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Consideration for obscenity

by ptum (Priest)
on Feb 03, 2007 at 01:08 UTC ( #598036=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I recently considered this node for reaping in accordance (or so I thought) with Monastery guidelines:

Good reasons to consider a node include:
  • To reap a highly offensive posting. PerlMonks is meant to be family friendly. And perhaps more importantly, we'd like to keep PerlMonks off of corporate blacklists which would prevent worthy monks from participating while at work.

In the United States, this particular word seems still to be considered obscene, not family-friendly or safe-for-work, since the Supreme Court has not overturned F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation as far as I know. Admittedly, the definition of "obscene" seems a bit fluid, but Wikipedia discussion on the topic points to a study conducted in England in 2000 which identifies this particular word as the third most severe obscenity in the English language.

It seems strange to me that 8 monks of level Friar or above voted to keep the node, even though it had no other content and no redeeming value that I could see. According to reap rules, if even two monks vote 'keep', the node stays. I have been told that this particular word is considered less offensive on the other side of the Atlantic, but I can't imagine why 8 monks would bestir themselves to vote 'keep' on this one. Can any of you who voted to 'keep' the node help me to understand this?

Comment on Consideration for obscenity
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by educated_foo (Vicar) on Feb 03, 2007 at 02:22 UTC
    "Highly offensive"? That particular node is spectacularly immature and unfunny, but I don't think bleeping nodes is in the interest of the community. Just downvote it if you disapprove.
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by McDarren (Abbot) on Feb 03, 2007 at 03:09 UTC
    Context!

    Personally, there isn't a single word in the entire english language that I find offensive. But there are many, that when strung together to convey a particular meaning or message that I could find highly offensive. It's not the word that is offensive, but the way in which it is used and the intent that is carried.

    In this case, as educated_foo notes, the word was probably used in an attempt at humour. A very poor attempt yes, but one would have to be pretty thin-skinned to find it personally offensive.

    For the record, I didn't vote on the consideration. But if I had, I almost certainly would have voted to keep it.

    Cheers,
    Darren :)

      Context!

      In context, the node is making a vulgar reference to subject matter that, at least in most of the US, is widely considered inappropriate for children. In a movie, such references would result in a rating that would prevent minors from viewing the film in a theatre or renting it from a video store without a parent present. It isn't so much the word; indeed, it would be (a little) less objectionable if it were used as a general vulgar remark of dismay.

      Personally, there isn't a single word in the entire english language that I find offensive.

      This thread isn't about what you personally find offensive, and it is very egotistical and narrow-minded of you to try to make it about that.

      The thread is about what perlmonks policy is, or isn't. If we aren't going to reap nodes for gratuitous vulgar references to sexual intercourse, then the quoted policy needs to be updated to reflect that better. If this is how it's going to be, I suggest the following wording:

      Invalid reasons to consider a node include:

    • To reap a highly offensive posting. PerlMonks is not meant to be family friendly, and we don't intend to try to keep PerlMonks off of corporate blacklists that we disagree with. Although this might prevent otherwise worthy monks from participating while at work, we think it is more important to take a moral stand against being easily offended by obscenity and vulgarity, which in our view are not only harmless but important for their own sake.
    • update: inserted paragraph break

        "This thread isn't about what you personally find offensive, and it is very egotistical and narrow-minded of you to try to make it about that."

        Respectfully - absolute bollocks!
        I was merely responding to a direct question from the OP. He asked - "Can any of you who voted to 'keep' the node help me to understand this?"
        Although I didn't actually vote in the consideration - had I have voted, I would have voted to keep. And I was simply explaining why.

        In a movie, such references would result in a rating that would prevent minors from viewing the film in a theatre or renting it from a video store without a parent present.
        Not true. you can get a PG or PG 13 rating mentioning the word "fuck".

        This thread isn't about what you personally find offensive, and it is very egotistical and narrow-minded of you to try to make it about that. The thread is about what perlmonks policy is, or isn't.
        Perlmonks policy is to consider for deletion "highly offensive posts". The policy is not "delete posts that some people might consider somewhat offensive".

