

  619. #619 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Interesting: I notice “50 years” and “many parts of the world”. So basically, even if there’s perfect equality — even if your sex has the advantage — you’re going to use any excuse you can to whine about how offended and oppressed you are.

    What a smug little ass you are, Erasmus. You can’t even fucking read people’s words and understand them. Louis and Kel are making arguments. I disagree with them, but that’s what they’re doing. You, on the other hand, are in fact handwavingly trying to defend the use of these words, because you’re a sexist jerk. I have the distinct sense you’re dying to call me a cunt. Why don’t you go ahead and do it already? You won’t be banned for it, and it will allow you to express your contempt for women (or at least us uppity ones) in a way that won’t require you to address the content of people’s posts or to try to form a coherent argument yourself – intellectual feats you’re clearly not up to.

  620. #620 Ichthyic
    March 15, 2009

    heyo.

    shot you back an email a few days back, SC.

    did u get it? a bit concerned about my internet connection down here in this backwater swamp.
    :)

  621. #621 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    I disagree with them, but that’s what they’re doing. You, on the other hand, are in fact handwavingly trying to defend the use of these words, because you’re a sexist jerk.

    No, what I was saying is that a certain restricted use of the C word is not sexist in any meaningful sense. Again, I’m not out to subtly oppress women, despite your paranoid delusions.

  622. #622 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    March 15, 2009

    I am going to start using the words “packy” and “golliwog” because in a certain restricted use of those words, they are not racist.

  623. #623 Sven DiMilo
    March 15, 2009

    I’m not out to subtly oppress women

    And neither are the working-class blokes in Manchester; we get it. And yet it’s wrong–both you and those dudes in Manchester are subtly oppressing women, by using and defending the use of that particular word. I am not talking about conscious intentions.

  624. #624 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 15, 2009

    I am going to start using the words “packy” and “golliwog” because in a certain restricted use of those words, they are not racist.

    Are they Teletubies or Muppets?

    Honestly I have no idea what either of those words mean.

  625. #625 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 15, 2009

    These will lead you to the Urban Dictionary.

    Packy

    Golliwog

    Funny thing, before John Fogerty took over the band and changed their name, CCR was called The Golliwogs.

  626. #626 Nanu Nanu
    March 15, 2009

    “Honestly I have no idea what either of those words mean.”

    golliwogs are little racist caricatures with the big red lips and shit.
    I only know cause there was a controversy about the characters in that game “loco roco.”

  627. #627 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 15, 2009

    I guess I probably could have figured out packy and being from where I am from I should have known Golliwog.

    Strange that I can not ever recall having heard those referred to as that.

  628. #628 Bobber
    March 15, 2009

    I think too many people do not understand the great power of language. Language, no less than laws or customs, has been used to marginalize and oppress segments of the human population since – well, pretty much since language was invented. Take two people, otherwise identical, and label one “slave” and the other “master”, and you suddenly can create an entire set of ideas regarding their place in their society. To deny the historical context of the use of certain words is to use a word in ignorance. That, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing; we can be brought up having learned to use a word with specific people in specific situations and believe that the word is pretty harmless. But as a human being who must use language to communicate, it is your responsibility to learn what that word may mean in the broader social environment.

    And also, generally speaking, I believe that it is up to the historical oppressee to determine what is offensive, rather than the historical oppressor. My wife, and some of her female friends, once had a discussion regarding the word “cunt”. They informed me about their feelings regarding its use. I didn’t use the word before the conversation, and I certainly haven’t used the word since.

    Oh, and pretty much what Carlie said above, as well.

  629. #629 thalarctos
    March 15, 2009

    did u get it? a bit concerned about my internet connection down here in this backwater swamp.

    hey, ichthyic–i never heard back from u, but just figured you were just as buried and behind in ur email as i am.

    if so, np at all; write whenever’s good, but if you didn’t get an email from me a week ago or so, that’s a data point for concern about ur connection there.

  630. #630 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    I don’t think you’re part of any friggin’ conspiracy, Erasmus. I’m quite certain, though, that you’re a sexist jerk.

    ***

    Hey Ichthyic,

    I did get it. It’s been a miserable week, but I’ll write back just as soon as I can! Hope you’re doing well.

  631. #631 Ichthyic
    March 15, 2009

    hey, ichthyic–i never heard back from u, but just figured you were just as buried and behind in ur email as i am.

    I never got your email.

    send again?

  632. #632 Erasmus
    March 15, 2009

    And neither are the working-class blokes in Manchester; we get it. And yet it’s wrong–both you and those dudes in Manchester are subtly oppressing women, by using and defending the use of that particular word. I am not talking about conscious intentions.

    OK, but to show that it subtly oppresses women you’ll need a better argument than “The C word is inherently sexist because it refers to female genitalia”. But at this point I’m almost bored to sleep.

  633. #633 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    UK usage (AFAIK) “Paki” – used as a term of racist abuse, for anyone apparently from the Indian Sub Continent or Asia. Often synonymous with Muslims. Not suitable for any white person to use at any time, though not as strong as “nigger”, which is unbroadcastable (though, of course, sometimes used by young blacks). Prince Harry (army man) recently got into trouble for referring to one of his old polo mates by this as a familiar nickname – the friend didn’t mind at all – but cause much embarrassment in the press and at the Palace. However, the term is also used by some Pakistanis as a group name.
    “Golliwog” was originally a much-loved child’s doll, an image of a negro c.Black & White Minstrel time (which ended here in the 1970s. Also used, most famously, as a collectible mascot for Robinson’s Jam. Connected with the now virtually unused, and racist, name “Wog” – or maybe. Many people feel that the original doll, while it seems now like an offensive caricature, was rather sweet and completely harmless. The effective banning of golliwogs is often seen, by whites, is “political correctness gone mad” So far as I know, it wasn’t really been an issue with black people. I guess they have so much real, or perceived, racism to deal with that worrying about children’s dolls is low on their list of priorities.
    Of course, I’m not advocating the use of any racist terms – but this is more a note on what I think is the current usage in the UK.

  634. #634 Elwood, excruciating singer
    March 15, 2009

    Late to the party again. I simply can’t keep up with you guys and find time to eat and sleep. How do you do it?

    Bobber: ever heard of the Eupemism Treadmill? It’s the game we all play with descriptive words as they come into fashion and then subsequently become “offensive” or unpalatable, only to be replaced by another dscription which follows the same path. Witness the progression from “crippled” to “handicapped” to “disabled” etc.

    On the subject of golliwogs, I remember when I was a child learning to read with the aid of Enid Blyton’s Noddy and Big Ears books (probably unknown to U.S. readers, and you’re not missing much!) Anyway, in the books there were black characters called golliwogs. Nothing wrong with that in itself, only the golliwogs were always causing trouble and behaving badly. However, I personally never associated black people with golliwogs, and certainly never made any connection between antisocial behaviour and black skinned people simply on the basis of children’s fictional characters, but nevertheless Enid Blyton’s books were eventually withdrawn on the grounds that they were “racist”. Similarly, the makers of a certain brand of jam (jelly in the U.S.) with a prominent image of a golliwog on the jar was also withdrawn. This was in the 1970′s I believe, but both the books and the jam had been around for decades before that.

    Now – as I see it, Enid Blyton’s books were mildly racist (even though I never personally saw any racism as a child), but the jam? No way. The difference was in the way the character was portrayed. Enid Blyton deliberately made her golliwog characters mildly threatening, so the racism charge was valid. But on the jam jar it was just a happy smiling black figure. Where’s the racism there? My sister even had a stuffed golliwog toy, and none of us ever saw any harm in it. If anything it was the very opposite of racism, as it was a cherished toy.

    So if anyone asked me if golliwogs were racist, I’d say no. Not in themselves. But their history has been “tainted” by past events which obviously still linger. Only recently a shopkeeper who sold stuffed golliwogs had to remove them all from a shop window because somebody “complained”. Why? What harm were they doing? Stuffed golliwog toys would probably actually improve relations between blacks and whites, but once something is regarded as “racist” or “offensive”, in the bin it goes – for good. Pity.

    Sorry about the long post but I wanted to get that off my chest. I’ll go back to single line comments from now on!

  635. #635 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    I agree, Elwood, The dolls were I think first procduced in about the 1920s and were, almost universally known as “Gollies”. Many, many, small kids went to bed with one every night, and loved them to bits, often literally! They were easy to knit too.

  636. #636 Elwood, excruciating singer
    March 15, 2009

    Oh yes – the word “Paki” too. That’s a good one. Apparently Prince Harry or William (can’t remember which) got into trouble recently for saying “my little Paki friend” and had to apologise.

