[R] Inappropriate color name

T. A. Milne m||net@ @end|ng |rom tut@@|o
Tue Nov 17 22:00:54 CET 2020

Apologies to the list for continuing a thread which is clearly off-topic.  However, contacting the maintainer of an R package to complain about this specific color name seems ill-considered.

1)  The name "indian red" is a part of widely-used color schemes everywhere, not just in R.  It's the color defined as:

"The color indianred / Indian red with hexadecimal color code #cd5c5c is a shade of red. In the RGB color model #cd5c5c is comprised of 80.39% red, 36.08% green and 36.08% blue. In the HSL color space #cd5c5c has a hue of 0° (degrees), 53% saturation and 58% lightness. This color has an approximate wavelength of 611.37 nm."


2)  The "indian" in the color name refers to ferric oxide, historically sourced from India.  Per Wikipedia:

"The name Indian red derives from the red laterite soil found in India, which is composed of naturally occurring iron oxides.[citation needed] The first recorded use of Indian red as a color term in English was in 1672.[3"


Given the name refers to the locus of the ferric oxide source, It isn't obvious that any particular group should be offended by the name.

--  T. Arthur Milne

> On Nov 16, 2020, at 5:46 PM, Rolf Turner <r.turner using auckland.ac.nz> wrote:
> On Tue, 17 Nov 2020 07:54:01 +1100
> Jim Lemon <drjimlemon using gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Elaine,
>> There seems to be a popular contest to discover offence everywhere. I
>> don't think that it does anything against racism, sexism or
>> antidisestablishmentarianism. Words are plucked from our vast lexicon
>> to comfort or insult our fellows depending upon the intent of the
>> user. It is the intent that matters, not the poor word. Chasing the
>> words wastes your time, blames those who use the words harmlessly,
>> and gives the real offender time to find another epithet.
> Jim:  This is superbly expressed.  I wish that I could have said
> that! Your posting should go down in the annals of brilliant rhetoric,
> alongside Dr. Johnson's "Letter to Lord Chesterfield".
> cheers,
> Rolf
You know, I wouldn’t have continued this thread (which has now wandered off topic from the original somewhat-more-technical question), but I feel now like it’s necessary to do so (and only fair, if anyone is considering moderating me after letting these posts by):

That is a view commonly held by white people, and even more overwhelmingly by white men. Our field is already not as diverse as it should be for a variety of reasons, and this “pretending no one else on earth exists” kind of stuff is at least some part of the reason. The question at issue here aside, white men complaining about people finding racism or sexism everywhere they look doesn’t pass the sniff test. Most or all of these things that people are reporting as offensive are being reported by people you’re clearly not listening to.

Further, impact is what matters. If I step on your foot, I apologize, regardless of whether or not it was intentional, because it’s the right thing to do. If someone tells you “that thing you’re saying is offensive or is hurting me” and you say “I didn’t mean it,” and then keep right on doing it, what does it say to the person on the receiving end of it? All anyone that is being “blamed,” as you put it, is being asked to do is to try to do better next time.

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