When Solid Gold Bomb withdrew the 'rape' garment it also posted a statement on its website which said: "We have been informed of the fact that we were selling an offensive T-shirt primarily in the UK.
"This has been immediately deleted as it was and had been automatically generated using a scripted computer process running against 100s of thousands of dictionary words."
Not on sale: computer generated t shirt advocating rape.
Still on sale: human authored book advocating throwing rocks at boys. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boys-Stupid-Throw-Rocks-Them/dp/0761... human authored 2013 calendar, boys are stupid: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boys-Are-Stupid-2013-Calendar/dp/184...
Also on sale: bunny suicides: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bunny-Suicides-Grid-Calendar-teNeues...
And Nuns having fun: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nuns-Having-Calendar-2013-Wall/dp/07...
Assuming this is a computer generated t-shirt as you and OP suggest, how can anyone be certain that the shirt refers to rape as in forced intercourse?
More often than not when I hear someone use the word rape, they are not talking about forced intercourse. Rather they are using the word rape as a synonym for "debellatio", having nothing to do with a sex.
1. I just took my final exam and I raped it.
2. Did you see the superbowl? SF was getting raped until the second half, then they made it a good game.
If the rape t-shirt was not made by a human, but an algorithm, can anyone say for certain that the algorithm intended to mean rape as in forced intercourse or rape as in debellatio or any other definition whether it comes from urbandictionary or Websters?
+1 because I agree, and I know you disagreed with me on another comment, but I want to make clear I personally do not use this word in this context.
> Regardless of the intent of the speaker, this usage encourages actual rapists to believe that their peers don't see rape as a big deal, which in turn makes them more likely to rape. (I'm not an expert on this stuff so I don't have a whole list of links at hand to back up these statements, but pretty much every actual expert that I've seen writing about this topic seems to agree. I've given a couple of links for formal support in earlier posts here.)
I will obviously defer to the experts; however, to be honest it is hard to apply that logic to a real life example I have been known to use:
Did you see the superbowl? SF was getting KILLED until the second half, then they made it a good game.
I have used kill and killed in the sports context, so according to the experts logic my usage of kill/killed does a great to normalize killing in our culture, and it makes actual killing seem a routine part of life. I find it harder to believe that by using kill/killed in this context I may have encouraged my peers to not see killing as a big deal, which in turn makes them more likely to kill.
Oh, good! :)
As for your later point, again, I'm not an expert on this either, but I'd guess that context is essential for these things. I've lived my entire life in communities where lethal force was essentially never used, and just from the fact that you participate in this forum I think it's pretty likely that the same is true for you. In that context, I don't think there's an existing cultural norm that killing is routine for your comment to reinforce.
However, I might guess that the same would not have been true in Northern Ireland at many points in the past century, or in some American inner city neighborhoods today (or in a foxhole in the Vietnam war, for that matter). In those contexts, I would worry a lot more that language like what you describe would indeed reinforce the broad existing societal expectation of violence, and that it would contribute a little bit toward encouraging those around you to devalue human life. In fact, my impression is that it's only been quite recently in the history of civilization that significant fractions of humanity have been lucky enough to grow up without such norms; heck, dueling was still an accepted (or even expected) way of settling grudges in the early days of US independence (e.g. Burr and Hamilton). It's entirely possible that the usage you describe is a linguistic holdover from that earlier era.
Women, meanwhile, have been stuck living out their lives in rape-Belfast more or less forever. It's only very recently that that's started to change, anywhere.
b) Your examples are offensive, and I don't appreciate people who carelessly use the word "rape" like that. You might think it's OK in some twisted way, but it's probably worse than calling random things "gay" even though they have nothing to do with homosexuality.
I never said it was OK - I simply asked how does anyone know which definition an algorithm selected and does it matter? I thought you gave an insightful answer noting intent matters, but in this case you feel it does not because either use is offensive.
