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Fear of the unknown

By enterfornone in Op-Ed
Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 11:27:05 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Just over a year ago Sgt. Cornel Young Jr. was shot dead by two police officers mistaking him for a suspect. Some claim that the officers were racists, assuming Young was a criminal due to his being black. Others say they simply saw a plain clothed man with a gun and assumed the worst. Whatever the truth, these two officers let ignorance control their actions.

Because of Young's race, the media sensationalised this as an issue of whites vs blacks. However there is a much greater issue here, that of ignorance, and the fact that all of us assume the worst when faced with that which we do not understand.


In this day and age, the majority would like to claim not to be racist. If you live and work in a large city, chances are you interact with people of various races and most of us can do this quite easily.

However racism isn't an action; it is a belief. You may not be a white supremacist, but when you are walking alone at night, would you be more inclined to feel fear when you see someone of your own race or someone of another? When you think of the "bad parts" of your town, what sort of people are there? Are they people of your own race or another? The very fact that people of the same race tend to stick together in large cities demonstrates that most are more comfortable around people of their own race.

Of course this fear of the unknown doesn't just apply to race. Many people display a fear of homosexuals, often leading to violence. In fact many have successfully used the so called gay panic defence to excuse their irrational violence against homosexuals. Because you fear gays, it is now OK to attack them.

Many others are stereotyped in a way that makes society wary of them. Police, politicians, used car salesmen, real estate agents are all considered distrustful by many.

And what of the pedophiles and zoophiles. Many would argue that children and animals cannot give informed consent to sex. However many argue the opposite. I will admit, the idea of a grown man having sex with a child repulses me, I imagine many would feel the same. However are we allowing our disgust, our hate and fear, to dictate others morality? Perhaps if we let go of our fear we can examine the issues and determine the truth, but if we do not we are making conclusions based solely on fear and ignorance.

But how does one let go of this fear? People do not choose to be racist. Many very liberal heterosexuals will still feel uncomfortable when someone of the same gender makes a pass at them. Even if you are not guilty of a crime, many will be wary when a police officer approaches. How do we change our attitudes?

Education is one way, since these fears are caused by ignorance, education would be the obvious solution. However many would disagree with an education system that teaches that homosexuality is good or that authority figures can be trusted. Education instead needs to concentrate on having people look beyond the superficial and seeing exactly what makes up a person before judging them.

How effective education can be at changing attitudes I don't know. People will often believe things regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

Whatever the solution the first step is to realise there is a problem. Racists and bigots are not evil people, the are simply people who hold beliefs that cause them to judge others out of ignorance. Those who would judge them without knowing them are no better.

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Fear of the unknown | 64 comments (47 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
race and attitudes (4.43 / 16) (#3)
by Delirium on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 03:19:56 AM EST

I think racism is brought up as an issue more than it should be. If I'm walking down a dimly lit street I would most likely avoid a group of black teenagers more than a group of white businessmen in suits, but not because one group is black and the other is white, but because one fits a profile of law-breakers and one doesn't. Many people avoid certain groups of white people in similar ways (skaters, punks, skinheads [including the non-racist sort], etc.), and I personally avoid groups of "jocks," which are often white.

I do agree that races tend to separate themselves too much. This is a problem amongst both white people who are afraid of socializing with non-whites and amongst non-white people who are afraid of socializing with whites or other non-whites not from their own ethnic/racial group. I saw a lot of this even in my fairly affluent middle-class public school: the black kids would stick together, the hispanic kids would stick together, the asian kids would stick together, etc. My particular group of friends consisted of around 5 Chinese, 1 Vienamese, 1 Puerto Rican, 1 Indian, and 2 white people, but it was an exception to this general rule. In fact when we'd go to parties often we'd be the only non-uniform-race people there (i.e. we'd go to "Asian parties" that our Asian friends were invited to and be the only three hispanic/white/indian people there, or go to "Indian parties" and be the only non-Indians there, etc.). Often we'd be slightly resented, being non-Asians at a supposed "Asian party," though some people would welcome us. It also felt a bit out of place. I'm still slightly befuddled as to why this is - why do people feel they need to associate exclusively with people of their own race? It's not even really an issue of ethnicity, as many of these people don't speak the language of their heritage or follow any of the cultural traditions. So I'm someone confused. Fear of the unknown i suppose. Anyway the point to this rambling is that the only real way to eventually reach some kind of colorblind society is to have people actually treat all people the same. By this I don't mean just giving them equal rights, but mentally not distinguishing between people of different races or ethnicities except when interested in languages or culture or something of that sort. There's no reason why Asian people cannot have Hispanic friends or why black people cannot have white friends or any other such combination, and until they do I think these sorts of problems of distrust and fear will linger.

And the final point is that I think the entire focus of the discussion should be shifted towards this point rather than where it's at now, focused on racism solely against minorities and mostly from a legal standpoint. It requires the cooperation of all races to form a colorblind society: blacks who exclude whites from their peer groups simply because they are white are racist as well. While rights for minorities are important, we ultimately will not achieve goals of racial equality if minorities insist on seeing this as a fight against white people.

on "race" (3.45 / 11) (#6)
by chale on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 03:58:23 AM EST

the only race on this planet is called humanity. until all of us accept this fact, we will be divided against ourselves. i will be friends with anyone who is friendly, with no regard for their appearance. anyone who promotes the idea of race has an agenda to pursue and it seems that many times that agenda has fear and hatred behind it.

ignorance can be remedied by education, but that presupposes the notion that people would want to learn. i think that the status quo will be around for a long time. maybe the best we can do is to try to lead by example and see how many we can get to follow.

continue submitting stories that would lead to a discussion about the fear and ignorance in the world. the more people who talk about these things, the better all of us will be for it.


When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir

So what do you think of me then? (none / 0) (#46)
by Smiling Dragon on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:16:24 PM EST

i will be friends with anyone who is friendly, with no regard for their appearance.
It's nice but too unrealistic. I would hate a perfectly friendly nice person if they were a known murderer (to pull a random example). A fair wish but we all know it well and all feel it deep down. The point is that we need to acknowledge the differences between people and appreciate them, not pretend they don't exist.

