Author Topic: some thoughts on cultural appropriation  (Read 90250 times)

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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #285 on: April 09, 2017, 10:18:36 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.
Jt and damion have explicitly denied he issue several times, and JT brought up the appropriation definition think. NEKskeptic keeps repeating the "you can't steal something that isn't finite" which is again ignoring the real issue to try to minimize the damage by arguing over an analogy.

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Offline Caffiene

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #286 on: April 09, 2017, 10:30:07 PM »
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.

With respect, Id say that that person is you. There is a discussion to be had about whether the moral consequences of cultural appropriation are the same or similar to the moral consequences of theft, and whether "appropriation" necessarily implies negative judgement, but you were the one brought up the matter of what IP law and the FBI call it.

I dont think many people have been arguing that there is no harm because it isnt theft. Ive seen them simply arguing the null statement - that you cant say there is harm by comparison to theft. If the comparison to theft is invalid, it doesnt say anything one way or the other.

My point is that I think it can be easily argued that the FBIs naming doesnt agree with general public perception, and as a result their naming cannot be used as a good argument as to whether appropriation is inherently negative or how it should be judged - cultural appropriation must be judged on its own merits and consequences, not by comparison to "theft".
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Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #287 on: April 09, 2017, 10:40:44 PM »
Jt and damion have explicitly denied he issue several times, and JT brought up the appropriation definition think.

I said that appropriation is generally bad when it involves mockery. None of the examples given in the OP did that.


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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #288 on: April 09, 2017, 11:23:34 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.
Jt and damion have explicitly denied he issue several times, and JT brought up the appropriation definition think. NEKskeptic keeps repeating the "you can't steal something that isn't finite" which is again ignoring the real issue to try to minimize the damage by arguing over an analogy.

I can't be fucked to pull up posts from my phone tonight. Too much work for zero payoff.

I think you're wrong to assume that their posts mean  "cultural appropriation cannot be harmful," because they haven't said anything of the sort. (Please correct me if I'm wrong)

If we were all suddenly able to focus, what would be the point that you think is most worthy of discussion? What would be the takeaway that you wish everybody could understand?
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #289 on: April 10, 2017, 12:14:32 AM »
Borrowing (generally) means taking with permission.
And returning it after you're finished with it.

Sure. So how do you feel this applies to the topic at hand? A musical or fashion expression, for example?
If I wanted to comment on how that applies to the topic at hand, I would have done so. I was just correcting one of your statements, which I felt was incomplete.

After considering my reply, which took into consideration your idea about the idea's completeness, what do you think?
Again, if I wanted to comment, I would have done so.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #290 on: April 10, 2017, 12:23:45 AM »
Borrowing (generally) means taking with permission.
And returning it after you're finished with it.

Sure. So how do you feel this applies to the topic at hand? A musical or fashion expression, for example?
If I wanted to comment on how that applies to the topic at hand, I would have done so. I was just correcting one of your statements, which I felt was incomplete.

After considering my reply, which took into consideration your idea about the idea's completeness, what do you think?
Again, if I wanted to comment, I would have done so.

You commented. And I responded.

And your response to my response is to say... you don't wanna talk about it anymore? I feel like we're playing children's games, here.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #291 on: April 10, 2017, 12:28:42 AM »
Borrowing (generally) means taking with permission.
And returning it after you're finished with it.

Sure. So how do you feel this applies to the topic at hand? A musical or fashion expression, for example?
If I wanted to comment on how that applies to the topic at hand, I would have done so. I was just correcting one of your statements, which I felt was incomplete.

After considering my reply, which took into consideration your idea about the idea's completeness, what do you think?
Again, if I wanted to comment, I would have done so.

You commented. And I responded.

And your response to my response is to say... you don't wanna talk about it anymore? I feel like we're playing children's games, here.

You're the one trying to get me to comment on something I have zero interest in commenting about.
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #292 on: April 10, 2017, 06:36:43 AM »
So if everyone agrees that cultural appropriation can be harmful, that people affected may not like it and that it does happen....
What are the actual objections of people who chimed in to tell Superdave that he was being silly or that he should not be concerned about cultural appropriation as an issue?

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #293 on: April 10, 2017, 07:31:25 AM »
What are the actual objections of people who chimed in to tell Superdave that he was being silly or that he should not be concerned about cultural appropriation as an issue?

I cannot speak for those who called him silly, but superdave didn't seem terribly overwrought about it.


So at the end of the day, I kinda get where some of the anger comes from but personally don't feel like this is a big deal.

As to objections, the main one is that unless we have a bright line between beneficial exchange and harmful appropriation, we run the risk of condemning and thereby chilling both forms of expression.


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Offline The Latinist

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #294 on: April 10, 2017, 08:28:54 AM »
The world does not run on bright lines.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #295 on: April 10, 2017, 08:41:12 AM »
Murder must be distinguished from justifiable killing in self-defense.

