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stereotyping sucks
January 2, 2007 9:15 PM   Subscribe

"part of American culture is to utterly ignore people who are outside your circle of personal friends/acquaintances/family" ... "there is a cultural thing re yelling and violence in American domestic relationships" ... we all know what those people are like ...
posted by AmbroseChapel to Etiquette/Policy at 9:15 PM (363 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

You're an idiot.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:16 PM on January 2, 2007 [20 favorites]


Those comments weren't about Americans, it turns out, but they're just as nasty and stupid and pointless as if they had been.

The OP thought he has to tell us his neighbours are Asian, because, what, "maybe this is just some sort of cultural thing... maybe certain Asian couples just yell at each other?"

It's a strange thing to say -- sleep is sleep, noise is noise -- but, regardless, it's brought a lot of half-assed, pointless racism out of the closet, as usual. All Chinese people yell and hit each other. All Koreans think you're an "unperson" if you're not in their immediate circle of family and friends.

I am so disappointed in AskMe right now.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:19 PM on January 2, 2007


>You're an idiot.

That's a matter of opinion. The fact that you're a bigot, however, is there on the page for all to see.

(Please note, stavros will now want tell us tales about stupid/rude/violent Asian people he has known, in order to demonstrate that if we had known them, we would dislike them too).
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:22 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


You realize Stavros lives in Korea, right? And might have some insights about, you know, people that live in Korea...

Perhaps you didn't. Benefit of the doubt and all.

Short version: you're overreacting.
posted by The God Complex at 9:23 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about Korean culture, but I'm going to trust the guy at 35ºN, 128ºE.
posted by Partial Law at 9:26 PM on January 2, 2007


Expat Canadians(?) are quite direct it seems.

I won't go as far as stavros, but pretending certain cultural norms don't exist is no smarter than making overly broad generalizations about individuals.

My wife is not stereotypical, but that is not to say that pollomacho's comment didn't hold for the great majority of Japanese families I know.

Which of your oxen was recently gored?
posted by bashos_frog at 9:26 PM on January 2, 2007


This oughtta be good.
posted by NortonDC at 9:27 PM on January 2, 2007


Are you trying out for that "PC brigade" right wing nutjobs go on about? I didn't know they were recruiting.
posted by cillit bang at 9:29 PM on January 2, 2007


You realize Stavros lives in Korea, right?

What on earth does that have to do with it? Is it impossible that he should be racist, or anti-Korean, or have subscribed to clichéd stereotypes about Koreans, because he lives in Korea? Clearly, it is not.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:29 PM on January 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


>pretending certain cultural norms don't exist

Which ones? We don't know whether these people are from Korea, Japan, or Outer Mongolia. The guy has a problem with being woken up in the middle of the night. He needs to get them to stop doing it. Would it be any different if they were Belgian or Norwegian?

"I dunno, maybe Norwegians just beat the crap outta each other and yell all night".
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:32 PM on January 2, 2007


This will wendell.
posted by ericb at 9:33 PM on January 2, 2007


You're an idiot.

Well, OK, that's harsh if accurate, but I stand by what I said in that thread, even though I screwed it up, so I'll correct it, here.

The corrected para:

Koreans are fighters, certainly, but no more than anyone else, I don't think, and it's not like it's a cherished part of Korean culture or anything. What is a part of Korean culture is to utterly ignore people who are outside your circle of personal friends/acquaintances/family. If someone's not in your circle, they are an unperson, so a) their feelings are not considered b) you will be unembarrassed about airing your dirty laundry, in whatever form.

I've italicized the words I've corrected.

Asker thought that there might be ways to resolve his problem with his neighbour that involved cultural differences. Things that people might know that might help him/her fix the problem. There's no RACISM OMG!!!! going on here. I've lived in Korea since 1996, my wife is Korean, all of my friends in-country are Korean. I love Korea and the Korean people -- hell, I'd be insane to have spent the best years of my life here if I hadn't.

But fuck me if I'm going to candy-coat my hard-won understandings of the ways in which Korean culture works because someone doesn't like it if I don't throw in dimwit qualifiers to make it clear that I'm generalizing, and generalizing is never perfect.

It is not a matter of debate that Korean identity is group-centred, as opposed to individual-centred (although to a lesser extent than Japanese, arguably). One of the consequences and manifestations of this tradition is the common attitude (particularly amongst the 'old-skool' Korean folks I took care to point to (but which Ambrose here somehow conflated to 'all Koreans')) that I talked about.

The fact that you're a bigot

Fair enough. I call you names, you call me them back. But people have differences, and that's the simple truth of it. Recognizing those differences is not racism, you dolt. It's that kind of attitude that actually stifles understanding between people of different cultures, all in the name of not hurting people's widdle feelings. Fuck that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:34 PM on January 2, 2007 [18 favorites]


but pretending certain cultural norms don't exist is no smarter than making overly broad generalizations about individuals.

And, more than that, there's a huge difference between noting cultural norms that might be generalities and then using that information to prejudice yourself against people from a certain culture (which is actually ethnism or ethnocentrism, not racism, but we're arguing semantics at that point).

Let me give you an innocuous example. I'm Canadian, but I know a number of Americans and have visited the States on more than a few occasions. If I told you "The typical American loves football", I'd be making a generalized statement about Americans. If I then said, "I hate [insert American I don't know] because he hates football" I'd be an idiot, and possibly wrong. Stavros did the former, not the latter.

Moreover, you are the one reading negative connotations into what Stavros wrote. What he actually wrote was a matter-of-fact summary of Korean social behaviour. Is it true? I don't know. I don't know a damn thing about Korean culture. But if it is true, or at least is in an arguable point, then why is his statement negative? It's not, unless you read it that way because of ethnocentric beliefs about how people should act.
posted by The God Complex at 9:34 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Paging asianvikinggirl...
posted by NortonDC at 9:35 PM on January 2, 2007


I think there's a policy in general society that whenever someone talks about observations they've made about people whose ethnicity is different from their own, the person doing the talking should be stepping on egg-shells.

It seems to me that stav is merely making an observation; one he's made while living in a culture that is pertinent to the question. Certainly I haven't seen a history of anti-asian or anti-Korean statements from stav in his posting history, so I would humbly suggest that he isn't making a racist comment at all. It is debatable, however, that stav could have worded his response a little better, however, especially when dealing with a topic that is likely to inflame passions in a community that likes its callouts hot and heavy.

Short version: I agree with The God Complex. I think you're overreacting. Time and the progress of this thread could prove me wrong, however.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:35 PM on January 2, 2007


(err, "loves football")
posted by The God Complex at 9:36 PM on January 2, 2007


The amusing thing is that if I'd added the weasel-word qualifiers 'many', 'some', 'most' or 'the majority, in my experience' in appropriate places, Ambrose probably wouldn't have freaked out at what I said.

That's just silly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2007


On behalf of all the asians on Metafilter, I will be officially accepting all apologies for this gross discrimination. It would be best understood if it was in our native dialect, so please reply here with a "SO SOLLY" and all will be forgiven, you white fuckfaces.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2007 [45 favorites]


>If I told you "The typical American loves football", I'd be making a generalized statement about Americans.

Yes, a very neutral one. What he wrote is that Koreans consider someone outside their immediate social circle an "unperson". We can't be sure exactly what he meant, but, seriously, you don't think that has negative connotations?

Are you also defending the person who said that domestic violence was the norm in China? Don't you think that's a negative comment?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2007


You're an idiot.
posted by dg at 9:38 PM on January 2, 2007


Part of American culture is to be ignorant of differences...

oh wait. Sorry.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:38 PM on January 2, 2007


Ambrose, would it surprise you that I think that the Korean group-focused way of personal identification has many, many strengths as well as weaknesses? That I think the consequences of the European/American individual-centering of identity has not only kicked up some of the greatest individuals in history out of the scrum, but also led western culture into some of its worst excesses?

Or that I might actually choose most of my words carefully, when I have time to do so, and that I've thought a great deal about these things?

I guess it would.

But I probably shouldn't have used 'unperson' as shorthand. I thought people might be clever enough to parse it, and generous enough to parse it graciously.

We can't be sure exactly what he meant

But you can call me a bigot, amirite?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:45 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, a very neutral one. What he wrote is that Koreans consider someone outside their immediate social circle an "unperson". We can't be sure exactly what he meant, but, seriously, you don't think that has negative connotations?

No, I don't, but I've done my share of anthropological reading, and this is the sort of thing you come across quite often. It's a pretty cut-and-dry assessment of socialization in Korea (and, according to Stav, it's sort of the "traditional" behaviour, so it may be changing).

I wasn't trying to be snarky when I mentioned ethnocentrism. It's very easy for people from other cultures to read something as negative simply because the observations they read detail behaviour that we would consider socially abnormal.

Do you see what I mean? Stav might be right, he might be wrong. Unless someone corrects him, I'm inclined to believe there might be something to what he's saying, given his experiences.

The more important point, however, is that observing generally true things about a culture is different than prejudicing yourself and acting in a racist or ethnist manner. This wasn't a Korean dude getting in an argument with Stav and Stav coming back with "You're just itching for a fight because you're Korean and Koreans just like to fight!"

The OP may not have needed to mention it, but he did step on eggshells when he did so, and I didn't get the impression he was looking for "lol asianz r funny" response. It was simply information that may or may not have been applicable to the answers he was looking for.

Are you also defending the person who said that domestic violence was the norm in China? Don't you think that's a negative comment?

I didn't read the rest of the thread, but your callout seemed like it was directed at Stavros, which is what I'm responding to.

But as for your question, I don't know. I've never lived in China or read much about their domestic culture. It would certainly be a negative as far as I'm concerned, but one must be careful about putting one's own beliefs on other cultures. It rarely ends well.
posted by The God Complex at 9:46 PM on January 2, 2007


>The amusing thing is that if I'd added the weasel-word qualifiers 'many', 'some', 'most' or 'the majority, in my experience' in appropriate places, Ambrose probably wouldn't have freaked out at what I said.

You're entitled to your opinion, but of course, we'll never know.

Why don't you tell us what you meant, in more detail, stavros? Tell us what you meant by an "unperson" for instance, or give examples of how many Koreans, in your experience, treat people who they consider less than human? You seem strangely reluctant to do so.

You're much more qualified to do that than speculate about what I might have done in an alternate universe.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:47 PM on January 2, 2007


Hey, Stan Chin's back! Goodie!!!
posted by timeistight at 9:47 PM on January 2, 2007


I've given the "AmbroseChapel is an idiot" issue careful consideration, and I side with stavros & dg.
posted by jonson at 9:48 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is one of those cases where well-meaning people phrase a thing poorly, and other not-so-well-meaning people exaggerate the importance of that instance of poor phrasing. If the original poster had said "I have neighbors who argue at night, what do I do? And by the way, they argue in an Asian language, and I'm wondering if there's some sort of cultural difference I should take into account when approaching them?", we wouldn't be having this discussion.

So, AmbroseChapel, relax. You really seem to have charged in with both barrels loaded for no obvious reason.
posted by mediareport at 9:48 PM on January 2, 2007


Ambrose, it looks like you're focussing on my use of 'unperson' as shorthand, and taking it to mean 'less than human'. As I said, that may have been a poor choice of words.

Why don't you tell us what you meant, in more detail, stavros? Tell us what you meant by an "unperson" for instance, or give examples of how many Koreans, in your experience, treat people who they consider less than human?

If this is a serious request, I'm more than happy to do so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:50 PM on January 2, 2007


There's a huge problem with domestic violence in China. The statistics are overwhelming, even more overwhelming than US statistics. It's also a little discussed problem, making it more difficult to tackle. There are groups of women activists in China who are trying to get the statistics out and to challenge the cultural norms.

As an aside, I live with and parent someone who grew up in a violent Chinese household. I have spent the last three months trying to find her therapy and other interventions to try to get her to stop re-enacting the violence she grew up with. I have also been researching domestic violence in China.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:51 PM on January 2, 2007


Why don't you tell us what you meant, in more detail, stavros? Tell us what you meant by an "unperson" for instance, or give examples of how many Koreans, in your experience, treat people who they consider less than human? You seem strangely reluctant to do so.

Yeah! But if you tell us who your racist friends are, we'll let you off with a warning! /scowl
posted by The God Complex at 9:51 PM on January 2, 2007


>I don't know. I've never lived in China or read much about their domestic culture. It would certainly be a negative as far as I'm concerned, but one must be careful about putting one's own beliefs on other cultures.

Let me get this straight -- your attachment to cultural relativism is so strong that you hesitate to negatively judge violence? You think that violence might be considered part of someone's culture and hesitate to call it a bad thing in case you offend someone?

I think you're way ahead of me in the recruiting line for PC nutjob brigade -- I'd better come back to brigade HQ another day.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:52 PM on January 2, 2007


If this is a serious request, I'm more than happy to do so.

RSVP on that, please, Ambrose.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:52 PM on January 2, 2007


>There's a huge problem with domestic violence in China.

I'm sure you're right. I've known Chinese women who were victims of domestic violence myself.

How does saying that help a guy getting woken up by slamming doors and raised voices at three AM by his neighbours?

If you think it's relevant, how? Should he put up with the noise because it's part of Chinese culture? If not, what's the relevance? Or are you just saying "people who say Chinese people fight a lot are right?"
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:58 PM on January 2, 2007


Let me get this straight -- your attachment to cultural relativism is so strong that you hesitate to negatively judge violence? You think that violence might be considered part of someone's culture and hesitate to call it a bad thing in case you offend someone?

I think you're way ahead of me in the recruiting line for PC nutjob brigade -- I'd better come back to brigade HQ another day.


I'm simply pointing out that, from an anthropological perspective, simply stating something is "bad" is dangerous territory. I don't necessarily subscribe to that, but I do understand the reason for it.

That's not what you asked, however. You asked me to say it was "bad" that someone said it was a cultural norm. I won't. It might be a cultural norm in China (ClaudiaCenter seems to back this point up), so I'm not going to shrilly scream "racist!" at anybody who suggests this might be true, as long as they don't start ranting about hwo "bad" Chinese people are because of it.

And now, here's my own rhetorical question: why are you being intentionally obtuse and confrontational instead of addressing the actual issues being discussed? If you weren't interested it actually discussing it, I suggest you stay away from starting metatalk threads--especially spurious ones--in the future.
posted by The God Complex at 9:58 PM on January 2, 2007


Of course it was a serious request, stavros. Why would you ask me twice?

And if it turns out that these people actually are Korean, it might even turn out to be relevant, because ... sorry, I'm still not getting it.

You would get them to stop fighting at three AM by rendering yourself an actual person in their eyes, by ... joining their family? Getting their mom's phone number and asking her to stop it?

Here's the guy's problem again: people wake me up, fighting at three in the morning. How can I get them to stop?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:01 PM on January 2, 2007


MetaFilter: You're an idiot. No, you're a bigot.
posted by knave at 10:03 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


And the answer to "How do I get them to stop" might be dependent on their culture. People do react differently to things, and some of those reactions are culturally bound. Being culturally sensitive is not racist (and, in fact, I would claim it's a pre-requisite for not being chauvinistic about one's own race or culture).
posted by occhiblu at 10:04 PM on January 2, 2007


I've heard that asian people think that you're less of a person (an "unperson" if you will) if you don't fight a lot.
posted by dhammond at 10:06 PM on January 2, 2007


Part of MeFi culture is to utterly misunderstand people who are outside your circlejerk. There is a cultural thing re scorn and abuse in MeTa callouts.

We all know what those people are like.
posted by flabdablet at 10:08 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Q. How do you tell time with a broken watch?
A. Bang it on the wall of your apartment until someone screams CUT THAT SHIT OUT, IT'S THREE IN THE MORNING!
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:09 PM on January 2, 2007 [21 favorites]


>I'm simply pointing out that, from an anthropological perspective, simply stating something is "bad" is dangerous territory.

You want AnthropologyFilter, two doors down on the right. This was AskMe, where people solve problems for each other.


>why are you being intentionally obtuse and confrontational instead of addressing the actual issues being discussed?


I have no idea what you mean.

Here's my answer to the original question:
  1. No, it's not relevant that they're Asian, and you shouldn't even have mentioned it
  2. knock on their door and tell them to cut it out
  3. if they don't, call the cops
  4. feel free to jump straight from 1 to 3.

posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:09 PM on January 2, 2007


OFFS.. pointing out that domestic violence might be considered more of a 'norm' in a certain culture could go a ways to explaining why the victim hasn't sought help yet, which is certainly relevant to the asker's situation with his neighbours.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:10 PM on January 2, 2007


Of course it was a serious request, stavros.

OK. Wait for it; this make take a while. While you're waiting, have a listen to this recent interview with Michael Zielenziger from NPR, in which he talks at some length about the Japanese identity-formation-through-the-group and the concomitant culture of conformity there, which is germane. There are many differences between the cultures, of course. Duh.

Also, read this post of mine from about 2 1/2 years ago about some Korean words that don't translate well into English, but express nonetheless some cornerstone spoken and unspoken beliefs that (many, most) Koreans, particularly in the older generation hold as essential to Koreanness. These are one key to understanding what's going on.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:11 PM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I thought the OP was telling us that they were Asian to explain that there was some sort of language barrier to both understanding what the neighbors were saying as well as trying to figure out the best way to resolve the situation. Or are you specifically calling out stavros?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:11 PM on January 2, 2007


While I do not know if I would post a question on metafilter about this (I think banging on the wall and yelling choice words passes many cultural barriers) ... I can say that I have taken enough intercultural communication classes to say that there are real differences between cultures, especially apparent when they initially get to a country and fail to assimilate.

We can can argue all we want about the merits of cultural relativism and such, that is not the issue. There are pragmatic differences when dealing with those of a different culture. In this particular case I don't think it matters, nor has the poster given us enough information regarding what culture they come from. That said, running around acting as if there is some absolute way to act is not exactly the most diplomatic solution to problems.
posted by geoff. at 10:11 PM on January 2, 2007


How does saying that help a guy getting woken up

The OP asked if it could be cultural. I said, yes, it could be cultural, but so what -- it should not be tolerated. One of the problems with violence in Chinese relationships is that it is too often dismissed as "cultural," meaning okay, whereas it's not okay.

You're right, it doesn't directly help a person getting woken up, other than to respond to their question/concern re culture and to state -- perhaps obviously, perhaps not -- that culture is not some basis for a neighbor or anyone to tolerate domestic fighting.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:11 PM on January 2, 2007


>the answer to "How do I get them to stop" might be dependent on their culture

It certainly might. However, as we know nothing about these people at all and are completely unable to guess even the most basic thing about their culture, we're left with silly generalisations. This is why he should never have mentioned it in the first place.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:14 PM on January 2, 2007


Except that there are, in fact, similarities among Asian cultures that often lead to similar approaches working among all of them.
posted by occhiblu at 10:15 PM on January 2, 2007


>These are one key to understanding what's going on.

They might be, if we knew that these people were from that culture. But we don't. So they aren't.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:16 PM on January 2, 2007


Continuing my response to Ambrose's challenge: You can also read this, which I wrote about something else (weak Sapir-Whorf *rolleyes* yes I know), but has some clues in the puzzle as well, namely 유교 (Confucianism) and the words that one uses in Korean to address others.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:16 PM on January 2, 2007


Another stupid argument, this is.
posted by smackfu at 10:20 PM on January 2, 2007


>There are pragmatic differences when dealing with those of a different culture. In this particular case I don't think it matters, nor has the poster given us enough information regarding what culture they come from.

Absolutely. We know nothing. There's no such thing as a typical "Asian" person so that information serves no purpose except to express the OP's disquiet with their Otherness.

I would have been quite happy if the poster had posted about his neighbours and then said at the end "they're from Asia, but I don't know which part and I don't know how long their families have been in this country -- can I draw any conclusions about how to approach them from that?" and we could just have written "No. We need more information than just 'Asia'".

