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  • Are You Now or Have You Ever Been

    This is a spin-off of the "Presidential Election thread." In the thread, there's lots of discussion about people who Obama has associated with and how that reflect his judgment/character. LET ME BE VERY CLEAR: Please no discussion about politics. This is just a general discussion about whether or not we, as people, should look past what people have done in the past or look at who they've become.

    Personally, I'm torn on the subject. I firmly think people deserve second chances, but in certain cases; I'm not so sure. Like, I think if people truly have changed, then maybe.

  • #2
    I'm not sure how to even attempt this non-politically, but okay.

    In positions of public trust, past behavior and past associations are absolutely relevant and absolutely fair game to determining someone's suitability in that job. I don't need to put this in Presidential terms; look at professional licensures. This year is when I'll be filling out my application for bar membership. In order to assess my "character and fitness", they will be verifying addresses, income, my credit, etc.

    The people have a right to expect this kind of vetting for the people to whom substantial powers are given, in either public or private life. The ABA isn't part of the government, but they are fulfilling that public trust. We see it in the current economic crisis when we cry out to hold Wall St for its decisions, which execs sold their stock, how much they made. And, ostensibly, this scrutiny should be most high when it comes to the fitness of politicians.

    Consider this -- we check our doctors' ethics, and our lawyers' ethics, and our electricians' ethics, and basically any other professional license. We test the background for security clearance of diplomats, spies, and military personnel. Now, aside from getting signed off on who they are, all of those jobs also have an objective skill set that someone has to have in order to do the job. Doctors have to know medicine, lawyers have to know the law, spies, soldiers, etc.

    The politician is different. A politician doesn't actually have to know how to *do* anything or have any discernible skills or even education in order to obtain power. So when we get our politicians, unlike our doctors or engineers, the *only* assessment for fitness they ever undergo is a serious look at who they are, their character, what they believe in, the company they keep. It's not a joke to say (and forgive the slightly political angle to this) that one of the major US candidates could win the Presidency with associations that, if they were just applying for a government job, would keep them from getting a security clearance. That's incredible to me.

    Politicians bring no independent or essential skill set to obtain their power, they only bring their history and their promises. Promises are always empty in an election, so their history is all we have. It is the duty of those with the access (the media, the state, private citizens) to research every piece of information available -- every legislative act, every vote, every board, every client, every student group, every dollar that's come in or out.
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    • #3
      You should absolutely look at the person they have become, or are trying to become. I barely recognize some of the things I said or did six months ago, let alone six years or sixty. People are changing constantly, sometimes radically, and this should always be acknowledged.

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      • #4
        When considering who we will choose as president, I think we have to look at what they have done and what they have become. Their pasts reflect how they make choices. Shows us what they used to support and how much they have changed since. Their views on issues ten years ago could have an effect on us now, so we can not ignore their past. Besides looking at someone's past can show us how hard they worked to get to where they are now. Were they raised in politics and had their positions basically handed to them, or did they work hard every day and struggle to get to where they are?
        Ignoring someone's past might work if they are applying for a job at supermarket. Like if someone was an alcoholic and was fired for drinking on the job. That person went to AAA and has been sober for 2 years. Yeah, then you can ignore that part. But applying for President...nope I don't think we should ignore anything.

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        • #5
          I think Thomas made it pretty clear in the first post that, while this was spawned in the Presidential election thread, this thread isn't meant to debate the merits of Obama becoming president. He has "no discussion about politics' in bold print.

          The question has nothing to do with politics, or applying for jobs, but our conduct towards other human beings. Do we judge a person based on their past or accept them based on their present?

          If you meet a convicted murderer, would you walk away in disgust upon learning that fact or would you try to get to know him some more? If you met a former member of Al Qeada, would you hold him accountable for being a member of a terrorist organization or would you accept his profession that he has learned the error of his ways? If you know a guy is a thief or was a thief can you treat him like a law-abiding member of society? If you know a person got you fired, or got someone you care about fired, do you never talk to them again or do you accept their apology if it is later given? Etc, etc.

