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Thread: The best way to convey controversial ideas in an age of oppressive political correctness

  1. #1 The best way to convey controversial ideas in an age of oppressive political correctness 
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    Words work best when they have precise, sharp edges, allowing us to more carefully dissect the world. With the spread of PC, one of the first casualties is language. The more one kowtows to PC, the more nebbish and flabby one's language becomes by necessity—so one can engage is semantic gameplaying, hairsplitting, vague pejoratives, and other little tricks. Mud slinging ad hominem, for example, is very common on the battlefield of ideas and it ruins the discourse—and that's the point. "Racist", "sexist", "check your privilege" and other pejoratives have imprecise, shifting meanings.

    Now, my question is, what's the best way to convey controversial ideas—such as about sex differences or genetic differences across different groups—without invoking a hailstorm of uninformed idiotic "criticism", rooted in nothing other than groupthink emotionalism? What should Lawrence Summers have done differently, if anything?

    As I mentioned, the more you must kowtow to political correctness, the more laborious and tedious your writing must become—from having to invoke the naturalistic and moralistic fallacies constantly, or from having to spell out endless caveats that should be obvious, or having to take on a meek apologetic tone. Ironically, the most rabid assaults have been leveled against those who were apologetic for something they wrote—a tweet, a sentence in an article, or an offhand remark that could plausibly be construed as [insert bad thing, sexist, bigoted, etc] by those yearning for opportunities to get offended and to bully people under the cloak of moralism.

    The general question that I'm sure has been asked here many times before is How are we going to deal with these discussions that need to be had, without witch hunts and name calling and everyone bending over backwards to avoid "offending" someone? I'd also like to ask, Is there any hope for clear, rigorous, stimulating writing on these hotbutton topics? Or is clarity too dangerous to allow for that.


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    How can being politically correct be oppressive to anyone?


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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Now, my question is, what's the best way to convey controversial ideas—such as about sex differences or genetic differences across different groups
    Using objective evidence, perhaps.

    It is perhaps ironic that your writing is vague and "flabby" to the point of near incomprehensibility. Perhaps you should practice conciseness when making your case and drop the meaningless rants against a PC strawman.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clair D. View Post
    How can being politically correct be oppressive to anyone?
    Quite. As if being polite is such a problem for communication.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    It is perhaps ironic that your writing is vague and "flabby" to the point of near incomprehensibility. Perhaps you should practice conciseness when making your case and drop the meaningless rants against a PC strawman.
    I'm glad someone else had a problem understanding that post. I was unclear what point was being made . . . .
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Using objective evidence
    /thread

    If you want to participate in a rational discourse, you have to rule out opinion and emotion as basis for discussion. Separating one's self from the debate is incredibly difficult. I fail more often than not at keeping myself emotionally distanced from a debate about which I am passionate. However, if you want to discuss a topic with a goal of arriving at a mutually acceptable conclusion, there is no other way.

    The problem I see is too often is that some topics are not based around the evidence Strange suggests should be presented. How does one debate, for instance, gay rights when half the debate is fueled by a belief and nothing of physical substance? Some debates are a wash from the get go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Words work best when they have precise, sharp edges, allowing us to more carefully dissect the world. With the spread of PC, one of the first casualties is language. The more one kowtows to PC, the more nebbish and flabby one's language becomes by necessity—so one can engage is semantic gameplaying, hairsplitting, vague pejoratives, and other little tricks. Mud slinging ad hominem, for example, is very common on the battlefield of ideas and it ruins the discourse—and that's the point. "Racist", "sexist", "check your privilege" and other pejoratives have imprecise, shifting meanings.

    Now, my question is, what's the best way to convey controversial ideas—such as about sex differences or genetic differences across different groups—without invoking a hailstorm of uninformed idiotic "criticism", rooted in nothing other than groupthink emotionalism? What should Lawrence Summers have done differently, if anything?

    As I mentioned, the more you must kowtow to political correctness, the more laborious and tedious your writing must become—from having to invoke the naturalistic and moralistic fallacies constantly, or from having to spell out endless caveats that should be obvious, or having to take on a meek apologetic tone. Ironically, the most rabid assaults have been leveled against those who were apologetic for something they wrote—a tweet, a sentence in an article, or an offhand remark that could plausibly be construed as [insert bad thing, sexist, bigoted, etc] by those yearning for opportunities to get offended and to bully people under the cloak of moralism.

    The general question that I'm sure has been asked here many times before is How are we going to deal with these discussions that need to be had, without witch hunts and name calling and everyone bending over backwards to avoid "offending" someone? I'd also like to ask, Is there any hope for clear, rigorous, stimulating writing on these hotbutton topics? Or is clarity too dangerous to allow for that.
    In the Western World, we have, in regards to the Politically Correct shite, put ourselves in an iron cage, that no one knows how to get out of.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quite. As if being polite is such a problem for communication.
    Yes sir! People that can't make a point without cussing, using ad hom arguments, resorting to racist remarks, really have no point worth making.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Now, my question is, what's the best way to convey controversial ideas—such as about sex differences or genetic differences across different groups
    Using objective evidence, perhaps.

