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Interesting Article Re Byu Student Fighting Racism


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Here:

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Kofi Aidoo started college as a food science major with big plans of becoming a dentist and high expectations about BYU.

Now he’s a senior and an advertising major — and his plans and expectations have changed.

Aidoo was born in Modesto, California, where his parents, who were originally from Ghana, converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when Aidoo was two years old.

Aidoo said the Latter-day Saint community where he lived had him convinced that BYU was the perfect school.

“It’s what we all aspire to. You’re bound to be successful if you go to BYU, you know?” Aidoo said.

He said his time at school has actually been very different than what he originally imagined. He said he appreciates BYU and loves his program but has noticed a huge difference between his experience as a student of color and the experiences of many of his peers.

It would have been nice if the article described the components of this "huge difference."

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This difference has led Aidoo to become an active advocate for anti-racism in Provo. Though he isn’t associated with the official Black Lives Matter organization, he said that he tries to be a part of the movement.

Aidoo helped organize a march against racism that took place on June 13 in Provo, and he’s been vocal on social media about recent events and protests related to racial injustice.

From the linked article about the June 13 march: "Cheers of 'No justice; no peace' and 'Black lives matter' erupted from the protesters as they marched along University Avenue from Smith’s to the Historic Utah County Courthouse."

I am concerned about the "No justice; no peace" thing.  That sounds like a threat of violence, which is not appropriate.

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Aidoo has been trying to promote change for people of color since before protesting broke out over George Floyd’s and others’ deaths. Earlier this year he worked on a project called Project Blindspot with some of his friends in the advertising program. The friends created a website showing the main issues that Black students face on campus and encouraging everyone to be more aware of their biases.

The "Project Blindspot" link is interesting.  It is quite critical of what it calls the "I don't see color mentality":

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The dangers of "I don't see color mentality"

It allows you to ignore the complexities of racial issues.
You can’t fix something you can’t see.
It limits your ability to appreciate individualism.
You’re not actively dismantling your own prejudices (we all have them!) 
It minimizes the struggles of POC In Today’s society.

I sort of struggle with this.  This smacks of mindreading.  And imputing the worst of motives.

What does "You can't fix something you can't see" mean in this context?

How does ignoring/disregarding skin color have to do with one's "ability to appreciate individualism?"  How does it "minimize the struggles of {people of color}?"

What if it is an attempt by the individual to express agreement with the aspirations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

What if the individual agrees with this sentiment expressed by Morgan Freeman?

More succinctly:

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The "Project Blindspot" proceeds with some kinda weird rhetoric:

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ALLIES NEEDED

Why are they needed?
Black students are less than 1% of BYU's population
Almost half of these students do not complete their degree at BYU

Anatomy of an Ally
A mouth to speak out against injustice
A nose to sniff out implicit bias
Eyes to identify privilege
Ears to listen to the POC experience
A heart to cultivate empathy for the oppressed
Hands to take action and make a change

The "nose" and "eyes" bits seem potentially quite problematic.

Also, "allies" has way too much of a hard leftist political vibe to it. 

Also, "allies" against whom?

Anyway, back to the first article:

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Aidoo said he would advise any minority students that are thinking about attending BYU to make sure they’re prepared for the reality that being a minority in a predominately white institution can sometimes be uncomfortable.

“Everyone has different experiences and hardships, but specifically with skin color, it’s going to affect a lot of the way you see yourself and the way other people see you.”

He also said that he hopes to see some changes on campus coming from the new committee that the university has put together to examine racial issues. Specifically, Aidoo said he wants BYU to add a clause on racism to the honor code so that people of color can feel safer knowing that racist remarks and actions can be reported and punished.

Hmm.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Racism is incompatible with the Restored Gospel.  However, it's also a highly subjective, heavilty politicized, moving target.  Nevertheless, I'm open to discussing it.  What do you think?  Should a prohibition against "racist remarks and actions" be added to BYU's Honor Code?

Any other thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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It's not a threat of violence. It's a succinct summary of Dr. King's quote: "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice." What "No justice, no peace" means is

a couple thoughts 1. I didn’t read let’s roll’s comment to mean that he’d expect them to talk about it right on the spot. Just moreso kindly asking if they were willing/wanting to share. If they

about the trib article on the BSU letter: I decided to take a day or two before responding to this because i found several of the responses frustrating. For one several posts looked like they were j

Thanks for posting this.

I think your POV has some merit, but also see some merit in Kofi’s POV.  

