RE: Pet Peeves

Subject: RE: Pet Peeves
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 08:51:57 -0600

Andrew Warren wrote some thoughtful commentary on master/slave, and
although I don't agree in the particular City of LA instance, I don't
dismiss his arguments, either. I thought the screaming child analogy was
apt. So was the spouse scenario -- actually, it hit a bit close to home,
considering my divorce. :-}

But Andrew used a phrase that -- although literally true -- has
implications that are false and unfair (you're not alone, Andrew; I see
it all the time):

> we're not implying any connection to this country's
> shameful history of human slavery... But it seemed to

What bothers me about this phrasing is the suggestion that there is
something uniquely shameful about _this_ country (the US) in that
regard. In fact, like many other things we reject as barbaric today,
slavery was accepted as perfectly normal for thousands of years by
virtually every culture across the globe.

In fact, it was in England and the United States, thanks to the
development and widespread adoption of the Lockean theory of natural
human rights, that an anti-slavery movement developed, took hold, and
carried the day.

The rest of the world followed, many parts slowly and reluctantly. Some
cultures still haven't given up this barbaric practice, although they
try to hide it nowadays. A Saudi here in Denver was convicted of
slaveholding not long ago.

I'm not excusing the shameful parts of our history. I'm suggesting, like
a good tech writer, that you put it into the proper context -- we were
among the first to recognize the shamefulness of something that almost
everyone had considered morally acceptable since the dawn of time. And
hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to put a stop to it.

[BTW, I'm a naturalized citizen of Austrian heritage, so when I say
"we," I'm speaking in the abstract of American culture/society, not
referring to any ancestors of mine.]


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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RE: Pet Peeves: From: Andrew Warren

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