    It is perhaps ironic that your writing is vague and "flabby" to the point of near incomprehensibility. Perhaps you should practice conciseness when making your case and drop the meaningless rants against a PC strawman.
    Meaningless rants? Objective evidence?

    Show me a phrase I used that's vague, and I'll clarify.

    Ugh. I think the first few responders aren't informed enough to enter this discussion. A glance at the Larry Summers controversy should be instructive. Objective evidence didn't work there, did it? I asked a specific question about him, but I don't want that to be the focus of this topic.
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    The general question that I'm sure has been asked here many times before is How are we going to deal with these discussions that need to be had, without witch hunts and name calling and everyone bending over backwards to avoid "offending" someone? I'd also like to ask, Is there any hope for clear, rigorous, stimulating writing on these hotbutton topics? Or is clarity too dangerous to allow for that.
    We deal with topics with understanding, well thought out answers and try to keep a civil tongue. Any topic can be discussed without getting all worked up if everyone can just keep their heads about them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    The general question that I'm sure has been asked here many times before is How are we going to deal with these discussions that need to be had, without witch hunts and name calling and everyone bending over backwards to avoid "offending" someone? I'd also like to ask, Is there any hope for clear, rigorous, stimulating writing on these hotbutton topics? Or is clarity too dangerous to allow for that.
    We deal with topics with understanding, well thought out answers and try to keep a civil tongue. Any topic can be discussed without getting all worked up if everyone can just keep their heads about them.
    I hope it's obvious I'm not talking about this forum but the greater intellectual climate in general, where vast swathes of ideas are blacklisted, e.g. genetic differences across groups or gender differences
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    e.g. genetic differences across groups or gender differences
    That more or less depends upon the motive behind such examinations. If someone is unaware that their are genetic differences between groups we call "races" or the sexes, then they apparently don't understand genetics. If those differences are used as leverage to apply superiority/inferiority to select groups or genders, then there is an entirely different problem at hand.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Show me a phrase I used that's vague, and I'll clarify.
    It isn't any particular phrase; it is the long-winded paragraphs that say nothing.

    I think the first few responders aren't informed enough to enter this discussion.
    As you haven't said what you are talking about, it is hard to know how to respond.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clair D. View Post
    How can being politically correct be oppressive to anyone?
    I don't want to insult you, so take this in the most sincere and un-snide way possible: I don't have the patience to educate you on this topic. You have a lot to learn about the role of censorship and taboo in intellectual life. When certain ideas are made verboten (particularly ideas that ostensibly threaten the progressive agenda), oppressiveness begins to enter intellectual life and cast a pall over intellectual freedom. I have used the Larry Summers example, you could start there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    I hope it's obvious I'm not talking about this forum but the greater intellectual climate in general, where vast swathes of ideas are blacklisted, e.g. genetic differences across groups or gender differences
    Google scholar throws up over half a million results for "genetic differences racial groups" and 1.5 million for "genetic differences gender".

    Odd sort of blacklist.
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    So, do you have an excitingly controversial idea that you want to discuss? Or are you happy just being a martyr to the oppressive society you live in?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Show me a phrase I used that's vague, and I'll clarify.
    It isn't any particular phrase; it is the long-winded paragraphs that say nothing.

    I think the first few responders aren't informed enough to enter this discussion.
    As you haven't said what you are talking about, it is hard to know how to respond.
    If you can't follow, don't worry about it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    I hope it's obvious I'm not talking about this forum but the greater intellectual climate in general, where vast swathes of ideas are blacklisted, e.g. genetic differences across groups or gender differences
    Google scholar throws up over half a million results for "genetic differences racial groups" and 1.5 million for "genetic differences gender".

    Odd sort of blacklist.
    Think a little harder.

    Are you familiar with the Larry Summers case? Third or fourth time to mention it.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    I don't want to insult you, so . . .
    Sentences that start with that usually finish with an insult. And of course that is what you did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    If you can't follow, don't worry about it.
    Well, if you can't be bothered to explain yourself clearly, don't be discouraged when people don't know what you are talking about.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Are you familiar with the Larry Summers case? Third or fourth time to mention it.
    No. But does one person (versus 2 million scientific papers) constitute a black list?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chucknorium View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    I don't want to insult you, so . . .
    Sentences that start with that usually finish with an insult. And of course that is what you did.
    "You have a lot to learn", let's get our panties in a twist, what a horrible thing to say! Grow up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    If you can't follow, don't worry about it.
    Well, if you can't be bothered to explain yourself clearly, don't be discouraged when people don't know what you are talking about.
    It's clear as day, just for people who are more informed than you. Sorry. Please leave, you're adding nothing of value. Your child-like confusion is tedious.
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    G of B, it might have helped if you had given a brief outline of who Lawrence Summers is and what he did that is pertinent to this discussion.

    I think Strange and one or two others are being knee jerk in their reactions - I had no trouble understanding what you meant. Since Strange is typically very objective and precise I suspect I am missing some sub-text.

    I'm not generally PC, so let me ask you, are you a racist/sexist who is half out of their closet and pissed of by the inability to take a dig at certain sub-sets of humanity in a subtle way by exploring research that appears to show some sub-sets at a disadvantage?

