Morning Ed: SocialSpace {2018.08.22.W}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

83 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    Ss1: I love me some gender neutral pronouns, but I have always found ‘xe’ or ‘ze’ to be unappealing.

    Ss9: I am actually ok with us being the surveillance state, with some constraints.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      The thing that bugs me with the highly individually specific pronouns is – they stop being pronouns at that point.

      The point of a pronoun is that it’s generic. There is some limited number of options that can substitute in a sentence for all the persons, places, and things one might talk about, so one doesn’t have to keep using the nouns multiple times in the same sentence, and one can talk about people whose name one doesn’t know or has momentarily forgotten.

      When there isn’t a limited number – when the unlimited number of people can invent an unlimited number of pronouns for themselves that nobody else uses, then they’re not pronouns anymore. They’re just another noun for the person. At which point, the genericness being lost, there is no linguistic benefit to using the pseudo-pronoun, and you might as well just use the person’s name every time that person comes up in a sentence.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to dragonfrog says:

        What gets me is the notion that I, upon meeting someone for the first time, am supposed to exchange preferred pronouns, like drivers exchanging insurance information after a collision. Then I am supposed to remember the other person’s preferred pronoun, with the understanding that it is a direct affront if I don’t. Yeah, ain’t gonna happen. So far as I can tell this regimen is restricted to limited hothouse environments. I am deeply skeptical of its surviving in the wild. In the unlikely event that it does, I will play the “old fart set in his ways and you have to understand that things were different when he was growing up” card.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          Yeah, I’ve only ever encountered that convention, as you say, in very specific queer spaces, where it’s virtually guaranteed that over the span of a couple of hours you’ll meet someone whose preferred pronoun is not obvious to you based on their appearance.

          I haven’t known anyone to get affronted when someone innocently slips up and uses the wrong pronoun for them, then corrects themselves, or accepts when someone else corrects them. Heaven knows I’ve done it enough times. We all make mistakes. As long as you’re willing to make an effort to get it right, and don’t insist that you know someone’s gender better than they do, you should be fine.Report

          • Richard Hershberger in reply to dragonfrog says:

            To clarify, I am perfectly happy with the non-specific “they.” It is having to use some random sequence of phonemes that strikes me as improbable.Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

              I like Dan Savage’s advice on individually specific pronouns – nod, repeat the pronouns to show you’ve heard them, thank the person, and then studiously avoid using any third person pronouns at all for that person.Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      We don’t need a ton of new pronouns, we need one – gender-neutral singular. We have a gender neutral plural – “they” and “them”. There is no gender-specific plural.

      And the idea is that you would adopt gender-neutral pronouns until you know better. It’s rather like the old “formal” vs. “informal” forms of address. In German, you would go to the biergarten, raise a tankard together, tell each other your first names, and start using the familiar form. We’ve dropped this idea completely in English, but it could make a comeback in the form of gender neutrality.

      Or it could work some other way. I’m not in charge of this, after all.Report

      • fillyjonk in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        the problem though is that Sie und du (or vous et tu) are second-person pronouns, and the problem seems to be with third-person. English USED to have “you” and “thou” but no longer does.

        (We also lack a plural second person, but depending on where you live in the US, “you guys,” or “y’all” or even “yinz” will work. I personally favor “y’all” despite having grown up in “you guys” territory (and close to “yinz” territory))

        I tend to favor ‘they’ in cases where a nongendered one is needed because it’s a word that already exists.Report

    • Em Carpenter in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      It pains my soul to use they/them in the singular. I’ll do it if that’s preferred but I will feel like an idiot every time.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        It’s bad enough when used to refer to an indefinite person who could potentially be of either gender, but I flatly refuse to use “they” to refer to a specific known individual. As a compromise, I’ll drop pronouns altogether with people who insist that they’re too unique to be referred to by either of the standard singular pronoun sets. I’m not going to be an enabler.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        Same here. I like the idea of a neutral singular pronoun, but stuff like xe or ze strikes me as people just trying to be cute or too smart by half. X & Z are letters we don’t use like that.

        Now something like ‘Te’ (if we are insisting on a 2 letter pronoun that is not ‘It’) could work, since it’s not far removed from ‘they’.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        George Fox, the early Quaker, complained about just the same thing, except it was the singular “you” that pained him.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        “Somebody has lost __________ wedding ring. I’ll take it to the lost and found. I hope ___________ come back for it.”

        How do you fill in the blanks?Report

        • Em Carpenter in reply to dragonfrog says:

          Grammatically? That would traditionally be “Somebody has lost his or her wedding ring. I’ll take it to the lost and found. I hope he or she comes back for it.”

          “They” has been traditionally been used colloquially but it is “bad” grammarReport

          • dragonfrog in reply to Em Carpenter says:

            I meant “how do you fill in the blanks” as in “how do you, personally fill in the blanks, in practice”. Do you tend to use “his or her” in that kind of context?

            (I guess my habitual use of “come back for it” rather than “comes back for it” in the template sentence gives away what I typically use)Report

            • Em Carpenter in reply to dragonfrog says:

              If I’m writing, I definitely use his or her/he or she. The same if I am speaking formally. On less formal occasions I am likely to say them/they when talking about an unknown person or person of unknown gender.
              Again, I wouldn’t begrudge or refuse to use anyone’s pronouns. It’s just that I am prone to cringe at bad grammar and it is hard to think of that as not bad grammar.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Em Carpenter says:

            @em-carpenter Treating Jane Austen like a user of “bad” grammar seems to me to be a confusion about what “bad” grammar is.

            There are many such confusions in the English language, of course. We don’t have an Academy like the French do, after all.Report

            • Em Carpenter in reply to Maribou says:

              It is what I have been taught.

              Guess it’s that West Virginia education I have.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Em Carpenter says:

                To be clear, “bad” grammar is grammar that causes people to not understand what’s going on, or to stumble in reading, without good cause. The rest is aesthetics, thus far less important than courtesy. I would assume, and continue to assume, that your West Virginia education would elevate courtesy above aesthetics, because I think you come from a hospitality culture the same as I do. (ooh, look, more “bad” grammar)

                My reference to the French academy was disparaging, not wistful.Report

              • Em Carpenter in reply to Maribou says:

                In my view, grammar has rules. Breaking them is “bad grammar,” though we all do it from time to time. Certain “rule violations” set my teeth on edge. For example “I seen it” or “you wasn’t”. Those phrases are perfectly understandable; they are still wrong.
                But, rules may change and I can adapt.
                Is your point about courtesy directed at me personally? I have said more than once in these comments that I will gladly (sincerely, and without a subtext of “whatEVer”) use anyone’s preferred pronouns. That includes they/them or even “ze” (which I confess I have never heard before, but actually kind of like as an alternative.) It is my own personal issue that certain usages make my brain stumble a bit and sound “off” to me.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Em Carpenter says:

                @em-carpenter Are you familiar with the (non-fictional) work of Suzette Haden Elgin on dialects? She was a skilled professional linguist and science fiction author who also grew up in the Ozarks. (More well known for her work on verbal self-defense, but the dialect work is more interesting to me.)

