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2011-04-04 11:17:18
65 votes, rating 5
'Such humour depends, of course, on a shared knowledge and rapport, and on the presence of the disabled person as outsider. The comic stereotype of the disabled fool or clown is part of a pattern of cultural representation which always maintains physically different people as other, as alien, as the object of curiosity or hostility or pity, rather than as part of the group. “We” are always laughing at “them” or “him/her” or even “it”. There is a continuity, then, between disability humour and racist or xenophobic humour: our differences are suppressed, and their difference is exaggerated, in order to be humiliated.'

'Joking A Part'(Body& Society magazine). A thesis from a disabled comedian.

Recently there have been many blogs around the issue of offense on FUMBBL. I am no innocent bystander here, i have my views and feel free to express them. My main occupation is acting, but to earn a living i design and run Interactive Diversity training courses, dealing with workplace rights and offensive behaviour, dignity, equality and inclusion. Clearly I am from one wing of this debate.

For these reasons I do not see myself as a good arbiter of what is the right line for the FUMBBL administration and moderation teams to take, likely my sensibilities are more heightened than the average. i have never sought admin or mod status and never would. My line tends to be set from my work in terms of workplace offense and behaviour and that may well not be appropriate in a social gaming context.

But i am always interested in the subject.

At the core of the debate, to me, are two rights people feel they have and which are often weighted very differently. Both are supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Freedom of Speech
The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR recognizes the right to freedom of speech as "the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression." Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations. According to the Freedom Forum NGO, legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights.

The Right To Dignity
The first sentance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 'Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world'. Dignity can be both explicit and implicit treatment and the concept is central to the right to equality, freedom from fear and ultimately the right to life.

Both these ideas and ideals share the problem that while both probably should be inalienable, in practice neither are or can be. Even in the USA where the first amendment has perhaps made freedom of speech more central to the national psyche than is true elsewhere there are restrictions placed. The Westboro baptists for example. Even in Europe where I would contend the right to dignity is more prevalent main stream comedians are making jokes, on television, in print and live, far beyond the areas currently causing the debate on FUMBBL.

Everyone draws a very personal line on both. No one thinks you should always be able to say anything ever. No one thinks everything should be prohibited or dressed up in Policitical Correctness. I do feel their are national/cultural norms at play within this debate that complicate the matter enormously. While everyone clearly has a self defined moral code, they cannot help to be influenced by, and a proiduct of, the enviroment the individual has grown up in (it is easy to accept, for example, that i may well be less in favour of a socialised health care system were i from a country that doest have one, and hence wasnt raised expecting one).

So i accept the line is hard to draw, and clearly needs to be as inclusive of possible, to people from both ends of the lspectrum on these issues if it going to be drawn at all.

But i feel it is currently being drawn in the wrong place. My personal view is that issues around Race, Disability, Religion, Culture, Sexuality and Gender should certainly be looked at for offensiveness.

I also feel a simple 'look i was trying to be funny, i am sorry if it caused offense, that wasnt my intention' is well overdue from certain individuals. If it wasnt the intention to cause offense, and yet clearly that has happened, isnt that the natural and reasonable response?
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Posted by maznaz on 2011-04-04 12:17:08
Absolutely spot on.
Posted by Mr_Foulscumm on 2011-04-04 12:57:30
I agree.

Personally I don't enjoy some of the jokes that are making the rounds on Fumbbl at the moment. And I said so since the beginning. But this is a matter that comes down to the fact that each person here has to take responsibility for their own words and actions. We can point out when we think things have gone too far, but we can't force someone to be sorry for what they did or said.

Hey, appeal to a persons better nature but threatening or abusing people (i.e banhammer and personal insults) for saying stuff that you find offensive is well... offensive. Forcing your own opinions onto someone that clearly doesn't want it isn't going to work. Being a thought police isn't our job. So say your peace, don't expect everyone to agree then move the fuck along as it were.


