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Re: Is "zealot" a term of abuse?

Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> espoused:
> ____/ dapunka on Tuesday 21 August 2007 20:53 : \____
>> A while ago, I referred to someone (I think [H]omer) as a "zealot",
>> and he got really pissed off.  I hadn't meant it disparagingly - I was
>> just saying he was a FOSS purist - but he reacted like I was a troll,
>> baiting him.  So I decided not to use the term again.  Obviously it
>> meant different things to different people.
>> Then, just recently, I saw the same thing happen when someone else
>> used the word.  [H]omer (I think) said he was sick of Waterskidoo
>> calling him a zealot, and said he was gonna consign Skid to his "troll
>> file".
>> This reawakened my puzzlement - to me, "zealot" always meant someone
>> full of zeal, or enthusiasm, about something.  So I decided to conduct
>> one of my highly unscientific experiments.  I googled "define zealot"
>> and got the following definition from http://www.dictionary,net:
>> Zealot \Zeal"ot\, n. [F. z['e]lote, L. zelotes, Gr. ?. See Zeal.]
>> One who is zealous; one who engages warmly in any cause, and pursues
>> his object with earnestness and ardor; especially, one who is
>> overzealous, or carried away by his zeal; one absorbed in devotion to
>> anything; an enthusiast; a fanatical partisan.
>> Okay, that last bit - someone who's "carried away bu his zeal" or is
>> "a fanatical partisan" isn't too flattering.  But the general gist
>> doesn't seem offensive.  Which is how I meant it when I used the term.
>> Now, I'm gonna continue to avoid using the term zealot in this NG - I
>> don't want to unwittingly offend someone like [H]omer, with whom I
>> often agree.  But I am concerned - are Linux purists letting certain
>> disreputable people round here appropriate innocent words and turn
>> them into insults, just through over-sensitivity?  Surely the English
>> language belongs to us all... and we shouldn't let innocent words
>> morph into insults when there's no real grounds for it happening?
> "Zeal" has a religious connotation and some of us dislike religion. It is also
> used as a tool to create stereotype and invoke hate.
> Use the work passionate instead. There is also nothing wrong with striving for
> digital freedom. As time goes by, more people conspire to use digital
> mechanism to gain power over other people and exploit them in a variety of
> ways. If you let them get their way, it's back to the Middle Ages.

Passionate is fine, zealot is very negative.

| Mark Kent   --   mark at ellandroad dot demon dot co dot uk          |
| Cola faq:  http://www.faqs.org/faqs/linux/advocacy/faq-and-primer/   |
| Cola trolls:  http://colatrolls.blogspot.com/                        |
| My (new) blog:  http://www.thereisnomagic.org                        |

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