Torture videos do not belong on Metafilter March 27, 2009 9:54 PM   Subscribe

I don't believe that this torture video post is material that belongs on the front page. The post's writer is editorializing, and, worse, the subject is not dealt with in any serious matter, by virtue of the "ouchies" tag and any lack of substantive material other than the near context-free recordings of physical violence and suffering.

This is the very antithesis of a good post on our site and I ask that others who agree consider flagging it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Etiquette/Policy at 9:54 PM (179 comments total)

Has anything ever been deleted after 100+ comments? Just curious.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:06 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is a pretty good discussion. I learned about Simone Weil.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:11 PM on March 27, 2009


Wow, I didn't notice the "ouchies" tag.

That post seemed like poor form, and I was surprised to see it from FFF.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:13 PM on March 27, 2009


Meant to include: taking it down at this point seems like closing the door after the horse is out, to be honest.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:14 PM on March 27, 2009


Yeah, that was not a good post. I flagged it too, but considering what time it is and how long it's been open it's probably too late to delete it.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:15 PM on March 27, 2009


But it did help us settle once and for all that under-researched question, "Will strapping a man to a wooden frame and beating him with a stick until his flesh breaks deter drug crime?"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:18 PM on March 27, 2009


I agree that it's not a good post. I think the topic could be appropriate, but the tone was pretty off. What's even more strange is the week connection to corporal punishment in schools, as if it's related to more severe caning, simply because the terminology is similar.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:24 PM on March 27, 2009


Deleted. I could be done better and be okay, but that seemed far too much like five fresh fish kind of taking a reaction to a graphic video and running with it in a way that should have been on his own blog, not the front page.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:25 PM on March 27, 2009


flarbuse's posts should be spotlighted - even though sort of offtopic, they are as shocking as informative.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 10:25 PM on March 27, 2009


Guess that answers my initial question.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:26 PM on March 27, 2009


I was going to flag it but instead I flogged it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:27 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks, cortex.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:28 PM on March 27, 2009


I'm a bit ambivalent on whether it was of good form to post this, though I'll at least give fff credit for accurately describing the brutality of the video as a warning. It's certainly grotesque and of little merit on its own, but I also think that this is something that actually happens in the world, and being aware of it and discussing it is an important thing to do, just as FPPs regularly (all too regularly some might say) discuss capital punishment or imprisonment. I found it especially interesting in connection with the other days FPP on solitary confinement as torture. Really, the discussion was far more informative/interesting to me than the actual article/video itself.

Also, I'm not a huge fan of disappearing active discussions several hours after the fact. This is not to say mods should be on call 24/7, but a lot of people clearly invested a lot in this discussion.

On preview, clearly cortex thought deletion was the right call here. At least part of me certainly agrees with that view.
posted by zachlipton at 10:30 PM on March 27, 2009


Crappy post and I'm glad its gone.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:30 PM on March 27, 2009


MetaFilter: I could be done better and be okay
posted by netbros at 10:31 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shit, man. I know it's about the posts and not the comments, but marxchivist and flarbuse had just great contributions to that thread. BigSky had something really interesting to say, too.

It was really turning into an interesting thread.

But I know it's not about the comments.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:33 PM on March 27, 2009


Cortex should be caned for sleeping on the job, amirite?
posted by double block and bleed at 10:40 PM on March 27, 2009


I don't disagree with the deletion, but I am glad that I saw that video (in a sick, "I'm glad I live in America where they only do this to 'terrorists' and 'minorities'" kinda way.)


Am I ever...
posted by schyler523 at 10:44 PM on March 27, 2009


Cortex should be caned for sleeping on the job, amirite?

Yeah, what kind of a mod doesn't babysit 24 hours a day?
posted by gman at 10:54 PM on March 27, 2009


FLAGGING IS TORTURE

Flagging a post causes irreparable harm, and is does not even result in deletion or useful moderation. The only viable method is simply to engage in further discussion — self-policing — as described in the METAFILTER FIELD MANUAL 96-22.
posted by blasdelf at 10:54 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having watched the video, I'm fairly confident that were I to be caned, I'd be very much dissuaded from ever repeating the behaviour that led to the caning.
I'm fairly confident you're wrong. But you'd work a lot harder to avoid getting caught.


You'd think so, but I'm notoriously slow on the uptake.

My apologies to MeFi. I forget that while this site has the most interesting conversations, and is the reason most of us in the threads come here, it's "not about the thread." I think the video was an excellent launching point for a productive discussion about the type of punishment system a society should have (and even that notion alone could be an interesting discussion) — but, of course, it isn't about the thread.

I seem to expect "more inside" to mean that while the exterior is dry and to-the-point (because it's not about the thread) while the interior leads the thread¹. It doesn't². Which is why I infrequently post to the front page and why I fuck it up probably more often than not. If I'd just learn that it is always going to end in yelling, and quit while I was ahead, this wouldn't happen.

by virtue of the "ouchies" tag

For all else that you're right about, this weak sauce. Yes, I should have dug deeper for more information about caning and its effect on deterence and recidicism, but there's nothing out there. Yes, I should not have editorialized in the least: I have the damnedest time grasping that. I do not feel a bit of dry ambulance humour is inappropriate and there are posts with tags that joke.

¹I'm obviously not the one who can do it, but can you imagine a post where the first few paragraphs of "more inside" were an insightful, thought-provoking lead-in to a focused, productive discussion? There are people I would love to hear briefly opine before opening the floor. And with the smart cookies around here, with such a broad range of knowledge — wow. I'd learn so much about so many ideas and theories and facts and stuff.

²Which is what I can't wrap my head around: if it's not about the thread, once you're where the thread is, then why have threads at all? If it's not about the discussion and conversations, then why are they offered? If it's all about the links, why have an inside at all? Rhetorical questions, all: the answer is "because." Because it has always been that way, or because it has always been said to be that way, or because of the ineffable will of Mathowie. Mine is not to question why, mine is but to do. Or rather, no longer do.

posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 PM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]



²Which is what I can't wrap my head around: if it's not about the thread, once you're where the thread is, then why have threads at all? If it's not about the discussion and conversations, then why are they offered? If it's all about the links, why have an inside at all? Rhetorical questions, all: the answer is "because." Because it has always been that way, or because it has always been said to be that way, or because of the ineffable will of Mathowie. Mine is not to question why, mine is but to do. Or rather, no longer do.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:17 AM

Yeah, metafilter's a mystery that way. Sorta like Catholicism.
posted by boo_radley at 11:26 PM on March 27, 2009


Yes, I should have dug deeper for more information about caning and its effect on deterence and recidicism, but there's nothing out there.

I googled "caning recidivism" thinking it'd be easy to disprove this, but summarily gave up when the first result was the thread in question. Damn, Google.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:40 PM on March 27, 2009


More like holy fuck, Google. That was fast freakin' indexing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 PM on March 27, 2009


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What's the onomatopoeia for the sound of a whip again?
posted by Krrrlson at 11:51 PM on March 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


What's the onomatopoeia for the sound of a whip again?

WHIP!

FYI, the onomatopoeic for flogging is THWACK!
posted by daniel_charms at 12:22 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish writes "More like holy fuck, Google. That was fast freakin' indexing."

Google indexes the RSS feed so it indexes the site practically in real time.
posted by Mitheral at 12:33 AM on March 28, 2009


I was caned when I attended boarding school in England during the early 80's. I racked up 12 strokes during my time there (6+6). They can't give you more than six strokes at a time (or for any offense). The first time it was for getting caught smoking behind the squash courts. You had to report to the house master's office right before lights out. I'm assuming that was so you'd be in your pajamas and not have the protection of regular clothing. Some people would put on several pairs of underwear, but that was scoffed at by most of us because we considered it wimpy. Anyway, I showed up to the HM's office with butterflies in my stomach and was told to put my hands over a chair. I asked if I had to remove my robe, but he said that wasn't necessary. He picked up a thin bamboo stick and gave me a six whacks in quick succession. It stung badly despite the pajamas and robe.

I was more offended than anything because I was 15 and hadn't been spanked by my mother for years, and here this asshole saw fit to mete out physical punishment for smoking a cigarette. I was also angry because I'd been so nervous for several house anticipating what was about to happen. So after he was done, I blurted out, "Did you enjoy that, you twat?" to my own surprise. Thankfully I said the "you twat" part under my breath, otherwise I would have probably been suspended. My outburst resulted in another caning the following evening and 3 hours detention that Sunday.

