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View Full Version : Offensive comment by a respected vendor? Or am I being too sensitive?



Sig808
11-24-2016, 12:48 PM
So, I was going to make a purchase of an ukulele from a respected online vendor. Then I read this in one of their posts, "If a China man cuts his finger on a band saw, does he not bleed?" While not completely derogatory, I still found the term "China man" a little off-putting.

I'm new to the forum and was expecting a little better acceptance of all people. So have I been away from the islands too long and am now being too sensitive? Or is this what I should expect from this online community?

lfoo6952
11-24-2016, 01:24 PM
Sig:

I kind of agree with you, but withhold judgement without reading the context of his sentence. "China man" was a derogatory term used in the US many years ago, but I haven't heard it used in a long time. I would have liked to read the entire post to see what he intended. Maybe he meant no harm, and wrote it out of ignorance or lack of cultural sensitivity.

Jim Hanks
11-24-2016, 01:39 PM
I think I remember that post and if it is the one I am thinking of, the broader context made it clear the speaker was not putting down men from China in any way. In fact, it was trying to make the point that builders in China are the same as Hawaii in that they are all people, bleed the same way, etc.

Maybe you're referring to something completely different, but I suspect you're being too sensitive.

Mivo
11-24-2016, 01:44 PM
Personally, I focus more on intent than on words. Reading over the blog entry I believe you're referring to, t see nothing that implies any disrespect. The author says in the sentence before: "... and enjoy a great ukulele made by human craftsman." The "China man" line simply expresses that Chinese ukulele builders are just as skilled as those in Hawaii. I've never seen the term "China man" before, and it doesn't strike me in any way as offensive (and it seems descriptive to me: a man located in China), but I'm not a native speaker.

Nickie
11-24-2016, 01:54 PM
Sig808, that's a tough call. I don't know what he meant by this. I don't know the context of his statement. I probably would have left out the word China.
These days, it seems like it's awful easy to offend people. I don't quite understand it. It would take one helluva lot more than that to insult me.
I think we could all use a little more chill and a few more filters before we type/speak.
I also think that a little diplomacy goes a long way.
Why don't we all pretend we are standing in front of who we are addressing when we communicate online?
Sig, I think you'll find that ukulele underground people are the nicest around. I love these folks.
Welcome, and enjoy!

Sig808
11-24-2016, 01:55 PM
Thanks for the feedback. @jim u are correct. While I agree that his intent may have been positive, there are better words to use rather than a historically derogatory term. Unless in North Carolina, China man is/was not considered derogatory compared to California where it most likely is. Interesting to see that this may also reflect a regional difference.

jollyboy
11-24-2016, 02:01 PM
As I understand it the term 'Chinaman', because of historical use in a pejorative context, is now considered objectionable. My own feeling regarding context and intent is that, if someone used such a term without realizing that it was considered offensive then they should not be demonized for it. However, that doesn't mean that it's okay for the term to be used and, ideally, the post in question really ought to be edited or deleted.

ScooterD35
11-24-2016, 02:19 PM
Perhaps it was just a grammatical misstep, and he intended to convey "Chinese man" instead.


Scooter

SteveZ
11-24-2016, 02:49 PM
During my tender seven decades I've seen a lot of English language words and phrases change in definition, meaning, intent, from offensive to okay and vice versa. It's hard enough to keep track of language usage in one country (or even region with a country), let alone in all lands where a particular language is prevalent. Trying to keep up with who's offended by what and why can be a losing battle, especially when words and phrases are presented in sound-bite abbreviated format.

On any given day any one of us can be tagged with the insensitive (or worse) label if what we say/write is rebroadcast in a redacted manner so that total context and structure, as well as intent, is not shown/heard. I try to give the speaker/writer the benefit of doubt at all times, because most folk are decent folk who don't go out to intentionally offend.

Once on this forum I had an issue with a posting's terminology content. I discussed the matter directly with the member via private message - and the result was a new understanding by both of us, and a new respect and friendship occurred. It seemed at the time that the private approach was more appropriate than a public one.

DaveY
11-24-2016, 03:26 PM
Perhaps it was just a grammatical misstep, and he intended to convey "Chinese man" instead.


Scooter

This is exactly what I thought, before reading Scooter's post. OP, if you don't want to buy from them, then don't buy from them. Then you have made a statement about how you feel about the term you are convinced they knowingly used, or maybe just the typo they unknowingly made.

buganeal
11-24-2016, 04:21 PM
IMHO, I am Chinese, I personally am not offended by the way "China man" was used. In fact, In south east asia, we use it the same way as well. It is a descriptive term more than anything. Chinese, Malays, Indian, Caucasian men denotes bloodline where as China, Malaysian , Indian , American denotes country of origin.

