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Topic: Appropriate?
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 5, 2003 05:24AM)
A recent post here was deleted for straying off the topic (it had to do with an unfortunately named routine).

However, moderator Scott Guinn suggested to me that I may want to pursue the viewpoint in a separate thread.

Which, I suppose, accounts for this!

Far too many effects in magic are geared to the same group of people that they were geared to ages ago -- the "good ol' boys".

By the way, this has nothing to do with "politically correct" and EVERYTHING to do with common sense.

The late, great Gene Poinc used to rail against the Buddha Tubes, pointing out that they had absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism and offended millions around the world.

The thing that prompted this thread was a routine by Mac King called Retard.

What a hurtful and horrible name for any trick! One would think that a working performer in an entertainment "hot spot" like Las Vegas would have a wee bit more sensitivity -- but, go figure!

Many magic stores still sell a paper-tear called the Chinese Laundry Ticket, and the patter (if it can be called that!) ends with the magician tearing up the ticket and the supposed "Chinese" proprietor of the laudry saying "no tickee, no shirtee".

Good grief!

I was at a magic-club meeting some years back where a major name did a routine as an Italian, complete with the worst Italian accent I had every heard.
Even though I'm not Italian, but of Italian descent, I don't know which was worse: His doing the routine, or his comment to me that I shouldn't take offense because "it was all in good fun!"
That's a bit like someone telling Rev. Jesse Jackson to stop being upset and just sit back and enjoy the minstrel show!

The truly sad thing is that there are many performers out there who will not understand what I am talking about; they will go ahead making racial and ethnic slurs, sexual innuendoes, and religious "gags", and never understand why some members of the audience may be upset.

Those who complain that magic is generally classed as a second-rate form of entertainment might look at some of the practitioners for the answer to that problem!

BTW, the few examples I gave above are not unique and are just the tip of the iceberg; there are many, many effects, routines, and presentations out there -- still being done today -- that hurt or insult a big part of our audiences.
Message: Posted by: Magix (Apr 5, 2003 11:07AM)
I believe this is something that must be applied to ALL aspects of one's life, but is especially important when entertaining.

Peter, I agree that it SHOULD be a common sense issue, but unfortunately, not everyone possesses the "common sense" of which you speak.

Hence the reason for the term "politically correct" - some people must be educated. But some still won't get it and some probably never will. (I understand, Peter, your reluctance to use the term. PC does seem to have developed negative connotations, perhaps from misuse.)

In order to avoid straying from the subject, I won't say how I am affected by this, but I am offended by others on a regular basis. I mention this only to let you know how I handle the problem, because I think there is only so much that we can do.

First, we can do as I do, and as you did, and bring it to the attention of those who offend. Some will be apologetic, and understanding, and will make the effort to be more sensitive. Others will not.

Second, we can avoid effects and products we believe to be offensive, whether offensive to ourselves or to others.

There is more we can do, but as I look back on this post I see that I have rambled plenty already. So let me just say this -

Those who complain about the necessity for political correctness are usually those who are unaffected by the lack of same.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 5, 2003 11:15AM)
Magix writes: "Those who complain about the necessity for political correctness are usually those who are unaffected by the lack of same."

VERY good point!
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Apr 5, 2003 12:00PM)
Given that some antique practices may not be worth 'grandfathering' in the name of 'tradition', are we ready to mourn their passing? Are we ready to separate the magical from the rude? It is truly safer to honor tradition than to honor the art.

Even writing this, I find a great temptation to step up to a pulpit instead of climb up the hills of art a bit further and look for answers. Leaving any sense of righteousness, political correctness and other forms of willfulness dressed in helpfulness... today, here is what I'm able to see:

There are many magical moments both cognitive and visual that seem to exist within awkward prop/presentation routines. The challenge, as I see it, is to preserve the magic and transplant it into a different and perhaps more positive context.

The topic here is 'appropriate'. The idea of catering the props and presentation to the audience seems sound. If the materials are familiar to the audience, the magic may be far more effective.

Just last night, I was in a discussion where the subject turned to using postcards from museums with artwork on one side as props. The manufacture of special cards was discussed. Many classic card and coin plots were also discussed.

I'm not so sure about the 'appropriateness' of using magic/effects to teach, illustrate or demonstrate social or political beliefs to be imparted on an audience under the cover of entertainment. The line between entertainment and indoctrination is important to the audience.

Many people are trusting of the labels given to things by their parents/guardians/teachers and experience discomfort when exposed to unfamiliar perspectives and contexts. I'm going to walk back down the hill now and suggest a couple of perspective shifts as absurd examples.

Are coffee beans really dormant beetles? Mage takes bag of aromatic coffee, spills a few beans on table... waves hands... 'beans' scurry away.

