-3

A comment of mine (quoted in this meta-question by Dog Lover), began with what I thought was the innocuous expression 'Jesus H Christ'. Dog Lover, to whom my comment was originally addressed, took exception to it, asked me not to "blaspheme", and my comment disappeared with no explanation.

The use of the name/phrase by me was inspired by the intriguing ELU question Who is Jesus H Christ?

Note the information in the answer of Peter Shor:

The H. was inserted to avoid committing blasphemy by saying Jesus Christ. It's the same phenomenon as replacing damn with darn. So Jesus H. Christ here is presumably not the son of God but just somebody else with a very similar name.

(emphasis mine)

Unfortunately tone and intention are sometimes not easy to either encode or decode in quick, short written communications. I don't think the expression is any more "blasphemous" than the songs of Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell. And we English speakers often say such things as 'Jeez' and a multitude of other invectives, usually without knowing that they are short forms or corruptions or euphemisms of 'sacred words'. The first word of my comment ("a very similar name") was meant to express mild frustration/annoyance at the advice given by Dog Lover who gave what I thought was poor advice to a non-native speaking newbie on the site. I suppose 'Golly Gee Whiz' or 'geewhillikins' (both corruptions of holy words) didn't encode the same frustration, and one wonders, casually if the OP would have been offput by either of those words. Whatever the case, those who use the phrase asked about in Who is Jesus H Christ? might have their comment subject to censorship. Seems to me a curtailing of freedom of speech, but whatever, I'm not here to defend anything or anybody.

I've also read that offensive words are not allowed to stand in titles (they're replaced by xxxxx). Another sign that Jesus H. Christ is not considered offensive by the mods.

My entire comment is reproduced:

Jesus H Christ @doglover 16 hours haven't even elapsed yet. Selecting an answer greatly lessens the chances of a question getting other, possibly more useful, answers.

Thanks to Dog Lover for not considering the comment so "blasphemous" as to refrain from reposting it him/herself in their meta-question.

Related comment by Flater contains Holy sweet Jesus (since changed to Arrgh).

  • 7
    I think it is the second commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Just avoid using the expression, No surprise there are users who may take exception to it. – user66974 Jul 24 '17 at 21:07
  • 6
    For those who may not be aware, it is the 2nd commandment of the Christian religion. @Josh, not everyone here is Christian or knows all the Christian cultural norms. Also, I'm sure Christians aren't monolithic in their perception of that rule. – Mitch Jul 24 '17 at 21:21
  • 1
    @Mitch - I was just trying to explain why some users might take exception to the usage the expression in question. Sensitivities to such issues may vary considerably among people, the best thing is to avoid using the expression IMHO. – user66974 Jul 24 '17 at 21:27
  • 4
    @Josh I don't disagree. It just sounded as though Christian taboos were somehow special here (and they're not). Frankly the term 'blasphemy' is very 19th century. We should respect the sensitivities of others, but also recognize that people may not be aware of the taboo force any more. – Mitch Jul 24 '17 at 21:31
  • 1
    The weakest test of the appropriateness of a comment here is: Would I make the same comment to a stranger verbally, face to face? This is the weakest test because face-to-face you have tone, expression on your face and body language to modify (strengthen or ameliorate) the words. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jul 25 '17 at 0:50
  • 5
    @Mitch - "Christian taboos?" Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit murder. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Who in their right mind objects to these? The western world is greatly influenced by a Judeo-Christian morality (wherever it came from before.) It's "taboo" to ask people how much money they make. It's rude and inconsiderate to take the Lord's name in vain. There are so many alternatives... – anongoodnurse Jul 25 '17 at 1:06
  • 11
    I'm not a Christian, wasn't raised a Christian, and have no specifically-Christian taboos. However, I thought that comment was too much, in exactly the same way that I think comments that start out "For crying out loud" or "Oh, come on" are too much—they're the verbal equivalent of a sneer and/or an eye-roll. (I didn't see it before it was deleted, but might possibly have flagged it if I had.) I also thought having a whole meta post about it was a bit much, though. – 1006a Jul 25 '17 at 5:58
  • 1
    @1006a Thank you for your positive input. I appreciate you seeing how having a meta post might have been a bit much; however, the main focus of the meta post was actually whether I had done something wrong. I tend to be a bit personal when I write though, which is maybe why the meta post seemed to be more about the comment. – Dog Lover Jul 25 '17 at 6:42
  • 5
    @anongoodnurse Don't be so disingenuous. We're talking about taboo language here, not killing or stealing. – Mitch Jul 25 '17 at 12:49
  • 10
    Clare, it's not that 'Jesus H Christ' is blasphemous (blasphemy laws and even the concept were tamed over the last century). It's that it was used in the context of admonishing someone for an action. That's what triggered all this. – Mitch Jul 25 '17 at 13:21
  • 1
    @Mitch - I was not being intentionally disingenuous. I may have overreacted, or hyperbolized, but I was not intentionally comparing murder to 'swearing'. I was saying some of us take the ten commandments seriously. Language is important; it's our major means of communication. If I called someone a f****** c*** in front of your mother, you would probably be pretty offended. Well, I cringe too when someone uses God's name in vain. It's crass. If you disagree, go ahead and call someone that in front of your mom. If you can't/won't, then don't judge others. It's only language, right? – anongoodnurse Jul 27 '17 at 12:07
  • 2
    @anongoodnurse How dare you bring my mother into this. Does your mother know? – Mitch Jul 27 '17 at 13:24
  • 2
    Please don't vandalise your question titles to make them meaningless – curiousdannii Jan 31 '18 at 7:10
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Why was my comment removed? – Mari-Lou A Feb 15 '18 at 20:15
15