    I don’t see anything wrong with that either. I’m regularly called a “Brummie” (I’m from Birmingham, England) and it offends me not one whit. Similarly with Scottie or Yankee. On its own it’s just a word. (Is anyone here offended by the word Yankee?)

    But I have heard the phrase “dirty Paki” many many times, and that IS racist. If the Prince had said anything like that he would have been severely castigated, and for good reason. But he didn’t. He said “My little Paki friend” and I don’t see why he should apologise for that. It was a term of endearment.

    Words – they slip and slide, and change meanings all the time. Sometimes people only hear what they want to hear, and if someone is anticipating being offended, then they will be. Some even actively look for offence, and of course they find it everywhere. Sod ‘em. There are better things to do with your life than go around looking for imagined offence.

  637. #637 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    OK, but to show that it subtly oppresses women you’ll need a better argument than “The C word is inherently sexist because it refers to female genitalia”.

    And where are all the transitional fossils, man? If evolution were happening there would surely be transitional fossils, but I haven’t seen any. If you want to convince me you’ll need to show me better evidence.

  638. #638 Bobber
    March 15, 2009

    Elwood:

    Interesting about the Euphemism Treadmill. I was exposed to something similar years ago, not through the academic work of Steven Pinker, but through the comedy of George Carlin, when he described the change through time of what was originally called “shell shock” in World War I to where it is now the softer-sounding “post-traumatic stress disorder.” For certain, the meanings of many words do change over time, and perhaps an insulting slur eighty years ago becomes today’s harmless slang term (and vice versa). I would draw certain distinctions, however. For example, during my years working with the deaf, it was not usual for deaf people, among themselves, to call each other anything else but deaf (which is why I continue to use the term so freely), whereas in more formal settings, or in settings where they were talking with hearing people who were unfamiliar with deaf culture, they would use the sign for “hearing impaired” rather than deaf, because even though deaf had no negative connotation within their culture, they felt that it was a way for hearing people to dismiss them. Likewise, during the Gallaudet protests of the late 80s, when the deaf community saw itself as fighting against hearing oppression, many deaf people at the school I worked at preferred their hearing friends and co-workers to use the sign “hearing impaired” rather than “deaf.” Now, the the word deaf is back in vogue. And all of this in the space of ten years. I adapted. Deaf people have every right to determine what term is acceptable when it is applied to them, and what is offensive. So does every other segment of the greater population, in my opinion.

    I don’t mourn the loss of certain words because they are felt to be offensive. It’s just change. Vocabularies evolve, no less than populations. These changes should happen; language that is used to separate or belittle should be discarded. The richness of our discourse isn’t lessened; I would argue that it is enhanced by the greater civility and potential for understanding between people.

  639. #639 Stanton
    March 15, 2009

    And where are all the transitional fossils, man? If evolution were happening there would surely be transitional fossils, but I haven’t seen any. If you want to convince me you’ll need to show me better evidence.

    Try Phyllis Diller adjusting to retirement. If that isn’t a fossil in transition, then I don’t know what would be.

  640. #640 Sven DiMilo
    March 15, 2009

    “The C word is inherently sexist ^when used metaphorically as an insult*, especially against a man,^ because it refers to female genitalia”

    *(even a good-natured one)

  641. #641 Bobber
    March 15, 2009

    Elwood said:

    Is anyone here offended by the word Yankee?

    When I was called a Yankee while I lived in New England, it was by fellow Yankees and there was no offense. Now that I live in North Carolina, people here who use the term to refer to me do indeed use it as a pejorative term. In some cases, yes, the word is a just a word, and again, as Carlin said, “it’s the racist asshole using the word you have to worry about.” But we need to be cognizant of the effect of words that transcend regional meanings, and that are recognized throughout a larger segment of the culture.

  642. #642 Sven DiMilo
    March 15, 2009

    Is anyone here offended by the word Yankee?

    I am.
    But only because I am a fan of the Mets, Dodgers, and Red Sox.

  643. #643 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Is anyone here offended by the word Yankee?

    My family is Swamp Yankee:

    http://www.nesales.com/swampyankee.htm

    To the extent that anyone uses it nowadays, I think it’s been positively owned.

  644. #644 Elwood Herring
    March 15, 2009

    After reading the latest comments I think the point is made. It’s not the word that is offensive, it’s the context, plus of course the intention of the speaker whether to mean to cause offense in the first place. The whole treadmill scenario doesn’t need to occur if people weren’t so quick to “take offense” where none is intended. For example, if I ask a person “are you deaf?” I shouldn’t have to worry if I’m offending that person, but if they are offended, is that my fault? The question isn’t meant to cause offense, it would be merely to ascertain the best method for communicating, and I wouldn’t want to dance around the phrase “Sorry to have to ask, but are you by any chance hard of hearing at all?” That’s just one example of course, but basically my point is that in society as a whole we are trying to evade a problem that will never go away. The “euphemism treadmill” is proof of that. People will always find ways of being offended. The fault is with the “offendee”, not the supposed “offender”, if you get my drift.

    AnthonyK – Robinson’s Jam. Thanks, I’d completely forgotten that!

  645. #645 Elwood Herring
    March 15, 2009

    As a postscript to that, I just want to clarify that the fault lies with the offendee when clearly no offense was intended in the first place!

    And usually I reckon it is perfectly clear, my little Paki friend!

    Goodnight all.

    Elwood

  646. #646 Bobber
    March 15, 2009

    Elwood:

    I think, first, we should separate

    The “euphemism treadmill” is proof of that.

    which identifies a term used to describe the observed evolution of language from the rest, where you said

    People will always find ways of being offended. The fault is with the “offendee”, not the supposed “offender”, if you get my drift.

    which I disagree with. The person using the word does not have the liberty of determining whether or not his or her words were offensive. Innocence may be claimed – “I didn’t intend to cause offense” – but THAT offense was caused is in the purview of the person who is offended, and the fault does, indeed, lie with the “offender”. If the phrase “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is generally valid, so is ignorance of negative connotation outside one’s own frame of reference. If I use a word that causes offense, it is my obligation, as a person who respects other persons, to apologize for the inadvertant offense and not use that word again, NOT to defend the use of that word in another, narrower, social context. Social responsibility doesn’t just apply to the worlds of economics and law; it also extends to the world of culture.

  647. #647 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    That’s just one example of course, but basically my point is that in society as a whole we are trying to evade a problem that will never go away. The “euphemism treadmill” is proof of that. People will always find ways of being offended. The fault is with the “offendee”, not the supposed “offender”, if you get my drift.

    Of course the problem will never go away. If we want people to think about their use of “cunt” or to stop using it, we’ll absolutely need to find a suitable replacement. Because men just can’t be asked to stop using it. They want to use it, and fuck if concern for the fact that it has a history as an insulting and derogatory term to women is going to stop them! “Cunt, cunt, cunt! I’ll show you pussies! It shouldn’t bother you, it doesn’t bother you, and if it does, well, that’s your fucking problem, ya humorless twats! Deal with it!”

    The assholishness on display here is really quite sickening.

  648. #648 SC, OM
    March 15, 2009

    If I use a word that causes offense, it is my obligation, as a person who respects other persons,

    That’s just the problem. There are at least a few people on this thread who plainly don’t, and so recognize no such obligation.

  649. #649 Elwood
    March 15, 2009

    Bobber: yes, actually I do agree with that. I considered someone might make that very point right after I hit “post” but right now I’m too tired to think clearly. The whole subject demands closer scrutiny, and the truth probably lies somewhere in between our points of view, if there is in fact a “truth” to all this, which I’m starting to doubt. I take your (entirely valid) point on board and I’ll sleep on it.

    Goodnight.

  650. #650 Carlie
    March 15, 2009

    People will always find ways of being offended. The fault is with the “offendee”, not the supposed “offender”, if you get my drift.

    No, it isn’t. It’s still with the offender, even if it was an accident. By the time my kids were 5 they knew enough that if you step on someone’s foot on accident, you say “Sorry” and try to watch closer where you step so it doesn’t happen again, because it doesn’t matter that you didn’t do it on purpose, it matters that their foot is hurt and you did it. Same way with what you say. I think people bristle so much because someone says “What you just said is sexist” and they hear “YOU are sexist”, when that’s not what was said at all. If you said something sexist and weren’t trying to be sexist, then you simply don’t say it again.

