Note: This draft is being provided for the explicit purpose of seeking comments from LSA members and others who wish to do so. LSA members may log in to the LSA website and use the comment feature at the very bottom of this page to provide input (enter your comments in the "comments" field and click the "Save" button). Please provide comments no later than June 15, 2019. Thank you.

Note:  The comments received were addressed, and a revised Ethics Statement was submitted to and approved by the LSA Executive Committee in July 2019.  View the revised Statement here.



Linguistic Society of America

Ethics Statement

April 16, 2019

1. Introduction

This statement sets forth a basic ethical framework and governing ethical principles for the discipline of linguistics and its subdisciplines. It is the responsibility of linguists, individually and collectively, to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards, to anticipate ethical dilemmas, to avoid bringing harm to those with whom we work, and to actively strive to ensure that our work benefits others.

The framework and principles outlined in this document are intentionally written to provide linguists with guidance for making ethical choices in professional, supervisory, teaching, research, and other contexts. This statement is not meant to replace formal research ethics oversight, nor is it meant to provide an exhaustive code of conduct. It is intended to serve as a resource for holding ourselves accountable to a core set of principles and for demonstrating to students, review bodies, funding agencies, research participants, and others the professional commitment on the part of linguists and of linguistics as a discipline to carrying out all aspects of our work in an ethical manner. This statement also serves as a starting point for further conversation and critique, as the LSA Ethics Committee encourages linguists to assiduously engage with the ethical issues that arise in the course of our professional activities and aims to foster increased discussion of ethics within the discipline.

2. Disciplinary Ideals, Professional Conduct, and Expectations of Civility

The Linguistic Society of America is a member of the Science and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose work is “grounded in the principles and laws set forth in the International Bill of Human Rights and all other relevant international human rights treaties and norms.” This includes the right found in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which requires states to:

  1. recognize the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications,
  2. conserve, develop, and diffuse science,
  3. respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research, and
  4. recognize the benefits of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific field.

As an organization that advances the scientific study of all human languages and advocates for the language rights of all human beings, the LSA is committed to the ideals and principles of equality and anti-discrimination. It is the LSA’s position that gender identity, marital status, race, ethnic background, social class, political beliefs, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, and other such distinctions must not be a basis for discrimination. Further, the LSA is committed to providing a safe, welcoming, non-discriminatory, and non-coercive environment in order to promote free academic exchange.

It is the responsibility of linguists, individually and collectively, to ensure that we uphold the ideals and principles of equality and anti-discrimination in our professional interactions—in our language and in our behavior, on a personal level, in our interactions with others, in our institutional roles, and in our academic commitments. As outlined in the LSA Civility Policy, adopted December 2017, “all forms of incivility and harassment are considered by the LSA to be serious forms of professional misconduct.” The Civility Policy outlines expectations governing standards of behavior and interactions for all those who attend or participate in LSA events, including annual meetings, institutes, and other sponsored activities. This ethics statement echoes these same expectations. Linguists are responsible for:

  • Not engaging in coercive, intimidating, harassing, abusive, derogatory or demeaning actions or speech.
  • Not engaging in prejudicial actions or commentary that relate to a person’s identity or group membership, coerce others, foment broad hostility, or otherwise undermine professional equity or the principles of free academic exchange.
  • Not engaging in persistent and unwelcome physical contact or solicitation of emotional, sexual, or other physical intimacy, including stalking. Furthermore, these responsibilities not only apply to LSA-sponsored activities (e.g. annual meetings, institutes, etc.), but in fact apply to all settings where linguists conduct their work -- such as regular workplace settings, both live and digital, field settings in which many linguists train and work, and other settings associated with professionally-sponsored programs and activities (e.g. meetings, publications, honors and recognition, governance programs, and all appointed, elected, and volunteer positions).

3. Additional Responsibilities to Participants, Communities, and the Public

Linguists should model and promote ethical behavior in all our professional activities, including when working with research participants as well as broader communities.

