LINGUIST List 7.763

Sat May 25 1996

Disc: Linguistic Society of America & Political Correctness

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <aristartam2000.tamu.edu>


Directory

  1. P.Fearark, LSA and Political Correctness
  2. Michael Covington, Follow-up: LSA/politics
  3. "Ellen F. Prince", Re: 7.734, Disc: Linguistic Society of America & Political Correctness

Message 1: LSA and Political Correctness

Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 12:24:04 CDT
From: P.Fearark <arkfear.org>
Subject: LSA and Political Correctness
Lynne Murphy (LINGUIST 7.749) comments:

>there are two ways of looking at the LSA's decisions about (whether
>or) not to meet in cities with discriminatory ordinances.
>
>one is the view that this is a "political" move. this is the view
>that michael covington takes in his recent posting. on this view, it
>is easy to make the argument that this is inappropriate action for
>the lsa to take, since it has nothing to do with linguistics.
>
>the other is the view that by avoiding places where some of its
>members are discriminated against, the lsa is serving its membership.

If indeed LSA were intent simply on protecting its members
from harassment, I would be very much in favor of this policy.
There is no reason at all why people who are gay or lesbian, for
example, should go to places where they will be fearful that 
their behavior might cause legal penalties to be imposed 
upon them. 

Unfortunately, it is clear that the intent of the LSA policy transcends
the issue of protecting its members. The policy, as put by LSA itself 
(URL:http://www.emich.edu/~linguist/issues/html/7-749.html#1) in 
LINGUIST 7.749 states:

>LSA affirms its policy to hold its meetings only in cities
>where its members are afforded legal protection from
>discrimination on the basis of age, gender, national
>origin, marital status, physical ability, race, religion,
>or sexual orientation; and, that lsa notify the potential
>convention cities of the LSA policy regarding site selection
>and, specifically, that cities that do not afford such legal
>protection are excluded from consideration as possible LSA
>sites.

No-one--not even in America--gets arrested for being female
or having the wrong religion. They don't even get arrested 
or refused accomodation for being 80 years old and still holding 
down a job.

Therefore, there's no doubt at all that Lynne is wrong. LSA's 
position is clearly political, and thus only appropriate if you
feel that LSA should take political positions which have nothing 
to do with linguistics.
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Message 2: Follow-up: LSA/politics

Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 19:50:38 EDT
From: Michael Covington <mcovingtaisun1.ai.uga.edu>
Subject: Follow-up: LSA/politics

Concerning the LSA political correctness issue, I received mail from 7
people who did not reply to LINGUIST.

Two, both in the Northeast, supported the present LSA policy.

Four, all elsewhere, supported my criticism of the LSA.

One asked for further discussion and pointed out that the LSA did not
boycott California over Proposition 187.

Personally, I think the idea of a "national society" imposing a semi-
permanent boycott on more than half of its nation is ludicrous. We
need to consider carefully whether the present LSA policy impedes, or
at least fails to promote, the growth of our profession in the
disfavored areas of the country. The LSA is supposed to be promoting
linguistics nationwide. If it wants to be a regional society, it
should change its name.

- 
Michael A. Covington http://www.ai.uga.edu/faculty/covington/
Artificial Intelligence Center
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-7415 U.S.A.
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Message 3: Re: 7.734, Disc: Linguistic Society of America & Political Correctness

Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 22:23:19 EDT
From: "Ellen F. Prince" <ellencentral.cis.upenn.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.734, Disc: Linguistic Society of America & Political Correctness
i'm puzzled by michael covington's description of the facts:

>...meeting sites were required to toe the line on gay rights (which almost
>kept us from meeting in New Orleans, but a special dispensation was made).

what 'dispensation' was made? in response to the lsa position, the city council
of new orleans made an official statement that the state of louisiana's sodomy
laws would not be enforced in that city. this made the city of new orleans
'meetable-in' following our criteria. perhaps the confusion stems from
covington's viewing this as a case of 'political correctness' rather than as
what it is: a modest (and region-blind) measure to not jeopardize our members'
rights and security while they are attending a meeting.
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