While there is more diversity at BYU now than there was when I attended, it remains a unique place.  His advice that POC need to be prepared for that is sound, not just for POC, but for non-LDS as well.

I also agree that the entire student body should “see” the unique journey that POC and non-LDS have at BYU and be supportive.  In my view, that support can at times manifest itself through “colorblind” acts but at times should also manifest itself through actions that acknowledge and embrace the uniqueness that POC and non-LDS students bring to the BYU community.

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34 minutes ago, smac97 said:

.......................................

The "Project Blindspot" link is interesting.  It is quite critical of what it calls the "I don't see color mentality":

I sort of struggle with this.  This smacks of mindreading.  And imputing the worst of motives.

What does "You can't fix something you can't see" mean in this context?

How does ignoring/disregarding skin color have to do with one's "ability to appreciate individualism?"  How does it "minimize the struggles of {people of color}?"

What if it is an attempt by the individual to express agreement with the aspirations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

What if the individual agrees with this sentiment expressed by Morgan Freeman?....................................

What I would like to hear from him is a couple of paragraphs on his personal experience at BYU.  Did he live on campus?  Was he ever treated in a subhuman manner?  Was he referred to on campus by any racial epithets?  What was his experience attending sabbath services?  Has be become woke based on reading news reports from other cities than Provo?  What was his social experience among his fellow students?  Has he said anything substantive?

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Hmm.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Racism is incompatible with the Restored Gospel.  However, it's also a highly subjective, heavilty politicized, moving target.  Nevertheless, I'm open to discussing it.  What do you think?  Should a prohibition against "racist remarks and actions" be added to BYU's Honor Code?.......................

Perhaps the following would be nice additions to the BYU Honor Code:

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"The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church."  http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/race‑church

Pres Gordon B. Hinckley, "I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ."  http://www.lds.org/general‑conference/2006/04/the‑need‑for‑greater‑kindness?lang=eng

 

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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33 minutes ago, smac97 said:

...Racism is incompatible with the Restored Gospel.  However, it's also a highly subjective, heavily politicized, moving target.  Nevertheless, I'm open to discussing it.  What do you think?  Should a prohibition against "racist remarks and actions" be added to BYU's Honor Code?

Any other thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

What would that mean? "No racists remarks and actions"??? How could anyone avoid doing that?  Just not mentioning someone's skin color? Or what people of a particular skin color do (their actions)???

I would opt for a liberal policy, like "No intentionally offensive remarks or actions". People can avoid mentioning other people's skin color most of the time but sometimes it can be helpful, like when describing what somebody looks like.

The problem with most general rules is that they don't allow for exceptions or a consideration of particular circumstances.

Edited by Ahab
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5 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

It's not a threat of violence. It's a succinct summary of Dr. King's quote: "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

What "No justice, no peace" means is that if there is not justice, then there is not peace, even if there is a lack of tension/conflict. True peace requires justice, not just the lack of conflict.

Noisy demonstrations need not be violent to interrupt a peaceful day downtown, or a city council meeting.  In fact that is the typical way in which Americans peaceably assemble to demand a redress of grievances.

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3 minutes ago, smac97 said:

It sure comes across that way when it's being chanted by lawless, violent protesters.  

Meanwhile, see here (emphases added) :

So the context matters, I think.  And when being changed by violent, lawless protesters, "No Justice, No Peace" comes across as a threat of violence.

Thanks,

-Smac

Or just conflict.  Not necessarily violence.  If there is no justice I would expect there to be some trouble, some conflict arising from people who realize they are not getting justice.  A public outcry from those who are treated unjustly.

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21 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

Thanks for posting this.

I think your POV has some merit, but also see some merit in Kofi’s POV.  

Undoubtedly.  I have a few quibbles, but otherwise I appreciate and respect his efforts.

21 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

While there is more diversity at BYU now than there was when I attended, it remains a unique place.  His advice that POC need to be prepared for that is sound, not just for POC, but for non-LDS as well.

Sure.  

21 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

I also agree that the entire student body should “see” the unique journey that POC and non-LDS have at BYU and be supportive.  In my view, that support can at times manifest itself through “colorblind” acts but at times should also manifest itself through actions that acknowledge and embrace the uniqueness that POC and non-LDS students bring to the BYU community.

The problem here is that I think we're setting ourselves up for failure. 