When I drive my car, I watch the eyes of the drivers of the cars around me. New Zealand drivers tend to be bad drivers on the whole and I don't trust their indicators. Am I a racist? Is it 'bad'?

While looking at these other drivers, if I see more cars then I have time to study closly, I make a judgment call. Dented cars get top priority, I want to know _exactly_ what they are up to. If the driver is old I pay more attention to them. If the driver is an asian or a pacific islander they get more attention, I know the statistics, I know my past experiances. If they are driving a BMW they get more attention, once again from past experiance. If it's an elderly pacific islander driving a dented BMW I'll probably just let them go first :). Am I a racist? Is it 'bad'?

Honestly, I just think I'm a driver that's never had an accident in my (admitadly short) 9 years of driving and has had to evade many stupid accidents caused by drivers around him. (On saying this I'm setting myself up for a wopping accident on my way home today of course :).

The thing that people need to understand though: I don't apply this in all cases. When dispatching taxis for a living, I would happily assign our islander and asian drivers knowing that they were equally competant as any other driver in the fleet. I'm not an idiot, I know that people are not their race, I just play odds.

We have different races on this planet. We need to stop hating the individual for it. (Less hate in general would be a damned nice thing). But I'm still a Kiwi damnit, I would get pretty irritated if someone told me I was "just as good as any american" <grin>. I'm proud of who I am (even if we do all drive like lunatics :) and I'm damn sure the American I don't want to be equalised with is damned proud of their nationality too.


-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
individuals (none / 0) (#63)
by chale on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 01:45:30 PM EST

your random example is a known type of individual, not a group of people. your driving habits are just that; habits. we all have biases that are learned. it is up to us to acknowledge them if they intrude on our daily lives in a negative manner.(i know i'm a little late replying but i haven't been online much lately)
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir
[ Parent ]
Excessive over-use of the word "racist" (4.50 / 24) (#7)
by jesterzog on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 06:03:35 AM EST

However racism isn't an action, it is a belief. You may not be a white supremacist, but when you are walking alone at night, would you be more inclined to feel fear when you see someone of your own race or someone of another?

I'm quite uncomfortable with this wording. Not just the article, but how it's used in general.

To me, the words "racist" and "racism" have become worthless. The term gets used so much and so broadly for so many different things that it's lost it's meaning. Let's do some counting:

  1. The traditional racist, which is the person who believes someone is inferior because of their race or the colour of their skin.

  2. The more subtle racist, who might be scared of walking through part of a city with a high crime rate that's mostly populated by black people.

  3. The police officer who got a description of a black guy in a restaurant, brandishing a gun. They go there, see a black guy brandishing a gun and shoot him. (Probably more stupid for not identifying the person than for shooting him because he was black.) I'm not very familiar with this case so just think of the general idea.

  4. The people of Germany in WW2 who were members of the Nazi party.

  5. The university professor who simply decides to do a study to see if one race of people is more intelligent than another. Often they don't even have to publish results before they get attacked and branded as a racist for even conceiving the idea of such a study.

  6. Various staff involved with South African sports teams who are complaining about selecting their government-installed quota of black players on the teams, on the grounds that they can't play aswell as rival white players.

  7. Me. The guy who, at school several years ago, got called a racist by a person with brown skin, because I kept reading a book while he walked past. I think he imagined me slanting away from him, or something. From memory he did smell a bit bad at the time, though.

  8. The people who are accused as racists so someone else can get more power over them. Here in New Zealand there are lots of settlements going on between Maori people and Europeans descended from settlers. I don't have a problem with acknowledging that there have been injustices that should be worked out, but I honestly get sick of certain high profile Maori people who call anyone standing in their way a racist when they can't get what they want. Think "Give me money or you're a racist!"

I've seen every one of the above groups be called racist, and this is only a minor subset. Out of all the above, I call the first group idiots. I usually consider the rest of the accused racists as ordinary people. Sometimes those doing the accusing fall into the idiot category themselves for one reason or another.

Obviously there are problems in society that need to be addressed, but do we have to automatically label people as "racist" because they're caught up in a tangled web if human sociology? I bet it's not hard to find some justification for labelling every single person as a racist if you look hard enough.

The word "racist" is far too broad to be usefully accurate. If anything it simply including it in a sentence detracts from the actual message and problem, because it has implicit overtones that automatically makes poeple associate it with the idiots.

It used to be such a powerful and evil word in society. Now it's lost all that because the definition's been abused in the age of political correctness. What's the point in bothering with it? Just say specifically what you mean when you're talking about people's attitude.


jesterzog Fight the light


Belief in race (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by driptray on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 01:27:35 AM EST

I bet it's not hard to find some justification for labelling every single person as a racist if you look hard enough.

A belief in the concept of race. That's what racism is.

Biologically and genetically speaking, there is no such thing as race. It's what's known as a folk category.

So if you ever have to fill in a form where you state what "race" you are, write "none".


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
There's a reason for that. (3.47 / 17) (#8)
by DeadBaby on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 07:24:48 AM EST

The simple, and sad, fact is young black males commit a huge number of crimes. There are reasons for this that I won't get into detail about but we all know what they are. (Racism, poverty, poor education, etc) I think until that is changed black people are going to suffer with the perception that they're dangerous.

Racial profiling should be illegal. Anyone found doing it should be banned from police work for the rest of their life. Any cop who shoots someone in a similar manner as you described should also be banned from police work for life.

I'd feel very unsafe walking by a group of drunken rednecks in the south, possibly more so. Does that make me a racist against my own people? The issue is crime, not race.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
no, there's not.. (5.00 / 4) (#10)
by lucid on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 09:38:07 AM EST

Actually, young black males don't commit a huge number of crimes. At least, not according to the Universal Crime Reports, published by the FBI. I'm using the 1999 statistics, because they're the most recent PDFs I have laying around. I am thinking that you're relying primarily on the murder/nonnegligible manslaughter category for your data ("huge number of crimes.") But murder, or violent crime in general, is a bad example of 'crime,' since it is so rare, compared to nonviolent crime. In 1999, violent crime comprised 12% of the total crimes reported, by volume. In all of the categories of nonviolent crime I could see (larceny-theft, burglary, 'property crime') the statistics varied like this: 60-66% white offenders 30-36% black offenders 0-3% other races So, I guess I have to ask, if black people aren't committing a majority of the crimes reported, how is it that young black males are committing "huge number[s] of crimes"? Maybe you live in a different country, or something. Another country with "rednecks" in the "south." By the way, I'm glad to hear you're equally afraid of all stereotypes.

