Looking through my newsletter stats for the last few weeks, I noticed something interesting. There was one particular issue of the newsletter that generated a number of unsubscribes. Not a huge number, but a significant number; it was enough to catch my eye. I remember this happened once before a number of years ago.
When I looked into the edition of the newsletter that generated the reaction back then, I discovered that it included a link to the book, The Magic Story by Frederick Van Rensselaer Dey. It took me a while to find what might be in that book that may have offended some of my readers. Eventually, I found the following reference:
I can liken my condition at that time for naught more similar than that of a man who, descending the steep side of a mountain, loses his foothold. The farther he slides, the
faster he goes. I have also heard this condition described by the word Ishmaelite, which I understand to be a man whose hand is against everybody, and who thinks that the hands of every other man are against him; and here beginneth the fifth lesson:
The Ishmaelite and the leper are the same, since both are abominations in the sight of man – albeit they differ much, in that the former may be restored to perfect health. The former is entirely the result of imagination; the latter has poison in his blood.
The book is sometimes hailed as a classic in self improvement, but this reference caused me to remove it from our site. Now, I have no idea what this fellow is referring to by his reference to “The Ishmaelite”, but I do know that Muslims trace their ancestry back to the Ishmael, the child of Abraham by Hagar. I can therefore see that the above text might well be offensive.
This site expressly does not intend to offend any religious groups. In fact, one of our aims is to promote world peace and tolerance so, for that reason, we removed the book. If ever there was a time when such tolerance was necessary in the world, it is right now. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world in which religious groups of all kinds began to practice what their source texts preach – kindness and tolerance?
Back to the more recent unsubscribe event. Again, I appear to have ruffled the feathers of some people with a particular edition. The only thing I can see that may possibly have caused any offense was the title of a particular post ‘How to be a Dumbass’. I wondered if the word carried connotations that I had not intended in some parts of the world. I did actually look it up in a number of online dictionaries to see if that was the issue. There was one particular definition that caused me to smile:
Dumbass: someone who looks up the word dumbass in an online dictionary.
So, there is a distinct possibility that, if my supposition regarding the ‘dumbass’ reference is correct, this post – the one you are reading – might also cause a certain amount of offense to conservative (with a small ‘c’) cockneys; I am sure you could work out the reason if you wished. But then, as you simply cannot please all of the people all of the time, I will have to risk offending both of them.
You know of the work of Jackson Pollock, I am sure, so perhaps you will appreciate how the artist (Yayoi Kusama) has created a living Pollockesque (what a word) canvass with his exhibit at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art. So, is The Obliteration Room a work of art or just a load of Jackson Pollock? Take a look for yourself …
Personally, it is something I would love to take a closer look at. I am sure there are some lessons there just waiting to be interpreted that you can’t really take on board from the piccies. That said, I do find it visually impressive and it is always interesting to see something that has not been done before.
What do you think?