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Ovi's Dirty Words
by Asa Butcher
2009-01-12 09:05:49
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Over the weekend Ovi magazine received an email concerning the use of the F-word in a recent article's comment section and the sender commented that the use of the F-word moves us out of the domain of mutual respect and into the domain of rude and unacceptable behaviour. The sender asks "[Does Ovi] have any code of conduct on these things?" before concluding the email with "I have no real request or suggestion. The level of anger presented on Ovi does not reflect well on what we are all trying to do."

Well, it is a valid question and one that certainly deserves some attention, which is why I have taken the time to form a response - let's hope it is a cohesive one!

Ovi prides itself on offering everybody a platform from which to share their thoughts and views on this world in which we live and sometimes survive. The contributions and comments are often written from a heart super-heated by raw emotion, such as passion, fury, frustration and irritation, so it is unsurprising that the occasional swear word may slip out, although we have noticed they have been particularly rare.

The Ovi editorial team does pre-read all articles before they are published and does keep a close eye on what is being written in the comments section to ensure that hatred, ignorance, prejudice and other negative traits are avoided. Again, this is something very rare and thankfully we don't have to delete comments or reject articles too often. When we see a swear word has been employed by somebody we take it in to context and see to what it is referring and it has to be quite extreme before we begin censoring what people have written.

In fact, we have never removed or changed a swear word in a contribution and I doubt we ever will because we each have our individual language to express our thoughts and some people prefer to employ stronger words to convey those same thoughts. On the other hand, the use of one of the late George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" can merely emphasise a point, just as using one or even three exclamation marks are used on occasion.

Admittedly, I have been guilty of the overuse of the F-word in my erratically-published fictional story "Michigan Jones: Hit Man", but the language establishes the character - he does get chastised for it by another of the characters though! It would have felt wrong to have him clean-cut and a vocabulary cleaner than a monk's.

Returning to answer the original email's statement that swearing moves us out of the domain of mutual respect and into the domain of rude and unacceptable behaviour, I have to respond that by restricting, censoring and berating bad language would move us out of the mutual respect domain. By imposing one set of moral standards on somebody else is exactly what Ovi magazine does not want to do and tries very hard to avoid.

Does Ovi have any code of conduct on these things? Well, I think that has been answered over the past few paragraphs and I know that some of our contributors will add their thoughts below - keep them clean! Personally I believe that the level of anger presented on Ovi does reflect well on what we are all trying to do because we actively encourage passionate debate and that can mean passionate responses.

We thank everybody for their feedback and their valid concerns for Ovi's welfare.

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Get it off your chest
 (comments policy)

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-12 14:45:07
Asa, as somebody who has been addressed as an “asshole” and a “jerk” in the comment section of this magazine, perhaps I may be permitted a few supplemental personal thoughts on the valid issue raised by the reader. I became a regular contributor to this magazine exactly because, as you mention, it offered a platform to contributors to express their view and exchange and even vigorously debate ideas, theirs and that of others. The magazine after all identifies itself as a magazine of opinion. I also read carefully the comment policy which any reader can get to by simply clicking on it right next to the comment box. The first two agreements to which all contributors subscribe by using the service may be worth reiterating here:

The Comments section is a free service to any user and does not require email registration, but you must abide by the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Reading a message and posting a message will constitute acceptance of the terms and conditions of this agreement. If you do not agree to abide by these terms, please do not read or post messages.
1.To harass, threaten, embarrass or cause distress or discomfort upon another participant, user, or other individual or entity;
2.To transmit or publish any information, data, text, files, links, software, or other materials ("Content") that Ovi magazine considers to be unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable. (oontinued below)

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-12 14:47:46
I am comfortable with such an agreement (all 10 rules mentioned in it) and I’d like to believe I have not violated it in the heat of a forcefully debated argument; if I have I apologize. However, that does not fully supply an answer to the reader’s concern. I suppose what he/she may be driving at is this: where is the line which divides the intellectually objective or even subjective argument from what the Romans called “argumentum ad hominem,” or the argument which relies for its rationalizations on personal attacks, insults, hatred, obscenity, aspersion, defamation and slander? I think it is that kind of phenomenon, the inability to distinguish objective or subjective rational arguments from insults and aspersion, that ought to be discouraged by any good publication. Notice please that I did not say censored or eliminated, just discouraged and frowned upon, for there is such a thing as free speech and respecting free speech requires that the occasional forceful f word to emphasize a point be tolerated. People who resort to that kind of thing eventually reveal their true colors and they have precious little to do with the search or the will to truth but with the will to power: more often than not they have to do with a secret or not so secret agenda, with fanatically grinding an ax on a particular issue. (cpmtomied below)

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-12 14:48:10
On the other hand, if a publication becomes a mere forum for trading slanderous personal insults, then that publication has lost its raison d’etre. I think the ideal should always be the understanding that one can disagree, even forcefully disagree, and be and continue to be agreeable and polite. There was a man who wrote a famous book about that and his name is Castiglione and the name of the book is Il Cortegiano. It was written way back in the Renaissance at the court of Urbino and it teaches how to act as a gentleman. Perhaps we should glance at it, not to form a Club of mutual admiration but to get some points on what it means to be a gentleman and how to disagree without becoming disagreeable. I, for one, intend to reread in the near future.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-12 14:52:43
P.S. I think I may write an article on Baldassare Castiglione's Il Cortegiano in the near future.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-12 15:13:40
P.S.S. By the way, that book is extensively commented upon by that great gentleman, Kenneth Clark, in his famous video series "Civilization" (Episode 4: Man as the measure of all things).

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-12 15:24:51
Post script: the word gentlewoman was not in use at the time of Castiglione, but then again most women do not need lessons on how to be gentle women. It is the men who, as Jung advised, need to temper their boorishness by incorporating the anima, or the feminine element of their self.

AP2009-01-12 19:37:08
It's amazing to me how the inability/unwillingness to understand a poem can elicit either the complaints of "illicit", which the editor addresses, or the above commented "true colour revelation scheme", this one clearly derived from the failed attempt to understand the poem - in spite of the clarification, under it, that it was not aimed at you, Mr. P.

I wonder why a poem which has a context of its own (even if not understandable for most readers), and besides that relates superficially (or apparently) with a comedy video (where a "saint man with pure intentions" is very opportunely caricatured) in the same comment section, a poem which ends like this:
"they translated some Tibetan texts
in Kandahar and Samarkand
and it’s supposed to be all in my name
(Yeah, right… it seems to bear all
kinds of things which are not there).
How did the Corinthians write to St. Paul?
Just f... off!"

Can cause such shock and apprehension. One even wonders why did the reader even express concern about it if he/she has "no real request or suggestion"? Besides, the reader refers him/herself to a swear word in a poem (a poem that he/she probably didn't understand, misunderstood or then did, in fact, understand too well) as "the level of anger presented on Ovi", something which is highly speculative. The reader could have commented in the comment section, expressed his/her concern directly and get any direct explanation. Why didn't he/she try to do it? One has to wonder why not... Maybe the reader didn't need an explanation? That's strange. Maybe the reader could have asked the author of the poem for its meaning. If the reader still needs any kind of explanation, I'm here and available to explain. But no, I won't apologize. I can't see why.

Now for my thoughts on the subject: a magazine team, like any other team, can only exist (as a team, not as a group) if a certain level of interpersonal respect is shown, which includes:
a) not sending private e-mails to any of the team's members - and I should recall here that most collaborators don't know each other - with inadequate, threatening, harassing or abusive contents;
b) do not propose, to the editors or to any other team member, to have their personal contacts under fake excuses, false needs and deceptive intentions;
c) treat all the matters through the editors, as long as you don't abuse of their patience;
d) discuss any thing which there is to discuss with other team member in the comment section - specially if you don't know that member personally.
I still have further thoughts on the subject... maybe I could write an entire article about those.

Asa2009-01-12 19:59:38
Please do, AP!

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-12 20:52:32
“It's amazing to me how the inability/unwillingness to understand a poem can elicit either the complaints of "illicit", which the editor addresses, or the above commented "true colour revelation scheme", this one clearly derived from the failed attempt to understand the poem - in spite of the clarification, under it, that it was not aimed at you, Mr. P.” (Ms. Alexandra Pereira)

Assuming that, true to form, Mr. P. refers to me, it is equally astonishing to me Ms. Pereira, how from the general remarks and reflections I proffered responding to general remarks of the magazine’s editor, you should conclude that they refer to you personally and/or the particular poem you refer to. Where do you read such an attribution? It’s only in your imagination. On the other hand if you insist on wearing a shoe that fits, then neither I nor anybody else in the Ovi team can do anything to prevent you from wearing it, that is what “free speech” means: the freedom to express one’s mind, to reveal one’s beliefs and persuasions and assume the consequences of that freedom. Perhaps I erred in not being more specific and mention, among the many boorish responses that the person I had in mind proffered right from my very first contribution to this magazine, the revealing instance when he proudly announces that his insults were the most imaginative and colorful of all, as if the magazine were had some kind of a race going on who was more skilful at such dubious art and he had just won the gold medal. If one takes the trouble to search for such a statement, it is there in all its glory, or should we say ignominy and perhaps you’d agree that it is revealing of something and it would not lend much luster to any respectful publication!

Chris2009-01-12 22:54:06
I, for one, admit that I used the "F word" in the piece I wrote called "The Dropout." I thought it was contextually appropriate. I know that a lot of people read it, and no one complained about my use of language, to me, anyway. If there is any guilt in using these kinds of words in OVI, I share in it. I believe that OVI represents a forum where free expression is the power by which all its contributors and readers benefit. It is not clear, from Asa's above article, just who has raised the issue. Many contributions, including Asa's have used colorful language. I believe Asa's remarks on the matter are sufficient. Let's all move on, shall we?

Alexander Mikhaylov2009-01-13 00:49:36
Sometimes f words are simply necessary for literary purposes when, for instance, an author tries to capture certain character(s). Of course, the use of swear words is unappropriate in discussions but it does not mean that a writer must avoid using rich language. If someone finds such writing offensive,he or she shall refrain from reading it, that's all.

AP2009-01-13 04:05:20
Alexander, I suppose you don't like it when your name is misused and your kindness abused. I don't like it either. That's the poem. And that's pretty much all that there is to it.

AP2009-01-13 04:10:35
That and being treated as an idiot. No one likes that. So I wrote a poem about.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 08:16:04
Asa, I am curious about something, did the concerned "reader" who lodged and expressed his concerns directly to you identify and sign himself, and if he did, did he ask you for anonymity or did you deem that it would be best that he remain anonymous? I am curious, because it seems to me that there is a sub-theme at work here besides that of cursing or not cursing, and it is that of transparency as some of the commentators have hinted at.

Asa2009-01-13 09:22:09
The reader used their real name and it was my choice to write a public rather than private answer. I felt by using names people may have had their attention misdirected. I answered the email because it was written with a genuine concern and politely requested a response - there are no sub-plots or skulduggery at work ;)

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 13:51:24
Thanks for the clarification Asa. Frankly, the question was prompted less from suspicion of skulduggery, and more by the fact that one of the commentators specifically hinted that the anonymous reader in question ought himself to have voiced his concerns publicly rather than have resorted to writing to you in private. Personally, I applaud you decision not to reveal the identity of the complainer for to have done so might have resulted in more ad hominem arguments which, in my opinion are neither productive nor up-lifting nor convivial, albeit tolerated for the sake of free speech.

AP2009-01-13 14:55:54
Ad hominem? Forget that, Mr. P. I was trying to give an answer and perplexed at the same time. If the reader had used the comment section, he/she could have used a nickname. Anyway, I'm still as ignorant as you are about who was it, and I don't think that is important when it comes to giving an answer.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 15:06:02
I am afraid that one does not easily forget being called an "asshole" and a "jerk" Ms. Pereira; I suspect that you too would not easily forget had you been addressed thus by a complete stranger just because he disagrees with your views. Perhaps it is an issue of empathy and conviviality besides one of cursing and of transparency. Ivan Illich wrote a whole book on the subject of conviviality and how people can strongly disagree and remain civil and even friendly. I propose that the book be explored and discussed in our forum by the whole Ovi team. What harm can it do? Conviviality is a language that everybody understands and it is seen as imposition of somebody else's moral standards only by boors and philistines.

AP2009-01-13 16:14:37
No harm. I have my own proposals too. Asa, you could also have forwarded the e-mail to me, even without a name on it, and I would gladly have answered you back, so you could forward my answer to the reader. My guess is that you wanted to make this public, for some reason. And perhaps that was really the right decision, as a few more topics can be discussed.

AP2009-01-13 16:37:13
Yes, conviviality and transparency, Mr. P., those are at work here. Some of the "saint" commentators sharing guilts and praising the youth do like to send private e-mails to the youth with profoundly repulsive and inadequate contents. Pity - as you say.

AP2009-01-13 16:39:09
Pity and hypocrisy - I say.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 17:21:19
What are you referring to exactly? for I haven't the foggiest and I suspect neither do the readers of comments which continue to exhibit vitriolic assertions and insinuations egregiously thrown out to cast aspersion. That kind of defamation, slanderous attack on people's reputation and good name can be tolerated for the sake of free speech up to a point, but it also ought to be vigorously protested by editors and readers and contributors and called by its proper name: scurrilous behavior.

