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Tags language , racial slurs , racism issues , semantics , Stephen Hagan

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Old 27th July 2020, 11:16 PM   #361
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
Is there meaning without context? Surely there is no essential or inherent meaning.

One of Aboriginal activist Stephen Haganís other campaigns was over the E. S. "******" Brown Stand at a QLD rugby ground. As we have seen with the word coon, supporters argued for a contextual meaning that wasnít racist. In this case it was the nickname of a lauded rugby player. The word itís isnít racist in its etymology. It is so because of its use towards black slaves.
That's right, and it is unacceptable in any context. Someone brought up the name of the dog in The Dam Busters. That's the same. The Lovecraft story The Rats In The Walls has a cat named similarly, and that's unacceptable too. The name of the stadium should be changed - preferably to the rugby player's actual name, since his nickname is no longer socially acceptable and let's face it is only a nickname anyway.
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Old 28th July 2020, 12:09 AM   #362
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
That's right, and it is unacceptable in any context. Someone brought up the name of the dog in The Dam Busters. That's the same. The Lovecraft story The Rats In The Walls has a cat named similarly, and that's unacceptable too. The name of the stadium should be changed - preferably to the rugby player's actual name, since his nickname is no longer socially acceptable and let's face it is only a nickname anyway.
It is unacceptable because of a more significant context not because of essential meaning. There are no such things.
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Old 28th July 2020, 12:36 AM   #363
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
It is unacceptable because of a more significant context not because of essential meaning. There are no such things.
Thinking on this post I wonder if we have reached a paradox. ****** is now unacceptable to be used and I assume auto-censor will substitute *. For entirely understandable reasons black people sought to possess and de-toxify? the term by using it themselves. But now the continued use within 'black' culture maintains its existence. Other terms we talked about are disappearing, but the continued use of ****** is now maintaining its existence in widespread use and maintaining its toxicity by the rule that only black people can use it. Perhaps we have reached the point where the best policy would be to universally stop its use?
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Old 28th July 2020, 11:22 AM   #364
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
OFC a coon hound was bred to hunt raccoons. And when the hounds were instead used to hunt down human beings like animals, "coon hunting" has a whole new racist meaning.
Generally used bloodhounds for that.
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Old 28th July 2020, 03:42 PM   #365
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Generally used bloodhounds for that.
And criphounds- so still racist.
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Old 28th July 2020, 03:42 PM   #366
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
It is unacceptable because of a more significant context not because of essential meaning. There are no such things.
I don't know about you, but I certainly work on the assumption that words have meanings. Communication would be rather difficult if they didn't.
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Old 28th July 2020, 04:02 PM   #367
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I don't know about you, but I certainly work on the assumption that words have meanings. Communication would be rather difficult if they didn't.
The interesting question we touched on is how they take meaning.
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Old 28th July 2020, 04:08 PM   #368
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
The interesting question we touched on is how they take meaning.
I think that's a less interesting question than how the meanings they take spread from one context to another. Which is what has happened here. The meaning of a word in a racist context has spread to the meaning of that same word in the context of a business trademark. This context-shifting happens all the time - it is part of the way language changes over time.
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Old 28th July 2020, 04:21 PM   #369
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I think that's a less interesting question than how the meanings they take spread from one context to another. Which is what has happened here. The meaning of a word in a racist context has spread to the meaning of that same word in the context of a business trademark. This context-shifting happens all the time - it is part of the way language changes over time.
Yes, in this case, as seen often, many want to bloody mindedly hold fast to an insignificant name tradition in the face of an understanding of its racist meaning, while seeking to compartmentalise these different meanings. As you point out there are no cut demarcations in meaning, which is contextual and fluid.

These racist meanings hold their power because the inequities they are based upon continue to exist and don’t look like being resolved any time soon. Activists like Stephen Hagan are quite capable of campaigning against naming issues and the larger systematic problems they refect.

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Old 28th July 2020, 04:24 PM   #370
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Except that it's not true.

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can disenfranchise and marginalise.

The only people who say that words can never hurt them are those who have never been on the receiving end of a barrage of hateful words.

If you had read my earlier post you may have discovered that I have had an unkind word or two sent my way.