                I ask because I used to see grammar much more in the way that you describe it, but I’ve become quite convinced, after years of having read her livejournal posts and other works, that the reason I felt that way was because it suited the system for me to have to feel that way. (My mother taught me “proper” grammar by her lights as a child, and cringed / corrected intensely and shamingly whenever one of us used one of our grandmother’s dialects instead, so I was already quite primed to listen to Dr. Elgin before I ever came across her.)And that, in fact, there are many different acceptable dialects of English, each with its own rules, and that one of English’s redeeming features is the ease with which speakers may combine and codeswitch between those rules. Standard American English being the dialect you see as “good”, other variations being “bad,” is not only a personal issue, but by declaring the alternatives bad and your preferred dialect good, you are making a profoundly discourteous claim.

                And while acknowledging it’s a personal issue is a courteous thing to do, publicly calling particular pronoun usages something you *cringe* at in a public forum, which you did earlier, is discourteous. You’re making a declaration that them wanting you to do something is cringe-worthy and bad (grammar), which contradicts your assertions that you will gladly use them. That’s impolite, at least it is if one presumes any such persons could be listening to what you say. And assuming that no such persons ARE listening to what you say is assuming they aren’t part of “we” who are in this conversation. Which, again, is alienating.

                Obviously I am being far *more* discourteous, at least superficially, by pointing that out, particularly after you’ve acknowledged that it’s a personal issue, but if I went by my own drilled-in rules of courtesy I would never tell anyone else they were making me uncomfortable ever, and well, that doesn’t fly in Colorado and I’ve been here two decades now. (Nor did it fly in Montreal, nor do I particularly like that approach – it’s just what I was taught.) I’m not trying to start a fight with you, but rather asking you to reconsider / ponder on this question going forward in a way that I hope might help you with your issue, *because* I am quite certain that you are a profoundly courteous person.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                (sorry if this is a bit hard to parse ie *truly* bad grammar, it’s like 3 days before school starts here so I started writing this comment more than an hour before I could come back to it.)Report

              • Em Carpenter in reply to Maribou says:

                I’m going to leave this alone.
                There’s no way I can answer that will make it any less contentious.

                I will say that while I am not familiar with Dr. Elgin specifically, I am familiar with regional dialects. I’m from Appalachia, afterall.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Em Carpenter says:

                @em-carpenter I assumed you were familiar with them – even if I didn’t know your background, the specific examples you used of “bad grammar” are standard grammar in multiple dialects of English other than American Standard, so it seemed pretty obvious.

                FWIW, in reading back over your comments, I think I wasn’t as charitable as I could be in reading the originals because of the context of other comments that were being made by people who aren’t you. You were clearer than I realized about certain things. And I apologize for unfairly lumping you in. That wasn’t fair of me.

                But while I can joke around about what’s right or wrong about grammar in a lot of contexts, and I do sincerely mean what I said above, and *strongly* recommend all or any of Elgin’s work –

                When it comes to the habit of talking about groups of people one does not object to, as if no representatives of that group are present to read one’s words, I still stand by what I said. It’s very common and it’s not kind practice on the public internet. It’s *worth the effort* to signal that you are specifically aware of the people you are discussing analytically amongst yourselves, and that they may be part of the collective “we” not part of the (ironically enough) “them over there”.Report

              • Em Carpenter in reply to Maribou says:

                I was coming back to “do-over” my last reply because it lacked the consideration deserved.
                I will look up Dr. Elgin for the reasons you mention.
                I could write an entire post about insecurities I have about my background and the lengths I (sometimes subconsciously, sometimes not) will go to to compensate for it, and how that might lead me to my grammatical pedantia. But I will spare you, and everyone else, my self-indulgence.
                I do want to clarify: I never cringe that someone wants me to use a pronoun that makes them (them!)feel comfortable or recognized. When I say I do so gladly, I mean that I am happy to give the person that “small” thing that I know is not small at all for them.
                The cringe I refer to is the auto-response that I have said something wrong.
                I know to stop digging when I’m in a hole, so I will.
                Thank you for the discussion.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Em Carpenter says:

                Thank you for the clarification. I have my own insecurities about background that no doubt (NO doubt) contribute as well. My Harlan County mother-in-law and I have about concluded that the Atlantic Provinces are the Appalachia of Canada. Er, I mean, culturally as well as literally :D. (As you probably know the Appalachian mountain chain actually stops in New Brunswick…)Report

              • Richard Hershberger in reply to Maribou says:

                To be clear, “bad” grammar is grammar that causes people to not understand what’s going on, or to stumble in reading, without good cause.

                This is not a definition a linguist would use. A sentence can be perfectly grammatical while being utter gibberish. Noam Chomsky’s famous example is “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” but really, pick anything from Dr. Seuss or Jabberwocky. Or, going a different direction, consider the prose of William Faulkner: even when perfectly grammatical, I defy you not to stumble while reading Absalom, Absalom!Report

              • @richard-hershberger
                1) I said without good cause, I would argue – as you seem to imply – that Faulkner’s literary intentions were cause enough. And, since we’re discussing it, I read that book in college, and I didn’t stumble, though that seems irrelevant given that I already said “without good cause”.
                2) Not all linguists prefer the approach to which you make reference, and Noam Chomsky is, as a linguist just as he is in political realms, highly controversial.

                Would you like to miss the point some more, and mistakenly explain any other points of fact to me in response to me telling you all you were collectively (no doubt unintentionally) leaving me feeling very othered just then? I doubt it will help much, for either of us.Report

              • jason in reply to Em Carpenter says:

                Language is flexible and English changes. It’s no longer bad grammar–I would use “they” in @dragonfrog ‘s example and not be bothered with it. And I’m a grammar national socialist (and an English teacher).Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Maribou says:

              Clearly that template sentence isn’t from Jane Austen… she would never have written about a “Lost and Found” box… it would be a “found which was lost box.” Otherwise we’re implying the box has all sorts of things of the found and lost variety…. like, I found an acorn – put it in the box with the other found things. And that would be a very silly box indeed.

              {no, “that was lost”; no, “that which was lost”; or is it “that which had been lost”…}Report

          • Richard Hershberger in reply to Em Carpenter says:

            “They” has been traditionally been used colloquially but it is “bad” grammar

            FWIW, this construction is used multiple times in the Authorized Version (a/k/a “King James”) of the Bible.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to dragonfrog says:

          Somebody lost A wedding ring. I’ll take it to the lost and found. I hope THE OWNER comes back for it.Report

      • James K in reply to Em Carpenter says:


        Singular they was normal in English up until the 18th century, not only did Jane Austen use it (as Maribou notes), but so did Shakespeare. By contrast the “his or her” construction pains me every time I read it.


