Author Topic: Cato's Grammar Grumble  (Read 563648 times)

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Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #200 on: February 19, 2009, 11:31:02 AM »
Surely only if it disfigures (which is eye of the beholder stuff) or causes injury. According to the definition you supply, that is. If one doesn't consider oneself disfigured or injured, why should one feel mutilated?

Whether a practitioner feels disfigured or mutilated is beside the point, is it not?  Otherwise you find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to explain why stealing a little old lady's handbag is not theft if the purse-snatcher doesn't feel that it is.

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sul G

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #201 on: February 19, 2009, 02:09:13 PM »
No, clearly they are not the same. The theft is done to a third party - it is what she feels that counts first and foremost. The 'mutilation', as you'd have it, is done to oneself, and only the party it is done to can determined whether they feel disfigured/injured and therefore, by your definition, mutilated.

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #202 on: February 19, 2009, 03:36:54 PM »
My goodness.  Theft has nothing to do with what the victim feels--at least not in the US, nor in other Common Law jurisdictions (unless something drastic has occurred in the past couple of decades!).  It is the taking of another's property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property without his consent.

Nor does the fact of mutilation have anything to do with feelings or intent--no more than whether it's raining out, or if the sky is blue.  Tearing holes in perfectly good skin to make orifices where nature doesn't is mutilation regardless of whether we approve or not.
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"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

sul G

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #203 on: February 19, 2009, 04:02:25 PM »
Not according to the definition of mutilation you provided, it isn't. Or if we are to go by this new definition - mutilation is the removal of good tissue when nature doesn't do so - then getting your hair cut or shaving are also mutilation.

And as far as the theft question goes, you're right of course, legally (though if the victim for some reason doesn't feel that they are a victim we get into other irrelevant byways). But that isn't the issue: you compared piercing (something non criminal one might to choose to do to oneself) to theft (something criminal one does - or hopefully doesn't - to others). The two don't seem to me to be at all comparable.

sul G

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #204 on: February 19, 2009, 04:05:14 PM »
All that said, I can't believe that I've got involved in a thread defending piercing - I who only a few weeks ago was saddened by my daughter's wish to get her ears done! I don't think that this wish was 'a cry for help [from] a soul in torment'. I'll have to ask her in the morning.  ;D

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #205 on: February 19, 2009, 05:43:22 PM »
Not according to the definition of mutilation you provided, it isn't. Or if we are to go by this new definition - mutilation is the removal of good tissue when nature doesn't do so - then getting your hair cut or shaving are also mutilation.
Wrong.  I've not shifted ground and the definition I provided most certainly does apply.  Look again:
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Mutilation: Disfigurement or injury by removal or destruction of a conspicuous or essential part of the body.
Removing part of the body--the skin--especially in a place as conspicuous as a person's face, and then further calling attention to it by inserting one or more garish chunks of metal, fits this medical definition quite well.  Haircuts don't remotely qualify.  As for the notion of disfigurement, even if we exclude the objective standard of nature's perfection with only so many orifices in the human body and only in certain locations, and grant you the "eye of the beholder" standard you seek, then by our cultural standard as beholders it is still a disfigurement of the body--mutilation.

And as far as the theft question goes, you're right of course, legally (though if the victim for some reason doesn't feel that they are a victim we get into other irrelevant byways). But that isn't the issue: you compared piercing (something non criminal one might to choose to do to oneself) to theft (something criminal one does - or hopefully doesn't - to others). The two don't seem to me to be at all comparable.
You are not reading very carefully at all.  I did not compare piercing to theft.  You claimed that whether the victim felt mutilated or not decides the issue.  I used theft as an example to illustrate the untenability of your claim.  Theft is theft, regardless of whether the thief feels comfortable about calling it that.  I could have used any similar example:  A pitched ball swung at and missed is a strike, regardless of how the batter feels about it.

Finally, I doubt that your daughter's ear piercing is a cry for help--though if it were I wouldn't count on her telling you even if she knew!  On the face of it I'd say it's a normal teenaged expression of the desire to fit in, as well as to undergo a rite of passage they associate with growing up.  From a feminist point of view, of course, it's an abomination stemming from dominant males mutilation of their female chattel to display gaudy symbols of great disposable wealth--in other words, a legacy of ancient lunk-headed sexism using women as display pieces in lieu of whipping out their penises and measuring!
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

sul G

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #206 on: February 19, 2009, 06:24:36 PM »
Wrong.  I've not shifted ground and the definition I provided most certainly does apply. 

But you provided two definitions: the dictionary one (mutilation = disfigurement and injury) and your own (mutilation = removal of good tissue nature doesn't remove). These aren't the same thing.

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Removing part of the body--the skin--especially in a place as conspicuous as a person's face, and then further calling attention to it by inserting one or more garish chunks of metal, fits this medical definition quite well.  Haircuts don't remotely qualify. 

Only as far as the injury clause of the first definition goes. A haircut could, however, be disfiguring (the other clause of definition one). And it fits your second definition (unnatural removal of good tissue) perfectly.