  651. #651 AnthonyK
    March 15, 2009

    I worked for a while with some blind people. They found it rather amusing when sighted people said something like “Yes, but when will you see me next” and then got all embarrassed. They themselves used the word all the time. They also found it funny when I came round to the house one evening and had to turn the lights on, and then again when I couldn’t read the braille menu they had for the local Chinese Takeaway.
    I had an insight, correct useage I think, into the world of the blind – which is of course my own world too.
    The experience was great for me because they were both mature students, both professionals, and they were studying maths to GCSE level. Why? “Because,” the woman confided – she was also deaf btw “we thought it might be fun.”
    It was – maths to blind people – intriguing. Their greatest problem was that while the textbook used in the college was about 200 A4 pages, their braille version was in 48 volumes!
    And how do you explain a graph to a blind person, or get them to plot, say y = 2x + 3?
    Fascinating. And they both passed, she with a B, he a C. Even better – we all had fun!

  652. #652 clinteas
    March 16, 2009

    SC,

    thanks for your post @ 587,appreciate it,all good….

    Gee things sure got a bit personal last nite hey !
    You dont know me,but Im not a misogynist.

    *Is getting ready for another Pharyngula night shift*

  653. #653 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    I can’t help wondering if those people defending the TAKING of offence (in general) would defend certain groups/individuals taking offence at, for example:

    1) A fat person being gently told by their doctor to lose weight for the good of their health.

    2) A petition to continue the maintenance the separation of church and state in the US by so minor a thing as removing “I God We Trust” from the currency or taking “One Nation Under God” from the pledge. (Both “recent” additions)

    3) A sign on the side of a bus that reads “There probably is no god, now just enjoy your life”.

    4) In a formal debate, when having been demonstrated to be lying about a specific claim, the person who lied is referred to as a liar.

    5) An instance of questioning the validity of another person’s religious claims when those claims are presented as being factual.

    6) Use of a word in a discussion about words and their uses.

    Note that I’m not saying one way or the other what my opinion is, and again, I’d rather people didn’t impute motives/arguments to me I don’t have/make, I’m just curious to see how far this defence of TAKING offence will go, when it isn’t the person in question being offended.

    I’m also wondering if anyone would like to know what offends me? ;-)

    Louis

  654. #654 clinteas
    March 16, 2009

    Louis,

    mate,let it rest.
    Flogging a dead horse is only good when its the Sex Pistols album.

  655. #655 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Clinteas,

    I’m letting the other argument (about linguistics) rest. (BTW I thought that SC’s question about transitional fossils was bloody brilliant, nice work SC!) I’m genuinely curious how far people are willing to extend this notion that a simple cry of “I’m offended!” is a valid argument for/against anything. (The toe-stepping argument someone used above doesn’t work because there is absolutely no ambiguity about the fact of toes being stepped on, the ambiguity is in the intent)

    But you’re right, no good will probably come of it.

    Louis

  656. #656 John Morales
    March 16, 2009

    Louis,

    I’m genuinely curious how far people are willing to extend this notion that a simple cry of “I’m offended!” is a valid argument for/against anything.

    For me, it’s pretty simple.

    If others tell me that they find something I do or say offensive (even if I see no reasonable cause for it) and I find the claim credible, then I weigh up their feelings against my feelings.

    If it’s no biggie, then I’ll try to avoid that behaviour in their presence, mainly because I prefer to be polite and good mannered rather than boorish. If, on the other hand, it’s a matter of principle or otherwise important to me, I’ll continue the behaviour and damn their feelings.

  657. #657 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    John,

    Sounds bloody good to me!

    Louis

  658. #658 SC, OM
    March 16, 2009

    Gee things sure got a bit personal last nite hey !
    You dont know me,but Im not a misogynist.

    Aw, hell, clinteas. I never thought you were, and I feel awful about what I said. Awful enough to apologize in an email? Hmmmmm, maybe not…

    ;P

    Louis, you need Analogy 101. :)

  659. #659 taliesan
    March 16, 2009

    Okay,

    On words:

    In the rest of the world, kaffir is a slur used against atheists. It isn’t a very nice word, it is indeed bigotted, but the meaning to it is distinctly different to what it is here in South Africa, where it denotes black people and is considered a particularly offensive racist term.

    In fact, as an atheist working for a newspaper I had to explain that kaffir means atheist.

    Words have different meanings depending on where you are.

    As to BSM’s statement:

    Last I checked we were in a culture where youth is deified, so that kind of takes care of people using the word “girl” when referring to a woman as being automatically sexist.

    :p

    (Besides, in South Africa, it gets the same basic treatment as kaffir – here if you use it when referring to a black woman you are essentially calling her a domestic worker, and thus being racist, not sexist. Boy, is similarly used.)

    I have never heard the term dick used as a compliment. Any reference to the male appendage is generally negative. Jerk is a direct reference to male masturbation, and is considered negative. As is jacking off.

    Male terms for females are also considered negative. To call a woman butch, is seen as being negative in the same way as to call a man a sissy is negative – they just play to opposing negative stereotypes.

    This doesn’t make us mysogynistic or mysandrous.

    It is more about our view of individuals than our view of members of the opposite sex. Even the term bitch applies to both genders nowadays – it is a frequent complainer.

    As to “using it even though people say it is offensive” well, yeah, that is kind of the point to an insult. You are supposed to be offended.

  660. #660 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    P.S. Although I suppose I should point out that, out of two possible interpretations of my question, your comment only answers one, which, whilst interesting and perfectly useful from a rhetorical/tactical* standpoint, is not what I was trying to get at from a logical standpoint.

    Is “I’m offended” a valid *logical* argument for or against anything? Is a claim of offence sufficient to stifle discussion or debate? No matter how real that offence might be or how serious the basis that offence might come from is. Is “I’m offended” a resolution of some particular question under debate, a refutation of other points, or is it a red herring, or something else entirely?

    I think “I’m offended” is shorthand for something else. I think it can be shorthand for something useful, but also shorthand for something not so useful in terms of discussion, examination of various phenomena etc. I think a lot of the problems in this thread (and many others on many different topics) arise from the fact that “I’m offended” is rarely picked apart to understand what lies underneath.

    This is partly why I am curious about the arguments surrounding the offensive words used above. There’s a genuine, linguistic, logical claim being made, and it is one I genuinely disagree with (if it’s the claim I think it is). I’m not seeking to reserve the use of these words, or to protect their users from being labelled sexist (or whatever), I’m genuinely interested in the underpinning logic and argument of their use, and the reactions to their use.

    However, all that said, Neil mentioned, I think WAAAAAAAAAY back in #281, that these esoteric curiosities, mine included, are examples of privilege. I agree. (However I will say that in a battle for equality, all battles, trivial or otherwise, will be fought somewhere on the spectrum of equality) The fact that I am in a privileged position allows me the opportunity to try to unpick these ideas. I’d like to be able to unpick the ideas with proper acknowledgement of their emotive content and oppressive usages without being distracted by them. I confess to having failed to do that in this instance, and thus I’ve become embroiled in the morass of emotionally important, perhaps unexamined, red herrings that typifies any controversial topics. I can only blame myself for that.

    Louis

    *I’ve often said that in the culture war creationists/fundamentalists/evangelicals etc seem determined to have the only really controversial questions are those of which tactics we adopt in combating them.

  661. #661 SC, OM
    March 16, 2009

    If people are too stupid or lazy to understand the arguments that have been made over the course of several hundred comments and choose instead to throw up a confused post that fails to address fundamental issues (especially when it ends with the absurd “insults are supposed to be offensive”), I for one am not going to be bothered to respond to them.

  662. #662 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    SC, OM,

    Analogy 101? Pfff the way I fucked up expressing the analogy I was going for, I think analogy kindergarten is better. I’m still pleading the hangover excuse for Saturday!

    I think the analogy I’m trying to make is valid, I just don’t think I’ve given a good account of it yet. Do you reckon that there is a possible discussion of the evolution of language, that doesn’t in any way focus on the unpleasant and controversial words we have been discussing, that could come out of this?

    Louis

  663. #663 clinteas
    March 16, 2009

    SC,

    on a personal note,
    in a previous life me and ex bred chihuahuas and chinese cresteds.We have gone through what you went through a lot,I have paid thousands of dollars over the years for resuscitation attempts and surgery on dogs,I know very very well how you felt,trust me.

    No need to apologize for anything.

  664. #664 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    I suppose to my list in #653 I should have included “crackergate”.

    Louis

  665. #665 Bobber
    March 16, 2009

    I’ll give it a go.