Participants. Research participants share their knowledge and often aspects of their lives with researchers. Even if an institutional ethics committee deems that a research project is exempt from obtaining the committee’s approval, linguists should do everything in their power and in their capacities to ensure that their research follows the core principles of respect for persons (the intrinsic value of individuals), welfare (the quality of an individual’s experiences) and justice (the obligation to treat individuals fairly, equitably, and with dignity). Research participants have the right to control whether their actions are recorded in such a way that they can be connected with their personal identity. They also have the right to control and/or to be fully informed as to who will have access to the resulting data or knowledge. Linguists are responsible for:

  • Obtaining informed consent from participants and ensuring that any individual’s participation in research is completely voluntary at every stage. (Anonymous observations of public behavior, which often cannot involve full knowledge of the potential consequences consent, should be thoroughly vetted with research ethics boards; if allowable, such research should include no information that could inadvertently identify individuals or, where sensitive, the community.)
  • Maintaining all expected confidentiality in storing data and reporting findings.
  • Considering carefully whether some kind of compensation to participants is appropriate, be it remuneration for time and effort, formal recognition of their contribution to the creation or documentation of knowledge, use of participants’ knowledge and expertise to benefit them or their communities, and so on.
  • Consulting with participants, as suitable to the context or community, about the shape, direction, conduct, outcome, sharing, dissemination, archiving, and stewardship of research results.
  • Facilitating, wherever feasible, participants’ access to research results.

Communities and the public. Linguists should consider how our research affects not only individual research participants, but also broader communities. In general, linguists should work together with members of the community to strive to determine what will be constructive for all those involved in a research encounter, taking into account the community’s cultural norms and values. Ideal frameworks for interaction with outside researchers vary depending on a community’s particular culture and history. In many communities, responsibility for linguistic and cultural knowledge is viewed as collective, so that individual community members are not in a position to consent to share materials with outsiders, and linguists must try to determine whether there are individuals who can legitimately represent the community in working out the terms of research. Language, oral literature, and other forms of linguistic knowledge are cultural and collective knowledge whose ownership must be respected; linguists should comply with a community’s wishes regarding access, archiving, and distribution of results. Some communities are eager to share their knowledge in the context of a long-term relationship of reciprocity and exchange. In all cases where the community has an investment in or is affected by the output of language research, the aims of an investigation should be clearly discussed with the community and community involvement sought from the earliest stages of project planning. Linguists are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that we respect communities’ wishes, follow culturally-appropriate protocols, and use data and/or knowledge collected in ways that are consistent with community norms, expectations, and understandings of data/knowledge use and dissemination.
  • Ensuring, if so desired by the community, that the community is an integral part of the process of determining the research question(s), the ways of collecting data, and the analysis and dissemination of data.
  • Making all reasonable efforts to preserve original irreplaceable data and documentary material and returning, wherever feasible, data and knowledge gained to the community for stewardship. Not all data or knowledge collected with the aid of linguists or on behalf of linguistic scholarship belongs to linguists.
  • Making results of our research available to communities and, where appropriate, to the public in ways that adhere to communities’ and participants’ wishes and expectations and in ways that are comprehensible to non-professionals.
  • Considering carefully the impact of what is shared through publication, specifically whether this could affect the communities’ social status or relationship with political structures.
  • Giving consideration to the social and political implications of our research; this includes anticipating any likely misinterpretations of research findings, assessing potential damage they may cause, and making all reasonable efforts for prevention of such damage. Considering carefully the use of technologies that linguists may be involved in developing, including their potential role in social and political decision-making processes and their intended and unintended consequences, especially for those who are affected by the technologies and especially in high-stakes environments, such as the military, health care, the law/judicial systems, and education (including assessment).

4. Additional Responsibilities to Students, Colleagues, and the Discipline

Linguists should model and promote ethical behavior in all our professional activities, including when working with students as well as colleagues, and in relation to the broader activities of the discipline and the professoriate.

Students. Linguists should ensure that our relationships with students (at all levels) are established and carried out in ways that are fair and equitable, civil, and non-coercive -- due, in particular, to the fact that professors are responsible for student success in roles that include but are not limited to: direct instruction, research supervision, thesis committee membership, research collaboration, teaching supervision, and administrative supervision. Linguists are responsible for:

  • Actively avoiding intimate relationships with students.
  • Evaluating student work in a fair and timely manner.
  • Ensuring that students are appropriately instructed in ethical research practices.
  • Recognizing and properly acknowledging any and all contributions of students and colleagues to our research, including adhering to established academic expectations and protocols for standards of authorship on presentations and publications.
  • Fairly compensating students for academic assistance.