AP2009-01-13 17:22:49
Defamation? You must be joking. You have to.

AP2009-01-13 17:29:18
Scurrilous behavior indeed. And who told you the editors don't know? It seems to be none of your business. Precisely because of that, you should take it easy with your judgments, shouldn't you?

AP2009-01-13 17:42:29
Your self referral paranoia has to have some limits. But so has your appetite for gossip to know an end. I'm obviously not referring to you. So chill out.

AP2009-01-13 17:50:35
I was hoping the hypocritical would reveal himself, and indeed he has been revealing himself as such the whole time, one way or another. But if I feel like throwing up because of that, I deserve your ready and clueless admonishment. Which, by the way, says much about the efficacy of your morality, Mr. P.

AP2009-01-13 18:07:58
What else should I say? Oh, I know. Girls, be careful with opinions about translations asked, through the editors, by old gentlemen. The answer(s) to those can turn out to be quite bizarre and inappropriate.

AP2009-01-13 18:22:34
Not to say spooky, really creepy, odd and not funny.

AP2009-01-13 18:56:35
I didn't know the mantras could clean up sonofa...ness?

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 19:13:46
Gossip? Who is the one who is placing in the public view all kinds on innuendos and insinuations without any supporting evidence? Have you forgotten, for example, that you publicly impugned the degree which I declared on my bio as somehow fake and invented and then refused to take the challenge of a bet that in fact I had not lied about it? In all fairness I must say that it was not you who first raised the insinuation but you decided to support it and imitate the bird of a feather Mr. Sand who is now nowhere to be seen or to be heard. Is that the behavior of a gentleman or a gentlelady or merely a projection of one's shadow? It seems to me that the concerned reader, whomever he may be, did have a point when he talked about expressions of anger and lack of respect and self-esteem as being counter-productive to the aims of a good magazine which Ovi certainly is despite those who like to drag issues that ought to be debated aerenically into personal quagmires. Too bad!

AP2009-01-13 19:31:14
First of all, why do you insist in discussing things which are not being discussed? Second, we all know that you're all happy that Sand is not around, but let's face it - you would be even happier if I was not around either! Third, just leave the reader alone, will you?

"you publicly impugned the degree which I declared on my bio as somehow fake"
No, I didn't. You first questioned the competence of hundreds of specialists and rose the question "if indeed they are specialists", then I joked about it and said, basically, that if they weren't, then you weren't either.
I told you that I would accept the bet, and in fact double it, if it was made on the issue that we were discussing then - back in 1975 -, that is the role of the official policies of a given institution in the New World's slavery during the 16-17th centuries, and not on your degrees. You simply refused to.
Your morality can't stop astonishing me. Those are not insinuations, they are facts. The warning is made for anyone who wants to read it. Who doesn't want to read it can just ignore it.

AP2009-01-13 19:36:12
Not that it becomes pleasant to be an Ovi collaborator when such things happen, but hey who am I to complain, right Mr. P.?
I can just quit, like Sand did.

AP2009-01-13 19:52:38
Of course, a misogynist and deceiver will remain a misogynist and deceiver, and just choose someone else.

On the other hand, you Mr. P. will continue to retaliate towards other collaborators and even editors because of imagined "attacks to the church and to religion".

So everything will change to remain exactly the same.

AP2009-01-13 19:54:04
Unless, in the end, you actually buy Ovi magazine, having Chris or so as a partner.

AP2009-01-13 19:59:59
Why not? Ask Obama for your portion in the bailout, and maybe you'll be lucky!

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 20:20:55
AP 2008-12-03 19:13:11
"Ahahah - send me your scanned diplomas, Mr. P.!!! I will evaluate if they're genuine!!" (Ms. Pereira)

By the way, Ms. Pereira, my name is not Mr. P., nor Mr. Asshole, neither Mr. Jerk, a habit signaling contempt and disrespect initiated by Mr. Sand, nowhere to be found, and imitated by you, but Mr. Paparella, or Emanuel to my friends. In fact, I'd much appreciate it you'd address me as Dr. Paparella, since I earned the degree and the title that goes with it and at one of the best universities in the world to boot. You may call that hybris and arrogance at your heart's content but please don't distort the facts; facts are facts.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 20:22:18
Errata: hubris.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 20:28:03
P.S. Ask any lawyer worth his/her salt if an accusation simply declared without supporting evidence is a fact or an insinutation. I'd be interested in his/her reply.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 20:30:02
Errata: insinuation.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-13 20:32:19
... you would be even happier if I was not around either!" (Ms. Pereira)

Aren't you the one who told me shut up and take the opportunity to be silent?Talking of paranoia!