[ Parent ]
Per capita (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by whatnotever on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 01:17:36 PM EST

I believe that the post may have been referring to crimes committed by black people per capita.

According to the US Census Bureau, blacks make up approximately 12.8% of the US population (source). According to the Universal Crime Reports, 37.5% of murder offenders were black in 1999. (I couldn't find racial breakdowns for any other crimes. Where did you get those numbers?) Assuming that black people commit approximately 30-35% of crimes in the US, they commit far more crimes per capita than white people.



[ Parent ]
The numbers don't say what you think they do (4.75 / 4) (#23)
by tmoertel on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:40:02 PM EST

According to the US Census Bureau, blacks make up approximately 12.8% of the US population (source). According to the Universal Crime Reports, 37.5% of murder offenders were black in 1999. [...] Assuming that black people commit approximately 30-35% of crimes in the US, they commit far more crimes per capita than white people.
Please keep in mind that these numbers do not tell us anything about the number of crimes committed. Your conclusion holds only if you can demonstrate that the portion of crimes committed that ends up in the UCR is independent of race, or, less strictly, that white-committed crimes are no less likely to be reported in the UCR than one-third as frequently as black-committed times. While it seems reasonable to argue that the less-strict condition is likely true, I've seen no supporting evidence as of yet. One could just as well use the same statistics to argue that whites are thrice as likely to get away with crime as blacks are, and I suspect that a lot of people would readily support this claim.

If we are to have any reasonable discussion about a topic as inflammatory as this, we owe it to ourselves to be strict in our interpretation of statistics. In this case, it ought to be made clear that the number of crimes reported is not the same as the number of crimes committed.

--
My blog | LectroTest

[ Disagree? Reply. ]


[ Parent ]
well.. (none / 0) (#30)
by lucid on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 04:16:56 PM EST

I would have been nice if s/he had been a little more clear about that. I agree that per capita, blacks commit more crimes, but that doesn't really invalidate what I said.

I found the racial breakdowns hidden in the UCR report. For 'larceny-theft' for example, check out the last paragraph of the last page of the PDF, found here. Here is what it says:

Of the total number of persons arrested for larceny-theft offenses, 66 percent were white, 31 percent were black, and 3 percent were all other races.

For other subsections, you have to look around to find the demographic data. I can only guess that they were compiled by different people or something.

Something that I found annoying is that the 1999 UCR report wasn't available in one file, I had to dig around the FBI site to find all of the little subsections like larceny-theft and murder. The link I gave takes you right to the actual PDF. Maybe I just overlooked it, but I couldn't find any way to grab the entire report at once.



[ Parent ]
Not really the issue (4.30 / 20) (#9)
by kovacsp on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 09:26:31 AM EST

As a citizen of Rhode Island I am inimiately aware of the issue. In RI, every reasonable person I know understands that officer Young was not shot because of his race, but because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no reason to believe the same thing wouldn't have happened if Officer Cornel were white, Aleutian, Haitian, or whatever. The two other officers were responding to a situation and were confronted by a person drawing his gun.

This only turned into a race issue when a small group of people decided to make it an issue. The media picked up on that and turned it into a circus. It was a very unfortunate accident, but nothing more.

not necessarily rascism (3.64 / 14) (#12)
by klamath on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:36:08 AM EST

You may not be a white supremacist, but when you are walking alone at night, would you be more inclined to feel fear when you see someone of your own race or someone of another?
I don't think that this is rascism. Consider this: if you were walking in alone at night and you saw a solitary man, would you be afraid? Probably not. What if the man was drunk? Perhaps more afraid, but not terrified. Now what if the man had a handgun? You'd probably be very scared. Why? Because the probability of the man with the handgun committing a crime against you is much higher than the odds of the unarmed man doing the same thing.

Now consider race: rascist cops or no rascist cops, I think it's a fact that ethnic minorities, particularly black people, commit more crimes per capita than white people. Obviously, we can say this isn't their fault, they are forced to leave in poverty by white oppression, etc etc. But say whatever you like, black people commit more crimes than white people. So now you're walking down the street, and you see a solitary man. What if that person was black? Should you be more afraid? Of course you should. Because from a simply statistical point of view, the probability of your being attacked or confronted by the black man is greater than the probility of the white man doing the same.

It seems to me that many of these anti-discrimination groups are blindly looking, not for equality of opportunity, but true equality: everyone is the same. Which disturbs me greatly: the fact is, racial minorities are different -- just like a woman is different from a man.

statistics (4.25 / 4) (#18)
by kezgin on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 01:29:06 PM EST

Because from a simply statistical point of view, the probability of your being attacked or confronted by the black man is greater than the probility of the white man doing the same.

I don't think this is a valid point. You are basing this conclusion on the 'fact' that black people commit more crimes per capita than white people. But this more than likely only factors in convictions. Therefore, white people may actually commit more crimes than other races, just they are convicted of them less often than minorities.

[ Parent ]
valid point (none / 0) (#33)
by klamath on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 06:00:25 PM EST

Therefore, white people may actually commit more crimes than other races, just they are convicted of them less often than minorities.
This is a good point. I'm not really talking about this specific instance -- I'm saying that there is nothing wrong with treating different racial minorities differently, simply because they are different -- from a socialogical & statistical point of view. Obviously, the difference of treatment has to be within reasonable limits. I'd welcome anyone to explain to my why I'm misguided.

