September 10, 2016

"At Brown, we were taught 'Assume good intent, name impact, own impact.'"

"So if someone says something offensive, assume they didn’t mean it, tell the person the impact the words had on you, and then the person who said the offensive thing needs to own the impact they had even if it wasn’t their intention."

44 comments:

tim maguire said...

Two out of three ain't bad. Unless number three swallows one and two and destroys the learning potential of the situation.

rhhardin said...

"Fuck off" owns the impact neatly.

MayBee said...

The third doesn't seem to follow the first two. The person whom it impacted should own the impact it had on them.

If you assume good intent, which is something I believe in in life, you can't make the person who had good intent own the bad impact.

DavidD said...

I am not responsible for your reaction. You are responsible for your own reaction.

Birkel said...

Fuck the dumb asses who believe that horse shit. And now they need to own my reaction.

BDNYC said...

I'm not even sure I agree with the second one. If I'm assuming good intentions, I almost always let the offense slide completely. Why confront a person and subject them to embarrassment if the offense is minimal? What if my reaction is only one of many reasonable reactions to what the person said? What if my reaction to what the person said isn't even reasonable? And there are gentle ways of letting someone know something can be offensive without putting them on the spot. Nowadays the cry bullies just want to lecture you until you give in and just feel awful.

People used to pride themselves on being unflappable and not paying mind to offensive things, even purposely offensive things said by assholes.

Birkel said...

or should it be:

My reaction is that are trying to overthrow hundreds years of small-l liberal thinking with your totalitarian impulses. I refuse to take part in your attempt to help me self-imprison my mind.

CarlF said...

Easy for people at Brown University to say, but hard to do, if you are a male going through your menstrual period.

In other news, Brown University's student body president is distributing tampons to men's restrooms since "not all people who menstruate are women."

Oso Negro said...

What ever happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? I suppose that saying in itself would be considered a micro-aggression at Brown, where the students are probably thankful the founder wasn't named White.

Tregonsee said...

One thing, of the many, which these folks never seem to get that to comply with their rules you need to spend a significant time learning how to be insulting, demeaning, and impolite so that you don't do these things. The result is that instead of dying out, we are increasing the likelihood of genuinely unacceptable behavior.

MayBee said...

I almost always let the offense slide completely. Why confront a person and subject them to embarrassment if the offense is minimal? What if my reaction is only one of many reasonable reactions to what the person said? What if my reaction to what the person said isn't even reasonable?

Yeah, that's why the second only works if you are willing to accept responsibility for your own response. Telling someone they offended you shouldn't be all that important, but it isn't always bad to let someone know they are saying something that may offend people. I mean, if your relative is still saying "Orientals" because they hadn't gotten word we say "Asian" now, it's not a terrible thing to tell them.

MayBee said...

People used to pride themselves on being unflappable and not paying mind to offensive things, even purposely offensive things said by assholes.

Yeah, well we've elevated victimhood and being offended to positions of visibility. When you've lost your ability to stand out due to excellence, you can always call positive attention to yourself by being offended or traumatized.

tim maguire said...

BDNYC, I'm fine with the second one because lots of people give inadvertant offense through careless or outdated use of language. If nobody points it out, they'll keep doing it. There are life costs with that. Better for everyone to point out the problem then to stay quiet and let the person continue be a bore.

The error is in assuming that every offense is justified and the fault always lies with the person giving offense.

damikesc said...

While better than the usual "kill them" advice, does nobody ever ask the offended to question "Maybe it just wasn't offensive and you're being hyper-sensitive over nothing"?

In other news, Brown University's student body president is distributing tampons to men's restrooms since "not all people who menstruate are women."

Let me guess, major has nothing to do with medicine, right?

Birkel said...

I object to the term "giving offense" because it reduces the agency of the person who decides to be offended. I cannot allow Brown University or any other entity reduce a fully formed human being to less than a full person.

I must ask tim maguire to acknowledge his error even if he did not mean to call other people subhuman.

wholelottasplainin' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wholelottasplainin' said...

"BDNYC, I'm fine with the second one because lots of people give inadvertant offense through careless or outdated use of language. If nobody points it out, they'll keep doing it."

*************

"Careless" or "outdated" language?

Who the EFF sent up the white smoke announcing you or anyone else as the Language Pope speaking ex cathedra?

You mean how whites can't say "negro" but blacks can say "niggah"?

Or the way whites have to "understand" that negro gave way to colored people gave way to people of color, because some totalitarian little shits kept changing their "rules" and injecting politics into every utterance?

Screw that.

As for "oriental": do Asians call Europeans and Americans "westerners"? Do the Japanese just lump everyone into the "gaijin" [foreigner] category? Yes, they do.

So...what's the diff?

Then there's the changes in the names of places: Burma becomes Myanmar, Bombay becomes Mumbai and the like. Yet what English-speakers call "Venice" what Italians call "Venezia" and Germans call "Venedig"? And when was the last time an American referred to Paris as "Paree"?

Anyone who presumes to tell me he's offended by my "outdated" language can go pound sand. *I* am offended by their presumption and unearned entitlement.

Curious George said...

Grab crotch
"Own this"

Owen said...