Words hurt until you learn that they only have power over you if you let them.
Words cannot - in and of themselves - disenfranchise you. That takes actual intervention by human action. The "slippery slope" argument you are using is a fallacy.


BTW - If I get everybody on this forum to tell you to send me your money will you send me all your money? If not - why not?
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Old 28th July 2020, 04:28 PM   #371
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
If you had read my earlier post you may have discovered that I have had an unkind word or two sent my way.

Words hurt until you learn that they only have power over you if you let them.
Words cannot - in and of themselves - disenfranchise you. That takes actual intervention by human action. The "slippery slope" argument you are using is a fallacy.


BTW - If I get everybody on this forum to tell you to send me your money will you send me all your money? If not - why not?
Black people are disenfranchised. When a white person calls a black person these words they are reminding them of this fact.
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Old 28th July 2020, 04:31 PM   #372
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
If you had read my earlier post you may have discovered that I have had an unkind word or two sent my way.

Words hurt until you learn that they only have power over you if you let them.
Words cannot - in and of themselves - disenfranchise you. That takes actual intervention by human action. The "slippery slope" argument you are using is a fallacy.


BTW - If I get everybody on this forum to tell you to send me your money will you send me all your money? If not - why not?
I just told 100 people that you are a bankrobber and a murderer. They decided to come to your house. Will you run? If not, why not?

ETA: I also hired 100 black guys who will follow you around in shifts, constantly calling your a worthless whitebread. Do you think this will annoy you?

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Old 28th July 2020, 05:14 PM   #373
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
Black people are disenfranchised. When a white person calls a black person these words they are reminding them of this fact.
And when a white person calls his cheese by the name of the man whose name is the same as one of these words, well, I think the answer is pretty obvious.

ETA: In all seriousness, both you and rockinkt could be right. The words, by themselves, really do hold no power, but they are used in ways that can project power and result in real harm.

In my opinion, when you go after the words, all by themselves, it's a distraction from the real issue, and it alienates people who might otherwise be allies. Demanding that someone change the name of a kind of cheese is a good way to get people to not take you seriously when you also demand that the actual racial slur not be used as a racial slur.

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Old 28th July 2020, 05:35 PM   #374
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
ETA: In all seriousness, both you and rockinkt could be right. The words, by themselves, really do hold no power, but they are used in ways that can project power and result in real harm.
Words are never used in a vacuum. That the n-word is simply a physical description of the colour of a person's skin, derived from the Latin word for "black", is so much not the point.

Words hold power. Words are wielded as weapons, to marginalise and disenfranchise, and can cause real harm.
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Old 28th July 2020, 05:37 PM   #375
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
And when a white person calls his cheese by the name of the man whose name is the same as one of these words, well, I think the answer is pretty obvious.

ETA: In all seriousness, both you and rockinkt could be right. The words, by themselves, really do hold no power, but they are used in ways that can project power and result in real harm.

In my opinion, when you go after the words, all by themselves, it's a distraction from the real issue, and it alienates people who might otherwise be allies. Demanding that someone change the name of a kind of cheese is a good way to get people to not take you seriously when you also demand that the actual racial slur not be used as a racial slur.
Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan is not distracted from the wider issues and how much time and energy would this campaign have even cost him? In the decades it took, the low key campaign for change drew little attention in national discourse of indigenous issues. Australia and even fans of mass produced cheddar cheese have lost nothing in this name change that is already being forgotten. You would not think so given the outrage it drew from a segment of white Australia.

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Old 28th July 2020, 05:54 PM   #376
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post

In my opinion, when you go after the words, all by themselves, it's a distraction from the real issue, and it alienates people who might otherwise be allies. Demanding that someone change the name of a kind of cheese is a good way to get people to not take you seriously when you also demand that the actual racial slur not be used as a racial slur.
How does this work, exactly?

Someone says, "Right, you indigenous campaigners, listen up! I could have been an ally, but when you changed the name of my favourite cheese, I decided to use racial slurs because I can't take you seriously anymore!"
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Old 28th July 2020, 05:58 PM   #377
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan is not distracted from the wider issues and how much time and energy would this campaign have even cost him? In the decades it took, the low key campaign for change drew little attention in national discourse of indigenous issues. Australia and even fans of mass produced cheddar cheese have lost nothing in this name change that is already being forgotten. You would not think so given the outrage it drew from a segment of white Australia.
I think that proves the point.