    To the other participants in this post, are you stating that political correctness is equivalent to politeness? If I were being politically correct I wouldn't even ask you that. As I am not PC I am asking, but I hope I am doing so politely. If I was asking that impolitely I would say "Are you frigging crazy? There is a massive difference between being polite and being PC."
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    G of B, it might have helped if you had given a brief outline of who Lawrence Summers is and what he did that is pertinent to this discussion.

    I think Strange and one or two others are being knee jerk in their reactions - I had no trouble understanding what you meant. Since Strange is typically very objective and precise I suspect I am missing some sub-text.

    I'm not generally PC, so let me ask you, are you a racist/sexist who is half out of their closet and pissed of by the inability to take a dig at certain sub-sets of humanity in a subtle way by exploring research that appears to show some sub-sets at a disadvantage?

    To the other participants in this post, are you stating that political correctness is equivalent to politeness? If I were being politically correct I wouldn't even ask you that. As I am not PC I am asking, but I hope I am doing so politely. If I was asking that impolitely I would say "Are you frigging crazy? There is a massive difference between being polite and being PC."
    Good post-- irrational people (say, racists) will naturally condemn political correctness when in reality they hate that sane decent people shut them out of the conversation or call them on the irrationality of their arguments.

    The problem is that words like "racist" and "sexist" are flung around to silence people who are anything but-- even people as careful and decent as the Steven Pinkers of the world. Censorship is now part of the left's artillery, to an appalling level. I used the Lawrence Summers example because he was fired for "sexism"-- but what the man said was emphatically not sexist, he was just flying too close to the sun, i.e. a verboten topic. There are countless other examples, but Summers is one of the more well-known cases. (I perhaps have overestimated how well known in the general discourse though).
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    To the other participants in this post, are you stating that political correctness is equivalent to politeness?
    That is my understanding of the term. But it seems to be taken to mean "anything I disagree with" by people who write angry letters to The Times.
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    Sorry Strange I have trouble understanding what you are meaning by that post. I can't decide if you are saying it is a good thing, or a bad thing, or a good thing in theory, but bad in practice, or the reverse. Can you clarify please.
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    I think using polite and respectful language is, in general, a good thing.

    Complaining that anything you don't like is "political correctness gone mad" is, in general, not a good thing.
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    "Complaining that anything you don't like is "political correctness gone mad" is, in general, not a good thing"

    You know what else is not, in general, a good thing? A vapid strawman.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I think using polite and respectful language is, in general, a good thing.

    Complaining that anything you don't like is "political correctness gone mad" is, in general, not a good thing.
    Scenario: middle aged lady in supervisory position in office work is going through menopause. The consequent stresses are significantly effecting her capacity for work of the required quality. Her decisions are adversely impacting on her team.

    Political correctness, as often applied, prevents subordinates, peers, or superiors saying "I think Jane's gone menopausal, what can we do to help her?" Instead the problem is ignored and consequently grows.

    This is reality. True, I am basing it on anecdote, but anecdote from the daily BBC radio program Woman's Hour, which has been active in promoting equality for women for many years.

    Sure, there could be a polite way to approach the issue, but it often doesn't happen. Do you think this is good? PC, as applied, often prevents one calling a spade a spade. One is required to call it a skillfully fashioned, personal digging implement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Political correctness, as often applied, prevents subordinates, peers, or superiors saying "I think Jane's gone menopausal, what can we do to help her?" Instead the problem is ignored and consequently grows.
    Is that political correctness? It sounds like plain old-fashioned embarrassment and tip-toeing around an awkward social situation. "Political correctness" seems to be a relatively new term; are you really saying that a few decades ago, people would have had the conversation you are describing, without any qualms, but now they can't?

    The only use of the phrase "political correctness" I have heard is the Daily Mail-style "gone mad" complaint.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Is that political correctness? It sounds like plain old-fashioned embarrassment and tip-toeing around an awkward social situation. "Political correctness" seems to be a relatively new term; are you really saying that a few decades ago, people would have had the conversation you are describing, without any qualms, but now they can't?
    I am saying that the supression of the discussion today is caused by the misapplication of political correctness. The avoidance of the discussion forty years ago was caused by up-tight British attitudes towards anything remotely associated with sex.

    Rarely a week goes by when I am not discussing some personnel situation that someone doesn't say, "I don't think we can do that. It's not politically correct."

    You or another poster questioned whether anybody had ever actually been oppressed through application of political correctness. Real world situation now, not a hypothetical. Some time ago one of my employees, on account of his culture, age and social status attempted to kiss the hand of a female employee he was introduced to. She raised a complaint with her supervisor, saying she had been sexually harassed. To prevent the matter being escalated in a way that could have resulted in a full scale investigation and a written warning letter I had to apologise profusely on his behalf, lecture him on the inappropriateness of it, and conceal the fact that I thought he had a good case for a counter complaint of her cultural insensitivity. (Except that in the atmosphere of PC that pervades our organisation, he would have no chance of being heard.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Clair D. View Post
    How can being politically correct be oppressive to anyone?
    I don't want to insult you, so take this in the most sincere and un-snide way possible: I don't have the patience to educate you on this topic. You have a lot to learn about the role of censorship and taboo in intellectual life. When certain ideas are made verboten (particularly ideas that ostensibly threaten the progressive agenda), oppressiveness begins to enter intellectual life and cast a pall over intellectual freedom. I have used the Larry Summers example, you could start there.
    First of all, I've never heard of Larry Summers until now. And I declined to comment on him at first as I had a feeling this has something to do more with politics. And you did mention his name but you didn't share a link. I had to google him myself. It would save time if we could use the same reference. What exactly are you talking about? That he's bad for the economy or that women are underrepresented in the Science and Engineering field? Is it an issue with the hiring process or is it just because only few women choose this career path?