          At least, I think that's the type of discussion Thomas was trying to begin. If I'm wrong I invite him to tell me.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by XavierZane View Post

            If you meet a convicted murderer, would you walk away in disgust upon learning that fact or would you try to get to know him some more? If you met a former member of Al Qeada, would you hold him accountable for being a member of a terrorist organization or would you accept his profession that he has learned the error of his ways? If you know a guy is a thief or was a thief can you treat him like a law-abiding member of society? If you know a person got you fired, or got someone you care about fired, do you never talk to them again or do you accept their apology if it is later given? Etc, etc.
            Well, I think there's a fundamental difference between giving someone a chance to be treated like a law-abiding citizen in those cases, and whether or not they should be given other priviledges, like running for a political office or obtaining a job with say the FBI or something of that nature. In those aspects, your trust is earned through action, not lip service. Anyone can say they are reformed, and if they're appealing for your trust in say being a neighbor and acquaintance, then I think that's up to each individual to decide that for themselves. However when the former criminals *say* they are reformed and asking for a giant leap of trust, say a convicted thief wants to work at a bank for instance, then I'm sorry but their past is definitely a deciding factor.
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            • #7
              It is a very good question.

              Personally if I knew someone who it turned out hadthings in their history that gave me pause then I might very well choose to ensure there was some distance between us and would maybe not trust them totally.

              Having siad that, there is a massive difference between things you know about a person or are on record about a person and rumours about the same person. I would be much more ready to trust someone or to at least listen to their side of the story if the information came from an uncollaborated third party (especially if said third party had some kind of grudge or clash of interests with that person, that would mean spreading rumours gave them some advantage). In the case of it being a public figure I would do some independant research to see how truthful the stories are and if they've been blown out of proportion in any way.

              A lot also would depend on wether I felt that the story impacted on the individual's ability to do the job they are up for. For instance, releasing a story that a politician had smoked marijuana in university when they were 20 would mean nothing to me in the context of impacting their ability to do their job and would therefore be immaterial.

              When it comes to past associations the picture becomes less clear because, depending on how well the two parties new each other and the possible influence one may have had on the other. Time would also be a factor for me too; a passing relationship ten or fifteen years ago would be differnt to an ongoing freindship over the same period.
              JUST ENOUGH KILL

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              • #8
                I think you should take into account someone's past, definitely from a pragmatic point of view at least - if someone's killed for fun in the past, it's not necessarily someone you want to walk down dark alleys with, unless the military has given them a soul

                I wouldn't trust someone easily who I knew had done bad things in the past (bad things of a certain kind - violent things mostly, but also massive betrayals of trust). But it would depend on who they've become, and what the circumstances of their past actions were. If they stole their mum's savings to pay for drugs, I'd be more sympathetic than if they did it as part of a calculated swindling plan. Though in both cases I wouldn't be lending them a fiver all that quickly

                Let's say someone had cheated in a past relationship - if I believed that in that case they were immature, or just not ready for *that* relationship, I'd be ready (in theory, not accounting for green eyed monsters and random fears that pop up in relationships) to trust them with me, if I thought things were different.

                Who someone is matters most now. What they've done in the past matters if it informs who they are now. If they were unrepentant about past bad things, then I wouldn't look as kindly on them as I would if they were sorry about what they'd done.

                With some actions, I don't think I could be friends with someone easily, even if they'd changed - let's say, they'd murdered someone, I would always fear them on some gut level, just a little. Even if they'd killed someone in self defence, I might be a bit wigged by it, even if I didn't feel justified in doing so. Maybe I'd have a nagging thought... did they enjoy it? Did they *want* to do it, could they have stopped themselves, maybe they carried on slicing/hitting after they had to...?

                These are not judgements or thoughts I could really back up with any kind of argument, they're just what I suspect I would feel. I might not when it came down to it, if it was someone I otherwise trusted.

