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May 21, 2011 12:03 PM

Inappropriate Language - Sexually and Racist based Epithets?


I have been amazed to see the condoned usage of 'dick' and 'douche' on my local board lately. The Moderators finally responded to my complaint with a version of this:

"Our policy on incidental vulgarity, obscenity, and general offensiveness in otherwise chow-ful postings is that anything is OK so long as it's not said in anger or is clearly intended to stir up trouble. Our role as moderators is not to shield all users from anything they might find offensive. If we tried to do so, there'd be literally no end to it, because many different people are offended by many different things. We ask that everyone show tolerance for different sorts of voices in our huge community. The alternative - a group with homogeneous ways of speaking and thinking - would not be good for this resource."

My strong belief is that a public forum that purports to want to have an open and positive profile in the larger web community- is degrading itself by condoning use of language that is unnecessary, inappropriate and completely unprofessional.

I do not believe that 'there would be no end to it' if the CH- allowed language rule were that no sexually or racially based epithets could be used. What do you think?

  1. If the language on these boards bother you, the best remedy is to stop reading the boards.

    1 Reply
    1. I think Chowhound's policy is correct. And I'm racking my brain trying to figure out how "dick" and "douche" could possibly be construed as "racially based."

      I've reported posts I thought were over-the-top offensive (not many - it takes a lot to offend me), and sometimes the moderators agreed and removed them, and sometimes the moderators disagreed and the posts stayed. Because it's not up to me, nor should it be.

      1 Reply
      1. When you see the word "douche" just think of "Irma la Douce" (alt. spelling) and when you see "dick" just think of "Jane" and "Spot." Now I don't know about you, but I feel better already...

        1. Are you seriously suggesting that Chowhound would be a better place if it were **more** heavily moderated? IMO the consensus swings the other way. (And no, that was not a sexual reference. Although I suppose ... never mind.)

          This isn't a newspaper or a blog. Chowhound isn't "condoning use of language that is unnecessary, inappropriate and completely unprofessional." As you note, it's a forum. A place that's open to the public where people can come and voice their opinions.

          The Powers That Be aren't advocating anybody's choice of words (or restaurants). They're hosting a discussion that is open within limits. Anybody whose sensibilities are too delicate to withstand exposure to the fairly mild stuff that goes on around here - well, it makes me wonder how they can get through daily life.

          But then again, your daily life may be very different than mine. No doubt my experiences are tainted by the fact that ... well, sometimes I can be kind of a dick.


          6 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            ROFL!!! ab, that last line was brilliant :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                But anybody who reads my stuff here on Chowhound knows it's true.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  i appreciated the honesty of it! i [usually] do a decent job of keeping her in check here on CH, but those who know me well are quite familiar with my inner bitch...she's a feisty, opinionated one :)

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    I disagree, alan.

                    You're not "kind of a dick". You are a dick ... but only sometimes.

                2. re: alanbarnes

                  good one alanb, I too can be one and on occasion sadly culturally insensitive (out of ignorance not malice, no epithets) - those comments were rightfully deleted. I try to be a good person, I'm just not always successful. but I say let people blather and either get deleted or ignored. talk too much sh!+ and sooner or later folks will just scroll past you.

                3. I had to get over that my attempts to discuss the racial meaning of "kaffir" in reference to the ingredient kaffir lime leaf were all removed by the moderators. I get your point, but such language, and the reluctance to discuss it critically, is just part of the "culture" here. You either get used to it, stay open minded enough to discuss it openly, or you stop coming here to read or post. In my experience, it's largely worth the occasional offense, but you'll have to make up your own mind.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: amyzan

                    If you lived in a neighborhood and didn't like what all the neighbor's were doing, would you expect all the neighbor's to move? Of course you wouldn't! You would pack your things and move to neighborhood more suitable for you.

                    I am not faulting you. There are some places that I wouldn't wouldn't want to hang my hat at either because of the neighbors.

                    1. re: Robinez

                      That's pretty much what I was saying to the OP, Robinez. Thanks for putting it another way.

                    2. re: amyzan

                      Seriously? So because a word **can** be used in an offensive context, it should be banned from use in every other context?

                      Yes, the word "kaffir" can be used a racial slur. When used to describe a lime tree, it's not. I like to think of myself as progressive, but where will it stop? Do we have to quit calling shovels "spades"? Should the AKC come up with a new breed name for the Black and Tan Coonhound?

                      You're right that the critical discussion of language isn't part of the culture here. More specifically, it's a distraction from what we're all here to talk about - food. There are plenty of posts I disagree with, and a few who I find outright offensive. But the good outweighs the bad, so I keep coming back. It's the price of free speech.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        You're extrapolating WAY beyond what I was saying, but got pulled by moderators. I've come to expect that here. People jump to conclusions, and generally make massive assumptions about others and their opinions, without any real basis. sigh No, I don't think "kaffir" should be banned from CH. Not in the least. I merely was interested in how it got attached to a particular variety of lime leaf. Yeah, it's perhaps a more etymological discussion, but it definitely relates to food, IMHO.

                        I don't think that language as it relates to food is a distraction. We'll just have to disagree on whether or not that is an appropriate discussion for CH, and clearly the mods agree with you, alanbarnes. I find such discussion interesting, as long as it doesn't get personal or insulting.

                        I should note that I've edited this because the county tornado sirens went off and I posted before I had completed my thoughts. Sirens will make me hit "enter" apparently! As to your last three sentences, alan, I think we are more in agreement than we disagree on our conclusions about these boards. I choose to take CH with a grain of salt.

                        1. re: amyzan

                          Thanks for clarifying. Other posts here seem to advocate censorship, and I attributed that position to you even though you never took it. I apologize for not reading more carefully.

                          I totally agree that discussions about language are fascinating. And I for one would be interested in a discussion about the word "kaffir" and whether it might be considered offensive when used to describe a species of citrus.

                          In my experience, the mods tend to permit broader-ranging discussions when they don't distract from a more intensely food-oriented discussion. This thread is a good example - from what I can tell it's being fairly lightly moderated. But if any of us were to start one of these discussions as a sidebar to a thread about the best XXX restaurant in YYY city, it'd be gone in a heartbeat.

                          So sometimes it isn't so much a question of appropriate or inappropriate so much as whether a certain discussion is on-topic. I love an interesting tangent as much as the next person, but am used to seeing those offshoots pruned away with some regularity. Don't take it personally.

                          Ahhh, spring in Tornado Alley. I have many fond (?) childhood memories of the whole family huddling in the closet under the stairs in our house in Tulsa...