        Any node can be considered by most monks, then the interested monks cast their vote according to their own standards (or someone else's if they want to). Only if enough monks vote for deletion and not enough vote to keep the node is reaped.

        Perlmonks is an international forum, probably more varied and definitely less organized than the MPAA's rating cabal, so not everything that might be considered inappropriate for children's movie is considered inappropriate here. At least not by a fair number of voting monks.

      I thing one phrase in McDarren's comment may provide some additional focus for this discussion:
      there are many, that when strung together to convey a particular meaning or message....

      Had the post in question said

      Fxxx your mother!
      more Monks (this one included) might have agreed that it was "highly offensive" but as far as I can see, we have not defined "highly offensive" in sufficient detail to distinguish between sophomoric attempts at humor (yep, that's what I think the node under discussion one was/is) and "highly offensive" in the sense of troll-ery, bigotry, and the like.

        Thank you - that was exactly the point I was attempting to make.
        Shouldn't that be Fxxxed paco?
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by diotalevi (Canon) on Feb 03, 2007 at 03:33 UTC

    I didn't vote on it either but would have if it were available at the time I viewed it. In context, it is an appropriate kind of comment and I am offended that it was ever considered for reaping. This is the kind of thing I expect an adult to be able to say to another adult and when I am at perlmonks, I consider this a forum of adults. It's not professional but then polls and poetry and "cool things" aren't either.

    I'm always aware that there's been thirteen year old kids here occasionally but I don't think one node saying "fuck" is going to negatively or positively affect them. I'd rather point them to Randal's Learning Perl if they want to learn perl or Scarleteen if they needed some sex ed (this only occurs to me because the word is "fuck"). I'm not sure where to point them in regards to communicating with adults.

    Anyway, this case what I perceive as excessive prurience does really offend me and I hope not to encounter it much in the future. I don't hold much hope out for that because I live in the US which is infested with people who seem to be obsessed with the a sexless fantasy world.

    It's an unhappy world being in a place where people ask for "family" stuff in context that are entirely inappropriate. This is one of them. It's appropriate to ask for "professional" but NEVER "family." A pox on the concept.

    ⠤⠤ ⠙⠊⠕⠞⠁⠇⠑⠧⠊

      Hmmmm. I'm not sure where you're coming from ... on one hand you seem offended that I had the temerity to dare to consider the node, yet on the other you talk about being offended by 'excessive prurience'. In the words of Inigo Montoya, "I do not think that word means what you think it means." Prurience refers to:

      prurient: marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire

      Perhaps you were trying to call me a 'prude'?

      I didn't make up the guideline about family-friendly -- that was here before I really started posting. But it seems rather silly to approve of "professional" but oppose "family". Both simply refer to an abstract standard of decency which seeks not to trample on the things that matter to others. Personally, I find obscene language very unprofessional, so I guess it fits the bill either way.

      It is sort of funny for me to hear you offer the idea that "obscenity is OK because it is adults talking to adults" (paraphrasing you), since that is one argument I think is particularly apropos to opposing obscene language. C'mon, we're not scrawling on junior-high bathroom stalls, here. Are adult monks not able to express themselves on a higher level, using the vast resources of the language, without descending into vulgarities?

        Hmmmm. I'm not sure where you're coming from ... on one hand you seem offended that I had the temerity to dare to consider the node, yet on the other you talk about being offended by 'excessive prurience'. In the words of Inigo Montoya, "I do not think that word means what you think it means." Prurience refers to:
        prurient: marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire
        Perhaps you were trying to call me a 'prude'?
        Oops! That word does not mean what I think it means.

        The important thing for me at this moment is that perlmonks in addition to being about the practice of programming perl or occasionally about being a professional that uses perl is that perlmonks is also a social space. Social spaces are also a place where great crude, gross, or even sublime things happen. Swearing or talking about sex is something that happens in those places. It isn't clear to me which sense of "fucked" was use here. Perhaps it doesn't really matter. Salty language isn't the norm here and I'm glad for that. This would be a very unpleasant place if that weren't true. That said, I don't think that an occasional blue word or two is bad either.