Colleagues. Linguists should ensure that our relationships with colleagues are established and carried out in ways that are fair and equitable, civil, and non-coercive. In particular:

  • For linguists who are responsible for hiring as well as for tenure/promotion decisions, such as department heads, large grant holders, and committee members, there is a special responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for candidates and fair compensation for academic labor.
  • For linguists who are responsible for undergraduate and graduate admissions and funding decisions, there is a special responsibility to ensure fair compensation for student labor and equal opportunity for admission, assistantships, fellowship consideration, and the like.

The discipline. Linguists should ensure that our scholarship is established and carried out in ways that are intellectually and academically honest. Linguists are responsible for:

  • Not plagiarizing the words or ideas of others.
  • Reporting results with rigor and integrity (including not fabricating or falsifying data, engaging in p-hacking, etc.).
  • Citing carefully in one’s work the original sources of ideas, descriptions, and data.
  • Following through on promises made in funded grant proposals and acknowledging the support of sponsors.
  • Promoting open expression of a diversity of ideas, including carrying out fair review of the work of colleagues (e.g., journal articles, grant proposals) without bias as related to the author’s identity, area of study, and/or theoretical orientation and by acknowledging potential conflicts of interest.
  • Respecting the intellectual inquiries of others -- including those from linguistic subfields other than our own, those from other disciplines, and those those outside the academy -- and avoiding the use of denigrating and unwelcoming discourse toward others.
  • Promoting, wherever appropriate and possible, data sharing, replication, and reproducibility, as well as archiving in repositories that are accessible.
  • Ensuring openness and fairness of the academic publication and review process, particularly on the part of editors, reviewers, and others responsible for publication and funding decisions.
  • Presenting the findings of our discipline in a fair, accurate, and easily comprehensible manner when teaching in the classroom and when speaking or writing for the general public.

Linguists who have not upheld the responsibilities enumerated above (e.g., who have had any complaints of harassment or discrimination or other behaviors outlined in the Civility Policy substantiated against them) have the further responsibility to decline (1) nominations for professional awards and (2) invitations to participate in roles in scholarly associations, editorships, funding agencies, and the like, that would put them in a position to affect the professional outcomes of others.

5. Acknowledgments

In 2006, the Executive Committee of the Linguistic Society of America established an ad hoc Ethics Committee which was charged with the task of drafting new guidelines for the responsible conduct of linguistic research. Members of the committee were Claire Bowern, Lise Dobrin, Penny Eckert, Ted Gibson, Jane Hill, Keith Johnson, Jack Martin, Philip Rubin, Susan Steele, and Sara Trechter. Monica Macaulay served as the committee’s representative to the LSA Executive Committee. The ethics statement was drafted in early 2007 and revised in late 2008. It was influenced in part by the 1988 Statement of Ethics of the American Folklore Society and by the 1998 Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association. In 2018 the ethics statement was revised by the Ethics Committee, whose members were Claire Bowern, Ron Butters, Mike Cahill, Alex D’Arcy, Lise Dobrin, Elaine Francis, Jeff Good, Marianne Huijsmans, Olga Lovick, Christine Mallinson (committee chair), Alireza Salehi-Nejad, and Jonathan Washington. Norma Mendoza-Denton served as the committee’s representative to the LSA Executive Committee. Feedback received from LSA members at the January 2019 annual meeting, from the LSA Executive Committee, and from member comments was incorporated into the revised statement, which was finalized in December 2019.

[Subject to modification as timeline unfolds]

6. Further Resources

A list of further resources related to ethics -- including other ethics statements, guidelines, and materials of the LSA, of other linguistic organizations, of neighboring disciplines, and of other academic organizations -- can be accessed here: Link to resources page.


I can see why the two items under "Colleagues" in section 4 were put together, since they relate to hiring and money. However, one deals with students rather than "colleagues" in the traditional sense, and could easily be put in the section on students. Likewise, the remaining point about hiring/tenure etc., could easily be moved together with the items under "the discipline". In other words, associating those two points with others that relate to the people involved is preferable, I would suggest, to keeping them together just because they both have to do with money.