                In terms of how society should treat criminals, I don't believe in punishment really (that is, I don't believe it's society's right/job/place/some combination of all three to judge people - I do'nt think it's anyone's place. Judgement is, well, a bit stupid and pointless to me. How do you measure what someone *deserves*? And why does it only seem to apply for bad things - the justice system doesn't cover rewards, only punishments. That seems like a skewed priority, if the justice system *is* about what people deserve). I think that the justice system, at best, is about keeping people safer than they would otherwise be, by locking people up who are a danger... for the rest, it seems to be about satisfying some sense of fairness that really is absurd, given that the world treats people unfairly in so many ways that the same people who clamour for punitive justice would see as an unfair interference by the state if they tried to give people what they "deserve" (if we can ever know that, which I don't think we can) in a positive way (eg made someone ruler because they were nice, or gave them lots of stuff/more freedom than other people). That would seem pretty absurd to many people, and yet, it's what we do in the negative sense with the justice system (aside from cases where someone's a danger that is.... or for the purposes of preventing crimes, which is also a factor...that I just forgot until now so hopefully people will read the whole post ).


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                • #9
                  Someone's past certainly tells me a lot about him. However, I cannot be quite sure how the events of his past have affected him - I can only find out by watching his current way of acting to see if he has changed, and even then it is very hard (if not impossible) to tell what's going on inside him.

                  In the case of sex criminals, we know they always carry that "script" that makes them commit their deeds in their head. Criminal psychology knows that these things never change. Some of those criminals regret their past actions, though, and want to overcome their urges. Some suffer very much from those images in their head. But how can we be sure? In that case, we practically have no choice but to judge them by their past deeds, because it still is in their heads and could happen again.

                  Even in "smaller" cases, I guess people tend to be suspicious no matter how much time has passed, and I can understand - I mean, which shopkeeper would want a convicted thief working for him, even if this happened several years ago and the thief was desperate and needed the money or whatever?

                  And I guess this is somethign everybody of us knows, to some extent: If you lied to your parents and they found out, how ready were they to believe the truths you told them later on?

                  Normal, unremarkable and reliable behaviour never really gets noticed, but bad things just stick out and are remembered.
                  Sin is what I feast upon
                  I'm forging my crematorium
                  Your tomb is waiting here for you
                  Welcome to my ritual

                  -Judas Priest, Death

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                  • #10
                    Whatever I learn about someone's past, I try my hardest not to hold it against them. I don't act without caution, but I try not to react solely based on what I've learned either. There is a difference between letting a person earn your trust and blithely ignoring all the variables. And I am talking only of myself. I'm leaving all considerations of jobs, punishment, psychology, etc out of it, because those aren't, to me, the question at hand. The question is how would, or should, we, personally, behave towards those with pasts unlike our own.

                    In addition, there are so many people, in my opinion, that hold to the 'one strike and you're out' view of the world, who never do look beyond someone's behavior in the past, that I often take it as a matter of pride to provide them with someone who doesn't expect them to act as they have in the past. So often, when faced with a world that seems unable to see you as anything than what you were, a person sees no other option than to revert back to type. I'm not defending that type of behavior (obviously they should look past what other's think, and many, who are strong enough, do) but simply stating a rather tragic fact.

                    I've always been sympathetic towards criminals and deviants and other dregs of society. Likewise, I've always had a higher tolerance than most as to what a person could do and still remain a 'good person.' That was back when I believed in good people and bad people, even the little that I did. Nowadays I try not to make such distinctions. I would try to show kindness to even the most unrepentant serial killer or rapist, and keep in mind that we are all only human beings no matter how extreme our behavior. The actions of other people do not matter, only the actions of yourself.

                    My tolerance for criminality comes most likely from the fact that many in my family are criminals (there are also farmers, housewives, hippies, soldiers, good ole boys, musicians, blue-collar workers, teachers, a couple of multi-millionaires, etc. - so I have a high tolerance for all kinds). We're a big family, but almost all of us reside in Northwest Arkansas, so we're quite close despite our size. I'm presently the only male member of my father's side of the family who isn't in prison. My brother is in for his fourth term, this time for grand theft auto, resisting arrest, DUI, and leading the police on a high speed chase. My cousin is in federal lockup for fraud. Another cousin is in state prison for assault. On my mom's side of the family I have a cousin who's always in and out of rehab and prison, who, even though no one really knows where he is at the moment, is probably in prison. I have another cousin who was recently arrested for possession of weed. He had to wrongly suffer for his associations, because rather than getting a slap on the wrist, or, at the very least, a nice and quiet processing and sentencing, as would usually happen, his story and his picture were plastered all over the newspapers for several weeks because he was arrested during the investigation of the activities of one notorious former murderer and while living with another (notorious in Arkansas, at least).

