Rich Morris' Comics - YAFGC and The ComixBlog

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 Post subject: Re: Strip 1530: Kassim Plans
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 3:30 am 
Mr. Sunshine
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DungeonMaster wrote:
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Bloody god-botherers.


... seriously? You have no idea who here on this board is religious and who isn't. Play nice. Arguing over the effectiveness of prayer and spells within the YAFGC universe is absolutely fair game; general slurs are something we've managed to avoid here without having to set official rules so far.

Any athiest vs faithful wars will get punted immediately down to 'why you annoy me,' no matter what else the content of the posts in question.


It is always hard to tell when the forumie is joking over the strip and inserting personal viewpoints in the real world. Flame wars are the hottest over religion; I have seen forums go absolutely insane over the argument. This is why in my private life I avoid the topic at all cost, it just isn’t worth it... well there was that one time... but she had tried to violently convert me and that put me into a real EVIL mood at the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:37 am 
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caldur06 wrote:
DungeonMaster wrote:
Quote:
Bloody god-botherers.


... seriously? You have no idea who here on this board is religious and who isn't. Play nice.


I actually read that as a quip/insult about clerics (as in the class!), rather than about prayers in general!

but that's just me, and I'm just saying :)


It's a derogatory term I've seen before in other places, and it's the kind of sideways snipe at the religious that could easily start a thread problem here (it's in the same set as "breeders and crotchdroppings" for parents and children, for instance). So I am nipping it firmly in the bud now. There are other ways to make that point without being deliberately offensive.

I haven't had to institute rules about derogatory terms and offensive language here, and I don't want to have to - so far, almost everyone's been very respectful of each other and I'd like to keep it that way.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:15 am 
Lich
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Yeah, I'm sorry for any misunderstanding my post caused. But I think you over-reacted, DM. It doesn't seem like anybody other than you interpreted my post as anything other than a jokey comment on Sahar's attitude. I'm actually slightly mystified as to how you could take it as an attack on real-world belief. Isn't it pretty obvious from the context of my post that "bloody god-botherer" was aimed specifically at Sahar? I never mentioned real-world religion or implied anything about my attitude towards it.

I appreciate you're trying to make this place as friendly and welcoming and devoid of flamewars as possible. But, honestly, getting told off for something I didn't actually do (i.e. offending religious people or trying to start an "atheist vs. faithful" flamewar) doesn't exactly make me feel welcome here.

You could have just asked what I meant rather than assuming I was posting in bad faith (pun fully intended).

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:57 am 
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It doesn't seem like anybody other than you interpreted my post as anything other than a jokey comment on Sahar's attitude.


As cliche as this sounds, I've had a few private responses thanking me for calling out that post and redirecting the thread. Those posters are welcome to speak up here if they choose to back me up on that, or not. My point is phrasing - "god botherer" is obnoxious wording that I have only seen to date in the context of "why religious people are stupid" discussions, has caused offense here (and not only to me), and was unnecessary to make your point.

I don't want to instill censorship on this board; maybe it's a mistake to start calling people's attention to phrases that wound. But by the same token, we have a good community here and I don't want to see it turn into another 'Something Awful' where derogatory slurs are a matter of standard discourse. I'm trying to find that balance between totally open posting, as adults really deserve, and keeping the conversation reasonably free from personal attack.

Thank you for your apology.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:28 am 
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OK, I am genuinely surprised that my post did apparently cause offense. I hope it's clear now what I actually meant.

However, I think there is a problem if offhand comments about characters in the comic are going to be interpreted as attacks on real people. I have gone back and re-read the post that triggered all this, and I still don't really understand how anybody could interpret it that way.

Maybe it's a US/Canada vs. UK thing? Here in the UK, a "god-botherer" is specifically someone who is obnoxiously self-righteous about their faith (as Sahar seemed to be in that strip, and as the priestess in the Jone storyline seemed to be), not merely someone who is religious. I don't think anybody here (in the UK) would see the term being applied to a character like Sahar as being an attack on religious people generally.

But perhaps this issue is more sensitive over your side of the Atlantic? I suppose if the term "god-botherer" is widely used as a slur against all religious people over there, I can see how my use of it could have been misinterpreted.

