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Misinterpreted Comments

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To: All subscribers of this list

I have read Bill Allen's comments and never would have considered them to
mean anything more than reference to an archaic attitude - certainly not an
ethnically biased criticism.
I responded to Bill and tried to be humorous about his "Blind to" comments
and was accused of making a direct attack against him. My response to Bills
"Blind-to" comments was to remind him of the socially acceptable terminology
and to "consider him Visually impaired" (rather than Blind-to). The response
I received stated simply:
"That's bordering on a personal attack, Mr. Visionary.  Not helpful for
committee discourse, whether of the face or virtual variety."
This response could be construed as a passive/aggressive lesson, and this
person may have wanted to get his point across about my "idealistic"
opinions of virtual committees by using cynical or sarcastic tactics. At
least he had the respect to do this in private and I did not jump to any
irrational conclusions by assuming a personal attack.
This is one issue that I don't think will have an easy resolution because we
are all bound to make a comment in passing that is taken the wrong way.
Very few of us are free from prejudice. I am a Jew whose family was denied
the right to purchase a home in a community during the early fifties and who
fought against anti-Semitic movements while growing up in a predominantly
Jewish suburb of Chicago. Prejudice still existed within my family although
I tried to recognize these as wrong and worked to overcome them - only to be
labled as a "Radical Liberal" which I consider equally as offensive (I am a
I do feel that it is justified, considering the history of this listservice,
to "assume" that comments such as Bills or mine were not intended as "ethnic
slurs" or personal attacks.
We are intelligent members of the same professional, fraternal, organization
who have and will continue to work together. Whatever our frailties, I don't
believe that any one of us would be so bold as to intentionally insult
others in this group of thousands of ethnically diverse subscribers.
Head-strong - yes, opinionated - certainly, blunt - often, but ignorant -
not likely on this list.
It is important for us to review our comments before responding. However, it
is equally important not to jump to false conclusions. There is no clear cut
solution except, possibly, tolerance. It's not the words that hurt, it's the
implication drawn from the words, and this is very subjective at best.

Dennis Wish PE

|-----Original Message-----
|From: Bill Allen [mailto:BAllenSE(--nospam--at)]
|Sent: Sunday, March 01, 1998 9:10 AM
|To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
|Subject: Re: SEAOC Committee Meetings
|I cannot believe I am spending (more) time on this issue. Reference to an
|abacus is/was not a racial slur but merely a reference to a calculation
|device older than a slide rule which, I felt, was consistent to the state
|of the art of Frank Lew's open mindedness (or lack thereof) with regards to
|the effect virtual committee work could augment the conventional format. I
|have owned an abacus. Is someone going to tell me I cannot make reference
|to a device I have owned? I think not.
|You are right, this is the Internet and you can easily find more offensive
|material will very little effort. I have appologized as far as I am going
|to and for those still offended, I submit there exists a little
|With regards to a hypothethical conversation with Rev. Jackson and "living
|that day out", my best advise is not to bet your house on it.
|Let's put this issue to bed.
|Bill Allen
|> From: Richard C.C. Lee <"rlee3(--nospam--at)"@IDT.NET>
|> To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
|> Subject: Re: SEAOC Committee Meetings
|> Date: Sunday, March 01, 1998 8:51 AM
|> Even if Bill Allen did not intend a racial slur. It is one ! unless
|> you're on Comedy Central. You're on the internet and a lot of people
|> are tuned in.
|> Just be thankful that he did not inadvertently say something like that
|> to Rev. Jackson. He would never lived the day out.
|> Unfortunately sometimes we have to tread our way thru a gamut of egg
|> shells.
|> Privately, you can say anything you wish. But publicly watch your
|> language.
|> Yours truly,
|> Richard C. C. Lee