        I suppose it's proportion and context. Also, I'm biased because that particular response if taken somewhat literally reminds me of some of my absolute favorite people on this planet. I have warm fuzzies just from reading that response.

        ⠤⠤ ⠙⠊⠕⠞⠁⠇⠑⠧⠊

        /me rephrases the answer to the poll as "copulated" and wonders if that is less offensive.


        ___________
        Eric Hodges
        I find obscene language very unprofessional, so I guess it fits the bill either way.

        Oh, c'mon... "We Are Morons"...

        It is sort of funny for me to hear you offer the idea that "obscenity is OK because it is adults talking to adults" (paraphrasing you), since that is one argument I think is particularly apropos to opposing obscene language.

        You're indeed paraphrasing him, because that's not what he is suggesting. The claim is, fundamentally, that that particular verb (as of itself) is not obscene at all, let alone the idea of sexual intercourse. And i wholeheartedly agree with him. There are by far more obscene things. Of course, we simply do not and probably cannot agree on this, and going on would probably spawn an endless discussion. So this is my last take on it, and it's just to explain that for the exact same reasons as explained by those who voted to keep the "incriminated" node, or would have done so, I would have as well, notwithstanding the fact that I do consider that attempt at humour to be particular poor, which is the reason why I did downvote it.

Re: Consideration for obscenity
by syphilis (Canon) on Feb 03, 2007 at 06:17 UTC
    I recently considered this node for reaping

    Heh ... my reaction was one of envy :-)

    Cheers,
    Rob
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by herveus (Parson) on Feb 03, 2007 at 12:00 UTC
    Howdy!

    The phrases "family-friendly" and "safe-for-work" are often used as bludgeons by people with a selfish agenda to bash people who have the temerity to openly disagree with them. Note well that I am not trying to tar you with that brush.

    Having looked at that node in its context, it appears clear to me that it was an attempt a humor. George Carlin milked that word (and six others) for a lot of laughs in a famous routine. Perhaps your personal sensibilities are more tender than others. You considered the node, in accordance with your understanding of the guidelines, and that consideration was turned down by the expressed opinions of others. It happens. I hope the conversation you started sheds helps you understand how the end came to be.

    I could see a node getting reaped for obscenity, but it would need to contain more "content" with a clear expression of obscenity. Merely using a word ought not necessarily make an expression obscene. Context is critical. Filters that focus on individual words throw too many false positives and false negatives.

    yours,
    Michael

      It is true some people will bludgeon others with anything they don't like. Some people will come from the opposite direction. They say something for no other reason than to try and shock someone also.

      As for the post itself, I have been on this site for almost a year and humor is rarely modded up. So I find it surprising that something that is can be considered offensive is kept because it was intended to be humorous.

        Some thoughts.

        I'm wondering. Were you (and the people who voted to delete the node in question) offended by that node or is it just that you think other people might be offended (or even damaged) by it? In other words, is it a case of offending your sensibilities or of "won't someone think of the children/my boss/my wife/the feds?"

        As noted by someone else here, "fuck" might be one of the "most offensive words" in the English language, but that doesn't mean much. Words by themselves are one barely expressions, and context is everything. I have a hard time believing any single word is so offensive it should be banned here regardless of context. See also the various posts in this thread that use the word "fuck". I also note that the guidelines say "highly offensive posting", not any offensive posting.

        In any case, we already have a system in place for censorship. It has been applied, and the node has been found "good enough" to keep. Appealing to the guidelines after the vote is probably not going to help. The consideration system is the usual mechanism to enforce the guidelines. That way the guidelines get interpreted by us monks on a per-node basis, which is a good thing, in my opinion.

Re: Consideration for obscenity
by zentara (Archbishop) on Feb 03, 2007 at 12:01 UTC
    Can you imagine a world that was not driven by "sex hormone response and misplaced Judeo-Christian guilt?" My point is why do people consider some words offensive? This society has been using the sex drive of humans, in a devious and underhanded way: first you claim it's dirty and shouldn't be talked about, then on the other hand, base almost all social interaction on it. It ends up where everyone is living a dual life: one is the hypocritical self we present to the world, and the other is the fun-loving sexual beast present in us all.

