The Difference Between PC and Polite

So my blog against rape culture got some hits.  Here and EN24.  In fact I got buried.  Big time.  There was a lot of support, there was a lot of trolling, there was even some constructive discussion.  There was also some misunderstandings.

Sadly, “politically correct” has gone from meaning “Being sensitive to the viewpoints of others” to being “Anal-retentive to the point of interfering with actual communication”

I didn’t put out a call to the community to stop using “Rape Cage,” and by extension rape culture, to be a whining jerk.  I did it because it is polite.  I did it because it was decent.  I did it because it is the right thing to do.  I did it because it will make the game more attractive to a wider variety of people.  I did it because it was good for the game.  Mostly I did it for friends of mine in two groups.  One of them consists of victims of rape who very reasonably WOULD NOT LIKE the term, the culture that goes with it, and a whole lot else.  The other is good and decent people who use the term out of ignorance.

See… there’s a difference between decent and PC.  PC would be saying “You can’t call me a capsuleer.  I am a Deteis Caldari of the Merchanters background!  And my Archon is not a “Capital Ship” it is a “Fleet support vessel of the Amarrian Empire!” or even “Providence is OUR space and you filthy slaves need to stay out or face the consequences.”

Decency?  Hmmmm…. “We beat the shit out of them” instead of “We raped them.”  Why?  They consented to PvP.  They may not have liked the outcome but they were a consensual party.  Rape victims aren’t.*  Similarly homosexual jokes, and racial/ethnic jokes aren’t used to enhance communication.  They might be used to actually insult someone, or in an attempt to impress people with how cool you are.  You know what?  I’ll go toe to toe with mots people on racist jokes.  Trust me I learned a few.  However I am only going to use them when I know that the people in my audience wont mind.

Spouting off random racist/homophobic/ethnic/rape culture slurs?  Let’s see what Mike thinks.

Well that went over well.

There are some things that are arguable.  There are lines, there is debate on where the line is.  Let me give you an illustration

Not Shown: /b

My contention therefore is this.  Rape has no place in the realm of decent behavior.  Rape can’t even see decent behavior from where it stands.  Your rape jokes aren’t funny.  They are sad, derogatory and hurt the game you profess to love.  There’s a simple test to see if something is decent behavior.  Make your joke in a public place.  Don’t hide behind the internet walls.  Stand and deliver.

I'm using it every time I can

* Now this argument might be a bit disingenuous to some people.  Especially people not familiar with EvE or with my theories in it.  Some people are under the misapprehension that there is non-consensual PvP in EvE.  There are circumstances where PvP is illegal WITHIN the game.  That is there are places where the aggressor will be punished.  However PvP is VERY NEARLY never illegal IN the game.   Other thank ganking nooblets at their starting stations your account will never be punished for aggressing in PvP.


About Corelin

An Eve playing Fool who occasionally writes about the shenanigans he and his minions get up to.

Posted on March 5, 2012, in Meta, Things I think I think, Things You Should Know About. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. You do not have a “right” to not be insulted. Just because you, a person you know, or some conceivable person might be offended by a particular word does not make that word any less valuable as speech, nor make the speaker a bad person or infuse his speech with an intent to insult or offend. Just because you are offended by something does not mean that everyone else should be offended as well.

    The colloquial use of the word “rape in your examples carries with it no intent to distress or offend rape victims. Someone who says “We raped them” in EVE after winning an engagement does not intend to compare the losers to rape victims, to disparage the trauma that actual rape brings, or even to invoke rape in any real way. There is a big difference between jokes and comments that intend to offend and off-hand remarks that are part of colloquial speech in online games. Being sensitive to others’ viewpoints and feelings does not require us to sanitize all aspects of our daily conversation.

    The context matters. The intent behind the words matters. Just because someone takes offense at certain speech does not automatically make that speech offensive or bad, especially in a game, where presumably the reader is sufficiently intelligent to understand when a comment is intended to be hurtful and when it is not. There is a big difference between casual use of words that might offend, and speech that intends to insult and offend.

    Call it a disagreement over degree. I find a big difference between casual use of certain words, and speech that actually intends to offend.

    • Katsuko, thanks for your comments, I appreciate REASONED discussion on the topic, unlike a lot of what I’ve seen, especially at EN24.

