Enough, already August 7, 2009 11:12 AM   Subscribe

I am calling out kldickson.

While we agree on a lot of issues, your presentation is a huge turn-off, and helps to exacerbate extreme fighty-ness in posts where fighty-ness doesn’t need any encouragement. I’m also incredibly tired of and increasingly offended by your use of various forms of “retarded” to describe people who disagree with you. It doesn’t help move the debate or encourage a respectful exchange of ideas or opinions; it makes you sound shrill and obnoxious and does nothing to increase or encourage respect for your point of view. Please, the next time you write something in a contentious thread, hit “preview,” then walk away from your computer for ten minutes, then come back and hit “preview” again. Rinse, repeat. If nothing else, perhaps this would stop the “umpteen separate comments in three minutes” streak that seems to possess you occasionally.
posted by rtha to Etiquette/Policy at 11:12 AM (800 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks for this. It's a quick way to reference and favorite all of those posts.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:16 AM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I concur. There's no reason to be so arrogant and shrill.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 AM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Retard" is a pretty obnoxious little phrase. I know people will argue that it can have a neutral meaning, but, honestly, does anyone think that the potency of the phrase comes from anything but its mocking reference to the developmentally disabled? I wonder if we could get a ruling on that word and its permutations, as I think it really brings down the dialogue here; even if it were neutral, which I don't believe it is, the word is insulting and poor fodder for cilvility.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:17 AM on August 7, 2009 [43 favorites]


Don't forget about "artfags".
posted by Burhanistan at 11:19 AM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


Ohs noes! You killed the schmoopy!
posted by Kattullus at 11:20 AM on August 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


Ohs noes! You killed the schmoopy!

I believe I speak for many MetaTalk-watchers when I say:

Finally!
posted by grouse at 11:22 AM on August 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


"Pick up the gun!"
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on August 7, 2009


"Socially retarded" seems to be often used without causing much ruckus. What do you think about that, AZ, fair or needlessly inflammatory? In situations such as this, I often find myself reaching for just such a phrase.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:25 AM on August 7, 2009


Seems like we shouldn't need a ruling on "retard" or "retarded" or "-tard" when used as a slur. It's pretty clearly what it is -- a derogatory term based of a term previously used for people with disabilities.

People like kldickson who lean on the use of "-tard" and defend its use strike me as... well, you know.
posted by dw at 11:25 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Methinks I'm gonna watch this play out a bit before I respond to it.
posted by kldickson at 11:27 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the message gets lost a little bit in the lulz of appending 'tard' to everything. I pretty much don't take comments with phraseology like that seriously.
posted by Shohn at 11:27 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


In England a Tard is actually a type of cake.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I only just learned, a little while ago, that she's like 20. I'd assumed she was some crazy aspie 50-year old dude who worked with computers all the time. So youth, that seems like a reaonable explanation for the tone-deaf misunderstanding about how to get humans to listen to her. It mostly makes me glad I wasn't on metafilter when I was 20.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:27 AM on August 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


Methinks I'm gonna watch this play out a bit before I respond to it.

What the fuck do you need to watch play out? Just quit being a goddamn dick.
posted by item at 11:28 AM on August 7, 2009 [38 favorites]


Kattullus, I actually gave serious thought and consideration to what this callout would do to the schmoopy. But The Schmoopy lives in all our hearts, even if sometimes it has to curl up in a tiny ball and hide for a bit. Who knows. Perhaps The Schmoopy will win out!
posted by rtha at 11:28 AM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


I dunno. If people stop tossing out the use of "gay" and "retarded" as slang, I will lose one of my main signifiers that determines whose opinions I consider totally worthless.
posted by hermitosis at 11:28 AM on August 7, 2009 [90 favorites]


"Socially retarded" seems to be often used without causing much ruckus.

True, but it also relies on a slur for meaning. I'd like to see it red-flagged in the way "bitches" is -- frowned upon by the Mods (peace be upon them).

There needs to be a better term we can use.
posted by dw at 11:29 AM on August 7, 2009


note: I have been wise to take pretty much the same advice I just gave on more than one occasion on this site.
posted by item at 11:29 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Socially retarded" seems to be often used without causing much ruckus.

I hadn't really thought about that phrase. I suppose my feeling is that there may be a better way of saying it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on August 7, 2009


Bye bye schmoopy :(
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:31 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


On the topic of retardedness, whenever anyone says "methinks" I picture a completely caricatured slobbering mongoloid or perhaps caveman, even, heavy-browed, in a ruff and tights, crushing a quill in his massive paw. "Me thinks... guhhhhh..."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:31 AM on August 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


"Asperbergers monkey" is still okay, right?
posted by Artw at 11:32 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I often feel like I need to wipe the spit spray off of my face after reading one of kldickson's comments. It's getting a bit over the top and certainly not advancing a lot of the conversations.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:32 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]




There needs to be a better term we can use.

"socially inept"?
posted by tybeet at 11:33 AM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


kldickson: Methinks I'm gonna watch this play out a bit before I respond to it.

Announcing it kinda kills the effect.
posted by Kattullus at 11:34 AM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


dw: ""Socially retarded" seems to be often used without causing much ruckus.

True, but it also relies on a slur for meaning. I'd like to see it red-flagged in the way "bitches" is -- frowned upon by the Mods (peace be upon them).

There needs to be a better term we can use.
"

NOUN: BUNGLER; blunderer, blunderhead; marplot, fumbler, lubber, clown, lout, duffer [colloq.]; stick, poor stick, odd stick [all colloq.]; bad -, poor- -hand, - shot; butter-fingers [colloq.], fumble-fist [colloq.].
no conjuror; flat, muff, muffer, slow coach [all colloq.]; looby, swab [slang & dial.], doit, yokel [Eng.], clod; awkward squad, novice, greenhorn, blanc-bec [F.], galoot [slang].
fish out of water, ass in lion’s skin, jackdaw in peacock’s feathers; quack (deceiver) [See Deceiver]; Lord of Misrule, Abbot of Unreason [both obs. or hist.].
LANDLUBBER, fresh-water sailor, fair-weather sailor, horse marine.
SLOVEN, slattern, traipse or trapes [obs. or dial. Eng.], slut.

FOOL, idiot, tomfool, wiseacre, simpleton, Simple Simon, moron, gaby [colloq.], witling, dizzard [obs.], donkey, ass; ninny, ninny hammer, chowderhead [dial.], jolterhead or jolthead, mutt [slang], chucklehead [colloq.], dolt, booby, tomnoddy, loony or luny [slang], looby, hoddy-doddy [obs.], noddy, nonny [dial.], noodle, nizy [obs.], owl, goose, imbecile; radoteur [F.], nincompoop [colloq.], badaud [F.], zany [Eng.]; trifler, babbler; pretty fellow; natural, niais [F.].
child, baby, infant, innocent, milksop, sop.
oaf, lout, loon or lown [dial.]; bull-head, blunderhead, addle-pate, addle-brain, addlehead [all colloq.]; blockhead, dullhead, bonehead [slang], rattlepate, dullard, doodle [obs.], calf [colloq.], colt, buzzard [obs.], block, put, stick [colloq.], stock, numps [obs.], tony [obs.]; loggerhead, beetlehead, grosshead [obs.], muttonhead [colloq.], noodlehead, giddyhead [colloq.], numskull [colloq.], thickhead [colloq.], thick skull; lackbrain, shallow-brain; halfwit, lackwit; dunderpate; lunkhead [U. S.].
sawney [dial. Eng.], clod, clodhopper; clodpoll, clodpate, clotpole or clotpoll [obs.], clotpate [obs.], soft or softy [colloq. or slang], saphead [slang], bull calf [colloq.], spoony or spooney [slang], gawk, gawky, gowk, Gothamite, lummox [dial.], rube [U. S.]; men of Bœotia, wise men of Gotham.
un sot à triple étage [F.], sot [Scot.], jobbernowl [colloq., Eng.], changeling [archaic], mooncalf, gobemouche [F.].
greenhorn (dupe) [See Dupe]; dunce (ignoramus) [See Ignoramus]; lubber (bungler) [See Bungler]; madman [See Madman]; solid ivory.
one who -will not set the Thames on fire, - did not invent gunpowder, - does not exactly scintillate; qui n’a pas inventé la poudre [F.]; no conjuror; no Solomon.
DOTARD, driveler; old fogy or fogey [colloq.], old woman; crone, grandmother; cotquean [archaic], henhussy, betty [contempt].

-Roget's Thesaurus, 1922.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:35 AM on August 7, 2009 [29 favorites]


That seems like a good one, although it doesn't quite capture the sense of being left back a few years. Maybe socially underdevloped?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:35 AM on August 7, 2009


Retard sounds very schoolyard. I prefer the high-witted slanderous term "dingleberry", or its politically correct form, "person(s) with dingle in their berry".
posted by ageispolis at 11:36 AM on August 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


The irony is that, communication-wise, kldickson comes across as having more in common with the fighty extremists he/she claims to loath so much than with most of "us" here on MetaFilter.
posted by hermitosis at 11:36 AM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


In England a Tard is actually a type of cake.

Uh oh. What's a fucktard?
posted by contraption at 11:36 AM on August 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hang on, schmoopy!
posted by item at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2009


Anyone who has to resort to name-calling to get their point across isn't even worth listening to. I see her username and just move on to the next comment.
posted by iconomy at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2009


I can certainly understand how a person can be so frustrated and angry about a topic as personal as, say, abortion, that they would post the sorts of things that get posted about it. Expressions of anger can be an extremely powerful tool, and there's certainly enough to get angry about (for example: people who outright claim that doctors, doing their job, are "evil" and will presumably be going to hell - a claim that is both uncharitable and un-Christian).

On the other hand, I called kldickson out in-thread for her use of "retarded", so y'all know where I stand on that. It's wrong to use privilege as a weapon against privilege.
posted by muddgirl at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn you, prefpara, you mighty thunderstealer. Damn you to heck.
posted by item at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2009


What prickles me on kldickson's love of "-tard" as epithet is the continued and frequent use ("pro-life-coat-hanger-tard," ftw) even after being called out for it. The "artfags" comment was pretty gross too.

What prickles me on kldickson in general (since we're here) is that she's clearly smart, and has some great points of view to contribute, which clearly resonate with the Body MeFi. I just wish I didn't have to also get told all the time, by kldickson, how smart and wonderful she is. The quality comments would speak for themselves... if she'd let them. (I also attribute this to youth, for what that's worth, plus to the "new relationship energy" equivalent that occurs to many smart people when they discover MetaFilter and wade in.)

I find the gratuitous cursing tiresome too. I'm not a delicate flower who can't say 4-letter words, to be sure... seems more a case to me of "Profanity [being] the inevitable crutch of the inarticulate motherfucker." Half the time kldickson posts, I want to respond, "Try harder to use your polite words, dear. No one will impressed by that fancy college education when all you can say is FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCKING FUCK FUCK DOUCHEBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGS."
posted by pineapple at 11:39 AM on August 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


In England a Tard is actually a type of cake.

Uh oh. What's a fucktard?


A particularly delicious cake. There's a shop that sells really good ones on this street.
posted by Artw at 11:39 AM on August 7, 2009 [11 favorites]


Yeah, let's go with landlubber! Thanks, corpse and Roget's! You fucking landlubbers!

On another note, I went through a "fucktard" phase in 2006, methinks... I regret using that term now, and I generally steer clear of it (or any version of retard/retarded as an insult) now, but I am sure I have let it drop a few times.
posted by Mister_A at 11:39 AM on August 7, 2009


henhussy

Word of the day, right there.
posted by hellojed at 11:42 AM on August 7, 2009


C'mon, everyone knows that TARD stands for Time And Relative Dimension.

Now, Protect the Schmoopy!

What the hell is a Schmoopy? Will it bite me?
posted by quin at 11:42 AM on August 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


I hate the term "artfags," period. There's plenty of art that I personally view as stupid and there are plenty of artists whose attitudes and lifestyles I don't understand or sometimes even dislike. But even though I dislike some pieces of art and think that some lifestyles are foolish, I don't feel the urge to mindlessly denigrate the creators of the art or the livers of the lifestyles and I think it reflects very poorly upon those who do.

I hang out in an abandoned factory that happens to have an art installation on a part of one of it's walls. It's even better now that someone sprayed "art fags" over it right next to their other tags. I mean, is that the pot calling the kettle black, or what? [/derail]

I do agree that some of kldickson's rhetoric is over the top and unnecessary, and I believe that he could make most of his points more effectively by turning it down a bit. And this comes from someone who also agrees with most of his stances on things.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 11:43 AM on August 7, 2009


I'm a start using henhussy. It's a crime that dropped out of common usage.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:43 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Methinks I'm gonna watch this play out a bit before I respond to it.

This whole situation is something we've been pretty frustrated about from the admin side as well, kldickson. And yeah, the "tard" angle is obnoxiously juvenile, and you seem to trot it out with a consistency and degree of malice that goes a bit beyond the "oh it's just casual slang" argument, but I want to be clear that that's just a sideline issue as far as we're concerned.

We've had to remove a lot of fighty, dismissive stuff from you over the last year or so and it hasn't felt like you're really making any effort to turn that around so far. We've seen and in a lot of cases had to remove recurring acid reactivity in particular to the subjects of Christianity and conservativism, and personal jabs at other users, that are pretty much the opposite of what makes for good contributions around here.

I don't much care whether or how long you wait before responding substantively to the callout itself or to this comment in particular, but you need to be aware that this is getting to the stage of being a deal-breaker pattern of behavior. I know I've had to address in public issues with your comments/participation on mefi on more than one occasion, and I believe Jessamyn has as well; this is not a new or one-time thing, and whatever response you choose to give or decline to give in this thread is immaterial if there isn't some responsive improvement in your behavior on the site in general.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:43 AM on August 7, 2009 [29 favorites]


rtha, you seem to be writing directly to kldickson here. Why didn't you try email?
posted by pracowity at 11:44 AM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


Dear AskMe: My schmoopy is a Tennessee henhussy. Why no?
posted by Mister_A at 11:44 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Methinks I'm gonna watch this play out a bit before I respond to it.

You know, as I said in this thread, to jsonic, I'm not really expecting an answer, but I'll ask anyway: What do you expect to get when you post comments like the "-tard" ones? It surprised me to find that jsonic was not the person who was making me the angriest in that fpp, despite the fact that we utterly disagree with each other.

kldickson, what is it you want with comments like that? Is it simply to express yourself? Do you hope to garner favorites, or to persuade people to consider your point of view? Or what?

It's not just the use of that term. You seem to like to be really dismissive of any viewpoint not your own - dismissive and disrespectful. Why?
posted by rtha at 11:45 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


But, regarding the side issues of the use of "retarded," is that something we should flag as "offensive," or is it something that people can continue to use?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:45 AM on August 7, 2009


kldickson is the atheist version of konolia. Only konolia, at least, could like a decent person some of the time.
posted by dw at 11:45 AM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't forget about "artfags".

Yeah, what was that about? I flagged it as offensive. It seemed like an overly angry comment for a pretty benign post.
posted by shrabster at 11:46 AM on August 7, 2009


What's wrong with socially backward?

The irony is that, communication-wise, kldickson comes across as having more in common with the fighty extremists he/she claims to loath so much than with most of "us" here on MetaFilter.

Yes, exactly. With certain strategic word replacements, many of her comments wouldn't be out of place on Free Republic.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


could ACT like a decent person some of the time. Arrgh.
posted by dw at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2009


I really don't follow kldickson, but he's is okay with me because he once agreed with me (and sort of against shetterly) in one of shetterly's threads. I don't have much to say about the rest of the call-out, and the mods' comments are enlightening.

Wait, are kldickson and shetterly arch-enemies or something? How cool is that? I've always wanted an arch-enemy myself, but mostly just for the novelty of it.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2009


I also want to say that I was 20 not-too-long-ago, and a new mefite with very strong and decided opinions... opinions that I expressed in pretty crappy ways... ways that I am ashamed of when I go back and read them from 5 years on. But there's no delete option on Mefi, so they'll keep surprising me when they pop up in old threads, for the rest of Metafilter's life.
posted by muddgirl at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks dw, I was filling in all kinds of verbs there.
posted by Mister_A at 11:48 AM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


No-one uses "retarded" as shorthand for "socially retarded"--they use it as shorthand for the snot-nosed, mushy-featured, poorly-hygiened, stereotype of what a mentally retarded person is. People use it to designate someone as disgusting, subhuman and inherently without social value. Someone, in short, who should be sterilized, locked up, and ignored at every level of consideration.

It's disgusting. In my experience, I have most often found the use of "retard" as an insult indicative of someone who is frightened of illness, disgusted by obvious or disabling imperfections in others, and intolerant of compassion for things that they themselves do not understand. Rarely does it merely indicate ignorance of the range of mental function, potential depth of personality and breadth of difference in persons with mental disabilities. I have never heard an adult use it in ignorance of the heavy weight of the history of dehumanizing the mentally retarded.

In the dictionary, "retarded" means "slowed, delayed, hindered". We use it that way in music. We use it that way to describe slow progress on a project, or development of social skills. People do not use it that way when they hurl it as an epithet at a person or an idea. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. It has no place in discourse, civilized, quasi-civilized or uncivilized.

I have no opinion of kldickson as a poster. But clearly, I have an opinion about people who use "retarded" to describe people or opinions they don't like.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:48 AM on August 7, 2009 [50 favorites]


I hate the term "artfags," period.

Uh, yeah, this is amazingly rude. Where did it come from, 4chan? Ironically, it would be less offensive there because they add 'fag' to everything. Then again, 4chan is troll-based whereas metafilter is supposed to be discussion-based.
posted by Maximian at 11:50 AM on August 7, 2009


Shitcock.
posted by Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory at 11:50 AM on August 7, 2009 [25 favorites]


Doink-knocker!
posted by Mister_A at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2009


I'm kind of surprised kldickson didn't use the term 'artarded'. C'mon, at least get clever with your foulness.
posted by item at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Methinks cortex hath unsheathed yon banhammer.
posted by JeffK at 11:52 AM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


This may be a generational thing (or not). When I hear someone get called "retard" or "retarded" or one of its spinoffs, I am immediately, viscerally taken back to schoolyards of 40 years ago when the bullies and even some of the non-bullies would sometimes just viciously taunt and harass the special ed. kids. And it always started with "Hey, REtard!"

At age 7, we all knew it was wrong, and we all felt like puking and crying from the shame of it, and yet the rest of us little cowards stood there and didn't step up and say or do anything because not only were we scared of the bullies but we had been just as conditioned to consider the disabled kids foreign and sort of vaguely frightening. Back then in the days before mainstreaming, students with any sort of developmental or learning disability were always rigidly segregated from the "normal" classes at my school. They weren't even allowed to have classes in our regular school building but were put in one of those temporary structures near the playground as if they were contagious or something.

So this thread and all those links to "____tard" have made me feel like puking and crying, but I'm not sure if younger MeFites have the same horrible associations with the word or hear the same amount of cruelty and disdain in it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:53 AM on August 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


I really don't follow kldickson, but he's is okay with me because he once agreed with me...

MSTPT moment once again. Perhaps it's the two words within her username.
posted by gman at 11:53 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this call out has been coming for a while now. Abortion threads may always be fighty and ugly and facile, but you don't have to strive for first place.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:55 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree with kldickson's pov on most things, and her posts still make me angry a lot of times. For the reasons others have spelled out here--the "tard" use, the lashing out, the gratuitous insults of people who disagree w/ her, the one-liners with no content but an aggressive and nasty comment about someone or their opinion. It doesn't fit well with the tone of the site, at all.
posted by Mavri at 11:56 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


snot-nosed, mushy-featured, poorly-hygiened, stereotype of what a mentally retarded person is.

I don't think anybody needs the stereotype vivified, even for this purpose. We know what it means without having to read an example cruel illustration.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:56 AM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


pracowity - Because kldickson's been pretty active around here, and I've been seeing those acidic comments in a bunch of threads across the site, not just abortion-related ones in the blue (for instance), where generally only mefites who know how those kinds of threads go, go. This kind of attitude is detrimental to MetaFilter, and although I've called out kldickson specifically, I want all of us to think about what we say and how we say it, even in fighty threads.

When I hear (or read) the term "retarded" used the way kldickson and others use it - as a put down, as a way of saying "You are stupid and your ideas are stupid and I don't respect you or think of you as human," in my head it's in a strong Boston accent, which is where I first heard it as an insult, in the 7th grade.
posted by rtha at 11:57 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then again, 4chan is troll-based whereas metafilter is supposed to be discussion-based.

I thought we were libtard-artfag-based.
posted by JeffK at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


they use it as shorthand for the snot-nosed, mushy-featured, poorly-hygiened, stereotype of what a mentally retarded person is

I use it to indicate something incredibly stupid. "oh damn, just spilled brandy on the stove, that was retarded."

In short, I'm ok with the use of the word, as it seems to perfectly sum doing something you should have realized would be a very dumb to do.

For actual mentally challenged people, "slow" works well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, by the way, kldickson, I was wondering. Are you by any chance associated in some way with neuroscience? It's hard to tell, but little things here and there in your posts kind of give the game away.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2009 [25 favorites]


It mostly makes me glad I wasn't on metafilter when I was 20.

Oh lord, me too. I would have been dragged off, kicking and screaming, after about three months of nonironically re-enacting the HE'S OPPRESSING ME! bit from Python's Holy Grail every time someone expressed an opinion slightly to the right of Rosa Luxemburg.
posted by scody at 12:03 PM on August 7, 2009 [11 favorites]


Oh adam. Well played.
posted by Mister_A at 12:03 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


adamschneider: Are you by any chance associated in some way with neuroscience? It's hard to tell, but little things here and there in your posts kind of give the game away.

She's mentioned that she is quite a few times, adamschneider.
posted by Kattullus at 12:04 PM on August 7, 2009


Fair enough arguing for the standard of discourse you hope to see on MeFi, but these individual call-outs so often end up akin to a Maoist struggle session. Often makes me as uncomfortable as any original offence.
I could do the big-character posters for one of them if that's the line we're taking, though. Ever the good organisation man.
posted by Abiezer at 12:05 PM on August 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


I found the schmoopy! Kill it before it gets away!
posted by Mister_A at 12:06 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was not aware of kldickson's gender, so please consider all the he's in my earlier post as she's.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2009


these individual call-outs so often end up akin to a Maoist struggle session

On behalf of the quasi-Trotskyites in this thread, I nonironically say BURN THE WITCH to that!
posted by scody at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I submit that 'retread' is a perfectly viable substitution for when you feel like calling your idiot dog a 'retard' but don't want to pick up that particular piece of slang as part of your everyday vocabulary.

Fun fact; as a pejorative, it works on cats and birds as well.
posted by quin at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2009


It mostly makes me glad I wasn't on metafilter when I was 20.

Oh, I've been down that road. Maturity is a gift delivered with a kick to the groin.
posted by hellojed at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2009 [15 favorites]


she is a gay retard
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Throwing out words like "fag" and -tard drags everything down to Idiocracy levels. Unless you're seeking to project the image of someone rocking a dirty Bad Boy Club T-shirt, save this crap for FARK.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2009


I think one of the reasons that kldickson's getting called out when there are other offenders is that we expect "our own kind" to have the same standards of decency, while we expect people who disagree with us to act like troglodytes (no offense intended to actual troglodytes).
posted by muddgirl at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2009


Seems like we shouldn't need a ruling on "retard" or "retarded" or "-tard" when used as a slur. It's pretty clearly what it is -- a derogatory term based of a term previously used for people with disabilities.

Yet idiot and moron are ok?

What about a moratorium on name-calling generally? I know it de-zings your zingers, but maybe if your humour is based on name-calling, you're not actually that funny. Doesn't do a great service to seriously intended arguments, either.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I could do the big-character posters for one of them if that's the line we're taking, though. Ever the good organisation man.

Would you, please? I'm too busy composing a series of articles condemning her as a counter-revolutionary and having associations with imperialists.
posted by dw at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2009


Well, it seems that we're pretty solidly lined up against "retard" and its derivatives and diminutives. I think the message has been delivered, and I question the value of leaving this thread open any longer.
posted by Mister_A at 12:12 PM on August 7, 2009


sorry, ambrosia, for offending you. really.

However, I disagree with you that we don't need to have the hidden meaning spelled out in order to discuss why it's not acceptable as a casual insult. I think that we do need to discuss what precisely it signifies or else you get people saying "but it just means stupid" when no, actually, it doesn't. Felliniblank and others wouldn't feel nauseated to hear it used if it simply signified stupid.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:12 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've always wanted an arch-enemy myself, but mostly just for the novelty of it.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:47 AM on August 7 [+] [!]


I'll volunteer.

Jerk.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


How about "retread" instead? Implies you're a cheap substitute for the real thing, thin layer of do-over on a worn-out substructure and a danger to traffic on the Internet super highway.
posted by Abiezer at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2009


> Where did it come from, 4chan? Ironically, it would be less offensive there because they add 'fag' to everything.

"Artfag" is older than 4chan. The Dead Milkmen used it in 1987's "Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance to Anything)", and the word easily predates that track by, oh, at least a year.
posted by ardgedee at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


As one given to profanity-laced tirades, I am uncomfortable with some aspects of this call-out. But kldickson has been acting like kind of a dick recently. So there's that.

When you find yourself attacking the person instead of the person's ideas, it's time to check yourself. Before you, you know, like, wreck yourself.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by Abiezer ...these individual call-outs so often end up akin to a Maoist struggle session...I could do the big-character posters for one of them if that's the line we're taking, though.

Perhaps I can be of service.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wrecked myself by not checking mysef once. Now I don't even bother to check myself, because once you've been wrecked, man, that's it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


she is a gay retard

I appreciate the formal irony and all, but that's not really helping.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know what they say, once you go wrecked, you never... once... never go...won't get fooled again!

-GW Bush
posted by Mister_A at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2009


Yet idiot and moron are ok?

Well, oddly enough, I'm more OK with "idiot" and "moron" because they had real definitions that used to mean "has an IQ within a certain range". They were initially descriptive of a certain level of intelligence, and calling someone an idiot doesn't necessarily imply that they are a drooling vegetable. They are undeniably insults, and I avoid calling other people idiots or morons except in a loving or playful way, but it is a different level of insult in my mind.

Retard, on the other hand, has always been meant as a derogatory insult of not only someone's intelligence, but of their behaviors, physical characteristics, and of their general worth as a human being.
posted by muddgirl at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I love profanity. I use it too much. But "retard" isn't just profane - it's needless.
posted by muddgirl at 12:20 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, it seems that we're pretty solidly lined up against "retard" and its derivatives and diminutives. I think the message has been delivered, and I question the value of leaving this thread open any longer.

Well, I personally think her pile-ons (dozens of comments in a few hours, often directed at a single user whose opinion is unpopular with almost everyone here) are more generally distasteful than their use of "tard." They just seem a little unhinged to me -- like she's the ringleader of some gang of bullies, rock in hand, whooping everyone up into a crazed right-wing-tard-shredding frenzy.
posted by palliser at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I appreciate your being reasonable in your disagreement, crush.

To me, "retarded" traditionally means congenitally (or by cause of illness) intellectually limited. That's bad enough, that's where the hatefulness comes from, from absence of empathy toward such difference beyond a person's choosing.

The picture the slur may paint of a detestable slobbering subhuman isn't what the condition the word refers to is actually about, which is simply below-average intellectual capacity. Rather, this caricature is representative of the potential florid hate behind its use. I don't think we need to brainstorm a list of all the things "retards" might be like in order to comprehend that the term is often (usually?) used as slur.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


(no offense intended to actual troglodytes)

None taken.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:23 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I know I've had to address in public issues with your comments/participation on mefi on more than one occasion, and I believe Jessamyn has as well;

Yes. We remove, regularly, a lot of early thread-shitting by you and a lot of stuff that just seems like poor impulse control rage comments. It seems like youv'e had a lot of frustrating stuff going on in your life lately and I totally sympathize. That said, you seem to be on the outside edge of the set of "people who behave decently enough to stay on MeFi" and it would be nice if you could make more of an effort. To be specific

- early thread-shitting on posts on the blue
- total rage GRAR GRAR comments about topics you don't like [religion, stupid parents]
- the tard thing; seriously please do not do that here

I see you contributing on the green a lot and I'd like you to stay on as a contributor. It would be nice if you could maybe either not comment when you're so angry or realize that MeFi isn't quite the place for the sort of GRAR GRAR stuff that flies elsewhere. The fact that there is some of it here does not mean that we would not like there to be much less of it here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:24 PM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


kldickson: "Methinks I'm gonna watch this play out a bit before I respond to it."

I see you've learned the secret mefite trick.
posted by shmegegge at 12:24 PM on August 7, 2009


I thought calling people out was frowned upon. Couldn't this be handled in a way that lacks the petty scolding of a middle-school detention? "That's enough use of that dirty word out of you, Mister!!" Jesus H. Can't you just send her a note, and if that fails, ban her? Why all the senseless hand-wringing and fantastically thin-skin?
posted by billysumday at 12:25 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oddly, GRAR is exactly the sort of noise that most anthropologists believe troglydites made.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:26 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why all the senseless hand-wringing and fantastically thin-skin?

Welcome to Metafilter.
posted by muddgirl at 12:26 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Retard, on the other hand, has always been meant as a derogatory insult of not only someone's intelligence, but of their behaviors, physical characteristics, and of their general worth as a human being.

I don't think this is true. There was a time when it was used to clinically describe someone who was particularly slow. It's taken on the meaning you describe in recent years.

And yeah, calling someone a retard is particularly lame. It's like saying something is gay. Fuck people, you aren't 12 anymore.
posted by chunking express at 12:27 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, JeffK, haven't been banhammered. I'm not sure how productive that would be.

If you've got some suggestions for how I could improve my participation in the discussions on this site, please let me know.

In some sense, I think I am better aware of some trends in my posting that apparently are turning a lot of people off to what I've got to say.

Cortex, the suggestion about stepping away from the computer helped. And I did, for a while, although something tells me that when certain hot-button issues come up I'm just not going show my face in them, or at least until I can figure out how to post what I want to say, how I want to say it, without coming off as an asshole even to the people who agree with me (coming off as an asshole even to the people who agree with me is a pretty big indication, to me, that something's wrong).

I realize and I will admit that much of my belligerence has come from things wholly unrelated to Metafilter that have given me an extra tendency toward impatience and even, to some extent, condescension.

If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.
posted by kldickson at 12:27 PM on August 7, 2009 [46 favorites]


Can I just say that in general I consider doing a search on someones posting history and just highlighting every time they've used a particular word or what have you to be a really shitty trick?
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's disgusting. In my experience, I have most often found the use of "retard" as an insult indicative of someone who is frightened of illness, disgusted by obvious or disabling imperfections in others, and intolerant of compassion for things that they themselves do not understand.

Although I don't think I ever used the word retard (the noun), I did say retarded (the adjective) sometimes growing up because it seemed pretty harmless, until I realized that it was offensive later and stopped using it. The phrase I had the hardest time stopping using was "That's retarded," which I used when someone described something that was ridiculous and/or not very well thought out.

Retard, on the other hand, has always been meant as a derogatory insult of not only someone's intelligence, but of their behaviors, physical characteristics, and of their general worth as a human being.

The overall term mental retardation that it stems from, though, has been an official term for certain types of developmental disabilities until it fell out of favor relatively recently.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't you just send her a note, and if that fails, ban her?

Not really. I mean a callout that is like "you suck I hate you" is one thing, but something that is like "the way you are interacting here is bad for the community" is another. It's sort of important that people who are problematic users here realize that they're problematic to lots of people and not just me or cortex. This is sort of a big deal here because problem users often think we have it out for them in some way and take this sort of thing personally. So, there's value in seeing that "gee it's not just jessamyn who finds the term tard problematic"

Add to that that we almost never ban people purely for behavior stuff -- it's happened maybe a handful of times where someone who really wants to stay on the site can't get it together enough to actually interact here without causing constant troubles -- and this sort of "talking it out" thing is really the best way to make this work. People should, of course, refrain from being total "whee let me get my punches in!" people about it and they mostly do.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:29 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, I don't think anyone can fairly expect more than this from kldickson.

GRAR! CLOSE THREAD ALREADY, METHINKS!
posted by Mister_A at 12:30 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is true. There was a time when it was used to clinically describe someone who was particularly slow. It's taken on the meaning you describe in recent years.

You're thinking of the term "mentally retarded". "Retard" has never, to my wikipedia knowledge, been a medical or psychological term.
posted by muddgirl at 12:30 PM on August 7, 2009


If I ever engage in pattern behaviour that pisses y'all off could you just e-mail me for a frank discussion please
posted by Shepherd at 12:31 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated

You're going to want to start following Miko.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2009 [33 favorites]


Why all the senseless hand-wringing and fantastically thin-skin?

Welcome to Metafilter.


Yeah but nobody's ever made a post before in which the mods all gather to publicly shame another member for "poor behavior." I can understand a public discussion about standards, but this is singling someone out and posting the scolding for all to see. Who knows, kldickson is probably an attention whore (oh goodness, can I say that?) and is loving all this attention. "Look at me, they think I'm a real scamp!" I love Metafilter, but goodness, either live and let live or draw up some community standards and stick by them. Not every bad poster and/or post needs to be turned into a public debate over whether or not we should vote Ms. Poopymouth off the island.
posted by billysumday at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I appreciate the formal irony and all, but that's not really helping.
posted by cortex at 12:16 PM on August 7


i don't have an opinion pro or con i just thought it would be funny because you have to admit it is, just a little at least
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2009


Oddly, GRAR is exactly the sort of noise that most anthropologists believe troglydites made.