China man to me means: Made by a man from China. A man , just like you and me who happens to be a regular guy from Singapore, a Singaporean man.

tigersister
11-24-2016, 04:53 PM
I grew up on the west coast, and for me that term catches on my ear so to speak. However, the way the rest of the sentence reads I get the gist that he's acknowledging there is little difference between himself and someone else building ukes on the other side of the world. Skill is skill is how I'm interpreting it. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt in this case. Laungauge can be tricky. There's regional differences to consider, besides tone and body luanguage that is lacking in the written word. Also, there are a lot of people on the forum for whom English is not their native language.

tigersister
11-24-2016, 04:54 PM
BTW I'm Soo (pronounced just like Sue). Welcome to the forum, sig808.

Kanaka916
11-24-2016, 04:59 PM
Without any links to the post in question, it would be diffucult for any of the Mods to make a call whether or not it's intent is of a derogotory manner. I'm quite positive if the intent was to offend, the complaints by members would have been numerous. If you decide it should be further reviewed, provide me with the link to the post via PM. Much Mahalos ...

UkieOkie
11-24-2016, 05:38 PM
i don't normally chime in on things like this, but I am a libertarian and as accepting of a person as you'll likely meet. I mean that. I will give you a chance if no matter if you're left, right, center or whatever. However, I ask this of the OP, were you offended? I get standing up for the under represented and all, but getting offended on behalf of others seems to really be trending upward. I'm of mixed ethnicity and it really bugs me when someone get offended on my behalf.

Just my two cents.

Love to all.

kohanmike
11-24-2016, 05:45 PM
Since it was written as China man, I read it as a man from China. It was not written Chinaman, which in pronunciation is the derogatory term. I actually had to read jollyboy's post spelling it that way to realize why Sig808 thought the statement was offensive.

pritch
11-24-2016, 09:23 PM
Also, there are a lot of people on the forum for whom English is not their native language.

Unfortunately it's even more complicated than that. British English is different to US English, and it's not just the spelling. Down-under English is different again. What's fine in one place can be offensive in another.

Croaky Keith
11-24-2016, 10:27 PM
Sometimes we need to re read what somebody writes to understand what they are saying, because we are all different, we each have different ways of saying the same thing.
I believe the intent was, & I read it as, to convey that no matter where in the world something is made, a skilled person, male or female, is still a skilled person. :)

mm stan
11-24-2016, 11:05 PM
My take on this every person who posts or responds has to be responsible in making it clear on their statement
No matter who reads it, there should be no excuses that it might have meant otherwise.
I don't care how one writes it, China man is rude, offensive and derogatory racist term to me.

mrStones
11-25-2016, 12:05 AM
Just my 2 cents : I think you should not over-analyze every word someone posts or say, but see the concept behind.
I am italian and I just watched a video from Stu Fuchs in which he acted like a stereotypical italian (gestures a lot, shots compulsivly "Molto bene" and so). I found it funny and made me laugh.
I am quite sure some italians could find it offensive, but I know it was not meant for that at all.
I think stereotype or common saying does not necessary reflect any derogatory or racist idea, but are means to just explain a concept.

mm stan
11-25-2016, 12:52 AM
China man is not a common saying, try saying that to a Chinese person

That is very insensitive and a insult, do you use that term often?

jollyboy
11-25-2016, 01:14 AM
I think stereotype or common saying does not necessary reflect any derogatory or racist idea, but are means to just explain a concept.

It's not really the same thing. It's not an issue of stereotyping or common phrases. The term carries historical baggage - it has been used in the past in an insulting, derisive way. In a similar way to the n-word. And just like the n-word some people find it offensive and unacceptable, regardless of context and/or intent. The word itself is semantically tainted and it upsets (some) people to hear or see it being used.

Also, in this case, I honestly don't feel that it's a case of people being offended just for the sake of being offended.

Biedmatt
11-25-2016, 01:31 AM
I believe it was meant to be a "philosophical" question with a twist on phrasing. I believe "China man" was meant to be a play on "China doll". We know China dolls will not bleed if cut and we know a Chinese man will bleed if cut. So he's creating a conundrum by asking if a China man will bleed when cut. Not a whole lot of point asking the question if it was not meant to cause some thought, otherwise you just create a situation where someone may be offended. No need to use the question to demonstrate Chinese are as good a luthiers as any other ethnicity, he already stated that too: "...and enjoy a great ukulele made by human craftsmen".

