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Moderators about a member's avatar,

  1. Jul 13, 2010 #1
    Recently I attempted to contact the moderators about a member's avatar, asking for clarification on whether it was acceptable to have a picture of Erwin Rommel for it. I've not heard anything in response, so I'll ask the question here.

    Is it acceptable to have such an image as an avatar here? Would it be similarly acceptable if I decided I want to have Ratko Mladić or Radovan Karadžić as avatar? Hitler? A swastika? A totenkopf?

    The PF guidelines appear unclear about whether such images are acceptable. I think it would be a good idea to discuss whether a change to them is necessary.
     
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  3. Jul 13, 2010 #2

    Danger

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    Re: Avatars

    I think that if it is something contentious, you should PM it to one of the Moderators for approval. (The user, I mean, not an observer. That is an after-the-fact thing, but I think that it is within your rights to inquire about it. Just don't be pushy.)
    I must say that I wouldn't recognize Rommel if he jumped up and bit me on the ***. I've never even heard of any of the others, aside from Hitler and the swastika.
    Be sure to know that I am expressing only my opinions here, not those of PF or any of its administration. This is fully susceptible to editing or deletion on their behalf, as I agreed to upon joining the site. The cool thing about that is that if they do edit it, they will make note thereof for all to see.
    Anyhow... my personal approach would be that using an avatar of Hitler could be considered extremely offensive to many groups, and most particularly to those of Jewish heritage. I would feel equally offended if the avatar was of Tricky Dick Nixon, Idi Amin, or either of the Bush bastards who once occupied the White House. (I'm not Jewish, by the way, but I have friends who are and 11 of my uncles spent a lot of time crawling through mud to knock Hitler down.) That bastard also forever tarnished the swastika. It was originally a North American Native good-luck symbol, but with the arms angled the opposite way. No one, including my Native relatives, would even consider displaying the original version now, because anyone who saw it would immediately think "Nazi".
     
  4. Jul 13, 2010 #3
    Re: Avatars

    from wiki:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erwin_Rommel#cite_note-1

     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
  5. Jul 13, 2010 #4

    Danger

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    I never know quite how far to trust Wiki, Waht, but if that is true then I feel somewhat vindicated. I've always felt guilty about admiring his effectiveness at desert warfare. Every time that I started to ponder what a brilliant tactician he was, my conscious would yell out the he was a f***ing Nazi and I'd stop thinking about it.
    I have a feeling that this might turn into a political or racist debate, so I'm going to bail out right now.
     
  6. Jul 13, 2010 #5
    Re: Avatars

    I'm not a history buff let alone a major, but other sites also report him as being an anti-nazi. He sure was a good tactician. So in contrast, one can approximately put him in the same catagory as the US general McChrystal. He sure worked for the boss, but didn't necessarily agreed with him.

    Needless to say, Hitler, Stalin, or Ratko Mladić are well known mass murderers. Any sort of their advertisement is inconsiderate, immature, offensive, and looked down upon in professional real and virtual world.
     
  7. Jul 13, 2010 #6
    Re: Avatars

    Regardless of his stance towards National Socialism, Rommel commanded German troops in battle. This makes him guilty of participation in a war of aggression, which is a war crime under the Nuremburg principles; it was also a crime because it breached then-extant international norms and treaties. If being guilty of war crimes isn't sufficient reason for a person's image being deemed unacceptable as an avatar here, what's to stop somebody else using an image of, say, Ratko Mladic? And while we're at it, given the lack of guidance as to acceptable avatars, would http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Totenkopf.jpeg [Broken] pass without comment as an avatar?

    I have no problem with somebody's views diverging with mine on historical matters. But I would like to see the moderators give some guidance as to precisely what constitutes an acceptable avatar. As it stands, the use of Rommel - or indeed any other symbol associated with National Socialism or German militarism - as an avatar would be viewed as offensive by many. It would also contribute to otherwise avoidable strife on here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Jul 13, 2010 #7

    Danger

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    Again, I can speak only for myself, but I think that it's a pretty damned cool graphic. I'd be willing to have it as a tattoo, so I sure wouldn't think twice about someone using it as an avatar.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Jul 13, 2010 #8
    Re: Avatars

    Well, we'll have to agree to disagree. The only thing I will say is that openly displaying that as a tattoo would be likely to get you killed in many places in Europe.
     
  10. Jul 13, 2010 #9

    lisab

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    And that's why universal rules are difficult...the Totenkopf carries meaning to you, but is just a "cool graphic" to someone from a different culture.

    If anyone is offended by forest nymphs, please know it's not my intention to offend. But I'm not changing it :smile:.
     
  11. Jul 13, 2010 #10

    Evo

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    Re: Avatars

    Shoehorn, it is being addressed.

    I believe that avatars should be held to our rules about making every member feel welcome.
     
  12. Jul 13, 2010 #11

    DaveC426913

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    I dunno. Is the image in-and-of-itself offensive? I can see if the avatar were sending a message, and the message could be offensive. But really? Is just the mugshot offensive? Just my 2c.
     
  13. Jul 13, 2010 #12
    Re: Avatars

    That's good to know, thanks.
     
  14. Jul 13, 2010 #13
    Re: Avatars

    Rommel was one of the most respectable Generals in any modern war. He was once asked by Hitler himself to exterminate the Jews of the Bir Hacheim box, in which Rommel promptly refused. (Life of the Afrika Corps, page 100 or so). But is the 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, more suitable to the likes of non-historically oriented people?
     