As it is, the issue of their Asian-ness is upmost in his mind. It's in the title.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:20 PM on January 2, 2007


Two articles on DV in China. Well, dead horse and all, sorry all. Off to the new (2007!) episodes of Law and Order.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:22 PM on January 2, 2007


>there are, in fact, similarities among Asian cultures that often lead to similar approaches working among all of them

Please explain: a truck-driver in Bangkok who doesn't speak a word of English, a doctor from Hanoi who studied at Harvard, and a pizza-delivery guy called Wayne with a thick Brooklyn accent whose family came over in the Gold Rush days. They're all "Asian", so what's the similarity between them that would help you approach them?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:24 PM on January 2, 2007


Now you've backed off the shrill racism charges and name-calling and you're just complaining that in a half-page question someone included two or three lines of potentially misleading information, even though the Asker mentioned that the information may be a red herring and said people were free to tell him/her it was a red herring?

Sweet callout. Next time, in lieu of all this, why don't you just respond to the question this way: "No, you haven't given us enough cultural information. There's no way to base any cultural approach on your admittedly weak assessment of their culture. Try this instead: [insert your advice]".

In fact, when I was thinking about going to Korea several years ago after finishing my undergraduate degree, I fired Stavros a few e-mails and he was quite helpful, giving me some advice on what I'd face there as well as a link to a very detailed write-up he'd done on life in Korea as an ex-pat Canadian (or something to that effect). He may even have offered to buy me a pint, though I don't rightly recall (it does seem particularly Savrosian though).

I think Metafilter would be a better place if we all gave each other the benefit of the doubt before jumping on every potential misstatement in an attempt to win the rhetorical title belt--and that goes for my input, too.
posted by The God Complex at 10:24 PM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ambrose is right. It's not even clear that these people are Korean and so stav's accumalted wisdom on all things Korean is worthless and just for show. What's worse is it reinforces the silly bias of the OP and strengthens his belief that Asians require "special handling."

If you really want to embarrass this "asian" couple, then just tape record their fights. If the people are somewhat traditional then they think it is fine to fight within the (so-called) privacy of their house but any discord outside is extremely shameful. Once you have a tape with clear words just put it in a boom-box near your front door and play it on a loop.

Is that the kind of cultural sensitivity we're looking for?

Cliched stereotypes don't belong in the green. These are real people, not television actors, and as that thread so aptly demonstrates such stereotypes don't lead to good answers.
posted by nixerman at 10:25 PM on January 2, 2007


Right, the poster has an obvious lack of knowledge of Asian culture. So they ask, and presumably they mention it to connote that they did not know what was being argued about (though one cannot imagine what would be acceptable) and they implicitly are asking if it is a cultural issue or if there was a nice way to deal with it while being sensitive to the fact that they are in an alien culture. Admonishing them for not being incredibly politically correct does not solve anything. It was phrased in a very innocuous fashion. Their ignorance is not racism and cultural insensitivity you purport it to be and I would even argue, your further debasing your position of cultural insensitivity by demanding a level of cultural awareness that is unacceptable. If the poster knew that being Asian had nothing to do with it they would not mention it.
posted by geoff. at 10:25 PM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


The green must be kept sacred. Like on a golf course.
posted by smackfu at 10:26 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


>they mention it to connote that they did not know what was being argued about

For what must be the fourteenth time, that. is. not. relevant.

If you can give an example of a 3 AM yelling match you feel should be interrupted and another you feel shouldn't be interrupted, please do so.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:30 PM on January 2, 2007


Let me just add that, if I had read the statements about Americans that Ambrose posits here, I might deem them "nasty" -- though that's a little harsh, and maybe "blunt" would be more accurate -- but I certainly wouldn't call them "pointless." They're more or less defensible claims about American society, and they might well be fodder for a productive, non-racist (or non-nationalist, whatever) conversation.

Um, that is, unless an American unreasonably took offense at any observations about Americans that didn't bend over backwards to avoid making any generalizations that weren't 100% non-offensive, let's-all-kiss-and-trade-pictures-of-cute-kittens.
posted by chinston at 10:33 PM on January 2, 2007



If you can give an example of a 3 AM yelling match you feel should be interrupted and another you feel shouldn't be interrupted, please do so.


He's asking how to interrupt them, but you're a champion of the misleading rhetorical argument, aren't you? Of course you are. If you're not, and can explain why you're not in a detailed essay-length entry, please do so.
posted by The God Complex at 10:35 PM on January 2, 2007


I'm Asian, for what it's worth. And AmbroseChapel has the right idea. Not all flavours of "Asian" are ever the same - heck, even two seemingly similar ones are often vastly different. Even people within the same culture are different.

I felt the question was a bit off. What does them being "Asian" have to do with anything? And how do we know it's even "Asian" to begin with?
posted by divabat at 10:37 PM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: "Why are you being intentionally obtuse?" "I have no idea what you mean."
posted by Space Coyote at 10:41 PM on January 2, 2007 [8 favorites]


Please explain: a truck-driver in Bangkok who doesn't speak a word of English, a doctor from Hanoi who studied at Harvard, and a pizza-delivery guy called Wayne with a thick Brooklyn accent whose family came over in the Gold Rush days.

None of those is relevent. We're talking about a 20-something Asian couple living in Chicago; we have those facts. We don't know what country or countries those two people are from, but some things that the poster could possibly keep in mind when developing effective approaches: A strong emphasis on group identity, ideas about "face" and honor, the influence of Confucianism and ideas of respect, differences in what's considered normal assertiveness between Americans and Asians, the racist American society that one or both of the members of the couple may have faced and may be expecting when a (presumably) white man shows up on their doorstep, etc. etc. etc.

It's totally possible none of those things is relevant, or helpful. But it's head-in-the-sand ridiculous to claim that none of them could possibly be relevant, or that the various Asian cultures do not have any similarities when compared with Western cultures.
posted by occhiblu at 10:43 PM on January 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


People bring up race in these kinds of questions because it feels relevant, because race impacts the way we approach and deal with each other. And I think if a number of people simply noted that the problem was best approached without taking that issue as one of primary relevance, these threads would proceed calmly, some perhaps biased/questionable/insensitive opinions would be passed, some of which would be flagged and/or deleted, and no sideline train wrecks like this would be required. But then you wouldn't get to make a big sanctimonious display of your moral superiority, now would you?
posted by nanojath at 10:51 PM on January 2, 2007


Now, assuming you read/heard that background material I offered, I'll try to pull some threads together into a nice package:

Some of the forces at play in molding some of the ways in which some Koreans tend to perceive both themselves (that is, their own identities) and others with whom they interact (as well as Korean Identity as a whole) are the concepts of chemyeon (face, sort of), neunchi (sensitivity to social subtext), kibun (personal mood+life force), bunuiki (group mood), cheong (loving attachment to one's immediate circle), and han (sorrow and rage angainst injustice). All of the translations I've offered are weak and inaccurate. For the most part, none of these translate well into English: we know the feelings, perhaps, but they are very difficult indeed to discuss. I believe one of the strengths of Korean, and one of the reasons Korean folks can speak of cultural norms so easily, is that they have single words to describe them.

Each of these deals with the way one interacts with the group, or the way the group impinges on one's identity and emotions. This is no accident. Koreans are brought up (this is changing, as all things are, but not as much as much else in the country) to understand their indentity within various overlapping circles, the first, of course, being strongly-connected family. Marriages are the binding of families, not individuals (many marriages in the past were arranged: some still are), for example. Extended families are still the norm. The elderly (less so, again, than in the past) are almost never put in retirement homes or the like. Brothers and sisters share a generational name (one syllable amongst the three syllables that constitute 95% of all Korean names). The list goes on. As I said in the article of mine I linked:
Relationship words are blanket nouns denoting relationships between people that are commonly used in informal conversation between people, rather than given names - older brother, younger sister, uncle, auntie, grandmother and so on. (In the slummy, thin-walled building I used to live in in Busan, it was de rigeur on Saturday nights to hear sounds of passion and female cries of 'Opa! Oh, opa! (older brother)' from the playboy-next-door's apartment.) These extend to the common practice of referring to a woman as 'so-and-so's mother,' rather than using her given name.
In a restaurant, on the street, wherever: one calls people (in Korean) 'uncle', or 'auntie' if they're older, or 'grandfather' or 'grandmother', regardless of their relationship. There are a thousand variations.

This and more stands in contrast to the western tradition of identity being predicated on the individual, on him or her first, followed by context. In Korea, it's context first. (It is amusing to me at least to note that when we say something like 'hey buddy' to someone we don't know in English, it's usually in an aggressive tone or situation.)

Another thread to this, and part of the reason this is so, is that Korea is the most Confucian country in the world. Confucian ideas are relevant here because (as I wrote my piece linked above)
Confucius focused on the need to maintain social order though willing or unwilling submission to the five primary relationships :
  1. Ruler and subject
  2. Parent and child (teacher and student)
  3. Husband and wife
  4. Older and younger person
  5. Friend and friend
All of these relationships are explicity hierarchical, excepting, significantly perhaps, the last, although friendship of a Confucian bent is a considerably more meaningful proposition, it may be argued, than 'buddies' in North America might be.
Confucian beliefs permeate Korean society, for better and for worse (egregious sexism is a downside, for example). Regardless, here it is again one's relationships that defines who you are, and what you can and cannot do. Note (because it's unfortunately necessary, it seems to say so) that these are generalizations about an entire nation, not a taxonomy of the beliefs of any given individual.

It might be said that Buddhist beliefs have some influence (honoring the god inside the other) here, and that may be the case, but Korea is about 45% Christian, and both Buddhism and Christianity are just veneers on the old animist beliefs, to an extent, anyway, so I won't go there.

But when you put together the confucian primary relationships together with ideas like 'cheong' and 'bunuiki', and believe deep in your bones that proper, civilized behaviour means acting in accordance with these baked-in ideas, Korean people are left in a deep and difficult-to-resolve quandary: you can't behave in accordance with these principles with everyone. It's just not possible to treat the taxi driver and the garbageman, the kid behind the counter at the 7-11 or the guy in the next car at the stoplight as part of your primary relationship group (family, friends, coworkers, bosses, alumni).

So what happens? Well, if you're not part of one of the groups that count, then you are more or less in my way. I'll call you 'uncle' or 'auntie', but that's as far as it goes. Not all Koreans are rude or unpleasant to everyone not in their circles, of course. This is not what I am saying.

But manifestations of this are everywhere, and it's only in part hierarchy. People are (to a western eye) shockingly rude to waitresses (there are no male servers, for the most part), to clerks at shops. In their cars, they seem to ignore other drivers, and pedestrians. Neighbours, especially if you haven't met them, effectively don't exist. Regionalism has made an internecine battlefield of Korean politics. Park Chung Hee's graduating class made up most of the government during his military rule, and the same thing happened when Chun Du Hwan took power, with his class, in 1979. Examples of both inside-group and outside-group thinking are everywhere.

That said, Koreans can be amongst the kindest and most welcoming of people, particularly to foreigners who are so far outside the inside-group that they need to be thought in entirely new ways -- in other words, as individuals. And once a foreign person becomes part of a cheong relationship -- with family, friends, coworkers, whatever -- you'll find it hard to find people as loyal.

Are people outside the circle 'unpersons', as I suggested? Well, I think so, even if Ambrose understood the word to mean 'sub-human' (I did not). But it's not a value judgement, it's a coping mechanism. Ambrose was overlaying his (reasonable) beliefs, based on his culture (I assume he's not Korean), about 'all men being equal' to the situation, and gleaning a mistaken understanding that there was a boot on someone's forehead if I was correct, or that I was racist for saying what I did, even though I did not intend my comment to be disapproving, merely explanatory.

So: in general (again, weasel words that are made necessary by the pointing finger of disapprobation) Koreans tend to immediately slot other Koreans into one of two buckets, and the second bucket is the large one. In that bucket is everybody who just doesn't matter as much, and is treated in that way, because otherwise daily interactions would be untenably complicated, people whose identity, affiliations, family, status, educations and age are unknown, and who therefore can't jump into the first bucket until some relationship is established. (This is, for example, why every book you read that talks about doing business with Koreans seems confused about why Korean businessmen insist on trying to establish some personal link, and may ask what seem like overly-personal questions. It's not irrational or sentimental, it's baked-in to the culture.)

I haven't made a complete tour here (I've actually got work to do, too), and it would take a full book to do justice to the topic, anyway, I think (one which I've often thought of writing), but hopefully someone (including Ambrose) found this useful or interesting.

Note that although most of what I say here is something you could read in any textbook, some of my conclusions and dotted-line drawings are my own. Still, I stand by what I said, both earlier and in this (extremely lengthy, sorry) comment.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:03 PM on January 2, 2007 [92 favorites]


OK, Ambrose, any questions? At least if someone calls me a bigot again when I try to explain Korean culture a bit (or at least my understanding of it), I can just point them here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:04 PM on January 2, 2007


Also, I don't really know if the Ask poster's suggestion that his neighbours are Korean was relevant or not. Possibly so, possibly not, who can know. But if so, beer (which the poster also suggested) wouldn't have been a bad idea at all, partly because Koreans are (NOT RACIST) big drinkers, and partly for the very reasons I gestured at in that thread and explained at length here.

Time for a coffee.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:06 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


And one last delmoi-eque comment: I'm sorry I called you an idiot. I am so not racist and hate it with such a passion that to be accused of it got me a bit hot.

Sorry about that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:08 PM on January 2, 2007


My neighbors are Tibetan. And they are so nice and polite.
posted by nanojath at 11:09 PM on January 2, 2007


(Er, delmoi-esque only because he tends to post multiple comments in a row, like I'm doing now, oops, postcount++)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:12 PM on January 2, 2007


Hi, Stan Chin!
posted by cortex at 11:17 PM on January 2, 2007


stavros, you clearly aren't a racist. That's obvious to anyone who's been around Metafilter for a while, and it's ridiculous to suggest you are.

However, a question came up that could be read as "Hey, is there something about all asian people that I need to know about?" and your response sounded a little like "Well, here's something about all Korean people I can tell you..."

Personally, I don't really believe the people who live in some country, or are part of some culture, ever all act the same way. That's what stereotyping is all about. I mean, in Australia, we like to go on about how "mateship" and egalatarianism and a "fair go" are part of the national character. But really, it's all bullshit when you get down to the nitty-gritty day to day living that we do. Do you really think concepts like those you've outlined above would really help someone who's just trying to deal with two human beings living next door? A domestic argument at 3 AM is a domestic argument at 3 AM, the world over.
posted by Jimbob at 11:18 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, thanks Jimbob. But the original poster specifically mentioned that he thought they might be Korean.

And yeah, stereotyping bad. And insight, good. Whether what I have to offer is insight or not is up to the reader. But it ain't bigotry.

Do you really think concepts like those you've outlined above would really help someone who's just trying to deal with two human beings living next door?

Actually, yes, I do. Understanding is penicillin to prejudice, and knowing about people helps one to know people, if you know what I mean.

But I (poorly, arguably) condensed the ideas down to one paragraph in the AskMe thread, and got called a bigot for it, then was challenged to back up what I had said, which I did at length (at much less length than I could have, though, thank your lucky stars, heh). So, yeah.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:30 PM on January 2, 2007


Okay, so I'm in the "We're all the same!" camp, you're in the "We're all different and let's celebrate it!" camp, and no-one's in the "We're all different and it sucks!" camp.
posted by Jimbob at 11:41 PM on January 2, 2007


You're kinda hot when you got all and bothered and encyclopedia-like, stav.

But... in this specific case* note that your knowledge is serving to reinforce bias. Such cultural expertise can dangerous in the wrong hands. In this case the attitude of the OP didn't need such confirmation that there's something unique about a couple fighting at 3am just because they're Asian-maybe-even-Korean.

* Note that if they were Sicilians then such caution would be warranted. When you interrupt an argument between two Sicilians they will likely unite and work together to destroy you. Sicilians sincerely believe it's their God-given right and duty to argue with one another non-stop, without end and they won't tolerate foreign interruptions.
posted by nixerman at 11:47 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


As much as I hate to pick at one of my most scarring MetaFilter wounds of all time - even above and beyond seeing quonsar's pantsfish, we've done all this ridiculous crap before.

W. T. F?
posted by loquacious at 11:50 PM on January 2, 2007


Also: It has taken Herculean effort to not favorite a certain three word retort. I'm glad someone did, but... damnit, that's not what the favorites are for! Shame on you! oh god don't look at my favorites no go away
posted by loquacious at 11:55 PM on January 2, 2007


"I dunno, maybe Norwegians just beat the crap outta each other and yell all night".

My Swedish relatives would certainly tell you that this is the truth. And the Finns drink themselves stupid and sit in saunas all the time. And the Icelanders drink themselves almost as stupid, sit in geothermic hot tubs and tell you how they're not as bad as the Finns.

And you know, I've lived in Iceland. So I can get away with it.

And hating the Danes. That's practically required by law.

(Which is a long way of saying that I think stavros is perfectly justified both in commentary on Korean cultural norms and calling the call out of such commentary idiotic.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:58 PM on January 2, 2007


Anybody who would seriously suggest that dealing with one's neighbor requires no "special handling" if they are from a different culture is an idiot.
Calling the cops would, in the American culture *I* grew up around, piss off the neighbor more than banging on the wall or going by and asking them to shut up. Who knows how a person from a different culture would react. The ask thread question was perfectly valid, and Ambrose... you're silly.
posted by eparchos at 12:01 AM on January 3, 2007


The argument here isn't between labeling something as racist or pragmatic, or even between rage and civility. The debate is really about how useful a piece of information we should see race. AmbroseChapel thinks it is irrelevant because it is not determinative; those who disagree with him think it is relevant because it is possibly helpful--thus some of the responses (which strike me as ridiculous and naively racist) seem suddenly culturally sensitive! I think that, while AmbroseChapel's approach may rub people the wrong way, he seems to be essentially right: (1) it is unclear how the race of these people is automatically relevant when the issue is not, say, ethnic holidays or language courses, but a noise disturbance; (2) our information is limited (we have no idea what race these people actually are--or what generation, their degree of assimilation, etc.); and (3) even if our information were not limited, it's not obvious that race should out-determine the neighbors' individual personalities on a subject as specific as noise disturbances. This isn't to say that race is not relevant, but it is not determinative: it is relevant in a slight, diffuse, and unobvious way, the same way that the paint quality of the neighbors' living room or the make of their car might be relevant.

I do not think that it is racist to ask for advice on cultural sensitivity, but we begin to abandon such well-mannered, curious pragmatism and leap towards stereotype when we say things like, Because these faceless, raceless neighbors may possibly be race X, they might be disposed towards domestic violence (so common in that culture!) or may see people outside their circle as non-humans (as those people of a specific Asian ethnicity group--which may not have any relevance to the couple at hand--often do!). Could you imagine making the same conclusory generalizations about Americans or Europeans, armed only with the Bible, Shakespeare, and domestic violence activist reports? I don't think the various posters' generalizations about Asian cultures are intentionally hurtful, but they do imply that race should possess a simple, uncomplicated, predictive power. This is the definition of stereotyping.
posted by kensanway at 12:02 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh god I looked at your favorites.

That's why I won't do 'em.

Try having a user name that isn't a real word and that no one else has ever used for anything ever and that you use for all sorts of other logins too. And connect it to your real name. Google that shit, you feel real good about yourself. I hope this baby I'm taking care of all the time starts earning some money soon because I'm never going to get hired again.
posted by nanojath at 12:03 AM on January 3, 2007


After reading the rest of the thread (I really just like making Norwegian jokes and had to get that in there first), I have to say that while I don't think race is relevant to a discussion of "It's 3AM, how do I get these people to shutup?," culture certainly is.