AP2009-01-13 20:35:46
Yes, that was my answer to your insinuation "if indeed they are specialists", etc. Obviously I was joking, but it was a joke which answered to your inaugural joke.

No, I did not imitate anyone, it's just faster to write - practical reasons. That demand is ridiculous (and I thought it was Emanuel you preferred), and as you know no one treats each other like that in this magazine. Academic titles don't legitimate attitudes.

Also, you don't seem to follow the same criteria, as you use "you and your sister" and not "you and Dr. Pereira" or, why not, "MA (Miss Artist) Pereira and Dr. Pereira". I won't demand it either. It would be more than ridiculous. Obscene.

How about stop adressing you at all? (but you will have to do the same, okay?)

AP2009-01-13 20:38:22
"Aren't you the one who told me shut up and take the opportunity to be silent?Talking of paranoia!"

No, I told you that, as you did not know what I was talking about - and you have to give your opinion on EVERYTHING - you had lost a good opportunity to be silent, that time. And it's true.

AP2009-01-13 20:43:16
"Ask any lawyer worth his/her salt if an accusation simply declared without supporting evidence is a fact or an insinutation. I'd be interested in his/her reply."

And when I'm interested in a reply by a lwayer, I ask the lawyer, not you. Not that I need a reply by a lawyer to know what I received in my mailbox, of course.

AP2009-01-13 20:45:33

And even less do I need your reply in order to know it, don't you think?

AP2009-01-13 20:52:21
It's incredible how you're all blown up with something which doesn't even concern you. And if it would concern you, it should worry you, not inflame your animosity against me.

AP2009-01-13 21:04:12
I could also say that I think you're a couple of frustrated seniors - but that wouldn't be politically correct, would it?

ps - you have to send me your daughters' e-mails, so I can send them suggestive and creepy e-mails too, since you find them so normal and ethereal that they can not even be proved as facts, in your opinion.

AP2009-01-13 21:08:38
Not that I have to prove anything to you, right? Or have I?

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-14 05:40:00
WHAT? Bizarre indeed!

AP2009-01-14 06:22:12
Yes, very bizarre Mr. P. How can you defend such behaviors just to show some sort of opposition? That's ridiculous and... yes, juvenile indeed!

AP2009-01-14 06:31:30
While happening with your daughters or yourself, I bet it would annoy you, still since it happens to others, it is just... speculation. Great morality indeed!

AP2009-01-14 06:34:00
The double criterion is just repulsive.

N. L. Wilbur2009-01-14 08:00:45
Man, I'm glad I haven't written the word "fuck" in any of my columns thus far, and I'll make sure to avoid the word "fuck" in the future. I know how offensive the word "fuck" is to some people, and I would never want to offend anyone with my use of the world "fuck," especially if I was using "fuck" in its literal sense, as in, "to fuck" -- like the act, not just a brush-off of a disgruntled barfly, in which case one could, legitimately, use the term "fuck off." Not that I would ever do that. "Fuck" is not in my writing vocabulary.

AP2009-01-14 19:09:11
I fucking promise that I won't fucking use the word "fuck" again, either in its literal sense or as part of a "legitimate" expression. I would further swear with my hand on a holy book if I had one around here... which I fucking don't. We all know how some people dislike "fuck" - either the word or the act. On the other hand, some say "I don't give a fuck", "Fuck that made me laugh", others say "Don't fuck my brains", and finally others just stick to the good old "This coffee is fucking good". It doesn't matter how they use (or don't use) "fuck", it's all a matter of decency and sensibility to the "dirtiness" and "violence" involved (it depends on how bad is your "fuck", of course).
The poetics of "dafuckaction" - Mr. P. would call it.

Hank W.2009-01-16 16:14:34
Respect is earned. If you don't earn your respect you don't get any.

Hank W.2009-01-16 16:16:42
Suggested reading for people with a limited vocabulary:

AP2009-01-17 04:29:12
Thanks, Hank W. I remember you, you're the famous immigrant-hater.

Hank W.2009-01-17 20:19:50
Oh, you poor little soul. Did a bus driver charge you this morning as he was such a racist or did you actually have to pay your own fare?

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