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Users who impose their beliefs on others

Every once in a while in the Ubuntu Forums I get a private message from a user, or we find a reported post, or someone posts something like this in a thread. The following is a direct quote, with some things removed to obscure the specific user and thread. No other editing was done.

i would like to report that a user on this forum has offended me very much by using bad language. I know last time this happened and i emailed you guys you did nothing. I am sick of being offended and nothing is ever done about it.

he said the P word in *link* .

I am very religious and the bible says this word is not right to use. please make sure he does not offend me or my beliefs again.

Okay, where do I start?

Here’s my main problem: I’m really tired of people saying they want everyone to follow their system of belief or personal philosophy of life (all software must be free or else…join my religion or else…etc.) and then threatening the staff because we don’t allow those demands to be made. Seriously, guys (and it almost always is a male…), if you want people to follow your way of life, all you have to do is show us how and why it is better by being a better person than the people around you. If you want people to follow you, lead by example with respect, with kindness, and yes, with good and logical arguments that do not demean those who disagree with you, but rather show a better option than what they are presenting.

Okay, I’m done with my tirade (full version here). I feel better now.


  1. matthew

    Oh, the "p" word was "pissed".

  2. A. Galavís

    Thanks for telling the word, i was going to have trouble sleeping thinking about it!
    Now, I fully agree with this rant. I would recomend these people to look for a "profanity" filter so they can censor their input anyway they like.

  3. Confused

    Yes, I am very upset by this. My religion @orbids anyone to use the letter "@" — oh gawd I had to use it there, see how this is upsetting me! Please ensure that others do the same, they should be stopped, regardless o@ who they are. It is wrong I tell you!!
    – – Oh yes, peace onto all mankind – –

  4. Thank you! Thank you for ranting about this. I am so tired of the "I have a right to never be offended" crowd. Especially since they typically overlap the "way too easily offended" crowd.

  5. Yann

    I think a rule had been defined for locoteam website’s and ubuntu forums of any language "Content that could be offensive to some people should be removed". According to this rule the content should be removed.

    But well, I think this rule is very "large", and people usually don’t agree on what is offensive or not. I guess moderators and admins have to draw a line somewhere. "My" line would be, this word is accepted, live with it.

  6. dan

    If its any comfort, I’ve written to Apple and Microsoft several times that their non-free software offends me, and I have yet to get a suitable response.

  7. Matthew Conolly

    that guys offence offends me
    who is he to say that ‘this word is not right to use’
    how about we all go pick some arbitary words from his posts and call them ‘not right’

  8. hype

    "I am sick of being offended and nothing is ever done about it."

    Close your eyes?

    I totally agree with you Matthew; i understand the "christians" concerns about this, (tho i’m not sure all christians are stuborn at this point) tho as we say in france "your freedom starts where freedom of others stops".

  9. Anon

    The problem is that the Ubuntu community generally gives in to the demands of minority groups within it.

    A few months ago there was an article that included the phrase ‘including a few wives’ (referencing attendance in an IRC chat) that the Linuxchix got up in arms about and that was changed to spouses. Then another segment of the community got offended because their relationship choices prohibited them from legal marriage in most places. And the phrase was changed yet again.

  10. Tony Yarusso

    Wow….right on. I too had to check the comments afterwards to find out what on earth the "p word" may have been. And I’m quite sure it didn’t exist in Hebrew, Aramaic, nor Greek, so that’s one interesting Bible he’s got there.

  11. Ani

    Matthew Helmke, you are a fucking moron.

  12. Matt

    What is the heck wrong with you, Matthew Helmke? I am a Christian and it does not matter what the others are saying anything such as complains and comments on the website! Remember website is on the public at anywhere around the world by world wide website whom we will read from nice to naughty comments which you could taking so offenses! Stop being so moaning about Christian and other folks because I don’t care if you are looking at us differently but we do know the truth! You are just this guy? Make sure you change this to "I am just this moron guy….."

  13. Dave

    From quoting another article:

    "’As a Christian I am offended’ – there’s one of the worst, most repellent formulas in the discourse of complaint we have today – but boy is it popular. Variations of it were all over Nova’s ‘Judgment Day’: one stalwart citizen of Dover after another talking about being offended. I think that was the first thing the awful Bill Buckingham said – ‘I am personally offended by evolution because the Bible etc etc etc’ – the ‘personally’ was a nice annoying touch. So you’re ‘personally’ offended by reality, so what! The world doesn’t revolve around you, so suck it up…"

    Personally, I would tell that person that his/her faith, the contents of his/her Bible, and his/her insistence on censoring others offends me greatly.

  14. jramskov

    I see more offended people have found your blog…

    I agree with you, I have no problem with people believing in something, but please don’t force your beliefs onto others.

    In regards to being offended about certain words, well, that is a difficult one since everyone have different limits. I’m personally almost never offended, but I know many are offended by sexual words and to continue out of that line – why are we offended by nudity? Uhh…a breast, how terrifying! It makes little sense to me to be honest.

  15. matthew

    Wow. Judging by the comments here on the blog, in the forums, and in my email inbox, I guess I touched a nerve.

    As usual, my desire was to initiate a big discussion. Sometimes you need to stir things up a little bit and get people talking so that ultimately a positive balance can be reached.

