Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Follow-up on the previous entry/absurd censorship

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Earlier today, I wrote about the comment policy of what seemed like a less than clear-headed feminist (thoughtsunderconstruction). At the time, I had the nagging doubt that I was unjustly jumping to conclusions: Yes, the formulations, the lack of objectivity, whatnot, all gave the impression of yet another delete-everything-that-is-not-perfectly-PC feminist. No, I had not actually bothered to read more than two entries, and there was at least some possibility that I was unfairly generalizing based on previous experiences with others.

I need not have worried: As it rapidly turned out, I had not only been right, but rather understated the case. I had left the following comment on a poste:

Selbstverständlich soll jeder das Recht haben, sich so zu betrachten, wie es ihm gefällt. Jedoch darf das nicht mit einer Zweckentfremdung von bestehenden Wörtern mit einer klaren Bedeutung geschehen, sondern durch das einführen von neuen, passenden Wörtern.

“Geschlecht” bezieht sich auf eine biologische Klassifizierung, die tatsächlich auf XX oder XY hinausläuft. (Mit Vorbehalten für Spezialfällen, wie XXY oder Geschlechtswandlungen.)

Für Bedeutung wie z.B. “gender identity” ist “Geschlecht” schlechthin das falsche Wort. Die derzeit beste Alternative ist wohl einfach “gender”. Dasselbe gilt für entsprechend für Wörter wie “Mann” und “Frau”.

(In short: There is a semantic difference between “gender” and “sex”, and using the German word “Geschlecht”, equivalent of “sex”, in the meaning of “gender” is a bad idea.)

This was originally followed by an unremarkable reply by thoughtsunderconstruction (not one that I agreed with, but nothing that could not be considered a normal exchange of opinion). Hours later the following additional reply arrived:

[ERSTE VERWARNUNG AN MICHAELERKSSON: Bitte an die Nettiquette halten und Sexismus zu Hause lassen, danke! anderfalls fliegst du dich bzw. deine Kommentare selber raus.]
Ich verbitte mir aber weitere Diskussionen zu dem Thema, da ich keine Fachfrau bin. Ich denke es wäre sinnvoll, dich hierbei an eine/n antisexistische/n Liguisti/en zu wenden. {Underscores turned into slashes for technical reasons.}

([FIRST WARNING TO MICHAELERKSSON: Please stick to the Nettiquette {the presumptuous and misleading name she had given to her comment policy, cf. my previous entry} and leave the sexism at home, thank you! if not you throw yourself resp. your comments out. {Original sentence is even weirder.}]
I will not tolerate any further discussion on this subject, because I am not a specialist. I think it would be sensible for you to turn to a antisexist linguist. {Original contained stilted attempts to reflect the possibility of the linguist being either male or female. Due to grammatical differences between English and German, this aspect is not translatable; however, the underscores/slashes in the original are easily observable.})

As I returned to the page to make a rebuttal, I found that my original comment had been shortened to the first paragraph—for no valid reason. I note that:

  1. My comment contained nothing that a reasonable observer would have considered sexist, nor against the comment policy. (Indeed, I deliberate was somewhat more conservative in my formulations than really warranted—having seen a similar “warning” directed at another commenter for a harmless comment.)

  2. The formulation used to preclude a further discussion (“tolerate”, resp. “verbittene”) is extremely rude German in this context—despite an alternative formulation like “I lack the interest or knowledge for that discussion, so please save it for another forum.” would easily have been possible. Indeed, the word is normally only used if someone has done something offensive or insulting.

    To make matters worse, the implication was that a part of the discussion (of potential importance) was killed off (in particular, with my comment being two-thirds censored). More generally, if lack of specialist knowledge was an ipso facto reason for avoiding discussions, we would all be mostly ignorant on a majority of the issues around us, because the breadth of knowledge and holistic context would never be formed.

  3. Requiring an antisexist linguist (whatever that may be) automatically ensures that a certain point of view is given authority: Ask a linguist who will give you the answer I want you to hear. Notably, the demand for an “antisexist” expert is made elsewhere on the blog too—apparently “ordinary” experts are not good enough.

    (As an aside, while a layman, I have spent considerable time studying various aspects of languages and linguistic, and have a correspondingly considerable understanding in my own right.)

I left some of these points, together with the statement that she merely proved what I had already surmised, behind in a comment:

Mein Kommentar hat keinerlei Bestandteile von Sexismus beinhaltet—auch nicht die völlig beliebig gelöschten Teile, die nicht erkennbar gegen den Comment Policy verstoßen haben.

Hierdurch wird ledigleich die Eindrücke bestätigt, die ich schon sechs Stunden bevor diesem Eingriff geschildert habe. Vgl. [previous entry].

Es sei am Rande erwähnt, dass sich an eine „antisexistische“ Irgendetwas zu wenden (so es so etwas überhaupt gibt), eine automatische Bevorzugung einer gewissen Position bedeuten würde—und somit für kritische Denker inakzeptabel ist.

I three-quarters expected this comment to have been deleted outright. At the time of writing (knock on wood), however, it is still present. (Nevertheless and just in case, I publish it above.)

In her comment policy, she protests that feminism would be a force of good, but at the same time she provides practical examples of the opposite—including intolerance of non-orthodox opinions, irrational behaviour, and seeing sexism where none is present. (However, even by feminist standards, it must be admitted, this woman appears to be a bit extreme.)


Unsurprisingly, the comment has since been deleted—leaving visible her lying or stupendously ignorant claims of sexism, but neither the alleged sexism (which would have disproved her) nor my protests.

A last comment left, just to tell her my mind:

thoughtsunderconstruction, Ich halte normalerweise einen diplomatischen Ton, aber nach der Löschung meines letzten Kommentars sage ich gerade aus: Du bist nicht nur eine absolute Vollidiotin, sondern auch direkt bösartig—insbesondere, die Art von Vollidiotin, die im Name des Guten Böses tut, ohne selbst zu verstehen, dass sie selbst das Böse ist.


Written by michaeleriksson

June 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm

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