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  #141  
Old 09.04.2015, 18:58
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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No I don't work for Jaguar!
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  #142  
Old 09.04.2015, 19:11
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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I mean a racist wouldn't have made a distinction between the, alleged, unintelligence of an Indian and say a Vietnamese (given he isn't a Vietnamese to start with). No offences meant to Vietnamese, by the way (or to Indians, before you jump to any conclusions).
You are assuming the racist manager making the decision is being purposefully and intentionally racist. But suppose he isn't aware of his own racism but is following an irrational (let's assume it is irrational for the sake of this argument) belief that, say, Indians are better suited to working in call centers than say, Kenyans. The belief doesn't become more or less racist by the person believing it knowing they are racist.

I don't think the average guy who buys a Mercedes because he believes Germans are inherently better at making cars is being knowingly racist either. But is the sentiment underneath not racist? In fact there are even many Chinese who buy German cars for this reason.
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  #143  
Old 09.04.2015, 23:04
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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The belief doesn't become more or less racist by the person believing it knowing they are racist.
I hold a different opinion and I have written it elsewhere in this thread - content without intent is lack of education and awareness. While I might call such a person stupid or idiot but I won't call him racist. I prefer giving the benefit of doubt as long as possible before castigating somebody. Beliefs and sentiments are two different things and I think it is the weakness of your proposition that you are equating the two
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  #144  
Old 09.04.2015, 23:31
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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...I don't think the average guy who buys a Mercedes because he believes Germans are inherently better at making cars is being knowingly racist either. But is the sentiment underneath not racist? In fact there are even many Chinese who buy German cars for this reason.
Maybe I am totally misreading your words, but this sounds like a stretch to me.

We bought a German-made car because it's a good car. It happens to be made in Germany and was German-engineered. Sure, part of that is reputation that's been built up over decades. Does that make us "racist" or nationalist against every other country at some subconscious level?

I honestly don't think so. We looked at cars from a number of manufacturers including Chinese, Korean, American, French, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese just to name a few. We didn't discard them because of where or who manufactured them.

...Well, maybe the French cars - but only because EFers were pretty rough with their reviews of French cars when we were asking for suggestions. We did just get back from holiday in France so clearly we don't hate the country or its people.
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  #145  
Old 09.04.2015, 23:38
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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We bought a German-made car because it's a good car. It happens to be made in Germany and was German-engineered. Sure, part of that is reputation that's been built up over decades.
Absolutely!! I don't see any racism in such a decision either.
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  #146  
Old 09.04.2015, 23:54
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

Have we moved on from humans to cars now and are careful about our terminology to not offend the cars !?
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  #147  
Old 10.04.2015, 01:10
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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I hold a different opinion and I have written it elsewhere in this thread - content without intent is lack of education and awareness. While I might call such a person stupid or idiot but I won't call him racist. I prefer giving the benefit of doubt as long as possible before castigating somebody. Beliefs and sentiments are two different things and I think it is the weakness of your proposition that you are equating the two
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No

Let's take a look at this quote

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism

Quote:
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
I have highlighted the word usually. Usually means that we can also have it without. So to cut this down to the core bit we have

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a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement
So proposing that Germans are better at making cars is racism, is it not? If cars came out of mines, you could argue that just as Saudi Arabia was blessed with lots of oil, so Germany was blessed with lots of naturally occurring cars. But this is not so. Neither is the German climate especially favorable to cars growing on trees. Yes, Germany had a head start because they invented the car. But other countries have had the time and opportunity to catch up. Neither is making cars such a central part of the German educational system. Most German kids are not taught to make cars at school. If somebody says (innocently) that the Germans are good at making cars, they are in 90% of cases saying that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement.

Your argument seems too be

a) racism is bad
b) most people are not bad
c) therefore most people are not racist
d) anything that looks like a symptom of racism and occurs in many people must therefore be an error of observation

All I'm doing is pointing out the fallacy of that line of argumentation.
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  #148  
Old 10.04.2015, 01:38
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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No

Let's take a look at this quote

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism



I have highlighted the word usually. Usually means that we can also have it without. So to cut this down to the core bit we have....
Yes, yes, but please take the definition in full. Don't half quote. The definition goes further and says: "usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others." That 'usually' is important. There is a reason why it has been put up in the definition. You can't just cut it out. This is further corroborated in the next two points: "a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. " and "hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. ".
No wonder that we have a difference in opinion. 'Usually' implies commonly seen (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/usually), so it kinds of sets the context of the former part of the definition.

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they are in 90% of cases saying that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement.
Not really, they are just repeating what they have heard some other people say, who again are repeating what some others might have said, but perhaps then there are peoples with certain experiences who have laid down that 'legend'. You can't take a particular generalisation and say that it necessarily is a result of a belief, to quote you: "that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement."


