Join 3,559 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Godwin!
January 29, 2008 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to take issue with this comment (the "I was a neocon Nazi" comment) being up on the sidebar.

I realize it has roughly 8,000 favourites, and that the bulk of the membership here agrees with it, but I just can't believe that's up on the sidebar. Sure it's an "interesting" comment, and it's very clear that he put thought into it and whatnot, but it's very very very biased in a particular direction, and it does explicitly equate "Nazism" with "neoconservatism" (mostly in that they're both very bad, and you should be ashamed of yourself if you find yourself in either camp). Which is neither here nor there as comments go, but putting it up there really implies that the comment is correct and valid in the eyes of Jessamyn/Cortex/Matt. Again, which is fine, but if you're going to *sidebar* a comment like that, then I think we can forget about the concept that this site is open to all ideas, and accept that there is a metafilter political orthodoxy, and that Republicans/neoconservatives/Nazis are not welcome (unless they come to confess their sins). And hey, that's fine too! I just don't know any other way to interpret the sidebarring of that comment.

(And I realize there was a whole discussion afterwards in the thread. Which makes me even more surprised that it would be sidebarred.)
posted by loquax to Etiquette/Policy at 7:16 AM (293 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, I agree, actually. I thought the quote was misleading.

And the dude's post was interesting, I'll give it that. But a Nazi he was not. I understand what he's trying to say - the power of groupthink and all that. But still. Nazis killed 12M+ people. This guy? Not an ex-Nazi.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:19 AM on January 29, 2008


It's a heartwarming tale of a boy shedding his fascist proclivities. You probably don't like teddy bears either.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I put it there. It seemed like an unusually reflective post (for MeFi) from someone who had been in the neocon camp and if you read the quote it's pretty clear that the poster is just talking about groupthink and not neocon=Nazi. If you don't go read the quote, you have no idea that he's talking about neocons at all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:21 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I also thought it was misleading, but it has kind of been up there for awhile now.
posted by geoff. at 7:22 AM on January 29, 2008


More clearly: I should say, when I clicked it I was expecting (or hoping) for a story about someone who grew up in the Aryan Nations or some other sort of neo-Nazi organization. It was a good story nonetheless, but I also thought he was an actual Nazi.
posted by geoff. at 7:23 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


For a moment there I thought it really had "roughly 8,000 favorites," and I freaked out a little. (What's the most favorited comment on MeFi?)

I don't think that sidebarring it is a tacit approval of the content so much as it got a lot of favorites, and heavily-favorited comments often get sidebarred. It does suggest that a lot of people agree with the commenter, and that, in itself, is a litmus-test of sorts with regard to what a great many MetaFilterians think. If that means that some of us equate neoconservatism/ conservatism with naziism/ fascism/ whatever, then I guess that might be the case. But to say that by putting it on the sidebar we are saying "CONSERVATIVES NOT WELCOME," well, I don't think that's the case. (I agree that some do say it in other ways, though.)

ps hugs for everybody!
posted by exlotuseater at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2008


"it's pretty clear that the poster is just talking about groupthink and not neocon=Nazi"

Actually, I disagree. The quote really is necon = Nazi and says as such several times. Painting it as "group think" isn't doing the comment justice. Ortho framed the FPP as necon=nazi and this comment continued that framing. Sure, it was reflective but it has nothing to do with groupthink.

I'm with loquax and geoff and afroblanco on this one.
posted by Stynxno at 7:29 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd like to hear more about how his Dad had 2.5 kids.
posted by amro at 7:29 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yea, I don't think that kind of comment is really "best of" Metafilter. It's just a longer, more poetically spoken version of the rah, rah liberalism that goes on here every day. This is the kind of stuff that belongs on the sidebar- gems hidden deep in threads that people may have missed otherwise.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:33 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that is a really divisive screed by the guy. Changes in political attitudes are not anything unique or interesting. And this guy's political views seem extremely superficial, immature, and very much simple-minded (both before and after his change). Yeah, he spent a lot of real estate lamenting it, but the actual substance isn't interesting and certainly NOT the best of Metafilter. Really, it sounds like he just traded one side of some ignorant Us v. Them dichotomy for the other, joining the team he used to have shallow and uninformed views about and then characterizing his old team with shallow and uninformed views. Nothing really special about that. Really, it read to me as "I was a political idiot who hadn't done any real mature thinking about topics, and now I still haven't, but I feel like I've grown because my superficial views changed." It was miles away from a classic "I was an informed and intelligent advocate of X, but after years of thinking, I am not an informed and intelligent advocate of Y."

Really not sidebar worthy irrespective of how many people favorited it.
posted by dios at 7:34 AM on January 29, 2008 [20 favorites]


The easiest way is to start with three kids, I would think.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:34 AM on January 29, 2008 [20 favorites]


And here I was thinking it was just me. I agree with jessamyn that it's an unusually thoughtful post, and there's something to be said for it in that regard whether you agree with the poster's politics or not, but there does seem to be a tacit political endorsement in sidebarring it. I'm not crazy about that. It's not keeping me up at night either, but...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:36 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


if you read the quote it's pretty clear that the poster is just talking about groupthink and not neocon=Nazi

from the original:
Now, in order for me to make the personal point, you're going to have to accept the fact that I'm equating Neoconservatism with Nazism.
posted by null terminated at 7:39 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought it was unusually interesting.
posted by grouse at 7:39 AM on January 29, 2008


I thought it was an interesting comment and, as Jessamyn put it, "an unusually reflective post (for MeFi) from someone who had been in the neocon camp." The way I understood the article is that BrianBoyko, lead by his neoconservative beliefs, started to accept fascist solutions to the problems of the day, such as overturning of the rule of law. To be honest and thoughtful about that is laudatory.
posted by Kattullus at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Looking at it again, he isn't directly addressing necon=Nazi directly, he's just saying it flatout and moving on to his story. Still, it feels a bit melodramatic--"I grew up agreeing with my parents, then I changed my mind".
posted by null terminated at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2008


As Mathowie, our god, as my witness, I hereby forbid all hyperbole on MetaFilter, now and forever. Amen.
posted by Plutor at 7:44 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since when did length equate to thoughtfulness? Sure it's long, contains a narrative, and is vaguely self-reflective. But there is not a lot of thought behind the words. It displays an incredibly shallow view of politics. But because it was long it is thoughtful? Not so much.
posted by dios at 7:48 AM on January 29, 2008


jessamyn: It seemed like an unusually reflective post (for MeFi) from someone who had been in the neocon camp and if you read the quote it's pretty clear that the poster is just talking about groupthink and not neocon=Nazi.

I tried to say this nicely in-thread, and failed. In fact, I guess it might not be possible to say this nicely. But:

I agree that BrianBoyko is talking about groupthink rather than Nazism and neoconservatism. What's interesting about that particular comment, however, is the fact that the commenter switched parties without leaving behind his groupthink. That's what I found most interesting; that you can tear off your party stripes and still set your beliefs by what other people say. And by the end of BrianBoyko's story, he's just thinking with another group; he hasn't liberated his thought. The only thing that can do that is rational consideration of history, and anybody who uses the word "Nazi" that loosely hasn't rationally considered history at all.

In fact, sometimes it seems to me almost impossible to leave behind the hidden and subtle prejudices behind our beliefs. It's a daunting project.
posted by koeselitz at 7:49 AM on January 29, 2008 [20 favorites]


I've made that suggestion like a million times, Plutor.
posted by quin at 7:50 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Again, which is fine, but if you're going to *sidebar* a comment like that, then I think we can forget about the concept that this site is open to all ideas,

But the sideblog desciption is:
"This sideblog keeps track of site news and noteworthy posts"

I don't see how how you're equating sidebaring a comment with Metafilter is not open to all ideas.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


So now we get to argue whether neoconservative metaphorically means Nazi or neoconservative literally means Nazi.

Oh, boy, Metafilter! That's where George Bush is Hitler.
posted by ND¢ at 7:53 AM on January 29, 2008 [10 favorites]


I'm not going to argue that it shouldn't be on the sidebar, though. I don't know if there's some sort of overarching rationale that goes into the sidebar, but it got so many damned favorites that it probably should be there, anyway. I guess I just tacitly assumed that the sidebar was pretty democratic.
posted by koeselitz at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yea this is maybe a little too much weepy self-absorbed twenty-something "I just invented self-awareness yesterday" logorrhea for me.

[TOTALLY INELUCTABLY AND IRREVERSIBLY TWENTY-SOMETHINGIST}
posted by Mister_A at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


roughly 8,000 favourites

Just so you know, the proper Internet term is "over 9,000."

Meanwhile, is it so inappropriate to use the synecdoche where Nazism serves as the exemplar of harmful ideologies? It seems to me that examining how people became Nazis could shed some light on how people join up with other harmful ideologies such as the bullshit "conservatism" running the country today. Do we have to wait until Bush & his successor rack up an appropriate death count?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:59 AM on January 29, 2008


I actually found the comment via the sidebarring—I hadn't read the thread—and thought it was (along with the discussion that followed it, too) pretty darned good.

We tend to shy away from sidebarring really contentious stuff (hot metatalk threads, political threads, etc) mostly because, I guess, this sort of possible reaction that it's intended as sanction/canonization of the comment or thread. That's not really the idea; the sidebar is neat/interesting stuff, not The Official Views Of Metafilter, but there's a little danger involved and I think this is an example of how that danger manifests.

So this is probably the upper end of the Potentially Turning Heads spectrum, as sidebar entries go. I think the comment, and the discussion surrounding it, is nuanced enough that anyone who wants to read through it would come away with the impression that this is someone's view/argument and not a statement of site policy or anything; in that sense, leaving it up seems reasonable, but maybe it's a lesson learned here that our general caution about sidebarring charged stuff is a good thing to stick with.

I remember when EB posted (last year some time?) to ask about the propriety of having some dirty phrasing in the sidebar; I feel like there was a pretty good discussion about the pros and cons at the time, and if I can find that thread I'll give it a look.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:04 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fuckin' A Mister_A. Fuckin' A.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:05 AM on January 29, 2008


MetaFilter certainly discriminates against people who self-link on the front page, against people who post Dawkins threads, against people who write off-topic or aggressive comments on AskMefi, and so forth. discriminating against Nazis, too, is really no big deal -- actually Nazism is illegal in more than a few countries outside of the US, so, again, this is no big deal. I'm sure paedophiles are kinda discriminated against here, as well, ie if somebody posts links to child pron sites the link will get deleted and the user banned. I hope, at least.

and God knows how many links to crank sites get deleted all the time from the front page. is that discrimination? no, it's cleanup.

this place, no matter how much this displeases loquax, dios, et. al, is not exactly as replete with Bush/torture/Nazism fans as they'd like. maybe it's because very many of its users are not American, and this simple fact shifts the political much farther to the left than the average Bush fan would like. But short of banning non-USian users and banning a shitload of USian users who don't like Bush, his wars, etc, well, I don't think we'll ever be as right wing as some would like.

the solution of course is to choose different websites that don't grate on one's nerves as much. to those who are afraid that reading MetaFilter will make them communist, gay, and French, I suggest reading Rush Limbaugh forums and the John Birch Society website, more in sync with their worldview.
posted by matteo at 8:07 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't see how how you're equating sidebaring a comment with Metafilter is not open to all ideas.

Because the sidebar is the editorial section. And the editors have chosen to highlight as "noteworthy" a comment that equates Nazism with neoconservatism (which it does, directly and indirectly), and even if you claim it doesn't, it's a pretty broad condemnation of conservatism, republicans, Rush Limbaugh, basically anything "not liberal". Which is fine, I'm not saying 'delete it', but having the editors elevate it beyond simply comment to sidebar, I think, makes a pretty bold statement about their beliefs at least. To what extent it bleeds into the site is open to interpretation I guess, but I think it would be pretty easy for any new reader seeing that up there to get the idea that this is a "progressive" site a la Kos, or DU. And the rabid political partisans on here that do mock and disparage anything and anyone non-progressive are only emboldened to keep it up. And then we get Bush=Hitler youtube posts.

the solution of course is to choose different websites that don't grate on one's nerves as much. to those who are afraid that reading MetaFilter will make them communist, gay, and French, I suggest reading Rush Limbaugh forums and the John Birch Society website, more in sync with their worldview.

See?
posted by loquax at 8:08 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'd like to hear more about how his Dad had 2.5 kids.

.5 was the milkman's
posted by pyramid termite at 8:09 AM on January 29, 2008


More or less what Mister_A said...
posted by mzurer at 8:09 AM on January 29, 2008


the sidebar is neat/interesting stuff

I can't think of any metric by which that post would qualify by those terms. It's juvenile political thought. There isn't an ounce of anything original or contemplative in what he said. Seeing has how we sidebar significantly less than .1% of the comments here, I wholly fail to see any reason why we should acknowledge that garbage.

We have countless comments here that display the same shallow political views. The only thing different about this one is the length and narrative feature. Why that makes something neat or interesting or worthy of a side bar eludes me. (And I thought we have agreed that favorites are not an indication of approval or like and are often used for bookmarking purposes).
posted by dios at 8:13 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


If he had said in his youth he was a follower of McCarthyism, would we have found the parallel so off-putting?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:16 AM on January 29, 2008


I thought it was an interesting but not exceptional comment and when I first saw it in the sidebar I was a (very little) bit taken aback. Then I said to myself:
"peacay, the sidebar content is only meant to be things that are interesting, quirky, amazing or popular as spasmodically noted by the trinamic trio (or part(s) thereof) and isn't meant to be a serious statement of overlord beliefs".
Then I felt better about it.
posted by peacay at 8:17 AM on January 29, 2008


Because the sidebar is the editorial section.

No, it isn't. You saying it doesn't make it so. Usually I put certain types of things on the sidebar, personally

1. Meta threads people should see, or occasionally music pieces
2. totally hilarious or otherwise "don't miss this" comments
3. personal stories from MeFites (like the solid gold dancer one, and this one) that get a lot of favorites or fantastic flags.

With 192 favorites last I looked and a mess of flags, it's pretty much a textbook example of what the fantastic flag is supposed to do, surface things that are buried deep in MeFi so that other people could see it and I didn't shy away from that because it's about politics. If it had been some total racist/sexist/homophobic slam that would piss off more peopel than it would interest, I also wouldn't have included it only because it got a lot of favorites. I really didn't think this would offend people terribly much and may have misjudged somewhat or misjudged people's ability to grok the situation the commenter was explaining but at some level the "fantastic" flag is supposed to work exactly like this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:18 AM on January 29, 2008 [8 favorites]


With 192 favorites last I looked, it's pretty much a textbook example of what the fantastic flag is supposed to do

So favorites = fantastic flags?
posted by dios at 8:19 AM on January 29, 2008


It's an awesome comment. I favorited it.
posted by Artw at 8:24 AM on January 29, 2008


Thanks, this has been bugging me too. I think sidebarring that post makes the place seem less friendly to diversity and dissent, and lends ammunition to those who claim that Mefi is a liberal echo chamber.

I see a parallel to the sexism discussion: although many of us share a certain cultural context, we don't want to act like we think there's nobody else here but us.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:24 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


So favorites = fantastic flags?

Sorry, I edited that to make it clearer, but usually there is a strong correlation.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 AM on January 29, 2008


Astro Zombie, if he had said he was McCarthyist, it would be similarly odd-tasting to me. If he said he was a child slave, and it turned out he had to mow the lawn as a teen-ager, I'd also be offended.
posted by mzurer at 8:26 AM on January 29, 2008


If he had said in his youth he was a follower of McCarthyism, would we have found the parallel so off-putting?

Or what if he was a vegan PETA member? I doubt the comment would have gotten all those flags and favorites, and thus would never have made it to the sidebar.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:28 AM on January 29, 2008


In order to maintain fairness and balance we should have a sidebar post from someone explaining the good side of the neoconservative movement, and how it isn't just fascism with a more acceptable name.
posted by Artw at 8:31 AM on January 29, 2008


I can't think of any metric by which that post would qualify by those terms.

Hey, we disagree. So it goes. A whole lot of people apparently thought it was interesting.

(And I thought we have agreed that favorites are not an indication of approval or like and are often used for bookmarking purposes)

I'm pretty sure that we agreed (if that's even the right word) that favorites get used for a variety of purposes, not solely for approval nor solely for bookmarking; nor even exclusively one or the other in any given case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:33 AM on January 29, 2008


I think it's just fine.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:33 AM on January 29, 2008


You can't say "that's not interesting," you can only say "I don't find that interesting." All that is required for something to end up on the sidebar is for one of the admins to find it interesting. Which has happened. Their attention was probably drawn in the first place by the fact that a lot of people found it interesting and flagged it, which lends support to the idea that it is interesting and therefore sidebar-worthy.

It's hard to make the case that there is any more to it.
posted by kindall at 8:33 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the weirdest part of that post:

I've had dark moments since then. Days when I've been afraid to speak, days when I've been afraid to write the truth and instead just talk about something less pressing. And each one of those days is a failure, I think. It's not easy. It's hard. I could lose my job, I could lose my friends. I could even end up beaten. I could be in jail or worse, so it's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and some days - most days - I fail.

Last time I checked, being a liberal isn't all that difficult. I think this is where he momentarily leaves reality and imagines that he's actually fighting the Nazis.
posted by creasy boy at 8:37 AM on January 29, 2008 [8 favorites]


I thought it was an interesting comment and, as Jessamyn put it, "an unusually reflective post (for MeFi) from someone who had been in the neocon camp." The way I understood the article is that BrianBoyko, lead by his neoconservative beliefs, started to accept fascist solutions to the problems of the day, such as overturning of the rule of law. To be honest and thoughtful about that is laudatory.

I agree except that I think the last word should be laudable.
posted by languagehat at 8:40 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


For all the very interesting and articulate comments I've discovered via the sidebar, this one doesn't stand up to that standard. To me anyway. I was really surprised to see how many favorites it got. Subject matter is neither here nor there -- as we've seen, fantastic comments can be about dogs, hard drives or Swedish chefs -- it's just that the commenter isn't saying anything particularly interesting about the subject matter (the political trajectory he described is commonplace) and it isn't particularly well-written. Obviously it's all a matter of opinion and some people are psyched it's there. So it goes.
posted by sneakin at 8:42 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really didn't think this would offend people terribly much and may have misjudged somewhat or misjudged people's ability to grok the situation the commenter was explaining...

I'm fairly positive those that are vocalizing their inquisition to the sidebar status of this comment understand the context as well as the body of the message. Questionable, indeed, and frankly I'm surprised it hasn't been called out sooner. I know we've had major scraps in the past, but I completely agree with you here in spirit loquax.
posted by prostyle at 8:43 AM on January 29, 2008


I didn't much care for the post and only found it because of the sidebar. My issue is that the quote on the sidebar made me think it was something it wasn't. Had I found the post on my own I might have thought it interesting but mostly I was just disappointed because the pullquote was misleading.

The whole thing reminds me of that time I was browsing a bookstore on Feb 11/97 and came across a copy of Bellow's The Victim. On the back of the book it says, "One evening... [Leventhal, the central character] is accosted in a park near his home by a down-at-the-heels stranger who accuses him of ruining his life. ... Leventhal gradually succumbs to the man's story and comes to believe ... that he's caused the man irreparable damage. ... Leventhal descends into a nightmare of paranoia and fear."

Well, this is exactly my kind of book, I thought, and purchased it! I didn't get a chance to start reading the book 'til several weeks later.

At the top of page 22 (Penguin Books, 1996), Leventhal meets the man in the park. At the bottom of page 22 it is revealed that the man is not a stranger at all and that he and Leventhal know each other. What the fuck, I thought, and flipped to the back cover to confirm the lie.