                    So, from a very young age I was faced with the disparity of what I was taught in school about drug addicts and criminals compared to some of the members of my family, who, despite their deviations from normative behavior, were basically the same as the rest of my family and were still people I loved. I always sided with my family. As I grew older, I realized that I could not limit this attitude only towards criminals in my family, and therefor had to decide whether I could behave similarly towards all criminals. I decided I had to at least try.

                    It isn't limited to criminals, of course. I have an interesting family (which is why I've never understood the argument that domestic stories are boring), and a few of us go against social norms in ways other than breaking the law. For example, I have another cousin, a woman of about 35 named Robin. Until she was about 32 she was, at least physically, a man named Robert. Many would judge her on this change, either morally or simply because they can't stop seeing her former self. But she wishes to be and should be judged only by her present self, as a woman.

                    I don't know, for me there is only the present.

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                    • #11
                      A little bit of both. It's only human that sometimes we can make up our mind about someone or something from things we hear or know before actually experiencing that something or meeting that someone for ourselves. It's only natural and you can't blame someone for that. But pre-conceived notions about something can often limit one's enjoyment of that thing and their ability to be open-minded.

                      I try my hardest to have an open-mind. I'd be lying if I said I didn't take knowledge about their past into account, it's incredibly hard not to. But if I understand they've changed or they're trying to change it'd be quite sad not to give that person a chance. It's always more difficult if something in their past has directly effected you in a negative way, it's more understandable there'd be great hesitation there, but we needed to encourage a healthy change and not try and make that person regress and keep in that bad place.

                      To relate it back to Btvs where my head is usually at on these boards. It'd be natural for the Scoobies and especially Buffy to be hesitant around Faith, to be weary of her, resentful of her. But when she tries to change and tries to help people, it'd be wrong of them to ignore that and try and continue hating her. You have to keep both into account.

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                      • #12
                        Respect, Xavier. Very tolerant and open mind there.

                        And true, Vamp, it's very hard to be open-minded at times, because past actions stick in your mind - Faith is a good example there, after what she has done, the Scoobies are careful obviously, especially since she has faked regret at her actions before. The same goes for Spike, I'd say - yes, Xander is a git with him often enough, but this is pretty much understandable since the very same vampire was rather busy trying to get them all killed earlier on, pacted with Adam behind their backs even when they were helping him etc, and it is rather hard to tell if he has changed because of the chip or really would be a better man without it.

                        Xavier, your cousin Robin would have it easier here; transsexuals are fairly accepted. I know a boy like that myself, a boy who was forced into the role of a female until a short time ago. I know how he suffered for years, but I also know that people's reactions to the announcement that he would finally have his physical condition fixed were only positive and supportive. No narrow-minded and moralising or anything.
                        But this, too, is a case where people may regard the past and say "but you were a woman/man before" and still treat someone like that differently - without perceiving (at least in the case of that boy) that this never was true psychologically. People just like to settle with one formed opinion and perception, I think, and it's not easy to get them to change their mind.
                        Sin is what I feast upon
                        I'm forging my crematorium
                        Your tomb is waiting here for you
                        Welcome to my ritual

                        -Judas Priest, Death

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                        • #13
                          You're from Germany, yes? I'm glad it's less of a stigma over there. Here, along with all the moralizing and social stigma, it's also difficult to find medical treatment, not only for the surgery, but just in general. There is very tangible prejudice against transsexuals. So many are forced to go to black market hacks or get the operation done out of the country.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bloodsucker View Post
                            Respect, Xavier. Very tolerant and open mind there.
                            Buffy once summed up the most serious danger of being excessively open-minded in "The Yoko Factor" --

                            "Judgmental? If I was anymore open-minded about the choices you two make my whole brain would fall out!"
                            I submit that when you ignore the past of an individual altogether for being open-minded's own sake, that's exactly what will happen. "Trust, but verify" is the old phrase. Where "verify" is not just a word in there to take up space, it's a mandate to literally vet the character and make choices about what you will and won't trust someone to do.

