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Re: A Level Playing Field

by Dominus (Parson)
on Nov 01, 2005 at 04:48 UTC ( #504494=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to A Level Playing Field

Thanks for doing this. I think it has been needed for a long time. A glance at the table shows that folks tended to slack off once they got to level 10; you can see the membership piling up just on the far side of 3,000 points.

But I hate some of the names you've chosen for the levels. "Grand Inquisitor" is the worst. Do you know what the Inquisition was? Do you know what the Grand Inquisitor's job was? The first Grand Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada, accused thousands of people of heresy. Then he ordered them tortured until they "confessed", after which they were burnt to death. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were ordered to leave Spain within three months, and tens of thousands died in the process.

I don't suppose that was what you intended the title to convey, but that's who the Grand Inquisitor was and that's what he did. Graff says, above:

I might be inclined to slow down or suspend my contributions to the Monastery if I were getting close to assuming that title (not like that's going to happen any time soon, but still), because for me the connotations of the term are heinous, and I'd be embarrassed to see it next to my name.
I feel exactly the same way. I would be really upset and angry if I were labeled "Grand Inquisitor Dominus". And I would certainly not want to post or contribute here if it looked as though that were getting close. "Grand Inquisitor" is not a title of honor; it's a grave insult.

More generally, I am uncomfortable with the Christian references in many of the new names. The old names were more generic. Buddhists have monks and abbots. A pontiff is just a priest; a pastor is just a shepherd. Lots of cultures have the idea of a Saint. Many religions, even most, have some sort of priest. Absolutely anyone can be a scribe.

But deacons and canons are all Christians. So are bishops and archibishops. Monsignors aren't just Christian; they are Roman Catholics. So are cardinals. I'm not a Roman Catholic and I don't want to be one and I don't want to be a Monsignor or a cardinal, either. To me, it seems extremely weird. When did this become a Roman Catholic organization? I don't consider it a promotion to be a Monsignor. I am having trouble finding a way to express how bizarre and discomforting I find this.

Can't we come up with a different set of titles that does not so clearly imply Christianity? How about "Master" and "Grand Master"? "Sage"? "Vizier"? "Champion"? "Messenger"? "Expert"? "Oracle"? "Philosopher"? "Wizard"? "Virtuoso"?


Comment on Re: A Level Playing Field
Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by webfiend (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 05:25 UTC

    I see your point, but I guess I'm pretty numb to the connotations myself. Maybe too many years of 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, where level titles had no discernable logic and you just ignored them - except to say "Oh, my character Vainamoinen just made it to Necromancer! No, he doesn't do any necromancy, he's more into earthquakes and stuff."

    What? Why is everybody looking at me like that?

Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by virtualsue (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 05:26 UTC

    Regarding "Grand Inquisitor" level. The passage of time and Monty Python have greatly weakened our perception of the Spanish Inquisition as an atrocity against non-Roman Catholics, and Muslims and Jews in particular. demerphq hinted yesterday that this name was used in preference to "Primate" simply because the people directly concerned weren't keen on the idea of endless monkey jokes, but in retrospect the latter seems preferable. Do you have a suggestion for an acceptable replacement?

    Regarding the RC bias in level titles, yes, now that there are nearly 3x as many levels it is all getting a bit much. It is possible that somebody may be moved to patch things so that users may select a title theme, much as they do now with the color scheme & layout.

        Nothing. I don't care all that much, other than to agree with your point regarding "Grand Inquisitor". Choice is nice in a restaurant, but if you want to get rid of one offensive title, perhaps it'll go away faster if you give the guys running the show one replacement name that you find acceptable.
      somebody may be moved to patch things so that users may select a title theme

      That's a completely ridiculous idea, IMNSHO. What the site looks like is one thing, but I rather think that we should be able to communicate about levels without people asking things like, "Huh? Oh, uh, what's a saint in the Pokemon theme again?" This is still Perl Monks, right?

      -sauoq
      "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
      
        The levels are numbered, so I don't really see this as being much of a problem.

