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Source: (consider it) Thread: Swing low, sweet chariot - cultural appropriation?
Kaplan Corday
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Has anyone from Botswana objected to McCall Smith's books?
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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
The strawman is that cultural appropriation means 'no-one can ever create a viewpoint character that isn't of their own class sex or race'.

This isn't a strawman. I've heard people actually say this (to white male writers) and mean it.
Fair enough - I was charitably assuming that most users of the phrase aren't so silly ...

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Why would anyone care that they sing that?

Why would anyone care that they sing SLSC? They're two songs from the same culture.
Oh, such a happy statement. When the Saints Go Marching In was written by white people. It was made famous by a black man.
What is it about a song that puts me on notice that it was written by a black person or a white one? Sure, there are musical styles that suggest one or the other, but I'm certainly not knowledgeable enough to know whether my best guess is likely to be correct. Am I under an obligation to check the origins of a song before singing it? That seems absurd to me.

I get that there's such a thing as taking the piss. I get that there's such a thing as blasphemy or profanity. I get that there's such a thing as crassness. I get that singing a song from another person's culture can (but need not be), crass, profane, piss-taking. That could certainly be offensive (though even then, I'm not sure that it would always be wrong. Racial caricatures aside, there is a legitimate place for parody).

But usually, a song is just a song. If it's not sung with malice, and there are no reasonable grounds for believing it to be sung with malice, saying that there are songs I shouldn't sing because I'm the wrong nationality or colour sounds like nonsense to me.

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Why would anyone care that they sing that?

Why would anyone care that they sing SLSC? They're two songs from the same culture.
Oh, such a happy statement. When the Saints Go Marching In was written by white people. It was made famous by a black man.
What is it about a song that puts me on notice that it was written by a black person or a white one? Sure, there are musical styles that suggest one or the other, but I'm certainly not knowledgeable enough to know whether my best guess is likely to be correct. Am I under an obligation to check the origins of a song before singing it? That seems absurd to me.

I get that there's such a thing as taking the piss. I get that there's such a thing as blasphemy or profanity. I get that there's such a thing as crassness. I get that singing a song from another person's culture can (but need not be), crass, profane, piss-taking. That could certainly be offensive (though even then, I'm not sure that it would always be wrong. Racial caricatures aside, there is a legitimate place for parody).

But usually, a song is just a song. If it's not sung with malice, and there are no reasonable grounds for believing it to be sung with malice, saying that there are songs I shouldn't sing because I'm the wrong nationality or colour sounds like nonsense to me.

of course it sounds like nonsense to you, you are white. You have not seen your culture mined for profit whilst being denigrated simultaneously.
I am not making a statement about who can sing what, BTW. I happen to think sharing music can be a wonderful way to share culture. But that is the point, sharing not taking.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Cod:

All of which is a long-winded way of saying: have any people of colour from the southern USA actually complained?

Most Americans, of any colour, don't know what rugby is much less its British fan affectations.
The current fuss appears to have begun here in this New York Times article.*
The two black academics quoted in the article don't seem to be calling for anyone's heads.
BTW, black Americans with slave ancestors are not confined to the south, nor is the use of SLSC.


*Paywall after viewing 10 articles in one month.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I was more thinking of Alexander McCall Smith's books about Botswana.

I've read several of them. I have no knowledge of Botswana at all, but the books are obviously based on McCall Smith's fond impression of Botswana. As novels, they do well: the characters leap off the page.

I don't find them exploitative, unless you take the (to my mind nutty) view that an author can only write about people like him or her - in which case, all novels would be very dull indeed.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
you are white. You have not seen your culture mined for profit whilst being denigrated simultaneously.

Because white people only have one culture... [Roll Eyes]

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Forward the New Republic

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
you are white. You have not seen your culture mined for profit whilst being denigrated simultaneously.

Because white people only have one culture... [Roll Eyes]
Fair cop. No, they don't and there are white cultures* that are denigrated by the majority. His statement, though, does not indicate that he is from any of those. Else he might understand a little better.

*That is to say, cultures which are majority, and/or dominated by, people of prominent pallor.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
I am not making a statement about who can sing what, BTW. I happen to think sharing music can be a wonderful way to share culture. But that is the point, sharing not taking.

What's the difference?

Or more to the point, how am I, a white guy who neither has, nor really cares enough to acquire, a specialist knowledge of musical history, supposed to know what music has been legitimately inspired by black artists in a fruitful act of cultural sharing, and what has been wrongfully 'taken'?

Can music be "taken" anyway? If I sing (badly) a song which has cultural significance to you, I don't deprive you of it. It's still yours to enjoy. All the meaning and pleasure there ever was in the song when sung well is still there for you to appreciate, and, if you have the talent, use to inspire your own creativity.

I can, as I've said, take the piss - and we'd both recognise that's what I was doing. I can't take the music - and I honestly have no idea how you would distinguish what you are referring to as 'taking' from what I'd see as sharing.


An example I used the last time a similar subject was raised here - I was at a LARP event a while ago which was set in the 1940s and included swing dancing. The racial mix of the participants was mostly white British, with some other white Europeans and Chinese. Was that taking, or sharing, a black musical style? How would the difference which you think is important manifest itself in that case? What do you need to know, before you decide whether or not you approve of me taking part?