    It all starts with hiding behind clothes..... oooh how vulgar.... you showed your butt, oh thats right.... I can't even say the word butt.

    I find pictures of blown apart bodies very obscene, yet they show them on the news every night, but if Janet Jackson shows a bit of tit, a giant uproar occurs, even though all the complainers have secret stashes of Playboy magazines. I guess porn is more fun if you think it is dirty?

    We need more honesty in the public about sex. Should Bill Clinton have been crucified for having sex with some consenting party? Is the mayor of San Francisco unfit for office, just because he had sex with a good looking woman?

    All this talk of declaring things obscene, just feeds the hypocrisy.


    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. Cogito ergo sum a bum
      Can you imagine a world that was not driven by "sex hormone response and misplaced Judeo-Christian guilt?"

      Yes, I can. Thanks for asking. :)

      My point is why do people consider some words offensive?

      You seem to be confused about the difference between a statement (as in stating a point) and a question. I don't see your point anywhere here.

      This society has been using the sex drive of humans, in a devious and underhanded way: first you claim it's dirty and shouldn't be talked about, then on the other hand, base almost all social interaction on it. It ends up where everyone is living a dual life: one is the hypocritical self we present to the world, and the other is the fun-loving sexual beast present in us all.

      Hmmmm. Maybe your point is this: "Anyone who tries to place limits on the public discussion of sex is a hypocrite." I don't think that's tenable, and I'm not sure which 'society' you are talking about. I'm not living a dual life. I don't base 'almost all my social interation' on my sex drive, nor do the people with whom I interact. Maybe you've read too many psychology texts, and you think everyone goes around consumed by their sexuality?

      There is nothing hypocritical about decent people trying to make the world a little more decent. Just because I am angered by someone who cuts me off in traffic doesn't mean I'm a hypocrite if I oppose murder.

      I don't think it is all about sexuality ... I would have considered that original node if the obscenity had been about bodily excrement. I think that these kind of vulgarities damage the way that the PerlMonks community is viewed by others, in the same way that graffiti on the front of your house would diminish its curb-appeal.

        I don't base 'almost all my social interation' on my sex drive, nor do the people with whom I interact.

        Yeah, you are one of those rare specimens they call "well adjusted". In other words, you play the game and enjoy it, and can't understand why many don't like the game... we are the mal-adjusted. :-) I can guarantee you that the females in your circles, wear make-up, and check how fat their a*s looks, before they leave the house. Why?

        Why is it obscene to talk about human bodily functions, but not when you talk about an animal's bodily functions? How come it's funny when a dog pees on a hydrant, but obscene when a human does it. If you can answer that, without talking about the deep-seated fear and repression of human sexuailty, and convince me, then I will accept your assertions that the deep roots of what people view to be obscenity, are not based on sex.

        But don't bother..... as far as making perlmonks, and society in general, less vulgar, don't ban words, but encourage and promote those who use good words. That way you allow free speech but discourage outrageous use of it, like follow up nodes saying "your langauge is coarse so I prefer not to answer you", etc.

        Violent video games, pornography, and all sorts of vulagarity are so wide spread in the society, that to censor people for using a word is ridiculous. Maybe we should adopt the Taliban's view, that women are not allowed to be seen unveiled in public......that would encourage more politeness.


        I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. Cogito ergo sum a bum
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by holli (Monsignor) on Feb 03, 2007 at 12:43 UTC
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by ajt (Prior) on Feb 03, 2007 at 13:58 UTC

    What is obscene? and would I use an obscenity?

    What is obscene is subjective and context dependent. Because it's all subjective I only use certain words if I believe the audience will not be offended: thus the word isn't obscene.

    As I don't know the audience reading this, I choose to censor what I write. I am not offended by the four letter word in question but that does not mean I would use it in front of complete strangers.