I marched back to the store to return the book ( after-all, who wants to read about a man who ruins the life of someone familiar?)... but it was too late, you see? Too late. The return period had passed and the clerk would have none of my "false advertising", "misleading", "they fucking lied to me" claims!

I was stuck with the book!

In fact, after seeing the sidebar quote and reading the "nazi" comment, I instantly recalled this scenario and returned to my shelves in search of the paperback to determine whether I'd dreamed the whole thing. I hadn't. The receipt was still inside, marked at page 22! I clenched the book in my fist and shook it (angrily) at the sky saying, "Damn you Metafilter!"

So, in short, I agree with this callout.
posted by dobbs at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2008 [15 favorites]


except that I think the last word should be laudable.

It is. You're just suffering a laudatory hallucination.

posted by cortex (staff) at 8:48 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sidebar dobbs^^^^
posted by Mister_A at 8:49 AM on January 29, 2008


Jessamyn, if it isn't the editorial section of the site, it's the closest thing to it. You have sole discretion over what gets in and what's left out, and like it or not, it sets a tone for the site.

I generally find the sidebar to have interesting stuff that I'm glad was pointed out. Stuff that appeals to everybody, or is unique or is special in some way. This is none of those things (In my, and apparently other's opinions). I guess the people favouriting it did so because they agreed with it politically. If you don't think so, replace Nazi with Commie, Neocon with Hippie and 9/11 with Vietnam and see how many favourites it gets. Even if that doesn't matter, and you agreed with the favouriters and thought it was a great comment, can you really not see how a comment that can basically be distilled to "I was an idiot for ever being a conservative, I probably would have been a nazi too" could be seen as ridiculously divisive, and a big fat philosophical stamp on the front page?
posted by loquax at 8:53 AM on January 29, 2008


I think sidebarring that post makes the place seem less friendly to diversity and dissent, and lends ammunition to those who claim that Mefi is a liberal echo chamber.

::Shrugs:: Metafilter has a liberal bend sure, but anyone claiming it's open to new ideas or people is whack.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:57 AM on January 29, 2008


languagehat: I agree except that I think the last word should be laudable.\

Yeah... maybe it's time I lay off the laudanum.
posted by Kattullus at 8:58 AM on January 29, 2008


if it isn't the editorial section of the site, it's the closest thing to it

it's not. this pretty much demolishes your already weak argument. deal with it.


the last word should be laudable.

I vote for "laudanum"
posted by matteo at 8:58 AM on January 29, 2008


I guess the way I am looking at it is ultimately the same way that I ended up looking at the sexism issue:
Generally, I hate this place being insular and thus self-selecting in members who want to join. I really believe that insularity detracts from this site. I really don't want to contribute to insularity, so one thing this thread has made me personally think about is that, while I have discounted the 'boyzone' label in the past and considered the 'sexist' label too frequently abused, there does appear to be a significant number of reasonable individuals who do feel that the place is a boyzone hostile to women. So, irrespective of whether I believe that is objectively correct, the effect is there. And since I don't want to contribute to insularity, I need to make sure that I don't make the cheap joke or insult that has a broader effect. I will try personally not to add to the boyzone when I consciously can.
Even if I don't agree with the argument that X is offensive or hostile to others, the idea that there are people who do dislike it and find it offensive or hostile should suggest that the prudent course is that one should avoid X lest we needlessly drive away a diversity of viewpoints. This guy offers an offensive and shallow characterization of a political view, and that characterization has been plucked out as a comment among thousands as something worthy of special note.

In that light, balancing the potential for offense (which is evident in this thread) versus the side-bar-worthiness or value of the comment, I should think the balance should favor not having such comments sidebarred. There are certainly plenty of great things here that this should be designated a special place on the site.
posted by dios at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


dios: So favorites = fantastic flags?

No. Antigua and Barbados, East Timor, Kazakhstan, and Montenegro = fantastic flags.

Also, I am glad that this meta was posted, because it gives me a chance to post this:

WHO MAKES THE NAZIS?
by The Fall

Who makes the nazis?
I'll tell ya who makes the nazis

All the Os, wino, spermo, 29 year old, arse-licking, hateful and old

Who makes the Nazis?
Bad Tele-V

Who makes the Nazis?
Balding smug faggots
Intellectual half-wits
All the Os

Who makes the Nazis?
The Nazis are long horn
Long horn breed
Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horns--Long horn breed

Who makes the Nazis?
Remember when I used to follow you home from school babe?
Before I got picked up for paedophelia

Who makes the Nazis?
Motels like three split-level mirages
Who makes the Nazis?
Buffalo lips on toast, smiling
Who makes the Nazis?
I put a finger on the weird.
This was real Irish know.
Joe was then good as gold
And told of the rapists in the Spa Motel.
The real mould.

Who makes the Nazis?
Benny's cob-web eyes!

Who makes the Nazis?
Bad-bias TV
Arena badges
BBC, George Orwell, Burmese police
Who Makes the Nazis?

Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horns--Long horn breed

Who makes the Nazis?
(Rest rooms)
Black burnt flesh
Hark hark
Crack unit species
Who makes the Nazis?
(All the O's cross country)
Who makes the Nazis?
[Man] super shag-artists

Who makes the Nazis?
Bad-bias Tele-V
You mind tellin me?
Here's a word from Bobby

When you're out of rocks, just give them real soul
Hates not your enemy, love's your enemy
Murder all bush monkeys

Long horn, Long horn breed
Who makes the Nazis?
Who makes the Nazis?
Bad-bias TV
Real mould
Real Irish know, Joe.
Who makes the Nazis?
Intellectual half-wits

Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horn--Long horn breed

Who makes the Nazis?
[kazoo solo]

posted by koeselitz at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is that what you really meant to say, Brandon?
posted by Mister_A at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2008


I too was expecting something else from that comment and found it wanting, but this MeTa's sort of goofy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2008


Also, the idea that it is not an editorial part of the site is absurd: unless the mechanism for side-barring posts is some formula of anything that gets more than 100 favorites, the process of choosing one among many necessarily involves an editorial decision. I suppose we can get an semantic discussion about whether it editorial in the denotation sense, but that is really besides the point. As someone who is causally reading Metafilter--assuming they are not one of the couple hundred who are avid Metatalk readers--the assumption is going be there the post is selected by the powers that be for some reason of import.
posted by dios at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's only a matter of time before most all of the classic Fall songs' lyrics get posted here. Proper response, really.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2008


I'll admit to a certain amount of guilt. Now, in order for me to make the personal point, you're going to have to accept the fact that I'm equating furry fandom with Nazism.

If you don't agree with that assessment, and many don't, then just consider it from the viewpoint as a guy who went along with an unconventional erotic movement even though it's since been found to be detrimental to self, friends, family, neighbors, strangers, and country.

When I was young, I was a devoted furry. I would have been a Nazi, no doubt about it, though you'd never convince me that that was possible. This was during the Clinton 1990s, and I was anywhere from age 13 to age 19.

When you're young, you tend to form your sexual preferences based on those of your parents. My mother was a Sesame Street furry; my father, an afficionado of Henrietta Pussycat and her companion Prince Tuesday. Hindsight is 20/20, and I first got into furry fandom partially because it was something that Dad and I could talk about.

Dad and I never really had much in common - even to this day. I don't say that we're not close - we are. It's just that hobby wise, he was into manga, puppets, Hello Kitty. His life was hard and he made something from it -- something soft and cuddly.

It would be unfair to describe him as brilliant because though he's very, very smart and has achieved very much... but I can't really use that word to describe him. He has his 2.5 kids, his lovely wife, his picket fence, his extensive collection of life-sized, anatomically-correct plush animals, and there's no real... intellectual strain in him, at least not that I know of.

Plush-oriented anthropomorphic - or furry, rather - magazines and conventions were something we could talk about with each other, you know?

Plus, furry fandom allowed me to blame others for my own misfortunes and bad decisions. Of course I had been picked on mercilessly in schools - it was the anti-furry teachers that discouraged us from rubbing up against stuffed animals when we wanted, and the anti-furry society that meant that their parents refused to provide them with soft, warm companions who never say "no." Human-oriented eroticism was why Mom sometimes cried at night and why Dad was unhappy at his job.

Make no mistake. I would have been a Nazi during that time in my life. Probably head boy of the Hitler Jugend.

Entering college, I continued this. Nazi? Hell - I was one of those "furverts" who argued in class that the solution to the third world's problems was a steady supply of yiffy art to distract them from their travails. It seemed an easy solution, and I had no doubt that it would work, and that it hadn't been tried.

The only defenses that I can offer seem like a weak excuse. "I was young and stupid." "I was misled." Maybe I should have known better. Maybe I had no choice considering my environment. Maybe I was just aping my dad (who, in fact, often wore an ape-suit around the house). Who knows. The point is that I look back on that part of my life with more than a certain measure of shame.

I had mellowed out by the time I was 21. I owe no small measure of this to Professor Lowi and her class on conventional pornography. This was the first time I was exposed to the great thinkers - Jameson, Emmanuelle, and yes, Jeremy. I initially rebelled, but the weird thing was that... hmm, how to explain this eloquently without oversimplifying...

Attending AnthroCon with Dad and reading furry fanfic - if that's all you're exposed to, then, well, of course you accept those as the answer to problems. You take the analysis down, even if it strains credibility, because you haven't heard anything more credible. When I took Lowi's class and heard Jameson's thoughts on nudity, Jeremy's thoughts on chicken soup, and all these other ideas, well, while I never agreed completely with their analysis, and still don't, I was able to tell that they had a much better grasp of the problem than anything I was reading at the time - it was eye-opening. These people, who I had been told were wrong all of my life, turned out to have explainations that were better than the ones that I had held, and that were much, much more comfortable during the hot summer months.

9/11... boy, that's a mind bender.

I remember 9/11 - I didn't have classes till around 11 or so so I slept in. I was woken up by my dad around 9:00 who told me matter of factly that two planes had hit the twin towers in a terrorist attack, and that I'd better get out of my blue bear costume and head to school because "there was bound to be traffic."

I turned on the TV, checked the Internet... It was shocking so, I just did that. I got undressed, headed to school. Newark was right across the river from New York, and I mention this to both explain the traffic patterns, and also to explain that there's this little stretch of highway heading into Newark perfectly aligned where you can see lower Manhattan up close, and the towers dominating your view, like the rabbit ears at the top of my mom's fursuit.

They were gone. All I saw was a big, thick, black cloud.

If I had to guess, I would have said it was about a week before I saw the first protest.

I still do not know how they managed the bravery, but it was very soon after 9/11 - I believe, still September. And these guys were talking about how several people were arrested, sent to Guantanamo, and forced to wear kitten-styled fursuits. These guys were on the ball way before I did.

The scary thing about furry fandom, or those movements that are furry in fact but not in name - is that it all sounds so reasonable until you find out the information which shows that it's wrong. That's why the Nazis burned books, ultimately, and why furries to this day are told that "if it doesn't wear fur, don't trust it, no sir."

I believe that some people are lucky enough to know to reject Nazism from day one. I believe that some people are unlucky enough that they will always find plush animals, and the people who wear them, appealing. I believe for the rest of us, it's a struggle, and not one that is always pretty, and not one that we always win. We can help each other out, or we can hold each other down, if you get my drift.

I've had dark moments since then. Days when I've been afraid to speak, days when I've been afraid to write the truth, days when I'm flipping channels and stare at Snuffleupagus a little too long. And each one of those days is a failure, I think. It's not easy. It's hard. I could lose my job, I could lose my friends. I could even end up beaten. I could be in jail or worse, so it's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and some days - most days - I fail. As I type this, in fact, I'm licking a Grover hand-puppet.

So, "who becomes a Nazi?"

I did. And I hope to never be again.
posted by brain_drain at 9:18 AM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


There is definitely an editorial aspect to the sidebar, whether it's on purpose or not.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:18 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


but anyone claiming it's NOT open to new ideas or people is whack.

Include the NOT!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on January 29, 2008


koeselitz: Antigua and Barbados, East Timor, Kazakhstan, and Montenegro = fantastic flags.

There I'd have to disagree with you. In the two most important criteria there are for vexillological awesomeness (can a 7-year old draw it? & is it easily identifiable from miles away) all flags but the East Timorese fail.
posted by Kattullus at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2008


I think that loquax is correct that the presence of this on the sidebar is evidence that this is a very left-leaning site.

However s/he is wrong that this is the result of editorial bias. The bias lies in the fact that 180+ people favorited it, and this was one of the main reasons (as jessamyn noted) that it made it to the sidebar. If only 5 people had favorited it and it was on the sidebar, then it might well be evidence of editorial bias. Right now, it is just evidence that a disproportionate number of MeFites think a comment that equates Nazism with a childhood fascination with neo-conservatism is worth favoriting.
posted by googly at 9:21 AM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Maybe this call-out's unnecessary, and the world has bigger problems, but the reason people are irritated is that the commenter and his favoriters mistake self-congratulatory groupthink for heroic individualism. And it's exactly that sort of lack of discernment and susceptibility to the most transparent rhetoric that put Bush in office in the first place. That's what made koeselitz so angry in that thread. And besides, the discussion afterwards makes it clear that BrianBoyko was talking about conservativism, not neo-conservatism. So the comment boils down to: "Yeah I used to be conservative, that's like being a Nazi. Now I'm a liberal, which is a really brave thing to be." And the statement that his dad has 2.5 children really indicates the tone of that whole sentiment. The kid's not describing his dad at all, he's describing a stereotype.
posted by creasy boy at 9:23 AM on January 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


Or maybe they think it;s an interesting czse study in why people would go along with things that, in the cold light of day, turn out to be highly questionable.
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on January 29, 2008


Fair enough, but I still found the sentiment irritating, and it does send the message that conservative = Nazi.
posted by creasy boy at 9:45 AM on January 29, 2008


+1 dios

I clicked on it expecting a real story of someone who was a real Nazi. Someone no longer being a neocon is hardly compelling.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:47 AM on January 29, 2008


I found the comment through the sidebar last night. After I read it, I have to admit, I was a tad bit offended. I consider myself a conservative, an open minded, live and let live kind of conservative, but still rather red (not commie red, red state red). Reading the direct comparison with a group who committed mass genocide is never fun and the fact that this comment was noted in the sidebar did give me pause. I've been here for about a year now and I know I'm in the minority as far as politics go so I just moved on. I do agree that the inclusion in the sidebar makes a bigger statement about meta as a whole than the mods might like to believe. Just my little red two cents.
posted by pearlybob at 9:52 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ, brain_drain, now look what you've made me post:

Nazi Furs on: Wikifur, Livejournal, and Encyclopedia Dramatica. (ED NSFx and Rule 34 warning on the last.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:53 AM on January 29, 2008


Though it may sometimes be necessary, I HATE silencing. I know that no one here is suggesting that the original post be deleted, it upsets me that the knee-jerk reaction is "remove it from the sidebar."

How about, instead of that, "Let's encourage someone to write an opposing view and put that on the sidebar, too."

I don't think that solution will necessarily work (e.g. Metafilter isn't a personal blog, so where is someone supposed to post this rebuttal?), but I think a brainstorming session re: other solutions, besides removing stuff, is always best in these situations. Removal should be the last resort. Metafilter should encourage conversation.

Another problem with this thread -- and so many threads like this -- is that there's no way of getting agreement about what constitutes "the voice of Metafilter." IS Metafilter (as an entity) defined (or partially defined) by what's on the sidebar? I can appreciate a "yes" on that one, since the sidebar is prominent on the Front page. On the other hand, I rarely notice it or take the time to read it. And when I do read it, I certainly don't take it as anything more than stuff that Matt and co likes.

Is the voice of Metafilter defined (or partially defined) by Matt, Jess and Cortex? Again, I can understand "yes," because they are the admins and they sometimes censor posts. On the other hand, though I respect all three admins, I don't respect their opinions more than those of dozens of other members here. Some people naturally feel a certain ... reverance? extra respect? ... for admins. Other's done.
posted by grumblebee at 9:56 AM on January 29, 2008


I, too, found the neocon Nazi comment being placed on the sidebar offensive, biased and totally unnecessary. I just figure this is like a liberal version of Freeper and if I complained there would be cries of censorship. But as this isn't my website I don't suppose I can dictate how it's moderated, or even express dissent. 180 people favored it, sure. But if you could vote 'against' the comment a la reddit (and please, no!) I wonder of it would have 180+ 'points'.
posted by dawson at 9:57 AM on January 29, 2008


Even if I don't agree with the argument that X is offensive or hostile to others, the idea that there are people who do dislike it and find it offensive or hostile should suggest that the prudent course is that one should avoid X lest we needlessly drive away a diversity of viewpoints. This guy offers an offensive and shallow characterization of a political view, and that characterization has been plucked out as a comment among thousands as something worthy of special note.

If only a few more people in Florida had realised this, back on that special day in 2000.
Oh, wait..

Really though, I like Artw's solution:
In order to maintain fairness and balance we should have a sidebar post from someone explaining the good side of the neoconservative movement, and how it isn't just fascism with a more acceptable name.
And, good luck with that.
posted by Chuckles at 9:59 AM on January 29, 2008


The sidebar tracks noteworthy posts. It says so. Over 190 favourites is without question noteworthy. End of.

I really don't see what the fuss is about. The content of the post itself has no relevant statement or implication for the site itself (as opposed to for the users, which it does) and says nothing in terms of, nor does it imply any sort of, support or approval. It is just 'noteworthy'.
posted by Brockles at 10:04 AM on January 29, 2008


By the way, I didn't think the comment was particularly great..
posted by Chuckles at 10:04 AM on January 29, 2008


Sidebarred or not, it's a good comment. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, loquax.

creasy boy, being a liberal in certain portions of the United States is difficult. I lived in Texas for six years; I learned to keep my mouth shut.
posted by deborah at 10:05 AM on January 29, 2008


Even if I don't agree with the argument that X is offensive or hostile to others, the idea that there are people who do dislike it and find it offensive or hostile should suggest that the prudent course is that one should avoid X lest we needlessly drive away a diversity of viewpoints.

Obviously expressing an opinion doesn't discourage people from commenting on it. It encourages debate and education through alternative viewpoints, that's what a lot of people get (I think) from here. But how would they find such a noteworthy post in order to reply to it if it wasn't in the sidebar?
posted by Brockles at 10:06 AM on January 29, 2008


In order to maintain fairness and balance we should have a sidebar post from someone explaining the good side of the neoconservative movement, and how it isn't just fascism with a more acceptable name.

We don't really have many of the kind of conservative who states/argues their beliefs outright here anymore. The days of awesome disputants like Evanizer are loooooooong gone. Lot of petty rule lawyering and oblique "I'm not saying I agree with this Bill Kristol piece I'm linking to" bullshit though. I don't know if that's because of a shift in mefi culture or American conservative culture. Probably a bit of both.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:08 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Heh, trying to find one of those damn liberals with a comment equally as self-deprecating about their former party allegiance and I suppose that could be sidebarred. You know, if you could actually just find one.

You know, if the other side's party platform wasn't generally built on hate, theocratic aspirations and xenophobia, I guess.
posted by arnold at 10:10 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


creasy boy, being a liberal in certain portions of the United States is difficult. I lived in Texas for six years; I learned to keep my mouth shut.
posted by deborah at 12:05 PM on January 29


That's wrong, isn't it? You shouldn't be made to feel bad about your political views. You shouldn't have to keep your mouth shut in order to avoid being ostracized. You shouldn't have be in an environment where people are so politically charged and wedded to their ideas that you have to be uncomfortable and feel like an outsider just because your political viewpoints are different. It is a detriment to that place that it is hostile to diversity of viewpoints, isn't it?

Wouldn't it be much better if that place embraced divergent viewpoints instead of stifled them?
posted by dios at 10:13 AM on January 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


But as this isn't my website I don't suppose I can dictate how it's moderated, or even express dissent.

Well, on the first point, no, people pretty much don't get to dictate how we do our jobs, but dissent's a long and noisy tradition over here and is part of how our take on this stuff does change.

180 people favored it, sure. But if you could vote 'against' the comment a la reddit (and please, no!) I wonder of it would have 180+ 'points'.

I know that flagging and favoriting aren't completely parallel, but what's notable is that this comment didn't get a pile of negative flags; checking back now, it didn't get any. Just a bunch of "fantastic" flags, which is something that doesn't happen a whole lot.

That's not to say that I can't see the angles folks bothered by the sidebarring are coming from, but I'm not sure that what led to all that favoriting/fantasticking was the opposing view so much as an orthogonal one: appreciation for an engaging (to many) personal story.

So in a sense there's this sort of low-stakes threshold of appreciation that got the comment visible—people liked it and found value in it without necessarily expressing a primarily political fondness for it when flagging or faving it—followed by a sidebarring and a more high-stakes threshold of backlash where folks object to the perceived ideological expression in making the comment explicitly visible (in part, I guess, because of the hooky repetition of the "nazi" line). It's more two different kinds of reactions at two points (comment as interesting [positive], sidebarring as questionable [negative]) on a timeline than it is a side-vs-side conflict across a single point of contention.

So I don't think there's really anything like an ideological tug-of-war in this, but I think it's easy for people arguing from either side to sort of see it as one.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:15 AM on January 29, 2008


Well said dios. Bravo!
posted by pearlybob at 10:15 AM on January 29, 2008


That's wrong, isn't it? You shouldn't be made to feel bad about your political views. You shouldn't have to keep your mouth shut in order to avoid being ostracized.

I think deborah was reacting to the dismissive charge against the cited comment's "have to watch my mouth" bits as being nutty, not condoning the idea of suppressing viewpoints.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:18 AM on January 29, 2008


Because the sidebar is the editorial section.

No, it isn't. You saying it doesn't make it so. Usually I put certain types of things on the sidebar, personally

1. Meta threads people should see, or occasionally music pieces
2. totally hilarious or otherwise "don't miss this" comments
3. personal stories from MeFites (like the solid gold dancer one, and this one) that get a lot of favorites or fantastic flags.


That pretty much sounds like the textbook definition of a editorial section to me, inasmuch as Metafilter can have an editorial section. You are selecting things you think everyone should see.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:18 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


not condoning the idea of suppressing viewpoints.
posted by cortex at 12:18 PM on January 29


Of course she wasn't. In fact, I'm quite sure she would reject the suppressing of viewpoints. Either way, it does not really the relevance of my point.
posted by dios at 10:22 AM on January 29, 2008


I find it sad that so many people can pull a "huhwhat?" at this callout yet continue to participate and further the discussion of the "boyzone" nonissue.

Someone explain to me how we as a community can be so concerned as to have multiple hundred post conversations based around the extrapolation of a few crass sexist comments by select individuals to the site membership at large, yet a post that is succinctly expressed as "CONSERVATIVE GODWIN!" is hand selected and sidebarred by one of the three administrators and everyone shrugs their shoulders?

Again, gotta go with dios and loqaux here. This is pathetic.
posted by prostyle at 10:23 AM on January 29, 2008


P.S. I would also like to offer my heartrending story of how I became a pinko communist liberal for sidebar consideration:

Wen I was young, I was a liberal. I would have been a Communist, no doubt about it, though you'd never convince me that that was possible. This was during the Clinton 1990s, and I was anywhere from age -12 to age 0xFF.

Make no mistake. I would have been a Communist during that time in my life. Probably head boy of the NKVD.

Entering college, I continued this. Communist? Hell - I was one of those "apologetic intellectuals" who argued in class that the solution to the third world's problems was collective farming. It seemed an easy solution, and I had no doubt that it would work, and that it hadn't been tried.

I believe that some people are lucky enough to know to reject Communism from day one. I believe that some people are unlucky enough that they will always find obedience to authority appealing. I believe for the rest of us, it's a struggle, and not one that is always pretty, and not one that we always win. We can help each other out, or we can hold each other down.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:26 AM on January 29, 2008


prostyle: I find it sad that so many people can pull a "huhwhat?" at this callout yet continue to participate and further the discussion of the "boyzone" nonissue.

Nobody is born with a belief.
posted by Kattullus at 10:44 AM on January 29, 2008


I'm a bit confused by the mod's point of view on this. Cortex has said repeatedly that it is defensible because it got lots of favorites. But if that were all, then why not just write a script that sidebars any comment with more than X favorites?

The reason is that that is not all. A decision, an editorial decision was made to sidebar it.

I'm not strongly for or against it being there but I do fail to see how you can claim its not an editorial decision and then try to distance yourself from it by claiming it got lots of favorites.
posted by vacapinta at 10:48 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think that I favorited that comment, though I'd have to go back and check to make sure. And I favorited it because I found it interesting, not because I agreed with it (the petty jerk in me thinks that's why conservatives have such a problem with it—they can't conceive of someone finding something interesting that they disagree with, even though I know that's not true).

I do think that at the core, Brian was right—he would have become a Nazi. I don't think that he's making a particularly valid comparison to neo-conservatism (and I keep meaning to wade back into that thread because I think that the differences are important and not simply academic), and I don't think he's necessarily free of the impulses that form the core of fascism, but I do think that the comment and the discussion it spurred are valuable. I would have loved to have seen Dios in the thread, replying to that. I would have loved to see Loquax, the member who I feel most identifies with neo-conservatism, in there replying. By bringing the comment to the attention of the community, a function inherent and explicit in the sidebar, there should be replies from people who might not have seen it otherwise.

I suppose that this comes down to a fundamental disagreement about how media exerts selection bias. Mass media and journalists are often faced with the charge of "liberal bias," and I see a similarity here. I believe that journalism is an inherently Liberal project, similar to mass education as an inherently Liberal project—the right to free expression is Liberal, the idea of reporting truth is Liberal, the idea of a plurality of voices or the democratization of media is Liberal. Hell, even most "conservatives" (as I mentioned in my back and forth with Rush in that thread) are Classic Liberals. America's a Liberal country. I just primarily deviate from them with an expansive view of government's role in protecting rights, and I understand (for the most part) their objections to this.

That this comment is arguably offensive and inflammatory does not mean it shouldn't be side-barred. And aside from perhaps valid complaints about the balance of power here, I tend to feel that this question distinguishes itself from that of sexism in that conservatives aren't oppressed in general—they're currently in power. Politics is inherently contentious, and complaining about this being on the sidebar seems to me asking to be exempted from contending. I understand that the argument is that there should be some places where it would be nice to not have to contend, or that it would be nice for Metafilter not to be a place where contention is forced upon them, but 'twas ever thus here.
posted by klangklangston at 10:49 AM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


And, last but not least, this little "Nazi" sermon is yet another perfect example of the masochistic persecution complex of spoiled and overprivileged American children, who remain blissfully ignorant of the real horror of totalitarian rule. Most are several generations and a continent removed from anyone who has experienced anything of the sort, and it is therefore unsurprising that they can mouth off gleefully, inspired by their recent polit. sci. class, about how America is days away from fascism or communism or something or other. You just know they are secretly practicing with their Indiana Jones hat or Guy Fawkes mask in front of the bathroom mirror, fantasizing about their inevitable struggle with and triumph over the imaginary Nazis.

This guy was sent to college by his oh-so-conservative parents and then spoke to a protester. What a rebel! Put him — or most any other hyperbole-spewing commenter on Metafilter — in Germany or the USSR during the appropriate years, and see how long it takes for him to cry for mommy. (And yes, I fully expect that I would wet my pants just as quickly, but then again I don't post blighesque screeds about my triumph over Nazism.)
posted by Krrrlson at 10:49 AM on January 29, 2008 [12 favorites]


This callout is utterly ridiculous. No viewpoints are being "stifled". No one is being silenced.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:08 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree, Krrrlson. That's really what my gut first reacted to in that comment-- isn't it at least a little offensive for somebody here to sit there and say "It's not easy [to be anti-neoconservative]. It's hard. I could lose my job, I could lose my friends. I could even end up beaten. I could be in jail or worse..." in the context of something like Naziism? What kind of lack of perspective could lead someone to make that comparison? That kind of attitude can only come from a sheer ignorance of history and of other peoples' suffering, or at least from a healthy victimhood complex.
posted by koeselitz at 11:08 AM on January 29, 2008


This just in: People sometimes disagree on what is interesting or noteworthy.

I would point out that it is entirely possible to refrain from stirring up a tempest in a mehpot without risking that the internet will implode, however, I respect your right to be outraged about things that I don't personally find very noteworthy.
posted by desuetude at 11:09 AM on January 29, 2008


I respect your right to be outraged about things that I don't personally find very noteworthy.

You're in MetaTalk. Don't go to a gun show and complain that everyone's looking at firearms.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:16 AM on January 29, 2008


This is just more evidence to me that conservatives, like fraternity members, will instantly take umbrage at anything they feel paints them in a bad light, and respond with angry missives declaring how unfair the world is to them.

Honestly. Metafilter is far left? What Nixon-worshipping planet was that transmission beamed down from?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yes, it's incredibly hard not being a neoconservative. It's a life of torment and constant danger. But I have no alternative for the greater good.

*zoom in to my tragically heroic expression, gazing towards the horizon*

We are all tragic heroes! Hooray!
posted by jouke at 11:20 AM on January 29, 2008


At this rate, we'll surely have Metafilter turned into the perfect mayonnaise ... where there won't be anything to offend anyone anywhere. And there'll be spandex jackets -- one for everyone.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


And hey, put this on the sidebar. It's fantastic and people will miss it otherwise.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on January 29, 2008


I do fail to see how you can claim its not an editorial decision and then try to distance yourself from it by claiming it got lots of favorites.

I don't feel like the sidebar is an editorial section of MeFi the way a newspaper has one because we don't agree with the sentiments we put there as much as say "Hey people might want to look at this, it's intertesting" We certainly make editorial decisions about what to put there. Me, mostly, I do the ulk of the updating there. And I personally thought the comment was interesting and got a lot of favorites and fantastic flags.

It was also best summed up in ten words with that Nazi quote which, upon reflection, was sort of guaranteeing the wrong sort of attention for that and wasn't my intent. I did give it some thought, however, and just figured people would read the whole story, realize that it was a MeFite's personal story, and appreciate it for that reason. We sidebar tons of strange and weird stories people tell. This just seemed like a "let me tell you about when I belonged to a cult" story.

Next time I'll be more careful about the language I use, but I still think I'd sidebar a comment like this again.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:24 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is just more evidence to me that conservatives, like fraternity members, will instantly take umbrage at anything they feel paints them in a bad light, and respond with angry missives declaring how unfair the world is to them.

That's really what this thread is about: Crying about being nailed by thoughtful introspection from one of their own.

When you get harsh criticism from a fellow cult member who believed the same nonsense you still believe in, that can be hard to take. So just start a Metatalk thread about how badly you're treated by the big, bad, liberal New World Order.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:28 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit confused by the mod's point of view on this. Cortex has said repeatedly that it is defensible because it got lots of favorites. But if that were all, then why not just write a script that sidebars any comment with more than X favorites?

I'm not saying it's defensible because it got lots of favorites; I'm saying the argument that it's not interesting or that it was offending a bunch of unrepresented folks doesn't really hold up to the pile of positive feedback and the absolute absence of negative flags the comment received. I'm saying that the sidebarring came from Matt or Jess (I guess it was Jess?) deciding to act on all that positive feedback and put it on the sidebar; and that the negative reaction to the decision to sidebar it has come up entirely after the fact.

I think there's a totally reasonable discussion of the judgment call about sidebarring to be had here; I don't think loquax is out of line for asking about it, even if I don't really agree with the conclusion. But it's not like the decision to sidebar that comment and by association the good (and not exactly one-sided) discussion of the comment that followed was made in the face of a pile of negative feedback—people were expressing a big pile of interest in it, and it went up on the sidebar as prompted by that, but not solely because of that.

As I said earlier, I think this is edging toward the charged-content side of what we usually sidebar. Clearly it straddles the line of acceptability for some folks, and that's good feedback. I mostly disagree with the objection to having it on the sidebar; I agree somewhat with the idea that the "nazi" hook was not the perfect choice for the text since it seems to have given some folks whiplash.

I don't think I've really said anything on the "editorial" part of the argument. I agree with the folks who say that there's something inescapably editorial about the sidebar insofar as we pick what goes there. I think there's a real problem of conflating editorial-as-editor and editorial-as-opinion-page in dropping that word into this conversation, though, because the sidebar hasn't ever to my knowledge been a "omg this is so rite" opinioneering organ; it certainly hasn't been in the last year or so that I've been paying attention to (and occasionally posting to) the sidebar blog.

So calling it an editorial place can be read as a neutral statement of fact: we edit it, yes. No argument. It can also be read as an allegation that we're pushing an agenda by putting what we do up there. That's way off the mark.

But I hear the argument that the latter case is how someone could decide to interpret the sidebar, regardless of the actual motives and S.O.P. of that space. And that in part is why we're actually generally pretty conservative about linking stuff that is sort of heated or charged. This is turning out, mostly by accident I think, to be an exception to that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:29 AM on January 29, 2008


cortex and jessamyn: I don't think anyone is questioning the motives behind putting it there. And I don't think anyone is saying that an apology or justification is owed. Rather, this is an avenue of feedback. It apparently strikes a representatively significant number of people as inappropriate sidebar post insofar as it makes a potentially offensive correlation. Whether you agree with that or not, the question is, I submit, whether we should keep something on the sidebar with the knowledge that it is in fact offensive to some and potentially offensive to others. Or to put it another way, why keep it there with the knowledge that it has negative reaction? We sidebar very little here. Why keep it there in light of the feedback?
posted by dios at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2008


Yeah, I saw it in the sidebar and clicked thinking it would be some old German guy talking about his time with the Third Reich, now living in Chile, regretting the sins of his past. And then I read it and was pretty baffled. Didn't seem all that great to me and the whole time I was thinking, "So, wait, this dude wasn't a Nazi? He was just an impressionable youth caught up in the neo-con movement?" Whatever...." I can see how the more conservative among us (that's not me) might find that analogy offensive and think it was kind of odd to sidebar something that seemed so biased.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:52 AM on January 29, 2008


Crying about being nailed by thoughtful introspection from one of their own.

A thoughtful introspection equating neoconservatism to Nazism from someone who's obviously not "own of their own" anymore? I'm not a neoconservative, but I wouldn't take too kindly to my political leanings being compared to Nazism no less than liberals get in a huff over being labeled as commies.

So just start a Metatalk thread about how badly you're treated by the big, bad, liberal New World Order.

People aren't complaining how your hyperbolic New World Order is treating its members. They're making an argument over one action.
posted by jmd82 at 12:00 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's really what this thread is about: Crying about being nailed by thoughtful introspection from one of their own.

Pfffffft... I'm not one of "their own" and I found it to be thoughtless and crass, kind of like this quote.
posted by prostyle at 12:09 PM on January 29, 2008


And there'll be spandex jackets -- one for everyone.

Favourited for the Fagen reference.
posted by timeistight at 12:09 PM on January 29, 2008


I found it to be thoughtless and crass, kind of like this quote.

Thoughtless and crass would be attempts to try to bully censorship of the front page.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2008


I'm a liberal democrat, and this sidebar bothers me.

Why? Because it is full of hyperbole, and clearly written to elicit an emotional response. Brian Boyko has a history of this kind of thing, and it's getting old.

It's fine that, back in college, as editor of the college paper, The Daily Texan, Brian Boyko wrote that, if Bush won a second term in office, he would emigrate to New Zealand. He made a bunch of conservative students mad, he stirred up liberal students, and maybe they went out and voted.

It's great that BBC picked up the story and Brian was able to exploit the publicity into new and better jobs for himself.

But I really think that the scare-mongering in this commentary was over-the-top, and although it is entertaining reading for its emotionally persuasive literary style, I don't think it is sidebar-worthy. It's old news, recycled for the 2008 election as a way for Boyko to garner attention to himself and his website (and possibly the documentary he is filming in New Zealand, though he still lives here in the US). And we don't typically put "look at me, I'm an attention whore" posts on the sidebar.
posted by misha at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2008 [14 favorites]


censorship of the front page

Censorship my arse.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 12:33 PM on January 29, 2008


Thoughtless and crass would be attempts to try to bully censorship of the front page.

I don't see loquax or any "other" calling for retroactive erasure anywhere in the OP, or throughout the conversation for that matter. Nor do I think the post was phrased in a bullying manner, in fact it seemed to pose rather reasonable questions as to the subjective interpretation of the sidebar, what it means to other members and what it means to the administrators. The conversation has gone well without hysterics and false ascription, lets keep it that way.
posted by prostyle at 12:36 PM on January 29, 2008


I think it's fairly clear that Jess isn't going to reverse her decision to feature the comment on the sidebar, in spite of the smattering of negative feedback given in this thread.

The Nazis are just going to have to live with the indignity of being compared to Neocons.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:40 PM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I know a lot of people who use "conservative = nazi" rhetoric. I've argued that it's not true (complete bullshit), inflammatory, etc., but it makes for such fun soundbites, so they keep doing it. It keeps the discussion at a surface level that doesn't interest me, and in my group of friends it's usually said by the people who just want to rant rather than discuss anything, so I tune it out. But I enjoyed reading the poster's story, it was interesting and emotionally effective. Yeah, it was a surface rendering of what he went through, but I can't assume that he didn't give it more thought or that he's just following group-think in a different direction just because he didn't write a book-length comment detailing his entire thought process/mind-change. Since well-written, personal-experience comments seem to get sidebarred often, I'm not all that surprised it's up there. It could have been introduced better, but live and learn.

On a side note, are there really only a couple hundred avid MetaTalk readers? That seems so low. Or is that just posters and us lurkers aren't included in that number?
posted by doubtful_guest at 12:40 PM on January 29, 2008


I don't see loquax or any "other" calling for retroactive erasure anywhere in the OP, or throughout the conversation for that matter.

I disagree that "Why keep it there in light of the feedback?" (and similar incantations) is a rhetorical question.

The conversation has gone well without hysterics and false ascription, lets keep it that way.

Please. The original callout is entirely sky-has-fallen "hysterics and false ascription".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:42 PM on January 29, 2008


misha, thanks for pointing this out. Knowing this guy Brian Boyko has achieved some small piece of notoriety for writing politically hyperbolic and intentionally partisan tripe in the past makes it all the more obnoxious that such a comment was sidebarred. Maybe this guy is known by some small number of users; I've never heard of him. But that this was a common motif with him and not some spontaneous self-reflection makes it all the more noxious that we are now trumpeting his tropes on a prominent position of our website which usually is reserved for about 1 comment a week.
posted by dios at 12:46 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This trope trumpeting will not stand.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:51 PM on January 29, 2008


My god, what a lame call-out. A sidebar is the indicator that Republicans are not welcome? "Yes, let's sidebar an anti-neocon comment, that'll let those right-wing b*st*rds know they're not welcome." Let's grow up.
posted by nightwood at 12:55 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it's a good comment, and I think the fact that it "...displays an incredibly shallow view of politics" is part and parcel with the level of intellectualism and political awareness that adopting such a groupthink attitude requires. Is it wisdom for the ages? Nah, but it's an interesting example of what one indoctrinated child transitioning to a self-aware adult looks like.

Give me this sort of post any day over "how do I tell my wife I don't love her" in AskMe any day of the week.
posted by davejay at 1:06 PM on January 29, 2008


I think that loquax is correct that the presence of this on the sidebar is evidence that this is a very left-leaning site.

I disagree. I am definitely not right-leaning and the comment seemed dull to me. It read like one of those "pills of wisdom" self-help pieces, lacking any insight or depth. It definitely didn't sound poetic to me, as some people mentioned.

I tend not to give my opinion on things like this, because I think the way to go if you don't like something like that here is to ignore it, but given that this MetaThread is already opened, and that some people are leaving "I like it/I don't like it" comments, that's my opinion.

One question I would ask, though, similar to what dios is asking is: if jessamyn already said perhaps it was phrased in a way that will bring the sort wrong of attention to it, couldn't it be at least rephrased?
posted by micayetoca at 1:13 PM on January 29, 2008


Y'know, if there was some script or something (maybe even just a stated rule) that would automatically put popular comments in the sidebar when they reached a certain "favorites" threshold, it would be a lot harder to criticize the Mods for stuff like this.

Of course, though, it's fairly apparent that it's not always the quality of the comment that gets it favourited a bazillion times as much as it's the length. Oh, you took an hour to write a comment in the blue? And it's a long-winded, emotionally manipulative story in the first person past tense? Well then, here's your sidebar link and another trillion favorites.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:13 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


:(
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:17 PM on January 29, 2008


As a dancer, I am deeply offended that a sidebarred item compares dancers to New Yorkers, which I view as prejudicial, and a sign that this Web site is anti-dancer.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:46 PM on January 29, 2008


Yes, let's begin ascribing editorial control to every thing on the Front Page or put it up to a vote so that so it doesn't cause anyone's feelings to be hurt.

Boyko expressed an opinion (a very personal one at that). If anyone has a competing or different opinion, the place to do it is that thread. This call out and the supporting comments just strike me as so much sour grapes. You should get used to the fact that it's probably going to get increasingly embarrassing as time passes, to admit you aligned yourself with the Neocons or the Bush Admin... You may as well get used to it and cut your losses. Anyhow I flagged this callout.
posted by Skygazer at 1:47 PM on January 29, 2008


You should get used to the fact that it's probably going to get increasingly embarrassing as time passes, to admit you aligned yourself with the Neocons or the Bush Admin...

I don't think commenting on the sidebarred comment is the same as "aligning yourself" with anyone in the political sphere, really. A lot of people are criticizing it because they consider it poorly written, not because of its political message.
posted by micayetoca at 1:59 PM on January 29, 2008


Having grown up in the 60s with a mother who wasn't allowed by my father to get a real job and instead spent more of her time as a leader of a Republican Womens' Group than actively raising her only child, and having been recruited to put in hours at a phone bank making calls for the Committee to Reelect the President (Nixon) a year before I was old enough to vote, then watching the Watergate hearings from a TV lounge at a conservative university where the assembled groups booed everything Sen. Sam Erwin (D) said, let me echo "this guy Brian Boyko" in understanding how it is to "grow up Nazi" in America, and let me state unequivocally that there is nothing closer to the Nazi Party in America than the fraternities at a conservative university (Which is why I was so alarmed to see Fratboy W. Bush take the Presidency). It didn't take exposure to any protester or other contrarian for me to develop my own mindset. It was a combination of otherwise innocuous-looking books like "How to Lie With Statistics" instilling a sense of skepticism and love of logical analysis in me (and the targets of "HtLwS" were well balanced between the Conservative and Liberal), and the fact that none of the jerks who bullied me in my growing-up was a Liberal. I have never ever ever considered myself having Liberal Leanings (by either the classic or current definition) and have at times labelled myself as a Practical Libertarian or Radical Moderate. I have always considered "Communist" states to be Nazis wearing Socialist masks, and my own limited study of the USSR brought me to the conclusion that it most closely resembled a multinational corporation with a nuclear arsenal. Earning a bachelors' degree in Business Administration (and getting one of the first loudest bullshit alerts from my own critical thinking in the unabashedly pro-business Economics classes) and working for nearly 30 years in various parts of the private sector (Media, Manufacturing, Finance, Engineering, companies small and large, but none among the Big Companies You Know) in various Accounting and Data Processing capacities that gave me a lot of exposure to how things are done in Corporate America have made me a fervent Anti-Corporatist. My personal life, from growing up with an alcoholic father to 15 years married to a clinically insane wife, and a growing understanding of my own many weaknesses have taught me the limits of "personal freedom" and "free will", yet I still refuse to give up my rights to a "nanny state" because I do question all authority (not defy, just question, unless it, like the neocon political establishment, answers all the questions wrong), and I see no mechanism in existence that can provide us with an authority worthy of weilding power, especially NOT the popular vote. So, what does that make me now? Hell if I know. All I know is I grew up as much an American "Nazi" as anyone, but the fact that I am still alive today, after 30+ years of questioning authority, that America is not a Nazi-like state. But then, I know I have had many advantages in being a white blond-ish male who has never been courageous enough to take a leading or even a particularly visible role in anything controversial, and if I thought the risk was high that what I write here would put me on an NSA watchlist tomorrow, I never would hit the "post" button. Fortunately, this semi-coherent collection of run-on sentences a hundred-plus comments into a rather boring thread will never make the MetaFilter sidebar.
posted by wendell at 2:03 PM on January 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


It apparently strikes a representatively significant number of people as inappropriate sidebar post insofar as it makes a potentially offensive correlation

Not even close.

The people complaining aren't anywhere near the number that favourited the comment, and in case you want to claim nearly 200 people just wanted to bookmark a comment they didn't like, it sounds like it got quite a few unambiguous "fantastic" flags with no negative flags.

The few complaints on MeTa seem insignificant in the face of that.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:27 PM on January 29, 2008


Sidebarred or not, it's a good comment.

Good comment or not, it's noteworthy.
posted by Neiltupper at 2:29 PM on January 29, 2008


"...juvenile political thought..." "shallow" blah blah I don't like Nazis equated with neoconservatism.

Well, from one pinko commie liberal who has put up with heaping metrick fucktons of shallow thinking and juvenile political thought and name-calling like "pinko commie" and "faggot":

GROW A HIDE OR GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE KITCHEN YOU PANSY.

You wonder why people equate it to Nazism? You wonder why that comment has twenty gajillion favorites? Are you confused? You shouldn't be.

BECAUSE THOSE OF US WITH OUR EYES OPEN SEE PARALLELS AND YOU FUCKERS ARE SCARING THS SHIT OUT OF US WITH YOUR IGNORANCE AND/OR WILLINGNESS TO REPEAT FUCKING HISTORY. OWN YOUR LICKS AND TAKE 'EM LIKE A MAN.

We've had more than 8 years of this NeoCon bullshit. It's brought us war, debt, inflation like we've never seen, the failure of schools and education, the rich getting richer, the poorer getting poorer, the world more or less universally hates us now, we've killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the name of "terror" and "freedom", we've unilaterally invaded sovereign countries (involving at least one CIA-created dictator), we've gutted health care at home and more than 50% of our country is now receiving direct financial assistance from the Feds.

Yeah, Nazi sounds about right, to me. Even as an epithet or euphamism.

No, seriously. Grow a hide or I'll start trolling for all the ridiculously shallow things that I've seen the MeFi Neocon Brigade spout off as though it were God's own factoids. I'll make you cry using nothing but your own words. I'll make you cry good.
posted by loquacious at 2:36 PM on January 29, 2008 [20 favorites]


The people complaining aren't anywhere near the number that favourited the comment.

You are conflating two disparate concepts in a way that shows you have are completely missing the boat what this discussion is about.

This is not a discussion as to whether or not the comment should be deleted. Thus, the amount of flags on the comment and the number of negative flags on the comment itself are wholly irrelevant to this discussion. This is a discussion about whether it should be sidebarred, and there appears to be a fair number of people who think it shouldn't be. The original flagging of the comment--to my knowledge--is not directly or indirectly a voting mechanism for the sidebar. (If it is, we should know because I will have to start negatively flagging 99.99% of the posts to indicate my vote that each does not belong on the sidebar).

No one is calling for the comment to be deleted. They are merely suggesting that this comment does not merit a sidebar mention especially since it is outright offensive to some members here as well as potentially misleading and offensive to others. If it is taken off the sidebar, it still is in the thread and in the popular favorites tab.

This is about whether on the front page of the site, wherein we point to less than .01% of the contributions here as significant or important, we have a link that suggests on its face that someone was a Nazi and grew out of it, but when you read the link, its about someone who claims to have been conservative and grown out of it---thereby directing attention in a special place to a post that equates conservatives in the US (which is at least 1/3 of the entire country) to Nazis.

I don't question the motives of the moderators here, but I do question the fact that--given the recognition that it is perhaps poorly drafted and "on the outer limits" of controversy coupled with the actual objections--there appears to be some bunker mentality about not taking it down. I fail to see why we need a link on the sidebar that some people are offended by. Nothing else on the sidebar comes close to being offensive. Why do we need this? It certainly isn't that impressive. It certainly is not a highlight of Metafilter.

I think the mods do a great job. I also think they are wrong to leave it up on our sidebar when several people have pointed out valid problems with it.
posted by dios at 2:43 PM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


(And I would note that combative attitudes like loquacious just exhibited is all the more reason that such contentious rhetoric should not be highlighted as an important part of Metafilter on the sidebar).
posted by dios at 2:46 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stop trying to frame and reframe the argument, dios, nor should you attempt to defuse my righteous and justified outrage.

The NeoConservative experiment is a failure. It's a failure of humanity, a failure of reason, a failure of imagination.
posted by loquacious at 2:52 PM on January 29, 2008


Jessamyn, is tinkering with the wording in the sidebar an option? It's a catchy headline, yes, but maybe you could keep the link and phrase it in a less explicitly Godwin-y way? As a little sop to inclusiveness?
posted by ormondsacker at 2:54 PM on January 29, 2008


Fuck. I feel like cornered, beaten dog. And the neocons wonder why the left is angry. Hoodwinked by argument framing, dripping in slung mud, we tried to play fair for so many years. We played by your rules, unfortunately, and forgot that we can also make our own rules.

COMBATITIVE ATTITUDES? BUDDY, YOU HAVE YET TO SEE A MOTHERFUCKING COMBATITIVE ATTITUDE. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT EVEN IS.

OBAMA. OBAMA. OBAMA.

TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE ONCE AGAIN.

posted by loquacious at 2:55 PM on January 29, 2008


The NeoConservative experiment is a failure. It's a failure of humanity, a failure of reason, a failure of imagination.

Because that's exactly what we're arguing about here! EPIC FAIL.

The original comment was banal and badly written, but hardly massively offensive. It shouldn't have been sidebarred in the first place, but realistically it's not going away any time soon.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 2:58 PM on January 29, 2008


You are conflating two disparate concepts in a way that shows you have are completely missing the boat what this discussion is about.

No, i was responding to a specific point that you made where you exagerated the number of people who agree with you. You can tell which point that was, its in italics at the top of my last comment.

This is not a discussion as to whether or not the comment should be deleted. Thus, the amount of flags on the comment and the number of negative flags on the comment itself are wholly irrelevant to this discussion

This discussion is about whether this comment should be on the sidebar, the mods have repeatedly said that favourites do play a role in getting posts put on the sidebar, especially when the number fo favourites is such an unusually large number, so they seem to think it is somewhat significant.

I don't question the motives of the moderators here, but I do question the fact that--given the recognition that it is perhaps poorly drafted and "on the outer limits" of controversy coupled with the actual objections--there appears to be some bunker mentality about not taking it down. I fail to see why we need a link on the sidebar that some people are offended by. Nothing else on the sidebar comes close to being offensive. Why do we need this? It certainly isn't that impressive. It certainly is not a highlight of Metafilter.

I don't think there is a bunker mentality about taking it down. I think that the objections in this thread don't add up to much in the face of the support given to the comment in the thread. We can all see it has a massive number of favourites, it also had quite a few "fantastic" flags and no negative flags.

You think it should be removed from the sidebar, ok, you are not only at odds with the mods, but also, if not a majority of the site, at least a larger number of users.

I don't think that sidebar posts need to be completely free of disagreement or "controversy", and i think if everyone was as touchy as the people who started and supported this callout there would probably be a case for removing damn near anything from the sidebar.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:58 PM on January 29, 2008


DO NOT REMOVE FROM SIDEBAR.
posted by loquacious at 3:02 PM on January 29, 2008


You're in MetaTalk. Don't go to a gun show and complain that everyone's looking at firearms.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:16 PM on January 29 [+] [!] Other [2/2]: «≡·

You're in MetaTalk. Check comments for pointed use of rhetoric before reacting.
posted by desuetude at 3:07 PM on January 29, 2008


Jessamyn, is tinkering with the wording in the sidebar an option?

Sounds like an appropriate move. How about: "When I was young, I was a neoconservative. I look back on that part of my life with more than a certain measure of shame."
posted by ericb at 3:07 PM on January 29, 2008


I don't think that sidebar posts need to be completely free of disagreement or "controversy"
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:58 PM on January 29

So the sidebar, which has no real substantive purpose other than being a place to highlight the best bits of Metafilter, should contain things which effectively insults, marginalizes, or might possibly driver users away? I fail to see any reason why the mods would want that. Some people have said they are insulted by it or think it is offensive. Even if you are absolutely certain that those people are wrong or whiny to believe that, they do. Why would the mods allow anything be on the sidebar which might--even in the remotest sense--negatively effect some members or drive others away? It blows my mind. After hearing from people who think it shouldn't be there, to keep it there is like shitting on those members for no reason whatsoever.



(I see this note the bottom that Everyone needs a hug... I guess with the exception of those conservative nazis who just need thicker skins).
posted by dios at 3:08 PM on January 29, 2008


I can't believe this became a long, drawn out idealogical debate. But then again, this is MeTa, and plates of beans are our stock-in-trade.

The text on the sidebar is clearly a Godwinization. It's also sort of a rickroll. I say we keep the link, change the text, and let the people who like to argue keep on arguing. Because, apparently, they seem to enjoy it.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:09 PM on January 29, 2008


I don't see loquax or any "other" calling for retroactive erasure anywhere in the OP, or throughout the conversation for that matter.

As I said, prostyle — and as you can see for yourself in the last few comments from a certain vocal segment — we're now witness to precisely whatever rhetorical bullying is required to result in the censorship of the front page, to remove a comment offensive only to a handful who have shown themselves, for the most part, not even having bothered to read it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:10 PM on January 29, 2008


(Them, we take bowling. Unless they also surf, in which case: death.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:10 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think this bickering will solve nothing. Since the objectors are indicating that they'd be pacified if the sidebar entry had the word "nazi" removed, I think we can all get a little creative, and come up with alternate entries that don't have that offending word.

How about these?

I was young. I was stupid. I was a Neoconservative.
or
No longer equated with torture : I was a teenaged Neocon.

or
Can a skunk change its stripes? Neocon no longer.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:11 PM on January 29, 2008


All this talk of Favorites is tangential, when I first saw it hit the sidebar it had around 20 going for it, and that is always multiplied by the spotlight.

ok, you are not only at odds with the mods, but also, if not a majority of the site, at least a larger number of users.

Nothing new under the sun.

I have seen a lot of objectively useful links on the sidebar, and I can't say enough about how much I appreciate being notified of a missed opportunity for knowledge or growth by those excellent highlights. Maybe I haven't been around enough, but it seems that it has been trending more towards personal narratives as of late. Most of them seem downright adorable, and I don't have a problem with that.

In contrast, and at the very least, I think we can all agree that the bent of the post in question is needlessly divisive and highly caustic. I will again relate to dios here because I think he covers this succinctly:

"I would note that combative attitudes like loquacious just exhibited is all the more reason that such contentious rhetoric should not be highlighted as an important part of Metafilter on the sidebar"
posted by prostyle at 3:13 PM on January 29, 2008


Well, if the interesting thing is the guy's self-reflective intellectual journey, then something along the lines of "How I outgrew and became the political opposite of my father." If the interesting thing is how his dislike for conservatives, then perhaps Dave Faris' suggestions would work.
posted by dios at 3:15 PM on January 29, 2008


The Nazi comparison was not Jessamyn's, it was the poster's, in response to a question about Naziism. The moment you click on the link, the point of the comment become obvious. This is only an issue if you find the comparison odious, in which case your problem is with the original post, or with the fact that Jessamyn sidebarred it. Changing the language of the sidebar does nothing to affect that -- instead, it just whitewashes it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:15 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


dios: No one is calling for the comment to be deleted. They are merely suggesting that this comment does not merit a sidebar mention especially since it is outright offensive to some members here as well as potentially misleading and offensive to others. If it is taken off the sidebar, it still is in the thread and in the popular favorites tab.

"They" is you. Nobody else. I don't hear anybody else here saying it should be removed from the sidebar. I hated that comment, I think it's juvenile, facile, and now self-serving, and I said so in-thread. I don't really give a fuck about the sidebar, which is interesting but not by far the most important part of the site, and believe that, after this ridiculous flap, the moderators would be better-served if they defaulted to only sidebarring after a particular number of comments. That way, they wouldn't have to deal with this shit.

loquacious: Fuck. I feel like cornered, beaten dog. And the neocons wonder why the left is angry. Hoodwinked by argument framing, dripping in slung mud, we tried to play fair for so many years. We played by your rules, unfortunately, and forgot that we can also make our own rules.

COMBATITIVE ATTITUDES? BUDDY, YOU HAVE YET TO SEE A MOTHERFUCKING COMBATITIVE ATTITUDE. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT EVEN IS.

OBAMA. OBAMA. OBAMA.

TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE ONCE AGAIN.


Certainly. Especially if you plan on coming in here with all that mud on you. At least take off that hoodwink.

Look, good luck with the party shit. I'll probably be voting Obama with you in the election, although I'll vote for any nominated democrat, but I don't have any illusions about it. It's a pretty picture, this picture that you people have, the picture of a vast crusade against evil. I don't buy it. The world is big, the world is tough, and most of all, good and evil are subtle. Fools are just that, fools, and there's nothing particularly notable about their foolishness. They do the same thing every person does: they wake up every morning and they try to do good, whether their notion of "good" is tempered by ignorance of the world or by the false perception that selfishness is good by nature or not. And the last thing you can do is blame them. Not only that, but keep in mind that foolishness will emerge where you least expect it, and I don't believe you'll see a president of the United States any time soon who's actually wise.

loquacious: ... nor should you attempt to defuse my righteous and justified outrage.

"Righteous and justified outrage?" No such thing. Outrage is always a waste of human effort and a hindrance to true justice.
posted by koeselitz at 3:18 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"(I see this note the bottom that Everyone needs a hug... I guess with the exception of those conservative nazis who just need thicker skins). "

No, they just need extra hard hugs to get through their thicker skins.

""Righteous and justified outrage?" No such thing. Outrage is always a waste of human effort and a hindrance to true justice."

Disagree. Emotion's a good catalyst, a good motivator. It's not always used to good end, but it's not always a waste either. I could cite plenty of outrage moments that have led to justice, but I think that might be overkill.
posted by klangklangston at 3:22 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


So the sidebar, which has no real substantive purpose other than being a place to highlight the best bits of Metafilter

Noteworthy bits, not best bits, thats what the mods say. That comment does seem to be noteworthy.

