Paul J. Bodin pjbodin at sirius.com
Mon May 3 20:22:21 EDT 1999


Dear Colleagues:

I am distressed by some recent exchanges on this list.  I have been
hopeful that one of the managers would intervene, but perhaps they have
not had a chance yet to read recent messages.

We have always welcomed posts in most modern languages; I seem to
remember messages in Spanish, French, German, and so forth.  We have
made it clear, I think, that participants should feel free to post in
their own first language.  Also, advanced students in our discipline
can be expected to read at least German and French.

However, while this is by intention an academic list, it seems to me
that we have also long striven to make room for students who are not
advanced in their studies, but want to learn.  People do not learn well
when they are being ridiculed.  Recent messages, written in languages
other than the writer's own first language, languages which a beginning
student will often not understand, and directed to discussions in which
such a beginning student has been a major participant, seem
indelicate--to say the least.  One such occasion may happen by
accident, if the speaker is a true polyglot, but this has not been an
isolated occurrence.  It seems that the messages have been deliberately
framed to carry on a discussion over the head of this other
participant, and in at least one instance deliberately to belittle that
other participant.

This list is intended as a forum for academic discussion, and we try to
maintain certain scholarly standards.  We have also made it clear over
the years that we expect civility and mutual respect.  This conduct is
neither civil nor respectful.

Mr. Rachman may be unlearned and tenacious in his commitment to ideas
that scholars have discarded, but he has demonstrated a willingness to
be instructed.  Ridicule, either public ridicule on this list or
ridicule in private messages, is not instruction--and in my opinion
sadly inappropriate.  To those participants who have been less than
civil to Mr. Rachman: will you please reflect on the tone of your
recent messages?

And Mr. Rachman--I understand and sympathize with your outrage over
certain treatment you have received.  Responding in kind, however, will
not improve matters; it will only make mud splatter on you.  You have
been wronged, and I suspect you are also the younger of the
participants in this exchange.  I urgently request, however, that you
exercise the kind of restraint and civility that others have lacked.

 Paul J. Bodin <pjbodin at sirius.com>       http://www.sirius.com/~pjbodin
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