      • Jay L Gischer in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        I get it. It’s interesting, but this particular usage of “they” goes back a long time. But it has never been the preferred usage. So it became a sort of class marker, I suspect.

        But, that can change.Report

  2. Marchmaine says:

    [SS4] The 21st century trap: “share your thoughts below”

    I suppose I’m entering the curmudgeonly phase of life (and not a moment too soon); but knowing what I know about what my company can help you do with data and what I’m seeing my (commercial) customers do with data… we’re a couple of tech advances and a few well intentioned “save the children events” from interesting times.Report

  3. dragonfrog says:

    [SS6] Was way less awful than I was expecting. Like, close to 0% of the anticipated awfulness.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to dragonfrog says:

      It might help that, from 3rd hand anecdotal observation, the Masons (in America) are hemorrhaging membership and money, and so can’t afford to turn too many people away.Report

  4. Kolohe says:

    Ss9 brings to mind this which I caught on the news yesterday; a program in Stafford County, Virginia, where business & home surveillance systems are shared with law enforcement.

    & apparently, DC itself has had a similar program for a couple of years.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

      Doesn’t Detroit have something like that with stores? I recall some criticism about it because people felt that the PD was creating service tiers based upon whether or not a store shared their video with the PD.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    SS1: I find it interesting that so many adolescents are comfortable with gender fluidity than previous generations. The pace of change seems positively rapid compared to other social changes. What I’m wondering is whether this will change as the grow older or will it remain in force. Re gender neutral pronouns, some of them sound like bad Hollywood Germans. Ze has ways of making you talk.

    SS2: Concurred. I meet lots of people through dance and work. Its getting to the level where you do things with them beyond dance and work thats the hard part.

    SS3: When 25% of the people refuse to comply with a law, the law becomes unenforceable for the most part.

    SS4: The internet gives malicious people many tools at their disposal. Many malicious people seem well prone to use these tools.

    SS6: My main surprise was that there are six million Freemasons in the world.

    SS&: Even as a teenager, I wouldn’t be caught dead in these t-shirts.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to LeeEsq says:

      SS1: I find the rise of self-identification as bisexual to be completely unsurprising. Up until fairly recently, there were social imperatives to identify as fully heterosexual. These imperatives were strong enough that anyone who could fake it was likely to. Self-identification as anything else tended to be left to people so far at the other end of the spectrum that they tended to self-identify as fully homosexual. This in turn gave rise to a weird dynamic where both ends sneered at anyone self-identifying as bisexual. So the numbers of people so self-identifying were suppressed.

      With social stigma against homosexuality in decline, it follows that stigma against bisexuality will also fade away. A lot of people who in the past would have placed themselves in Team Straight are now open to putting themselves in Team Bi. I am fascinated to see how this plays out in the long run: where people place themselves on the continuum absent social imperatives.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        It’s not clear how much of self-reported bisexuality is actual bisexuality, as opposed to people saying it because they think it makes them sound more interesting, or to screw with the surveys.

        I saw a paper recently about how sociologists had for years been getting a dramatically skewed picture of gay and bisexual youth due to a small (but substantial relative to the number of actual gay and bisexual respondents) number mischievous of responders checking all the unusual responses: Gay, regular drug user, attempted suicide, adopted, etc.Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Sure, but this isn’t really any different from any other form of self-reporting. And even if we can’t take the absolute numbers at face value, it is still interesting that more people are, for whatever reason, self-identifying as bi than in years past.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        Bisexuality is different than gender fluidity.Report

  6. Oscar Gordon says:

    Unrelated: Verizon was throttling fire fighters data plans and forcing them to pay more to lift the throttling, while they were fighting wildfires.

    This is now evidence in a lawsuit that is attempting to reinstate Net Neutrality rules. Not sure if they’ll win, but I bet we’ll see some exceptions put into the law pretty quick for emergency services.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      … which would be the exact opposite of net neutrality – popular groups of people like firefighters get higher bandwidth caps than unpopular ones.

      And anyway, bandwidth caps are only very tenuously related to net neutrality. Now, if they were applying the bandwidth caps in an unequal way, like counting bytes transmitted to the fire department’s VoIP services against the cap, but not counting bytes transmitted to Skype VoIP services, because Microsoft cut them a cheque to do so – then we’d be talking about net neutrality.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      @oscar-gordon Holy crap! What a dumb PR move, and I agree about the emergency services exemptions.Report

  7. Maribou says:

    SS1: As a genderfluid (and non-binary) person who is open to unusual pronouns (though not in need of, which makes me somewhat out of the majority among nonbinary people, but I have my own stuff I need to feel comfortable and safe), before even having read this article:

    I’m super-self-aware right now of how the comments here and their general tone of “why should I have to change something awkward and annoying because SOMEONE ELSE has some angst or drama?” is making me feel completely othered. The tone of some of the comments about bisexuality likewise, but I think only because I was already reacting to the first one.

    Not hated, not even likely to be discriminated against in some material way, just *othered*. Alienated. Oh, right, y’all actually think of me as an other even if we all forget about that most of the time… I’m not actually one of you, I’m some strange apart person who “refuses” to conform. I might look like part of the team – heck, I’m even allowed to have a title – but heaven forbid I act different, or ask for different things, or I’ll be put back in my place by people who don’t even notice they’re doing it.

    And that’s without me even caring what pronouns people use for me as long as they don’t correct each other. If I actually *used* exclusively they pronouns by preference or need, or heaven forbid my own sneaking favorite since the 1990s, when it was in widespread use online, “ze” – can you imagine how much I wouldn’t feel like one of the gang right now?

    Sometimes I really miss the days where the people I knew on the internet mostly loved playing with language and loved experimenting with different pronouns regardless of which ones they themselves preferred.

    How much work is it *really* to be empathetic enough to be fluid about language? How much work is it *really* to allow yourself to get comfortable with consonants that the English language doesn’t generally use like that, but which plenty of other languages do?

    How much work is it really to be kind, both in adopting approaches that don’t outright contradict people about gender pronouns (as mentioned here) and in not seizing on the first opportunity to *carp* about how unreasonable it is for people to expect you to do that? Y’all aren’t unique in that among my acquaintance, far from it. My coworkers are the only large group-of-people I know who don’t immediately start complaining whenever the topic of non-he-or-she pronouns come up. But jeez, it doesn’t stop being alienating.

    Pronouns are a mess right now because gender is a mess right now, and the kind of mess that it is often involves violence and mistreatment of quite horrific kinds. Would it not be better to err on the side of kindness and empathy and wait for it to all get sorted out, rather than being grumpy every time some poor kid who is being brave enough to ask for what they want and/or need asks you to do something a bit challenging?