      Respectfully, virtualsue, the passage of time has not weakened this perception for everyone. While this particular atrocity took place centuries ago, it is only one among many committed against people (not just Muslims and Jews, but just about everyone in the world has been the target of genocide at one time or another). It's going on today. The title of Grand Inquisitor is neither necessary not particularly amusing, IMNSHO. How about minister, rabbi, lama, sat-guru (or just plain guru), swami, sifu, etc.? And how about those guys who help decide whether someone's a saint (one's the devil's advocate; I don't recall what the other one is called).? Angel, archangel, seraph, cherub, whatever? Surely we can do better.

        Didn't you understand that I was agreeing with Dominus? Did you see me argue for retaining "Grand Inquisitor"?
Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by spiritway (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 06:09 UTC

    I totally agree with you, Dominus. The connotations of "Grand Inquisitor" are horrific - people accused, tortured, burned, their property confiscated, all for the suspicion of heresy. It was an ugly periot of history, and I feel it should not be commemorated in the Monastery.

Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Nov 01, 2005 at 08:56 UTC

    Sigh. I had a feeling this might become an issue. I really was against the title of GI being in the list. Not only because of the history, but also because I dont think the name "fits" with the rest of the list and also because its just so easy to take the piss out of. So for about an hour we had 'Primate' in there. But of course I didnt realize how easy primate was to also take the piss out of. So on the grounds that inquisitor jokes were less of an issue than ape jokes we changed it back.

    Obviously we got so distracted about how this could be used for jokes that we underestimated how much people might find this particular rank an insult. So we will definately fix it.

    Regarding the Catholic theme, personally I don't mind it too much as it has the virtue that it has enough crazy ranks that we could fill out the table more or less. OTOH, reworking the titles over the next while to remove some of the issues people feel really strongly about is entirely possible.

    Its quite possible that by the time you return next the rank GI will have been resigned to the dust heap (yet again). (Update: Yep, its been changed to 'Sage').

    Allow me to add that one of the difficulties with doing stuff like this on PM is the tendency that everything gets talked to death without anything ever happening because we havent found the perfect system. In this case we went ahead with the new scheme anyway, so that we actually get somewhere while resolving the rough edges. While this means a bit of turbulence in the life our memberships overall this means we actually get to see new features in play instead of debating them to death without getting any benefit from them.

    ---
    $world=~s/war/peace/g

Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by Petruchio (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 09:54 UTC

    Well, fiddlesticks.

    Let me start by saying, 'Grand Inquisitor' is, far and away, my favorite name of the bunch. For one thing, it's the title of a famous chapter from The Brothers Karamazov, one of my favorite books. It also, to my ear, has the cool sound of something wicked. I envisioned Grand Inquistors poking people with Soft Cushions in the Chatterbox, crying, "No one expects the PerlMonks Inquisition!"

    When I floated some of the level names a year ago, the only sentiments expressed on this title seemed to match my own. This post, for instance, opined:

    Your biggest problem is that the title of Grand Inquisitor rocks so hard that once I've attained it, I'll want to stay there, instead of getting a "promotion" to Saint.
    I thought, therefore, that I was on safe enough ground, and that this particular piece of political incorrectness would be allowed to slide.

    This time around, however, things seem to be different. Any debate over whether the title is justifiable is unnecessary; that several people are honestly and seriously disturbed by a single title convinces me that it is more harm than good.

    At first, I had thought to replace it with Prophet; Sage grew on me, however, and demerphq favored it, so there it is.

    As it happens, by the way, I do know a fair bit about the Inquisition. You're quite right, of course: Tomás de Torquemada was not a very nice man. I not-infrequently enjoy gallows humor at the expense of people much less than 500 years dead, however, so it's not a matter I'm inclined to take seriously. I don't suggest that this is the best outlook to take; quite possibly you are to be commended for steadfastly calling a bad thing a bad thing, however remote. To me, for better or worse, an auto da fe is fundamentally funny, as I am never likely to be invited to one. :-)

    Thank you for your civility, both here and in the Chatterbox.

Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by Tanktalus (Canon) on Nov 01, 2005 at 18:24 UTC

    I would be honoured to be called "Grand Inquisitor". Truly honoured. They were beacons of civility and hope of their time. They created the underpinnings of modern judicial systems in that they were run by experts.

    Up to that point, the King's court was run by lawyers who had no understanding of the religious crimes they were persecuting. The inquistion changed that by bringing in religious scholars who knew what the Catholic faith was about, and what heresy really was. That fact alone dropped conviction rates tremendously as many accused were simply not being heretical. Combine this with the Church's mission to evangelise, and you get the ability to repent and thus receive no punishment for what was, in effect, a capital offense. (It was a capital offense because it was considered treasonous: speaking against Catholocism, from where the King supposedly received his power, was also speaking against the King.)

    See:

    The latter one is much more informative.

    Now .. can we get back to the task at hand? XPWing Perl?

      This is such OT BS that I don't know where to begin. Perhaps with Portugal and Spain where the Inquisition forced every single Jew into hiding, death, or emmigration and had disastrous impact on Muslims as well.

        I know I'm about to drop a level or two ... but precisely what are your sources? Did you read the links I provided? If it's OT, I submit that I'm just correcting a fallacy repeated by Dominus. If it's BS, I submit that leaving a myth uncorrected is larger BS, and that this is based on newer information, and is not really new news in historian circles (see the books Madden links to).

        Hang on to your myths if you like. But please don't continue to propogate them as if they were fact.

      History is far too complex for such a facile summary of an institution that existed that long, in that many places.

      It is true that they were fairer than most other legal systems of the day. But they were still incredibly brutal by current standards.

      It is true that they helped shape many modern judicial systems. But the British justice system, and its various descendents in the English-speaking world, are not among that number.

      It is true that the Inquisition didn't burn masses of people at the stake. But they knew what would happen when they turned their victims over to secular authorities, and also had a role in convincing secular authorities to use that punishment.

      It is true that part of the reason that the Spanish Inquisition was singled out for so much criticism was due to Protestant politics. But it is also true that they earned a good part of that criticism, particularly for their actions in the New World, and for their actions until Napoleon intervened. (Read, for instance, this description.)

      It is true that the Inquisition gave many life imprisonment instead of turning them over to be burned. But life imprisonment in the way that they did it could well have been a harsher punishment.

      It is true that the Inquisition did not actually drive the Jews out of Spain. But it did push for that to happen.

      It is true that most have an exaggerated view of how horrible the Inquisition was. But it was still pretty darned horrible. Furthermore when it comes to the appropriateness of having Grand Inquisitor as a title on this site, the perception of people who are likely to be offended matters more than the reality.

      Hmm, a bit of googling on the author of your second link gives the impression, that, while being a respected academic, he also seems to have made a bit of a career as an apologist for the various failings of the Christian churches over the millenia. I am not at all an expert on these matters, and of course haven't done extensive research on the guy, so I may be wrong, but personally from what I've seen in the last few minutes I'd take his words with a grain of salt.

      Anyway, neither of the two links you gave deny that the Inquisition did actively seek out and persecute people who did nothing more wrong than hold personal beliefs not in accordance with that of the church. How right or wrong the Inquisition was in relation to what else was going on in the world at the time is of little interest IMO, that argument can be used to justify almost any atrocity ever. So I'm not sure its so very wise of you to say you'd be proud of being associated with them (if that is what you were saying), given that you don't otherwise come across as a guy who's proud to be persecuting people :-).

      Oh god, this is so OT ;-). In an effort to justify my posting let me say that I heartily approve of the new XP system, and also of the phoenix-like transformation of the Grand Inquisitor to a Sage.


      Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. -- Brian W. Kernighan
      Shortly after you posted this, I read the articles you pointed to, and then I read the two books referred to in the National Review article, by Peters and by Kamen.

      My conclusion from reading those books was that you hadn't read them yourself, that you didn't know what you were talking about, and that you were completely full of shit.

        Oh, come on Dominus - tell us how you really feel. And then tell us why you bother to respond to something over a year later.

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