No, it did not distract Stephen Hagan. It distracted the segment of white Australia. I suppose it could be that that segment of white Australia was outraged because they were actually racist and objected to having to give up one of their cover stories about using "Coon".

Or, perhaps, they might be outraged because they are irritated that people are so determined to call them racist that they even have to rename their cheese. It's a nuisance, and it causes them to resent the people who are running the campaign. Don't these people have anything better to do than complain about using some guy's name on a package of cheese?
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Old 28th July 2020, 05:59 PM   #378
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Or, perhaps, they might be outraged because they are irritated that people are so determined to call them racist that they even have to rename their cheese. It's a nuisance, and it causes them to resent the people who are running the campaign. Don't these people have anything better to do than complain about using some guy's name on a package of cheese?
Yes, lots, but people are capable of being concerned about several things at the same time.
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Old 28th July 2020, 06:47 PM   #379
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Or, perhaps, they might be outraged because they are irritated that people are so determined to call them racist that they even have to rename their cheese. It's a nuisance, and it causes them to resent the people who are running the campaign. Don't these people have anything better to do than complain about using some guy's name on a package of cheese?
It seems pretty popular to find them.

Maybe there is a business idea here to have an import business of offensive 'sounding' products from other countries. I bet it would get a lot of free advertising as everyone must weigh in with twitty opinions.

Would some people get offended? or lean more to multi-cultural sensitivity?

You could also argue that only the largest corporations have the money to repackage or label things for specific markets, so they are shutting out the 'little' guy and serving the corporate masters. muahaahhahahah
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Old 28th July 2020, 07:45 PM   #380
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I think that proves the point.

No, it did not distract Stephen Hagan. It distracted the segment of white Australia. I suppose it could be that that segment of white Australia was outraged because they were actually racist and objected to having to give up one of their cover stories about using "Coon".

Or, perhaps, they might be outraged because they are irritated that people are so determined to call them racist that they even have to rename their cheese. It's a nuisance, and it causes them to resent the people who are running the campaign. Don't these people have anything better to do than complain about using some guy's name on a package of cheese?
We are getting close to the issue in the second paragraph. White Australia is structurally racist and some are very defensive about it.

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Old 28th July 2020, 08:41 PM   #381
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By the way, I think that the fact that there's a complaint in Forum Management about the title of this thread kind of proves its point.

I would be open to a Moderator changing the title to "Do you like your cheese?" if that is what is required.
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Old 28th July 2020, 09:27 PM   #382
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
By the way, I think that the fact that there's a complaint in Forum Management about the title of this thread kind of proves its point.

I would be open to a Moderator changing the title to "Do you like your cheese?" if that is what is required.
I don't think so. The thread title was deliberate "click bait". It used an out of context word that people would associate with a racial slur. Of course, anyone with an ounce of sense would know that when the opened the thread to read it they were going to read some sort of thread about a use of the word where, context provided, it wasn't a racial slur at all.

If they thought about it further, they might have checked which forum it was in. If it were in community, we could assume it was a misleading thread title of the sort we often see in community or humor, where something vaguely naughty is used to drive us to see it substituted with some other meaning. Usually those double meaning words are sexual in nature. A racial epithet used in such a manner would offend someone for sure, and it would be considered "edgy", at best.

Seeing it was in social issues and current events, it was pretty obvious that it would be a case where people were being offended at something that wasn't actually offensive, and that turned out to be the case. The lack of context was deliberately jarring, so that those of us not from Australia might say, "What????? He can't say that!", but I'm sure I'm not the only one who clicked on it wondering what the made up controversy was.

Cheese buyers, on the other hand, would have the context, and know that the word was totally inoffensive except among people who were searching for things to be offended by.

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Old 28th July 2020, 09:32 PM   #383
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By the way, I asked a question a while ago that no one seems to want to take up.

Australian cheese is not the only thing named for a Mr. Coon. I gave examples of Coon laboratories and Coon Manufacturing in the US, and asked if they ought to be expected to change their names. Like in this case, they might wish to do so for marketing purposes, but I'm asking if they ought to be expected to do so because there is something genuinely offensive about their names. Anyone want to address it?
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Old 28th July 2020, 09:38 PM   #384
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
By the way, I asked a question a while ago that no one seems to want to take up.