    This isn’t at all a moderator comment, it’s a maribou comment. In case anyone thinks that was unclear.Report

    • My thing with pronouns and people’s preferences/requested; It cost me nothing to modulate which one I use in referring to someone if they ask for something specific, and it certainly gains you nothing to be antagonistic over it. A basic level of respect to, at a minimum, not purposefully insult someone is not unreasonable.Report

      • @andrew-donaldson Thank you for being reasonable, truly. You’re making some people’s days much easier than they would otherwise have been when you do that (and I have it on reliable hearsay that “Sure, it’s not a big deal to me to be polite,” and “Ugh, whatEVer” are fairly distinguishable as unspoken subtexts, so folks are probably picking up on that too).Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Maribou says:

      Thank you for your patience and grace in this reminder, Maribou. If my own comments have contributed to this othering, I apologize for my part in it.Report

      • Maribou in reply to dragonfrog says:

        They had, and thank you for apologizing, I appreciate it. But it’s not so much apologizing that will help as remembering in future that you don’t actually know if the people you are talking about are listening to you talk or not, when you talk in a public forum, you just know if anyone who feels comfortable telling/reminding you that you are talking about them is…

        Something we can probably all use reminding of, in the general sense, from time to time, self included.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Maribou says:

          But it’s not so much apologizing that will help as remembering in future that you don’t actually know if the people you are talking about are listening to you talk or not

          An excellent reminder, and part of the “patience and grace” part I was referring to.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

      I don’t have a problem with neutral singular pronouns, I just found ideas like ze or xe to be unwieldy simply because we don’t use X or Z like that. Linguistically (IANAL*) it seems a big lift to me, and there are likely other forms that would be easier to adopt.

      *I Am Not A LinguistReport

      • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        No kidding. Ze is just…ugh. But I’m rather odd in this regard, because I think we have two different problems here.

        I’m all on board for a non-gender-specific single pronoun for unknown people. And ‘they’ works fine for that. If we need to invent a way to tell the singular from the plural, well, we could always singularize the verb. It will sound weird at first, but whatever. ‘Someone left their bike here, but surely they is coming back for it’. Or we can just deal with plurals sometimes meaning just one person. Or we can do he/she instead. (Perhaps spelled s/he, but pronounced he-she.)

        But I don’t know why we should pretend we don’t know who a specific non-binary person is, or what their gender is. (Or, in line with above, ‘what their gender are’.) In my mind, using the ‘unknown gender’ pronoun for people we _do_ know sorta implies we don’t know their gender. Sure we do. It’s just non-binary.

        So I want both a ‘unknown singular’ pronoun and a _different_ ‘neutral’ pronoun, which is something I’ve never run across anything suggesting. I mean, we’re not going to invent different pronouns for each specific way of being non-binary, even pretending those were quantifiable, but just having one pronoun for known people without classifying them by gender seems doable.

        In fact, let’s make it clear it’s acceptable to refer to anyone this way. Basically, I want a version of ‘Ms.’ for pronouns…we know who this is, but we are not using male or female pronouns to speak about them. I want this on top of a singular ‘they’ (Or he/she) for the generic person.

        But everyone seems to try to merge those together. Either it’s all ‘they’, or it’s all some new pronouns, and no one seems to notice those two sets of things are not exactly the same. They’re not even the same _now_…you wouldn’t use ‘he/she’ to talk about someone standing in front of you unless you were an ass.

        But, now that I’ve said we need new a new set of pronouns, ze and xe are…weird choices.

        Here’s a page that lists the various forms:

        I like the first one best: Ne/nem/nir/nirs/nemselfReport

        • Maribou in reply to DavidTC says:

          @davidtc I agree there should be room for both a general and a specific non-he-she pronoun

          But as an out non-binary person, I wonder why your solution couldn’t just be to treat me how I want to be treated, instead of having to make rules about how I Should Be Treated. Your proposed solution is literally one of the few things that could make me regularly and painfully feel social dysphoria, by insisting that I have one and only one pronoun, and it should be used for me consistently.

          Why is it your job to tell a bunch of people struggling with an issue, how we should universally resolve that issue?

          (And while I get the point of the comparison, you’re not actually looking for a version of Ms. for pronouns, you’re looking for a version of Mx. for them.)Report

          • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

            I also don’t think most nonbinary folks would find it super-helpful to have 3 genders instead of 2, although some would of course.

            A trinary is not a lot less confining than a binary. Ie, for many people that I know, the vagueness of they is a feature, not a bug.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Maribou says:

            But as an out non-binary person, I wonder why your solution couldn’t just be to treat me how I want to be treated, instead of having to make rules about how I Should Be Treated. Your proposed solution is literally one of the few things that could make me regularly and painfully feel social dysphoria, by insisting that I have one and only one pronoun, and it should be used for me consistently.

            I’m not following you.

            I’m not insisting people use a specific pronoun to talk about ‘you’, I’m insisting they use a specific pronoun to talk about everyone. The same specific pronoun. A pronoun with literally no genders attached at all, which is why I said we should make it clear it applies to everyone. A neutral pronoun.

            This is what all the new pronouns are trying to do, as far I understand. My only difference is that I don’t like the choice of ze, and I think we need a ‘unknown’ one additionally.

            Or did you think I meant that _only_ non-binary people should use this pronoun, a pronoun that excluded male or female, and is only for non-binary people? I perhaps was unclear in the last sentence of the third paragraph. The first part of that sentence was more an offhanded observation about the practicality of introducing a massive amount of new gendered pronouns for non-binary people, vs. introducing a single new one for everyone. I wasn’t trying to suggest a new one was only intended for non-binary, I thought I clarified that the next paragraph. Maybe not.

            That is not what I want. I want us to stop pointlessly gendering human pronouns at all. (We already stopped pointlessly gendering nouns and object pronouns.)Report

            • Maribou in reply to DavidTC says:

              @davidtc Oh. Yeah, ok. I mean, as a future thing at least, that makes sense. and it’s fair at least.

              To me it seemed fairly clear before that you were saying

              a) 1 pronoun for all people you don’t know
              b) 3 choices for people you do know.

              Starting with “So I want both a ‘unknown singular’ pronoun and a _different_ ‘neutral’ pronoun, ”

              On a reread now that you’ve clarified I see what you mean. I might not agree but it’s equally good or offputting for everyone. I don’t see humans going for it any time soon, to the best of my knowledge there are no western languages, at least, that don’t rely on using gendered pronouns at least some of the time.

              You might find Ada Palmer’s quartet starting with Too Like the Lightning pretty interesting, not only for about 300 other reasons but also because she presumes a middle-future setting where it’s incredibly impolite to refer to anyone by other than neutral gender (and where the narrator flouts this convention most glaringly). Gender has become a matter of intimacy, not public interest, in that setting. And yet, people still speculate and have opinions. And yet and yet, the narrator is quite unreliable.

