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Re:Re: Language

Dec 12, 1997 12:26 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Hi Ramadoss,

    Your position is certainty supportive of our first amendment rights.  However,
I'm more concerned about one's responsibility to others.  We may or may not have a
constitutional right to use inappropriate language in public, but we also have a
duty to ourselves and others to act in a responsible manner.  Part of our
responsibility, IMO, is to be aware of the sensibilities of others.  We may not be
driven off by scatological language, but others will.

On another level there are also inappropriate subjects, and communication styles.
These vary with the discussion site.  Regarding inappropriate communication, I
believe that in all of the Theosophical discussion groups, ad holmium attacks are
considered to be inappropriate communication.  regarding the subject matter,  a
tightly monitored board like Ts-l,  has a very long unwritten list of them.
Theos-talk, on the other hand, considers anything pertaining to theosophy or
theosophical history to be OK.  However, people have been driven off this and
other lists because they find certain theosophical subjects personally
distasteful.  In this case, they can always go to a monitored discussion group
that will protect them from those subjects.

This brings us back to the freedom of speech issue.  I think that consideration
for others is paramount in how we express ourselves--IMO it is a higher
consideration than our freedom to do otherwise.  On the other hand, the subjects
we discuss ought to be kept in the framework established by the discussion site.
Otherwise, one can always move to another site or start a new one.

To relate it to the case that started this discussion, i.e. Brenda's and Daniel's
disagreement, I feel that three issues were distressing some of the readers: 1. It
was becoming obvious to many that nothing was being resolved from the discussion;
2. individuals participating in the discussion were being attacked and 3.
objectionable scatological language was used.   All three of these issues were
under the control of the participants.  Again, I think it is an issue of one's
responsibility to others for HOW we express ourselves.  On the other hand, it is
an issue of  what the format allows for WHAT we discuss.


M K Ramadoss wrote:

> Hi, Jerry:
> Thanks for your informative response.
> In the maillists, I have found that some times some may use language that
> one may not like for one reason or the other. On the other hand, the number
> of subscribers on theos lists are quite small. From what I have seen, it is
> very important that we don't run off even a single subscriber because over
> a period of time, I have seen individuals change and become active
> theosophists. So I am a proponent of supporting everyone to post anything
> however distasteful to me personally. My 0.02.
> mkr
> At 01:33 PM 12/11/97 -0800, Jerry Hejka-Ekins wrote:
> >Yes, Ramadoss, it is evident from numerous accounts of  private
> discussions that
> >the founders occasionally used what would be considered by today's standards
> >very mildly scatological language (such as "damn").  I  would not be
> surprised
> >if such words occasionally showed up in notes exchanged between the founders.
> >Rather, I have seen them in letters written by all of the three founders.  My
> >own personal feeling about it is that there is a time and place for all
> kinds of
> >language, and considering the three founders were closely involved, and
> events
> >were very often frustrating, their language was indeed appropriate between
> them
> >and for those situations.  I feel no shame for their choice of words in these
> >instances.  However, in the case of theos-talk,  the audience is much larger,
> >and we don't all personally know each other.  Therefore, I would think that a
> >more formal tone and choice of words is appropriate.  I don't mean that humor
> >must be left out.  On that count, I must agree with Thoa that there are some
> >Theosophists I know who I would love to see loosen up a little.  On the other
> >hand, humor does not need to be scatological, to be funny.

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