                            Another example of being wisely "close"-minded comes from a saying that should be familiar to anyone who has seen a major substance abuse issue -- "Never trust a junkie". You can love someone, and support someone, but unless it's television, you don't trust a junkie not to choose to return to form if the choice is available. You don't leave pills out or the liquor cabinet unlocked. Lo and behold, you are holding their past wrong deeds against them, even though they've changed. But it's not the wrong thing to do just *because* it's "close"-minded.

                            And true, Vamp, it's very hard to be open-minded at times, because past actions stick in your mind - Faith is a good example there, after what she has done, the Scoobies are careful obviously, especially since she has faked regret at her actions before. The same goes for Spike, I'd say - yes, Xander is a git with him often enough, but this is pretty much understandable since the very same vampire was rather busy trying to get them all killed earlier on, pacted with Adam behind their backs even when they were helping him etc, and it is rather hard to tell if he has changed because of the chip or really would be a better man without it.
                            I'd counter with Angel, demanding that the girl he just rescued stay away from him in "City of..."

                            And the Faith example... the *point* of the entire discussion is Buffy's wariness, not hate. Who's talking about hate? We're not talking about hate even when we talk about the Elephant in the Room of the thread. Once we've gotten far enough to concede that, yes, Buffy and her friends are right to be wary of Faith, we've settled the conversation -- the past is relevant in making these judgments. Wasn't that the question? Whether they "hate" Faith or not, or anyone "hates" the hypothetical applicant for a hypothetical important job with a hypothetically questionable past, is irrelevant, a strawman.

                            But this, too, is a case where people may regard the past and say "but you were a woman/man before" and still treat someone like that differently - without perceiving (at least in the case of that boy) that this never was true psychologically. People just like to settle with one formed opinion and perception, I think, and it's not easy to get them to change their mind.
                            Again, what are we talking about here? Unless we're talking about the time spent in the anatomical shape of a man as "behavior", it's not part of what we're talking about. A better example would be -- did your cousin embezzle money from an employer, for example, when s/he was anatomically male (biologically is a misnomer), and does s/he think that should be a forgotten part of the past that went away with the surgery? The point of the discussion was holding people to account for what they've done before, not what they were before, when they want to do something new -- when the former embezzler wants to be a bank manager, for instance.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
                              I submit that when you ignore the past of an individual altogether for being open-minded's own sake, that's exactly what will happen. "Trust, but verify" is the old phrase. Where "verify" is not just a word in there to take up space, it's a mandate to literally vet the character and make choices about what you will and won't trust someone to do.

                              Another example of being wisely "close"-minded comes from a saying that should be familiar to anyone who has seen a major substance abuse issue -- "Never trust a junkie". You can love someone, and support someone, but unless it's television, you don't trust a junkie not to choose to return to form if the choice is available. You don't leave pills out or the liquor cabinet unlocked. Lo and behold, you are holding their past wrong deeds against them, even though they've changed. But it's not the wrong thing to do just *because* it's "close"-minded.
                              King, we're in agreement for once. My post was discussing two different scenarios, which I think might have become muddled. If you're going to be interacting with someone for any extended length of time, "Trust, but verify" is a must. There's no need to be an ass about it, but there's no need to be naive either. Especially where drugs are concerned. As I said,

                              Whatever I learn about someone's past, I try my hardest not to hold it against them. I don't act without caution, but I try not to react solely based on what I've learned either. There is a difference between letting a person earn your trust and blithely ignoring all the variables
                              The other scenario, where I said i would be kind to even to an unrepentant murderer, dealt with isolated meetings or a superficial relationship. If a person like that were, in the present, making no attempt to change themselves, then I wouldn't allow any sort of relationship form where trust was involved. I would, however, be kind to them and try to convince them to change their ways and their life.



