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Passions in Poetry

Thought Control

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WildPoet
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since 11-10-2003
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0 posted 12-29-2003 11:56 PM       View Profile for WildPoet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for WildPoet

There's a story I'm in the process of writting in Passions in Prose. One of the characters uses what I call, medium profanity. These are words that have shown up on prime time television. I've even seen them in poems here at PIP.
  I certainly make no demands that they be used here. One of the moderators explained that he was replacing the words with asterisks. That was fine with me, people can fill in their own words and not lose the flow of the story. When I questioned the used of periods (.....) instead of asterisks (****) because I believed periods stopped the reader longer than asterisks. Another moderator explained that asterisks where the same as profanity. Now I understand their reasoning on this subject, but in my opinion, asterisks are just little stars. They are not letters and they don't spell anything. It is the THOUGHT of the reader that fills in the missing word.
  Now just bear me out here, to say that asterisks is the same as profanity and to ban the use of them because people may be THINKING of bad words. Seems to me to be bordering on, oh say, Thought Police. You can't use **** because you would be THINKING bad words, and we don't want your THOUGHTS to contain profanity, so the use of **** has to be banned or you may be corrupted by your own THOUGHTS.
  I maybe completely out of line here and my THINKING may make me a candidate
for rehabilitation or even exile, but trying to control THOUGHTS is a little to extreme in the quest for an Utopian web site.
  Just my private THOUGHTS on the ban on asterisks in substituting for profanity.
I ,by no means, advocate the unbridled use of profanity and/or graphic sex at this site.

Thank you for your time, please stay on the line, your thoughts are important to us.
WildPoet
Christopher
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Purgatorial Incarceration


1 posted 12-30-2003 12:50 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

i see where you're coming from WildPoet. Even agree to a point. what i wonder though, is why you're trying to call "us" the thought police, while not pointing to yourself at the same time.

for what is writing - fiction, poetry, songs, etc., if not the presentation of thought put into words - presented to affect the thoughts of the reader?

every word you put down on the page is intended to provoke a certain thought from your reader. if one truly wanted a story that had no intent of affecting another's thoughts, then one could not only NOT print a story, but they could neither title it, nor, in fact, even mention its existence.

everything we say, see, do, speak, write, etc. affects the thoughts of those who are on the receiving end.

you are right, though, in saying that asterisks are not the same as profanity. it may be just an accidental misuse (or possibly misunderstanding) of words that prompted someone to say that is the reason we discourage them here at Passions.

in fact, all asterisks are is a representation of a (very) few words deemed inappropriate here at the site. what CAN be said, in lieu of above statement, is that masking a "foul" word with asterisks doesn't change the word - in that the reader can likely determine the intended word quite easily. if we were going to support that, we might as well not bother with masking them in the first place.

the asterisks aren't there to protect someone from reading "foul" words - as i said, they're probably going to read it anyway, even if it's covered in stars. no, the asterisks are more of an aid to the writer. we could simply have the software delete the word... but that would probably mess with the flow of your story or poem. so, by substituting the words with asterisks, we give the author the opportunity to take another look at their piece and determine how they can modify it to fit within the guidelines (assuming they wish to - of course they can also either choose not to post that particular piece, if they decide it loses too much without that word, or they can see if perhaps it would fit better in one of our adult forums).

it's a constant debate over the use of profanity and its eligibility according to popular media. that's a good thing. for now, though, we're where we're at, and the above's the best explanation i can provide.
Ringo
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2 posted 12-30-2003 01:14 AM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

Your thoughts were very well stated, however, there are a few that I would respectfully suggest are out of place.

...trying to control THOUGHTS is a little to extreme in the quest for an Utopian web site...
Ron is not attempting to make this an Utopian site as I have understood you to suggest. He is very simply attempting to make it a site that even children can enjoy without parents having to concern themselves with what is being displayed. There are also many people in this world who are offended by such language and the themes that are put into the adult forums.