Disclaimer: PC, this post is not aimed at you. It's just a rambling post slightly related to the same topic. :D
Posted by Fela on 2011-04-04 13:16:27
You seem to ignore the line where PC says he feels the line is drawn in the wrong place :).
Posted by Calcium on 2011-04-04 13:20:37
Ignoring foulscumm's backtracking bollocks, the last paragraph is all that was needed.

There's a world of difference between an individual trying to create humour as opposed to an individual trying to create trouble.

Good post Purple, very good post.
Posted by maysrill on 2011-04-04 13:57:48
Yeah, I pretty much agree.

The only thing I can really add is that there's a large American bias in favor of freedom of speech as an absolute, only abridged in extreme circumstances. Just look to the recent case against the Westboro Baptist Church, and the US Supreme Court ruling in their favor. Those bigots are hateful, intentionally hurtful, ad hominem, and borderline criminally threatening (they have some pretty good lawyers keeping them from blatant lawbreaking on that front). Very few people would have batted an eye if they'd been put in their place. Instead, their shenanigans were given the highest legal seal of approval in the US (despite being morally reprehensible, they were fine legally).

If your line of defense for griefing people about something they have no control over is "hey, freedom of speech, I'm legally allowed to be a hurtful douche", just look at the company you're in.

Didn't know that was your line of work, PC. Good on ya.
Posted by koadah on 2011-04-04 14:00:52

Do you ever wonder why we have moderators? Or police? Or the army?

It may just be that just asking people nicely doesn't always get things done.
Posted by BooAhl on 2011-04-04 14:05:41

Those things might not always be the right things... They mostly are but not always and not in the hands of the wrong people.
Posted by koadah on 2011-04-04 14:19:43

I'm not sure that I really understood you.

For all my moaning at Shadow I'd rather have Shadow as a mod than no one.

And yeah, it's official. I think Shadow is a good geezer. I just don't always agree with him.
Posted by Grod on 2011-04-04 16:11:54
Well said PurpleChest.

I think it is also important to remember that FUMBBL is a very public forum and that jokes on the main IRC channels, in Blogs and on the forum are not private and do have the potential to alienate some members through their offensiveness and the fact that they are condoned by the moderators, either outright, or tacitly by their silence.
Posted by Chrome_ghoul on 2011-04-04 16:38:37
Excellent blog entry PC, I agree completely. I think admin should do something, or at least say something about this issue. The fact that nothing is seen to be done when these offensive and crass jokes surface means that admin are losing a lot of respect.
Posted by Ruiner on 2011-04-04 16:46:17
"I also feel a simple 'look i was trying to be funny, i am sorry if it caused offense, that wasnt my intention' is well overdue from certain individuals. If it wasnt the intention to cause offense, and yet clearly that has happened, isnt that the natural and reasonable response?"

I totally agree. That's what I would have expected too if it was a genuine joke which some people have been offended by...
Posted by Cavetroll on 2011-04-04 16:47:21
Good blog, PC. I like how you presented both sides of the issue. I also happen to agree with you about the line being drawn in the wrong place.
Posted by BooAhl on 2011-04-04 16:53:25

Warning: Off-topic.

I guess there are moderators at fumbbl because Chirster dosn't have time or want to read all blogs and forums and check all the teams and pictures and moderate them. They do a grand job, I really appreceate them. And I also appreciate Christer. But to compare moderators to the police and army which in some countries oppreses the citizens and makes them do stuff that asking nicely dosn't might offend people. Or like NATO going around the world making people to do stuff that asking nicely dosn't. Not that NATO always does bad stuff, but it happens.

I just thought it was a bad comparision. But like PC said in this case the line is hard to draw. I guess freedom of speach is nice until you get offended by somebody, or is getting offended for somebody. Sorry, didn't mean to confuse anybody.

I guess you made the comparision of the nice police and Army and not the Ghadafi police and army. Because if you did I think it is an even worse comparision.