                              And the Faith example... the *point* of the entire discussion is Buffy's wariness, not hate. Who's talking about hate? We're not talking about hate even when we talk about the Elephant in the Room of the thread. Once we've gotten far enough to concede that, yes, Buffy and her friends are right to be wary of Faith, we've settled the conversation -- the past is relevant in making these judgments. Wasn't that the question? Whether they "hate" Faith or not, or anyone "hates" the hypothetical applicant for a hypothetical important job with a hypothetically questionable past, is irrelevant, a strawman.
                              Uh, I don't know, who is talking about hate? Nobody brought it up.

                              And we didn't get far enough to concede that Buffy and her friends are right to be wary of Faith. We only conceded that it's a natural human reaction to be wary, not that it is necessarily the right action.

                              And, no, the question wasn't whether the past was relevant, but whether it should be the deciding factor. A good amount of people would not even attempt to trust someone with a past such as those who we're discussing. They would automatically judge them based on their past and decide to have nothing to do with them.



                              Again, what are we talking about here? Unless we're talking about the time spent in the anatomical shape of a man as "behavior", it's not part of what we're talking about. A better example would be -- did your cousin embezzle money from an employer, for example, when s/he was anatomically male (biologically is a misnomer), and does s/he think that should be a forgotten part of the past that went away with the surgery? The point of the discussion was holding people to account for what they've done before, not what they were before, when they want to do something new -- when the former embezzler wants to be a bank manager, for instance.
                              The specific starting question was addressing whether or not we:

                              should look past what people have done in the past or look at who they've become.

                              So that covers both behavior/activity (what they've done) and identity (who they've become). And, considering that most of the activities we're discussing engender identities ("He's a junkie" "He's a thief" "He's a murderer"), and to be trusted again these people have to shed those identities and go through a transformation ("He was a junkie, but he's sober now."), I think the exploration of the question of transsexualism is particularly apt.

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                              • #16
                                I know -- being anatomically male isn't anything your cousin had "done", though. It's just an inapt example. Worse, it conflates the actual discussion when we come back to the Elephant in the Room that we're *actually* talking about here. Because a hypothetical person seeking the office of say... County Commissioner... *is* Asian-American. That same candidate, however, used to be part of a local gang that has been a problem in the biggest city in the county. As a city councilman, the candidate supported programs that enable the gang's activities in the town.

                                When his opponents try to raise that old gang tie as a issue for whether the candidate is fit to be county commissioner, the candidate replies that the opposition is just going after his status as an Asian-American and making it a racial issue.

                                That scenario (totally hypothetical, of course) is exactly why we need to be clear that your cousin's transexual background is *not* an example of the kind of evaluation this thread was set up to discuss, but rather whether your cousin was, transsexual or not, did things that could inform a hiring person or voter on his/her fitness for a job.
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
                                  I know -- being anatomically male isn't anything your cousin had "done", though. It's just an inapt example.
                                  Getting sexual reassignment surgery, however, is something she did. And it changes people's opinions about her, and her place in society, in exactly the same way as if she had committed a felony. In many ways it's much worse, because most people can at the very least understand criminals, could imagine a scenario where they would carry out a crime, but the idea of changing one's gender is unthinkable to the vast majority of people. And considered flat out wrong by many. So, not only would many people refuse to socialize with her because of what she's done, but often those people would never accept her as a 'real woman', and so refuse to acknowledge the change.

                                  Worse, it conflates the actual discussion when we come back to the Elephant in the Room that we're *actually* talking about here. Because a hypothetical person seeking the office of say... County Commissioner... *is* Asian-American. That same candidate, however, used to be part of a local gang that has been a problem in the biggest city in the county. As a city councilman, the candidate supported programs that enable the gang's activities in the town.

                                  When his opponents try to raise that old gang tie as a issue for whether the candidate is fit to be county commissioner, the candidate replies that the opposition is just going after his status as an Asian-American and making it a racial issue.