...These are words that have shown up on prime time television...
It is true that many of the words that could be better served with the ever popular "*" are heard on television, the majority of them are relegated to the premium cable movie channels, and are not readily available on broadcast. I am of course referring to the 7 that George Carlin has so eloquently reminded us of.
It is also true that parents are- most of us- intelligent to know which shows are not for children. Example, my 9 y/o daughter (who posts on here, BTW) is not permitted to watch the Osbournes simply because of the language. The people in Standards and Practices (censors) force MTV to substitute that annoying "BEEP" everytime Ozzy decides to open his mouth, yet it is very readily apparent what word he has used. Putting a blur over a naked body, or a wrestler using obscene gestures does not prevent anyone from knowing exactly what is being shown.
Also in the shows and movies where the more adult language IS being permitted, I am able to know in advance that the language is being used, and I prevent my daughter from watching said shows. I am unable to do this with a poetry site that would allow unbridled profanity, and "adult-oriented" themes to be accessed by anyone.
Instead of having a rating system for the poetry, which would over-tax an already overworked Ron and Mod Staff, the Mature Forums have been instituted where such language may be readily used without edits. If you are of an age where you are permitted access to the Mature Content, then I do not see where your challenge would lie in simply transferring your works there, as they would still be enjoyed by many... including myself. If you are not af an age, then I invite you to continue writing the adult language and themes...for your own enjoyment, as I did for nearly 20 years until I found this site.
Early on in my enjoyment of this site, I wrote a poem about the "joys" of combat, and used asterisks in place of such language as I had heard while serving in the military, and I a finger shaken in my face for doing so, and had my scribble re-posted in MC. Perhaps it is just that I am usually much more easy-going than many people I know, however I found nothing wrong with what had been done to my thoughts. They were still available for the "R" rated audiences to enjoy, yet out of the way of any children taht might be on the site or anyone (such as my mother) who would have been offended by the language.

...trying to control THOUGHTS is a little to extreme...
There has NEVER been a case of this site trying to control the thoughts of ANYONE as far as I can remember having been a member here, anymore than the movie rating organization attempts to control the thoughts of screen writers... PIP, like that organization, is attempting to control the ACCESS to those thoughts by minors. Which is something that responsible adults attempt to do every day.

...Seems to me to be bordering on, oh say, Thought Police...
While I agree with your right to think the way you think, I find this particular sentance to be insulting to the owner of this site, and to the people who made up the rules, and the Mods who enforce those rules. Again, NO ONE is attemping to block your thoughts, or your right to express those thoughts... however, as this is a privately owned site, and as we have children as young as 9 who read these pages, certain rules have been put into place to allow the greatest number an opportunity to enjoy these pages.
As I was the one that actually made the edit, I also find it insulting that you are accusing me of such actions. I did not act unilaterally to disrespect you, or to "police" your thoughts. I did it, after consulting others who serve as Mods, to enforce the rules that you, yourself agreed to follow when you joined the site almost 2 months ago.
I would invite you (and also ask you) to continue posting the story. It is well written and I am interested to see what comes next... if you feel that you must use the language that is in contention, all I ask is that you put it in Insights. It is in the Mature Content section and is designed for both poetry and prose.

And we thank you for your support.


Cause in my dreams it's always there
The evil face that twists my mind
And brings me to despair.

[This message has been edited by Ringo (12-30-2003 01:22 AM).]

WildPoet
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3 posted 12-30-2003 01:15 AM       View Profile for WildPoet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for WildPoet

"so, by substituting the words with asterisks,"

Ok, What I was saying is that I don't mind asterisks, that asterisks were not used to replace the words in question. Periods were used to replace the words. And I was told that asterisks were considered profanity. This is what I'm talking about here. I have no beef with the use of asterisks to sub for words. The story I'm writting isn't just for PIP. So I don't want to change anything to fit here.I don't go out of my way to write profanity. It just developed that way with one character. The asterisks are just fine with me. If asterisks are used.
Ringo
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4 posted 12-30-2003 02:35 AM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

...The asterisks are just fine with me...

Ok, Then I seem to be a little confused... which is not the first time on this site. If you are OK with asterisks, etc, then why the comments about thought police and controlling the author's thoughts, and slamming the use of asterisks because "It is the THOUGHT of the reader that fills in the missing word".
And what about "so the use of **** has to be banned or you may be corrupted by your own THOUGHTS"?
I don't know... maybe it is just me, however,it seems that both sides of the argument are being served in this one thread.
Just my thoughts, though.

Cause in my dreams it's always there
The evil face that twists my mind
And brings me to despair.

Nan
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5 posted 12-30-2003 09:43 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

We sanction neither profanity in our open forums, nor the use of asterisks to mask it - for all of the reasons so eloquently explained above.

My suggestion to you - in order to keep your verbiage intact - would be to post your work in the Mature Content area of the site.  That's exactly what this area is intended for, and your work can likely remain in its original form within our mature cyber walls...

Poet deVine
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6 posted 12-30-2003 07:26 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

quote:

Just my private THOUGHTS on the ban on asterisks in substituting for profanity.
I ,by no means, advocate the unbridled use of profanity and/or graphic sex at this site.




I think we're jumping the gun here on a couple of issues.

The question is: do we, by banning the use of asterisks in place of words the filters catch, stop anyone from THINKING the word.

The answer is no. We cannot control someone's thoughts. I may not be putting the same word in place of the asterisks but then my public use of profanity is limited to 'rats' and 'damn'.

I think this issue has existed ever since man could read what someone wrote. We can only do our best. We may not be able to please everyone but we have been very successful with the guidelines as they are. Personally, as a writer, I would have to use the same word as WildPoet because that's what the character would say! It is not me speaking - but my character.

