Site Talk forum: An offensive word in the db

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Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
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HamiltonSquare
Feb 22, 2015 9:21 PM CST
After finding info that the word kaffir is considered offensive in the area of origin wich is South Africa and knowing it was in the db i did a search and found four pages of usage as the common name or an option for the common name and at least one where there is no option. Any thoughts...?
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Feb 22, 2015 9:44 PM CST
I never thought about it so I just did some quick research. This link explains it quite well.

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat/2014/07/01/renami...

Speaking for myself, I would be happy if the name were changed as I can neither spell nor pronounce the 'k' word correctly. Whistling
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Feb 22, 2015 9:50 PM CST

Plants Admin

It's a dilemma because we don't want to be offensive, but we do want our site to be included in the search results when people search for Kaffir Lime and Kaffir Lily.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Feb 22, 2015 9:58 PM CST

Plants Admin

Never heard of it so I Goggled it.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/07/03/kaffir_lime_r...
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Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
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HamiltonSquare
Feb 22, 2015 10:25 PM CST
I'd always called Clivia by that common and were growing Hesperantha coccinea that has that common name as an option. I could see the search dilemma but I thought there might be a fix for that. Either having the searches that included that word come up with all the current entries without that word showing or if the word is left in it would only show in the list of common names with (word currently considered offensive.)next to the option as a warning to those of us who have been using it innocently. Just a thought. @Dave might have a notion regarding this. I see by the members map that we don't have a large delegation showing in Africa but I not sure everyone shows up on the map.
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Feb 22, 2015 10:38 PM CST

Plants Admin

It's easy enough to give thumbs to alternative common names (and add alternative common names if they are not already in the database). Then, when someone searches for "Kaffir Lily", they'll still find it. But, it the potentially offensive word won't be prominently displayed. It looks like most of the Clivia entries in the database already have at least one other common name listed and it can certainly be added to the others. Citrus hystrix has at least three common names.

That's how I dealt with this issue in the Tradescantia database where Tradescantia fluminensis and its many cultivars are often referred to under a common name that could be considered offensive.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
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RoseBlush1
Feb 22, 2015 10:45 PM CST
Plants were introduced to commerce over time. Often the names they were given are now considered offensive, but at the time they were introduced, the names were acceptable.

For example there are two roses named 'Black Boy'. One was introduced in 1918 and the other one was introduced in 1958. Another rose named 'Nigger Boy' was introduced in 1931

No one would even think of introducing a rose by those names today.

I think most gardeners understand this concept and would not take offense to the usage of the name that is considered to be offensive in current times in a database.

Smiles,
Lyn
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
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Calif_Sue
Feb 22, 2015 11:10 PM CST

Plants Admin

Yes Lyn, as the article I linked above said, the name's origin "suggests that the name’s roots lie closer to the original Arabic meaning of kafir than to the 20th-century racial slur".
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Name: Larry
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Seedfork
Feb 23, 2015 8:41 AM CST
I found it odd after looking up all the offensive names for me (white American) that I was not offended! I actually pride myself in being most of them! Very strange that I can be a "yankee" and a "rebel" at the same time! Two of the most hate filled words in the history of this country(civil war), yet they bring no hateful emotions to me at all. None of the names did. Why is that?
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Feb 23, 2015 9:02 AM CST

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Calif_Sue said:Yes Lyn, as the article I linked above said, the name's origin "suggests that the name’s roots lie closer to the original Arabic meaning of kafir than to the 20th-century racial slur".


Because of this I'm very hesitant to remove a name from the database.

Unless the name can be shown to have no other meaning and that the plant in question was named specifically as a slur, then I don't want to remove it from the database for all the good reasons mentioned above.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Feb 23, 2015 9:05 AM CST

Plants Admin

KentPfeiffer said:It's easy enough to give thumbs to alternative common names (and add alternative common names if they are not already in the database). Then, when someone searches for "Kaffir Lily", they'll still find it. But, the potentially offensive word won't be prominently displayed.


I think Kent's idea is the best solution. Thumbs up
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
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RoseBlush1
Feb 23, 2015 9:54 AM CST
Dave ...

I agree with you completely. My view is that names in a database are simply data. Data is neutral. It does not have a point of view.

I, too, like Kent's solution, however not all plants have an alternative common name.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Feb 23, 2015 10:37 AM CST

Plants Admin

Sure they do, every plant on Earth has dozens of common names. The use of those names may not be widespread, but they are certainly out there.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Feb 23, 2015 10:45 AM CST

Plants Admin

Well actually, not all, roses and daylilies just to name a couple don't have other common names.
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Feb 23, 2015 10:47 AM CST

Plants Admin

Sure they do, my grandmother never referred to daylilies as "daylilies", she called them "Hems".
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Feb 23, 2015 10:51 AM CST

Plants Admin

nodding Thumbs up
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Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
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HamiltonSquare
Feb 23, 2015 5:39 PM CST
The last sentence of the referenced article is the point. "This theory suggests that the name’s roots lie closer to the original Arabic meaning of kafir than to the 20th-century racial slur, although of course the term’s potentially benign origins don’t invalidate modern-day concerns about the word’s offensiveness." (sic) Iv'e adjusted my vocabulary accordingly and voted with my thumb.
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