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Re: Appropriateness

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My turn,

I have not been on this list long.  To tell the truth I dinna even know how
I go t onto it.  But I believe someone has a right to express an offensive
opinion.  I also believe that someone else has the right to object to it.  

Be thankful because in some parts of the world it would get you shot.

A lot of people have died around the world protecting those rights.

Someone once said I may not agree with your opinion but I will defend to teh
death your right to say it.

John Nichols

At 16:43 18/03/98 -0700, you wrote:
>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?
>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)>
>> > To: SEAOC List Service <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
>> > 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
>> >
>> >