    In a article in one of the broadsheet papers most people in the UK would now not be offended by the word in question, however a formerly commonly used word to describe people of Pakistan origin is now considered by most people to be a highly offensive racist slur and isn't used in polite society.


    --
    ajt

      I guess the question I'm really asking is, "Does PerlMonks want to be a 'polite society'?" I thought that the existence of a consideration mechanism and the guidelines for consideration seemed to indicate that yes, we do. But the votes to 'keep' the node seemed to indicate that at least a small number of monks think that no, we don't want to be 'polite' if it means we have to limit our free speech out of respect for others. I didn't understand that, and I must admit, after reading all of the various responses, I still don't entirely get it.

      I think that we consider someone to be 'civilized' or 'sophisticated' or 'polite' when they are able to interact with a wide variety of people in various cultures without giving offense. I admire people who know the right fork to use in a black-tie dinner, yet are also able to hang out in a bowling alley without seeming uncomfortable. The fact that PerlMonks is a moderated, international community suggests that there are minimal standards of 'politeness' that we encourage in order to be as inclusive as possible. Using the example that ajt raises, I suspect that if qsl had posted a racial or cultural slur, no one would have voted to 'keep' the node.

      There seems to be this weird, but pervasive idea that it is OK to offend people whose moral culture is different, but that other groups of people are sacrosanct. I remember when radiantmatrix argued that cultures of moral people are 'fair game' for mockery in a thread that dealt with some similar issues (Re^5: RFC: Acme::BottomsUp) -- I don't think that argument holds any water. If we want to interact with other people, sooner or later we are going to have to take their sensitivities into account (however they came by them) if we want to avoid offending them. Much as I might personally disagree with someone operating from a different metaethical perspective, I try not to say offensive things about them (or their viewpoint) here. I try to use 'reasonable' and 'moderate' language so that others who do not share my viewpoint will not be made into enemies and will still be able to listen to what I have to say. As ajt says, 'I choose to censor myself'. I think that many of us would like PerlMonks to be a 'polite society', and I don't understand those who cannot (or will not) subsume their personal freedom of speech in favor of that goal.

        Just noting that you aren't differentiating at all between those who might vote keep and those who would post such a node. In a perfect world, perhaps there would be no distinction, but in this world, you've only obscured the issues being debated.
        If we want to interact with other people, sooner or later we are going to have to take their sensitivities into account (however they came by them) if we want to avoid offending them.
        I'd rather have people around me that are 'civilized' or 'sophisticated' enough to not get easily offended by someone outside of their environment. Actually, I prefer people who don't get offended that easily at all. The key is to just not take it personally.
        I think that many of us would like PerlMonks to be a 'polite society', and I don't understand those who cannot (or will not) subsume their personal freedom of speech in favor of that goal.
        I have underlined what I think is a mistake in that paragraph. If you consider a node, and want the consideration to go through because you think someone might be offended by that node, it's not your freedom of speech, it's not the voters freedom of speech, it's the freedom of those you're voting on. And seeing here that other monks seem to follow in dubio pro reo and try not to project their own morale standards makes this community even more fitting to my taste. By all means, remove trollings, by all means, remove spam. There are many examples of things which in my eyes justify removal or <beep>ing out parts. Worrying about peoples feelings is not on that list.

        Ordinary morality is for ordinary people. -- Aleister Crowley
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Feb 03, 2007 at 14:36 UTC

    I think the main point of the policy with regard to swear words is to keep the site from being blocked by corporate content scanners and to prevent blatent rudeness and interpersonal attacks.

    On those grounds I think the node might justify a spoiler tag or something, but not reaping: Its obviously an attempt at a joke and therefore IMO falls under artistic-license, and since it doesnt attack anyone is harmless, although perhaps in bad taste. The same word used in a personal attack would IMO justify reaping however.

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

      Spoiler tags will help a lot in the case of the coworker (or boss) looking over your shoulder, but does nothing with regard to network traffic scanners.