Robin Harrison
11-25-2016, 02:16 AM
Quote Originally Posted
Perhaps it was just a grammatical misstep, and he intended to convey "Chinese man" instead.


Scooter
This is exactly what I thought,
........ ..agreed. Sort of thing a Google translate program does.

hmgberg
11-25-2016, 02:27 AM
I wasn't aware that "China man" is used as a slur. I have heard other derogatory terms for Chinese people, which I will not repeat. In fact, the only time I can recall "Chinaman" being used at all is in reference to a small island off the coast of Oahu that my friend Stan showed me, "Chinaman's Hat." However, it is not a term I would have used except in reference to the island, simply because it seems improper grammatically. As other posters suggested, I would say Chinese man, or Chinese person.

All of this is to note that I was ignorant that it is, or has been, used to derogate. It is possible that the person who used it in the OP's referenced post was similarly ignorant. We can't know for certain. What is important in that case is that they be made aware people find it offensive. If their intention was not to offend, I think they would want to know. That someone might be offended would be enough for me. I wouldn't engage in a debate about whether they should or shouldn't be offended, or suggest that they are being overly sensitive if they are.

mrStones
11-25-2016, 02:42 AM
China man is not a common saying, try saying that to a Chinese person

That is very insensitive, do you use that term often?


Hi Stan, no I don't use that expression. Honestly, I don't even know what exactly means.
Please remind english is not my main language and perhapse "common saying" is not the right term to explain what I meant, so I beg your pardon if I insulted someone.
But as I read online (just googled it) that term appears on a lot of pages and not on "racists/neonazi" pages.
Again, it's just my personal opinion and I am not fully aware of the historical background, so I could be wrong.
But (to make an example I can relate with) when I read something about italians=mafia online, I don't take offense (even if some of my country could) IF the context is just a mean to explain a concept.
I don't think that post was against or meant to be derogatory for chinese people. So I would not personally be offended I think.

kkimura
11-25-2016, 02:45 AM
Context is important when conveying information. That said, some words and phrases are best left unsaid in polite company. (much the same as not discussing religion or politics)

mm stan
11-25-2016, 02:50 AM
Aloha Hmgberg... yes you can call that island Mokoli'i that is the correct name :)
as for the above statement, a racial epithet is no joke.. ahem and if a china person will bleed is the worst I've ever heard wow

mrStones
11-25-2016, 03:02 AM
It's not really the same thing. It's not an issue of stereotyping or common phrases. The term carries historical baggage - it has been used in the past in an insulting, derisive way. In a similar way to the n-word. And just like the n-word some people find it offensive and unacceptable, regardless of context and/or intent. The word itself is semantically tainted and it upsets (some) people to hear or see it being used.

Also, in this case, I honestly don't feel that it's a case of people being offended just for the sake of being offended.

Hi Jollyboy.
As I said english is not my language and probably I don't know all the historical background that made that word "tainted" (could be the author of that post unaware too?).
But as I said before, I would not personally offended by a derogatory term even if my country/people/religion/etc. is targeted if it is just a mean to explain a concept.
Again, maybe I am too zen or insensitive even toward myself, but I would not be offended.
I would if used as a insult to someone or done maliciously, but as I imagine from what is said before, that was not the case.

kkimura
11-25-2016, 03:20 AM
Hi Jollyboy.
As I said english is not my language and probably I don't know all the historical background that made that word "tainted" (could be the author of that post unaware too?).
But as I said before, I would not personally offended by a derogatory term even if my country/people/religion/etc. is targeted if it is just a mean to explain a concept.
Again, maybe I am too zen or insensitive even toward myself, but I would not be offended.
I would if used as a insult to someone or done maliciously, but as I imagine from what is said before, that was not the case.

Yes that makes sense. However, if offense is taken, an apology should always offered regardless of context and intent.

Someone said, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

buganeal
11-25-2016, 03:21 AM
Aloha! In the spirit of learning about different cultures ( I live in a different geographical location) , what is a suitable way of saying " Man from China" ? Chinese man is not a correct definition as not all China citizens are Chinese and there are many Chinese people born in other countries and are not citizens of China.