Some people have said they are insulted by it or think it is offensive. Even if you are absolutely certain that those people are wrong or whiny to believe that, they do. Why would the mods allow anything be on the sidebar which might--even in the remotest sense--negatively effect some members or drive others away? It blows my mind. After hearing from people who think it shouldn't be there, to keep it there is like shitting on those members for no reason whatsoever

A tad dramatic, no?

A statistically very small number of people have complained. If the site was run on the basis of doing anything that can get the support of a very small number of the membership then the place would be anarchy.

I mean you actually seem to feel insulted, despite the fact that you are, i believe neither a neocon nor a nazi.

Why would the mods allow anything be on the sidebar which might--even in the remotest sense--negatively effect some members or drive others away?

Because in this case that sense is reaaaalllllllly fucking remote. Considering the number of users who feel it was a noteworthy comment the complainers are outvoted, even ignoring the fact that there are only three votes that really count.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:23 PM on January 29, 2008


Hugged to death.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:39 PM on January 29, 2008


I really do appreciate the work the mods do. I think they are exceptionally good-willed and patient, and I really like them on a personal level as well. I really do hope they do not take this disagreement as any sort of rejection or insult to their fairness or a dislike of them. I just believe that when some posters point out an unnecessary point of contetion, they should have considered it from other perspectives, and in doing so, I hoped that they would see it is an unnecessarily divisive thing to be on the sidebar.

I looked back at the big feminism thread. And I remember being persuaded by jessamyn in that thread to come to the position that I linked to above. So I looked at what impacted me in that thread from jessamyn and it was comments like this:

That level of what may seem like edginess just comes across as tiring more often than not to me personally, and I would guess a lot of the other females here who have spent far too much time trying to disambiguate edgy humor from "don't let this guy follow you to the parking lot" angry humor. You want to encourage women to stay on the site, do your part to make the place seem less like a frat house.
posted by jessamyn at 5:53 PM on November 16


Women are part of this community, not extra participants. Saying it's sometimes okay to create spaces that are hostile to them in the interests of the benefits of expressing your frustrations is sort of exactly the point as I see it. It's basically an open question: is it more important that people always say exactly what is on their mind, generally, or is it more important to foster community by sometimes mitigating what we say in the interests of other members?
posted by jessamyn at 3:47 PM on November 19


2. indicate to people offended by people's sexist comments that a) they have an option b) they should let us know c) the culture here isn't just for them to quietly slink off feeling "well maybe this place isn't for me"
posted by jessamyn at 10:05 AM on November 22
That line of thinking resonated with me. I do believe in the value of diversity, and I really detest insularity (whether it be by in-jokes, mocking of others, or shouting down). So what jessamyn said there made me rethink the boyzone issue.

When looking at this issue on the sidebar, I am a bit surprised that the same analysis is not applied here. (I've already been told that it is different because this isn't a biological issue, but I took the whole point of the boyzone issue to be about being inclusive, not just respectful of other sex organs). Each of those comments with minor changes could be used to inform against the comment in question being up on the sidebar given the message it can be sending. The emphasis on inclusion seems ignored here. It just seems so unnecessary to have something controversial and divisive like that up there.

But I guess that the admins have made up their minds and are leaving this thread to just fizzle out. So I guess I'll stop spinning my wheels.
posted by dios at 3:52 PM on January 29, 2008 [9 favorites]


this is a good callout -

viz the recent bbc documentary on prisoners in san quentin -

the nazi lowrider who left the gang and shacked up with a jewish prisoner -

now thats a fucking EX NAZI story, ok ?

are you mates with this guy jess ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:53 PM on January 29, 2008


also with regard to reframing the sidebar - i'd go with spike milligans:

" Adolf Hitler - my part in his downfall "
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:57 PM on January 29, 2008


Dios, I agree with you on this. Although the analysis in the sidebarred post may be profound, putting it on the bar might make some conservatives feel this place has a liberal editorial bias, even if none was intended.
I am probably pretty liberal by American standards (and more centrist by European standards), but I can see how "neocon=Nazi" could be considered inflammatory.
Maybe I'm tired of seeing polarization destroy attempts to find mutual respect and a common ground. But it's also that snarking, ill-chosen metaphor and outright verbal abuse do not advance one's point, because it shuts people's brains off when they most need to listen.
posted by lleachie at 4:12 PM on January 29, 2008


dios, did you just equate sexism to the choice someone makes to become politically aligned? Pardon me for a moment, I need to scream.

*screams for a good couple of lungfuls.*

Ok. That's better.

Good show, that. Excellent use of framing and victimhood. Why yes, they're exactly the same!

*screams more*
posted by loquacious at 4:23 PM on January 29, 2008


Have you noticed that our caps have actually got little pictures of skulls on them?
posted by carsonb at 4:34 PM on January 29, 2008


The irony in all this is that this thread is about the uniqueness and relevance of a comment, and yet reading this entire thread pretty much exactly the people I expected all said exactly what I expected them to say.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:39 PM on January 29, 2008


I've gotta say, no word in the last 10 years has been as actively misapplied & mischaracterized as "neoconservative". It's like hearing willy-nilly usage of "its/it's", "they're/their" or "set/sit", but considerably more melodramatic.
posted by deern the headlice at 4:39 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


These days most commonly misapplied as "I'm not a neoconservative" or "I was never a neoconservative".
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on January 29, 2008


"By neoconservative you clearly mean all conservatives, and I am offended by that, even though, and I want to be very clear about this, I am not a neoconservative and would never associate myself with such people" is another good one too.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on January 29, 2008


I can't think of any metric by which that post would qualify by those terms. It's juvenile political thought. There isn't an ounce of anything original or contemplative in what he said.

I'm pretty sure that I favourited it, and I'm pretty sure that this is exactly *why* I favourited it. I enjoy reading youthful, enthusiastic, committed posts, even though they're often unsophisticated or wrong. I enjoy reading them because they often contain a passion that's missing from more measured, more considered posts, couched in caveats. They remind me of how I felt and how I wrote when I was young.

I don't think that featuring such a post in the sidebar in any way necessarily implies slavish agreement with the content. It simply signifies 'you may think this is worth a look'.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:46 PM on January 29, 2008


OK. It turns out I didn't favourite it after all. But I thought about it, and what I wrote above is why I thought about it. The fact that it's a bit dumb is a plus rather than a minus as far as I'm concerned.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:55 PM on January 29, 2008


dios: That line of thinking resonated with me. I do believe in the value of diversity, and I really detest insularity (whether it be by in-jokes, mocking of others, or shouting down). So what jessamyn said there made me rethink the boyzone issue.

When looking at this issue on the sidebar, I am a bit surprised that the same analysis is not applied here.


I guess the thing is, there are huge difference between the sexism thing and this. For starters, I know a lot of neoconservatives, and not a one of them would be offended at this. Hell, I think it'd be hard to offend them about almost anything. They know people think this way, but it rolls off of their backs. That tends to be their nature on this stuff. Whereas the sexism thing is an ingrained aspect of culture that women are generally confronted with every day. It's a much, much bigger problem, a serious one, and one in which every bit helps and every failure harms someone.

Whereas this, well, there's also the ridiculous factor. If somebody wandered around saying, "women are green space aliens who are trying to control us with their lasers," I wouldn't say they were sexist; I'd say they were nuts. Someone who says "neoconservatives are Nazis," while quite a bit more offensive for being specific, is essentially in the same boat there.

In other words:

dios, the comment wasn't offensive because it paints neoconservatives in a bad light. Hell, everybody paints neoconservatives in a bad light nowadays. I wouldn't care if people came into threads and said, "fuck neoconservatives; they're evil monsters who should go to hell." That's their right, it's the right of the community to favorite a billion times, and it's the right of the moderators to put it in the sidebar thereafter.

No, the comment was offensive because it made light of the Holocaust. And that, that myopic, irrational parallel between the suffering of the Jews and all others who were murdered and some perceived victimhood at the hands of societal partisanship in the USA, is utterly uncalled for. Not to mention insane. That's why people didn't want to see it in the sidebar.
posted by koeselitz at 4:55 PM on January 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


You know, we have more to learn from the Nazis than that killing six million Jews is bad.
posted by grouse at 5:08 PM on January 29, 2008 [8 favorites]


I'm reminded of this comment from last year.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:14 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


(I see this note the bottom that Everyone needs a hug... I guess with the exception of those conservative nazis who just need thicker skins).

::hugs dios and offers to treat him to a veggie burger :::
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:20 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the "FAIL" thread, dios linked to the MetaFilter Deleted Thread blog, where the top item was jess's deletion of a post she called "one decent link and one eye-rolling OMGLOLBUSh link"; and unless the thread below had already been cleansed of lots of ugliness, it seemed to me a weak deletion and a concession to the MetaFilter Contrarian Society, of which dios is the Supreme Leader. I think you can stop hugging him now.

Armitage Shanks' link to chrominance's extremely perceptive, comprehensive and unavoidably true comment was very welcome.

I wish we could all remember that the Pursuit of Truth is not a competition, and tolerance is not a good policy toward those who keep doing the wrong thing over and over and over again.
posted by wendell at 5:36 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read the comment in the thread.

I thought it was a great comment, because here was this person relating to the post in a personal way. I was thinking, "Hey, this guy's giving us something to actually discuss here."

I didn't agree with him at all, and I shared dios' impression of the thinking behind the post.

So, I marked it as a favorite (I always favorite things that I find interesting, funny, or worth returning to - regardless of whether I agree, or even find them intelligent), and I proceeded to write my own comment, wherein I told him I thought it was a great comment, but I disagreed.

The resulting conversation, featuring koeselitz, klangklangston, etc, was a blast. It turned a somewhat crappy (some thanks to orthogonality in that) discussion into a fun poli-sci derail.

I have to admit, though, that I thought it weird that the comment made the sideblog. I really didn't think it was sideblog material. My reaction was, "Huh, I guess that's noteworthy? I wonder why they used that quote?" But I shrugged it off.

As a conservative, I do find the atmosphere here almost entirely unwelcoming at times. I also operate under the assumption that the posters and editors are predominantly left-leaning. Those two observations are not necessarily linked.

However, it's still a good site. I also think George Clooney is a pretty good actor.
posted by rush at 5:37 PM on January 29, 2008


I also think George Clooney is a pretty good actor.

Now I know you're insane. I'm a liberal and I hate that guy.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2008


Not to beat a dead horse, but aren't there also a sizable number of conservatives who would agree with the spirit of the post? I don't know about percentages, but I see a fair bit of antineocon writing from the right here and there...is it larger than Pat Buchanan?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:16 PM on January 29, 2008


dios writes "Why would the mods allow anything be on the sidebar which might--even in the remotest sense--negatively effect some members or drive others away?"

Because you can't please everyone. Truly.

I second what loquacious said. To all you conservatives and neoconservatives: grow some thicker skin. I'm about fed up with the whining from so-called offended conservatives. All I heard for years and years is the same thing as loquacious, and I was also told by the same conservatives that were calling me a commie freak that complaining about it was whining, so get over it, politics isn't for sissies, etc. I've recently been called a terrorist sympathizer for believing in human rights. It was getting to be a bit scary when Bush was ascendant, because for a while there it looked like something really bad was starting to brew, but now it's just tiresome. I'm so over being offended about it. It's a badge of honor being called a terrorist sympathizer by someone who would easily give up everything this country stands for, supposedly to protect it from those who don't believe in freedom and democracy.

Being a conservative is not the same as being a woman or being a minority. You do have a choice as to your political affiliation. Nobody complains about discrimination when people say that "Republicans|Democrats are idiots," although it's not really interesting.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:25 PM on January 29, 2008


jonmc writes "Now I know you're insane. I'm a liberal and I hate that guy."

I agree, but Good Night, and Good Luck was excellent.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:29 PM on January 29, 2008


"I enjoy reading youthful, enthusiastic, committed posts, even though they're often unsophisticated or wrong. I enjoy reading them because they often contain a passion that's missing from more measured, more considered posts, couched in caveats. They remind me of how I felt and how I wrote when I was young."

"I wish I had your passion, Ray. Misdirected though it may be, it is still a passion. I used to feel that way about things once, but ... pft."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:29 PM on January 29, 2008


Dios, if you need a hug - I'm actually somewhat huggable.

In the interest of bridge-building - despite my mounting frustrations - I don't hate conservatives, neocons or otherwise.

I might strongly disagree with them. I might think they're fearful, malformed, selfish, shortsighted and uncreative little turds. I might honestly pity them, however wrong it may be from the lofty intellectual perch of my lowbrow gutter.

But I don't hate individuals. I don't hate people.

I do, however, hate their policies and what they've done to my world. And that's fair game.

I am additionally frustrated by conservatives and neocons who balk at strong or devisive words or language used to describe their "movement". This has been a tactic of the neocon agenda since the beginning.

If you feel offended, perhaps it is high time to analyze yourself, your alignments and your beliefs with an open mind.

Because, really? The rest of us pretty much see you as potential Nazis. And it's an inferrence I'm none too comfortable with myself.

Please believe me when I say that. I don't say this out of loathing. I say these things out of deep fear for what the future may hold.
posted by loquacious at 6:32 PM on January 29, 2008


I agree, but Good Night, and Good Luck was excellent.

I won't watch anything with him in it. He makes me want to beat his face until he ain't pretty no more.
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on January 29, 2008


We have countless comments here that display the same shallow political views. The only thing different about this one is the length and narrative feature. Why that makes something neat or interesting or worthy of a side bar eludes me. (And I thought we have agreed that favorites are not an indication of approval or like and are often used for bookmarking purposes).
posted by dios at 8:13 AM on January 29


Remember when you posted that if child molestation were legally permissible, you'd have no problem with it morally? I think we should swap the sidebarred comment you hate so much with your brilliant gem of a post. Agreed?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:39 PM on January 29, 2008


I only saw the comment through the sidebar, and it didn't impress me that much -- a bit overwrought, to say the least. What I did like was the Dorothy Thompson piece in the FPP. That's the gold I bookmarked, and the rest was dross.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:41 PM on January 29, 2008


But I don't hate individuals.

He makes me want to beat his face until he ain't pretty no more.


You could learn a lot from loquacious, Mr. Jonmc.

And there's no need to be jealous of George Clooney. I'm sure you're as pretty on the inside as he is on the outside.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:46 PM on January 29, 2008


I'm sure you're as pretty on the inside as he is on the outside.

You'd be wrong, but that's beside teh point. I don't like celebrities in general and one's of his magnitude in particular. He needs to be taken down a peg or two. Of course I doubt he gives a rat's ass, which is kind of the point.
posted by jonmc at 6:49 PM on January 29, 2008


I don't like celebrities in general and one's of his magnitude in particular. He needs to be taken down a peg or two. Of course I doubt he gives a rat's ass, which is kind of the point.

Oh absolutely. That's the reason why I hate Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and Bruce Springsteen.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 6:55 PM on January 29, 2008


I honestly don't care if the comment stays on the sidebar, but I still think it is lame precisely because it compares neoconservatives to Nazis. Honestly, isn't that the default, easy argument to make when you don't like a group nowadays?
posted by misha at 6:59 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh absolutely. That's the reason why I hate Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and Bruce Springsteen.

Fair enough. I still fucking hate George Clooney, though.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 PM on January 29, 2008


Your insane, jonmc. George Clooney is great.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:00 PM on January 29, 2008


He's a pretty-boy hack.
posted by jonmc at 7:03 PM on January 29, 2008


Fair enough.

WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH JONMC?
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 7:05 PM on January 29, 2008


I say he kicks ass, and my exquisite taste is unassailable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:09 PM on January 29, 2008


I only followed the link because I thought it would be an interesting personal story about an actual Nazi, like one of our older members from WWII or something.

I was very disappointed.
posted by smackfu at 7:11 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Honestly, isn't that the default, easy argument to make when you don't like a group nowadays?

Umberto Eco is not always easy reading. As a collective, with eight years of evidence, neocons behave in ways commensurate with the label they've earned. There's nothing default or "easy" about the association.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:39 PM on January 29, 2008


Ko-slitz sucks ass as only a true neocon can. The juiciest non-point - "anything not german can't be nazi". Except Co-selytz, Henry Ford funded the Nazis. And IBM provided the data tracking. And Koh-slits should know better.
posted by telstar at 7:44 PM on January 29, 2008


Well, technically anything not following the ideology of national socialism as it evolved in the Germany of the 1930s isn't really Nazi as such... but that's semantic quibbling.

Plus, you know, equating X with Y isn't quite the same thing as saying X is a Y.
posted by Artw at 7:54 PM on January 29, 2008


Nazis. Honestly, isn't that the default, easy argument to make when you don't like a group nowadays?

Well, with groups that are absolutely nothing like the followers of national socialism in the 1930s perhaps... but, um, didn't you actually read the comment?
posted by Artw at 7:57 PM on January 29, 2008


Laudy laudy, look who's forty George Clooney a Nazi!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:04 PM on January 29, 2008


I thought the original comment was stupid and long-winded, and not worthy of being sidebarred, but you know what?

Until the Neocons among us can create a site as compelling and widely-read as Metafilter, they should quit their bitching. Most of us are here because we like it here. Neither the mods nor the hivemind owe you a damned thing, and you're entitled to the same thing as the rest of us: nothing.

Conservatives get their panties in a wad about "political correctness" and tell us that we owe it to them to let them call us colored, make Jew Banker jokes and stare at our boobs. But when they wade into territory where they don't control the language or the discourse, they dissolve into tears and callouts.

Suck it up, kids.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:15 PM on January 29, 2008 [8 favorites]


I am bothered so many people favorited that. it is so easy to "confess" to the people who want to welcome you to their side - vegans converting to the hunters or vice versa - the self-reflection doesn't have to be deep when the audience is excited to hear that you've come around to see that they were right after all.

it was cliche. American college kids go liberal - it's what happens. If they were brought up conservative they have to go through some kind of transition. Talk to him again in 20 years and see how momentous this change was.

It was enormously misleading and mildly offensive that he called himself a Nazi.

Also he made an irritating grammatical error early in the diatribe that left a contradictory sentence - something like "I would have been a nazi for sure, though you'd never convince me of it" - I'd never convince you of what you just claimed?

Bleah.

(and I'm a liberal)
posted by mdn at 8:23 PM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


OK, maybe the comment was a little hyperbolic, and I dislike the dilution of "Nazi" to mean pretty much any unpleasant person, but it was an interesting and rather touching personal account. Not the best of the sidebar but far from the worst. Nobody's being shouted down or silenced by sidebarring that comment, and anybody who sees an agenda in the sidebar needs to look again: anatomy of a disk drive, Solid Gold dancers, and messy desks are pretty typical of the random stuff that gets thrown up there.

It's amazing that this comment has generated such a reaction from a small group of MeFites who seem to feel that sidebarring = endorsement of a political view they disagree with. First, it's not an endorsement (as the mods have explained above) it's a pointer to something that readers might be interested in. Second, it's OK to disagree with something. Even something in the sidebar. You don't need to kill or shout down things you disagree with - you can courteously disagree, shake hands, and walk away.
posted by Quietgal at 8:49 PM on January 29, 2008


Conservatives get their panties in a wad about "political correctness" and tell us that we owe it to them to let them call us colored, make Jew Banker jokes and stare at our boobs.

Yay, it's random unrelated grievance time! Grind those axes, kids!
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 8:50 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


...but having the editors elevate it beyond simply comment to sidebar, I think, makes a pretty bold statement about their beliefs...

Editors? I thought they were moderators. I don't think it makes a statement about their beliefs at all. Does this callout make a statement about your beliefs? Different people, different points-of-view.

You have sole discretion over what gets in and what's left out, and like it or not, it sets a tone for the site.