Obviously the answer is Yes: it is so objectionable as to be deletable, as a comment.

The system does not show who flagged comments*, but your comment received one non-committal "No longer needed" flag ("This comment is obsolete, chatty, or otherwise unnecessary"), and two "rude or abusive" flags. The last flag was sufficient for the system to delete the comment.

While a certain amount of frustration might be evident in the comment, starting it with Really might have conveyed it fairly well, too.

Drawing a parallel between using a term and mentioning that term is false. In order to discuss something, it is necessary to mention it, and that's what you're doing here. It's not the same thing at all as using it in a comment. The use–mention distinction is something which has come up quite a bit on Meta and is mentioned in the most recent FAQ post on flagging.

For what it's worth, I think Mr Hen's answer on the "Jesus H. Christ" question is far more conclusive than Peter Shor's. My take is that the H is there for emphasis: it's not a euphemism at all. While that might indicate a transatlantic difference in interpretation, emphasis would definitely make its use in a comment beyond the pale.

Suffice to say, if an expression is not necessary, and it easily could cause offence (or even just a sharp intake of breath) then replace it or leave it out altogether.


* Actually moderators can get to this data, with the requisite esoteric knowledge and lots of clicks. Deletion data is easier to see. The comment is marked as being deleted by the last flagger who caused its deletion, but that's not generally visible either, so I'm not saying who it is. It wasn't a moderator raising a "binding" flag though: it was one of three community flags.

11

There are a multiple things going on here.

  1. the taboo status of 'Jesus H Christ'
  2. the context of the use of 'Jesus H Christ'
  3. common decency

  1. About the taboo status, or blasphemy as it has been called, 'Jesus H Christ' is pretty tame along the taboo scale. (note that the following is actually more main site relevant than meta). It doesn't evoke the same shock and distaste as pejoratives and the 'n-word', or expletives like Carlin's 'seven words' "shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits" (note the lack of religious terms there). Of course there is a history where blasphemy was the worst taboo (the Abrahamic commandment against using the deities name as an expletive) prohibition. In English, this formerly strong blasphemy has become very tame (in contrast, Quebecois French uses all sorts of religious terms as profanity.

In the end, 'Jesus H Christ' is about as blasphemous as 'poop' is an expletive. There is very little shock associated with it. A newscaster will most likely never use it. It is pretty informal.

  1. As to the context, the comment, you said

Jesus H Christ @doglover 16 hours haven't even elapsed yet...

By introducing that comment with a mild oath, you have shown how exasperated with @doglover, and it comes across as tendentious or confrontational. That is what made JHC a problem. If instead you had not said 'Jesus H Christ':

@doglover 16 hours haven't even elapsed yet...

it would have come across simply as the common SE advice that it is, just to wait to accept an answer.

  1. You may not be a Christian or be aware of the taboos of Christians or any other group, but if you use a term that is taken in a disparaging manner by any group, then it should probably be removed.

This is of course a language site and taboo terms are entirely free to be discussed using quotes, but to use them is different (the use/mention distinction). We discuss profanity openly here, but using it in a disparaging manner is discouraged.

So consider blasphemy like epithets. It may not be blasphemy to you, but if others are hurt by it, like a racial epithet or any other taboo term, then you should politely avoid it.

This isn't censorship or authoritarianism, it's just being polite.

So, no, 'Jesus H Christ' is not blasphemous (or extremely tame), but using it in the context you did magnified the import.

5

This is too long to put in a comment, so I'll just share my input here.

Firstly, as Andrew Leach has mentioned, your comment was not removed by means of one-strike-and-you're-out, so to speak. It was a result of flags from other community members, and, to be perfectly honest, I didn't initially flag. I also made sure to conceal identities within my Meta question.

The comment didn't offend me personally, per se, but it didn't sit well with me. I am a Christian and was raised as one, and using the Lord's name in vain was extremely taboo. (On a personal note, while I still find "Jesus" as an expletive to be uncouth, I have a much greater tolerance for it. I think adding the "Christ" makes it worse because it's extending the religious reference. I also very much dislike "for Christ's sake".) While I don't go to church, I have great respect for God.

Now, I don't want to sound like I'm having a whinge, because I'm not. Neither do I want to hold a grudge. All I can say is that - and I admit that I can have trouble restraining myself - you need to be mindful of the words you use and the tone you convey. One of the things I enjoy most about this site is the community, and it's important to Be Nice, in keeping with StackExchange's golden policy.

Now, the second part. I get that you're upset with your comment being deleted, but that's very different from a use-mention. The question you have linked to falls under use-mention. The mentions of the Lord's name on that question are used literally, not emotionally. And I think you'll find that if there were a question about the F-word, all contextual mentions of that word would be uncensored.

As for the title of the linked question, it is not censored because it is personifying the entity to whom the expletive refers. Jesus Christ, when referring to the person, is not taboo.

Thanks to Dog Lover for not considering the comment so "blasphemous" as to refrain from reposting it him/herself in their meta-question.

I'm going to ignore the tone here and instead focus on your concern. Once again, it falls under use-mention. I am quoting what you commented, so it becomes contextual. The fact that I didn't censor it does not mean that I didn't still find it 'so blasphemous'. As with questions about swear words, censorship can get in the way of appropriate discussion.

  • 6
    @Clare Do you ever read your comments? This is genuine question, because I don't see how you could post some of your comments if you reviewed them and thought about how they would be received. Or, possibly you intend to be provocative? – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jul 25 '17 at 3:34
  • 1
    @Clare I agree with ab2 here. Your comments are often sharp and lacking sincerity. For example, your comment under my invitation to Interpersonal Skills: not only were you asking offtopic meta questions about the new community under my post, but were also of a terrible tone. english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10577/… – NVZ Jul 25 '17 at 6:35
  • 3
    Clare, looking at your profile, it appears to me you almost never upvote anything. You only downvote. This to me shows a sort of negative attitude towards everything. (cc: @ab2) – NVZ Jul 25 '17 at 6:37
  • @Clare I am sincerely informing you so as to avoid issues in the future. Take this in the right sense, please. :) – NVZ Jul 25 '17 at 6:41
  • 1
    @NVZ You are a fantastic example of a community (oops, sorry, SE) member who follows the Be Nice model. I suppose while I'm at it I should ask whether Clare is right in saying that this is not a community. – Dog Lover Jul 25 '17 at 6:45
  • 1
    @NVZ How do you know that the user mainly downvotes? I thought that kind of information was private, visible only to their owners? I can see on my activity page the number of upvotes vs downvotes I have cast, but on other people's profiles I only see the total number of votes cast. – Mari-Lou A Jul 25 '17 at 7:55
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Although "where and when" votes are cast are anonymous, we can see "how many" are cast from the activity page of a profile. See Clare vs Mari-Lou A for example. It reads to me that you upvote faaar more than you downvote, which I like. But Clare does the opposite. Not that I'm dictating how to vote. I'm just saying what I read from those numbers about a person's vibe. – NVZ Jul 25 '17 at 8:40
  • 1
    @NVZ Now, I see where it is, it's at the very bottom of the activity page! My gaze was focused on the tabs bar which has: summary, answers, questions, tags etc. No wonder. Four years I had to wait to find this bit of info. – Mari-Lou A Jul 25 '17 at 8:50
  • @Mari-LouA Glad that was helpful to you. :) – NVZ Jul 25 '17 at 9:01
  • 3
    @DogLover Maybe the question was rhetorical, but I'll answer it anyway - EL&U is a community. With the amount of time that individuals spend on this site, it might even be a favourite or even primary social group for some. – Lawrence Jul 26 '17 at 7:02
  • 1
    @Lawrence That's what I thought. And in fact, come to think of it, StackExchange is about community. – Dog Lover Jul 26 '17 at 7:04
4

Here's my tuppence' worth. The link in Dog Lover's meta question directly pointed users to the post which led to the offending comment. As a result, there was no anonymity, though Dog Lover omitted saying who posted the comment in the meta post, anyone with half a wit knew it was @Clare. With the comment now deleted, it seems that Clare is claiming ownership (we already knew) and wants everyone to know it. Ostensibly, the bemused user writes enquiring as to the reason behind its deletion. But in a comment, written below Dog Lover's answer, Clare writes:

I'm not at all upset that my comment was deleted. I also think the appeal to "community" is a laugh, because I don't see any of the SE sites as being that. What's curious to me, in passing, is what gets censored here. And that's the last I have to say on the matter. Even this question was not something I actually wanted an answer to; I just enjoyed writing it.

The comment is copied and pasted, in case that too gets flagged...

Regarding the spurious deletion of a comment, you'll get used to it. Everyone, that is any user who has been a member for longer than six months, has had at least one comment deleted. Comments don't need to be "blasphemous", taboo, offensive, racist, sexist, ageist, nationalist, rude, off-topic, irreverent, flippant, or obsolete to merit deletion. Just annoying.

  • 2
    P.S I am a relapsed Roman Catholic and I don't consider hearing the name of Jesus Christ, with or without the H, to be blasphemous. The vast majority of Christians make the following exclamations daily: "God Almighty" and "Oh My God". Technically, these too fall under blasphemy, but admittedly I don't see these remarks often in comments. – Mari-Lou A Jul 25 '17 at 6:53
  • Thank you, Mari-Lou. I have long had great respect for you on this site, and I think it's good that you have copied that comment. I do not want to flag it, as quite clearly Clare is already out to get me. And you are exactly right about comment deletion: it's not a targeted attack. – Dog Lover Jul 25 '17 at 6:57
  • It's interesting to hear your opinion on blasphemy as well. I don't so much hear "God Almighty", but I do hear "Oh my God" a lot. I don't consider "Oh my God" overly blasphemous (and I do say it :/), and that can probably be attributed to social change. For me, at least, there is a scale of blasphemy, and I think "Jesus Christ" and "Oh, for Christ's sake" are the worst. – Dog Lover Jul 25 '17 at 7:05
  • @DogLover as an (ex) Roman Catholic, take it from me. Even saying "Oh my God" is a sin. You cannot pick and choose which are blasphemous or not. The commandment is one, see Josh's comment, there are no exceptions. – Mari-Lou A Jul 25 '17 at 7:11
  • Mari-Lou, you are right - that is the reality. But I am willing to admit that I am not without faults. – Dog Lover Jul 25 '17 at 7:14
  • 1
    I think you meant lapsed Catholic? Otherwise you're saying that you kicked the Catholic habit once, but you've taken it up again ;) As a non-practicing RC myself, I could interpret it either way. – ColleenV parted ways Jul 25 '17 at 17:38
  • @ColleenV you're right. My memory fails me sometimes, I should have checked. Although once a RC always a RC, it's difficult to forget and totally refute the church's teachings from one's system. – Mari-Lou A Jul 25 '17 at 18:53
-2

Yes, the comment was so objectionable as to be deleted. There is such a thing as self-censorship which one might be forced to do to fit into the ethos of a website

As to blasphemy, one might consider the many scriptural passages that indicate the holy status (called taboo in another answer) of Jesus, in doing so remembering that not everyone in Western culture has a post-Christian mindset; thus one scripture, containing one of the oldest Christian hymns, in other words it is being quoted in Paul’s letter not originated by him, is

“For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so, in honour of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, dear friends, as you always obeyed me when I was with you, it is even more important that you obey me now while I am away from you. Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation,”

Paul’s letter to the ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:9-12‬ ‭(link)

For those who found the comment annoying, impolite, or even blasphemous, you have my apology.

‬‬

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .