PhyloCode: The real problem...again

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Sun Jul 6 14:50:47 CDT 2003

I'm sorry, but context is everything.  When I use the word rape in my economic
botany class, my students will know that I am referring to the plant that
produces canola oil - unless I have clearly indicated that I'm speaking about
a physical assault.

Rape is a perfectly good English word that has a variety of meanings.  If we
pay attention to how the word is used, then we have a better chance of
correctly inferring the meaning in use.  Ron's analogy, in which he was
clearly referring to an attempt to seize the cloak of authority by those
advocating the overthrow of the current system, did not make me think of
sexual assault.  I could infer his meaning by virtue of being aware of the
context in which the word was used.

It's unfortunate that perfectly good words have their meanings restricted by
incorrect inferences.  To infer that Ron is insensitive to the victims of
sexual assault simply because he used the word rape in what I believe was an
effective analogy is not warranted.

Now, what social or political meanings do you wish to ascribe, by inference,
to my words?


Quoting Julian Humphries <humphries at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>:

> At 12:27 PM 7/6/2003, Richard Jensen wrote:
> >Why is it that when someone uses a perfectly good analogy (Ron's view
> that
> >phylocode proponents are analogous to rapists and muggers), it is
> criticized
> >by a purely ad hominem response.  I saw nothing in Ron's analogy to
> warrant
> >a "politically correct" chastisement for insensitivity.  The simple
> definition
> >of rape is to take by force and that's exactly what could happen.
> All definitions of rape other than "The crime of forcing another person
> to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse" are either archaic
> or secondary to the one that comes to folks minds.  If you really
> believe "to take by force" comes to peoples minds when they see the word
> rape you are incredibly naive.  Oh, and where the hell is the "force"
> here?  I never heard of any concept of rape occurring by words alone.
> Is the current regime in the US "raping" the country because they have a
> majority in all three branches of government and are "forcing" their
> views on everybody?   (yea, regime has other meanings this year,
> see?).
> Do you really think associating the phrases  "liberal lawyer" and
> "serial rapist" in the same sentence describing the adherents of
> Phylocode is simple exposition?  If I said "Ron reminds be of those of
> the religious right who murder doctors because he puts his opinion above
> the will of the majority"  would you consider that a "perfectly good
> analogy?"
> Particularly in email correspondence, words have social and political
> meaning beyond what they might in an informal one on one.  Ron knows
> that and chose anyway to inflame the discussion.  Using loaded terms and
> words is a favorite trick of those trying to upset others, or move
> debate from an intellectual level to one of who can scream the
> loudest.
> Criticism of those whose inject these types of comments into Taxacom
> discussion has nothing to do with political correctness and everything
> to do with scientific discussion and/or argument.  Many (most?)
> Phylocode supporters (BTW, I am not one), have long since abandoned
> Taxacom as a bastion of anti-cladistic rhetoric offering little to
> modern systematics.  Our loss.
> Julian Humphries

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