This site, I feel, is multitoned as it were. The sidebar is only part of the harmony.

I generally find the sidebar to have interesting stuff that I'm glad was pointed out. Stuff that appeals to everybody, or is unique or is special in some way.

Stuff that appeals to everybody? You know this how?

I guess the people favouriting it did so because they agreed with it politically.

But you don't know that (hence, as you say, a guess.) And so what if they agreed with it politically? I'm guessing that some might have flagged it because they agree with it. I guess that some might have flagged it for a variety of other reasons. I wouldn't flag it for political reasons personally, but then I don't buy into nor really understand the left/right thing.

I was an idiot for ever being a conservative, I probably would have been a nazi too" could be seen as ridiculously divisive, and a big fat philosophical stamp on the front page?

How is it a philosophical stamp on the front page? It was a post by one member of thousands and people favourite for all sorts of reasons because this is a diverse community.

I think sidebarring that post makes the place seem less friendly to diversity and dissent, and lends ammunition to those who claim that Mefi is a liberal echo chamber.

I don't think so at all. As for the echo chamber argument is weak, and always has been, just like Godwin.

As someone who is causally reading Metafilter--assuming they are not one of the couple hundred who are avid Metatalk readers--the assumption is going be there the post is selected by the powers that be for some reason of import.

So what. If they make that assumption, fine. There's nothing we can do about and why should we pander to those who make quick assumptions? This isn't a first impression sort of site. Is there any reason it should be?

The sidebar tracks noteworthy posts. It says so. Over 190 favourites is without question noteworthy. End of.

Exactly. The idea that those 190 are of a certain political bent is insulting and lazy. There could be any number of reasons for flagging it. Metafilter has a significant amount of diversity of posts and opinions and continues to.

So the sidebar, which has no real substantive purpose other than being a place to highlight the best bits of Metafilter, should contain things which effectively insults, marginalizes, or might possibly driver users away?

If this is largely the case then it would be dios dominated. How about the one where you supported NAMBLA and didn't even bother to check out what they were about before doing so? No possible offense to anyone there.
Noteworthy = best? Since when? This callout, and all who have contributed to it, including you, have indeed confirmed it's noteworthy.
posted by juiceCake at 9:55 PM on January 29, 2008


Exactly. The idea that those 190 are of a certain political bent is insulting and lazy.

Tee hee.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:05 PM on January 29, 2008


Personally, I have no horse in this race. I do think a variety of opinions on MeFi is good, but that's only if they're by articulate and reasoned commenters. If it's just angry ranters (be they "Bush=Hitler" lefties or "Liberals=Pol Pot" righties, or "You must make a personal faith commitment to our Lord Jesus" or "Christianity is a steaming turd shat out by rapists and murderers to disguise their black and rotting hearts" or whatever), I'd rather MeFi just be a bunch of politically ignorant and unconcerned folks. So leaving the comment there does good things and bad things (keeps away the crazy righties, keeps away the articulate and interesting righties), and removing it would also do good things and bad things (not keeping away the crazy righties, not keeping away the articulate and interesting righties).

Really, though, this particular thread is based on something which we don't, and never have, agreed on: whether we want more righties here or not. Until we convince the mods of the answer to that, in either direction, call-outs of individual instances of preference for one side or the other will be fruitless.

So my comments below aren't defenses of the sidebar, nor condemnations, just responses to a few individual points.

matteo writes "it's not. this pretty much demolishes your already weak argument. deal with it."

Ok, then, if it's not the closest to an editorial section, what is? If what you mean is just "It isn't the editorial section", then your reply doesn't match the initial statement, which is "it's the closest".

Heath Ledger is not like Hitler. If someone says he is, that's not true. But if there's a room containing Heath Ledger, a rubber duck, and a piece of cork, and someone says "Heath Ledger is the closest thing to Hitler in this room", the response "No, he's not" is just plain wrong.

Blazecock Pileon writes "This callout is utterly ridiculous. No viewpoints are being 'stifled'. No one is being silenced."

I see what you're saying, but if we take that to be true, then what happens to the whole boyzone issue? Wasn't that all about the idea that, while mods weren't actually going and deleting comments by female users or banning users for being females, that the atmosphere was such that it made females not want to join, or, if joined, not want to join the discussion? If belittling females results in a stifling of viewpoints and driving off of potential commenters, why doesn't belittling conservatives result in the same thing?

Dave Faris writes "At this rate, we'll surely have Metafilter turned into the perfect mayonnaise ... where there won't be anything to offend anyone anywhere. And there'll be spandex jackets -- one for everyone."

What's amusing is, I don't know which side of the issue you're arguing this from. The arguments from both sides are the same:
"We shouldn't unbar it. Doing so would stifle free expression and result in the blanding of MeFi."
"We should unbar it. Leaving it up will drive away potential commenters with different viewpoints, thus resulting in the blanding of MeFi."

cortex writes "It can also be read as an allegation that we're pushing an agenda by putting what we do up there. That's way off the mark."

I think it's a bit more subtle than that. I certainly don't believe you're pushing it. This isn't an editorial in the sense of "writing an opinion piece intended to convince readers". However, I do think it's more an editorial in the sense of being an unconscious statement of MeFi's groundline opinion. For example, if you sidebarred a thread about why women are all bitches, it wouldn't be some sort of aggressive proselytization of misogyny, there to convince potential readers, but it would indicate to readers that misogyny is an accepted and basic aspect of MeFi.



prostyle writes "I don't see loquax or any 'other' calling for retroactive erasure anywhere in the OP, or throughout the conversation for that matter."

Blazecock Pileon writes "I disagree that 'Why keep it there in light of the feedback?' (and similar incantations) is a rhetorical question."

I believe the "retroactive erasure" comment is in reference to the comment itself. "keep it there" is in reference to the sidebar. Nobody is recommending the comment itself be removed/erased, but they are recommending it be removed/erased from the sidebar. Just a little confusion based on the object of the sentence being omitted by both sides.

Reggie Knoble writes "A statistically very small number of people have complained."

Until the big sexism blowout, the number of females that complained was also statistically low. Plus, considering that MeFi has very few conservatives, the number of them complaining is going to be very low no matter what. If every single con on the site complained, we'd have, what, maybe 20 complaints? And not every con reads MeTa, nor are they on 24/7. So, yeah, statistically very few folks have complained. And the Japanese government is right with doing their recent framing of foreigners in Japan as criminals. After all, very few people have complained. Less than 2%, in fact. Because only 2% of Japan's population is foreign.

Optimus Chyme writes "Remember when you posted that if child molestation were legally permissible, you'd have no problem with it morally? I think we should swap the sidebarred comment you hate so much with your brilliant gem of a post. Agreed?"

Aren't we supposed to restrict our comments to the discussion themselves, and not the posters involved in the thread?
posted by Bugbread at 10:24 PM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Heath Ledger is not like Hitler. If someone says he is, that's not true. But if there's a room containing Heath Ledger, a rubber duck, and a piece of cork, and someone says "Heath Ledger is the closest thing to Hitler in this room", the response "No, he's not" is just plain wrong.

Well, neoconservatism is the closest thing to Naziism in this room.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:40 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie writes "Well, neoconservatism is the closest thing to Naziism in this room."

Er, so you're arguing that neoconservativism is the closest thing to Naziism, and thus that the sidebar is the closest thing to an editorial, so you support the idea that sidebarring it was an editorial statement?
posted by Bugbread at 10:47 PM on January 29, 2008


I support the idea that I don't care that it was sidebarred. I'll sign that petition.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:52 PM on January 29, 2008


And people wonder why The National Review spends so much on diapers.
posted by trondant at 12:12 AM on January 30, 2008


Yay, it's random unrelated grievance time! Grind those axes, kids!

Oh, it wasn't an unrelated grievance, my little snowflake. If you feel personally insulted, it's probably because you should be.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 12:13 AM on January 30, 2008


I read the post when it only had a small handful of favourites, nearly favourited it myself, then decided it was a pretty weak post wrapped in needless rhetoric & hyperbole and aimed at the heartstrings of smugly superior lefties.

To be honest, my afterthought was something pretty much on the lines of "Meh. Anyone who hasn't made a similar journey themselves is either too dumb to realise it, or not yet acquainted with the real world - because, in intellect, sophistication, and style, it's on a par with those 50's/60's 'I Was A Teenage ...' movies.

'
BrianBoyko: Portrait of a Teenage Neo-con', maybe".

I was surprised to see that it'd made the sidebar. I'm even more surprised to see that it's gathered 100's of favourites. Go figure.
posted by Pinback at 12:23 AM on January 30, 2008


Some phrase are so self-damning. Smugly superior, eh?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:37 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Forget the neocons. Having a teenage angst "Hello, my name is whatever and I haven't watched the O'Reilly Factor for 12 days. Hug me." post on the "noteworthy posts of metafilter" sidebar (which by recursion is the "Noteworthy posts of the best of the web") just isn't really flattering on the site. It really isn't any different than picking a random post about "Hello, my name is whatfuckingever, and I used to be a socialist, until I found RON PAUL, now I'm cured -- If it weren't for that, I'd be totally running a gulag, SRSLY".

If I just arrived at the site for the first time, and went right to the sidebar (to see what the site considers to be noteworthy, as a sampling of what usually goes on on the site) and clicked on the first link, it would make me just disregard the site as yet another teenage verborrhea. And yeah, the same would happen if it were the Ron Paul version above, or "I escaped from scientology, news at 11", or whatever. Maybe if it was the furry version, I'd at least find it funny and give the site a chance to amuse me. And then I'd stay for the lolcats.
posted by qvantamon at 12:38 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, since we're just putting up favorited anecdotes on the sidebar, I'd like to nominate the "Penis goes where" guy.
posted by qvantamon at 12:42 AM on January 30, 2008


shit, FAIL. Penis goes where guy. Sorry unixrat, I really meant to link to the comment, not to the userpage.
posted by qvantamon at 12:46 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am a part of "a bunch of sinister and heavily armed globalist illuminati who seek to infect the entire world with the values of personal liberty and several property. Amongst our many crimes is a sense of humour and the intermittent use of British spelling.
... a varied group made up of social individualists, classical liberals, libertarians, extropians, futurists, 'Porcupines', Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists from Britain, North America, Australia and Europe."

And I find the comment itself silly and sophomoric and the fact that it was placed in the sidebar ridiculous and embarrassing.
posted by dawson at 1:26 AM on January 30, 2008


"The sidebar tracks noteworthy posts."

I read the post when it first went up as I was following the thread and did not think much of it (for reasons stated up thread of here - pandering to DamnLibruls not particularly inciteful and mis-leading in that making the correlation between neo-conservatives and National Socialists (akaNazis) is a worthwhile correlation to be made and he did not convince me by a long shot. Which I resented. Heartfelt, sure, but there's lots of heartfelt on MeFi that is better (cf. upthread))

I agree with those who say, though it might by noteworthy it's still not particularly, well, good.

So if anyone's counting shiny 2¢ s, please add mine to the meh column.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:22 AM on January 30, 2008


I'm a communist but agree with the mithering conservatives here that it wasn't a particularly remarkable or insightful post. Anyway, here's Vic and Bob with the ideal solution to any conflict our political differences may have engendered - Geordie jumpers!
posted by Abiezer at 2:29 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


im waiting for jonmc's ' how i almost became george clooney' post.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:35 AM on January 30, 2008


im waiting for jonmc's ' how i almost became george clooney' post.

"I could so easily have become George Clooney

...it's just I found beer instead"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:20 AM on January 30, 2008


Until the big sexism blowout, the number of females that complained was also statistically low. Plus, considering that MeFi has very few conservatives, the number of them complaining is going to be very low no matter what. If every single con on the site complained, we'd have, what, maybe 20 complaints? And not every con reads MeTa, nor are they on 24/7. So, yeah, statistically very few folks have complained. And the Japanese government is right with doing their recent framing of foreigners in Japan as criminals. After all, very few people have complained. Less than 2%, in fact. Because only 2% of Japan's population is foreign.

Well I think you are being pretty simplistic here. Those complaining aren't just conservative. This isn't a Left vs Right issue.

This is an issue where some people are upset over the sidebarring of a comment and most people aren't.

We all already know that the sidebar isn't any kind of endorsement so what's the worry? That strangers to the site might view the front page, spot the coment and leave thinking the place is just like dailykos? If thats the case maybe The Blue shouldn't be blue, might scare off the red staters!

It just seems like the bar for callouts and complaints and cries for changes to site policy is so low these days that its ridiculous. Surely this is really a non issue? I mean most of the complaints came from peole who didn't even know what the sidebar was actually for. Do you seriously want the site run based on the whims of people who don't have a grasp of basic issues like that?
posted by Reggie Knoble at 6:02 AM on January 30, 2008


Yeah, so far the Neocons have only killed a few hundred thousand people. Total pantywastes.
posted by delmoi at 6:21 AM on January 30, 2008


I see what you're saying, but if we take that to be true, then what happens to the whole boyzone issue?

Bugbread, the boyzone issue would be relevant, except that it was clear that the people who had taken issue with misogynistic comments had also taken time to bother to read and understand them. Which is not the case with the complainants here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:02 AM on January 30, 2008


The original article was about how likely people from various backgrounds were to have become Nazis. It was well written, but entirely subjective.

The poster responded with a personally honest, and, again, entirely subjective assessment of himself judged along those lines, based on his own background. It wasn't an essay on the merits of sundry political systems, so the depth or shallowness of his political understanding is neither the point, nor actually attainable from what he wrote. His point was rather that the restrictive ideology of limbaughian neo-conservatism strikes him as the first taste of the Kool-aid (No Habeas Corpus? But its a special occaision) that could lead to drinking deep of other, more infamous ideologies should they become prominent - much like the original article suggested class-bitterness or power-lust could.

Perhaps it could have been better written (he never did actually become a Nazi, and he only ever points out certain similarities, rather than equivalence), but as a response to intriguing article - taking its tropes and discussing their personal application - it was a very good example of a MeFi post, and I have no problem with it's sidebarring.

The sidebar tagline, on the other hand, is overkill. It's a bit like those gossip mags where the headline screams "Celebrity X's Inner Shame", and it turns out she had an extra bran muffin at lunch.
posted by Sparx at 7:13 AM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, reading skills seem to be in short supply. The former neo-con is not saying that neoconservativism is naziism. He's saying that it is a corrupt political philosophy rooted in fear and devoid of compassion, that he got into because his father was a conservative, because he was an insulated blowhard whose political viewpoints hadn't been challenged, and because it appealed to some of baser prejudices. Had he been in German in the 30s, these exact qualities would have made him a Nazi.

One presumes he might have been a Stalinist had he lived in Russia in the 1940s, but he didn't say that, because the thread was about Naziism, not Stalinism.

Jessamyn's sidebarring of the comment could only be understood as an editorial decision to compare neoconservatism to Naziism only of that were the point of the original quote, but it wasn't, but that won't stop conservatives from pissing and moaning that they are being oppressed on MetaFilter, because pissing and moaning that the media is somehow out to get them has become such a dominant trope in contemporary conservativism that they just can't help themselves, I guess.

Perhaps you don't believe that neoconservaticism is a corrupt political philosophy rooted in fear and devoid of compassion. One presumes you also think that Mothra might some day rise from the sea, or you somehow missed the past seven years, which provided little good but for the total repudiation of neoconservativism.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:23 AM on January 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


grouse: You know, we have more to learn from the Nazis than that killing six million Jews is bad.

True. My point was that we have more to learn from the Nazis than that fascism is the single greatest threat to justice. I don't believe that's even true. As Adam Cadre points out in the very thoughtful essay that was linked in the thread, fascism has only been a serious threat to society for Spaniards and Germans. Dictatorship, injustice, cruelty, hatred, these are all awful things, things which we find in the Nazi regime, things about which we can learn from them. But today, that's not the biggest danger. The biggest dangers are things like the economic effects of the first world on the third world, the inadvertant seeping of chemicals into the world in which we live, and the deliberation of Muslims over the worth of democracy. What this requires is a real consideration about what is good, and a real willingness to stand for what is good. It's not enough to not be a Nazi.
posted by koeselitz at 7:44 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm fairly liberal. I always have been. I've voted against conservatives every time I've been in the booth. But you know what?

In the right context, I might have become a Nazi, I might not have. It's difficult to know, and considering that most people in Germany became Nazis rather than resisters, it's kind of a retarded thing to argue about. I think very few people have the kind of will and moral certainty that can stand in the face of total and absolute totalitarianism, so most people would just go along even if they didn't really believe in the creeds of their movement.

All that aside, I felt this was a poorly told and poorly written story and I'm surprised it was favorited. It struck me as being really on the surface, taking too long to express the fundamental ideas in the story, and not fleshing out anyone -- even the storyteller -- with any kind of real human depth.

I largely suspect that he was favorited because people generally respond favorably with personal stories, and then he was favorited further because some people liked the idea that he was equating neoconservatism with Nazism, and then again just because some people arrived at the comment because it had so many favorites (this isn't necessarily "Groupthink", but it happens here all the time and I'm guilty of it too).

I think once it got plenty of attention it was perfectly appropriate to sidebar it but I still find it a little hard to belief it got the attention it did. I certainly didn't think it was fantastic, far from it.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:06 AM on January 30, 2008


I'd just like to add that Wendell's comment is an example of a good* comment that expresses a similar story in a more succinct, interesting, insightful, and well-written manner. It's also suitably humble about the whole thing and deserves to be favorited/flagged fantastic (and so I did favorite it) a hundred times more than BrianBoyko's comments, especially in light of his previous literary tradition.

I generally don't agree with any conservative positions but I agree with a lot of what they are saying in this thread. It seems a bit harsh to say "OMG Neoconservatism is Nazism!" and then proceed with what appears to be a bunch of groupthink, and when people complain even a little bit, responding with "Go cry to Rush Limbaugh". Some people have thought long and hard on the matter and for whatever reason have decided that conservative policies match their beliefs and thoughts more closely. To suggest that they feel this way only because they are stupid, evil, and/or mindless followers of Nazism is necessarily offensive to them. I'm not suggesting that sidebarring the comment is making this statement in itself, but people in this thread certainly are by dismissing wholly the concerns of those who are complaining and suggesting, sometimes subtly and othertimes overtly, that those who are offended do not have a right to their reactions.

So let me be one to aplogize.

Conservatives: as an unabashed liberal, I would like to apologize for how you have been treated in this post. Even though I find it nearly impossible to understand how you can hold the beliefs you hold, you nonetheless are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. I am sorry that you often feel unwelcome in MetaFilter and I would like you to know that even if I sometimes feel that your ideas are silly, and express this as such in my comments, I should still treat you with respect and should call you on your ideas and not on your person. I hope that you will call me on this in the future, and I hope that everyone here on MetaFilter will make you feel welcome, because as Brandon Blatcher stated (and as I believe) we really are open to other ideas, especially when expressed intelligently and cogently.

* Dare I say, laudable?
posted by Deathalicious at 8:42 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, good luck with that. They live to whine about how oppressed they are.
posted by Artw at 9:06 AM on January 30, 2008


Actually, I apologize for some of the messages I posted here yesterday, done mostly for laughs. I don't really think that all conservatives are skunks, or stupid, or that each and every one of you personally endorses torture, unilateral and unprovoked warmongering, destruction of civil liberties, and spying on citizens without going through the proper legal channels and safeguards. I'm sure it's very hard to maintain your world view when the people who are champions of your cause do such terrible things.