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Your argument seems too be

a) racism is bad
b) most people are not bad
c) therefore most people are not racist.

All I'm doing is pointing out the fallacy of that line of argumentation.
I didn't take that line of argument. I am saying that many people talk non-sense. Many such non-sense are result of gross generalizations without an intention of actually hurting somebody. This may include words that are considered racial slurs. I would adhere such a use normally to a lack of awareness before jumping onto any conclusion about the character of the person. Off course I might be wrong and the person is genuinely racist. But mere utterance of few words isn't sufficient reason for me to suspect that. What we need is tolerance on both sides.

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  #149  
Old 10.04.2015, 01:59
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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Yes, yes, but please take the definition in full. Don't half quote. The definition goes further and says: "usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others." That 'usually' is important. There is a reason why it has been put up in the definition. You can't just cut it out. This is further corroborated in the next two points: "a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. " and "hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. ".
No wonder that we have a difference in opinion. 'Usually' implies commonly seen (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/usually), so it kinds of sets the context of the former part of the definition.
Prime numbers are usually odd numbers, therefore 2 is not a prime number?

It's usually cold in January, so when it isn't, it must be the thermometer that's wrong?

In logical reasoning, the word usually means the definition stops here and what follows is commentary, explanation or waffle.

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Not really, they are just repeating what they have heard some other people say, who again are repeating what some others might have said, but perhaps then there are peoples with certain experiences who have laid down that 'legend'.
Not relevant. It doesn't matter whether it's a religious doctrine or a statistical observation or a proven fact. It's still a belief.

Just because something is a belief, this does not exclude it from being true. I may believe it is Friday. That does not mean I am basing that belief on religious assumptions. I might be quoting scientific fact. I might be listening two a wooly inner voice. The word belief does not exclude any explanation, cause or reason. You can believe true things. You can believe lies. You can believe things that are sometimes true. You can even believe things that are neither true nor false because in fact they make no sense.

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You can't take a particular generalisation and say that it necessarily is a result of a belief, to quote you: "that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement."
Think about it. Try and see these words without values such as good or bad but look at the words of the definition.


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I didn't take that line of argument. I am saying that many people talk non-sense. Many such non-sense are result of gross generalizations without an intention of actually hurting somebody. This may include words that are considered racial slurs. I would adhere such a use normally to a lack of awareness before jumping onto any conclusion about the character of the person. Off course I might be wrong and the person is genuinely racist. But mere utterance of few words isn't sufficient reason for me to suspect that. What we need is tolerance on both sides.

regards
To say racial slur is to be judgmental. If somebody is racist without realizing it, they are not likely to be talking in racial slurs or passing judgement on character. There is no slur in saying Germans make good cars, or the Swiss make good chocolate.
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  #150  
Old 10.04.2015, 02:41
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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Prime numbers are usually odd numbers, therefore 2 is not a prime number?
Thats not the definition of a prime number. You show me a dictionary that says it. But is an observation and 2 is an exception to this observation.

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It's usually cold in January, so when it isn't, it must be the thermometer that's wrong?
I will be surprised if it is cold in January in the Southern hemisphere. Again this is an experience in the Northern hemisphere and here 'usually' serves its purpose of extending the context. Your example serves its purpose only when it is genuinely hot for a sustained period of time.
To take this further, you can't base your argument only on the basis of exceptional conditions.

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In logical reasoning, the word usually means the definition stops here and what follows is commentary, explanation or waffle.
But we aren't talking about logical reasoning, but how a particular phrase/conjunction has been used in a particular definition in a particular dictionary. In other words we are here seeing the language not the mathematical/logical formulation of a proposition.


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Just because something is a belief, this does not exclude it from being true.
In that case the person is stating a mere fact!! And since 'truth' isn't excluded I used the word 'perhaps'. Beliefs may or may not be rooted in truth. Fact is some genuinely are. To bracket all of them unceremoniously as irrational has its own pitfalls.


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To say racial slur is to be judgmental. If somebody is racist without realizing it, they are not likely to be talking in racial slurs or passing judgement on character. There is no slur in saying Germans make good cars, or the Swiss make good chocolate.
Many times what is considered racial slur among a particular group doesn't intrinsically have the same connotation among another group of people. Leave aside racist words for the time being. Consider a rather innocuous exchange between two English chums: "You bastard, Peter, long time no see". From where I come from , use of that word 'bastard' will mean permanent estrangement between even the best of friends!! Now suppose an English friend of mine says those very words (Ok, he doesn't say Peter:-)) to me. What am I to make of it? Should I take offense or should I just attribute it to his lack of awareness?

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  #151  
Old 10.04.2015, 07:55
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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"I don't know how you feel about that 'integrating' stuff, I mean I don't care what the hell a guy is as long as he keeps in place."

Lenny Bruce could have been Swiss.