      I’m not worried about “rights” because those are a legal issue. I am certainly not saying that anything is illegal. However I am saying there is no safe use of Rape. In theory I could refer to one guy in my corp as “niggardly.” I don’t do it because it is a highly charged term where the meaning that is intended has been buried.

      Let me show you the rest of how I see this chain playing out:

  2. It’s interesting, I agree with you in theory, but not in specifics.

    To me, the use of the word rape in this context is a non issue. Rape is not a person, nor a type of person, nor does it inherently carry judgement about any person. It’s a word to describe an event.

    I would quite happily use the phrase “We raped them” when talking in public to a gaming mate, as the fact I’m not talking about real rape is immediately obvious to anyone watching/listening

    Having lost a close family member to suicide, should I get upset every time someone uses the phrase “Give them enough rope to hang themselves”? I mean taking it literally, that phrase is reprehensible. Yet it’s evidently not meant in the literal term when most people use it, and the comment should be treated as such. It’s a horrible event, used as an analogy for a much lighter issue.

    Where I draw the line is comments like “fag” etc that are inherently judgemental about specific people.

    • Bel, the issue there is that when judging offensive speech you don’t decide if you have offended someone else. They do. Someone else might decide that “fag” is ok, but that rape is highly offensive because they, or someone they know has been raped.

      Oh and the number of women raped? DoJ is saying more than 250k a year in the US. Know a woman in college or the military in the last decade? 25% and 33% chance she was sexually assaulted. VERY few women tell even their close friends about what happened, the odds are very good you know one or even several woman who are rape survivors and you don’t even know it. How do you think they’d feel with their “hidden shame” and you joking about it, or laughing at the jokes?

      • Corelin, you’re just wrong on this one. While the phrases ‘rapecage’ or ‘we raped that fleet’ might offend *you* specifically, they are not, in general, offensive. Neither are they intended to offend nor taken offense to by, I’d guess, a good 99% of people that hear them. Maybe that’s the 99% that was never raped. Maybe not.

        But see again Bel Amar’s reference to ‘suicide culture’. Should that phrase – ‘enough rope to hang themselves’ be interpreted as offensive in general? I’m sure it certainly offends *someone*, but I don’t mind it, despite having lost a family member and two firends to suicide. I’m betting Bel isn’t offended either.

        You seem to be claiming that the so-called ‘rape culture’ trivializes the crime of rape, but then does the rope phrase not similarly trivialize suicide? Would referring to an enemy fleed being ‘exterminated’ not trivialize the brutal acts of mass murder perpetrated by the Roman empire?

        You claim that it is not the speaker, but rather the listener that decides whether speech is offensive, but that is not logical. *Some* people can find a reason to be offended by anything. I would argue that it is no *single* individual that decides a figure of speech is offensive, but a *society* as a whole.

      • Sjonnar

        That’s a tiny, tiny fragment of the problem. By making any usage of the term “rape” more acceptable you make rape itself more acceptable. You turn it from something that should be shunned to something that guys joke about.




      • Corelin.

        By making any reference to suicide acceptable, you’re making suicide acceptable. You turn it from something to be shunned to something guys joke about.




        Neither, i might add, is rhetoric.

        For example, *you* have used the term ‘rape’ several times. By the letter of your own rhetoric, *you* are making rape acceptable. That reply was a terrible blunder if you’re looking for reasoned discussion on this issue. I’d be happy to listen to a logical refutation of the points i made, if you’ve got one.

      • I don’t use suicide jokes either. Other people have picked up on it without realizing something. Suicide is a completely different issue. Suicide is a personal choice that people make that hurts other people and has a completely different chain of events leading to and from it. My best friend my second deployment in Iraq killed himself less than 3 days after he got home. I was still on a plane home when he did it and didn’t find out about his death until after the funeral as I wasn’t told until the day after I got home. NO ONE finds suicide less funny than me.

        I picked a different example. I picked rape. I am not using the word rape in an attempt to make a joke. I am not using it in an attempt to impress pepole. I am using rape to educate people as to the affects using it as a joke has.

      • Welp. I gotta say, i was hoping for a nice philosophical debate here, but you’re not really giving me much to work with. Spitting some more rhetoric about how *NO ONE* takes (example) more serious than you doesn’t do much (actually, nothing) to counter my assertion that just saying ‘i’m offended’ doesn’t make something offensive.