I have to confess that I read the story BEFORE it was posted and didn't think anything of the use of that word. In fact, I found the character's statement about the 'glue' pretty amusing. But then I'm an adult so maybe I have more sophisticated tastes.

WildPoet, I owe you an apology. I truly thought that word was allowed in Prose. I am sorry. From now on perhaps it would be best to post your work in the Mature Content forums. I'll keep looking for them.

I apologize to all of you who seemed a tad upset about this issue. It's really my fault for thinking that Ron had loosened the bonds of the software filter a tad to let some more words be usuable.

I'm sorry.
Ron
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7 posted 12-30-2003 09:08 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Actually, I did lower the bar on our software filter, and it was done largely as a direct result of situations like this one. For a while, the filter would flag "bastard" as unacceptable, by replacing the letters with asterisks. Then, someone used the word as a term for an illegitimate son, which just happens to be the correct definition. When used as a derogatory word for any man you don't like, it's profanity. Not to mention uncreative and lame. When used to describe a male born out of wedlock, it's perfectly acceptable English. Context defines suitability. So, I took the word out of our software filter and leave it up to the Moderators to decide, based on individual usage, when bastard is profanity or not.

The particular word being filtered in this instance was both similar and different. It's similar in that the word was used quite literally, with the correct definition in mind. In truth, I only added that word to our filters because it is SO tiring to see it continuously misused on a web site dedicated to writing. It has almost become a pronoun, so generic and meaningless it can take the place of ANY conceivable noun. As a literal word, it's really not that offensive to most. As a very tired and ubiquitous cliché, it certainly should be offensive to writers. It is the latter use which was expressly filtered.

On the other hand, though similar, this instance is also different, because even when used as a literal word, it is NOT perfectly acceptable English. It's in the dictionary, but labeled as "vulgar slang" (and with such a lengthy list of definitions as to highlight its insipid ambiguity). I can just barely see the word "bastard" legitimately coming up in conversation over the dinner table. I can't quite imagine this word, however, being suitable in any polite company. It is, as the dictionary says, vulgar. Still, when used in proper context within a story or poem, I could probably go either way. When the Moderators voted on this particular instance, I didn't feel strongly enough to cast a vote either yay or nay.

As to profanity and asterisks, and speaking in generalities rather than this specific incident, we certainly wouldn't try to control what the reader thinks, but we definitely have a responsibility to control what the writer uses our web site to communicate. Whether they use the letters of the alphabet or asterisks or pictograms, if their implied MEANING is vulgar or offensive they can simply post it somewhere else.

Frankly, I'm not really in favor of editing a writer's work, both because I wouldn't like mine to be edited and because it rarely accomplishes anything useful. Replace the word with asterisks and the meaning is still obvious. Replace the asterisks with [edit] and the meaning is STILL just as obvious. Absolutely nothing has been accomplished if the vulgar meaning remains intact.
Greeneyes
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8 posted 12-31-2003 06:51 PM       View Profile for Greeneyes   Email Greeneyes   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Greeneyes

My 2 cents, as a reader and helper of the forums, if the guidelines are read, & understood we would not have to go in and do an edit.  It is simple we do have an MC area where words that are not allowed in open forums are allowed.  I am NOT pointing fingers here; the rules are set the way that they are to insure the family meaning and atmosphere.  I think it only fair to abide by those.  And agreeing with Ron, “the meaning is STILL just as obvious”.

~~**~~
This morning theres a calm I cant explain
By the time I recognize this moment it will be gone,  
I will bend light pretending it lingers on

WildPoet
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since 11-10-2003
Posts 208
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9 posted 01-02-2004 05:37 AM       View Profile for WildPoet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for WildPoet

Devine, you have nothing to be sorry about!
I asked your advice and you gave me good advice as always.
It was my responsiblity to stay within  the guidelines of PIP. Unfortunatly, when I read the guidelines, the part about Prime time TV standards stuck in my mind, and I went with that example having heard these words on NBC, ABC and CBS.
Had it occured to me that children as young as nine years old were visiting this site, I certainly would never have posted the story as it is written. And thats completely my fault. No one else is to blame.
I'm just someone who wanted to learn how to write down the stories in his head and get free advice.(I mean all those years of daydreaming has to pay off somehow!)
So I'll be posting the rest of the story in the Mature forum. I would still welcome everyones opinion and hope there are no hard feelings.