This is a very nice development of the 2007 version: deeper, more thoughtful, more challenging. Thank you to the Committee for your hard work! -Jack Martin

This is a good development over the 2007 version. Some points of clarity especially about Section 2 - the section from ICESCR has four points. The first one is well-attended to in section II about civility and non-discrimination. However, the other 3 points quoted are not explicitly connected to this statement. If they are quoted in this area, I expect some part of the statement to relate directly back to them. Those points are:

*conserve, develop, and diffuse science [could this be more explicitly tied to the Responsibilities to the Public section - maybe also tied in with access to the products of linguistic research for the public ("open where possible, closed as necessary") and not only to participants in the study]
*respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research [maybe related to the Colleagues section later?]
*recognize the benefits of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific field [clearly related to the Community implications, but the "international" part is not very clear]

One suggestion for an additional item for the Resources Page - the Austin Principles for Data Citation in Linguistics. This can help with the work of "Reporting results with rigor and integrity (including not fabricating or falsifying data, engaging in p-hacking, etc.). Citing carefully in one’s work the original sources of ideas, descriptions, and data." urged in this statement.

Thanks for this revision, and for the substantial work that went into it. I would recommend changing the sentence in section 2 from "It is the LSA’s position that gender identity, marital status, race, ethnic background, social class, political beliefs, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, and other such distinctions must not be a basis for discrimination." to "It is the LSA’s position that gender identity, marital status, race, ethnic background, social class, political beliefs, disability, religion, national origin, native language, accent, sexual orientation, age, and other such distinctions must not be a basis for discrimination." There is substantial discrimination against people who do not speak certain languages natively and therefore speak with an accent, and for marginalized communities of speakers in dominant language situations. While we may want to recognize that "everyone speaks with an accent", in fact only some people are "people of accent" for the purposes of social discrimination. It behooves the LSA to call out discrimination on the basis of language in particular. I've been trying for years to add native language to non-discrimination statements, and to raise awareness about this important index of social identity. (It is still much more socially acceptable to mock foreigners for their accents--see the treatment of Melania Trump for a recent example--than for their race, origin, religion, etc.) The LSA should set the standard here.

As written, section 4 claims that "Linguists are responsible for ... Respecting the intellectual inquiries of others -- including ... those those [sic] outside the academy". While this is open to interpretation, clearly it would be violated by a young linguist, call her Mary, going on social media and mocking, perhaps with profanity, some inane op-ed published in her local newspaper about a linguistic topic. Imagine that she is called out by friends of the writer of the op-ed for her insults and disrespect. Fast forward 20 years, and Mary is a full professor and invited to review abstracts for a funding agency. Section 4 now admonishes her "to decline (1) nominations for professional awards and (2) invitations to participate in roles in scholarly associations, editorships, funding agencies, and the like, that would put them in a position to affect the professional outcomes of others." Since reviewing abstracts puts a person in a position to affect the professional outcomes, she will be in violation of the LSA's Ethics Policy if she agrees to review abstracts. A mean-spirited colleague could then write to the local newspaper or dean and correctly point out that Mary has violated her own professional organization's Ethics Policy not just in the distant past, but recently. The problem is that the admonition to decline nominations and invitations is unworkable, and does not admit of the possibility of redemption or correction: perhaps Mary had a change of heart and published an apology, and spent twenty years doing penance for her social media comments. The Policy has no room for her or her subsequent attempts to rectify her earlier bad behavior. As such, this paragraph (beginning "Linguists who have not upheld the responsibilities enumerated") would be best eliminated from the final policy. It is overbroad, and I recommend it not be included in our professional organization's ethics policy.

I understand the intent (I think) but the wording worries me. "Linguists" would include students, should it not? I assume that the intent is to say that someone should avoid intimate relationships with students who they have any supervisory relationship with, or are in a position to affect the person's career. But since 'linguists' can include students, it literally is saying that every student should avoid intimate relationships with any other student - clearly not the intent (I hope!!). Moreover, I think there is nothing wrong with - say, a professor even - having an intimate relationship with a student with whom they have absolutely no professional link. To take the extreme case which would be legislated against here - Kim (a professor) is romantically involved with Lee who decides to go back to school and become a student (in a different field, different university, or whatever). Or Kim meets Lee - even a student at Kim's own university - where Lee is a graduate student in a different department with no connection. I do not think we want to be legislating appropriate romances - just inappropriate abuses of power. This is worded much too vaguely, and appears to be prohibiting all sorts of romantic relationships that we do not want to be in the business of legislating. Can probably be fixed with some tweaking of the language.