        I’ve heard some rape jokes in my time; none were particularly funny. Juvenile shock humor, really. Like dead baby jokes. But the term ‘rapecage’ isn’t intended to be funny. It’s a metaphor for the position in which the rapecaged fleet finds itself. Specifically:

        – Fucked,
        – Nonconsensually, and
        – No way out

        A ‘rape cage’. Crude, yes. Offensive? Not really. Intended to offend / shock / cause discomfort? Unequivocally no.

        Furthermore, i don’t even agree with the thought behind your ‘rape culture’ article. It’s really just some special-interest feminist propaganda. Here’s why: the ‘rape culture’ they refer to? It doesn’t really exist. Real people don’t put up with that shit. Kids who tell rape jokes get shunned. Some guy pipes up in a bar ‘Hey guysh… let’sh go *rape* some bitches, huh? heheh…’ That guy gets slapped. He might get his ass beat in the alley behind the bar.

        Rape culture exists in the same way anthrax exists. It’s out there… but it’s not very common. Rape culture ‘awareness’ exists for the same reason anthrax scares exist. One incident turns up, and suddenly it’s an epidemic. It’s everywhere! Because someone’s got an agenda, not because it’s a real problem. Like i said, *someone* can always find *something* to be offended about.

        And, hey, want to convince me otherwise? Show me some evidence. It’s easy to refute vague allegations; cold hard facts are harder to ignore.

      • ok… fine… facts on rape culture the guardian? that mainstream enough for you? A policy which got changed very soon after this article but STILL places a lot of the blame on the victim. PBS? CNN? A guy bullied out of school after being raped?

        Not only is it common, it’s so common people don’t even see it. These are institutional problems.

        Right here is the biggest problem. I can drive a nice car, and no one will blame me if it gets stolen. I can live in a nice house and if it gets broken into I am the completely blameless victim. A woman gets raped and the assumption is that she was drunk, that she was a slut, that she did something to bring it on herself. That is the core of Rape culture. That it is ok to blame the victim. I’m saying it is time to stop the madness. That people who realize that women in college, trying to better themselves shouldn’t suffer a 1 in 4 chance of being raped. That a woman putting up her hand and swearing to defend our country at the risk of her life shouldn’t face a 1 in 3 chance of being raped, almost always at the hands of another service member. Rape is not ok. Rape is not acceptable. Casual usage of the term encourages a lot more than just bad jokes.

        P.S. I’d find one from Fox News but all I get is Liz Trotta telling us women in the military should expect to be raped.

      • “ok… fine… facts on rape culture …”

        The claim that these links have anything to do with EVE Online and the use of ‘rape cage’ is intellectually dishonest.

        In no way can you draw any lines whatsoever between someone who says rape cage and a rape apologist. Is the phrase ‘kill them’ being used in a video game now an endorsement of murder?

      • Lots of opinions there. Quite a few ‘estimates’. Not many facts.

        I had a big damn wall-o-text wrote up to reply to those links, but then i accidentally clicked on one of the links rather than ‘open in new tab’-ing it, and the whole thing disappeared. The gist of it is this: most rape ‘statistics’ are actually just estimates. Actual victims are often too ashamed to speak up until after the evidence that would convict their assailant is gone. And there are a large number of ‘people’ (adopting a loose definition of the word) who flat out lie about being raped. And these lies make it easier for skeptics, admittedly including myself, to doubt any accusation that doesn’t come with some cold hard proof.

        In the rare cases where there is proof, society as a whole is almost universally against the perpetrator. Sometimes they don’t even survive to stand trial. And that’s why the idea of ‘rape culture’ is bullshit. Some people might doubt he-said-she-said allegations (even in this case, most people treat the accusation as valid, even if there is no evidence), but a proven rapist is a pariah. Or target practice. Always.

      • Also, let’s see that segment with Liz Trotta, shall we? I’m surprised you didn’t include a link to it for contrast’s sake.

        (Yes, i’m skeptical. I think you’re revealing an agenda there, and i don’t like where it looks like it’s headed.)

  3. It is my naive hope that the unpoliced, youthful ignorance of internet culture will one day mature into an environment populated by people who behave reasonably and aren’t disgusting examples of humanity.

    But I won’t be holding my breath.

  4. Where do you draw the line?

    ‘We murdered them’ is a pretty common phrase in the general sporting public in my area, but clearly if taken out of context it would be reprehensible.

