Flippant use of "Nazi" on this site..

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out Archives' started by Alaskanteach, Jan 13, 2007.

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  1. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    I read a thread on this forum where someone used the term "Nazi" in my opinion, in a disrespectful way. I think that Nazis performed horrific acts against humanity, and the use of the term in less serious contexts, or in a joking way is disrespectful to families of the deceased as well as survivors. As educators, don't we have a responsibility to be careful about this even more?

    Your thoughts please.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That term stings, just like the flippant use of the word "retard" by the kids. I don't think that either term is normally meant to be used in a hurtful way, but sometimes that's irrelevant.
     
  4. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    I do agree with what you're saying, but I think the use of the word in a joking manner comes from the joke about the "soup nazi" from Seinfeld. When people use the word they probably aren't even thinking about the crimes Hitler's followers committed.
     
  5. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    True, both terms are hurtful, but I can forgive a kid much more quickly than I can a teacher who has an education, and should behave professionally.:sorry:
     
  6. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    I have heard the term used disrespectfully before AND after the Seinfeld episode.. (I was SHOCKED by that episode at the time also but I guess I am getting a little off track here..) I just don't see anything funny about the term at all.

    I think the first time I heard the term used outside of the historical context, someone was talking about the La Leche League.. and that was years before the Seinfeld episode.

    When did the term become acceptable as a joke? I just don't see how it is funny. I can't even think of any other way that the term "Nazi" could have been used to refer to anything other than the murderous political group.

    All that aside, I just don't see how it should be ok to say on a forum for TEACHERS, kwim? If we allow these kinds of words into our vocabulary and in these contexts... I don't know, the ramifications seem pretty astounding. I mean, we work with impressionable minds.
     
  7. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    I see where you're coming from, but chances are whoever used the word was posting something light-hearted and was joking with other adults on this forum (even though the use of the word may be inappropriate). I doubt that the person would joke that way with children.
     
  8. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I agree with Alaskanteach. And besides, it violates Goodwin's Law. :cool:
     
  9. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    "However, as used today the phrase has no direct connection to fascism, in the same way that accusing someone of being a philistine does not mean they are from Philistia or say anything about people who today live in Canaan, or calling someone a vandal does not mean they are actually connected to that German tribe. The fact that these nouns have lost their original capital letter is an indication that they have become part of everyday speech with few people considering the origins of these terms when using them." - Wikipedia, which, granted, is not a reliable source of information and I don't allow my students to use it.

    However, it does tell the truth about how certain words or expressions have evolved over the years. I often refer to myself as a Grammar Nazi, which is a well-known term used to describe someone who is adamant about proper grammar and spelling. I understand how someone might be sensitive about the word 'Nazi," capitalized and used in its original context, but expressions such as 'soup nazi' or 'grammar nazi' or 'numbers nazi' simply refer to someone who is militant in his/her stance about a particular subject matter. No offense intended.
     
  10. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    I agree with these statements. However, the Holocaust occurred within the last 100 years- I believe the other terms are much further removed in historical terms. I do not think that Nazis are so far removed as yet, that the term has lost its original meaning (as some of the words listed above). And frankly, I hope it never does.


    I am also militant about grammar. But I would never call myself by this term. And it is impossible in a VERBAL sense to differentiate from capitalizing and not capitalizing.. although, now that I think about it, the capital does not really matter that much to me. I still think there are enough terms in the English language (or any language, really) to show due respect to families of Nazi victims by not using the term Nazi in an irreverant way. I would pick a different term. I have an extensive vocabulary. I can pick something less offensive.
     
  11. Tigers

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    I tend to go very PC so I am curious to hear you elaborate a little more. I think that often people reffer to each other with extreme names in a joking manner. Some people even refer to themselves this way. This is not a term that was established as degrading and is actually a label for those who degrade. Similar to the expression of raping the land. The negative connotation refers to the actor not the victim. Another example would be the overuse of the word devil or Satan. Knowing that it causes discomfort is enough, I was just curious as to why this word specifically as opposed to the many others.
     
  12. Tigers

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    Alright mamacita, I have to know...with all that word knowledge you do Scrabble, right?
     
  13. Mamacita

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    The only person who has ever beaten me in Scrabble is my husband. He is a mathematician and scientist and he 'cheats' by using esoteric terms and jargon. But then, so do I. Why not? They're real words, and it's not our fault if others have never heard of some of them. They've got access to dictionaries. He is a worthy opponent.