Australian cheese is not the only thing named for a Mr. Coon. I gave examples of Coon laboratories and Coon Manufacturing in the US, and asked if they ought to be expected to change their names. Like in this case, they might wish to do so for marketing purposes, but I'm asking if they ought to be expected to do so because there is something genuinely offensive about their names. Anyone want to address it?
I would change my own surname.
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Old 28th July 2020, 09:45 PM   #385
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
I would change my own surname.
Agreed.
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Old 28th July 2020, 11:56 PM   #386
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
I would change my own surname.
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Agreed.
Well, it's consistent.

I can't say it's a wrong answer. It's not one of those things that there's a definitive right or wrong answer. All I can say is that if someone found my name offensive, I wouldn't change it for their benefit. If I got tired of reactions from people, I might give up the fight and just change it to save myself some trouble, kind of the way that some companies might change their names due to marketing considerations, but I wouldn't feel obligated to do so. I also wouldn't expect anyone else to do so, or expect them to refrain from using such a name to identify their products or business. Indeed, if someone tried to tell me that my name offended them, I would be offended.
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Old 29th July 2020, 02:45 AM   #387
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
By the way, I asked a question a while ago that no one seems to want to take up.

Australian cheese is not the only thing named for a Mr. Coon. I gave examples of Coon laboratories and Coon Manufacturing in the US, and asked if they ought to be expected to change their names. Like in this case, they might wish to do so for marketing purposes, but I'm asking if they ought to be expected to do so because there is something genuinely offensive about their names. Anyone want to address it?
Yes. If they want to change their name I don't think we should stop them.
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Old 29th July 2020, 03:35 AM   #388
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Well, it's consistent.

I can't say it's a wrong answer. It's not one of those things that there's a definitive right or wrong answer. All I can say is that if someone found my name offensive, I wouldn't change it for their benefit. If I got tired of reactions from people, I might give up the fight and just change it to save myself some trouble, kind of the way that some companies might change their names due to marketing considerations, but I wouldn't feel obligated to do so. I also wouldn't expect anyone else to do so, or expect them to refrain from using such a name to identify their products or business. Indeed, if someone tried to tell me that my name offended them, I would be offended.
Your analogy is too far abstracted from the real problem of a denigrating term used to describe a people who were slaves and still disenfranchised. If your name was n word you are not merely offending someone.

You donít think you should be concerned with how your having a racist name might affect others but how do you judge the aesthetics of your own self walking around with a name like Mr ******?
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Old 29th July 2020, 05:26 AM   #389
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I'm guessing that a cheese company is not really interested in having to explain how their branding is a surname and not a racial slur. The purpose of branding is to endear a product, not cause tedious explanations.

Morality seems irrelevant. Perception is all that matters in marketing.

I tend to agree that the racial slur argument seems a bit tenuous. I have no trouble believing that people have made opportunistic racial jokes based on the name in the past, but I very much doubt that was the original intention.
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Old 29th July 2020, 06:35 AM   #390
zooterkin
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I tend to agree that the racial slur argument seems a bit tenuous. I have no trouble believing that people have made opportunistic racial jokes based on the name in the past, but I very much doubt that was the original intention.
It may not have been intended as a slur at the time, but it wouldn't have been the only product launched around that time with a name that is problematic now.
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Old 29th July 2020, 06:44 AM   #391
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
Your analogy is too far abstracted from the real problem of a denigrating term used to describe a people who were slaves and still disenfranchised. If your name was n word you are not merely offending someone.

You donít think you should be concerned with how your having a racist name might affect others but how do you judge the aesthetics of your own self walking around with a name like Mr ******?
Probably been said in the thread already, but a word with dual meanings does not pack the same punch as a dedicated slur.

Seeing 'crackers' on a saltine box does not amp up this faux outrage.
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Old 29th July 2020, 08:43 AM   #392
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
Your analogy is too far abstracted from the real problem of a denigrating term used to describe a people who were slaves and still disenfranchised. If your name was n word you are not merely offending someone.

You donít think you should be concerned with how your having a racist name might affect others but how do you judge the aesthetics of your own self walking around with a name like Mr ******?
It isn't an analogy. It's an actual example. No, Mr. Coon should not be concerned that his name offends people. He might choose to change it just because it's a burden on him, but he should not feel obligated to do so. If there are any people named Mr. ******, they shouldn't be concerned either.