  15. Jul 13, 2010 #14
    Re: Avatars

    I don't find anything offensive about the image itself; it is after all simply a reproduction of a photograph and is meaningless without context. The main point is that some people, given the context of their own feelings about Nazi Germany, undoubtedly would find it offensive. It's not unreasonable to suspect that since avatars like that are used as a representation of a user, some might conclude there's a certain admiration on the part of the user for a figure they detest. Unpleasantness follows.

    The broader point is that I wasn't able to find any explicit guidelines on what constitutes an acceptable avatar; I'm simply interested in whether the mods think it's a loophole that deserves closing.

    As an aside, it's worth pointing out that I have no difficulty with the user him/herself. After all, given that he's now changed his avatar to a picture of Monty he's clearly got a sense of humour about it.
     
  16. Jul 13, 2010 #15
    Re: Avatars

    Just to be fair, with the proper supplies and support from the home front (damn you OP: Barbarossa) Rommel would have whooped arse at the Second battle of El Alamein.
     
  17. Jul 13, 2010 #16

    DaveC426913

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    Hm. So you don't find it offensive? You're objecting on principle?

    That could be construed as borrowing trouble. It could also be construed as over-politicizing.

    Perhaps it might be better to wait until there is someone who objects before we start instigating rules.
     
  18. Jul 13, 2010 #17

    Danger

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    Lisab, thanks for putting a name to that picture so I could look it up. I thought that it was just a stylized Jolly Roger; there is no overt indication of Nazi association to it. Apparently, the following agree (from Wikipedia):
    The British Army's Queen's Royal Lancers continue to use the skull and crossbones in their emblem, inherited from its use by the 17th Lancers - a unit raised in 1759 following General Wolfe's death in Quebec, with an emblem of a death's head and the words 'Or Glory' chosen in commemoration of him.[5]
    In 1792, a regiment of Hussards de la mort (Death Hussars) was raised to defend the young French Republic from the Austrian attempt to invade France[6].
    South Korea's 3rd Infantry Division (백골부대) also uses the skull and crossbones in their emblem.
    The primarily Prussian 41st Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry, Mustered in: June 6, 1861-Mustered out: December 9, 1865 wore a death's head insignia.New York Military State Military Museum
    The Portuguese Military Police, the lancers, of the Regimento de Lanceiros 2 use the totenkopf in their emblem, similar to the one used by the Queen's Royal Lancers.
    The Kingdom of Sweden's Hussar Regiments wore it in the Prussian Style on the front of the Mirleton.
    The White Russian Kornilov regiment adopted it in 1917.
    The Estonian Kuperjanov's Partisan Battalion used the skull and crossbones as their insignia; the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion continues to use the skull and crossbones as their insignia today.
    During 1943-1945 the Italian Black Brigades and numerous other forces fighting for the Italian Social Republic, wore various versions of skulls on their uniforms, berets and caps.
    Although not exactly a Totenkopf per se, the Chilean guerrilla leader Manuel Rodriguez used the symbol on his elite forces called "Husares de la muerte" ("Hussars of death").
    United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions use the skull and crossbones symbol in their emblem.
    DFSW PL (Direct Fire Support Weapons Platoon) of the 3rd Battalion RAR (Royal Australian Regiment) use the same designed Totenkopf of the 3rd SS
    No. 100 Squadron RAF (Royal Air Force) continue to use a flag depicting a skull and crossbones supposedly in reference to a flag stolen from a French brothel in 1918.
    My apologies to anyone who was offended by my lack of sensitivity in the area, though. This really is the first time that I've known of the skull-and-crossbones being linked to Nazis. I've always thought that it was sort of a mythical pirate thing.
     
  19. Jul 13, 2010 #18
    Re: Avatars

    That doesn't hold. For instance, I'm not personally offended if someone chooses to have a picture of Hitler as their avatar. However, the fact that I wouldn't take offense at it doesn't change the following:

    • Some people undoubtedly will find it offensive.
    • There's an expectation that we take what people post in good faith and react accordingly. Regardless of the strength of the arguments that a Hitler-toting user makes, people who are offended by the avatar are, I would guess, much less likely to assume good faith. This leads to trouble especially in cases where the discussion revolves around something contentious, as is often the case in the politics forum.
    • There's a clear lack of guidance as to what should be done in cases where an avatar is liable to cause offence.



    Well, I'm not attempting to stir up trouble. I can't of course prove that, but it seems reasonable to assume that I'm not until shown otherwise.

    Moreover, it's difficult to see how I'm over-politicising the particular example in question (a symbol of the German reich) is now essentially a political one.

    Perhaps, and if the mods believe that's the best course of action to take then I'll accept that without further question. But waiting until someone takes offence doesn't mean that there isn't offence to be taken.
     
  20. Jul 13, 2010 #19

    Danger

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    Acceptance can be somewhat fickle. I, for instance, am somewhat offended that Evo's avatar is not a nekkid photo of her lovely self. I'm pretty sure that a vote among male PF members would turn up at least one or two supporters of that opinion. I would not, however, expect her to change it in order to mollify us.
     
  21. Jul 13, 2010 #20
    Re: Avatars

    There's certainly no indisputable association between a "skull and crossbones" and Nazi Germany. However, the specific image I linked to is a symbol of Nazi Germany; it's the particular totenkopf that was used by the Waffen SS.

    As a comparison, this is technically the same thing as this, although I suspect everyone can tell which of them is the more "acceptable" version.

    It's probably also worth pointing out that displaying such symbols is actually a criminal offence in much of Europe.
     
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