I think it's easy to see how the difference between dancing, and taking the piss out of black dancers, (the difference that I think is important) would be expressed - it takes less than a second's thought to visualise the difference between white people swing dancing (even badly) just as a way of dancing, and white people doing it to caricature and mock. A person of good faith and even minimal sensitivity would be able to tell one from the other almost instantly. What you'd need to ask to find out what I was doing is simple - was I trying to make the dance (and thus by extension the race and culture associated with it) look foolish or ridiculous?

In contrast, I can't understand the basis for the distinction you want to make, and if you could explain it to me, I don't see why I should necessarily agree with you.

[ 11. March 2017, 23:09: Message edited by: Eliab ]

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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lilBuddha
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Swing dancing is an interesting choice. In its early heyday, white people would go to Harlem to the black clubs to dance. They were sharing, participating; not stealing and ignoring.
Benny Goodman integrated his band; sharing.
Pat Boone was part of an early attempt to cash in on black music without actually using black people:Stealing.
Not that there is always a clear line, there rarely is. what is appreciation and what is appropriation will rarely have a clear answer. It remains though, that until hip hop, white people made considerably more money from black music than did black people.
That is hardly sharing.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Not that there is always a clear line, there rarely is. what is appreciation and what is appropriation will rarely have a clear answer.

OK, but if there's no clear answer, on what principles do you decide whether, and in what circumstances, I can (try to) sing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"?

You've suggested (and I fully accept) that as a white person I don't have the same perspective as someone whose culture has been treated badly. That's right. As a result, there is absolutely nothing cultural that I feel possessive about. I can't imagine ever objecting to anyone else enjoying 'my' culture on the grounds that they are the wrong nationality or race. Trying to imagine it feels like trying to invent a new and unnecessary rule.

If you don't agree that the rule is unnecessary and think that I ought to follow it, you need to be able to explain clearly to someone who not only does not, but really cannot, see things the way you do, what the rule actually is.

quote:
It remains though, that until hip hop, white people made considerably more money from black music than did black people.
That is hardly sharing.

No, it's probably a combination of market forces (until an artist is well known enough for the balance to tip, what the populariser/distributor of a work does simply is more commercially valuable than what the originator does), exploitation (people without commercial clout being screwed over by people who have it), intentional racism (not wanting to listen to or perform with black people), and systematic racism (it being harder, in a white, racist, society, to encounter and learn to appreciate music created by blacks until it starts to be noticed by enterprising whites).

Some of that is blameworthy directly, some is the consequence of other wider injustices. Does the concept of cultural appropriation, widen the category of what would we ought to consider exploitative and unjust?

[ 12. March 2017, 07:19: Message edited by: Eliab ]

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Sioni Sais
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I'm not sure this has been mentioned but in amongst all the other aspects of ownership and authorship is that of the author's moral rights. These, as with other intellectual property rights vary from place to place but basically they protect the author's right to be identified as the author, restricts the scope of parody and prevents mutilation. In some places they are perpetual.

That raises the question: are the author's moral rights being infringed by appropriation and, in the case of SLSC by those gestures? Moreover, can the author's moral rights be extended to the author's community?

Heck, I don't know. IANAL still less an IP lawyer, just a layman who has heard of the things and knows where to look.

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(Paul Sinha, BBC)

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Doc Tor
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In circumstances where the author is Anon or Trad, copyright is impossible. Even if you were the first to transcribe an oral telling, if you acknowledge that you weren't the creator, then you have no copyright over that work.

And even then, parodies, homages and suchlike have a protected place in copyright law. And even then, things like fan and 'slash' fiction are not infringements of copyright if they're not for commercial advantage.

The whole point of copyright is to reward the original creator of a piece of IP (in this case, a melody and/or lyrics). The IP is in and of itself a commodity (IIRC, Michael Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles back-catalogue). Rights holders, who may or may not be the original creator of the work, can sell a licence to use the work to anyone who applies, whether or not the original creator approves.

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Forward the New Republic

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wild haggis
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Let's all sing "Flower of Scotland" and that will stop the arguments!!

Seriously, if we analysed everything we sang we wouldn't sing anything.

What about hymns? Some I refuse to sing the words of.

Let's all just sing "la, la, la" if we aren't happy with the words and it's a good tune!

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wild haggis

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:

You've suggested (and I fully accept) that as a white person I don't have the same perspective as someone whose culture has been treated badly. That's right.

Thing is, I do not believe being white precludes you from gaining some inkling. There were, and are, white people in every civil rights movement. What do they see what you do not? I cannot answer this for you, Eliab. Privilege is the fact that you do not need to do so.
quote:

As a result, there is absolutely nothing cultural that I feel possessive about. I can't imagine ever objecting to anyone else enjoying 'my' culture on the grounds that they are the wrong nationality or race.

Again, it is your privilege speaking. But it does amaze me. You write as if you are educated, which would imply at least a smattering of history. You are not, by your profile, incredibly old. This should translate to at least a modicum of understanding.
The divisions are clearest in the US. Most black people in the US have a history truncated at slavery and have not been allowed an identity of their own. And the sub-cultures they have created are mined for profit whilst still oppressing the creators.
quote:

If you don't agree that the rule is unnecessary and think that I ought to follow it, you need to be able to explain clearly to someone who not only does not, but really cannot, see things the way you do, what the rule actually is.