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  #152  
Old 10.04.2015, 09:49
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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Many times what is considered racial slur among a particular group doesn't intrinsically have the same connotation among another group of people. Leave aside racist words for the time being. Consider a rather innocuous exchange between two English chums: "You bastard, Peter, long time no see". From where I come from , use of that word 'bastard' will mean permanent estrangement between even the best of friends!! Now suppose an English friend of mine says those very words (Ok, he doesn't say Peter:-)) to me. What am I to make of it? Should I take offense or should I just attribute it to his lack of awareness?

Regards
Excellent contributions here, thanks. It's a good mental exercise for us, to be honest. And not just a semantic one, it is obvious.

I do understand OP's outrage, it seems to not be just a hypothetical question on semantic/cultural interpretation for them. It is acutely real, since it is in their professional environment, I think that moves it into a different place than just culturally motivated dictionary entries. The consequences of certain cerebral shortcuts, toxic stereotypes, that influence how a group of people are seen at a work setting, can be serious. OP offered an experience we can appreciate, although some decided to mock it.

Words do, indeed, come with intentions. Whether we tolerate a certain amount of stress at our work place which is brought in by perceived unprofessional conduct of the management, is a question OP have to figure out themselves. Whether the offensive intent was there or not, the very concrete language used evidently had an impact on the OP.

What is interesting for me, is the fact some here suggest getting on with the program, passively. I feel newcomers have the same potent advantage to improve the current professional program, as is the potential of the program to have positive impact on the newcomers. Which category OP's problem belongs to - they have to decide themselves and also how to work through it in order for this quest to actually be efficient. I, for one, am glad they are mindful, they noticed, they shared and offered the community an opportunity to brainstorm
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  #153  
Old 10.04.2015, 10:56
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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Thats not the definition of a prime number. You show me a dictionary that says it. But is an observation and 2 is an exception to this observation.
Ask any mathematician what a prime number is. Being odd doesn't come into the definition. It is an observation that usually primes are odd. Observations and definitions are two separate entities. You can define a UFO but (assuming they don't exist) you cannot observe one. Does that make the definition incorrect?

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I will be surprised if it is cold in January in the Southern hemisphere. Again this is an experience in the Northern hemisphere and here 'usually' serves its purpose of extending the context. Your example serves its purpose only when it is genuinely hot for a sustained period of time.
To take this further, you can't base your argument only on the basis of exceptional conditions.
The concept of January has a definition that is independent of the weather. Experience and observation do not make definition.

The observation and experience of racism tells us it is evil. It's not in the definition. Therefore there is no logical exclusion between a person having good intention and being unkowingly racist.

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But we aren't talking about logical reasoning, but how a particular phrase/conjunction has been used in a particular definition in a particular dictionary. In other words we are here seeing the language not the mathematical/logical formulation of a proposition.
Why are we not talking about logical reasoning? The whole purpose of my excursion here was to expose a logical error. I'm not seeking to make any factual point or interpretation beyond that. So if we are not being strictly logical. what are we debating about?

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In that case the person is stating a mere fact!! And since 'truth' isn't excluded I used the word 'perhaps'. Beliefs may or may not be rooted in truth. Fact is some genuinely are. To bracket all of them unceremoniously as irrational has its own pitfalls.
OK

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Many times what is considered racial slur among a particular group doesn't intrinsically have the same connotation among another group of people. Leave aside racist words for the time being. Consider a rather innocuous exchange between two English chums: "You bastard, Peter, long time no see". From where I come from , use of that word 'bastard' will mean permanent estrangement between even the best of friends!! Now suppose an English friend of mine says those very words (Ok, he doesn't say Peter:-)) to me. What am I to make of it? Should I take offense or should I just attribute it to his lack of awareness?

Regards
Different words may have different meanings to different people in different contexts, and you also have to take into account such things as cultural context, familiarity and even irony. This EF is full of prime examples of different people failing to recognise or understand irony in different ways and lashing out in earnest indignation at what were in fact red herrings or stupid jokes. And we all imagine we speak the same English language. How things can get even more difficult when people of different languages try to communicate on more than just the basic level.

But, back on topic, if somebody says, Germans make better cars, or Swiss make better chocolates, or anything like that, it is difficult to brush that aside as familiarity or irony or linguistical misunderstanding (some special cases aside, which I think you would easily recognise from the context).

