This is in reference to this post.

One of the example sentences is Asians are not supposed to be good ball players.

I realize that the OP is just trying to provide examples to illustrate his question, but I also think it is possible to find examples that do not touch on the sensitive subject of racism.

I also realize that some people argue that the world is becoming very PC, maybe too PC. But given the amount of controversy recently surrounding Asian basketball player, Jeremy Lin, I think the community should at least discuss it.

Does the community moderate/edit such posts? Thoughts?

  • We had some discussion about this a couple years ago, but I can't find it for the life of me. I hope it hasn't been deleted.
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 3, 2012 at 15:32
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    I wasn't around a couple of years ago, so I don't know what conclusions the community reached. My personal opinion is that, if anyone feels insulted because of a sentence like the one mentioned, that person is over-sensitive. Nothing good can come of such an attitude, looking for malice where supposedly there was none.
    – Paola
    Dec 3, 2012 at 16:16
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2 Answers 2


The question is specifically asking about the phrase supposed to, and asking about its usage in the negative to express a stereotype. That's a valid language question.

As a member of the community, you're always welcome to come up with an equally good example that you find less offensive, and make an edit. Of course, that might be quite a challenge in the context of a stereotype. I thought of a few examples, but, in this particular case, the nature of the phrasal usage is bound to be off-putting for someone:

New Yorkers are not supposed to be considerate.
Women are not supposed to be good drivers.
Rich people are not supposed to be good tippers.
Short people are not supposed to be good ball players.

By the way, I have very nice friends who hail from New York, my wife is a competent and safe driver, and I don't ascribe to the stereotype that well-off people never leave generous tips. All that, plus Spud Webb.


I don't believe that it is possible to find an example sentence to which somebody somewhere won't object, and I certainly don't believe it desirable to censor free discussion for such a trivial reason as this. If a post said "Asians are not good ball players" this question would be worth asking (though my personal answer would still be "Don't censor it, assuming the point's relevant"): if a post said "Asians are not supposed to be good ball players" then it would be viciously illiberal to try and prevent somebody asserting a (perhaps unwelcome) fact about Western society: but to object even to a mention of the sentence, without any indication of the poster's actual views, borders on the Stalinist.

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