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Nitro


Member

Posted Fri Jul 31st, 2009 6:17pm Post subject: Words and Actions
IF we can keep this civil, it would be great. IF you cannot be civil, IF you are easily hurt by the written word, IF you have a tendency to leap to conclusions...please do not participate...because somebody MIGHT write something you find hurtful and there's no way to predict that in advance. We all express ourselves differently and that's influenced by many variables we can't possibly know about each other.

I just wanted to take this topic, because I think it's a seperate topic, off the whole rant about doing stuff other than driving while driving. Remember too, that this IS The Zero Room.

OK..here's an example of language vs action in my mind. I'm not saying this is true for everyone on the planet, just MY perspective.

I write you a note. The words say,"I love you." ( let's pretend you like me too )
You read it and think,"Ah, how nice."
You come to thank me and I say,"Oh, huh. I didn't really mean that."
You say,"You asshole!"
I say,"Meh, whatever."
You say,"I wish you would just go to Hell now. I hope you die."
I say,"Hey, that's not very nice."

OK, now other than hurt feelings....is either of us actually dead? is either of us bleeding? wounded? broken bones? head gash? blind? loss of hearing? house burned down? Financially ruined? car tires slashed? I'm NOT talking about what COULD happen, but what ACTUALLY happened in this scenario.

OK, so now let's you get so mad at me, that you slash my tires. To date, that I know of ( and may it ever be so ), there are no laws against either of us for the first scenario. I cannot be hauled off to jail for having written something insincerely OR changing my mind about how I feel.

With the circumstance of your reaction by slashing my tires, however, YOU could go to jail, pay a fine, etc.

If indeed it is true, as some have tried to argue, that language and action ARE the same thing, why is there a difference in repurcussions between these two situations? And also, would you have it differently such that there were laws in place to jail those who hurt other peoples feelings?


I'm all ears...

Really? Wow.

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Britannicus


Member

Posted Fri Jul 31st, 2009 6:56pm Post subject: Words and Actions
Are they the same thing? No. Can they be equally harmful? Yes. Singular events are harder to pinpoint, but we all know that mental abuse can cause long-term damage for the sufferer, it’s an established fact. So what is the question? Do hurt feelings need legal repercussions in order to be considered legit for the person experiencing them? And without legal punishment, does this mean that we are permitted to take less responsibility for the impact of our words, even when we know that we are causing damage? …Do we really need the threat of jail or lawsuit to treat each other respectfully?

That said, I suspect that this has much more to do with being on the receiving end of damaging words rather than the above. How much we should each “buck up” in the face of someone insulting us, and so on. This is highly dependent on both individual (upbringing, experiences, personality) and culture. If this is what is truly at the core of this matter, let's be sure to discuss it properly -- and not just turn it into a quibble over who can do more push-ups or whatever, as that would be highly pointless and ultimately a waste of time.

"Your room...it's CLEAN!!!"
"I prayed to God...and...it happened...but...where's my million dollars and horse!? Damn it!"

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Maxx England


Member

Posted Fri Jul 31st, 2009 7:55pm Post subject: Words and Actions
Sometimes a person can say a thing and it might be expressed in an indelicate manner, or it might be misconstrued by someone who has their own agenda concerning the subject under discussion. Or both. It might well be that the person hearing it is offended and reacts strongly to the original statement, perhaps they are joined by others in this divergence of original intent and received perception and make statements of their own which the originator now finds offensive.

Are the secondary offensive statements any less reprehensible than the primary or are they justified under the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth code of conduct? Is the originator a clumsy, lead footed oaf with no feelings of their own or are they, too, a sensitive and easily wounded human being?

Pain/distress: we have laws in all our countries concerning slander/libel and racial/religious abuse. At what point do we take up arms in a court of law to settle a dispute over language, and at what point do we tell somebody to stop bleeding pointlessly all over the carpet? At what point, particularly in the context of this forum and it's vulnerable denizens, do we make allowances for it's members and their perceptions of the world, and to whom do we extend or deny care and shelter?

Those who make the most noise? What about those who live a life of stoic refusal to let their distress show? Some of us make noise, some from a background where one kept one's head down, don't. That doesn't make their distress less than the noisy one's. Trust me.

The only way is forward. Now where's the bar?