Thank you
WildPoet   
Aenimal
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10 posted 01-02-2004 10:21 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

I can just barely see the word "bastard" legitimately coming up in conversation over the dinner table


a)You  must never discuss politics over dinner

b)You're in need of better conversation

Ron
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11 posted 01-02-2004 10:46 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

a) Sure I do, Raph. But those conversations never seem to center on a man born out of wedlock. There are so many really great words to describe a politician, without resorting to a metaphor that makes little sense. A person's status at birth, like race or gender or nationality, is beyond their control and should never be a stigma or symbol of derision, for them or anyone else.

b) Probably.
Aenimal
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12 posted 01-03-2004 02:55 AM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

A)Bastard along with any good profanity has a multitude of meanings Ron. Adaptability, evolution and creativity are what make swear words great. The F word for example is the most versatile word in the english language being a Noun, Adjective, verb etc.

B)Lighten up me boyo..grins
Brad
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13 posted 01-03-2004 05:50 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

That's precisely their weakness. It's too easy to substitute profanity for a clearer, less general word.
Severn
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14 posted 01-03-2004 06:48 AM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn

Linking: http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum8/HTML/000463.html

due to its relevance. There's some food for thought there..

K
Ron
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15 posted 01-03-2004 09:31 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

a) As Brad said, Raph, the more meaningS a word has, the less meaning it has. If writing were akin to brain surgery, I'm not sure I would be real impressed by a doctor relying on a Swiss army knife.

b) Pick a less serious topic.
serenity blaze
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16 posted 01-03-2004 11:07 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

raising my hand...

the more meaningS a word has the less meaning it has?

hmmm...

Not sure I agree. One of the things I love best about the English language is the diversity. I recall a Spanish friend of mine stating that English was the most difficult language he'd encountered because there were simply so many words to convey a single meaning--

i.e., fast---

rapid, speedy, swift, quick, and etc.

Don't you feel part of the beauty of the English language lies in the nuances that such diversity affords?

(and I'm not trying to avoid the topic, for the record, I think with the institution of the Mature Content forums this is really a non-issue now.)

And further, don't we collectively decide what is obscene? Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder isn't offensive language in the EAR?

and...wince, one more thought? Do you think by making certain words taboo we give them more power?

sign me,

confused but stubbornly thinking anyway



Ron
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17 posted 01-03-2004 02:34 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

You've almost exactly reversed what I said, Karen. You're talking about many different words with a similar meaning, which I agree only adds to the richness of the language. I was talking about a single word with many different, and usually vague, meanings, which only leads to watered down ambiguity.

And, yes, making a word taboo can give it incredible power. But therein lies the paradox of profanity. When that same word becomes part of common speech, and in some cases gets used in every other sentence, it has no power at all. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It's just another cliché to avoid.
serenity blaze
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18 posted 01-03-2004 03:48 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

grin.

I just read it again, and sure 'nuff, I did do just that very thing.

I'll go take a nap quietly now.



sheesh. Another attack of the killer brain fog.

and the power and taboo of words was covered nicely by hush in another thread, I discovered--grumble--SHE never seems to suffer from brain fog...



Brad
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19 posted 01-04-2004 06:38 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

You know, if you think about it, isn't profanity a form of thought control?

They are perfect forms of Orwellian doublethink and the easiest way to stop discussion is to employ them.
Aenimal
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20 posted 01-04-2004 08:30 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

I disagree, the use of the clearer, less general word can often be sterile especially if you're trying to convey any realism or raw emotion. God, can you imagine how horrid New York cop movies would be?

I can think of a billion more serious topics, this is actually incredibly minor, a simple matter of taste except to puritans or watchdogs who think they know what's best and speak for all society.
Brad
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21 posted 01-04-2004 10:18 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
a simple matter of taste except to puritans or watchdogs who think they know what's best and speak for all society.


That's not my point. My point is taste (which is never simple by the way). Move beyond your simple dichotomy and ask yourself which is better writing: Pacino's "Scarface" or the conversations between Jackson and Travolta in "Pulp Fiction". Both use profanity, yet the claims to realism and raw emotion doesn't make one less humorous in an unintended way, and the profanity in the other isn't really essential to what stands out.

Profanity can be used, I've tried it, Bernstein's used it effectively (so has Brian Long by the way), but most of the time it's a crutch because you can't think of a better word or an attempt to follow a misguided theory about realism and raw emotion.

Nine times out of ten, it's just bad writing.

Aenimal
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22 posted 01-04-2004 11:07 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Brad I agree with you for the most part. The line you singled out wasn't meant for you
Brad
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23 posted 01-05-2004 12:24 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Oh okay. Guess I'm being a little sensitive.
TwistedKnickers
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24 posted 01-05-2004 09:15 AM       View Profile for TwistedKnickers   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TwistedKnickers

I have my own views on the topic which are clearly stated in hush's thread, but perhaps !&$##@! could replace the *****, as one can retrieve much more "raw emotion" from it. **** just seems so $%^&^$#! lifeless, don't you think??  hehe

Cat  

Poetry is the sculpting of words. We ALL start with a lump of clay.

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