James R "Kaffir" is not an insult.

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by EmptyForceOfChi, Mar 2, 2011.

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  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Missing dimensions

    Interesting. I just searched the thread, and the word "kitab" does not occur anywhere in the preceding posts.

    The dimensions of the complaint against the word "kaffir" are suspect.
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  3. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Hmm.. I think I take offense at that.
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  5. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Sorry: could you demonstrate where this "rank bigotry" occurs?

    This is vague. Which rule was broken? Sounds a little ominous.

    Ok, it's another funny thing here: is Sam not mature enough to control her own responses? If I'd been banned for personal insults, would you be justified in calling me an "easy target"? People are expected to control themselves, and I think the issue of the offensiveness of a word is a pretty minor issue. Is there a reason it should be a super-nova-style concern?

    Interesting. In which sense is "book" related to this debate?

    How so?
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  7. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

    This thread has given me greater insight to the personalities of several of the members on sci forums than any other since joining. Undoubtedly, some of you are excellent debaters but this has gone from mental masturbation to a pissing contest to outright vindictiveness about a perceived or real insult. Are you seemingly intelligent people willing to digress further? (more bans)
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    I would think it obvious to someone so knowledgeable as you are

    Well, you know so much about Muslims, Geoff, why don't you tell us? No, really, I'm happy to fill in the blank for you if you really don't know, but that's sort of the point: If you don't know, you shouldn't be complaining.

    The complaint relies on the definition constructed by a known anti-Islamic bigot who is also well known for looking for a fight to pick.
  9. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Sarcasm doesn't suit debate

    Tiassa, there's no point in being nebulous and distant. You want to talk about the People of the Book. Hey, great. What's the specification you want to make? Don't force people to use mind-reading on you.

    Gee, another personal attack.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Hell with it: same rules, right? This is what you wanted? Complaint time.

    I might add that there's a bit of a disconnect between your first and second points in that post, anyway.
  10. Bells Staff Member

    The rules that applied to Chi's banning due to your complaint.. That one only has to be offended.

    Yes. People are expected to control themselves. Which begs the question, why are you unable to control yourself and your hysteria in seeing offense in everything, even in being called a non-Muslim.

    You felt Sam goaded you because she repeatedly reminded you that you are not a Muslim? You are not a Muslim.

    So how can you be offended in not being a Muslim? Is the intent behind saying you are not a Muslim, to declare you to not be a Muslim? You are not a Muslim.. really.. it's not that hard.

    But do not worry Geoff. We are working strongly to ensure we ban anyone who might offend you by using words such as kaffir or pagan. And as we have seen with Gustav and Sam, people can be banned for using such terms because you deem it to be offensive.

    Which goes to the heart of the matter. Geoff is not insulted by the word Kaffir. He was insulted because a devout Muslim dared to say he was a kaffir. He has had a bee in his bonnet about Chi for a while now, and about Sam. So he files complaints repeatedly about these members because he finds them personally offensive. He will pick and choose anything that he can pass off as being offensive. This is blatantly obvious when one can see that he took absolutely no offense when Gustav called him a Kaffir repeatedly. But when it comes to Chi, well, it is apparently totally offensive and should not be used on this forum.

    So this is what we have come to.

    Catering to the vindictiveness of others..
  11. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    That's not true. There has to be some kind of reasonable basis for it. There's an equivalent insult in English: "heathen". Was Chi's offense necessary?

    It's not hysteria, Bells. I simply don't accept slander. If I've made a mistake: fine. If I'm in the wrong, fire away. But outright slander? Nope. I discussed this with you earlier. It was getting out of control and enough was and is enough.

    The Wiki link supports the same. Have a gander around the intertubes; you'll find other Muslims with similar sentiments. It's a term whose time has passed; and that it comes from a man you admit is a supremacist...what am I supposed to think about it?

    Rather: zero tolerance for slander. If you don't like it, don't do it. Simple.

    It's surprising that the three or four of you are so - IMHO - rabid about this issue.
  12. Bells Staff Member

    So while stating you have zero tolerance for slander, you call myself and others who disagree with you "rabid"?