    I am amused that Ani and Matt (above), who each commented with a similar opinion about my mental capacity, have amazingly similar IP addresses as well…and only one left an email address. Hey guys, it is okay with me if you don’t share my opinions. I’ll leave your comments intact and allow others to judge between us who is showing the better, "Christian" attitude. 🙂

  16. Matt

    You have to remember that not all Christians have the same attitudes. Do you really think being a Christian will have a perfect life? You are so wrong and we all do making a mistake because it is making us a human. Being as a Christian, you will need to listen to the others if they complained about cussing on the blog and etc no matter what. You will need to send a strong support or positive attitude toward to your complained user from your blog. That’s how it will make you a better Christan than leaving some of your negatives comments after their comments about curses on the blog. We really need to listen to the others and make some changes then we will have a solution. That’s simple! If we don’t like something what they are trying to say then we can ignore them. Therefore, there is a no better Christian attitude on Earth at all. In a bible said shall not judgment on the others but you just did toward "a better Christian attitude". You have to be careful what you were saying in these comments because you think you are so right and cool with the others who are reading your blog. It is showing me that your attitude is egoistic but that is ok! I always love to reading your blog till you bought this up about toward Christian people and I knew you are not a perfect person like us! We do all making a mistake and we will always forgive for each other no matter what. Please leave the positive comments if somebody complained about cussing or disrespect comments on your blog for next time. That’s simple before you will crash to another nerve! Still, I don’t see us being a better Christian attitude at all. 🙂

  17. matthew

    Matt, I’m not addressing my original comments solely at Christians, and certainly not at all of them. I am also not addressing my comments toward people with strong opinions, whether religious or philosophically based.

    My comments were directed at people who demand that other people live according to a system of belief that they have not chosen for themselves. That comes across as incredibly arrogant and rude.

    People who desire to proselytize should do so with their actions, living in such a way that others want to follow them. Making a set of rules for others to live by is ineffective at changing other people’s hearts and attitudes.

    Showing an alternative to their lifestyle and philosophical foundations, an alternative that is more attractive because of the value it places on people and the kindness and grace it shows, will be effective. That is harder, though.

    The former choice is what the people I am complaining about do. The latter is what Jesus himself did, as well as his followers. It wasn’t until Christianity was institutionalized as a state religion under Constantine that all this "you have to do it our way" stuff started. Before that, Christians were content to proclaim a better way of life by living it, and by speaking with profound grace and logic to people who were interested…kind of like the God of the Bible, who created people and then gave them a free will to decide to follow him or to walk away.

  18. Matt

    Yes. I totally agree with you! Thanks for clearing this up. Thank you very much, Matthew.

  19. matthew


    Thank you for a well thought out and clear comment. I appreciate it.

    Any hypocrisy in my actions/statements is certainly unintended. Let me again reiterate my main point is not that I am bothered because a person was offended at a specific word and reported the post. That is a reasonable and welcome action.

    What I am bothered by is the demanding and arrogant manner in which he chose to report the post.

    One may be offended and choose to say, "You know, that offends me. If this is not your intent, then we might find communication easier if the mode of communication were altered." Perhaps they could even write, "Wow. Is that permitted here?" and we would get the point.

    Saying, "This violates my personal standards of decency and therefore the world must accede to my demand that all people conform to my opinions and standards" is just plain silly and will never win friends nor influence people. Frankly, this sort of statement is a conversation stopper, not a conversation starter.

    If the goal is to enable a group of very diverse people to share ideas one with another in as accurate and friendly a manner possible, than demanding that people "do something about it or else" is going to be counter productive. What this manner of communication is quite effective at doing is shutting down communication and alienating people one from another.

    Again, my title was "Users who impose their beliefs on others," not "Users who have different beliefs and choose to make requests and start dialogues based on them."

  20. Dominic Bnonn Tennant


    This person says that he is sick of being offended, and the moderators doing nothing about it. Now, the Ubuntu forums do seem to guarantee that offensive posts will be removed, as someone has already pointed out in this combox. So, whether or not you agree with what this fellow finds offensive, it would appear that if he genuinely _is_ being offended, you are in fact being a first class hypocrite.

    Imagine that this person had instead contacted you to request that a post using the word "cunt" had been removed because he found it offensive. Would you still have mocked him publicly? If not, why not? You accuse this fellow of "imposing" his beliefs on others by expecting something that he personally finds offensive to be removed. But then, the only reason you have not removed it appears to be that _you_ personally do _not_ find it offensive.

    Unless you have some kind of higher authority to which to appeal, and by which to arbitrate an absolute standard of offensiveness, are you not in act imposing your own views on the complainer in this instance, by refusing to moderate comments which he finds offensive but which you do not? You say you are tired of people like this wanting you to follow their way of life or personal philosophy…but really, you are expecting the exact same thing from them. It’s just that you’re in the majority, so you don’t notice.

    As it happens, I think this fellow is an idiot, with utterly no basis either for his extreme offense or for his demands. But it also seems to me that there is a significant element of hypocrisy going unnoticed in your own attitude.


  21. Jake

    I honestly think that this was a joke. The Bible, depending on your translation, says words such as "ass" and "damnation" which may be considered indecent language to some. Not to mention that Paul used some mild curse words in his writings at time. There is nothing wrong with "piss" to any degree.

  22. Rob

    Great rant, one I have had myself a few times. Guess if people don’t want to get pissed off about being offended they should consider starting their own forums and not hang out in free/open forums where the ‘p’ word and even worse things like ‘free will’ and such exist.
    bah there I go, about to fall into the rant, will call it good and just nod in approval of your post.

  23. Rev. Draigh Lunara

    All of this ranting over a word. The only thing I have to say is that words do not have power except what you give them. If a person chooses to allow a word to be offensive to them then they are the ones with the issue or problem. I used to be offended with several words through my life and I have learned that they do not have any power unless I give it to them. I now feel that I have the power and not the words.

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