      A word spoken in Mind will reach its own level, in the objective world, by its own weight

        Er, why not? A tag that says "reveal foul language here" isnt going to get followed by someone that needs to worry about that is it?

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

Re: Consideration for obscenity
by polypompholyx (Chaplain) on Feb 03, 2007 at 18:03 UTC
    ...a study conducted in England in 2000...

    That study for the BBC was conducted in Aberdeen, Manchester, South Wales, Surrey, West London and Kent. Should we be offended on behalf of the Scots and Welsh, who I am sure would be scandalised to learn that they live in England?

      Should we be offended on behalf of the Scots and Welsh, who I am sure would be scandalised to learn that they live in England?

      They may also be interested to know that Santa Claus is not real. Of course they live in England. Scotland and Wales are provinces in England, and have been throughout all of modern history and for that matter a large part of the middle ages.

      Yes, when the English took control of Wales and Scottland and, later, other places, they invented new names for their nation so as to soothe the newly conquered provinces, but fundamentally, whatever it's called on paper, it's still the same country -- it's still England. Whatever semantic games were played, it still boiled down to the English being in charge and the Scots and Welsh being subject to them.

      Yes, the English government has since changed over from a true monarchy to, in practice, a republic, so the Scots and Welsh are fully represented in the English government now. In light of that, I'd wouldn't consider them to be subject peoples now, but full citizens, just as much English as someone from Canterbury.

        jonadab said: Of course they live in England. Scotland and Wales are provinces in England, and have been throughout all of modern history and for that matter a large part of the middle ages. Yes, when the English took control of Wales and Scottland and, later, other places, they invented new names for their nation so as to soothe the newly conquered provinces, but fundamentally, whatever it's called on paper, it's still the same country -- it's still England. Whatever semantic games were played, it still boiled down to the English being in charge and the Scots and Welsh being subject to them.

        <end quote>

        I really cannot let this pass; you're over simplifying things in one of my pet subjects! :)

        1) There is a very significant difference between 'the English being in charge' and 'it's ... still the same country. For example, I think no one would argue that Iraq was part of the United States during the time that the US was directly in control of the country, right?

        2) Wales is more complex, but Scotland was unequivocably not an English province. Scotland was a self-governing, independent country (if often coerced into yielding to England on many issues) with its own monarch until the Scottish King James VI inherited the English throne from Queen Elizabeth I. Even then England and Scotland mantained separate parliaments until the Acts of Union about 100 years later (the very early 1700s, I think). The Acts of Union was not an assimilation of Scotland into England, but the creation of a new entity "Great Britain".

        3) Despite the power of the British Empire, it was a network of sovereign states, not of provinces - although, again, Britain had a great deal of power/influence in each country under its dominion... they were, however, still distinct countries. Consider, again, the power wielded by the United States, the influence it has over many other sovereign nations, but one cannot with truth say they are all part of the United States....

        4) Wales, as I said, is more complex, and was certainly *treated* as a province after Edward I. Gwynedd (spelling?) was conquered in the late 13th century, but Wales was not officially annexed by England until Henry VII's reign. This annexation gave Welsh citizens (theoretical) equality under English law and (hurrah!) elminated the 'Marcher Lords' (the roles, not the individuals); it also, oddly enough, defined the borders of Wales...

        I will try to clean up this post later today - we're taking our menagerie of little people to the zoo now!

        Eliana

        May I respectfully suggest that you go stand amongst Scottish supporters at a rugby or football match and start chanting loudly for England? The following few days in hospital "lively discussions" might realign your attitude on this subject.

        And just in case you're tempted to reply "Who cares what the Scots themselves think", I'll paraphrase your own words in this node and say "This issue isn't about what you personally consider the definition of England, and it is very egotistical and narrow-minded of you to try to make it about that.".

