Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Not in front of the children

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  • Russell Brown,

    But which way are these trends going?

    It's complex. Only 58% of viewers surveyed by the BSA this year were offended by the word "fuck", down from 70% in 2006. When Peter Jones declared to a radio reporter "I'm absolutely buggered," after the All Blacks' momentous 1956 win against the 'Boks, it caused a huge fuss. But there seems to have been little or no outrage at Ricky Herbert's excitable use of the f-bomb on TV after the All Whites' recent win.

    On the other hand, "nigger" didn't use to be such a bad word ...

    As I've said before, I find the word faggot immeasurably more offensive than say cunt or motherfucker ie. supplantable nouns, the former being oftentimes combined with adjective to offer high praise, rendering it pretty much neutral out of context. I'm constantly disappointed to hear kiwi friends use the term 'gay' derogatorily.

    OTOH, I have gay friends who might refer to themselves as "faggots". It's all about context.

    And that counter-protest banner at the Destiny 'Enough is Enough' march -- "Homophobia is Gay" -- was about the most post-modern thing of the year.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'd sincerely like to see someone try to get arrested intending offence using only compliments.

    That would make excellent television.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    And I think we both have misgivings about the name of the "invalid's benefit".

    Would anybody really object if it were called "Cash for Cretins" or "Money for the Moronic"?
    Yes, I suppose they would but it's better than nothing.
    I suppose that people that complain, just want to be taken notice of and sometimes a derogatory label can start productive discussion.
    "Tis an ill wind that blows no good.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Sir, both my former teachers and my Google dictionary search say you are mistaken.

    Russell's original comment send me off to Wikipedia, where I found that Wikipedians apparently think some odd pairs of vowels identical.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    OTOH, I have gay friends who might refer to themselves as "faggots". It's all about context.

    I need to get hip to the scene clearly.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I'd sincerely like to see someone try to get arrested intending offence using only compliments.

    That would make excellent television.

    I expect a fully developed script collaboration between Craig Renapia and Ian Dalzeal on my desk by the end of the week.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    My son has just come back from the Special Olympics national games in Palmerston North with several medals for swimming.

    Cool.

    I fear Mr Talslov has faked an Organisation.

    Heh.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    There's no nice words, though. I remember "special" being used in a pretty derogatory way many a time. The problem is that the derogation of the term comes from what it is describing. So every term that could ever be come up with will be used in a derogatory way eventually. It's mostly in how it's done, rather than the words used. Tone, non-verbals etc.

    I don't really have an acceptable lexicon for discussing my son's issues. Respectful people will cue off the words I use. I'm yet to meet anyone disrespectful. The trickiest is the people who want to say he's 'normal', and seek to find every behavior normal. Which is true to some extent, all kids do all of the same things at some point. They just don't do them as much. It seems to me to devalue the effort and attention which does actually need to be given. Especially when you're pretty sure they're the smacking type.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I need to get hip to the scene clearly.

    And we're not even getting to white kids from the North Shore who greet each other with "Yo, mah nigga!"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I don't really have an acceptable lexicon for discussing my son's issues. Respectful people will cue off the words I use. I'm yet to meet anyone disrespectful.

    That's insightful, Ben.

    The trickiest is the people who want to say he's 'normal', and seek to find every behavior normal.

    Oh yeah. We went through several years of people informing us "Oh, there's nothing wrong with him -- he's perfectly normal!"

    (And you're thinking, "Yes, you mean well, but he's not normal -- we have come to terms with that and we're getting on with it. So could you please shut up?")

    It does pass.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    And we're not even getting to white kids from the North Shore who greet each other with "Yo, mah nigga!"

    Maybe it's something in the water, it reminds me of a 10 year old half Chinese boy I knew on the shore who used to complain about those gooks, I'd hazard a guess he too has now graduated to the more refined "Yo, mah nigga!"

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Maybe it's something in the water, it reminds me of a 10 year old half Chinese boy I knew on the shore who used to complain about those gooks.

    It's different again -- these kids are identifying with niggaz, because they are taking cultural cues from hip hop music.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    My son has just come back from the Special Olympics national games in Palmerston North with several medals for swimming.