And troglodytes, too!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:34 PM on August 7, 2009


Well, that was a very reasoned and well-considered response, kldickson.

I can't be too critical of you. Up until just a few months ago, I was a bit of a cowboy on the Web, and I still find myself reaching for my pistols when things get heated. I've been trying to be a lot more civil, tough, in part because it keeps my own blood pressure down, and in part because screaming at strangers on the Internet just became too exhausting. I try to assume people are arguing in good faith, and, if they aren't, I guess I try not to converse with them. I stay out of threads where I think I'll get upset, and I know sometimes I misunderstand what people are saying and get in a needless huff, so I have been asking people to clarify when I don't really get what they mean. Also, if somebody says something I just find impossibly dense, I have found the best course is just to respond with question to try and clarify why they think so, and ask them to support their argument, which has turned into some very interesting discussions.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 PM on August 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


Return of the Schmoopy!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:35 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.

Just in case this gets lost in the kerfuffle, it's is an excellent question for AskMe, and I'm glad to see you considering what's been said here.
posted by iconomy at 12:35 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can I just say that in general I consider doing a search on someones posting history and just highlighting every time they've used a particular word or what have you to be a really shitty trick?

Mad Skillz.
posted by gman at 12:36 PM on August 7, 2009


I know people will argue that it can have a neutral meaning, but, honestly, does anyone think that the potency of the phrase comes from anything but its mocking reference to the developmentally disabled? I wonder if we could get a ruling on that word and its permutations, as I think it really brings down the dialogue here; even if it were neutral, which I don't believe it is, the word is insulting and poor fodder for cilvility.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:17 PM on August 7


Oh, come on already. Of course the word 'retarded' is offensive. If it wasn't offensive people wouldn't use it, and would use a different offensive word instead. Shall we ban "moron" and "idiot" out of fear of offending the retarded as well? Would you be happier if someone wrote "Your suggestion is something I would have expected from a developmentally disabled person?"

Also, "developmentally disabled" is not the same as retarded. The developmentally disabled includes those with autism and other more subtle learning disabilities. In an effort to be politically correct, you inadvertently insulted groups of people who aren't retarded.

How about we ban batshitinsane as well, out of fear of offending the mentally ill both diagnosed and undiagnosed who routinely post on AskMe?

I agree that the word "retarded" is a crutch, but so are a lot of things that are written on Metafilter. Let's not police people's vocabulary on a message board. You might as well move to ban profanity, and discussions of sexuality. We aren't writing our dissertations here. This isn't polite society. It's just society.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:36 PM on August 7, 2009 [21 favorites]


Also, "developmentally disabled" is not the same as retarded. The developmentally disabled includes those with autism and other more subtle learning disabilities. In an effort to be politically correct, you inadvertently insulted groups of people who aren't retarded.


In what way did I insult them?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:38 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cortex, the suggestion about stepping away from the computer helped. And I did, for a while, although something tells me that when certain hot-button issues come up I'm just not going show my face in them, or at least until I can figure out how to post what I want to say, how I want to say it, without coming off as an asshole even to the people who agree with me (coming off as an asshole even to the people who agree with me is a pretty big indication, to me, that something's wrong).

I really appreciate that, and the rest of your comment, kldickson. Please do work on it; like Jess, I do appreciate your positive contributions to the site, and I'd rather see you find some way to reduce and rework the negative stuff than have to deal with this stuff in any other way. Thank you for taking this stuff seriously.

Yeah but nobody's ever made a post before in which the mods all gather to publicly shame another member for "poor behavior."

If you're suggesting some plurality of Matt and Jess and I haven't commented directly critically on someone's behavior in a metatalk thread like this before, you are mistaken. None of us is particularly interested in public shaming qua shaming, but this is a community and there are times when a long-term pattern of problematic behavior from someone seems to merit public comment. Neither I nor Jessamyn wishes kldickson any ill, but if it's gonna come up then we're gonna talk about it, especially in cases where it's something we've had to deal with publicly and privately on more than one occasion previously without seeing any resolution or improvement.

I thought calling people out was frowned upon.

Freakout yelling matches are frowned upon, and unfortunately a lot of the more memorable callouts in metatalk history have been made by someone already in high blood who isn't thinking much about fairness or tone. So a lot of callouts have been shut down or criticized after the fact, but fundamentally it's okay for a user to call out another user or their behavior and it's kind of an important facility for community discussion at that.

As admins we can certainly send someone a warning and then ban them, but that's not the end-all be-all of how this place works by a long shot.

On preview, what jessamyn said as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:42 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yep, the 10-foot-pole is still working.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:42 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


kldickson: If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.

Wikipedia's civility guide isn't a bad place to start. Here's are the core suggestions:
Balance criticisms by providing constructive comments.
If possible forget about offensive comments without replying, and forgive the editor. Do not escalate the conflict.
Alternatively, respond to perceived incivility with greater civility and respect. Many editors will then moderate their tone to match yours.
Please. Thank you. I'm sorry. You're welcome. You're a good person and I know we'll work this out. Treat your fellow editor as a respected and admired colleague, who is working in collaboration with you on an important project.
Walk away. Wikipedia is a very big place. Just go edit somewhere else for a while and return when tempers have cooled.
You do not have to like an editor as a person to appreciate that they are also working for the good of the project. If you do not like a fellow editor, try not to hold that fact against them.
The language is Wikipediacentric but the sentiments are easy to transfer to MetaFilter. The main thing is not to worry too much about. No one's born civil, it takes practice and mindfulness but you'll get there. Most everyone does.
posted by Kattullus at 12:43 PM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with

Having an attitude of 'look, this is the way it is' doesn't help. I use the word "I" a lot in my posts, not because I'm self absorbed, but to underscore that what's being written is coming from a personal perspective and there is no claim of knowing anything, let alone everything.

The world is not black and white and you don't have all the answers. I was reminded of this after clicking on your recent activity and a recent comment of yours which advocated a more peaceful approach in an abortion thread. Ironically (or not), later comments by you were used in this callout as an example of just how awful of you are.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:43 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Well, comrade, after you heartfelt and sincere self-criticism it has been decided to welcome you back into the ranks of the vanguard of the people. And it just so happens we have an opening for a cadre at our new swamp-drainage project in Qinghai!
posted by Abiezer at 12:45 PM on August 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


Shall we ban "moron" and "idiot" out of fear of offending the retarded as well? Would you be happier if someone wrote "Your suggestion is something I would have expected from a developmentally disabled person?"

I'm not inclined to take offense at moron or idiot, philosophically, (though obviously I'd prefer not to be called either) but I don't see retarded as being all that comparable. It's a judgment call, I suppose, and you can call it arbitrary if you want, but I'm perfectly comfortable with saying "idiot is okay, retarded is not, and that's where I draw the line." I've never had someone come up to me and say "excuse me, but I'm an idiot" or "excuse me, but my cousin is an idiot, and I'd prefer if you didn't use that word to disparage people." I have, however, in the folly of my youth, had people come up to me and say "look, people used to say retard to describe my cousin's condition, and I don't appreciate that term being used to disparage someone as though being like my cousin were a bad thing." that makes the difference to me.
posted by shmegegge at 12:46 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


- total rage GRAR GRAR comments about topics you don't like [religion, stupid parents]

Oh, HELLS to the yes. I've seen this as well.

If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.

May I politely suggest the option of just....not participating in an argument at all? I'm not saying "don't ever say anything, I don't care about your opinion, nyah" -- what I'm saying is, from the sound of things, some real-life stuff just has you a bit raw right now, which makes you a little more prone to flying off the handle -- and maybe the way to handle that is to maybe just....NOT take part in discussions that you know you would say Angry Things about, until such time as your life is on more of an even keel and you're feeling a little more back to normal, and better able to gauge for yourself what may not be a good way to phrase things.

Sometimes we all just need to do that. Turn off the computer and go play with some puppies, or clean the toilet, or watch AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS or something. Metafilter will still be here when you get back, it'll be okay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:47 PM on August 7, 2009


I still find myself reaching for my pistols when things get heated

I find it helpful to imagine that the pistols are plastic capguns, and most of the caps are duds. The internet weapons, they do nothing.
posted by Maximian at 12:48 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


And I don't think it's an issue of banning anything, it's more just an issue of standards. Using certain words or terms here is not a good idea, and retard is one of those terms. We can't ban the use of these words, but we can certainly take people to task for using them.
posted by Mister_A at 12:48 PM on August 7, 2009


Doesn't ANYONE flame out anymore? Damnit. All reasonable and understanding and shit. grar grar
posted by nevercalm at 12:50 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm here just to say that since I worked on digitizing Pizza Hut's training materials back in the 90s, I always associate the words "retard" and "retarded" and "retarder" with aging pizza dough in either a pan, large machine that resembles an oven or in your own refrigerator.

I can't see that word, or any iteration of it, without thinking of dough proofing somewhere in a restaurant.

For those that didn't know it's commonly used in other ways, as mentioned above in-thread in regards to music, it's not always perceived as immediately pertaining to a human being's mental state or as a type of slur implying such a state, etc.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you've got some suggestions for how I could improve my participation in the discussions on this site, please let me know.

Just the facts ma'am.
posted by scrutiny at 12:52 PM on August 7, 2009


Oh, come on already. Of course the word 'retarded' is offensive. If it wasn't offensive people wouldn't use it, and would use a different offensive word instead. Shall we ban "moron" and "idiot" out of fear of offending the retarded as well? Would you be happier if someone wrote "Your suggestion is something I would have expected from a developmentally disabled person?"

I don't think the problem is the words. I think the problem is the easy resort to ad hominem. Civility would be better served if people responded to the argument, instead of attempting to discredit the arguer.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:52 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


total rage GRAR GRAR comments

Am I the only one who loves it when Jessamyn starts sounding a little like the T.Rex from Dinosaur Comics?
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


mudgirl, you're probably right. And to second shmegegge, my French teacher in grade school had a son with downs syndrome. She said it grated on her every time someone said something was retarded, or so and so was a retard. I have yet to have someone say the same thing with respect to the words moron or idiot.
posted by chunking express at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2009


She has taught me so many words....
GRAR...fighty...

well two is still pretty good.
posted by Mister_A at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2009


If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.

well, you've been here a year and change, so chances are you've seen examples of a better discourse that you can take to heart if you'd like. I don't know if it's a great idea to say "comment more like this guy over here," but I think it's fair to say that mostly you should just stop doing certain things.

people have already mentioned that when you want to attack someone instead of discuss their points, that's a clear sign to back off and chill. that's pretty much rule #1 for everybody here, and one I had to learn pretty well (and still need reminding of, to be honest).

and seriously, just stop using retarded and fag as a way to disparage people. I don't know how else to put it. if you'd like advice for places outside of metafilter, then stop using those insults entirely in your everyday life. but most certainly stop using them, here. it's just not okay, even though you'll see people using it way too often.

anyway, I don't know if this is the kind of comment you were asking for, but thanks for being open to what people have said.
posted by shmegegge at 12:54 PM on August 7, 2009


GRAR. GRAR. GRAR.

I just like saying GRAR.
posted by loquacious at 12:54 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


We've had to remove a lot of fighty, dismissive stuff from you over the last year or so and it hasn't felt like you're really making any effort to turn that around so far. We've seen and in a lot of cases had to remove recurring acid reactivity in particular to the subjects of Christianity and conservativism, and personal jabs at other users, that are pretty much the opposite of what makes for good contributions around here.

I'm sorry, I'm obviously late to this party, but this stunned me. Of all the lunacy in those threads, you singled out kldickinson? I have personally been attacked and insulted in the rudest, most acidic terms imaginable in some of those Christianity threads by some of the people posting in this very Meta thread. I certainly don't want or need the mods to supervise my conversations, but I wonder if some of the "eggshell plaintiffs" around here who seem quick to take offense are only flagging as offensive comments from certain people just because they disagree with them or don't like them.

kldickinson never even registered on my radar as a hothead or as someone particularly acrimonious, and we are singling him out? Am I not being a Metafilter Good Citizen when I choose NOT to call out people who appear to have spiraled off their meds, and instead try to engage them in-thread?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:55 PM on August 7, 2009


kldickson, all of your condescending terms can be replaced by the word dummy.

So for example: I hate conservatards dummies. or I wonder what pro-coat-hanger-tardsdummies are going to say.

Best of luck ya dummy.
posted by pwally at 12:55 PM on August 7, 2009


The Mods are geniuses, everything the Chairman say is truly great; one of a Mod's comments will override the meaning of tens of thousands of ours!
posted by dw at 12:56 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument

I've got a lot of sympathy with you, kldickson. Primarily because I used to be a lot like you myself. I've got a fairly caustic personality, and struggle with suffering fools, and when I first came on the net, I was in my element in the 'robust' flame pit that was usenet.

I can still find myself leaning in that direction sometimes -- but these days, it comes across as being a little shorter with people than I'd otherwise like, rather than trying to identify their weak spots to emotionally demolish them.

I think part of it was growing up. I took a look at myself, and decided I could be a bit of a bully at times, and that was something that I didn't like in other people, so why would I like it in myself?

Part of it was that I was investing too much meaning in electrons on the screen - or the arguments of people that I'd never met, didn't really know and didn't much care about. Recognizing that made it much easier for me to walk away early on, rather than get into some rapidly escalating flame-fest.

But I think the biggest part was just starting to assume good faith on the part of the people I disagreed with. Assuming that while they were politically and ideologically opposed to me, they were probably people who sincerely believed what they did, and did so because they thought it would make the world better for everyone. And while they might be wrong about their beliefs, my shouting at them wasn't going to change those beliefs.

And if they didn't believe what they said, or they did so for purely selfish or egotistical reasons, it was easier to just not bother engaging than to let them wind me up and have me lose sleep because I was furious with what they said.

And as Ambrosia Voyeur said, you could do a lot worse than simply paying attention to how Miko handles herself on the site and aspiring to emulate that. While I've never actually recognized that that's what I've been doing before -- on reflection, I think that I probably have -- with hardly any success whatsoever, but it's unquestionably a goal I need to aim for, regardless of the gap between my aspirations and reality.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:57 PM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


or clean the toilet

Nah, that's what spouses are for.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:59 PM on August 7, 2009


Not boy spouses, us is too dumb!
posted by Mister_A at 12:59 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


As for ways to avoid getting aggressive or fighty, my main theory is that it's mostly about being self-aware about problem situations and managing to be good about disengaging pre-emptively when you know you're in a trouble area. I wrote a comment a few months ago about this that I think captures some of how I try to handle this stuff pretty well.

Avoiding dropping flippant dismissals and such into a thread may be a slightly different challenge than avoiding getting too deep into an ongoing exchange, but the principle is pretty much the same:

If you find yourself knocking out some sort of zing or an, as you put it, "this is the way it is" kind of assertion, stop before you hit post (or before you finish typing the thing up in the first place, or before you start typing it at all) and talk yourself through what it is you're actually trying to achieve with the comment. If you're trying to smack someone down, reconsider. If you're trying to shout down an argument you dislike, throttle it back. If you're primarily attacking a position or a person that isn't even actively represented in the thread you're commenting in, just close the browser tab/window and go somewhere else.

There's nothing wrong with taking part civilly in an argument on issues that are important to you—it's one of the things I really like about this place, when it goes well—but when the instinct to take a shot at someone, or to inject some bonus viscera into an otherwise civil assertion or argument, gets in the way of being a good correspondent, that's when this kind of self-awareness and self-moderation gets really important.

If you can learn to identify the bad stuff before it hits the site and learn to just throw the switch early and do anything other than leave a crappy/fighty/aggressive/dismissive comment, it'll mean worlds of improvement, both for the folks conversing with you and for your own blood pressure.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:59 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


How old does one have to be to learn tolerance, respect for diversity, and perhaps a bit of personal humility? Is a certain level of sophistication necessary to appreciate that the world is full of people who may be different, but not worse than, oneself?
posted by Cranberry at 1:00 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you've got some suggestions for how I could improve my participation in the discussions on this site, please let me know.

I didn't think I needed to restate the obvious, but OK.

Quit calling people retards and fags.
posted by JeffK at 1:01 PM on August 7, 2009


Spazzmo, idiot, fucko, Mongoloid, dork, goon, herbalist, hink-eyed, zeke, and Mark Hamil are all frowned upon as poor form, but are not stricly haram.

Retarded, gay, faggy, dunderheaded, and dramatic are all beyond the Pale, i.e., Jews are not allowed to move there without special dispensation from the Tsar.

MetaTalk: akin to a Maoist struggle session
posted by Meatbomb at 1:02 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Art Fag Shuffle
posted by KokuRyu at 1:03 PM on August 7, 2009


Would you be happier if someone wrote "Your suggestion is something I would have expected from a developmentally disabled person?"

I'd be happier if they wrote "Your suggestion is a bad idea because..." Regardless of whether "retarded" or "developmentally disabled" or whatever other term you have is offensive to a group we should be more sensitive towards or not, it's still an ad hominem attack. "Your suggestion is something I would have expected from a brainless paramecium" is not likely to offend brainless paramecia, but it's still an ad hominem.

If you have a specific criticism of a suggestion, that's fine, but do it without comparing the intelligence of the person offering it to someone or something that is notably unintelligent.

Granted, there are some statements that are just so stupid that they defy any rational response. But I find I can generally trust the vast majority of readers to recognize it as such without me pointing it out to them. I don't think any response at all is required for those.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:04 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and more constructively: Please do tone it down, kldickson. Speaking from a long history of personal experience, the whole "I'm smart! And fighty! And you're all retards!" attitude will only harm and hinder yourself. And not just on MetaFilter.

Yes, I like a wicked sharp debate and argument. But if you're managing to turn even myself off with your rhetoric you're probably way over the line. And my personal turn-off line is probably a lot farther out than almost anyone else on the site, so, take that as you will. When it comes to bristling words and rhetoric - a canary in coal mine I am not. My hide is often a bit too thick for my own good.
posted by loquacious at 1:04 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


For those that didn't know it's commonly used in other ways, as mentioned above in-thread in regards to music, it's not always perceived as immediately pertaining to a human being's mental state or as a type of slur implying such a state, etc.

Yeah, but we're smart enough to know the difference. At least, I hope we are.

If I call Obama a Sambo, I'm using "Sambo" in a different way from, say, "As a child I ate at Sambo's." One is offensive, the other is not.

Similarly, if I refer to the GOP as a bunch of retards, I'm using "retard" in a different way from "Putting lemon juice in the water with the apples retards browning."

I'm not campaigning for eliminating "retard." I just want "retard" being used a slur to be a no-go.
posted by dw at 1:04 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I recall "artfag" from Mojo Nixon's hard to find on CD first album, in particular "Art Fag Shuffle." That would be 1985. Who has a bid in for earlier? This could be like the "freak flag" thing, where there's a long and rich musical history waiting to be uncovered.

"Retard" and its variants fell off of the Euphemism Treadmill some time ago. I suspect "... on crack" has recently, as well. Pity about the latter, I always liked imagining various abstract concepts hitting the glass pipe.

Let's do this up retro and go back to "feeb."
posted by adipocere at 1:05 PM on August 7, 2009


I realize and I will admit that much of my belligerence has come from things wholly unrelated to Metafilter that have given me an extra tendency toward impatience and even, to some extent, condescension.

If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.


Hey...thats cool. As a mefite who's also in "im in troubles anonymous", I think its cool that you want to improve your relationship with the community rather than defend your past actions.

How about it mefites...can we forgive someone who seems to genuinely want to improve their interaction with the community?

As for the phrase "retard", I don't use it. I used it once in 1998 to test it out...a girl came up to me and told me that her little brother was mentally retarded and how she loves him no matter what. She then showed me a picture of her holding him.

I felt so horrible, that I haven't used it since. Of all the things I have done in my life...THAT is the ONE thing I wish I could take back if I could.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:06 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Man, and I totally biffed that Mao paraphrase, too. Maybe I should just step away before I do anything else, um, uh, what word are we using for "stupid" now?
posted by dw at 1:06 PM on August 7, 2009


Also, I don't want to see you banned, kldickson. I don't think any of us do. You're a generally smart and interesting contributor. Just lighten up a little.

And I think this pile-on has probably gone on long enough,fellow MeFites. I don't know how much more I could take if I were in her position.
posted by JeffK at 1:06 PM on August 7, 2009


when certain hot-button issues come up I'm just not going show my face in them, or at least until I can figure out how to post what I want to say, how I want to say it, without coming off as an asshole even to the people who agree with me

That should be one of the first lessons anyone learns on MetaFilter, actually. I haven't done too many awful things here, but it was apparent VERY early that this website, perhaps above all others, requires a mode of expression which moves a discussion forward. There is no honor in commenting early in a thread, there is only dishonor for expressing yourself without forethought.
posted by hippybear at 1:09 PM on August 7, 2009


Awesome reply kldickson.

Re: retarded... I was surprised awhile ago while doing a job for a company during their annual meeting. The company employs a lot of people 20-30 years old. I was very surprised by the amount of them who, in casual conversation, used "X ... has AIDS" as a derogatory remark, as in:

"What phone is that? Is it any good?"
"Blackberry storm... nah, it has AIDS."

Amazingly daft. Are people really this stupid?
posted by odinsdream at 1:10 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think any of us do.

I do! Ban them all!
posted by electroboy at 1:10 PM on August 7, 2009


I try, when I feel myself becoming actually angry, to immediately click "sign out." I don't always manage but I'm getting better. I often keep reading, but I find when I have notionally "shut off" my shout back capability (easy as it is to turn back on) I generally calm down and start to get some perspective.
posted by nanojath at 1:12 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, I'm obviously late to this party, but this stunned me. Of all the lunacy in those threads, you singled out kldickinson? I have personally been attacked and insulted in the rudest, most acidic terms imaginable in some of those Christianity threads by some of the people posting in this very Meta thread. I certainly don't want or need the mods to supervise my conversations, but I wonder if some of the "eggshell plaintiffs" around here who seem quick to take offense are only flagging as offensive comments from certain people just because they disagree with them or don't like them.

Yes, this. Reminds me of the Michael Savage thread when a dozen people posted some variant of "fuck Michael Savage!" "Michael Savage can eat a bowl of dicks," or "Michael Savage is a self-hating retarded fag," all of which were cool with everybody (including me - hey, this is a community website, feel free to post what you want). Then some poor bloke posts something along the lines of "hey, you guys on Metafilter are really liberal," and everybody jumps down his/her throat and tries to run them out of the thread. Civility goes both ways, and it seems like most people on Metafilter and the mods especially do not respond equitably to people being belligerent, for whatever reason. That's why it seems like a better idea to have community standards instead of public shamings. The stuff kldickson has said and the way she has said them is about one one-millionth as offensive/flamey as stuff that quonsar has posted, but you all love him so it's no big deal, flame away, favorite son.
posted by billysumday at 1:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Of all the lunacy in those threads, you singled out kldickinson?

In a thread already specifically talking about kldickson, we've talked about kldickson's behavior. I don't think either of us implied that she's the only person who has evidenced problematic behavior.

kldickinson never even registered on my radar as a hothead or as someone particularly acrimonious, and we are singling him out?

Frankly, you have a very different view of the site than we do as admins, and what is on your radar is probably very different from what is on ours. This is a pretty direct example of that, and your not having noticed kldickson doesn't really have much to do with it. I appreciate that she's owned up to some of it in here and I think it will be awesome if she can do some self-improvement, but it is in fact a very real and on-going problem on the site, regardless of whether you personally have noticed it.

Am I not being a Metafilter Good Citizen when I choose NOT to call out people who appear to have spiraled off their meds, and instead try to engage them in-thread?

If you're attempting to engage folks in a civil and good-faith fashion in threads, you are being awesome, so go you and keep it up. Nobody is required to call anyone out and I'm glad it's not something that happens daily.

That said, callouts have their purpose as a means of community head-checking, and it's pretty clear from this thread that a lot of folks have noticed some of this stuff from kldickson and been bothered by it. If you object to callouts on general principle, I can respect that, but I disagree and so does a long history of community practice here.

The stuff kldickson has said and the way she has said them is about one one-millionth as offensive/flamey as stuff that quonsar has posted, but you all love him so it's no big deal, flame away, favorite son.

There's some historical distance here to take into account, in part, but let me be really clear that "you all love him" is a pretty far cry from the truth if you're talking about mefites in general (and admin opinions about his behavior). I have before and will again if necessary say some very critical things about the shit he has said on the site over the years.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:17 PM on August 7, 2009


When your professors and mentors are reading your dissertation in the future, then perhaps undertaking a bit of Googling (or whatever the kids are into five years hence) to learn more of your internet background, are the comments mentioned in this call-out the legacy you wish to leave behind for future colleagues with the ability to advocate on your behalf?
posted by netbros at 1:17 PM on August 7, 2009


In what way did I insult them?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:38 PM on August 7


By suggesting that the word "retarded," which does not include people with autism or learning disabilities, is synonmyous with "developmentally disabled". Although I suppose you might have been trying to 'elevate' the mentally handicapped to the status of developmentally disabled, but that would be inaccurate.

I suppose there is a distinction between calling someone a retarded and calling an thing or a statement of theirs "retarded." It's wrong to call a pro-life person a 'retard'. But I don not think it is out of line to call the abortion debate 'retarded'. The debate on abortion has not developed or progressed on an intellectual level in the last 20 years. The arguments are old, the postures old. The debate has stalled. It is stunted. It is retarded.

But likewise, we shouldn't call people names. So-and-so isn't stupid, his idea is stupid, etc.

I know I've called authors of articles and such linked here stupid (and then had them show up in the thread - urf). And I probably shouldn't do that. So if I called you a name, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you're stupid.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:19 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


'look, this is the way it is and here's why'

I'm glad Brandon Blatcher also found this troubling. The biggest thing you can do to stop coming off like such a jerk is to leave your "this is the way it is" attitude at the door. Oh, you could also cut out the evil glee. Your comment about loving to watch beautiful women shit on men still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and probably always will.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:19 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.

Whenever I realize that I'm too passionate or angry to be articulate I try (usually in vain) to shut up about it and listen to what cooler heads have to say on the subject. Chances are good that someone will make the argument for me, and do it better because they are dispassionate enough for nuanced comment. You don't always need to be the one to carry the argument. There are a lot of great writers to learn from here, and to some extent, commenting in a thread can lock you into an argument that takes your attention away from the comments that say what you wanted to say but couldn't.

I have friends (assholes, but still friends) who love to jerk the chain of anyone who's as reactionary (in the emotional, not political sense) as you are, and I've seen the stuttering anger that people get reduced to when they can't let go of their passion and ego. Good luck.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:20 PM on August 7, 2009


I often hear the suggestion that you write out an unrestrained first draft, put in every bitter, cutting, ugly, nasty word you can think of, pour out your rage, then tear up that draft and start over.

Sometimes, when you're angry and tempted to go off, it can help to name your emotion instead of expressing it. Write something like: what you said makes me incredibly angry. My hands are shaking, I'm seeing little spots of color, and I just vomited a little and had to swallow it. Here's why I feel that way: [civil statement of reasons and arguments]. You can express how angry you are without aiming it at the other person in the form of an attack.
posted by prefpara at 1:20 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


GWAR
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:21 PM on August 7, 2009


Also, I don't want to see you banned, kldickson.

I, however, would like to see you fronting a band called "Stained Neuron"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:21 PM on August 7, 2009


Sometimes you don't even need to reply to someone who's provoked a reaction, kldickson, even if you really, really want to. It helps to stop and examine the reaction and what that reaction says about your own position. I had a recent bout, not on MeFi, of wanting to go total "WHAT THE FUCK YOU GRAR-FACED SOCIOPATH" on a pro-lifer whose stated opinion was that, simply, no one should ever get an abortion because it was the avoidance of predestined consequence and every child should be welcomed and loved even if the conception was unwanted or horrific etc. etc.

I had to walk way back from that one, for days, and it kept me very angry for days, until I hit a post from Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic where he characterizes his pro-choice stance as a rejection of the Utopian ideal. That pretty much crystallized my GRAR into something that wasn't grar any more-- I felt this guy was dead wrong because his viewpoint assumed, unlike mine, that this perfect every-child-is-wanted thing could actually happen in his own lifetime and in his own society. In having to just walk away from the freakout, I got more insight into my own position, and into how to state it without going all ballistic.

I still think the dude's opinion is wrong, but now I have a better grasp on why I think I'm right, without resorting to loaded terms like "sociopath" (or, in your case, "retard").
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:21 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


By suggesting that the word "retarded," which does not include people with autism or learning disabilities, is synonmyous with "developmentally disabled".

What would you suggest? The phrase retarded has gone out of fashion, and developmentally disabled is a commonly used catchbasin to describe a large number of people with, well, developmental disabilities. If you have a better suggestion, however, I am open to it.

It's also interesting to me that you think that lumping retarded people in with non-retarded people is insulting them, rather than misindentifying them. And that gets to the heart of my complaint: That "retarded" is now understood primarily as an insult, and not as a technical phrase.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:22 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


billysumday: "The stuff kldickson has said and the way she has said them is about one one-millionth as offensive/flamey as stuff that quonsar has posted, but you all love him so it's no big deal, flame away, favorite son."

quonsar?! you're bringing up quonsar, who is and has been banned more times than any other mefite I can think of? my god, the callouts that have been posted about him are nearly legendary. yes, many of us love him (I'm a fan, myself), but I'd hardly say he got a free pass.
posted by shmegegge at 1:23 PM on August 7, 2009


quonsar used to say all the things people would secretly think but would never dare to type.

More importantly - quonsar used to be funny.

Then his hovercraft became infected with a nasty case of the eels.
posted by loquacious at 1:24 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pastabagel, mental retardation is a developmental disability. There are others, as you point out. I don't think it's insulting to conflate mental retardation with the catch-all term "developmental disability," unless one feels that mental retardation is "worse" than other types of developmental disability. It is a semantic error, at worst.
posted by Mister_A at 1:24 PM on August 7, 2009


I often hear the suggestion that you write out an unrestrained first draft, put in every bitter, cutting, ugly, nasty word you can think of, pour out your rage, then tear up that draft and start over.

Yeah, and part of what can happen here is that once you start on the calmer second draft, you end up realizing that the thing you really wanted to say isn't there anymore—you were feeling motivated to post by one of the crappy bits of nasty that you ended up throwing out, and the argument itself doesn't really interest you so much.

At which point you can take a deep breath, toss the whole idea, and go on to something more enjoyable.

I struggle with this stuff myself, and while I do a pretty good job of letting stuff roll off my back most of the time I still have my moments. It's not trivial to figure out, it takes a lot of ongoing work to successfully keep ones shit from overflowing sometimes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:25 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I will admit that kldickson has been on my "eye-roll and move on" list for a while, but I think she deserves some credit for her response to this thread. It seems that she intends to put forth a good-faith effort to modify her behavior in a way that will better her contributions to the site.

Good on ya for that, and here's hoping for follow through on your intentions.
posted by owtytrof at 1:29 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


OH GO STICK IT IN YOUR DONUT HOLE.

Wait, I think I'm doing this wrong. Let me start over.

OH GO STICK IT IN MY DONUT HOLE.

Err, that's not quite right, either.
posted by loquacious at 1:30 PM on August 7, 2009


posted by kldickson If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.

Sometimes, the wisdom lies in knowing the subjects about which you feel strongly and the threads in which your comments may not be heard amid the cacaphony of other people who feel strongly, and understanding the value of your commentary is not based on whether the people in the thread are interested in reading whatever it is you have to say.

In other words, just because you may have a strong opinion on certain subjects does not mean you are right, it does not mean people who disagree with you don't understand you, and it does not mean other people care or should care about your opinion. We recently had a couple of threads in which I wanted to offer some firsthand experience, but the subject matter is so contentious and the opinions so polarized, there's no point. It's like doing a tai chi demonstration in the middle of a mosh pit.

If all you're offering to the conversation is, "Look, this is the way it is and here's why," then you should be open to your opinions being challenged with equal declarative certainty. If you can't do that, perhaps offering nothing is the wisest action.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:30 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


cortex: "I often hear the suggestion that you write out an unrestrained first draft, put in every bitter, cutting, ugly, nasty word you can think of, pour out your rage, then tear up that draft and start over.

Yeah, and part of what can happen here is that once you start on the calmer second draft, you end up realizing that the thing you really wanted to say isn't there anymore—you were feeling motivated to post by one of the crappy bits of nasty that you ended up throwing out, and the argument itself doesn't really interest you so much.
"

Oh man, this is totally what happens to me more often than I like to think about. Except that I'm not doing it as an exercise. My first draft is sometimes just a totally vitriol laden diatribe that I should never post, and when I re-read it I most often (thankfully) think "holy shit, I should not post this" and delete it and try again. then, because I'm a putz, I get bored during the rewrite and go find some flash game to play instead of work.

of course, sometimes, I forget to reread the awful comment and just click post. that sucks.
posted by shmegegge at 1:31 PM on August 7, 2009


May I just go on record as saying I can't stand this callout?

rtha, I generally have a lot of respect for you. I often learn a lot from your comments, and find myself agreeing with you more often than not. But this sort of "let's mob together and attack kldickson all at once" mentality is unpleasant.

Since kldickson asked, I'm going to reply to her here. I didn't pile on earlier because I thought that would be counterproductive.

If someone can point me in the direction of how to, perhaps, better state my position in an argument in a clearly 'look, this is the way it is and here's why' way with, in some instances, even a certain amount of gravity to it, that would be much appreciated, with perhaps even a focus on harnessing whatever anger various things provoke and using it to be more effective in a discussion.

OK.

Don't comment when you're angry. Do so and you fall into the "someone is wrong on the internets" trap. Let it go. Breathe. You sat back and watched this thread evolve, then posted a reasonable response. That's a decent strategy for the future.

Don't be an absolutist. You do realize that when take an absolutist position, you are mimicking those you deride for their inability to perceive nuance, yes?

Realize that Your Opinion is Only *Your* Opinion... and people are entitled to disagree with you. That doesn't make them bad people. Also...

Assume Good Faith. You may not understand folks who have a different opinion than yours. You may disagree with them, and with their tactics. That doesn't make them evil. Republicans aren't all evil. Pro Lifers aren't all evil. Conservative reactionaries and NeoCons aren't either. They believe in something, and many of them do so passionately. What I've seen of your posting history seems to indicate that you're more comfortable trashing your opponents en masse because that makes dismissing their arguments easier for you. Convenient, yes. But it's also a somewhat simplistic and immature tactic. To that end....

Focus on the argument, without attacking or belittling people or groups. BitterOldPunk alluded to this above. When you belittle others, you lose the argument. No matter how correct you may be, you'll derail your efforts. Why? It is human nature is to side with underdogs. Subconsciously, people want to defend the powerless.

Use the "Would I Say That to Someone's Face?" Test. Online, our anonymity gives us a certain amount of power. Before pressing "Post Comment," look at what you've written in preview and ask yourself if you would say that same thing aloud if your opponent were standing in front of you.

Personally, I think you have a lot to offer. I'd probably pay more attention to what you had to say if your comments weren't filled with vitriol all the time. Good luck. And sincerely, I hope you don't get banned.
posted by zarq at 1:31 PM on August 7, 2009 [32 favorites]


The trick it type out replies and not post them. Oh the witty and brilliant things you people will never get to read.
posted by chunking express at 1:32 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


By suggesting that the word "retarded," which does not include people with autism or learning disabilities

Actually, when I was growing up it did. It was used pretty interchangeably as a term for those with any sort of cognitive disability. And it was used derisively for those in the learning disabled track in my elementary school. Once upon a time, people with severe autism were institutionalized in the same places as people with Down Syndrome.

"Retarded" has fallen out of use because it's not only turned into a derisive term (a la "Negro" or "colored"), it also tended to get misused as a junk drawer for any cognitive disability. And thus the soup of terms we have now -- cognitive disabilities, developmental disabilities, the overarching "people with disabilities."

In the end, though, calling someone or something "retarded" or a "retard" just isn't appropriate anymore if it's meant in the derogatory sense.
posted by dw at 1:34 PM on August 7, 2009


Frankly, you have a very different view of the site than we do as admins, and what is on your radar is probably very different from what is on ours.

Yeah, but how much of that is because you are stuck moderating contentious threads with hundreds or thousands of posts, where only 10-15 people are arguing? That most people just avoid, because who even cares about Sarah Palin anymore. You are spending 90% of your time on the worst 10% of the site. That must suck.

Because honestly, just like the poster you are responding to, I've also never noticed anything special about kldickinson, and clearly I spend a lot of time on this site.
posted by smackfu at 1:34 PM on August 7, 2009


Yeah, and part of what can happen here is that once you start on the calmer second draft, you end up realizing that the thing you really wanted to say isn't there anymore—you were feeling motivated to post by one of the crappy bits of nasty that you ended up throwing out, and the argument itself doesn't really interest you so much.

I can't for the life of me remember who the comedian who said this was...

"They want you to wait three days to buy a handgun. What's the point of that? In three days, I'm not going to be angry anymore!"
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on August 7, 2009


Realize that Your Opinion is Only *Your* Opinion

YEAH WELL YOUR FACE
posted by quin at 1:42 PM on August 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


It's also interesting to me that you think that lumping retarded people in with non-retarded people is insulting them, rather than misindentifying them. And that gets to the heart of my complaint: That "retarded" is now understood primarily as an insult, and not as a technical phrase.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:22 PM on August 7


This derail is retarded. I will suggest to you that once upon a time, 'moron' and 'idiot' were precise technical terms in psychology applied to those whose IQ's fell into specific and predetermined ranges. Now those words have meaning only as insults. Those words are completely acceptable, here and everywhere else, or at least no one has raised an objection to them. The word retard is following a similar path, it's just further behind. The problem with the word is not that it is primarily an insult, but that it retains enough of it's original technical meaning that you are uncomfortable with it being used nearly synonymously with stupid. The alternative is to wait out its transition to pure insult without any technical connotation.

But if it makes you feel any better, I for one promise not to use the word any more in any context.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:46 PM on August 7, 2009


Insults that make you look like a tone-deaf idiot:
  • retard, fucktard - unfair to the developmentally challenged.
  • bitch, douche, douchebag, douchenozzle - sexist toward women.
  • fag, gay.
I'm not sure about:
  • twatwaffle.
  • fucknozzle.
What I'm now comfortable using:
  • asshat.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:47 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Use the "Would I Say That to Someone's Face?" Test.

We may be in trouble.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I for one promise not to use the word any more in any context.

I for one will use when I mean "an adjustment made in the setting of the distributor of an internal-combustion engine so that the spark for ignition in each cylinder is generated later in the cycle."
posted by muddgirl at 1:48 PM on August 7, 2009


Yeah, but how much of that is because you are stuck moderating contentious threads with hundreds or thousands of posts, where only 10-15 people are arguing? That most people just avoid, because who even cares about Sarah Palin anymore. You are spending 90% of your time on the worst 10% of the site. That must suck.

It's certainly not the best part of the job (though happily I think most days it's a lot less than 90%, as far as that goes), but that I'm aware of most of the bad shit that goes down on the site doesn't make it somehow not relevant, and that someone's bad behavior isn't bothering you doesn't mean it's not bothering a lot of other people.

And I'm not sure what to say here either than "trust me" about the scope and breadth of the problem, because I don't really want to get all laundry-list on kldickson just to prove a point, especially with her having responded to this thread and the criticism in it as constructively as she has. But to be super clear here, it is only with considerable reservation that I get on someone's case about behavioral stuff in public, specifically because I'm aware of the weird social dynamic that comes with a mod critiquing a user. My criticism here was not leveled casually or without a great deal of consideration.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:49 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


You'll have to pry "twatwaffle"......FROM MY COLD DEAD HAND.
posted by nevercalm at 1:49 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm really not following you, Pastabagel. Retarded is a word that is especially noxious because it refers directly back to a group of developmentally disabled people, and trades in unkind stereotypes about that group, in a way that "moron" and "idiot" don't.

And I am not following how this is a derail, as the subject of the post's repeated use of variations of "retarded" were linked to repeatedly in the post itself, and were one of the reasons the post was made.

Mostly, I am not sure what you'rew arguing? That retarded is no worse than idiot? That we should be able to use them all equal, but shouldn't, because they're not very nice? What is it is about this discussion that is upsetting you so much, besides, from what I gather, a need to rail against political correctness?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:50 PM on August 7, 2009


"I try, when I feel myself becoming actually angry, to immediately click 'sign out.'"


What is this "sign out" of which you speak?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:52 PM on August 7, 2009


k, your (2nd) post in this thread was one of the best things I've ever read on Metafilter. I'm amazed that after cooling off, you managed to respond without being defensive. I'm really proud of you. (Sorry. I hope that doesn't sound condescending. I'm not really sure how else to put it. My point is that I almost never see someone get so piled on and yet respond in such an adult way.)

For me, the best way to converse (online or off) is to stop before I say anything and think about what I'm trying to achieve and what the results and side-effects will likely be. The closer the issue is to my heart, the more important it is that I take the time to do this.

If my main goal is to blow off steam, then I need to just say the first thing that comes into my head. But I need to do this with the understanding that I may enrage other people and fuck things up for myself socially. I don't think it's wrong to do this, but it's risky. If there's any other outlet for my anger (e.g. running around the block), that's usually better than blurting out crudities and insults.

If my main goal is to entertain, I need to think about whether or not I'm about to do it in a way that will offend some people. Having thought this through, I sometimes choose to go ahead, knowing that I'll probably piss some people off. But I do this with my eyes open, knowing what I'm about to do, the effect it's likely to have, and the future consequences for the action.

If my main goal is to convince someone of something, then I become hyper aware that defensiveness shuts down people's reasoning abilities. If my words are in ANY WAY insulting, I will work against my own goal. The other person will only hear "you are stupid and I hate you" rather than my argument.

This may sound silly, but I hold the phrase "you are stupid and I hate you" in my head when I'm posting in a hot-button thread. If I have the urge to make an argument that contains anything insulting, I remind myself that all people will hear is "you are stupid and I hate you." In fact, there's no point in posting anything else. I might as well just type "you are stupid and I hate you," and click post. I ask myself if that's really what I want to say.

Note: I think most communication problems arise when people try to do too many things at once. In general, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't both blow off steam AND make an argument. The steam you blow will obscure your argument. One or the other. Not both.
posted by grumblebee at 1:52 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


You Old Yeller'd the Schmoopy.
posted by qvantamon at 1:52 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sometimes MeTa reminds me of a bad group therapy session.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:53 PM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


I too would like to go on record about rtha.

For a while, whenever I saw rtha's posts, I read her name as Eartha Kitt, and I thought of her as Catwoman, which subsequently spawned a whole themed idea of MetaFilter as a Batman comic, with sixcolors as The Riddler, quonsar as The Penguin, It's Raining Florence Henderson as The Joker, and so forth. But if mathowie is Batman, does that make cortex Robin? Is jessamyn Batgirl? That doesn't really work. Maybe MetaFilter is more like The Justice League.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:53 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have nothing whatsoever to contribute to this thread, other than this.

I'll drink all the Henhussy you got on your shelf
So just let me introduce myself
My name is Rumpole
Pronounced with an Umpole
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:55 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oooh ooooh, can I be a random henchman? I haven't henched for anyone in YEARS.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:55 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I'd like to call out "rtha" for using the "I'm calling out " in a non-ironic, not followed by "for being awesome" way.
posted by qvantamon at 1:56 PM on August 7, 2009


My short suggestion for providing comments on contentious debates: do my words add anything?

If it's already been said, I favorite those comments. If not, I'll write and re-read what I wrote, previewing to see if someone already posted my thoughts. Keep it away from personal and on the topical. If someone You don't need to add your thoughts on everything you are interested in, because sometimes it just adds clutter.

In regards to insults: most are in some way derogatory. Calling someone dumb is on some level an insult to those who lack the power of speech, though that definition has aged oddly, insomuch that "dumbed down" doesn't refer to making something quieter or silent, but simpler to understand (in an insulting sort of way). Just because you don't take offense (and maybe don't understand why others take offense) doesn't mean it's fine to use.

On the flip side, I think few people would say dumb, doofus, idiot, or simpleton are terribly offensive to some classification of people, as these are generally out-dated terms, though I could be wrong.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:56 PM on August 7, 2009


You'll have to pry "twatwaffle"......FROM MY COLD DEAD HAND.

1. Ew!
2. Actually, I was hoping "twatwaffle" & "fucknozzle" were insults that aren't demeaning to anyone but twatwaffles & fucknozzles. No " *~* My little brother is a twatwaffle. *wibble*"
posted by Pronoiac at 1:57 PM on August 7, 2009


I can't for the life of me remember who the comedian who said this was...

"They want you to wait three days to buy a handgun. What's the point of that? In three days, I'm not going to be angry anymore!"



Gun Shop Owner: Sorry, the law requires a five-day waiting period. We've got to run a background check.
Homer: Five days? But I'm mad now!
posted by Skot at 1:58 PM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


For anyone who wants a shortcut to their potential Justice League alter-selves, here's a character list.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:59 PM on August 7, 2009


I think MetaFilter is more like Thundercats. Matt is Lion-o, jessamyn is Cheetara, pb is Tygra, cortex is, uh... (pause while I go to Wikipedia)... Ben-Gali maybe? ... vacapinta is... umm... Panthro... yeah, Panthro.

See, it makes perfect sense.
posted by Kattullus at 2:00 PM on August 7, 2009


Homer: Five days? But I'm mad now!

I shoulda known!

Thanks, Skot. :)
posted by zarq at 2:02 PM on August 7, 2009


Vacapinta could be Alfred. pb is Lucius Fox.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:02 PM on August 7, 2009


I think MetaFilter is more like Thundercats. Matt is Lion-o, jessamyn is Cheetara, pb is Tygra, cortex is, uh... (pause while I go to Wikipedia)... Ben-Gali maybe? ... vacapinta is... umm... Panthro... yeah, Panthro.

Dare I ask... who's Snarf?
posted by zarq at 2:03 PM on August 7, 2009


I was all prepared to put the boot in, because I've been getting increasingly pissed off by kldickson, but her semi-abashed response took the wind out of my sails, so good for you, kld—it's not easy to deal gracefully with a callout. If you take people's excellent suggestions in this thread to heart, you could wind up an excellent and respected member of the site. As others have said, I'm mighty glad I didn't get a chance to share my vitriolic opinions with the entire universe when I was young and fighty; the memory of them is embarrassing enough as it is.

That said:

> I've also never noticed anything special about kldickinson, and clearly I spend a lot of time on this site.

You haven't been paying as much attention as you think you have.
posted by languagehat at 2:03 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


But little brothers are twatwaffles, it's like, ontological.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:03 PM on August 7, 2009


Thing is though, my opinions aren't just opinions - I speak for crescent history, generations unborn (appropriately enough in this case) and the inevitable triumph of communism.
Except Thursdays, when I present a show on the shopping channel.
posted by Abiezer at 2:04 PM on August 7, 2009


For a while, whenever I saw rtha's posts, I read her name as Eartha Kitt

I just assumed she was a member of Wu Tang Clan, and thus nuttin' to fuck wit.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:04 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't really want to be Robin. Can I be Jim Gordon instead?
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:04 PM on August 7, 2009


I wanna be Black Ice Canary so I can wear S&M gear, cuddle harp seals AND evoke hazardous road conditions.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:04 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Back on Usenet, I don't think it was a formally named rule but the generally assumed principle was this: whoever is first to lose their temper and start using epithets is the loser.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:06 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't really want to be Robin. Can I be Jim Gordon instead?

No! Now put on your green panties like a man.
posted by Skot at 2:07 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Batgirl was a librarian. Just saying....

As a mod, what was helpful to me in dealing with my own GRAR was realizing that whatever I said, if there was a way to take it the wrong way, there would probably be at least one person and perhaps more, who would take in a way I did not intend. That person was also likely to bring it up in a heated thread and say "well you did THIS back THEN" and I figured that would sort of derail whatever was actually going on. Whether I thought they were wrong or not, I tried to be better understood.

So, I sort of work on making sure that what I say isn't just following to the letter what we like to see on the site but also the general spirit. And I know sometimes people still think I'm being too snarky or too jokey and I work on it and try harder. It's a lot easier not having ego wrapped up in this sort of thing if your status here is secure (I'm employed here, I get along with people) but I sort of feel that for most people, they're more among friends here than they realize, including you kldickson. So, bla bla shmoop shmoop, I hope this works out okay for you.

So if I called you a name, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you're stupid.

You on the other hand are not really helping.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:08 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm mighty glad I didn't get a chance to share my vitriolic opinions with the entire universe when I was young and fighty . . .


How about when you were old and fighty?

*ducks*
posted by nola at 2:08 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


> How about when you were old and fighty?

How dare you, you young hoddy-doddy! Come here and say that to my...

*falls asleep, drools*
posted by languagehat at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've done the retard debate before, more than once.

And while this thread has presented a relatively united front against "retard," I'd like to respond a bit:

First off, in terms of harm, I think a distinction can be drawn, with regard to insult, between primary and secondary offense. No one here, so far as I know, is actually retarded, though many of us have family members who are. That's an important distinction between "retarded" and "gay"—all offense taken is offense taken on behalf of a third party. Regarding harm, it's hard not to see that more harm is caused by hurting the feelings of actually developmentally disabled folks, rather than their friends and family. That said, part of the compounding context is that those primarily hurt aren't good at defending themselves from insults, so their friends and family take on the role of protectors, often taking those insults personally. I'm not telling them they're wrong to do so, simply that not everyone has to agree with them regarding usage.

Second, the claim that there's nothing wrong with being retarded (or developmentally disabled, if you prefer), while emotionally satisfying to make, is pretty much false on its face. This isn't to say that folks who are developmentally disabled should be treated poorly, or made to feel bad about their disability, but like any other disability—perhaps moreso—no one really ever sets a goal (aside from the Black Eyed Peas) to become disabled. In so much as they do, it is those exceptions that prove the rule: People who lop off limbs to satisfy paraphilias are treated as mentally ill; Oedipus didn't put his eyes out because he thought being blind was awesome. Despite apocryphal magazine accounts, no one really sets out to get AIDS. You can argue a distinction between "nothing wrong" and "nothing bad" perhaps, but the fact remains that anyone given the choice and acting rationally would perceive the harm and not act to incur that harm upon themselves or their loved ones. Even look at drinking for pregnant mothers—the risk is actually fairly small, but the harm is recognized to be so great that a prohibition has resulted (you can argue contributory causes regarding issues of female autonomy, but really, it's pretty widely recognized as a taboo for a decent reason).

I realize this has gotten fairly far afield regarding how "retarded" is actually used, and that by obliquely making the case that there are OK times to call something or someone retarded, I'm excluding a fair number of times when it's just a lazy slur (though, frankly, there are times when a lazy slur is the best possible response). But I do think that the issue is a bit more complicated than the Not Nohow Never brigade has presented it, and would, rather than simply banning it, more likely treat it as part of a suspect class of words. But just as I don't immediately assume that my fellow MeFites are blundering racists when I see "nigger" typed, I don't immediately assume the worst about those who use "retard" (a self-serving judgment, I concede). For folks who find it offensive, yeah, flag it as offensive. But I'd be careful of confusing crudity with offensiveness, as those who run the FCC do, as "polite" language can do as much harm and propagate more hate than mean words used in mean ways.

Final tangents: Idiot did not initially mean someone of below-normal intelligence, per se, it meant someone unengaged with the politics of the Polis.

And "artfag" is only acceptable when used as a term of affection, in that most of my friends are artfags and I love them.
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


But this sort of "let's mob together and attack kldickson all at once" mentality is unpleasant.

rtha didn't call for attacks on kldickson in her post at all. She listed a pattern of behaviors by kldickson that she finds harmful to discussion.

This is by no means ensures that kdickson will get spanked. It so happens that there are others who have had issues with some of kldickson's comments -- on the other hand, the community could have risen up and told rtha that she was imagining things. People get smacked down for callouts all the time. And in fact, this thread does contain dissenting opinions.
posted by desuetude at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is the best, and most productive, callout thread I've ever seen 'round these parts. I'm really impressed.

That being said, there are some topics that I get a little crazed about, and as a general rule when I seem them here, I avoid the thread. I know I'll get mad, and want to say something shitty about some twatwaffling asshatted son-of-a-fucknozzle. But I mostly like you people, and don't really want to be that guy. So I avoid the issue.

And when it comes down to it, I'm not going to change anyone's mind about, well, anything, really, and especially when it comes to the BIG CONTENTIOUS ISSUES that we see here from time to time. So why should I stress myself out and be all GRAR-y? I'd rather have internet friends than internet arch-enemies.

Okay, I'll admit I'd like to have just one arch-enemy. But I think that's pineapple, so applications aren't being accepted at this time.
posted by Shohn at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, this went a lot better than I expected it to.
posted by booknerd at 2:17 PM on August 7, 2009


dw, I understand your comment and I'm not trying to be obtuse or cute. Really. I'm just putting my thought out there on variants of meaning concerning the word itself because of the spate of comments upthread where people state that their immediate connotation with the word "retard" evokes nausea, dread, the social stigma they feel when they hear the world and the belief that the word itself is only useful as an insult. Because, for me, that's not true.

I realize that's not the debate here, I was just trying to say the word itself is not the problem, rather, it's kldickson's use of it to insult others. Some people may not even be AWARE that the word has validity and is commonly used in ways that aren't intended to provoke and insult other people.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:24 PM on August 7, 2009


Hear the word, not world. Although in callouts, I guess it's a Freudian typo of sorts.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:24 PM on August 7, 2009


In the dictionary, "retarded" means "slowed, delayed, hindered". We use it that way in music.

Not exactly, no- the word you're thinking of is ritard. Ritard and retard have the same Mommy and Daddy, but they aren't the same person.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:24 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay, I'll admit I'd like to have just one arch-enemy. But I think that's pineapple

Oh man, I'm so disappointed; I read that "but I think that's a pineapple", as in the tropical fruit, not the Metafilter user of the same name.

It's disappointing because I was loving the idea that there might be other people out there who claim inanimate foods as arch-nemesis. Right now, I'm in a bitter and hateful war with a watermelon (it fucking well knows what it did so I won't detail it here!) and I'm waiting for it to rot.

Only then will victory be mine.
posted by quin at 2:26 PM on August 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


For anyone who wants a shortcut to their potential Justice League alter-selves, here's a character list.

Can I be in SHIELD instead? I'm partial to Marvel characters.

I call Kitty Pryde.
posted by misha at 2:27 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know why we need to just pick on kldickinson.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone here would simply argue ideas and not call other people names, period? Wouldn't it be better if we could respect the fact that people differ, that beliefs differ, and that people deserve to be treated with respect even if one vehemenently disagrees with their stated viewpoints?

We don't need to be hateful with one another. Life is too short.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:27 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


You haven't been paying as much attention as you think you have.

I think it's just that I don't read abortion/birth-control threads, which seems to be where this went out of control.
posted by smackfu at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2009


rtha didn't call for attacks on kldickson in her post at all. She listed a pattern of behaviors by kldickson that she finds harmful to discussion.

The language rtha used wasn't inflammatory, and I do appreciate that. That said, it's a callout. Pile-ons of the target are pretty much expected when a person posts one.

This is by no means ensures that kdickson will get spanked. It so happens that there are others who have had issues with some of kldickson's comments -- on the other hand, the community could have risen up and told rtha that she was imagining things.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but if rtha were concerned about that, it is likely that the post would have been phrased differently: "This bothers me. Does anyone else have a problem with this?"

People get smacked down for callouts all the time. And in fact, this thread does contain dissenting opinions.

I realize that callouts can be a healthy expression of self-correction in our community. I simply don't like the "pitchforks and torches" mentality that can arise from them.
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2009


No one here, so far as I know, is actually retarded, though many of us have family members who are.

Three quick things:
1) "Retarded" has mostly fallen out of favor as a descriptor, thanks to the word "retard".
2) It is incredibly presumptuous to assume that people who are developmentally or intellectually disabled enough to be considered "retarded" (by some) don't or can't read and enjoy Metafilter.

I'm not going to get into a debate about abilism, which is what the rest of your comment seems to be a jab at.
posted by muddgirl at 2:31 PM on August 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


My mortal enemy is a perfectly grilled porterhouse steak. Not a t-bone, not a ribeye, a porterhouse.

I haven't lost a battle to one of those delicious fuckers yet. However, I'm still waiting for the day that five or ten of them gang up on me and try to take me out. I've been training, so my chances are probably pretty good. It's a risk I'm willing to take.
posted by loquacious at 2:32 PM on August 7, 2009


We don't need to be hateful with one another.

Unless one of us happens to be an abortion provider :)
posted by muddgirl at 2:32 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


We don't need to be hateful with one another. Life is too short.

There are many ways to be hateful; the problem is that we don't all agree on what those ways are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:32 PM on August 7, 2009 [18 favorites]


For anyone who wants a shortcut to their potential Justice League alter-selves, here's a character list.

.

Can I be in SHIELD instead? I'm partial to Marvel characters.


Oh snap - I was just watching this thread with no intentions of commenting until we started calling dibs on super-hero alter-alter-egos. If we're doing that, then dibs on the Punisher, y'all - I don't have any arch-nemeses because they don't survive for more than six issues!
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:32 PM on August 7, 2009


> obliquely making the case that there are OK times to call something or someone retarded

I don't think you even did this, though others have. Using words designed to evoke a widely agreed upon taboo doesn't make the use of the words justified, rather it reinforces the taboo. That's not really "OK," imo, it's the status quo. You want to add a better conclusion to that argument, or do you think we, like fundamentally, require a communally elected index of derision?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:34 PM on August 7, 2009


Unless one of us happens to be an abortion provider :)

Worst use of a smiley face ever.
posted by smackfu at 2:34 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies wrote: Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone here would simply argue ideas and not call other people names, period? Wouldn't it be better if we could respect the fact that people differ, that beliefs differ, and that people deserve to be treated with respect even if one vehemenently disagrees with their stated viewpoints?

This is fine and good on paper and in theory.

It starts to break down on real life when people are unable to deal with having their ideas challenged and they see it and respond to it as a personal attack - despite no personal attack having been employed.

Not all ideas are equal in the court of logic and rhetoric. Some are inherently indefensible by means of logic alone. Generally these ideas involve beliefs and faith - and therefore should be left out of debates because they're inherently worthless in a debate, because they aren't based in fact, rationality or logic. These sorts of belief-based ideas have value only to the beholder of the belief and are poor fodder for rhetoric.

But don't take my word for it. Try some of C.S. Lewis' papers and books for how to integrate faith and logic and discern the difference between the two.
posted by loquacious at 2:41 PM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


But if mathowie is Batman, does that make cortex Robin? Is jessamyn Batgirl?

You can have a female Robin, thus jessamyn is Robin. cortex is either Nightwing or Batboy (a male Batgirl). pb is clearly Alfred. I'm stuck on vacapinta.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:42 PM on August 7, 2009


This is the best, and most productive, callout thread I've ever seen

Schmoopy afterglow.
posted by bonehead at 2:43 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm stuck on vacapinta.

vacapinta is Morgan Freeman's character in the remakes.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:45 PM on August 7, 2009


This is the best, and most productive, callout thread I've ever seen

It also turned out to be the most boring callout thread ever.
posted by ageispolis at 2:48 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


loquacious: My mortal enemy is a perfectly grilled porterhouse steak. ... However, I'm still waiting for the day that five or ten of them gang up on me and try to take me out. I've been training, so my chances are probably pretty good.

Have you already done the training montage? It's probably a good idea, if you haven't already.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:48 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm that guy in the third frame of the 7th page of Superman #137. Yeah, that one buying the newspaper from the stand. Just buyin' my newspaper, that's how I roll...
posted by qvantamon at 2:48 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: "We don't need to be hateful with one another.

Unless one of us happens to be an abortion provider :)
"

oh I was really hoping the obvious new pileon target would get a pass this time.
posted by shmegegge at 2:48 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Vacapinta, loosely affiliated with the clan, London-based, it's obvious: he's the Knight (mod). That's the Grant Morrison one, not the one from the 50's.
posted by bonehead at 2:48 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lucius Fox is a proper supporting bat-character since 1979!
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on August 7, 2009


Not all ideas are equal in the court of logic and rhetoric. Some are inherently indefensible by means of logic alone. Generally these ideas involve beliefs and faith - and therefore should be left out of debates because they're inherently worthless in a debate, because they aren't based in fact, rationality or logic. These sorts of belief-based ideas have value only to the beholder of the belief and are poor fodder for rhetoric.

Ah, but not every discussion has to be rhetoric. My point is, that even if an opinion discussed is one that, oh, let's be silly here-let's say that someone is of the opinion that cilantro is lovely, that even those proven to have genetic based revulsion to it are silly for not wishing to dine on it because all real people like cilantro....even tho that opinion is ridiculous in the extreme, there would be no need for me to call that person a blankety blank blank blank with porridge for brains. I would simply say, "I disagree with that opinion and here's why."

I would never say that such an unwarranted position on cilantro, being ridiculous, should never be posted. It doesn't hurt me to know that there are actually people who think that way.

Does that make my point clearer, perhaps?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:50 PM on August 7, 2009


You can have a female Robin, thus jessamyn is Robin.

Nay! Jessamyn = Batwoman
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:51 PM on August 7, 2009


Lucius Fox is a proper supporting bat-character since 1979!

Indeed, but the original rendition of his character was apparently ignorant that Wayne was Batman. vacapinta knows what's going on behind the scenes--hence the distinction!
posted by Burhanistan at 2:52 PM on August 7, 2009


Have you already done the training montage? It's probably a good idea, if you haven't already.

True, but I don't have time for all that video-taping and editing stuff when I'm training. Plus the fat and juice is hell to get out of a camera. If anyone wants to supply the steaks, the camera and the editing I can provide a grill and a location. Epic quantities of training steaks will be defeated.

Damn, now I'm hungry.
posted by loquacious at 2:53 PM on August 7, 2009


Also, cortex is Plastic Man & pb is John Henry.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:54 PM on August 7, 2009


"Socially retarded" seems to be often used without causing much ruckus. What do you think about that,

Tell you what I'll actually go ask someone who is Developmentally Disabled ("retarded" to those of you without a scorecard)... brb
posted by edgeways at 2:55 PM on August 7, 2009


Nay! Jessamyn = Batwoman

Did I mention a mate of mine is taking over the art on that after the J.H. Williams run?
posted by Artw at 2:55 PM on August 7, 2009


I like picturing "you're ANGRY at the steak! RAWR!"
posted by Pronoiac at 2:58 PM on August 7, 2009


Can I be Paul Bunyan?
posted by adamdschneider at 3:01 PM on August 7, 2009


Ah, but not every discussion has to be rhetoric. My point is, that even if an opinion discussed is one that, oh, let's be silly here-let's say that someone is of the opinion that cilantro is lovely, that even those proven to have genetic based revulsion to it are silly for not wishing to dine on it because all real people like cilantro....even tho that opinion is ridiculous in the extreme, there would be no need for me to call that person a blankety blank blank blank with porridge for brains. I would simply say, "I disagree with that opinion and here's why."

I would never say that such an unwarranted position on cilantro, being ridiculous, should never be posted. It doesn't hurt me to know that there are actually people who think that way.


Are you talking about this thread, or rhetorically referencing something else entirely?
posted by desuetude at 3:02 PM on August 7, 2009


Artw, who's doing Detective Comics after Williams?
posted by Pronoiac at 3:02 PM on August 7, 2009


Ah, but not every discussion has to be rhetoric. ...[edit]...

I would never say that such an unwarranted position on cilantro, being ridiculous, should never be posted. It doesn't hurt me to know that there are actually people who think that way.

Does that make my point clearer, perhaps?


I never said that unsubstantiated and/or subjective opinions shouldn't be posted.

I said that they should be left out of debates and rhetoric if one wishes to be taken seriously in a debate of logic and rhetoric.

I also said it's not the posting of these opinions that is the problem. The problem is when someone posts an opinion and then responds as though a disagreement of that opinion is a personal attack - or claims that they are now victims of oppression because they've been disagreed with.

To be clear and straight to the point - I've seen you do this exact thing many times with regards to your own beliefs. You drag them out in often unrelated threads, dance with them, play martyr games with them when people disagree with you - and then you get all butt hurt and play that lame, tired old "look! i'm being oppressed for my beliefs!" when people tell you to knock it off - when they're telling you to knock it off because you're derailing the thread and adding nothing to the conversation but wasted heat and noise.

You're not getting told to knock it off because of your beliefs. You're getting told to knock it off because the disruptive way you use your beliefs like an offensive weapon and a defensive shield.

And that's all I have to say on the topic. We're not turning this into yet another thread about you or your issues.
posted by loquacious at 3:04 PM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


I haven't lost a battle to one of those delicious fuckers yet. However, I'm still waiting for the day that five or ten of them gang up on me and try to take me out.

Assuming an element of surprise, or no?
posted by cairnish at 3:04 PM on August 7, 2009


This guy
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on August 7, 2009


BTW, "socially challenged" seems to be the acceptable phrase nowadays.
posted by smackfu at 3:05 PM on August 7, 2009


And that's all I have to say on the topic. We're not turning this into yet another thread about you or your issues.

Do you really think that is fair? You wrote half a page in your defense, and then want to drop the subject?
posted by smackfu at 3:07 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


(And by "mates of mine" I mean "will recognize me in pub and have a drink with me" rather than bets mates 4-ever soulmates who share a blood bond or anything)
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on August 7, 2009


Gosh this thread is fast.
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on August 7, 2009


"Three quick things:
1) "Retarded" has mostly fallen out of favor as a descriptor, thanks to the word "retard".
2) It is incredibly presumptuous to assume that people who are developmentally or intellectually disabled enough to be considered "retarded" (by some) don't or can't read and enjoy Metafilter.

I'm not going to get into a debate about abilism, which is what the rest of your comment seems to be a jab at.
"

1) Well, then, that's good, isn't it?
2) Well, then, speak up and be counted. But by making the bar so low as "considered retarded by some," you're opening it up to everyone who's ever gone to public schools—amateur diagnoses of retardation is rife at recess—and that's because to argue otherwise, that there are significant amounts of people on MeFi who would be legitimately characterized medically as "mentally retarded," you've both got to argue that "retarded" is an actual medical diagnosis, and that those commonly referred to as "retarded" (which mostly means folks with Down's) are active on Metafilter. Again, contrast this with the other most common juvenile insult—there are certainly gay people on Metafilter. But in the absence of evidence, I'm going to continue to presume that while there may be a few one-horned goats on MeFi, there are no unicorns.
3) (I assume your third brief thing was a debate on ableism): I have no problem talking about ableism, aside from spelling it. I do recognize, however, that it's an issue prone to more emotion than reason. If you don't want to talk about it, that's fine, but recognize that just as it's your prerogative to be skeptical of my claims, it's mine to be skeptical of yours.

"I don't think you even did this, though others have. Using words designed to evoke a widely agreed upon taboo doesn't make the use of the words justified, rather it reinforces the taboo. That's not really "OK," imo, it's the status quo. You want to add a better conclusion to that argument, or do you think we, like fundamentally, require a communally elected index of derision?"

By saying that it's not always bad to use "retard," I did therefore necessarily make the case that it's possible to imagine times when it's good, or at least not-bad. So, yeah, that's an oblique case, because I didn't really feel like having to come up with examples of when it's justified, and instead just disagreed with the idea that it was an absolute. Regarding taboo, I disagree there too, much as I think you do away from this case: we both say "Fuck" a lot. I don't think saying "Fuck" or describing fucking as fucking reinforces the taboo nature of fucking or reinforces the status quo. I'd also say that my argument rather precludes a community index, as I was arguing against the idea that "retard" is always offensive, which it would have to be deemed by the community in order for that to be adopted as a "bad" on the index. Each person has their own index, and through the overlap, norms emerge, but those norms are not the a priori justification for what is and isn't offensive.
posted by klangklangston at 3:12 PM on August 7, 2009


effective paraphrase.

me: So, some people where talking and someone asked what do you think of the term "socially retarded"... what do you think of that X?

x: well... what do they mean by that?

me: I suppose they call someone that when they are angry at them and don't agree with them and... I guess want to call them names.

x: ... so they are saying that to be mean?

me: I suppose so, they seem to say it about people they don't like.

me: So... you know how you feel when people use that word right? We've talked about it in the past. What do you think? Is "socially retarded" any better than "retarded"?

X: it's stupid


Now... with a grain of salt time, yeah perhaps X is unable to grasp the subtlety to the "social" modifier in this context, they are high functioning however and do have a pretty good grasp on most social interactions.

My take.. a pejorative is a pejorative, even if you use a modifier it doesn't really take away from the pejorative nature of it. A social bitch is still a bitch right? And a bitch is a female someone doesn't like... A social retard is still a retard, and a retard is someone who someone else thinks is stupid. I know plenty of people who are "retarded" but posses more social grace and kindheartedness than many so called normals. Never forget, it is we, so called normals who have created all this ineffable shit we slog though everyday.
posted by edgeways at 3:14 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Er, Klang, hate to point this out - or use the above mentioned search and counting shitty trick, but aren't you kind of the retard king?
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you really think that is fair? You wrote half a page in your defense, and then want to drop the subject?

I was stating that I was personally done with the topic, because trying to have a discussion with her is usually about as useful and rational as barking at the moon. I've made my statement and position about as clear as I can make it, so I'm done.

Anyone else may feel free to carry on, but I won't be participating.
posted by loquacious at 3:15 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm stuck on vacapinta

Blue Beetle?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:16 PM on August 7, 2009


Social leper... insulting to lepers?
posted by smackfu at 3:20 PM on August 7, 2009


***SCHMOOPIES***

That's to kldickson for taking this public spanking so well. Hang in there kid, the swelling goes down after a bit!
posted by snsranch at 3:22 PM on August 7, 2009


"Er, Klang, hate to point this out - or use the above mentioned search and counting shitty trick, but aren't you kind of the retard king?"

I accept their fealty, but they're merely some of the subjects of my vast realm of yokels, goobers, no-necks, stump-humpers, inbreds, dumbasses, stupes, dupes, rubes and morons.

(I was, just moments ago, listening to the album King of the Retards but only because it came up on shuffle.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:22 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are many ways to be hateful; the problem is that we don't all agree on what those ways are.

Just wanted to re-post that for emphasis, since it can only be favorited one.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:23 PM on August 7, 2009


Social leper... insulting to lepers?

This seems as good a place as any to mention that the first couple of times I saw Gallipoli, I thought it curious that whenever Mark Lee's character Archie Hamilton announced how fast he was going to run, he declared that he would in fact be running as fast as a leper.

Years later, it hit me: Leopard! Leopard. Oh... yeah.
posted by scody at 3:30 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Off your meds" is really obnoxious, too.

I have never noticed kldickson (sorry(?)) and this callout made me a little uncomfortable but it looks like it's resolving itself well so yay for that.

Keep in mind that you can remove things from your recent activity, sometimes that helps reduce the knee-jerk back-and-forths.

kldickson, hope stuff gets better for you, I know it's hard to walk away when what you have to walk away to isn't that great either. I give you an e-hug for being cool about this callout.
posted by kathrineg at 3:30 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kdickson: "I realize and I will admit that much of my belligerence has come from things wholly unrelated to Metafilter that have given me an extra tendency toward impatience and even, to some extent, condescension."

When I see people hop into threads with angry responses - when such a reponse doesn't seem prompted from the thread - I think "ouch, there's someone with a lot of real life stuff going on, and this touched a nerve." And I can totally understand the idea of releasing the anger/whatever emotion onto the internet rather than into real life where you can hurt people face to face. But in the long run it can make you into "oh no, here comes that angry person, clear out" person on the internet that no one listens to.

Also I want to say that it doesn't hurt to have a call out every now and then as long as we keep the "burn the witch" mob mentality at bay. It's good to remember the whole idea that being polite is important because people can get hurt and also end up automatically ignoring what you're trying to say.

mattdidthat: "But if mathowie is Batman, does that make cortex Robin? Is jessamyn Batgirl? That doesn't really work."

Hmmm. Well, theoretically I'm batgirl. Though Jessamyn and I did once have the same art/sculpture professor. Which makes me feel so much cooler than usual.
posted by batgrlHG at 3:33 PM on August 7, 2009


Do we seriously need a 275+ comment thread to publicly spank kldickson (as snsranch puts it)? Hell, if she was a bit younger I think that counts as child abuse ;-) The "retard" issue is obviously a big one, and it's not ok to call people that, but that could have been called out in a more general way, even mentioning kldickson as someone who uses it a lot, without making this a "you piss me off" thread. Really, a MeMail (CC'd to the mods even) would have been a way cooler way to handle this, at least initially. She not be the most tactful poster, but she ain't sixcolors either.
posted by zachlipton at 3:38 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


As an inbred yokel dumbass, I hereby revolt against klangklangston's tyranny and declare him my arch-enemy.

KLAAAAAAAAAANG!

Dibs on Black Bolt. I don't say much, but when I do....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:43 PM on August 7, 2009


Do we seriously need a 275+ comment thread to publicly spank kldickson

Friday + not many meta threads lately.
posted by smackfu at 3:45 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


he declared that he would in fact be running as fast as a leper.

That's actually not a bad simile for running across no-man's land into a volley of machine gun fire.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:45 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Back on Usenet, I don't think it was a formally named rule but the generally assumed principle was this: whoever is first to lose their temper and start using epithets is the loser.

Oh Christ, we should be looking to Usenet for principles of intelligent conversation, now? No, this criterion merely selects for the better troll. If someone losing their temper makes you reject their argument, you are making an error.

I'm still waiting for the day that five or ten of them gang up on me and try to take me out. I've been training, so my chances are probably pretty good. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

If we're forming a superhero group bent on taking down porterhouse steaks and their pernicious variety of side dishes, count me in.
posted by fleacircus at 3:51 PM on August 7, 2009


oh I was really hoping the obvious new pileon target would get a pass this time.

But... I used a smilie face!

Well, then, speak up and be counted.

Most people don't like to be "summoned" like a token character in an after-school special. Do you expect people to post their IQ results or their SAT scores or whatever in their profile just to prove to you that they're of "below-average intelligence"? Or to subject themselves to the same ridicule they've received all their life by popping in to a thread like this and saying, "Hi! I'm offended by the word "retard" because I have a below-average intelligence!"

But by making the bar so low as "considered retarded by some," you're opening it up to everyone who's ever gone to public schools—amateur diagnoses of retardation is rife at recess—

Why do you think that these people have no cause to be offended by the word? I would think that people who were taunted as children have every right to be offended as adults!
posted by muddgirl at 3:55 PM on August 7, 2009


Uh, this thread stopped being about kldickson awhile ago, I think.
posted by absalom at 4:01 PM on August 7, 2009


If we're forming a superhero group bent on taking down porterhouse steaks and their pernicious variety of side dishes, count me in.

NEXT ISH: Our Hardy Herbivores face the dry-cured wrath of...Ham Hands!

posted by cortex (staff) at 4:03 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I tried to get through this thread, but it just made me tard.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:21 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mentally or physically?
posted by Artw at 4:22 PM on August 7, 2009


Spiritually.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:41 PM on August 7, 2009


I can still use "anti-accelerated" though, right?
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 4:45 PM on August 7, 2009


Spiritually? Did you go off your meds or something?

Bah dump bump, khssss.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:45 PM on August 7, 2009


loldickson
posted by Eideteker at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2009


I hate art and artfags. They're such pretentious assholes.

Hey... wait a minute!
posted by R. Mutt at 4:47 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: doesn't need it's meds, they slow it's creativity DAMMIT!
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on August 7, 2009


And that's all I have to say on the topic. We're not turning this into yet another thread about you or your issues.

Indeed. I thought this thread was about me. :D

Though it's a callout thread so maybe I should shut up.
posted by kldickson at 4:48 PM on August 7, 2009


Today i have been learning about revelotionary france!

/places kldickson's head in guillotine.

J'accuse!

/thwipp! shunk!

Job done.
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on August 7, 2009


rtha is next.
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on August 7, 2009


After that I flee the country disguised as a washerwoman. I know how these things turn out.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on August 7, 2009


Watch it, Artw. I'm getting out my knitting needles.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:53 PM on August 7, 2009


Though it's a callout thread so maybe I should shut up.

Maybe.

Or maybe you should be cooking me a delicious porterhouse steak.
posted by loquacious at 4:56 PM on August 7, 2009


I'm getting the impression that your feelings about those steaks go beyond simple animosity, loq. Is all this gruff posturing really just a front to hide something more...tender?
posted by contraption at 5:06 PM on August 7, 2009


He doth porterhouse too much, methinks.
posted by fleacircus at 5:10 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


NOT PORTERHOUSEIST
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:11 PM on August 7, 2009


OH YOU BASTARDS I AM STARVING NOW.

Yeah that's right, I said it. BASTARDS.

I JUST WANT A STEAK, DAMMIT. *sobs*
posted by elizardbits at 5:16 PM on August 7, 2009


Oh man a steak sounds good. Why am I going to a Breton crèpe place for dinner?
posted by rtha at 5:19 PM on August 7, 2009


We all have a steak in this matter.....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:21 PM on August 7, 2009


I'm getting the impression that your feelings about those steaks go beyond simple animosity, loq. Is all this gruff posturing really just a front to hide something more...tender?

I... I was ten. I was at a fancy reception-dinner with my parents. They chose the beef.

If... If I could just eat those steaks they'd still be alive today.
posted by loquacious at 5:21 PM on August 7, 2009


I haven't lost a battle to one of those delicious fuckers yet. However, I'm still waiting for the day that five or ten of them gang up on me and try to take me out.

Watch out, I hear they go for your arteries first.
posted by octothorpe at 5:32 PM on August 7, 2009


This comment of hers is the only one that really stuck with me, after that I pretty much started ignoring her:

Personally, I only find fat people contemptible when it's their fault and not a medical condition.

Unless you've got glandular issues that make you fat, shape the fuck up and stop being a fatass.
posted by kldickson at 10:55 AM on May 17 [+] [!]

posted by Rumple at 5:33 PM on August 7, 2009


Ambrosia Voyeur: But little brothers are twatwaffles, it's like, ontological.

Are not. Moooooooood!
posted by Pronoiac at 5:33 PM on August 7, 2009


Am I the only person who appreciates the double reverse judo irony of using "offensive" and lazy insults while actually being a somewhat sympathetic and intelligent person?
I participate in Metafilter under a general assumption that everyone else participating is genuine, intelligent, and thoughtful. And, despite the wisecracks that'll follow this specific post, that's more or less the case. I think it's totally acceptable for smart folks to use some low-brow humor every now and then. In fact, low brow stuff is funnier when it's coming from someone who's smart. It's got the added humor of self-deprecation, or of being spoken in a sort of second voice. It's kind of funny to refer to something as "teh ghey" on Metafilter despite knowing that many of our fellow users are gay, being sympathetic to the hardships and bigotry they face. It's funny because it's not our real voice or real feelings. We're projecting the phrase "teh ghey" into the voice of an imagined character that we share a concept of, the person who'd use that slur in seriousness. It brings to mind a certain kind of ridiculous person we've all met, who's easy to laugh at. Y'know, the moron who believes they can actually "catch gay." They're the one that's funny, not homosexuality or actually slurring people.

It might make me a simpleton and a meanie, but I'm going to keep it real and say that I think suffixing long, hyphenated, pieced-together adjectives with "tard" is a little funny. It's self mocking and ironic to put together a smart and funny description and then clumsily but deliberately end it with "tard." I laughed at those comments, despite having never actually laughed at a genuinely mentally disabled person.
posted by Jon-o at 5:33 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Most people don't like to be "summoned" like a token character in an after-school special. Do you expect people to post their IQ results or their SAT scores or whatever in their profile just to prove to you that they're of "below-average intelligence"? Or to subject themselves to the same ridicule they've received all their life by popping in to a thread like this and saying, "Hi! I'm offended by the word "retard" because I have a below-average intelligence!""

Right, and the reason that no one here says they've seen a real live unicorn is because we all know that only virgins can see them and no one wants to admit they were ever a virgin. Not only that, but you're again hewing to a broader definition in order to bolster your claims—not everyone of below-average intelligence is "retarded" or even "developmentally disabled." It's obstinate foolishness to pretend that they are. When someone says "retard," they don't mean autistics and epileptics, though both of those groups can be considered developmentally disabled. In fact, that's a fair corollary to what Pastabagel said above—I have a cousin with Down's and an aunt with epilepsy, and I'd never group their cognitive function together. So, yes, until someone says, you know, I post here with an IQ of 60 or below, I'm going to continue to say that this is a pretty reasonable assumption, just like I presume there are no Amish folks posting to Metafilter, from my position of electricity and zippers privilege.

"Why do you think that these people have no cause to be offended by the word? I would think that people who were taunted as children have every right to be offended as adults!"

Please be honest with your arguments. I said it was unlikely that there were any people with severe mental developmental delay ("retards") reading Metafilter. You said that it was wrong to assume that there was no one who had been "considered retarded (by some)" reading Metafilter. Sure, fine, but as that set includes EVERYONE WHO WAS TEASED IN THE LAST 30 YEARS, it's irrelevant to the argument, most clearly because of the tremendous amount of false positives in schoolyard taunts. You might as well include everyone ever said to have cooties in your discussion of who is directly harmed by AIDS jokes.

Even your rebuttal here fails on its face: Ignore the question of who has a "right" to be offended (everyone over everything, whatever, it's silly there too), your being offended does not mean that you are right nor that your view should carry more weight. There are plenty of people "offended" by the idea of gays calling their unions marriage. It's their "right" to be offended, but the question they raise is "What is the harm?"

I am sure that certain members have been offended at my brusque treatment of their religious and political views. That's their "right." But I'm willing to accept that as a consequence of my considered belief that their views are incredibly ignorant and stupid. No matter what language I use, that's the offensive core.

Now, back to harm. I noted above—which you've contested, but shown no evidence for—no one here is actually "retarded." That means there's no primary harm, really. It's possible to imagine that there are some scenarios where our mean speech keeps out potential members due to their disability, but that's a counter-factual and the burden is on you to show it.

It's pretty inarguable that there are secondary and tertiary harms, in that there are plenty of people who have Down's babies or relatives, whatever. But again, that's being offended on behalf of someone else, and establishing a taboo to benefit someone who isn't in the conversation and who is constitutionally unlikely to join. So the harm that must be weighed is the likelihood of folks whose contributions are valued quitting or contributing less over the issue, similar to the sexism debates. Now, I have personally tried to cut down on describing things as "retarded" when there's a better way to phrase them, or when I know that it will distract from the larger point. But that doesn't meant that the word itself has mystical power of evil or anything—it's a rhetorical choice that I make, and that everyone makes, consciously or not. From the folks who are Noway Nohow Never, there hasn't been an articulation of harm, just the general presumptive and prescriptive class view that these things aren't done because they could cause emotional harm to someone else, not a party to this conversation. And regarding the idea that by using these words we contribute to a worldview that dehumanizes people, etc. it both assumes that folks who say "retard" don't also advocate for the rights of the disabled, etc., and overstates the power that a discussion here has—somewhat less than an internet petition, in terms of real world efficacy.

So, we're back to the question of how much we all want to set the norms to enforce formality of expression in order to decrease the harm felt by a infinitesimal minority primarily, and by a (guesstimate) moderate plurality secondarily and tertiarily.

This is, at least, one of those arguments where I feel fine disagreeing and leaving you to your opinion, so long as you disagree and leave me to mine. But it's not something where I think you're going to argue me out of it, at least not the way you're going.
posted by klangklangston at 5:36 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd say people have the right to be jerks and others have the right to be offended at their jerkiness, or not, as they choose.

Since we are all judged by our words, perhaps we should choose them wisely-or at least with the knowledge that if you use words that other people find offensive, they may find you offensive as well.

If that's okay with you, go for it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:46 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Am I the only person who appreciates the double reverse judo irony of using "offensive" and lazy insults while actually being a somewhat sympathetic and intelligent person?

No, but most such people who have been around here for a while have learned:

1) The refined, dare I say aristocratic, appreciation of "judo irony" of which you speak is not nearly as rare as you think it is. In fact, it's near-universal in people with too many brains and not enough social skills. This is not meant as a jab at you—I have no idea of your background and personality—just as a point of information.

2) Pretty much everyone thinks they themselves are sympathetic and intelligent. The extent to which other people agree depends in part on the things they say and write. Unfortunately, those "offensive" and lazy insults that seem so clever to you often come across to others, who do not have direct access to your sympathetic and intelligent inner self, as simple assholery. You are thus likely, if you give in to the temptation to use them, to acqure a reputation you may not want.
posted by languagehat at 5:58 PM on August 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


either live and let live or draw up some community standards and stick by them

Or, and more in keeping with the organic, ever-evolving nature of the site, how about a 'metafilterculture' tag to go along with the 'metafilterhistory' tag? A tag which could highlight threads like this one. Threads which which highlight the do's and don'ts of the community. [Some backtagging required. Batteries not included.]

Much better, methinks, than a static list of standards that would constantly be falling out of phase with what is actually happening.

If mathowie=Batman, then cortex=Buddy Blank/OMAC/Brother Eye(except with a sense of humour). And obviously jessamyn is not cut from the Gotham cloth - she's Wonder Woman (the one who occasionally carries an axe if someone gives her lip)! And pb? Well he has displayed a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes and that makes him Mister Terrific, the third smartest man in the world. But really, mathowie=Batman? More like Paul Chadwick's Concrete - a hero who's happenstance origin leads to unexpected adventures in which he alternately delights and dismays.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 6:00 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


no one wants to admit they were ever a virgin

Speak for yourself. I'd be more reluctant to admit I was slutting around from the very day I was born.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:01 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jon-o, you're late. We've derailed long ago. The topic is now delicious meat products and/or superherodom.

I dub thee Aztek, apparently "the ultimate man" but a little behind the times (Azteks are so last era).

Personally: I claim Booster Gold, 'cuz I'm totally that glory-seeking showboat from the future, circa 1986. Check yo'self, civvy! (That's future slang, slow-poke.)
posted by filthy light thief at 6:08 PM on August 7, 2009


is it just me, or did this thread officially shut down the blue? it's like everything just stopped at about 3pm EST.
posted by shmegegge at 6:09 PM on August 7, 2009


I think the usual Friday afternoon/evening (US time) exodus shut down the blue, just maybe more than usual. I'm surprised nobody has put up a Willy DeVille obit post, though, in all these hours.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:14 PM on August 7, 2009


Yeah, I'm late. But I read this ENTIRE RETARDED THREAD before I commented on it.

At least I'm gold and spiky, now.
posted by Jon-o at 6:15 PM on August 7, 2009


AskMe: How long can a Schmoopy survive inside a GRAR GRAR? Urgent!
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2009


Eunice Kennedy Shriver is on her deathbed, so we got that to look forward to. And Billy Mays with the coke.
posted by fixedgear at 6:26 PM on August 7, 2009


THIS.

is why I paid $5 of my hard-earned money to join metafilter. And bought a t-shirt. Rock on, people of the internet, rock on.
posted by jeoc at 6:30 PM on August 7, 2009


What sort of retard would make this retarded call-out?
;)

You have a point rtha, but not as big of one to justify this call out. On the MeFi scale of bad behavior this is barely above the noise level. Go search some early quonsar comments for real ire. There was the warmest, nicest man at heart, who let himself rage big time, and when you were in the path of either his snark or his rage ray, ouch that hurt. dickson, pshaw, that is itty bitty stuff. This is the internets, and even here on civil mefi, we let that sort of crap pass or we call it out in the thread, but to single a member out for a group finger lashing seems a bit much for that level of mild deviance.
posted by caddis at 6:38 PM on August 7, 2009


caddis, did you even read the thread?

It's pretty obvious from the comments made by the mods that this is more than barely above the noise level.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:41 PM on August 7, 2009


Speak for yourself. I'd be more reluctant to admit I was slutting around from the very day I was born.

You see, when my mom was giving birth, we were in this isolated place, and there were no hospitals nearby... So my dad asked the guy at the bar for a doctor... "no sir, no doctors"... then maybe a midwife? "no sir, no midwife", a nurse? "no sir, no nurse"...

"I don't know, at least a chiropractor?" "Sir, I don't know what that is" "You see, it's like someone that does massages..." "Oh, yeah, we have one of those... wink wink"

So, that's the tale of how I lost my virginity on the day I was born, to a "masseuse" dressed as a nurse. You might consider this story disturbing, but I think all in all it's a happy ending.
posted by qvantamon at 6:42 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I went searching for the one adamdschneider referenced. Yikes. I mean, I think it's good we're all friends again, but it's not surprising that people would object.
posted by palliser at 6:48 PM on August 7, 2009


sorry, that was for caddis. Remaining on-topic is the new derail.
posted by palliser at 6:49 PM on August 7, 2009


caddis, my original thought was much like yours and I was thinking that a nice MeMail was in order instead of a huge callout. BUT, the fact that so much of her crude commentary was removed should have been a clear message to her. Of course, myself included, sometimes we just don't get the hint.
posted by snsranch at 6:56 PM on August 7, 2009


caddis, did you even read the thread?

329 comments? who reads that anymore. this is the evil of too many members. only the most devoted can keep up anymore. No. I read the examples. They were bad, but not outrageous. There may be worse things that the mods who actually do read most of the comments have seen that were worse, perhaps deleted. I don't know. I am not particularly offended by the examples of the post. If that were the level of outrage we should have twenty of these posts every day. This is not to condone the bad behavior, this is only to say the level of outrage in my mind at least is a notch higher before a call out. I am not going to read the 300 plus comments in this thread and perhaps there is more. If you want to rage at me go ahead. I may be too bored to respond.
posted by caddis at 6:58 PM on August 7, 2009


I posted my thoughts and comments in agreement with the main post about kldickson's tone because I give a shit, not because I want her driven off from the site or publicly humiliated or otherwise flogged.

She's a smart contributor to the site when she isn't tripping over her own verbal wang.

I obviously can't speak for anyone else, but I think I can safely say this is the reason why a lot of other people commented in favor of the callout as well. If there wasn't this level of respect mixed with WTF this thread would have gone much worse.

This thread is an example of how community-based self-policing is actually supposed to work.

Whatever. I have Schmoopy, a butcher's block, a cleaver and a grill. In the absence of steaks this fucker is going down in some marinade and will be on the grill within the hour.
posted by loquacious at 7:00 PM on August 7, 2009


I'm not raging at you. I am simply saying it's worth it to do a little bit more reading before you hop in with a lazy no biggie comment. If you don't read the thread, maybe ctrl-f for cortex / jessamyn at least. Or not. Whatever.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:09 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I want to be clear as well that of course you are not "wrong" to say that it doesn't trip your outrage meter. What got me was you making general statements that this kind of crap is par for the course on MetaFilter and shouldn't be regarded as a big deal. That is wrong, as shown by this thread and the mods response. If it doesn't trip your personal meter, that's cool. It's your meter. But making sweeping generalizations about how this type of behavior isn't out of line on MeFi is wrong.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:12 PM on August 7, 2009


> That's to kldickson for taking this public spanking so well. Hang in there kid, the swelling
> goes down after a bit!
> posted by snsranch at 6:22 PM on August 7 [+] [!]

Also it probably softens the blows just a bit to know that one of your recent comments included both "pro-life-tard" and "religiotards" without raising any hackles, indeed not so much as a single hack, and in fact collected 16 favorites. Mixed messages much, people?


> But making sweeping generalizations about how this type of behavior isn't out of line on
> MeFi is wrong.

It's just wrong. It's wrong in so many ways. It's wrong on so many levels. (It is, however, factually correct.)
posted by jfuller at 7:23 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


tl;dr I'd just like to say the fact that kdickson has been called out has restored my faith in Metafilter being a good place.
posted by water bear at 7:34 PM on August 7, 2009


Favorites != Good Comment.

And yeah, it's wrong.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:37 PM on August 7, 2009


Schmoopy tastes suspiciously like hot dogs, with mustard, relish, red onions and a slice of muenster.

Hell, kinda looks like it too.
posted by loquacious at 7:46 PM on August 7, 2009


jfuller, I appreciate your comment and actually agree with you. However, that is a poorly formed comment. It seems as though you're attributing "tard" commments to me, and I am offended.

AND, you edited my comment and left out the ***SCHMOOPIES***!!!11!!11 How dare you?!

ALSO, after more than 300 comments I think said person has been chastised enough and hugs are in order. (Come on, get with the plan, Stan.)

Or are you a SCHMOOPY hater?!!!!
posted by snsranch at 7:58 PM on August 7, 2009


Plate of brains.
posted by effluvia at 8:20 PM on August 7, 2009


In terms of being "civil," I know it's all Buddha-centric and whatnot, but this little talk about not embarrassing the Buddha has some of the best practical advice I've ever heard and honestly, has helped me actually deal with people who drive me bats.

In short: Being narrow is smelly. Being angry is smelly. Having no awareness is smelly.

Pretty simple to me.

Oh yeah, and I was pointed to this on MetaFilter, so that means that it's MetaAwesome.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:28 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


You're not insulting the mentally disabled by calling someone else retarded. You're saying someone else has the mental faculties of a mentally disabled person. That's the point of the insult. It's not effective because it slanders the mentally disabled. It's effective because it slanders its target by suggesting they aren't capable of achieving an average cognitive prowess. The only problem with saying that would be if you didn't post anything to prove that point.

If you say someone is a retard because they've displayed abysmal judgment in a situation where someone of average intelligence would've reached a clearly superior conclusion as to a course of action, then you've used that word quite accurately.
posted by happysurge at 8:37 PM on August 7, 2009


Oh man... I just got it now that this comment by adamdschneider was a joke. My "gee goolly gee she sure is" response is one thunderous boink of cluelessness.
posted by Kattullus at 8:39 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I know it's all Buddha-centric and whatnot, but this little talk about not embarrassing the Buddha

Ok, I've met and sat with perhaps a dozen or so qualified lamas and rinpoches from the Bon tradition back when I was searching around for a tradition, and I have to say that that guy was the biggest queen that I've ever seen in Buddhism. Funny talk, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 PM on August 7, 2009


It's not effective because it slanders the mentally disabled. It's effective because it slanders its target by suggesting they aren't capable of achieving an average cognitive prowess.

Um. *blinks* Could we get a similar deconstruction of the insults "fag" and the infamous "n" word that I can't even bring myself to type and how they are effective? I'm really curious about how logic is able to pretzel itself in this manner and would like to learn more.

By which I mean: This doesn't hold up, logically, at all. It's an "effective" insult because nobody wants to consider themselves to be of less than average intelligence. THUSLY. Less than average intelligence becomes a qualifier of a sub-par existence. Hence, those who DO have sub-par intelligence are implied to be below whoever is hurling the insult.

If you say "Well, yeah, that's because they are..." I would have to say that we're at a total impasse. If you realize, perhaps, that this is a totally flawed way to look at what it actually means to insult somebody by identifying them as an "othered" group.... well... then I think we could have a productive conversation.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:47 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't have clued us in, Kattullus. I thought that was masterfully deadpan when I read it.
posted by palliser at 8:53 PM on August 7, 2009


Well... I'm just kinda amazed that it churned around in my head for eight and a half hours before I got it. I'll be first to admit that I'm slow sometimes. Okay, the eighteenth to admit it... I'm slow after all.
posted by Kattullus at 9:00 PM on August 7, 2009


IANAB, but would recommend this guy without reservation if I was.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you don't read the thread, maybe ctrl-f for cortex / jessamyn at least.

Seriously, caddis, you jump into a thread over 390 comments in and make broad generalizations about how worthless the callout is, without even bothering to do a quick search for 'cortex' or 'jessamyn'?

That's just stupid.
posted by mediareport at 9:03 PM on August 7, 2009


Oh, and I'm happy to report I've finally identified my arch-nemesis: The Whistler. He's a slippery sonuvabitch, disguising himself (it's never a she [and what's up with that?]) as a friendly middle-age guy who then bursts out into agonizing, totally distracting and outright debilitating high-pitched non-melodic noise blasts. The upside is I've identified my kryptonite. The downside is I haven't figured out his. Yet.

*plots and schemes*

posted by mediareport at 9:10 PM on August 7, 2009


"Retarded" sounds more sophisticated if you imagine it intoned with a Bostoner/Mid-Atlantic accent. Re-TAH-did.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 PM on August 7, 2009


don't forget wikkid as in "wikkid retahded"
posted by kathrineg at 9:18 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grapefruitmoon, "retard" is a functionally different word from "faggot" or "nigger." That is, "retard" is often used as a pejorative for people who aren't actually, you know, mentally disabled. "Faggot" and "nigger" exists to denigrate the groups of homosexuals and blacks respectively. That is, the reason for those words, and their most common usage throughout their history is functionally different from "retard." "Retard" is used much less as an actual pejorative towards people that actually have mental limitations than it is towards people who don't, but are being accused of having these mental limitations. Beyond that, the word "retard" itself is an actual phrase with its own history. "Mental retardation" is an actual condition. "Niggerdom" and "faggotry", not so much. That is, there are actually people who are mentally retarded (and retard itself is an actual word with a meaning that has to do with the speed of knowledge and comprehension and development), and they do have mental limitations. They do have an 'ailment.' "Nigger" and "faggot" serve to make being black or being gay into ailments. The words have a different function.
posted by happysurge at 9:22 PM on August 7, 2009


"Retarded" sounds more sophisticated if you imagine it intoned with a Bostoner/Mid-Atlantic accent. Re-TAH-did.

Try living in Boston and see if you still find a Boston accent "sophisticated."
posted by grobstein at 9:23 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Grapefruitmoon, "retard" is a functionally different word from "faggot" or "nigger." That is, "retard" is often used as a pejorative for people who aren't actually, you know, mentally disabled. "Faggot" and "nigger" exists to denigrate the groups of homosexuals and blacks respectively.

So all those years I was called "faggot" in school they were just informing me that I was a homosexual, not using it as a perjorative?

Huh. Well, I guess my wife and all my girlfriends over the last 36 years will be surprised to know that, as well as the two gay men who've asked me out and I've refused because I was dating/married to women.
posted by dw at 10:33 PM on August 7, 2009


And by retarded, he means they can do anything.
posted by wfrgms at 11:03 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


caddis: "329 comments? who reads that anymore."

ideally? the people who comment in the thread read that shit. I like to think of it this way: if the thread is almost 400 comments long by the time you find it, chances are whatever you want to say has either been said or pre-emptively addressed, so if you're not going to read it you don't need to chime in.
posted by shmegegge at 11:12 PM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


Am I the only person who appreciates the double reverse judo irony of using "offensive" and lazy insults while actually being a somewhat sympathetic and intelligent person?

If your conversational tics are of the ironic sexist, racist, schoolyard bully etc type, so that you have a lot of comments ending with double reverse judo "I'd hit it", "retard", etc, your online persona can read as just being a plain old sexist, racist, schoolyard bully etc. Or, best-case scenario, as a lazy copycat of played-out comedians. Not as a sparkling wit who has progressive views on sex, race, etc. We went through this at extreme, grisly length in the epic sexism discussions a few years ago, and I'm sure in others since.

Even assuming the people who are around a lot get to know you as a user and recognize your basic good will, you're still leaving steaming piles of this dumb insulty stuff all over. It's unpleasant to wade through. Even if I know you're kidding, I don't like to see "bitches, who needs em? har har no i really love women". Ditto for retard, douche, etc. Just cut it out. If you want to be clever, actually be CLEVER rather than aping standups from ten years ago doing parodies of adults dumb enough to rely on schoolyard insults. Yeeesh.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:13 PM on August 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


happysurge wins my award for "Most Smugly Ignorant Comments Of The Thread." I mean, I might have given the award to a couple other people, but those comments right there were the Hail Mary passes of the thread. He may have entered the competition late, but he didn't let that stop him from submitting some truly award worthy entries.
posted by shmegegge at 11:18 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


dw, I was talking about the predominant reasons for the existence and development of these words in the 20th century, and the functionality inherent in that. What's your argument? That because you got called a "faggot", but are heterosexual, that the predominant use of the word "faggot" and its basis for existence in the last century in common language is not to denigrate homosexuals?
posted by happysurge at 11:21 PM on August 7, 2009


Ditto for retard, douche, etc.

Douche is not ok now?
posted by electroboy at 11:22 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to call my older sister a "faggot" when I was eight years old.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:23 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


don't forget wikkid as in "wikkid retahded"

"wikkid" really only works with smart... "wikkid smaht"
posted by amyms at 11:28 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Douche is not ok now?

Did anyone over the age of 12 ever think it was?
posted by scody at 11:36 PM on August 7, 2009


Douche is not ok now?

Nope. Please keep up.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:41 PM on August 7, 2009


Did anyone over the age of 12 ever think it was?

Apparently so.
posted by electroboy at 11:41 PM on August 7, 2009


Man, klang, that's a lot of verbiage to defend a word that you admit is mostly lazy. I admit, "retard" has a great sound to it; it's a hard word to lose. But pushing aside the feelings of someone who either raised or grew up with a developmentally disabled family member as "secondary or tertiary harms" is rather dismissive of a wholly understandable and deeply felt distress.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:44 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A debate on whether "douchebaggery" is misogynist. It wasn't as clear-cut as I remembered it. And I'm not sure about "dick" now, & hey, is this tossing fuel on the fire?
posted by Pronoiac at 11:49 PM on August 7, 2009


No, I'm not saying "douche" is a personal insult in the same vein as retard, bitch, etc. Just that it's in the same vein of lazy "double reverse judo ironic" schoolyard stuff that is so pervasive and so mindless. And if we cut all that stuff out, it would be nicer.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:50 PM on August 7, 2009


Going further, using "faggot" as a general pejorative rather than a specific put-down of homosexuals probably originated several decades ago. It originally was used to impugn another male's manhood ("hey faggot! Way to drop that football!"), but was then later imitated by younger children who had not yet learned the nuances of homophobia but instead simply used it as a general insult. It remained in use because, while being a rather unpleasant sounding slight, it wasn't odious on the level of Carlin's seven forbidden words or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:52 PM on August 7, 2009


You're not insulting the mentally disabled by calling someone else retarded. You're saying someone else has the mental faculties of a mentally disabled person. That's the point of the insult. It's not effective because it slanders the mentally disabled. It's effective because it slanders its target by suggesting they aren't capable of achieving an average cognitive prowess. The only problem with saying that would be if you didn't post anything to prove that point.

Yeah, I don't think anyone's confused as to why it's insulting to call someone a "retard," but thanks for clearing that up, just in case. Most folks who object to it do so because it's just not sporting to make a condition that some folks can't help but have into a pejorative. For my taste, calling something "retarded" is just a little too close to such pearls as "I was jewed out of X" or "X is so gay" for comfort.

I can't get high and mighty about this, of course, since phrases such as these and worse have slipped from my lips and keyboard at heated and unguarded moments. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of Odin and all of that. Since everyone's moral barometer is calibrated a little differently, let me add a different objection to the use of "retarded" as an insult. It's lame. It's easy and lazy and boring, especially the "-tard" insulting suffix variety that kldickson (used to?) favor. Just slapping another syllable to indicate that the commenter thinks something is stupid or foolish? Come now, surely one can do better than that.

In the case of this callout's subject, this lazy lulziness is especially tragic, considering her ongoing education in neuroscience. I mean, if you've got such a background and wish to type a comment that impugns someone's brain function and development, swing for the fucking fences, won't you? Why settle for "retarded" or, ugh, "-tard" when you've got the education to point out which lobes and which portions of the cortex you suspect a malfunction in? Which hemisphere is hollowed out in a militant anti-choicer's head? Are "hipster retards" struggling with their thalamus or their corpus collosum? Precisely which synaptic pathways must be garbled before one is diagnosed a "conservatard?" I mean, if you must drop insults, at least make me dive for a copy of Grey's Anatomy while you're at it, you know?

(side not to kldickson - your response to this callout was commendable and your apparent plan of finding more mature, less insulting ways of making your points is far and away superior to the suggestions I've just made. I wasn't trying to continue beating up on you after you've already shown up in this thread and sampled your Colonel's Bucket of Crow, honest.)
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:06 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was talking about the predominant reasons for the existence and development of these words in the 20th century, and the functionality inherent in that.

I've got to know. What were you saying about the predominant reasons for the existence and development of these words in the 20th century, again? I apologize if I'm being really stupid, here, but I'd love it if you could expand on your thesis a bit for me.

you were saying something about how the word retarded is primarily used, in the 20th century of course, to denigrate people who do not suffer from mental retardation, but not quite as much the people who do? that was the gist, yes? The idea is that, though the word has undoubtedly become a pejorative toward the developmentally disabled, since it is MOSTLY used pejoratively against those who don't suffer from any kind of mental retardation, the offense to those who do doesn't count. I trust you gathered your data on this phenomenon from some pretty formidable resources.

you were also about to share with us some data on just who gets called a faggot, when, and in what context, I believe.
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 AM on August 8, 2009


It's lame.

And the circle is again complete, as we turn our derision on the physically infirm and handicapped.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:24 AM on August 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


*bangs head on wall*

damn, walked right into that one ... doing insults is hard ...
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:25 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


so, what are you canutes up to?
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:29 AM on August 8, 2009


EatTheWeak, I would expect nothing less of such a big hink-eyed Mark Hamil like you.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:35 AM on August 8, 2009


I mean, if you must drop insults, at least make me dive for a copy of Grey's Anatomy while you're at it, you know?

Heh, this is fun. The best one I can think of at the moment. The scene: a heated Makers-fueled exchange during a football game when I was in college

U of L fan with unattractive teeth: blah blah fuck you

Me: Yeah, well, your mom took tetracycline when she was knocked up with you!

Fellow pharmacy students: OH SNAP *high fives all around*

U of L fan with unattractive teeth: Huh?
posted by little e at 12:36 AM on August 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


tl;rtwdt (Too Long; Read The Whole Damned Thread)

As someone who has been "corrected" on this site, for referring to my brother as a "schizophrenic," a term he uses himself, occasionally, and one which his psychiatrist uses frequently, I do think this place tends toward twee in its PC awareness index. That said, let me offer the well-known and sad case of Phineas Gage, once one of the most famous medical cases in the world, as replacement surrogate for the denigrated retard here on the nouveau Victorian MeFi:

"enGAGE" = to infer another MeFite may have cognitive disabilities up to and including those typical of a forceful, involuntary frontal lobotomy, i.e. "No point in trying to enGAGE your cunning intellect in a real discussion, I suppose."

"GAGE your previous comment" = to suggest that a formerly expressed argument or comment by another MeFite could only come from a person who has had an iron spike rammed through his/her thick skull. i.e. "After re-reading it ten times, I'm still flabbergasted that you could post such a silly screed as you have here, and I GAGE your previous comment for what it is, on it's face."

"GAGE rage" = frothing at the keyboard, like a person no longer capable of self-control, due to frontal lobe damage

etc., etc.

I grant that it's not as organically satisfactory as "retard," but it has the value of making reference to a specific suitably damaged individual, and doesn't insult, by reference, an entire class of unfortunates.
posted by paulsc at 12:55 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys honestly have nothing better to do this weekend?
posted by bardic at 1:13 AM on August 8, 2009


Speak for yourself. I'd be more reluctant to admit I was slutting around from the very day I was born.

From the day I was born, I had a thing for younger women. The minute the midwife's back was turned, I'd be right on over to the incubators, hitting on the preemies.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:30 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really miss sixcolors.
posted by Flying Squirrel at 1:33 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


dw writes "True, but it also relies on a slur for meaning. I'd like to see it red-flagged in the way 'bitches' is -- frowned upon by the Mods (peace be upon them).

"There needs to be a better term we can use."


Another vote for just skipping the ad hominums all together.

chunking express writes "And yeah, calling someone a retard is particularly lame. It's like saying something is gay. Fuck people, you aren't 12 anymore."

Getting called gay always makes me chuckle. Not because I am but because for me it holds no bite. It's about as personally offensive as being called an asparagus eater. I realize it's offensive to the broad group of non heterosexual people and that annoys me; but personally, meh with a little WTF? sprinkled on top.


zachlipton writes "She not be the most tactful poster, but she ain't sixcolors either."

Can we please stop using sixcolours as our own personal Hitler. They've left and can't respond, let it go.

caddis writes "329 comments? who reads that anymore. this is the evil of too many members. only the most devoted can keep up anymore."

I did ya slacker. At least make the effort to search out mod comments and maybe the person being called out.
posted by Mitheral at 1:38 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys honestly have nothing better to do this weekend?

Not really, no. Hey, look! A full moon!
posted by loquacious at 1:43 AM on August 8, 2009


You guys honestly have nothing better to do this weekend?

No. *weeps*
posted by little e at 1:50 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm at work. And it's cloudy. Thanks for NOTHING, loquacious.

*sad face*
posted by cgc373 at 2:49 AM on August 8, 2009


It's actually not a full moon. It was about two days ago.

Anyway. At the cost of great embarrassment to rtha and a little collective effort we could push this to a thousand comments.

You have a job? Damnit, I want a job.
posted by loquacious at 3:00 AM on August 8, 2009


AskMetafilter thinks you should dump the motherfucker and not eat it.
posted by loquacious at 3:01 AM on August 8, 2009


Bicycles are usually declawed, and sometimes fat.
posted by loquacious at 3:02 AM on August 8, 2009


Considered doing everything from general harassment (if just kismet), loquacious, more normal or perhaps questionably reluctant, so trying understandably—vexatious what?—xenophobic yes? Zounds.
posted by cgc373 at 3:11 AM on August 8, 2009


I really like the idea of a thread titled "Enough, already" reaching 1000+ comments. Let's see ...

Watchmen is a really overrated comic and anyone who likes it should feel bad. Cory Doctorow is just about the best blogger I've ever read. No one's gonna take Metafilter seriously until we switch to a professional, white background and ... uhm ... my totally cogent arguments for teaching creationism in biology class: let me show you them.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:11 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Job's just two days a week on Friday and Saturday nights, loq. Nothing to write home about. In fact, stamps are a little steep these days so I never write home.
posted by cgc373 at 3:15 AM on August 8, 2009


Your mom's favorite band sucks.
posted by little e at 3:25 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


and the infamous "n" word that I can't even bring myself to type

What the fuck are you afraid of? If you type "NIGGER" it is is not going to magically infect your brain and turn you into a racist. We are adults here and we shouldn't have to act like we are in Sunday school.
posted by afu at 3:38 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Considered doing everything from general harassment (if just kismet), loquacious, more normal or perhaps questionably reluctant, so trying understandably—vexatious what?—xenophobic yes? Zounds.

I thought you said you had a job!
posted by loquacious at 4:28 AM on August 8, 2009


"Watchmen is a really overrated comic and anyone who likes it should feel bad. "

WTF!!!!! you &**&^$%&ing @$^&*^&%!


yeah, this should be closed now
posted by HuronBob at 4:42 AM on August 8, 2009


What the fuck are you afraid of? If you type "NIGGER" it is is not going to magically infect your brain and turn you into a racist. We are adults here and we shouldn't have to act like we are in Sunday school.

Yes, this. The "QUOTES" act to hermetically seal the word nigger so that its vile humours can't escape and infect our memetic code...

Oh my God... Did I just... Oh no... Oh Ob... Obama was born in Kenya and I have the vague conspiracy theory that proves it! 9/12 4evah!
posted by bunnytricks at 5:09 AM on August 8, 2009


Most nights I have literally between two and ten minutes of work to do during an eight-hour shift, loquacious. Not between two and ten minutes per hour, mind you. PER SHIFT. So I make my own fun, when I can.
posted by cgc373 at 5:36 AM on August 8, 2009


We are adults here and we shouldn't have to act like we are in Sunday school.

Or grade school, ideally.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


as the apparent personification of 'the outrage against which all outrages are measured', i can only say...

it's good to be king.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 6:34 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the fuck are you afraid of? If you type "NIGGER" it is is not going to magically infect your brain and turn you into a racist. We are adults here and we shouldn't have to act like we are in Sunday school.

No man, I just don't want to give credence to the existence of the word by actually typing it.

Same as I always type "G-d" instead of using the vowel. Should there be a Higher Power who is watching, I don't want to be giving him/her/it any disrespect by using his/her/its name in vain.

It's just a thing. I won't say the word. Some people won't swear and say "OH MY HECK" and shit. I'll drop an f-bomb with the best of 'em, but it's a personal lexicon kind of preference that I just don't say certain words.

It's more like George's mom on Dead Like Me and the word "moist" than anything else, really. And hey, it's a pretty powerful word judging by the fact that you had to go and put scare quotes around it to protect the rest of your sentence from being infected.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:03 AM on August 8, 2009


...to point out which lobes and which portions of the cortex you suspect a malfunction in...

I'm so sorry to hear you're malfunctioning, cortex. I guess that explains why this thread is still open.
posted by JeffK at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2009


Shohn, I sent a package to your office. You should open it right away, and never mind the strange noises and smells emanating.

Because, it's a box full of puppies!

Also: quin, you're on my list now.

Mods, as long as this is open, I would like to request a pony: an "archenemy" designation in the contacts. TIA!
posted by pineapple at 7:13 AM on August 8, 2009


I feel your pain cgc373. My job is about as engaging.
posted by zennoshinjou at 7:15 AM on August 8, 2009


Same as I always type "G-d" instead of using the vowel.

I've long had the habit of typing G*d because it seems to be a dirty word in some circles, so I censor it the same way I'd censor f*ck on a message board that filters swear words.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:17 AM on August 8, 2009


Phineas Gage, unexpectedly hot.
posted by palliser at 7:18 AM on August 8, 2009


I was told not to use the word cunt because even though it has been acknowledged that Brits and Canadians use it differently than Americans, it's more offensive to Americans and therefore cannot be used on this site. So if some one is being a cunt by insulting other members personally in a thread and falsifying arguments and viewpoints presented by others we can't say that they're being a cunt. I'm going to abide by that rule. I won't use cuntard either. Nor leotard, bastard, mustard, petard, custard, dastard. But maybe dastardly is ok.

Calling someone a retard rather than the argument they're making suspect, nonsense, or what have you, always reminds me of the time when as a young boy (about 7 or 8) a local kid I knew and played with laughed and laughed and pointed at my Uncle and yelled about how he was a retard (these days he'd be termed mentally disabled) and how much it hurt my 6' 5" Uncle who has been rated to have the mind of about a 3 year old in many ways. As much as I was extremely angry at this dastardly fellow I was afraid that he'd be picked up and thrown against the wall and of all the subsequent fallout from such an incident. So I took the initiative and kicked him squarely in the balls, which shut him up and made my Uncle quite gleeful. The consequences were considerably less and my parents scolded me for how I handled the situation but not for the spirit of it. Scolding by parents and mods can be so effective. Scolding by others, perhaps less so.
posted by juiceCake at 7:20 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would like to request a pony: an "archenemy" designation in the contacts. TIA!

Ooh! and "henchman", too? Or rather, henchperson? You know, to stand next to you and glower meaningfully at your archenemy?
posted by longsleeves at 7:27 AM on August 8, 2009


Phineas Gage, unexpectedly hot.

I know, right? I just did a post on him!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:50 AM on August 8, 2009


I am already on record as having a serious hate-on for anyone who comes late to a long thread with a dismissive "tl;dr" comment. If you truly can't be arsed, then go all the way -- and refrain from even posting.

But I have just realized that I am equally irritated when people beseech the management to close the thread.

First of all, we have a staff who gets paid to make those calls. Does "cortex, please close this thread" make you feel like it's Shake-n-Bake and you halped? Why do you know better than the moderators when a thread should be closed?

Secondly, it says more about you than it does about the discussion. I read "Mods, this should be closed!!" and instantly think, "ooh, how sad - that person is feeling vicarious discomfort and rather than just move on or look away, s/he feels compelled to direct traffic and control the situation."

If the conversation is clearly still thriving, then your opinion that there is nothing more to say is obviously the minority. Flag it and move on, or go somewhere else, but otherwise, leave the moderating to the moderators.

(For what it's worth, this is different from a comment of "this callout sucks" or "this thread sucks", IMO. I think it's fine to feel and/or share the thread sucks. I mean, usually it's just noise, sure... but sharing an opinion is better than telling the mods how to run the site.

I also think the original poster should is a bit of an exception on this. If you start a MeTa that is immediately resolved, there might be nothing more to see here and the OP has a right to weigh in on the continuing value.)
posted by pineapple at 8:05 AM on August 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


it has been acknowledged that Brits and Canadians use it differently than American

It's been my experience that although awareness of the British usage is higher in Canada than in the States, Canadian and American usage is the same.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:09 AM on August 8, 2009


This is another thread I've posted in.
posted by Balisong at 8:10 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]



"these individual call-outs so often end up akin to a Maoist struggle session"

That's because Metafilter has a lot of know-it-all college hippies.
posted by Iron Rat at 8:15 AM on August 8, 2009


It's been my experience that although awareness of the British usage is higher in Canada than in the States, Canadian and American usage is the same.

Agreed. Cunt's pretty damn offensive as things to call people would go.
posted by chunking express at 8:18 AM on August 8, 2009


Burhanistan, the initial use of the word in the pejorative was to denigrate homosexuals. "Nigger" in the initial use of the word in the pejorative was to denigrate blacks. "Retard", in its initial use, was a clinical diagnosis meant to replace terms that had become derogatory.

shmegegge, what exactly did you contribute? Did you extract everything I was saying and respond to it? No, you wrote it off as something 'smug.' Which, by the way, doesn't address it, and isn't demonstrative.

"Retard", in its existence, ie. the reason it came into being and entered common usage in the 20th century, is because "mental retardation" was a diagnosis put on people who had severely impaired mental faculties. When you call someone a "retard", you're saying they're not that bright. People who actually suffer from mental retardation...actually aren't that bright. You're not denigrating people if you're talking about the ailments they actually have. When you call someone "faggot", you're calling them a homosexual and suggesting it is sub-human to be a homosexual. When you call someone a "nigger", you're saying they're black and suggesting it is sub-human to be black. When you call someone a "retard", you're saying their mental faculties are slower than most humans. That's true. That's a true statement. That's not denigration. The mentally retarded are people who have stilted mental development.

Look, if I said someone walked like an amputee, I wouldn't be denigrating amputees. I would be saying someone walked like a person with no legs would walk. That wouldn't be impugning people that couldn't walk. Because, you know, they actually wouldn't be able to walk.

I don't get what's so hard about this. Calling someone a "retard" is shorthand for saying they're stupid. The reason "retard" exist is the medical community used it to replace other words. Even though we've softened up our language more since, it doesn't change the initial function of the word and its truth. The mentally retarded are, you know, severely mentally impaired. Would you prefer that someone insulted fundamentalists by calling them 'handicapable'? Because, frankly, same rules apply. It's just a more whimsical word.

You "retard", you "handicap", you "handicapable"...

Even the accepted language of today still runs with the same undercurrent. The issue is, perhaps, unsubstantiated insults, but it shouldn't be the word itself. The word is correct in its function. Would you prefer the word "moron" or "idiot"? Cause those preceded "retard" and what "retard" came in to replace.

But I guess the history of words, the reasons for their existence, whether they're clinical or popular, that doesn't matter.

What matters is that language must always be soft, flaccid and largely ineffective. If you want to argue against using the word "retard" because it doesn't accurately describe someone's judgments, feel free. But to say its existence and history is the same as "faggot" or "nigger" is a big stretch that ignores reality.
posted by happysurge at 8:31 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


That is to say, you're talking about a person's ability to think. You're impugning that. You're not saying the whole person is sub-human. You're attacking their mental faculties. That doesn't impugn the mentally disabled because their ability to think is actually hindered and that's what you're talking about and highlighting.
posted by happysurge at 8:37 AM on August 8, 2009


Flaccid?
posted by box at 8:45 AM on August 8, 2009


Wow really tell me more about the history of language and how we don't really know what words mean because we haven't ordered your 6 disk audio book set or something or the other
posted by kathrineg at 8:49 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I thought about it a little, and, happysurge, if calling people 'retards' gives you an erection, that's okay with me. How's that expression go--yours is a kink, but mine's a fetish? You're a kink, but not a dink? Link's a twink? Whatever. The point is, you can call people whatever you want. Just keep it in the bedroom instead of parading it down the street in front of my kids.
posted by box at 8:52 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I support your views and would like to order your 6 disk audio book set.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:56 AM on August 8, 2009




Shohn, I sent a package to your office. You should open it right away, and never mind the strange noises and smells emanating.

Because, it's a box full of puppies!


Woo-hoo! Mail!

Oh, and what's your favorite kind of cookie? Because I'd like to bring you some treats.
posted by Shohn at 8:57 AM on August 8, 2009


Can we still hate the French?

Stupid fuckers took a country filled with gorgeous countryside, excellent food and wine, a rich and fascinating history and then filled the whole damn thing up with French people. Christ.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:00 AM on August 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not if you are American. George Bush ruined that for you.
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Would you prefer the word "moron" or "idiot"?
posted by Rumple at 9:13 AM on August 8, 2009


I've been thinking about the whole "Metafilter as Gotham City" thing and I think I need to shuffle around some designations. Here's what I've got at this point, subject to change at any moment.

mathowie - Commissioner Gordon
cortex - Batman
Jessamyn - Oracle
pb - Lucius Fox (the gadget-building movie version)
vacapinta - The Knight (like bonehead said, as written by Grant Morrison)

I decided to leave Robin out entirely, as it was just too problematic. First of all, which Robin would I be assigning to any given mod? The Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown or Carrie Kelly version? And, which sub-version? Grayson, Todd and Drake have all appeared as both sidekick Robin and Red Robin at this point. There's just too much variance. Indeed, the only solution seems to be a second list - an ALL-ROBIN EDITION!

mathowie - Dick Grayson Robin (cuz he's the original)

cortex - Jason Todd Robin (cuz I've got the strangest feeling that, at some point, we may need to pick one of two 900 numbers to dial if we want to keep him around)

Jessamyn - Carrie Kelly Robin (cuz she came into the fold through meritorious service at a time when Batman needed it)

pb - Tim Drake Robin (cuz he's good with computers and stuff)

vacapinta - Tim Drake Red Robin (cuz he's in Europe right now)
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:18 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Two Tim Drakes and no evil League of Assasins Robin?
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on August 8, 2009


No one should have to be Jason Todd of course.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on August 8, 2009


oops - I see you saddled Cortex with that. That's terrible!

* Beaten to the death by the joker!
* Shit ressurection
* Some kind of boring plot about being an evil Batman or something, I didn't really read it.
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on August 8, 2009


It's okay, though, I've got a tire iron fetish so at least I can enjoy the climax.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:26 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


IYKWIM
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on August 8, 2009


> jfuller, I appreciate your comment and actually agree with you. However, that is a poorly
> formed comment. It seems as though you're attributing "tard" comments to me, and I am
> offended.

yeah, the pronoun reference is ambiguous and could be misread as referring to you, snsranch (assuming you've just had a public spanking and taken it well.) I'll revert to using "one's" in that place as I usually do, umständlich though it is.
posted by jfuller at 9:39 AM on August 8, 2009


Okay, speaking as someone who uses 'retard' among friends but would never use it on MeFi (FWIW):

klangklangston:

But in the absence of evidence, I'm going to continue to presume that while there may be a few one-horned goats on MeFi, there are no unicorns.


Unless there was some outing of this as a hoax that I'm not aware of: Someone said I should post as well, so I'm doing so.

(I assume your third brief thing was a debate on ableism): I have no problem talking about ableism, aside from spelling it. I do recognize, however, that it's an issue prone to more emotion than reason.

This is just offensive as all hell. I might almost assume good faith, but that 'haha I can't even spell this retarded word' just prior? You might as well also say “I am perfectly sympathetic to the plight of women, who understandably can't harness the tools of logic as well as might be desired.”

Each person has their own index, and through the overlap, norms emerge, but those norms are not the a priori justification for what is and isn't offensive.


Pretty tight logical argumentation for someone who allows this to fly when arguing his own points:

the claim that there's nothing wrong with being retarded (or developmentally disabled, if you prefer), while emotionally satisfying to make, is pretty much false on its face.

Really? On its face? What's your evidence?

1) People who lop off limbs to satisfy paraphilias are treated as mentally ill

An appeal to the authority of the DSM-IV. Even leaving aside the 'homosexuality used to be a psychiatric disorder' argument, which is all that's even needed here, the more important point is that the inclusion of a condition in a medical categorization makes no value-judgment on there being anything 'wrong' with it in the sense of 'wrong' you are using.

2) Oedipus didn't put his eyes out because he thought being blind was awesome

Greek myth. Nice. No comment.

The reason you are wrong in claiming that “the claim that there's nothing wrong with being retarded . . . is . . . false on its face” is that you are assuming to know what it is like to be a certain way, when in fact you have no idea and can have no idea what it is like to be that way. You are mistaking your fear of a condition for knowledge of what it is like to actually have that condition.

Please hold your own arguments to the same standards you ask others to. One person's 'common sense' or 'on its face' is another person's etc.
posted by skwt at 9:44 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


That is to say, you're talking about a person's ability to think. You're impugning that. You're not saying the whole person is sub-human.

When "retard" is deployed as an insult, it always sounds to me as if one is saying that the person being insulted is sub-human - incapable of learning, devoid even of the desire to do so. These traits certainly do not describe the actual, diagnosed mentally retarded people I have known. Anecdatally, the three or four folks with Downs that I have crossed paths with (in more than a "this grocery store employs the mentally handicapped to bag groceries" way) have all had the ability and desire to learn. Furthermore, when I learned this term as an insult on the playground, it carried much more weight than just calling someone, or something they had done, "stupid." Calling someone or their action "retarded" meant that they were beyond the pale of regular human stupidity. And since most of my schooling took place at a time before mainstreaming, it was very very clear on the playground or anywhere out of earshot of teachers that the short-bus kids were not to be considered real kids, like the rest of us.

You're not denigrating people if you're talking about the ailments they actually have.

The thing that really bugs me about the way its used now, by supposed adults engaging in what passes for discussion on political or social hot-button issues, is that anyone who disagrees with you is "retarded" and that they are therefore not just stupid but willfully so, maliciously so, and as such deserve no regard as a person. And impugning someone's intellectual ability just because they don't agree with you is, well, dumb. I mean, are you suggesting that by calling someone like - depending on which end of the political spectrum you're coming from - Pat Buchanan or Rachel Maddow "retarded" you're simply naming an ailment they have? Because you're a licensed physician who can diagnose this ailment over the TV or radio?

Terms like "conservatard" or "pro-life-tard" or "libtard" don't just mean "I don't think you're very smart." They mean "I think you're profoundly, irredeemably stupid, ineducable, and being mean and horrible on purpose," and it absolutely dehumanizes the people you direct it at. At best, it's lazy rhetoric that makes the person using it sound...stupid.

Apologies for interrupting the superhero nerdfest. Carry on.
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on August 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh shit, I forgot about Damien entirely. See? This is just what I'm talking about! Too many Robins! Okay, yes cortex = Damien al'Ghul Robin! You get a sword and a hood for a few issues!

For the record, if I wanted to insult anyone, I would have put Azrael or Huntress somewhere on the list.

ArtW - You talking about Battle for the Cowl? Yeah, blecch. I still can't figure out why Tony Daniel got to write and draw that series. It reads like it was scripted with a baseball bat.

Now, if we're sticking with Metafilter as Gotham, then, obviously, I'm Ace the Bathound. I'm gonna stick with the Punisher for my avatar, however, mostly because I'm tickled by the notion of an all-black profile page with "EatTheWeak : War Journal" in the title bar. If I wish hard enough, I can see it sometimes.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:52 AM on August 8, 2009


The word "retard" == "moron" == "idiot". They are all words that date back to the earlier part of the previous century, used to describe people who are now described using more technical language that is usually more specific to their particular type of disability.

If one is going to take offense at "retard", then one best be equally outraged by "moron" and "idiot". But of course, almost no one who is outraged by "retard" gives a damn the use of the other two words. It's because they're etymologically retarded. Or moronic. Or stupid.

I have a Down's uncle and have had social acquaintance with people who would have classified as "moronic" back in the day. When someone uses the term "retard", I know that they are not referring to my family and friends. That's because there are other, socially-accepted terms to use in describing them.

I fully support taking back "retard" from the past, just like we took "moron" and "idiot" back. Doing so largely removes the stigma and reduces its usage for describing a broad class of people who are better addressed using disability-specific language.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:10 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


DID YOU KNOW THAT A FAGGOT IS ACTUALLY A BUNDLE OF WOOD, OH YE EASILY OFFENDED IGNORAMUSES
posted by kathrineg at 10:22 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish: nice try!

The fact is that 'retard' is more offensive than those other words, because everyone understands it to be so. As much as you may wish this weren't the case, you can't argue this present-day fact away based on meanings from 100 years ago.

That said, your reasons for wanting the word taken back are honourable and I guess I hope it is too for those reasons.
posted by skwt at 10:25 AM on August 8, 2009


But to say its existence and history is the same as "faggot" or "nigger" is a big stretch that ignores reality.

Yeah, but we're not arguing OED level etymology here. We're talking usage.

In usage "retard," "faggot," and "that n word" have the same effect of labeling the insult-ee as someone who is sub-human in some form to the insult-er and furthering the cause of Otherizing the general group being delineated as "Oh hey, if I say he's one of youse guys, that's like saying he's not me, and that's pretty insulting!"

I mean, a "faggot" is also a bundle of sticks, but that part of the word's existence and history is largely ignored. I could say "Oh hey, would you look at that flaming faggot over there" and you would never think "Oh yes, she's speaking of that bundle of sticks that someone just lit on fire."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:25 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


dw, I was talking about the predominant reasons for the existence and development of these words in the 20th century, and the functionality inherent in that. What's your argument? That because you got called a "faggot", but are heterosexual, that the predominant use of the word "faggot" and its basis for existence in the last century in common language is not to denigrate homosexuals?

You said:
That is, "retard" is often used as a pejorative for people who aren't actually, you know, mentally disabled. "Faggot" and "nigger" exists to denigrate the groups of homosexuals and blacks respectively. That is, the reason for those words, and their most common usage throughout their history is functionally different from "retard."

And my response, essentially, is that you can't make that distinction WRT "faggot" (or "fag") because it has been used to denigrate both hetero and homo.

"Nigger," yes, you probably could make that distinction (to my recollection, the only time I recall whites being referred to as "niggers" in popular culture is in Elvis Costello's "Oliver's Army"), but "faggot" was used (and to a point still is used) as a suggestion that a person is effeminate or less than manly, i.e., a homosexual. "Retard" is used to suggest someone has the mental capacities of a person with cognitive disabilities.

And while yes, while homosexuality is not a "sickness" as it once was, it was once considered that way, and on top of that, the catch-all sense of "retard" includes people with cognitive disabilities that are functioning members of society. Down Syndrome, i.e., has a spectrum within it; some people with Down need 24/7 assistance and care, while others live independently, have jobs, and generally function with a modicum of normalness (whatever "normal" means in this situation).

In summary, you're creating a distinction where there is none, then using that to hang your argument on, when in fact the idea of such a distinction is tenuous. Just because a man is effeminate doesn't make him gay, and just because someone has a cognitive disability doesn't make him stupid.
posted by dw at 10:29 AM on August 8, 2009


The thing that really bugs me about the way its used now,

GRAR! It's! "it's used now"! GRAR!!
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


And to all of you going on about "retard" being some 20th century term used by doctors, the OED puts first usage in print as 1970 and lists it as slang. It is not a medical term. "Retardation" was the medical term and has been in use since 1895.

I consulted with my wife the Regency/Napoleonic Era scholar, and she says "idiot" would have been the correct term two centuries ago. But that fell out of usage by the early 20th century, while the other usage of "idiot," i.e. a simpleton or uneducated person, well predates it (1377) and is the common usage for it today.

By the by, "faggot" as a gay or effeminate man dates from 1907.
posted by dw at 10:35 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


'I fully support taking back "retard" from the past'

And thus, this statement makes no sense, since its "past" is essentially the same as its present. You can't reclaim it from anything.
posted by dw at 10:38 AM on August 8, 2009


Phineas Gage, unexpectedly hot.

I know, right? I just did a post on him!


More evidence that ladies love bad boys!
posted by electroboy at 10:38 AM on August 8, 2009


happysurge: "When you call someone a "nigger", you're saying they're black and suggesting it is sub-human to be black. When you call someone a "retard", you're saying their mental faculties are slower than most humans

and suggesting... come on, you can follow the train of thought, here, I know you can.

That's true. That's a true statement. That's not denigration.

I suggest you revisit your understanding of the term "denigration."

The mentally retarded are people who have stilted mental development.

Look, if I said someone walked like an amputee, I wouldn't be denigrating amputees.
"

see above.

you are awesome, dude. please please please don't stop trying to dig this hole you're digging. I am completely entertained right now. You may not be able to tell from reading the text of this comment, but I am cracking up as I write this.
posted by shmegegge at 10:50 AM on August 8, 2009


*yawns*
posted by Ironmouth at 11:26 AM on August 8, 2009




the beans on the plate are getting very worn looking...
posted by HuronBob at 11:34 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Using the word "retarded" really upsets some people and might be upsetting people who aren't able to defend themselves or tell me it upsets them due to their disabilities. I prefer to not offend these people, and thus, I don't use the word retarded. For me, it is as simple as that. The power of the english language will go on without it. Trust me, an argument is not hobbled by having to leave out the word retarded.
posted by josher71 at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think this sums up kldickson's weltanschaung pretty well:
But keep in mind that most people are just fucking morons. Don't openly say it, but it's a nice thing to remember.
posted by fatbird at 11:54 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


dw, gay men aren't effeminate or less than other males. You're not 'not a male' because you're gay. That's the suggestion your post made. That's the trouble with "faggot" and how it functions like "nigger" and not like "retard." It suggests that being homosexual is not being a male. It suggests they are sub-male and therefore sub-human. "Retard" suggests that your thinking capacity is less than most human beings. That's true of actually retarded people. You're not denying them humanity. You're denying providing them as a descriptor as ably minded. They're not ably minded. Are we such profound pussy-foots that we can't admit that mentally retarded people are, in fact, mentally retarded people? There is something wrong or hindered about the way their medical processes work? Not to take away from the mentally retarded. It's a batch filled with wonderful, loving and creative people as well as death row inmates in Texas. But they are mentally hindered. That's the point. The words aren't similar in functional because "nigger" and "faggot" denigrate without substance, essentially. "Retard" suggests mental inferiority, which is very real. That's their handicap. That's the point of it.

shmegge, you haven't pointed out how my logic is ridiculous. You've just been really kind of ad hom and snotty about it, which is ironic because that's exactly the sort of presentation you derided in your first post.

Josher, there's no reason not to use language that offends people. Sometimes, it's more effective than language than doesn't. And it's a personal choice that everyone should make. You shouldn't get an award for it either way unless it's part of a general aesthetic that is above par.
posted by happysurge at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Using the word "retarded" really upsets some people and might be upsetting people who aren't able to defend themselves or tell me it upsets them due to their disabilities.

Yes.

Also, there are still organizations that provide services to people with developmental and cognitive disabilities that have the words "Mentally Retarded" or "Retarded" in their official names. It's a term that's still in use.

If someone finds me an organization providing such services that currently refers to its client population as "morons" or "cretins" I'll refrain from using those words.

"Idiot" as pointed out above originally meant "a person of average cognitive abilities who is currently behaving foolishly" and though it was applied to people with cognitive disabilities for a while, it's reverted to its original meaning and hasn't been used by service providers or policy makers to refer to folks with cognitive disabilities for at least 100 years, so I feel like the statute of limitations on that one has expired.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:03 PM on August 8, 2009


"Retard" suggests mental inferiority, which is very real. That's their handicap. That's the point of it.

First of all, calling a person with mental retardation a "retard" is rude. If you mean to be rude by that, that's certainly your privilege, but pretending it's not rude is ridiculous.

Second of all, when people use "retard" as a slur, they don't mean "you've got limited cognitive abilities," they mean "you were being thoughtless or hidebound." "Paultards" don't think that Ron Paul will rule the world from a golden unicorn because they have cognitive disabilities--they're just being unreasonable and hidebound.

To be quite honest, when people say "that's retarded" it's usually used of something that's stupid in a way that none of the people with cognitive disabilities I've known would be stupid. People who live with mental retardation tend to overthink their plates of beans, not to underthink them--they are rarely careless or capricious, in my experience.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:07 PM on August 8, 2009


Why on earth aren't you people rowing?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:07 PM on August 8, 2009


Josher, there's no reason not to use language that offends people.

What

Yes there is
posted by kathrineg at 12:28 PM on August 8, 2009


A callout for some user I have never once noticed ever? Schmoopy? Man, I just don't hang out here enough anymore.
posted by Kwine at 12:42 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a bunch of tards.
posted by Schmoopy at 12:50 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Retard" suggests mental inferiority, which is very real. That's their handicap. That's the point of it.

They're not ably minded.

Oh for crying out loud. Calling someone a "retard" because they disagree with you is not pointing out that they have a handicap. I have no fucking idea if [person I disagree with, like, say, you] has an actual diagnosed mental handicap - I just know that I disagree with their ideas, opinions, or presentation of same. Accusing someone of being mentally retarded because they hold different views from you is absurd and insulting to both them and to people who, you know, have actual mental handicaps. How is that not obvious?

Also, some gay men are certainly effeminate, as are some straight men, bisexual men, etc. This is dependent on the current definition of "masculine" and "feminine" in one's particular culture.
posted by rtha at 12:53 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


there's no reason not to use language that offends people.

While this may be a debatable point in the world at large (though I would argue it's not that debatable) there's a reason to not do it here on MetaFilter, or to make an effort: it's unpleasant and from a mod perspective we'd like people not to do this, or to try.

I don't want to turn this into a "because I'm the mom that's why" conversation-stopper, but some guidelines on MeFi are more flexible and set by the community and some are more "this is how we want the place to be" statements from Team Mod. We try to keep the latter to a bare minimum but one of the guiding principles here has always been "Don't be an asshole" and intentionally using language that offends people, once you are aware that it's having that effect, pretty much falls into asshole territory. Do with that information what you will.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:54 PM on August 8, 2009


Well, I have read the entire thread, and it was a spot on call-out, I think.

Time for pie.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 1:05 PM on August 8, 2009


While acknowledging Bookhouse's point (that I'm spending a lot of time arguing about something that isn't actually all that important to me)…

"Unless there was some outing of this as a hoax that I'm not aware of: Someone said I should post as well, so I'm doing so. "

Autistics are not retarded, any more than bipolars are retarded or epileptics are retarded, or effeminate men are gay. If you'd like to make the case that they are, have fun.

"This is just offensive as all hell. I might almost assume good faith, but that 'haha I can't even spell this retarded word' just prior? You might as well also say “I am perfectly sympathetic to the plight of women, who understandably can't harness the tools of logic as well as might be desired.”"

And this is why the "offensive" standard fails, because your desire to feel that righteous swell makes you stupid, and you want everything to be "offensive." Because, hey, I spelled it correctly because it didn't look right in the comment I quoted, even though I was still unsure about how to spell it! So where I said that emotion overtook reason? That's you!

"Really? On its face? What's your evidence?"

Truly, you are causing me to question my assumptions. Who knew that someone would voluntarily put forth stupid arguments to prove that some people will choose to be retarded if given the option? What's my evidence? You're the one arguing the counterfactual—where has anyone voluntarily taken steps to ensure permanent brain damage as their primary goal? Where are the women who drink because they want their kids to have fetal alcohol syndrome? As a proportion, do you think more fetuses with Down's are aborted? How many people in the third world say, hey, no thanks, man, I don't want any iodine?

Nowhere on earth do people take steps with the goal of permanently reducing their IQ below 70; all over the world, people actively accrue costs to avoid that risk. The idea that retardation is not a worse outcome is, as I said, absurd on its face.

"An appeal to the authority of the DSM-IV. Even leaving aside the 'homosexuality used to be a psychiatric disorder' argument, which is all that's even needed here, the more important point is that the inclusion of a condition in a medical categorization makes no value-judgment on there being anything 'wrong' with it in the sense of 'wrong' you are using. "

Allow me to again roll my eyes at your moronic assertion.

All you need to do to prove me wrong is to cut off your hand. Why wouldn't you? Surely, there's nothing "wrong" with choosing to cut off your hand? There are no costs incurred, no problems with it at all. People who lose their hands never regret it. Many unions lobby to get protections against industrial mangling removed, after all. Or is your not cutting off your hand "not a value judgment"? I mean, it's just, like, a coincidence that you've chosen not to take out that circular saw, because, really, one hand, two hands, what's the difference, man?

As for the DSM-IV, you're engaging in ad hominem reasoning. Because the DSM-IV was wrong once, it is always wrong—ignoring the, what, thousands of legitimately diagnosed mental illnesses contained? That's idiotic.

"Greek myth. Nice. No comment."

Yeah, Greek myth that's endured for millennia. Got an example of someone who did put their eyes out because they thought it would be awesome to be blind?

"The reason you are wrong in claiming that “the claim that there's nothing wrong with being retarded . . . is . . . false on its face” is that you are assuming to know what it is like to be a certain way, when in fact you have no idea and can have no idea what it is like to be that way. You are mistaking your fear of a condition for knowledge of what it is like to actually have that condition."

So are you. Quaff some mercury. Eat some lead. Read fucking Flowers for Algernon. I have no real fear of becoming retarded, though old age will no doubt suck. And I am not saying that society shouldn't strive to make the lives of the disadvantaged as good as possible, but ask an alcoholic if they wouldn't prefer to no longer be an alcoholic, or whether a person who struggles with depression if they wouldn't rather not have to deal with that… Ask those who lost their limbs in accidents they caused if they regret it. I know my epileptic aunt sure preferred when she used to be able to drive without taking pills that have all sorts of nasty side effects, and when she used to be able to go out to clubs with strobe lights.

I mean, yes, false on its face.

"Please hold your own arguments to the same standards you ask others to. One person's 'common sense' or 'on its face' is another person's etc."

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 PM on August 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


> there's no reason not to use language that offends people.

That's like saying "there's no reason not to take your pants off and shit in public." Just because you don't see the reason doesn't mean there isn't one.
posted by languagehat at 1:27 PM on August 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Jeez, thanks languagehat. Way to ruin my evening plans.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:38 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, there is a reason for that. It's uncomfortable, and even if it wasn't, it's illegal. That's a pretty legit reason not to do something. Using strong language isn't illegal. If it's against forum rules or consensus, then that's a reason not to do it. But really, putting a limitation on the aesthetics of natural expression and discourse like that generally seems unnecessary.
posted by happysurge at 1:44 PM on August 8, 2009


But really, putting a limitation on the aesthetics of natural expression and discourse like that generally seems unnecessary.

With all due respect, you've been here a month. MetaFilter's been around for ten years and even though it is pretty lightly moderated [with the exception of AskMe] we do consider having a "don't be an asshole" guideline to be a pretty minimum-level necessity for a community like this one that is as large as this one. I wouldn't say the community is incredibly diverse, but the diversity we've been able to attract, maintain and to some extent nurture has been, in no small part, because people don't get clubby and cliquish and exclusionary the way they do on other sites.

We're mostly a big nerd herd here and many people on this site share, besides a love of techy geekish things, a history that includes some level of ostracism, isolation or mistreatment. Certainly not everyone but you see it turning up over and over again in AskMe. We'd like MeFi to be a place that is inclusive where we can make it be. It's our opinion that your freedom to express yourself here is not overly constrained by asking you to be decent to each other. If you feel that it is, it may not be the place for you.

Honestly, I think this is one of the reasons this callout went "well" Many of us have been where kldickson has been -- in a weird place lifewise, really angry, too smart by half, and seemingly surrounded by morons -- and we sympathize. There are other places on the Internet where you can get the nerd hazing to your heart's delight. We'd rather spend our time here geeking out over cool stuff on the web than extending the same old stereotypes in the same old boring ways.

I'm sure it's easy to poke holes in a lot of my "this is the way it is" statements about how things work here, but we all hold an idealized version of this place (I think) in some sort of "this is how it can be" way (see recent MeTa posts for some examples) and so we wind up having priorities like this one. There's a larger, longer argument that could be made that allowing total freedom of expression in all ways just reinforces existing power structures and does nothing to actually bring us closer together (damn my liberal arts education!) but unless you'd like to go there, it might be best to stick around and see how you feel about that assertion maybe six months from now?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:57 PM on August 8, 2009 [40 favorites]


So something being illegal is a good reason for refraining from an action, but considering the feelings of other people - not to mention how you yourself may be perceived by using insulting, inaccurate language - is unnecessary. Okay.

Calling people with whom you disagree "retard" says more about you than it does about them, and almost certainly communicates something you don't wish to say. It's not about OOOOH PC POLICE. It's about what's more important: communicating your idea, or indicating that you are not thoughtful enough to do so without gratuitous insults that you know for a fact (because you've been told) are hurtful to actual human beings.

For what it's worth, strong language may in fact be illegal in some places. Additionally, you may wish to consider the social sanctions you will face if you go around calling people names or using inappropriate language in certain settings. Try going into a kindergarten class and saying "motherfucker" and "shitcock" if you can't imagine such a scenario.
posted by rtha at 2:01 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or what jessamyn said.
posted by rtha at 2:02 PM on August 8, 2009


Note to happysurge: Quit making shit up.

You are trying - and failing - to debate linguistics and language from a highly subjective amateur armchair perspective with someone who writes books about linguistics and language in a professional capacity. (No, not me. It should be fairly easy to figure out.)

Above and beyond that - your insistence on the meanings of these offensive, denigrating words is totally wrong. You have the wrong end of the stick entirely. I'm not even certain if that is a stick you've got such a death grip hold upon. I'm pretty sure you've grabbed on the tail end of a pissed off rattlesnake, but for some reason you're insisting on holding on and calling it a stick and trying to scratch your back with it.

Seriously? Most seriously - your "analysis" of these words is one of the most awkward, excruciating things I've ever seen typed on metafilter. I think that the only reason why you haven't been called out for it even more stridently is that it's just so confusing and bewilderingly wrong-headed that people are likely mainly choosing to ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist.

Like dropping a ripping-wet burrito fart at a fancy cocktail party - just because no one chooses to openly observe and comment that you did, indeed, just rip a huge burrito fart doesn't mean that they didn't smell it, and aren't sidling away to the far corners of the room, and aren't thinking "What. The. Fuck!?"
posted by loquacious at 2:14 PM on August 8, 2009


MetaFilter: Like dropping a ripping-wet burrito fart at a fancy cocktail party.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:20 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I also wanted to say to Jessamyn that your description of a certain type of nerd that lives here and is intentionally trying to eschew the same old stereotypes or hazing made me feel really good. I sort of always sensed that this was a thing here, but was never quite certain, and to have one of the mods elucidate it so clearly made me feel even more welcome. Which is saying something.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:23 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


But really, putting a limitation on the aesthetics of natural expression and discourse like that generally seems unnecessary.

One of the things that folks who've been here a while know is that we basically enforce no hardline blanket restrictions on language use on the site. What does happen is people tend to end up discussing the hairier outer limits of vocabulary—terms that offend a lot of folks, or which can be offensive in particular contexts, and the degree to which it's sensible and workable and equitable to expect one person to be mindful of the effect their language choice has on the other people around them.

A couple folks in the thread earlier on have mentioned something like a moratorium on "retard" in general; either they're asking figuratively or they're tilting at windmills. I mention this only because I'm not sure if you're under the impression that there'd ever be an administrative fiat saying "yes, so be it: the word 'retard' is now forbidden" or something. It wouldn't happen.

What we have said, and will continue to say when this sort of thing comes up in the future, is this: we expect people who are contributing in good faith here to take responsibility for the language they use in a community/social context.

Which means being aware of how the words you choose to deploy can be taken. It means making an effort to consider not only your personal comfort with a given piece of language but also the discomfort it may cause those around you. It means listening to and understanding and incorporating in a fair-compromise fashion the things other folks have to say about how language affects them.

No one can or will try to take from you your right to use whatever words you want, however you want to. But if you make a habit of flouting the concerns of others around you, you stand a very good chance of developing a reputation as an asshole. Beyond that, individual instances that seem gratuitous or over the line may well get deleted, regardless of our general dedication to not declaring any particular word or phrase to be a priori forbidden. If someone can't display some basic responsibility for their own behavior in a community context, it falls to us to clean up after them, and that's not anywhere near the best part of this job.

What is and is not or should and should not be permissible in a grand ontological sense may be an argument you're excited to have, but it's not one that has a great deal of application in a local Metafilter context, where the borders of acceptable communication are, as much as we strive to keep them as wide as possible, inherently somewhat more narrow than those of the whole vast plane that is speech outside of social context.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:37 PM on August 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fundamentally, it's not how you say it, it's what you say. The difference between making an argument and launching an attack is one of content, not simply of form. The point is not simply that you mustn't use "retard" etc. but that you should make the kind of contributions that are arguments rather than attacks.
posted by grobstein at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2009


What fond memories this thread will hold.
posted by rigby51 at 2:56 PM on August 8, 2009


I'm going to keep it real...

*Spit-take*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2009


Can I be in SHIELD instead? I'm partial to Marvel characters.

I call Kitty Pryde.
posted by misha at 5:27 PM on August 7 [2 favorites +] [!]


I'm late to the party and have no opinion of kldickson's callout, but I'll be damned if misha steals my Kitty Pryde digs.

not catholic-ist
posted by zoomorphic at 3:08 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Shall I call you Logan, corte-X?"
"No. WOLVERINE! Shnickty Shnicty Shnict!"
posted by Artw at 3:16 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


not catholic-ist

It's a good thing, too. We don't take too kindly to catholicism 'round these here parts.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:33 PM on August 8, 2009


Sorry about this.

Metafilter: soft, flaccid and largely ineffective.

posted by jokeefe at 4:11 PM on August 8, 2009


I'm not sure if I called him a "retard", but there was a kid at my highschool who was slow. (Not like Darryn from preschool who knew how to threateningly say "bullshit" and "fuck you" in his slurred impaired voice which in hindsight seems tragic and horrible for a preschooler to have picked up, but back then it was sort of fun and scary.)

John was different and seemed to be high functioning, but he had a weird face and a weird walk and when he talked it was just all wrong. One time in the stampede between classes his velcro wallet dropped out of his back pocket. He waddled on oblivious, and people who noticed laughed and the wallet just sat there in the middle of the hallway. No one seemed willing to help the retard. I hurried up to him and told him he dropped his wallet back there and he looked at me like he didn't understand and I was embarrassed to be talking to him and I hurried on. Well, at least I helped him a little, I thought. I guess I wish I'd picked up the wallet.

A couple years later, I'm at the awards ceremony for the top few outgoing seniors who did well at things that weren't sports. By accident of alphabet, I'm sitting next to John. I'd had a rough couple years so I'm pretty self-absorbed. John turns to me and asks me what I think this one award is for. The program describes it as something like, "Most Improved Student."

I'm not sure if I said, exactly, "I think they give that to some retard." But it was something that amounted to that. Of course, that was the award they were giving to John, which came as a sickening realization to me.

Every once in awhile I remember it and try to tell myself I was at least doing him the compliment of not assuming that he was the special ed kid (because honestly, I didn't think he was), but I hate thinking that I ruined some proud moment for him, that I was part of the world telling him no matter what you do, you're still a retard.

*looks down into beer as conversation shifts uncomfortably away*
posted by fleacircus at 4:13 PM on August 8, 2009 [15 favorites]


The words you use matter to a point; what is in your heart when you utter them is as if not more important.

If you use a word intentionally to offend or hurt another, it doesn't matter if it's "retard" or "honey."

Those of us in the South know that even the words "bless your heart" can be used as a sly insult.

So maybe it's a good thing to stop and think what it is you are releasing into the world when you post with careless or malevolent intent something aimed at another human being.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


But really, putting a limitation on the aesthetics of natural expression and discourse like that generally seems unnecessary.

Speaking as someone who finds the word 'retard' and the suffix 'tard' perfectly acceptable in certain instances, I think you're overlooking some things. Namely, that Metafilter is "mixed company" on a large scale and just like there's certain things you don't do or say around casual friends that are perfectly fine with your close friends, so goes language on Metafilter. It may feel comfortable and cozy at times, like every single person is just awesomely close, the truth is you're dealing with people in a medium that crosses physical, social and mental boundaries, yet lacks the subtle, but extremely important, nuisance of body language and proximity. Calling a close friend "retard" while physically with a group of three, or four or even 20 friends is vastly differently from typing retard on Metafilter, where X number of people might know you to varying degrees, but there are 30,000 who don't, yet can "hear" the conversation, and they're going to have different life experiences than you and that word will probably have a different context for them than for you. Is really worth it to anger and piss off other people over that particular word? Is there no other word that would fit better, without distorting whatever you're trying to communicate?

Bottom line, you want to get a point across, be it a joke, thought, statement, whatever. Using certain words will interfere with the ability to do that. Decide which you'd prefer, let that guide your decision as to what words you use and then be willing to live with the consequences. You may think that having to deal with consequences from using a simple word is crazy, but think of Metafilter as single person, with a personality. For whatever reason, that personality doesn't like certain words and will get down right angry (Mefi Callout!) if you use them. Like I said, you need to understand that and then figure out if you want to fight that battle.

On the plus side, Metafilter loves certain words. You can never go wrong with asshat or if you're absolutely wedded to the word retard, then may I suggest "baconhater"? It'll mean about the same thing to most mefies.

Another tip: Don't bring up, let alone post, emails from past members, ever.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:56 PM on August 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


There is something wrong or hindered about the way their medical processes work?

Well, there seems to be something wrong or hindered about the way your logic processes work.

Do YOU want to be defined by the fact that you are sub-par in some estimation? Do you want people to refer to you by your own personal lowest common denominator?

It's like saying: "Why shouldn't we call ugly people "ugly?" They are! So why can't we say that?" Because no one wants to hear that they're ugly. Or stupid. Or smelly. Or that their momma dresses them funny.

That's why.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:49 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


To illustrate grapefruitmoon's point:

A woman was paying for some items in a supermarket - a pint of milk, a packet of bacon, a small bag of rice and a few vegetables. The man at the checkout said, "I bet you're single, aren't you?"

"Well yes, I am," the woman replied. "How did you know?"

"Because you're really ugly," replied the man.


See. That's why.
posted by netbros at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Food for thought on freedom of speech:

All rights come with responsibilities. If you want the right to call someone "retard," you have the responsibility to accept the consequences -- whatever those consequences may be. Most likely, those consequences will be "a lot of people will be pissed off and won't think very highly of you".

Yes, you have the right. You just need to also accept the responsibility that goes with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:15 PM on August 8, 2009




Er, "alibi". That'll show me for copying-pasting YouTube titles.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:46 PM on August 8, 2009


Haha! But kudos for the fishbone.
posted by Mister_A at 7:43 PM on August 8, 2009


Hey that's not fishbone! This is.
posted by Mister_A at 7:45 PM on August 8, 2009


U.G.L.Y.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:22 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: big nerd herd here
posted by bru at 8:28 PM on August 8, 2009


Hey, as a fairly unattractive person myself, I have no problem being reminded of reality.
posted by happysurge at 8:56 PM on August 8, 2009


Burhanistan, the initial use of the word in the pejorative was to denigrate homosexuals. "Nigger" in the initial use of the word in the pejorative was to denigrate blacks. "Retard", in its initial use, was a clinical diagnosis meant to replace terms that had become derogatory.

OK, but you wouldn't call an African-American person "colored," would you? At one time, "colored" was the more polite term which was chosen to replace the other terms, but it's pretty archaic now and is typically considered offensive, except in historic context, like the 'C' in NAACP still means "colored." So, similar to the word "colored," the word "retarded" once was meant to be less offensive than the colloquial terms, but we've also since come to view the problem in terms of what language means when we use it in our every day conversations. Calling a political advertisement "retarded" isn't really denigrating a person, and the term used to be polite, but it's probably not the best idea culturally to maintain this stigma that being developmentally disabled is "bad." I mean, think about saying, for instance, while driving down the street in a rental car, "This clutch is retarded! I can't seem to get used to it!" What you're really saying is that being "retarded" is not just not intelligent, it's just wrong.

Now, I'm generally of the opinion that free speech is one of our most important rights, and that people are far too sensitive about stupid shit these days. I'm a strong believer in straightforward language. At the same time, we've become a lot less civil in our larger, national political conversations, where these ideas become active in society. However, I've personally been turned around on the idea of hate crime, as I used to think it was a thought crime, now I can see where the law is necessary but must be applied carefully and effectively. When I was a kid, "Polack" jokes were still popular, but looking back it's a bit baffling. Polish people are dumb? Really? I never really grew up thinking that, but the jokes were still though they were pretty archaic by then. But the ridiculous stereotype that Polish people were dumb came from waves of immigration and the resulting xenophobia. It seems so strange to think that at one time the prevailing attitude was that Polish people were dumb, but the stereotypes about more recent waves of immigrants - Mexican people - are still very much alive.

But we change as we become aware, and it's hard to ignore the overarching idea that by using more sensitive - but really more accurate - language over time, we're really coming to grips with a lot of our darker cultural mores, that our society held to be true that people with dark skin, or people who are sexually attracted to the same sex, or people who believe in a different religious mythology, or people who are developmentally disabled are bad people, or wrong somehow in a moral way. And our language reflects these attitudes, and it makes me glad that it is indeed changing, largely because it means we are changing. Plus, it's hard to excuse boorish behavior for too long, and eventually we all have to grow up. It doesn't mean we can't be funny or really offensive anyway, but I'd be happy if we stopped making the association between "retarded" and "bad." The whole idea of using the term "developmentally disabled" is to break that association, and we no longer refer to people with Down's Syndrome as "mongoloid," for the same reason. Yes, there is a case to be made that "retard" is a verb, and it applies to many things, but when people use it pejoratively that's not really what they're evoking.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:05 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry, Down Syndrome. Always make that mistake ...
posted by krinklyfig at 9:09 PM on August 8, 2009


As Frank Zappa said, "I have an important message to deliver to all the cute people all over the world. If you're out there and you're cute, maybe you're beautiful. I just want to tell you something — there's more of us ugly motherfuckers than you are, hey, so watch out."
posted by krinklyfig at 9:16 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just because mental handicaps are widely agreed to be afflictions and suboptimal outcomes in the throw of life's dice doesn't mean we should embrace a word laden with derision for the people who live with such afflictions.

I'm even uncomfortable with calling out and out mental retardation a "suboptimal outcome," because that's only in some hermetic economic sense and the whole POINT OF HUMANITY is that there's more to us than our meritocratic potential. It also decreases your likelihood to be successful by certain current standards to be born black, gay or female, but we don't seem think that is a good reason to perpetuate these as bases for slurring these suboptimal states.

"Retard" exists as a hateful, directly judging slur of people living with disabilities. It is, I believe, intended often to vitriolically deem "retards" ("real" or ascribed) worthless. Wastes of space. It can also be used in milder ways, but its mere existence as such a totally derisive, dismissive slur against these people, less capable in some fucking power game of societal achievement, allies the utterers of it with with misanthropic, inhumane beliefs which ascribe value only by a too-strident rubric of meritocracy without consideration of other human qualities: soul or the capacity for love or be loved, joy, etc.

So, those who defend "retard" as reasonable will be known to me as "eugenicist."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:30 PM on August 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Retard" means that to you. I do not think it means anything at all like that. When someone uses "retard" I do not necessarily assume they mean to say my Down Syndrome uncle is worthless. Usage changes over time. What was offensive and specific becomes broad and mild.

The next generation is not going to view "retard" the same way as you do.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 PM on August 8, 2009


Oh, that was just what I thought? Maybe that's why I said "I think." Jeez, I qualify my shit like it's an addiction and some people are fighty anyway. What's the point?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:39 PM on August 8, 2009


Er, "I believe."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:40 PM on August 8, 2009


The next generation is not going to view "retard" the same way as you do.

Well, this current young generation uses "nigger" a lot, mostly as an affectation. That's probably for the best, because it will lose its sting. But it's still going to freak a lot of people out for a while. I think that's just something you have to be aware of if you use it, like what's the context and the audience.

The word "fag" was largely re-owned, but it won't stop dumb bigots from using it just like before. The hate behind it still exists, but it's being marginalized, like racism, but it doesn't make it go away entirely.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:44 PM on August 8, 2009


Hey, as a fairly unattractive person myself, I have no problem being reminded of reality.

And at this point, you get added to my "troll - ignore" list. Happy now? Good.
posted by rtha at 9:48 PM on August 8, 2009


I don't think he's a troll, he just isn't really socialized to MeFi and probably needs time to adjust to the culture
posted by kathrineg at 10:04 PM on August 8, 2009


Heh.
posted by sid abotu at 10:12 PM on August 8, 2009


I'M DIZZY
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:21 PM on August 8, 2009


. . .it retains enough of it's original technical meaning. . .

ugh!
posted by Neiltupper at 10:42 PM on August 8, 2009


Something that always seemed weird to me, mental retardation and personality disorders are on Axis II all by themselves, according to the DSM-IV. Why is that? Anyone know?
posted by kathrineg at 10:44 PM on August 8, 2009


Yes, rtha, I'm thrilled. First, to be made aware of your existence, and then, to be informed I would not be a part of it.

But seriously, the jumps at exclusiveness, hyperbole, and non-substantive outrage in a discussion thread calling out someone for using vocabulary that betrays the standards of Metafilter and therefore misrepresents it...

I mean, is that a better representation? Not using the word "retard", or "idiot," or "moron", but just generally deriding posters, and then taking the time to inform them of your intention to put them on ignore as if to banner up and say "i'm important."

I mean, what does getting socialized to mefi culture mean in this context? Scaling back harsh language, and becoming quite uniformly petty and derisive? I made posts which had difficult contents; that is, heavy subject matter. These posts very often were responded to with the opposite of delicacy.

And it's all to serve the purpose in this thread of deriding a poster for using strong language which flies in the face of civility, decency, and good argumentation. How much of that is on display in:

rtha: "And at this point, you get added to my "troll - ignore" list. Happy now? Good."

shmegegge: "you are awesome, dude. please please please don't stop trying to dig this hole you're digging. I am completely entertained right now. You may not be able to tell from reading the text of this comment, but I am cracking up as I write this."

shmegegge: "happysurge wins my award for "Most Smugly Ignorant Comments Of The Thread." I mean, I might have given the award to a couple other people, but those comments right there were the Hail Mary passes of the thread. He may have entered the competition late, but he didn't let that stop him from submitting some truly award worthy entries."

dw: "So all those years I was called "faggot" in school they were just informing me that I was a homosexual, not using it as a perjorative?

Huh. Well, I guess my wife and all my girlfriends over the last 36 years will be surprised to know that, as well as the two gay men who've asked me out and I've refused because I was dating/married to women."

Anecdotal, hyperboilc, insubstantive, condescending, and extremely exclusive.
posted by happysurge at 11:04 PM on August 8, 2009


I'm very likely "socially inept", but as somebody with family members with developmental disabilities and all-in-all considers himself a disabled-people-friendly person, I'd just like to stick this out there are some sort of data point: I am not offended in the least by the word "retard". No more than calling somebody idiotic, stupid, a moron, or anything else at least. Maybe it's my age, I don't know, but I've just never really encountered situations where this has actually been thrown at a developmentally disabled person. It's not like actual slurs in my book at all.
posted by floam at 11:11 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


My last post here was a bit whingy, so I'll just make a quick one explaining myself.

Restricting language is the only thing I think of as a sin. I've never done it. I don't believe in 'polite company.' If my young nephew began undertaking common use of the word "cocksucker", I wouldn't lose my mind over it.

And it's because of what language is; what words are. It's a primary mode of communication. When you're having these discussions, you're not just presenting ideas. You're presenting yourself. So telling someone 'you're betraying the presentation of ideas through use of harsh language' is ignoring that they're not just presenting those ideas. They're presenting them their way.

It's poetry, in a sense. A perfect poem is one which cannot be severed of its parts. It functions as a whole, and the only way to take it in is as the whole body. The only way to carry its message is not through paraphrase, but a full reading.

The use of retard isn't just some cheap trick. It's part of an aesthetic whole. It's part of a personal representation.

On the point of her ideas being betrayed by her language....

Well, I think that itself is belied by what some of the initial posts say.

The whole "fuck fuck fuckity fuck" line. That's always there. There's always the exaggeration of the use of strong language. Even if "fuck" was every other word, if it didn't shock you, you'd still get the message of the post. But even the people claiming not to be prudes when it comes to language are showing colours that are otherwise revealing.

So, to say 'we have general rules. The asshole rule is one. Don't use language that you know hurts people.' First off, 'asshole' hurts, but that's a bit of a troll point to make. Really, the language hurts. But it's part of the person. It's part of their presentation of themselves. So, when you're saying 'don't use language that offends others', you're saying 'don't present yourself in a way that offends others' and by extension, 'don't, as a person, be offensive to others in existing.' I mean, that's basically what it boils down to. The whole point of communication is to speak yourself to someone else. To put a tie on that because of offense ignores that people getting offended by that language are getting offended by you; that is, by your person. This part is being phrased poorly, I can tell. But I hope you see what I'm getting at anyways.

It's not just "retard" that offends people. It's her that offends people. She's offensive in her presentation of herself. So, she should alter her presentation of herself. She should communicate herself differently until it does not offend. That's a very brutal thing to do to a person. That's severing the poem of its parts, and asking it to be something else. Why bother presenting yourself in the first place, if it's just to fall to a conglomeration of offenses and more preferable presentation choices?

Why not just be one of an endless stream of interchangeable sources? Why not cut out the middle-man, then?

When you take language off the table, you're removing tools of communication. This is one less way that I can reach other people. This is one less way to speak to them. I can't use these words. I can't say what I want to say. I can't say what I feel inside of myself. I can't present myself. And if you're not pushing yourself towards other people, what's the point of a forum or community?

I know that probably won't change any minds or lighten any loads. But I wanted to say where I was coming from.

People in this thread were awful quick to set the importance of language aside. First, they sought to deny its use. Then, they sought to deny its etymology and trivialize function. Treating language like it's anything but a thread that runs to bind human beings just doesn't seem right.

I know a lot of people are taking this from the human stand-point and saying 'but it offends people.' But so am I. I'm taking this from the human stand-point too. Language is important. It's what ties us. We shouldn't trivialize it and toss it away.
posted by happysurge at 11:46 PM on August 8, 2009


rtha, you need to take a chill pill. Life is too short for all this angst.
posted by caddis at 11:58 PM on August 8, 2009


Restricting language is the only thing I think of as a sin.
Blimey.
posted by Abiezer at 12:12 AM on August 9, 2009


caddis, I'm failing to see how your remark helps rtha or anybody else.

happysurge, your most recent comment actually does help me to see where you're coming from better than anything else you've said in this thread, so thanks for taking the time to compose it. I'm not sure quite what I think about it yet, but it's clear enough to consider, which I appreciate.
posted by cgc373 at 12:14 AM on August 9, 2009


It's poor phrasing, abiezer, but I meant it's the only thing I take to the extent of religious doctrine. It's the only thing I'm completely dogmatic about as a crime against personhood that isn't, you know, the big things. It falls outside of the category of more obvious things like murder and rape. Petty sins, maybe?
posted by happysurge at 12:27 AM on August 9, 2009


Ah, right, I should have suspected as much. Did rather leap out at me there, hence the post.
posted by Abiezer at 12:33 AM on August 9, 2009


I don't believe in 'polite company.'

Dude, rudeness is not iconoclastic. When I'm around someone in the real world who insists on slinging around slurs and cursing every other word, I don't think "Oh my, what a genuine fellow. I admire his direct manner of communicating and look forward to hearing more of what he has to say!" Instead, I start looking for a way to get away from the foul-mouthed gasbag. Maybe he's making some interesting points, but I could give a damn - I don't want to hear all the unpleasant mess around them. When someone pees all over the furniture, I don't thank them for redecorating, no matter how evocative the splatter patterns may be.

If your goal is to "reach people with language" it seems counterproductive to use a lot of language that turns off the listener and encourages them to shut you out. Yes, yes, offensive, attention getting words and phrases have their uses - we've all heard the George Carlin routines you're channeling. I guess I think of cursing and insults as kind of a rhetorical ground pepper - best in small, well-placed pinches. A well-blended bit of vulgar pepper can spice up a piece of writing nicely. And to be sure, English is blessed to have many a writer who can really cook up a big, steaming pot of vulgarity. Add too much of these spices or do so too clumsily, and the same piece becomes an eye-scalding screed I probably won't take seriously, if I bother finishing it at all. And some of these seasonings, such as "retard" or "that one that starts with n" are always gonna be awful bitter to me. Just a personal thing, I guess. I'm not wild about rosemary, either.

No one wants to put the clamps down on free expression on MeFi, but who cares what one is freely expressing if one does so in such a way that no one's gonna want to read it? If one's goal is to communicate something, they're almost always better served by communicating in a way that will be well-received. Not a soul in this thread has said that language is unimportant, or that it should be trivialized or "tossed away" - the original thrust of the call out was that the language a certain MeFite was using was causing her points and arguments to be tossed away. Her words were preventing her from reaching more people. And, in perhaps the best outcome I've ever seen in a MeTa callout, she seems to have grokked this criticism and plans to adapt accordingly. She will continue to express her point of view and, thanks to a bit of filtering on her end, that point of view will stand a better-than-ever chance of being taken seriously.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:18 AM on August 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I may as well put myself on the chopping block, too. I've never really associated using the word "retarded" with people who have disabilities. Happysurge has clearly hoisted himself with his own pe-tard at this point, but it doesn't seem fair to call him a troll. He has merely expressed a difference of opinion. Ignorant might be a fair assessment, but certainly not intentionally offensiveness or trolling.

I don't personally call people retards, but I do sometimes call ideas retarded. I've never really considered it offensive, and learning that means I will be more considerate of the context and avoid it where appropriate. That's the reasonable thing to do when you learn you've offended someone.

I do think the point that happysurge was trying to make is valid, though. For a lot of people, it is nowhere near the level of offense that some here are associating it with. I don't think that when I say "That's retarded", I am saying that I think people with disabilities are sub-human. I'm saying that the idea is not simply stupid, but displays an inability to progress past a certain level of thought. I'll admit that I hadn't thoroughly thought through what I meant by it until now, but that's what the simplistic shorthand comes down to.

If a person scurrilously says that something is "gay", then there's an obvious implication that there is something wrong with people who are gay. But when someone says something is "retarded", there's not that same implication. I mean that the target is personally incapable of higher mental function (possibly willfully so); not that they are dismissible as "other" or "lesser". They are crippled in their thinking. They've hit a logical dead-end that they can't overcome. It's certainly an insult (albeit lazy and avoidable), but it's not in any way intended as a slur against a class of individuals. I've never thought of it in terms of "You're acting like a retarded person"; only as "Your mental development has been retarded". I know it sounds like an apologetic distinction, but I think that's the difference between a slur and a personal insult.

That said, I'm not in any way defending the term's general use, and will curtail my own usage. I don't want to hurt anyone. I'm only saying that it doesn't seem fair to dismiss someone entirely on that use. It doesn't necessarily mean to them what it means to you.
posted by team lowkey at 2:16 AM on August 9, 2009


"No one wants to put the clamps down on free expression on MeFi, but who cares what one is freely expressing if one does so in such a way that no one's gonna want to read it? If one's goal is to communicate something, they're almost always better served by communicating in a way that will be well-received."

Not necessarily. Communication should be about presenting one's views in a way that is as clear, honest and precise as possible, it's not about if other people agree with you or like what you say. There's a real argument (used by others higher up in this thread) that larding every sentence with terms like "retard" is a lazy way to communicate and a sloppy way to think - but if someone went after me because I used a word that offended them (and I wasn't, you know, trying to offend them in the first place), I'd ignore that person and not think twice about it.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:01 AM on August 9, 2009


rtha, you need to take a chill pill. Life is too short for all this angst.

Give me a break. There's nothing het up about rtha's contributions here. Like, ever. She's a little Fonzie.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:05 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


> DOTARD, driveler; old fogy or fogey [colloq.], old woman; crone, grandmother; cotquean [archaic], henhussy, betty [contempt].

Ok that's it. I have an admittedly terrible habit of letting "retard" slip out of my mouth (but rarely out of my fingers onto the keyboard). So, henceforth, I shall say DOTARD. (I believe the emphasis is on the DOT so it's pronounced DAW-terd).

ie.

You fucking dotard!
Listen here, you henhussy dotard...
What did he say? Ah, well, he's fogey dotard anyway. (Let's keep this a gender neutral)

I also like the words dolt and goober.
posted by molecicco at 3:51 AM on August 9, 2009


Ooh! and "henchman", too? Or rather, henchperson? You know, to stand next to you and glower meaningfully at your archenemy?
posted by longsleeves at 10:27 AM


I want to be a henchperson, but I demand the option to be called "henchcunt" or "henchfagggot". The rest of you can use "henchperson".
posted by crataegus at 4:02 AM on August 9, 2009


It's poetry, in a sense.

For a while, I thought that perhaps happysurge might be trolling for some kind of response, but now I'm convinced that his posts are performance art.

What's weird is that he might agree.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:51 AM on August 9, 2009


it's part of the person. It's part of their presentation of themselves. So, when you're saying 'don't use language that offends others', you're saying 'don't present yourself in a way that offends others' and by extension, 'don't, as a person, be offensive to others in existing.' I mean, that's basically what it boils down to.

Put like that, I can see where you're coming from. I don't necessarily agree, but I can certainly understand why you defend the point you're making. Equating a person's language to a person's identity is a huge leap to make though, and untrue for those who know, can, and do express themselves in a multitude of ways. Language is a tool, and if something which that tool ends up making ends up being hurtful to people, and people ask you not to use that thing because it hurts them and might possibly hurt a lot of others, then it's perfectly valid for the people in the community to implore users to please not use that thing, thanks.
posted by Lush at 5:00 AM on August 9, 2009


Language is a tool

I am totally gonna tell Language you said that. Hoo boy are you in for it. If it's a bad idea to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, just you wait for the ultimate beatdown from Language itself.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:19 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Team lowkey, how is ignorant a fair assessment if you're basically agreeing with most every tenet of my position?

Grapefruitmoon, I did find that funny. Still, though, "I thought that happysurge might be trolling for some kind of response, but now I'm convinced that his posts are performance art" is again, all the things listed here: hyperboilc, insubstantive, condescending, and extremely exclusive.

What's funny is that you've gotten that way in response to a difficult subject. This is a thread about someone who 'gets that way' through language instead of plain ol' derisive spirit. They're talking about heated things and they put it into a word choice that might meet the requirements of being all those things I listed. But so are you. Just in a different way that people find far more obvious as to why one shouldn't be able to censor.

Lush, A person's language isn't their identity. It is, however, a huge part of their identity to other people. Language is about communicating yourself to others. Let's say people asked you to stop playing music because that mode of expression hurts (some fundamentalists would agree), how is more damage not being done by taking away that mode of communication than is being done by your partaking in it fully?

Using rough language is like playing sour notes. Sure, it may be unpleasant to hear on its own, isolated from the rest of the piece, but sometimes it fits. Sometimes it is part of a context and structure where it works. And sometimes, even when it doesn't, it still counts.

Not doing things because it ends up being hurtful to people is ignoring the question of whether the reasoning for being hurt by these things, and the actual extent of the hurt, overrides faithful and honest communication.

Eat the week, I don't use "fuck" as every other word. But I don't shy away from any word, and I wouldn't want any word set away from that. The point is, I get to choose my aesthetic. I get to choose how I write and communicate myself. If I'm okay with it being jumbled, then what's wrong with that? It's not about the most effective consensus way to communicate a message to reach a populace quickly. It's about being and communicating you. That's what I was saying with that 'poetry' bit. A perfect poem can only be that thing, that whole thing. You can't take bits out. You have to respect its entirety, because that's the way it functions in itself. It's not just communicating a message. The piece itself is the message, and you're taking the whole piece in. Poems might be a lot easier to understand if they weren't written as, you know, poems.

The other thing is, that George Carlin remark is kind've harsh. What it basically implies is that I'm a kid that ran across an HBO special and a wiki page. George Carlin isn't the only person on the planet to have ever talked about language. He is, however, a good representative for language because of his ability to play with its structure and intricacies and respect it. Mitch Hedberg is another good example. Groucho Marx, too. They're ambassadors, but the case is made by every worthwhile poet, writer, and comedian.

The point of citing George Carlin, of course, is to downsize my post. It's to reduce my point of view as something that is a dime a dozen, to imply that it happens to every kid and thus remove it's credibility.

In your post, you get to choose your aesthetic, and declare yourself capable of deciding what's too spicy, and put your taste out there as capable of judgment. Maybe that's part of the problem. You get to decide, while suggesting it's not so big an offense if others do not.
posted by happysurge at 5:30 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Using rough language is like playing sour notes. Sure, it may be unpleasant to hear on its own, isolated from the rest of the piece, but sometimes it fits. Sometimes it is part of a context and structure where it works. And sometimes, even when it doesn't, it still counts.

You seem to be responding to most of the people in this thread but missing the part where the site guidelines ask people to try to be considerate. I'm not sure if you're debating, generally speaking, the site guidelines, or making a larger linguistic point. I don't think people are mostly arguing with your linguistic point. Language is powerful and restricting language is sending a powerful message. Our message is: it's more important to try to maintain a civil tone here than it is to allow total free expression here. We know that's not always going to work 100% but we'd like people to make a good faith effort to try. You can take that or leave it, at some level.

So, you seem to be willfully missing the "Hey we asked you nicely to please consider not doing that here" point that both cortex and I are making (we're moderators here, not sure if that's clear) which is somewhat tangential to the retard discussion but absolutely germane to the original purpose of this thread.

Again, unlike society at large, this community is self-selecting to a certain degree. So, if you really honestly feel that you have the right to use whatever language you want however you want, wherever you want, you may not be happy here. It's up to you to see how you feel about that and do a cost-benefit analysis, but I don't think anyone is supporting the idea that the words we're talking about, the impolite/rude/whatever words, should be stricken from speech only that they come with certain social costs and while you're welcome to ignore those social costs, arguing that they don't exist is a little short-sighted.

You're also welcome to argue that people shouldn't be offended, but I think you're going to have a hard time arguing that they're not offended or that using certain verbiage both obscures your message [if the message is not "I'm an asshole"] and has a chilling effect on community interactions here. Bringing up my earlier point, allowing everyone to say what they want, all the time for whatever reason (i.e. no moderation) has an aspect of purity to it, but it also leads to less-optimal [according to our vague idea of what we want here] community interaction and allows those with fewer social inhibitions to run roughshod over those who are more cautious/timid/whatever. We've decided, sort of by fiat, that we'd like to make an effort to be more inclusive and so we've made the decisions that we have.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:01 AM on August 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


So, those who defend "retard" as reasonable will be known to me as "eugenicist."

Wow, that's an extreme hardline to take.

I hate the word "nigger" but can't deny that some people use it regularly, aren't bothered by it and their use of that word doesn't make them bad people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 AM on August 9, 2009


It's EB isn't it? EB with better paragraphs?
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:32 AM on August 9, 2009


I've been on vacation (still am) and come late to this discussion.

I do have several thoughts.

I agree with the mods that this is a very productive-seeming discussion and that it is potentially very useful not just for the person being called out but also for current and future readers and participants to the discussion.

I also want to assert again (this is not the first time I've said so) that despite early setbacks with respect to Metafilter, moderation and community behavior standards/policy (back when I was an inexperienced Mefite, I felt and said that I thought that the behavior standards/policy would have to be a lot clearer before I was comfortable with contributing here, but I think that that situation has improved). It seems more clear to me what's requested of us as we participate in the community and it also seems to me that this is one of the most fairly and consistently moderated Internet communities I've ever participated in.

I used to participate in MOOs/MUDs and there was a similar dynamic there between mods (there they were called wizards) and normal users. It wasn't always clear you were talking with a mod and the line was blurred intentionally because mods wanted to participate in the community as users like everyone else. They just had a little extra power. In the case of MOOs/MUDs, it didn't always seem like the mods were responsible, responsive, or articulate enough to make that work because their power to delete other people's posts and creations was one a lot of users were jealous of, and because they didn't put a lot of time or effort into having respectful interactions with users, especially problem users. And because of that, flame wars between normal users (especially problem users) and mods got immense and intense and generated a lot of drama and bad blood.

Here though, the mods are really respectful, responsible, accessible and articulate. In general they are aware of the power differential that they represent, they don't abuse it, they respond responsibly to feedback about it, and are articulate and fair even if they end up disagreeing with normal users about standards of behavior and behavior in fact.

Short story: These mods here are professionals and you should be glad to have them, because having amateur mods sucks sweaty donkey balls. I don't see anything wrong with where this discussion went and what it was about, and I think it's useful as an archival piece about the metatopic, which is what standards of behavior are expected of users here on Metafilter.
posted by kalessin at 8:41 AM on August 9, 2009


"I thought that happysurge might be trolling for some kind of response, but now I'm convinced that his posts are performance art" is again, all the things listed here: hyperboilc, insubstantive, condescending, and extremely exclusive.

Well... that's just like, your opinion man. I was just scratching my head in awe. What I said was not meant to be demeaning, condescending, or exclusive. As for "hyperbolic?" Well... what is art? What are the boundaries of performance art? And as for trolling - your posts are strongly worded to get a response and you yourself advocate for language as self expression. I suppose I could have used "fishing for a response," but "trolling" seemed more appropriate being as these are the internerds.

Really though, I was just making a tongue in cheek comment and you are being just as touchy as the people who you think should lighten up about language. So. Yeah, you're kind of like the pot calling the kettle touchy.

Call that insubstantive if you will, but it's just like, my aesthetic expression of how I feel. Man.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:51 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am touchy about language; in defense of it.
posted by happysurge at 8:52 AM on August 9, 2009


Fair enough, but I'm not trying to attack language, so maybe calling me "condescending" is like defending your language rights with an ICBM when really, a pointed stick would be just fine.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:54 AM on August 9, 2009


PS. You're not restricted in your expression. Aesthetic expression, however, is somewhat different from semantic content. That is, there is apparently very little in the way of a restriction on things that are exclusive in a semantic way, and, as evidenced by this thread, a good amount of restriction on things that are "exclusive" by way of being hurtful in an aesthetic way.

It's apparently totally cool to be a dick. Just not to use words like "retard" whilst being one.

And jessamyn, I wasn't arguing the general life point or the existence of guidelines. I was arguing about the consistency of the guidelines.
posted by happysurge at 8:59 AM on August 9, 2009


Yeah, but you're being mean to me grapefruitmoon, and I haven't slept very much and I'm lonely. This would be much easier if you just responded to me in ways that assumed I was on a heavy menstrual cycle.
posted by happysurge at 9:00 AM on August 9, 2009


It's apparently totally cool to be a dick. Just not to use words like "retard" whilst being one.

Not to be a hall monitor here, but no, it's not cool to be a dick. But you can't make everyone on the playground play nice all the time. You CAN ask that if you're gonna go on the playground, you've got to use your playground words, and "retard" isn't one of them.

Kids learn that there are school words and at home words. MeFi is like using your school words instead of jumping up and down on the bus and yelling "NIPPLE!" when your mom has told you six times that that's an at-home word.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:01 AM on August 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


happysurge, I don't think you understand the first thing about either MetaFilter or humanity, which makes your righteous defense of "language" beside the point and frankly pretty funny (in a sad sort of way). And I say this as one of the biggest defenders of free speech on MeFi. You should pay more attention to jessamyn, who is being very patient and kind, and less to your inner superhero-wannabe.
posted by languagehat at 9:03 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tropic Thunder was on HBO this weekend, and reminded me of this thread, when Robert Downey Jr.'s character advised Ben Stiller: Never Go Full Retard
posted by paulsc at 9:06 AM on August 9, 2009


And jessamyn, I wasn't arguing the general life point or the existence of guidelines. I was arguing about the consistency of the guidelines.

Do you want to make your argument about that clearer? I've been reading your comments here and I'll say that while I see a lot of several-years-ago me in them (I've made similar long arguments about the value and utility of fringe/rough/unfettered expression myself), I don't see a lot of "this is my understanding of how Metafilter currently works and what I see as problematic in the guidelines." or anything similar. It'd hard to have a discussion with you about "the consistency of the guidelines" when you don't clearly register the specific inconsistencies in terms of the actual guidelines of the site.

If you have specific issues with or concerns about the guidelines, or moderation, or any other specific metacommunity thing, it'd be useful to state those directly and put them in the context of your understanding of the guideline/policy/etc that you have a problem with. So far—and I'm not trying to bait you, I'm just trying to be as honest as possible here—you seem to be talking about aesthetic freedom in abstract for its own sake without making any attempt to actually tie it to practical community interactions on Metafilter itself.

Which, as I said before, may be a discussion you're excited to have, but it's not a unique one, not a new one, and not really all that on-point to this thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:12 AM on August 9, 2009


> Wow, that's an extreme hardline to take. I hate the word "nigger" but can't deny that some people use it regularly, aren't bothered by it and their use of that word doesn't make them bad people.

So you're saying eugenicists are bad people now? :P

Yeah, it's hardline, but I don't think language which some people find to be cripplingly hateful needs to be defended as not-always-too-hateful to keep gettin' used, really. It's not about demonstrable harm for me, it's about stinking up the place with stinking hate. Though I support and unlimited lexicon, I'm honestly a partisan on that particular issue, when the chips are down. I vote a straight lollipops and buttercups ticket.The fact is, people do hate. That I can't prevent. And some language is laced with hate, and that I can't deny. So, I reserve the right to be disgusted by the eugenicist or meritofascist (o.O) undertones of blithely calling people "retards" as I hear them, just as much as I might be disgusted by the images of lynchings and other horrible things that embellish "nigger." That's a risk people know they're taking when they defend these words. They know they're offensive. That's how offensive they can be. I may as well make the threat to be disgusted by the users of such language, since, as I said, I'm a partisan about it and it grosses me out and I want them to stop grossing me out.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's EB isn't it?

I doubt it; despite his occasional bouts of high-falootiness, EB could actually write.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 AM on August 9, 2009


It's apparently totally cool to be a dick. Just not to use words like "retard" whilst being one.

Neither is cool, if by cool you mean something like "generally seen as unobjectionable by most of the metafilter community." Neither is disallowed, either, though. People will choose to behave badly, insensitively, rudely, or any number of other things, and within reasonable limits that's just part of the great heterogeneous discursive churn that is a day on mefi.

Being a dick is still being a dick if someone gets away with it; using "retard" as slang may still offend or bother people even if it doesn't get deleted. There's a pretty flexible border on behavior here, and barring situations where someone leans and leans hard on the boundaries of the social contract here folks are generally allowed (in the strict sense that we admins don't delete it) to let their freak flags and their jerk flags and their aesthete flags fly.

But because it's a community, because there are a lot of people here with long memories and their own priorities and preferences, that sort of flag flying when done consistently and aggressively and without a clear willingness to register good faith through flexibility and compromise and mutual respect, leads to situations where the sum of one person's individual narrowly-permissible acts is more greatly problematic than the parts.

One of the consequences of that is that behavior that does not strictly move into Will Be Deleted territory may still have a significant negative impact on a lot of folks in the community, and they will say something. The concept of "self-policing" is an old one around here; while there's a certain amount of mod cleanup on any day, most of the pressure on social interactions around here comes from individual users being willing to object to something they thinks sucks, or to now and again make a Metatalk post specifically addressing the situation, etc. You seem in part to reject the idea that even this is acceptable, and to be dismissing most of the folks trying (with varying degrees of civility or patience) to explain why your personal theory of aesthetics isn't so applicable here as maybe you want it to be. That doesn't seem like something that's going to work out in the long term.

There is no carte blanche for crappy behavior in a community context. This is not about the purity of a poem, the indivisible wholeness of pure aesthetics; it's about behaving like an adult in a community larger than one's self. Any theory of expression that can't account for the pragmatics of that, that doesn't recognize and complement the requirements that come with being not a lone voice but one in a large crowd of equals, isn't going to work out well on metafilter.

Like Jessamyn said, that's not a problem in and of itself and you are welcome to any working theory you like, but if you don't think you can find a way to adapt that to how this place actually works you may not end up being all that happy with your experience here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:30 AM on August 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


What is with the uppity-ness? I get that you're a mod. I really do. But the whole 'I seem me several years ago', 'a discussion you're excited to have, but it's not a unique onel'...

All that business does is serve to deface points about inclusiveness.

I mean, holy shit, for a place that functions in part on sensible inclusiveness, you do seem to function almost exactly like every other message board on the planet.

languagehat: "You should pay more attention to jessamyn, who is being very patient and kind, and less to your inner superhero-wannabe."

Put downs, hyperbole, and this constant sense of happy condescension. Mods that speak wiser for their years, and inform you of how when they were younger (cortex, not so much jessamyn), they were just like you. You know what the difference really is? Post and comment count. Newb posters and their opinions get treated like this in every site. That's not special. This whole business is a series of sick stereotypes that jessamyn herself said she's against perpetuating. The whole reason this kid is getting called out for using "retard" is constantly undermined by every second post people make in this thread.

But you're right. I should be grateful that someone had the patience to respond to my posts in a non-impish way. That's lovely. That's what should be expected from a pre-eminent discussion board is the basic ability to have a response that is not uncivil in a thread about another poster's incivility.

Really?
posted by happysurge at 9:33 AM on August 9, 2009


That was to the earlier post, not to this one, cortex. This one seems perfectly reasonable and I wish you would've said it in place of the other one.
posted by happysurge at 9:36 AM on August 9, 2009


But seriously, the reason I'm having issue is because this site is supposed to be unlike other sites. It's supposed to be better. If you said 'this is just a message board like every other message board', I would understand 100 percent. But that's not what this site comes advertised at, it's not how its members presented it to me, and it's certainly not why I decided to join up instead of continuing to lurk. This has a mission statement theorized on being better than all that. That's why I'm taking issue.
posted by happysurge at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2009


Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and say that the years of reading the site plus post/comment counts do, in fact, give the mods a better understanding of how the site actually works. And if it's like every other message board on the internet, couldn't you find the same sub-optimal level of discourse somewhere else and stop berating us on how we aren't living up to your platonic ideal of free expression?

You are quick to call everyone who responds to you "condescending" while you simultaneously deride one of our mods, who is also an extremely well-respected member of the site & internet community at large, as being no more knowledgeable than you, that her opinion only "matters" because she's posted more.

I think you're going to need to grow more mouths since you're talking out of both sides of the one you've got now. And you're going to take that as being an attack, and I'm going to bang my head on the desk. How about we turn it into a drinking game: I take a shot each time you call someone "condescending" and you take one each time you feel repressed and instead of having a circular argument and then... I don't know, we die of liver failure or something but at least we won't keep having the same argument.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:43 AM on August 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Jesus fuck, happysurge, you've been playing a drum solo punctuated with slurs and sociology lectures for three days, and people are still listening. What kind of better response are you hoping for?
posted by box at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


This would be much easier if you just responded to me in ways that assumed I was on a heavy menstrual cycle.

Oh, OK. So now, you're going to be a *sexist* dick. You're just joining the playground with all your balls, eh?
posted by dancinglamb at 9:52 AM on August 9, 2009


Wow, maybe I was wrong!
posted by nevercalm at 10:01 AM on August 9, 2009


Are we keeping track of the record for quickest progression from joining to timeout to scrumdiddlyumbannination? Maybe now would be a good time to start?

Also, bc no one has yet:

Metafilter: Anecdotal, hyperbolic, insubstantive, condescending, and extremely exclusive. (Now with extra schmoopy!)
posted by nevercalm at 10:05 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, when you're saying 'don't use language that offends others', you're saying 'don't present yourself in a way that offends others' and by extension, 'don't, as a person, be offensive to others in existing.'

I note that several of us who have a first-degree relationship with actual handicapped relatives and clients have spoken up to state that we do not take offense at the use of retard. Indeed, it seems to me that only those who don't have any actual reason to be offended, are offended.

So to be accurate, it is "don't use language that offends me, don't present yourself in a way that offends me, don't be offensive to me in existing." Those who protest do so not in defense of others, but because their "me" is offended.

The only thing gained by keeping "retard" verboten is to give it the power to hurt those people to whom it was traditionally applied. Which is why those of us with actual first-degree relationships with handicapped people want to see it used in the same was as "idiot" and "moron": words that are not used when talking about the handicapped.

Or in short: use the word "retard" only when not describing someone who is handicapped.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


you know that by calling people condescending and critiquing their speech you're really critiquing their selves
posted by kathrineg at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2009


a heavy menstrual cycle

it's right there in the handle, isn't it? whee! *goosh!* ew!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2009


I used to be all happy rainbows, kittens, unicorn orgies, and cotton candy puppy dogs but after being raked over the coals here I think I'm going take up serial killing homeless elderly retarded women.
posted by Schmoopy at 10:14 AM on August 9, 2009


Hang on!
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:15 AM on August 9, 2009


Mods that speak wiser for their years, and inform you of how when they were younger (cortex, not so much jessamyn), they were just like you.

My being younger has very little to do with it; my having been relatively new to the site and not having really picked up on the culture here has a lot to do with. I was at the time more prone to make a hardline argument in Defense Of Speech and less likely to really understand and acknowledge the way that that kind of reasoning actually needs to find a way to sit in a community context than I am now. And, for all that, I was trying to be sympathetic on a point where I think we agree about some things.

But, no, it's got nothing to do with age—for all I know you're old enough to be my father. The issue is one of taking the time to get to know the place you've wandered into. We generally treat new folks with an awful lot of patience and care when we can, even when they stumble a bit, and as much as I have apparently cheesed you off by criticizing some of your presentation here I've got to say that Jessamyn and I have both shown an awful lot of patience so far already compared to what folks seem to get when getting deeply argumentative in a brand new place on the internet.

But if you're going to start making grand arguments about the nature of the place at the tail end a big abstract argument about aesthetics in the first blush of your active participation here, it doesn't give us much incentive to try and convince you one way or the other about any "mission statement" someone sold you on offsite; the value of mefi is not something I think anyone can be convinced of or have proved definitively to them in the course of an argument in Metatalk.

Most people develop an opinion of the site and its worth-or-not to them by hanging out for a while and participating in different aspects of it and letting themselves acclimate gradually to the culture over a period of months. No sales pitch can replace that.

You're very much welcome here, and I think Metafilter is a pretty awesome place for a variety of reasons, but if you're demanding a red carpet and a guided tour at this point on pain of thinking ill of the site, you may get stuck just thinking ill of the site. I'm genuinely sorry if it works out that way, but there is no instant gratification solution here, and if you're going to aggressively argue about how the site works as your first highly visible act on the site, the fact that you are new here and seem not to really get the place is going to come up: it's plainly material to the way the whole interaction is playing out. We don't go around shouting LURK MOAR at people, but there's some work required in getting to know a new place and it feels like you haven't done much of any of it yet, and until that changes it's going to have a detrimental effect on how well you manage to get along here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:16 AM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


FiveFreshFish,

I know a few people with first degree relationships with handicapped people that totally disagree with you.

However, I see your point. Something to think about, but I'm not sure I agree either.

See, THIS is what I like about Metafilter. I feel like a bit of hardliner on this issue but it's nice to have people challenge these ideas. And the people challenging are those whose opinions I read on other topics here and whose opinions I respect.
posted by josher71 at 10:21 AM on August 9, 2009


I would like to point out that in very few other web forums would there be a section for a long, 500+ comment thread on the use of speech, and it's impact on the community at large. The chilling effect on a conversation is very real, and to be successful in discussion, debate, and discourse, one needs to be aware of their own relation to the audience.

You can say anything you want, but if you don't notice that half the room has gotten up and walked out on you a third of the way through your speech, then you are the one who is being ignorant about language and expression, not your audience. In fact, encouraging members to have unfiltered, unmoderated discussions without a care for the audiences does more to stifle conversation and discourse than this self management / moderation / meta process we have developed here, again as demonstrated in this very thread.

We are talking about chickens, we are talking about eggs.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:35 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus fuck

Great, now you've offended all the sensitive fuckers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:37 AM on August 9, 2009


Indeed, it seems to me that only those who don't have any actual reason to be offended, are offended.

Ahem.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


five fresh fish: "I note that several of us who have a first-degree relationship with actual handicapped relatives and clients have spoken up to state that we do not take offense at the use of retard. Indeed, it seems to me that only those who don't have any actual reason to be offended, are offended."

Were we supposed to wave our credentials before expressing that we were offended? Fine. *Ahem* Hello! Mother of child with a disability here, requesting that people not use hateful language so casually!

posted by The corpse in the library at 10:45 AM on August 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


(My own disability is that I don't turn off italics. Please don't mock me.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:46 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, when life throws at me annoyances of the human kind, the sort everyone has to deal with (political asshattery, public rudeness, etc.), I think of the kind of patient respect shown by, say, cortex in his last post, and remember the grace found in responding to various forms of bad behaviour with dignity and gravitas. Just a moment of appreciation.
posted by jokeefe at 11:03 AM on August 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would like to point out that in very few other web forums would there be a section for a long, 500+ comment thread on the use of speech

Others may disagree - and that's their right - but I still prefer the use of "fora" as the plural.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:04 AM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I note that several of us who have a first-degree relationship with actual handicapped relatives and clients have spoken up to state that we do not take offense at the use of retard. Indeed, it seems to me that only those who don't have any actual reason to be offended, are offended.

Okay, well: The rural school I attended ran the municipality's independent skills program, I have a uncle who is developmentally disabled, I've worked with several adults who had varying degrees of cognitive impairment. So I've had relationships, both professional and personal, with handicapped people my entire life. And neither I or my wife, who's at work right now at an assisted living residence, care much for the casual and derogatory use of the word 'retard'. I've found it to be a pretty good indicator of whether or not a person's worth paying attention to. So there's a couple more data points.

On preview, what TCitL said: Maybe people aren't comfortable with trotting out their friends and loved ones like they're picket signs so as to justify their position that they find disrespectful speech disrespectful.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:05 AM on August 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


440 comments to go!

Err, 439!
posted by loquacious at 11:22 AM on August 9, 2009


Ah, so there IS a quota system!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2009


Oh boy! Sleep! That's where I'm a retard!

*rows*
posted by loquacious at 11:25 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good news, everybody! I've invented a new invention that makes you read this sentence in my voice right inside your head!
posted by loquacious at 11:27 AM on August 9, 2009


Literal or figurative retard?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:31 AM on August 9, 2009


Grapefruitmoon, I wasn't saying cortext is invalid or is only based on post count. I said reactions to ideas often are based on post count on most sites. I was referring to my newb status, and saying people only really generally start to take ideas at the value of the idea once posters have achieved a certain count and longevity. I do post other places. I posted here because it seemed to promise by its premise than it would be something other than that.

But anyways, my initial argument here was about word functionality. Not about expression itself. The contentions about expression were the substance on which to say that a discussion of word function has place and value. The importance of language is a point, but it wasn't the main point. It's an explanation of where I was coming from and why it mattered to me.