        Update: marto rightly admonished me for portraying Scottish football fans as hooligans, which from personal experience I also know is overwhelmingly not true, I was attempting to be facetious here. While I wouldn't want to guarantee the complete physical safety of an England supporter in a Scottish fan-block (rivalry between the two fan-groups is rather fierce and does lead to violence occasionally, and there are twats in every sport supporter group) he would more likely than not get off with a good-natured ribbing.marto++


        All dogma is stupid.
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by polettix (Vicar) on Feb 03, 2007 at 21:19 UTC
    I was among the fortunates that had the opportunity to vote for "keep". Not that I particularly liked that particular node, but I personally did not judge it higly offensive, either for me or for others. On the other hand, I have to admit that I was a bit upset in seeing it considered.

    As I was saying, this is my personal view on this, that stems from various factors like family, education, nation in which I live, etc. Just to make an example, a film that I find very funny is My Cousin Vinnie, but I see that it's rated "R" in the US and has no restrictions here in Italy (I took that as an example because I remember Stan saying "fuck" when he and Bill see that there is a police car behind them). Which takes me to a counter-question: how could you possibly think that there couldn't be at least two Friars (or upper) who would have voted "keep" on that node? (Sorry if I missed all the correct grammatical rules in my last question, I hope you'll get what I mean).

    Flavio
    perl -ple'$_=reverse' <<<ti.xittelop@oivalf

    Don't fool yourself.
Re: Consideration for obscenity
by blue_cowdawg (Prior) on Feb 05, 2007 at 16:31 UTC
        Admittedly, the definition of "obscene" seems a bit fluid,

    Obscenity is very much in the eye of the beholder IMHO. Sure, there are words that invoke negative connotations and can be construed as being offensive as well as having aggressive intent.

    What the misguided soul who posted the node in question did was a lame attempt at a cheap joke. Worthy of a downvote or hundred, but censorship?

    I moderate several different electronic mail lists for topics ranging from dog training to barbeque. Folks that engage in dog training as well as folks that are into barbeque can be a very passionate lot with respect to their beliefs, techniques and just the topic at hand in general.

    In the dog community, very thankfully, the use of profanity is very rare. Given that at a competition of either agility or obedience use of profanity is enough to get you sent home for the rest of the competition. Do that enough times and you can get banned from competion for an extended period of time. I've actually had to sit in on in an official capacity when a disciplinary hearing had to be held to deal with charges of this nature.

    The AKC and NADAC (two of the officiating venues involved) have made the statement that dog performance sports are to be family friendly. Sorta like Perlmonks... right? So the use of profanity is considered a big deal.

    I say all that to say this: while I am a proponent of free speech and I'm not exactly an angel myself when it comes to profanity there are venues where it is inappropriate. During an AKC disciplinary hearing the phrase used as a result of someone using profanity includes "determimental to the sport of dogs." So the real question becomes when someone uses profanity here at the Monastery "Is this deterimental to the Monastery?"

    As far as reaping a node that contains profanity goes I have to say there is some caution that needs to be excersized. Censorship, IMHO, is a slippery slope. If one post should be censored... what about that one?

    For my mailing lists where someone has posted something that offends others (note.. not me... others) my first action is to email them privately and say something like "you know, I'm catching some flack on your behalf over what you said. Can you tone it down?"

    Most reasonable folks will apologise and be more careful about what they post in the future. About one in one hundred times I'll run into an non-repentant and I'll have to invoke one of my tools and place them on moderation. Now I'm in the uncomfortable position (or myself and my co-moderators are) of approving or not approving everything this person posts. I hate that. But sometimes you have no choice.

    Given that we are an online community I think these matters sort themselves out very nicely. If someone is being offensive either by using profanity or saying bad things about Larry Wall we have the option of downvoting that person. We further have the option of having the node considered. That consideration is then voted on and a majority can then decide what the fate of the offending node is going to be. Democracy in action. Much better IMHO than a benevolant dictatorship because it puts less pressure on the dictator.

    As I said before in this post, censorship is a slippery slope. Which is why as a list moderator I tend to be very lenient and I'm not willing to jump on people and say "that's offensive" or "that's off topic" unless the offense is blatent.


    Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
    Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg
      There seem to be two somewhat separate things to consider here:

      The first should be a matter of simple fact, but perhaps my ignorance is showing again! ;)

      1) Would the presence of the word in question trigger filters or blocks from users' workplaces,etc? Or would it cause PerlMonks to be placed on a 'corporate blacklist'?

