Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 90475 times)

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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #270 on: April 09, 2017, 11:44:53 AM »
Something does not have to be finite for theft. This is the entire basis of IP law. Plagiarism doesn't make the orog8nal word disappear, but we still consider it theft.

No we dont. Thats why we call it piracy and plagiarism instead of calling it theft, and why there is such a thing as IP law instead of it being dealt with by theft laws. Corporations that own a lot of IPs like to try to paint it as theft to control public perception, but its largely unsuccessful as evidenced by the fact that piracy is significantly more widespread than physical theft.
I'm pretty sure "intellectual property theft" is a thing that exists. We might have a specific set of terminology to remain specific, but it's still considered theft.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/piracy-ip-theft

Most types of theft that get into unique stuff have their own special laws, such as identity theft. In fact I don't think we have "theft" laws because each category is separated out. Petty theft, larceny, grand theft, IP theft, various types of air and sea piracy, etc. 
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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #271 on: April 09, 2017, 12:13:43 PM »
TIL Eminem was the first white rapper. Someone better tell House of Pain, 3rd Bass, The Beastie Boys, and Rage Against the Machine that they aren't white. MCA will roll over in his grave from the sadness. :( :( :(
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #272 on: April 09, 2017, 12:16:44 PM »
Many American and Canadian cities are also *extremely* monocultural. Like, the entire Midwest is a lot like that (I mean, to a point): there is not a great deal of non-American culture that happens in Indianapolis (source: I lived in this place so I know it) and while even a place like Seattle is becoming quite a bit more multicultural, the Pacific Northwest also has a long, long legacy of being a very white, monocultural place. I would go so far as to argue that the places where you see actual cultural exchange taking place aren't these places that you believe that your Swedish cities compare favorably to, it's in places like New York City (the birthplace of *so much* American culture, from beat poetry to modern folk music to... I mean, at some point if you're not sure where some American cultural phenomenon took place, you just assume it took place in NYC) or New Orleans (the birthplace of jazz in the form of Dixieland), or places with a very strong and solid black subculture like Chicago or Atlanta, or, hell, even places with a strong non-dominant mid-American culture, like Nashville or San Francisco.

Which, speaking of... your 14.3% or 23% numbers are also *extremely* misleading to compare. First up, the US is *massive* compared to Sweden. No offense to Sweden - I actually like Scandinavia - but your entire country is roughly the size of California, our 3rd largest state, and it has as many people in it as North Carolina, its 10th most populous. Ignoring Alaska because nobody lives there, we're talking about a land mass almost 10 times as big as yours with roughly 30 times as many people living here. Our cities are *way* spread out - I feel like this is a thing that Americans don't fully get until they go to Europe and vice versa - and as such the sheer amount of space has helped to create a Southern culture that differs greatly from Northeastern that itself differs from Midwestern, Southwestern, and the Pacific Coast. But even *that* doesn't begin to tell the whole story. Whether or not there are still people moving in *now*, this is a nation of immigrants, some of them here by choice, some of them not. There are vast parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Dakotas, for instance, that still maintain a relatively strong German community. To take things to an extreme there are pockets of Western Pennsylvania and Ohio where people actually speak a separate language that's kind of a pidgin of German and English (and yes, I know that Europe has some crazy dialects and there are likely pockets of Sweden that do something similar, but consider that this is a phenomenon that occurred in the last 250-300 years and is just plain caused by people from entirely different parts of the world living near each other). A big part of what makes NYC and Chicago what they are are the large Italian/Jewish/Irish and Irish/Polish sub-populations that have, even a hundred years plus on, only kind of "melted" into the rest of the nation (this whole "American melting pot" thing is a massive misnomer anyway; even when the term first came out in the early part of the 20th century, people thought it was kind of garbage; a comparison to a symphony orchestra was one of many that was considered more apt). There are *literally* more people of Irish descent who live in the US than there are people who live in Ireland. Then of course there are Native Americans, who aren't particularly numerous but do represent a decent-sized minority in some parts of the country (the Pacific Northwest for instance). The fact that many of these folks are now 4th and 5th generation Americans (or in the case of NAs, "we've been here a lot longer than you" generation) doesn't really even begin to tell the story of American diversity.