              Only one thread of the book, but a fascinating one.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Maribou says:


                I’ve been following this thread with great interest since my youngest has more or less formally, at least as formally as one can at 14, come out as both non-binary and pan-sexual. In this, said child has the loving support of myself, the mother and sister, as well as the aunt and uncle on the mother’s side. (No one on my side of the family knows yet, partly because nunya but also they’re very religious and conservative and I’m not sure how to approach it.)

                So said child has decided that they prefer the they/them/their pronouns. Specifically, said child said, “I use they/them/their.” This is the point where I noted that, No, you don’t use them. Rather you’re demanding that everyone else use them. The pronouns you use to refer to yourself are still I/me/mine. The pronoun I use when I’m speaking to you is still “you”.

                So while the nuclear family is loving, supportive, and non-judgemental about child’s gender identity and sexual orientation, we’re also in agreement that we hate the choice of alternate pronouns. It’s a purely practical issue; they/them doesn’t work worth a crap. I asked child if it was okay to use ze/hir instead. The reply was, No! This is what I’ve chosen, thus it shall be! The basic problem is that the third person plural is very useful and the common usage very much ingrained in our heads. So you can’t just do a search-and-replace and drop in “they” wherever you would have previously used he/she because in many instances it changes the meaning of the sentence or introduces ambiguity when the story you’re telling has other people in it as well. This has already happened in intra-family communications concerning said child. And tbh, the whole thing has a certain precious quality to it given that we are after all talking about communications where said child is neither the speaker nor the listener and is never going to see or hear the “wrong” pronouns being used anyway.

                Bottom line is that I agree with @davidtc that what’s really needed is to de-genderize the third-person singular but I acknowledge that any such project is likely a multi-decadal lift. That’s just the nature of language. We can take a cue from the successful adoption of Ms to replace Miss/Mrs which was about influential publications integrating its use into their style guides.

                I would think, as a non-gender conforming individual, your ultimate goal here is to simply be seen as a person. Insisting that everyone use the pronouns of your personal choice works directly against that goal. It’s saying I’m so fucking special and different that I have my own pronouns. Oh FFS. It’s really self-othering.Report

              • Phaedros in reply to Road Scholar says:

                I took a class on the history of the English language my last semester as an undergrad.
                Historically, the gender neutral pronoun was “he.”
                The notion that linguistic gender and natural gender coincide neatly in English is a fairly recent one, and really doesn’t fit.Report

              • Phaedros Aletheia in reply to Phaedros says:

                One of the textbooks from the above-mentioned class sat prominently on my shelf (A History of the English Language, 6th ed, by Albert C. Baugh & Thomas Cable), and I just happened to open the book to this:

                116. The Pronoun. The decay of inflections that brought about such a simplification of the noun and adjective as has just been described made it necessary to depend less upon formal indications of gender, case, and (in adjectives) number and to rely more upon juxtaposition, word order, and the use of prepositions to make clear the relation of words in a sentence. (p.156)

                It goes on to describe two concurrent sets of pronouns in use, the one of Anglo-Saxon origin, and the other more Scandinavian influenced; the variations of they and those being most prominent.

                That said, I read what was written below, and I offer the following as a countervailing view.
                WARNING: If you are so thin-skinned or intellectually insecure as to prove unable to consider models of the world other than your most dear, if you are prone to emotional outbursts and/or feel threatened where another holds a differing view, if you believe yourself to be 100% free of cognitive bias, please stop reading at this point.

                FTR, I do not view kindly any world model which denies the very possibility of my existence, though I am capable of giving a fair hearing to one voicing such an opinion.

                Now, I am bi-racial, and have been all my life. For much of my teens and early 20’s, I struggled with racial identity. At last, I rejected it entirely, instead cleaving to the concept that I am whatever it is that I am, and I am not that which I am not–whatever that may be. What I found was that I am much more similar to those of the geographic location of my upbringing than I am to those of similar racial make-up from other geographic locations. From this, I conclude that race is really over-rated.
                I approach the matter of gender similarly.

                WARNING: Gets graphic in a hurry here.
                It is not feasible that a man might fully comprehend the sexuality of a woman, nor a woman that of a man.
                The female is capable of orgasm by means of eight different types of stimulation, whereas the male only five. While it may be said that for a male to orgasm via prostate stimulation is roughly analogous to the female achieving orgasm by means of G-spot stimulation, the concept that the two are identical is nothing short of wrong.
                No two things similar are exactly the same.
                We cannot even state definitively that the two are similar; only “roughly analogous.” When we go further than that, we falter into inaccuracies.

                The female might maintain a male identity only to the extent to which the male might be fully conceptualized by the female; and vice-versa.
                Such conceptualizations are prone to deficiencies in perception (more properly, “perceptive episodes”), and cognitive biases. This falls far short of the “identical” test, and exerts great skepticism on the “similarity” test.

                Whatever it is that any man is capable of, all men likewise have such a capacity. Whatever it is that a woman is capable of, all women likewise have such a capacity. Granted, there is considerable overlap.

                However, the prominent model of gender is itself a denial of gender; for it carves out small pieces of the male to give them separate names, ignoring the whole all the while, and demands the same treatment of the female.
                What is missing is all the other pieces, any of which might become prominent (or even dominant) at any time. Having a favorite TV show does not imply that it what one watches all the time, nor does it negate the existence of other channels.

                Thus, it can be seen that the “gender” part of ‘gender identity” is hopelessly misguided, in that is assumes pieces of gender as gender itself.
                It gives the “identity” part no better treatment.

                Consider what sort of information is involved in “identity theft.”
                Consider a spy being briefed for a mission by a handler, when at last they come to the issue of the spy’s “identity” cover.
                Do these things even vaguely resemble that being referred to in the term “gender identity”?
                At best, the “identity” portion of the term is a very sloppy usage.
                In fact, it is self-image that is the best we can come up with, for the same perceptional and cognitive errors which prevent us from fully conceptualizing the opposite gender.
                There remains the issue of whether your child is necessarily hopelessly impaired beyond measure, beyond repair, should you not provide that child with everything it might possibly wish.
                The suggestion itself is so filled with obvious inanity, I won’t even bother arguing against that position.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Road Scholar says:

                @road-scholar OK, so you are in a different situation than the average joe with strong opinons because this is something you have to deal with day to day. Thus I will be both frank and super-detailed – please take it as me trying to be supportive if you can. And as a note, you being frustrated and pissed off about some of this stuff (or at least exasperated) isn’t othering to me at all, because I get that you are dealing with it on an intimate level and very much *trying* to get to the place where it isn’t divisive. It’s more the analytical musing about those people over there that was making me feel like the stranger in our midst. And generally when I feel that way I don’t say anything because what is the point? No one likes to be told they’re being alienating… I just thought being honest about my feelings in this venue might be more useful to me and the world than not.

                OK, so the rest of this is very long and dense but it is hard to talk about this stuff EVEN when you have been thinking about it for a long time, because society is so fucked up on this issue right now.
                Also if I am complaining about people being assholes or whatever, it’s not personal, it’s just even HARDER to explain this stuff if I start trying to filter my language.

                Friend (hope you don’t mind that, I actually wrote “honey” because that’s how fond of you I am but I backed it up to “friend” :D), what I *personally* want and what about 30 percent (anecdotally) of the nonbinary people I know would *prefer* is just for people to use whatever the fuck pronoun they want to use for me and not ever correct anyone else or correct my rare third-person uses about myself. I would like to go through the world without all the gender trouble and *arguments* over pronouns, among other gendered appellations, that my presence normally incurs in public spaces ever since I was 4-5 years old (before that people don’t get heated about presentational ambiguity). This turmoil around my individual purported gender in real life happens even if I’m not doing fuckall to make myself noticed as different, sometimes many times in a week. But it has always happened to me on a near-weekly basis, even when I was TRYING really hard to gender conform. Lately, hurrah, since I’ve outed myself, it has slowed to closer to monthly as people get more flexible/aware in society generally, and I get firmer in shutting them down (“I don’t care what pronoun people use for me, but it really upsets me if they argue about it.” usually works. About once a month, no, there still has to be a big fight.)

                Since I already was passingly familiar with my genders (I am multi-gender, not agender) at 4-5 years old, it’s been very clear to me since then that the problem was that how I was, without pretending to be different to fit in, was NOT OKAY by the lights of most of the people who were running around arguing with each other. Thus what gives me social dysphoria (me and the other rest of the about 30 percent) is for people to argue with me or other people MORE about this pronoun doesn’t fit you, “they’re a THEY not a her,” “I’m so sorry miss,” after someone’s assumed I was a guy, so on and so forth. I try to respond with grace and kindness to these folks in the moment but that shit makes me feel like I want to curl up in a hole and die even when well intentioned and apologetic in form. It just does. I’m someone who has literally *cured* their own physical dysphoria, something which is supposed to be impossible even for nonbinary people, and yet people fighting over my pronouns still wipes me out emotionally. So I’m pretty sure social “discomfort” is just as valid a piece of what nonbinary people need healed as anything else. Some of my own situation might be because when I was a kid there was literally no place in the language where I could stand and say “NO I’M OVER HERE,” but I know people in that roughly 30 percent who just want people to chill about pronouns applied to them who are half my age, so who knows really? It’s not like anyone is studying this without walls of assumptions getting in the way.

                About 60 percent (again, anecdotally – the other 10 percent are very firm about some other pronoun) of nonbinary people – including someone who is my favorite person in the world other than Jaybird – have recognized themselves in the use of the they pronoun, thus adopted the they pronoun, want people to use the they pronoun to refer to them, and for them, it’s usually the *very clear* primary signal that they are safe and people get them and will protect them. Most of those folks “picked” that pronoun because when they run through the options in their head or through actual practice hearing others talk about them or pretend-talking-about-themselves…. that was the one that fit. In a lot of cases, not sure if this happened to your child or not, they watched their binary trans friends go through the process of pronoun claiming and saw what a gift it is for society to call one by the pronoun that rings true in one’s head, and they thought “I WANT THAT” and something clicked once they started asserting THEY for themselves.

                Your child has settled on that one not to be alienating, but almost certainly because when they tried out all the pronouns they had available to them, that was the one that worked. IE, that was the one that hearing it didn’t make them feel sick and like they wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Or perhaps more positively, when they hear someone talking about them with that pronoun, they feel like that person is really talking about *them*, the person, and not about some stranger or some role they feel required to play. That’s not some calculated teenager-pissing-off-their-parents stance, it’s a gut level thing similar to how someone might have Very Strong Feelings that their name is Robbie and people should call them Robbie even though they were christened Arthur Robert at birth. Like, sure, if someone calls them Arthur (perhaps because it’s work and there’s already a worker named Robbie and why can’t they just be FLEXIBLE???), they get why and corrections can be gentle, but at some point, “STOP FUCKING CALLING ME ARTHUR WHEN MY NAME IS ROBBIE” will come into play. And the fact that the caller-by-the-wrong-name may be technically correct that Arthur *is* the first name on their birth certificate will not outweigh their own self-awareness that Robbie is who they are, if they are one of those people who cares deeply about what name people use for them. (Personally I am one of those people. I know other people who are not, but they don’t seem to mind that most folks do care.) (Note this is an analogy meant to evoke the parallel FEELING, not a precise situational parallel, so please don’t argue with it as a precise parallel. I’m 100 percent aware of how it falls down on technical grounds.)

                It’s unfortunate, in my view, that the complexity of how non-binary people have been treated for the last 150 years or so has led to pronoun usage being the place where the rubber hits the road and I would *far rather* that it was not that place, mostly for the reason that unlike apparently 90 percent of all people in the world (including the vast majority of binary people), I could give no shits about pronouns and would like people to use the pronouns for everyone that they feel apply to each person – a more extreme view of what you’re saying here that individuals actually only use me and you in *direct* conversation. But I also am enough of a realist to realize that most people do not feel that way, that that really is the place for most people, and given that it is, who am I to be an asshole about it?

                As for who uses what, that’s even more nitpicky than what you feel your child is doing to you! A nonbinary person saying “I use” is ownership + actually less aggressive because not a direct command. I mean, maybe you are part of that 10 percent of all people, like me, who could give a shit about your pronouns unless people are being jerks about it, but think about it this way, maybe:
                Kids have been taught by society that “I” statements are politer, and their other options go something like:
                “Dad, you’re using the wrong pronouns about me again.”
                “Dad, you’re fucking up my pronouns again.”
                “Dad, why the hell do you keep calling me ‘ze’ when you know I’m a ‘they’???”
                and maybe try subbing in “RoadScholarWife, why do you keep calling me “she” when you know I’m a “he”???” for that last one.
                And then imagine everyone you know had been calling you she instead of he your whole life, and it had been really bothering you for like 5-10 years by this point but you’d been feeling like you couldn’t say anything, and you’d been feeling like you HAD to go along with it and you HAD to call yourself she instead and then one day someone called you he, or told you you could tell people to call you he, and a lightbulb went on and you said “YES THAT IS THE PRONOUN THAT DESCRIBES ROADSCHOLAR”….
                And then when you tried to talk to your family about it they got hung up on how, ok, sure, they get that you aren’t describable by “she” now, but howwwwww about they don’t use “he” for you but instead they use something a little easier for them to navigate like “they”? I mean, it’s not like YOU ever use the pronoun “he”, right? Really pronouns should be up to the people talking about you, right? Not about what feels right to you thinking about it?

                Would that feel like your family were being supportive and adjusting, or like they were being, to be frank, assholes? And not because of the rightness or wrongness of their analysis of how pronouns are used in your culture, but because of how you were saying “EUREKA I FINALLY FOUND THE PRONOUN THAT MEANS ME” and your family was explaining things to you about why that was bad.

                Maybe your 14 year old has already walked you through that argument and I’m just being annoying to repeat it, I dunno.

                Or it’s not helpful.

                I mean, I get pronoun confusion. I have a friend who writes same sex romances, so what would be most convenient for me right now is if we had a pronoun that indicated the first actor in a scene and a pronoun that indicated the second one, I don’t even care about the gender aspect, but it’s a lot of work to sprinkle just the RIGHT amount of proper names into a paragraph about two he’s to make it clear who is doing what to whom. And yet, it’s about 100 percent easier than when I started trying.

                I actually have a nonbinary friend, also, who only likes being referred to by their name – any pronouns at all give that them that sick all over hide under the floorboards feeling. Imagine their name is Jo (t’isn’t) and leaving pronouns out of all sentences. “Jo is a good person and I think Jo would be able to help you with that. Jo’s insights are really valuable to me and I appreciate Jo.” That’s pretty weird to learn because English is averse to that approach. But after a few months, I was able to do it near seamlessly because *I got what that feeling is like and how awful it is*, and linguistic awkwardness is f’ing trivial by comparison.

                Ugh, that’s about all the energy I have to dig into that one right now, so I’m going to leave off here. Apologies if it just feels like another lecture.

                “I would think, as a non-gender conforming individual, your ultimate goal here is to simply be seen as a person. ”

                That’s not really true when you’re talking about people you have a fond connection with, whether distant or loose, or intimate and familial. Because *society* doesn’t want to see me and *society* is a real asshole about that, and society reacts with fear, suspicion, and sometimes *literally violent* othering, my ultimate goal when it comes to the people I have a fond connection with is to be seen as a person who could use their fucking help, in the accomplice sense and not the “i’m weak and broken” sense. To feel like, “okay, the world is kind of shitty about this in many ways, and when I go out in the world-at-large, I’m going to get a lot of pushback and people screaming at me on occasion, if not worse [this is realism, not hysteria], BUT BUT BUT BUT:”

                “Here, in this space, people have my back and want things to change. And people are that way *fiercely* not just grudgingly, or disputingly, but in this space, they see me, they know this is extra-hard for me sometimes, and they are making an effort to be considerate of me.”

                I mean, I almost never actually expect that, because I almost never actually get it. It’s a hard thing to ask people to have your back against huge and impersonal cultural expectations – not just to allow you space to breathe but to actively PUSH for it and build it together with you – and it’s nearly as hard for people to give that. My “is it really so hard to”s? earlier were a plea, not a dismissal, and I’m sorry if they came across condescending – it’ s scary to plead with people. I imagine it is *much harder* for your child to plead with you to be actively *in collusion* with them against a hard and often vicious societal push against them, rather than just not on society’s side of the matter. And hard for you to try to collude with, be an accomplice of, and follow the lead of your 14-year-old in blowing off what society wants! That’s not normally a dad’s job at that age, I don’t think? You’re supposed to be teaching them how to fit in and stuff.

                But on this particular issue, at this particular point in time, what they need are accomplices and collaborators.

                So I would urge you to start reading the previously-mentioned them. (and whatever other material targeted *at* nonbinary people you can find, even though since you and I are the same age, you will probably do a bunch of eyerolls while reading it too), and just get used to the they pronoun. Because it’s infinitely more common / popular than ze is, your child will actually have a *much easier* time of it out in the world with ‘they’ than they would with ‘ze’, if that helps any. Anyway, get used to it, embrace it, be honest that it’s still awkward for you and you may fuck up (I still do, albeit for the weird reason that I am afraid of exposing people by using nonbinary language!!!) … but be really explicit that you get why they need you to use the pronoun that rings true for them, or at least you have been told why and you are trying to get it – BECAUSE YOU ARE ON THEIR SIDE AND YOU LOVE THEM AND YOU WOULD DO ANYTHING TO HELP THEM FEEL SAFE. (all caps not yelling at you, but that is how intensely your kid probably needs to hear that message right now, that you would knock down ALL the windmills to save them, let alone tilt at the pronoun one.)

                They’re not othering themselves by insisting on they. They’re refusing the othering that they’ve already been experiencing from the world for quite some time now, and asking you to man the barricades beside them.

                I realize this all sounds very melodramatic and honestly 99 percent of the time when I talk about this I do my best to be the “aide to gender-normal-ish people” and downplay and soothe and etc.

                But your kid is 14. Melodrama is where they are living. And in this case the melodrama of being 14 is in response to very real, very serious threats and fears. If I try to put myself in your shoes, I kinda wonder whether some of the balking and fussing over pronouns – were *I* doing it, and true confessions, I HAVE BEEN THE ONE DOING IT – would be because it was a lot easier to be annoyed over those details than to live in the real awareness of the real fears and threats that seriously endanger the lives of LGBTQ people of all stripes, but especially those whose gender expression may mark them out as different to joe (or jane) blow I-express-my-hatred-by-hitting-people out on the street… I mean, that’s part of why I fuss. It’s just so much easier to focus on than that other stuff is.

                Let your kid know you’re their best accomplice, and if that means using stupid pronouns because English is still stupid, suck it up and don’t complain. In private, in public, wherever. Maybe join a trans or NB parents support group if complaining helps, maybe join one anyway – and for that matter you can email me offsite to complain any time (just let me know if you want venting unconditional support vs. pushback/argument, so I respond the right way); I’m 41 and very secure in my gender identity and you aren’t one of my intimates, I’d actually be happy to help with it – but *to your kid*, here and now, express that you understand that using ‘they’ is part of having their back, that you would do way more awkward things in order to have their back on this issue, and that you are willing to do so. And then do that all the time, in public even when they won’t see it, and in company with them, until you are really just comfortable with it which might take a lot less time than you suspected it would (it did for me).

                In *part* because if you don’t, when your kid DOES need you to help navigate that tricky boundary between ‘insisting you exist’ and ‘not making it even harder for yourself to live in a world that thinks you are someone else and tries to squash you into that mold’, you will have literally disqualified yourself – no matter how great you are in many other ways – if you aren’t willing to give on this small thing. Right now this small thing is THE symbol of their equality on this front, to the society they are swimming in as well as to them in their little melodramatic 14-year-old soul (and frankly I think most of us still have one of those), and by not just wholeheartedly accepting it, you’re signalling very loudly to them some stuff that I know you don’t, and they desperately want to believe you don’t, mean.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                PS on a completely practical basis, of course they will never hear what you say about them when you aren’t with them, so of course it doesn’t really matter in a pragmatic way if you use other pronouns in that case. if they are acting super-invested in that, that kinda is being 14 and you can safely ignore it (but I wouldn’t force them to agree with you about it or even argue with them about it, because, again, they’re going through a lot right now and it’s a tiny thing. if they ask directly, “we’re doing our best to remember to do that, hon” would suffice.)

                but i am sure you DO sometimes use 3rd-person pronouns in front of them – everyone does that to each other occasionally, for good reason, eg “Are you picking RoadScholarChild up from school or am I picking them up today?” spoken to another adult, would not be that unusual unless you were actively trying to avoid it and make sure you stopped at “I” – and practicing is a good way to make sure it actually fits and comes out smoothly when they can overhear. It’s also a good way to avoid confusing other people who may then ask them intrusive questions about why their parents use different pronouns for them than they do for themselves….Report

        • Maribou in reply to DavidTC says:

          On a less cranky note, “they’s” as in “they’s coming back for it” is already accepted in some dialects of English so I wouldn’t be surprised if that one does happen.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to Maribou says:

      If someone specifically tells me “I use this pronoun” that’s the one I use. I try to be kind and this seems to be a way to be kind.

      But in general cases, where I don’t know, I default to “they.”

      (Which is also handy if I’m discussing someone who clearly identifies as male or as female, but when I am talking about them I do not want to specify a gender…It happens, when you either don’t want your hearers to make assumptions, or when there’s a chance the hearer might know the person and you want plausible deniability as to who it was.)Report

  8. LeeEsq says:

    SS4: Former OTer Jason K put this story on Facebook earlier. In many ways, it is a less deadly version of the “you only need to meet one bastard” narrative that dominates life. A real life, lethal version would be the tale of the Americans who were having an apparently wonderful time bike riding across the world and having wonderful encounters until they encountered allies of Isis in Central Asia. Than they died simply because the bastards they encountered saw them as enemies of Islam and decided to kill them for it.

    We struggle how to deal with toxic and/or evil people as species. We can’t even come into an agreement about what is toxic and/or evil behavior. I’m relatively sure that the four Central Asian men that murdered the American bikers saw them as the toxic and evil people for polluting their Islamic country with their secular ways. There are people who advocate for acceptance of all sorts of ways and others take a harsher but more realistic approach that the world is a tough place and you need to be tough enough as an individual to deal with it. The tough side would argue that the world isn’t going to change for you, so you need to be tough enough to change the world. Its also why when many people come across suffering in other humans, a standard response is that other people have it worse. Think about them.Report

  9. Oscar Gordon says:

    Man, the robot of the investigative team of the IRS has called me three times today. I have 4 serious tax violations against me and the local cops (not local law enforcement) will be picking me up (not serving a warrant for my arrest) if I don’t call them back right away!

    How am I supposed to take the scammers seriously if they can’t even get the bureaucratic lingo correct?Report

  10. atomickristin says:

    Recently two individuals were biking in the woods and were attacked by a cougar. A fight ensued between humans and cougars. Eventually the cougar attacked one of the individuals and the other ran for help. Unfortunately the cougar was attracted by the movement and then went after the other instead, and killed the fleeing person.

    The person who was killed preferred they/them pronouns and so many of the articles were very tough to read as they/them were liberally used; it was difficult to tell if the author was describing the actions of both people or just one. This could have been easily written around, but most of the publications made point of mentioning “Victim preferred they/them pronouns” and used they/them heavily. (I am not saying “this is an inconvenience for readers and so should not be a thing” I am saying “this particular set of pronouns made the articles hard to read and the editors should have put readability before virtue-signalling”)

    Beyond the confusion, it opened up the victim for mockery. The comments section were just awful and it was really sad that the victim’s private life then became a joke for some people. It communicated more about the victim than was really necessary and exposed them to online abuse and I felt it was a violation of their privacy. I’m probably wrong, but in this imperfect world it seems like sometimes it might be better to retain some anonymity about one’s pronouns so as not to advertise to people who are cruel or prejudiced.Report

    • “Don’t read the comments” is generally good advice for news sites but yeah, some people just….they don’t know when to shut up. I’m not going to mock someone for something that’s not their choice in life, and I’m not going to mock someone after a tragedy.

      We’ve had some horrible stories here about a transgender junior-high student who, apparently has now been harassed out of the town her family moved to because a few of the parents of kids in the school couldn’t stop seeing their own prejudices long enough to think “Hey, this is a 12 year old transgirl who has been through an awful lot already.”

      I might mock the d-bag who gets pulled over by a cop for texting while driving, but that seems rather different to me.Report

      • atomickristin in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Filly, do you feel like student is now being harassed MORE because the story is being reported on?? I just feel like some of these stories have gone beyond reporting the news and instead are simply inviting abuse. The rules of journalism may have to change in a world where people get their lives ruined by roving gangs of Internet bullies.


        • Yes, I do. It sounds like the family is going to move to Houston, which apparently they wanted to do in the first place, but finances prevented it. (There has been a Go Fund Me).

          I don’t think “transgender student enrolls in school” was a story until the person (who apparently was a parent of one of her classmates) made the abusive FB post. Though it should probably have been dealt with (the girl’s mom took out a restraining order) without making the news, but small towns are gonna be small towns, I guess.

          It’s had other tentacles: some idiot in LA called in to the OK School for the Deaf and said “something bad is going to happen if you don’t fire Employee X” where Employee X was apparently a relative of one of the harassers and….I’m sitting here thinking about my own life and if one of my cousins does something cruel and boneheaded, should *I* lose my job over it? I don’t even know how much of the story is a hoax (did the dude really want the employee fired) and how much is just a stupid human being stupid.

          I dunno, the whole human race makes me shake my head some times and long to be a total hermit.Report

    • atomickristin in reply to atomickristin says:

      PS – just to clarify, the “virtue signaling” in my post was the authors of the poorly-written articles and not the person who wanted a certain pronoun. The articles all but stated “because the victim wanted these pronouns, we will go out of our way to use them” in a rather self-congratulatory way that ended up yielding a less-than-readable article while exposing the individual in question to public ridicule that was unnecessary.Report

      • Maribou in reply to atomickristin says:

        @atomickristin Yes, I think that was clear, and personally I really find it chafing when papers make a huge deal about doing this, for the exact same reason as you. Though I’m willing to guess that the reason newspapers *started* making such statements, at least, is because they got sick of people writing in to helpfully correct their “typos” (I remember when that was the main issue… ). Nowadays it sure seems to have evolved to self-congratulation at the expense of the people being discussed, though. The leading glossy/Cosmo-like/GQ-like for nonbinary and/or trans folks, them.**, does not bother with that stuff and if someone tries to correct their writers they use it as a teaching moment.

        ** Yes I KNOW, I can’t believe there’s a version of Cosmo/GQ for non-binary and/or trans people either!!!! Not as a judgement but just as a holy cow, future much, sort of thing. Though I have to admit it makes me happy, and they have some excellent articles, and I wish there’d been this when I was fifteen and reading Sassy/Cosmo/GQ religiously, so I stay up on their doings, even though i also roll my eyes when reading about half of what they publish because, well, to be frank, I’m old.Report