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From Jason van Zyl <>
Subject Re: [VOTE] Official Name for "Geronimo" Project
Date Sun, 30 Nov 2003 00:38:24 GMT
On Sat, 2003-11-29 at 18:45, Rich Bowen wrote:
> On 29 Nov 2003, Jason van Zyl wrote:
> > It's not like it's "Geronimo: the society of baby seal clubbers" or
> > something nasty like that. It's a piece of free software that gives
> > people some choice and it uses the name of a native indian hero. So some
> > coke and twinkie consuming, pasty white programmer might actually learn
> > something from looking up Geronimo.
> Do you really feel that this type of unwarranted attack in any way
> benefits the discussion? Please try to keep the discussion at a
> professional level, and on topic, rather than resorting to personal
> attacks. Thanks.

I wasn't personally attacking anyone and was in fact more a description
of myself who just looked up who Geronimo was today.

> The fact of the matter is that, in the USA, any mention of any minority
> (aka non-white) historical figure or group of people, by persons not in
> that group, is guaranteed to cause someone to be offended. Being
> offended is kinda like a national pasttime. And while this irritates
> most right-thinking people, that in no way stops it from happening. Any
> attempt to prove this wrong via logic is obviously going at it from the
> wrong angle, because this culture of umbrage is in no way based on
> logic.

Then we are to succumb to accept an irrational POV because it's too much
work to defend the position that we intend an positive usage of the
name. To me it seems that a positive use of the name would allow another
avenue of propagation of native American history. Just seems that the
arbitrary restriction of usage doesn't do anyone any good. To me it
seems to nullify their existence. I'm Irish people aren't thrilled to
see a Leprechaun on a box of Lucky Charms but in a way (not the best I
admit) it's use their may cause someone to ask a question about
Leprechauns. I just think partioning the use of words and icons from a
particular culture to be used only by that culture destroy natural
channels in which information is passed on.

What if everyone does what we might choose to do here and not use a
particular word from a culture because we think it might offend some
people. No chance for serendipity to take hold where someone might catch
a fascination for native American culture. That we "nope, too much
trouble" instead of saying we think Geronimo was a stand up guy, did
some cool things and we think it's good to name the project after him.

> Yes, the name "Apache" offends people, but it's too late to change. It
> is not, however, too late to avoid offending other people. And while
> it is, of course, impossible to avoid offending everyone (you'd be
> amazed at the things that people get offended about) it is possible to
> avoid the most obviously hot-button ones.

I suppose so, no one wants to be embroiled in arguments with overly
senstive. It just seems like a bad idea to me to restrict the use of an
icon when it could lead to something good.

> Yes, Geronimo was a hero. Yes, naming the project after him does him
> honor. However, not everyone will see it that way. Frankly, not being
> Native Americans, we're not entitled to have an opinion about whether
> it's offensive. And I expect that they might not want us appropriating
> their heroes for our own uses.
> So, for the record, I'm saying that we should avoid using the name.

Maybe no one wants to fight for the use of the name, I just think it's
sad that Geronimo might not be used as a name because it's


Jason van Zyl

In short, man creates for himself a new religion of a rational
and technical order to justify his work and to be justified in it.
  -- Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society

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