I suggested an edit which was approved by another member of the community, but rejected by the answer's author. Overall this led to a rejection of the edit.

The proposed edit can be seen here.

I suggested the edit because I could not see that the reference to the stereotypical behaviour associated with a medical condition added anything to the post other than emphasis, which can easily be added without offensive references.

Is the use of such phrases left up to the individual, or does this community remove them when they have no relevance to the post?

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    If you take offense so easily, you must be constantly irritated. Not a healthy mindset.
    – user5645
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 19:22

4 Answers 4


I think if a user rejects an edit designed to remove a potentially accidental offensive bent it makes it clear that the offensiveness is not, in fact, accidental. I'd downvote, explain why in a comment, and flag appropriately.

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    I prefer to comment, wait for an answer, and then downvote. A downvote cannot be undone without an edit to the post, and downvoting immediately, without first explaining your offense and hearing the reply to your explanation, is rude in my opinion.
    – user5645
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 19:19

It seems to me that if the author rejects such an edit, and can argue that it is necessary to their answer as presented, that it be judged as contributing to the answer as a whole: criticize and vote accordingly. If it isn't necessary, but someone else feels that way, then such produces the same situation.

(If we were talking about edits forced on an answer which the original author did not approve, then obviously the outcome would be different.)

  • See my answer as for my "nor understanding the condition".
    – SF.
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 5:59
  • That bit was unnecessary, yes, and so it will be edited out. I could go on about why and whether, but perhaps i ought let this stay. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 9:18

There are things that are deliberately designed to give offence, and then there are triggers, the particular sensitivities that individual have to words or phrases that evoke something painful for them, or simply give them an opening to promote an agenda.

While it is eminently reasonable to police deliberate attempts to offend, policing every possible trigger would be impossible and counterproductive. Almost anything can be a trigger for someone, so it is impossible to separate triggers from non-triggers. For some people, the mere imprecise use of a word that has a more precise meaning in a particular domain. Some people simply can't accept that certain words can be used in more or less precise ways in different contexts. Some people can't even admit that some words are use to mean different things in different contexts.

Indeed, clear and effective writing, and particularly fiction, is all about triggering responses in the reader. Some of those triggers are going to affect people in unpleasant ways because of their personal background or experience. If we eliminate all possibility of a trigger words, we eliminate all possibility of art.

There have been various attempts over the centuries to rid discourse of certain kinds of triggers. There is even a word for it: Bowdlerization, named for Thomas Bowdler, who produce an expurgated version of Shakespeare called The Family Shakespeare. These are, of course, attempts to control, to shape discourse towards one's own position by ruling your opponent's vocabulary out of bounds. The ruling elites of every society use this tactic to one extent or another.

Writers, should, I believe, shun such tactics. Their attitude should be, if you disagree with what I have written, write a rebuttal, don't attempt to expurgate my work to suit your agenda. Of course, many writers don't take this view. They may be political first and writer's second and recognize and relish the use of expurgation as a political tool.

The problem with expurgation as a political weapon, though, is that it is a kind of gag on the people you don't agree with, and if you gag people too often, they may chew through the gar and spit it out, at which case outrageous, deliberately trigger-filled speech becomes a political weapon rather than a political liability. (I'm sure you can see where I am going with this. But there are lots of other examples than the one that first springs to mind.)

So this is a vote for frank discourse, for not setting out deliberately to offend, and not taking offense unless you are certain it was deliberately and cruelly meant, not because one is insensitive to the possibility of giving offense, but because Bowdlerization has consequences beyond the aim it was designed to achieve.


Excuse me.

My mother has schizophrenia.

Until she got medical help, I got an earful of ramblings and felt the behaviors on my own skin. I don't want to give examples here, just not to need to relive these moments again. Afterwards, I was visiting her for a year in psychiatric hospital until she was finally released, after the symptoms receded to livable levels and she stopped refusing her medication. I met many people with schizophrenia there.

Currently, I need moments to recognize the symptoms. It's really uncanny, very hard to confuse with anything else once you've seen enough of it. And if you think it's "offensive stereotype", please first spend a year on regular visits at psychiatric hospital to determine if the "stereotype" is false.

Or should I sugar it up, and keep silent about such things, just not to offend your sensitivities?

Let me detail the specific reason why I rejected this specific edit suggestion:

The suggested replacement was meaningless ramblings.