    I can’t help wondering if those people defending the TAKING of offence (in general) would defend certain groups/individuals taking offence at, for example:

    1) A fat person being gently told by their doctor to lose weight for the good of their health.

    The doctor isn’t shouting “you’re fat” to her patient as an insult. A statement of fact – “You are clinically obese and for the sake of your health you should drop a few pounds” – is not equivalent to calling someone a cunt. These circumstances are not analagous.

    2) A petition to continue the maintenance the separation of church and state in the US by so minor a thing as removing “I God We Trust” from the currency or taking “One Nation Under God” from the pledge. (Both “recent” additions)

    Removing those terms from government documents and sponsored speech does no harm, because these would be omissions of terms that may cause offense – in other words, their removal SOLVES a potentially offensive situation. Again, the analogy is false.

    3) A sign on the side of a bus that reads “There probably is no god, now just enjoy your life”.

    As with 1) above, there is no insult directed at anyone – it isn’t saying that people who believe in God are imbeciles. It is no different than seeing the countless church signs I see driving through North Carolina all the time, or the advertisements taken out in local papers by various religious organizations. These are appropriate methods of communicating a message, as long as that message is positive promotion. The analogy would be made if the message read “Anyone who believes in God is a murderous, atheist-killing theo-fascist”. (Note that this is different than saying “Religion can lead to murder, atheist-killing and theo-fascism.”)

    4) In a formal debate, when having been demonstrated to be lying about a specific claim, the person who lied is referred to as a liar.

    If a person can be demonstrated to have lied (as opposed to being simply ignorant), then a liar is a liar, and the offense was done by the person perpetrating the falsehood.

    5) An instance of questioning the validity of another person’s religious claims when those claims are presented as being factual.

    Truth claims, and the use of racist/sexist/classist slang, are two different things. The analogy is false.

    6) Use of a word in a discussion about words and their uses.

    If I have been told, in the course of a discussion, that a word is offensive, and I continue defend the use of that word or simply continue using it because “no offense is intended”, it plainly means that my intention is to either ignore that the word is offensive and insulting, or that I wish to be offensive and insulting. Human beings can’t read minds; we can hear and read language. Whether or not you intended to offend doesn’t matter; that your words caused justifiable offense should be enough for you to stop using those words, unless you wish to continue causing offense.

    A person may be wounded by a stray bullet as easily as an aimed one. As I have said before, words have power, and to not recognize this is to flippantly disregard the historical context within which words appear and evolve.

  666. #666 AJS
    March 16, 2009

    Words have different meanings depending on where you are.

    LOL true dat. If Fred Phelps held up his usual banners in the UK, he would be mistaken for just another anti-smoking crusader …..

  667. #667 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Bobber,

    They weren’t meant to be analogous. I’m trying to map out where people think “I’m offended” constitutes a valid argument for/against anything. I made that clear. People TAKE offence at things, whether or not offence was intended or whether or not something was an insult.

    Anyway, you missed at least one other “or”: or they consider that the claim of “offence” is either not merited/honest/valid and an attempt to shut down discussion etc. The clue is in the phrase “TAKING offence” people can take offence where no offence is intended or even reasonable to do so.

    Words do not have power, that is magical thinking. Words have power in CONTEXT. I agree that the HISTORICAL context is one segment of that context. Words in an of themselves are powerless.

    I think, like other people have, you think I am arguing for something I’m not.

    Louis

    P.S. Do I win something for getting #666?

  668. #668 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Do I win something for #667? BUGGER! LOL

    Louis

  669. #669 SC, OM
    March 16, 2009

    Words do not have power, that is magical thinking. Words have power in CONTEXT. I agree that the HISTORICAL context is one segment of that context. Words in an of themselves are powerless.

    Louis, you’re being a bit thick. The historical context is what gives words their meaning. In the case of words such as “cunt” and the n-word part of this meaning is that these words are disparaging and offensive. That’s why dictionaries don’t just say “cunt: a slang term for a woman,” but “cunt: slang for a woman – disparaging and offensive.” It is culturally recognized as part of the meaning of the word, as reflected in dictionaries, and those elements don’t disappear because a user is unaware of them or not intending to convey them.

    You’ve recognized this yourself. You’re trying to make the argument that these aspects have been lost in your specific context, but you haven’t made that case. It’s that simple.

  670. #670 Bobber
    March 16, 2009

    They weren’t meant to be analogous.

    Then why bring them up at all?

    I’m trying to map out where people think “I’m offended” constitutes a valid argument for/against anything. I made that clear.

    Oh, is THAT why? But then again, that’s not what SC or others are saying, at least not exclusively. They are not merely saying “I’m offended”, they are explaining why a term is offensive – again, there is a difference there. For instance, I personally am not offended by the words dago or wop, even though those words have been used to disparage people of my ethnicity in the past. But I know that those words are patently offensive.

    People TAKE offence at things, whether or not offence was intended or whether or not something was an insult.

    Right. And they should take offense at those things which are offensive. This is defensible, and appropriate.

    Anyway, you missed at least one other “or”: or they consider that the claim of “offence” is either not merited/honest/valid and an attempt to shut down discussion etc. The clue is in the phrase “TAKING offence” people can take offence where no offence is intended or even reasonable to do so.

    I would argue that neither case can validly be applied to the discussion occurring in this thread. My interpretation of what happened above is that certain persons were called on the carpet for their use of particular words that are generally deemed offensive to large segments of the population, and that such feelings of offense come from thousands of years of historic oppression and marginalization which such words harken back to, whether or not the users of those particular words know it or not. No one is telling these people they will be imprisoned or gagged for using those words; they ARE being told that using such words is offensive, and why. This isn’t stifling debate; it is education.

    Words do not have power, that is magical thinking. Words have power in CONTEXT. I agree that the HISTORICAL context is one segment of that context. Words in an of themselves are powerless.

    (1) Words also have power out of your particular context, and extend to a wider one which you should be aware of before you use those words in that wider context. (2) Words can be stand-ins for thoughts and actions, and this is one way they derive power. Remember, your intent can’t be interpreted except through what you say. On what evidence do you consider me to NOT be a racist if I were to use the word “nigger” in my casual conversation? That’s a power behind words – to define YOU (in the general sense, I don’t mean you in particular ; ) ) to others.

    I think, like other people have, you think I am arguing for something I’m not.

    What are you arguing?

  671. #671 AJS
    March 16, 2009

    I am not sure that I have ever heard the C-word used to refer specifically to a woman.

    I have heard it used to refer to lady parts, and I have heard it used to refer to extremely not-nice people (of both genders, but most often male) and inanimate objects.

    Perhaps I’m just not hanging around with sexist enough people? Or maybe it’s a geographical thing (I’m a Midlander, BTW.)

  672. #672 SC, OM
    March 16, 2009

    I think we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. People appear to be tossing in their comments without reading the thread or attempting to engage with the arguments that have been made. This is unproductive.

  673. #673 Bobber
    March 16, 2009

    In light of what SC wrote above, I hope that no one thinks I was approaching the point of contention without trying to understand the context of the discussion. If I have misinterpreted and, through misinterpretation, falsely represented or miscomprehended the ideas expressed by others, I apologize.

  674. #674 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Not thick SC, precise.

    I agree with what Bobber wrote to an extent, I’m rephrasing it to be more accurate. Historical context is ONE of the things that give words their meaning. It is not, for all words, all of the things that give them meaning if it were words could never evolve at all. I’m not trying to do what you clearly think I’m trying to do. I’ve moved on.

    Also, I’m honestly trying to move away from the offensive words in question because I think any point about linguistic evolution that might be interesting will be obscured by the red herrings that keep coming up. That’s why I asked you above if you thought that a useful discussion about linguistics could arise from this.

    Please try to understand this, I’m getting tired of repeating myself whilst you and various other psychics (and I mean psychics) predict what you think I mean and proceed to attack a variety of straw men. You already know I agree that in the foregoing I haven’t demonstrated any such loss in any such context. If I want to I can get to that, but I’d rather not because that wasn’t precisely why I got into this is the first place.

    Louis

  675. #675 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Not thick SC, precise.

    I agree with what Bobber wrote to an extent, I’m rephrasing it to be more accurate. Historical context is ONE of the things that give words their meaning. It is not, for all words, all of the things that give them meaning if it were words could never evolve at all. I’m not trying to do what you clearly think I’m trying to do. I’ve moved on.

    Also, I’m honestly trying to move away from the offensive words in question because I think any point about linguistic evolution that might be interesting will be obscured by the red herrings that keep coming up. That’s why I asked you above if you thought that a useful discussion about linguistics could arise from this.