    I also care very little for PC or euphemisms; I believe they cheapen our language. I myself am blind as a bat and starting to go deaf, probably from all the naughty music that blasts day and night in this house. I'm also clumsy and borderline obese. My husband IS obese and bald as a baby's behind. We laugh at these things in ourselves. I think if more people could laugh at themselves, it wouldn't matter so much what the world thought or said. My great-grandmother is a survivor of Bergen-Belsen and she calls herself an 'etiquette nazi.' Lighten up, universe.
     
  14. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I have rarely seen it used on this site. When I have, I never thought much about it. I've always associated it with another way of saying "hardass".

    It has evolved in it's meaning, as so many words in our language have. Right or wrong, I believe it has become a sort of mainstream word today. I don't use it, but it personally has never bothered me when I hear it used in the way Mamacita was describing.

    Now if I heard a "skinhead" use that term, it would take on an all together different meaning for me.
     
  15. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I agree Kinder.
     
  16. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I'm the world's worst about using analogies and sometimes they aren't that good. :) Here goes:

    The term Deaf and Dumb is used alot. When someone says it, I cringe, but I don't really get mortally wounded without considering their intent. The same goes for all discrimination statements. I do see it as a way to educate. With the term, Nazi, I know people aren't using it to be malicious so I don't tend to get upset. The original poster is right about one thing, perhaps we should educate ourselves with the knowledge that while we might not find it to be a hurtful term, others might. That alone, deserves proper thought.
     
  17. Upsadaisy

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    You know, I really didn't think there was an overuse of the term on this site, but then I did a search. Tons of threads came up.
     
  18. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    I assume this question was for me? (Not sure...) I teach in a public school. The Holocaust is part of history curriculum. Devil and Satan generally are not.. (At least, I cannot think of any instances for those ..) Now the "N" word (think Mark Twain here) IS in my curriculum, and I very carefully talk to students about connotation, appropriateness in everyday speech, etc. regarding its use IN literature.. so why then, is "Nazi" flung around so callously? So, maybe I have issues with THIS word (Nazi) because other words are treated more carefully (in my opinion).
     
  19. Poisontipped

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    People at my school use the word Nazi alot, even though I know (and they know) about the things the nazi's did. Whilst I don't have a problem with it personally, I know that many people at our school are very sensative and some of the teachers outright dissapprove of people using that word.
     
  20. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Totally agree. Especially with the last line.
     
  21. Tigers

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    Yes, but with the word nigger (I am pretty sure that the site will block nig***, someone who is nigardly, the term was used to degrade a whole race. The word nazi, or nationalist, was used to describe a group of people, with pride, who degraded other classes of people. The extreme fashion in which they did this was looked down upon by many, and thus the negative connotation. Now other's draw from that negative connotation but that is placed on themselves. I agree that calling someone else a nazi can be very hurtful. However, someone reffering to themselves as a nazi portrays themselves as the agressor, the antagonist, or the bad guy. And while devils or satan are not part of the curriculum they are very prevelent in our culture. Many would consider the attrocities committed by the devils or satan much worse than those committed by Hitler, Himmler and the likes.
     
  22. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    FWIW the words niggard and niggardly have nothing to do with the "n" word. Their etymology is completely different.
     
  23. Mamacita

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    Malcolm is correct.
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    "Language, the loaded weapon," as Dwight Bolinger had it...

    Each side has some valuable points here. It's not clear, however, that we're going to get much of anywhere while each side refuses to concede the other's valuable points.
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I'm with you. It's clear that people using the term did not use it with malicious intent. The fact that people find it offensive, however, should mean that we should consider not continuing its use. Isn't that the bottom line?
     
  26. Poisontipped

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    Would any teachers here actually ban the use of the word "Nazi" in their class? Or, I should probably say, would their be the same reprecussions(sp?) as someone uttering a swear word?

    I'm just curious, because some teachers at my old school would have dissallowed it
     
  27. Mamacita

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    I find it offensive when people write "loose" when they mean "lose," or "ideal" when they mean "idea." Let's not allow that, either.
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

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    That's a specious parallel, Mamacita: you're articulate enough to do better.

    There are (with, to be sure, a few exceptions) no accepted alternative spellings for words. The same cannot be said of the word to which Alaskanteach objected and of other words and phrases that people have found offensive: it is almost never the case that the objectionable word is the sole apt choice.
     