If the people in question were Canadian, the answer would be simply to ask them politely and they would apologize for making so much noise. If, on the other hand, they were Icelandic, they would stare at you incomprehensibly, tell you to mind your own business, and then continue on as if nothing had ever happened. Both the same race, but one culture values politeness, the other does not. (It's quite a shift to live in a country where there is no translation for "Could you pass me the fermented shark, please?")

Saying that culture has nothing to do with such misunderstandings is naive at best. Try living in a foreign country and see exactly how far your PC attitude gets you in making the adjustment. After a few months of feeling horribly isolated and misunderstood, maybe you can admit that no, we're not all the same, and sometimes, that's a bit weird.

However, in the original question, identifying the neighbors as "Asian" was slightly less than helpful. If there had been some clue as to what culture the neighbors belonged to, that would have made things easier on everyone. Still, I fail to see stavros' response as out of line.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:14 AM on January 3, 2007


You know who I hate? "Those" people. You know the ones I'm talking about. With their floppy shoes and painted faces, I mean come on, who are they trying to fool?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:20 AM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


If the people in question were Canadian, the answer would be simply to ask them politely and they would apologize for making so much noise.

Now, is this really true for all, or even a majority of Canadians? As I indicated above, "politeness" might be some famous part of the Canadian national character, but I'm pretty damn sure if you actually try this, you'll get as many rude "mind your own business's" as you would "gee we're sorries". I maintain the differences between individuals in a "culture" is greater than the differences between cultures. I also maintain that "culture" isn't as simple as what country you're from. Stav has said above that 45% of Koreans are Christian. What about the other 55%? Would whether the couple in question are Christian or Buddhist have any importance in regards to what you say to them? What about if they're rich or poor? No doubt it would, because all these factors influence a person's character. But it's generally not necessary to dig up someone's file before you talk to them as a neighbour.
posted by Jimbob at 12:43 AM on January 3, 2007


I have to say that I was a bit weirded out by the "noisy Asian neighbors" title, but even more frustrated with AmbroseChapel as time went on.

It's pretty obvious that the OP was a little over-the top in how they worded the question. But to some extent, culture may have been relevant, and perhaps there were reasonable indicators (say, something with Korean writing on it) that suggested an actual specific Asian culture rather than a continent (I'm fairly shocked that no one has pointed out how un-PC it is to limit "Asian" to those of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean descent--won't someone think of the Bhutanis?)

That being established, it's very, very possible that culture would play a huge role in reactions. My best friend in college rankled when one neighbor asked her to turn down her music, but would gladly do it for another neighbor--it had everything to do with the subtleties of tone between one neighbor and the other--and this chick was white! So imagine how crazy some weirdo Asian couple might be!

Point is, people really are different. If I could understand the conversation, and heard, "I swear, if I find out another man is interested in you I'll kill him," that would be a bad time to knock on the door. On the other hand, if the man is yelling, "I'm sorry, I'm just going to miss you so much! I'm angry that you have cancer and are going to die!" I would feel pretty classless siccing the cops on them.

And while commenting on the relative domestic-abusiness of various cultures might not seem immediately relevant, it at least answers the question: "Should I at all be concerned about the possibility of domestic violence?" in which case the answer is, yes, you should. But since you don't know the language, don't jump to conclusions.

stavros, I thought your long post was awesomely interesting. But, seriously, stop showing off.

'night all.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:45 AM on January 3, 2007


Oh, and in response to:
Personally, I don't really believe the people who live in some country, or are part of some culture, ever all act the same way. That's what stereotyping is all about. I mean, in Australia, we like to go on about how "mateship" and egalatarianism and a "fair go" are part of the national character. But really, it's all bullshit when you get down to the nitty-gritty day to day living that we do.
The reason you feel this way is precisely because of the individualistic tendencies of most Western nations. We believe another, equally over-generalizing stereotype--that every individual in the world is unique and thus free to behave in any manner they choose, and unlikely to fall into a larger cultural pattern. I'm not going to put words into the mouths of people from other cultures, but I imagine someone from a culture like the one stavros talked about might find the idea that each person is different ridiculous, and that concept certainly wouldn't be supported by American society (I won't make any comments on Aussies, since I don't know 'em), where entire groups of people behave with remarkable predictability.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:53 AM on January 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: so not racist
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:29 AM on January 3, 2007

National characteristics are not easy to pin down, and when pinned down they often turn out to be trivialities or seem to have no connexion with one another. Spaniards are cruel to animals, Italians can do nothing without making a deafening noise, the Chinese are addicted to gambling. Obviously such things don't matter in themselves. Nevertheless, nothing is causeless, and even the fact that Englishmen have bad teeth can tell something about the realities of English life.
--George Orwell England Your England
That said, I agree with Jimbob. You can find plenty of people here in China who engage in sweeping generalisations about all foreigners, all Americans, all migrant workers, all people from Sichuan and so on ad nauseum. In my observation, they're just as wrong (and that tiny but right) as they would be anywhere else. It is hardly a surprise that a nation state home to about a fifth of the world's population is in fact enormously varied. Making assumptions on the even broader category of "Asians" seems even less valid.
This is not based on a Western stereotype of unique snowflakes; it's what I believe I've seen after more than a decade interacting with Asian people in a variety of social contexts.
The way the question was phrased struck me as playing to those kind of mistaken assumptions, but then I didn't see it as evidence of any kind of ill-will, so nor was I offended.
posted by Abiezer at 1:36 AM on January 3, 2007


I find it amazing that stavros can post literally thousands of words of justification about how much he understands Korean culture and isn't racist and then finish off with

>Koreans are (NOT RACIST) big drinkers

posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:05 AM on January 3, 2007


Yikes. From the thread loquacious linked, quoth he: Ambrose? You're not only an idiot, but you're a unrelenting fucktard.

So I see we've been over this ground before.

I'm still sorry for the insult, but at least I see there's some precedent.

>Koreans are (NOT RACIST) big drinkers

That was a fucking joke, you tosser.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:06 AM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


And I'm not taking 'tosser' back.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:08 AM on January 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


I find it amazing that stavros can post literally thousands of words of justification about how much he understands Korean culture and isn't racist

You know, loquacious was right in that other thread, you really are worthless. You asked me to explain, I did, at great length and in as much good faith as I could, laid out extemporaneously a few conclusions out of years of reading and talking to folks trying to understand a people I love, and you come back and tell me it's 'justification about how much [I] understand Korean culture and isn't racist'.

Fuck off, you troll. You weren't worth the time. I didn't have, nor have I now any need to justify anything to you. I mistakenly did you the courtesy and the favour of talking to you like a Big Person. That was clearly a waste of time.

Ah well, a couple of people favorited it, so perhaps it wasn't a complete loss.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:19 AM on January 3, 2007


I just read the original question again, which mentions his neighbours being Asian five times. I don't think anyone is ever going to convince me that he was really asking "is there some cultural difference which I should be aware of in the way I approach this problem?".

Maybe he's so ignorant of the breadth and scope of what "Asian" could mean, he really thinks that all Asian people are so alike that they can be treated as a group (let's consider "the influence of Confucianism" on Catholics from Manila, or Muslims from Xinjiang). If so he's just very ignorant.

But really? I see the post as a coded invitation for people to sympathise with him and to chatfilter about how Asian people can be such assholes, can't they? Which, for all stavros's intellectual pretentions, is what a few people gave him.

Race is irrelevant; call the cops; examine your prejudices once you've got a good night's sleep.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:21 AM on January 3, 2007



As much as I hate to pick at one of my most scarring MetaFilter wounds of all time - even above and beyond seeing quonsar's pantsfish, we've done all this ridiculous crap before.

W. T. F?


I knew I was wasting my time. I knew I should have been reading Pale Fire. I knew these things! I knew them, and I was weak!

/Ahnold yell from the first Predator movie.
posted by The God Complex at 2:22 AM on January 3, 2007


*pounds on wall* Quit arguing, dammit! People are trying to sleep over here! It's 2 a.m.!
posted by JDC8 at 2:27 AM on January 3, 2007


stavros, couldn't you try and save up your thoughts for one post, instead of making three or four or five in a row? Maybe cut back on the coffee?

Seriously, you don't think you undermined yourself with that silly generalisation? Joke or not?

And yes, loquacious, whose subtle, considered response to someone in a similar situation was "take a baseball bat to their car", hates me, he's emailed me personally a number of times to tell me so, and yes, we've been through it before.

And the very next time someone posts "I'm having a problem with a black/asian/hispanic asshole who's doing something that bugs me. How should I handle it?" when race is irrelevant, guess what, we're going to have this discussion again.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:30 AM on January 3, 2007


>Anybody who would seriously suggest that dealing with one's neighbor requires no "special handling" if they are from a different culture is an idiot.

Ah. This is the kind of down-to-earth common sense that will cause me to change my mind. All people with slanted eyes are "from a different culture". Even if their family has lived in America for 150 years, they need "special handling". You've won me over. I see the error of my ways.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:37 AM on January 3, 2007


And the very next time someone posts "I'm having a problem with a black/asian/hispanic asshole who's doing something that bugs me. How should I handle it?" when race is irrelevant, guess what, we're going to have this discussion again.

You're a miserable twit, and your smarmy self-assurance and cherry-picked responses (that's all you had to say after Stavros was so responsive to your petulent antics?) make me suspect you care more about this pissing match than you do the perceived slight that caused it.

Just wanted to get that down for next time (since you seem so keen); that way I can link back to this and save myself some time.
posted by The God Complex at 2:41 AM on January 3, 2007


Seriously, you don't think you undermined yourself with that silly generalisation? Joke or not?

Dude, for fuck sakes. No, of course not, or I wouldn't have made the joke in the first place.

Race is irrelevant, yes, duh. You keep saying it like someone disagrees with you. NEWSFLASH: nobody disagrees.

What may or may not be irrelevant is culture. I'd ask if you're aware that you're contradicting yourself and simultaneously misrepresenting what everyone else is saying by conflating the two, but I don't really care about the answer at this point. The two words do not mean the same thing (to the extent that the word 'race' means anything at all.) You yourself say that very thing in your last comment. But I'm pretty sure you're just baiting us now, pretending to be thick and pushing our buttons.

Holy shit, on preview, there's no way anybody's going to penetrate through this Ambrose's Armor of Dumb.

Nobody said 'All people with slanted eyes are "from a different culture"' for christ's sakes. You'll always win (which means: lose) when you put words in people's mouths, then argue with them.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:45 AM on January 3, 2007


But really? I see the post as a coded invitation for people to sympathise with him and to chatfilter about how Asian people can be such assholes, can't they?

I also thought there was a hint of that. But then again, I thought this post was a coded invitation for people to sympathize and to chatfilter about how Americans are so ignorant, aren't they?

You're an interesting character, man...
posted by equalpants at 2:47 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah. This is the kind of down-to-earth common sense that will cause me to change my mind. All people with slanted eyes are "from a different culture". Even if their family has lived in America for 150 years, they need "special handling". You've won me over. I see the error of my ways.

Paging logical fallacy #47. Logical fallacy #47, do you read?

At least you didn't use quotes around the whole thing this time when you decided to wholly and completely misrepresent someone's comment(s). You're learning how to be a more responsible violator of logic and basic courtesy. How insufferably quaint.
posted by The God Complex at 2:48 AM on January 3, 2007


This is giving me unnecessary grunties. I'm going for a walk.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:50 AM on January 3, 2007


Hey everyone - OP HERE - I just woke up to pee and get a glass of water and I decided to check in on my question... I see that it has degenerated into name calling. Does that mean I win the internets?

It's probably too late to try to clarify my reasoning for pointing out that this couple was Asian but here goes:

- First, I'm not a linguist but I heard/read/imagined somewhere that some Asian languages stress volume and tone as a component of communication. This is why some Asians sound like they are arguing when really they are engaging in what Westerners would consider a normal conversation. < -- i have no idea if this is factual or not... it could be completely manufactured or totally inaccurate.br>
- Second, I was (admittedly out of ignorance) wondering if there may be some component of their arguments (the tone or frequency, etc) which may be cultural. I'm not implying that Asian couples argue more that westerners or inherently have dysfunctional relationships... I was just fricking asking the question. I even said, "Please shoot this theory down if it is completely off mark."

Ultimately I was trying to have a holistic approach to my handling of the situation. I'm a southern guy living in a big city, and I don't want to be "that ignorant redneck" who just steps all over people's cultural toes. For this intention (which I find reasonably noble) to be misconstrued by the PC-patrol as racism is just beyond the pale.

In the end I was trying to understand the goddamn situation before I took action.

The shrill panic coming from responders like AmbroseChapel would be laughable if they weren't so deadly serious in their efforts to intimidate and censor.
posted by wfrgms at 2:51 AM on January 3, 2007


Ah. This is the kind of down-to-earth common sense that will cause me to change my mind. All people with slanted eyes are "from a different culture". Even if their family has lived in America for 150 years, they need "special handling". You've won me over. I see the error of my ways.

Ambrose, come on.... The ask thread specified that they were yelling in a foreign language and that they were asian. I'm sorry, but any reasonable person would arrive at the conclusion that the neighbors were "from a different culture".... which is exactly what I said. If you want to live in a world where you treat everybody from different cultures equally, have fun trying to speak English to a woman in Iran.
Implying that I'm a racist is just plain, well, idiotic.
At this point I can only assume that you either being willfully dense and inflammatory, or that you are just not equipped to grasp what other people are saying.
posted by eparchos at 2:53 AM on January 3, 2007


Aiyuuuuu...PABO PABO PABO PABO. An' a "pingshin-seki" for good measure.
[/approximately phonetic, aggrieved hangul]
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:57 AM on January 3, 2007


wfgrms:

I don't think the majority of responders thought you were "the ignorant redneck" at ALL. I, for one, really appreciated your question, mostly because it displays a degree of sensitivity to other cultures which I applaud.
As I said in the ask thread (shameless self promotion time here), I think your "take a beer over and introduce yourself" method would be the absolute best approach possible. Mostly because they are on your turf, and they know it. (Disclaimer here: Assuming they are from a different culture and that they moved to the states)
I also think calling the police on them would be a horrible idea, from almost any standpoint.
I'm not suggesting going over there when they are in mid-argument, but doing something like that during the daytime when everything is relatively peaceful would be a great approach.
posted by eparchos at 2:58 AM on January 3, 2007


Dammit, did I miss an Asian meeting? Did we annoint this guy as our new asian champion? Isn't the selection process for that still a grand Kung-Fu tournament? God, I can't believe I missed that! AmbroseChapel, you must have kicked some major ass at this year's convention at the Loma Linda Holiday Inn. Did you run into Jackie Chan while you were there? That guy's a riot. Hey fill me in on what the new Asian agenda is for this year when you have a chance. I don't think this whole playing jokes with pee-pees in cokes plan is working out.
posted by Stan Chin at 2:58 AM on January 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


Stan.... you're so white....
posted by eparchos at 3:01 AM on January 3, 2007


some Asians sound like they are arguing when really they are engaging in what Westerners would consider a normal conversation. < -- i have no idea if this is factual or not/em>

My limited experience says it's real. Several times, I thought my wife and her mom were having an argument (in Mandarin), but was assured that they were not. I have also noticed that they and other Beijingers tend to talk loudly, and when I've been to Beijing, have had people remark on how softly I speak.

I do wonder when loud arguing and slamming doors became "domestic violence" though, especially since the question says,
I don't think their arguments are physically violent . . .

posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:29 AM on January 3, 2007


White people are so crazy, ya'll.
posted by liquorice at 3:32 AM on January 3, 2007


I have no idea how that borkage happened; it looked OK in Preview. I'll try again:
some Asians sound like they are arguing when really they are engaging in what Westerners would consider a normal conversation. -- i have no idea if this is factual or not

My limited experience says it's real. Several times, I thought my wife and her mom were having an argument (in Mandarin), but was assured that they were not. I have also noticed that they and other Beijingers tend to talk loudly, and when I've been to Beijing, have had people remark on how softly I speak.

I do wonder when loud arguing and slamming doors became "domestic violence" though, especially since the question says,
I don't think their arguments are physically violent . . .
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:33 AM on January 3, 2007


White people are all "Hi guys!" and stuff....
posted by eparchos at 3:33 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's too early.

The last line was a quote from the question.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:34 AM on January 3, 2007


I take offence on behalf of all the Asians who don't have slanted eyes. What about us, huh? We're alwaaaays being left out. Can't you find some kind of degrading remark or gross-generalisation to throw at us? I mean, seriously. We're brown, smell like curry and have funny accents. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?
posted by liquorice at 3:36 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread has really made being back at work this week much easier. Thanks, AmbroseChapel. A+++, would fave again!
posted by antifuse at 3:42 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


guess what, we're going to have this discussion again

I'm not.

/me takes beer, heads for stavros's place
posted by flabdablet at 3:44 AM on January 3, 2007


lol @ loqacious (I too am a curry-scented brown girl with a funny accent), though she has a point. "Asian" is not a homogeneous group. All you people arguing about "culture is relevant!!" fail to see that even different cultures, subcultures, and individuals within the culture have different ways of doing things.

Oh, they're Asian because their voice is inflected a certain way? Oh whoop-dee-do! That's definite proof right there, guys. You can tell EVERYTHING about a person just from the inflection of their voice! Yay!

(seriously, I can't be the only person besides AmbroseChapel to see how ridiculous this all is.)
posted by divabat at 3:52 AM on January 3, 2007


I think this entire situation has been blown out of proportion and you can't throw the word "racist" around lightly (even though I do at random strangers every day).

(Also I side with starvos 'cause he favourited me once and he has a cool blog and, well, I actually agree with what he says).

But what do you care, I'm just brown a newb.
posted by liquorice at 3:58 AM on January 3, 2007


Bugger! I meant liquorice not loqacious (damn similar names). And haha, even we sort of disagree with each other. See what the trouble of placing an assumption on a cultural value brings?
posted by divabat at 4:08 AM on January 3, 2007


Okay, so I'm in the "We're all the same!" camp, you're in the "We're all different and let's celebrate it!" camp, and no-one's in the "We're all different and it sucks!" camp.

For what it's worth, Jimbob, mate, I find myself in all three camps most of the time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:08 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, they're Asian because their voice is inflected a certain way?

Nobody said that, kitten.
posted by eparchos at 4:10 AM on January 3, 2007


Ambrose, you seem nice. Why don't you just give it a little rest? It's getting silly.
posted by Wolof at 4:20 AM on January 3, 2007


You realize Stavros lives in Korea, right?

What on earth does that have to do with it? Is it impossible that he should be racist, or anti-Korean, or have subscribed to clichéd stereotypes about Koreans, because he lives in Korea? Clearly, it is not.


As a Westerner also living in Korea, I have to agree with Stavros' original comment. It's not a racial issue he's bringing up— it's a cultural issue.

Hypothetically, *if* the neighbors are Korean (which was the OPs guess, not Stavros') or from another Confucian culture, then it could be *possible* that they don't give a shit if any strangers hear them. In addition, it could also be possible that they aren't arguing at all — to my highly uncultured Western ears, many normal everyday Korean conversations sound very heated.

Stavros' long missive above is perfect, but he's not the first to use the term "non-person". From a website dedicated to foreigners in Korea:

Within the Confucian hierarchy all relationships are not equal. If a relationship has not been established then strangers cannot be placed into the system. Strangers are like non-people and in Korea, where personal space is smaller, there is no reason to apologise if you bump into someone in the street. In the street Koreans are unsmiling and serious looking. This is because they rarely interact with strangers... Once you have been introduced Koreans are extremely gracious and generous.

Oh, here's another regarding Confucian culture:
Inner and outer circles: The rules of behavior set forth by Confucius apply to one's inner circle, i.e. family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. They do not, as a rule, apply to people outside the circle, i.e. strangers. It is not considered rude to bump into someone without offering an apology.