    Is he the reason why Obama appointed Yellen? Do you support Hillary Clinton for President?

    Oh dear...I may have a lot to learn but I trust my own judgment.
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    Rarely a week goes by when I am not discussing some personnel situation that someone doesn't say, "I don't think we can do that. It's not politically correct."
    I realise that Brits are a bit odd on this subject, but if I were part of the team discussion, I'd certainly be asking what on earth a respectable organisation/ individual wanted to do that raised that issue. Speaking as someone who worked for a while as an Equal Employment Opportunity officer and was a Sexual Harassment counsellor/ contact officer for quite a bit longer I do know how these things should go - at least under Australian law.

    If people are saying that they can't do, or can't allow others to do, certain things because of political correctness implications then it sounds like a training and/or a policy issue to me. It's a way of avoiding an issue rather than of dealing with it.

    (Like a menopausal woman having problems. What about other people having health problems that seem to be affecting their work performance? Unless there's a policy and a process covering health and fitness matters generally, then people are going to get all flustered and tongue-tied about health issues arising from menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. How do you handle men or women having attendance/ performance problems with their job because of their witless folly in continuing to play weekend / night time sport and turn up for work visibly fatigued/ bruised/ injured on a too frequent basis? A decent personnel policy should be able to handle all kinds of stuff that arises from issues outside the workplace.)

    Some time ago one of my employees, on account of his culture, age and social status attempted to kiss the hand of a female employee he was introduced to. She raised a complaint with her supervisor, saying she had been sexually harassed.
    If this introduction took place in a work environment or at a work function, she was right and he was wrong. He might claim that it's "on account of his culture, age and social status" but that doesn't wash with me. Plenty of other people get a discreet word in the ear or a kick in the pants if they apply the conventions of their "culture, age and social status" when meeting people at work.

    If an arrogant refusal to shake a woman's hand is unacceptable ... and
    if an intimate pat on the shoulder or the bottom of a newly introduced colleague is unacceptable, ... then
    a kiss on the hand is also unacceptable.

    It's totally inappropriate in a work environment. It establishes a power relationship based on both age and sex - in different ways for different people - that is inimical to equality and respectful relationships in a workplace. Especially because, from then on, this man's age, status and inappropriate behaviour has ensured that this woman, along with any and every woman in the organisation, knows that he demands to be treated differently from other employees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post


    If an arrogant refusal to shake a woman's hand is unacceptable ... and
    if an intimate pat on the shoulder or the bottom of a newly introduced colleague is unacceptable, ... then
    a kiss on the hand is also unacceptable.

    It's totally inappropriate in a work environment. It establishes a power relationship based on both age and sex - in different ways for different people - that is inimical to equality and respectful relationships in a workplace. Especially because, from then on, this man's age, status and inappropriate behaviour has ensured that this woman, along with any and every woman in the organisation, knows that he demands to be treated differently from other employees.
    Playing devil's advocate here...

    Wouldn't it only be unacceptable if someone walks away from the situation feeling as though they treated as a lesser? Suppose the woman getting kissed on the hand was not offended, but someone else standing nearby saw it happen, and they were offended by it. Then it must be wrong then too. But what if no-one feels it was wrong? Does that mean it is still unacceptable, or is it only unacceptable when someone says it is?

    As for the part where you were talking about the man wanting to be treated differently, don't you think there is a possibility that he might actually, to some extent, be entitled to that?

    Isn't that one of the largest points about feminism? That: Women and men are different in some ways, and because of these differences, women have historically been treated as second-class citizens. Because women and men are different in some ways, one aspect of equality is ensuring those different needs are met and that their respective rights to those needs are protected. The emphasis here is that Women and Men are different, but equal.

    Concerning age, shouldn't cohort effects also enter the dialogue? The way I see it, the man is definitely wrong - he was the one that made somebody else feel uncomfortable because the other party in the work place was treated in some way that made them feel lesser - but at the same time shouldn't other people be concious of the fact that there can be age-related differences in culture that they too should be equally sensitive of? Of course the man doesn't deserve an Out of Jail Free Card, but maybe the offended party also needs to keep an open mind about what transpired?
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    If this introduction took place in a work environment or at a work function, she was right and he was wrong.
    I find this response wholly unacceptable and offensive. I have visited Latin America with this individual and such behaviour - at work - was not unusual. To automatically, and self righteously impose our cultural values on someone one from a different culture is arrogant, thoughtless and uncaring.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Plenty of other people get a discreet word in the ear or a kick in the pants if they apply the conventions of their "culture, age and social status" when meeting people at work.
    Well tough fucking shit. I am sick of being castigated because I hold open a door for a lady, only to discover she is in fact bitch who chooses not to appreciate a mark of respect, from my frigging age and my frigging class and my frigging culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    If an arrogant refusal to shake a woman's hand is unacceptable ... and
    How dare you! There was no arrogant refusal to shake the woman's hand. There was a conscious decision to show her respect and ultimate courtesy by kissing her hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    It's totally inappropriate in a work environment. It establishes a power relationship based on both age and sex - in different ways for different people - that is inimical to equality and respectful relationships in a workplace.
    Fucking nonsense. It states publicly that the gentleman respects the lady - power relationships have nothing to do with it unless you have some distorted view of reality jammed up your ass.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Especially because, from then on, this man's age, status and inappropriate behaviour has ensured that this woman, along with any and every woman in the organisation, knows that he demands to be treated differently from other employees.
    Fucking nonsense. He was behaving as he and other individuals routinely behave and had trouble understanding what the fuss was about. By god, your response on this has been despicable.