  29. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I think "banning" words gives them power. The trick is to truly educate the kids about what the word means and help them realize why they should choose not to use the word.
    I think that time has desensitized us to what the word is tied to. It's not the first word that has happened to, and probably won't be the last. That said, if the word bothers some, then I think, as common courtesy, we should avoid it. There are many words that bother others that I don't have a personal problem with, but again, as a courtesy, I don't use them. It's the same with the words that bother me that might not bother others. I don't think we should have to walk on tiptoes, analyzing every word we say, but a word, like Nazi, is not a common everyday word. Remembering not to use it shouldn't be a problem.
     
  30. Poisontipped

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    Im sorry, I should have worded my question more clearly.

    Should the word "NAZI" be used in an inappropriate way, would that then have represcussions???

    (Of course people use the word in History etc)
     
  31. Tigers

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    thanks, I always thought that it was a fusion between the earlier put down niggardly and the word negro.

    That said, I am not sure it takes away from the point too much.
     
  32. Tigers

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    alaskan teach,

    I was just trying to figure out how the offense taken from the word is similar, since there are, in my mind, very apparent differences. I don't want to make any more assumptions, but all I can understand is that because the Nazi's committed horrific attrocities the comparing oneself to a Nazi suggests that these attrocities were in some way okay...is that right?
     
  33. Mamacita

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    No.

    Comparing oneself to a Nazi might be, but using the word in the context of 'some kind of hardnosed advocate of something' most certainly does not.

    "I'm a Nazi, and proud of it, and my head is shaved and I hate Jews" is bad.

    "I'm a real Grammar Nazi" simply means that I am a stickler for the rules of good grammar and spelling.

    When Gram would call herself an "Etiquette Nazi" it had nothing whatsoever to do with her past, wherein she was branded and beaten by Nazis. It simply meant that she was a stickler for good manners, and she knew that using the word "Nazi" in relation to that would get her point across: she meant business, and you behaved yourself or ELSE.

    Being able to interpret things within the proper context is an important skill to have. Much of true education is the ability to make connections, not assumptions.
     
  34. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    No offense to anyone, but I would think people, and especially adults, would have enough common sense to know this. I'm even surprised this whole discussion has even gone this far because I think it's just common sense. ;) :) Well said Mama!
     
  35. TeacherGroupie

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    Which, however, amounts to telling those who object to flippant use of the word - and it seems that Alaskanteacher objects on principled grounds - that their feelings count less than someone else's "right" to use a word that's offensive.

    As Dorothy Sayers has her character Lord Peter Wimsey say, "A gentleman never gives offense unintentionally."

    I'm not suggesting that the word be banned... but I for one will be more mindful of its use.
     
  36. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    I never said that or intended that, I just think people need to lighten up a bit.
     
  37. Mamacita

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    JenPooh, I thank you.

    The thing is, TeacherGroupie, that the use of this particular word is NOT offensive to those who understand the concept of 'context.'

    This reminds me of those people who believe that ". . . don we now our GAY apparel. . . ." or ". . . the ox and ASS kept time. . . ." were bad, and changed the words to suit their own personal viewpoint. Or how about the people who changed Charles Dickens' wonderful "A Christmas Carol" because they could not understand "He had no further INTERCOURSE with the spirits. . . ." in any context except the sexual one.

    I find this very, very sad, and especially so in educated people.
     
  38. mediha

    mediha Rookie

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    I agree with you, Alaskanteach about your saying "we should be careful while using the words. Cause we are educaters."
    The word Nazi seems very cold.

    By the way......HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUUU....Mamacita :)
     
  39. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    I respectfully disagree. I think that using the term "Nazi" in a context outside of the historical one is going to allow the term to become less powerful- to make it too "everyday".. and I want this term to stay a powerful one. I am not going in anyway to allow the historical occurences' impact to degrade- if I can avoid it. I want my students to understand the DEPTH and IMPACT that a group of people went to to dessimate another group.

    I also want to respect the stories of survivors as well as those that died by honoring their individual experiences. I don't see how calling oneself a "seating chart Nazi" or some other absurd context is going to respect NOR honor.

    I DO understand the concept of context, and the term is STILL offensive. An "ox," "ass," or even "intercourse" did not massacre millions of people.
     
  40. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    sticks and stones..........remember when..........If ONLY it were true............
     
  41. Tigers

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    Hey I didn't say I found it offensive, I was trying to interpret why somene else found it offensive. I asked the question because I wanted clarity.

    Assumptions are based in connections. A lot of the time the puzzle may not be correct...Then, you make assumptions based on those connections. Many great minds made many great mistakes based on assumptions. This in no way detracts from their education. No, rather it adds to it. In life we are often wrong, that is to say we make mistakes. In my mind, education, has always been learning. Learning from ones mistakes is just another path in education.
     
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