                                  That scenario (totally hypothetical, of course) is exactly why we need to be clear that your cousin's transexual background is *not* an example of the kind of evaluation this thread was set up to discuss, but rather whether your cousin was, transsexual or not, did things that could inform a hiring person or voter on his/her fitness for a job.
                                  There is no elephant in the room. The only elephant in the room is the dancing pink one that you're seeing because you're drunk on politics. The actual discussion of this thread, as explicitly stated in the first post, and pointed out several times by me, has absolutely nothing to do with politics or political office.
                                  Last edited by XavierZane; 14-10-08, 07:54 PM.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by XavierZane View Post
                                    Getting sexual reassignment surgery, however, is something she did. And it changes people's opinions about her, and her place in society, in exactly the same way as if she had committed a felony. In many ways it's much worse, because most people can at the very least understand criminals, could imagine a scenario where they would carry out a crime, but the idea of changing one's gender is unthinkable to the vast majority of people. And considered flat out wrong by many. So, not only would many people refuse to socialize with her because of what she's done, but often those people would never accept her as a 'real woman', and so refuse to acknowledge the change.
                                    If we want to evaluate somebody, the evaluation should be confined to what's relevant to the original goal. Your cousin's transsexuality is relevant to some evaluation and irrelevant to others. Let's say your cousin meets a man who falls in love with hir (yay gender neutral pronouns and their one useful application). This man, though, dreams of nothing so much as not just getting married, but getting married and fathering his own biological children. For that person, your cousin's background is very relevant in evaluating their "fitness" as someone he wants to have a long term relationship with.

                                    Someone hiring new servers at a restaurant can not benefit from that part of your cousin's background.

                                    Now, someone hiring a bank teller *might* -- how was the surgery paid for? Was there any allegation of insurance fraud? Anything that could make your cousin unbondable?

                                    All this to say that deciding what parts of people's past should stay with them as they go forward isn't *just* a question of what that individual wants.
                                    Last edited by KingofCretins; 14-10-08, 08:28 PM.
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                                    • #19
                                      KoC, re-read my post. We actually agree, though you seem to think for some reason that this is not the case. The Faith example illustrated exactly the "trust but verify" thing. (Xavier, can I borrow your dancing pink elephant line here? )

                                      (Gender neutral pronouns? Eh, nobody needs them. Highly unnecessary and weird invention, in my opinion. Xavier's cousin is a she, as her papers doubtlessly confirm by now.)


                                      @ Xavier: Mixture of German, Swiss, French and Slovakian, living in Austria. No, not so much of a stigma anymore. Insurance covers a great part of the expenses, actually, from what I've heard.
                                      Sin is what I feast upon
                                      I'm forging my crematorium
                                      Your tomb is waiting here for you
                                      Welcome to my ritual

                                      -Judas Priest, Death

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Bloodsucker View Post
                                        (Gender neutral pronouns? Eh, nobody needs them. Highly unnecessary and weird invention, in my opinion. Xavier's cousin is a she, as her papers doubtlessly confirm by now.)
                                        This is a little off-topic of me, but I think that gender neutral prounouns can be useful - or would be if people could agree on them - for situations where someone's gender/sex is unknown... and for people perhaps who see themselves as intersex in some way? For cases of unknown gender, I'd like to see the plural form used, I think that's the easiest. Plural and singular aren't fixed, after all... vous in french is both a polite and a plural form, so I don't think that would be confusing. If you said in a police report about a car when it's unclear who it belongs to, "The person's car is green and their dashboard has a nodding dog on it."... I think that would be fine, if people could agree to it!

                                        Re sex changes and the subject of this thread: I don't think it's irrelevant, as it's interesting to explore the different ways in which we take the past into account, as a way of exploring how we see people as moral beings in terms of their past and present selves. Especially given that some people (who think being transgender is unnatural/wrong in some way) might consider the past of a transperson very differently to someone who sees it as not a moral but maybe a medical question. Sometimes, someone's past is not relevant if you don't see it as something to be judged - but merely a fact that has changed, such as physical arrangements of organs.

                                        So, if I didn't think that drugs are bad (which I don't always), then someone having a "drug fuelled" past doesn't matter to me in a moral sense. But on the whole, taking loads of drugs as a 30something is slightly different to me to taking 'em as a teenager. I might judge someone who spent all their time off their head at 40 as a bit immature, but having taken drugs as a teenager would be a meh issue.


                                        -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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