White students not directly addressing a POC's skin color is bad because it limits their "ability to appreciate individualism" and "minimize{s} the struggles of {people of color}," or else can be unilaterally and subjectively and arbitrarily criticized as evidence of "unconscious bias."

On the other hand, a comment or question or look from a white student that does address a POC's skin color can also be unilaterally and subjectively and arbitrarily criticized as evidence of "unconscious bias" or "implicit bias" or "privilege" or "racism."

To be sure, there are comments and behaviors that are demonstrably racist.  But there is also a lot of awkwardness, social ineptitude, ignorance, and so on.  A remark may come across as weird or uncomfortable, but I think reflexively imputing racial hatred all the time can create some real problems.

I guess I have some concerns about the "mixed signals" that seem to be out there.  A lot.  I am also concerned about the constant emphasis on race and racism.  I think Morgan Freemand and Dr. King were on to something.

Thanks,

-Smac

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15 minutes ago, Ahab said:
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It sure comes across that way when it's being chanted by lawless, violent protesters.  

Meanwhile, see here (emphases added) :

So the context matters, I think.  And when being changed by violent, lawless protesters, "No Justice, No Peace" comes across as a threat of violence.

Or just conflict.  Not necessarily violence. 

Sure.  Again, context matters.  But when the context is itself violent...

15 minutes ago, Ahab said:

If there is no justice I would expect there to be some trouble, some conflict arising from people who realize they are not getting justice.  A public outcry from those who are treated unjustly.

I am totally fine with that.  I am generally against the use of violent protests/riots/threats as a means of affecting political change.

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think Morgan Freemand and Dr. King were on to something.

Thanks,

-Smac

Me too,  Judging people based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin seems like the best way to go, to me.

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17 minutes ago, Ahab said:
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I think Morgan Freemand and Dr. King were on to something.

Me too,  Judging people based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin seems like the best way to go, to me.

I had an interesting, and perhaps, formative experience about "race" when I joined the Army and went to Basic Training right after high school.  I've previously described this experience here:

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I also encountered such things when I was in the Army prior to my mission. In basic training I was in a platoon comprised of roughly 1/3 blacks, 1/3 Hispanics (Mexican-American and Puerto Ricans) and 1/3 whites. Within a few days I had the nickname "Utah Cracker" given me by a few of the black guys in the platoon, and it stuck with me until I graduated and moved to my next duty station. At the time I thought "cracker" was a reference to me being sort of an off-white color, kind of like a Saltine cracker. In other words, I thought it was an odd, but harmless, nickname. However, at my next duty station a friend heard about my nickname and explained to me that it was intended as a derogatory racial slur, that it was a reference to slave foremen in the pre-Civil war days who used ("cracked") bullwhips to punish African slaves, and that I should not use it to describe myself or anyone else. I had another experience where one of my drill sergeants saw a picture of my sister (who is Hawaiian, but who I suppose could pass for being black) and seemed amazed, and also appalled and upset, when he found out she was my sister. He asked me repeatedly "How did such a fine sister like that end up with someone like you for a brother?" He seemed genuinely bothered to find out that my parents had adopted her when she was a baby, and the bother seemed to be based on her having brown skin and being raised by a white family (mostly white, anyway, I also have a Tahitian brother).

I think we all have ways we can improve our interactions with each other.  Broadly speaking, though, I am grateful for the Church's teachings condemning racism, and for my parents' teachings about such things.

Thanks,

-Smac

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6 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think this is the biggest issue that we face with all the new 'do this/don't do that' rhetoric.  Sometimes people make it impossible for interaction because they become upset/offended if the interaction isn't exactly what they want it to be, even if it's sincere and means no harm.  All that does is get people to stop trying because it's uncomfortable to exist in a no-win situation.  

The ramifications may be even worse than that.  Tacit segregation.  I think a well-meaning white person could understandably be upset and offended at being characterized as a "racist" for behavior that was intended to be sincere and benign.  The person may thereafter - whether consciously or otherwise - choose to avoid black folks for fear of A) giving unintended offense, and/or B) being falsely accused of racism, of hating black people because of the color of their skin.  

I don't think that reaction is good, but it's understandable.

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This isn't to say that well meaning but harmful practices and words or actions by white people should be ignored or tolerated by people of color so that white people don't become uncomfortable.

I agree.  I think there are plenty of ways to educate and persuade and correct without resorting to vicious rhetoric and accusations.

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People need to be able to speak up if something personally hurts or offends, but it's also useful to remember that the response will serve a high purpose if it's focus on keeping this person--who is, however awkwardly, trying to be a friend--a friend.  