Is the way children learn to sing the alphabet really a dark spell inteneded to subvert perceptions? What is the worst that could happen if one rearranged the letters? Are there any missing letters?

Okay, lunchtime... -Jonathan

Question: Would you drink/eat from the cups you use for the cups and balls? If not, why? What tradition or presupposition are you holding on to? Is it yours? Do you believe an audience shares this as true? If not, what suggests an audience would chose to believe this?

a) it said so in the book
b) it was good enough for my teacher so...
c) I paid a lot for those cups!
d) they always were, are now and always will be
e) I like to drink from strange cups
f) I want you to believe people used these in olden times
g) I use real cups and don't understand the issue
h) I borrow the cups
i) jon, your post is giving me dyslexia
Message: Posted by: Dave Egleston (Apr 6, 2003 12:10AM)
I used to use a coffee cup/chop cup - I drank my coffee then made funny knitted balls appear and disappear in amusing, entertaining ways. I told the guys with whom I had coffee that the balls came from my daughter's teddy bear, now neutered.

Though I greatly admire Mr. Marucci and always look forward to his thought provoking posts, I am not always in line with his thinking.

I agree we need to be aware of other's sensitivities, but does this mean we shouldn't have "Ancient Chinese Secrets" or "An article found in the Mayan Temples"; or, in Mr. Marucci's case, is "Canadian Ice Snake" in poor taste?

Having been brought up in a very bigoted family, I lived the very early part of my life in ignorance, saying things without malice in my heart which make me cringe today. It wasn't until late elementary school that I learned exactly how inflammatory my everyday speech was - 180 degree turn around. Throughout Jr. High School and High School I wouldn't say anything at all about a minority - good or bad - for fear of being insensitive. Then I went in the Air Force and finally learned how to interact with my fellow man. I finished College and felt comfortable with myself once again.

After the life story - The point I'm trying to make: Today we're acting the same way I felt throughout High School - Afraid to do or say anything that may be labeled as "insensitive" or "racist" when in actuality, we should spend some time celebrating our perceived differences - Though I'm sure the example of the poor Italian accent Mr. Marucci cited was in poor taste. Are we so stupid and afraid to admit that someone learning a new language does say some things in a humorous way? Using the wrong words or words in the wrong context? I know my Mexican friends have laughed themselves silly after some of the things I thought I said in their language - should I be offended? When they tell their friends about the way I've said something - and they all laugh - I'm still not offended. I know what you're saying Mr Marucci, but by North American standards, a lot of countries do things that we think is hilarious. The English drive on the wrong side of the road - Vienna has rivers/canals for streets - The French think overcooked food is "cuisine".

I believe we all have to be aware of our differences and I believe we have a responsibility to know when humor is appropriate and when humor is harmful.

Now I have a question for Mr Marucci: After this oaf assualted your senses with this patter, did you in fact tell him you were insulted? Or is he walking around, thinking he's the funniest guy in the Province?

I'm at the age where I don't really care if I hurt an individual's feelings if in fact he's doing something improper. I'm a firm believer in confronting someone who's hurt someone's feelings - and letting them know they were out of line. In more cases than not, the person will stop and think about what he said, and modify their course of action.

Message: Posted by: Payne (Apr 6, 2003 01:27AM)
On 2003-04-05 06:24, Peter Marucci wrote:

The thing that prompted this thread was a routine by Mac King called Retard.

What a hurtful and horrible name for any trick! One would think that a working performer in an entertainment "hot spot" like Las Vegas would have a wee bit more sensitivity -- but, go figure!

I disagree.

Far too much of this so-called "political correctness" is being voiced by those who are being offended for other people.

Yes, magic is filled with boorish insensitive louts who perform what many consider questionable material. Yet one man's questionable material is another man's Art.

Art pushes the boundaries of convention and by doing so stimulates thought and new ideas. If we allow ourselves to be censored for fear of insulting or upsetting someone then magic, just like any other theatrical discipline, will become stagnant and die.

If your eye offends thee, pluck it out, but leave my eyes alone.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 6, 2003 04:51AM)
Dave writes: "Today we're acting the same way I felt throughout High School - Afraid to do or say anything that may be labeled as "insensitive" or "racist" when in actuality, we should spend some time celebrating our perceived differences."

I did not mean to imply that we should not even refer to real or perceived differences.

It's when those differences are made into a "put-down" that the trouble begins.

For example, being confused by other currencies when travelling can be funny; asking one of the locals what the price of something is in "real money" is not.

And the aptly named Payne writes: "Far too much of this so-called political correctness is being voiced by those who are being offended for other people."

I doubt that commenting on something like the use of the word "retard" would be sloughed off as politically correct by any but the most insensitive.