    I personally find being called rabid offensive. If we are to use James' standards:

    a) Your intent behind it is to be offensive.
    b) I receive it as a personal insult
    c) All third parties who have been viewing this debate and argument between us could conceivably say that you were being vindictive by saying I was rabid.

    And now, along with Kaffir, since you find the term Pagan to be offensive, people should refrain from using the word on this forum or calling themselves a Pagan, lest they offend you. As well as "heathen" now it seems...

    Any more words you want to see us restrict and ban from this site because it offends you?
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    This thread is going round and round in circles. It now appears to be a three-against-one insult-fest against GeoffP at this point. Worse, we have two moderators joining in the insulting, the nebulous and non-specific accusations of bigotry and other flaming. It is amazing that GeoffP has been able to keep a level head and respond with reasonable questions for clarification, among this tide of barely-veiled slander.

    I suggest to the participants that you continue this with GeoffP by PM (if he wishes to continue). Nobody else on sciforums needs this bullshit.

    As a general principle, I also urge posters to ask when they want another member's opinion on something. Don't dance around an issue, make assumptions and hurl accusations. Rather than saying "You obviously hate all Muslim, Geoff" try "Geoff, do you hate all Muslims?" If you can't get a straight yes/no answer to that one, then you might have some grounds to start to assume bigotry.

    Thread closed.
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Bells and Tiassa have objected to my closing this thread, and have asked that they be given a final word here. I am sure they will extend the same courtesy to GeoffP if he wishes it. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent site policy or the views of myself or other moderators/administrators. Here is Bell's statement:

    From Bells:

    Since this thread was closed without giving those accused a chance to respond, and the brouhaha this caused, I was given the opportunity to respond.

    I will be open and admit that this thread has been disturbing for me for a variety of reasons. The banning of words such as Kaffir should always be disturbing. However what Geoff deemed offensive expanded over the course of this thread to include terms such as "Pagan", "infidel" and even "heathen". All were deemed offensive by him.

    If that was not disturbing enough, we then witnessed members being banned for daring to firstly call Geoff a Kaffir. That Geoff had referred to himself by that term was disregarded. Geoff's reasoning was that he felt offended because it was used by a "devout Muslim". Because apparently, there are certain words that Muslims should never be allowed to utter.

    Another member was then banned because he called Fraggle a Kaffir in joking with Geoff about the word Kaffir - to which Geoff joked back and was not offended by the term when spoken by Gustav.. Then again, according to Geoff, Gustav is not a devout Muslim and thus, he was not offended by his usage of the word. The word was then virtually banned - well banned if spoken by a Muslim of course.

    Sam was then banned for goading and flaming Geoff when she openly made fun of his reasoning for being offended..

    What is most disturbing about this is that out of the 3 people banned over this incident, two were banned directly because one member declared themselves offended. When James banned Chi, it was directly because Geoff declared himself offended. The same applied to Sam in her banning. James openly declared that she was banned because Geoff complained. I do not need to state what kind of message this sends to the community at large. If Geoff finds you offensive, you can find yourself banned regardless of the reason.. In other words, you can find yourself banned on Geoff's say so.

    James then rode back to Geoff's rescue when Geoff felt cornered by his own argument and myself and another moderator were openly chastised for apparently insulting Geoff and calling him names. Our insult was to question him about his reasoning for acting as he did in this thread. The slander was to openly question him about why he is only offended if certain words are said by Muslims on this forum. The insult was to question and laugh at why and how words such as Pagans could be deemed offensive and should apparently not be used..

    So members and moderators alike be warned. If you belong to a particular religion, you can be deemed offensive (Pagans are apparently offensive now) and if you belong to a particular religion, you cannot use certain words on this forum because you can find yourself banned if a particular member feels offended.

  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    GeoffP's final word on this thread:

    Let me begin by saying that, right from the start, the notion that Bells was prevented from having a last word is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the thread was closed on her final post, not mine. But be that as it may.