I did give the examples of how I have heard rape used in non-sexual contexts, and I am sorry if you were offended - but more importantly it is you who personally gets offensive by saying I am OK with that usage in some "twisted way". Did I ever say I was OK with it? No. In fact I go out of my way to explain that is how I have heard it used, but that is not enough you go on to say my being OK with using the word rape in a non-sexual context (which I don't) is worse than some form of homophobia where one calls things "gay".
Please do not make up behvior I do NOT engage in and then compare it to other forms of behavior I do not engage in.
Finally, you may have unknowingly brought up real insight to who you are, because even if I or others were to call something "gay" who is not to say it is being done using the traditional definition of gay meaning "happy or joyous"? Are you offended the same way when people use "gay" to describe something as "happy or joyous" having nothing to do with homosexuality, the same way you get offended when others use "rape" in a non-sexual context?
As for your final paragraph here, I'm pretty sure that you know perfectly well what the previous poster meant. Nobody actually confuses my grandmother happily exclaiming, "Oh, the decorations in this room are so gay!" (true story) with a seventh grader dismissively saying, "Social studies is so gay!" Discussions like this one proceed far more smoothly when everyone avoids deliberately misconstruing each other's words.
Notice how you had to qualify your hypothetical statement with "grandmother", re-read your own statement without your qualifier: "the decorations in this room are so gay!"? Still think "nobody" would confuse that?
Honestly, if you change your qualifier it only becomes more confusing what that statement means or which definition is intended:
1. What about your hypothetical seventh grader what would it mean if the seventh grader said, "the decorations in this room are so gay!"? Does it automatically become offensive unlike your grandmother saying it? What if the seventh grader was LGBT?
2. Finally, please tell me what an algorithm means when it automates the same statement, "the decorations in this room are so gay!"? Is the algorithm your grandmother or the seventh-grader?
EDIT: For a further stack trace, consider "enrapture", derived from "rapture", itself derived from the future form of "rapio": http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rapture .
And people say that a classical education and liberal arts is useless. :)
I get your point, though, but it was clearly generated by a computer, as are all the other shirts in that companies "KEEP CALM AND ______ ON" line. Most of them don't make any sense whatsoever.
The computer doesn't "mean" any particular use of the word, because it's a computer, and couldn't tell the contextual difference between "rape" and "yell" or "run".
The fault here is a poorly (or not at all) checked pool of words, and no human interaction between "generate slogan" and "submit to Amazon"
The dictionary gives 3 examples of rape in a non-sexual context. Again, know that I am not saying the t-shirt was not offensive or in bad taste generally, I certainly would never buy it or wear it if given to me (no one I know would give it to me).
At the same time, in a hypothetical where an automated Google car hit someone, would it make sense to yell and the Google car and say watch where you are going? See in this exagerated example, it becomes clear I am soliciting insight to human interaction to an automated system that did not have intent.
I saw the show in 2001 and still remember how hard it was to not cringe at that word even though the context was clearly different and the show was comedy.
I am not saying that a shirt advocating more kidnapping would be appropriate, but thought you might appreciate the alternate use of the word from a historical perspective.
>your argument is rather specious.
What arguement? I asked a question in context of the algoritm picking the word/phrase. For those offended, would it matter the intent/definition of the word? I did not make an arguement on behalf of any position.
As far as Urban dictionary, I do not think you are likely to find the word "deballatio" in the urban dictionary. My examples aside (which again are real life examples how I have heard it used, not how I have used it), I defined rape in a non-sexual context as a "deballtio", which admittedly is not a real definition and some could argue "debellatio" is as offensive if not more so than rape.
"SF must have requested the lights to be off while they are getting raped. #SuperBowl"
"Niners were shy about getting butt raped with the lights on."
"OMFG! 49ers getting butt raped! #superbowl"
"@GeneBean29 nope ravens are gunna get raped....they should've lost the last game it was all luck. :P"
"Dang #49ers getting raped hella hard haha funny ass #SuperBowl game"
"49ers getting raped #superbowl"
"@BankyW u watching this too...hahaha...49ers are getting raped...somebody help!!!"