Sorry for the spelling. Also I have clearly to much time on my hands home with sick kids.
Posted by Grod on 2011-04-04 17:07:17

It would be nice if the moderators DID just ask nicely. They are not doing that at the moment.

All the rest of what you are saying is, frankly, crap.
Posted by Azure on 2011-04-04 17:09:32
I agree with Purplechest. In addition - the "jokes" and actions of certain individuals are nothing more than a juvenile attempt to seek attention. I agree that it is well past time that the current "jokes" stopped and some folks grew up.
Posted by Arktoris on 2011-04-04 19:05:15
why are some people still trying to turn this mole hill into a mountain?
Posted by KenThis on 2011-04-04 20:16:01
I guess Arktoris there may be several reasons.

1. the issue really has offended and upset a lot of people
2. noone wants to see a precedent set that would go against how they see the issue.
for example if you're pro free speech you don't want censorship, if you're offended you don't want see these jokes in main chat.
3. people feel that there needs to be some definite decision from on high that will settle this issue. people want to see how Christer will call it and by keeping the issue live are trying to force his hand.
4. this whole area is so grey, so dependent on individual values and perspective it is splitting the community and is therefore incredibly interesting.
5. personal grudges and gripes, it appears to me at least that some are using the issue to attack individuals.

stunningly good post Purplechest
I'm always impressed when someone is able to distill salient points so clearly and concisely.
i sometimes wish my thinking wasn't so fuzzy but then again i'm happy it sometimes helps me make novel connections
Posted by Mr_Foulscumm on 2011-04-04 20:26:57
@ kodah

When did I say mods are bad? I just think Internet moral outrage can go hang.

Oh and Calcium you're such a sexy troll <3
Posted by JoseBagg on 2011-04-04 20:40:34
What did the downz guy say to the emo.

I don't know either, I didn't give a shit enough to stick around and listen.
Posted by Timlagor on 2011-04-04 20:50:04
My biggest objection to the Declaration of Human rights is the word "Human" -"person" would have been much better.

I've completely missed all the opportunities to be offended but I would certainy agree that the line you draw in a workplace should be more stringent than that in a social environment.
..and the one you have for society at large should not protect anyone from being offended imo. (incitement to violence is about where I draw that one)
Posted by Arktoris on 2011-04-05 02:50:26

I think its reason 6, 7, and 8.

6. some people are angry they've been censored in the past for somethings and now they want lizvis to feel the same pain. "hey, if I can't have pic of teenagers in bikinis then lizvis can't use the word "D0wnz". reminds me of the saying "if momma aint happy, aint nobody happy."

7. it's a personal attack against lizvis. If it were Synn using "D0wnz", no tickets would be filed.

8. it's a pursuit of faux-righteousness. sometimes people who overly champion a frivolous matter, tend to be guilty of a far more serious similar crime and this is a way to suppress a guilty conscience. I can't help but notice many people who think making fun of a DS child is totally unacceptable and cruel...also think *killing* a DS child by severing his limbs in the womb is just okey dokey fine. As far as I'm concerned, only Angie has the right to be insulted by lizvis. she walked the walk, while most (if not all) of these guys just yak yak yak, but if they had a gf pregnant with a DS child...they'd be out the door or the first to give money to kill the kid.

I say let he without sin, cast the first stone at lizvis.

but again, for the record, I don't think lizvis has poked fun at DS children. He's using the made-up word "D0wnz" to describe coaches that make bonehead decisions. He's not goofing on DS children, he's goofing on the people that think this is a serious matter. so for the second time...what exactly did he say that was sooooo unacceptable?
Posted by koadah on 2011-04-05 09:43:41
That is a bit late for April fools day Arktoris.

6. Is that how you deal with things? Guess what, most people don't.

7. I'm pretty sure that the majority of the site have no reason to favour Synn over Lizvis. Many probably don't even know who Synn is. And some of those most likely to back Synn seem to be those backing Lizvis anyway.