    Here are the issues, and there are definitively no others. This is it.

    EFC used a somewhat foul word to describe people who didn’t believe in his religion. It’s not a hideous word, but it’s not a nice one. He was asked to stop, since it was kind of offensive. He refused, and was banned; not for the first time. Bells and Sam leaped into the thread in his defense, and were outraged. Sam battled it out until she ran out of room, and then hit me with an entirely different personal attack; and not for the first time. She was banned; and not for the first time. Bells then turned the thread into the accusation that the first word was now banned from the forum because of my complaint, or that it couldn’t be used specifically by Muslims on the forum, because I had used it myself to sarcastically describe myself. There are a few problems with this logic.

    Whether or not I refer to myself by any name at all is entirely irrelevant; and I told Bells as much, at least once and probably twice. In other words: go ahead, because an insult has to be plausible. It’s possible that this was missed, but more likely that it was dismissed: it did not fit with the preconceived program and had to go. In short, I object when someone else existing outside the range that the insult is meant to cover uses it to refer to me in the intent of offense. Gustav also called me a “kufaar”: absurd, but whatever. Bells did the same; ditto. There is no intellectual leverage in either of these individuals to make it an insult, lest they at the same time insult themselves, which is possible but outside reasonability. EFC – an Islamic supremacist already with a substantial record of preaching and bigotry on the forums – is not like either of these two individuals. This is a point pretty hard to dispute. It is unreasonable to think that Bells or Gustav – much as they detest me – could make a reasonable insult out of such a term, since they lack the religious background necessary to discriminate me from them. It would be like one atheist calling another a damned unbeliever. Well…ok then. It’s possible that they hate themselves enough to call themselves a mean name, but it’s not reasonable. Not believable.

    For EFC, it is quite the opposite: he does indeed possess a religious difference to me, and is much more reasonable for him to hate those unlike himself. There is evidence on the forum of this. Intent is required: EFC clearly intended the term as an insult, Bells and Gustav did not, so far as I can tell, and again how could they? They possess none of the background to make it stick. If a white racist called me a honky, the effect would be amusing, rather than offensive, because the person using it has no traction of difference on which to base offense. Discrimination implies difference. Intent must be reasonable; I’m sure there are examples otherwise, but the general rule should be obvious to a reasonable person.

    And as such, and as it has been pointed out several times already, the issue is not whether such words can be written, or discussed. It is whether such words are meant as insults. This is not a difficult matter to discern. As I’ve discussed, EFC is – as Bells herself admits – a supremacist, and he used choice religious insults; “kufaar” is indeed a pejorative. (There are worse ones, of course.) I have provided evidence to this effect; the response to this point has been, predictably, nil. Instead, there has been misdirection, lashing out, distraction, irrelevance.

    As for the banning and reporting: Bells considers herself quite liberal, or something, and also believes that I am a bigot, or racist, or whatever. This is fine – when kept inside her head. I draw the line at this kind of heavy, insulting libel, and Bells knew this, and Sam knew this. Finger poised over the report button? Darn right, when shit flies as thick as this, and with such consistency. So I’ll reiterate: if you don’t like the outcome, don’t do it, because I don’t have time to deal with this issue, again and again and again and I don't tolerate it. I'm being fair with you, and I expect decency in return. If my writing on the forum is so categorically abhorrent, and my character so low, then ban me altogether. Get a plurality, have a vote, call up the super-uber admins, etc. But don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

    There were other distortions in that ‘last word’: the insults and libel were not a misunderstood attempt at ‘questioning [me] about my reasoning’, or about ‘openly questioning’ me about anything at all. The libel was libel, having not the slightest thing to do with this ‘wise questioning’ act now put on as if the dejected remonstrations of a select of omniscient graybeards; they were ‘open’, certainly, but open accusations of bigotry. Which ‘question’ were they meant to answer? The old ruse as to whether or not one has stopped beating one’s wife? That the goings-on in this thread could be honestly characterized in such a way by any reasonable person is shocking. And as for the nonsense about ‘poking fun’: good God, can this be serious? That comment was funnier than anything posted in the thread, though I am sure, not intentionally. Sam was not ‘poking fun’ when she accused me of bigotry; neither was Tiassa making a joke, unless it was even more nebulous than one of his responses. The facts of the case are getting more and more twisted with each post.