Start here.

quote:
No, it's probably a combination of market forces (until an artist is well known enough for the balance to tip, what the populariser/distributor of a work does simply is more commercially valuable than what the originator does), exploitation (people without commercial clout being screwed over by people who have it),

Elvis Presley was an unknown when he started singing black music. As was Pat Boone and numerous others. Whilst some began singing because they liked the music, many were signed to contract to avoid using the originators. "Race Music" as it was called, was black music for black folk. When white people began to listen in sufficient numbers, white record companies hired white musicians to avoid hiring black.(I am not a music historian, But I am a fan or early American blues.)

quote:

intentional racism (not wanting to listen to or perform with black people),

This will likely be somewhat true. However, as I mentioned, the music started becoming popular sung by black folks first.

quote:

Some of that is blameworthy directly, some is the consequence of other wider injustices. Does the concept of cultural appropriation, widen the category of what would we ought to consider exploitative and unjust?

Cultural appropriation is an issue largely because of the wider injustices.

Early black music is the problem writ large, but sometimes the writing is more subtle. I've no clear line of demarcation for you, Eliab. Partly because there isn't one. There are instance where it is clear, yes, but there are many where it is not and many where it is an amalgam.

Coldplay and Beyonce* released a song about infatuation. The video was a beautifully shot montage in India. The scenery and people have naught to do with the song, they are jewellery, costume. Is this cultural appropriation? Of course it is. Is it negative or offensive? That is a more difficult question.

*Beyonce is an American, black female singer.
Coldplay is a British bag of pretension
Kidding, I actually like some of their music.

[ 12. March 2017, 15:54: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Cod:
There's a point missing here, which perhaps someone could clear up easily. What makes something cultural misappropriation is its use without caring about what the group it most clearly belongs to thinks. ...

Hear, hear!

Whose song is this? According to Wikipedia the author may well be unknown. If anyone is known, it was written by a man who was either a Native American or (and I was surprised to learn this possibility existed) an African American who was a slave of a Native American. If there is a traceable author, he died at least 130 years ago.

So apart from the obvious fact that none of us posting on this thread have asked them whether they mind or not, there's nobody around now who is entitled to be offended. We are all speaking out of our own emotional agendas not from those whose opinions are legitimate or relevant.

Besides, the English Rugby team is in England. English copyright law recognises foreign copyrights. As is the way with copyright law in most countries, it does not protect a foreign claim to copyright outside the period and circumstances that it would protect if the work were first published here. That's the author's life + 70 years.

Those who have chosen to be offended so as to make some point of their own will probably say, 'what has law got to do with this - this is a principle; what you are saying is pilpul'. However we have to draw a line somewhere. We are entitled to do so. In the case, the law provides quite good rationale for doing so.

This song is public domain now. And if no original author has any claim to be offended, by so much less does any group of people have any greater claim to be offended than any other group has an equal or greater claim to say 'get lost'.

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Thing is, I do not believe being white precludes you from gaining some inkling.

Hence my engagement with you on this thread - which I hope is enquiring rather than argumentative.

But engagement requires honesty, and my honest starting position is that the whole concept of objecting to cultural appropriation doesn't resonate with me at all. There's absolutely nothing analogous to it that I can imagine myself being offended by. I'm not going to pretend to have more empathy than I do - because my difficulty in understanding is precisely that the concept is, to me, a truly bizarre one.

It is a very different concept to being offended at discrimination or caricatures. Those are things I understand. While its true that I've never personally had to deal with a racial caricature aimed at me, or been the victim of racial discrimination, I can understand that mockery and injustice hurt, because these are things are analogous to the sort of (lesser) unfairnesses and scorn everyone encounters to a greater or lesser extent.

If the cultural appropriation thing reduced to "this is important to me - please don't take the piss out of it", that would make perfect sense. Similarly if the objection were only "please don't use a caricature to represent a generic person from my culture, because that's what other people have used in malice", that's perfectly understandable, too. The blog you link to contains objections of both sorts, and to that extent I agree with it.

But unless I'm badly misunderstanding the points, you, and the blog writer, want to take it further than that, and have a category of "appropriation" which isn't scornful, and isn't a stereotype, and yet means that a person perceived to belong to one culture shouldn't express themselves in a way associated with another culture. You both also allow that there is a category of respectful sharing of cultures, which is superficially similar (to me, indistinguishable) but which you think is unobjectionable. It's that area, and that area only, which calls for explanation.

Further, it seems to me that there are different sorts of 'respectfulness'. What is appropriate at a rugby match might not be appropriate at a religious service, but that doesn't make it fair to categorise behaviour in a relatively uninhibited setting as being disrespectful. And views about what is respectful can differ. The blog writer you link to, for instance, considers that her choice to wear a bindi "proudly" as a sign of her Indian heritage is legitimate, even though she does not claim to have any religious belief in the ideas that it symbolises, but thinks that another person using the same form of expression for mere adornment is being "horribly disrespectful". That is, no doubt, her honest opinion, to which she is entitled, but I can't see that it is any more right or wrong than a more permissive, or more restrictive view about what is appropriate.

I don't think that a strict Hindu would be justified in criticising her view that heritage-without-faith was enough to make a bindi appropriate as "horribly disrespectful" - it clearly isn't, even if the Hindu would prefer that it were only used to manifest actual belief. Plainly she isn't trying to disrespect anything. But exactly the same can be said of things that the writer does disapprove of - and she condemns these unreservedly as racist.

[ 12. March 2017, 18:54: Message edited by: Eliab ]

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by Cod:
There's a point missing here, which perhaps someone could clear up easily. What makes something cultural misappropriation is its use without caring about what the group it most clearly belongs to thinks. ...