I frankly couldn't care either way whether the nazi link stays up on the sideblog. I'm dubious that many people even actually read it, let alone potential newbie neocons getting scared away by it. But, like it or not, the linked comment resonated with more than a hundred of your fellow mefites, and that's all that counts.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:54 AM on January 30, 2008


Conservative voters aren't Nazis. They are, however, personally responsible for helping install an administration that, by gutting the federal bureaucracy and consolidating executive power into the hands of a corrupt party leadership responsible not to the citizenry and the Constitution but to the Almighty and the dollar, created a government that was incapable of preventing or responding to crisis after crisis, from 9-11 to Katrina to vote supression to the subprime failures, and everything in-between.

The best that can be said about conservative voters is that they're credulous and gullible; myopic and malicious come further down the line, before greedy and hateful. Of course there are liberal voters who can be described this way or worse, but liberal voters didn't destroy the United States' standing in the world, or give up on the poor of New Orleans, or sacrifice our young men and women in an ill-planned war of adventure. Conservative voters won, twice, barely and suspiciously, to great jubilation and "I told you so." Now that their judgment and choice was clearly a failure, the responsibility lies elsewhere.

The Nazis took Weimar Germany and turned it into a totalitarian killing machine, with the help of a great number of so-called "Good Germans." The Neocons took prosperous turn-of-the-21st-century America and turned it into an international pariah, unable to protect its people, unwilling to save its most vulnerable, beholden to interests, overt and covert, shared by the few, at the expense of the many.

This is not the America of the civics lesson, the Constitution, and the great future we once had; the conservative voter had a hand in making it so. Weimar Germany was no great shakes compared to late 20th century America. Conservatives may not have us goose-stepping and sieg-heiling, but they have brought this country low, shamed themselves and all of us, and made the world of the future unstable, unwelcoming, and dangerous.

It's no wonder they don't want to take the blame. All they did was vote. The guys they elected did all the bad stuff. Not their responsibility.

Part of being human is making mistakes. Part of being human is accepting the consequences of your mistakes. Part of being a good human is taking responsibility for mistakes and their consequences. It's too bad the conservative comeuppance hurts us all; if these individual voters are the good humans we must presume them to be, then they will accept that they had a part in a terrible wrong.

Otherwise they're just finishing what they started.
posted by breezeway at 10:17 AM on January 30, 2008 [10 favorites]

You shouldn't have be in an environment where people are so politically charged and wedded to their ideas that you have to be uncomfortable and feel like an outsider just because your political viewpoints are different.
We're not doing that because those political viewpoints are different.

We're doing that because those political viewpoints are, by and large, stupid.
posted by scrump at 10:25 AM on January 30, 2008


Speaking only for myself - thanks, Deathalicious. That was a nice sentiment, and I suspect that it's shared by a larger number of visitors here than this thread might indicate.

But that's the Internet. This site, which purports to be the best of the web, is sometimes representative of the worst of the web, as well. Sometimes I come here and click on a whole thread full of political angst, targeted at my side of the aisle. It's true that I rarely see the left subjected to a similar beating here, but that's hardly the point.

The point, for me, at least, is that this site is funny, thought-provoking, and interesting. I get more enjoyment out of dios's deep interest in law, klangklangston's analysis and meta-analysis, flapjax's musical obsession, jessamyn's library science, languagehat's matters linguistic, Tex's rowdy humor, nickyskye's online learning and playful artiness, jonmc's self-effacing grumblings, vronsky's cultural touchstones, XQUZYPHYR's and blahblahblah's geeky humor, miss lynnster's pop culture, asparagirl's financial news, and cortex's donut than I get disappointment at loquacious' yelling. And that's just the past week or so.

So, yeah, sometimes it's crappy, but most of the time I want to roll the whole site up in a big fantastic flag. The ratio is much better here than elsewhere, and if people want to call my baby ugly, that's just part of the deal. I don't want anyone to feel like they can't be themselves, because it seems to be working.

That having been said, the self-analysis and off-blowing of steam here in MetaTalk seems to be working, too.
posted by rush at 10:31 AM on January 30, 2008

we really are open to other ideas, especially when expressed intelligently and cogently.
Amen to this. Unfortunately, both intelligence and cogence are usually missing from what passes for "conservative thought".

What I usually read, here or anywhere else that "conservatives" decide to try to make a stand, is something like:
Liberal: You know, the latest reports from the IPCC and the UN scientific bodies really do seem to bear out climate change. And then there's this stuff from James Hansen, the chief scientist at NASA. And there's also this stuff over here at Pharyngula, which, although it's a blog, and heavily slanted, aggregates a lot of SCIENCE!! on the topic.

Conservative "riposte": Typical liberal groupthink. The IPCC and the UN have both been tainted for years by the new political correctness and it's just frankly naive to believe that science is anything other than hopelessly slanted. Furthermore, it's typical of the left to cite a blog instead of hard evidence. Come up with some actual facts and we can talk.
I am entirely willing to listen to reasoned critiques and disagreements. Intelligent and cogent disagreements, if you will. And I'm still waiting to hear some. From where I'm sitting, there is zero chance I will be persuaded by an argument that adds up to LA LA LA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING AND BESIDES LIBERALS ARE NAIVE STUPID KIDS AMIRITE.
posted by scrump at 10:51 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, the comment was offensive because it made light of the Holocaust. And that, that myopic, irrational parallel between the suffering of the Jews and all others who were murdered and some perceived victimhood at the hands of societal partisanship in the USA, is utterly uncalled for. Not to mention insane. That's why people didn't want to see it in the sidebar.

For the record, since some people on the this thread seem to be obsessed with *how many* objections there are and whether it's statistically significant, I'm in the "It's-offensive-because-not-everything-bad-or-scary-is-a-Nazi" camp.

Besides demonstrating supreme rhetorically laziness, I too find it offensive to the memories of the Nazis' victims.

However, perhaps even more disturbing, were the posts in this thread that took the claim even further, and insisted on the almost literal Nazism of conservatives and neo-conservatives.

I'm a sort of middle of the road'er, I'm usually the most liberal in a room of conservatives, and the most conservative in a room of liberals. And while I often don't agree with the rest of the people in those rooms, I try my damndest to understand where they're coming from, and can appreciate that their politics are informed by their worldviews and not by a malicious campaign for power, money, or chocolate milk. GWB is just a moron, though.

I think dios - in particular - has been nothing but collected and level-headed about all this, although s/he (?) has attracted an unfair amount of hostilities from those who read those comments as anti-liberal (or pro neo-con) and not just anti-sidebar.

Also I also found the pullquote misleading, and I also appreciate and respect all the mods' hard work.
posted by prophetsearcher at 11:05 AM on January 30, 2008


Take it off the sidebar already.

It was not a very interesting anecdote and it pandered in all the wrong ways.

Unlike my anecdotes. Which pander in all the right ways. I make a point to include monkeys, or robots, or drunk driving, or boobies, or monkey boobies drunk driving with robots. At the very least I include a good punchline. This post had none of those.

It must be destroyed.

Do I think the Bush neocon movement can be likened to Nazism? Sure. Kinda. Neocons may not be brown shirts, per se. They are more like the cushion shoe insoles that help with a lively Der Stechschritt (goose-step). But I don't think the post in question was revelatory in any meaningful way in that regard.
posted by tkchrist at 11:30 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Neoconservatives: as an unabashed progressive liberal with some conservative* beliefs, I would like to apologize for how you have been treated in this
post, even if, you have yet to take any responsibility for the relentless demonization of Americans with myriad religious and political beliefs, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientation, in order to further a morally bankrupt and self serving agenda, by fanning the
flames of fear and partisanship.


Even though I find it nearly impossible to understand how you can hold the beliefs you hold, you nonetheless are human beings and deserve to be treated as such, although a bit of
shame or remorse for the wrong headedness and incompetence you’ve shown is
sorely lacking and would give any argument you care to raise much more validity.

I am sorry that you often feel unwelcome in MetaFilter although your opinions are listened too and considered. If only there was a similar right leaning community (That could never be accused of groupthink) on the internet where liberals weren’t instantly branded Terrorist Loving Fags.

And I would like you to know that even if I sometimes feel that your ideas are silly, (dangerous, selfish, cruel, greedy, self righteous, insane, arrogant, immoral, unethical, un-American), and express this as such in my comments, I should still treat you with respect and should call you on your ideas and not on your person. -- Although to be completely honest I think you should pay some sort of price, even if that price is as simple as some remorse, shame or honest self reflection. You and your cohorts in the
neocon (group) think tanks (PNAC, AEI), government and in the media caused the death
of 4000 dead Americans, 100,000 wounded Americans, millions of dead or displaced Iraqis. Scores of tortured prisoners. And America’s
lessening in the world of the eyes as a nation committed to human rights. And you did it casually, as easily as turning on Rush or O’Reilly getting your two minutes of hate for those they yelled at and bullied and dehumanized so that you could feel safe through the pain and
humiliation of others. If you don’t see that as a deeply dangerous first step towards the passive acceptance of a Nazi-like atmosphere, I have nothing else to say to you.



I hope that you will call me on this in the future, and I hope that everyone here on MetaFilter will make you feel welcome, because as Brandon Blatcher stated (and
as I believe) we really are open to other ideas, especially when expressed intelligently
and cogently; thoughtfully with compassion.

Regretfully, I find the predictable and misleading court room acrobatics in this call out designed to be manipulative of the good, ever-patient graces of our moderators and the Meficommunity as a whole.

We are so past the point where neoconservative ideas and the policies they’ve inspired be debated with academic or theoretical dispassion.

I’ve had a bellyful of it.

I’m willing to concede that perhaps this is a failing. One should never lose the ability to listen to those with differing ideas --even if they’ve suppressed yours and made you
feel like less than human--. I think when one has “had a bellyful”, of some repellent idea or other, is exactly the time to reach deep down for those principles of openness and humiliation and compassion, or run the very real risk turning into that very thing that they deplore most.

I’m not going to let my distrust and disgust with an idea or belief, define my beliefs or how I carry myself as an individual. So come out, come out you neoconservatives
and you Bush apologists and you armchair theoreticians and historians and academics,
come out and let your voices be heard. Present a 1001 salient points to support your beliefs about the true meaning and purpose of America
these post 911 years. If you’re still spouting off like an obtuse autistic dolt obsessed
with process or the minutiae of political science used to devalue a personal
subjective opinion or especially if you’re a still wearing an ideological
blindfold that doesn’t allow you to trust what you see with your own eyes as to the reality of the state of this world and of these United States circa 2008, expect to be
called out on it.

*
posted by Skygazer at 11:32 AM on January 30, 2008



If only there was a similar right leaning community (That could never be accused of groupthink) on the internet where liberals weren’t instantly branded Terrorist Loving Fags.

I would love to see one of the MetaNeoCons point to a self examination discussion, similar to this one, on a right wing site - like Little Green Footballs, FI. They don't exist.

The fact that we have a 200+ thread ABOUT the fairness of a post speaks well.
posted by tkchrist at 11:44 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not snark, but genuine curiousity: Can you pointo to self examination discussions like this on left wing sites - like dailycoz, HuffPo?
posted by prophetsearcher at 12:02 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pulling the quote now would set an awful precedence. Change the quote, or leave it, or yank down the whole sideblog if you must. I don't want to hear from the next injured minority to point to this thread as just cause.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:05 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


But, we're all injured minorities.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:08 PM on January 30, 2008


Not snark, but genuine curiousity: Can you pointo to self examination discussions like this on left wing sites - like dailycoz, HuffPo?

Nope. I don't read either. But I bet you can find it on HuffPo if you look.

But you sure can find it HERE, right?
posted by tkchrist at 12:08 PM on January 30, 2008


I would love to see one of the MetaNeoCons point to a self examination discussion, similar to this one, on a right wing site - tkchrist

I guess that depends on your definition of "self-examination" and "right wing site." Does National Review Online count? Also, if you're into that sort of thing, there's bloggingheads.tv.
posted by rush at 12:11 PM on January 30, 2008



I guess that depends on your definition of "self-examination" and "right wing site."

My definition would not include anything on NRO since 2003.
posted by tkchrist at 12:19 PM on January 30, 2008


But you sure can find it HERE, right?
Absolutely, and it's one of the things I love about this site. Another is that it hasn't self-identified any political proclivities, as far as I'm aware. Which is why it seemed strange to me that you compared meta to lgf ... they're apples and oranges, no?
posted by prophetsearcher at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2008


Skygazer: Although to be completely honest I think you should pay some sort of price, even if that price is as simple as some remorse, shame or honest self reflection. You and your cohorts in the neocon (group) think tanks (PNAC, AEI), government and in the media caused the death of 4000 dead Americans, 100,000 wounded Americans, millions of dead or displaced Iraqis. Scores of tortured prisoners. And America’s lessening in the world of the eyes as a nation committed to human rights. And you did it casually, as easily as turning on Rush or O’Reilly getting your two minutes of hate for those they yelled at and bullied and dehumanized so that you could feel safe through the pain and humiliation of others. If you don’t see that as a deeply dangerous first step towards the passive acceptance of a Nazi-like atmosphere, I have nothing else to say to you.

Wow, you're really a big fan of this jingoist bullshit, aren't you? And somewhat addicted to haughty hand-wringing and self-important prattle. Calm the fuck down for a moment and maybe you'll stop seeing little Hitlers everywhere and start noticing the fragility and frailty of the human condition. Moral indignation is useless, and all, even the cruelest tyrants, do nothing but what they think is right and suffer inwardly for their crimes. In this world where we all as children try to discover the true path, outrage, especially this outrage that finds expression in common slogans and often-heard but little-considered catchphrases, stands blocking the way between our momentary state of confused ignorance and the knowing that can allow us to reckon rightly.
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which is why it seemed strange to me that you compared meta to lgf

Oh brother. I didn't compare them. I listed LGF as an example of right wing site. Which it clearly is. If anything I used it as example of contrast.
posted by tkchrist at 12:52 PM on January 30, 2008


jingoist bullshit

I don't think that means what you think it means.
posted by tkchrist at 12:53 PM on January 30, 2008


You're right. Mark that out and put "sloganeering." Bullshit is right, though.
posted by koeselitz at 12:56 PM on January 30, 2008


Moral indignation is useless, and all, even the cruelest tyrants, do nothing but what they think is right and suffer inwardly for their crimes.

If we're all suffering inwardly, why hold anyone accountable for anything? I mean, we're all already suffering. That is, if we've done anything wrong. And if we're not suffering, then of course that must mean we have nothing to suffer for!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:57 PM on January 30, 2008


I'm suffering inwardly. I think it's this dairy allergy, though. But I'm outraged anyway!!

I blame the dairy comission for making cheese seem so yummy! Down with dairy!
posted by tkchrist at 1:06 PM on January 30, 2008


MetaTalk: little Hitlers everywhere.
posted by languagehat at 1:09 PM on January 30, 2008


Oh brother. I didn't compare them. I listed LGF as an example of right wing site. Which it clearly is. If anything I used it as example of contrast.


this really shouldn't be the point of this thread - but i just don't see the "score one against conservative blogs" that your post seemed to imply.

hug?
posted by prophetsearcher at 1:15 PM on January 30, 2008


How many little Hitlers can you fit into a pixel on the sidebar?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on January 30, 2008


kittens for breakfast: If we're all suffering inwardly, why hold anyone accountable for anything? I mean, we're all already suffering. That is, if we've done anything wrong. And if we're not suffering, then of course that must mean we have nothing to suffer for!

We hold people accountable because we care about reducing their suffering. Moreover, all suffering isn't necessarily internal, so we hold people accountable because we care about reducing the suffering of others at their hands. There's no other reason. Most people, unfortunately, seem to think that we hold people accountable in order to get revenge.

People only do wrong through ignorance.
posted by koeselitz at 1:17 PM on January 30, 2008


We hold people accountable because we care about reducing their suffering. Moreover, all suffering isn't necessarily internal, so we hold people accountable because we care about reducing the suffering of others at their hands. There's no other reason. Most people, unfortunately, seem to think that we hold people accountable in order to get revenge.

People only do wrong through ignorance.


I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with close to every word of that -- leaving aside situations where people's behavior is patently outside of their control -- but it's a very pleasant sentiment.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:24 PM on January 30, 2008


but i just don't see the "score one against conservative blogs" that your post seemed to imply.

Seeing that it's the MeFi Conservative contingent calling Mefi itself out for being unfair I figured they can go where they feel it IS fair. I just wanted somebody to cite this fairness for me.
posted by tkchrist at 1:27 PM on January 30, 2008


tkchrist, did you click my NRO link?
posted by rush at 1:33 PM on January 30, 2008


outrage, especially this outrage that finds expression in common slogans and often-heard but little-considered catchphrases, stands blocking the way between our momentary state of confused ignorance and the knowing that can allow us to reckon rightly

But it sure does win elections against surrender monkeys.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:37 PM on January 30, 2008


Unless written by someone who walked down 50 floors of one of those towers or narrowly missed their flight on a hijacked plane due to traffic snarls on the way to the airport, no comment which references September 11th as the day the writer's approach to life changed is worthy of the prominence given this one. That's my quality concern. Is there a site somewhere that collects all the statements of puppeteers, interpretive dancers, figure skating coaches, dress designers, master gardeners and triathletes who cite 9/11 as the day they rededicated themselves to their art or found new inspiration and direction? How 9/11 Saved Me From Rush Limbaugh can be an inspirational feature story over there.
posted by TimTypeZed at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think deborah was reacting to the dismissive charge against the cited comment's "have to watch my mouth" bits as being nutty, not condoning the idea of suppressing viewpoints.

cortex got it.

dios - I agree with your statement a brazillion times. And I'm part of the problem because I, for the most part, didn't speak up. But, in my defence, I kept my thoughts to myself because of who was speaking and in the knowledge I wouldn't change minds.

I'm still keeping my mouth shut here in Canada. It might surprise y'all how much racism is evident here. It's especially bad against First Nations people and immigrants. The only good thing is now that I'm mostly housebound, I don't see those people very often.
posted by deborah at 1:50 PM on January 30, 2008


tkchrist, did you click my NRO link?

Yes. But to be honest I will have to wait for my eyes to stop rolling before I can complete reading it. And then I will have wait for the waves of nausea to subside before rendering any sense of what I read after that... I'll get back to you.
posted by tkchrist at 2:04 PM on January 30, 2008


Deathalicious writes "In the right context, I might have become a Nazi, I might not have. It's difficult to know, and considering that most people in Germany became Nazis rather than resisters, it's kind of a retarded thing to argue about. I think very few people have the kind of will and moral certainty that can stand in the face of total and absolute totalitarianism, so most people would just go along even if they didn't really believe in the creeds of their movement."

Yeah. If we're defining "being a Nazi" in terms of going along with the Nazis -- not fighting them -- then I'm in fact pretty darn sure I'd be a Nazi. I'd never believe in the cause, I'd hate myself for what I was doing, but the self-preservation instinct is very strong in me. Martyrdom is something that I appreciate, but could never do myself. I'd hate the Nazis and yet become one rather than be killed. It's not something I'm proud about. It's a shameful part of my personality. But I'm pretty sure this guy is using "be a Nazi" in the sense of "believe in Naziism", not just "do what the Naziis tell you without struggle". So I'd be a Nazi like most of the Germans were during the war, but I wouldn't "be" a Nazi in the sense that this guy is talking about. Very vague phrase.

Artw writes "Yeah, good luck with that. They live to whine about how oppressed they are."

