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Re: Appropriateness

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Might as well dip my oar in here, too.  I guess I tend to favor Bill Allen's
past remarks in both their style and their content.  I've found some of his
remarks *quite* offensive, sometimes generically, and sometimes personally, but
I do believe Mr. Allen serves a quite useful function in provoking really
interesting discussions.  I think he should continue and be allowed to continue
to make them.

While I appreciate Mr. Norman's sensitivity, I submit that if, as he suggests,
we must limit our discussion only to those comments found acceptable by the
lowest common denominator, we will censor this list to the point of
uselessness.  Further, it seems like some of the folks who constitute the least
common denominator in the subjects and opinions they will tolerate should
lighten up a bit.

Are we really all that thin-skinned that we can't ignore a remark we don't
like, or jump into the middle of it to say why we don't?  Free and open
discussion seems a lot more useful goal and likely to produce a more useful
list than allowing only those topics and comments that *nobody* will find
offense in.  Must this list, too, fall victim to political correctness?

Nigel
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Bill Allen wrote:

> This is the only post I have seen in response to mine yesterday that did
> not put me on the defensive. Due to the tactful nature of Mr. Norman's
> comments, it has caused me to pause and reflect. It is true, I have strong
> feelings about a lot of things (O.K., everything) and I do get carried away
> (sometimes). I also realize that a lot of my viewpoints are not always
> "mainstream". Sometimes, my friends like Stan Caldwell like to bait me and,
> after watching "60 Minutes", it is sometimes difficult to apply the proper
> amount of restraint. While I genuinely feel the way I do about some of the
> past Presidents we have had, I have no intention of personally insulting
> those who participate in our political system even if it is for the benefit
> of the Democratic Party. For the record, while I am a registered
> Republican, I have felt even they have become too liberal since Ronald
> Reagan (my hero) left office.
>
> Be that as it may, in reviewing my post, even I have come to realize that
> it was not appropriate for this list nor was it proper to subject its
> readers to my viewpoints; considered extreme by some. Not to use this as an
> excuse, but I am passionate about every thing I do. I'm an "all or nothing"
> kind of guy. I just get wound up.
>
> In the future, I will make every attempt to keep my comments not only
> within the scope of this listserv but also to be more considerate of those
> who do not share my views.
>
> Thank you Drew,
> Bill Allen
>
> ----------
> > From: Drew A. Norman, S.E. <dnormanse(--nospam--at)email.msn.com>
> > To: SEAOC List Service <seaoc(--nospam--at)seaoc.org>
> > Subject: Appropriateness
> > Date: Tuesday, March 17, 1998 4:25 PM
> >
> > My only previous contribution to the debate about inappropriate posts, in
> > response to Dennis Wish's request for votes, was in re messages that
> > amounted to ads for technical software, which I voted not to censor so
> long
> > as they didn't get out of hand.  I am generally of the opinion that while
> > free speech often does little good it usually does no harm and is better
> > than the alternative.
> >
> > Bill Allen's post about the current and several former presidents
> yesterday
> > however, gave me pause.  Having reflected, I think a post suggesting that
> > Lee Harvey Oswald did his country a favor is inappropriate for this
> forum.
> >
> > I think it common knowledge that many in this country (and thus
> presumably
> > many subscribers to this list) considered John Kennedy's assassination a
> > personal as well as a national tragedy.  Bill is certainly entitled to
> think
> > such folks (myself included by the way) to be deluded fools, but should
> in
> > my opinion have known that his comment would be offensive to us.
> >
> > My intent is not to flame Mr. Allen, besides which I gather he's an old
> hand
> > and probably wouldn't notice anyway.  Rather I am suggesting to the group
> > that we might all want to think about expressing political opinions on
> the
> > list the same way we have apparently been thinking about other
> off-subject
> > (non-engineering) posts.
> >
> > It appears at least from the period I have been lurking that subscribers
> are
> > in agreement concerning the types of humor that are appropriate for the
> > list.  No one has posted jokes a reasonable subscriber would consider
> > obscene, racist or otherwise offensive.  In short, the internet standard
> of
> > self censorship appears to be working for humor.  I believe this is
> because
> > we are generally respectful of one another's feelings and, at least for
> > off-subject (non-engineering related) items, everyone recognizes that it
> > would be inappropriate to post a joke one knew was likely to be hurtful
> to
> > some or all of the subscribers.
> >
> > Inclusiveness to facilitate free interchange of information regarding
> > structural engineering issues is important to the success of this list.
> > Posting items which do not pertain to structural engineering and which
> are
> > not only uninteresting to most subscribers (e.g., ads), but patently
> > offensive to some (e.g., goring of other people's sacred cows, as in Mr.
> > Allen's post) is contrary to this goal.  To pick on somebody else,
> imagine
> > our Kathleen O'Brien (Happy St. Patrick's day), a.k.a. Wildwoman, starts
> > posting really rude dirty jokes.  Some of those lurkers Dennis Wish is
> > trying to court are likely to be offended and will be pushed away.  One
> > could argue that if they can't take a joke to hell with them, but I think
> > our profession would be better served if we made room to accomodate both
> > prudes and Kennedy-lovers along with true Texans like Bill.
> >
> > Drew Norman, S.E.
> > Drew A. Norman and Associates
> >
> >