[ Parent ]
convictions (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by enterfornone on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:16:01 PM EST

Therefore, white people may actually commit more crimes than other races, just they are convicted of them less often than minorities.
I would suspect it's more the police than the courts. For example a black man is more likely to be randomly searched for drugs than a white man.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Racism vs lack of education (none / 0) (#62)
by kubalaa on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 09:24:08 PM EST

Yours is a valid objection, but I think the argument goes much further than racism. Prejudice falls into two categories:
  1. Judging the book by its cover; assuming because a man is black, he is a criminal, assuming because a woman is a woman, she is good at cooking, etc.
  2. Behaving in a way that is disrespectful and inexcusable towards members of a certain group.

This is a very important distinction which I rarely see made. I think the difference is obvious between the white police officer who beats up random black men for jollies and the white jogger who feels a twinge of fear running into a black in the park at night. Calling them both racists is an abuse of the term. We can see that there is something fundamentally wrong with the racist police officer; most people would agree that he is a "bad person" and this has nothing to do with the fact that his actions are racially motivated. He has more in common with a teenager who drop-kicks puppies than he does with the jogger.

People make judgements based on statistics. They have to to function in a world as complex as ours. If you read a good book by one author, and then go buy another book by that same author expecting it to be good, are you prejudiced? Of course not, you're just playing the odds. If, in your experience, blacks are more likely to be criminals than whites, and you are therefore more cautious around blacks, is this racism? No!

You might say this: "Okay then, so I'm a shop owner with three employees, one of whom is black. A $20 goes missing from the cash register. I fire the black employee; after all, blacks are thieves, in my experience." The problem with this argument is that your actions are outright unethical, outside of any considerations of race. You should never assume anyone is guilty without reasonable evidence. Just like you should never treat anyone rudely, or try to make them uncomfortable, or insult them.

My point is that "racist" actions are not bad because they are racist, but simply because they are bad. "Racist" thoughts are a necessary simplification, and correcting them is a matter of education. If, in someone's experience, blacks are thieves, why then try and give them some new experiences! If they're open-minded they'll come around, and if they're close-minded then that's their problem, not "racism." In either case you can't blame them for making a categorical simplification if they don't act on it unethically.

[ Parent ]

I beg to differ (2.75 / 4) (#20)
by Khedak on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:17:28 PM EST

Which disturbs me greatly: the fact is, racial minorities are different -- just like a woman is different from a man.

I hope you realize how ignorant you sound when you claim there are significant biological differences between 'racial minorities'... This is wholly inaccurate. The sex of a human being is a wide-ranging biological dimorphism resulting from a radical difference in gene structure (the last chromosome is significantly different in males and females). 'Race', on the other hand, is a collection of genetic expressions common in a certain population. The reason Africans have dark skin is because they carry genes for dark skin, not because they carry "African genes" that make them dark-skinned. Race has no genetic basis, this much is supported in literature, insofar as to say that racial distinctions are arbitrary collections of genetic distinctions, rather than race itself being a trait.

And your comment about 'statistics' is simply asinine. If you get a plane, do you get scared? Many people irrationally do, even though statistically driving a car is more dangerous. They're afraid because they have a mental image of this fearful event in their mind. And this mental image, like the one you hold of blacks, is basically a prejudiced mindset. Prejudice is one of the things we're trying to avoid here.

[ Parent ]
you misunderstand me (5.00 / 4) (#32)
by klamath on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 05:56:57 PM EST

I hope you realize how ignorant you sound when you claim there are significant biological differences between 'racial minorities'
And I hope you realize I never said that. If you'd like to respond to my post, please take the time to read it, and understand what I was actually trying to say.

I said that there are differences between races -- I did not say that those differences are due to genetics or biology. In fact, in my post I referred to the notion that blacks commit more crimes because they are poorer, because they are not allowed to get good jobs, because they are descriminated against. To me, this theory is probably correct. I do not think the reason blacks commit crimes is because of any kind of biological difference.

I referred to the difference between men and women in a similar way: IMHO, the differences we see in our society between men and women have nothing to do with biology. The 'glass ceiling' working women encounter is not because they are biologically female -- it's due to a far more complex process, involving the role of women in society. However, I think everyone will agree that society perceives women differently from men, above and beyond genetics. The same applies to racial minorities.

And this mental image, like the one you hold of blacks, is basically a prejudiced mindset.
Interesting -- now I am prejudiced. If you'd like to respond to my argument, do so. Please have the civility to limit yourself to what I actually said, and don't bother insulting me personally.

If you get a plane, do you get scared? Many people irrationally do, even though statistically driving a car is more dangerous.
I'm not taking about emotional responses (sorry, I used a bad example in my previous post). I was trying to say that there is a rational, statistical basis for treating racial minorities differently -- because they are different (not genetically, read what I said above).

[ Parent ]
Societally, then... (3.20 / 5) (#35)
by Khedak on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 06:23:23 PM EST

I'm not taking about emotional responses (sorry, I used a bad example in my previous post). I was trying to say that there is a rational, statistical basis for treating racial minorities differently -- because they are different (not genetically, read what I said above)

Reading what you said above, I understand your point of view: you are prejudiced. By definition, prejudice is when you judge someone before you have a chance to evaluate them for yourself. If you believe that a "rational, statistical basis" for any activity makes an activity condonable, you are incorrect. That's why discrimination laws are so precise, they typically include wording to the following effect: We do not discriminate based on age, gender, ethnic background, national origin, or sexual orientation. These differences, whether they are real or not, are considered taboo to judge people based on by most people. This is not because to do so would be "statistically valid", but because people have a basic human right not to be discriminated against in this way.

That's why I skipped straight to biology. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, assuming that you were talking about the biological differences between the genders rather than the societal ones. If there were no societal differences, there would be no controversy. You think it's okay to discriminate based on culture, instead of on race? Basically you're saying "it's okay to be afraid of black people because black people are more likely to hurt you." Well, you know, you're much more likely to be killed by a family, a friend, or an acquiantance than by a random black man, statistically speaking. So why don't you fear them? Because it would be stupid to act afraid of your friends for no reason other than statistics. Just like it's stupid to be afraid of a whole group of people just because their skin color happens to be most responsible for crime.

And by the way, there is much to be said about why minorities are arrested and incarcerated more than whites. Your argument is circular, minorities are convicted more, hence police should look for minorities more, hence minorities are arrested more, and so forth.