    Speaking of twists: at the end, Tiassa jumped in and cast doubt on, of all things, my complaint about the use of the word (supposedly rendering it ‘suspect’ (‘Aha! Aha! I’ve got you, Geoffy, and your little dog too!’) since no effort had been made to discuss the ahl al-kitab (People of the Book – and not just kitab, as he thought), these being Jews and Christians and which, under many readings, are not actually technically meant to be referenced using the word kufaar. That dishonour is reserved for non-Abrahamics alone, as written by some sources.

    And the question then arises: so what? The term has been used – correctly or incorrectly – to refer to non-Muslims of all kinds at different times and places by Islamic supremacists. It is an offensive word. I object to being so characterized, and to being called a variety of other things, and so it is not particularly salient an objection whether that isn’t the correct technical term. EFC certainly thought it was. Other supremacists certainly think it is. This is sufficient discrimination, and intent.

    Finally, there was no ‘cornering’ of my argument, period. I did call for moderation on some of the insults directed at me, sure. As I’ve warned Bells, and Sam: I don’t tolerate those kinds of personal attacks. I’m sorry it got Sam banned, but both of you knew the score going in. But where exactly was my argument ‘cornered’? It’s true that my argument wasn’t going anywhere: not because it was invalid, but because it was being ignored.

    So I agree that this thread has been a depressing demonstration for the forum: libel, digression, intellectual dishonesty and wholesale goading seem quite acceptable now. And, by their response to the response to aggression, certain moderators have now made it known that there will be ‘dire consequences’ down the road. Very well. I suppose I should take a note from Bells about the greater meaning and extrapolate that if libel is not accepted graciously that pressure will be brought to bear to make it so? Would this be a fair reading?

    Tiassa may well now request the floor; I wish him well of it, as I will not be reading any of his responses. I’ve wasted enough time on an issue that has degenerated into a contest of sheer emotionality, red herrings and straw men.
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    And Now ... oh, never mind

    And Now For Something Completely Different (Or Not)

    There are two primary issues of contention at this point in the thread. First is the question of the complaint and its legitimacy. Secondly, we are also now considering the closure of this thread, which was undertaken so crassly as to cost James R the confidence of at least one moderator.

    The second is the question of complaining about an illegitimate definition.

    These two issues are, unfortunately, intertwined.

    Dealing first with the question of kaffir, the problem with the complaint against the word is that it depends on a specific definition. That definition does not hold:

    What is the connection between "kaffir" and "filthy unbelievers"?

    Let us look to Geoff's "last word":

    There are a number of problems with that paragraph. To the one, anyone who has used Sciforums' search engine knows damn well that it has a four letter minimum. Of the phrase ahl al-kitab, "kitab" is the only word the search engine will find.

    Not all nonbelievers are kafir.

    Some non-Muslims are ahl al-kitâb, a phrase generally translated to "People of the Book", but is more specifically rendered, "people of an earlier revelation" (Armstrong, 10). These include Jews and Christians. Some modern scholars als assert that, had Muhammad known of Buddhists, Hindus, and other revealed faiths (ibid, 8). These are non-Muslims who have experienced other qualifying revelation.

    But there are others, as well. The ahl al-fatrah are non-Muslims who have never had the opportunity to experience uncorrupted da'wah. This is a borad term that can be variously applied. Narrowly constructed, the ahl al-fatrah would apply to remote tribal cultures never reached by evangelists. More broadly applied, it could include most of the non-Muslim world that lives in the interval between prophets.

    Aside from these groups of non-Muslims, there are also kafir. These are people who specifically reject the revelations of the monotheistic source. Atheists are the most obvious example, but the word could also include people like me, who undertook polytheistic or panentheistic philosophies or identities.