    Enough is enough. I'll bow out at this point, seriously disappointed by your ignorance, arrogance and stupidity.

    Finis!
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    Of course the man doesn't deserve an Out of Jail Free Card, but maybe the offended party also needs to keep an open mind about what transpired?
    Depends on your occupation to some extent. If you're part of the diplomatic corps or similarly engaged in delicate political positioning or posturing, then you have to make some allowances. Though I completely agree with women who refuse, and insist on refusing, to disclose whether they are or aren't menstruating at the moment to assuage the alarms of a conservative Jewish man who won't shake hands unless he knows that the woman in question is not "unclean" even though the women do comply with the convention of covering their hair. At the other end of the scale, actors and other entertainers may have a very relaxed, even overly intimate, way of dealing with people they've only just met. And we're all expected to comply with certain limitations and expectations when meeting VIPs - if you don't want to curtsey to royalty then you should at least nod with the appropriate degree of acknowledgement of the person's status.

    For the majority of the rest of the world, a simple process like meeting a colleague at work should be a matter of universally accepted conventions. If a handshake is what men do when meeting men, and women do when meeting women, then the handshake is what everyone does when meeting anyone. If someone claims special consideration or special advantage in not complying with the prevailing social convention, then they need to make that plain to absolutely everyone long before the occasion for offence or embarrassment arises.
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    There is an easy test for all this - remove gender pronouns and replay the situation. If it sounds weird then its weird with the gender pronouns. For example, in your story John if I had a colleague who on introduction to another colleague tried to kiss their hand I would think that is quite strange.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    I have given this some thought. Not because I consider myself politically correct, but because I am trying to understand how the systems work here in America. And when one understands how American systems work, one understands its role in international politics and business. Is America truly a political bully? If so, how will that affect women leaders given the fact that they are underrepresented? How do we fill in the gender gap in politics and business?

    It would be a formidable feat to overcome this because men and women are different in many respects. But both can share the same qualities and strengths. But it seems the people in this country are comfortable with men as their leaders because the country needs a strong commander-in-chief, for instance. How will it be different if the women take that role?

    If anything, it’s the women who will have to take on both male and female roles in order to break that gender bias in society. It takes more work for women to take such responsibility rendered to men. And many women become disadvantaged because they lack that extra quality. But many women in the system have shown this to be achievable. With great care, intellect, attitude, logic and reason, I believe we can have a balanced system. But not that many are willing to fight for it.
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    I've always thought of kissing a woman's hand as a European mannerism.
    Its the way nature is!
    If you dont like it, go somewhere else....
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    Philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy
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    Gotta love the "Oppressive political correctness" part. Sadly true and agreed upon in this day and age.

    You have the freedom of speech unless you speak an opinion that differs from the common moral high ground, in that case you are judged and stoned.

    For example: "I dont want more immigrants to my country
    Angry mob: "RACIST!"
    Me: "Im not racist, I just want us here and them there"
    Angry mob: "racist!"

    Impossible to reason with people sitting on their high horse. Political correctness as oppressive? Totally true in todays society imo.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexG View Post
    I've always thought of kissing a woman's hand as a European mannerism.
    It is.

    And along with it comes with a whole heap of historical class, sex and race baggage. As soon as you try to imagine a woman doing the same to a man she's never before met, you can see just how one-directional, inappropriate and anti-egalitarian it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AlexG View Post
    I've always thought of kissing a woman's hand as a European mannerism.
    It is.

    And along with it comes with a whole heap of historical class, sex and race baggage. As soon as you try to imagine a woman doing the same to a man she's never before met, you can see just how one-directional, inappropriate and anti-egalitarian it is.
    So you wouldnt consider it a compliment if you were introduced to someone and he kissed your hand? Not sure if I understood your post right
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AlexG View Post
    I've always thought of kissing a woman's hand as a European mannerism.
    It is.

    And along with it comes with a whole heap of historical class, sex and race baggage. As soon as you try to imagine a woman doing the same to a man she's never before met, you can see just how one-directional, inappropriate and anti-egalitarian it is.
    So you wouldnt consider it a compliment if you were introduced to someone and he kissed your hand? Not sure if I understood your post right
    Too bluddy right I wouldn't. Same as if he made some other overly familiar or intimate gesture, like a pat on the bottom or the uber-creepy stroke on the arm while shaking the other hand (usually done under cover of that two-handed clasping handshake thing). There's a reason for the expression taking liberties.