I thought you understood all this, which is why the only logical take I could find in your post was the biological one. I'm sorry I didn't address your argument, I hope this post rectifies the situation.

[ Parent ]
But different races _are_ different (4.20 / 5) (#44)
by Smiling Dragon on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:50:39 PM EST

I hope you realize how ignorant you sound when you claim there are significant biological differences between 'racial minorities'... This is wholly inaccurate.

Incorrect. Just plain wrong. There are major differences between different races. The prime examples are size and weight. On average one race can easily have a higher mean body mass than another, it's not a statistical anomally, it's a racial characteristic. There is also ethnic background, one manor of upbringing will teach you to behave in a particular way - for example violent reaction to crisis vs fleeing vs reason. In some parts of the world, you used to die if you didn't plan ahead for at least a month or two, this behaviour is bred into the local population, those that didn't do it didn't breed. In other parts of the world you tended to die (or at least not breed) if you didn't project a strong agressive posture.

Airlines to and from Tonga will often book less passengers because the nation has a higher average body mass. Stats are a fine thing to use, just so long as we don't try and apply the same stereotypes to an individual - that's the bad stuff, deciding that the next Tongan I meet will be really big is a very dangerous and foolish assumption, but deciding that if I go to Tonga, I am more likely to meet some big people is a pretty safe thing to assume.

HIBT?

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
Sure. Just not your way. (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by Gat1024 on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:03:10 PM EST

Besides the superficial external differences between races, there is no discernable genetic or mental difference. O-negative is O-negative no matter where it comes from, to which you seem to allude (it just may be me). Physical racial differences are akin to probability. The odds that a certain physical trait will manifest themselves in a certain population from a certain region. The hidden postulate is that you can eventually morph one race into another if you leave them in the right region long enough.

Your statement about Tonga (Asian) should show you how off base you really are. Are all asians big? Or small? But they're their own race aren't they?

You can pretty much find large-on-average or small-on-average characteristics in any race, depending on the part of the world in which you look. The same is true for your other traits like "planning ahead" as well.

[ Parent ]
Re: Sure. Just not your way (none / 0) (#56)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 05:01:44 PM EST

Besides the superficial external differences between races, there is no discernable genetic or mental difference. O-negative is O-negative no matter where it comes from, to which you seem to allude (it just may be me). Physical racial differences are akin to probability. The odds that a certain physical trait will manifest themselves in a certain population from a certain region.

Agreed, human blood seems pretty much a common thing across races - Kinda handy :) I also agree that there are tonnes more similarities between races, again a good thing. But I'm pretty sure (I'm starting to get out of my depth here though) that to use your example, different races have different distributions of blood types. Can anyone positivly confirm or deny that one? I'm not sure enough to "lay down the law" WRT this.

The hidden postulate is that you can eventually morph one race into another if you leave them in the right region long enough.

Now this sounds like quite a cool concept. I wonder if it would work and how long it would take. If my favourite theory of why races are different is correct then your experiment would work but over an extremely (history of man kind of extreme) long time. I'm not sure it goes against what I'm saying though. Races are different because of the environment they developed in - thus some substantial genetic differences (I'm not talking frog vs human substantial here of course :)

Your statement about Tonga (Asian) should show you how off base you really are. Are all asians big? Or small? But they're their own race aren't they?

Tonga == Asian??? What??? Tongan is a Pacific Island race / culture, similar to Maori and Samoan. Not very Asian at all.

Once you get up to population statistics, Asians are small and Pacific Islanders are big. You get pockets of variation where one area favoured larger / smaller than average specimens of course but the population average is still pretty clear, even if you have to divide the population of the race into tighter areas where the land is varied.

You can pretty much find large-on-average or small-on-average characteristics in any race, depending on the part of the world in which you look. The same is true for your other traits like "planning ahead" as well.

I'm afraid I don't catch your point for certain on this bit. I'm going to assume the stance of disagreeing with me and assume you mean like 'in any given race, you'll find big and small pockets of people (or any other trait)' and refer you back to my comment a paragraph or two up. Please correct me if I've not followed you right on this bit.


-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
Trivial (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by Khedak on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:30:30 PM EST

Incorrect. Just plain wrong. There are major differences between different races. The prime examples are size and weight. On average one race can easily have a higher mean body mass than another, it's not a statistical anomally, it's a racial characteristic.

Okay, what race is Tongan? Are they different from Malay? How? Some people would lump them all together and call them "micronesians", other people might subdivide between different varieties of tongan. My point wasn't that differen't populations aren't different, but that the characteristic people group them based on is invalid. What is a "race?" There is no such thing. You might meet a short,small Tongan, you'd call his "race" Tongan, but he doesn't meet the characteristic for his race. I was questioning the biological basis for race by saying that the traits that have been traditionally ascribed to race are now ascribed to indivudual genetic differences that happen to be more common in a certain community. However "race" as a grouping criterion is simply useless.

My point wasn't to say that different groups aren't different, you're right in that that's ludicrous. However, the differences aren't "racially" based, that's a perceptive difference. Tongans probably think of themselves as being composed of several variations (possibly related to family). You don't genetically test someone to find their race, you ask them. Race is largely cultural, but not genetic in basis. That's the point I was trying to make.

[ Parent ]
Race differences (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 05:29:17 PM EST

Okay, what race is Tongan? Are they different from Malay? How?

Yep, they are very different from the Malay from my observations. Malay behaviour is very different, physical characteristics are pretty different too. I've not seen a lot of massivly built Malays and on the average the Tongan's ain't a very runty people.

Some people would lump them all together and call them "micronesians", other people might subdivide between different varieties of tongan.
Yep, I agree with you completely. But if we arbitarily decide to group by race, the statistical averages we can observe are nice and consistant (with exceptions of course) while still being a usefully small group to make comparisons on. Pick a division and I'll endevour to identify group averages for you, the smaller the group, the more specific I can be but the less usefull it will be as there will be less others in the group to check these guesses with. The larger the group, the less specific I can be, but lower error means I can say with nice high probability that if you show me a speciman, I can guess (s)he will probably have a certain block of characteristics.