    Please try to understand this, I’m getting tired of repeating myself whilst you and various other psychics (and I mean psychics) predict what you think I mean and proceed to attack a variety of straw men. You already know I agree that in the foregoing I haven’t demonstrated any such loss in any such context. If I want to I can get to that, but I’d rather not because that wasn’t precisely why I got into this is the first place.

    Louis

  676. #676 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Sorry for double post.

    Bobber, *I* think you’re misrepresenting me because a) I am not using the words, b) I’m not defending their use and c) I haven’t been called to any carpet. I was taking issue with a specific linguistic claim.

    Louis

  677. #677 Bobber
    March 16, 2009

    In that case, allow me to clarify, so as not to unintentionally offend (because stray bullets wound, as I said):

    Bobber, *I* think you’re misrepresenting me because a) I am not using the words,

    I didn’t think that was the case.

    b) I’m not defending their use

    Way up in comment #165, you said

    I’d disagree that the use of cunt, twat, and pussy are definite indicators of misogyny, any more than the use of dick, knob, and cock are definite indicators of misandry. However I would agree that they CAN be, and thus should be used carefully and in the relevant context.

    I’d also say that words can, and often do, have more than one meaning and more than one intentional derivation. If I call some a cunt (or a cock) when they cut me up in traffic, I am in no way referring, or comparing them, to my favourite part of a woman’s body (or my favourite part of my own). I am merely expressing my frustration in an insulting way. The fact that the word cunt (or cock) is also a word used to indicate the genitals of a woman (or man) is almost supremely irrelevant. (Emphasis mine.)

    It is most definitely relevant. That term has a history. Whether or not you are using a slang term to mean “idiot” or “bad driver” doesn’t make that term any less offensive, especially since once you have learned its true meaning in a wider and more accepted context, I maintain that you cannot separate your usage from its true meaning. So, yes, I think you are defending their use – just in the narrow context. What *I* am saying is that once you know about the wider context, you should recognize that your quaint colloquialism is really a truly offensive term (for a variety of very valid social and historical reasons) and it is our responsibility as decent human beings to discontinue its use.

    To condemn someone using it as a misogynist (misandrist) you’d also need to know a lot more about them as a person. Simple use isn’t enough, nor is simple use as an insult.

    As I said before, it is our words that are interpreted by others to divine our intent. If you mean “idiot”, say “idiot”. But if you say “cunt” while meaning “idiot”, it is YOUR fault if you are misinterpreted to appear as a misogynist, because you have used a misoygnistic term.

    c) I haven’t been called to any carpet. I was taking issue with a specific linguistic claim.

    Ah, I didn’t think you were, and I think that was a poor choice of words on my part anyway. Allow me to plead temporary stupidity. At least, I hope it’s temporary.

    In any event, I’ll also drop this particular line of thought, as I agree it may not be going anywhere productive, and because I definitely do not want to pursue an erroneous line of thought if I have missed the major points of contention.

  678. #678 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Fuck it, I’m going to try to illustrate what I mean by “historical context is just one of the contexts that decide the offensiveness of a word” and “magical thinking re: words”.

    Hypothetical time again (if that word confuses people, look it up):

    I am, right here and now, coining a brand new word. The word is Jxqzqzy. It means “female genitalia”. That is its only meaning. If I say to someone, anyone, in as insulting a manner as possible “You are a jxqzqzy!”, am I being sexist/misogynist? We’ll assume I know all about the oppression of women, the invidious comparison I’m making and everything.

    I think the answer is yes.

    Is it offensive to women in general?

    I think the answer is yes.

    But how can this be?

    Could it be because there are OTHER contexts which demonstrate the misogynistic usage and/or offensiveness? Why yes it is. Could it partly be the history of comparing undesirable people unfavourably to female genitals? Could it partly be the history of oppression of women? Could it be that that history is independent of the word being used? Yes in all cases.

    Get it yet? The word itself is irrelevant. In the case of “cunt” the word itself is just the token used to express that misogyny, historically and currently. (I am now worried I’m going to have to explain the difference between can be used and always is used) The history is independent of the word. This is what I’m trying to get at when I say people are attaching magical properties to words.

    Not only that but usage determines meaning. If we use the hypothetical neologism I made above “jxqzqzy” but we discover that instead of being used as an insult we find that it is used only ever as an expression of all things that are wonderful about female genitalia as in “That blonde at the front desk sure is a nice jxqzqzy”, does the sexism/misogyny lie in the word? No, it lies in the reduction of all the complex and wonderful things about the blonde on the front desk to merely her genitalia. The context, the usage, again provides the misogyny. The word doesn’t contain it.

    That the word can often be associated with such expressions of misogyny/sexism/whatever is utterly uncontroversial and no where will you find me dispute it. But again the power lies in the context, not the word itself. Using the word as a shorthand for the context is shoddy thinking.

    Again, because I am fucking sick and fucking tired of being fucking misunderstood and mis-fucking-represented: NONE OF THIS EXCUSES OR IS INTENDED TO EXCUSE CALLING A WOMAN A CUNT OR REFERRING TO WOMEN MERELY AS FUNCTIONS OF THEIR GENITALS ETC.

    Get it? It is solely a linguistic point not some defence of misogyny nor a claim that I have proven cunt is as inoffensive as a totally inoffensive thing. Fuck me deftly, when the straw clears I’ll be fucking grateful.

    Louis

  679. #679 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    Bobber,

    A lot of water has passed under the thread since #165! ;-)

    You won’t offend me, I am, to all intents and purposes, unoffendable. Annoying me is a different matter, I am, to all intents and purposes, very annoyable!

    I’m more than well aware of the history of the use of the word “cunt”. Does that prevent it from new uses*? Does it mean that its use as an insult, in the absence of further context, is sufficient in all cases to establish misogyny/the legacy of cultural misogyny/ignorance/apathy on the part of the user? I’d argue for various reasons that are either being misunderstood, misexpressed (self confessedly) or just missed that no not 100% of the time and that the GREATER CONTEXT IS NEEDED. See not an absolute “no” a qualified “no”. A no of nuance.

    True meaning. Please don’t make me laugh. This is the best illustration of the ad hoc fallacies being committed here I’ve seen. So good in fact I am tempted to ask if your “cunt” is Scottish and puts sugar on its porridge, but I imagine that will be misunderstood too (not least because, as I hope the quote marks indicate, that I absolutely do not mean “cunt” as in female genitalia in this instance but “cunt” as in “the word cunt”). No word has a TRUE meaning. Usage determines meaning and we all agree that the meanings of words evolve. Meaning is fluid.

    I don’t in any way question your perfect right to think of anyone using that “quaint colloquialism” (how delightfully patronising, it’s so good when you have the spurious moral high ground isn’t it, carry on Moral Warrior) as a misogynist. Please continue to do so. All I have been taking issue with is your right to claim that this judgement on your part is 100% justified in 100% of circumstance without any reference to further context. Did you see that last part: without any reference to further context? Please tell me you saw it otherwise I am going to be moved to sarcasm.
    ;-)

    Look, snarky as the above might come across, I assure you it is all in good humour, with no small dollop of self mocking jest. Please take it in the spirit it is intended.

    Cheers

    Louis

    *Before anyone says it I am more than painfully aware that I haven’t yet demonstrated these exist, nor am I claiming they do for the purposes of 90% of the argument I making a in this post. Do you understand why, when we are talking about the evolution of new words or new uses of old words I want to move away from controversial words and to uncontroversial ones? It’s because the point will be lost in the controversy. It already has once here.

  680. #680 Louis
    March 16, 2009

    All,

    I really want to clear up the evolving words issue without reference to controversial/unpleasant words. I think the point will be made more clearly. PLEASE realise this is separate from, but relevant to, the “cunt” wars!

    I want to ask few questions:

    1) How do the definitions of words evolve?

    2) Can anyone gives examples of words that have:

    a) “Speciated”, by which I mean there are (at least) two uncontroversially different, unrelated definitions of the same word based on the fact that the word is used in very different contexts

    b) That have not evolved at all, by which I mean have one definition and one use.

    c) That are “speciating”, by which I mean the definition of the word is currently, and demonstrably undergoing change by virtue of different uses being made off it that do not map 100% onto the original definition.

    The concept of “ring species” and modes of speciation like allopatric, sympatric, peripatric and parapatric, which I’m pretty sure everyone on Pharyngula are familiar with, are relevant here. just in case.