    I think you fit the bill of your anal-retentive definition of PC by trying to ignore all context of the situation. Someone who is deliberately using words to hurt or offend someone I might take issue with but here that is clearly not the case. If people are offended by a single word, even far removed from any sort of slightly negative connotation, than I don’t think the onus is on me to respect that but rather points them towards either dealing with the situation or removing themselves from it.

    • I actually do object to “murder,” murder implies the end of a life. Capsuleers don’t die and no one seems to care about the crews. I am not opposed to slaughtering or butchering as those tend to refer more to “meat bodies”

      My main point when it comes to rape and context is this: THERE IS NO ACCEPTABLE CONTEXT TO USE RAPE IN A POSITIVE SENSE. PERIOD. DONE. Same with Hate-speech. Those are both well over the line into the types of speech that are simply way too hurtful to use in a public audience.

      Now you can set whatever rules you want in a more private setting, be it alliance, or audience. I would recommend for people to set tighter rules on most comms to avoid offending people unnecessarily. I understand that nearly everything that is said could be taken as offensive by SOMEONE, but the anguish caused by rape, and the needless hurt caused by hate-speech TO ME, and to many others I know, along with the lack of a legitimate “other meaning” for those types of speech I think place them WELL away from what could be considered legitimate speech.

      • Sorry, but if most people find a phrase non-offensive there do not need to be any concessions made by the majority, despite what any moral crusader might claim.

        If you’re particular group of friends find it offensive and want to avoid saying it that’s perfectly fine and I would encourage you to do so. Why you would expect other people to give up the use of a colloquial phrase, of whom the vast majority of people I know find completely benign, is beyond me.

      • Sorry, Vast Majorities don’t make things right. They just point out that while You are smart and I am smart, We are dumb. Just because the Crusades had the support of all of Europe didn’t make them in any way justified. Just because the Serbs and Bosnians ALL want to wipe out someone doesn’t mean we should let them.

        The OVERWHELMING majority of the US population had no problem with slavery, until they realized it was wrong. They KNEW that women shouldn’t have the vote, until they realized they should. Now they KNOW there is nothing wrong with joking about rape. Until they learn.

      • You’re arguing moral absolutes here, but the acts are not equal. The crusades, slavery, ethnic cleansing, and the denial of the franchise to women were morally wrong because they impinged directly upon another person’s (or many people’s) freedoms.

        Telling jokes, even jokes intended to be offensive, does not. As katsuko mentioned in the first comment, you don’t have a right to never be offended. You only have the right to walk away. You can seek to remonstrate with that person to change their behavior, yes, but to assert its immorality on the grounds that it offends you is wrong. And arrogant.

  5. The difference being that the suffrage and civil rights movements had logical, discernible arguments that quickly appealed to a large majority of people.

    While vast majorities don’t automatically make a right by the same card neither do insignificant minorities.

    I can argue about how EVE needs to change the Thorax to be less penis-like because my girlfriend finds it offensive until I’m blue in the face– it doesn’t mean anything will change.

    • Civil Rights was fast? What exactly is slow? I mean they have been fighting racial equality battles for going on 175 years now!

      I’ll tell you what. I’m not going to convince you, and you certainly won’t convince me. Go through the links I’ve posted. Look at the statistics. Look at the numbers. Tell me that it would put a huge strain on you to cut hurtful terms out. Tell me that making light of the issues rape survivors go through makes ANY sense.

  6. Core–you’re trying to project your own beliefs, standards, and values upon others. This is also “normal human nature” — however it has a caveat. Generally, most people ALSO find this behavior unacceptable, unless they have relinquished some personal authority via means of government: to a monarch, dictator, or “We The People”.

    This is of course your blog and you may do with it as you wish, perhaps censoring the “r-word” from posts and comments (is there a setting for “censored words” in these things? good question that calls for investigation), would be a start.
    Not permitting the use of the word in YOUR corp, of course is also an option — it is after all YOUR corp so YOU set the standards, and those who cannot or will not abide can find another corp to belong to, correct?

    I think at this point, my friend: you have made your point, your opposition has made theirs, and any further discourse on the subject will be more “dis” than “course”. Perhaps its time to stop tilting at each others’ windmills in the blogosphere and go settle it with some blasting of internet spaceships. 🙂

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