Speaking pragmatically, if POC want white people to change and do better then gently educating (and sometimes overlooking the minor things at first while education takes place) will get the job done better and faster than reacting in ways that are likely to make people just quit trying at all and keep their distance.

Well said.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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12 minutes ago, smac97 said:

The problem here is that I think we're setting ourselves up for failure. 

White students not directly addressing a POC's skin color is bad because it limits their "ability to appreciate individualism" and "minimize{s} the struggles of {people of color}," or else can be unilaterally and subjectively and arbitrarily criticized as evidence of "unconscious bias."

On the other hand, a comment or question or look from a white student that does address a POC's skin color can also be unilaterally and subjectively and arbitrarily criticized as evidence of "unconscious bias" or "implicit bias" or "privilege" or "racism."

To be sure, there are comments and behaviors that are demonstrably racist.  But there is also a lot of awkwardness, social ineptitude, ignorance, and so on.  A remark may come across as weird or uncomfortable, but I think reflexively imputing racial hatred all the time can create some real problems.

I guess I have some concerns about the "mixed signals" that seem to be out there.  A lot.  I am also concerned about the constant emphasis on race and racism.  I think Morgan Freemand and Dr. King were on to something.

Thanks,

-Smac

This is exactly correct. The current "conversation" on racism and racist behavior says that racism is in the eye of the beholder but ought to be punished as an offense against the wider society. Responsible rulemaking in such an environment is a minefield. 

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7 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

This is exactly correct. The current "conversation" on racism and racist behavior says that racism is in the eye of the beholder but ought to be punished as an offense against the wider society. Responsible rulemaking in such an environment is a minefield. 

A "minefield" where the mines are shifting about constantly, such that no map or metal detector is sufficient.  That being the case, I am concerned that tacit segregation will happen (or is happening).  Proverbially speaking, a person could be excused for saying "You know, I just won't try to navigate the minefield at all.  It's impossible to know where the mines are."

Surely we should not be creating such disincentives for interacting with each other.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

So the context matters, I think.  And when being changed by violent, lawless protesters, "No Justice, No Peace" comes across as a threat of violence.

Thank you for the link/quote. I've never been involved in a violent protest, only non-violent, so the context I've encountered it in has always been conjunctive. I've never personally heard anyone say otherwise -- it's always been a referral to MLK. I was surprised that there were those who meant it as a threat, honestly. You mentioned this phrase in the context of Aidoo's march. Was that march violent? In the context of that march, should we understand those marchers and Aidoo as meaning it violently or non-violently?

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49 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Thank you for the link/quote. I've never been involved in a violent protest, only non-violent, so the context I've encountered it in has always been conjunctive. I've never personally heard anyone say otherwise -- it's always been a referral to MLK. I was surprised that there were those who meant it as a threat, honestly. You mentioned this phrase in the context of Aidoo's march. Was that march violent? In the context of that march, should we understand those marchers and Aidoo as meaning it violently or non-violently?

I think the phrase is ambiguous.  But even the ambiguity is a problem.  

As for whether Aidoo meant it "violently," I hope not.  The protest was peaceful, so there's that. 

Broadly speaking, the ambiguity in the phrase could be resolved by the leaders of protests specifically calling for lawful, non-violent protests, and for specifically speaking against and condemning violence, lawlessness, riots, looting, etc.

Here's an article from 2014 that touches on this topic:

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With the second non-indictment of a white police officer who killed an unarmed black man in two weeks, the chant “no justice, no peace” continues to ring out in protests around the country. What does that phrase really mean — and how has it been used historically, in protest movements both peaceful and otherwise?

With the second non-indictment of a white police officer who killed an unarmed black man in two weeks, the chant “no justice, no peace” continues to ring out in protests around the country. On Wednesday, after the New York City grand jury declined to indict the police officer who put Eric Garner in the chokehold that led to his death, CNN reports, “hundreds of demonstrators gathered at various points in Manhattan... marching peacefully north as crowds formed near Rockefeller Center for the lighting of the Christmas tree. ‘No Justice. No peace,’ they chanted. ‘No racist police.’ “

Yes, the crowds were marching peacefully while chanting “no justice, no peace.” This may seem ironic, or half-hearted, if you understand the chant as an “if...then” statement. On this reading, the chant means that as long as injustice prevails, acting peacefully is a moral impossibility. It is incumbent on citizens to rise up and demonstrate against injustice, and to do so vehemently, urgently, boldly, bodily, even violently. It means rioting. It means Molotov cocktails. It means rocking police cars and setting things on fire.