    3) Popularity:

    a) If, in a population 99% of the people use word X with definition A, and 1% use word X with both definition A and (new) definition B, is B a valid definition of word X?

    b) Same question, just 51% A vs 49% A and (new) B.

    c) If the answer to a) and b) are not the same, where, in your estimation is the cut off point? 75%? 60%? etc.

    Again the reason I am asking these questions is to probe the parameters of the positions people are occupying. Tragically I am not psychic. I prefer to ask people what they think rather than use flawed heuristics to predict what they think and then demand that what I think they think is true. The questions are not designed to trick, justify, apologise for, upset, offend, titillate or cause orgasm in anyone.

    Cheers

    Louis

  681. #681 Bill Dauphin
    March 16, 2009

    Windy:

    What about people who say “bugger”?

    I suspect a large number of Americans who use that word think it’s simply a quaint Britishism, and have no idea it has any sexual connotation. I think I understand that “bloody” is similarly much rawer than we North American Anglophiles generally realize, and of course, the North American connotation of “fanny” is 180 degrees removed (literally, if you choose the correct axis!) from its British (and, AFAIK, Australian) meaning.

    I see I’ve come (you should pardon the expression) to this discussion days late, and I’m loath to prolong any unpleasantness… but digging in to language and usage is a line of inquiry I really love. I hope I can make a couple of observations (i.e., academically, brokenSoldier ;^) ) without causing any hard feelings or causing a resumption of hostilities:

    1. I don’t believe there’s any English-speaking culture in which cunt (or pussy or twat, for that matter) is entirely divorced from any reference to genitalia. The slang usage of those words might be more or less literal in any given language culture, but to suggest the link to their genital genesis has been entirely severed strains credulity. Ditto for dick, cock, and prick. Any analysis of the cultural and linguistic import of these words must deal with their anatomical origins.

    2. These genital insults are not merely offensive, but offensive on multiple levels:

    a. To reduce any person (or whole gender) to a single anatomical aspect is inherently dehumanizing.

    b. To use specifically sexual anatomy as an insult is inherently anti-sexual, and thus offensive to anyone with a sex-positive outlook.

    c. Given that these specific anatomical features uniquely define traditional genders, their use as insults is unavoidably sexist. (Note: I understand there’s a lot more to gender than superficial sexual dimorphism, but I don’t think people throwing around cunt or prick in conversation are necessarily taking a particularly nuanced view of gender issues.) When used as an insult, the genitals stand for the gender, which in turn stands for the negative stereotypes about the gender… even when the insult is applied to a person of the same gender it references (e.g., calling a man a prick isn’t a sexual compliment; it’s an assertion that he’s guilty of the stereotypical characteristics of his gender, such as hyperagression and brutishness).

    And yet… and yet…

    3. These slang terms are offensive when directed at individuals as insults, not simply because they’re slang. For instance, there’s a world of difference between “what an incredible pussy you are!” on the one hand, and “what an incredible pussy you have!” on the other (and this is similarly true if you substitute “dick” for “pussy”).

    4. Even as insults, I make room for contexts and situations in which their use might be acceptable, as irony or satire or even an expression of intimacy (i.e., the fact of being able to use “fighting words” within a relationship in a way that’s perceived as friendly or humorous rather than combative, as a sign of just how close the relationship is). That is, you might be able to privately call your best friend a “prick” or a “twat” and get a laugh or a smile, where the same exchange in public, or with someone other than your best friend, couldn’t fail to be offensive. In addition, sometimes the objects of a particular sort of insult appropriate the insult as a way of pushing back on its underlying prejudice: For example, sex workers might defiantly refer to themselves as strippers and whores rather than adopting such coy euphemisms as exotic dancers and escorts, for the specific purpose of declaring themselves to be unashamed of the sexual nature of their work.

    My peculiar habit (failing, perhaps), as an old English major, is to take a literary view of many usages. Notwithstanding my comment at 2.a. above, using a part of something to name the whole thing is a time-honored literary device (syndecdoche, which is a subspecies of metaphor); I’m reluctant to rule it out, even in such an outre context. If some bozo on the street calls a woman a “cunt,” it’s almost guaranteed to be both insulting and misogynistic… but I make room for the possibility that a poet might make more fruitful use of the term.

    Poets, after all, are in the business of cutting right to the earthy heart of the matter:

    But Love has pitched his mansion in
    The place of excrement;
    For nothing can be sole or whole
    That has not been rent.

    —William Butler Yeats, “Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop”

    BTW, speaking of poetry, I think this whole discussion has ignored the importance of sound: Why is cunt considered a harhser, nastier insult than pussy, despite the two words being virtual synonyms? Well, just say them out loud. The former sounds like a gunshot; the latter sounds sleek and glossy, and is physically difficult to spit out angrily.

    Oddly, I can’t think of any slang word relating to male genitalia that’s as pretty a word as “pussy” is. I guess we guys just aren’t that sleek, no matter how you say it! ;^)

  682. #682 Mrs. Mole
    March 16, 2009

    Anthony K #41 mentions the “Three k’s” of the Germanic Hausfrau as

    “all of them beginning with a “k” in German: to kiss, to cook, and to deliver children”

    I believe he is incorrect? Kuche, Kirche, Kinder = Kitchen, Church, and Children. I don’t think “kissing” is on the list.

    Actual Germans here may correct me, of course.

  683. #683 thalarctos
    March 16, 2009

    Oddly, I can’t think of any slang word relating to male genitalia that’s as pretty a word as “pussy” is.

    ??, “jade stalk”, is kind of pretty, I think.

  684. #684 BMS
    March 17, 2009

    Louis sed,

    Everyone gets three strikes.

    Except, apparently, me.

    To whom he referred as “he/she/it” @ 172.

    It“??? “It“????!?!?!? Could you be more of a dismissive, condescending, privileged jackass?

    For the record, I subscribe to the insult theory hewn to at Shakesville – no gendered insults.

    Fuck off.

  685. #685 windy
    March 17, 2009

    a. To reduce any person (or whole gender) to a single anatomical aspect is inherently dehumanizing.

    But for some strange reason, the human brain tends towards sexual and scatological insults, although logically it doesn’t make sense to consider any bodily functions inherently “bad”… I wonder if it’s really feasible to do away with “asshole” and the like?

    And I don’t think that insult words are exclusively “anti”-sex organs and and bodily functions, but probably also in part about unconsciously attributing certain “powers” of their own to these things? (cf. history of Finnish ‘cunt’ @544)

    When used as an insult, the genitals stand for the gender, which in turn stands for the negative stereotypes about the gender…

    That’s what I was wondering about above- I can see how “pussy” directed at men stands for negative stereotypes about women, but which negative stereotypes about women does “cunt” stand for when directed at men? (not saying there aren’t any, just that it’s not as obvious)

  686. #686 Taliesan
    March 17, 2009

    SC, OM

    Well lets see: The whole thread started as being about a man being sentenced to 20 years in prison for criticising how Sharia law treats women.

    And he was lucky he didn’t end up dead.

    Then, after a particularly stupid comment by BSM, it evolved into the evolution of particularly offensive words, and whether those words would render someone automatically vehemnently anti-woman.

    Because you know, having a foul mouth and occassionally referencing reproductive organs as swear words is the same as having a criminal code which is anti-woman, and punishes people for criticising this aspect of it.

    Now are those words offensive? Well, yes. They are swear words, they are supposed to be offensive. Fuck is supposed to be offensive, but due to overuse it has become more like punctuation, replacing the exclamaition mark.

    Does that mean people who use those words are automatically sexist, racist, or any of that? Umm, no. As my examples showed with kaffir, and for that matter the use of the word girl, meaning changes depending on context and setting.

    Further, refering to genitalia is always an insult, even calling someone a boob is an insult. Do you think that men are anti-boobs?

    The West has a culture which demonises sex in general. Bugger, fuck, screw etc… all swear words.

    If something has a sexual conotations, it will be used as an insult. I have heard people get called dildos, and I don’t think the people who were doing it were suddenly anti-inanimate objects.

    To proclaim suddenly that this means that every person who uses foul language inherited from this is anti-female, or anti-male, strikes me as being stupid. Is it offensive? Yes. Is it automatically sexist? Probably not.

  687. #687 Taliesan
    March 17, 2009

    SC, OM

    Well lets see: The whole thread started as being about a man being sentenced to 20 years in prison for criticising how Sharia law treats women.

    And he was lucky he didn’t end up dead.

    Then, after a particularly stupid comment by BSM, it evolved into the evolution of particularly offensive words, and whether those words would render someone automatically vehemnently anti-woman.

    Because you know, having a foul mouth and occassionally referencing reproductive organs as swear words is the same as having a criminal code which is anti-woman, and punishes people for criticising this aspect of it.

    Now are those words offensive? Well, yes. They are swear words, they are supposed to be offensive. Fuck is supposed to be offensive, but due to overuse it has become more like punctuation, replacing the exclamaition mark.

    Does that mean people who use those words are automatically sexist, racist, or any of that? Umm, no. As my examples showed with kaffir, and for that matter the use of the word girl, meaning changes depending on context and setting.

    Further, refering to genitalia is always an insult, even calling someone a boob is an insult. Do you think that men are anti-boobs?

    The West has a culture which demonises sex in general. Bugger, fuck, screw etc… all swear words.

    If something has a sexual conotations, it will be used as an insult. I have heard people get called dildos, and I don’t think the people who were doing it were suddenly anti-inanimate objects.

    To proclaim suddenly that this means that every person who uses foul language inherited from this is anti-female, or anti-male, strikes me as being stupid. Is it offensive? Yes. Is it automatically sexist? Probably not.

  688. #688 Louis
    March 17, 2009

    BMS,

    1) I don’t (or rather didn’t until I read the recent Survivor thread) know what sex you were. I would have guessed you were a woman, but I’ve been wrong in the past.

    2) He/She/It is a joke. A tongue in cheek reference to my ignorance about your sex (or gender if you prefer). My apologies if you’re too keen to take offence at everything to see that. Obviously an “it” couldn’t write your post. Please stop projecting attitudes onto people that they simply don’t have.

    So no, YOU fuck off.*

    Louis

    *This references a Billy Connelly joke which I’d mention in full but for fear THAT would be misunderstood too.

  689. #689 Louis
    March 17, 2009

    @Bill Dauphin in #681,

    Well there’s no hard feelings on my part towards anyone, nor hostility. A touch of frustration at being misrepresented occasionally perhaps, but that’s my problem, no one else’s.

    Anyway to the meat!

    There’s very little of your post I would disagree with. I would even say it doesn’t go far enough in places.

    Thanks from bringing in the sound of words and the less than fulsomely sex positive attitudes sex/genital based insults incorporate. I’d thought of adding those comments (although the sex positive thing was IIRC alluded to above by someone, I forget who), but since the other stuff was getting missed, and since I’d made a hash of things already, why make life harder!

    The bits I would disagree with come in parts 1 and 2c.

    From 1: I’d agree that there is no English speaking culture in which cunt is entirely divorced from any reference to genitalia, but this is subtly different (at least to my reading of what you wrote) from the point I was trying to make. I.e. That there are uses of “cunt” that in no way reference the genitalia in some English speaking (sub?) cultures but that these are not the only uses possible, and everyone recognises that the genital focussed usage is the more prevalent (and the legacy it can bring to non-genital usages). I read your sentence as “I don’t believe there’s any English-speaking culture in which the whole set of definitions of the word “cunt” (or pussy or twat, for that matter) is entirely divorced from any reference to genitalia.”. I hope that’s a fair reading and what you meant, because that I agree with.

    In fact, and I’m surprised no one has done this yet, if you pull up “cunt” in that bastion of correct definitions (cough, splutter) “dictionary.com” (an American resource IIRC) there is a separate reference for “a contemptible person”, separate from definitions involving any sexual connotation. Now, to clarify, I realise the unpleasant history and historical usage of the word exists, I am more than aware of the current cultural usage in the USA and elsewhere and I in no way claim that at all times, in all places, in all usages that this definition is separate from any other connotations. All I do claim is that this separate sub definition exists, and we’ve caught a word in the act of speciating. Full separation has not happened yet (if it ever will) but it is not necessary to establish the refutation of the absolutist claims being advanced by some.

    This is why I’ve been trying to, now without reference to controversial words, get people thinking about HOW definitions of words evolve. The fact that they evolve is (apparently) not in dispute, but the processes by which they evolve, which are the cornerstone of the much misunderstood points I’ve been trying to make, are very important to claims about definition, and any subsequent claims made about motivations of people using words.

    So, as an ex-English major and therefore vastly more likely to know about this than I, would you care to take a stab at the questions I asked in #680? If only for my own edification. I’d be very grateful.

    From 2c: I don’t think this goes far enough, and I think parts of it are simply wrong. Maybe in the USA calling someone a “prick” implies qualities of hyperaggression etc. Here in the UK (like every other sex-insult word mentioned in this thread) it often means stupid or undesirable person and is completely interchangeable with a variety of sexed and non-sexed words. There simply are no sexual connotations implied in its usage in a wide variety of circumstances. Again, this is not ALL circumstances or ALL usages but it simply doesn’t need to be. My point on this was, and is, that in the case of usage of one of these words as an insult, in the absence of further context, it is merely a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to establish some motive on the part of the user, Be that motive overt sexism, a legacy of cultural sexism, ignorance of etymology or history, or apathy towards either that history, etymology or the inequalities rampant in society, or even a lack of nuance in sexual out look. Like the word “fuck” in certain circumstances these words are interchangeable and verging on meaninglessness apart from indicating undesirability on their target.

    Those claiming that mere insulting use of these words is both necessary AND sufficient to establish some motive or state on the part of the user are, IMO, failing to take account of HOW language evolves (not THAT it evolves, I hope that is beyond dispute). They are also attributing magical properties to words that I don’t think exist (and I’m in relatively good company with people like Steven Pinker etc) as mentioned in #678. This also speaks to the issue of “history”. That the history of a word’s use and meaning exists is undeniable. That that history still informs many (in the cases of some words, all) of a word’s usages is equally undeniable. But as words evolve and separate meanings and usages emerge that history becomes less relevant as the new usage parts from the old and perhaps, it is word dependant, so irrelevant as to be meaningless. At that point full speciation has occurred. Now I agree this hasn’t happened to poor old “cunt” yet. It is however, IMO, HAPPENING. Hence why I think the concept of “ring species” is relevant (although that point has been completely ignored). Hence why I mentioned modes of speciation and have asked questions about HOW language evolves (all of which have been evaded or ignored thus far).

    Whilst this might seem trivial to some people, and doubtless it is, I’ll use another analogy, one that will likely be misunderstood yet again:

    I support the right for people to believe as they will, despite the fact that I am an atheist (in fact actually because of it but that’s a separate issue). If someone wants to believe in god then I am more than happy to let them do it. If they believe that I am going to hell for my sin of atheism, then I am content to let them believe it SO LONG AS they do not claim a) I must believe as they do without evidence, and b) that their belief is logically supported and based on evidence when it ain’t. I think it’s not on to allow those sorts of claims to pass unexamined and unchallenged. I’d hope I could garner a modicum of sympathy on that issue! ;-)

    The same thing applies here: I am more than content to support the right for people to use the heuristic that (for example) use of the word “cunt” as an insult is a display of one of the many characteristics mentioned throughout the thread (in fact, as I’ve already agreed in the majority of cases it IS a display of one of those characteristics at least). I am more than content for them to think it of ME, should I use the word in that manner (which I don’t, or do so rarely it borders on not at all). I am also more than content to admit my “sinful” nature and that, like anyone, I have attitudes that need shaping up/correcting/obliterating. What I am NOT content to allow to pass unquestioned and unchallenged is the absolutist claim that this heuristic applies in all cases at all times (because IMO this is refuted by HOW language evolves. Note HOW not THAT), or that this heuristic can be applied accurately in many cases without further reference to context. (i.e. that the heuristic is perfect, supported totally by both logic and evidence, because one simple example to the contrary would destroy that claim, and as a valuable heuristic I don’t want to see it vulnerable to that easy refutation).

    Such heuristics and language are not only at the core of our societies, they are at the core of our thoughts. Isn’t trying to develop/evolve better heuristics something we should all be interested in? If only because it will reduce conflict about matters of little substance. Personally I think improving such heuristics goes further. I think they are part of paving the way to a more tolerant and rational society. And before someone misconstrues that: no I absolutely don’t think that calling people cunts is part of the path to a more tolerant and rational society! Given the flagrant misunderstandings and leaps for high horses flying about, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did claim that, even with this comment! Better heuristics lead to better understanding.

    Sorry again for length/turgidity etc.

    Louis

  690. #690 clinteas
    March 17, 2009

    Louis,

    might want to check out the Survivor thread around post 887 LOL.You got expelled !!

  691. #691 Louis
    March 17, 2009

    Clinteas,

    Colour me shocked!

    Frankly I’m getting a little pissed off at being misrepresented at vilified for simple disagreement. BMS thinks I’m defending something I’m not, saying something I’m not and refuses to listen to…well anything.