All I was doing was voicing what members of the Famous People Players have said about how they felt about the use of the word.

And, as for "who made you arbitrator of propriety and taste?", well, I guess I did since nobody else seemed to have the cojones to do it!

(I assume you mean "arbiter.")
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Apr 6, 2003 05:23AM)
I have to agree with Magix; some people just don't get it.

Message: Posted by: Winston Smith (Apr 6, 2003 12:02PM)
Has someone kidnapped Peter and started impersonating him online? If so - is the ransom sufficiently high?

The PC crowd seems to forget that words have meanings for a reason. To give a definition. The word 'retard' (which has roots back to Latin) does have negative connotations. Why should it be forbidden to use a centuries old word?

In my experience, the PC lot are usually self-appointed intellectuals and in a *minority*...However as a performer, anyone would be advised to avoid offending your audience - some audiences take a lot to be offended. Benard Manning is a good example of someone who's considered offensive, but was very popular in his heyday.

-- Winston Smith
"Founding member of the Peter Marucci fan club" - credit due to an anonymous source.

Please do not 'correct' my grammar. My post said what I wanted to say the first time :)
Message: Posted by: xicepik (Apr 6, 2003 12:37PM)
Well, personally, I don't care if someone makes a non-politically correct joke. If it's really racist and/or hurtful to other persons, I'll just say to myself ("ignorant") and I won't try to see other performances of this guy. And chances are that this person will never get a lot of jobs or will get some complaints. Racism is only the effect of ignorance.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 6, 2003 01:05PM)

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk, as Larry, Moe and Curly might say! <G>

No, Winston, nobody has kidnapped me (besides the ransom could NEVER be high enough!)

Very often the PC lot are, indeed, a little "off the wall". They should be reminded not to keep such an open mind that all their brains fall out!

That said, the argument that a word has been in use for centuries is not a particularly valid one, either.

Slavery was a "civilized" institution for a couple of thousand years but that didn't make it right!

Lynching, burning at the stake, and other "fun" things were around for centuries; but that doesn't make them right.

We have -- I hope -- progressed. In the matter of the word "retard", I was only voicing what people who once would be tagged with that name are saying about it now.

And, if they object, that's a good enough reason for me.

Years ago, vaudeville-goers used to roll in aisles laughing at the "antics" of Irish, Italian, Jewish, and other immigrants, not to mention people of color -- not only blacks, but Orientals, Indians, etc.

Thank God that day has gone!

But let's not simply swap that offensiveness for a new offensiveness!

And that's not being policially correct; that's being concerned about the feelings of fellow human beings.
Message: Posted by: Eric Grossman (Apr 6, 2003 02:31PM)

We have -- I hope -- progressed. In the matter of the word "retard", I was only voicing what people who once would be tagged with that name are saying about it now.

And, if they object, that's a good enough reason for me.

I totally agree with you. If what you say is offensive to those you are referring to, then you should not be saying it. Good topic, sir.
Eric Grossman
Message: Posted by: RawVoodoo (Apr 6, 2003 03:48PM)
Ok I may be one of the ones who just doesn't get it. I mean I have NEVER been offended. I just don't understand the concept. I've had my feelings hurt, been made furious, saddened and so on but never offended.

I don't get the difference between "retard" and "handicapped;" they both mean the same thing, so how can they effect you differently. I mean it's easy to see if you stand up and call a challenged person a retard at the top of your lungs.

Example....the other day I bought some bathroom cleaner and on the lable it said "retards growth of mildew;" now, should I get all upset because they used a word that isn't PC? The word "retard" means slow. People don't get all hung up when you say Bad-breath instead of halitosis.

I understand these rules of conduct and as you can see I abide by them when needed. I just really don't understand them. To me this is why the trash collector is now a "sanitation engineer," and (to quote G. Carlin) "shell-shock" is now "post-traumatic stress disorder." Perhaps someday the word "magician" will become vulgar and we will want to be referred to as "awe and wonderment providers," or for some, "amazement engineers." Then what?

Oh well now that I've ether offended everyone (whatever that means) or confused everyone, I say good day. Words "should" only be hurtful and demeaning when meant to be...remember what Mr. Carlin said about "pricking your finger."

Wow, now that I've re-read this post, I see it's long and rambling from point to point, without any direction. More of a screed, I think. I must have needed to vent. So, thank you.
Message: Posted by: Winston Smith (Apr 6, 2003 04:00PM)
Give me a break. The word 'retard' hardly falls in the same category of slavery.

We can all be a bit retarded at times. Someone calls you a retard, big deal, get over it.

It has negative connotations, but does it mean we should call retarded individuals "specially gifted" or something? A euphemism is even worse than the notion it's trying to shield as from quite often. Everyone knows what you mean so why play around.

If I was releasing material I would deliberately give the books/manuscripts the titles: ****, ****, ****** etc., just to ensure it's not discussed on an open forum such as this :)

-- Winston
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 7, 2003 05:30AM)
Winston, why call them anything? Why not just call them "people"?
True, a euphemism can be just as bad - or, at least, ALMOST as bad.
But to suggest that anyone being called a name should just "get over it" is not realistic.
Go to Harlem, East L.A., or the South Side of Chicago and use the "N" words; then tell the African-Americans you are using it on to "just get over it". But let us know what kind of flowers you want at your funeral, first!
It's easy to use that kind of argument against someone who won't or can't fight back.
And, Raw Voodoo, you say, "I've had my feelings hurt, been made furious, saddened and so on but never offended."
This is an argument over semantics; after all, if being hurt, saddened, and angered by something someone said isn't having your feelings hurt, then wotinhell is!
Message: Posted by: sourcerer (Apr 7, 2003 07:04AM)
...and I am just amazed someone even uses energy to defend the use of the word 'retard'.

>>Someone calls you a retard, big deal, get over it

Some people are disabled...it's pretty hard to get over y'know?

And yeah...let's go around yelling the F word too...after all it's centuries old.

I must be too self-appointed intellectual, since I do try to respect other people's feelings, and see very little point in using a degrading term (whether it once upon a long ago had that negative connotation or not doesn't really matter, it's what it means NOW; to the person referenced or those that DO care) when there are better options to choose from.

Sometimes I just don't "get it"

Kaj :o)
Message: Posted by: Magix (Apr 7, 2003 07:35AM)
On 2003-04-07 08:04, sourcerer wrote:
...I do try to respect other people's feelings, and see very little point in using a degrading term (whether it once upon a long ago had that negative connotation or not doesn't really matter, it's what it means NOW; to the person referenced or those that DO care)...

This is exactly why RawVoodoo's example involving bathroom cleaner is irrelevant. In that example, the term "retard" was used in a legitimate way that should not be offensive to anyone.

Also, RawVoodoo, while I enjoy George Carlin's humor, the real reason that "Shell Shock" became PTSD is because we know a lot more about Post-traumatic Stress today than we did during WWI and WWII. It's now known that people don't have to be involved in combat to be suffer from Post-traumatic Stress (Serious car accident victims, rape victims, plane crash victims, and rescue workers are all on the list of those who can feel Post-traumatic Stress or even develop PTSD).

But again, I don't want to stray from the subject. It is not always the word itself, but the way in which it is used.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 7, 2003 07:59AM)
Exactly, Magix.
The word "retard", if used to describe a bathroom cleaner, is fine.
If used to describe a human being, well - that's another story, as it should be!

Is it so difficult to understand that human beings have feelings that can be badly hurt by insensitivity -- whether done casually or for "humor"?

Let's have a little mutual respect; surely we've crawled out of our caves by now!
Message: Posted by: Phil Pearce (Apr 7, 2003 10:34AM)
Peter, you wrote:
"For example, being confused by other currencies when travelling can be funny; asking one of the locals what the price of something is in "real money" is not."

I disagree. I think that's pretty funny, and my disagreement goes to the heart of your premise. That may not be funny to you or others, but it is to me and others.
Message: Posted by: Reg Rozee (Apr 7, 2003 12:09PM)
I think Peter is bang on. I see a great similarity between the use of these types of terms /presentations and bullying. You do something that is hurtful to someone because you are in an advantageous position (you speak the language better, you are on your "hometurf", you are not mentally handicapped, etc.), it gets you an audience that for one reason or another probably won't do the same thing but still wants to watch, and you get something out of it (power, reputation, fame/infamy, paid, smug satisfaction, whatever).

How many of you think bullying is acceptable? Hey, it makes the kid who is bullied tougher, right? It teaches them the "facts of life", doesn't it? It entertains all the other kids, doesn't it? No one gets hurt, right? Right? Sure. You don't believe that, do you? Read a newspaper sometime.

If you can't understand why some terms are not acceptable to some groups of people considering how complex human culture and interaction is, I see only two possibilities: ignorance or under-socialization. Either one would make you your very own special kind of "retard"! Offended? If so, why? It's just a word, right? This time it just happens to apply to you.

Anyone can achieve some partial success by pandering to the lowest common denominator. Personally I don't think it says very much about your talent as an entertainer. Stand up on a stage, make fun of somebody, everyone laughs. Big deal-- career progression for bullies. Ever wonder how many people are saying under their breath "He's funny! But what a ****!" Try entertaining people without picking on anyone but yourself-- now that's a challenge.

-bigwolf {*}
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Apr 7, 2003 01:31PM)
I tend to go along with Peter here - a certain sensitivety and awareness (or common sense if you wish) has evolved over the past 20 years or so in most forms of entertainment, and magic cannot be an exception.

However at my time of life I cannot help having a 'wicked' personal sense of humour at times, I guess it's human nature - but I would refrain from thrusting this onto others and keep it duly suppressed!
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 7, 2003 01:49PM)
Phil Pearce writes, about comments on "how much is that in real money?":
"I disagree. I think that's pretty funny . . "

You probably wouldn't if you were in the other country -- oh, let's say, for example, Canada -- and the person who was looking disparagingly at your currency, with a picture of your head of state on it, and asking what it was worth in "real money" was an American.

This cuts to the very heart of my point: You have to be extra-sensitive if you are dealing from a position of strength.
Message: Posted by: Dave Egleston (Apr 7, 2003 05:53PM)
Once again, I think you've picked the wrong example - I was raised in upstate New York and that sentence (real money) was said at least once a month on both sides of the border and I never heard ANYONE get upset. And as stated earlier, my family thought Canadians were just another minority, but weren't offended by that old joke!

By the way, and as an aside - Have you ever thought about what would have happened if Ben Franklin's committee had been successful in June of 1776?

I'm desperately searching for the trick referenced so I can at least comment from some sort of knowledge.

But as always seems to be the case in a Marucci inspired thought - We're in the same room but the lighting seems to be bad.

Message: Posted by: Phil Pearce (Apr 7, 2003 06:18PM)
Peter: I think the choice of names for the effect (Retard) is a bit off base, but nothing to get one's shorts in a twist over. But in my opinion, you carry this way too far.
I have traveled to quite a few foreign countries and I have made the same exact joke that you cited about real money to the locals in Italy, Thailand, China, Switzerland, and Massachusetts, and have never had a negative reaction. If someone in the U.S. would get offended (!) if someone from another country said the same about a sawbuck, well...in my opinion, they're just wound a little bit too tightly. They would need to take a couple of deep breaths, think about what is happening in Iraq right now, put it all in perspective, and really think about it.
Maybe it was just an ill-chosen example; the more I think about it, I'm sure that's what it was.
Message: Posted by: debaser (Apr 7, 2003 07:02PM)
I was part of the original thread Peter is talking about. Since then I have looked at the Mac King book at BORDERS book store.

The effect title is "Rubber Cement Retard" and the word retard is used in the book to descibe someone who (and these are Mac King's words) "If you want to look like a total DOOFUSS".

So it is a matter of "appropriateness" in the situation. I feel that saying someone who looks like a doofus looks like a retard and putting that in a public book sold at major book stores is bad judjement.

Mac King uses the word retard to obviously refer to people who are retarded (not some 17th century reference).

There is nothing wrong with saying someone is mentally retarded (assuming they are). But to call that person a "retard" is offensive, because you are not referring to their disability, you are defining them by it. THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE.

I do not consider myself politically correct and if someone used the term retard in say an adult comedy show, maybe it would be funny. That is not the case when you put out a book that is primarily for younger children.
Message: Posted by: debaser (Apr 7, 2003 07:11PM)
PETER - For someone who is lecturing about using hurtful words in a public situation I do not understand your post on the thread titled "oxymorons". This is a direct quote by YOU on that thread:

When referring to Oxymorons

"Depending on where you live:
Chinese driving-school!"

Since this is the Magic Café and it is a forum for the young and old and Chinese, I feel that your statement of Chinese driving schools being an oxymoron is fairly inappropriate.

I don't see how that is any different than the Chinese Laundry ticket effect.

We make the rules on how we want to live and how we would like to be perceived. It is up to each individual to represent themselves to the world. WORDS HAVE POWER and it is all our responsibility to use those words with dignity and grace.

Message: Posted by: nums (Apr 7, 2003 09:15PM)
"You probably wouldn't if you were in the other country -- oh, let's say, for example, Canada -- and the person who was looking disparagingly at your currency, with a picture of your head of state on it, and asking what it was worth in "real money" was an American". Peter M. wrote that and I have a story that does not agree with it.
When I had a real job I went onto a Canadian ship and was doing my job , a sailor asked me if I had a new "gold dollar" in exchange for a "loony" . I happened to and I asked him why they call it a "loony" - was it because it had the picture of the Queen on it? After picking himself off the floor from laughing he explaind it was due to the "loons" (birds )on it.

P.C. SUCKS. This is not to say I like, use or agree with the N word or the P word for Polish people or the S word for Spanish people, only that I hate calling the bums homeless, the blind vision impaired, and the crippled handicapped. I don't know if there is any correlation but I remember a better world when if it walked like a duck, quacked like a duck and swam like a duck it was a duck not a BILLED WATER FOUL. I am a magician, not an illusionist or performance artist, or any of the other 10 syllable words people use to describe themselves these days. For GOD'S sake lets not call a Sanitation Engineer a Janitor, he may feel bad about himself.

Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Apr 7, 2003 09:48PM)
I am personally offended at the word "R". As a Special Education Teacher and a board member of the Learning Disabilities Association, I advocate on behalf of children with disabilites. (mentally challenged and physically disabled don't necessarily go together as some people assume).

Yes, some of you "don't get it". Your words said in jest, wound and hurt children daily when they hear that term. But they should get over it? Then I would say bully to you.

Would any of you look at a child that has been called "R" by others and feel saddened by their tears? Do those that "don't get it" walk around a school yard and hear that word used in derogatory terms..it's never said jokingly.

Advocating the use of the word or any others that hurt people is only perpetuating its use. It's the responsibility of those that care about others to tell a person ..I don't want to hear it and it's offensive to me.

I can almost hear the detractors now speaking "sheesh she's a bleeding heart". I would argue a caring one..better than a black heart anyday.

So there is my two cents worth.. :nod:
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 7, 2003 09:56PM)
Debaser writes: "There is nothing wrong with saying someone is mentally retarded (assuming they are). But to call that person a "retard" is offensive, because you are not referring to their disability, you are defining them by it. THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE."

Thank you, Debaser, for being at least ONE person who understands what I am talking about.

The situation got out of control when it slipped into the "money" area.

But Debaser also writes: "For someone who is lecturing about using hurtful words . . ."

I am NOT lecturing anyone on the use or misuse of hurtful words; if anyone thinks that, I apologize.

I was, I thought, simply drawing attention to a perceived problem -- one perceived by many people (but none of them here, it would appear!)

What I tried to point out -- albeit unsuccessfully in this crowd -- was that there are some words that should not be used today because they hurt the people they refer to or are directed at.

(I've yet to come across a Chinese person who objects to the term "Chinese".)

But feel free to use any words you like in any situation you want. After all, I'm not your mother and if you want to sound like a good ol' boy (probably a politically incorrect term!), that's fine with me.

But in doing so maybe someone somewhere will understand how magic is being dragged down to a third-rate level.
Message: Posted by: Sid Mayer (Apr 8, 2003 01:11AM)
Oh, for the deity of your choice's sake. This has become a temannoyer in a teacontainer.


Message: Posted by: GlenD (Apr 8, 2003 01:48AM)
What are you going to do ? In all walks of life there are all kinds of characters.
But if you stand in front of a brick looking wall in front of a mic in a room full of inebriated folks, you can say just about anything and everyone laughs... :lol:
Even in this age of high sensitivity on just about everything! Go figure.
Oh well, time and place for everything, right? Can't wait to see the movie, "Anger Management"! :mad: :angry:

Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Apr 8, 2003 03:11AM)
Well Bigwolf, it seems that even though we broadly supported what PM had to say we have been thrust into the pot, or rather "crowd" of those who lack understanding of the point!

It's a lovely sunny Tuesday morning here in England, - so I'll get the petrol mower out and leave this cyber minefield to it's own devices . . . gardening is such a nice pastime, and it helps prevent one from becoming circumfrencially disadvantaged too.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 8, 2003 04:16AM)
Sorry, ace, wolf, et al. Perhaps I got somewhat carried away and painted in too broad strokes.

In any case, "a lot of" (not "all") people don't seem to care whom they offend, so long as they can justify it to themselves.

Okay, if you can live with that, go ahead.

It explains a lot.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Apr 8, 2003 05:30AM)
Thank you Peter, the Evelyn Fison Floribunda is in the post to you.

Having worked as a musician extensively in my younger years, on cabaret circuits, I experienced first hand just how hurtful and insensitive some performers can be. I have sat on stage (piano player) with a West Indian drummer colleague through a stand-up comic's 30 minutes of '******' and '****' jokes. I offered to walk off with my friend, but to his credit he sat and faced this barrage with dignity and endurance. Now, as a children's entertainer, I avoid anything that could poke fun at the 'chosen' child even! To counterbalance this argument though, I think the ridiculous extremes that some have gone to, so as not to offend, e.g. inner city Manchester, UK, nursery schools singing "baa baa white sheep", or allowing some vitreolic Muslim cleric with a hook for a hand, to close off a London street with outside worship because the mosque has been closed down, is beyond sanity.
I also believe that most races, including white Anglo-Saxon like myself, have humorous traits, and a moderate amount of 'sending-up' is harmless. But alas, many performers do not have the skill to carry this off without inducing ill-feeling, so if in doubt, I'd leave it alone.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 8, 2003 07:22AM)
Great post, aceparties!
That's it exactly.
And it's certainly refreshing to know that there are some performers out there who understand the difference between humor and hurt.
Message: Posted by: debaser (Apr 8, 2003 04:09PM)
NUMS - Your post was saddening at best.

So since you don't understand big words and have no compassion towards anyone who doesn't cause a threat to you, I will explain it for you.

Blind implies that you are unaware of your surroundings (this could mean blind love, or being blind TO THE CONDITIONS OF OTHERS) whereas vision impaired descibes exactly what it is.

Crippled implies helplessnes usually brought on by an outside force. It is also more of a verb than a noun. Handicapped implies having a condition that limits certain abilities.

Bums (I cant believe I even need to say this one). A person that say, doesn't have family nearby and has lost their job in a slow job market might become "homeless" whereas a bum implies that this person just doesn't care and is lazy.

I hope this has given you some insight NUMS and maybe even though you HATE to have to make modifications to your speech, now you can see some reasons why it might be a good idea.


Peter - I wasn't implying that the word "Chinese" was offensive (just like it is not offensive in the title of "Chinese laundry ticket"). It is the use of it to describe a group of people as being ignorant that is offensive.

In the case of the Chinese laundry ticket it is offensive because not all Chinese people say things like "tickee or shirtee" (although some may).

In the case of YOUR quote it is offensive because all Chinese people do not drive poorly (although some do).

I can not see one lick of difference between your words and the words used by the people who wrote the title and patter for the Chinese Laundry Ticket (except that they wrote it years and years ago, while your words are very recent).

So you're not lecturing or preaching (fine), but you are writing about lack of sensitivity towards people. I personally feel like your words were just as offensive as the words of the people you are talking about.

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 8, 2003 06:44PM)
Matt writes: "I personally feel like your words were just as offensive as the words of the people you are talking about."

Good! That's exactly the reaction I was hoping for!

Strike out and show that you care about human dignity!

Of course they were offensive -- and wrong -- and I apologize.

But good on you for zeroing in on them!
Message: Posted by: debaser (Apr 8, 2003 07:39PM)
Thanks Peter and good on you for admitting that you were wrong.

Message: Posted by: nums (Apr 8, 2003 10:57PM)
Debaser, Websters online dictionary defines blind as follows.....1 a (1) : SIGHTLESS (2) : having less than 1/10 of normal vision in the more efficient eye when refractive defects are fully corrected by lenses b : of or relating to sightless persons
2 a : unable or unwilling to discern or judge <blind to a lover's faults>

And it defines Cripple as ....1 a sometimes offensive : a lame or partly disabled person or animal b : one that is disabled or deficient in a specified manner.

Bum is defined .....1 a : one who sponges off others and avoids work b : one who performs a function poorly <called the umpire a bum> c : one who devotes his time to a recreational activity <a beach bum> <ski bums>
- on the bum : with no settled residence or means of support .

I am sorry that you do not agree with me but I am not mad, nor do I dislike any of the people mentioned in the definitions ( except bums, and my brother is a 44 year old bum who, were it not for a few friends, would be homeless). I am also not saying all people without a roof are bums but the seven people I know personally that are "homeless" are BUMS and have no desire for a house or work and are perfectly content to live off of panhandeling. My wife and I have on several occasions offered jobs to a few of the seven and all have turned them down. I feel for the ones who lost homes and jobs due to the economy and have even performed for them to show a little sunshine in their otherwise dreary day (do you?). Have you bought a one-legged man lunch? I have. The first two deffinitions are right on. As for homeless I have to say that all dogs are animals but not all animals are dogs- therefore all bums may be homeless but not all homeless are bums.


P.S. Here is to the day when there is no blindness, no crippled people and everyone has a job and a home.
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Apr 9, 2003 12:15AM)
Hi Nums,

I kinda see what you are trying to say but at the same time want to point out the following.

Webster's Dictionary revamps its list of words yearly (or it may be every two years), dropping anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 words and sometimes even adding that many on.

One case in example..remember a time when mouse referred to only a small fuzzy creature? Or a hard drive might have meant driving in a thunder storm? Giving examples from the dictionary doesn't necessarily make them correct or still in common use. Glance through the entire thing and I'm sure you'll find thousands of words that people rarely use anymore. Sheesh, remember when men referred to women as dames? They'd get a funny look if they used that word nowadays.

Anyway a lot of this topic has gotten under my cutaneous and I want to remain demotic, besides I'm becoming desultory.

"Woe is me!" :)
Message: Posted by: Magix (Apr 9, 2003 07:38AM)
I'd like to point out that some of the examples given earlier may be PC taken too far, in my opinion.