These folks are trying rewrite the script of basic etiquette. Good luck.

Paco Wové said...

I guess "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" is Old School Liberalism now.

MadisonMan said...

Assume good intent, and also ignorance, on the speaker's part. That's my mindset.

(Except in a blog comment section)

But isn't it pretty rude to point out someone's rudeness to them? What would Miss Manners say?

A great phrase to learn is: "Now why would you say that?" (said with a smile) and then let the speaker twist in the wind.

Bay Area Guy said...

Why would anyone send their kid to Brown to endure this suffocating nonsense?

If they can get into Brown, they can get into Texas A&M.....

Bruce Hayden said...

@Bay Area - Brown opens doors in the NE that A&M does not. Even in parts of Texas, Aggies are considered weird. At one point in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Brown was known as the Ivy w/o Jewish quotas. Expect it still has a large Jewish contingent - which is why I was not surprised that the Jewish author of The Devil Wears Prada had her Jewish heroine be a recent Brown grad. Funny thing is that I had girlfriends from both schools. The Brown girlfriend was while I was in business school, and the Aggie was an environmental atty in Austin.

My kid toured Brown the summer before their senior year in HS, and found the kids there insufferable. They all had double majors in disparate subjects, like Physics and Gender Studies. All the Ivies are somewhat like this, but Brown was the worst. They liked Montana much better, but ended up at a small liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere. And loved it.

CWJ said...

"At Brown, we were taught..."

I get the impression that this is more Ivy status signaling than information sharing.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

It is fascinating how on the one hand you must be careful with the words you use around these protected groups - must be sensitive to how they perceive things - but they can in return call you (and anyone else) a racist, fascist, murdering Nazi at the drop of the proverbial hat.

So, if you wear an inappropriate (however defined by them) Halloween costume they can then call you malevolent and evil in return.

Extreme sensitivity for me; none for thee.

glenn said...

All my Texas buddies went to A and M. They are all polite, decent people but if you are rude to one of them brace yourself. The point is don't be rude or insulting.

William said...

Does this rule apply to Trump supporters, or does this fall under the "truth to power" exception.

mockturtle said...

What utter rubbish! I'm glad I'm old because I don't want to see how much worse things are going to get.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Glenn - funny thing there is that one of my neighbors growing up has been teaching there (A&M) for maybe 30 years now. Always the most obnoxious kid on the block, or in the car. Used to drive slowly to the front of our house, then rev it up and drop it in gear, leaving a little tire on the road just for my mother (you can only do so much with the family station wagon). This niceness thing may have been why he had to switch departments to get tenure. College Station was quite the culture shock, where beer was considered hard liquor.

chuck said...

Ah, Brown, the university of bad relationships.

Michael K said...

"I'm glad I'm old because I don't want to see how much worse things are going to get."

I read "The Closing of the American Mind" in 1987 when it came out.

It all came true.

buwaya puti said...

Hi Michael K,
Yes indeed, Alan Bloom had it all figured out thirty years ago.
I can testify for current conditions. Worse, maybe, than the instinct to repress is just the complete lack of curiosity about anything that is the subject of the old liberal arts. Neither professors nor students are interested in the material of their courses, they are just going through the motions.
Thinking is passe.

Paul Snively said...

Yeah, sorry, no.

This still leaves the actual problem untouched, which is that the listener's response—the "impact"—is still the speaker's responsibility, regardless of intent. All it offers is a symbolic recognition that the intent may have been different. But the speaker must still "own" the "impact."

Nope. Nope. Just nope. The only person responsible for the "impact" is the listener who was so "impacted."

buwaya puti said...

The proper approach is to take outraged offense at the taking of offense. "Your emotions are evil!"

mockturtle said...

Buwaya, I think that's the key. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. We Americans have been on the defensive for so long we've forgotten how to play offense. And if my offense if offensive, so be it.

desheldon said...

I hate one way streets - especially if they're left deliberately unmarked.

Tarrou said...

....Even if the "impact" is based on an insane level of solipsism and victim mongering....

mockturtle said...

If someone tells me how something I said 'made them feel', I will simply counter with, 'You are a hopeless twit!'. We'll see how that impacts.

Jonathan Graehl said...

sounds entirely reasonable ... except: what is "owning the impact" exactly? i hereby own all my impacts. i'm good, right?

Bob Ellison said...

Brown is the ugly aunt in the Ivy League. The students voted in favor of stockpiling suicide pills in 1984. Supposed to be anti-nuke, but really just anti-Reagan. Little kids in a big, expensive room.

Static Ping said...

I will note that nowhere in that sentence does the concept of truth come up.

RonF said...

I rarely intend to offend someone. But I will not restrain myself from language that some people may find offensive if I believe I need to use such language to make my point.

JAORE said...

Absent a 19 year old boy willing to do ANYTHING to get in a co-ed's pants, who goes along with this crap?

That makes you feel bad?

I feel contempt.

I feel like laughing.

I feel you are an idiot.

Apply as appropriate.

mikee said...

Bullshit on stilts. I do not, have not, never will accept responsibility for the oft-purposeful misunderstandings of my utterances by professional victims seeking redress for non-wrongs.