OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: On Freedom of Speech

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  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Geoff, you just paste the raw link here - without all the square brackets rigmarole - and the system does the rest

    What always got me thinking it didn't work, was that it didn't show up when I previewed my post. Now I hope for the best anyway and it usually is correct.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    I'm thinking Keith is wrong saying "cunt" because its always loaded to ladies ,it means vagina, let's not beat around the bush.

    and "gay" isn't ready to be given up by the samesexers because it isn't a word they've finished with......but the highschools are dropping these words everywhere.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I keep having conversations wherein people apologise for swearing because they said "shit" once, which usually runs so beneath my radar I don't even ping it as swearing until they start apologising.

    Same thing here. I'm wondering if it's even going to be regarded as a swear word for much longer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    slut, whore, that kind of thing - that's real ladyhate.

    I would never, never, never call someone those names. I have never hated a woman enough to use those words on them. I have, however, called myself a slut. Proudly, really.

    My Media7 laydeez use "slut" as a term of affection with each other all the time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    But then, Americans are just weird about swearing. ...

    I keep having conversations wherein people apologise for swearing because they said "shit" once, which usually runs so beneath my radar I don't even ping it as swearing until they start apologising. One day I'm going to, I don't know, drop a rack of nearly-boiling test tubes on my foot and then they're all going to get a terrible shock.

    Seems a job at a comic shop might be the place for you:

    I had my 1-year-old son in a comics shop a couple months ago... The retailer was loudly holding court with a couple of fanboys. It was fucking this and fucking that and what the fuck and fuckity fucking fuck.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    My Media7 laydeez use "slut" as a term of affection with each other all the time.

    I believe they have may have even used it on me, recently. Which was, you know, fine.

    When I say I think about how I feel were it directed at me, I mean...said seriously, in context, and meant with hate.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    said seriously, in context, and meant with hate.

    id est: zazzlessly

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 902 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    with New Crack Whore additives!!

    They sound great, the mouthfeel....

    I can see a new toothpaste (or gargle) on the horizon already - A brush with filth - Dirty words reach parts other gels don't go... (with warnings for people with "sensitive teeth" of course...)


    A glass act to follow...

    ...drop a rack of nearly-boiling test tubes
    on my foot...

    I'm guessing anything in the vicinity of 2230 Celsius, close to a pedal extremity, could invoke a relatively heated stream of robust invective!


    Panel beaters...

    Seems a job at a comic shop
    might be the place for you...

    well they do give us a framework for society...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5169 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Now all i'm thinking of is large pools of whale glue floating around the oceans, I'm not swimming this summer.

    I once convinced a friend of mine that was what whitebait was... whale jiz.

    Mind you, I also convinced her that blind guide dogs were actually blind, hence the phrase "the blind leading the blind."

    Lovely girl though. Very pretty.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Thought it was interesting that neither Henry nor TVNZ fought very hard to defend his right to "frea speach". How many times did Henry apologise again?

    And the stench from the collective browning of kex at TVNZ management over advertisers pulling out of Breakfarts completely overpowered any freedom of speech notion.

    Since Nov 2006 • 525 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I think it's good that Paul Henry resigned. I hope he would have been asked to resign had he called the Governor-General a c*nt on air as well.

    I think the point Keith raises about the freedom of speech and the right of others to respond to speech is an interesting one. One the one hand, there are some ideas that you feel you just have to oppose. On the other, the idea of consequences for speech can be made to justify outcomes we might not want to support, such as certain kinds of ostracism. Short version, I don't think the idea of consequences for speech implies carte blanche.

    For me, it's a question of how we want people to conduct themselves in our public spaces. It means avoiding and discouraging behaviour we wouldn't want others to display.

    I think that focussing on the ironic use of swearing basically misses the point. It's much less funny when it's is used as it mostly is: to insult, threaten, diminish and degrade. (Maybe I am exaggerating.) Calling someone a c*nt is lazy shorthand for a point of view that may well be justified, but it's not the kind of thing that should we should let pass as worthwhile public discussion.**

    ** I may in fact be a c*nt.

    Since Nov 2006 • 616 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    I once convinced a friend of mine that was what whitebait was... whale jiz.

    Mind you, I also convinced her that blind guide dogs were actually blind, hence the phrase "the blind leading the blind."

    Lovely girl though. Very pretty.

    I imagine she was also quite popular.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Same thing here. I'm wondering if it's even going to be regarded as a swear word for much longer.

    My rule of thumb is, if it's in Star Trek, it's no longer taboo.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    How many times did Henry apologise again?

    None, if you mean a real one.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    I'm thinking Keith is wrong saying "cunt" because its always loaded to ladies ,it means vagina, let's not beat around the bush.

    Yes, but as much as we think vaginae and penises are wonderful things, I'm not sure if anyone thinks - or should think - that it is flattering to *be* a vagina/penis/both. (Or to have a vagina/penis for a face.)

    We can have a positive view of people with vaginae, and a positive view of vaginae themselves, while still using "cunt" as an insult. Whereas we can't use "gay" as an insult if we have a positive view of people who are gay.

    (Yes. I've been thinking through this issue for the past week.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Yes, but as much as we think vaginae and penises are wonderful things, I'm not sure if anyone thinks - or should think - that it is flattering to *be* a vagina/penis/both. (Or to have a vagina/penis for a face.)

    much like arseholes, then

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    My Media7 laydeez use "slut" as a term of affection with each other all the time.

    My best friend and myself use the term "slut" as a term of affection with each other all the time. It probably came about having hung out together as singles and having watched each other depart for a bit of debauchery around 2am several nights a week.
    Ahhh, the good ol' days. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm not entirely sure if parsing out the exact connotation of insults and insisting on correctness there is ever going to fly. The point is: Insulting people is insulting. It might also be insulting to whomsoever you use to insult them by comparing them to, but that's somewhat incidental - the negative attitude leading to the desire to insult will still be there, and can be expressed in the politest of terms, whilst still being incredibly insulting. Likewise, without the intent, the insult can even be a term of endearment. Calling people cunts is very often done that way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    On the other, the idea of consequences for speech can be made to justify outcomes we might not want to support, such as certain kinds of ostracism. Short version, I don't think the idea of consequences for speech implies carte blanche.

    Can you give a more specific example of what you mean, WH?

    I don't see how free speech cannot come with the corollary of freedom to criticise that speech; freedom of expression and freedom to criticise that expression are just two sides of the same coin.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I'm not entirely sure if parsing out the exact connotation of insults and insisting on correctness there is ever going to fly.

    Maybe not. But thinking about it every now and then is nice, rather than just being all 'cunt is a cunt is a cunt is a cunt'*. Language, and the naming of things, is powerful shit.

    *With thanks to Gertrude Stein.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Various random tangents, observations and general wank of no particular pertinence...

    Likewise, without the intent, the insult can even be a term of endearment. Calling people cunts is very often done that way.

    I'm reminded of (A) Gene Hunt's "You're surrounded by armed bastards!" which clearly denotes no (additional) denigration of said bastards and (B), the common ... meta... para? TXT-inspired insult, which in spoken English is "See you next tuesday". You can certainly declare affection by swearing and malice through politeness.

    The search for a an inoffensive expletive insult does seem to me to be paradoxical at best, because when one starts using terms like "fucking hell", one's getting into the realms of phatic communication where the various combinations of words serve only as sequential intensifiers and not as modifiers within a coherent and consistent grammatical structure. I cannot "fuck Hell" any more than I can take Boullee's design for a monument to Sir Isaac Newton out to see a provocative motion picture followed by an amusing meal and stimulating conversation at a quaintly idiosyncratic restaurant leading to a delightful session of passionate lovemaking in my charmingly-appointed home in a discrete cul-de-sac.

    Swearing is technically interesting because it abandons true linguistic structures.

    "Twatcock" is amusing because it creatively plays with the apparent conventions of swearing, but carries, as yet, no pejorative connotations in itself... it also strikes me as ineffective for that reason because it is obviously a contrivance and is not invested with the vitriol genuine swearing depends on... it is, I think, by it's obvious contrivance, functioning to diminish the sense of hurt in a community that shares the word.

    Um, so the non-offensive insult may be more than the PC foam-rubber safety hammer of conversation in a sort of postmodern self-deconstructing way...

    Discuss at next week's tutorial... there may be a pop quiz.

    Be that as it may, at the risk of others saying, "No shit, Sherlock", swearing and insult may overlap but are not the same thing. Henry's "real New Zealander" "quip" contained no swear words but just as much malice as "dick-in-shit".

    Dante might relegate the perpetrators of crimes of passion and of malice to different circles of Hell, but all I can think is that the place must be an traffic engineer's nightmare with all the commuting, time-share residency and part-time shift work (which might be the point, actually... I always thought those arsewiping bloody kneecaps deserved to intercoursing go there for trying to (as Chaucer might spell it) phuqynge build the [literally] goddamned place on [figuratively] coitusing earth...). Hmm, Hell might not be a small room with three people in it, but a bus stop with an unreadable schedule and map...

    freedom of expression and freedom to criticise that expression are just two sides of the same coin

    Heartily (sanguinely) agree. I am mildly amused/rather more than mildly depressed by people who deliberately set out to cause offence and start complaining about the "PC brigade" oppressing them with words of complaint and comparing them to the Gestapo! Why, they might poke them with soft cushions and even put them in the comfy chair next! Hyperbole though, is another topic.. but an allied one, perhaps.

    That'll be the week-after's tutorial topic. Oh hang on, the teaching year's ended and you're not my students. Bugger.

    The one good thing about all of this is that we as a species have turned violence into semiotics. Where once we would have just been pounding away at each other with sticks and stones, we sublimate violent behaviour into words. Pray that the process remains one-way.

    I think my glass is half full today.

    If you'll excuse me, I'll get my coat.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 981 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    any more than I can take Boullee's design for a monument to Sir Isaac Newton out to see a provocative motion picture followed by an amusing meal and stimulating conversation at a quaintly idiosyncratic restaurant leading to a delightful session of passionate lovemaking in my charmingly-appointed home in a discrete cul-de-sac.

    How I have missed you

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Mwah!

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 981 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I think my glass is half full today.

    Cheers :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    I am mildly amused/rather more than mildly depressed by people who deliberately set out to cause offence and start complaining about the "PC brigade" oppressing them with words of complaint and comparing them to the Gestapo! Why, they might poke them with soft cushions and even put them in the comfy chair next! Hyperbole though, is another topic.. but an allied one, perhaps.

    What's even funnier is seeing them go nuclear when their own blowtorch is used against them, or otherwise cornered like rats. To name just one example.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

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