I could look for some more, and easily find them, but you get the picture.
Conclusion: The term 'raped' is widely used to mean 'suffer significant setbacks or defeat in a sports match'. I will hereby question who is living in a fantasy world where "nobody says" these things. I will ALSO note the irony of calling all these people out for being insensitive while using the term "retarded", which may be offensive to people whose mental development is actually in fact delayed, or those who would identify themselves as differently-mentally-able.
I will make suggestions: Limit yourself in the future to calling the comments using a "rape" metaphor for sports crude and offensive, and leave it at that. Avoid undue disparagement of people who disagree with your values - you can leave it at disparaging their values. Avoid attempts to use peer pressure to assert cultural norms, it doesn't work outside your cultural peer group, you may be in the minority, and isn't really a compelling argument anyway. Kthx.
etfb: Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not a cultural relativist and believe people who use the term are in fact crude and insensitive. All my observations suggestions still stand, though. These people are not retarded and many may in fact be highly intelligent. (And it's not nice to call people retarded anyway.) They may or many not outnumber you, but are a significant cultural force one way or another, so the peer pressure argument is ineffective. And describing the matter as "nobody uses this metaphor" with exceptions is a poor way to describe the matter at best.
"If Jeff keeps making that annoying noise I'm gonna kill him."
"Traffic was absolute murder today..."
"Being stuck in a stuffy office on a day like this is torture."
Are these example's of insensitive trivialization of murder and torture?
Only if you're completely incapable (or unwilling) of making the distinction between words and their intended meaning.
If hearing someone saying "murder", "kill", "torture" or "rape" in a non-serious context can make you take those ACTS less seriously then you're a a worryingly gullible/amoral person, then the problem lies with you, not with people who don't happen to have a joyless, unerringly literal approach to language that they use to make themselves self-appointed sensitivity police (i.e enjoy that practise humans enjoy so much that is telling other people they're doing stuff wrong).
Of course, you'd never take murder or rape less seriously just because it was used non-seriously as word; only stupid people would do that. It's only those other people who would be influenced so easily by language, and its for them language has to be regulated.
"Wait, someone is using the word rape in relation to the result of a trivial sports result? That must mean raping people isn't a serious issue! Thank god society has given me permission to violate other people through non-literal use of language!"
This is the same kind of nonsense that makes people say videogames with fantasy violence in them are bad because they desensitize people to violence. Sorry, us intelligent, compassionate people are actually capable of distinguishing between fantasy, hyperbole, metaphor, and real life immoral acts.
Even young children are capable of making this distinction when they play soldiers or whatever and pretend to kill each other and die. If you're abilities in sensitivity are being surpassed by children, you may want to redress your values instead of focussing on what you see as faults in others.
I award your argument zero points.
I just asked the question (I was not advocating or taking a position)and it is clear from the responses most people want to be the first to cast a stone at the algorithm, irrespective of the intent or definition used, that is fine, I am not here to judge.
It really seems to me that this is the result of a failure to properly internalize the full implications of what algorithms are capable of, how they work... really just what they are.
You may as well be offended by what a toddler says. It is very very easy for a toddler or an algorithm to say something that could, in other contexts, be offensive. In the correct context however, primarily the realization that there is no intent present, you would have to not understand what a toddler is to be offended by what a toddler says.
Sounds like a joke to me. In bad taste, sure, but that doesn't category-shift it.
Or another way of saying it: unacceptable jokes are still in fact jokes
The sadness here is that disparaging boys is much more acceptable, and people immediately assume that these shirts are referring to raping women, completely overlooking the fact that men can be victims of rape as well.
Actually there is an open question whether the USA currently experiences more rapes man-on-man inside of prison or rapes man-on-woman outside of prison. One place to start looking into this topic is http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/feb/....
However given the choice, there is no question that men who are inclined to rape overwhelmingly would prefer to rape women. And outside of a prison setting, women are overwhelmingly the targets.
(All of this is not counting child sexual abuse, which is its own chamber of horrors.)
But, as I keep saying here, the biggest impact of rape in our society is not its effect on the victims, terrible as those effects are. The much broader impact is the culture of fear and blame that women (and largely only women) have to live with every day of their lives. Our society demands that women follow strict (and often contradictory) guidelines for avoiding rape, and then we vocally make excuses for their rapists whenever someone assaults a woman and she didn't follow every single one of them to the letter. (For example, either "Why did you make him angry by rudely brushing off his advances?" or "Why did you lead him on by responding politely to his advances?", depending on the circumstances.)
Prison rape is terrible and must be stopped, but the one and only thing that prevents it from being as harmful overall is that its effects don't really bleed over to warp society as a whole. The results of men raping women affect essentially all women, essentially all the time.
It may not be immediately obvious that those questions boil down to "making excuses for rapists", but if you sit and think about it for five minutes it's a hard conclusion to avoid. The focus routinely shifts away from "that man did something awful" and toward "that woman made some mistakes".
The same could be applied in other situations, for example if I go out alone late at night in the wrong part of town whilst displaying my expensive consumer gadgets , leave my house unlocked and go out or leave my server connected to the internet with a blank root password people might rightly ask "why the hell did you do that?". This doesn't in any way condone the actions of a mugger/burgler/hacker etc but sadly one must acknowledge that there are bad elements in society and recommend appropriate mitigation.
So yes, a woman who put her in a situation where she was likely to be raped did make some mistakes, but that doesn't excuse somebody who takes advantage of that.
I don't see how that is controversial.
This is a great example. I went to a university inside of a major city and at several points during freshmen orientation we were told to be careful about what sort of electronics we display while outside, particularly at night. "Don't wear your expensive headphones while walking around the city, consider buying a case that covers your phone, travel in groups when possible." ..that sort of thing.
I don't think anyone has ever claimed that they were making excuses for muggers.
This stuff is complicated, and I know that it took me an awfully long time to begin figuring it out (or to even accept that there was something I needed to figure out). I used to say things that sounded a lot like your comment here.
I don't anymore. Give it some time, and some thought.
I don't think victim blaming is an imagined phenomenon, but I do think that the extent to which it permeates it's society is often exaggerated, to the extent that people who give reasonable safety advice can occasionally be vilified as contributing to it.
But, as I've said elsewhere, it is my strong impression that the advice given to women regarding rape does not merely mirror other safety advice. There are many places where those starry-eyed freshmen would be forgiven for letting down their guard against muggers (inside their own dorm, for instance), but women are allowed no such safe spaces. The freshmen are given just a few rules to remember ("Don't flaunt your expensive headphones south of 61st St."), but women are given endless lists. The freshmen hear their advice when they show up at college, but women get rape prevention tips drilled into them from childhood so they completely internalize it. And by and large, the advice those freshmen get is simple enough that it doesn't contain any Catch-22's like my earlier example: a woman can be blamed for angering the man who raped her by being rude OR for leading him on if she's polite, so some people will fault her either way.
I completely understand if you're not on board with this perspective right away; it took me a long time, too. But honestly: keep your eyes open from here on out when you read media reports of rape and you will see how universal this "fault the victim" attitude is. Watch for it for a while, and then really do sit down and think hard about it for those five uninterrupted minutes.
Here's an example for starters: media coverage of an 11-year-old girl forcibly gang raped by 18 grown men. You'd like to think they wouldn't have bothered reporting on how she dressed, wouldn't you? http://www.salon.com/2011/03/09/new_york_times_blames_11_yea...
I am in the UK , so perhaps culture is somewhat different here but I would expect that if a woman reported a sexual assault to basically anybody either a vigilante mob or police investigation would be mustered in short order rather than the incident trivialised or the victim blamed.
In fact there have been cases of premature "justice" taken against individuals before all of the facts are in. And it's not completely unknown for threat of fake rape accusations to be used as a method of blackmail. In other words branding somebody as a rapist is a sure fire way to fuck their life up, quite different from "everyone blames the victim".
Even though it is not pleasant reading I don't think it hurts to report on all of the facts in such cases if doing so might help others to avoid these situations. For example if I had a daughter I know I would want to give frank and strongly worded advice if I thought it might make her even a little bit safer, but if something were to happen I would certainly not blame her.
Unfortunately, this is not typically what happens. Remember, we're not usually talking about some guy leaping out of a dark alley and grabbing a stranger walking by. Most rapists know their victims and interact with them socially in the lead-up to the assault. Many deliberately arrange circumstances designed to create doubt about what happened and whether it was consensual.
I hate to link to a scumbag, but there was a reddit post several months ago by a serial rapist describing his methods that illustrates this quite clearly: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/x6yef/reddits_had... It is absolutely chilling reading, but horribly informative (as are his replies to questions later on). I'm as skeptical of anonymous comments as the next guy, but in the aftermath I saw a number of people saying, "Don't give him the attention he wants: you can see exactly the same methods and mentality in formal studies of convicted rapists instead." (Sadly, I never saw links to those studies, so I'm still linking to the scumbag.) It's clear that this isn't the sort of thing that inspires vigilante mobs, but my understanding is that it's by far the most common scenario.
Meanwhile, you need to be really cautious about bringing up the "false rape accusation" objection. Yes, they happen, and it's awful when they do. But every statistic I've ever seen indicates that the number of false accusations is miniscule compared with even the number of reported rapes, let along the number that don't get reported at all (perhaps because the only evidence was "he said/she said" that would get brushed off as potentially a false accusation). Treating actual rapes and false accusations as some sort of evenly balanced poles deserving equal consideration is not justified by the statistics.
There is zero difference in that you're stating that the woman had something direct to do with enabling her rape.
Men do not face that pressure. And yes, I'm sure that there's a corresponding judgmental tone in questions like "Weren't you man enough to fight him off?", but everyone understands that a man can be beaten in a fight. It's an entirely different atmosphere.
And of course it's bullshit (the rest as well, but that one is just especially idiotic) to ask "What was she wearing?" (in general). But that's something that people are actively trying to better. Not for men.
It is plausible to me that there is also a culture of shame affecting men who have been raped, along the lines that you have described. But if so, it is very silent compared to the rape culture surrounding women, and thus has far less impact on men who are not themselves victimized. It is no doubt no less awful for men who are the victims of rape, and I agree that any such culture must, must, must be fixed.
But at the same time, I can't blame the activists out there for targeting their primary effort at the side of the problem that has the broadest effect and the widest societal impact. And also, I optimistically believe that if we eventually do manage to fix the culture of shame and blame attached to rape that affects women, a lot of that progress will automatically carry over to the case of men who are raped, too. Feminism has never been just about making things better for women! That's just where the first big steps are naturally found.
It seems the only people making that assumption are you and the grandparent.
People worldwide are using hashtag #NotBuyingIt to call-out sexism in the media.
Let the media know: sexism won’t sell. Use #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to challenge the misrepresentation of women and girls.
You're looking for a bias that just isn't there. Our society most definitely has a problem with rape and sexual assault— specifically towards women— but I don't see any Twitter users making the assumption that "t-shirt advocating rape" == "t-shirt advocating rape against women" There are men who are victims of sexual assault and rape, and you do them a disservice by ignoring them to push your own agenda.
Several of them include the #NotBuyingIt hashtag, a hashtag specifically related to sexism against women.
I really hesitated to respond to you again, at this point it seems you are doing nothing more than post hoc rationalization of your original inaccurate assertion.
I should also clarify that I am in no way arguing that rape is equally a male and female problem. Women deal with rape culture much more than men. My argument is that I don't believe these twitter users were upset because it was targeting women. I think they were upset because rape is a terrible thing to happen to anyone.
