Wow! This was a fantastic paragraph, buried in
Brion's longer letter,
and it was so good I wanted to just reproduce it here to highlight it.
Brion Vibber wrote:
> The current versions of these articles aren't necessarily the best way
> to handle it; I think they would do better to discuss *and debunk*
> racist notions as much as possible, putting them in the proper context
> so when some kid hears about "racialism" or "reverse racism" and
> looks it up on Wikipedia they'll see a rational, neutral explanation of
> what makes some people think and speak that way -- so they'll
> _understand_ why to discount those ideas. Pretending the terms don't
> exist or saying "oh, that's just what RACISTS think, if you touch them
> it might rub off on you! stay away!" strikes me as ineffective, or even
> counterproductive ("look, those Wikipedians are so biased they're afraid
> to take us on rationally!"). There are lessons to be learned from the
> evil that men do.
I'd just like to add an AMEN and a further highlight. I think that this is
perhaps the best possible way to deal with offensive text: to discuss it,
why it's offensive, and most of all, why it's incorrect. If you don't have
access to enough information to fully refute the claims, but you know that
99% of academics disagree, you can just put in statements such as "These
claims are highly disputed among those who have studied the subject, and
are generally regarded as an extremist, ultra-minority view." Then you can
send out a call for balanced treatment to fellow Wikipedians!
An example I'll use is the "masculism" article on the English Wikipedia.
Obviously QIM doesn't like feminists. At all. And he thinks the sexes are
fundamentally different. This view was plastered all over the masculism
article in no uncertain terms as part of the very definition of the word,
and also as fundamental truths. :) I found that this could be greatly
ameliorated by just adding "Some masculists claim..." at every appropriate
point, and adding a brief counter-balance paragraph at the end. The article
still needs serious work, mind, I just got tired of arguing with QIM. ;)
But it now isn't a blatant statement of one user's view of the world.
Likewise, "Racialisme" or "Racialism". Suppose you just added text
effect (my French is poor - J'ai oublie' tout les mots - so I'll stick to
"Racialism" is a term used by some to distinguish between what they claim
are genuine racial differences, and the predjudice and exaggerated
difference associated with the term [[racism]]. It should be noted that
many see "racialism" as fundamentaly racist in and of itself. For instance,
many dispute that "race" is a meaningful term, biologically speaking, when
applied to human beings. Others argue that the classification, while
socially valid, is so vague as to make discussions of "racial differences"
invalid in anything but a highly subjective sense.
... and so forth. Babel renders this in French as:
"Racialism" est un terme employé par certains pour distinguer ce qu'elles
réclament sont des différences raciales véritables, et le predjudice et la
différence exagérée liée à la limite [ [ racisme ] ]. Il convient noter que
beaucoup voient le "racialism" en tant que fundamentaly raciste seule. Par
exemple, beaucoup contestent que la "race" est une limite signicative,
parlant biologiquement, une fois appliqué aux êtres humains. D'autres
arguent du fait que la classification, tandis que socialement valide, est si
vague quant à rendent des discussions "des différences raciales"
inadmissibles dans n'importe quoi mais un sens fortement subjectif.
(Except that it rendered "race" as "course", which was definitely not
meaning I had in mind. I changed it to "race" in the translation. :) Feel
free to correct and use this text and any variations thereof in further
discussions on race and racism. I think Wikipedia has some good, balanced
coverage of the subject... the article on, I think, [[race and
intelligence]] for instance. You can also find an excellent summary (in
English, alas) at the website http://skepdic.com/iqrace.html
on the same
particular facet of this ongoing debate.
For the record: my own biases: I feel that "race" is meaningless as a
biological term when applied to humans. It has some validity as a social
term because of past history, but has always been so vaguely defined as to
make strict classification impossible; therefore almost all generalizations
using such classification are essentially meaningless. I also think that
"racialism" is, usually, used simply an effort to sanitize racist
commentary; however, I have sympathy for those trying to discuss e.g. race
in social and historical context, who are often accused of racism simply for
using the term. End non-list-appropriate aside. ;)