This is a thoughtful and useful updating. I appreciate, especially, the section on 'Community and the public.' My only comment is the strength of Sec. 2, number 3 'respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research.' I agree with this, but given the climate in many state-funded universities, and the current federal government, I think we need to take a bolder stance to read (something like) '3. respect and protect the freedom indispensable for scientific research.' In the last few years, LSA has taken more public stances on issues concerning ethics, including freedom, and I think this change would reflect and encourage our growing voice in academic and public debates.

I would like to urge caution regarding adding "native language" and "accent" as things we may not discriminate against, as suggested by Merchant above. I am one of those "persons of accent", and apparently I have an accent. I have had one linguistics student complaining that my accent was very hard to understand, and all people speaking with an accent have had this unpleasant experience. The student turned out to be jerk, and my colleagues have always ignored this sort of stuff. However, I have come across speakers of English who speak English with a such a bad pronunciation that there are whole stretches of speech, where, try as I might, which I just cannot understand. This is rather uncommon, but it does happen. I am not suggesting such speakers should take accent reduction classes or some such nonsense, but a good phonetics training class is what they need, so the main phonemic distinctions of English are satisfactorily made. I have no problem at all about an English Department refusing to hire a speaker of English with a terrible pronunciation. Such a person should have no right to sue for discrimination, anymore than a person with poor math skills applying for a position in a Math Dept can sue them for discrimination. Regarding mocking people with an accent, we do not want to issue an ethics statement that does not allow people to make fun of people.. My wife, also a linguist, and "a woman of color", but who speaks perfect American English makes fun of me forgetting to aspirate my word-initial /p/, /t/, /k/ (I am a native speaker of Dutch and French). So I really do not care if people gently poke fun at my accent. I have had a lot more linguists making fun of my wearing socks and sandals...

I think it might be possible to clarify between the kinds of discrimination you are distinguishing here.

Much as you may decline to hire someone based on their ability to walk *if it is required for the job*, but are barred from refusing to make accommodations for someone with a wheelchair if that is not an essential requirement of the job, you may likewise hire someone based on their competency in a language based on its relevance. An English teacher with a French accent who can teach about English literature perfectly well (maybe not diction), but an English department shouldn't refuse to hire a literature teacher with a French accent because they want all their teachers to sound native.

I'm not sure we should be concerned with defending folks' right to make fun of others based on their characteristics.

I hope this covers people whose political beliefs are more conservative than the majority of LSA members, or academics in general. I would suppose that most members, for example, would not be in favor of seeking Christian converts in non-Christian societies (I think this is a bad idea, myself). But I would like to think that the Society, who names Eugene Nida and Kenneth Pike among it's past presidents, would not take discriminatory actions against Christian (or other belief) evangelist linguists. Another example--I would oppose rejecting scholarly work in favor of official English legislation, though, again, I am personally opposed to official English movements.

"[participants] also have the right to control and/or to be fully informed as to who will have access to the resulting data or knowledge." "Control and/or..." is incoherent: either they control it or they don't--which is it? Is the intent of this that each participant can "control" which journal you can publish the research in, what language it will be published in, what countries the publication will be accessible in, etc.?

"Linguists are responsible for... Facilitating, wherever feasible, participants’ access to research results." Who decides what is feasible? That is a matter of opinion, yet this policy gives license to brand a researcher as unethical under the flag of the LSA if they think this was feasible and you don't. What does "access to research results" mean if the speaker knows no linguistics? Research results can be results about linguistic theory.