There are a handful of people in America named Hitler. Most changed their name because they didn't like dealing with the consequences, but their name is not inherently offensive. They got it from their ancestors. A few kept it, and while "Hitler Plumbing and Heating" might not be great marketing, people should not be offended by it. It just has negative associations that most would prefer not to deal with. "Hitler" is not a racist name. "Coon" is not a racist name. They are family names.
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Old 29th July 2020, 08:47 AM   #393
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
By the way, I think that the fact that there's a complaint in Forum Management about the title of this thread kind of proves its point.

I would be open to a Moderator changing the title to "Do you like your cheese?" if that is what is required.
I just clicked on it thinking it might be about cheese, then realized what thread it is. I'd been avoiding it.
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Old 29th July 2020, 09:12 AM   #394
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Old 29th July 2020, 09:27 AM   #395
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
It isn't an analogy. It's an actual example. No, Mr. Coon should not be concerned that his name offends people. He might choose to change it just because it's a burden on him, but he should not feel obligated to do so. If there are any people named Mr. ******, they shouldn't be concerned either.

There are a handful of people in America named Hitler. Most changed their name because they didn't like dealing with the consequences, but their name is not inherently offensive. They got it from their ancestors. A few kept it, and while "Hitler Plumbing and Heating" might not be great marketing, people should not be offended by it. It just has negative associations that most would prefer not to deal with. "Hitler" is not a racist name. "Coon" is not a racist name. They are family names.
Compartmentalisation of meaning is not as simple as you assert it. Words and meanings are much messier. Communication can be a struggle of suppression of unintended meaning or playful ambiguity.
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Old 29th July 2020, 09:51 AM   #396
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I think we should be careful how far we go with changing the names of things.

Because the following is a racist statement.

"I hate having a table of Canadians, because Canadians are lousy tippers."
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Old 29th July 2020, 09:55 AM   #397
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
It isn't an analogy. It's an actual example. No, Mr. Coon should not be concerned that his name offends people. He might choose to change it just because it's a burden on him, but he should not feel obligated to do so. If there are any people named Mr. ******, they shouldn't be concerned either.

There are a handful of people in America named Hitler. Most changed their name because they didn't like dealing with the consequences, but their name is not inherently offensive. They got it from their ancestors. A few kept it, and while "Hitler Plumbing and Heating" might not be great marketing, people should not be offended by it. It just has negative associations that most would prefer not to deal with. "Hitler" is not a racist name. "Coon" is not a racist name. They are family names.
Sure, but a large international corporation selling cheese probably has more interest in making sure their brand image is squeeky clean than just some random Joe (Hitler)

It's a corporation for christ sakes. Who cares what some dude's name was in the 1800's. If it's even bringing a whiff of impropriety, they should ditch it. I'm sure the great great grandchildren of Coon will get over it.

Speaking of which, there's a common joke around Boston. There's a plaque reading "General Hooker entrance" on the state house in Boston. Named after General Hooker, not the idea of an all purpose prostitute. Laughs are had.
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Old 29th July 2020, 10:03 AM   #398
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Originally Posted by bobdroege7 View Post
I think we should be careful how far we go with changing the names of things.

Because the following is a racist statement.

"I hate having a table of Canadians, because Canadians are lousy tippers."
Why should we (Or corporations invested in dairy trademarks) be careful of? What was lost in this case? Where might this slippery slope end?
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Old 29th July 2020, 10:34 AM   #399
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Not sure I get the point of this.

There's a brand of cheese called "Coon cheese" that was started by a guy with a surname of Coon. And because that word can also be used as a racist slur, people want the name of the cheese to be changed?

Did I get that right?
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Old 29th July 2020, 10:39 AM   #400
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Originally Posted by sir drinks-a-lot View Post
Not sure I get the point of this.

There's a brand of cheese called "Coon cheese" that was started by a guy with a surname of Coon. And because that word can also be used as a racist slur, people want the name of the cheese to be changed?

Did I get that right?
Almost, and you got all the important parts right.

"Coon" was the name of the guy who invented a cheesmaking process, but he didn't actually start the company that made the cheese.
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