I did a google search with the correct mandarin description [zhong gou ren, (中國人)] the officially correct way to describe the PRC Nationals and I am amused that it translates to " Chinese person " and not "citizen of PRC"

chinese person = ( hua ren ) 华人 NOT 中國人
中國 = China
人 = Man / Person

I am not discounting the fact that some may feel offended by that phrase thus am wondering how to word it correctly.

For the record, I am having coffee with my friends who are from China and they say China man (noun:a human being of either sex; a person.)/person is fine for a description. The nicest way is to call them Chinese Nationals... but that is too formal

mrStones
11-25-2016, 03:25 AM
Yes that makes sense. However, if offense is taken, an apology should always offered regardless of context and intent.

Someone said, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Absolutely. I agree too with others that it would advisable to not use that term, but I would not be personally offended by that.
BUT if someone felt offended, an apology should be offered regardless of the context (as anything in a civilized and modern society).
Just a question for the OP : had you tell the writer that you felt offended by that term in that post ? I am confident that he/she will go immediatly to change that post and offer an apology.

Pukulele Pete
11-25-2016, 03:52 AM
I think it is only offensive if you want it to be.

kkimura
11-25-2016, 04:09 AM
I believe the vendor was trying to paraphrase Shylock in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" where Shylock says, "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?"

Unfortunately, not many of us can write as well as he did.

DaveY
11-25-2016, 05:06 AM
How many of the commenters here did a search for the phrase to find where it appeared? It's from Ukulele Review (which is part of The Ukulele Site). Who thinks that they (which I assume means Andrew K.) had any negative, racist, etc. intent? And look around the TUS site -- there are some spelling and occasionally informational errors, which I say in their defense, not as a criticism. Most sites have such errors. And look at the OP's first post, at the bottom: "Last edited by Sig808; Yesterday at 07:00 PM. Reason: spelling". People make mistakes. And the OP to this point has disappeared, while all this discussion goes on. If someone is offended, then don't buy from them. It would be that person's loss, in my opinion.

kohanmike
11-25-2016, 05:48 AM
I believe the vendor was trying to paraphrase Shylock in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" where Shylock says, "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?" Unfortunately, not many of us can write as well as he did.

An excellent observation, and something I can relate to since I'm Jewish and both my parents went through and survived the Nazi concentration camps.


I think it is only offensive if you want it to be.

I agree. As I said, if the writing had the spelling Chinaman, that's one thing, but it was China man, to me that's very different since it's not pronounced the same way.

hmgberg
11-25-2016, 06:10 AM
Aloha Hmgberg... yes you can call that island Mokoli'i that is the correct name :)
as for the above statement, a racial epithet is no joke.. ahem and if a china person will bleed is the worst I've ever heard wow

Aloha Stan:

Thanks for the correct name. I would be more comfortable using it.

Hope Thanksgiving was good. Talk to you soon.

H

kkimura
11-25-2016, 06:25 AM
For years in my younger days, I was unconsciously offended by John Alfred Prestwich's JAP motorcycles and engines. Today, thankfully, I am less sensitive to the appearance of those letters.

Sig808
11-25-2016, 06:27 AM
Thank you everyone for their comments on both sides of the coin. At the risk of sounding too corny, reading through this thread makes me proud to be in a free country like America. No, we're not perfect. But it's a beautiful thing that a forum like this exists and that we were all able to voice our opinions freely and respectfully. I'm not sure this would have gone as well in other countries! In addition, it has also shown me the kind of community the UU really is. While we may all have different viewpoints and backgrounds what cuts through it all and brings us together is the love for the Ukulele and what it can do for a person's spirit. Spread the Aloha everyone!

hawaii 50
11-25-2016, 06:35 AM
How many of the commenters here did a search for the phrase to find where it appeared? It's from Ukulele Review (which is part of The Ukulele Site). Who thinks that they (which I assume means Andrew K.) had any negative, racist, etc. intent? And look around the TUS site -- there are some spelling and occasionally informational errors, which I say in their defense, not as a criticism. Most sites have such errors. And look at the OP's first post, at the bottom: "Last edited by Sig808; Yesterday at 07:00 PM. Reason: spelling". People make mistakes. And the OP to this point has disappeared, while all this discussion goes on. If someone is offended, then don't buy from them. It would be that person's loss, in my opinion.



now that Andrew has been named here...I know he is not a racist or even close to it...I am Asian and so are many of his employees and friends/family ...I believe the OP has been away from Hawaii too long....I lived in the Bay Area for over 35 years and do not understand this thread at all....

if he had a problem with the statement he should of contacted Andrew by email or phone makes no sense to post it on the UU...the OP's Aloha must of been left in Hawaii....

my 2 cents

Rllink
11-25-2016, 06:48 AM
Haha, this is so much fun. Every year they have the China Baby reunion in Minneapolis for kids adopted from China. We have a China Baby in our family. A seventeen year old China Baby now. I tried to discuss this thread with her yesterday. I said, "how do you feel if I call you a China Baby?" She responded, "leave me alone, you're weird."

Mivo
11-25-2016, 07:18 AM
But it's a beautiful thing that a forum like this exists and that we were all able to voice our opinions freely and respectfully. I'm not sure this would have gone as well in other countries!

In other countries? UU is an international forum with members from all over the world and from all walks of life.

I'm still not sure whether or not this whole thread isn't an attempt to troll.

buganeal
11-25-2016, 07:56 AM
now that Andrew has been named here...I know he is not a racist or even close to it...I am Asian and so are many of his employees and friends/family ...I believe the OP has been away from Hawaii too long....I lived in the Bay Area for over 35 years and do not understand this thread at all....

if he had a problem with the statement he should of contacted Andrew by email or phone makes no sense to post it on the UU...the OP's Aloha must of been left in Hawaii....

my 2 cents

I second that! In the short time I have had dealing with Andrew, I have nothing but good things to say about him.

Booli
11-25-2016, 08:00 AM
now that Andrew has been named here...I know he is not a racist or even close to it...I am Asian and so are many of his employees and friends/family ...I believe the OP has been away from Hawaii too long....I lived in the Bay Area for over 35 years and do not understand this thread at all....

if he had a problem with the statement he should of contacted Andrew by email or phone makes no sense to post it on the UU...the OP's Aloha must of been left in Hawaii....

my 2 cents

I agree with this ^. One who publicly airs grievances about another person, without FIRST speaking directly to the person that offended them, TO ME, either seems vindictive and motivated by malice, or is just plain ignorant of kindness and compassion to other folks, and in THE USA, there is this thing about being innocent until proven guilty. Seems like the OP had preconceived notions about the intent of the words he had trouble with, even before coming to UU to shake out the dirty laundry in public.

Why not give the benefit of the doubt, and seek clarification from the author of those words, BEFORE speaking circuitously and in an obfuscated manner, yet such that those in the know will easily figure out the source?


In other countries? UU is an international forum with members from all over the world and from all walks of life.

I'm still not sure whether or not this whole thread isn't an attempt to troll.

Seems the OP is unaware of the global membership of this forum.

Troll? Maybe.

I am quite disappointed that this thread exists in the first place.

I had tried to stay out of it until now, but to assign malice as an intent for simple words, that the semantics of which are not clarified, seems like a recipe for misery.

Maybe its time for some of us to meditate on the meaning of Aloha?

TheCraftedCow
11-25-2016, 08:11 AM
the derogatory term was not as an adjective and a noun, it was all one word. I see nothing offensive in being called an American man by anyone from anywhere in the world. Yes, Chinese would have been more appropriate to one who understands grammatical rules of the English language. It certainly has stimulated conversation.

mm stan
11-25-2016, 09:17 AM
I know Andrew very well and he is a good friend, I do not believe for one instance he would say such a thing even
When pushed to the limits. He is the kindest and one of the nicest people I know.
You must have gotten this way wrong that this came from the ukulele site, I really don't think so nor I know
ANDREW would never in a million years say that.

mm stan
11-25-2016, 09:25 AM
How many of the commenters here did a search for the phrase to find where it appeared? It's from Ukulele Review (which is part of The Ukulele Site). Who thinks that they (which I assume means Andrew K.) had any negative, racist, etc. intent? And look around the TUS site -- there are some spelling and occasionally informational errors, which I say in their defense, not as a criticism. Most sites have such errors. And look at the OP's first post, at the bottom: "Last edited by Sig808; Yesterday at 07:00 PM. Reason: spelling". People make mistakes. And the OP to this point has disappeared, while all this discussion goes on. If someone is offended, then don't buy from them. It would be that person's loss, in my opinion.

I wouldn't assume it was Andrew at all, I know him very well and I know he would never have said that.
Assumptions are not facts, you should not say things you don't know and start people believing it.
Please retract your comment or edit your post.

stevejfc
11-25-2016, 09:30 AM
I also can't believe that Andrew would say anything of the sort............it's just not like him.