Hear, hear!

Whose song is this?

No one one this thread is making a massive deal about Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Even the OP is not. As far as the copyright, that was mention tangentially to discuss moral rights of the author. In this case, the author was a slave an he is dead. His master is dead and I do not think copyright laws of the time would transfer his ownership to present day. INAL.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
The blog writer you link to, for instance, considers that her choice to wear a bindi "proudly" as a sign of her Indian heritage is legitimate, even though she does not claim to have any religious belief in the ideas that it symbolises, but thinks that another person using the same form of expression for mere adornment is being "horribly disrespectful".

The attitudes of Indians in general and Hindus in particular toward the bindi/tilak vary enormously.

There is no one 'line".

Some Hindus are quasi-fascist nationalist about their religion, and others laid back, syncretistic and tolerant.

Some are offended by non-Indians or non-Hindus wearing a bindi, and others are flattered by it.

When we lived in India, we knew of cases in touristy situations in which visitors almost forcibly had a bindi painted, on them (or had to fight to resist it) as a welcome- a bit like a lei in some Pacific cultures.

Anyone who claims to be offended by non-Indians or non-Hindus wearing a lei can never be assumed to be speaking for all, or even the majority.

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Kaplan Corday
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Bugger!

Lei in that last sentence should be bindi, of course.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Privilege is the fact that you do not need to do so.

Polemical exploitation of someone's alleged "privilege" in a context such as this is an attempt at emotional blackmail, and a bluff which must always be called.

Just about everyone has ancestors who were violated at some point in history by another ethnic or national group (my Welsh ancestors were subjugated by the English), and while that abuse might have been genuine and appalling, it is not an excuse to avoid arguing cases on their intrinsic merits by introducing an ad hominem element into the discussion.

Thus, for example, it would be inexcusable for a German to deny the Holocaust, but it would also be inexcusable to deny a German's right to take a pro-Palestinian stance on the Israel/Palestine conflict on the grounds that his ancestors had benefitted from the exploitation of Jews.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:

But unless I'm badly misunderstanding the points, you, and the blog writer, want to take it further than that, and have a category of "appropriation" which isn't scornful, and isn't a stereotype, and yet means that a person perceived to belong to one culture shouldn't express themselves in a way associated with another culture.

Not exactly, not on my part. Again, culture is fluid and there will cross-cultural influence.

quote:

You both also allow that there is a category of respectful sharing of cultures, which is superficially similar (to me, indistinguishable) but which you think is unobjectionable. It's that area, and that area only, which calls for explanation.

Benny Goodman played black music. Literally. He purchased music from Fletcher Henderson without whom Goodman might not be the seminal figure he is. He also integrated his band, something not generally done at that time.
quote:

Further, it seems to me that there are different sorts of 'respectfulness'. What is appropriate at a rugby match might not be appropriate at a religious service, but that doesn't make it fair to categorise behaviour in a relatively uninhibited setting as being disrespectful.

Why? Again, I'm not planting my flag on the use of SLSC, but I get the reason some people might not be col with it.

quote:

And views about what is respectful can differ.

Of course. And it is inconsistent.

Again, the biggest issue is respect and general treatment. People will care much less about who references their culture when they are treated fairly by the borrowers.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Privilege is the fact that you do not need to do so.

Polemical exploitation of someone's alleged "privilege" in a context such as this is an attempt at emotional blackmail, and a bluff which must always be called.
Bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. People in a dominant position can ignore things others cannot. Without referencing this, how can it be remedied?
This is the very problem, as soon as an injustice is mention, someone begins to whinge that they are being oppressed by their oppression being mentioned.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
you are white. You have not seen your culture mined for profit whilst being denigrated simultaneously.

Because white people only have one culture... [Roll Eyes]
Fair cop. No, they don't and there are white cultures* that are denigrated by the majority. His statement, though, does not indicate that he is from any of those. Else he might understand a little better.

*That is to say, cultures which are majority, and/or dominated by, people of prominent pallor.

MY white culture (poor working class) is constantly denigrated by the majority white and non white cultures alike. Ever heard of "chav?" [In America "Trailer Park" comes close]

I don't see anyone standing up for what we're losing

[ 13. March 2017, 05:53: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]

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Cod
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From the article:

quote:
Dudley Wood, the former secretary of the Rugby Football Union, was quoted in The Independent in 1991 as saying that Oti “was totally mobbed on the way to the dressing room. It’s a delicate situation in a way, in that it’s a Negro spiritual. But we poor English don’t really have the songs to sing.”
The English don't have songs of their own? If the Americans will forgive me for a bit of cultural appropriation: WTF??

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"I fart in your general direction."
M Barnier

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
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Yep, no songs of their own. At the start of the game the Scottish team sing a Scottish song, the Welsh sing a Welsh song, the Irish sing an Irish song ... and the English sing a British song.

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
This is the very problem, as soon as an injustice is mention, someone begins to whinge that they are being oppressed by their oppression being mentioned.

Where is the injustice or oppression in English rugby fans singing SLSC? If it was never heard in that context again, what else would change? The injustices of the past would still have happened. Elvis and Pat Boone would still have made millions out of black music.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
This is the very problem, as soon as an injustice is mention, someone begins to whinge that they are being oppressed by their oppression being mentioned.

I'm not going to deny this happens. A lot.

What also happens is that people accused of oppression don't like the 'gotcha' involved in defending their actions. If the only permissible response (in the eyes of the accusers) is utter obeisance, anything else is seen as 'whinging' or denial or doubling-down.

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Forward the New Republic

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L'organist
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England rugby supporters sing Swing low... because it has been sung in clubhouses for decades, usually as part of a drinking game with double-entendre gestures.

As for there not being English songs to sing, I suppose The Lincolnshire Poacher or Early one morning might not have the same ease of singing for most, plus they're largely unknown by the younger age group.

And before anyone mentions Queen's We are the champions do I need to remind you that Mr Mercury was a parsi originally from Zanzibar.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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betjemaniac
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*visions of a full Twickenham belting out Matty Groves*

ahem.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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mr cheesy
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It seems to me that in the case of SLSC this is actually fairly easily solved; the thing only became associated with the England Rugby team in recent decades and then with semi-official backing and popular music praising the team.

Whilst it may indeed be harder to back down than entrench in the position that says "this is ours, ya boo to you", a wiser position might be for the England rugby authorities to stop giving the thing official backing and perhaps even see how to encourage the use of other songs which don't have the same baggage.

I was reflecting over the weekend about the difference between the use of SLSC and the Haka (and actually other war dances used by various international teams before international rugby matches). One might say that in the case of New Zealand there is a level of cultural appropriation of Maori culture amongst the majority European population which plays rugby union. One might even say that the dance is offensive in that it contains a shadow of the history of tribal wars against the British colonial powers.

The difference, I was reflecting, is that - at least in some sense - NZ has embraced (inadequately, often pathetically) Maori culture as part of the national identity and the Haka is a (probably very stylised) thing which legitimately Maoris and others share as part of the developing NZ culture. Other nationalities which have war dances have less influence of Western colonialism and are (maybe?) even more legitimate expression of culture.

In contrast, the English seem generally so lacking in cultural identity that they can neither draw stylised connections to the past nor create a new shared identity (as the Scots did, arguably, with Flower of Scotland) and instead harp back to borrowed, bastardised versions of half-remembered texts from others.

The problem here is not in pointing out that the English have a drinking song with problematic origins, but that they hold irrationally to it as emblematic despite it having no significant history and because they can't be bothered to create something more relevant.

In other cultures, dances and songs are integral to cultural identity, for most of the English traditional dances are laughable and songs are painful.

Morris dancing before rugby, anyone?

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arse

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Doc Tor
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Perhaps we could combine it with burning a virgin in a wicker man?

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Forward the New Republic

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betjemaniac
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Now here's something I've been thinking about over the weekend, which Mr Cheesy has helpfully just crystalised a bit more for me - how far can we legitimately (as in it's true, not it's right) say that English culture is about picking up other things from around the world and adopting them?

Not because of assumed English superiority, but because it is the culture of the English to do so?

On the other hand of course, there is a vibrant English folk and musical tradition (I'm sure we had a thread on this years ago) which gets bracketed *even by the English* as Irish or Scottish when what they're listening to is English. Because they don't know.

It's not that there is no English culture, it's that many people in England are completely disconnected from that culture. Partly, it has to be said, because as the majority in the UK they've had to be less zealous in their cultural renaissance and need to define themselves as not English (obviously).

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And is it true? For if it is....

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mr cheesy
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Another thing I was reflecting is how odd it is for English rugby fans to look to American slave song for bawdiness* - given that so much of their own folk music tradition is bawdy and rough.

*irrationally in many ways. SLSC is not a bawdy song, folk songs like Liverpool Judies clearly are. Why sing a random song to be bawdy? Are our own songs about prostitutes not bawdy enough?

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arse

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Another thing I was reflecting is how odd it is for English rugby fans to look to American slave song for bawdiness* - given that so much of their own folk music tradition is bawdy and rough.

*irrationally in many ways. SLSC is not a bawdy song, folk songs like Liverpool Judies clearly are. Why sing a random song to be bawdy? Are our own songs about prostitutes not bawdy enough?

What's even more interesting, is that really crowds at rugby matches in England don't sing... Which is why efforts to replace it with another song are probably doomed to failure. When I watch England someone will strike up Swing Low, and everyone joins in - otherwise there's nothing.

When I watch Moseley we occasionally chant the name - so do Bris and Glaws fans. But it isn't football, there are no other songs. So, what has SLSC got that made it escape from the clubhouse and onto the figurative terraces?

Because nothing else has in English rugby.

--------------------
And is it true? For if it is....

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by betjemaniac:


When I watch Moseley we occasionally chant the name - so do Bris and Glaws fans. But it isn't football, there are no other songs. So, what has SLSC got that made it escape from the clubhouse and onto the figurative terraces?

Because nothing else has in English rugby.

I think it is about having a limited singing vocabulary, because of the link to bawdy club rugby songs and the semi-official championing of SLSC.

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arse

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mr cheesy
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Also perhaps worth considering Welsh crowds (in general) who have embraced Tom Jones almost to the point of self-parody. And Deliah is a belter of a song to hear being yelled/sung by a large crowd.

But it has very problematic lyrics.

There is something very ironic, and also sad, that the Welsh national crowd songs are characterised by (without much imagination) sexual violence and the English crowd songs are characterised by bawdy versions of slave songs.

:S

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arse

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:

What also happens is that people accused of oppression don't like the 'gotcha' involved in defending their actions.

Nobody enjoys being told they are wrong, no matter what it is. The worse it makes them look, the more so. Not sure how to fix this. Ignoring the problem doesn't work.
quote:

If the only permissible response (in the eyes of the accusers) is utter obeisance, anything else is seen as 'whinging' or denial or doubling-down.

I understand and generally attempt to be less strident.¹ᵇ I did use whinge with KC because he is one of the posters who has a history of downplaying this subject.
How long since slavery and how many equality acts have there been and yet major inequity persists. Angry yelling might not work, but neither do soft voices. Striking a a balance is difficult in the first place and impossible to do perfectly.

¹I've made statements here that seem to belie this, but out of frustration, not enmity.
ᵇDon't read the following reply. [Hot and Hormonal]

quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
This is the very problem, as soon as an injustice is mention, someone begins to whinge that they are being oppressed by their oppression being mentioned.

Where is the injustice or oppression in English rugby fans singing SLSC?
Go back and read the thread. Strike that, just this page of it, as slowly as you need to. And then, if you still think this question necessary, I'll answer it in as simple terms as I can.
quote:

If it was never heard in that context again, what else would change?

First, see above. Beyond this, a few people might actually start being aware of what they do? Might actually begin to connect with people different to them a bit better?
quote:

The injustices of the past would still have happened. Elvis and Pat Boone would still have made millions out of black music.

It is the injustices of today that concern me more. Those are, whatchacallem, examples, meant to illustrate a concept, not... oh bugger...if you don't understand that already, I'm not certain I can break it down to a simple enough explanation.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. People in a dominant position can ignore things others cannot.

Not only bullshit, but head-swimmingly bizarre.

Talk about dominance is just as silly as talk about privilege.

It is merely an attempt at what C.S. Lewis called Bulverism, ie bypassing logical arguments by attacking the individual: "You only say that because you're male/female, tall/short, black/white, French/Egyptian/Japanese, Buddhist/Hindu".

quote:
Without referencing this, how can it be remedied?
The problem with "remedying" the situation by invoking "cultural appropriation", is that the "cultural appropriation" racket is completely arbitrary, and in fact consists of randomly selected grievances about which self-styled advocates can adopt a smarmy, unctuous self-righteousness toward those who refuse to go along with them and toe the party line.

Where is the outrage over globally ubiquitous Irish pubs which "culturally appropriate" music which originated in Irish resistance to British oppression?

If it exists at all, it is miniscule.

There was recently a notoriously egregious case of a university which banned students wearing sombreros on the grounds of "cultural appropriation", but AFAIK no-one has objected to the widespread practice of students and others wearing kaffiyehs as a fashion or faux-radical statement, despite its vulnerability to condemnation as a piece of Saidian, Orientalist cultural exploitation of the exotic Other.

quote:
This is the very problem, as soon as an injustice is mention, someone begins to whinge that they are being oppressed by their oppression being mentioned.
More bullshit.

No-one is denying past injustices - that is a straw man.

And no=one is "whinging" about being 'oppressed".

The real issues which you are evading is that it is illegitimate to derail a rational discussion by bringing up injustices from the past, and that (apropos of which) just about anyone can play that game, because just about everyone has ancestors who suffered at the hands of someone else.

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Russ
Old salt
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Cultural appropriation is an issue largely because of the wider injustices.

Morality is to do with general rules about how one human being should treat another.

Now maybe you can make a case that I would be doing wrong to any French Shipmates who may be aboard if I were to turn Frere Jacques into a lewd drinking song with obscene gestures.

Your case that this was a morally wrong act would be stronger if you didn't mix it up with a heap of special pleading that the French are Victims who deserve to be treated with special respect because of the historic injustices they have suffered.

If you imply that as far as you're concerned the French can do what they like with Rule Britannia because the Brits aren't Victims, you undermine the case that there's a moral rule here...

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:

If you imply that as far as you're concerned the French can do what they like with Rule Britannia because the Brits aren't Victims, you undermine the case that there's a moral rule here...

If I greet the guy in the next office with "morning, shortarse" when I see him in the morning, it's not immoral. We have an ongoing series of jokes about his height (he's rather taller than the average, and useful for removing things from high shelves and locating doorways in the dark.)

If I were to make the same greeting to someone who was sensitive about their lack of stature, I would be an immoral arsehole.

You can't separate the action from the actee.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Morality is to do with general rules about how one human being should treat another.

In which case there is no such thing.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:

Talk about dominance is just as silly as talk about privilege.

How is it silly? Ask a group of Aboriginal Australians if they think it is silly.

quote:
"You only say that because you're male/female, tall/short, black/white, French/Egyptian/Japanese, Buddhist/Hindu".

It would make this easier if you read for comprehension. Being part of the dominant culture doesn't mean one will think or speak in a certain way, it does mean that they can, willingly or through ignorance, ignore or not experience that which others must.

quote:
The problem with "remedying" the situation by invoking "cultural appropriation", is that the "cultural appropriation" racket is completely arbitrary,
It isn't completely arbitrary. It has soft lines and there will be disagreement even by those who care to see equity, but this doesn't mean it is arbitrary.
quote:

and in fact consists of randomly selected grievances about which self-styled advocates can adopt a smarmy, unctuous self-righteousness toward those who refuse to go along with them and toe the party line.

Self-interested twaddle to vacate a reasonable discussion.
quote:

Where is the outrage over globally ubiquitous Irish pubs which "culturally appropriate" music which originated in Irish resistance to British oppression?