How do I boycott a tiny company I've never heard of and whose products I would never buy?
This is one reason companies are supposed to go public: you could just short their stock, and ask everyone else to do the same.
People may use two things to demonstrate that they disagree with this: exit and voice^. Why just one is responsible and the other is "socially pathological" (?!?!)
I can't even imagine how, in this particular case, boycott(exit) would be more effective than voice!
Sorry, if Amazon does disgusting shit like sell this (and it is disgusting shit, no matter how it was created) Amazon deserves to be scolded for it. Nothing to do with censorship.
Boycotts are ineffective and most certainly wouldn’t work here. What’s wrong with making clear that something someone does is disgusting and they should stop it? That’s quite simple.
For example, a likely next step for Amazon would be to implement pre-screening, by a human, of all products before listing.
Net neutrality, and good government, and fair markets, all depend on the most direct forms of accountability available, IMHO. Again, I can certainly understand how the shirt could be offensive.
There is a Mark Twain book with the word ni-ger printed in it. You better do something about it quick. It's offensive.
Amazon is, for all intents and purposes, a machine. It takes inputs, does algorithmic work, and produces output (a marketplace).
Some of the inputs, such as this case, are other machines.
Yes, next you'll argue that I'm wrong and that Amazon is run by people. Sure. Most of their workforce is in the warehouses, and that's gradually being reduced by machine labor. There's a small percent of people that do programming, make broad business decisions, and collect profits. The human attention pool for policing every input and output of the machine is cosmologically small.
What's their other major businesses? EC2, S3, etc.
Someone sets of an EC2 micro instance VPN for tor to use Silk Road or illegal porn. Amazon is at fault?
Suppose I publish a book wih a hypothesis that the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews helped the gene pool of Europe and resulted in over 60 years of peace. Does Amazon get to remove that because its illegal in Germany but legal in the US?
Just because something is offensive to you, it's not to others. I actually found some irony in the rape tshirt. I might wear it once as a gag to a party with close friends that get the joke, but that would be it. Others would wear it as a "fuck the world" statement. Others actually like rape fantasies.
Summary: Amazon is a colossal machine. It is unfair and impractical to censor the machine marketplace. Keep your opinions to yourself, because what you find offensive is funny to others.
Your argument has everything to do with censorship. You're saying it was Amazon's responsibility to prevent people from using the services it provides for "disgusting" purposes. Amazon providing the e-commerce API was no different in the mind of any person or organization from Adobe selling the t-shirt seller Photoshop, MasterCard handling the payment, UPS shipping the product, Exxon selling the the fuel, etc.
But if Amazon were to respond to customer concerns by censoring offensive content, that makes much more sense.
Would it be hypocritical for the offended to not also boycott: Twitter because they permit their users to Tweet rape jokes (I have seen them); YouTube because their users can upload videos that recorded people telling rape jokes; for a long period of time Facebook allowed "pro-rape" pages; and finally do not forget to boycott Google because they have indexed every rape joke on the web, they even indexed the "rape t-shirt" permitting such things to be searched in an instant, plus Google makes money when you search for rape jokes.
Or call it bumper sticker outrage. It's shallow because it demonstrates the absolute bare minimum of response and investigation.
And yes it's hypocritical.
>Retraction: and finally do not forget to boycott Google because they have indexed every rape joke on the web, they even indexed the "rape t-shirt" permitting such things to be searched in an instant, plus Google makes money when you search for rape jokes.
Google does NOT include sponsored results for "rape jokes".
Google includes sponsored results for "rape t-shirts".
*Some of the Google sponsored results may be as offensive if not more than the t-shit in the OP.
The joke isn't to "promote rape", the joke is the absurdity of putting a statement like that in a context where it doesn't really fit. In this case the "keep calm" meme.
So a joke is offensive, big deal... Be offended, it's your right. Just stop whining about it.
