Tag Archives | Discourse

Wrongfully Treating Academic Debate as Anti-Semitism

Shannon Kringen (CC BY 2.0)

Shannon Kringen (CC BY 2.0)

Saree Makdisi writes at the Los Angeles Times:

The principle of academic freedom at our universities is under attack by those seeking to shield Israel from criticism by silencing dissent, shutting down discussion and imposing a stifling atmosphere of intimidation at the University of California, in particular.

A coordinated set of petitions, including a letter signed by 57 rabbis, asks UC administrators to adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as a means to “accurately identify” and “publicly condemn” it in campus debate, protest and discussion. That problematic definition conflates principled criticism of Israeli policies with genuine anti-Semitism; if the university accedes to this demand, such criticism — and academic freedom — could be suppressed by administrative fiat.

The State Department definition explicitly draws on a formulation provisionally adopted by a European Union body but long since discarded. It stretches the concept of anti-Semitism to include “demonizing” Israel, comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis and “denying Israel the right to exist.”

Such emotionally charged language attempts to preempt criticism of Israeli policies.

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Oxford English Dictionary Adds OMG And LOL In 2011 Edition

42781174_7aae7bb0dc_zMark Brown at Wired reports:

The Oxford English Dictionary has announced the latest batch of words and phrases deemed worthy of etymological conservation. From the encyclopedia’s just-released 2011 edition, you’ll see cream crackered, wag and tinfoil hat, as well as internet-era initialisms like LOL and OMG.

They help to say more in media where there is a limit to a number of characters one may use in a single message,” says principal editor Graeme Diamond on the dictionary’s website. With the rise of concise text messages and 140-character tweets, sometimes less is more. But there’s more to OMG and LOL than just textbox frugality, though, explains Diamond.

“The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflective enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an ‘insider’ au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology.”

[Continues at Wired]

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