My point wasn't that differen't populations aren't different, but that the characteristic people group them based on is invalid. What is a "race?" There is no such thing. You might meet a short,small Tongan, you'd call his "race" Tongan, but he doesn't meet the characteristic for his race.

Aye, meeting someone that doesn't match his/her racial characteristics is quite normal, that's why I'd be a fool to assume that one individual must be like the racial average.

I think 'race' is just a grouping of people by some arbitary region or characteristic. I call myself European or Kiwi depending on what I'm talking about. One is based on region (I sure don't live in Europe) and the other is based on some charactersitics of me (Being white is a pretty striking one that immediatly lowers the probability of a bunch of races (note that I didn't say it rules them out).

It's a valid grouping.

I was questioning the biological basis for race by saying that the traits that have been traditionally ascribed to race are now ascribed to indivudual genetic differences that happen to be more common in a certain community.

As far as I can tell, we are in complete agreement as to the accuracy of this statement. I happen to think it supports my arguement quite nicely though. :) What is a race but a form of community (a way of grouping people)?

My point wasn't to say that different groups aren't different, you're right in that that's ludicrous. However, the differences aren't "racially" based, that's a perceptive difference. Tongans probably think of themselves as being composed of several variations (possibly related to family).

However, Tongans probably also consider themselves Tongan. I consider myself to belong to a bunch of different 'races', including 'European New Zealander'.

You don't genetically test someone to find their race, you ask them. Race is largely cultural, but not genetic in basis. That's the point I was trying to make.

But we have already established and agreed on the fact that not all the members of a race match the genetic profile for that race. So yeah, we can't easily genetically determine someone's race but I bet we could do it to a degree of certainty if we knew human genes better.

Perhaps race can mean many things, I think of it as meaning 'culture', 'region of birth' and 'the race of my parents' but there may be more that others use or that I simply havn't thought of. Maybe that's a good thing for the people of the world to clarify for themeselves, what do they mean when they say that Adam is African? A cool concept, it's got me thinking. :)


-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
Right on, then. (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by Khedak on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 08:10:53 PM EST

Aye, meeting someone that doesn't match his/her racial characteristics is quite normal, that's why I'd be a fool to assume that one individual must be like the racial average.

This is essentially the only thing I was getting at, since in the original post someone had said that they feel justified in being afraid of dark-skinned people because (in the united states, or so he asserts) one is more likely to be attacked/victimized by a dark-skinned person than a light-skinned person. He made the statement that dark-skinned people are different from light-skinned people in the same fashion that women are different from men.

To my mind, I thought he was making the statement that a woman is as different from a man (of the same race) as a man is from another man of an arbitrary different race; meaning something like a black man is more likely to assault you in the same way a woman is more likely to lactate. That was of course really offensive to me at the time.

However, what he was trying to say was that society treats women differently from men, and when people of different cultures interact they treat each other differently than they do people of the same culture. So in hindsight, his remark was merely redundant and vacuous. He was saying it's okay to treat dark-skinned people differently because "other races are [societally and culturally] different".

To an extent it's true, and your Tongan case is an interesting example. But there's a difference between simply scheduling fewer flights and a situation where (hypothetically speaking) a Tongan was refused a flight simply because policy said no Tongans, even if this particular Tongan only weighed 50 kilos. And you can't refuse to rent a car or an apartment to someone just because they're dark-skinned, even if statistically speaking doing so is 'more dangerous'. When you deal with individual rights, you do it on a pragmatic basis, not on the basis of racial statistics. So, too, should our personal interactions with others be if we wish to avoid racism.

[ Parent ]
If one is going to base fear on statistics (2.00 / 1) (#48)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 10:12:21 AM EST

In the US (especially in the larger cities), while some minorities in some neighborhoods have higher rates of violent crime per capita, the violence typically happens predominantly to the minority that lives in that neighborhood. The result is that black on black violence and appalachian on appalachian violence is much more prevalant than black on asian violence or appalachian on hispanic violence. Therefore, if one is walking though a "rough" section of town, one ought to feel more comfortable if the neighborhood is populated predominantly by people with a difference ethnic heritage.



[ Parent ]
That doesn't follow (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by Ken Arromdee on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:42:09 PM EST

If they're mostly attacking members of the same minority because that's all that happen to be there as targets, and you walk through the neighborhood, you're one of the targets too, and the high crime rate will now apply to you as a victim too.

[ Parent ]
racism != prejudice (4.73 / 30) (#14)
by DontTreadOnMe on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:22:32 AM EST

You may not be a white supremacist, but when you are walking alone at night, would you be more inclined to feel fear when you see someone of your own race or someone of another?

The only people who have ever offered me physical harm have all been white (I am white as well). I have had two "frat-boy" types try to mug me in the alley behind my apartment building while I was moving in (they fled when a couple of friends of mine appeared after carrying a couch to the elevator). I have been kicked in the face by a homeless white man for refusing to give him money (no black man has ever done more than swear at me for doing the same thing), etc. etc. The point? When walking down a dark street at night I mistrust everybody and am wary, but based on my personal experiences I am even more wary around people of my own race.

This brings me to an important point. Racism is not the same thing as prejudice. Racism is a set of beliefs that a group of people are inherently superior, or inferior, based upon their ethnicity. Prejudice, on the other hand, is a prejudgement of what to expect from someone based on any number of factors, race being one such possible factor.

This is a common confusion, perhaps because the results of racism (violence against a particular group) and prejudice (violence against a particular group) are often indistinguishable. However, the prejudiced country boy who doesn't trust blacks because he's "seen 'em do bad things on tv" isn't the same as the Klu Klux Klan person advocating genocide.

This distinction is important because the methods to effectively combat the one are not the same methods needed to combat the other. You can fight prejudice with education, interaction, and other things which bring the two disparate groups together and allow them to get to know one another. Racism is a much harder nut to crack -- putting a bunch of clansman in a focus group with a bunch of African Americans to promote understanding won't have the same success putting a bunch of Utah farmers who've never met a black person before might (no offense against Utah or farming intended, I am merely using a stereotype to make a point). The former are defined by hatred, the latter perhaps merely uninformed, lacking experience.

How one goes about fighting ignorance and prejudice is very different than how one goes about fighting racism, and before a discussion can lead to effective strategies to combat both of these issues we need to clearly differentiate between the two.


--
http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
Don't ask, don't tell on k5..how so? (4.12 / 8) (#21)
by Zero Whitefur on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:24:43 PM EST

This is in reponse to an earlier editorial comment. With the number of gay-themed stories in recent weeks, and the number of k5'ers who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, I don't exactly see where you're seeing a `don't ask, don't tell' attitude here on k5. If you have some examples, please elucidate.

I would also like to agree with another comment that stated that you can't tell a gay man just from looking..in some cases, even the infamous `gaydar' that gay men are reputed to have doesn't work. With some people, yes, it's obvious; some of them even revel in their `flaming' status. In my case, though, due to my extreme butchness and "straight" appearance, no one, not even other gay men, can tell unless I tell them. (If someone does peg me correctly at some point, though, I will be impressed.) ~.~

As for fear and loathing of homosexuals, I've seen two types of it. One is the `good ol' boys' mocking of gays, treating it as something to be laughed at and scorned, an extension of the playground. Some of the people I've worked with fall into this category and it really saddens me to hear that vileness spew from the mouths of otherwise mostly decent, intelligent people. Maybe the more extreme `good ol' boys' would mockingingly strike a gay person, but most of them just want to sit back and laugh.

Of course, the second type is religious persecution. I've worked with this type of person as well, and while I never heard them utter a gay slur, but, if the topic comes up, usually, they instantly become enraged and begin ticking off all the `facts' they `know' and why my ilk should be either not practice homosexuality as it is a sin equivalent to adultery, and/or be reprogrammed, imprisoned, or in the more extreme viewpoints, executed.

It's never easy, but it's who I am..and since when was life easy for *anyone*? ~.^


You, sir, are a racist. (3.00 / 12) (#22)
by ncohen on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:34:15 PM EST

"You may not be a white supremacist, but when you are walking alone at night, would you be more inclined to feel fear when you see someone of your own race or someone of another?"

You make the assumption ("white supremecist") that all readers of this article are white, I am not. By your own arguments this makes you a racist for making a racial stereotype (in this case: what race geeks are.) Which is exactly the same racist stereotyping that you point out when it comes to what race one considers a criminal to be.

So, let me be the first to say that you are a stereotyping, racist bigot.

</joke>
-----
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"

No he is not. (4.00 / 7) (#25)
by Crashnbur on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:44:44 PM EST

Why is he racist? Because he is brave enough to discuss such issues? Do you realize that everyone who chooses to discuss racism in any way is accused by someone of being a racist? I'm sorry, but that does not make someone racist. Having an open mind and freely sharing your opinion on a very difficult topic to discuss should not be considered racism.

If this person is racist, then I would argue that Martin Luther King Jr. was racist, for he was promoting the black race. Sure, he always did it by speaking of equality for all men, but what did that entail? Promoting the blacks. I, for one, am glad that Martin Luther King was born and was able to voice himself in the way that he did. Racist or not, he shed light on so many minds in this country and many others in dealing with racism. Racism is not always a bad thing, you see.

I won't push this point too far, because I don't feel like answering questions about why I said this or that for the next five days trying to convince you all that I'm not racist. ;-)

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
You got trolled (3.66 / 3) (#29)
by Mawbid on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 04:05:08 PM EST

...and not even by a real troll! Note the "</joke>" in the last line of the post.

[ Parent ]
Yes he is (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by ncohen on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:39:05 AM EST

"Having an open mind and freely sharing your opinion on a very difficult topic to discuss should not be considered racism. "

Reading a post and getting a joke should not be considered racism either.
-----
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"
[ Parent ]

You, sir, can't read (3.33 / 3) (#40)
by delmoi on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:30:46 AM EST

You may not be a white supremacist

He's saying that you may not be a white supremacist... black people may not be just as much as white people, so no assumption of race is made in that statement
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
An argument pro zoophilia that made sense to me (3.66 / 9) (#36)
by Julian Morrison on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 08:03:52 PM EST

Think of a dog.

Now think of it any one of:

  • seriously angry
  • confused, afraid and twitchy
  • hurting and desperate

Now ask yourself if you want that dog anywhere near your privates, with not even a layer of cloth between you and it?

Now ask yourself: can you bribe a dog to lie? Or threaten it to, and trust it enough to dangle your meat and two veg in front of a faceful of blatantly predatory teeth?

You'd have to be f*ing suicidal, right? At the least, you sure wouldn't look relaxed, and neither would the dog.

In other words you can believe those icky pictures are as fun for all concerned as they're posed to be. Dogs don't put on an act to pay the rent or to keep their pimp from hurting them. The same argument can also be made for horses, goats... whatever.



Now that's how you do it! (none / 0) (#49)
by marlowe on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 10:50:44 AM EST

Enterfornone's troll is tired, but this is clever and original.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Do you know what a racist is ? If not, -1 (2.37 / 8) (#39)
by mami on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:30:48 AM EST

How about getting that defined before you go this slippery (and fake) slope and cause some more yucky answers to this most difficult subject ?

I vote this down, if it's not preceeded by a discussion which tries to define racism.

re: editorial? (2.00 / 1) (#42)
by zonem on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:47:08 PM EST

Isn't this an editorial? Why not post it as that instead,
so I can ignore the story criticism and get on with the
real discussion?

@home.com
[ Parent ]
re: editorial? (2.00 / 1) (#43)
by zonem on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:53:22 PM EST

Isn't this an editorial? Why not post it as that instead,
so I can ignore the story criticism and get on with the
real discussion?

@home.com
[ Parent ]
very well written! (4.50 / 2) (#47)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 08:23:30 AM EST

I found this essay to be both provacative and very well written. However, I do take extreme issue with one of enterfornone's statements:

However racism isn't an action; it is a belief.

I don't know that beliefs and actions are able to be seperated so easily. Is a racist really a racist if he or she never takes action on his or her feelings? Does this racist really believe in the superiority of his or her race if his or her actions never act out his or her belief?