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As for the notion of disfigurement, even if we exclude the objective standard of nature's perfection with only so many orifices in the human body and only in certain locations,

...as we have to for the 'haircut' reason just mentioned - because nature's perfection can't only be limited to earlobe, tongues and so on; your natural hair 'style' is equally perfect too...

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and grant you the "eye of the beholder" standard you seek, then by our cultural standard as beholders it is still a disfigurement of the body--mutilation.

Aha. I was waiting to see when cultural standards came into it. That's a different issue - those with piercings would claim, I expect, that they have different cultural standards to you, and shouldn't have to conform to the cultural standards of those who have to look at them.

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You are not reading very carefully at all.  I did not compare piercing to theft.  You claimed that whether the victim felt mutilated or not decides the issue.  I used theft as an example to illustrate the untenability of your claim.  Theft is theft, regardless of whether the thief feels comfortable about calling it that.  I could have used any similar example:  A pitched ball swung at and missed is a strike, regardless of how the batter feels about it.

No - because the baseball analogy and the theft analogy are either/or situations. But if 'mutilation' is to fit to your dictionary definition, and if the subject is not in medical harm (=injured), then we are left with the issue of disfigurement. And that, as we've said - and as you've 'granted' - is in the eye of the beholder. IOW, not an either/or situation.

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Finally, I doubt that your daughter's ear piercing is a cry for help--though if it were I wouldn't count on her telling you even if she knew! 

No, of course it isn't! If you knew her - she's only little - you'd know how ridiculous the idea is.  ;D I mentioned her piercing wish only because you stated earlier that 'In my culture, self-mutilation is a cry for help, a sign of a soul in torment.' And I thought it best to suggest that this is not always the case; that in fact, it probably is only the case rather rarely.

EDIT - but enough - I left the forum originally because of the ridiculousness of finding myself arguing about issues I didn't really care about. I can't believe that so soon after returning I've got myself involved in a difference of opinions about body piercing of all things, for goodness sake!!  :o So let's call it quits on this one, if that's OK. I'm not bothered enough to worry too much either way!  :) :)
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 06:29:36 PM by sul G »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #207 on: February 19, 2009, 07:25:35 PM »
I'm not sure that the post to which you're responding contains any evidence of the comparative flexibility of "my" definition of "what constitutes self-abuse."  In fact, it made no reference to the concept of self-abuse whatsoever.  It did, however, characterize "piercing" as mutilation--a term to which you also object and on the basis of which you mistakenly infer a closed mind.

Just so we can get our terms straight, let's not take my word for the meaning of the word:  That rending one's flesh to insert conspicuous chunks of metal is a form of mutilation is true by definition.  Being uncomfortable with that term and preferring to call it by some innocuous term like "body adornment" is simply double-speak--and that indicates the kind of prejudice that simply refuses to look squarely at the facts lest cognitive dissonance ruffle happily self-satisfied feathers.

The capacity of most humans to live with cognitive dissonance is amazing (albeit usually aided by liberal ingestion of alcohol and other mind-altering substances):  Consider those who object to scarification and other culturally prescribed forms of bodily mutilation practiced by other societies, yet who condone similar practices that are contrary to cultural norms in our own society.  Our species' endless capacity for self-delusion and self-justification is a wonder indeed!

You say that I play with words, but you are using a term most commonly used to describe an accidental or involuntary action on person resulting in considerable traumatic damage (such as being assaulted, or from being mentally imbalanced and cutting skin in a haphazard manner) often in an uncaring fashion or on the spur of the moment to describe body modifications... The opposite attitude is the case for most people being tattooed or pierced, certainly those who use it responsibly - they tend to consider and plan it for a while before. If they don't plan it well, then that is their problem, and something that people must get used to in a free society. It also happens with poor investments ruining families. Using the same term to describe slashing arms with a stanley knife or having a picture of a flower added to a persons skin feels excessively combative to me.

Are these "cultural norms" you mention referring to Christianity and its concept of treating the body as a temple? Where I live people who claim to believe in that religion (much less practitioners) are becoming a minority, and some others water it down considerably. Non-practitioners pick and choose what they think is best from its influence on society until the second half of the 20th century, and I think that is a decent way of going about things - not denying its importance, but not adhering to something you do not believe. Given that culture is constantly in flux I am not sure how something relatively harmless when carried out properly and which has the ability to make a person feel happier (however much this may not apply to the moral majority) can have such negative weight given to it, to the extent that it is implied that people who do it are mentally deficient.

As an example of how somebody less affected by that teaching might think, I see a body not as a "perfect" object, but something functional. If a person has a disfiguring scar, a tattoo can conceal or offset it, if somebody is heavily into some kind of "lifestyle", then to modify it to enhance their experience of that shouldn't be a problem either. Any other attitude reminds me of religions bedroom snooping, that too often makes claims of things being morally wrong and dangerous.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 07:30:02 PM by Lethe »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #208 on: February 19, 2009, 11:47:09 PM »
Good God! A page-long controversy of moral and legal philosophy to discuss tattooing and piercing! I can't believe my eyes. Those lads and lasses who look like deep-jungle savages couldn't care less about what others think about them. Much as I think they are mentally deranged, I also believe this is really a non-issue. If civilization will collapse, the guilt of the well-clothed, neat, freshly shaved and hair-cut politicians and academics will be much greater than that of those nose-pierced, head-tattooed crackpots.
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

