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Something else the letters stand for

Everyone who reads The Legal Genealogist on a regular basis knows what DNA stands for.

It’s deoxyribonucleic acid. One of two types of molecules that encode genetic information.1

But from now on, around here and everywhere else on the internet where this blog has a presence, those letters are going to stand for something else.




Oh, I know that the word “argue” has some great synonyms.

To assert, to maintain, to explain, to justify, to demonstrate.2

But it has other synonyms as well.

To dispute, to contend, to fight, to bicker, to quarrel.3


When it’s the former, it can be the basis for bringing people together. Words are meant to convince, to persuade.

When it’s the latter, it generally does nothing but tear people apart. Words are meant to attack, to hurt.

And our genealogical community has been hurting, way too much, with way too many people going way too far over the top with that second set of synonyms over the issue of law enforcement access to genealogical databases.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with staking out a strong position that (a) law enforcement should have unlimited access to genealogical databases or (b) law enforcement should have only limited access to genealogical databases or (c) law enforcement should have no access to genealogical databases.

There is everything wrong with slamming those who want law enforcement access to genealogical information as only being in it for the money or for the headlines. There is everything wrong with saying those who want controlled or no access have something to hide or don’t care about crime victims.

Disagreeing — even strongly — on the merits of an issue should never ever devolve into personal attacks on the people who have taken those stands.

We can, we will, we must resolve the serious questions that we all face in integrating DNA into our genealogical research in a manner that’s not just legal, but that’s also moral and ethical.

But we have to stop tearing each other apart on a personal level as we do so. “Your position isn’t the same as mine” ought not to be the precursor to “You’re a bad person for having that position.”

In short, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

There are no good guys or bad guys in this situation. There are just folks who see things differently. But we began our consideration of this issue as members of a community. Often as friends. Whenever and however it’s resolved, we need to end up as members of a community and as friends.

Let’s stick to the merits of the issue. And stop with the personal attacks.




Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “That other DNA,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 26 May 2019).


  1. See William C. Shiel, Jr., “Medical Definition of DNA,” ( : accessed 25 May 2019).
  2. ( : accessed 25 May 2019), “argue.”
  3. Ibid.
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