    For the record BMS: as I’ve said several times now: I am FULLY cognizant of the offence the word “cunt” used as an insult causes, hence why I don’t (or like I said do so very rarely it borders on not at all) use the fucking word as an insult (or even at all). In fact my lifetime’s supply of using the damnable word has nearly been used up in this thread! I am not defending its use, I am simply taking issue with the logic and linguistics underpinning heuristic you propose for imputing motives on the part of others.
    Please stop TAKING offence at YOUR misunderstanding of what I am saying. Stop attacking straw men.

    Back to clinteas: I note you get an honourable mention too.

    This situation is….regrettable. Unfortunately, I knew the risks even mentioning that I disagreed with that claim. I knew my comments would be misunderstood.

    I find it more than mildly hilarious, when at the worst what I have done is be wrong about a simple argument, I am somehow a worse criminal than the demonstrated homophobes Barb or Pete or whoever, and I am simply not arguing for what BMS thinks I am, nor have I done so with the barrage of unwarranted insults and sneers that she has.

    Frankly I think her behaviour is disgusting and she should apologise, but then I’m male so I must be wrong. Right?

    Louis

  692. #692 Louis
    March 17, 2009

    I will offer some of my “critics”* one question at this point. Forgive the preamble:

    At the worst I am wrong. At the worst, the arguments I am actually making (not the straw men of them some people like) are wrong and I will have to correct them (and will be happy to do so). AT THE WORST.

    I have not defended, and have not made any, disparaging comments about people based on their sex/sexuality/whatever (as I am now, again, wrongly being accused of). I have stated several time clearly that I have no intent to give offence and apologised repeatedly, to the point of bending over backwards, for any I might have inadvertently caused. I’ve conceded where I have made my case poorly and tried to clarify, even to the extent of dragging things away from controversial topics to safer waters in order that the point is not obscured by controversy.

    Can any of you say the same?

    Louis

    *I think a critic has to know what they are talking about and represent it accurately. In my case the misrepresentations have on occasion been so egregious that I can only conclude that some of my “critics” are hysterical idiots looking for trouble where none exists, determined to bully their point of view through and silence reasonable disagreement by force of appeals to prejudice and persecution, and ad hoc nonsense. I find it more than mildly ironic that these are precisely the sorts of tactics used by those they claim to deplore….

  693. #693 Louis
    March 17, 2009

    Oh whilst I am being strung up I suppose I’ll ask another question that is going to be ignored or twisted beyond recognition:

    Is it possible, BMS and others, that disagreement with one of your claims can be honest, principled, intellectual and not based on prejudice or a desire to protect/perpetrate prejudice or apathy towards prejudice or ignorance of prejudice? Can anyone disagree with you, on what I agree is an emotive and dangerous topic, rationally?

    Louis

  694. #694 Louis
    March 17, 2009

    Ah I see I am to be taken down to be hung, drawn and quartered*. So fuck it, I’ll ask ANOTHER question that will likely be ignored or misrepresented:

    I wonder if SC and other more reasonable people think that post #887 on the “Survivor” thread, or BMS’s recent comment here @ #684 are accurate representations of my conduct on this thread** and views.

    Louis

    *Do I really, really have to point out the self mocking humour in these statements? Is it not obvious?

    **Verbose, pedantic, nit picking, annoying*** etc I concede willingly. Sexist, homophobic, deliberately insulting etc NEVER! And I’ll fight to the last fucking breath if I consider myself to be wronged.

    ***Which is more annoying, trying to clarify a point made in error, or being misrepresented as a bigot when that misrepresentation is AT LEAST made on the basis of lack of understanding?

  695. #695 clinteas
    March 17, 2009

    Louis,

    you made your point,everyone gets it,but let it rest !

    Some topics are clearly just too emotionally or socially/historically loaded to argue rationally on an internet blog.

  696. #696 Louis
    March 17, 2009

    Clinteas,

    You’re probably right. Except about the “everyone gets it part”. ;-)

    Louis

  697. #697 Bill Dauphin
    March 17, 2009

    Windy:

    But for some strange reason, the human brain tends towards sexual and scatological insults, although logically it doesn’t make sense to consider any bodily functions inherently “bad”

    I actually think scatological and sexual insults are notably separate cases, despite the anatomical proximity (if not overlap; see the Yeats quotation) of the body parts and bodily functions they refer to. I think it’s pretty easy to see why excretory references are used as insults: Excretion is generally unpleasant and messy and foul-smelling and associated with disease (in ways that wouldn’t be well understood by the prescientific cultures in which these usages originally arose). Is it really that hard to imagine why comparing someone to shit should have become an insult? Or comparing someone to the place the shit comes from?

    Sexual insults are, IMHO, a bit more complex, tying into a less obvious matrix of cultural taboos and stereotypes. Ultimately, the question of why these are insults goes back to why humans so readily demonize human sexuality… and that, I confess, is a giant fucking mystery to me! ;^)

    But I didn’t just forget the scatological, nor the broadly sexual insults like forms of fuck and screw; I deliberately limited my comments to anatomically gendered insults, because that seemed to be what the thread was about.

    I can see how “pussy” directed at men stands for negative stereotypes about women, but which negative stereotypes about women does “cunt” stand for when directed at men? (not saying there aren’t any, just that it’s not as obvious)

    I’d say at the top level, the insult would be the same in both cases: not manly. Beyond that, I agree with you that it’s a bit complex. Pussy, in my experience, references the stereotype that women are soft and sensitive, which may be benign when applied to women (i.e., it’s possible to see softness and sensitivity as A Feature, Not a Bug™ in women), but which implies weakness, if not cowardice, when mapped to our cultural expectations of men.

    Cunt, OTOH, is not a soft word at all (see my earlier comment about its sound), and certainly doesn’t suggest weakness. I actually hear this used to insult men less often than to insult women; I presume its sense as an insult has to do with other, harsher stereotypes about women: cattiness, bitchiness, etc. (I gather from this conversation that in some non-U.S. English language cultures, it carries the connotation of “stupid,” which is pretty obviously sexist, no?)

    Interestingly, I’ve heard women call each other cunt as an insult (or a mock insult), but I can’t recall hearing women call each other pussy. I surmise that the stereotypes embodied by the latter word wouldn’t be insults in a woman-to-woman context. I keep coming back to the notion that two such near-synonyms have such different colloquial meanings has to do with their music: Pussy is a sweet, unmanly pop song; cunt is angry punk.

    Louis:

    Well there’s no hard feelings on my part towards anyone, nor hostility.

    My comments about “hostilities” didn’t refer to an attitude of hostility on your part (or anyone else’s); it was just a winking reference to the lengthy and disputational nature of the conversation I was “joining already in progress.”

    As much as I love talking about this stuff (as I mentioned before, my approach is more literary than social-critical), I’ll try not to prolong everyone’s agony too much longer. That said, though…

    I read your sentence as “I don’t believe there’s any English-speaking culture in which the whole set of definitions of the word “cunt” (or pussy or twat, for that matter) is entirely divorced from any reference to genitalia.”. I hope that’s a fair reading and what you meant, because that I agree with.

    Sorry to disappoint, but that’s not what I meant. I mean that I don’t accept that anyone uses, or hears, that word or any of its slang synonyms without genitals being at least part of the thought process, whether with some immediacy or as a relatively distant emotional resonance. That is, I don’t accept that there’s any significant population of native English speakers in which it has entirely been forgotten that cunt means twat means pussy means vulva. Assertions to the contrary are, IMHO, either disingenuous or naive.

    In fact … if you pull up “cunt” in that bastion of correct definitions (cough, splutter) “dictionary.com” (an American resource IIRC) there is a separate reference for “a contemptible person”, separate from definitions involving any sexual connotation.

    Of course it means “contemptible person,” but the notion that that’s “separate from definitions involving any sexual connotation” is your own (IMHO insupportable) extrapolation from the definition. The existence of a metaphorical definition does not imply the nonexistence of the metaphor itself. The term means “contemptible” because of the sexual connotation, not separate from it.

    Of course, why such a lovely thing as a vulva should be equated with contemptibility is a sociological mystery to me (see my comments to Windy above)… but it is what it is.

    Generally, I’m suspicious of the claim that any such specific, particular insult really only means something generically insulting like “stupid” or “contemptible.” Stupid is a word every English speaker has available; when one chooses something earthier and more specific instead, it’s poor literary criticism (and probably poor linguistics, though I lack the training to make that claim confidently) to pretend the choice has no import.