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  #154  
Old 10.04.2015, 11:38
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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The observation and experience of racism tells us it is evil. It's not in the definition. Therefore there is no logical exclusion between a person having good intention and being unkowingly racist.
That doesn't follow from where you linked for the definition. The 'usually' used there forms a connection which is further corroborated in the next two attached meanings in there (point 2 and 3) as I have already illustrated in an earlier post.
As far as the 'logical exclusion' is concerned, even in law a distinction is made between a crime commited in full awareness and one that isn't.
And as far propositional logic is concerned, it can be applied if the components of the proposition are only connected by logical connectives (material conditionals in case of 'if', for example) and 'usually' won't qualify as such a connective. Moreover there has to be one or a set of valid premises. So if we have a premise "If you have utterred word 'X' then you are a racist" and we assume it to be true, and then a second premise, assumed true, that "Y utterred the word 'X'", gives a truth value to the proposition "Y is a racist".
But clearly the definition you gave, and your own agreement here,
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Different words may have different meanings to different people in different contexts, and you also have to take into account such things as cultural context, familiarity and even irony.
implies that the first premise can't be taken as an absolute truth.

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  #155  
Old 10.04.2015, 11:50
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

This is disgusting behaviour however, unfortunately, if you take somebody like that on in Switzerland in the workplace you may find you will land in bigger strife yourself.
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Old 10.04.2015, 11:50
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

Thought about sharing this, though this doesn't have anything to do with racism, this is in a manner touches similar strands:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/10/us...gion.html?_r=0

Made for an interesting read.
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Old 10.04.2015, 11:54
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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Excellent contributions here, thanks. It's a good mental exercise for us, to be honest. And not just a semantic one, it is obvious.

I do understand OP's outrage, it seems to not be just a hypothetical question on semantic/cultural interpretation for them. It is acutely real, since it is in their professional environment, I think that moves it into a different place than just culturally motivated dictionary entries. The consequences of certain cerebral shortcuts, toxic stereotypes, that influence how a group of people are seen at a work setting, can be serious. OP offered an experience we can appreciate, although some decided to mock it.

Words do, indeed, come with intentions. Whether we tolerate a certain amount of stress at our work place which is brought in by perceived unprofessional conduct of the management, is a question OP have to figure out themselves. Whether the offensive intent was there or not, the very concrete language used evidently had an impact on the OP.

What is interesting for me, is the fact some here suggest getting on with the program, passively. I feel newcomers have the same potent advantage to improve the current professional program, as is the potential of the program to have positive impact on the newcomers. Which category OP's problem belongs to - they have to decide themselves and also how to work through it in order for this quest to actually be efficient. I, for one, am glad they are mindful, they noticed, they shared and offered the community an opportunity to brainstorm
You have a lot of patience, MC.

I personally think a certain type of people are hopeless.
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  #158  
Old 10.04.2015, 11:54
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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This is disgusting behaviour however, unfortunately, if you take somebody like that on in Switzerland in the workplace you may find you will land in bigger strife yourself.
Welcome to the forum Roscia.
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Old 10.04.2015, 12:16
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

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As far as the 'logical exclusion' is concerned, even in law a distinction is made between a crime commited in full awareness and one that isn't.
Apart from the question of Ignorantia juris non excusat, this distinction may apply to lessening the culpability of the person, but does not modify the act committed.

The law differentiates, for example, between murder, manslaughter and unlawful killing. The differentiation lies in the intention. The result of all three is the same. The result is a dead person.

The definition I linked does not contain the word intention. So racism is more the umbrella term akin to killing that needs (if you feel the need to introduce culpability, which is in fact what I'm trying to separate out here) to be subdivided into intentional racism, unintentional racism etc.


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And as far propositional logic is concerned, it can be applied if the components of the proposition are only connected by logical connectives (material conditionals in case of 'if', for example) and 'usually' won't qualify as such a connective. Moreover there has to be one or a set of valid premises. So if we have a premise "If you have utterred word 'X' then you are a racist" and we assume it to be true, and then a second premise, assumed true, that "Y utterred the word 'X'", gives a truth value to the proposition "Y is a racist".
The law is not really well set up to deal with or even unambiguously define irony or familiarity. This is why many countries distinguish between things said in public and things said in private and somehow even make some fuzzy allowance for context even when things are said in public (indeed rappers get away with saying things that politicians or managers would get fired for). But that doesn't mean that just because something is legal that it isn't racist, or that everything that is racist is said in bad faith..
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Old 10.04.2015, 12:28
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Re: Is my boss a racist?

I've had a boss say that "we're made to work like n*****s"

I've had a coworkers make anti semitic remarks whenever a topic got even close to Israel/Jews

I was peeling a kiwi once at my desk (no pun intended) and a coworker mentioned to another coworker....look out for that one, people from his homeland are dangerous with knives.


I think less of all the people that made those comments. I lose respect for them.

I wouldnt wish for them to lose their job or to be censored. As someone who grew up in the USA and has seen political correctness and censorship of anyone having a different opinion run wild, I am really glad that its less prevalant here. Racism is present everywhere. In the USA, you really cant always tell who is racist because smart people keep it to themselves. I would rather know if the person sitting next to me is a racist because they are free to express it than be friends with someone who is a hidden racist and never know this
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