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Everything posted by kfw

  1. Canbelto, I think the Southern Way of Life parallel is false for reasons that are self-evident, but you’re right, no one is entitled to have their thinking approved of. We do all have a right, though, to grapple with other people’s thinking - or to label and reject it. I think we're all tempted to do the latter; pick any issue nowadays, and the former seems rare. Fortunately Jonathan Haidt and other academics are working to show another way. Helene, I agree about respect. I show people respect, however, not because they’re in a “protected class,” but because as human beings they have inherent dignity.
  2. When I say “thought about,” I mean it wasn’t an issue constantly before the public, and when people did read about it or know someone who transitioned, many or most as I understand it disapproved, and that was that. It’s a very good thing, in my opinion, that kneejerk disapproval of both the act and (most unfortunately) the person has been called out and challenged, and that most people have gotten to “know,” either through the news or literally as neighbors or colleagues, etc., people who have changed or wish to change their gender. It is never a good thing (logical, astute or just) in my opinion, when one kind of enforced conformity is exchanged for another, swift and major changes to thinking in such basic areas as morality and sexuality and gender are prescribed, non-conformers are dismissed as prejudiced (one form of presumed moral superiority replacing another), and their thinking (or the evidence that many transgenders regret having had surgery) is not given due consideration. Enforcing a view also doesn’t change hearts and minds; It only hardens them. And although the goal in this case is to not only defend the rights but spare the feelings of transgender people, calling all non-conformers entitled bigots pure and simple only makes transgenders live in a world where they feel looked down upon more than they are. I’m reminded of Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher, two gay conservatives. One disapproves of the other’s lifestyle, but they’re friends because both are willing to look beyond that to see the other as a person not a stereotype. Sullivan especially, in my opinion, is a model citizen and a moral exemplar here. nanushka, I love it that you think about language so carefully. Linguistics is a subject I wish I had more time and brain space for.
  3. It's an issue few people thought about 30 years ago, and when the issue began to receive widespread publicity, they were immediately told what to think about it.
  4. Aurora and nanushka, thanks for the replies. First of all, I personally would call Johnsey whatever he liked. Most respectful people – people, that is, who feel respect for him – would. Other respectful people, for whom transgenderism is a problematic issue as many issues relatively new to the general public are and should be, and as the varied disagreements even in the LGBTQ community demonstrates this one still is, might not. nanushka, I used the words “arbitrary” and “spurious” because when I googled “prescriptivist fallacy,” I found those words . . . and misread the sentence they were in. So I apologize for the confusion. The linguist I have read is John McWhorter and he agrees of course that usage does change, and that “incorrect” usages become common and “correct.” But that isn’t the issue I find interesting. I don't think there is any getting around the fact that “they” has a meaning and indicates someone or something plural, or, as in the example you cited, makes no attempt to indicate the gender. (I’m reminded of Lewis Carroll’s famous bit in Humpty Dumpty: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.) In cases of transgenderism, the gender is not unknown. Do transgender people who wish to be called “they” claim to be two genders at the very same time - fluid instead connotes switching back and forth -- and if so, is everyone else obliged to share their point of view? (From the point of view of those who disagree, that might be called a prescriptivist fallacy, And speaking of rules, it is in more and more places enforced as a rule). Respect doesn't require agreement, but using someone else’s terminology can connote agreement. So some people balk.
  5. A couple of questions come to mind. Why would not using "they" to refer to a singular individual be an arbitrary or spurious rule grammatically? And are people asking to be referred to as "they," or is the term being prescribed by others when the person's gender is in flux?
  6. We may disagree, I don't know, but the last thing I'm interested in doing is causing anyone pain.
  7. Not the same but inextricable. Knowing oneself is a lifetime's work and what one "knows" changes. It is also understood and expected that identity will be contested; there are all kinds of opinion about all kinds of people. ETA: A doctor knows a patient in a way he may not know himself. A psychiatrist may know him in another way. The patient is not in these cases fully knowledgeable about himself (of course neither is the professional). But I hope Chase is able to keep dancing and enjoying it.
  8. I would think that pressure would be a thing of the past; maybe not. In any case, I think the fact that even a ballet company of ballerina impersonators, who would presumably all be on the same page about gender issues, has conflicts regarding sexuality and its expression is an indication of how complex and difficult and irreducible to simple formulations the issues regarding it are. I wish Johnson all the best. Not having taken time to read the research and consider the issue with the time it deserves, I don't know what that best is.
  9. There is also that story - someone here will no doubt remember where it's told and by whom - of Balanchine watching the ballet with someone and remarking - or maybe the other person remarked - on the beauty of the score and then saying something like "But look what he [Robbins] did with it."