    YAY!

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    It's different again -- these kids are identifying with niggaz, because they are taking cultural cues from hip hop music.

    yeah I hear you. just the correlation of location and colour blindness compelled me to mention it

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    So every term that could ever be come up with will be used in a derogatory way eventually. It's mostly in how it's done, rather than the words used. Tone, non-verbals etc.

    Exactly what Ben said.

    JD Salinger wrote a short story called Down at the Dingy portraying exactly that. It's about a small boy who overhears the housekeeper call his Dad "a big sloppy kike". The boy is so upset that he disappears and is finally found crying inconsolably. His Mum asks him if he understands what the housekeeper meant by "kike" and the boy answers "Yes, it's one of those things that goes up in the air with string."

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Come to think of it, why all the complaining about Adagio when then story in Fly My Pretties was all about two kids saving their family by chasing P?

    (Okay, 'Pi', which was the name of a fantail, but that's what it sounded like.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    head to your nearest printers, print and distribute names of name suppressed entertainer.

    There are no words banned there, Information is suppressed. Banning isn't really an idea that can be applied to information, it's just there.

    The words themselves are not intrinsically related to the restriction. The aspect that is controlled is whether or not they convey the suppressed information.

    If there is a schoolboy who has the same name as the suppressed entertainer comes home with a school report saying "[redacted] has been a very naughty boy", there is no problem. The exact same sentence from a commenter during a news report on the entertainer would be breaking the law.

    Words and information conveyed by them are different things.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I remember "special" being used in a pretty derogatory way many a time.

    The odd thing with that was it derived from "Special Needs" which, to a point, is a good way of describing someone who needs a bit of help, more so than "Others" (excuse the deliberate logical twist). The derogatory use of the word, special, is a way of doing something like this...

    I'd sincerely like to see someone try to get arrested intending offence using only compliments.

    Yes, Special Constable did spring to mind.
    The ownership of social descriptive words is, I think, all part of growing up and leaning about language (our playing with the concept of "Word Of The Year" is like that). "Kids Today" will always have descriptives of the "Other" , "It's just so Gay?" " It's Spaz", "it's Gross", "You're Sad", "Lame"
    It works in reverse too, "That's Bad", "That's the Shit" "Init?" "Annat"
    I think, in Paul Henry's case, it's more of a brain fart, it's in his lexicon and he still hasn't left the Fourth Form.
    I still contend that it is the "Offendee" that is the one with the problem, be it a numb skull or a genuine disability. They are the Special People with Special Needs.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    While I understand and agree Neil, there are myriad combination of words that are banned in certain contexts, due to the suppression order. Because regardless of my intended meaning, you and I both know there are certain combinations of words ( or a single word if you want to be tricky) that I'm legally prevented from writing, regardless of whether any information is conveyed to anyone or not.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It does pass.

    Good to hear. It passed quickly for us, perhaps because the cause of his disability is known, a stroke. Makes it a pretty easy sell that he's not 'normal' in every way.

    Dyan

    The boy is so upset that he disappears and is finally found crying inconsolably

    Cued into the tone perfectly, despite missing the actual meaning?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Cued into the tone perfectly, despite missing the actual meaning?

    Exactly. I think Salinger was trying to show how the intention behind a derogatory term is much more powerful and easy to interpret than the term itself.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    regardless of whether any information is conveyed to anyone or not

    Huh? I would think most of the legal test you're think of are in precisely those terms.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Reeves,

    "Brutus is an honourable man."

    Using only complimentary words to get someone condemned---not quite what was asked for above, but nice all the same. A good example of causing offence using only compliments?

    Certainly good telly!

    Near Donny Park, Hamilton… • Since Apr 2007 • 94 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    While I understand and agree Neil, there are myriad combination of words that are banned in certain contexts, due to the suppression order.

    And there is the difference "combination of words" as opposed to just words. The Herald and in fact all New Zealand news outlets, have used the two "words" of the guy's name in many separate articles since the suppression order, just not together.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

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