Given past history, I’m very happy to see in Sections 1, 2, and 3 a clear and forceful stance about civil and non-coercive behaviour. I really congratulate the committee on their efforts in this area. At the same, the document as a whole seems unbalanced with its extensive coverage of diversity and community relations, compared to its brief coverage of other areas of scientific conduct. For example:
1) Issues of confidentiality are discussed only in relation to research participants. Breaches of confidentiality do also arise in other contexts, such as grant applications and selection committees, and these can also have deplorable consequences.
2) In my experience, the field has a pervasive problem with spin-doctoring in reference letters. In efforts to portray candidates as brilliant young turks, they are often credited with discoveries that were actually published previously by others — such as one of the members of the selection committee. I’ve even seen advisors credit students with advances that first appeared in the advisor’s own early works. While this is not technically plagiarism, it is still dishonest and it compromises the hiring process.
3) A high level of diligence and self-awareness are required to produce work that is solid, replicable, and advances the state of knowledge. I’d like to see not just phrases about refraining from unethical conduct (such as plagiarism or p-hacking), but also a clearer indication that research integrity requires active thought and effort. A particular problem I’ve noticed is lack of due care in evaluating the applicability and parameter settings for various statistical methods.

Finally, I see that people who have had complaints against them upheld are suppose to recuse themselves from various activities. The experience of the National Academy of Sciences is that this soft-touch approach is not really sufficient, and the NAS has just voted to put in place procedures for expelling members. I recommend that the LSA consider this option.

Following up on the insightful comment of pauline_jacobso on Wed 04/24/2019, I would like to express my objection to the provision in §4 that "Linguists are responsible for:
•Actively avoiding intimate relationships with students."
She correctly observes that the wording of the provision is so vague and overbroad that it would cover all kinds of relationships that one clearly would not want to rule out. She suggests that the provision can probably be fixed by careful rewriting/"tweaking". I would contend that this is not a drafting problem and that the provision cannot be fixed. Rather this is a problem of the LSA engaging in social prohibitions that go far beyond its professional competence, responsibility, or authority.

People, and this includes linguists, have a constitutional right to freedom of association. They have a right to make friends with whom they want and become romantically involved with whom they want. It is not up to the LSA to dictate with whom people may spend time or fall in love. The LSA can't simply declare that linguists, whatever their professional position, age, sex, marital status, background, life experience, and personal or ethical worldview, cannot have intimate and meaningful relationships with students whatever their professional position, age, sex, marital status, background, life experience, and personal or ethical worldview. The LSA is a professional organization: it is not supposed to be the morals police. Of course we do not condone abuse of power, whether between faculty and students, or senior faculty and junior faculty, or administrators and secretaries, etc.; however, the blanket ban on interpersonal relationships between consenting adults is not the answer. Concern about the very real examples of personal misbehavior that we know took place in the past and that unfortunately still exist is addressed in the correctly broad provision in §2 which prohibits linguists from "engaging in coercive, intimidating, harassing, abusive, derogatory or demeaning actions or speech."

The ethics committee can put in hours and hours of rewriting in order to try to salvage the ban on linguist-student relationships, but that would be a huge waste of time and effort. As indicated, the problem is not one of drafting: the ban itself is fundamentally flawed. The LSA simply has no business micro-managing individuals' personal lives. Therefore, the offending line which states that linguists are responsible for "Actively avoiding intimate relationships with students" should be deleted in its entirety. Period. This is the professionally and ethically correct and also constitutionally required thing to do.

Thanks, Paul, for the voice of reason!

I fully support Paul's opinion, as I expressed in previous discussions about similar issues many times.


After posting my prior comment, I did some homework — which I should have done earlier — and checked out the ethics policies of LSA sister societies mentioned in the LSA draft. Regarding relationships between faculty and students, the American Folklore Society's statement is particularly apt. It reflects a proper concern for the safety and wellbeing of students without intruding on linguists' personal lives and freedom of association. Here is the Folklore statement: "In relations with students, folklorists should be candid, fair, nonexploitative, and committed to the students' welfare and progress." That simple, straightforward sentence captures the essence of what the LSA as a professional society should endorse. In my opinion the LSA would do well to adopt the Folklore provision more or less as is. [p.n.]

I agree completely with Paul's new comment - and also with his earlier one. I had pointed out earlier that the language of the current draft was way too broad and rules out all sorts of relationships which presumably were not intended to be ruled out. But thinking more about it I agree with Paul's general point - relationships that could potentially be harmful to a student (or anyone else, for that matter) should of course not be condoned, but that should fall under the more general language which is nicely expressed in the Folklore Society's statements. Beyond that, I agree that it is not the job of the LSA (or anyone else) to be legislating personal relationships.