And then of course there is the black subculture (which itself is overly reductive - Atlanta's black community shares a lot of common ground with Chicago's but there are also a *lot* of differences, for example). There are close to 5 times as many African Americans living in the US as there are Swedish people in Sweden. I would go so far as to say that black culture is so far removed from white culture that culturally speaking it may as well be coming from another country. It makes up more than 12% of our population, so if you're really interested in comparing cultural diversity, before you even *start* to look at Sweden's 14% or 23% foreign-born people compared to the US, you need to take that 12% into account. *Plus* all the people who aren't literally just off the boat but who are still members of very, very different cultures, some of which have integrated, some of which haven't. *Plus* the ingrained cultural differences you get when take these disparate cultures, add in population centers and distance, and marinate for a hundred or 200 years. I'm sorry, but there's a reason why "we" (by which I mean a whole bunch of people completely unrelated to me except that we live in the same country) created jazz and rock and R&B and the blues and Tex-Mex and Cajun and so on and so forth: we have *massive* cultural exchange on a level that "you" (by which I mean, people probably only tangentially related to you) haven't experienced since the 900s AD.

(note: if you wanted to compare us to, say, Canada instead of Scandinavia there might be a better point to make. Even the United Kingdom has its own deal with the Commonwealth that makes it fairly unique amongst Europe. But no, those statistics? They don't begin to tell the story here.)

I'm not denying that the USA is more diverse or heterogenous. I'm simply arguing against the narrative that Nordic countries are remarkably homogenous, which seems to be a widespread impression.
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Offline NEKSkeptic

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #273 on: April 09, 2017, 04:05:02 PM »
IP law protect specific works, not genres of work. In that regard, your analogy fails.  You can't patent "all drugs that help alleviate pain."  You can't copyright "all rap music."  IP laws prortect individual rights to incentivize creative work for the betterment of society at large. 

Again, culture is not a finite resource.   You can't steal something that is not finite. 

Offline 2397

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #274 on: April 09, 2017, 04:22:12 PM »
Can't steal intellectual property, either. That's why there has to be a whole different set of laws and regulations for it.

Offline NEKSkeptic

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #275 on: April 09, 2017, 04:25:34 PM »
And let's not forget that IP protections are limited in time.  After a certain number of years, IP laws say, "Here, everyone gets to use this."  In that regard, the analogy REALLY fails. 

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #276 on: April 09, 2017, 04:25:34 PM »
The FBI disagrees on whether or not IP can be stolen.

It seems like we're bending pretty far backwards to try to pretend that works of culture (such as food dishes or styles of dress) are totally different than music or automobile designs. Seems like maybe if given that one of the major agencies involved chooses to use "theft" regarding intellectual property, that maybe the people claiming you can't steal intellectual property need to pony up with something beyond a "nuh-uh."
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Offline NEKSkeptic

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #277 on: April 09, 2017, 04:28:34 PM »
My point is that culture is not a finite resource.  Thus, if you take, you aren't denying another's use. 

I understand that the consequences of the taking are the objectionable part, but let's stop pretending that the act of taking deprives anyone in and of itself. 

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #278 on: April 09, 2017, 04:29:41 PM »
My point is that culture is not a finite resource.  Thus, if you take, you aren't denying another's use. 

I understand that the consequences of the taking are the objectionable part, but let's stop pretending that the act of taking deprives anyone in and of itself.
My point is that finite has no bearing on the subject at hand. The issue is not denying use by another.
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #279 on: April 09, 2017, 04:44:08 PM »
My point is that culture is not a finite resource.  Thus, if you take, you aren't denying another's use. 

I understand that the consequences of the taking are the objectionable part, but let's stop pretending that the act of taking deprives anyone in and of itself.
One of the points already made using historic examples is that this may not necessarily be the case if you appropriate hard and carelessly enough.

Offline 2397

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #280 on: April 09, 2017, 04:58:02 PM »
The FBI disagrees on whether or not IP can be stolen.

It seems like we're bending pretty far backwards to try to pretend that works of culture (such as food dishes or styles of dress) are totally different than music or automobile designs. Seems like maybe if given that one of the major agencies involved chooses to use "theft" regarding intellectual property, that maybe the people claiming you can't steal intellectual property need to pony up with something beyond a "nuh-uh."

You can infringe on copyright and violate patents, but stealing IP is metaphorical.