The ridiculous argument that if one doesn't complain about al injustices equally, none are worthy of addressing.

quote:

The real issues which you are evading is that it is illegitimate to derail a rational discussion by bringing up injustices from the past, and that (apropos of which) just about anyone can play that game, because just about everyone has ancestors who suffered at the hands of someone else.

Your argument is an idiot. Past injustice was brought up as an example to help understand the issue.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
This is the very problem, as soon as an injustice is mention, someone begins to whinge that they are being oppressed by their oppression being mentioned.

Where is the injustice or oppression in English rugby fans singing SLSC?
Go back and read the thread. Strike that, just this page of it, as slowly as you need to. And then, if you still think this question necessary, I'll answer it in as simple terms as I can.
All I get from this thread is an attitude of "this is ours, and you can't have it". An attitude which, when white people display it, is rightly seen as a bad thing.

quote:
quote:

If it was never heard in that context again, what else would change?

First, see above. Beyond this, a few people might actually start being aware of what they do? Might actually begin to connect with people different to them a bit better?
You think that banning SLSC would cause English rugby fans to increase their appreciation of the cultural history of black Americans?

quote:
quote:
The injustices of the past would still have happened. Elvis and Pat Boone would still have made millions out of black music.

It is the injustices of today that concern me more. Those are, whatchacallem, examples, meant to illustrate a concept, not... oh bugger...if you don't understand that already, I'm not certain I can break it down to a simple enough explanation.
If you're more concerned with the injustices of today, then use them as your examples. Don't blame me for responding to the things you actually post rather than the things you don't.

--------------------
Hail Gallaxhar

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mr cheesy
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How about "you've taken something important to me and turned it into a drinking song. Use your own dirty songs, you arses."

I can't see why this is hard for you to understand. Not a major thing, I'd agree. But putting up you palm and telling gone else to "just deal" is a poor way to respond.

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arse

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Ask a group of Aboriginal Australians if they think it is silly.

What is silly is misusing terms such as dominance to stifle open discussion.

Actually, Aboriginal Australians provide a useful illustration of the issue.

First, it is never acceptable to deliberately use epithets, or even non-epithets which are disliked, about AAs.

This is not a matter of PC, but simply consideration.

Secondly, it is appropriate to acknowledge past wrongs, and shame (not guilt) regarding them.

Coincidentally I am preaching on nationalism and Christianity this Sunday, and will be making this point.

Thirdly, it is reasonable to consider appropriate forms of redress (eg special education provisions) for the effects of past injustices.

What is completely unacceptable is the attitude that non-Aboriginals can never criticise any indigenous Australian individual or organisation, an attitude expressed in the moralistic bullshit expression "Check your privilege", with its implication that "You're only saying that because you're white", or "People of your ethnicity/national identity/religion/language once mistreated people of my ethnicity etc, and therefore you can never make any negative reference to any of us under any circumstances".

This needs to be called out for the irrational and dishonest bullshit that it is.

It is as idiotic as saying that the Crusades and later Western colonial exploitation of the Middle East disqualify any Westerner from criticising ISIS.

[ 14. March 2017, 19:54: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
All I get from this thread is an attitude of "this is ours, and you can't have it".

No one on this thread has said this.

quote:
You think that banning SLSC would cause English rugby fans to increase their appreciation of the cultural history of black Americans?
Who on this thread has said it should be banned? We are discussing the appropriateness of its use.

quote:
If you're more concerned with the injustices of today, then use them as your examples. Don't blame me for responding to the things you actually post rather than the things you don't.
Your posts indicate no understanding of how examples work. The past serves as a clearer example, the US in particular, because there was an open acceptance of differential treatment. It is a common discussion form to use simpler, clearer examples to illustrate a concept before one then discusses the less clear.

quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
"You're only saying that because you're white", or "People of your ethnicity/national identity/religion/language once mistreated people of my ethnicity etc, and therefore you can never make any negative reference to any of us under any circumstances".

I specifically stated that I am not saying this. I specifically told Eliab that his colour does not prohibit him from understanding what I am saying, So you appear to be ignoring what is said in favour of stifling conversation.
quote:

This needs to be called out for the irrational and dishonest bullshit that it is.

I agree, but I suspect the direction in which our fingers are pointing are opposite.
quote:

It is as idiotic as saying that the Crusades and later Western colonial exploitation of the Middle East disqualify any Westerner from criticising ISIS.

Ware matches next to this statement.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Privilege is the fact that you do not need to do so.

Polemical exploitation of someone's alleged "privilege" in a context such as this is an attempt at emotional blackmail, and a bluff which must always be called.
Speaking as the person at whom it was directed, I didn't see the use of "privilege" as emotional blackmail. I thought it was entirely appropriate.

This is a situation where life experience genuinely does shape attitudes. Most things that people object to as damaging or offensive can be made real to me, even if I haven't personally experienced them, by asking "what if something like that happened to you?" - but not here. "What if someone went to a costume party dressed as 'an Englishman'?" - Why on Earth would I mind that? - "What if a group of foreigners were singing English songs in a flippant manner?" - So what? - "What if they made money from it?" - Good luck to them! - "What if people used the symbols of your religion for secular decoration?" - They do, don't care. Suggesting to me that I might (or ought to) mind any of that seems wrong, and a bit silly.

lilBuddha is entirely correct to suggest that the reason I think that is that I've never experienced racism against me. I haven't had the experience that makes ordinary people of good-will sensitive to 'cultural appropriation'. It is simply true that I feel the way I do about this because I'm a white guy in a mostly white society. "Privilege" wouldn't be my choice of word (that's a discussion for another day) but it is sufficiently commonly used was to refer to exactly this situation that using it to communicate the idea seems quite reasonable.