      This has nothing to do with what anyone finds "offensive", it is an issue of keeping the site accessible for everyone.

      Does anyone know for fact what threshold triggers these things? Could someone find out?

      2) Does the presence of this post make PerlMonks less 'family friendly'?

      I'm not sure how one evaluates that except by consensus. It seems to me that the answer would vary from family to family.

      Perhaps, in absence of clear Monastery guidelines, the best clue is in the phrase 'highly offensive' (an even more subjective concept than 'family friendly'!).

      Despite my own personal prudishness, it seems to me that this phrasing sets a very high bar for reaping. The 'family friendly' concept and the 'avoid corporate blacklists' goal are given as justifications for why a 'highly offensive' post would be considered for reaping.

      And, honestly, despite my vehement distaste for certain language, or even the discussion of certain topics in a public setting, I cannot say I am 'offended' by the post in question... although I am not sure if we should each be using our own personal yardstick for offensiveness...

      Hmmm... if we are trying to make this a comfortable site for everyone, should we not consider more general standards of offensiveness? (Mine certainly does not qualify as that... *sigh*)

      Eliana

            1) Would the presence of the word in question trigger filters or blocks from users' workplaces,etc? Or would it cause PerlMonks to be placed on a 'corporate blacklist'? This has nothing to do with what anyone finds "offensive", it is an issue of keeping the site accessible for everyone.

        Hmmm.. that reminds me of an incident in my own career that I often trot out surrounding this subject.

        Working for a CLEC that got bought out by a "Major Multinational Telecommunications Company" we (the keepers of the internet gateway) were instructed to install a proxy server such that all web browsing was redirected from the firwall to this proxy appliance where sites were either allowed or blocked via this wonderful appliance using some sort of "heuristic content filtering" to determine if a web site fit within the corporate guidelines for suitable web sites.

        After spending much time working with our Checkpoint firewall to take all port 80 traffic going outbound, redirect it to port 9090 on the appliance and then reverse all of that on the way in to the appropriate web browser (many tech support calls later) we got the stupid thing working and the corporate REMFs were happy. All the while I was working on this project I used many words that I'm sure the "heuristic content filters " would have banned calling into question everything from the probable ancestory of the people who came up with this plan and the stupidity of using technology to enforce management policies to their morning diet.

        Since they wouldn't give us administrative rights on this wonderful box, we weren't able to prevent what happened next.

        The American Cancer Society, about two weeks after we installed the appliance and got in running, had a week long focus on women's health and in particular breast cancer (hmm... wonder if this will get blocked by someone's corporate web proxy??) and many of the ladies that worked where I worked tried to go out and look at the website only to find they got our page that stated in ominous tones that they had violated the corporate policies on web use.

        This generated quite a stir. And when an executive vice president (yes... female) got that page, she went ballistic. She came marching down to my office breathing fire and wanted to know in terms that I'm sure would have been blocked by the proxy and most unlady-like why this page was being blocked.

        I keep my feathers numbered for just such emergencies

        I explained to this rather irate EVP about the proxy, the directive from corporate, etc. etc. She thought about it for a while, and then said "pull the plug on that thing!" "If you need it in writing to CYA then I'll provide that too, but pull the plug!"

        Did I mention that I keep my feathers numbered for such emergencies?

        After restoring the Checkpoint configuration that existed prior to the installation of the proxy (making a backup of the one that worked with the proxy just in case) the ladies were able to go to the ACS site without being told by a rather obnoxious web page that they were subject to immediate dismissal for violating corporate web use policies.

        Such is the life of a SysAdmin.


        Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
        Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg
Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder.
by Moron (Curate) on Feb 08, 2007 at 14:00 UTC
    For example, the daughter of an English authoress who went to Roedean and Oxford told her schoolteacher, "Mummy says, pardon is a much worse word than fuck,"

    ...and in that vein, most other monks probably wouldn't rate the obscenity value of the word 'Windows' very highly ;)

    -M

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