I also think it's ridiculous that the FBI is involved in IP at all. Unless they're telling someone not to use their seal. Although then it's probably more a case of impersonation.

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #281 on: April 09, 2017, 05:01:53 PM »

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Offline Caffiene

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #282 on: April 09, 2017, 10:03:05 PM »
Seems like maybe if given that one of the major agencies involved chooses to use "theft" regarding intellectual property

Major agency in one country that is well known for an overly aggressive legal system and undue corporate influence on government and law. By contrast here in Australia, as discussed not long ago in the TV Shows thread, its highly questionable that piracy even counts as illegal in most cases (its a civil matter unless it involves large scale supply and distribution) let alone as the specific crime of theft.

Large corporations with extensive IP collections certainly want to name piracy as "theft" in an attempt to influence public perception, but I think the public has a very different view - partly evidenced by the very fact that the corporations put such emphasis on pushing that perception. There would be little need to push the viewpoint if it was already shared by the general public. Movie publishers have had an extensive campaign of ads that air at the start of retail DVDs that use the wording "You wouldnt steal a car..." and similar statements to directly push that comparison - the only commentary Ive ever heard regarding those ads is ridicule and opposition to that equivalency. It even has its own page on "Know Your Meme" due to all the parody it generated. (Ironically, the background music for the anti-piracy ad was used without permission of the creator)

Personally I feel like naming it as theft, when there are clear differences in the nuances compared to physical theft, undermines the severity of piracy. It comes across as equivocation, which makes a sort of implication that we have to call it theft or else it isnt bad / or isnt bad "enough". To which I disagree. Piracy is its own problem with its own effects on victims. It doesnt need to be called anything other than piracy to be able to judge those effects and assign moral or legal views to the act.
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #283 on: April 09, 2017, 10:09:42 PM »
Seems like maybe if given that one of the major agencies involved chooses to use "theft" regarding intellectual property

Major agency in one country that is well known for an overly aggressive legal system and undue corporate influence on government and law. By contrast here in Australia, as discussed not long ago in the TV Shows thread, its highly questionable that piracy even counts as illegal in most cases (its a civil matter unless it involves large scale supply and distribution) let alone as the specific crime of theft.

Large corporations with extensive IP collections certainly want to name piracy as "theft" in an attempt to influence public perception, but I think the public has a very different view - partly evidenced by the very fact that the corporations put such emphasis on pushing that perception. There would be little need to push the viewpoint if it was already shared by the general public. Movie publishers have had an extensive campaign of ads that air at the start of retail DVDs that use the wording "You wouldnt steal a car..." and similar statements to directly push that comparison - the only commentary Ive ever heard regarding those ads is ridicule and opposition to that equivalency. It even has its own page on "Know Your Meme" due to all the parody it generated. (Ironically, the background music for the anti-piracy ad was used without permission of the creator)

Personally I feel like naming it as theft, when there are clear differences in the nuances compared to physical theft, undermines the severity of piracy. It comes across as equivocation, which makes a sort of implication that we have to call it theft or else it isnt bad / or isnt bad "enough". To which I disagree. Piracy is its own problem with its own effects on victims. It doesnt need to be called anything other than piracy to be able to judge those effects and assign moral or legal views to the act.
While that would be a valid point in a thread about whether IP theft was theft or not, in this thread it keeps getting brought up as a way to deny that there's any harm from cultural appropriation because one definition of appropriation is theft and you can't steal ideas.

In short, people are trying to hang up on words instead of ideas. If we were talking about legal terms it would be important, but to find a flaw in an analogy and then decide that the entire subject is moot because the analogy is flawed or because one of a half dozen dictionary definitions doesn't work in this context is the intellectual equivalent of plugging one's ears and shouting "I'm not listening."

I'm sure a skeptic will be along shortly to explain that there's some flaw in my simile and therefore nobody is doing anything wrong.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #284 on: April 09, 2017, 10:13:41 PM »
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While that would be a valid point in a thread about whether IP theft was theft or not, in this thread it keeps getting brought up as a way to deny that there's any harm from cultural appropriation because one definition of appropriation is theft and you can't steal ideas.

Can you link to the post where somebody said this? I don't think anybody in here has denied that cultural appropriation can be harmful.
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