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[Caml-list] Jihad
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Date: -- (:)
From: Will Benton <willb@c...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Jihad
On Wed, 7 Nov 2001, Eric Newhuis wrote:
> I am sincere.  The term fits my personal experience with
> ObjectiveCaml.  It is jihad, i.e. "struggle".  I am sorry if others
> may take issue with my use of metephor.
> My intentions were never to offend.  And I will not retract.

This is really a matter of denotation vs. connotation.  When Eric says
"jihad", he claims he means struggle.  This could be bad, as Mark says,
because Eric is invoking the image of a zealot with a fixed-point
combinator in one hand and a Kalashnikov rifle in the other, which
paints FP devotees as fanatics.  Or it could be bad because, as Elan
says, the word "jihad" has been the motivation and justification for
countless murders of innocent people.

It doesn't matter.  The fact is, in the current world climate, it is
irresponsible to use the word "jihad" in conversation with a general
audience to refer to anything except what the media means by "jihad"
(the fanatical, murdering kind).  (I realize that Muslims also use the
word "jihad" to mean the daily struggle of faith/etc., but it does not
connote that for the vast majority of non-Muslims.)  It is an uphill
battle at best to convince people that you intend the literal meaning of
such a loaded word.

If anyone doesn't buy this, I think I can clarify with an example. 
Let's look at another word that means "struggle"; "Kampf" in German. 
"Kampf" is especially good because it doesn't have any religious
associations that I know of.  Would it be acceptable to write a book
called "Mein Kampf:  A Story of Learning OCaml" and assume that people
would know that it was a *just a struggle*?  I doubt it.  Some words and
phrases are far too emotionally loaded and surrounded by alternative
meanings to be useful as language.  (I am not suggesting that "Kampf"
itself is so tainted; "Mein Kampf" probably is.)

Eric, good luck in your struggle


Will Benton      | "Nicht wie die Welt ist, ist das Mystische,    |  sondern daß sie ist." --L. Wittgenstein
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