  10. Insightful and delightful! Thanks, atm711.
  11. LeClerq most of all. And Marie-Jeanne. And the baby ballerinas. And out of curiosity, Robbins.
  12. I love your bells playlist! I didn't see this track, however: Bells for the Southside.
  13. No No apologies needed, but thank you. But I do think at least one of us has been misunderstanding the other.
  14. You really hold that people use common terms for morally charged and debated issues without themselves making moral judgments, even if only to unreflectively accept and thus communicate the ones in current use? If the n-word was still used in respectable circles, you'd say no moral judgment was behind it and reflected in it?
  15. I have not been arguing that it isn't currently legal and common, I've been arguing that it's bad. You just accept the definition as good because it’s been decreed then? I’m not sure what your point is otherwise.
  16. I was talking about Balanchine of course, and if it's a good definition, why should Balanchine not be judged by it? I've tried to explain why I think that would be a misjudgment, which I think shows why it's a bad definition.
  17. Again, I'm drawing a distinction between any particular legal definition and what I think a wise and accurate definition is. Legal definitions follow culturally current ones anyhow. Balanchine, as we know, was a romantic, which is a far cry from what we see in Martins' choreography. That legal definition may even be a good one for the purposes of preventing harassment, but I don't think it accurately describes Balanchine's actions or state of mind. Nor did Balanchine fall in love with and propose to just anyone, so in a company of 40 female dancers or whatever he had in the late 60s, few would likely even worry. In fact, while he was clearly wrong to punish Farrell and Mejia, by today's legal workplace rules, or by some of them at least from the impression I get, he would have been wrong to even go out with and propose to Tallchief and L'Clerq. He would have been guilty for sexual harassment even for that. I see his fault as something significantly different. It's clear you don't.
  18. I don't doubt you. What I'm saying is that I think a distinction nonetheless can be recognized and thus should be drawn between making a workplace hostile and harassing someone sexually. They are not one and the same. And I don't know who you're thinking of in your second paragraph, but I hope I've been clear that I don't believe Balanchine's treatment of Farrell and Mejia was at all justified.
  19. I, for one, believe Martins is probably guilty and is receiving just treatment, but I've said I feel bad for everyone at this point, and I complimented Fairchild.
  20. When it's used badly, yes, Another example would be equating a hostile work environment with sexual harassment, plain and simple. I don't believe that either. It would be far too simplistic a statement. I think we all know what "lash" means. And I think if we're not willing to change our terms when those terms can be misunderstood and/or connote something untrue, that's part of the problem. Helene wrote: I think we've touched on much more than that, and I've made it clear that I'm talking about something else. We certainly have not been talking about whether Balanchine should have been charged under today's laws. BalanchineFan wrote I've asked for evidence that Balanchine demanded sex per se. What he wanted was marriage. And today's understandable new workplace rules notwithstanding, are we really going to condemn Balanchine for falling in love with Farrell and proposing? A proposal is not a demand anyhow, and there is no evidence he said "marry me, or else." Again, what he did was awful, but we still need clear thinking.
  21. If I understand your last sentence, you're effectively agreeing with me. You can, naturally, tell the difference between forced sexual contact and Balanchine's vengeful emotional decision. The thing about terms like this, when they're allowed to encompass a wide range of behavior, or a wide range of degree of behavior, is that calling something an X for a 1 on a scale of 10 because it technically fits some description of the X trades on the emotional charge of the 10. (That's why it's a favorite tool of propagandists - not that anyone here is propagandizing.) But sidelining someone out of romantic pique is a far cry for demanding sex. I think there are ways to criticize Balanchine for the first that are clearheaded and don't make what he did sound a lot worse than it was. It was bad enough already.
  22. Come now. Since when is the EEOC God, or even Merriam-Webster? Just cuz the gov'ment says it, that doesn't make it so, and it doesn't make it what everyone thinks of when the word is used. Anyhow, I don't know why you're citing the EEOC. What "unwelcome sexual" - sexual now - "advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" do we know Balanchine sidelined Mejia for Farrell's refusing? Chapter and verse, please. He took action after Farrell got married. This was a one-sided romantic spat, not a sleep-with-me-or-else. Again, that hardly makes it right, but there is no cause for conflation.
  23. I remember Hill, but I have to go back 27 years to do it. Anyhow, Oxford may feel the old first definition has been superseded, but the roots and connotation of "lash" remain. It's a very visual word. Will the dancers who have spoken out suffer for their courage? In light of the fact that except for Martin's diehards and beneficiaries everyone praisers his accusers and is glad they've spoken out, I think the burden is on people who take the negative view to explain why, and to name names. Generalities are not convincing, IMO.
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