should language be group-regulated? March 7, 2001 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I looked in the guidelines, but found no general direction on language. SKOT's comment on the Reparations Thread is what precipitated this question. I'd like some feedback/discussion on what is or is not appropriate language... should language be group-regulated, or should there be some direction from Matt on this? Either way, what should we expect from posters?
posted by silusGROK to Etiquette/Policy at 9:25 AM (24 comments total)

Okay, maybe it's just the rebel in me, but I'm hesitant to embrace some sort of language censor on MeFi (interestingly, "inappropriate language" to me usually means racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. terms, not swearing). Personally, I think in this case while the "f-word" (I feel six years old typing that) was used thrice, Skot is obviously not a troll, and was making some cogent points. We all seem to be mature, intelligent folks here, which means that sometimes we might be inclined to use mature language. (Obviously, trolls who fill their first posts with rude swearing and offensive terminology should pretty much be kicked to the curb.)
posted by jess at 9:42 AM on March 7, 2001

A working link to the thread in question.

We should expect posters to speak their mind without worry of being bitch-slapped for inappropriate language. This isn't network television, and "piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits" have been, will be and should be used here.

I hate to be cliche, but if you don't like it, don't read it. Know that we're independant people who express ourselves relative to the passion with which we feel for something.

Gratuitous use of profanity is pretty much never appreciated, but Skot's usage wasn't gratuitous.
posted by cCranium at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2001

I've got no problem with it. If it's not incendiary, it's alright.

(insert profane joke about profanity here)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2001

The swearing does not bother me, and I have certainly encountered worse than that post. Still, I was a bit surprised by the language, it was rougher than what we usually see here. It did drive home the point that he was hugely angry, and was therefore effective. Most of the time I see the word used here it is in the "What the fuck is up with that?" context, rather than "I'm glad the feds executed the fucking Rosenbergs!". I think the second example is more upsetting, as some people here might like the Rosenbergs, and would feel like the word spills over onto them. (Not me though, I'm glad the feds executed the fucking Rosenburgs.)

I'm going to dig out my Jesus Lizard disc and listen to "Mouthbreather" now.
posted by thirteen at 10:46 AM on March 7, 2001

When I came upon this thread, and then saw it was linked to a thread about the Horowitz controversy, I thought I was going to encounter a response filled with nasty racial epithets. Instead, it turns out we're talking about the word "fuck." In which case, I have to side with everyone else's responses here. We're all adults here, so plain old profanity isn't a problem in my mind, as long as it isn't completely gratuitous (cf. Tony Soprano). It's how people think offline, so we shouldn't have to cover it up here.

I am, however, extremely offended by skot's use of the word "crap-weasel."
posted by aaron at 12:05 PM on March 7, 2001

I never quite understood how somebody could be offended by language not directed in some way at them, their gender, their race, etc. Skot obviously wasn't bringing the hurt down on anyone, so nobody should feel that they have the right to tell him how to speak.

Obviously there's the matter of common courtesy, but we're not at a baptism here--we're in an environment where tempers flare, opinions run rampant, and arguments happen on the second. With that is going to come a certain degree of use of derogatory language, like it or not. Point being, if you can't handle someone flinging the word "fuck" out there once in a while, you're better off posting at (not that there really is such a place).
posted by fusinski at 12:16 PM on March 7, 2001

Golly, I feel like Eminem. But without the money and stuff.

I was startled to find that I had, well, startled people with that post. (Even more amusing were the unintended responses I provoked with my gratuitous Paglia-bashing.) Yeah, I was angry, obviously, but I didn't view it as the most foaming-at-the-mouth post I'd ever seen on MeFi. And I obviously concur that I'd hate to see language restrictions imposed on MeFi. I've been guilty of naughty language in the past, sometimes, I must admit, for effect, but hey, it has a place in written and oral communication in terms of creating that effect when so desired.

And it seems worth mentioning that Vis1on and I have swapped a couple very amicable emails about this, and unless my reading of tone is egregiously wrong, I think we're cool.
posted by Skot at 12:55 PM on March 7, 2001

We're cool.