Anyway, if I'm going to avoid this sort of thing happening in the future, I need to understand what actually caused it. At the moment, I'm still mostly in the dark, since, from my point of view, what I said was entirely inoccuous. I want to understand what happened here, because I like this place, but right now I feel like I unwittingly stepped into a minefield and, like I said in my last post, that makes me feel less than welcome here.

EDIT: I should add that, to me, Sahar's portrayal in the strip in question feels far more "anti-religious" or "anti-people-of-faith" than anything I've said. Especially since she's not the first priestess in YAFGC to be portrayed as obnoxiously self-righteous.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:54 am 
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I think there is a problem if offhand comments about characters in the comic are going to be interpreted as attacks on real people.


Except that your comment, in your original post, was not a specific comment about Sahar - "Bloody god-botherers" is a general statement about the openly devout. If you'd said "Sahar's a really self-righteous prat," for instance, that would be character-specific. Directing it outward at the entire group to which she belongs makes it a problem.

Let me analogize it to race for a moment, since it's usually easier to see the issue:

Captain Safana, in the previous strip, doesn't take Kassim's orders at first - the joke rests on the party leader not being able to get what he wants by ordering people around.

To say "man, Safana's arrogant, considering their situation," is a specific comment about a character's personality and her past actions. Totally fair game.

Saying "man, she's arrogant. Uppity Blacks." is offensive, is ascribing negative characteristics to an entire section of the population, and calls on majority stereotypes of minorities who may not feel empowered enough to speak up in their own defense. Or worse (from a board admin point of view, anyway!) it derails the entire conversation and turns a strip thread into a war about why it is or isn't appropriate to call strong women of colour "uppity," discussions of social justice versus institutionalized bigotry, and who among the forum posters "can't take a joke."

Does that help to clarify?

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:49 am 
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Well, in that I now (think I) understand what happened, it does.

The original misunderstanding seems to be the result of a typo. "Bloody god-botherers" should have been "Bloody god-botherer" singular. I think the 's' sneaked in there because I was thinking of the priestess from the Jone storyline too when I typed it.

And I somehow didn't even notice the mistake until you pointed out that, with that 's', it becomes a more general statement.

So the misunderstanding was entirely my fault. I think the context would have made it obvious I was applying the epithet specifically to Sahar if I hadn't accidentally used the plural form, right?

I don't think the race analogy really works, though. "Uppity Black" is a racist slur even if directed at an individual, whereas "god-botherer" is only an insult against all religious people if it's used in a general manner. At least where I live. I used to share a house with a very devout Christian who jokingly referred to his more obnoxious co-religionists as "God-botherers" - his implication being that they were "bothering" God by making a big show of their piety (and always asking him for stuff) rather than actually living their faith. So I've never seen it as a generic anti-religious slur.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:07 pm 
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That may well be an international translation issue (I know there are a bunch of terms that don't carry across with the same connotations - pants vs trousers/fannie/c*nt/that sort of thing); it is seen and used as a general slur against the openly religious here, however, and while it's not up there with the n-word and other things, it is a means of disparaging a specific group. And now you know!

There's the other issue that your post brings up, of course, and that's the fact that members of a group can get away with using terms for other members that the rest of the world can't. A person of colour calling another person of colour n******, for instance, or someone in the LBGT community using terms like "faggot"... or your friend calling his co-religionists "god-botherers." On the internet, no-one knows if you're a dog, to steal a quote. In other words, we-the-readers have no idea, without some other cues to help, if a speaker is using a phrase as a member of an in-group, or as an insult. Between that and the lack of body language and tone as cues in textual communication, it's easier to avoid using derogatory language altogether than have to spend half the day explaining it later.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:20 pm 
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DungeonMaster wrote:
it is seen and used as a general slur against the openly religious here, however, and while it's not up there with the n-word and other things, it is a means of disparaging a specific group. And now you know!

Yes. And I will avoid using it in future. At least among non-Brits. :wink:

Regardless of whether I consider it remotely comparable to racist slurs, I prefer not to use language that offends people, if only because offending people is completely pointless. I know plenty of words, so avoiding using one is really not very onerous.

Quote:
it's easier to avoid using derogatory language altogether than have to spend half the day explaining it later.

Less fun though.

...

I kid! I kid! :mrgreen:

Seriously, though, I had no way of knowing it was considered a slur anywhere, since it isn't where I live. Now I do. So I've learned something, which is always a positive.

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Woof? Pantpantpant! *quizzical head-tilt* *BIG eyes*

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:15 pm 
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DungeonMaster wrote:
A person of colour calling another person of colour [...]


"Person of colour?" Man... it's gotten to the point where a Brother (or a Sister) can't even be "Black" anymore! :)

But to be a bit serious about it, this is another one of those things that illustrates DM's point nicely. Here in the United States, "person of color" now strikes many as needlessly politically correct (I've always simply found it silly - and it wrecks the t-shirts: "It's a Person of Color thing - you wouldn't understand" just doesn't bring the LOLs.) while it's more or less the only acceptable term in some other places.

Which I guess is part of the challenge of international forums like this. It's difficult, at times, for people to keep in mind that not everyone understands the language in the same way that they do. It's hard for a poster, as it's easy to stumble over a term that has a vastly more negative connotation elsewhere than the writer is at all acquainted with, but the audience assumes that offense was intended, since that's the way they've grown up using the word(s).

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:28 pm 
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Well, we can hardly say "African-American" up here in Socialist Canuckistan now, can we? :D Besides; most of our Black citizens had ancestors from the Caribbean colonies, not Africa.

But there's definitely differences; I try to err on the side of caution. I was absolutely FLOORED to find out that Americans still use the term "Indian" in official ways, and my friend from Philly had never heard (up here, the only proper) term "First Nations."

I think something like "god-botherers" or "breeders" is on a different level, however - unlike "Black" or "Indian" those have never been standard and acceptable terms (by which I mean 'used on government forms' and other official purposes) for a designated group. Not that *those* terms are mostly acceptable now either ("mulatto" and "quadroon", for instance, have thankfully been long done away with), but at least you could argue that at one point they were the 'right' terms.

And I don't even know where I was going with this.

Happy Friday afternoon!

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:18 pm 
Lich
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DungeonMaster wrote:
I was absolutely FLOORED to find out that Americans still use the term "Indian" in official ways, and my friend from Philly had never heard (up here, the only proper) term "First Nations."

The one and only time I've been able to visit Canada, I remember being told, gently but firmly (and with a certain amount of twinkly-eyed humour) by a venerable First Nations gentleman never to use the term "Native American", since his people were living there long before the continent was called America.

Here in the UK, I think most people realise that "Indian" is right out (partly because "Indian" implies Desi in the UK). But I doubt many Brits would realise "Native American" might be offensive. It made perfect sense when it was explained to me, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:12 pm 
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beats telling a Cherokee that if they don't like the USofA they should go back where they came from (yes, that happened to a friend of mine)

just for the record, i was not bothered by the "god-botherer" post, but there may be three reasons for that
1. i am an atheist, so it was not directed at me in any way
2. i am aware of the actual meaning of the term (what Duskweaver explained)
3. i am rather thick skinned when it comes to such terms (hell, i sometimes self-identify as "cripple")

in any case, sad to see that some people were offended, good to see that the whole thing was handled in the most mature way possible (short of actually discussing religion... but we all know how -that- often goes)


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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:13 pm 
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Tsh tsk. We cannot even have a flame war in this forum. It always ends up in hugs, kisses and story swapping. Now i really want to visit Canada.

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 Post subject: Re: Why You Annoy Me
PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:52 am 
Lich
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Morgana wrote:
Tsh tsk. We cannot even have a flame war in this forum. It always ends up in hugs, kisses and story swapping.

Sorry to disappoint. I could make an insensitive remark about Greek people, if that would help? :P

Quote:
Now i really want to visit Canada.

I want to visit again. And this time I'd like to actually see some of the country rather than spending half the time helping my aunt prepare for her wedding, which was the reason I was there that time. :rolleyes:

(I do love my aunt, but damn she's a difficult person to live with, even for a few days, especially when she's stressed out over getting married.)

I did get to see Niagara Falls, at least, and spent a day hiking part of the Bruce Trail near Dundas. Not the most spectacular countryside in the world, but it has a charming beauty to it. And the weather couldn't have been better.

And I know this is a cliche, but I've never met such friendly people anywhere else. Although it was slightly surreal to me just how Scottish everybody seemed to be. More bagpipes and kilts than I've ever seen in Scotland itself. That's not a complaint, since I happen to love the sound of bagpipes. It was a bit wierd at first hearing them on the 'wrong' continent, though. :wacky:

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