    If, for instance, Geoff is an atheist, he is kafir. If he is a Christian, he is generally considered ahl al-kitâb.

    However, there is another vital issue to consider: tahrif, the corruption of divine revelation. Indeed, in the twenty-first century, the most part of what post-Christian Westerners complain about and fight against with their War Against Islam On Terror is the produce of tahrif, and not Islam itself or da'wah. Indeed, the Western atheist backlash against Christian overextension also deals largely with tahrif.

    So it is possible that, through tahrif, Geoff could identify as a Christian, but also be kafir.

    The underlying complaint, then, is that one might have negative emotions toward kafir. Under this standard—

    (A) The kafir reject divine revelation, and this is a good thing.
    (B) The kafir reject divine revelation, but that doesn't really matter one way or the other.
    (C) The kafir reject divine revelation, and this is a bad thing.​

    —we enter the realm of the proverbial "thought police", because it is unacceptable to express (C).

    Kafir is the appropriate term for one who rejects divine revelation, especially the Qu'ranic revelation. Kafir, generally, are not ahl al-kitâb, and specifically are not ahl al-fatrah. The lack of consideration of the actual definition of the word, instead relying on what is, at best, an outlying definition, severely undermines the complaint.

    Furthermore, the fact that the difference between the permissible and not, according to the complaint, is whether or not the speaker/writer is a Muslim. In other words, I can use the word kafir because I am not a Muslim, but S.A.M. cannot because she is a Muslim.

    Furthermore, I would, on behalf of myself and many of my firends, extend great thanks to Geoff for reminding that Pagans are inherently offensive.

    Moreover, Geoff is a member with a clear history of anti-Islamic bigotry. He also has a history of preferring the melodramatic. Indeed, Geoff opens his "last word" with what is either a deliberate deception or the product of arrogant ignorance:

    We'll come back to that shortly.

    Selecting an outlying definition and then demanding it be the only definition is a problematic approach, and it has brought specifically melodramatic results. We reached three hundred eighty posts in this thread, and nobody stopped to consider the word kafir in its genuine context.

    We started with the authority acting on a questionable assertion, and at no point have gotten back to any real and substantial consideration of the term in question. Yet the complaint itself was of suspect dimensions from the outset, relying on a definition that can only be found in controversial and outlying circumstances. The failure to consider the relationship between the various forms of nonbelief suggests with little room for doubt that the complaint was never genuine, but, instead, part of a melodramatic, long-running campaign by a member against Islam.

    And, unfortunately, an administrator fell for it. Hook, line, sinker.

    I would propose, to staff and general membership alike, that this is a dangerous route for Sciforums to follow. This is a community that allegedly aspires to rational, intelligent discourse, yet our progress, such as it is, moves in any direction but toward rational, intelligent discourse. The present thread is an example of how low our community has fallen.

    In terms of the closure of this thread and confidence in site administration, that is a late issue, that only arose after James R chose to close a thread while deliberately attempting to pick a fight with some members of the staff.

    That is why James has chosen this "last word" approach. He not only tried to pick a fight with members of the staff, he also tried to lie about it in staff discussions of the issue. And that's what this last word is about.

    In picking a fight, he chose to ignore history. Apparently, one's history is irrelevant to the here and now. This is counterintuitive, to say the least. From severe to mundane to infinitesimal, people account for one another's histories in deciding how to regard one another. So the question arises: Does a member get a blank slate with each new post? It is a messy, controversial question, since there is a policy answer as well as a functional reality. The policy answer is no. The functional answer is, yes, but only some people, and according to criteria that might seem obvious if one attends their manifestation, but nobody can quantify because the people who effect such a standard won't enumerate the criteria.

    James gave Geoff a blank slate in this one, despite the member's anti-Islamic and melodramatic history. Perhaps it is only coincidental that our Muslim members don't get that blank slate, but neither should our administrator have to be hounded into applying the rules equally.

    And that issue is why this thread comes to such a strange close.


    Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. New York: Modern Library Chronicles, 2000.
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