There is still an issue, though, with language... I hope y'all will give me a little time to craft my thoughts on this, and will still post when their online (probably later this evening). I'd really appreciate the feedback.
posted by silusGROK at 1:24 PM on March 7, 2001

I was going to put the word "scrotum" in a link I'd found, but wasn't certain about it. Thoughts? It was in a quote from a Nickelodeon exec.
posted by hijinx at 1:38 PM on March 7, 2001

I've seen worse on MeFi, namely...
posted by pnevares at 1:59 PM on March 7, 2001

I have no problem with language of any sort. I just think that the use of "uncivilized" language, especially in written work, makes people look exactly that - uncivilized. If you can't get your point across on paper without resorting to profanity, you need to work on your vocabulary.
posted by accountingboy at 4:05 PM on March 7, 2001

bah. that's a handy, trite little way to shake a finger at people whose language offends you, but it's not true at all.

self-expression is self-expression; choosing to do it one way doesn't mean it's necessarily the only way you know how. that's just insulting.
posted by Sapphireblue at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2001

fuckin' A!
posted by Optamystic at 6:33 PM on March 7, 2001

The best advice I ever got as a journalist was when I was writing for a small alternative paper. My editor said, "If you feel the need to use fuck and shit in your work, then you're not doing your job right. Those words are crutches, tags for people who are incapable of articulating their thoughts clearly. If that's all that's coming of your keyboard, then you need to think it over a while longer before trying to put it down on paper."

Accountingboy is right: If you can't get your point across on paper without resorting to profanity, you need to work on your vocabulary.

On the other hand, I'm not offended by anything but stupidity and willful misunderstanding. Should shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker or tits happen to appear in print I'll downgrade my estimation of the writer a notch or two but read on.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:11 AM on March 8, 2001

I am a crap weasel, but we prefer to be called fecal rodents. Thank you.

posted by chaz at 3:52 AM on March 8, 2001

When writing argumentative or persuasive work, then yes, profanity as a general rule detracts from the strength of your argument.

But when spewing a pile of invectives, or even just shootin' the shit, profanity tends to creep into our language because the bad words are a legitimate part of our language.

A crutch? Sure, but a useful one. If I want to express how fucking pissed off I am at something, using "fucking" immediately triggers in most peoples' minds "Hey, Rob's shooting spittle again. Let's laugh at him!"

What expresses my mood better?

a) He really fucking pissed me off...
b) He really really pissed me off...

It's pretty obvious that in a) I'm still pissed off, whereas in b) there's the implication that I was pissed off, but am now not.

Yes, there are other ways to express ourselves than profanity, but considering the many connotations associated with profanity, usage is quite valid.

Vis10n, no one here wants to chase you off with bad language, and unless we're directing the profanity directly at you, it's extremely unlikely that we're intentionally trying to offend you.

aaron, technically speaking we're not all adults here. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:10 AM on March 8, 2001

If you feel the need to use fuck and shit in your work, then you're not doing your job right. Those words are crutches, tags for people who are incapable of articulating their thoughts clearly.

Well, this is just condescending and absurd. I've never in my life been accused of lacking in vocabulary or being able to articulate my thoughts (not that I always do a top job of it). Fine, rate me down a notch as a writer, I don't care, but for Chrissakes don't pretend that my language skills or "civilization" are somewhat lacking. Or instead just be honest and tell me you think I'm stupid or uncultured. Just don't hide behind some gussied-up rhetoric designed to put a happy face on the simple notion that you don't like certain words.
posted by Skot at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2001

Thanks everyone for your input.

I think I'll save my treatise on language for my own site (whenever I get around to putting it up!).

And for the record, a few vulgarities won't chase me away. I love MetaFilter too much to leave... and besides, if it's kept to a minimum, it's won't be much worse than what I had to listen to from my dad growing up. =)

posted by silusGROK at 4:34 PM on March 8, 2001


I think you're stupid and uncultured but I *really* like it when you use swear words. :)
posted by rodii at 5:08 PM on March 8, 2001

Vis10n, if you think about it (and this thread isn't buried too deeply by then) could you either toss a link up here to your thoughts or shoot me an e-mail when they're composed? I'm quite interested in different view points, and I'd love to read what you have to say when you feel comfortable with it.

(I know how long it takes me to wind up for a good rant, and then the amount of editing necessary to make it coherent. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:53 AM on March 9, 2001

I'll be happy to, cCranium.
posted by silusGROK at 7:58 AM on March 9, 2001

I've never in my life been accused of . . . being able to articulate my thoughts . . .

I just noticed this. Nothing like chopping yourself off at the knees, nosireebob! I'm a dink. Insert a "not" in there.

Hey, rodii, why don't you go fu . . . oh, forget it. ;)
posted by Skot at 9:26 AM on March 9, 2001




posted by rodii at 10:18 AM on March 10, 2001

I didn't notice that Skot used "swear words" in his post. I had to go back and re-read it to find them. I thought the content of his note was excellent, it read well, and that was what I saw. I think my peer group is really used to hearing and reading these words. In this context, I don't have a problem with the words used, or the way they were used.
posted by lucien at 9:38 AM on April 27, 2001

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