Everyone except the centrists lives to whine about how oppressed they are. Christians whine about how the liberals are crushing them, atheists whine about how the Christians are oppressing them, lefties whine about how the right is oppressing them, righties whine about how the left is oppressing them. The only thing is, each person is blind to their own whining. Or rather, their own complaints aren't whining, they're accurate, important, measured commentary on reality, pointing out of severe injustices. What the other side is doing is "whining".
posted by Bugbread at 2:07 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes. But to be honest I will have to wait for my eyes to stop rolling before I can complete reading it. And then I will have wait for the waves of nausea to subside before rendering any sense of what I read after that... I'll get back to you. - tkchrist

Huh. I ask because, well, it's video.
posted by rush at 2:10 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock: The better question is how many five year old Hitlers could you take in a fight - and would you go back in time to fight them in order to stop the Holocaust?
posted by absalom at 2:17 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Metafilter has become an insult to those of us who followed Dance Fever lo all these years. Unless written by someone who earned calluses over blisters or had to wear polyester suits, no comment that ignores Deney Terrio's contribution to society is worth the prominence given Solid Gold. Is there a site somewhere that collects all the statements of frustrated Young Republicans, amateur lawyers, and two-left-footed klutzes who cite Fame as the show they changed channels to afterwards? Last Night A DJ Saved My Life can be an inspirational feature story over there.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:23 PM on January 30, 2008


I'd fight a stadium full of five year old Hitlers just for the fun of it and because it would be good exercise.
posted by ND¢ at 2:27 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock: The better question is how many five year old Hitlers could you take in a fight - and would you go back in time to fight them in order to stop the Holocaust?

FLAGGED AS HYPOTHETICAL you know better
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:29 PM on January 30, 2008


Just to assist with the visual, I am picturing your average college football stadium. I am in the center of the field where they do the coin toss, and in the stands are 80,000 five year old Hitlers. They look exactly the same, and are all normal five year olds, except for the fact that they are in little Nazi uniforms, but with short pants. The whistle blows and they all come at me with blood in their eyes. My strategy would be to head right for the stands and fight my way up to the upper deck. I would then just toss five year old Hitlers over the guardrail and to their deaths until they were all taken care of.
posted by ND¢ at 2:41 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh and I am dressed as Captain America.
posted by ND¢ at 3:09 PM on January 30, 2008


Honestly, who cares if MetaFliter appears to lean to the right or to the left once in a while? Achieving perfect balance between two arbirtrary viewpoints is simply not possible nor advisable, and trying will only make an institution end up like CNN - desperately trying to balance while failing to deliver worthwhile content.

If 200 MeFites found that comment interesting to read, then it should be on the sidebar because it's likely that many more will get something out of it as well. I thought the comment was a good read, and I found it via the sidebar. It's simply providing good service to the community.
posted by ignignokt at 3:39 PM on January 30, 2008


did you click my NRO link?

I did. And first off, at the next hate-rally, could you please tell Peter Beinart to quit shooting a glance to the right so often? I keep expecting one of his undead minions, who is sneaking up behind him, to leap up and take his head off or something.

As for content... well... let's just say that even though I tried to keep an open mind, the ruminations of two people who are wrong to begin with, no matter how thoughtful they might be, are still wrong. I was particularly troubled by the idea that John McCain has no chance to be the Republican candidate because a handful of radio talk show hosts don't support him. Way to confirm my nightmare suspicions about the right wing.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:50 PM on January 30, 2008


SHUT UP! My GRANDFATHER died fighting five little Hitlers!
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:19 PM on January 30, 2008


Sorry, I edited that to make it clearer, but usually there is a strong correlation.

I can buy that it was an edit for clarity, but I don't think you should be able to do that.

You disclosed the edit (though not at its site), but you only made the disclosure after someone copypasted your text downthread. You're one of the people who run the place, and I'm not (and no one really cares what I think, I suppose), but still I think it's a lousy thing to do.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:45 PM on January 30, 2008


I think it's a lousy thing to do.

Generally speaking, I agree with you and almost never edit things I write. However, when the things we say here in MeTa are gone over with a fine tooth comb and I make a mistake in what I typed and edit it and note it two minutes later, I think it's preferable to having people continue to read the error and misconstrue what I was trying to say.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:08 PM on January 30, 2008


Yeah, I'd say editing to make ourselves look good would be a shitty move; but a quick, in-the-moment edit for clarity on a policy point, every once in a while that makes sense.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:31 PM on January 30, 2008


For example: under some circumstances, I might have removed that superfluous "that". I'd be uncomfortable with the idea of changing meaning, or making any non-superficial change well after the fact, but just plain coherence-breaking errors?
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:33 PM on January 30, 2008


Well, considering the gut-wrenching angst some of us go through when we notice an error in our messages after we've posted... on the other hand, I've occasionally shot a memail or email to the admins to ask them to correct a typo or three, and they've always been more than charitable to share their godlike editing benevolence.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:37 PM on January 30, 2008


Koeselitz: In this world where we all as children try to discover the true path, outrage, especially this outrage that finds expression in common slogans and often-heard but little-considered catchphrases, stands blocking the way between our momentary state of confused ignorance and the knowing that can allow us to reckon rightly.

I'll take outrage over hubris any day. I think we need more outrage to tell you the truth. We also need more truth and compassion and understanding and empathy and kindness and open mindedness and selflessness and respect for one another.

I don't want revenge. I don’t hate Bush or the neocons or those who supported their policies as much as I feel sorry for them. The record is there for all to see, I didn’t conjure it up. It will become even more and damning, as time goes by and more light is allowed to shine on it

All I truly care about is finding the answers to: Why and how did it happen? And: How can we make sure it doesn't happen again? Neoconservatives, as the engineers of much Bush doctrine, must take responsibility for their considerable role.

I think history will loath George W. Bush and the neoconservatives. Because when this nation was in terrible danger after 911 (and it still is) and it stood up ready to meet the challenge of its time. George W. Bush said that America wasn't truly made in the image of the American people, but that it was, made in his image, and in that of his cronies, and that they had their own agenda to further, and that the best thing we could do was to “go shopping” and go back to sleep. And that’s what we did. In other words, he was given the chance for greatness, with the full blessing of the nation at his back and he choose mediocrity instead. History and Americans in particular, never look kindly on those who've shied away from greatness.
posted by Skygazer at 7:47 PM on January 30, 2008


that the best thing we could do was to “go shopping”

A perfectly Keynesian suggestion, no?
posted by Kwantsar at 8:03 PM on January 30, 2008


Skygazer: I'll take outrage over hubris any day.

Sure. But perspective teaches that, contrary to contemporary appearances, we don't have to choose between outrage or hubris.

I think we need more outrage to tell you the truth.

My point is that outrage has no place in the contemplation that leads to the truth. But then, my impression of 'the truth' seems to be different from yours. I see it as a difficult thing, a thing to be sought. You seem to think that it's obvious.
posted by koeselitz at 7:23 AM on January 31, 2008


Honestly, who cares if MetaFliter appears to lean to the right or to the left once in a while? Achieving perfect balance between two arbirtrary viewpoints is simply not possible nor advisable

I have seen variants on this throughout my time on MetaFilter, and they always give me a laugh. Anyone who thinks MetaFilter is not overwhelmingly left-leaning (and spare me your quibbles about how no one in America is truly left—for these purposes we can define "left" as "despises the Republican Party") is wearing blinders the size of cortex's doughnut. The day MetaFilter even momentarily "appears to lean to the right" will be the day Cthulhu rises from the deep and feasts on our flesh.

You may now resume your regularly scheduled outrage.
posted by languagehat at 7:38 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilters not all Americans, which skews things against them a lot, since most of the rest of the world regards them as dangerous nutjobs likely to cause trouble (cf. the last 8 years).
posted by Artw at 7:47 AM on January 31, 2008


Metafilters not all Americans

Of course not, but 1) most are, and 2) those that aren't skew even farther to the left, so you're just supporting my point.
posted by languagehat at 9:18 AM on January 31, 2008


You know what post I would like to see on the sidebar? The one with the list of great British comedies over the years, like Fawlty Towers and Black Adder.
posted by misha at 9:22 AM on January 31, 2008


Ahem. The rest of the world does not skew to the left, YOU skew to the right.
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on January 31, 2008

Anyone who thinks MetaFilter is not overwhelmingly left-leaning
I'm curious: why is this such a big problem? As far as I can tell, MetaFilter's version of "overwhelmingly left-leaning" means:I'm failing to see how any of these things are, de facto or de jure, worthy of full-throated, eliminationist, contemptuous scorn. Yet, for some reason, these things drive "conservatives", both on MetaFilter and off, into a rabid, frothing rage and lead them to do risibly simplistic things like question someone's love of their country.

As a counterpoint, I see the following policy points expounded by "conservatives":I know which side I'd rather be on.
posted by scrump at 10:54 AM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


My point is that outrage has no place in the contemplation that leads to the truth. But then, my impression of 'the truth' seems to be different from yours. I see it as a difficult thing, a thing to be sought. You seem to think that it's obvious.

I think the problem here it that you're talking about Truth, and I'm talking "the truth" in the here and now. Outrage, whether it's directed towards God or more earth ridden matters , is always a crucial element of uncovering Truth / the truth.

In this thread and in the one previous, you've been hinting at the idea that the Truth lies in areas we don't understand and that require a careful reading and contemplation of the Political Science canon. I think you give neoconservatism way too much credit. That sort of thinking is the very same that got us into this mess in the first place.

There's a very theoretical and academic aspect to Neoconservatism, that is impressive in it's erudition and theory, but has proven itself to be painfully inept at the processing of empirical data or leveraging common sense. It's like a smart kid that has the chemistry formulas to build a powerful bomb, but neglects to realize that if s/he brings that into actualization and sets it off, it's going to do serious damage. And when it happens there doesn't seem to be any feedback loop that allows for adjustment to the realities at hand because, it just doesn't fit in with the perfect and unassailable perfection of the long range plan. This is why I think of neoconservativism as a utopian ideology. All means are sacrificed towards the end. I'll forgo the obvious parallel (or orthogonal).

Aside. I am in no way looking to devalue the horror of the Nazism of the 30s and 40s. But I am saying we will always be capable of that. And the real lesson to be derived from that is that, it's better to err on the side of safety. My experience of 2003/2004/2005 in America was of a certain lethal strain of silencing / subhumanization and scapegoating and half jokey threats taking place with the tacit approval of the highest office in the country. Alarms should've been going off all over the place, but many who would've normally spoken up were afraid and others just dismissed it out right. End aside.

I'm not against academics and people steeped in theory, it's great to discuss and debate and all that. (Hell, I was a philosophy major.), but they're the last people I want making policy and running a country and dictating action to a real (and huge) military. Humans are too fragile...


Anyhow, when this White House allows transparency and shows any, respect for the "truth", I'll be glad to put away my outrage and contemplate it in a more balanced and nuanced.

But since, neither the White House, nor the neocons have any respect for the "truth" (the former from cynical self interest and the latter from hubris and myopia, and both from a pathological and cowardly inability to admit mistakes) all I can do, and all anyone can do, is weigh the results and trust my own experience and those of the people around me.

I have no doubt I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to get to the truth of what happened these eight years -- (provided, knock on wood, this country begins functioning again and trying at least to live up to it's big ass promise and lofty ideals) -- and studying the public records and the thoughts and opinions of those in the various government positions and academia (including the sacred canon) and matching it all up to the deeper Truths (capital T) of life and humanity, but either way I'm not going to stop telling my experience of it and outrage is a huge part of it.

For now I'm just happy to hope that if we get a really great president in office (Obama) who can get us thinking like a country again, things might turn out okay, and put these miserable years into perspective.
posted by Skygazer at 11:07 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Invading other peoples countries and putting people in camps rarely goes down all that well either.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on January 31, 2008


a more balanced and nuanced way.
posted by Skygazer at 11:10 AM on January 31, 2008


If anybody feels like reading some historical non-fiction, here's a metatalk thread from 6+ years ago that includes, in part, a lengthy discussion of editorial implications in the sidebarring of a comment by Steven Den Beste.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:17 AM on January 31, 2008


...at the next hate-rally, could you please tell Peter Beinart...

...the ruminations of two people who are wrong to begin with...

Way to confirm my nightmare suspicions about the right wing.
- Dave Faris

Dave, you do know that Peter Beinart is an avowed progressive liberal, and editor-at-large for the liberal magazine The New Republic, right? Are you suggesting that he's right-wing?

I'm confused...
posted by rush at 11:25 AM on January 31, 2008


Ah. I didn't realize he was left wing. I'll have to ask him to stop doing it at one of our hate rallies, then. Peter wasn't the one who was making the assertion that McCain had no chance because Limbaugh and the right wing talk shows hate him.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2008


here's a metatalk thread from 6+ years ago that includes, in part, a lengthy discussion of editorial implications in the sidebarring of a comment by Steven Den Beste.

Man, reading a MeFi discussion about Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 is hilarious.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:19 PM on January 31, 2008


Skygazer: thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Skygazer: I think the problem here it that you're talking about Truth, and I'm talking "the truth" in the here and now. Outrage, whether it's directed towards God or more earth ridden matters , is always a crucial element of uncovering Truth / the truth.

I wasn't speaking precisely enough, and I know I was sort of hand-waving. But I don't believe there's major difference in method, even though there's a difference in kind, where truth is concerned. I'll try to explain below.

In this thread and in the one previous, you've been hinting at the idea that the Truth lies in areas we don't understand and that require a careful reading and contemplation of the Political Science canon. I think you give neoconservatism way too much credit. That sort of thinking is the very same that got us into this mess in the first place.

I want to point out a couple important things there: first of all, I don't believe that knowing truth requires a reading of any sort of canon. If it did, then no one would know truth about political things, since someone had to come up with a canon in the first place. I do believe that reading old books helps us understand ourselves, and can help a lot along the way, but it's not necessary. Second, while I enjoy old books, I don't believe that the neoconservatives have as much of an appreciation of them as they think they do.

Third, I'm not interested in "giving neoconservativism credit." I'm interested in something different: understanding what other people think, and why.

There's a very theoretical and academic aspect to Neoconservatism, that is impressive in it's erudition and theory, but has proven itself to be painfully inept at the processing of empirical data or leveraging common sense... I'm not against academics and people steeped in theory, it's great to discuss and debate and all that. (Hell, I was a philosophy major.), but they're the last people I want making policy and running a country and dictating action to a real (and huge) military. Humans are too fragile...

I disagree with the simple distinction between theory and practice. If theory doesn't work in practice, then it's simply bad theory; in short, there's no way to be a good student of political science and a bad practitioner of political arts. But I don't think this is very central; both of us can agree that the current crop are bad practitioners. As someone who has a few things to say about academia, and who values education and discussion, however, I feel like (a) those theorists you're referring to should be taken down a notch, and (b) theory and discussion has an incredibly important place in our political life.

Aside. I am in no way looking to devalue the horror of the Nazism of the 30s and 40s. But I am saying we will always be capable of that. And the real lesson to be derived from that is that, it's better to err on the side of safety. My experience of 2003/2004/2005 in America was of a certain lethal strain of silencing / subhumanization and scapegoating and half jokey threats taking place with the tacit approval of the highest office in the country. Alarms should've been going off all over the place, but many who would've normally spoken up were afraid and others just dismissed it out right. End aside.

I'm glad you bring this up, because there are a few things I've been wanting to mention on this score that I realize really were influencing my reactions here and in the thread. Some background: probably the biggest influence on my own study of political philosophy has been the writing of someone named Leo Strauss. He's been debated and discussed at length by lots of people who've never read his work, including many prominent neoconservatives, which has prompted his inclusion among them, although he's not a neoconservative at all. In any case: one of the central facts of Leo Strauss' work was his Jewishness. Strauss was a student in Germany in the early '30's, a student of Martin Heidegger. But in 1933, Martin Heidegger, whom Strauss and many others were convinced was the greatest philosopher of his generation, became the rector of the university in Heiberg, which was the leading university in Germany, and gave a famous speech, in full Nazi regalia, announcing that the German universities were in full support of the Nazi regime and its aims. Of course, Strauss and many of Heidegger's students (a large number of whom were Jewish, interestingly enough) were forced to flee to other countries, some to Israel, others to the United States.

Leo Strauss in particular took up this question seriously and unflinchingly: how can a man who is so philosophically intelligent, who one might almost say is wise, be so politically wrong? This is not simply a question about a single individual. Germany was a peak of cultural excellence, of artistic excellence, and especially of academic excellence. How could this entire nation go so wrong?

Strauss' answer, which is most bluntly stated in an incredibly deep book called Natural Right And Philosophy, seems to me to have been: Germany forgot that there is such a thing as a study of politics, and that there is such a thing as right. He particularly points up Max Weber, attacking his sense that thought about politics requires complete detachment and a total lack of judgement or valuation. Strauss suggests here, I believe, that what allowed Germany to devolve into Nazism was the perception that any notion of 'right' was subject to reinterpretation and not definitive, and that the Nazis could thus redefine 'right' as they chose, as they redefined their nation by removing the elements that they disliked.

Long story short: he argues, I think, that Nazism is what happens when we don't think hard enough about right and wrong and don't take justice seriously enough. I agree with him, and in fact this is the difference I have with most neoconservatives; I don't think that they take justice seriously enough. To that degree, I can agree with you that we should be careful not to let the same thing happen here. But there are some important caveats.

I said above that I'm interested in learning what people think and why they think the way they do. I think that's the central task of politics; it's also extremely difficult. Like I said, I like old books, and one of my favorites is Thucydides' Peloponnesian War; I like that book because of the remarkable speeches between representatives of different cities. They're remarkable because you'll read one speech and agree entirely with what the speaker says; then you'll read the next, which is arguing that everything the first speaker said is wrong, and you'll agree with it entirely, too. Thucydides is very good at painting us this picture of different points of view; each speaker has his reasons for being the way he is, reasons related to his city, to his family, to the things he wants or desires, to the things he thinks are right. And they are all understandable; in the end, though some position must be right, it's comprehensible why every one of them believes what they believe.

You don't have to read Thucydides to see this. Every person believes things for a reason. Neoconservatives believe what they believe for a complex set of reasons, some of them intentional, some of them unintentional. Yes, I have twenty years' worth of back issues of Commentary in my garage (I inherited them from a library) most of which I read through when I was in college. I believe those people do what they do for a reason, and I'd like to completely understand it, just like I'd like to understand the Loyalists in the Spanish civil war and the Republicans and the Democrats and the Evangelicals and the Leftists and everybody else.

I guess what I'm getting around to is this: while I believe we should all think a little harder about justice, I think one of the first steps is emptying our consciences of moralism motivated by disgust. This is the principle I follow in things like abortion or homosexuality; I know people (you might, too) who believe these things are immoral because they get a funny feeling in the pit of their stomachs when they picture them. I think that's precisely the wrong way to think about justice, so I strenuously avoid it when I'm trying to decide what's right, and I try to remind myself constantly that if I make moral decisions based on my being upset or angry or disgusted, I'm likely to be wrong.

People do what they think is right. The most selfish person in the world is selfish because she believes that only selfishness will be rewarded, and that she cannot be assured of being happy without being selfish. Really serious political thought begins when I can look at that person not with disgust or anger at what they've done wrong, as though they have a duty to me, but with cold understanding that ignorance is what drives them, that this ignorance is hurting them as well, and that, the sooner that ignorance is cured, the better off they and everyone else will be. The first step of that project is understanding what they think, and why they think it. The important motivator must be justice and the good of all.

I think we're really not very different; maybe I've just been discussing it from a different position. Anyhow, sorry this is so long; you've gotten me thinking about this...
posted by koeselitz at 11:39 AM on February 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Good comment.
posted by Snyder at 3:54 PM on February 1, 2008


« Older Oh how easily we forget! Month...  |  Seeing this response by the or... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments