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Is this type of racism and bigotry allowed here?

Why is “cold X” a bad thing and “hot X” a good thing in English?

I'm against this question primarily because of the username and icon, but it's obviously from someone with limited command of English anyway. So if it's acceptable anywhere, it's an ELL question. Whatever - I completely reject the idea that "how culture influences language" axiomatically makes for On Topic questions here. That's nearly always going to net down to the (historical, or current) difference between Anglophone and non-Anglophone nations / societies - almost by definition On Topic on ELL, but Off Topic here. - FumbleFingers

A well reputed user is saying "I'm against this question primarily because of the username and icon"

Dozens of Stack exchange users supported Ukraine if not hundreds.

Now, if someone is supporting Palestine, should their question be closed because of the user name?

Also, this user is saying, "it's obviously from someone with limited command of English anyway"

So, if a person is supporting Palestine they don't know English???

Wow, I am shocked and amazed!!

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  • 1- good to bring up on meta for discussion, 2- you can always flag for moderator intervention to judge.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 5 at 13:53

2 Answers 2

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At the very least, claiming to be against a question primarily because of the poster's display name and profile picture, while also dropping a vote to close the question at the same time, represents a problematic form of voting. I expect moderators to step in and at the very least warn the user who voted to close while also announcing such a claim, and maybe even remove or edit that comment. It should be made perfectly clear that voting is on content, not on users.

In any case, other reasons for closing the question were already presented as comments in the question itself, so even preventing this particular vote would have likely not prevented the question from being closed.


The part whether this behavior constitutes bigotry is another, much harder subject. A lot can be said about othering another user because of their publicly announced political stance, but I would recommend reading other posts on the subject (on Stack Overflow, but the same principles apply):

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    Whenever a user shows explicit political or religious messages in their profile, I ask myself what’s the real motivation for being on a site like EL&U whose specific purpose is “the English Language”, its usage and rules.
    – Gio
    Commented Jun 4 at 8:20
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    @Gio The fact that you can partake in the site is already political in nature. So is the way that you present your profile. That question is akin to asking why someone should give up on showing personality traits, beliefs, and/or ideals to participate in a Q&A platform. The answer is "it depends", but the code of conduct and the terms of service are the main sources of guidance.
    – E_net4
    Commented Jun 4 at 11:11
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    The rules say that you can put almost anything in your user name and icon - this may seem stupid, but it is what it is. The site doesn't seem to have a problem with dozens of users proclaiming their support for transphobia in user names. If you find someone's username detracts from their answer or renders the site less useful or pleasant, it's arguably legitimate to downvote.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 5 at 10:19
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    @StuartF You seem to be banging an odd bell. Support for transphobia is a code of conduct violation, so you would flag it as such. Using other votes to report CoC violations is a complete disservice.
    – E_net4
    Commented Jun 5 at 11:28
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I want to address the last part of your question, which was about how we handle questions from non-native speakers.

ELU offers gets questions that are quite obviously (based on their content or writing style) from non-native speakers learning the basics of the language. Those questions usually, and quite rightly, get migrated to ELL instead.

The reason for these migrations isn't that such questions are "too easy"; that isn't an acceptable reason for closing questions, now that we've made the decision to remove the "Not enough research" close reason. The reason why we migrate these questions is that the two sites have different goals and different target audiences, and thus a question from a non-native speaker will simply get a better answer if it's posted to ELL instead.

A good answer on ELU is one that is technically correct, i.e. consistent with modern approaches to English grammar. A good answer on ELL is one that is useful to learners, providing practical advice for someone who wants to be able to communicate effectively. In other words: if the ideal ELU answerer is a linguist, the ideal ELL answerer is a language teacher.

With questions like yours, I think the most relevant question is: is it a question that a native speaker might also ask? I think the answer is quite clearly "yes"; I'm not entirely sure of the answer myself and would be curious to know. This could be answered by careful research looking into etymologies of some of the terms in question (research that the woefully inadequate current answer has failed to perform). In many cases, as with "cold blooded," the origin has nothing to do with weather conditions!

Was FumbleFingers making a bigoted assumption that defenders of Palestine can't be good speakers of English? I don't think he was actually making that claim, since he surely knows that a very large number of native speakers share the same sentiments. I think he was instead saying that the question's writing style (before the recent edits) suggested it was from someone unfamiliar with the language; that would be a reason to migrate to ELL in many cases, but I don't think they necessarily apply here, particularly because the question is about the language's history, not about how to use it in the present day.

Of course it is completely unacceptable to close a question because you don't like someone's username or profile picture. If you think that someone's profile is offensive in such a way that it violates the site's policies, that could be brought to the attention of a moderator. But "Free Palestine" is not, to my knowledge, against any such rules; it's a straightforward expression of a very common political view, and it's not inherently an endorsement of violence, bigotry, or hatred.

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    Premise: I agree with 99% of everything you said. However, the username and flag is not only political, it is divisive. I can imagine someone living in or from Israel being triggered by it. Imagine if this were 1943, and the username was "Free Italy" and the avatar was the Italian flag, I would think no one would find it offensive or problematic. On the other hand, there were many openly supporting Hitler in northern Europe and the US who might have felt justified in creating their own political usernames and political avatars.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 6 at 9:03
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    @Mari-LouA If the username in question were "Support Hamas" or "Support the IDF," that objection would make sense, but "Free Palestine" isn't an endorsement of Hamas per se.
    – alphabet
    Commented Jun 6 at 14:44
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    No… but for someone whose family has been directly involved in this war; it could cause hurt…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 6 at 15:08
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    There is an unfortunate precedent of people using "Free Palestine", especially accompanied by "from the river to the sea", to refer to the erasure of Israel. At the point that we are now however, I think trying to establish "Free Palestine" in a global setting as offensive is a lost cause. Its wider use in modern times is in support of peace and harmony in the region.
    – E_net4
    Commented Jun 7 at 9:10
  • @E_net4 - well, that’s your personal view, about which many may disagree. But since CoC sets no clear limitations, what’s the problem about what anybody can post?
    – Gio
    Commented Jun 7 at 15:48
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    @Gio The limitations are definitely in place. It is up to moderators to assess incidents in a case-by-case basis. And when someone describes in a flag how genuinely distressed they are over something, that is something moderators consider in their assessment. But if you want, you may find folks in the network who really take issue with "Free Palestine" and hear those problems from them firsthand.
    – E_net4
    Commented Jun 7 at 16:14

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