    On the other hand, if someone I knew well was messing about at a social event and kissed my hand when I offered it, that would be fine because it was voluntary on my part and the occasion was appropriate. But it would never be OK in an office or similar work environment.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Oh, I should add. If we're in a work environment and there's a new person being introduced around and he or she greets everyone with the non-Brit, non-Aussie kiss both cheeks routine, I'd be quite happy with that. At least that process allows anyone and everyone to do the air-kiss thing and reduce or avoid any unwelcome physical interaction. It certainly avoids the issue of singling women out for different or extra physical contact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    I'd also like to ask, Is there any hope for clear, rigorous, stimulating writing on these hotbutton topics? Or is clarity too dangerous to allow for that.
    I think you have your answer. It's No, there isn't any hope.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Words work best when they have precise, sharp edges, allowing us to more carefully dissect the world. With the spread of PC, one of the first casualties is language. The more one kowtows to PC, the more nebbish and flabby one's language becomes by necessity—so one can engage is semantic gameplaying, hairsplitting, vague pejoratives, and other little tricks. Mud slinging ad hominem, for example, is very common on the battlefield of ideas and it ruins the discourse—and that's the point. "Racist", "sexist", "check your privilege" and other pejoratives have imprecise, shifting meanings.

    Now, my question is, what's the best way to convey controversial ideas—such as about sex differences or genetic differences across different groups—without invoking a hailstorm of uninformed idiotic "criticism", rooted in nothing other than groupthink emotionalism? What should Lawrence Summers have done differently, if anything?

    As I mentioned, the more you must kowtow to political correctness, the more laborious and tedious your writing must become—from having to invoke the naturalistic and moralistic fallacies constantly, or from having to spell out endless caveats that should be obvious, or having to take on a meek apologetic tone. Ironically, the most rabid assaults have been leveled against those who were apologetic for something they wrote—a tweet, a sentence in an article, or an offhand remark that could plausibly be construed as [insert bad thing, sexist, bigoted, etc] by those yearning for opportunities to get offended and to bully people under the cloak of moralism.

    The general question that I'm sure has been asked here many times before is How are we going to deal with these discussions that need to be had, without witch hunts and name calling and everyone bending over backwards to avoid "offending" someone? I'd also like to ask, Is there any hope for clear, rigorous, stimulating writing on these hotbutton topics? Or is clarity too dangerous to allow for that.
    Wow! Great question!

    There's much that comes to mind but let's tie it down to what happened with Salman Rushdie a few years ago (sorry if this has been discussed already - I have read only the first post).

    What happened was that the police failed to arrest and charge those elements in the UK who were calling for Rushdie to be killed. I believe it was allowed to some extent by the spread of PC. But it goes deeper than that, as I suggest it was the tip of the iceberg that is called 'multiculturalism'. Sounds positive on the face of it but what this ideology achieves is divisiveness. I'm no racist, and I don't mind people protesting with banners - but only the fear of being attacked/arrested/targeted stopped me from jumping on the bus into town and confronting these criminals. I was outraged that these people were being allowed to openly seek the killing of another human being, contrary to English law. This doesn't make me hate Muslims in the slightest but does make me suspect the motives of my government. Race is made into a big issue in this country - and despite the apparently commendable on the face of it 'multiculturalism' being posed as being a good thing, it's not, and if anything only achieves disharmony.

    Had the authorities clamped down when they should have done we'd have fewer bad feelings today, perhaps. And Muslims would not be so demonized and subject to hatred (notwithstanding other events around the world). We had some 'Islamic terrorists' arrested a few years ago, released without charge. So why did newspapers carry completely erroneous 'police reports' regarding the possession of child porn on one of their computers? It's OK for the media to defame the innocent but use an inappropriate pejorative in fun or anger and you may get locked up.

    This country seems to be more racist than ever and political correctness, in the guise of multiculturalism, isn't helping.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Complaining that anything you don't like is "political correctness gone mad" is, in general, not a good thing.
    Scenario: middle aged lady in supervisory position in office work is going through menopause. The consequent stresses are significantly effecting her capacity for work of the required quality. Her decisions are adversely impacting on her team.

    Political correctness, as often applied, prevents subordinates, peers, or superiors saying "I think Jane's gone menopausal, what can we do to help her?" Instead the problem is ignored and consequently grows.
    Why not say "she's not contributing as much, and her decisions are impacting the team?" Then you can solve the problem that actually exists (she is having a problem with work) instead of the problem people imagine (menopausal women are incapable.)

    Let's take the opposite case. "Well, we shouldn't put John on the sales team, testosterone isn't going to play well with our client base. Best pick a woman." Also sexist. Now, if John is a bully towards customers, that IS a good reason to not have him on the sales team.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AlexG View Post
    I've always thought of kissing a woman's hand as a European mannerism.
    It is.

    And along with it comes with a whole heap of historical class, sex and race baggage. As soon as you try to imagine a woman doing the same to a man she's never before met, you can see just how one-directional, inappropriate and anti-egalitarian it is.
    So you wouldnt consider it a compliment if you were introduced to someone and he kissed your hand? Not sure if I understood your post right
    Too bluddy right I wouldn't. Same as if he made some other overly familiar or intimate gesture, like a pat on the bottom or the uber-creepy stroke on the arm while shaking the other hand (usually done under cover of that two-handed clasping handshake thing). There's a reason for the expression taking liberties.

    On the other hand, if someone I knew well was messing about at a social event and kissed my hand when I offered it, that would be fine because it was voluntary on my part and the occasion was appropriate. But it would never be OK in an office or similar work environment.
    Hmm I think I understand now. Norway is extremely liberate and even here it can be inappropriate despite us being european. I believe it is tied to culture mostly, like France or Italy the most.
    I believe that in my country atleast, if you try to pull that off - it would come across as humorous, as in - the guy would seem pretentious and silly. But your main objection with it is that it is sexist and condecending towards women and regardless of gender it is looked upon as an invasion of personal space? Correct me if Im wrong!
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    it is looked upon as an invasion of personal space? Correct me if Im wrong!
    If you used that as a minimum benchmark or starting point, you'll be doing a lot better than many people do.
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    John Gait for President? Can't wait.
    Scientists and religionists can be easily differentiated: one lot is arrogant, irascible and disdainful, the other believes in God.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    it is looked upon as an invasion of personal space? Correct me if Im wrong!
    If you used that as a minimum benchmark or starting point, you'll be doing a lot better than many people do.
    Hmm not entirely following, Im not a native english speaker. It just seemed strange to me at first that personal space like that would be the main issue. We had a course in intercultural communication (spik100 I think it was) and we norwegians are commonly being criticized for being unfriendly, cold and hard to connect with. Our guest lecturerer from the US said that in the US politeness is used more openly and frequently among strangers than in for example our country because of many factors like population and higher crime, and therefore formal politeness to strangers are common to make encounters non-threathening. Speed-building-bridges so to speak (my words).

    Im not a woman, but if I was and a guy kissed my hand. I would value his intent, not the action. (Being friendly like that = positive) despite taking ones hand to kiss it being close proximity. Either that or I would find it condecending and sexist as he would consider me a piece of beef jerky dunno.

    Anyway sorry if I managed to misunderstand or offend you. I very much enjoy learning from other people or cultures and try to put myself in other people's position to deepen that understanding. This is why I was madly curious about your opposition to being kissed on the hand as a greeting. My view was originally that a woman would either take the intent of such an action as very polite, or be offended due to breaking of cultural norm. I didnt realize the importance of "invasion of personal space" part due to what Ive learned about US culture being very friendly (Stereotype) to new people for the sake of threat-minimization. Ehrr.. I could go on but I see I already made a wall of text
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    I found this re Lawrence Summers:

    What Larry Summers Said

    This: " It is difficult to imagine an innate difference in math ability that would be present in whites but not in Asian Americans." manages to twice cram PC into a single sentence. "Asian Americans" - but not "White Americans". "whites" but not "asians". And no, it's not "difficult to imagine" - but it would be hazardous to suggest it.

    Is it "difficult to imagine" an innate difference in susceptibility to getting drunk between blacks and Asians? Is it likewise hard to imagine it is innate that blacks dance better than whites, but that whites swim better? These 'imaginations' may carry no weight but they can still be had. What's so special about math ability that it's so decidedly unlikely to be affected by racial origin? Fair enough if the author is unable to be more imaginative but precluding consideration of innate differences seems more like playing it safe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    Now, my question is, what's the best way to convey controversial ideas—such as about sex differences or genetic differences across different groups—without invoking a hailstorm of uninformed idiotic "criticism", rooted in nothing other than groupthink emotionalism?
    You can call it political correctness if you like, but if someone finds that your claims are exaggerated, overly general, or lack evidence, it's likely they will wonder, and even suggest, that you have some other kind of motivation for making them - that you seem have an ax to grind with a particular group.
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    My view was originally that a woman would either take the intent of such an action as very polite, or be offended due to breaking of cultural norm. I didnt realize the importance of "invasion of personal space" part due to what Ive learned about US culture being very friendly (Stereotype) to new people for the sake of threat-minimization. Ehrr.. I could go on but I see I already made a wall of text
    I'm not in the US, I'm Australian. Although we're more casual than Americans usually are, we're all very much alike - Brits/ Americans/ Aussies/ NZers/ Canadians - in terms of claiming personal space as well as our changing approaches to racially and sexually charged language and behaviour. Especially in the workplace.

    As for intention. There's a great saying in feminist/social justice circles ... Intent is not magic.

    Regardless of anyone's intentions, it's what they do and what they say that matters. Intentions are very much in second place. If someone takes your speech or your behaviour as presumptuous or insulting or offensive or arrogant or frightening, you have to take that seriously. The old proverb about walking a mile in another's shoes applies here. People have to be at. least. as. aware of other people's likely reactions and responses as they are of their own thoughts and feelings.

    It's not always easy to move on from there because that's about weighing competing values, but it's not as hard as people pretend it is. In the case we're talking about, a woman and a man are both at work. One wants the normal, proper speech and behaviour accepted in the workplace. The other wants an exception, an exemption, so that he can impose an abnormal, special behaviour on that one person that distinguishes her as not-the-same-as the whole group.

    Regardless of anyone's opinion about the two positions, they have to do the balancing act of working out which set of norms, preferences, values they think should govern workplace behaviours.
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    Quote Originally Posted by God_of_Biomechanics View Post
    ...
    Now, my question is, what's the best way to convey controversial ideas—such as about sex differences or genetic differences across different groups—without invoking a hailstorm of uninformed idiotic "criticism", rooted in nothing other than groupthink emotionalism? What should Lawrence Summers have done differently, if anything?....
    Lawrence Summers was deliberately trying to provoke controversy when he made his "Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce" comments at Harvard. He said quite plainly that he was being provocative at the start of his speech.
    He got exactly what he wanted.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20080130...2005/nber.html
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    PC in social/work situations and controversial topics in science seem like totally different issues to me.

    If a businessman visiting from another country kissed my hand in the office, I wouldn't immediately assume it was a sinister attempt to devalue me or call attention to my gender. But I don't think it would be wrong to tactfully mention that it is not a common workplace greeting, either, any more than if, say, belching after a meal was a show of appreciation in some culture, suggesting that they should avoid doing that at the next power lunch. Most people, even "crazy ferriners" don't want to make others uncomfortable or appear ignorant of standard cultural or professional practices, and are willing to moderate their self-expression a bit to achieve this. Wouldn't you? If you knew some hand gesture was highly offensive in the country you were traveling in, would go around making it, because back home it means nothing? In ones own culture, is not telling an off colour-joke in the office really an unbearable infringement of your freedom? Shouldn't you really be working anyway?
    Last edited by DianeG; May 15th, 2014 at 01:57 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Well tough fucking shit. I am sick of being castigated because I hold open a door for a lady, only to discover she is in fact bitch who chooses not to appreciate a mark of respect, from my frigging age and my frigging class and my frigging culture.
    Does anyone really get bent out of shape by the opening door thing anymore? Has that recently happened to you? The custom these days seems to be whoever gets to the door first holds it open, or enters and holds it open from the other side, especially if the person following is carrying something. I think over all it's been resolved fairly well.

    But having ones intentions or acts of politeness misinterpreted isn't just a PC thing that happens to men. I'm constantly uneasy about whether to offer assistance to a disabled or elderly person. When in doubt, I offer.

    Confusion in social interactions happens for all sorts of reasons besides political correctness. One time I saw a woman crying in the parking lot of the grocery store. I thought maybe she had locked her keys in the car or something terrible had just happened to her. I touched her on the shoulder and said "Hey, are you okay? Do you need help?" She looked at me angrily and said "Oh, mind your own damn business!" and stomped off.

    Oh, well, that's life sometimes!
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  60. #59  
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post

    As for the part where you were talking about the man wanting to be treated differently, don't you think there is a possibility that he might actually, to some extent, be entitled to that?

    Isn't that one of the largest points about feminism? That: Women and men are different in some ways, and because of these differences, women have historically been treated as second-class citizens. Because women and men are different in some ways, one aspect of equality is ensuring those different needs are met and that their respective rights to those needs are protected. The emphasis here is that Women and Men are different, but equal.
    I don't know if feminism can be described that simply. There have been feminists who believe there are few if any significant differences between men and women, other than brute muscular strength and reproduction, and that behavioral differences are reinforced by culture. They attribute the differences in achievement to political and religious forces that took advantage of that discrepancy in brute force, and the fact that that throughout most of human history, women had to bear and care for large numbers of children, instead of painting the Sistine chapel or solving geometry theorems in a cave. This is the branch of feminism that says "deep down, we aren't all that different, except you can beat me in arm wrestling and I have babies."

    On the other hand, there were also radical feminists in the 70-80s who, like you say, advocated the idea that men and women are inherently very different beings, and male dominated culture institutions devalued "uniquely" feminine abilities and ways of thinking, and society needs a major paradigm shift to accommodate all this. (Personally I think the second view is nutty -women can be just as logical and analytical and linear as men, and paint works of art - but that's just my personal opinion.)

    It's interesting that the argument "men and women are different/ no they aren't that different" isn't just a debate between men and women, but among men, or among women.
    Last edited by DianeG; May 16th, 2014 at 01:50 AM.
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    I've talked about the social stuff of PC, but as far as whether scientific studies are actually censored because of it, I'm skeptical. As Strange says, there's tons of studies getting published.

    One thing that irks me scientific discussions about gender or racial differences is when a scientific study measuring a very specific task or perception in group - ie X % of this group scored 8 points higher or responded .5 seconds faster in responding to this stimuli in our experiment - and it gets reported in the media as "Men are better than women at... or Asians are superior at...." Does that mean all of them, or the statistical average, or those at the beginning or end of overlapping bell curves?

    And I'm irked by any tendency to generalize not just across a group but extrapolate beyond a skill or ability. Just because subjects did better or worse at one particular, very specific, task, it gets reported that "Men Make Better Pilots! " or "Women Are Better Speech Therapists! even if those jobs or roles probably involve multiple skills and abilities that weren't even studied in the experiement.

    Whenever I see someone generalizing like that, across an entire group or skill set, I do tend to think they have an personal and political agenda, because it just doesn't happen in other areas of science, like physics or microbiology. If my suspicions about their motives are treated as "political correctness," so be it.
    Last edited by DianeG; May 16th, 2014 at 01:44 AM. Reason: typo
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