Rape must be distinguished from consensual sex.

Assault and battery must be distinguished from fighting for sport.

We need conceptual lines to be drawn, as clearly as possible, whenever we create a moral dichotomy like this one, if we hope to have the intended effect. 

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Offline Harry Black

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #296 on: April 10, 2017, 10:14:04 AM »
Insensitivity is not a crime.
Nor should it be.
This is just like any other thing that may be considered rude or not cool to do. Theres always a little bit of measuring by thumb with real world etiquette.
If you disagree with an assessment that you have been rude (in any context) then thats fine! At least you acknowledge the complaint and are willing to live with the consequences of not apologising (which are usually fuck all)

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #297 on: April 10, 2017, 10:29:44 AM »
The analogy to criminal law is imperfect, to be sure, but etiquette guides aren't exactly free from bright lines, last I checked. If your goal is to prevent certain behaviours (a goal shared by prosecutors, ethicists, and purveyors of etiquette)  then you have to be fairly clear about what you are condemning. If the arbiters of etiquette prove to be evenly divided on, say, the question of using chopsticks at Pei-Wei, then we cannot expect people to take their advice into consideration on that issue.

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Offline The Latinist

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #298 on: April 10, 2017, 10:46:08 AM »
We are not talking about crime and punishment.  We're talking about human interactions and feelings.  Moreover, while the law may have to establish a line in defining what is criminal and what is not, the behavior itself exists on a continuum and even that which is not criminal may be harmful. And when we are talking about human interactions, those nuances are important to discuss and understand.  We cannot and should not reduce them to a bright line; some things which are not criminal may still be wrong, for instance.  Let's take just one of your examples: consent.  Consent exists on a continuum from enthusiastic 'yes' to resounding 'no.' We can all agree, I think, that if two adults both want to engage in sexual activity there is mutual consent; and we can all agree that if a person is forced violently to engage in sexual activities there is no consent.  But there are infinite shades in-between.

Both partners enthusiastically participate
One partner isn't in the mood, but participates to please the other.
One partner initially declines, but is cajoled into participating, perhaps grudgingly.
One partner feels pressured, but is not coerced, to participate.
One partner is significantly older than the other.
Both partners are minors.
Both partners are intoxicated
There is a significant power differential between partners.
One partner feels emotionally manipulated or coerced into participating.
One partner is intoxicated but not incapacitated.
The victim is incapacitated.
The victim is a minor.
The victim is physically coerced.

Please, let's not quibble about ordering within the list; I wrote it up quickly and have not had time to consider all of the implications fully.  And specifics of individual cases may change the ordering.  It's there for illustrative purposes.  The point is: this is a continuum; and, while the law may draw a bright line before incapacitated, minor, and physically coerced victims, there are many behaviors above that line which I would consider wrong.  And, yes, many times how an individual partner feels about the situation may significantly alter the ethics of the same physical act.

It's the same thing with cultural borrowing.  Some cultural borrowing is harmless or even productive.  Other borrowing is tacky and tone-deaf but relatively harmless.  Other borrowing can offend unintentionally. Or intentionally with a purpose that outweighs the offense. Or intentionally with no purpose. At worst it can deprive members of a culture of opportunities, perpetuate damaging stereotypes, or perpetuate economic or social inequalities.  Where any given instance of cultural borrowing falls on the scale from harmless to damaging will depend on the circumstances, including the feelings of those borrowed from.  Similar borrowing from different cultures and by different people can have different effects.  One must consider each instance in its own context when evaluating it.  There is an almost infinite variation of such acts, and each shades into the next.  You want things to be black and white that just aren't.

===== Unrelated Content =====

SNL had a great skit about the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad.  This isn't exactly (or at least only) an example of cultural appropriation, but it's illustrative of how an act of 'borrowing' can be exploitive and offensive.  And, yes, how the borrower's intent doesn't really matter.

I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline D4M10N

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Re: some thoughts on cultural appropriation
« Reply #299 on: April 10, 2017, 11:12:14 AM »
Please, let's not quibble about ordering within the list; I wrote it up quickly and have not had time to consider all of the implications fully.  And specifics of individual cases may change the ordering.  It's there for illustrative purposes.  The point is: this is a continuum; and, while the law may draw a bright line...

I'm not going to quibble with the order of the list, but surely you are aware of campaigns such as "Yes means yes" which attempt to educate young people about how to avoid finding themselves in the morally ambiguous gray zones of the consent continuum. Do we fault these campaigns for trying to give people clear guidelines in lieu of simply acknowledging the spectrum of possibilities?

And please do recall that I'm not one of those advocating the idea of a conceptual binary sorting acts of cultural borrowing into either (morally permissible) cultural exchange and (morally impermissible) cultural appropriation. But if we're going to move forward with that conceptual binary as our working model, then we need a fairly reliable heuristic for sorting.

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