This is how Ernest Istook, a former Republican congressman, interpreted the chant in the Washington Times last summer, while the grand jury in Ferguson was hearing evidence:

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Instead of waiting out the investigation, they’re chanting, “No justice; No peace!” as a politically correct slogan that actually means, “We want revenge!” That attitude makes bad things become worse.

Mr. Istook concluded his column with this warning:

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“No justice; No peace!” isn’t simply a slogan; it’s actually a threat...that will be extracted against anyone who doesn’t bow to the protestors’ demands.

But this take on the chant is neither the only nor the most plausible reading. When Martin Luther King, Jr., said this outside a California prison where Vietnam war protesters were being held on December 14, 1967, he was hardly trying to start a riot:

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There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice.

Dr. King’s formulation contains no threats of violence, veiled or otherwise. 

I think he's correct here.

But then...

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Yet this pacifist message has not always guided protesters adopting “no justice, no peace” as a mantra. In 1986 and 1987, following an assault on three black men by a white mob in Howard Beach, Queens, activist Sonny Carson appropriated the phrase. Here is an article from Newsday, a Long Island daily, on February 12, 1987 that illustrates an application of the conditional view of the chant:

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"No justice! No peace!" Carson shouted. "No peace for all of you who dare kill our children if they come into your neighborhood . . . We are going to make one long, hot summer out here . . . get ready for a new black in this city!    

Thankfully, this threatening brand of “no justice, no peace” has not been activated in the current protests over the New York City grand jury decision. The protests have extensive, disruptive to traffic and sometimes dramatic, but they have been remarkably peaceful. “There were no injuries, no vandalism, no significant violence,” New York’s police commissioner said on Thursday. “It was an inconvenience certainly for motorists, but we are not having a Ferguson here ... let’s be quite clear about that.”

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about this slogan.  It has given me something to think about.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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In 2000, I was across the street from the Staples Center in Los Angeles protesting Al Gore and the Democratic National Convention. The major purposes of us being there were to preserve US democracy, eliminate the violent extension of the Clinton administration that would proceed from Gore and to stop the imperialist mindset and vendetta agenda enacted by the Bush regime. At no point on the behalf of the protesters was the protest made violent. The event became violent when the mayor of Los Angeles declared the protest an unlawful gathering and therefore suppressing First Amendment rights. The violence arose as police militants began to pepper spray and shoot us with rubber bullets. Many were outright beaten with batons wielded by officers on horseback. Many members of the Press had been assaulted as well. I believe the police chief, in some way, called the actions of the officers strategic and precise or something to that effect. The response of the mayor and the police was a clear declaration that there will be no justice and no peace but violent action meant to silence, control and subjugate.

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

And when being changed by violent, lawless protesters, "No Justice, No Peace" comes across as a threat of violence.

“Have a nice day” can come across violent when said by someone thought to be violent. 

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Just now, Calm said:
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And when being changed by violent, lawless protesters, "No Justice, No Peace" comes across as a threat of violence.

“Have a nice day” can come across violent when said by someone thought to be violent. 

Yes.  Context matters.  Tone and apparent intent matter.  Time, place and manner matter.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 minute ago, Calm said:

“Have a nice day” can come across violent when said by someone thought to be violent. 

Oh come now.  Someone could say "Have a nice day" in an aggressive tone of voice but it wouldn't be violent unless there was some kind of physical assault. Violence involves actual physical force.. touching. Verbal abuse is not violence.

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2 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Oh come now.  Someone could say "Have a nice day" in an aggressive tone of voice but it wouldn't be violent unless there was some kind of physical assault. Violence involves actual physical force.. touching. Verbal abuse is not violence.

It would be naive and juvenile to assert that violence can only be a physical action.

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2 minutes ago, Damien the Leper said:

It would be naive and juvenile to assert that violence can only be a physical action.

That is how the word violence or violent is generally understood.,

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23 minutes ago, Damien the Leper said:

It would be naive and juvenile to assert that violence can only be a physical action.

With respect, this is a conflict between definitions. "Naive and juvenile" people aren't going to acclaim the definition you advocate just because they are called naive and juvenile. 

Ahab seems to hold "violence" as primarily a physical phenomenon. Why should he change his mind?

 

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