The Western concept of being kind to strangers seems strange to the Chinese. This also explains why there is no strong concept of philanthropy in China.


Things change, of course, but I don't see Stavros' cultural generalities as racist in any way, unless all stereotypes and generalities are by their very nature considered racist. Then again, stereotypes exist for a reason.

Besides, how is this any different than the thread below where everyone automatically assumed the neighbors were crackheads?
posted by Brittanie at 4:41 AM on January 3, 2007


Thanks for the backup linkage, Brittanie. Sometimes it's nice to know that I don't just hallucinate this stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:51 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


"kitten"? wtf?

eparchos: from the OP: First, I'm not a linguist but I heard/read/imagined somewhere that some Asian languages stress volume and tone as a component of communication. This is why some Asians sound like they are arguing when really they are engaging in what Westerners would consider a normal conversation.

and the question: I guess it would help if I knew their heritage. I tend to lean toward Korean, but I could be way off...

We don't even know for sure that the couple was Korean, or even Asian, only that they sound Asian. (Was this ever verified?) They could be Martian for all we know.

That's my main beef with this, and I'm guessing it's also what's troubling AmbroseChapel: we don't even know their exact situation yet, and already we're judging them through arbitrary perspectives that may not even apply to them. Hell, I get confused for a ton of things and have had assumptions made about me based on that confusion. It's never fun nor necessary.

Why are we basing all our answers on unfounded assumptions?
posted by divabat at 5:03 AM on January 3, 2007


Why are we basing all our answers on unfounded assumptions?

Because that's all we have. AmbroseChapel's got nothing but shit for brains to go with his own unfounded assumptions, and it shows.

Stavros, you've been awesome throughout this thread. I can't imagine a world where you could have said your point any better. It's too bad AmbroseChapel is stuck in an imaginary world where looking through his individualist lens, everyone is racist but him.
posted by blasdelf at 5:13 AM on January 3, 2007


Why are we basing all our answers on unfounded assumptions?

Because otherwise we couldn't answer ANY question. Ever. Every assumption is predicated by another assumption. At some point, one has to accept an assumption, otherwise we'd be re-defining language and communication.

If I approach you and say "There was a loud couple arguing in an Asian language next door. It sounded like Koran to me, but I don't know." What would YOU assume?
posted by eparchos at 5:14 AM on January 3, 2007


that they are muslim?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:18 AM on January 3, 2007


*Korean. It's late. :P
posted by eparchos at 5:23 AM on January 3, 2007


eparchos: If I approach you and say "There was a loud couple arguing in an Asian language next door. It sounded like Kor[e]an to me, but I don't know." What would YOU assume?

Nothing, because I wouldn't know what you mean by "sounded like Korean", and would probably be way off anyway. The only question I'd probably have is "how do you know it sounds Korean?".
posted by divabat at 5:24 AM on January 3, 2007


...I'd probably have is "how do you know it sounds Korean?".

So there you go. End of conversation. You assume NOTHING, including assuming that *I* know nothing about what Korean sounds like (In my case, you'd be dead wrong), end of conversation. So, new that we've established that, it is clear to me that people who make zero assumptions have no place answering questions on askmefi.
Annyong Haseyo.
posted by eparchos at 5:30 AM on January 3, 2007


...and it's my bedtime. I hope to awake to buttercups, lemondrops, rainbows and universal harmony and siblinghood amongst all the peoples of... the wooooorld.

But I'm not going to bet on it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:32 AM on January 3, 2007


But stavros! Don't forget kittens!
posted by eparchos at 5:34 AM on January 3, 2007


As much as I hate to pick at one of my most scarring MetaFilter wounds of all time - even above and beyond seeing quonsar's pantsfish, we've done all this ridiculous crap before.

Oh wow. I remember that trainwreck thread but didn't realize it was the same person getting all upset over it. Guess we found Ambrose's pet issue.
posted by smackfu at 6:21 AM on January 3, 2007


For the record, I'd like to say that stavrosthewonderchicken has shown an admirable amount of patience and good-will in this thread. AmbroseChapel's petty nitpicking of stavros' well-written, detailed exposition is very bad form, indeed.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:24 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well put, MrMoonPie.
posted by OmieWise at 6:47 AM on January 3, 2007


Thanks, stavros for the long write up. It was quite educational and eye opening.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:54 AM on January 3, 2007


Count me in with all three of the above comments; stavros, that was a really interesting description of a people I know little about. Even if the intended audience didn't appreciate it, it appears others do.
posted by TedW at 7:49 AM on January 3, 2007


I very much enjoyed reading Stavros's contributions to this thread. My only point of contention is with his characterization of hedges like "many," "most," "in general," and so on as "weasel words." I don't see why there's anything weaselly about these. They may seem unnecessary to a person making generalizations who knows that he doesn't mean to make the strongest possible claim that could be construed from his assertions, but if they help to clarify those genuine intentions, what's wrong with them?

Surely true weasel words are those that people use to insinuate things that they aren't willing to come right out and say, or to put forward some assertion without having to be responsible for its truthfulness ("some people say," for example). Hedges on generalizations, by contrast, strike me as both valuable and honest.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:55 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, liquorice, Americans don't call people from the subcontinent Asian the way Brits do. (I assume that's where are from from the brownness/curry comment.)
posted by dame at 8:04 AM on January 3, 2007


Super lame callout, Ambrose.
posted by dead_ at 8:06 AM on January 3, 2007


Hey, liquorice, Americans don't call people from the subcontinent Asian the way Brits do.

Yeah, we generally say "Indian. No, I mean like India Indian."
posted by cortex at 8:07 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is this: Did the Asian neighbors ask for a $20 or a blender?
posted by jerseygirl at 8:13 AM on January 3, 2007


You guys are all douchebags, where "you guys" = Ambrose Chapel.
posted by Mister_A at 8:13 AM on January 3, 2007


Dear cortex, I hate you. Love, me.
posted by dame at 8:18 AM on January 3, 2007


YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE, DAME.

Did the Asian neighbors ask for a $20 or a blender?

If Mefi were some fantastic comedy skit show, this episode would close out with a cut back to the interior of the apartment of Yelling Asian Couple, just as the show opened, but now with English subtitles:

Asian Woman: "It's ridiculous! I won't do it!"
Asian Man: "But I want that blender, goddammit!"
posted by cortex at 8:21 AM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


And by fantastic I mean probably terrible.
posted by cortex at 8:21 AM on January 3, 2007


Know why Disneyworld hasn't done very well in Japan?

No one was tall enough to go on the good rides.
posted by dios at 8:27 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shorter Ambrose.
posted by klangklangston at 8:29 AM on January 3, 2007


This has been an interesting read. Stavros' long post was great, and I don't think he has anything to apologize for, but I was a little taken aback by the OP's Asians tag. That really doesn't sound quite right to me, but after reading what the OP has said here, I really don't think he meant anything by it.
posted by ob at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2007


stavrosthewonderchicken is awesome.
posted by event at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2007


In Communist North Korea, noisy neighbors Ask Metafilter about you!
posted by escabeche at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2007


YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE, DAME.

I know. That's why I hate you. It's so true I can't even pretend like it isn't and make up some silly argument. Sigh. But the point remains that most Americans don't consider "Indians" Asian in their mental categories, whic doesn't strike me as racist but as differently blah blah blah . . .

posted by dame at 8:32 AM on January 3, 2007


I think Stan Chin won the thread FWIW. Let's just hope he doesn't blow his prize money on opium and mah-jong.
posted by Mister_A at 8:33 AM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


But the point remains that most Americans don't consider "Indians" Asian in their mental categories...

Totally. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise, and your clarification was probably useful.

Huggles?

posted by cortex at 8:39 AM on January 3, 2007


Huggles?

You know when I say I hate you, it means I love you. I was never mad at all.

posted by dame at 8:51 AM on January 3, 2007


Well -- as a human being I am perfectly capable of saying something that upon reflection is stupid for any number of reasons, one of which may well be stupid race shit. (I'm not thin-skinned about being challenged on race stuff, as I assume we are all human and therefore all have some flashes of stupid race shit.) This is so even though I am parenting a black teen and an Asian (from China & Taiwan) teen in San Francisco. So, I can see how my off-the-cuff comment seemed as though it could be some unadulterated stupid race shit. And if I had to write it over again, I would either reword, or shut up.

In this particular case, it wasn't so much stupid race shit unvarnished, but me dealing with an all-encompassing situation with my foster kid, spending the last few weeks/months learning about the cultural roots of that situation in mainland China (and thus knowing a little bit about the issue of DV in China), having thought a lot lately about whether "culture" justifies domestic fighting & vioence, and to some extent jumping to thinking about that issue everywhere there are fighting Asian couples (because it's already foremost in my mind, and FWIW my recent experience has been that what sounded like yelling and door slamming also included official violence).

SO, on my part, a little bit of knowledge/experience, coupled with a splash of stupid race shit. Projecting my own experiences and reading without a lot more context and some "could be"s, "may be"s, etc. was a tiny bit of stupid race shit. So, yup, I agree. (Though I've said way more stupid things on this list.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:52 AM on January 3, 2007


I know, I just like saying "Huggles?".
posted by cortex at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2007


I think we've all learned something here today. I have learned that Asia is a big doggone country, and that folks get to yelling there, and that if they want the blender so dang bad they can just have it.
posted by Mister_A at 8:58 AM on January 3, 2007


I'm a little confused about how I should be approaching other cultures here, and it's an issue that I find important, since I've lived in Japan for the last decade, am married to a Japanese, and am raising a Japanese/American kid.

Am I not supposed to notice that the average Japanese person (not every Japanese, of course, but the average person) has some differences from the average American person?

Or am I allowed to notice it, but only notice it when it's neutral, like "Japanese people tend to like mayonnaise"?

Or am I allowed to notice both neutral differences and positive differences, but not negative ones?

Or am I allowed to notice neutral, positive, and negative differences, but just not allowed to discuss them with anyone?

AmbroseChapel : "Absolutely. We know nothing. There's no such thing as a typical 'Asian' person so that information serves no purpose except to express the OP's disquiet with their Otherness."

Exactly. Which is why Stavros didn't say "Asians do X, Y, and Z", which would be useless and stupid, but instead said "If they are Koreans, keep in mind that in Korea, generally, X, Y, and Z".

AmbroseChapel : "Of course it was a serious request, stavros. Why would you ask me twice?"

I dunno, perhaps because it takes a lot of time and effort to work up a long description about that, and he was worried that you would ask for his treatise, but then just switch tracks and talk about how the original question by the asker was what was bad, leaving him writing a treatise that you aren't particularly even interested in reading?

nixerman : "It's not even clear that these people are Korean and so stav's accumalted wisdom on all things Korean is worthless and just for show."

And yet when someone asks a question like "My blort's battery needs to be changed, how do I open the back case?", and people answer "If it's a Series 3 blort, push the battery eject button" and the like, we don't get shrill callouts about how those answers are worthless and just for show because it isn't clear that the blort is Series 3.

AmbroseChapel : "If you can give an example of a 3 AM yelling match you feel should be interrupted and another you feel shouldn't be interrupted, please do so."

Should be interrupted:
Person A doesn't like watching Andy Griffith reruns at 3:00 a.m., but their spouse wants to watch them.
Shouldn't be interrupted:
Person A is about to call a broker in Australia (where it's daytime) to invest all their saved money with a friendly minister from Nigeria who is having a hard time getting a million dollars out of the country. Person A's spouse disagrees, and thinks the money should be used to buy the insulin that both person A and person B need to stay alive.

kensanway : "I think that, while AmbroseChapel's approach may rub people the wrong way, he seems to be essentially right: (1) it is unclear how the race of these people is automatically relevant when the issue is not, say, ethnic holidays or language courses, but a noise disturbance; (2) our information is limited (we have no idea what race these people actually are--or what generation, their degree of assimilation, etc.); and (3) even if our information were not limited, it's not obvious that race should out-determine the neighbors' individual personalities on a subject as specific as noise disturbances."

Those are all good and valid points. If those really are Ambrose's main points, then I guess he's essentially right. However, reading what he has written, it seems like those are all just ancillary arguments, and that his primary argument is that the asker of the question, stavros, and ClaudiaCenter all believe that certain races are inferior to certain other races (which is what "racism" means).

kensanway : "Could you imagine making the same conclusory generalizations about Americans or Europeans, armed only with the Bible, Shakespeare, and domestic violence activist reports?"

Armed only with the Bible, Shakespeare, and domestic violence activist reports? No. Armed with having lived in the country about which you are discussing for a decade? Yes, I could imagine it. In fact, it's not particularly uncommon: there are a lot of comments in the blue about Americans, both positive and negative, by non-Americans who live in America.

grapefruitmoon : "Try living in a foreign country and see exactly how far your PC attitude gets you in making the adjustment. After a few months of feeling horribly isolated and misunderstood, maybe you can admit that no, we're not all the same, and sometimes, that's a bit weird."

The impression I get from most of the PC brigade is that 1) they've never been out of their home country for more than a month, 2) they assume that everyone around the world basically thinks like Americans, and just have different traditions and 3) that while acting unAmerican is a wonderful, quaint, interesting thing, thinking differently than the average American is a bad thing, so pointing out a mindset in another culture that differs from America is tantamount to saying that they are therefore bad and inferior, and thus you are racist.

AmbroseChapel : "I find it amazing that stavros can post literally thousands of words of justification about how much he understands Korean culture and isn't racist and then finish off with
"

">Koreans are (NOT RACIST) big drinkers
"

What on earth do you find amazing about that?

AmbroseChapel : "Race is irrelevant; call the cops; examine your prejudices once you've got a good night's sleep."

You fucking litigious Americans with your fucking cops for any minor nuisance (NOT RACIST). (JOKE. NOT MEANT TO UNDERMINE CORE ARGUMENT.)

AmbroseChapel : "Even if their family has lived in America for 150 years, they need 'special handling'."

Well, if you're dealing with a couple whose ancestors have been living in America for 150 years but still use the language of the old old old country when arguing (which is one of the things that really brings out one's primary language, I can tell you. As can software crashes), then you're definitely dealing with a damn unusual couple, which needs "special handling" of some sort or other, though I can't imagine what.

divabat : "seriously, I can't be the only person besides AmbroseChapel to see how ridiculous this all is."

No, you're not. Quite a few people find the "Asian people act alike" argument quite silly. But that's not what Ambrose is getting roasted for. If that's all he'd said, we'd all be in merry agreement here.

redfoxtail : "I very much enjoyed reading Stavros's contributions to this thread. My only point of contention is with his characterization of hedges like 'many,' 'most,' 'in general,' and so on as 'weasel words.'"

My sentiments exactly. I really liked stavros' big comment, and I've agreed with him on the little comments as well, but those words aren't weasel words. Weasel words are the words you use to cover dishonesty. The words you use to squirm out of contracts, or to lie in speeches while being technically correct. Basically, they're words that make you sound like you're saying A, while really you're saying B. In stavros' case, though, they're words that are accurate and true. Pedantic, maybe (I'm not the best judge of pedanticness), but certainly not weasel words.
posted by Bugbread at 9:07 AM on January 3, 2007 [8 favorites]


Surely true weasel words are those that people use to insinuate things that they aren't willing to come right out and say, or to put forward some assertion without having to be responsible for its truthfulness ("some people say," for example).

I resent the unfair and speciesist implication that weasels are prone to generalisations and insinuations. Some of my best friends are weasels and they are fine, upstanding mammals of the highest calibre.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:08 AM on January 3, 2007


I've given the "AmbroseChapel is an idiot" issue careful consideration, and I side with stavros & dg.

I side with jonson. And stavros is amazingly generous with his time and knowledge, and I love cortex's comedy skit, and I think Stan Chin should get his star back. Now can we get the closing credits?
posted by languagehat at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2007


Aaaand... scene!
posted by boo_radley at 9:28 AM on January 3, 2007


Stavros, thanks for the links and the unreasonably reasonable tone you managed to keep with Ambrose for the length of time you did.

I'm still in two minds wheteher Ambrose was trolling or merely a self-righteous dunce that has latched on to an otherwise laudable tenet (racism is bad) but is unable to differentiate between people acknowledging differences in culture existing and people who are actually racist.

I hope Ambrose is a troll as there is nothing so creepy as someone who takes a good cause too far in an attempt to gain some moral high.
posted by Gratishades at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2007


Sometimes the really idiotic callouts make for the best reading.
posted by Manjusri at 9:53 AM on January 3, 2007


And the very next time someone posts "I'm having a problem with a black/asian/hispanic asshole who's doing something that bugs me. How should I handle it?" when race is irrelevant, guess what, we're going to have this discussion again.

Dear Metafilter, I'm having a problem with an Australian asshole who won't shut the fuck up no matter how many times people tell him he's an idiot. How should I handle it?
posted by nanojath at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2007


AskMe: Which of your oxen was recently gored?
posted by moonbird at 10:20 AM on January 3, 2007


Can I just add one more log to the fire? OK thanks!
Those comments weren't about Americans, it turns out, but they're just as nasty and stupid and pointless as if they had been.

-Ambrose Chapel
HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW THEY WEREN'T AMERICANS YOU CAN BE ASIAN-AMERICAN YOU KNOW KTHXBYE.
posted by Mister_A at 10:20 AM on January 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


Let me get this straight -- your attachment to cultural relativism is so strong that you hesitate to negatively judge violence? - Ambrose Chapel

Cultural relativism does not mean anything other cultures do is "ok". It means the attempt to understand other cultures in terms that make sense to them, that is, on internalist or "emic" terms, and not just in terms that make sense to your own culture. Non-anthropologists often do not understand this term.

It is not the same as moral relativism, for example.

stavrosthewonderfulchicken gave a good, nuanced answer that exemplifies cultural relativism. He might now step back and say "and being treated like an unperson makes me uncomfortable" or "I don't like being treated like an unperson" or "damn Koreans and their damn loud arguments!" or "I think its wrong that Koreans eat their babies" and that would not be inconsistent with cultural relativism. The value judgment is decoupled from the honest attempt to understand. However, if he did say any of those things, (and surely he would "hesitate" to do so because such judgments should not be made lightly - hesitation is not a sign of weakness, Ambrose) his opinion would rightly carry more weight because he was not working on the naive assumption that "each Korean is a unique snowflake, amirite?".
posted by Rumple at 10:34 AM on January 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


Even taking into account people's cultures is racist. The OP should just have dropped in the door of said neighbours with a six-pack of Budweiser, asked "What's going on dude? sounds like fucking world war two in there", and invited them to an NFL game.
posted by qvantamon at 10:50 AM on January 3, 2007


Taking into account notions like "neighbor" and "door" is spacist. We must break down the walls between us. Get a sledgehammer and make a tunnel of understanding into their so-called "apartment", I say.
posted by cortex at 11:02 AM on January 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


A fucking "tunnel of understanding", I love it! You could work for the Bush Admin. with your knack for euphemism.
posted by Mister_A at 11:04 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Apartment? Apartheid more like.
posted by cillit bang at 11:08 AM on January 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


and if they didn't shut up, you could always make a tunnel of understanding in their heads.
posted by qvantamon at 11:10 AM on January 3, 2007


This fucker just keeps getting better, mostly thanks to cortex. Shouldn't you be busy shipping my 2 additional MefiComp CDs? You damn, um...

Polack?
posted by nanojath at 11:26 AM on January 3, 2007


(huggles!)
posted by nanojath at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2007


Fucking noisy ass Koreans used the $20 to buy tequila and margarita mix and didn't even share. And the blender came back all sticky and smelling like teriyaki sauce. And my cat has gone missing?

WAHT
THE
FUK
KOREA!

(Oh yeah, someone up thread asked how I knew these people were Asian - I've passed them a few times in the hall. True, they may be Asian Americans, but the chick [oh my gawd! I referred to a female of the species as a chick!!1 Call the ACLU!] doesn't speak a lick of engrish and the guy only knows a smattering. And I guessed they were Koren just based on their features - I have actually known one or two Koreans in my time.)
posted by wfrgms at 12:04 PM on January 3, 2007


I think they're actually (no, really, seriously) in the mail.

And Polack? Maybe. I don't know what the hell I am—mom's a German/Irish/??? euromutt, bio-father is adopted (but looks kinda Scottish, maybe), and Millard is an affected stage name a few generations back in my dad's Jewish family tree, when they were traveling performers in Western Europe, I think. Nobody wanted to go see The Traveling Mentzes, so they sexed it up with a saucy French surname.

posted by cortex at 12:07 PM on January 3, 2007


Not to be (more of) an asshole - shortly after writing that I saw they showed up in today's mail. Tell me about that "European's dog's breakfast" identity (what's the racial slur for that? Oh yeah, American). I'm Swedish Irish English German Polish Prussian who-knows - the "Lee" branch of the family tree geneologically vanishes some time around the civil war, which could mean damn near anything... or just a bunch more continental cast-offs. I believe they call us "White People."
posted by nanojath at 12:19 PM on January 3, 2007


White people are gay.
posted by Mister_A at 12:40 PM on January 3, 2007


I just called up My Korean Friend and told her she was a blender-stealing junkie, and she was all, "WTF, bitch, you just now noticed? Now gimme 20 bucks for some kim chee."
posted by scody at 1:20 PM on January 3, 2007


Also, after my Swedish ancestors immigrated to the states, in an effort to assimilate, they changed their name to Wong. And then they moved to Wyoming. It all worked out quite well for them, as you can imagine.
posted by scody at 1:27 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


When you interrupt an argument between two Sicilians they will likely unite and work together to destroy you. Sicilians sincerely believe it's their God-given right and duty to argue with one another non-stop, without end and they won't tolerate foreign interruptions.
Speaking from long and bitter experience (death threats, anyone?), this is also somewhat true of Koreans.

I called AmbroseChapel an idiot way up there somewhere but, after reading the entire thread and giving the matter quite some thought, I don't think he really is an idiot. He's a fucking moron.
posted by dg at 2:30 PM on January 3, 2007


Goddamn, I want me some Korean food. I wish they'd fucking deliver, like the Chinee. For some reason, the Japs don't deliver either, but as I think sushi doesn't travel well, I don't care as much.
None of the goddamned wogs deliver either, which is a pain in the ass, especially because the best place around is, like, 35 minutes away. They make this bhangan barta (sure I'm spelling it wrong) that's to die for. But the drive there and back? Fuck them! You know what Indian people are like— they want you to have to take their food out.
Maybe I'll nip on down to the Broadway Café, who only seem to do bi bim bop and cheesesteak hoagies (two separate dishes). I hear their hoagies are good too, but man, fuck Philidelphia. Those people can't even speak English.
posted by klangklangston at 3:26 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lets close this, eh?
What was about correcting AC's misperceptions is now about clocking him right in the face. I'd say his absence from the thread at this point indicates he ain't rising to the bait no more, and may be taking a break to re-calibrate.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:41 PM on January 3, 2007


Plus, seems like we're providing some cover for some really edgy comedy now.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:43 PM on January 3, 2007


*clocks dash_slot right in the face...with a pie!*

I got yer edgy comedy right here.
posted by Kwine at 3:49 PM on January 3, 2007


fork, ass, etc
posted by cortex at 3:50 PM on January 3, 2007


No, I really do want some Korean food, but can't quite muster the will to drive 15 minutes for it. None of the damn places deliver, and that makes me sad.
Of course, there's no decent pizza in this town, because the Italians are too fucking lazy (or acclimated to better climates) to come here, so it's all made by Greeks and Persians.
posted by klangklangston at 3:54 PM on January 3, 2007


I'm late to the thread, as usual, as we're in a totally different time zone over here in China than you prime timers in Europe and America.

I can do nothing and add little to this already overlengthy thread except to say that I once again, just as in the original thread, agree with Stavros and wish to add that I also meant to imply only that the additional element of Confucian culture, namely social shame, may be a contributing factor to quieting down noisy neighbors.

Of course there are exceptions to any cultural observations. Of course. I thought that my entry had enough qualifying words (eg may be) to take this into effect. Apparently I was wrong.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2007


This Korean guy did a magic trick and I want to know how he did it. The cards never left my hands but he guessed what I was holding. Probably some special inscrutable Asian trick that roundeyes don't know about.
posted by Falconetti at 6:41 PM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


I called AmbroseChapel an idiot way up there somewhere but, after reading the entire thread and giving the matter quite some thought, I don't think he really is an idiot. He's a fucking moron.

posted by dg at 2:30 PM PST on January 3



Ambrose had a point but it was lost in the delivery, and lost in the delivery, and lost in the delivery.

Lets close this, eh?
What was about correcting AC's misperceptions is now about clocking him right in the face. I'd say his absence from the thread at this point indicates he ain't rising to the bait no more, and may be taking a break to re-calibrate.
posted by dash_slot-


That, Sir, is not the Metafilter way! The makers of pitchforks, tar and feathers have families to support and we demand that Ambrose returns!
posted by stirfry at 7:15 PM on January 3, 2007


I have returned. I'm sorry that the exigencies of real life, sleep, time zones and childcare have made it difficult to argue with each and every one of you as much as I'd like.

More later.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:23 PM on January 3, 2007


<looking over the new posts>

I must say, the "clocking me in the face" stuff is uncalled-for. Do we allow posts which threaten other people with physical violence.

This is particularly good:

>the chick [...] doesn't speak a lick of engrish

and helps confirm my early impressions. Good one. Asian people speak funny, courtesy of the OP.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:30 PM on January 3, 2007


I must say, the "clocking me in the face" stuff is uncalled-for. Do we allow posts which threaten other people with physical violence.

You misunderstand.

dash_slot said:

Lets close this, eh?
What was about correcting AC's misperceptions is now about clocking him right in the face. I'd say his absence from the thread at this point indicates he ain't rising to the bait no more, and may be taking a break to re-calibrate.



"Extremeism in the support of virtue is a vice"...or is it that "vice in the support of virtue is no extermeism"..or perhaps "Spacism in the support of tunnels is holely"?

At any rate, many, I'm sure, look forward to your forward posts here.
posted by stirfry at 8:11 PM on January 3, 2007


My goodness gracious, AmbroseChapel, you are determined to see what you want to see in people's comments, huh? The "lick of engrish" thing is a joke, one among a series of jokes written by folks playing off your ridiculous seriousness about possible racist language. You are being baited in hopes of a flame-out, I think, and I don't want to pile on, because it's against my better nature, but dude, you are asking for some kind of joshing. Maybe you do want "to argue with each and every one of" us.
posted by cgc373 at 8:13 PM on January 3, 2007


You fucking litigious Americans with your fucking cops for any minor nuisance (NOT RACIST). (JOKE. NOT MEANT TO UNDERMINE CORE ARGUMENT.) - bugbread

I completely get the joke. But just for the record, AmbroseChapel's bio says Sydney can claim him. He may or may not be American in national identity or birthplace, but he's not currently our problem.

And there you go, now you can add nationalist to the list of names you call me.
posted by nadise at 8:14 PM on January 3, 2007


I must say, the "clocking me in the face" stuff is uncalled-for. Do we allow posts which threaten other people with physical violence.

Unless the post said that they were going to drive to your house and personally clock you in the face, I don't see where the cause for worry is. There's a huge difference between an actual THREAT and a figure of speech. If there wasn't, we would hospitalize everyone with a headache who said "Oh man, it hurts so bad, I want to die." and keep them under 24 hour suicide watch. And everyone who was mad and threatened to "just kill someone" would be in jail for attempted murder.

If being intentionally obtuse and thick in the head were a crime, you'd be doing some serious time, my friend.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:20 PM on January 3, 2007


AmbroseChapel's bio says Sydney can claim him.

Well, that explains why he argues with the intellect of a sun-damaged drunk.
posted by dhammond at 8:25 PM on January 3, 2007


Come on, now, dhammond. There's no reason to suggest everyone in Australia is like AmbroseChapel in their habits of argument. Civility, civility, civility are our watchwords here.
posted by cgc373 at 8:28 PM on January 3, 2007


See what I did there, AmbroseChapel?
posted by cgc373 at 8:29 PM on January 3, 2007


>you are determined to see what you want to see in people's comments, huh? The "lick of engrish" thing is a joke

Yes, it's a racist joke. I called out the OP as being racist, and he shows me he's not by making a racist joke. How does that work exactly? I'm not so dumb that I don't know it's supposed to be funny, but I don't think it is funny. Who's missing the point here? You're not really achieving much by tricking me into revealing my secret "doesn't find racism funny" identity, are you?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:31 PM on January 3, 2007


No, I guess I'm not achieving much. Your serious, take-no-prisoners indictments of behaviors you see as racist are doing a lot more than I can do to make your position look foolish. I guess you think you're being righteous in the cause of righteousness, calling out behaviors that cannot be tolerated, and which you yourself do not tolerate. Okay. I get it. You don't see this sort of humor as funny. Fine.

But lots of people do see these sorts of humor as funny, and very few of them are going to see your point of view as anything except a target for further humor unless you pick your language more carefully. You look like a prig, here, and nobody likes a prig.
posted by cgc373 at 8:36 PM on January 3, 2007


To summarise the story so far: You know what's really sad about this whole thing? This young couple (I've come to think of them as Gracie and Joseph, by the way; I've lived with them so long on this thread they have elaborate back stories now -- they're Malaysian, Joe's real name is Julian but he hates it, she likes Celine Dion, and so on) have got real problems if they're screaming at each other in the night.

I've been in that situation, and I've seen others in that situation and knowing about their culture, race, religion or hat size wouldn't have helped at all. They've obviously got some awful issue in their life that they're struggling with: money; drink; drugs; relationships, whatever and there's nothing that's going to stop them losing it, other than time healing all wounds, going into rehab, splitting up or winning the lottery.

None of our discussions are going to help two people in real trouble. And the answer to how to stop them waking you up at three AM remains the same. There were only three or four options open to the OP all along and he'd considered them all already.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:37 PM on January 3, 2007


Someday, the minorities will thank you for your tireless efforts on their behalf, Ambose.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've come to think of them as Gracie and Joseph, by the way

*head explodes*
posted by dhammond at 8:48 PM on January 3, 2007


It's really the equivalent of one of those grindingly long "do I have to make nice with my estranged sister/dad/piano teacher?" AskMes which are really about the "let me tell you all the hateful things they've done" section: 750 words of [more inside] detailing the horrible thing that Ashley said to Jennifer at Kathy's wedding, and guess what she had the gall to do next!? It's a plea for sympathy, couched as an enquiry. "I have a problem with Asians, what's up with those Asians anyway?".

This is so stupid that it crashed my computer. Seriously.

The OP's problem was that his neighbors were waking him up. Ok, so he mentioned that they were Asian, which may or may not have been necessary, but really it was inviting rants about NEIGHBORS more than any specific ethnicity. Strike "I have a problem with Asians" and replace it with "neighbors" and you might be on to something.

Of course, then in your twisted dreamworld, this would imply that whoever said that was bigoted against neighbors.

Seriously, man, pull your head out.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:49 PM on January 3, 2007


In my AA meetings they'd often say "would you rather be right or be happy"? I'd argue with them them about the premise.

Being right is such a trophy! eh?

While being happy is just being happy. meh! eh?
posted by stirfry at 8:52 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe you simply have no sense of humor at all, AmbroseChapel. I guess it's possible that Deathalicious was serious when he said "But, seriously, stop showing off," but I read it as ironic, a playful acknowledgment that stavrosthewonderchicken done good work, which you more or less ignored.

Your "helpful summary" ignores all the people shouting you down and continues to grind your axe. The original asker says he's a guy from the south now living in the big city, and he's trying not to be a redneck reactionary, but you insist on accusing him of the exact behavior he's trying to avoid. It feels to me like willful misreading based on your own preoccupations with racism, and not like anything inherent in the question or its content or the thread.
posted by cgc373 at 8:52 PM on January 3, 2007


Nothing accentuates the positive in one like accentuating the negative in another.
posted by y2karl at 8:57 PM on January 3, 2007


just for the record, AmbroseChapel's bio says Sydney can claim him. ... he's not currently our problem. And there you go, now you can add nationalist to the list of names you call me.

Nah, I won't call you nationalist. But it is obvious you have a burning hatred for the city of Sydney, and that simply cannot be tolerated.

I mean, they have such a nice zoo...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:57 PM on January 3, 2007


AmbroseChapel, I'm pretty sure that the original call-out was in response to Stavros' comment that you linked to at the top of this thread.

You've also spent the entire first half of this thread arguing about what a racist Stavros is.

Now, suddenly, you're telling us your real beef was with the OP's question, not with Stavros? I'm confused...
posted by Brittanie at 8:59 PM on January 3, 2007


My god, you're tenacious. I can imagine you as a Joseph McCarthy-esque interrogator, dogged and utterly determined to find trangressions where none exist, and bulldozing through people as you do so. Terrifying, but it's an insight into that kind of never-admit-that-you're-wrong mentality that sociopaths, Grand Inquisitors and politicians have always shared.

I thought we were done, but just to deal with your points addressed at me, in reverse order:

None of the things stavros said actually contained a grain of sand's worth of "so, given that, here's how you get them to stop fighting", unless I missed it.

Yeah, you bloody well missed it. In my very first commentin the AskMe thread, the one you took offense to and quoted when you started this thread, I suggested "making friendly overtures" and sketched out why that would be a good thing (if they were Korean, and equally for the same or different reasons if they weren't), in response to the Asker's thought about "show[ing] up with a beer in hand". My first comment. That you quoted.

he feels it right to make more silly generalisations about Koreans

Where? Are you referring to my joke about drinking? We know you're humourless, but my god, man. That was a reference back to my original comment, and the Asker, which "you missed", somehow, as well as an attempt at levity. Many other communities use the [NOT RACIST] interjection as a joke in itself, which I guess I made a mistake in assume people (ie you) would find obviously amusing in context.

will get very offended if you don't think he's earned that right

I get very offended at being accused of bigotry, then, when asked, taking the time to write an extempore essay explaining why (lengthy because it's complicated, duh), which is summarily ignored and belittled.

despite a few people telling him to stop showing off, the more seriously he thinks we should take him

Sorry, who told me to stop showing off other than Deathalicious (who obviously was making a joke, because s/he favorited the comment and also said "stavros, I thought your long post was awesomely interesting")? That's weak, man. And I think my jokes, as well as disclaimer at the end of my long post show anyone with a clue that I really don't care if you take me seriously or not. Take me as you find me, disagree if you want, it's all good. But be at least marginally intellectually honest in the process.

stavros can talk to us at very great length about the theoretical origins of their seeming not to care who they awake and offend

You asked me to explain, I did. I said in the long comment "Note (because it's unfortunately necessary, it seems, to say so) that these are generalizations about an entire nation, not a taxonomy of the beliefs of any given individual." Did you even read what I said, after you asked me to explain? You sucked me in to explaining a cultural norm of which you seemed unaware, I did so. I made it a point of saying that the people might or might not be Korean (as the Asker suggested), and that they might or might not be 'old-skool', and that the Korean cultural norms may or may not apply. How much more qualification did I need to use to penetrate your mental fog of war.

As far as your other points go, I'll let others have a go, if they have the energy.



And now:

Clock me in the face!

This is a test of my Web2.0 Punchr.com™ plugin functionality, coming soon to a community website near you! Note: may not actually result in real-world punching.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:05 PM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Damn, Matt started stripping out the BUTTON tag too, I guess. Worked on preview, damn it. Ah well.

FUNCTIONALITY TEST: FAILED.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:06 PM on January 3, 2007


God you people are drama queens. You all so funny! You make me laugh so funny haha!

my poor Filipino girlfriend used to say that all the time. So I shot her.
posted by disclaimer at 9:08 PM on January 3, 2007


>Ok, so he mentioned that they were Asian, which may or may not have been necessary

Five times. Plus the tag.

>Your "helpful summary" ignores all the people shouting you down and continues to grind your axe.


No it doesn't. But there are more people now just plain insulting me rather than arguing with me.

>[OP says] he's trying not to be a redneck reactionary, but you insist on accusing him of the exact behavior he's trying to avoid


Now it's time for my head to explode. He says he's not "that guy". He's trying very hard to not be racist. But at the point where he's accusing me of trying to "intimidate and censor" him, who's being the humourless prig now? It's "beyond the pale" to even consider the point that he might still be thinking along race lines -- it's intimidation. Really? Wow. Having moderated his behaviour just this far, he's enraged at the idea that it might not be far enough. Then he makes an "asian people talk funny" joke. I think he's got some way to go, obviously.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:09 PM on January 3, 2007


God you people are drama queens.

THAT'S RACIST!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on January 3, 2007


I am ashamed to admit that I would have clicked that button, had it shown up, stavros. mathowie has saved me from myself.
posted by cgc373 at 9:10 PM on January 3, 2007


Also, Stavros, fwiw I found your explanations of Korean culture very enlightening because I spent some Navy time there some time back, and they're a very interesting culture that I'd kind of forgotten about. Thank you.
posted by disclaimer at 9:12 PM on January 3, 2007


Then he makes an "asian people talk funny" joke. I think he's got some way to go, obviously.

It's just you. And maybe that girl who smells like curry.
posted by dhammond at 9:14 PM on January 3, 2007


The "intimidation and censor" business relates to a worry that your priggish behavior will get his AskMe deleted because you've accused him of racism. He's understandably upset by an accusation of racism, because it's a nasty accusation, AmbroseChapel. If you'd accused me of racism, I'd be upset at you, too. If you'd attempted to get a bunch of other people to agree with you that I was a racist in a public forum, I'd be even more upset, and so, I might use words like "intimidate" or "censor," even where they weren't perfectly apt. Ah, me, but I am so touchy that way.
posted by cgc373 at 9:16 PM on January 3, 2007


Actually you're probably right, stavros, I did misjudge you rather and despite the fact that you're being extremely sensitive and needy, you seem like an all right guy at heart.

I should have left out the whole stavros section in my recent post, which is covered by "but we don't know they're Koreans, so anyway..." and emphasised your being sucked into his vortex of passive-aggressive racism more in the "invitation to talk negatively" section.

Quick question though -- you don't think people favourite your posts sometimes as a way of bookmarking them for later reading, just because they're so long? I don't think you can take it as a gold standard for approval.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:22 PM on January 3, 2007


Hey Ambrose, why don't you stop dicking around and promise to cut off your right hand or something. You might as well flame out for reals.
posted by blasdelf at 9:23 PM on January 3, 2007


cgc373, in all seriousness, what do you do when you see what you consider to be racism here? Obviously you don't meta-call-out. What would you do? Flag the post? Email Matt/Jessamyn? Just internalise it, suppress your feelings and give yourself an ulcer?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:26 PM on January 3, 2007


Quick question though -- you don't think people favourite your posts sometimes as a way of bookmarking them for later reading, just because they're so long?

That's an odd question, but I'll answer it as honestly as possible: I think in general that I post as many one liners and short comments, more in fact, as I do long disquisitions.

So in the case of my essay-length comment in this thread (which may well be my longest one ever), sure, maybe. I don't know. I also think that it's possible that at least a few people did so because they were as mortified as I that I was being accused of bigotry. So it goes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:33 PM on January 3, 2007


stavros, I did misjudge you rather and despite the fact that you're being extremely sensitive and needy, you seem like an all right guy at heart.