My point is that from my own personal experience, corporal punishment can create quite a bit of residual anger in the victim--I've also had heated arguments with my mother about the spankings I received as a child, even though they were quite mild and happened very infrequently. I remember crying extremely hard after being punished, despite the fact that I was not spanked hard. I was a tough kid who would roughhouse with friends, take big spills from my bike, and bloody and bruise myself in all manner of ways and not bat an eye, but one little tap from my mother would send me into hysterics. What bothered me was the inherent humiliationin physical punishment. And it sure doesn't act as a deterrent, because I continued to repeat the "bad behavior" which resulted in the physical punishment after the spankings, and I continued to smoke after being caned. I guess this belonged in the deleted thread, but it's...um, deleted.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:00 AM on March 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


corporal punishment can create quite a bit of residual anger in the victim

Agreed. My parents were quite ritualistic about it, and it was always aimed at maximum humiliation. It's taken me over 20 years to begin to get over it. The anger is quite stunning in its intensity and duration.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:16 AM on March 28, 2009


..oh, and I wouldn't touch the post in question with a 100 ft pole. It was obviously posted to cause controversy.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:17 AM on March 28, 2009


Yeah, I usually avoid those but I had to check the thread when I saw in MeTa. Sure enough, it was very disturbing. However, there is a very interesting (although sad) comment by flarbuse in there about a client of his who got a ~ 20 year mandatory minmimum sentence for unlawful possession of forty hydrocodone tablets. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:23 AM on March 28, 2009


I kind of agree with the basic principle of wanting to start off a MeFi-calibre discussion about an interesting topic, but I also see the 'slippery slope' we might start down if we made it more explicitly 'about the comments'. The system isn't perfect, but I kind of feel like this is as good as it's going to get, and it's pretty damn good.

I'm glad I had the Greasemonkey script installed to see deleted threads, though. I didn't see the video, but I quite enjoyed the discussion that ensued, and I'm pretty amazed that a thread that was quite obviously editorializing (and, to my mind, ripe for deletion) didn't get derailed within the first few comments.
posted by Phire at 2:01 AM on March 28, 2009


Yes, I should have dug deeper for more information about caning and its effect on deterence and recidicism, but there's nothing out there.

I think seeing how Malaysia is a tenth the size of America and allows caning, yet has 240,000 to 500,000 heroin addicts to America's 600,000 might help shed light on this mystery of corporal punishment's efficacy. Just a thought.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:11 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Singapore gives out beatings for "drug offenses". Drug trafficking will result in execution. So simple possession may be enough to warrant a beating in Malaysia.

Marisa, Singapore is not Malaysia. The punishments you cite are applied in both places, but it's not because they are the same place, or even similar places, aside from proximity.

Singapore is also a major exception to all the generalizations in this comment by Mitrovarr.

Not that I would want to live there, but if you're willing to sacrifice liberty for security, it's your kind of place. ("You" not meaning anyone named in this comment.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:50 AM on March 28, 2009


I know where Singapore is, thanks. That link in my quote cites Malaysia as having "one of the world’s highest per capita populations of drug addicts and users". 240,000 to 500,000, by one count (compared to the US's 600,000). So no, I think canings clearly don't deter drug crime.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:06 AM on March 28, 2009


Whoops, the numbers refer to just the heroin addicts; not all drug addicts.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:09 AM on March 28, 2009


Singapore has near-zero drug use. I'm not saying there's any connection between that and their use of beatings, but why do you keep linking Singapore and Malaysia?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:20 AM on March 28, 2009


i was sort of surprised to see this on the front page, and surprised to see that fff had posted something of this caliber. it seems to me that there's been a bit of editorializing going on lately and no, i'm not going to go digging through posts to link to what i consider editorializing, but that simply might be because i can't keep up with metafilter & i'm only looking at those times the poster interjects his or her self into the post. it never occurred to me to flag it--i think i'm like a lot of other mefis who are quick to favorite and slow to hit any other flag buttons.

i would disagree that torture videos don't belong on metafilter--metafilter is precisely the place for difficult and controversial material when the post is well thought-out and well-constructed.

i love this place--even if i do feel like i'm in the 'special ed' section of the mefi class. i also enjoy reading fff's contributions, and hope this doesn't deter her (him?) from continuing to be active on the site. until the mythical & much discussed newsFilter area gets implemented, i'd rather not see posts like this on mefi.
posted by msconduct at 5:22 AM on March 28, 2009


I'm not saying there's any connection between that and their use of beatings, but why do you keep linking Singapore and Malaysia?

Um, I don't? I mean I did, once. But the link refers to Malaysia, and the figures on heroin addicts refer to Malaysia.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:27 AM on March 28, 2009


Well done, cortex. I thought that was an appalling FPP.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:29 AM on March 28, 2009


I saw it last night and it had 70 comments by the time I saw it and I wanted to get a nod from another mod just to make sure I wasn't removing it because it pushed some personal anit-politicalfilter button of mine. As a site that doesn't do politics exclusively, threads on political topics should still, more or less, have something in them that should be interesting to the general population here.

Political posts also need to be done fairly carefully if they're on what we call "outragefilter" topics [child abuse, torture, rape, police brutality, extreme abuses of power, Nazi Germany, to name a few] because unless a post is crafted somewhat cautiously, people will just use the thread to yell at each other, take offense at each other's comments, and create a toxic environment that's somewhat bad for the site.

I have the damnedest time grasping that. I do not feel a bit of dry ambulance humour is inappropriate and there are posts with tags that joke.

Humorous tags are usually okay but making light of someone's suffering while you castigate their torturers sets up an uneasy "what's the joke here?" situation. When in doubt, you are welcome to ask one of us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:36 AM on March 28, 2009


I'm glad to finally see, marxchivists post, somebody mention that prison isn't exactly 24/7 rape parties. Also pain has been linked to PTSD. So all the people choosing one option over the other was a little bit ignorant of what they were talking about.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:41 AM on March 28, 2009


Krrrlson: "What's the onomatopoeia for the sound of a whip again?"

I would write the "whipped" sound as wah-CHOO, wah-CHOO. But we may be in meep vs beep territory here.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:02 AM on March 28, 2009


But then, what's the sound of a sneeze, Joe Beese? (I'm a poet!)
posted by misha at 7:35 AM on March 28, 2009


Sneezing does sound a lot like the 'whipped' sound.
posted by gman at 7:51 AM on March 28, 2009


I seem to expect "more inside" to mean that while the exterior is dry and to-the-point (because it's not about the thread) while the interior leads the thread.

Actually what I've seen work well is this:

Main description gives a quick intro to the issue, includes a few of the best links.
More inside provides more context, includes links to different perspectives.
First comment (by the OP) provides a little background on why they made the post and how they feel about the issue, without crossing the line into editorializing.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Did you enjoy that, you twat?"

Wow. Of course, I've never been in such a ridiculous situation, but I'd like to think my response would get me put in jail for an extended period of time. Good on you, though.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:15 AM on March 28, 2009


I'm not sure our experiences with spanking/caning as a child really count as informing us as to the experience of being caned as an adult criminal.

In Malaysia, caning is the penultimate punishment: the only worse sentence is death. It seems to have been used almost casually in the UK.

I am doubtful of the relevance of the raw data on drug addiction. There are any number of reasons why Malaysia might have remarkably high numbers of heroin addicts; being so close to the source might be one. What would be informative is whether their use of caning has any effect whatsoever on subsequent behaviour.

The injuries in the video look no worse than those one might sustain crashing one's motorcycle while doing squidly stunts on the highway while wearing shorts. That's less than I'd expect from a punishment that is one step lower than death.

I note that the squidly sorts get back up on their bikes ore often than not: the injuries they sustain aren't enough to change their behaviour. Caning may be the same.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:22 AM on March 28, 2009


Another big win for the MetaFilter Thought Police!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:28 AM on March 28, 2009


Note to self: Smoke only in front of the squash courts.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:30 AM on March 28, 2009


Another big win for the MetaFilter Thought Police!
posted by Crabby Appleton


Care to articulate more fully?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:31 AM on March 28, 2009


WHEN THERE IS CENSORSHIP ON PRIVATELY OWNED INTERNET PAGES BECAUSE A POST DOES NOT CONFORM TO STATED STANDARDS IT IS ANOTHER SIGN THIS COUNTRY IS HEADED INTO COMMUNISM HURF DURF.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:33 AM on March 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


At least it wasn't the librarian who deleted this one.
posted by gman at 8:39 AM on March 28, 2009


I am doubtful of the relevance of the raw data on drug addiction. There are any number of reasons why Malaysia might have remarkably high numbers of heroin addicts; being so close to the source might be one. What would be informative is whether their use of caning has any effect whatsoever on subsequent behaviour.

And how would we determine this, exactly, if not by taking a look at what percentage of the population commit cane-able offenses, and what percent of the population in another, cane-less country commits the same offenses? That would seem to be a pretty strong indicator to me. No doubt the number of heroin addicts is influenced by closeness to the source. Punishment for drug trafficking is death. So I guess that's not working either.

The injuries in the video look no worse than those one might sustain crashing one's motorcycle while doing squidly stunts on the highway while wearing shorts. That's less than I'd expect from a punishment that is one step lower than death.

This bears the flavor of "waterboarding is like frat hazing" and it surprises the crap out of me to read this coming from you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:40 AM on March 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Waterboarding IS like frat hazing.

Both are stupid, cause death and injury, violate societal norms, are designed to humiliate, seem to be perpetrated by low-level sociopaths who enjoy abusing people, are generally illegal, and are done by people who are certain, against all evidence, that there is some redeeming value to doing it.

That being said, having actually been hazed, I'd much rather be hazed than waterboarded.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:53 AM on March 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Another big win for the MetaFilter Thought Police!

Oh for butt's sake.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:57 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another big win for the MetaFilter Thought Police!

When you want to do something other than drive-by snark, feel free to come back.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:00 AM on March 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


That being said, having actually been hazed, I'd much rather be hazed than waterboarded.

Picking up a nickel from the top of a beer bottle using only your buttcheeks doesn't sound that bad by comparison, it's true.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:17 AM on March 28, 2009


Meh. I'm ambivalent over the deletion of the post itself, but I really was touched by the content of the discussion. I wish you could just replace the FPP for this one with "Post deleted but click here for the discussion". It was very, very good.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:37 AM on March 28, 2009


I believe that in our discussions regarding waterboarding, it was concluded that those people who were volunteering to experience it as a public spectacle were not being tortured: that the framing for the session makes the difference between it being an experience in which one fully expects to die at the hands of one's interrogators, and an experience in which one gets to "have fun" with the fear of death, as if riding a roller coaster.

I suspect that like waterboarding, the context in which the caning is administered is a significant factor in the mental component of the experience. Do it on camera for a crowd, and it's just an extreme BDSM spectacle and everyone including the subject jacks off with satisfaction. Do it in the secrecy of a dank prison cell and it's a war crimes torture. From what I saw on the video, Malaysia's use of it is between those extremes.

As a penultimate punishment, I'm surprised that caning is not more physically harmful. I am surprised you take issue with my surprise at that. I don't know what to say: I can't really apologize for being surprised that a punishment one step below death looks relatively innocuous in comparison to the slasher-flick horror I had expected it to be.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 AM on March 28, 2009


a bit of dry ambulance humour...

...rarely comes off well unless you're one of the people in the ambulance.
posted by hermitosis at 9:43 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a penultimate punishment, I'm surprised that caning is not more physically harmful. I am surprised you take issue with my surprise at that. I don't know what to say: I can't really apologize for being surprised that a punishment one step below death looks relatively innocuous in comparison to the slasher-flick horror I had expected it to be.

What surprised me about your comment wasn't just comparing caning to injuries sustained while performing a motorcycle stunt - it's that you constrain the injuries sustained to what happened to the man's flesh.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:46 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I'd just learn that it is always going to end in yelling,

It doesn't, though, and it doesn't have to.

I suppose it does depend on what one posts, but the framing and (lack of) editorializing can make a huge difference. But the yelling is not inevitable.
posted by rtha at 10:01 AM on March 28, 2009


What surprised me about your comment wasn't just comparing caning to injuries sustained while performing a motorcycle stunt - it's that you constrain the injuries sustained to what happened to the man's flesh.

Yeah, colour me disturbed by fff at this point.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:06 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dreamed last night about a company that made BDSM equipment trying to promote parents spanking their children to drum up future business.

...my subconscious is fucking weird.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:09 AM on March 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


fff: In regards to you asking about the use of [More Inside], it's my understanding from the way things I see done around here that it's almost always OK for posters to leave a comment right off the bat. I'm guessing that your more inside would have been appripriate as such, and would not have been seen as editorializing.
posted by niles at 10:13 AM on March 28, 2009


Having something you enjoy go awry is one thing. Having someone non-consensually humiliate and dehumanise you while causing pain is another thing entirely.
posted by batmonkey at 10:22 AM on March 28, 2009


I don't think the post would have been deleted if it were not the case that it challenged (if obliquely) one of MetaFilter's Sacred Doctrines (i.e., corporal punishment is always and only an evil thing), thus immediately drawing the attention of the self-appointed thought police, whose agitation in turn resulted in its removal. Imperfections in the form of the post (i.e., "editorializing" on the part of the author) provided a convenient rationalization.

Is the wordier version better?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:40 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


One thing to keep in mind with the [more inside] is that while it's not visible from the front page, it is part of what's syndicated in the RSS feed for metafilter. So tucking editorialization or other not-so-great stuff below the fold doesn't actually remove it from what is in a sense The Content At Metafilter as far a whole great lot of people getting their metafilter directly or indirectly via the feed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:40 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is the wordier version better?

It's better at conveying what you actually mean, so, in that sense, yes. I think your analysis is badly flawed on more than one front, but at least you're explaining yourself, and I appreciate that as far as it goes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:44 AM on March 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Imperfections in the form of the post (i.e., "editorializing" on the part of the author) provided a convenient rationalization.

Is the wordier version better?
posted by Crabby Appleton


I don't think it's that simple Crabby Appleton . I don't really have a strong opinion corporal punishment but I think editorializing on polarizing topics in the post itself is always deletion worthy.
posted by nola at 11:10 AM on March 28, 2009


self-appointed thought police

I love this term. It reminds me of "nanny state", another imaginary menace.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:16 AM on March 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is the wordier version better?

Meh, both comments are pretty shallow. However the longer version helps to illustrate how your position is informed by a personal bias against imagined bugabows, so now at least I don't have to feel bad about dismissing your opinion as half-baked nonsense.

I didn't like the post because it was just video of a guy getting caned. The editorializing felt like a weird attempt to pad out or justify a weak FPP (No personal offense to fff intended). While OLYT isn't inherently bad, I think the subject of the post deserved more context - if it had been included in a post about crime and punishment mores throughout the globe, or some similarly researched FPP, I personally wouldn't have had a problem with it. But as it is, it's just a guy getting caned, and I think both the subject and MeFi deserve better than that.

As far as corporal punishment goes, I'm against it, but that Aaron Spelling FPP was more of a 'challenge' to my Sacred MeFi Doctrine.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:17 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was a child I lived in Saudi Arabia, because my father had work there. At about six or seven we were in Riad for a visit, and my dad took me to the city center for sight seeing. We went to a crowd we saw there and he took me on his shoulders so I could see what was happening. They strapped a dude up and caned him with a huge bamboo stick, don't know if it looked similar to the one in the video - I don't want to see it having witnessed the real thing.

I just recently remembered that episode, and don't even know how I felt about it at the time, besides being sorry for the guy. But I do remember that I counted 25 lashes.

I think I'll phone my dad now and ask him what the hell he was thinking.
posted by kolophon at 11:25 AM on March 28, 2009


Another big win for the MetaFilter Thought Police!

Considering your only metatalk post was one asking for content to be removed because you thought it wasn't appropriate, it seems a bit strange for you to start waving around the thought police stick.
posted by aspo at 11:26 AM on March 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


So 5 hours and 103 comments later this was pulled. Something is not quite right here. The FPP was editorialized way over the top that is agreed, however the discussion which followed was of usual good quality Mefi standard. So what was the problem? Couldn't the editorializing have been removed?
posted by adamvasco at 11:30 AM on March 28, 2009


Also, when do I get my Thought Police badge and gun? I've been out of the academy four years now and have walked this beat since last August. You'd think they'd at least give me a uniform.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:49 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think you get the Thought Police gear aftery ou have served some amount of time on the MeFi Detective Squad. Others may know better what else is required.
posted by ericb at 11:53 AM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


So 5 hours and 103 comments later this was pulled. Something is not quite right here.

This is not the first time that a post has lived unusually long before deletion through a trick of timing. It was Friday evening, we were slow on the trigger.

The FPP was editorialized way over the top that is agreed, however the discussion which followed was of usual good quality Mefi standard. So what was the problem? Couldn't the editorializing have been removed?

We don't edit posts like that. If someone decides to take this as a lesson learned and try to come back to the quality aspects of the post & thread in a future, better post, that's totally fine. That's pretty much how the system has always worked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:54 AM on March 28, 2009


I would write the "whipped" sound as wah-CHOO, wah-CHOO. But we may be in meep vs beep territory here.

Gesundheit.

(It's actually hhw-tchhh!)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:59 AM on March 28, 2009


Is the wordier version better?

Yes. It's more clear what you mean and what your personal biases are. There are a few topics where we might remove a post based on topic alone, but they're few and far between. Editorializing, especially in an otherwise "meh" link to begin with, is reason enough in and of itself. You see plenty of posts on MeFi that go against majority opinions and don't get deleted, but there are at least a handful of these that are written in that "you can't handle the truth" way [not saying fff was doing this, just noting what I've seen] that don't make good posts for MetaFilter.

As I said upthread, it was specifically because of the touchiness of this topic and the approach in the post that it lasted as long as it did. We try pretty hard not to be knee-jerky just because something presses our buttons.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:01 PM on March 28, 2009


It was Friday evening, we were slow on the trigger.

Yeah, I didn't flag it, but it seemed wrong in a vague way.

But the discussion was interesting, and the delition seemed more interested in maintaining a good reputation than anything else.

The discussion was good.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:08 PM on March 28, 2009


Another big win for the MetaFilter Thought Police!

You fought the law, and the law won. You fought the law, and the law won. Next time shoot the deputy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 PM on March 28, 2009


One thing to keep in mind with the [more inside] is that while it's not visible from the front page, it is part of what's syndicated in the RSS feed for metafilter. So tucking editorialization or other not-so-great stuff below the fold doesn't actually remove it from what is in a sense The Content At Metafilter as far a whole great lot of people getting their metafilter directly or indirectly via the feed.

Of this, I had no idea. I've always thought it was seen only when a person decided to click-through.

Couldn't the editorializing have been removed?

I'd support that. Axe the entire content of the "more inside".
posted by five fresh fish at 12:18 PM on March 28, 2009


Yeah, the editorializing was somehwat destructive, but there were brilliant contributions in the thread. I hate to sort of lose that, even if it's still googlable.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:25 PM on March 28, 2009


Dude. There's a Tori Spelling post on the front page, and you're complaining about a heavily editorialized post on torture?
posted by orange swan at 12:25 PM on March 28, 2009


I don't think it's that simple Crabby Appleton . I don't really have a strong opinion corporal punishment but I think editorializing on polarizing topics in the post itself is always deletion worthy.

nola, I don't think it's simple either. I don't agree with you that editorializing on polarizing topics in the post itself is always deletion worthy. And I suspect there are plenty of examples of such posts that haven't been deleted.

But what I really wonder about is this. Suppose the post's author had gone on about how horrible and barbaric coporal punishment is. Would that have even been recognized as editorializing on Metafilter? And if someone had pointed it out in a MetaTalk post, would the FPP have been deleted? Somehow I doubt it would have.

You see, there's an asymmetry here. This is a polarizing topic, but one pole is a lot bigger than the other here in MetaFilter land. One might think that the rare dissenting viewpoint would be valued much more than those echoing the party line. But it's not the case here. MetaFilter is much more concerned about reinforcing its own prejudices than getting at the truth.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:26 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You want the truth? Metafilter can't handle the truth!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:29 PM on March 28, 2009


Dude. There's a Tori Spelling post on the front page, and you're complaining about a heavily editorialized post on torture?

Yeah, there's that. But still
posted by Dumsnill at 12:30 PM on March 28, 2009


I don't think it's that simple Crabby Appleton . I don't really have a strong opinion corporal punishment but I think editorializing on polarizing topics in the post itself is always deletion worthy.

This is exactly the reason that I flagged it, and why I'm glad to see it gone. The subject and the video could've been posted on successfully with more meat and most importantly, less editorializing.
posted by rollbiz at 12:31 PM on March 28, 2009


I'd support that. Axe the entire content of the "more inside".

I wonder if a mostly context-free link to a snuff film from a tabloid news site would engender support, if only the discussion was good! To some degree, this has happened before. Do you honestly believe simply providing the link itself would really do this subject much justice?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:32 PM on March 28, 2009


What surprised me about your comment wasn't just comparing caning to injuries sustained while performing a motorcycle stunt - it's that you constrain the injuries sustained to what happened to the man's flesh.

I'm constraining my comment to what I know. Which is pretty much limited to what I see in the video.

I have not been able to find information on any subsequent psychological effects. There is information about corporal punishment of children, there is information about the lack of deterrent effect of capital punishment, but there is a paucity of information about the use of corporal punishment on adult offenders, and particularly none about its effect when administered in a formalized setting with subsequent medical treatment.

I suspect that caning is less damaging to a person's psyche than lifelong solitary confinement, and probably less damaging than life imprisonment. There are all the issues around helplessness and restraint and such; but given that imprisonment is already almost entirely about that, I'm not convinced caning is orders of magnitude worse than what is already done.

If one has made up one's mind that this is a binary issue, there is no useful discussion to be had. The claim that this is a "Sacred Doctrine" may not be far off the mark.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:32 PM on March 28, 2009


I suspect that caning is less damaging to a person's psyche than lifelong solitary confinement, and probably less damaging than life imprisonment. There are all the issues around helplessness and restraint and such; but given that imprisonment is already almost entirely about that, I'm not convinced caning is orders of magnitude worse than what is already done.

First, I am so right there with you when it comes to solitary confinement, 100%. Like I said in that thread, I tend to think prison for most non-violent offenses is cruel. Drug offenses would be among those. This is why I was talking about avoiding the "caning or solitary" binary.

Second, if you're wondering about the psychological effects of caning, I think the fact that caning is the number two punishment, after the death penalty, might also be a testament to what it does to a person's mind to be tied to a wooden rack, beaten with a stick, and sweet Alice Margatroid I can't even believe I'm having this discussion.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:39 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm constraining my comment to what I know. Which is pretty much limited to what I see in the video.

Perhaps that's what's damaged about the post's presentation, even without an editorial.

The claim that this is a "Sacred Doctrine" may not be far off the mark.

It's rare one gets promoted from an officer of the Thought Police to God so quickly. I shall next turn water into wine.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:43 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meh, both comments are pretty shallow.
[...]
I didn't like the post because it was just video of a guy getting caned.

Yeah, I guess you'd know about shallow comments, Alvy Ampersand.

"[J]ust a video of a guy getting caned." First of all, what sites do you frequent that this seems so commonplace to you? :-) Second, no, it's not just a video of a guy getting caned. It's a copy of an official video of a prisoner undergoing corporal punishment as part of his sentence for drug crimes. It's a wonder this is even on the web. It's a document of considerable historical, sociological, and political interest. Also, a lot of people feel free to mouth off about judicial caning even though they have no idea what it entails. (Pun not intended.) This post provides the means for those people to inform themselves. But it's not just that. It reveals an aspect of human existence that few people ever experience, and watching it broadens ones experience in a visceral (albeit not very pleasant) way.

Or, you could say it's "just a video of a guy getting caned."

As SLYT FPPs go, I'd say this one has merit.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:44 PM on March 28, 2009


It's rare one gets promoted from an officer of the Thought Police to God so quickly. I shall next turn water into wine.

Well, according to ericb you go from detective to patrolman in the Thought Police. It's a constant process of demotion. Enjoy your time at the top!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:47 PM on March 28, 2009


For all those who are disappointed that I am not virulently against the use of caning, I don't know enough about its effect, as practiced in the setting I witnessed in the video, to know whether it is a binary issue. There does not appear to be any real research out there.

My instincts say it's better than being put to death, or locked away in solitary for eons, or subjected to daily violence in a derelict prison, or having one's limbs remaindered. And I'm not sure that it's worse than life imprisonment, which is a punishment we Westerners do use even for largely victimless crimes, like drug offenses.

In the pantheon of things we actually do to people, caning is not the worst.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:51 PM on March 28, 2009


[...]it seems a bit strange for you to start waving around the thought police stick.

asspo, it's really no stranger than you running off to troll through my posting history to find some little nugget to fashion into an ad hominem argument because you don't have anything substantive to say.

What's really amusing is that you managed to find a post that shows the thought police in action, and gives you an idea of how much MetaFilter really values dissenting points of view. Good work!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:52 PM on March 28, 2009


I love Rush Reagen!
posted by Dumsnill at 12:54 PM on March 28, 2009


You fought the law, and the law won. You fought the law, and the law won. Next time shoot the deputy.

Yes you're a long tall Texan
You enforce justice for the law
(He rides from Texas to enforce the law)
Well you're a long tall Texan
You enforce justice for the law
(He rides from Texas to enforce the law)
And people look at you and they say
Er uh, er uh, Is you the law?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:58 PM on March 28, 2009


My instincts say it's better than being put to death, or locked away in solitary for eons, or subjected to daily violence in a derelict prison, or having one's limbs remaindered. And I'm not sure that it's worse than life imprisonment, which is a punishment we Westerners do use even for largely victimless crimes, like drug offenses.

What I meant by the "binary" was, if the current prison system is crap, does this necessarily mean we need to start caning? How about some other ways? I think the decriminalization of most non-violent offenses, thereby reducing overcrowding and freeing up more money for real rehabilitation and strengthening the social safety net would be a damn sight better than, "Welp, a beating with a stick ain't as bad as solitary. How 'bout we try that?"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:02 PM on March 28, 2009


asspo, it's really no stranger than you running off to troll through my posting history to find some little nugget

You're a loose cannon, Appleton! Turn in your badge and gun immediately. And no more of that lucky punk feeling stuff.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:03 PM on March 28, 2009


Second, if you're wondering about the psychological effects of caning, I think the fact that caning is the number two punishment, after the death penalty, might also be a testament to what it does to a person's mind to be tied to a wooden rack, beaten with a stick, and sweet Alice Margatroid I can't even believe I'm having this discussion.

On the other hand, the UK caned hell out of its children for ages, and they seemed to do okay as a nation for the longest time. Mind, I don't think they typically whipped their children until the skin debrided, but most of the salient details remain the same: forced subservient position, massive pain, humiliation, etcetera.

I think the issue is much more complex than you are willing to discuss. Given that it seems to be causing you a significant amount of distress, perhaps it would be better if you quit trying to discuss it. Besides, without actual facts at hand, we've got bugger-all to go on.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:04 PM on March 28, 2009


I suspect that caning is less damaging to a person's psyche than lifelong solitary confinement, and probably less damaging than life imprisonment. There are all the issues around helplessness and restraint and such; but given that imprisonment is already almost entirely about that, I'm not convinced caning is orders of magnitude worse than what is already done.

We miss the point of justice when we assume reliability or certainty, whether it be called deterrence, punishment, more or less comparisons, or ends justifying means. The real problem with justice is that it doesn't inform us to what is just. So we let morals inform us, and that's where it derails, because morals are most often informed by prejudice and self-righteous indignation. So we often begin our options with cultural humiliation, shame, disgust, fear: as substitutes.

If we begin with the premise that justice is the just the right amount of itself, no more or less, then there should be no emotionally driven drama or entertainment value to get from it, but merely limits to our justice. And just because something is a deterrence doesn't justify it, because fascism is also a deterrence. Even after judgment we never really know what people really deserve, or what process of class corruption they endured during their arrest and trial, theatrical or otherwise. We might instead see our role as jurors as a simple safe-bet proposition under the golden rule with the benefit of doubt: "What would I accept if I was misunderstood to be guilty under the laws I support?" As such, free people should limit themselves to subtracting the freedom of criminal suspects, until we lose interest in their costly upkeep. This method won't as easily haunt us after we culturally lose our objectivity.
posted by Brian B. at 1:07 PM on March 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the decriminalization of most non-violent offenses, thereby reducing overcrowding and freeing up more money for real rehabilitation and strengthening the social safety net would be a damn sight better

I agree.

I don't see how that eliminates potential discussion on the role of corporal (not capital) punishment in our adult justice system. Is corporal punishment a deterrent? Does it affect redivism rates? Does it permanently damage the psyche? I don't think any of these things have been established in our discussions. We have this gaping big hole in our knowledge, and a lot of distressed shouting about things we don't really know.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:10 PM on March 28, 2009


Suppose the post's author had gone on about how horrible and barbaric coporal punishment is. Would that have even been recognized as editorializing on Metafilter?


I'd have to say flag it for editorializing to much, but that's just me. I don't remember seeing any posts about hot button issues that had the poster editorializing that didn't get pulled. Maybe I've missed some but I can't say.

This is a polarizing topic, but one pole is a lot bigger than the other here in MetaFilter land.

Heh, pole.
posted by nola at 1:10 PM on March 28, 2009


I don't think the rattan cane is even in the same ballpark as that LiveLeak vid you posted. But I assure you, my "distress" is more mental than emotional, as it boggles my mind that we're even giving serious consideration to the effectiveness of this practice. I really don't mind having the discussion, but I have to say that what strikes me as very odd is that you would post the video with a sort of ambiguous "Does it work? Doesn't it? We don't know." and then advise me to quit trying to have a discussion on it because we've got "bugger-all to go on". If you didn't want people to talk about this, why did you post it?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:11 PM on March 28, 2009


Brian, I think on the whole it's been shown that punishment is not a deterrent. Maybe our justice system would be better structured on the basis of its effect on recidivism. What things prevent subsequent re-offenses?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:12 PM on March 28, 2009


On second thought, I'm starting to find this discussion entirely too depressing for what's shaping up to be a great Saturday night, and I have the sinking feeling we're going to be spinning our wheels here anyway. I remain really confused by a number of things in this thread. Ah well. Hope you get to the bottom of this "does beating a man help fight crime?" mystery.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:20 PM on March 28, 2009


But I assure you, my "distress" is more mental than emotional, as it boggles my mind that we're even giving serious consideration to the effectiveness of this practice.

I do not understand why this boggles you. What information do you have that this is a subject that must be beyond serious consideration? How does "sweet Alice Margatroid" not classify as an emotional response that shuts down discussion? For that matter, how does "it boggles my mind that we're even giving serious consideration" help?

Clearly, you do not wish to discuss this. So don't. Please.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:21 PM on March 28, 2009


I thought the crime stats were clear enough, but as they were dismissed outright as not proving anything, then I guess I'll take you up on your offer, bow out, and leave you to ponder this judicial head-scratcher.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:22 PM on March 28, 2009


It was Friday evening, we were slow on the trigger.

And, not to forget, that the mods have real offline lives -- especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.
posted by ericb at 1:39 PM on March 28, 2009


Please share those stats, Marisa. Thanks. I am particularly interested in the ones on recidivism.

Have a good evening, btw. I'm sorry that you're distressed. My intention was to learn more, not to cause upset.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:47 PM on March 28, 2009


It's all just Hollywood magic anyway. That was actually part of the 25 minute deleted scene from The Passion of Christ where the Chinese gestapo S&M whip Jesus' toned, jiggly ass until he remembers the safe word. Then they chase him around Jerusalem with a wet towel. Needless to say it made me thoroughly embonered. That Mel Gibson is a Goddamned genuis.
posted by dgaicun at 1:49 PM on March 28, 2009


"And, not to forget, that the mods have real offline lives..."

Jessamyn, sure, but cortex?

Come on, you know better than that.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:53 PM on March 28, 2009


dude seriously, I'm the one with no social life. I have a very rich travel life, but that's a different beast.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:57 PM on March 28, 2009


But what I really wonder about is this. Suppose the post's author had gone on about how horrible and barbaric coporal punishment is. Would that have even been recognized as editorializing on Metafilter?

For god's sake, yes. You take that post and flip the polarity of opinions on the subject and you end up with, wait for it...a crappy post with a bunch of editorialization.

And if someone had pointed it out in a MetaTalk post, would the FPP have been deleted? Somehow I doubt it would have.

You seem to be laboring under the belief that the Metatalk post got the thread deleted. It's the pile of flags and the crappiness of the post that got it deleted; the Metatalk is something that happened in the interim while we were busy going about the aforementioned offline lives for a while last night.

You are boxing at shadows.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:04 PM on March 28, 2009


I completely agree with the delition, but there were a few brilliant comments. It's sad to see those go, but hey.

Shadowboxing aint't so bad.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:11 PM on March 28, 2009


You seem to be laboring under the belief that the Metatalk post got the thread deleted.

Not really, no. The MeTa post was just the MFTP commissioner turning on the bat-signal.

In my hypothetical, the original post would not have garnered the flags necessary to attract your attention. (That's my opinion; there's no easy way to test the hypothesis.) Then I went further and said that even if someone (the Anti-Blazecock, say) posted a MeTa callout, the post would probably not be deleted. I understand that you disagree with me on both points.

I would be curious to know, since BP called for flags in the MeTa post, how many flags his appeal actually generated. But I don't think there's any way to figure that out. It would be interesting to know whether the flag rate increased after the MeTa post, though.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:25 PM on March 28, 2009


It was cruising for deletion based on content/flags alone at about... 11:45 pm my time (EST) based on my ping to cortex who wasn't around. We can see flags coming in and they're timestamped, so someone starting a MeTa thread saying some variation of "this sucks, look at this and flag the hell out of it" usually produces a noticeable uptick, but it's also obvious where that uptick came from and, as we've said many times before

- an otherwise good post with some flags won't get deleted
- an otherwise bad post with no flags won't stick around
- something we (the mods) all like that gets a ton of flags usually gets deleted
- something we (mods) all hate but gets no flags often, but not always, stays

Part of this whole process though is that you trust us to make decent decisions. Part of it is that we take the heat for the decisions we make and don't just say "our hands were tied, just look at the flags!" In this case, a few people disagreed with the deletion because they liked the discussion that was happening. You seemed to disagree with it because you think it is a symptom of some larger blind spot that we (the mods) have about pet topics. Clearly if we have such a blind spot we're going to disagree with you, and we'd likely disagree with you if we didn't have a blind spot because no one likes being called the "thought police" or getting taunted in and otherwise civil thread.

You think it's happening? Fine, keep an eye out for it and start putting together a pattern of behavior that points to this. It's easy to make one thing someone doesn't like seem like part of a pattern -- I've done it myself -- it's much more difficult to make a case with something that should actually be pretty quantifiable if you want to do the work.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:35 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're wrong, can't hang drywall for shit and make a terrible martini.

yeah, YOU.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:37 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flog it and move on.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:49 PM on March 28, 2009


If you're a bit lost lost:

We are now halwfay into the Torture-Videos-do-not-Belong-on-Metafilter MetaTalk Post

Carry on.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:59 PM on March 28, 2009


Yeah, I guess you'd know about shallow comments, Alvy Ampersand.

Weak sauce coming from a guy whose initial comment here was shit and run axe-grinding against an imagined adversary.

Second, no, it's not just a video of a guy getting caned.

Saying it doesn't make it so. As it was presented in the FPP, it was indeed a video of a guy getting caned.

It's a copy of an official video of a prisoner undergoing corporal punishment as part of his sentence for drug crimes. It's a wonder this is even on the web.

I hear they have hyperbole on the internets these days, too; it's actually more odd that there aren't more (Disappointing too, since like you imply, that's how I get my thrills ;D*).

It's a document of considerable historical, sociological, and political interest. Also, a lot of people feel free to mouth off about judicial caning even though they have no idea what it entails. This post provides the means for those people to inform themselves. But it's not just that. It reveals an aspect of human existence that few people ever experience, and watching it broadens ones experience in a visceral (albeit not very pleasant) way.

If you had read the part of my comment which you replaced with ellipsis, you'd see that I would have no problem with an edifying FPP like that, even one that included the video in question. But in this case, it was a video of a Malaysian prisoner getting caned, a secondary link to the comment section of a tangentially related story in a right-wing British newspaper, and some rambliness. It was an iffy post framed in a manner that seemed less about thoughtfully presenting a source for learning than a weird amalgam of OutrageFilter and GYOB.

*Passive-aggressive emoticon! LOL!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:05 PM on March 28, 2009


five fresh fish: My apologies to MeFi. I forget that while this site has the most interesting conversations, and is the reason most of us in the threads come here, it's "not about the thread."

Crabby Appleton: I don't think the post would have been deleted if it were not the case that it challenged (if obliquely) one of MetaFilter's Sacred Doctrines (i.e., corporal punishment is always and only an evil thing), thus immediately drawing the attention of the self-appointed thought police, whose agitation in turn resulted in its removal. Imperfections in the form of the post (i.e., "editorializing" on the part of the author) provided a convenient rationalization.

Is the wordier version better?


I will try to make this simple and direct.

Everyone who is not sociopathic (in the technical sense of the term, i.e. 'one who takes pleasure in the pain and suffering of others') is disturbed by corporal punishment. The difference between those who are in favor of corporal punishment and those who are against corporal punishment isn't that one group finds it disturbing; it's that one group thinks that the disturbing force will have the net effect of preventing crime in the future, whereas the other group does not. I'll point out that most non-sociopathic people even find imagery and video of corporal punishment disturbing in greater or lesser degrees.

Given that sane, non-sociopathic people are quite likely to find imagery or videos of corporal punishment disturbing, and given that there is no real debate about whether corporal punishment is disturbing - only about whether it is beneficial to do this disturbing thing sometimes to people who have committed terrible crimes - it is not only beside the point to show people images of corporal punishment and ask them to consider whether it is beneficial. It is manipulative. When a person shows another person disturbing images not because that person needs to see them to be convinced of the truth of a matter but merely because those images will soften their emotional state and leave them more vulnerable, that is manipulative. It is even cruel on a certain level.

We see this often in the debate about the ethics of abortion. Everyone on both sides (who is, again, not clinically sociopathic) finds images of blood and guts and surgical detritus disturbing; this is not the substance of the argument. Yet constantly we meet with those on the religious side of the debate who insist on trying to pound the opposition into submitting by shoving extremely disturbing images of aborted fetuses in everyone's faces. This is cruel and manipulative because, again, the disturbing and shocking tone of photographs of surgical detritus (no matter what that detritus is) is not the substance of the argument, and showing them can have no purpose beyond the perverse one of shaking people emotionally and leaving them vulnerable and fragile.

Get it, five fresh fish? This issue isn't about the 'it's about the links, not the conversation' rule. That thread turned into a good conversation despite your post, not because of it. You started out with deliberately manipulative and provocative video which could have purpose beyond shocking people; what caning looks like has nothing to do with the argument about its real or imagined benefit. All respect to your 'if I went through this, I would never do it again,' but no one here seems to hold the notion that caning is pleasant.

Blazecock Pileon: You fought the law, and the law won. You fought the law, and the law won. Next time shoot the deputy.

Crabby Appleton: Yes you're a long tall Texan
You enforce justice for the law
(He rides from Texas to enforce the law)
Well you're a long tall Texan
You enforce justice for the law
(He rides from Texas to enforce the law)
And people look at you and they say
Er uh, er uh, Is you the law?


Ooh, ooh, this is fun! Can I play too?

You Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd
by Roger Miller

You can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd
You can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd
You can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

You can't take a shower in a parakeet cage
You can't take a shower in a parakeet cage
You can't take a shower in a parakeet cage
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

All you gotta do, is put your mind to it
Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it

Well...
You can't go swimmin' in a baseball pool
You can't go swimmin' in a baseball pool
You can't go swimmin' in a baseball pool
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

You can't change film with a kid on your back
Can't change film with a kid on your back
You can't change film with a kid on your back
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

You can't drive around with a tiger in your car
You can't drive around with a tiger in your car
You can't drive around with a tiger in your car
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

All you gotta do, is put your mind to it
Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it

You can't go fishin' in a watermelon patch
You can't go fishin' in a watermelon patch
You can't go fishin' in a watermelon patch
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

Well you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
But you can be happy if you've a mind to...


There. Y'all listen to that for a while. Now doesn't all this arguing seem silly?
posted by koeselitz at 3:16 PM on March 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Actually, I'm probably being a little unfair about this. To clarify, I would agree that the video itself is a document of value. However, I don't believe the FPP was, or that it was redeemed by the value or importance of the clip.

On Preview: Wooo, Roger Miller!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:22 PM on March 28, 2009


I'm favoriting that so I can read it later. and also because I love you. But mostly so I can use it against you later.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:26 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thinking about it... is the argument implicit in the citation that Malaysia has a large number of heroin addicts - is that saying that, were the Malaysian justice system to switch from caning to incarceration for drug offenses, the number of addicts would go down? I am personally skeptical of that upon considering it but I also wonder if there's some way to examine it empirically.

I'm also curious to know if anyone can confirm or provide a citation on Singapore having near-zero drug use.

As far as the deletion of the post goes although I'd have liked to keep the thread it's clear to me that was simply the application of proven-effective moderation practices rather than anything sinister.
posted by XMLicious at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2009


After the video, or before; I really skipped past the posts wording. I hope it comes back with different wording. It is not a grainy compressed looky looky fark cruelty torture video; it is real world video that details what caning is. There are few vids that actually present the material with clarity, the video link did so. Right or wrong, part of the 1st ammendment died with its deletion. The comments weren't foolish either. They too have perished.
posted by new and improved buzzman IV at 3:37 PM on March 28, 2009


Crabby Appleton: The MeTa post was just the MFTP commissioner turning on the bat-signal.

Multisource File Transfer Protocol has a commissioner?

My second hilarious rejoinder to this comment is:

If Blazecock Pileon is the commissioner, and this Metatalk post is the bat-signal, I guess mathowie is Batman. Which is actually pretty cool.

But doesn't that make five fresh fish the Joker? Who are you, Harley Quinn?
posted by koeselitz at 3:40 PM on March 28, 2009


Clearly if we have such a blind spot we're going to disagree with you, and we'd likely disagree with you if we didn't have a blind spot because no one likes being called the "thought police" or getting taunted in and otherwise civil thread.

Jessamyn, I didn't call you the "thought police". By "thought police" I did not mean those who say (sincerely) that "as a matter of principle, editorializing posts should be deleted". I was talking about those who say HURF DURF TORTURE VIDEOS DO NOT BELONG ON OUR PRECIOUS SITE. (If the latter is in fact your position, I suppose I did call you thought police, but I don't think that's the case.)

I'm not sure what you're referring to by "getting taunted", so I can't respond to that. My remark was not specifically aimed at the moderators. (Except to the extent that it actually applies.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2009


Right or wrong, part of the 1st ammendment died with its deletion.

MetaFilter is not the United States Congress.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:46 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Devils Slide writes "20 year mandatory minmimum sentence for unlawful possession of forty hydrocodone tablets. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment."

Cruel but not, unfortunately, unusual.

Crabby Appleton writes "I don't think the post would have been deleted if it were not the case that it challenged (if obliquely) one of MetaFilter's Sacred Doctrines (i.e., corporal punishment is always and only an evil thing)"

Whaa? 1) We don't have sacred doctrines. 2) Opinions on corporal punishment doesn't even rise to the level of mostly agreed.

Crabby Appleton writes "But it's not the case here. MetaFilter is much more concerned about reinforcing its own prejudices than getting at the truth."

Metafilter isn't a newspaper. There is no mandate to get at the truth.
posted by Mitheral at 3:50 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can't drive around with a tiger in your car
You can't drive around with a tiger in your car
You can't drive around with a tiger in your car
But you can be happy if you've a mind to


...Why can't you drive around with a tiger in your car?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:59 PM on March 28, 2009


Now I have seen a lion in a sidecar on a vertical wall of death.

That is fucking awesome and exactly what Metafilter is for.

posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


For the record, I thought the FPP stunk to high hell and I did not flag it. FFF, you set the borderlines for the discussion to your liking, and you continue to do so with some farsighted *ahem* "observations".
posted by P.o.B. at 4:14 PM on March 28, 2009


Why can't you drive around with a tiger in your car?

I don't know, they seem friendly enough to me.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:17 PM on March 28, 2009


I have not been able to find information on any subsequent psychological effects. There is information about corporal punishment of children, there is information about the lack of deterrent effect of capital punishment, but there is a paucity of information about the use of corporal punishment on adult offenders, and particularly none about its effect when administered in a formalized setting with subsequent medical treatment.

I don't know of any modern research, but I've read two autobiographies where the subject endured institutional corporal punishment.

You Can't Win by Jack Black (prison)

Recollections of a Rogue by Samuel Chamberlain (military)

There's bound to be plenty more in 19th century memoirs where the subjects served in the military, spent time in prison, or went out to sea.

By the way, both of the above books are well worth reading, two of the best autobiographies I've read.
posted by BigSky at 4:18 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


...Why can't you drive around with a tiger in your car?

'cause the tiger goes in your tank. Kids these days!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:23 PM on March 28, 2009


...and in your cereal bowl! They're GRRRRRRREAT!

Trivia: There was actually a trademark lawsuit filed by Kellogg's against Exxon Mobil over tigers!
posted by ericb at 4:41 PM on March 28, 2009


Jessamyn, I didn't call you the "thought police". By "thought police" I did not mean those who say (sincerely) that "as a matter of principle, editorializing posts should be deleted".

What you mean to say here, hopefully, is something like "I wasn't thinking of you, or the folks arguing the editorial principle, when I made a random driveby taunt about the Thought Police."

You have to take responsibility for what you actually say—which, to review, was this—and not just excuse your crappy comments based on how other people were supposed to magically interpret them.

Don't want people to think you're taking lazy potshots at them? Say what you actually mean clearly in the first place. Don't have time for that? Close the tab and walk away and save us the grief in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:04 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bigsky, bigthanks. I'll go look for 'em in the library.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2009


I said what I meant to say. I wonder why you're so quick to interpret a remark about the thought police as being about yourself? You have the power to unilaterally decide to delete a post. If you do so, does it make sense to describe that as your somehow winning something?

Think what you like.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2009


Think what you like.

I think someone has a tiny dick.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:45 PM on March 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's absolutely no evidence that corporal punishment actually works to prevent crime or bad behaviour, and yet apparently those of us who oppose it are the ones who aren't "getting at the truth".
posted by Hildegarde at 7:45 PM on March 28, 2009


I said what I meant to say.

What you meant to say, then, was needlessly opaque and obnoxious. Congratulations on being a dick not by accident but on purpose, I guess?

I wonder why you're so quick to interpret a remark about the thought police as being about yourself?

Because it's the kind of silly aggrieved bullshit we hear on a regular basis from people lacking the either the will or the capacity to have civil, adult discussions about site moderation. The sort of people who start tossing around vague Orwell allusions like it's anything other than the tiredest kind of internet rhetoric.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:49 PM on March 28, 2009


EmpressCallipygos writes "I think someone has a tiny dick."

This is totally unacceptable here.
posted by Mitheral at 8:36 PM on March 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now, Mitheral, if EmpressCallipygos wants to think about my dick, even if her thoughts are muddled, I don't think we should try to police her thoughts, do you?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:41 PM on March 28, 2009


Right or wrong, part of the 1st ammendment died with its deletion.

Jesus H Christ. Get your own f***ing blog if you need to say things like that. It's a free country, but MeFi costs $5 to join. I suppose you think the government should subsidize MeFi membership fees too.

Way to trivialize the actual first amendment to the US Constitution.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:45 PM on March 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


cortex, what I said to Jessamyn follows directly from the definition of "thought police". The thought police would not give a damn whether someone is editorializing or not; they're only concerned with whether what they're saying is heretical. I don't think you got any farther in your analysis than "Crabby called me a bad name, who the hell does he think he is?" I'm still not sure why you thought I was addressing you, though.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:50 PM on March 28, 2009


I think someone has a tiny dick.

Hmmm. How would that have played if the genders were reversed? Like, 'So when do you get off the rag?'

Probably would have brought out the Metafilter Thought Police!
posted by BigSky at 9:18 PM on March 28, 2009


EmpressCallipygos writes "I think someone has a tiny dick."
This is totally unacceptable here.


Only the biggest dicks are acceptable here.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Thought Police aren't the only ones facing budget cutbacks in these trying times.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:24 PM on March 28, 2009


I'm pretty sure new and improved buzzman IV's allusion to the First Amendment was intended metaphorically. If I'm not mistaken, he refers to the ideal of freedom of expression that informs the First Amendment. Surely that ideal is not restricted in its relevance to the area of applicability of the Constitutional amendment.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:26 PM on March 28, 2009


Where's the Hat when a flameout's going down?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:30 PM on March 28, 2009


I think someone has a tiny dick.

Lame. Please don't.

The thought police would not give a damn whether someone is editorializing or not; they're only concerned with whether what they're saying is heretical.

