Intolerance Sighting!

'Intolerance Sighting' is a feature designed to spot and identify adverse conditions in the ASL community. While it is not intended to ridicule, mock or humiliate any person or group, it is intended to point out absurdities or acts so blatantly caustic that they restrict and hinder the free flow of ideas needed for ASL.

From the ASL List recently, referring to ongoing rules debates:


I think this discussion has lost sight of the goal. I think the use of a compilation of old discussions isn't necessarily to give people definite answers on questions, but it could certainly be useful in limiting the number of lengthy discussions on the list.

Think about it. How many of the lengthy rules-debates of late aren't re-runs of old discussions? To me it seems like a whole lot of them are. ONE use of such a compilation would be to bash it over the heads of people who bring it up again.

It could also be useful in providing background for people who want to know things. If there hasn't been a conclusion, there will still be arguments for and against a position. That can help in deciding what to believe. Hopefully, it will give you the same few arguments that are brought up in the first exchanges on the list. Hopefully, it can prevent this from being rekindled on the list because someone new to the list asks: "Guys, how do you play Wall Advantage?".

Of course, it won't stop the people who just can't take a "Sorry, but you're wrong.". Witness the surrender issue. I just can't understand why that thing keeps popping up every now and then. It's not a single person, but it is a seemingly common misconception. It also seems to be very hard for people afflicted by it to understand that they don't understand English - or at least not that sentence. That issue IS clear, yet we get to hear it over and over again. Even if there is a Q&A answer, it "has to be wrong" or is "a rules change".

A thankless job? Sure. I am sure that some people would object to the way their positions are being presented. I would just shrug and ignore it. After all, that is sometimes what you have to do when you are trying to make a compromise between two or more people who don't agree. Still, if this gains acceptance from the list it can be worth it. Assuming people read it and use it. Much of the postings on the list are from people who are too lazy to read and too quick to mail to the list for an "easy" answer.

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I find this letter disturbing for several reasons. While this writer is clearly venting his anger or frustration, this might be the wrong forum in which to do so.

The list has many purposes. It is a market place of ideas: a place where ASL players of all experiences can meet and discuss topics of interest to them. Some comments will be clear and logical, others will be less so. But that is the nature of the list. I am truly sorry if not all questions measure up to this guy's level of intellectual excellence and I am sorry 'afflicted' people have the nerve to post to it. But no letter I have ever seen has deserved such a reply. Certainly, no one has address him in such a patronizing manner.

We are to encourage discussion and debate. No person should be intimidated into *not* posting a question just because it might irk someone. "Witness the surrender issue. I just can't understand why that thing keeps popping up," the author writes, but contradicts himself because "it is a seemingly common misconception." Whatever the actual issue is aside for the moment, however clear it may be to him, if a lot of people have a misconception, and the only place this would come from is the rules book, then maybe, just maybe, there *is* something unclear about it. "It also seems to be very hard for people afflicted by it to understand that they don't understand English," does not help his case at all and serves to polarize the community. Unless he is never wrong himself, he would fall into this 'afflicted' status from time to time. We all do. Look at the rules book. It is a 100 pages, loose leaf pages with corrections and additions over the past ten years plus you can not swing a dead cat without hitting someone's errata or Q/A. It is designed for change and confusing to no small extent.

If anyone has cause for dissatisfaction, please find a gentler means of expressing it. Do not resort to name-calling ("lazy" and "afflicted") and impatient posts just because *you* are tired of reading about some issue. There is the delete key. The gift of education, logical and the firm grasp of the English language, as he implied he has, dictates the responsibilities of tolerance and patience. To think any one considers himself so above others that he can exalt himself so, is pitiful. Then to post those sentiments to the ASL community en masse is absolutely shameful.

I am sure these people would "object to the way their positions are being presented." Fortunately, these posts are few and far between, but I have noticed a trend in that direction. These list leaders are important, they provide a wonderful source of information, are correct 99% of the time and passes on experience to other players. The list needs them. But when the list leaders become impatient on issues because they have already address and are longer interesting to them, it might be time to step aside. To even jokingly "bash it over the heads of people who bring it up again" is a great disservice to the ASL community and discourages the very behavior the community needs.

The list has a place for humor, discussions, debates, even arguments. Read what you will, ignore the rest; not all postings are interesting to everyone. And that is fine. I used to think all this was tolerated. What the List does not have room for is ridicule and intimidation. Please show courtesy to those of us on the List, especially if you think we are not worth it.

If you either agree with me or find my comments offensive, please feel free to write me. I encourage discussion and am always open to new and different ideas.