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Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #209 on: February 20, 2009, 05:55:42 AM »
Good grief is more like it.  Piercings and such ain't worth the ink (or electrons  ;) ), but I have felt that trying to encourage others to read and write more carefully and think more clearly is particularly pertinent to the topic of this thread.  Look at the post immediately preceding yours, for instance, putting words into my mouth, projecting the writer's prejudices into my statements, playing Humpty Dumpty with the meaning of words, and ironically accusing me of some sort of moral fascism when it's bloody obvious who here is unwilling to tolerate opinions different from her own.  Surely we can do better...especially in cases like that one in which the writer's tone suggests that none of that was intended.

Wouldn't it be nice if all people were sufficiently tolerant to allow others to have different points of view?  If they could direct their efforts toward understanding rather than attacking?  And if they cannot restrain themselves from attacking, then at least refrain from attacking the person rather than the viewpoint?  (Reasonable self-defense excepted, of course.  ;) )

Lethe, you are mistaken on several counts.  I never said (neither explicitly nor by implication) that you "played with words."  You made an unjustified attack suggesting I'm intolerant because I used the word "mutilation" to describe piercing.  I provided a neutral definition of the term from a respected medical dictionary to help sort out confusion over its meaning in this contextual application (which definition has been stripped out of the passage quoted in your post--the forum software does that unless you override it).

People's freedom to embed objects in their faces--whether due to boredom, misguided notions of beautification, adolescent longing to fit in with the "cool" kids, or any other reason, and regardless of how "responsibly" or well-planned the operation may be--has nothing to do with the meaning of the term "mutilation."  You are certainly right to recognize the hyperbolic thrust in my use of the term, and you're free to regard that as "excessively combative" if you wish--but from my perspective it was a rather mild yet pithy and accurate characterization, and your own response here seems a much better example of "excessive combativeness."

Your views about Christianity seem a bit odd to express in this context, suggesting an axe to grind...yet I understand your point of view, admire the associative leap you've made, and think that discussing the role of Christianity in shaping American mores might make for an enlightening discussion.  (But note that such discussions have been tried in numerous threads here at GMG and they always seem to devolve into attacks on the beliefs anti-Christian bigots imagine other members hold, as well as attacks on the members themselves.)

Finally, I hesitated before using the word "perfect" (elsewhere, I suppose, since I don't see it in the quoted passage) since I imagined it would be misunderstood, yet thought the intended meaning should be clear in the context--at least, to those familiar with usage of the term to indicate something whole and complete, without flaws, bearing all the essential characteristics of a thing of its type.  A perfect child, for instance, is one born with four fingers and a thumb on each of two opposing hands and so forth.  It is not a moral judgment, but a description.

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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #210 on: February 20, 2009, 06:00:49 AM »
I'll give what you said some thought, and I'm sorry that we can't seem to find some middle ground on the matter.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #211 on: February 20, 2009, 08:07:23 AM »
Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I.


Happens all the time in pop music;  I just think that Jim Morrison makes it a bit louder in this instance  8)

Dr. Dread

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #212 on: February 20, 2009, 08:07:56 AM »
Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I.


Happens all the time in pop music;  I just think that Jim Morrison makes it a bit louder in this instance  8)

He had to rhyme "sky".

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #213 on: February 20, 2009, 08:11:50 AM »
Folks before could both walk and chew gum rhyme and write grammatically.

Dr. Dread

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #214 on: February 20, 2009, 08:13:24 AM »
Folks before could both walk and chew gum rhyme and write grammatically.

Oh, reeeeeeeally???  ;D

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #215 on: February 20, 2009, 08:13:57 AM »
Oh, reeeeeeeally???  ;D

Does I . . . astonish you?

Offline Florestan

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #216 on: February 20, 2009, 08:17:38 AM »
A Romanian soccer coach boasting about his achievements:

The team was rescued from going to the second league by us together with me.
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

"Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see." - Edgar Allan Poe

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #217 on: February 20, 2009, 08:19:50 AM »
A Romanian soccer coach boasting about his achievements:

The team was rescued by us together with me.

Hah!  Must have translated literally.  The Russian for for you and me is something much like for us together with you.

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #218 on: February 20, 2009, 08:20:07 AM »
Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I.


Happens all the time in pop music;  I just think that Jim Morrison makes it a bit louder in this instance  8)

One of the worst and clumsiest pop songs ever!   8)

David Ross wrote about the "perfect child" and reminded me of the old debate about absolute adjectives: in the American Constitution, written by men who knew the language well, there is of course the famous phrase:

"...in order to form a more perfect union..."

If something is perfect, how can it be "more perfect" ?   :o

What were the "Framers of the Constitution" thinking here?  Is it a mistake?

I was once chastised innumerable decades ago by a teacher for using the word "deadest" in a composition.   0:)

"That's the deadest body I've ever seen!" said the detective.   $:)
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #219 on: February 20, 2009, 08:21:37 AM »
Och, aye, degrees of perfection.

The way I was taught, I still cringe at "more unique."