There's not really a polite way to say "this is barking up a stupid tree", but I'm not sure what else to say. If you want to believe that the prevailing social dynamic on metafilter is some conspiratorial groupthink patrol ever scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing the site for hints of the forbidden—or whatever the hell it is you perceive going on that you think justifies trotting out artless old 1984 references with a straight face instead of just saying e.g. "I feel some users have a bias on this subject, and this is why that's a problem"—you are welcome to that belief, but it's silly and tiring to have to engage with.

If you don't really believe that but you're bored and killing time, bleh. Find a different hobby.

I'm still not sure why you thought I was addressing you, though.

Because you were totally vague about who you were addressing in your initial flare of wit, and we have gotten that specific bit of bullshit a number of times before from people in similar positions. I wasn't exactly coy or ambiguous about that in my previous comment.

I'm not trying to convince you were addressing me, I'm trying to make it clear why without assuming that your audience is psychic you were totally failwhaling at making yourself clear. Maybe you don't believe you're capable of being obnoxious and opaque, I don't know, but your first comment in this thread was a complete turd and the rest comes off like an attempt to handwave that fact away. Next time just skip the initial turd in the first place and use plain words to state your case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 PM on March 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


five fresh fish: Only the biggest dicks are acceptable here.

The dick police strike again.
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 PM on March 28, 2009


Someone sure is crabby.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:04 PM on March 28, 2009


Dream Police is considerably improved if you replace Dream with Dick.
Though the first line now conjures up terrifying, candiru-esque imagery.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:13 PM on March 28, 2009


Hmmm. How would that have played if the genders were reversed? Like, 'So when do you get off the rag?'

Hey, when I meet someone who speaks primarily in lame pot-shots, my first impulse is to speak a language they'll understand.

However:

Lame. Please don't.
-- cortex


You're right; my apologies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:19 PM on March 28, 2009


Jesus Herbert Walker Christ, Crabby Appleton, do you sincerely believe that there's some sort of cabal here that shuts down anybody who tries to say that corporal punishment can be just? Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that the mods here have no sense of freedom, that they kill posts at random whims on the pretense that they want to kill the ideas they don't agree with? If you really believe that, why in the hell are you still around bitching about it? I guarantee you that if you head on over to digg or boingboing or wherever else you want to go, you won't be burdened by all these censorious deletions.

You're being an old-man type asshole. I don't know why you're still agitating. 'Thought police'? Fucking god, how the hell could you get any more bombastic?

Again, if you really think that, you should do yourself a little favor and leave. If you really think that the community is full of thought-policing jerks, and if you really think that the mods are at best sympathizers and at worst pulling the strings behind the 'thought police', you should button up your argyle sweater, put away that golf club you've been waving around, tie the laces of your dirty old loafers, pick up your walker, and shuffle on back to Happy Acres where you belong.
posted by koeselitz at 10:21 PM on March 28, 2009


(points to koeselitz)

See, now that's what I should have said.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 PM on March 28, 2009


I don't like the looks of those teenagers.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:26 PM on March 28, 2009


HURF DURF TORTURE VIDEOS DO NOT BELONG ON OUR PRECIOUS SITE.

Wait, what? Are you arguing that it's inappropriate to think that videos of torture just aren't good material for a website, specifically this website? Are you seriously arguing that thinking that a post with little more than a link to a person being tortured is not a good post is to be Thought Police? Is your point really that it's pure simplistic groupthink to disapprove of linking to videos of torture?

You're not making your point clearly, I am afraid, and so I apologize if I simply have not really understood what you're trying to say. It seems like maybe you've changed your underriding thesis a few times throughout this thread.... But, in the post I quoted, it really sounds like you're mocking someone who'd hold the view, "Videos of torture are not good content for this website." And I think, as a general principle, when you're standing on the side of videos of torture, something, somewhere, in your argument has gone wrong.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:30 PM on March 28, 2009


Yeah, you know, to be fair, Metafilter does lean to the left a bit, but that is not really the issue here (and Metafilter is not in essence a political blog, though political subjects are discussed). The post was not good. Not only does it editorialize too much, but it's way too chatty, and this, "Having watched the video, I'm fairly confident that were I to be caned, I'd be very much dissuaded from ever repeating the behaviour that led to the caning," sounds like something I'd expect to see in a high school essay. Nothing against the poster, but it's just badly written. It appears we're supposed to take the his personal feelings about this hypothetical as some sort of evidence as to the efficacy of corporal punishment, because he imagines it would dissuade him, having seen this video. I'm way too inside his head at this point. It doesn't matter what he's trying to say, because it's framed so badly. I really do think these posts work much better in the objective voice, like a narrator rather than ... well, rather than like a personal blog post. I have no problem with the subject as a matter appropriate for Metafilter, but it could have been done much better.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:42 PM on March 28, 2009


The MeTa post was just the MFTP commissioner turning on the bat-signal.

Man, if I had a mustache and could just turn on the bat-signal to get what I want... Let's just say that there would be a lot more posts with oiled, topless men in speedos, dancing to techno.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:18 AM on March 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Another big win for the MetaFilter Thought Police!

Also: I just want to get in another laugh at this comment before I light the bat-signal and instruct the moderators to do my bidding and delete it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 AM on March 29, 2009


Loafers do not have laces. No, not even dirty old ones.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:08 AM on March 29, 2009


Think what you like.

I think you're a dick. Thank god I'm not a mod and can just say so without having to pretend to take your "arguments" seriously. Now get out of the mashed potatoes.
posted by languagehat at 7:16 AM on March 29, 2009


Kirth Gerson: Loafers do not have laces. No, not even dirty old ones.

Fair enough. I was picturing these, but you are correct; they are not loafers.

The rest of my rant stands, I guess.
posted by koeselitz at 9:15 AM on March 29, 2009


Thinking about it... is the argument implicit in the citation that Malaysia has a large number of heroin addicts - is that saying that, were the Malaysian justice system to switch from caning to incarceration for drug offenses, the number of addicts would go down?

If the US justice system is any indicator, no, that argument is not implicit. Fortunately, our choices are not torture or a hideous prison system. The Netherlands gives us a much better solution to drug addiction than either torture or some warehouse for those in need of social help.

Also, props to languagehat for the Ill Communication reference.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:03 AM on March 29, 2009


It's a new day and I can't think of any reason to spend more time on this.

The mods wanted to express their displeasure. They did, and it's duly noted.

Ms. Saint, your question seems sincere. If you really want an answer, send me a MeMail message and I'll answer privately. I'm not feeding the trolls here any longer.

As for the rest of you who've been addressing me or my remarks, most of you are just trolling or flinging shit. I'll leave you to that.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:20 AM on March 29, 2009


And, in the end, the shit that's flung

Is
Equal
To
The
Shit

You bruuuunng...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, props to languagehat for the Ill Communication reference.

That's not Ill Communication, that's Dolomite!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:28 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: I'm not feeding the trolls here any longer.

Fellow trolls: we must retreat! Our king has spoken!
posted by koeselitz at 5:52 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to get a beating whenever my parents caught me flagellating. But never a handjob whenever I was caught jerking off. What's that about?
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:21 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just a quick note that this:
In Malaysia, caning is the penultimate punishment: the only worse sentence is death.
is not exactly right. Caning is like a side order of punishment added to lots of sentences. Lots of crimes, even white collar ones, can include caning in addition to or in substitution for jail time or fines. I'd be grateful to anyone who knows more about the history of caning in Malaysia and Singapore. My gut feeling is that it is a holdover from the British penal system...?
posted by BinGregory at 11:13 PM on March 29, 2009


My gut feeling is that it is a holdover from the British penal system...?

Agreed. There's something really, really fucked up in British culture* surrounding the doleing-out of cruelty and beatings by authority figures that's been around for quite a while: Look at Dickens, or Roald Dahl's Matilda or James and the Giant Peach. My parents were horrified by the last two because of the brutality, but the thing is that what both Dickens and Dahl were writing about wasn't gratuitous: It was criticizing the institutionalized violence, cruelty and stupidity inherent in British culture.

I remember my English great-grandmother (what a horrible, nasty old bitch) telling all and sundry at dinner about how she would beat my grandfather with a stick on the backs of his legs because the frigging doctor told her that "nobody will see the marks there".

I would say rot her bones, but they had her cremated.

*As an American I can safely say there is just as much if not more fucked-up shit swimming around under the surface of American culture.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:53 AM on March 30, 2009


failwhaling

New word of the day.
posted by minifigs at 6:09 AM on March 30, 2009


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