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andrealein


Member

Posted Fri Jul 31st, 2009 8:25pm Post subject: Words and Actions
OK, so now let's you get so mad at me, that you slash my tires. To date, that I know of ( and may it ever be so ), there are no laws against either of us for the first scenario. I cannot be hauled off to jail for having written something insincerely OR changing my mind about how I feel.
If you reported me to the police (me being that "you" in your little scenario) I'd have to pay a fine for saying that you're an asshole. For a more severe insult you can even go to jail. In Germany at least.

But that's not the point. As Britannicus said, that there's no legal punishment doesn't mean that we're permitted to do anything. I think I'd be way more hurt by you writing that note and then taking back what you said than you by me slashing your tires in the modification of your example.

That I'm not bleeding or something doesn't mean anything. Of course it's terrible to be hurt physically but another thing can't be equally hurting. Very often physical wounds heal much faster than emotional ones. And even if I agree with you about bleeding wounds being worse: that doesn't give the right to hurt ones feelings. It would be a bit like saying it's okay to hit someone because it would be much worse to shoot at him.

By all that, I don't want to say that free speech isn't important. It's very important, you should be able to say what you think, but at the same time you should be aware of your responsibility.

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PamJH


Member

Posted Fri Jul 31st, 2009 11:55pm Post subject: Words and Actions


By all that, I don't want to say that free speech isn't important. It's very important, you should be able to say what you think, but at the same time you should be aware of your responsibility.

Agreed. With every right comes responsibility. I have a right to say what I think, but (and this is my interpretation, not a legal one) I do not have the right to deliberately hurt someone with my words.

But how do you gauge that? I might say that Bill Clinton was a far better president than was George W. Bush. A staunch Republican might take offense at that and consider that I hurt his feelings. But how am I supposed to know that? And even if I do know that, just because a Republican's feelings might be hurt am I not allowed to compare Bush to Clinton without checking first with my audience?

The trouble with expressing ourselves on this or any other Internet forum is that we all hide behind a certain degree of anonymity, some more than others. That gives us much wider latitude for free speech because we are able to say things we don't feel we can say in person. And I don't mean terrible things, either. Maybe in real life a forum member doesn't feel that he can express his political views. But on a forum, well, he might meet like-minded people or he might tick someone off. He just never knows. But if he's anonymous he probably feels safer in that the people who disagree with him can't phone him and tell him he's an idiot.

But I realize that works both ways. There's no reason to be deliberately insulting on a forum such as this. I don't think most people who are perceived as being insulting on certain threads really are that way in real life. They just get fed up and come on the forum to express themselves. And really, isn't that what the zero room is designed to do - contain threads such as these?

We are allowed free rein on this forum, to a certain degree, to express ourselves. But in doing so, must I couch every single word I say in the desire to avoid hurt feelings in the thousands of people who look at this site every day? How in the world can I do that? Or do I simply avoid the issue by only saying things that can't possibly be controversial?

And here's the other thing: If a thread ticks me off, I don't read it any more. I learned that the hard way. If someone PMs me with an insult, I ignore it. Yes, it hurts emotionally to be insulted, but in my case I know I'll get over it. And I probably just insulted people who take these things more to heart for whatever reason. And, of course, if you know me from this forum at all, you know I don't tend to go around insulting people. So, should I remove this last remark? You tell me.

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Nitro


Member

Posted Fri Jul 31st, 2009 11:57pm Post subject: Words and Actions
Are they the same thing? No. Can they be equally harmful? Yes. Singular events are harder to pinpoint, but we all know that mental abuse can cause long-term damage for the sufferer, it’s an established fact. So what is the question? Do hurt feelings need legal repercussions in order to be considered legit for the person experiencing them? And without legal punishment, does this mean that we are permitted to take less responsibility for the impact of our words, even when we know that we are causing damage? …Do we really need the threat of jail or lawsuit to treat each other respectfully?

No offense, but I think that's answering questions with questions isn't it?

That said, I suspect that this has much more to do with being on the receiving end of damaging words rather than the above. How much we should each “buck up” in the face of someone insulting us, and so on.

Um, I think you cannot have one without the other can you? I mean, you can't have an offended party without an offender...right? Or can you?


