Re: META: Subject line profanity considered [really dumb]

From: Charles Hixson (
Date: Thu Jan 03 2002 - 16:32:31 MST


> I disagree with you. It is inappropriate for all occasions. At
> least in English, there's no idea or concept that requires
> profanity to be expressed unambiguously. There's always a word
> or collection of words that can be used instead of the profanity.

This is does not appear to me to be exactly correct. Consider
the subject line of the thread currently just above this. I
don't know what it's about, but the subject line, which I shall
paraphrase as the fecal extrusion of a male bovine, lets me know
immediatlely that I'm not interested in the thread. "Nonsense",
which would appear to have about the same connotative meaning
would not have conveyed this message.

More to the point, just because there is more than one way to do
something does not automatically imply that any particular one
of those ways should always be avoided.

"Profanity considered really dumb" is just about correct. This
is different from a blanket statement. This is not a claim that
one can always effectively substitute another term which has the
same connotation and the same denotation. (If you could, I will
assert that it would offend you equally.)

That said, there appears to be some internal human wiring that
links being a low status male with scatology. Perhaps in other
cultures it is linked instead with blasphemy (some historical
records seem to indicate this). So I could be that the linkage
is with tabooed verbage. In that case what is being expressed
is, in essence, rage at one's powerlessness. This is typical
for adolescent and other low status males. (The power structure
tends to sit heavily upon them, and they tend to resent it even
more that would seem reasonable to an external observer.) Your
dictum is basically saying "this is another place where your
presence is not welcome". To an extent this is understandable,
as the utterances are expressions of rage, and thus
intentionally objectionable. But I feel that a more restrained
request that they not appear in the subject lines would
accomplish 90% of the goal without further denegrating people
who already feel quite put upon. (I would not claim that
adolescent females are less put upon, merely that they tend to
react with less rage, or at least that they express it in
different ways.)

If you had merely said "I always find profanity offensive, and I
sure wish that they would stop" one would have a hard time
arguing with the position, but this is different from the claim
that they are always inappropriate. Logical reasoning is a
small part of what human discussions are about.

Charles Hixson
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Use GNU software, and legally make and share copies of software.

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