For example, nums mentions that a Janitor may want to be called a Sanitation Engineer. Janitor is a job title, not a slur. On the other hand, if Sanitation Engineer is what a person wants to refer to themselves as, it's no skin off my nose. I may think it's silly but it makes no real difference to me.

Of course, referring to Garbagemen as Trash Collectors is PC that makes sense because it's gender nuetral.

Concerning "blind" and "deaf", I know blind people and deaf people, and that is what they want to be called. Again, probably because that is what they are, and it is not considered a slur. There are probably others who prefer the terms "vision impaired" or "hearing impaired". OK, that's fine, too.

For me, that's the bottom line - it's not about what I think should or should not be offensive to others. It's about what THEY find offensive.
Message: Posted by: vinsmagic (Apr 9, 2003 10:54AM)
Peter writes he is of Italian descent. There are those who are Italian and then those who are of Italian descent and those who wish they were Italian.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 9, 2003 11:10AM)
You got it, Vinnie!
Message: Posted by: debaser (Apr 9, 2003 01:24PM)
Nums - A dictionary defines all the uses of a specific word. It (usually) does not make a distinction of what those words imply.

I'm glad that you're not mad, I guess the word "hate" threw me off.

If you have friends who are not doing their part, you can call them whatever you want. I just feel that you have to know before you can make such judgements.

Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Apr 10, 2003 02:35PM)
Here's another recollection. A local friend of mine who lectures and presents optical illusions at museums etc. to parties of schoolchildren was given a 'dressing down' by a school teacher at the end of a session for saying "red Indian" instead of "native American". My friends and relatives in Australia have always used the term "Abbo" also, and I am wondering whether this should now be "native Australians". I know that the term white South Africans used was quite disgusting and demeaning - but are either of the above now still acceptable in 2003? (Will the MC delete the word "Abbo" even?).

As a piano player am I still allowed to play and name Claude Debussy's "Golliwog's Cake Walk"? The middle 8 bars of the old tune "The Sun Has Got His Hat On" has now been changed to "he's been tanning Negroes, out in Timbuktu". Where will these changes of the past 20 years or so end I wonder?

Of course our 'Garbagemen' are 'Dustbinmen' or 'Binmen' here. I'm wondering when they will become 'Refuse Disposal Technicians' (or something similar). I was tempted to match your Webster's definitions of words by our Oxford English Dictionary - and say that these must be right as it's the English Dictionary the English use. But then you would probably point out the high French and other content in the English language, plus the great changes American English has made to English English - and we'd all get in a muddle!!
Message: Posted by: Payne (Apr 10, 2003 05:12PM)
My personal favorite so far is that we are no longer supposed to refer to people as Oriental (which simply means east). The proper term now (at least at my place of employment) is Asian, a western term that lumps everyone into a single category.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 10, 2003 08:13PM)
Yes, isn't it amazing how the world changes?
The top rap singer today is white.
The top golfer is black.
And Germany doesn't want to go to war.
Message: Posted by: Andrew E. Miller (Apr 10, 2003 08:30PM)
I agree with you Peter. This is always something I keep in mind when performing for laymen. I never do anything that is ethnic or inappropriate; nothing that can be considered offensive. I have seen several magicians do something of the kind and it hurts to watch.

Message: Posted by: ChrisZampese (Apr 10, 2003 09:11PM)
On 2003-04-10 18:12, Payne wrote:
My personal favorite so far is that we are no longer supposed to refer to people as Oriental (which simply means east). The proper term now (at least at my place of employment) is Asian, a western term that lumps everyone into a single category.

That's kinda' funny. Often when people are talking about how un-PC a term is they ignore the other side! The above quote is a great example (and I realise that it is only an example and not words straight from Payne's mouth).

He is talking about having to use the word "Asian" as the term "Oriental" is offensive. All the while he is using the term "western" which lumps everyone into a single category!

This seems to happen a lot, kind of a double standard. EG: Us "White" people in NZ can't use the term "Black" to describe the Maori population, but the term "White" is used by all (including Government officials) to describe those of "Western" descent.

Guess we might come to a happy medium at some stage in the future.
Message: Posted by: debaser (Apr 10, 2003 11:35PM)
There are more terms than Asian or Latino or Western. The problem is you have to know where people come from before you can say words like Chinese, Mexican, or American. I don't know why it's such a big deal for people to have to refine their language.

Aceparties as far as your song goes I don't think you should change a word. As long as it's in a historical context I don't think anything should be changed.

Chris - I see where you're coming from with the black/white thing, but that is something that is in the process of changing or being examined for change. There are many people who have no problem with the word black to describe African-Americans. For instance in the university I attend we use African-American in class but use the word black around campus (no matter who is in the conversation).