The 'highly dependent' is absolutely at the core of the matter, from my perspective. And I've been called plenty of foul names in my life as well as being on the recieving end of a physical assault or two. I know full well how hurtful verbal abuse can be as well as a broken bone ( that sometimes doesn't heal right ). Please don't think this is any kind of 'game'. But even with my experience, I am very, very, very concerned by the idea of someone who calls me an 'asshole' versus actually hitting me over the head with a brick, recieving the same punishment.

If it's at all possible, please divorce your emotions from this as much as possible at least knowing I'm trying to do the same and understand the difficulty.

OK..back again, because I think it's kind of hard to discuss something objectively if we're orienting everything through our own personal feelings. And maybe that doesn't make sense as written, and if not well, call me a shit writer and get it over with X-D I won't cry 'foul', I promise! But I might call 'fowl'....anyway...

Should the laws against attack on a persons body/property be different than an attack on their feelings and if you believe the law against, for instance, physical assault should carry the same punishment as any law that could be created against verbal assault ( because you believe verbal and physical assault are the 'same' ), do explain.

Imagine you're the judge. Are you going to mete out a prison sentence the same for a person who 'assaults' someone with their words as someone who assaults with their fists?

I'm just trying to figure out what has not been answered. If I hit you with a bat and break your arm I will, here in the states anyway, get a much different sentence than if I call you a Dumbass. Now, if we say that these two actions are equally hurtful...shouldn't they carry an equal punishment? Either they're equal or they're not. There's no having it both ways. Well, maybe in Utopia...

I admit I'm having a hard time understanding some of the answers to the original post here in contextual terms.

BTW, I'm also aware that Americas laws about these things are different than other countries. HOWEVER, I am in no way an international law expert. I appreciate Andrea that you mention Germany's law, for instance. It certainly could make this topic much more complex given we're all from various parts of the world. I know France, too, also has some laws against sexist or homophobic language. I don't know the details though, or if the punishment is the same for a sexist slur as it is for rape.

Really? Wow.

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andrealein


Member

Posted Sat Aug 1st, 2009 1:12am Post subject: Words and Actions
I think the problem is that maybe we're not talking about the same thing exactly?

But how do you gauge that? I might say that Bill Clinton was a far better president than was George W. Bush. A staunch Republican might take offense at that and consider that I hurt his feelings. But how am I supposed to know that? And even if I do know that, just because a Republican's feelings might be hurt am I not allowed to compare Bush to Clinton without checking first with my audience?
I think you always should be allowed to say something like that even though someone might be offended. It's an opinion. As long as you don't hurt the other one deliberately by phrasing it "Bush is a complete idiot and you're one too cos you like him" or something worse, this isn't something where anybody should hold back. I think we all agree on that? Yes? No?

The 'highly dependent' is absolutely at the core of the matter, from my perspective. And I've been called plenty of foul names in my life as well as being on the recieving end of a physical assault or two. I know full well how hurtful verbal abuse can be as well as a broken bone ( that sometimes doesn't heal right ). Please don't think this is any kind of 'game'. But even with my experience, I am very, very, very concerned by the idea of someone who calls me an 'asshole' versus actually hitting me over the head with a brick, recieving the same punishment.
Calling someone names is a different thing. You offend someone's honour if you do. That's why there's a law against it in Germany (you won't be prosecuted if it's not reported though).
But I didn't want to say that it deserves the same punishment as hitting a person over the head with a brick. Maybe it doesn't even deserve any punishment (I think it does, but that isn't that important). Of course I'll get over it if someone called me an asshole. I'll be angry, maybe hurt - depending on who said it - but I will get over it. BUT: That still doesn't mean it's okay!

And I think you have to consider that the more you love a person and the more dependent you are on them, the more vulnerable you are. Think of children and their parents. Again: I don't want to say it's worse than physical violence. But I think words can be very harmful and leave wounds that are very hard to heal. Only because it's hard to measure and therefore hard to punish doesn't mean it's not there.

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Nitro


Member

Posted Tue Aug 18th, 2009 6:11pm Post subject: Words and Actions

Well, I think the conversation between a parent and child can't be compared really to public discussion on some topic.

Of course there's such a thing as emotional abuse. I doubt anyone here would argue that. But that wasn't the point I was speaking to, but rather the issue of having a public discussion and continually having to walk around on eggshells because one or two people are prone to excessive sensitivity over words about ideas.

Really? Wow.

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