RE: Tech writers, comments about.

Subject: RE: Tech writers, comments about.
From: Mailing List <mlist -at- ca -dot- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 16:23:22 -0500

Downing, David [mailto:DavidDowning -at- Users -dot- com]
> <<You're asking the members of this list to be responsible
> for _someone
> else's_ feelings, which we have no control over and which may
> or may not
> be _appropriate_. And you're giving that someone -- anyone --
> veto power
> over our communications.>>

> Well, granted, you can't be responsible for each individual's
> idiosyncratic reaction to everything you say, but what you
> can do -- and
> what we as technical communicators are SUPPOSED TO KNOW HOW to do, as
> part of our training -- is to become aware that certain types of
> messages and ways of delivering them, affect certain groups
> of people in
> certain predictable ways. For example, jokes about certain
> racial/ethnic groups will likely offend members of those
> groups. Jokes
> about wheelchairs or unusually think glasses will likely offend
> handicapped people who need to use these devices.

> The sticky issue, of course, is where do you draw the line?

That's not sticky, unless you want it to be... or somebody
else does.

If there are specific rules in a given venue, then you
abide by them, or not at your peril, but they are the
relevant guidance.

As a general rule, outside of specific venues, the dividing
line is between chosen behaviours and things that people
can't help because of biology or accident or whatever.

That is, people should not be held accountable or ridiculed
or otherwise be subjected to arbitrary inconvenience for
the way they were born or for the result of some accident
or event that was not their fault. They can be held to
account (including ridicule.... in venues where that is
not forbidden), for choices and the results of choices
(such as actions taken) that they have made.

So, no matter how foolish you (generic) act in (say) this venue,
we need to be really subtle and circumspect if we
want to ridicule you for it, and we must never
(even discreetly) ridicule you for something that you
really can't help. :-)



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