I love this mentality of "I have every right to say something offensive, but shut up if you call me out on it!" It makes it easy to identify the immature ones in these discussions.
See: Prison rape jokes.
For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.
> There is a 7% probability of being raped within one month of entering youth jail
And to spice it up with sexism, the state's minister of justice explained:
> Well, a jail is not a girls' guesthouse.
In other words, yeah, 95% of guys who hear you joking about rape know that you're obviously just joking. But it turns out that there's one guy who doesn't: he thinks you and the guys who laugh are giving him a quiet nod of support. And you don't know which one he is.
Most clinically-depressed people think everyone will feel just as negatively in response to anything they say/do as they themselves do. They are incorrect about this. The world is not this way; their perception is distorted.
For that matter, most zoophiles think everyone has secret thoughts about how sexy animals are; same for pedophiles with children. They are, obviously, incorrect about this. The world is not this way; their perceptions are distorted.
Mental illness can warp your view of the world, and of what is "predictable behavior" in other people. What evidence is there that rapists are rationally observing a rape-normalizing society and concluding that rape is okay, vs. that rapists are observing any society through a distorted lens and concluding that that society is okay with rape?
Which is to say, more practically: what evidence is there that, in a perfectly "cleaned up" society where nobody ever makes a rape joke, there would be any less rape, or a single less rapist who thought society approved of rape?
If people already are one way [e.g. "making rape jokes"], you should find a factual, consequentialist reason that making them some other way ["not making rape jokes"] would improve society, before going through all the effort to convince everyone to change their collective minds. Without the ends, why the means?
That being said, here's a link: http://psp.sagepub.com/content/32/3/286.abstract At least from the abstract, it sounds like it's addressing exactly the question you've asked (and that previous studies have found related results). (I took that link from a recent blog post by Jim Hines, which includes quite a few others worth reading, too: http://www.jimchines.com/2013/03/preventing-rape/ .)
For example, in thailand everyone holds the king in very high esteem. So if you were to be in thailand and make a joke about the king, even if it was extremely lighthearted and not very derogatory a thai person would likely take this as a much greater personal insult than something like a rape joke.
The main lesson I see here is that the people behind this shirt company set themselves up to sell a horrifically inappropriate item. They weren't being deliberately awful (as far as we know), but they were painfully thoughtless about where their algorithms would eventually take them. And doing harm unintentionally still counts as doing harm.
You could certainly see a lot of humour as potentially offensive to some people, or in some cases slanderous (which I think is worse than merely being offensive). You could also think that somebody who chooses to wear a shirt like this might be advertising themselves as bit of a dick.
Inappropriate is also a sticky concept, it might be an inappropriate item for a kindergarten teacher to wear to work but it might not be so inappropriate to wear around adults who would understand it as humour.
Quite honestly, I think he's right. If people were informed about amazon not being the ones who are selling the t-shirts and the algorithmic nature of the t-shirt generation then people would probably react completely different to encountering that t-shirt.
Umm... Only on Hacker News does that count as a normal business model that one could possibly expect :)
Ok, so there was no bad intent. That’s alright. But the bottom line still is that Amazon is selling disgusting crap and nothing can change that. People criticizing that led to the removal of said disgusting crap. This played out quite nicely, actually.
That's not a silly hypothetical, it happens all the time. Even cleverbot is racist as hell.
If you write a bot and let it participate on IRC, you are ultimately responsible for what it does there. If there's a bug that makes it spew random ASCII text twenty times per second that clogs the channel and makes it unusable, that's your fault. If it spews racist hatred and makes minorities unwilling to participate (or makes bigots feel emboldened and at home), that's your fault too.
When your nanobots go haywire and start converting the entire planet into grey goo, I will blame you. (For all the good it'll do me.)
Otherwise though? It would be plainly irrational to become angry at me for writing a bot that, during the course of it's remixing, reveals or highlights racism on IRC.
