Class Politics Name calling in TLF



In a thread titled "The Keys to Speed" in the "Laser Talk" board of TLF, I offered some thoughts on May 7 on five determinants of "average speed over the course". On May 11, an unidentified subscriber (username "geoff") replied simply as:

> Shevy Gunter is a bum

MacKenzie Wesson promptly responded as:
> Please try to refrain from comments like that, we're all
> trying hard to make relations better and forgive previous
> actions/sayings.

Goonie added:
> How about we don't flame, ok?

According to Brad's request that we "keep the discussion on topic within its thread", this discussion has no place in the thread titled "The Keys to Speed", and is hence started here under its own thread for any interested parties.



I think Goonie and probably even Mac are playing with the wrong control line here, if they are not on the wrong tack.

Our new "Terms of Service" is clear: we have no rules against "flaming". Flaming is a network tradition, and netiquette does not mess with tradition!

In addition, a statement that "X is a someone who obtains by begging, or someone who sponges off others and avoids work" may be demonstrated to be an honest opinion. If it is such an "opinion", it would be worthy of protection. After all, the Forum's TOS notes "TLF is dedicated to allowing free speech."

But "free speech" is a well-defined legal term. The protection granted to any "opinion" in the eyes of the readers (and law) depends on the extent to which it is explained. Here, there is no explanation.

In fact, some can argue that the claim is presented not as a personal opinion, but as a "factual statement", as if the author were saying "X is gay" or "X is a thief".

As such, in my humble opinion, one "ethical" question here is whether such unexplained statements devoid of any signs of personal accountability and respect for other subscribers (which would have been demonstrated by a logical justification of the opinion) should still be respected.

On the other hand, the only "administrative" question is whether Geoff's pronouncement may be interpreted as "defamatory", "libelous", "tortious" or "hateful" (which are some of what are not allowed in TLF by the new TOS).

This case will offer a small example of how our young Owner, Bradley Green, will interpret and implement the principles in his new TOS. It will have implications affecting the quality of on-line Lasering correspondence.


Shevy Gunter
It is interesting to note that the name calling has led to a ironic outcome: the insulter has been the subject of more "negative" (I shall use that term even though I shall probably be corrected) posts than the insultee (if that is the term for an insulted person). This obviously has to be a lesson.
Dear Will,

I again did not understand the nature of your remarks (just like your last remark in the "telltales" related thread... :)

First, do you think using the word "bum" is an insult? Secondly, what do you think turns a "criticism" into an "insult"?

And why do you think it is "IRONIC" that the "insulter" is subjected to more negative criticism than the one who is insulted? What's so ironic about that? Isn't this natural?

Do you assume that negative posts arise ONLY due to insults?

And where did you find any negative posts addressed to the "insulter" here? Maybe what's ironic is the NON-existence of any criticism of the 'insulter".

What is the lesson to be learned you refreed to?

Your post is like a puzzle.

You need to be more direct, more open, if you want to be understood...

Of course, both being direct and being indirect have their unique consequences.

Stay wet,

Dear Geoff,

This topic has no place in this thread, but yes, I do sail a Laser. It should be obvious to even the least observant.

For the record, I started Lasering in 1976 when I was in college in Maine. Then, I kept on Lasering at University of Rochester and Lake Ontario, NY. In the mid eighties, while at Syracuse University, I would sneak out of the IE and OR seminars early to go to Skaneateles Lake to sail a rented Laser. In the nineties, while teaching in Philadelphia, as soon as my office hours ended, I would run back home to jump on my Laser, five days a week, sometimes twice a day, with work squeezed in the middle. When it felt lonely and two hulls were not enough, I founded the Philadelphia Laserfleet with three friends, still 15 strong as a fleet, and Captained it for 6 years. That's when I started the "Philadelphia Laserfleet Information Server" on the Internet, too (now "drLaser"). In the mid to late nineties, I coached and trained and introduced into Lasering probably 20 newbies and even J-24 and J-22 skippers on the way to Rolex (for whom a Laser experience was vital).

So, in short, I've been Lasering for 28 years. Would I be wrong if I guessed that that's more than your age (to give the tone of your post the benefit of the doubt)?

Do I spend too much time on the Internet?

Yes. It is part of my profession. Having been trained partially as a software developer and Management Information Systems expert, having been part of the academia using the ARPANET or various supercomputer or scholastic networks, etc., having owned an Internet/Intranet/Extranet development firm, "internet" was (and is) the primary mode of communication in the community I function in.

IMHO, Internet is also the competitive future of the Laser Class. That requirement to exist regularly on the Internet, that interest in promoting the Laser design is nowadays complemented by my civic duty to enlighten the Lasering public, especially the new breed of individuals who have nothing meaningful to say but ask trivial, irrelevant, purposeless questions like:

"Do you even sail a Laser? Or do you spend too much time on the internet?"

If you have a specific issue to address, you have a right to raise it - and should be able to explain it to us. Directly, plainly, in a new, appropriate thread, and without lowering yourself. Otherwise, please always keep in mind that 300+ subscribers see a "new post" marker and click the download button to see what wisdom you have sent their way.

Of course, both being direct and being indirect have their unique consequences. (Didn't I just write that to Will, too?)

Shevy Gunter

PS. This thread is about "name calling" or the use of "defamatory", "libelous", "tortious" or "hateful" language on The Laser Forum. Not anything else. So, please air your unrelated posts in a different thread.
TLF Terms of Service

At The Laser Forum we are dedicated to providing an enviroment were all voices are heard but harsh and vulgar language will not be tolerated unless the author also shows the courtesy to justify and explain his thoughts and emotions to the public. Had a reason been offered to why "Shevy Gunter is a bum" then the post would have been more acceptable, without this because clause, his post was simply name calling, Thus Continuously posting these messages can/will result in membership suspension or deletion.

If anyone has any comments or questions please feel free to contact me privately or via this thread.

I can only repeat myself:

> In your new "Terms of Service", I can detect a new-found
> commitment to transparency, freedom of speech, democracy,
> perpetuity of the resource created and history tracked by
> the Forum subscribers' posts, and independence of the Forum -
> unprecedented in the history of on-line public communications
> media for Laserites!

(The above from the "A new Laser Forum, a new opportunity" thread in this Board.)

Brad's impartial statement draws attention to the clarity desired in our posts - which signals a level of personal accountability by the author. It draws attention to when raw emotions can not be shielded by a free speech argument. His (correct) reluctance to take any administrative actions at this stage are also noteworthy.

Brad's statement provides at least a tangible example that he understands the critical balance between transparency, freedom of speech, democracy, the perpetuity of this resource, and its independence.

I congratulate Bradley once again and wish him all the success in implementing and sticking to the new "Terms of Service" of The Laser Forum. I'm glad to I came back as a subscriber and I hope to stay!

Best regards,

Shevy Gunter
why don't you go to any big events? no one cares about the past, lets see you current skills old man
My teenage son recenly refered to me as a "bum" and I sort of recall the term "old man" being tossed out from time to time.

I don't think the term "bum" was much of an insult, but I guess that depends on how one defines it.

Geoff's claim,that you Shevy, are an old man is well...indisputable.
Face it, embrace it, its true. You're OLD...

Hey! Grinder!
I'm pushin' fifty and I don't FEEL old.
But maybe I'm just confusing that with being immature........:D
Shevy, what forums have you used before? The forums that go around and allowing people to flame turn out like this forums.That forums is not very friendly and people insult each other left right and centre and it does not make for a very good community. Go look at This forum], and you will see that the moderators there are involved and that no flaming and deragatory comments are allowed. When someone flames here, I wish there were mods to give the guy a slap, and if he was a repeat offender like Geoff, give him a little holiday. Flaming is not constructive and makes people waste their time like I am doing now.
I don't care what you are talking about, its flaming and has no place here.