That's a backhanded and belated apology if I ever heard one, but I take it in good faith. I still don't understand where you're coming from, exactly, but I expect that you're trying to do right by your own lights, as well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:35 PM on January 3, 2007


Any thoughts on this, while we're doing "on a different tack..."? It wouldn't have been nearly such fun, obviously...
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:39 PM on January 3, 2007


I definitely don't think you're a bigot. But, go back and look at what you wrote, on the page, in the context of the whole "what's up with asians?" vibe that it gives off -- do you see why I thought that? Do you see that, if he is tacitly asking for that kind of bigoted comment, that you fed him what he wanted, however innocently?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:43 PM on January 3, 2007


I have returned. I'm sorry that the exigencies of real life, sleep, time zones and childcare have made it difficult to argue with each and every one of you as much as I'd like.

And yet you still manage to argue with each and every one of us more than we'd really rather like.

More later.

God, please no. Look, you did this before. You're pretty much preaching to the converted, and gaining no ground or doing no common good in the process. As I stated before, it's my motherfucking well-formed opinion that you cause more damage then you attempt to heal.

You're just prattling on unceasingly for some insane reason which probably has all kinds of things to do with some kind of overwhelming guilt in your subconscious or something.

Whatever the motivation, it's unhealthy and unbalanced. You're not only pre-occupied, you're obsessed.

You're the picture-perfect definition of Don Quixote's tilting at windmills - willfully, obtusefully ignorant of everything around you but The Quest and your self-endowed Righteousness, which you swing and brandish pell-mell, knocking over and smashing the very things you've so Righteously sworn to protect.

"Ambrose, couldn't you try and save up your thoughts for one post, instead of making three or four or five in a row? Maybe cut back on the coffee?"

That's totally awesome that you said that. The irony is so lemony fresh and delicious. I'm gonna make some lemony irony-bars out of that. Oughta be enough for a year's worth or two.

And yes, loquacious, whose subtle, considered response to someone in a similar situation was "take a baseball bat to their car", hates me, he's emailed me personally a number of times to tell me so

I emailed you directly once, you lying sack of shit. I emailed you with the suggestion of and I motherfucking quote: "Hey. You probably owe some people an apology, myself not excluded"

To which you replied with insults that started with "You know, you should probably write a book or something. It would be kind of D.B.C. Pierre meets Bukowski." and some totally fabricated, incredibly offensive and even outright racist bullshit about my "Your doe-eyed gentle Latina high-school girlfriend".

No, I don't like you very much. I think you're a twat, a prat, a spanker, a dweeb, a snitch, a stoolie, a pigeon and a motherfucking hall monitor.

To summarise the story so far:

AmbroseChapel grinds a dozen axes and an entire millstone wheel... why? To prove that he can?

Very nice. Good skill. Now you go chop wood.

Ah, see? You shouldn't have ground all your axes away.

It wouldn't have been nearly such fun, obviously...

Ah, yes. That's right. Because accusing very sensitive, culturally-aware ubernerds of being bigots and racists is fun, huh?

Here's your fun: Eat a bag of rancid fuck, you two-bit sociopath. I'm done with you. You're a liar, a snitch and an ignorant little shit, and I will have no further words exchanged with you. Go fuck yourself.
posted by loquacious at 9:45 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ambrose,

Racism is bad. We pretty much agree on that point, excluding some members of both Mefi and KKK. From my reading of this thread, it seems you have two goals.

One is to point out the wrongness of racism and the other is to salvage your ego.

Actually you're probably right, stavros, I did misjudge you rather and despite the fact that you're being extremely sensitive and needy, you seem like an all right guy at heart.

I've got no fireworks I'm gonna send up to salute the chicken, but your passive-aggressive "extremely sensitive and needy" take on his post is simply craptastic!

You're moving into being cool but still have to be the ass. Why is that?
posted by stirfry at 9:47 PM on January 3, 2007


Ambrose, what's your definition of racism? You're very sensitive to any kind of perceived insult or slur. Not all people who say things in a negatively critical way about members of other races are being racist. Engrish, for example, is a common way of describing the way some asians speak - a description that I've heard from people who speak it themselves.

Anyway, so what if the OP is possibly racist? (I don't think he is, but that's unimportant.) It still doesn't deny the fact that he's trying to approach the situation in a respectful manner.

And so what if Stavros is possibly racist? (He isn't, but that's unimportant) It still doesn't deny the fact that, based on the information he had, he tried to help somebody out.

I mean, really. SO WHAT? If all you're trying to do is prove that these people and others are racist, you've made your point. WHAT NEXT? WHERE DO YOU GO FROM THERE? WHAT'S THE POINT? I don't think it's about the original question, anymore, do you?

So, think about that for a little while and let me know. Oh, and just a thought: aren't you just a tad prejudiced against those who you think are racist? Maybe a lot prejudiced? Granted, it's a worthy battle, but you have to make sure that you're battling enemies, not friends.
posted by ashbury at 9:50 PM on January 3, 2007


You're moving into being cool but still have to be the ass. Why is that?

Nevermind. On preview I see that its a matter of playing "king of the hill".

Carry on.
posted by stirfry at 9:51 PM on January 3, 2007


Question -- what would have happened if I'd flagged the post and asked Matt/Jessamyn to

* remove the tag
* delete the question
* ask the OP to rephrase his question with less of a focus on race?


We probably would have told you to take it to MetaTalk. I have a confession to make, I actually edited that post. The guy who posted it spelled "quiet" wrong, twice. I figured people were going to not be able to get over that, or call him stupid, or whatever, and not help him wiht his question, so I fixed it.

There was a question a while back where someone used the term "porch monkeys" to refer to (iirc) his neighbors and then realized it was a racist thing to say. He emailed me and I fixed it before too many people saw it and got upset, but the poor guy had no clue.

There are a lot of people on MetaFilter with wildly different intellects and cultural understandings. We try hard to keep the outright haters off the site, but if someone seems to be making a good faith effort to figure something out, I find that the "hey you might want to think about what you said because it comes off differently than I think you mean" works a shitload better than starting in with the racist namecalling.

If you're personally offended at something you think someone said about you or your people, we'll take that more seriously than the whole "gyp offends gypsies" discussion if lacking further data. AC, I get your point, but I think this is not the best example to use to make it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:51 PM on January 3, 2007


AmbroseChapel, why the fuck do you care? What's your horse in this race? What drives you to flame out pointing fingers at perceived racists over and over again? I am serious :-[
posted by blasdelf at 9:51 PM on January 3, 2007


I don't think it's right to quote from my private emails, loqacious. That's definitely stepping over a hard and fast boundary of online etiquette. But yes, I said it. You're still getting over some teenage trauma about dating a latina girl and getting beaten up by a latina boy, or vice versa, I can't remember the details.

If you think I'm such an idiot, and my statements are so pointless, and I'm causing such damage, and rather than having a genuine feeling on the subject, I'm just indulging myself, and if I'm really only being spurred on by some childhood trauma, -- oh hey, that's my line -- then why are you encouraging me?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:52 PM on January 3, 2007


Pretty sure AmbroseChapel is a Cylon.
posted by The God Complex at 9:53 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


do you see why I thought that?

Well, no, I'm afraid I don't. I don't think the question was in any way bigoted or racist or prejudicial. I think it could have been phrased better, is all, and I think my comment could have been as well (I'd have dropped the 'utterly' in favour of a softer word and used something other than 'unperson' which struck an unintended chord, it seems).

You seem to still think my answer to wfrgms's question was bigoted, even if I am not, which I really don't get. I also don't get where you see the bigotry in wfrgm's question: I see the exact opposite, in all honesty.

Based on the way you've responded to people in this thread, I have to believe that you're actively looking for racist/bigoted/prejudiced speech and thinking, and as a consequence, finding it in places where there's simply no credible evidence it exists. Fighting racism is a noble endeavour -- accusing people of good faith of it off the cuff does much more harm than good, though, I have to believe.

I'm striving for understanding here, not trying to continue the argument.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:54 PM on January 3, 2007


jessamyn, I think I love you.
posted by ashbury at 9:55 PM on January 3, 2007


>I emailed you directly once, you lying sack of shit.

Twice, you lying sack of shit. Which is probably not what people think of when they see "a number", so yes, I withdraw it. Please note: loqacious has emailed me twice and very disturbing it was too.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:55 PM on January 3, 2007


cgc373, in all seriousness, what do you do when you see what you consider to be racism here? Obviously you don't meta-call-out. What would you do? Flag the post? Email Matt/Jessamyn? Just internalise it, suppress your feelings and give yourself an ulcer?

This is a really reasonable question, AmbroseChapel, and I wish I had a good answer for it. To make a quick attempt, I must say I don't see much in the way of outright prejudice here at MetaFilter. I see a lot of hipsters' ironic prejudice, taking a tone of self-mockery, where people who know their privileges try to mitigate via humor an inequality they sense is unjust, whether they can explain that sense of injustice or not. Sometimes I see that ironic tone mishandled and misinterpreted, but I don't tend to read people here as racist or sexist or otherwise prejudiced in specifics. I try to give the benefit of the doubt.

Another problem I have in saying what I would do is, when I've seen some of the call-outs as they happen here, they don't seem to accomplish what they're intended to. dirtynumbangelboy's recent attack on homophobia made him look worse than his target, and unless an offense is obviously egregious and therefore subject to deletion and possibly banning, any immoderate response will seem shrill and probably counterproductive.

So, I don't know what I'd do if I saw somebody behaving on MetaFilter in ways I believed were racist. I hope I don't have to find out.

On Preview: Okay, I'm being too earnest with you if loquacious's stories check out. I'll trawl through your posting history now, AmbroseChapel, and I'll be back in a while. With a P.S. that I'm with jessamyn about choosing your battles.
posted by cgc373 at 9:59 PM on January 3, 2007


>What drives you to flame out pointing fingers at perceived racists over and over again? I am serious :-[

Wow, you have a very low threshold for flameouts. I thought I'd remained calm and consistent throughout, and even retained a sense of humour. When people disagreed with me, I disagreed with them back. The first post called me an idiot. I called him a bigot back again. It seems rather as if neither of us stands by those posts any more.

Is it normally your experience of people who start Talk threads that they back down and revise their opinions and apologise to the people they've offended? I've got to get that GreaseMonkey script...
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:01 PM on January 3, 2007


I don't think it's right to quote from my private emails, loqacious.

Hey, idiot? Yeah, I'm talking to you, fuckface. You started it. You accused me of emailing you multiple times. I emailed you once directly - very civily, you replied - very rudely, a few words were exchanged.

You insulted my honor in public, I defended it. In public. With evidence and quotes. Because you wanted to fling mud at me, without evidence to account for it.

I defended myself. With evidence.

That's definitely stepping over a hard and fast boundary of online etiquette.

AHAHAHAHAHAHahah. Here, try this boundary of online etiquette: Fuck you.

No, That's funny. Uhm. No, legally emails are publically admissible in most courts, and the property of the recipient to publish at will except by contractural agreement or perhaps in extraordinary cases of copyright. Be careful of what you say to people in email, as it's been considered public before.

But yes, I said it. You're still getting over some teenage trauma about dating a latina girl and getting beaten up by a latina boy, or vice versa, I can't remember the details.

Yeah, you've got me totally figured out. That's the one major trauma in my life I've been dealing with all along.

No. You're a fucking idiot. What a boring, pointless life that would be. That's not even a flesh wound, and it left no scars.

You really shouldn't assume shit about people, it's prejudiced and leads to cultural misunderstandings.
posted by loquacious at 10:04 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


>I find that the "hey you might want to think about what you said because it comes off differently than I think you mean" works a shitload better than starting in with the racist namecalling.

Noted.

If you're personally offended at something you think someone said about you or your people, we'll take that more seriously than the whole "gyp offends gypsies" discussion if lacking further data.

Nobody knows my race or has even thought to ask. I'm not Korean, but by coincidence I do live in a Korean suburb of Sydney.

>AC, I get your point, but I think this is not the best example to use to make it.


Thank you and, again, noted.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:04 PM on January 3, 2007


I do live in a Korean suburb of Sydney.

Campsie? My wife and I used take the train down there once in a while to go shopping for Korean goodies when we lived in Sydney. Small world, nicht wahr?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:07 PM on January 3, 2007


Please note: loqacious has emailed me twice and very disturbing it was too.

BITCH. SPELL MY NAME RIGHT.

I've emailed you directly once, which initiated a thread with a total of four messages.

Yeah, they were pretty disturbing. Maybe I should post them here in their entirety and let the public judge how disturbing they are? Asshole.
posted by loquacious at 10:08 PM on January 3, 2007


Nobody knows my race or has even thought to ask.

But I thought we'd established that race is irrelevant... *zing!*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:09 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously, loquacious, how long have you been online? It is a very widely held rule that one doesn't quote in a public forum something said in a private email. I'm certainly not going to quote from yours.

I've corrected any mistaken impression about the number of emails you sent me. It must have seemed like more.

Clearly, you hate me. We get it. Now, is there a point?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:09 PM on January 3, 2007


Here's your fun: Eat a bag of rancid fuck, you two-bit sociopath. .

As a two-bit sociopath, I am offended by that statement.

Look, Ambrose, I'll address what you asked, just for giggles.
What would have happened if you'd flagged the ask thread? Well, I would hope about the same thing as has happened here: You'd be laughed at and derided. Of course, I'm not a moderator in any way, shape, or form, but I tend to find that MeFi has sensible moderators.
On the other hand, I am also not a whiny, oversensitive twit who's last recourse in an argument is to say "Yeah, well, I COULD have called mommy!"

... well, I may be a whiny twit, but I'm not oversensitive.

I should thank you, though, nobody's given you the real props you deserve on starting this ridiculous "OMGWTFRACISTZ!!!!" trend over the past day. As stupid, infantile, and ignorant as it is, it makes for some good jokes.
posted by eparchos at 10:09 PM on January 3, 2007


Geez, I'm trying to wind this up amicably, and people are comin' in all I'M GONNA SLAP YOUR BEAGLEFACED BABY WITH MY UNCLE'S GOITER, STINKYTEATS!!!1!

Ah well, I was getting pretty hot and bothered last night, myself (NOT RACIST).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:13 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


>I am also not a whiny, oversensitive twit who's last recourse in an argument is to say "Yeah, well, I COULD have called mommy!"

I don't get it. Are you saying that my question about flagging the post wasn't an honest question, it was along the lines of "next time I'll email Jessamyn and then you'll really be sorry"? Not at all.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:16 PM on January 3, 2007



I don't get it. Are you saying that my question about flagging the post wasn't an honest question, it was along the lines of "next time I'll email Jessamyn and then you'll really be sorry"? Not at all.


It certainly smacked of that, but I'll retract my snippy comment in good faith.
However, who can give a useful answer that question other than a moderator? Certainly not me, but I wanted to give it a shot.
posted by eparchos at 10:19 PM on January 3, 2007


>I thought we'd established that race is irrelevant... *zing!*

Well, interestingly enough, it does seem to matter when it comes to flagging and complaints on MeFi. If a white man says that "gyp" is wrong because it offends gypsies, no dice, but if I complain on the basis that I myself am a gypsie and was offended, it carries more weight.

The implications are interesting. I certainly gain a point when divabat says "I'm Asian, for what it's worth. And AmbroseChapel has the right idea. [...] I felt the question was a bit off." upthread. Though stan chin may have taken my tally back down a notch.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:21 PM on January 3, 2007


Yes, but (and this is a big but): how do you know that I'm not ethnically Asian?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:24 PM on January 3, 2007


Seriously, loquacious, how long have you been online?

25+ years, sweetmeat. My first modem was a complicated arrangement of chirps and whistles which I announced by, well, whistling. I've loved, fucked and worn out more keyboards in a week than you've ever even seen.

It is a very widely held rule that one doesn't quote in a public forum something said in a private email.

It was also a once widely held online "rule" that if the person who is griefing you is a complete and utter idiot that they deserve whatever mountains of abuse that you could shovel atop them, not excluding the possibility of damaging their hardware to the point that they're unable to continue computing.

Thankfully, those wild, anarchic days are long gone and we're in more civilized times.

Nowadays it's generally acceptable to quote from specific emails that have been either alluded to or otherwise held over someone as a threat. Which is what you did, asshole, so your precious netiquette is of no use to you now.

*wanders off to read a book*
posted by loquacious at 10:27 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah good point. Do you mind if I email you some time, stavros? I promise it won't be a loqatious-type email.

I just noticed this:

>I will have no further words exchanged with you.

MetaFilter: "I will have no further words exchanged with you [234 more words]"
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:30 PM on January 3, 2007


Yeah good point. Do you mind if I email you some time, stavros?

Feel free. Address is on my profile. I'm a shockingly poor correspondant, though, I'll warn you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:32 PM on January 3, 2007


I'm not of Asian descent, at least that I'm aware of, by the way. But I thought the question was a good Socratic one.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:33 PM on January 3, 2007


One more bit to add, just to clear things up. I was never under any impression that we were operating under the assumption that there was some sort of broad "Asian" culture. The OP said that he believed that the neighbors were Korean and I went under the assumption that he was either right or at least geographically near the mark. If he had meant South Asians or Middle Eastern Asians, I don't believe he would have mistaken them for Koreans. Perhaps I am wrong. If he'd been talking about his European neighbors and said "I think they are French" I would not automatically jump to the conclusion that his neighbors were Russians, but I might think they were actually Belgians.

Why do folks find it particularly problematic to use "Asians" while in the same breath using "Americans" for USAians (particularly white, English speaking USAians)? Are not Chileans Americans? Are not Canadians Americans? Are not Asian-Americans Americans?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:38 PM on January 3, 2007


I'm not of Asian descent, at least that I'm aware of, by the way. But I thought the question was a good Socratic one.

I am, in part, but I'm American of Canadian descent more significantly. It is a good, and relevant, question in general. I don't think race has much to do with stuff, but my family is culturally "odd" in a few ways, and it has cropped up in my life before.

Are not Chileans Americans?
They are, and they get really pissed if you say you're "from America".
posted by eparchos at 10:39 PM on January 3, 2007


Most boring flameout evah! This is the gold standard>

loquacious, you're being a dick. Go back to being funny.
posted by stirfry at 10:43 PM on January 3, 2007


Paging funny loquacious.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:45 PM on January 3, 2007


I didn't ask you whether you were Korean or otherwise Asian, AmbroseChapel, figuring you would probably try and make some sort of weak jujitsu move to counter, something like, "What difference does it make whether I'm Asian? It's a point of common courtesy toward humanity blah blah blah" [please note: blah blah blah is not an exact attribution; in fact, I've invented AmbroseChapel's response for my own benefit, to make him look foolish]. Also, now I've read through a bunch of your posting history, and it looks as if you choose some position and defend it as if it were true, come what may. That's how you come across in the thread where loquacious tried to advise somebody to stand up for herself, and in the magic threads, my oh my. And I don't even want to bring up the hectoring RSS saga.

But I did.

Anyway, I wanted to get back to you, since I said I would, but I'm gonna keep you in the background from now on, for my peace of mind, and for the Good of All MetaFilter.
posted by cgc373 at 10:45 PM on January 3, 2007


It is a good, and relevant, question in general.

I'm not sure if you see why I asked it, though, eparchos, 'cause my point here is that it might not be. See, in the context of everybody running around with their hair on fire because wfgrms had the temerity to suggest that knowing that his neighbours were Asian/maybe Korean might be in some way helpful to resolving his dispute with them, pretty much everyone seemed to be willing to say 'race is irrelevant'. Some fewer (myself included) suggested that culture (or nationality) may not be irrelevant.

So, race is irrelevant, and Ambrose agreed. But then (unless I'm missing deadpan joking) he suggested that divabat agreeing with and Stan Chin disagreeing with (OK, mocking) parts of his argument could seen as significant support or knockback for argument because they're Asian (one of the many flavours thereof, and maybe only by descent, not culture, we don't know), and in fact more so because of their ethnicity (stated or assumed).

That seems contradictory.

So I thought I'd try to blow his mind a bit by asking him how he knew that I wasn't Asian -- and therefore that he had been until the last little while arguing vociferously with someone from the very racial (much as that word means anything, yes I know, not very bloody much) group that he was 'defending'. I meant it to reinforce that 'race' actually isn't important, or germane, but that we're not talking about race, nor was wfrgms.

By which I was trying to say to Ambrose: But remember? Race is irrelevant? Or is it? What do you really think, because you're going both ways here? Would it matter here if I were actually Asian (if not Korean)? Or if I actually were Korean descended, say, but a returned kyopo (o'seas Korean 1st gen) who grew up in, say, the States? and maybe get to some kind of aha moment.

Call me a dreamer.

(Shit another long comment. This stuff is hard to be pithy about.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:04 PM on January 3, 2007


But easy to be pissy about, woocha!
posted by cgc373 at 11:05 PM on January 3, 2007


Woocha indeed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:07 PM on January 3, 2007


Some fewer (myself included) suggested that culture (or nationality) may not be irrelevant.

Well, I don't know if I explicitly stated that race was irrelevant, but I most certainly stated that culture IS.
I just figured I'd point out that I'm (30% or something) racially Asian, and that race is NOT relevant. I figured most people assumed I was white, if they assume anything at all, so it would be a bit of a shocker.
So, yeah, I think I got your point. Also, it gave us all the opportunity to see you expound on it, which is good, IMO.
posted by eparchos at 11:11 PM on January 3, 2007


I just went looking for the source of that "woocha" memelet and found Rhomboid's biting comment, which I called a memetic menace. "You fail, fuckbag." How awesome is that? Useful on so many occasions. Beautifully brief, focused, surprising, and effective. What's not to love?
posted by cgc373 at 11:18 PM on January 3, 2007


but I'm gonna keep you in the background from now on

Hey, cgc, that has a nice ring to it. Can'tcha just hear it as a mid-60's Motown number? Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson? Something like:

Go-nna Keep you in the back-ground...from now on!

Female chorus: "back grooooouuund"
Horns: dah-da dah-da dah-da dah-
Drum fill.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:24 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


If cortex were my friend. . . .
posted by cgc373 at 11:30 PM on January 3, 2007


If cortex were my friend. . . .

Well, no disrespect to cortex or anything, but I don't know how he'd do at recreating that Motown vibe. Tall order. Probably better to just keep it in your head.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:38 PM on January 3, 2007


Predominantly Korean suburb in Sydney? Whaa? News to me. But that sorta thing is dynamic I guess.

I think the original poster could have been a bit more sensitive over title and tags.

I think AmbroseChapel could have given a little more benefit of the doubt and not chased a mirage across the galaxy. And back again.

I think Stavros has been eminently accomodating and indulgent (in 2 recent callout situations no less) and I am starting to doubt his claimed curmudgeon status. He's really just a teddybear seeking love.

I think loquacious is a valued Mefi phenomenon and an unlikely target for abuse. But I don't imagine goading him with a pointy stick is a way to make friends.

I'm going outside to find people who look or smell different so I can hug 'em and borrow $20.
posted by peacay at 11:47 PM on January 3, 2007


Heavens to Betsy! This is trundling downhill fast. Happily I am female & not-so-sensitive.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:52 PM on January 3, 2007


chased a mirage across the galaxy.

Hey, can'tcha just hear that as a 40's era, Tin Pan Alley number with the full Hollywood musical treatment, say, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, crooning: "chaaaasing a mi-raaaage across the-"

Nevermind.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:53 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a confession to make, I actually edited that post. The guy who posted it spelled "quiet" wrong, twice. I figured people were going to not be able to get over that, or call him stupid, or whatever, and not help him wiht his question, so I fixed it.

I have a confession to make, too: I really, really wanted to do that, but I held back until it was too late.
posted by timeistight at 12:02 AM on January 4, 2007


Predominantly Korean suburb in Sydney?

Heck, yeah, peacay. When we lived there (Jan 99 to late 2001), you could get off the train at Campsie and see almost nothing but shop signs in Korean. Chatswood had a huge Korean Kluster too, and where we lived, in Surrey Hills not too far from Central Station, there were heaps of Korean shops and businesses and stuff. There were a couple of other areas too with lots o' Korean folks -- can't remember where they were, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:05 AM on January 4, 2007


True Story:
1985, deployed to Korea as a part of Team Spirit '85, a multinational military exercise. March in Korea was cold as hell, as I huddled in my down sleeping bag wrapped in the arms of Morpheus. Into the GP medium comes a soldier with a fresh order of kimchee, the smell of which woke me from a sound sleep. Imagine that, woken by a smell . . . .
Damned Koreans and their blender-borrowing, cabbage fermenting, Andy Griffith at three in the morning ways. Or something like that; I wasn't really paying attention.
Do I win the Wii?
posted by landis at 12:11 AM on January 4, 2007


Do you know what freaks me out? Interracial couples.
posted by liquorice at 12:13 AM on January 4, 2007


Oh, wait, I forgot the punchline.
posted by liquorice at 12:18 AM on January 4, 2007


In MetaTalk, the punchline forgets you.
posted by landis at 12:27 AM on January 4, 2007


Ah well, I was getting pretty hot and bothered last night, myself (NOT RACIST).

This is my new favorite thing on Metafilter.

Anyway, this thread is totally played out. (NOT RACIST!)
posted by Brittanie at 1:24 AM on January 4, 2007


If you can give an example of a 3 AM yelling match you feel should be interrupted and another you feel shouldn't be interrupted, please do so.

When one of the parties starts calling for help. Otherwise leave it till later. What's chinky for 'help' anyhow?
posted by econous at 2:52 AM on January 4, 2007


What's chinky for 'help' anyhow?

Koreans don't speak no chinky. Don'tchew know nuthin' boy?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:28 AM on January 4, 2007


nadise : "But just for the record, AmbroseChapel's bio says Sydney can claim him."

Color me shamed (especially because I keep going on about how MeFites assume everyone is American/living in America (comments about "You were obviously trolling, why else would you post in the middle of the night?" directed at people who live in far different time zones, etc.) and yet here I am doing the exact same damn thing). In my defence, my assumption wasn't completely baseless (AC's comparison to Americans in the top of the post threw me), but it was 99% baseless, which is 99% as bad.

AmbroseChapel : "these people are fascinating but we haven't got time."

You've got to be kidding. We've been discussing the particulars of some guy's phrasing of some question on some remote part of the internet, and of your phrasing of some callout regarding said question, for the better part of a day. It would appear that we have all the damn time in the world. Is there some deadline that I'm not aware of?

AmbroseChapel : "It's hardly a killer argument against my viewpoint that it's been my viewpoint before and probably will be again, or that I speak in the defense of different races with the same argument."

I don't think the "we've been through this before" argument was meant to be proof that you're wrong, just proof that we haven't come to a conclusion before, you haven't convinced others, and others haven't convinced you, so it may be seen as a waste of time (though I personally somewhat enjoy it).

AmbroseChapel : "However, we all agree we don't know the culture of these people so even if the OP was, in good faith, asking us about their culture, we can't help him."

I don't think we all agree with that. I don't. If you're dealing with an uncertain which is part of a limited set, you can help by providing particulars. For example, if someone asks "In Windows, how can I format a hard drive?", we can't answer the question directly with a single answer, because we don't know what version of Windows. Could be XP, could be 3.11. But we can say "If it's XP, you can format by A. If it's 2000, you can format by B." I understand that your argument is that one cannot give directions for dealing with someone based just on their culture. That makes sense. However, this particular point in your argument is "we don't know which country, so we can't answer", and I don't think we all agree with that.

AmbroseChapel : "The longer he talks at us"

Don't be an asshole. You asked him to give you an answer. Then he even asked "Do you really want an answer?" and you said "Of course I do." So if he's writing too damn much (which I disagree is true), it's at your request. And in response to your earlier question about why Stavros would ask if you really wanted an answer, this is precisely why.

AmbroseChapel : "Having talked for a very long time, he feels it right to make more silly generalisations about Koreans"

It's not a silly generalisation. Koreans DO, as a whole, drink a lot. Have you ever even been to Korea? It's about as silly as saying "Americans, as a whole, drive a lot", or "Hawaiians, as a whole, go to the beach a lot". His generalisation wasn't silly, just his phrasing and timing.

AmbroseChapel : "But there are more people now just plain insulting me rather than arguing with me."

It's like a big ugly building blocking your view: at first, you argue with the building. But after a while, you realize "hey, it's a building. It doesn't matter what I say, it isn't going to budge." Then you just insult it.

AmbroseChapel : "Is it normally your experience of people who start Talk threads that they back down and revise their opinions and apologise to the people they've offended?"

The reasoned ones, yeah.

AmbroseChapel : "It is a very widely held rule that one doesn't quote in a public forum something said in a private email."

Actually, it's widely held that one doesn't quote in a public forum something said in a private email unless that email is brought up by the other party, at which point it becomes a little wavy, except if the contents of that email exchange are being misrepresented, in which case quoting them is fully accepted netiquette. It's been that way pretty much forever.

AmbroseChapel : "Now, is there a point?"

A question we are all asking ourselves.

Personally, right now I'm just in it for the car-crash-watching, righteous indignation, self satisfaction, and adrenaline angles. Not a good habit continually, but a pleasant vice to indulge in from time to time.
posted by Bugbread at 6:23 AM on January 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow! I went away last night and I thought this had died, but it reared up again (phwoar!) Anyway, this is fun to watch. Anyone got a beer? Soju?
posted by ob at 6:29 AM on January 4, 2007


Matt 'n' Jess, would you please hire Mr. James Earl Jones to read this line?

Your precious netiquette is of no use to you now.
posted by Mister_A at 6:48 AM on January 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love bugbread very much.
posted by cortex at 6:58 AM on January 4, 2007


I love bugbread very much.

Enthusiastically seconded.
posted by languagehat at 7:04 AM on January 4, 2007


Thirded!
posted by OmieWise at 7:06 AM on January 4, 2007


"Actually you're probably right, stavros, I did misjudge you rather and despite the fact that you're being extremely sensitive and needy, you seem like an all right guy at heart. "

You're probably OK at sports, despite the fact that you're absolutely retarded [NOT RACIST] about race, humor and magic tricks.

(Seriously, few things on MeFi have made me laugh as hard as this thread. And wow, I've gained even more respect for Bugbread and Stav...)
posted by klangklangston at 7:35 AM on January 4, 2007


Speaking of Sydney, it reminds me of that joke: So this German tourist [NOT RACIST!] is flying to Sydney to visit his girlfriend, and...

Oh. Wait.
posted by yeti at 7:51 AM on January 4, 2007


Stavros is a Good Dude, and the least likely Mefite to have a racist cell in his body.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:03 AM on January 4, 2007


f_and_m!
posted by cortex at 8:18 AM on January 4, 2007


Man, if only people around here would get as lathered up about something like getting all these bells and whistles and rows of buttons and re-designs and how long has this place gone without a working Spell Check ? But, then again, where's the car-crash-watching, righteous indignation, self satisfaction, and adrenaline angles in that ?
posted by y2karl at 8:44 AM on January 4, 2007


f_and_m!
posted by languagehat at 8:52 AM on January 4, 2007


(Seriously, few things on MeFi have made me laugh as hard as this thread. And wow, I've gained even more respect for Bugbread and Stav...)

Yep, I think that sums it up nicely.
posted by ob at 9:07 AM on January 4, 2007


Man, if only people around here would get as lathered up about something like getting all these bells and whistles and rows of buttons and re-designs and how long has this place gone without a working Spell Check ?

A few do, y2karl, but their comments are promptly deleted.

*vanishes*
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:40 AM on January 4, 2007


The Man Who Talked Too Much.
posted by nanojath at 10:49 AM on January 4, 2007


I'd say the best place for advice on this subject would be a fortune cookie.
posted by jonmc at 11:14 AM on January 4, 2007


300!
posted by languagehat at 11:59 AM on January 4, 2007


FAILGET
posted by loquacious at 12:24 PM on January 4, 2007


oh man, I fucking love bugbread.
posted by shmegegge at 1:44 PM on January 4, 2007


Ok, now, this is starting to get to me: What the heck did I say that's getting me these accolades? I just unlocked my word horde twice here, and was worried that I was being an overbearing git. I was braced for a beating, but instead it's like the 60's in here with the flowing love. What did I do?
posted by Bugbread at 2:27 PM on January 4, 2007


I don't understand fortune cookies. Every single one I've ever had has given me the same fortune, and I can't relate to it at all.

This insert has a protective coating
posted by flabdablet at 2:32 PM on January 4, 2007


What were we talking about again?
posted by dg at 2:53 PM on January 4, 2007


You just provided a better digest of the thread than AmbroseChapel's earlier self-congratulatory one, bugbread. Almost everybody participating here sees more or less what you say you see, so everybody's happy to be right. (AmbroseChapel and divabat are the holdouts.) I think we're all especially happy with the analogy of an ugly building, but that could just be me.
posted by cgc373 at 2:55 PM on January 4, 2007


As my name has popped up (mentioned or suggested) a few times above, I'd like to clear a few things up:
  1. I'm a he
  2. I actually did read all of stavros's post rather than just favoriting it to read later, which is why I said "I thought your long post was awesomely interesting" instead of saying "I thought your interesting post was awesomely long"
  3. My advice to stavros to stop showing off was 98% tongue in cheek. It's awesome that you know these things, stavros, but stop making me feel like an unworldly peon. It pisses me off.

posted by Deathalicious at 4:05 PM on January 4, 2007


yeti, oh my, that is too tasty:

"I did wonder but I didn't want to say anything," Gutt told the Bild newspaper.

LOL, Germans...

Ok seriously, I highly doubt I can add anything worthy at this stage, but for the hell of it, here's a not completely unrelated anecdote that the askme and following discussion reminded me of.

Scene is small subway station in central Berlin, week day, late in the evening, a few people waiting for trains. Two young males arrive on platform carrying their bike, making a lot of noise, talking and laughing really loud in Spanish, where really loud is the keyword and really loud is really loud even by Spanish speaking standards ([NOT RACIST], and I should know, I tend to be loud too, but these guys were really taking the piss), and most of all constantly ringing the bell on their bycicle, every thirty fucking seconds. This goes on for almost ten minutes, finally a girl who was talking to a friend of hers in German turns around, switches to perfect Spanish (she might even have been a native speaker, who knows) and politely addresses the two guys asking them if they could kindly turn it down a notch cos it's annoying everybody. The two laugh in her face and start on a very amusing semi-drunken tirade (they'd been drinking from beer bottles they were carrying, which is legal, they weren't very drunk but not very sober either) along the lines of "oh rly, why? because here everything is verboten, right? everything has to be so square, doesn't it? it's all rules rules rules yeah?". (Part of the amusement was that, despite it being largely a trite cliche, in other situations, and in other parts of Germany especially, they might have had a point, but in this case they were just being idiots). The girl patiently insists that eh, no, that crap doesn't fly with her, they're just being stupid and annoying, but they keep on mocking her and milking that 'this country is so square' for all its worth, then finally train arrives and saves the day.

So, yeah, obviously, cultural and linguistic differences can play a big part in such situations, but in my own humble experience I'd reckon that, more often than not, clearly annoying behaviour is more about clearly annoying individuals rather than cultural differences. Amazingly enough, yeah. After all, statistically speaking, there's more morons than there's cultures in the world.
posted by pleeker at 5:09 PM on January 4, 2007


Just to show that I've actually for some unknown reason read this far, I wish to add that there are lots of Koreans in Eastwood (Sydney) as well.
posted by dhruva at 5:33 PM on January 4, 2007


oh dear. This is all getting confusing. I don't even know who has what point anymore!

pleeker: yay! this I can agree with!
posted by divabat at 6:35 PM on January 4, 2007


I'm not too worried about offending AmbroseChapel—partly because I don't think I have much control over whether things I say offend him—but I hope you don't feel I've misrepresented your opinion to bugbread, above, divabat. To me, it looked as if you wanted more focus on specific circumstances and less focus on possible cultural norms, which we're all merely speculating about in any case.
posted by cgc373 at 6:56 PM on January 4, 2007


cgc373: I'm not entirely sure what you mean, sorry. My own argument is that trying to figure out if they being Asian means anything is useless, as it itself is not a very useful determinant of how to approach them. (Personally, if someone approached me a certain way just because they heard I was Asian and thought they should act a certain way towards me, I'd find that patronizing.)

Also, I don't know the OP or anyone else here from Adam, so I wouldn't know if they were Asian, knew anything about Asian culture, is a native speaker of an Asian language, or is the sort to assume that because someone sounds vaguely Asian that they must be Asian and appoint themselves as experts of what "Asian" is. I also oppose to the argument that stereotypes mean something - very often, they don't, and it's more damaging than helpful.

The question would still have good answers if there weren't any references to them being Asian. In this mad rush to dissect Asian norms and values (which could be a useful examination, but not in this instance where it seems more like hearsay) we're losing the point that they're human, so let's interact with them as humans first and foremost.
posted by divabat at 9:34 PM on January 4, 2007


And as I skim through this thread again, I see that nixerman has succinctly made the point I've been trying to make, without all the rambling.
posted by divabat at 9:37 PM on January 4, 2007


Okay, divabat, fair enough and also, maybe because your tone is so reasonable, I am pretty well able to see your point. Whether the arguing couple is or isn't Asian is irrelevant to the intrusive quality of their arguments, and, seen in that light, all the speculation about Asian cultural norms is just a derail. I think that point is clear, but because earlier it was made so stridently and with such a sense of outrage, its effect was lessened. Heck, it was almost lost. And thanks for the pointer to nixerman, too. I missed it amidst the shouting and name-calling upthread.
posted by cgc373 at 11:33 PM on January 4, 2007


we're losing the point that they're human, so let's interact with them as humans first and foremost.

I was going to let it rest (finally, thank god), but given what cgc373 just said, well, here I go again.

Of course we're going to treat them as human, unless we actually are bigots. What else? As llamas? Dessert toppings? Floor waxes? Who on earth would seriously 'lose the point' that the people you're talking to are human? Saying 'let's treat people like humans' sounds really nice and touchy feely and swell (and I'm all about the swelling and the touching and the feeling), and that's nice, but it is precisely meaningless in practice.

If there are any tools -- any tools, any information at all that might help you to have positive and misunderstanding-free interactions with other people -- and you are clever and sensitive enough not to wield those informational tools like hammers, you should.

To me at least, as someone who's spent almost 20 years living in countries and cultures other than his own (yeah, yay me, whatever), that's elementary. It's common courtesy. If you're an idiot, you blunder in, making assumptions, effectively going 'Ya'll're Asian, amirite? So, you guys, like, are all inscrutable and stuff, huh huh?' But we have to assume that people are not idiots, and that they'll treat people as human by default, and that any information about what flavour of human they might be might just help lubricate the gears of social interaction. Effective, nuanced communication -- human communication, if you follow me -- is hard work, even with people who come from the same culture and background as you do.

If I meet someone who's Greek or Mexican or Korean (three non-English speaking places I've spent a lot of time) I'm not going to whip out my Big Learnin' to impress them, label them or pigeonhole them, but the fact that I know something about those places and peoples might just be useful. Or it might not. That's something I (or anyone else) would have to judge on the fly, after we've started a conversation.

Treating everyone the same is one extreme, treating everyone as a special snowflake is the other, and they're both equally pernicious, I reckon.

It's all about getting along with people, and having as many tools at your disposal to do so. How clumsily or adroitly you use those tools is up to you. But knowledge is never a bad thing.

Treating people as human is a given, or it should be. If you don't have any more tools at your disposal, though, you may well end up using that same old hammer to fix a watch.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:43 AM on January 5, 2007


Which is all to say, perhaps, that I can see divabat's point, too, of course. I just think it doesn't go far enough, and assumes, I think, that people are by default narrow-minded, xenophobic (or at least xeno-challenged), and not bright or emotionally open enough to strive for communication over the prejudices and ignorance that everyone has to one degree or another. And that may be true for a lot of people.

I don't know about you, but I try to avoid those kind of folks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:48 AM on January 5, 2007


Yep, I agree with you, too, stavros. In fact, I agree with everybody except AmbroseChapel, whom I shall continue to blame for setting a tone that led many of us to shout past one another for 300+ comments, instead of dealing humanely with the questions at hand.
posted by cgc373 at 1:13 AM on January 5, 2007


I'm with cgc373. What stavros says makes sense. What divabat says also makes sense. If we'd had a discussion based on disagreements and agreements like this, we'd have a lot less adrenaline and drama, but an interesting conversation instead.
posted by Bugbread at 4:05 AM on January 5, 2007


woke up this morning
i suddenly realized
we're all in this together
i started smiling
cos you were smiling
and we're all in this together
i'm made of atoms
you're made of atoms
and we're all in this together
and long division
just doesn't matter
cos we're all in this together
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:45 AM on January 5, 2007


Long division does so matter, you innumerate expat goon.
posted by flabdablet at 5:34 AM on January 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I shall continue to blame for setting a tone that led many of us to shout past one another for 300+ comments

Are you kidding? This thread is rapidly approaching all-time Best of MeFi status! Good on Ambrose for kicking it off!

We'll never make 400...
posted by languagehat at 7:08 AM on January 5, 2007



Quick! Someone say something outrageous!
posted by ob at 7:20 AM on January 5, 2007


Wooza wuzza?
posted by antifuse at 7:23 AM on January 5, 2007


Hey, I like Korean pancakes! Does anybody else like Korean pancakes? Boy, I could sure use some Korean pancakes right now!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:44 AM on January 5, 2007


Hey Flapjax, how'd you make those? I had 'em once when our Korean grocery was giving out free samples, but they couldn't describe what was in 'em (potatoes, cabbage, eggs, other stuff?) and they were delicious.
And reading Stav's outgroup analysis certainly explains why I've always felt that grocery to be exceedingly rude, and why I've gotten charged more for the same thing than the people in front of me (which I had previously put down as roundeye tax, as they seemed exceedingly dickish to all us white folk what shop there, especially as compared to the Chinese grocery up the road that's a bit scuzzier, but friendlier and cheaper).
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 AM on January 5, 2007


Hey Flapjax, how'd you make those?

Actually, klang, I didn't make those, that's just a flickr link I found, 'cause it had a good picture. Here in Japan I have made them, but with a mix (the just-add-water type). I also happen to live in a neighborhood with a fair number of Koreans, and chijimi is readily available in restaurants around here. I did find this rather oddly written recipe, though, which may be of some use. And remember, a good spicy dipping sauce is key!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2007


Quick! Someone say something outrageous!

Well, I think we've all learned a lesson here.
Yanks really can't discuss race without getting all hysterical.
posted by Abiezer at 8:48 AM on January 5, 2007


Also, black people are bad with chopsticks.
posted by cortex at 8:57 AM on January 5, 2007


You see, Abiezer? cortex didn't get all hysterical there. His comment was calmly and cooly delivered.

Hmmm, maybe he's not a Yank...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:09 AM on January 5, 2007


Yanks really can't discuss race without getting all hysterical.

That's why Yanks [NOT RACIST] are their own variety of wanker [NOT SELF-POLLUTIST]. I call them Yankers.
posted by ob at 9:16 AM on January 5, 2007


Afraid that's as trollish as I can manage on the current quantity of drink taken.
posted by Abiezer at 9:22 AM on January 5, 2007


Yanks really can't discuss race without getting all hysterical.

You know, this has profound implications for fertility treatment in the US.
posted by cortex at 9:48 AM on January 5, 2007


WHY IS IT ALWAYS PANCAKES OR PIZZA? CHIJIMI IS NO MORE 'KOREAN PANCAKES' THAN OKONOMIYAKI IS 'JAPANESE PIZZA!!!!' YES THEY ARE BOTH ROUND AND FLAT BUT THEY ARE ALSO MADE OF UTTERLY DIFFERENT FOOD SUBSTANCES THAT DO NOT APPLY TO YOUR WESTERN BREAKFASTING WAYS YOU CRAZIE PEOPLE!!!1

;P
posted by emmling at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2007


So now I say, "Calm down, emmling. It's just a website," right? Or do I refer emmling to stavrosthewonderchicken's illuminating comment, above? Etiquette is so confusing.
posted by cgc373 at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2007


sorry, was watching this performance by one of my favorite manzai groups, and Kousaka-san's tension level wore off on me. plus it's 3:30am and i could seriously go for some korean pancakes. those things are good.
posted by emmling at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2007


How many years I've been wrong.

I grew up when it was ok to have friends of different races, but impolite to refer to them as slant-eyed, or to myself as 'us white folk'. The very concept that there was an acceptable joke about a 'roundeye tax' - y'know, that us white folk pay more, asians pay less in Korean shops - was beyond the pale back then.

WOW I feel so liberated - Now that there's a chink in the armour of the PC brigade, I can make all the racy jokes I always wanted to! And I'm being ironic!

Wonder if I can get on down with my nigger home boys, as I believe they're called...
posted by dash_slot- at 10:36 AM on January 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Chink"? Racist bastard.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:14 PM on January 5, 2007


Smooth response, MrMoonPie! I couldn't find one, but you have succeeded. Take that. [NOT RACIST]
posted by cgc373 at 12:27 PM on January 5, 2007


So has this joke been beaten into the ground [NOT RACIST] yet?
posted by Partial Law at 1:12 PM on January 5, 2007


The joke is upside down with a [NOT RACIST] fork in its [NOT FUNNY] arse.
posted by flabdablet at 2:20 PM on January 5, 2007


MrMoonPie gets it (I think).
posted by dash_slot- at 2:45 PM on January 5, 2007


THAT'S RACIST!

[damn I miss the img tag at a moment like this].
posted by yeti at 2:47 PM on January 5, 2007


which I had previously put down as roundeye tax

Brings to mind Eddie Murphy's SNL skit: The White Test.
posted by ericb at 2:52 PM on January 5, 2007


klangklangston : "I had 'em once when our Korean grocery was giving out free samples, but they couldn't describe what was in 'em (potatoes, cabbage, eggs, other stuff?) and they were delicious. "

The problem, from what I understand, is that they use pine-flour (flour made from pulverized pine nuts), so unless you can get your hands on some, or a premade mix, it's just not going to taste right. However, that's secondhand information, from my half-Korean-but-knows-almost-nothing-about-Korea wife.

emmling : "WHY IS IT ALWAYS PANCAKES OR PIZZA? CHIJIMI IS NO MORE 'KOREAN PANCAKES' THAN OKONOMIYAKI IS 'JAPANESE PIZZA!!!!'"

When we went back to the US for Christmas a few weeks ago, my wife made okonomiyaki. When she was cooking it, my parents had a hard time imagining what the final result would be, so I pointed out that in the west, it's usually (horribly) referred to as "Japanese pizza".

Then a few days later, we were talking about Korean food, and I mentioned chijimi, and explained that in Japan, occasionally, it's explained on menus as being "Korean okonomiyaki". Which makes it, I guess, "Korean Japanese pizza".
posted by Bugbread at 4:25 PM on January 5, 2007


Here is a good, easy recipe for pajeon. Hamul (seafood) pajeon is popular where we are because we live on an island, and it's yummy. You should cook the batter until it is done in the middle and crispy on the edges, and eat it while it is steaming hot.

Even though I'm a housewife and I'm posting a recipe you should all assume that this post is [NOT RACIST/SEXIST].
posted by Brittanie at 4:32 PM on January 5, 2007


"I grew up when it was ok to have friends of different races, but impolite to refer to them as slant-eyed, or to myself as 'us white folk'. The very concept that there was an acceptable joke about a 'roundeye tax' - y'know, that us white folk pay more, asians pay less in Korean shops - was beyond the pale back then."

I grew up in, and still live in, a predominantly black neighborhood. The current racial mix is around 50% black, 30% asian, and 20% white, with a few hispanic and Indian folks thrown in. It's not only "OK" for me to have friends of different races, it's kinda required. In fact, I've never had a time in my life when it wasn't OK to talk to people of different races, or hang out with them, or eat with them, or whatever. And here's why your sanctimony is bullshit: My friends and neighbors talk about race all the goddamned time. Racism is a constant undercurrent in American society, in a way that you might not understand, living in England (based on your profile). The Korean grocery DOES charge me more, just like they charge black people more. The police DO hassle my neighbors more than they hassle me. The government inspectors (we're largely subsidized housing) DO go harder on my neighbors than they do on me. I smoke pot and have never been bothered. I've had neighbors have their doors kicked down on vague drug suspicions. I deal with black culture all the time, and have since I was a kid, and realize it IS different. I've had the FBI ask me about my former Black Panther neighbors, and be totally serious when warning me about them.
And it's fucking absurd. It's absurd that I get charged more, it's absurd that my neighbors get hassled more, it's absurd that authorities treat people differently, that power isn't used in a fair and consistent manner. That's what makes it funny.
Sure, I don't call my black pals "nigger," because I recognize that's beyond the pale. But my black neighbor and I frequently joke about government plans to round up the Negro and send 'em to Iraq ("How long until they realize that if they put black people in charge of Bagdahd, it's never gonna look better than Detroit?"). There is a common understanding that we live in a racist world, and that is absurd and deserves to be mocked.
So while your dainty Asian pals might think it was beyond the pale to mention a roundeye tax, I don't feel any particular reason not to call it like it is. Because I realize the privilege that I have, I'm not going to go march or protest, or even stop going to the store (they're the cheapest place to get kim chi, even with the tax). And the Asians that I deal with on a regular basis will agree that yeah, that's racist to charge people more, and yeah, it happens, and yeah, calling it a roundeye tax is pretty appropriate.
But please, tell me more about how your silence about these terrible matters keeps us safe from the twin terrors of racism and irony. These things aren't funny because they're "edgy," and only a person safely away from the realities of life in America would think so. They're funny because they're true and they're absurd.
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on January 5, 2007


Nearly bedtime here in the totally [NOT RACIST] white, anglo-saxon, protestant UK, but just a quickie:

Sure, I don't call my black pals "nigger," because I recognize that's beyond the pale.

Which is a subjective 'price point', right?

For some people, that point is somewhat before referring to anyone as niggers. For others, it's somewhat before referring to anyone as the goddamned wogs, or round-eyed, or to the Italians as too fucking lazy, or 'you know what Indian people are like'.

Yeah. Really. ALL of them.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:22 PM on January 5, 2007


Oh, yh, in case I wasn't clear enough:

you seem to enjoy using racist speech. Why?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:24 PM on January 5, 2007


"For some people, that point is somewhat before referring to anyone as niggers."

For some people, that point is implying that minorities deserve equal rights. Or, to answer your second point, some people enjoy talking about ninjas and pirates, who both murdered a lot of innocent people.

I'll use nigger, but I use it in very specific contexts. As far as wog or spic or FOB, specifically in a context of humor at racism, they're as offensive as the phrase "sweating like a Turk," which my grandmother used earnestly and I have a hard time conceptualizing as anything but a reference n search of a refererant, at least in the culture I am surrounded by. The word "wog" doesn't mean anything to me, and the idea that Italians are lazy is such outmoded racism that only someone who was still working through Kipling could be offended by it put forth in jest.
Oh, and that "all Indians" thing? That they don't deliver their food, instead making me pick it up? You couldn't see the self-deprecation in that? If you can't understand when a joke is about MY laziness, rather than their rather normal business practice, then perhaps you should stay out of discussions over racism and humor: You bruise like week-old avacados [NOT RACIST].
posted by klangklangston at 7:57 PM on January 5, 2007


Hey dash_slot-, here's something you won't wanna miss!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:25 PM on January 5, 2007


klangklangston : "Racism is a constant undercurrent in American society, in a way that you might not understand, living in England (based on your profile)."

I dunno, I get a similar impression about the racism situation in the UK, except that it's aimed not so much at blacks as it is at Asians (that is, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, etc.)
posted by Bugbread at 4:06 AM on January 6, 2007


Which makes it, I guess, "Korean Japanese pizza".

Pish-tosh. Anybody of a Jewrean persuasion will recognize pajeon instantly as "Korean latkes." (Try dipping 'em in sour cream for a Cross-Cultural Treat!)
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:33 AM on January 6, 2007


No, no, they aren't Korean latkes. You're getting it reversed. Latkes are Jewish chijimi.

Which makes latkes "Jewish Korean Japanese pizza".
posted by Bugbread at 8:04 AM on January 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, wait a minute! I don't like the way "pancakes" has been taken out of this definition.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:25 AM on January 6, 2007


dash_slot-, I admire your purity of soul but you really are coming across as a humorless prig. It's good to be as nonracist as one can be, but it's generally a bad idea to parade it in public. Remarks on the order of "I'm sorry, but I don't find that funny because it demeans a class of people" just reinforce everyone's prejudices about progressives and multiculturalism (much like the original callout that prompted this fine thread). I mean, really: "you seem to enjoy using racist speech. Why?" Doesn't that strike even you as intolerably schoolmarmish?
posted by languagehat at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2007


I mean, really: "you seem to enjoy using racist speech. Why?" Doesn't that strike even you as intolerably schoolmarmish?

Besides which, it was an unfair comment, a cheap shot. I read klangklangston's comments and didn't get any sense at all that he *enjoys* using racist speech. It was a stupid thing to say.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2007


It does come across as priggish. Schoolmarmish even. That's cos it was brief.

The long version is: I am revolted at racial epithets. I think if they aren't challenged, the users are enabled. Labelling the members of different races doesn't inevitably lead to oppression, but oppression cannot occur without labelling.

What we see is labelling and negative stereotyping attached to those labels.

Klangklangston positively enjoys stepping over the mark. Thats why I said he enjoys racist language. He may be racist. I don't know him, that's why I asked.

This may all be about US attitudes to race. For the life of me I don't see how goddamned wogs* or the too fucking lazy Italians, or 'you know what Indian people are like' [No, I don't, cos there's quite a few of 'em, y'know - and I don't see how that's a joke on the poster, either] is acceptable.

In online, low-context environments, I just don't get the jokes. (The corollary of that is - I'm also not very funny online. Well, not intentionally, anyway.) I think I may have a touch of aspergers :)

But I guess those of us that object are outnumbered heavily, and should shut up now. I'm not sure how to handle future borderline racist comments (anywhere online).

Should I put it all down to that kooky yankee humour?

*I try to avoid using words that are meaningless to me, so here's what wog means: British racial term originating in the colonial period of the British Empire. It was generally used as a label for the natives of India, North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. By the 1950s it had become a pejorative term used in order to offend. In common British parlance however it is not used as much today but it now used as another term for a Black person, especially of Black Caribbean or African descent. It may also be used to identify a South Asian who is very dark skinned.

It's pretty close to nigger - the word you don't use in front of your black mates.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:46 AM on January 6, 2007


dash_slot-: "This may all be about US attitudes to race. For the life of me I don't see how [making overtly racist statements] is acceptable.
In online, low-context environments, I just don't get the jokes.


The following is an attempt at explanation, not at argument.

The joke here is that, just like you, we don't "know what Indian people are like," or rather, we know that they aren't all "like" anything. Same with "lazy Italians." Klang assumes (rightly, I think) that most people on MetaFilter are not so racist as to think such things either. As a result, he expects the reader to recognize his statements as over-the-top exaggerations, parodies of real racism. Then we all laugh, say "ha hah, racists are stupid," and go on with our respective lives.
posted by Partial Law at 12:37 PM on January 6, 2007


dash-slot, the word wog does not mean that at all in some places and is not considered offensive in all contexts. Here's a few examples.
posted by dg at 5:23 PM on January 7, 2007


dg, that's interesting that "wog" was a derogatory racist term in use in Australia for southern Europeans, and according to one article you linked to, has been "reclaimed" as a"badge of honor" by said southern Europeans. This parallels the use of the word "nigger" (or perhaps now more often as "nigga"), which of course started as a vile racial epithet and is now in very wide use among black folk. Either way, though, whether referring to Italians/Greeks etc. or to black (and other "dark") people, it was and of course may still be interpreted as racist terminology.

I first encountered the word in songwriter Randy Newman's excellent "Sail Away", a brilliant piece of black humor about people being cajoled onto the slave ship with promises of a better life in the New World ("Come along little wog sail away with me"). And speaking of Randy Newman, I think his use of the word "wog" in that song and his use of the word "nigger" in the song "Rednecks" (his stinging commentary on race in America) are excellent examples of an important point: that use of racist terminology should be evaluated in its context. Randy Newman used these terms to great effect in songs that were pointedly against racism. And the songs were that much more powerful precisely because he used those terms. dash_slot- would appear to argue that any use whatsoever of these words themselves, regardless of context, is an affront to humanity, period, and that such use is likely an indication that the user is himself a racist. I disagree: I think this is a simplistic way of thought that doesn't necessarily advance the cause of better relations between the "races" of the world. I think we're all big enough (or should be) to discern when someone is using racist terminology but is not espousing a racist message.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:51 PM on January 7, 2007


Yeah, that's what I meant, pretty much. Except that the word "nigger" (no matter how you spell it) seems to be OK for black people to use about each other, but not for anyone else to use about them. In contrast, the word "wog" is in pretty much general use in informal conversation here and is not seen as being any more derogatory than "kiwi" or "yank". I suspect that this is mostly an outcome of the Australian attitude that pretty much anything can be used as a term of endearment among friends and, if you can't get used to that, you aren't going to get along very well here. Not many words have the long historical baggage associated with "nigger", though, so perhaps that is not a fair example to use in a conversation scuh as this.

Of course, any word can be imbued with a derogatory meaning depending on how it is used (other words around the word, tone of voice, cultural norms etc).
posted by dg at 9:04 PM on January 7, 2007


Klangklangston positively enjoys stepping over the mark. Thats why I said he enjoys racist language. He may be racist. I don't know him, that's why I asked.

Dead horse, meet large stick.

I don't know Klangklangston either, but if what he says about himself is true, then he has problem had more interactions with people of other races than I have in my lilfetime, and possibly more than I will ever have. I haven't gone out of my way to avoid people of color, but I have grown up in the American South, in an area that pretty much automagically segregates. According to statistics, the tiny city I live in has a sizeable black community, but I rarely interact with them on a regular basis. Again, not because I go out of my way to avoid it, but because the way that the community is organized -- where people live, where they eat, where they work -- is arranged around race and income.

I consider myself racist in the sense that "we're all a little bit racist" but I try my best to address that in myself and try to be sensitive to others. But you know what? I don't have lots of black friends. Because I don't have lots of black acquaintances.

The truth is, a lot of people who claim that they aren't racist can do so because they hardly ever encounter people of color so their racism never has to be tested. For better or worse, people of color are generally poorer and centered in urban areas, while white people are richer and live in suburbia. The working class poor whites who live around blacks and latinos may not look or sound as culturally sensitve as I do, but you know what? They probably have a lot more meaningful of a relationship with people of color than I do. Sometimes I worry what I would find inside myself if I was tested in the same fashion.

Also, racism is far to silly and stupid to address it with anything other than humor, I think.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:21 AM on January 8, 2007


Grr...4am typos. problem => probably, lilfetime => lifetime.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:24 AM on January 8, 2007


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