Francis Schaeffer was quite fond of bandying about the statement: As a man thinketh, so he is. I think this statement is true and can be restated as: as a person thinks, so he or she takes action. I would also contend that the inverse is true: as a person takes action, so he or she thinks.

Our actions stem from what is in our heart. Our actions are reflections of what is in our heart. If we do not act on what is in our heart, is it really there?



Actions != Thoughts (none / 0) (#50)
by khallow on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 10:50:45 AM EST

Our actions stem from what is in our heart. Our actions are reflections of what is in our heart. If we do not act on what is in our heart, is it really there?

The answer is yes. Let's take a common if lurid example namely sexual fantasies. It's quite common for someone to fantasize about sex with someone without an obvious response or action. I assert that this would qualify as being "in our heart".

In my opinion, humans have a very strong capacity for deception and are often able to fool everyone including themselves. Even if you assume that whatever lies below the surface will eventually bubble up, it doesn't follow that the action corresponds to the underlying cause.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

active vs. passive thoughts (none / 0) (#52)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:26:18 PM EST

In your example, the thoughts themselves are actions.

Let's take a common if lurid example namely sexual fantasies. It's quite common for someone to fantasize about sex with someone without an obvious response or action.

I apologize if in my previous post, I used somewhat vague terminology. A person's heart defines what types of thoughts "come naturally" so to speak. The fantasies you speak of are thoughts that must be actively thought to come into existence. So in the case of your example, the thoughts are the actions.

I still maintain that if a person supposedly has a belief and yet doesn't translate that belief into any type of action, that that person does not truly hold that belief.



[ Parent ]
active versus passive thoughts (none / 0) (#61)
by mami on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 02:06:59 AM EST

I apologize if in my previous post, I used somewhat vague terminology. A person's heart defines what types of thoughts "come naturally" so to speak. The fantasies you speak of are thoughts that must be actively thought to come into existence. So in the case of your example, the thoughts are the actions.

I still maintain that if a person supposedly has a belief and yet doesn't translate that belief into any type of action, that that person does not truly hold that belief.

I think you can distinguish between rational thoughts and feelings which arise almost certain in any human being, because these feelings are inate.

You are capable of killing in self defense, if your own life is in danger. You can often not surpress jalousy. You often can't supress feelings of silent rage and hate, if you are in a situation, where someone abuses you physically at gun point or risk of loosing your life, when trying to avoid the abuse. You can often not surpress fear and you don't have control over flee or fight reactions. You can't surpress the urge to defend your own private space, however small that might be. If someone comes too close, you get aggressive. You can't often surpress the feelings of wanting to protect your baby/child (Thousands of women have been forced into rape by the victorious soldiers putting their babies at gunpoint) .

All those feelings you can find in raw version in animals. I would think that mankind has to accept its basic emotional set-up hardcoded into our genes. Most of the underlying emotions in racial tensions go back to those basic emotions. It's not your belief or what you think, it's what you feel without thinking. Feelings you can't control. They come out of something you can't define.

Usually if the situation is under control, your thinking (mind) comes in and tries to counterbalance your emotions. If the mind then makes a rational judgement and you don't act out on your feelings, you can't be called a racist, just because you had some uncontrolled feelings come up out of some deep down fears or whatever. If your mind comes in and makes the judgement that these feelings are ok and you act out those feelings and start to treat the person of different ethnicity in a way you would not wanted to be treated by that person yourself, then you become a racially discriminating person.

If the laws of a country allow persons to act out those feelings and get away with it, you basically are on your way into hell.

I read somewhere a sig that said: "If you can't abuse it, it is not freedom". Because of above mentioned emotional mechanism which you find in _all_ races, I do believe, that one should have as much freedom as possible, but not to the extend to abuse the freedom of others. People give up freedoms all the time to negotiate their boundaries with their neighbors to ensure the survival of its community. I do see anarcho-liberalism or whatever is the correct term in conflict with peoples willingness and need to negotiate the limitations of individual freedom among each other.



[ Parent ]

Why should I change my attitudes? (4.50 / 2) (#55)
by avdi on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:57:14 PM EST

People do not choose to be racist. Many very liberal heterosexuals will still feel uncomfortable when someone of the same gender makes a pass at them. Even if you are not guilty of a crime, many will be wary when a police officer approaches. How do we change our attitudes?

I'm uncomfortable when anyone makes a pass at me. I happen to think it's innapropriate in most or all contexts. I'm wary of cops because I've been groundlessly accosted by prejudiced policeman in the past; and a bigotted policeman has the authority to cause me much more trouble than a civilian bigot.

Why should I change my attitudes, rather than wishing people would act in a more honorable, trustworthy fashion? The author seems to be telling me I should simply educate myself and in so doing learn to accept harrasment.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

Making a pass is not harassment (none / 0) (#60)
by driptray on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 01:53:15 AM EST

I'm uncomfortable when anyone makes a pass at me. I happen to think it's innapropriate in most or all contexts....Why should I change my attitudes, rather than wishing people would act in a more honorable, trustworthy fashion? The author seems to be telling me I should simply educate myself and in so doing learn to accept harrasment.

Somebody making a pass at you is not harassment. Nor is it "inappropriate in most or all contexts", or dishonorable and untrustworthy. On the contrary, it's flattering.

It's not so hard to say "Sorry, I'm not interested" or "You're a lovely person, but sorry" is it?

But I agree with you about cops. Anybody with any experience of the world knows that cops are far more likely to harrass and commit crimes than a randomised group of non-cops. You're right to be wary of them.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Opinion. (none / 0) (#64)
by avdi on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 04:54:34 PM EST

That's your opinion. My (admittedly unpopular in the west) opinion stands: making a pass is just not polite. If you're interested in me as a marriage partner, have your parents talk to my parents. Except I'm married, so don't bother talking to my parents at all, just notice the ring and keep your mouth shut. If you're interested in me as a friend, don't make a pass at me. If you're interested in me as a possible uncommitted romantic partner, buzz off.

No, this isn't exactly how I got hooked up with my wife. Unfortunetely, my point of view isn't popular enough 'round these parts to be practical. So I'm a hypocrite. But my opinion still stands.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
[ Parent ]
Fear of the unknown | 64 comments (47 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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