To put a finer point on it, if I make a twitter bot that immediately echos anything you tweet it, and one day someone says something offensive to it, am I to blame? Of course not, that is absurd. A markov chain bot is different in no way relevant to this discussion.
If they're offended that a shirt exists somewhere, anywhere, saying to rape someone then sure, there's probably no difference here.
If they're offended that some asshole went out of their way to make a shirt talking about raping people then it's a bit different. There never was anyone who went out of their way to make a shirt. This is the near-equivalent of running "rm -rf * /" to remove only sub-directories and accidentally inserting the extra space.
So should they have checked their verb list better, or thought more about the possibility of what their algorithm would generate? Absolutely! But their sin was not nearly as bad as actually thinking that such a shirt would be acceptable to make.
For me personally, intent is the difference between forgiveness and not. I find people that refuse to acknowledge intent to be rude and selfish.
I have a problem with people who act like a lack of intent makes offense unreasonable. That’s just insane to me.
Only if the basic violation was physical (my example of manslaughter, for instance). Absolutely it can for emotional issues (where intent is really the only thing that matters). In fact, if someone takes something in a way that it wasn't intended, gets offended, and then stays offended after you explain that real non-offensive intent, then they are just holding onto something that doesn't exist (and never existed!). The entire reason for the offense in the first place has been annulled, yet they are hanging onto the anger/resentment because... Well I have no idea—this concept has never made sense to me at all. That is the selfishness I speak of.
It's just insane to me, too. But I understand all too well that certain people are wired to think that way. In fact, I believe this particular incompatibility was one of the fundamental reasons my marriage failed. Luckily, that life lesson has taught me to avoid those kinds of people in my personal life—I find them very difficult to deal with in the long run.
Obviously, this went horribly wrong in this case, which brings us to the lesson:
Optimization technology can generate lots of designs that score well against some set of metrics. You still need someone with decent 'taste' to select which solutions you'll put into production. It doesn't matter if you're optimizing stock trading strategies, jet engines, or t-shirts.
Creating a decent UI for selecting good designs from a giant batch of autogenerated designs is a hard and interesting problem, and almost always needs to be custom built for the domain. Picking the best jet engine needs a totally different UI than picking the best stock trading strategy.
I for one am glad amazon is not in the business of censoring what's for sale or not. Their company provides an online market place to sell goods, period. Blaming amazon for something that 1) offended you and 2) was a mistake is incredibly short sighted.
Ever make a mistake in your life? They did, it happened, they apologized.
I am in the bad habit of reading HN on my old phone (CM7). The comments load much quicker than the articles, and sometimes they lead me astray.
I'm sure lots of automated scripts are involved in a product going up onto Amazon, but to suggest that no humans were ever involved in the creation of those shirts is probably nonsense, unless you have evidence to show that it actually is the case. The most obvious explanation is that a human made them, and it's not particularly difficult to believe that someone out there would make that shirt design. I've met people like that.
It's an obvious thing to do. Amazon already sell print-on-demand ebooks, allowing vendors to spam the products list with a torrent of shit at minimal cost so they can find out which bits stick. This is exactly the same principle.
(See also, in case you're reading this later and there are a lot of comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5310567)
my verb list doesn't contain rape https://github.com/andrewcooke/pn-art-adj-adj-n-v-adv/blob/m... . i'm not sure why - i did check by eye, but i don't remember having to exclude it. however i did filter so similarly-spelt words are rejected. so perhaps it was similar to some other verb.
maybe i should make t-shirts.
anyway, this is just to say that you've also, now, met someone who makes random sentences with computers. we do exist.
"Keep calm and ripen?"
Nothing wrong with rapping.
$sentence = "Keep Calm And Carry On";
$replacements = array('Carry' => 'Other', 'Dictionary', 'Words', 'On' => 'A Lot', 'Off', 'Them', 'Us');
echo strtr($sentence, $replacements);
Once you've done that, simply use a Macro to add it to Amazon.