It doesn't follow from that truth, that the people objecting to cultural appropriation are objectively right - it could be that 'privilege' makes me blind to a moral truth, but it could equally well be that one of the pernicious effects of racism is to make people see the threat of oppression in actions which are in themselves innocent. But it seems to me that we can't even begin to have that discussion until people who start off feeling like I do acknowledge that the reason we don't see a cause for offence isn't (just) that we're admirably thick-skinned, rational and with a well-developed sense of proportion - it's also that we've never been vulnerable to that sort of injury. And, to be even handed, the discussion can also only progress if people on lilBuddha's side of the argument realise that there is genuinely nothing in our experience analogous to 'cultural appropriation' which we can see as at all offensive, and that ordinary do-as-you-would-be-done-by human decency may not be enough to bridge the gap of understanding.

We might be able to do this without using the word 'privilege', but not without using the concept that the word refers to.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:

Further, it seems to me that there are different sorts of 'respectfulness'. What is appropriate at a rugby match might not be appropriate at a religious service, but that doesn't make it fair to categorise behaviour in a relatively uninhibited setting as being disrespectful.

Why? Again, I'm not planting my flag on the use of SLSC, but I get the reason some people might not be col with it.
What I mean is, standards of formality differ according to context, and you therefore can't judge someone's respectfulness without reference to context. Cultural questions aside, it would be disrespectful to make the "coming" gesture to SLSC if, for example, it were being sung at a funeral. It doesn't follow that doing the same at a sporting event is equally disrespectful.

So saying that 'respectful' borrowing is permitted is fine, provided that light, irreverent and even bawdy treatment is not necessarily going to be taken as evidence that the cultural expression being borrowed is being treated with contempt. There are social situations were irreverence is not disrespect.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
People will care much less about who references their culture when they are treated fairly by the borrowers.

This is undoubtedly true. But it seems unfair that "the borrowers" can mean "white people" generally, when the white people doing the borrowing aren't the same white people that did the unfairness. If I (to use an example which is very likely to happen) use costume inspired by another culture at a LARP event, and people of my nationality have behaved shittily towards that culture (I'm English - people of my nationality have been shitty to more or less everyone) is it reasonable to infer into my behaviour a racism for which no objective grounds exist?

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

Posts: 4589 | From: Hampton, Middlesex, UK | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Enoch
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# 14322

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I repeat a point I've already made, one which nobody seems to have answered properly. One can't complain about somebody misappropriating part of your culture unless you have a title to claim it's yours. None of those who have been arguing that the English Rugby Team has improperly misappropriated Swing Low Sweet Chariot have deigned to demonstrate on what basis they have a claim that it's theirs, yet alone whether they object. The nearest anyone seems to have got so far has been to claim that 'somebody else' might have grounds for complaint, yet alone whether anybody whose view might matter, actually does.

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:

It doesn't follow from that truth, that the people objecting to cultural appropriation are objectively right - it could be that 'privilege' makes me blind to a moral truth, but it could equally well be that one of the pernicious effects of racism is to make people see the threat of oppression in actions which are in themselves innocent.

This is true and part of the reason a clear line of demarcation is difficult.

There can also be a middle ground, which is where I think SLSC sits.

quote:

And, to be even handed, the discussion can also only progress if people on lilBuddha's side of the argument realise that there is genuinely nothing in our experience analogous to 'cultural appropriation' which we can see as at all offensive, and that ordinary do-as-you-would-be-done-by human decency may not be enough to bridge the gap of understanding.

Bert from Mary Poppins? [Biased]


quote:
What I mean is, standards of formality differ according to context, and you therefore can't judge someone's respectfulness without reference to context.
I do understand this.

quote:

So saying that 'respectful' borrowing is permitted is fine, provided that light, irreverent and even bawdy treatment is not necessarily going to be taken as evidence that the cultural expression being borrowed is being treated with contempt. There are social situations were irreverence is not disrespect.

Masturbating to a song that someone else buried their gran to might feel like a bit more than irreverence. Yeah, British lads might not be aware of this, but that ignorance is part of the objection.


quote:
But it seems unfair that "the borrowers" can mean "white people" generally, when the white people doing the borrowing aren't the same white people that did the unfairness.

But they are. Not only because of the current racism and injustices, but because what Britain now is a direct connection to what Britain was. And whilst SLSC is an American thing, the conditions of its inception are not unique to them. In Britain, it is easier to feel divorced from that past.
quote:

If I (to use an example which is very likely to happen) use costume inspired by another culture at a LARP event, and people of my nationality have behaved shittily towards that culture (I'm English - people of my nationality have been shitty to more or less everyone) is it reasonable to infer into my behaviour a racism for which no objective grounds exist?

Racism isn't only active hate. It is treating other peoples with no respect for what they feel. If other people's religion, heritage and culture are no more than a costume for you, it is not quite on.
It isn't just about who you have treated poorly or who you actively disrespect.
Most of the costume for fancy dress has little respect for culture. LARP has the potential to less insensitive, but also very much more.
I've dressed in voodoo costume (Hollywood version no less) and whilst I looked more the part than you likely would, I was no less appropriating.

Earlier In mentioned a Coldplay video. Here and here are a couple of links.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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