Meaningless ramblings may be fully internally consistent, delve into insignificant detail, and build a compelling argument about something we don't care about. One of its forms might be exactly excessive world building, where the author feels compelled to explain every least detail of a fictitious setting. It might be a laborious attempt to further prove a point that is already proved in excessive sufficiency (beating a dead horse), or a common sin of newbie writers, enunciating what was already shown with perfect clarity (show AND tell). A typical meaningless rant will be two pages sacrificed to proving superiority of hanging toilet paper flap forward instead of flap back.

Meanwhile, the typical schizophrenic rant is much opposite: its subject, had it not been a confabulation, would be extremely concerning to everyone. It's definitely not meaningless - it's overflowing with meaning!

But it's also a very specific style - completely filled with narrative, at cost of proofs, supporting logical arguments and exactly world building. It presents actions and events, while absolutely skimming details of characters (the notable they), omitting or glossing over technical details (frequently in regard to actions about impossible due to technical difficulties), and emphasizing the significance of a threat, frequently without delving into how exactly given action is a threat.

There is a very strong resemblance between this style, and creations of a beginning authors, for whom the world, as created in their imagination, is so vivid they feel writing it down is a waste of time; wrongly assuming the reader will be capable of building the same world just from what is written, performing only as minimalistic world building as necessary for upcoming sentence. Events happen, and the reader doesn't know why; locations are not fleshed out, so when we get glimpses, we must tear down the image we had built earlier, and replace it to fit the jarring elements; actions are taken that - while possessing a perfectly adequate explanation in the writer's head - appear as total deus ex machina to the reader. The theme is fictitious, and usually the subject matter is completely different, the resemblance of style is uncanny.

This is why I rejected the edit, and I'm open to accepting one that accurately captures this concept.

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    I apologize to any readers if this comment is seen as imbrogliation. This is discussion, no? Anyways. My sympathies for your mother. How was her condition classified? It sounds like Dissociative and Paranoid to me, so it probably wasn't Catatonic. Neuro-organic, or was it psychotic? What were the triggers, or does anyone even know? I don't know what motivated the asker, but i thought there was a legitimate point to be raised apart from the discussion of schizophrenia. I also didn't mean to say that you didn't know what it looked like, but that most people don't understand it. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 9:07
  • @can-ned_food I don't know the exact classification - it's probably in her paperwork which is sizable. I got the prescriptions, instructions of treatment, and contact to the doctor in case of relapse (which I did have to use at one occasion some two years later). I'm not trying to say I'm an expert on it in its different forms, but having been on the "receiving end" of the delusions (including destruction of property and physical violence), I'm "intimately familiar" with it; the “word salads” as you called them, were notorious.
    – SF.
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 9:43
  • @SF. it sounds like you've been through some really challenging situations -- many sympathies. Would you accept "disconnected, incoherent narrative" or something along those lines? Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 22:14
  • @MonicaCellio: Thanks - rather old story by now. On topic: The problem is the narrative is pretty coherent - if you ask; mine for details, demand clarifications. In some cases it can be very compelling! The essential property though is minimal amount of detail given (if not requested) and wandering focus; the speaker tries to convey as much as they can before "losing the train of thought", it's hurried - trying to pack as much of essence as possible into words, sacrificing any "unimportant" details - and often overdoing that. "disconnected"? I'm not sure what you mean by that.
    – SF.
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 0:58
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    @SF. "vague, illogical narrative", maybe? Anyway, I encourage you to rephrase that somehow; I don't think anybody involved wanted this to become such a big deal, so if there's something you can do -- not because you have to, but in the interest of making peace -- to adjust that one small part of your post, I'd appreciate it. Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 1:27
  • @MonicaCellio: again, it's not so much illogical as unintelligible; the meaning gets lost to 'shortcuts' taken. Regardless, I've edited it to replace the loaded wording with a medical term.
    – SF.
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 3:01
  • Thanks for the edit! I got "illogical" from "completely filled with narrative, at cost of proofs, supporting logical arguments and exactly world building", but I might have misunderstood you. Anyway, problem solved. Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 3:03
  • @MonicaCellio: "Logical" doesn't mean "Correct" in this case. In particular, it tends to be at odds with reality, although it is internally coherent. (or would be if the speaker took time to fill in the blanks; the complete image is there, in their mind). Certainly this "incorrectness" is absolutely not an issue when writing fiction - but the blanks are.
    – SF.
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 3:49

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