8. If you actually read the posts you would see that people are talking about disability not only Downs Syndrome. So I don't know how many people on the site have DS children but people do have children, family members and friends with other disabilities.
I think that you will find that a lot of people on here have walked the walk dude.

Some people have noted some 'cultural differences'. ;)

So here's some background for you.
In some cultures it isn't necessary to understand exactly why someone might be upset by a certain action. It is enough to know that they are likely be.
If someone then goes ahead and commits the action without any apparent benefit then they might well be considered an asshole at best. But they may also be considered a potential enemy trying to start a fight.

So, think carefully before burning those Korans boys. That really p***es some people off.

Posted by TheCetusProject on 2011-04-05 10:51:03
Wow, I occasionally forget how despicable Internet Folk can sometimes be...
Posted by Mr_Foulscumm on 2011-04-05 11:16:33
You can't stop people from being assholes.

Oh and Lizviz burns Korans as well.
Posted by Calcium on 2011-04-05 11:21:17
I watched an episode of Family Guy last night on BBC3 that poked fun at a chromosone deficiency in children.

How ironic is that? Was I offended? Not enough to think twice about it to be fair. But why?

Is it Lizvis and our clear dislike of each other?(I know what you're getting at Arktoris....dont sugar coat it mate)

Am I throwing my toys out of my moral outrage pram?

Intresting. I do know however, barring re-runs, I won't see that sketch again. I respect where Ark/fouly are coming from but however much they argue against us who found the whole issue offensive, if I was the coach in question I would think 'enough is enough' instead of continually riling up members of this community. Bear in mind Ark, I've been in IRC when more than a few coaches have said some really dark shit regarding this. And they used it to attack other coaches as well.

For the record I have never asked for punitive action against Lizvis. Im no pussy football player waving an invisible card at a ref after I've taken a dive. Don't get me wrong, I would love to smash his teeth down his throat, but thats highly unlikley and I am rather law abiding, so that will have to remain a fantasy of mine.....Up until recently me and Lizvis had a very good 'ignore each other' deal going on....

Posted by koadah on 2011-04-05 12:20:06

No but you can stop them behaving like assholes in a certain place at a certain time.
(If you choose to)

I have no reason to believe that Lizvis has ever burned a Koran or ever intended to.
That was just an analogy.
I hope that is clear. Can't be too careful what with all these cultural differences and all.


Bah, we all know TKD guys can't punch. ;)
Posted by Mr_Foulscumm on 2011-04-05 12:52:32
Well, no. You can't stop people behaving like assholes. And neither can I. Not here at any rate.

And I know it was an analogy :D
Posted by Arktoris on 2011-04-05 20:04:00
thanks for the honesty Calcium, I really respect that and see you in a credible light.

my story is:

studman getting attacked for "farting", lizvis attacked for calling dumb people "D0wnz"...it all just smells bad. there's something afoot going on that just isn't right. Yes, around certain people engaged in certain activities we should be on our best behavior. But fumbbl isn't a place where grandmas gather for knitting quilts. It's a place where guys play a game that involves ripping people up with chainsaws, gouging eyes, and making touchdowns. Not exactly a place one would expect a low threshold of tolerance and emotionally fragile people. It just doesn't add up, something is just fishy about all this.

I'm glad the admin's didn't give in to the mob on lizvis. I think they made a wise choice not to go overboard with the banning. but like koadah said, this matter is probably a cultural one. I can't help but notice most of the anti-DS commentors are British. and as shadow states, we can't cater to every culture otherwise conversation dies off completely. And when conversation dies, the community dies, and with it, the game and the site dies.


A LOT of people tattletale because of reason #6. they are angry someone penalized them and so to lash out, they overwork the same law in hopes to "break the system" or generate more disgruntled people. then when the number of angry people are high, in unison they can lobby for the removal of the law (or at least a less strict usage of it). this is rather common.