I'm not really all that bothered about how the site is run. That's a point I was driven into arguing at about hour thirty. I wanted to argue about word function, caught some contradiction in the theories of those countering that argument, and went on that tangent. And it's largely because the response to me talking about language, at least on jessamyn's part, was then to do with the site. Like, I get the point of call-outs. I understand that metafilter works on a somewhat loose consensus that assists mods in making their decisions about general conduct. I understand that the reason it works this way is to reconcile exclusive elements of discussion with inclusive elements in order to provide an albeit imperfect forum of high quality discourse.

I get that. My point about contradictory attitudes were limited to those in this thread itself, and then I wound up in an argument about the site. But I don't really care about the site. I care about personal hypocrisy. I also care about people who just take shots without substance, and produce cheap thought. And I care about language. And I hate it when someone puts forward and argument, and someone responds with ad hom. Unless, of course, the argument itself is functionally...well, retarded.

So, yeah, generally. There's so many people to respond to all at once that I got my arguments scrambled, and posts I was directed at specific posters became posts about the site. Like, a ton of posts weren't in the framing of what jessamyn or cortex said, but were taking in that sense.

I don't have confusion about the site policy. I regret that I wound up in an argument of it.
posted by happysurge at 11:36 AM on August 9, 2009


Wow. How many last posts are you going to make, happysurge?

Also, I want to point out that I have completely done a 160 on this (I was 20º off true north to start with). I was walking down the street, Monogoloid Avenue, actually, here in Philly. I passed by the archaically named Philadelphia Home for Retards, and saw a group of Retard-Americans smoking Newports and sitting on their trumpet, saxophone, and guitar cases. And they were all, "What up retard?" and "You my 'tard," and "Where my 'tards at?" So yeah, I guess I had it all wrong. "Retard" is A-OK.
posted by Mister_A at 11:36 AM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


> a new invention that makes you read this sentence in my voice right inside your head!

The meetup?

You're eating a burrito, then? Your voice in my head is usually bright and full of laughter but often garbled by big squishy bites of burrito.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:36 AM on August 9, 2009


*drools, snores loudly*

Mikey, no! You can't let the horses into the pool yet, we're still filling it with gummy worms!

*smacks self in the face hard enough to leave a mark, rolls over, continues drooling and snoring*
posted by loquacious at 11:37 AM on August 9, 2009


dancinglamb: "Oh, OK. So now, you're going to be a *sexist* dick. You're just joining the playground with all your balls, eh?"

recognizing that heavy menstruation is painful and can cause irritability is not sexist.

One of my nipples can produce milk.

I am not sexist.

I am not lying about the nipple either.

It's a problem due to hormones in the chicken I eat, I think.

But anyways.

I'm not sexist.

I'm not.
posted by happysurge at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2009


You're eating a burrito, then? Your voice in my head is usually bright and full of laughter but often garbled by big squishy bites of burrito.

Ahahahaha. I wish I had a burrito. See, if I didn't know better I'd go ask the taco truck to make me a mission burrito, but I know better. They don't have giant tortillas and the giant tortilla steamer thingy.

Alternate reply: Argh, this is a pillow. I was dreaming of burritos.
posted by loquacious at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2009


>One of my nipples can produce milk.

I am not sexist.


I'm TWICE as not sexist as you. SCIENCE.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2009 [13 favorites]


I'm sexiest.
posted by loquacious at 11:46 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


happysurge: "This site is supposed to be unlike other sites. It's supposed to be better. If you said 'this is just a message board like every other message board', I would understand 100 percent. But that's not what this site comes advertised at"

There's a Metafilter advertising campaign now? Things have really come along. For the record, I grew up in Ireland, where we are so perfectly capable of using scatological words in ordinary conversation as adjectives that we have invented several variations on the word fuck, for, well, for variety. Because the same word over and over gets boring after a while, you know? After several years in the US I find I have internalised a "native" translator that kicks in when I am in a social context dominated by natgive speakers and which, for the most part, intercepts my usual adjectives and replaces them with alternatives more compatible with the expectations of the local dialect and custom. "When in Rome" and all that. You should try it sometime. My personal theory, not backed up by any applied research, is that it involves creating some subcircuits that can modulate the disinhibitory properties of the prefrontal cortex, intercepting the dieback of the multitude of speech actions before they reach the premotor and motor cortex, maintaining several parallel options until later than would be usual in the motor cycle, and then extinguishing the strongest, instinctual, action in favour of a less strong action. Of course, this involves input from lots of other sub-circuits of the brain dedicated to memory and the mapping of the intentions of others, but the prefrontal cortex is key to action extinguishment and the illusion of unitary intention.

The problem is that for many people, the prefrontal cortex is a work in progress until the middle of the third decade, and even after final maturation has taken place, there is a very wide spectrum of function in terms its inter-cerebral connectedness. It is also quite vulnerable to developmental insult and trauma.
posted by meehawl at 11:53 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Both of my nipples can produce chills.
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2009


*stops worrying about male privilege, starts trying to induce lactation*

What brand of chicken is that?
posted by contraption at 11:56 AM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


All six of my nipples sometimes exude pills.
posted by loquacious at 11:57 AM on August 9, 2009


It's kind of like the Korova Milk Bar but without the milk. Or the korova.
posted by loquacious at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2009


I also care about people who just take shots without substance, and produce cheap thought.

Which is pretty much what prompted me to post this meTa.

Also: burritos. Hmmm. Might have to do something about that. Although that would involve getting dressed, putting on shoes, and leaving the house, so maybe not.
posted by rtha at 12:02 PM on August 9, 2009


I wish there were a burrito delivery service.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2009


Bitches and fat sows are almost unimaginably sexually progressive in their non-sexism.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ambrosia Voyeur is way more hardcore than me at hating sexism. Her nipples probably blow mine away too.
posted by Mister_A at 12:09 PM on August 9, 2009


Why oh why must you insist on talking about burritos??? The nearest burritory must be 30 miles from here! And I'm too lazy to make one myself! And it won't be as good anyway! WWWWWHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
posted by nevercalm at 12:15 PM on August 9, 2009


I wish there were a burrito delivery service.

Now that you mention it, I do too.

And I can't help but notice that genuine mission burritos would be particularly well suited both geometrically and structurally for delivery by way of a howitzer, rail gun or a rather large pneumatic cannon. Ok, we might need stronger foil or some sort of sabot-like canister to protect the burrito, but we have the technology.

Also, if you fired it at the right velocity the burrito would arrive slightly warmer than it was when it left the launch site.

Hey, asavage? You've got a particularly large pneumatic cannon, don't you? And you just happen to have it in a warehouse at a mostly undisclosed location not far from The Mission, no?

This would be an immense service to humankind. Sub-orbital burrito delivery. There's nothing about this that isn't totally fucking awesome. It'll change delivery food forever. It's a game changer. To be perfectly clear - Domino's is totally fucked. Mission burritos make delivery pizza look like flat, soggy bread.
posted by loquacious at 12:15 PM on August 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh g*d, I could totally go for a flying burrito.
posted by nevercalm at 12:17 PM on August 9, 2009


My sensitively calibrated sensors detect that this thread is at minimum 94.9% pure wank.

Here's the thing, people: in a text-based medium, WORDS ARE ACTIONS. What in real life might be a passing comment in a heated moment that would be met with a disapproving glare from your pals accompanied by a feeling of shameful castigation becomes online a 500-comment wankfest where great blocks of heartfelt, irate text become a permanent part of the site.

No one is trying to pry the precious insult "retard" out of anyone's hands. Use it as you wish. But don't be surprised when it elicits a reaction far out of proportion to YOUR sense of the word's weight. Jeebus, that was the whole point of calling out kldickson in the first place!

What part of "don't act like an asshole" don't you get? When a bunch of people say, hey, that's not cool, why fucking bother arguing over such a triviality? Is the moderation inconsistently applying a nebulous ruleset, and it's pissing you off? Tough shit. MetaFilter has become such a great site precisley because of case-by-case, user-by-user moderation. There's a reason they do things that way: it maximizes input and minimizes asshattery. Is it perfect? No. Is it consistent? No. So the fuck what? It works.

Now I'm gonna go drink beer and beat up people smaller than I am. Fuckers.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


Can't resist, because some people here might not've seen this, and so might have missed the reference above.

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
posted by rtha at 12:34 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I'm not sexist.

I'm not.


*rolls eyes*

> What part of "don't act like an asshole" don't you get?

Excellent question.
posted by languagehat at 12:43 PM on August 9, 2009


Oh g*d, I could totally go for a flying burrito.
posted by nevercalm at 3:17 PM


I think my brother and I should open up a flying burrito delivered with pneumatic cannon business. I just can't think of a name for our Flying Burrito business, let's see me and my brother's Flying Burrito business....

I'm drawing a blank here folks.
posted by marxchivist at 12:47 PM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel

Actually I haven't seen that before. That was fucking awesome.

But I still like the idea of a burrito-howizter much better. New Yorkers don't need our burritos, damnit.
posted by loquacious at 12:50 PM on August 9, 2009


Wasn't I just talking about steak yesterday?

I wonder if I could make a burrito wrapped in steaks instead of a giant tortilla?
posted by loquacious at 12:52 PM on August 9, 2009


And he goes for the self-Godwin with the addition of an image of a certain WWII arch-villian into his profile...
posted by nevercalm at 12:52 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


If California were to legalize and tax marijuana, then a portion of the funds could go to building a high-speed (heh) burrito delivery service. We'd have to study what method would work best and be most efficient - tunnels? howitzers? rail? Awesome.
posted by rtha at 12:53 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


And he goes for the self-Godwin with the addition of an image of a certain WWII arch-villian into his profile ...

*roars with laughter*
posted by rtha at 12:57 PM on August 9, 2009


It's not Hitler. It's Hitler-clown. It's different. Sad tyrant, that sort of thing.
posted by happysurge at 1:06 PM on August 9, 2009


I gotta hand it to you, happysurge: using a pic of Hitler then insisting it's not really a pic of Hitler is just too perfect. Kudos.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


marxchivist: Burrito Torpedo. Gets the point across; plus the sign would be AWESOME.
posted by 8dot3 at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2009


happysurge, you have to admit that it seems really odd that you've picked your moment here in this thread. You haven't even commented in Metafilter (unless there have been deletions). Have you been around here before? Also, what, if any sites did you participate at before coming over to Metafilter? I'm just asking for context, not to further pile on, by the way.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2009


I just can't think of a name for our Flying Burrito business, let's see me and my brother's Flying Burrito business....

How Bout Sin City Burritos??
posted by jonmc at 1:23 PM on August 9, 2009


600
posted by Burhanistan at 1:26 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now, from the sober light of morning, a couple things:

There seem to be two disagreements here, one of which I've contributed to more than the other, about where the line is drawn with regard to offensive speech, and whether offensive or insulting speech is ever appropriate.

To the first disagreement, part of the problem (at least in looking through what I wrote and some of the mod comments) is that both sides are arguing against fairly absolutist positions. It starts pretty early, with Astro Zombie wanting a "ruling" on the word; the implication of cutting it completely is clear. I mentioned that above, moving for "retard" to be considered as part of a "suspect class," but that seems to have been generally ignored in favor of trying to argue that I'm ableist or something. But aside from deleting comments that use "retard," I haven't seen anyone really advance any project regarding the word. It's fine to say that one finds the word offensive, and that one believes that we'd be better off without it, but if that's to be an enforced measure it should take a positive statement to that regard. Very few folks seem to have made that step, even as it seems implied sometimes. The likely outcome? Like I said, people who find it offensive should feel free to flag it. If the mods see it being flagged often and by a sizable plurality, it'll appear less often.

Unlike happysurge, who seems to regard this as a more absolute case than I do (and I'm sorry if my arguments have led him down the garden path), I mostly just spoke up so that there wouldn't be the appearance of a unanimous front—I don't mind defending unpopular views, but I also think I've been here long enough that I'm not particularly scared of rapid, draconian change. And I think I have a little bit better understanding of both where the absolute and the consensus boundaries are here, so I'm hopefully not being as dogmatic in my defense of them.

As to the other question, whether the ideal here would contain no insults or offensive language, well, y'know, I don't necessarily see that as the ideal that either grapefruitmoon or jessamyn does. I think that it's a nice thing to say in theory, but in practice ignores a lot of what can be fun about insult or offense, especially in a snarky place like this. I feel like it's more a piety to say that you'd like to have no insults or offensiveness than it is any actual project, and I'm fine with people believing that they'd like a space without insult or offense as long as I can disagree.
posted by klangklangston at 1:32 PM on August 9, 2009


He got into a bit of a row over male reproductive rights over in AskMe that was deleted.
posted by kathrineg at 1:51 PM on August 9, 2009


Why get all bent about your nipples, man? Sexist is just like, a word. That's part of freedom of expression.

This is the second time in this thread that I have gotten to use the word "NIPPLE." Oooh. Third.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:06 PM on August 9, 2009


I just can't think of a name for our Flying Burrito business, let's see me and my brother's Flying Burrito business....

Cash on the Barrelhead Burritos?
posted by elmer benson at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2009


Burrito Deluxe?

Gilded Palace of Sun Burritos?
posted by box at 2:30 PM on August 9, 2009


"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Burrito"?
posted by boo_radley at 2:31 PM on August 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


One thing I've learned from throwing snacks off my porch: squirrels are more finicky than pigeons.
posted by jonmc at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2009


I wish there were a burrito delivery service.

Now that you mention it, I do too.


Sadface. My town has one. Mexican Express. Damn good, but wouldn't have Mission burritos. Super rich wet chile verde ones are probably the best option. OMG Apple Flautas for dessert.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:08 PM on August 9, 2009


I wonder if I could train any of my cats to go out retrieve a burrito for me.
posted by rtha at 3:16 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a problem due to hormones in the chicken I eat, I think.

Hmmm, maybe the chickens are causing more problems than ya think. Are they helping you dig your hole deeper, too?
posted by dancinglamb at 3:19 PM on August 9, 2009


611
posted by Dumsnill at 3:25 PM on August 9, 2009


OMG Apple Flautas for dessert.

There used to be a place on 2nd Ave in NYC that made these really warm cinnamon sugar benuelos topped with vanilla ice cream that were to die for. OMG. I think the restaurant is long gone, and I've never had another one again that was nearly as good. Believe me, I've tried.

See, now I'm going to have to do something about that. And the burrito. I just came home. I'm tired. I can't walk without crutches. And now I want one. Damn it...

posted by dancinglamb at 3:28 PM on August 9, 2009


Yeah, burhanistan...

there have been deletions...
posted by happysurge at 3:38 PM on August 9, 2009


It's okay klangklangston. The garden path has the best views.
posted by happysurge at 3:41 PM on August 9, 2009


The answer is: International Submarine Burrito.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:54 PM on August 9, 2009


I note that several of us who have a first-degree relationship with actual handicapped relatives and clients have spoken up to state that we do not take offense at the use of retard. Indeed, it seems to me that only those who don't have any actual reason to be offended, are offended.

I'll speak up, then. I don't have a mental or cognitive disability; but I am a disabled person. These slurs - retard, cripple, spaz - have been applied to my people historically. We're tired of it; and we're tired of hearing people use these words to denigrate non-disabled people, because it carries with it an implication that to be like us is to be subhuman. Good enough for you?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:14 PM on August 9, 2009 [9 favorites]


happysurge, I feel a need to try and convey, and clarify heavily beforehand with caveats galore, the necessity of hanging around these parts for longer than a month before you can reasonably have a discussion of site policy and whether or not the site is living up to your expectations.

That's not a pileon, nor snark, nor any malevolent sarcasm intended to put you down. It's just a fact. This place is a giant bowl of context and until you have a pretty good sense of the flavor you don't know where to put the spoon. Or something. My metaphor ran a little short there.

But I hope you get what I am saying, and take this opportunity to NOT write off MeFi for any of the negative aspects you have outlined in this thread so far, and instead hang out and talk to people and post stuff and get stuff deleted and get hazed and pay the cabal (just kidding there is no cabal) and so on.

Take it from me. I'm sure if you dig back in my MetaTalk / MetaFilter past there are some pretty embarrassing gems of pig-ignorance in there. One of those things that just takes time.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:21 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and it's fucking worth the time.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:22 PM on August 9, 2009


The answer is: International Submarine Burrito.

Or Byrdrito.
posted by jonmc at 4:30 PM on August 9, 2009


Excellent callout. kldickson acts like a shit. rtha comes here to complain about the smell and is supported by most posters and the mods. kldickson offers to take a shower. Everybody's happy.
Well, except maybe pastabagel
posted by Neiltupper at 4:38 PM on August 9, 2009


there have been deletions...

You've had four comments deleted from AskMe total. Not none, not a whole lot, but it's still speaking to Burhanistan's assertion, you've never participated in MetaFilter proper. No big deal either way, but I think his question was "Have you participated on The Blue" not "Have you ever made a comment here before?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:46 PM on August 9, 2009


Not a conspiracist, but I think that the fact that he's been basically only here and on the green is strange. Go hang out on the blue for six months before you post to MeTa (is there a pony request in that future?).
posted by nevercalm at 5:09 PM on August 9, 2009


I note that several of us who have a first-degree relationship with actual handicapped relatives and clients have spoken up to state that we do not take offense at the use of retard. Indeed, it seems to me that only those who don't have any actual reason to be offended, are offended.

My brother is mentally retarded. Every time I use this term to describe his disability to someone - and I have used it all my life - I can't help feeling like I'm insulting him or mocking him. Because the word has been so strongly and repeatedly associated with insult and mockery for me.

I don't know what else to call it. Developmentally disabled and mentally handicapped could include a whole range of disabilities. Developmentally delayed suggests that there is merely a delay in his development - instead of, barring some miracle, a complete stop.


Insults such as idiot and imbecile: (source) "were originally neutral words simply referring to categories within a classification scheme for degrees of mental retardation. As the terms entered the vernacular, however, they tended to take on prejudicial connotations. Here are some other old mental retardation classification terms that are no longer used medically, but which are still used to insult people:

Cretin is a very old term (the oldest listed here) and is thought to come from the French word meaning Christian. This term originally reflected the promising perspective that people with mental retardation were "still Christian" and should thus be treated with kindness. Ironically, this term has taken a derogatory connotation and today has no positive meaning.

The term amentia has a long history, mostly associated with dementia. The difference between amentia and dementia was originally defined by time of onset. Amentia was the term used to describe an individual who developed deficits in mental functioning early in life, while dementia described individuals who develop mental deficiencies as adults. During the 1890s, amentia was used to describe someone who was born with mental deficiencies. By 1912, ament was a classification lumping "idiots, imbeciles, and feeble minded" individuals in a category separate from a dement classification, in which the onset is later in life.

The term dementia appears to be unique in that it seems to have gone unchanged in terms of meaning over hundreds of years. The term first emerged in the sixteenth century and was used in reference to people who lost mental functioning. In 1912, the classification of dement was used to identify individuals who had previously functioned normally, but who lost their faculties over time. Today's definition has pinpointed the onset of mental deterioration as occurring after the age of eighteen.

Idiot is derived from the Greek language and was used to classify individuals with severe mental retardation. These individuals were unable to function well enough to take care of themselves and required care around the clock. The term gradually became part of the mainstream and by the middle of the 1890s, the negative connotations prevented the term from being used by the medical community.

Imbecile is another French term derived from the Latin word meaning "without support." The term originally was used in reference to someone who was physically weak. This meaning stayed with the term from the middle of the sixteenth century until the early nineteenth century. Imbecile was used as a medical term to classify individuals with moderate mental retardation. Like the term idiot, it gradually entered the vernacular and became a term of abuse.

...

Moron was an invented word that found its way into the English language when psychologist Henry Goddard used the term to classify a group of people who were mildly mentally retarded. The term was used to replace feeble-minded, which was misused by society to refer to individuals with any severity of mental retardation, not just the mildly retarded. Goddard created the novel word by combining parts of words like sophomore and oxymoron.

Feeble-minded came from the Latin word flebilis, meaning "to be lamented," and referred to individuals who were not profoundly mentally retarded but required intervention and care.

Retarded comes from the Latin retardare, "to make slow, delay, keep back, or hinder." The term was recorded in 1426 as a "fact or action of making slower in movement or time." The first record of retarded in relation to being mentally slow was in 1895. The term retarded was used to replace terms like idiot, moron, and imbecile because it was not a derogatory term. By the 1960s, however, the term had taken on a partially derogatory meaning as well.

Perhaps the negative connotations associated with these numerous terms for mental retardation reflect society's ambivalent attitude about the condition. There are competing desires among elements of society, some of whom seek neutral medical terms, and others who want to use such terms as weapons with which to abuse people."



So I would like to ask those of you who prioritize your right to use this particular word within the huge lexicon of insults over my brother's right to have a term of description without insulting or mocking associations - who are indignant that others are asking you to stop or use it only in private: what would you like me to call my brother's disability? Since the side of people who seek to protect will always, in the end, lose - can you suggest a term, so I can be one step ahead of you, and have something to describe my brother, at least for a while?
posted by catchingsignals at 6:38 PM on August 9, 2009 [9 favorites]


My rhetorical offense comes from the disengenousness of saying it's just a word! or i just mean stupid! when it is, in fact, an extremely loaded term, densely-packed with a cultural history of dehumanization. My personal offense is irrelevant.

As noted above: Maybe people aren't comfortable with trotting out their friends and loved ones like they're picket signs so as to justify their position that they find disrespectful speech disrespectful.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:52 PM on August 9, 2009


So I would like to ask those of you who prioritize your right to use this particular word within the huge lexicon of insults over my brother's right to have a term of description without insulting or mocking associations

That word used as a term of description for your brother — which is what you appear to have requested — is to describe him demeaningly. It is inappropriate to describe your brother as a "retard," and inaccurate as well. No human person is literally a retard: the word has no place in any respected, professional lexicon. Teachers, social worker, doctors, care aides: everyone who counts has impairment-specific language. None their vocabulary of it calls for labelling your brother as a "retard."

I do not understand why you would want this term of description to be applied to your brother. What an awful idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:13 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's been my experience that although awareness of the British usage is higher in Canada than in the States, Canadian and American usage is the same.

My experience differs. Whenever I venture across the border into the States I found the reaction rather different than here in Toronto, especially when my girlfriend uses it, as I don't, in the States.
posted by juiceCake at 7:29 PM on August 9, 2009


Regarding happysurge... It's not terribly uncommon for some newer users to quite earnestly make charges about censorship/control, etc., and this can seem odd to many of us - but we should all remember that most sites don't have places like MetaTalk. Comments or posts that are moderated elsewhere fly mostly under the radar, and policy isn't made in public, whereas here, everything is up for discussion, and most decisions happen via a very public process.

MetaTalk affords MeFi a certain transparency that new users probably haven't experienced before, for the most part, and sometimes a part of getting used to how this works is seeing points like this debated, and thinking "omg, moderators oppressing our human freedoms!" when it's actually pretty much the opposite. Issues are brought up by members; members discuss; moderators offer their thoughts and respond to queries regarding policy as it is currently being interpreted. Sometimes policy changes, sometimes policy doesn't change but member attitudes change. Sometimes we just discuss the same damn things over and over and never really get it ironed out. But it all happens in real time, in full daylight (metaphorically) and everybody gets to say what they think.

But daylight can be dazzling, and new people seeing debates about use of language and other issues may become heated without stopping to consider that elsewhere those discussions and decisions are simply mostly hidden. The fact that they are debated openly here doesn't represent oppression, censorship, or pressure to conform, but the sausage-making process that is the evolution of site policy and mores via an open channel.
posted by taz at 7:53 PM on August 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's been my experience that although awareness of the British usage is higher in Canada than in the States, Canadian and American usage is the same.

My experience here on the left coast validates this. Calling someone a cunt is a vile insult; it's coarse and crude. It's not used casually at all.

I don't care what a person and their mates call each other when they're all in the same place and on the same page. When I hear it, it's always a prelude to a fight, or a crude meanspirited slur.

Cunt is a lovely word when used as a descriptive term for vulva.
posted by reflecked at 7:55 PM on August 9, 2009


All the way through this thread I had comments swell up within me, only to find them already birthed from another's fingers. So, all I'm left with is Trollope: Lawks! How uncomfortable.
posted by subbes at 8:59 PM on August 9, 2009


That word used as a term of description for your brother — which is what you appear to have requested — is to describe him demeaningly. It is inappropriate to describe your brother as a "retard," and inaccurate as well.

I'm not sure what I said made you think I would refer to my brother as a retard. Why on earth would I? I said even calling him "mentally retarded" - which was, up until very recently at least, the term used by medical professionals - feels wrong. You understand the term mentally retarded came first, before it was used as an insult, right?
posted by catchingsignals at 9:00 PM on August 9, 2009


catchingsignals: my brother's right to have a term of description without insulting or mocking associations

I believe this to say you want "retard" to be a term of description for your brother, as is his right (?!) without it having insulting or mocking associations.

But there is already a term of description for your brother. A medical term. It doesn't have insulting or mocking associations. You seem to also want "retard" to be in the same category. Which from my point of view just doesn't make sense, y'know. It's inappropriate and wrong to use that term to describe your brother. Much like "idiot' or "moron" or "maroon."

Nonetheless, it seems you want "retard" to be held in the same class as medical terminology.

I don't know how else to interpret what you actually wrote. my brother's right to have a term of description without insulting or mocking associations Can't see how you see it differently.

Doesn't make sense to me. What you appear to me to describe can only have bad consequences, IMO. It allows hurtful language to exist.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:08 PM on August 9, 2009


I swallowed the ocean in a single gulp once and belched salty sea breeze.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:53 PM on August 9, 2009


five fresh fish: "I believe this to say you want "retard" to be a term of description for your brother, as is his right (?!) without it having insulting or mocking associations."

Eh? That's not how I read it. I believe catchingsignals would like there to be a term for people like his or her brother, one that won't get taken and used as an insult.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:58 PM on August 9, 2009


The B'stan breathes salty.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:05 PM on August 9, 2009


I swallowed the ocean in a single gulp once and belched salty sea breeze.

Isn't the ocean full of seaman?
posted by loquacious at 10:06 PM on August 9, 2009


Smells like crabs around here, it does.
posted by rtha at 10:55 PM on August 9, 2009


A correction on my earlier comment: I believe there was an error in the etymology of "moron" in the article I quoted - the explanation there doesn't seem to make sense, not sure what happened there. "Moron" according to Wikipedia and a few other sources (who may have got it from Wikipedia, who knows) was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard from the Greek word moros, which has been defined by various sources as "dull" or "foolish". Anyone more knowledgeable, please correct me if that is wrong.


five fresh fish: I believe this to say you want "retard" to be a term of description for your brother, as is his right (?!) without it having insulting or mocking associations.

I really don't see how you can get that reading from what I wrote. "Mentally retarded" has been the term for my brother's disability, and until very recently the medical term for it - the Wikipedia page for the disability is still under mental retardation. However, the word "retarded" has been loaded with derogatory meanings and associations and pain.What do you think we should do?

I don't understand how you read my comment. Unless you think a person who is mentally retarded is a retard, I don't see how you can confuse one with the other.

But there is already a term of description for your brother. A medical term. It doesn't have insulting or mocking associations.

Which is...?
posted by catchingsignals at 2:58 AM on August 10, 2009


Count me in as one more person with family members who get called "retard." They even went to school on the, yes, short bus. I don't go kicking someone's ass when they make retard comments (though I sure would if I caught someone saying that directly to my family members) or make short bus jokes, but I absolutely instantly lower my opinion of them. Those are nasty slurs, and just because you think you are using them in an ironic or postmodern kind or way, or in a way that you think is totally disconnected from their vile history, doesn't mean that they will be heard that way.

It's absolutely your right (at least in places where such rights are protected) to call something retarded, or gay, or to say "dude, you are acting like such a girl", or to use all kinds of racially prejudiced words. And there's a simultaneous process whereby people affected by slurs (eg "queer") sometimes reclaim those words -- but there's still an inside/outside issue where it matters who is saying them, and the slurs can still pack a punch even after supposedly being reclaimed.

But just because it's your right, and some of these words might be in the process of being reclaimed by some activists, doesn't mean that saying them reflects well on you or helps your communication, especially in a highly public and inclusive forum like this one.

I don't think it's helpful to think of words as categorically "ok" or "forbidden" -- everything is contextual, always. But by the same token, words can carry some serious weight, and I think it's important to acknowledge and understand that.
posted by Forktine at 5:50 AM on August 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


The other day at the Famous Bookstore buying counter, a little old lady came in with a laundry cart of books to sell. Among them were three paperback copies of the memoir Here Comes Harry Reems.
posted by jonmc at 6:13 AM on August 10, 2009


I wonder if I could train any of my cats to go out retrieve a burrito for me.

You could, but it would be easier to just go ahead and mine the needed metals to construct a forge with which to build a grill, and then build a grill; excavate the earth and mud to construct a brick burrito hut, and build said hut; burn a few acres of forest to create charcoal to fire the grill; grow the requisite grains and mill them into tortilla flour; grow the vegetables and herbs, and create the various salsas and garnishes and things; find a nice spot of clover for your milch-cow, and milk her for the sour cream, if you like that; and of course grow and cook your beans. And then make your burrito.

Unless you have one of those cooperative cats.
posted by Mister_A at 6:59 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


> It's not terribly uncommon for some newer users to quite earnestly make charges about censorship/control, etc., and this can seem odd to many of us - but we should all remember that most sites don't have places like MetaTalk.

While that's true, and it's kind of you to point it out, most newer users don't make quite such dicks of themselves, and they definitely don't put pictures of Hitler on their userpage. I'm thinking this person is not your normal clueless n00b.
posted by languagehat at 7:18 AM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


All this happysurge nonsense has really gone a long way toward redeeming kldickson's rep.
posted by Mister_A at 7:21 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Moron" according to Wikipedia and a few other sources (who may have got it from Wikipedia, who knows) was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard from the Greek word moros, which has been defined by various sources as "dull" or "foolish".

Yes, it is from the Greek for "stupid" or "foolish".

It lasted only a couple of decades as a designator for a subgroup of people with cognitive disabilities, and was almost instantly adopted as a designator for people of average cognitive abilities acting foolishly (earliest OED cite for that usage is 1922).

I myself like to refer to people with cognitive delays and disabilities as "people with cognitive delays and disabilities." It has the disadvantage of being a bit long, but it has the advantage of being a bit long, thus discouraging "Have you seen what the Paul-people with cognitive delays and disabilities have said about the gold standard?" and "Don't go full people with cognitive delays and disabilities."
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:42 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay, listen, I'll do everything I can to remove the word 'douche' from my everyday vocabulary, but is it all right to still find it funny? Because every time Joel on The Soup calls that guy on Ghosthunters 'Scooby Douche' I giggle.
posted by graventy at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2009


There's nothing wrong with "douche," precisely because there is something wrong with douche.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:06 AM on August 10, 2009


taz: "It's not terribly uncommon for some newer users to quite earnestly make charges about censorship/control, etc.,"

this is certainly true, but I think it's an overly generous view of what happysurge was saying. he wasn't just saying "I think we're seeing too much censorship." He was trying to explain that it's okay to call people retards by making a string of totally insubstantiated, offensive and factually incorrect claims. by his own admission he didn't mean to get caught up in the moderation discussion so much as he wanted to drop the science on the word retard. he was saying that it's okay to use the developmentally disabled as an identifier of stupidity because they're actually stupid. he went on to acknowledge that slurs like this imply that the identifier is sub-human.

When you call someone "faggot", you're calling them a homosexual and suggesting it is sub-human to be a homosexual.

the implication is that it's okay to suggest that it's sub-human to be developmentally disabled because they actually are sub-human.

I mean, I get why you're being generous with him, but his comments are offensive on their face and at their core. He's not just misguided and ignorant, though he is those, he's also bigoted. There are types of behavior that can get a pass, or a grace period for the newbies, but I see this kind of thing as over the line.
posted by shmegegge at 9:09 AM on August 10, 2009


Burhanistan: I swallowed the ocean in a single gulp once and belched salty sea breeze.

Is that... is that you, Thor?
posted by Kattullus at 9:28 AM on August 10, 2009


the implication is that it's okay to suggest that it's sub-human to be developmentally disabled because they actually are sub-human.

It wasn't an implication. He actually said that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:31 AM on August 10, 2009


Is the preferred spelling "newb" or "n00b?"
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:51 AM on August 10, 2009


Unless you have one of those cooperative cats.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Ha ha ha!!11!!
posted by rtha at 10:06 AM on August 10, 2009


the implication is that it's okay to suggest that it's sub-human to be developmentally disabled because they actually are sub-human.

It wasn't an implication. He actually said that.


Where did he say that? I must have missed it, his comments were very tl;dr.
posted by kathrineg at 10:33 AM on August 10, 2009


Huh. Turns out, I misremembered what I read yesterday. But if not for the "I'm not saying what I'm saying" shtick, that's one hell of an implication.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:45 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was for it before he was against it!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:17 PM on August 10, 2009


I didn't like the word douche as a pejorative until I drove a white PT Cruiser with New Jersey plates around for a while and the only word for it was "douchemobile" and now it's a word I don't use but sometimes giggle at.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:51 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


shmeggege, retarded people are retarded. It doesn't mean they are sub-human, but their mental faculties are certainly well below average. That's not bigotry. If someone classified me as a retarded person, it wouldn't be bigotry for someone else to say 'hey, your mental processes are probably not developed as mine.' It would probably be true. As a matter of fact, if someone smarter than me says that now, it's still probably true. Retarded people actually have an ailment or a handicap. They just do. It's true. It doesn't mean they're useless or we should kill them. They have many different personalities and contributions. The question is mental faculties, and whether those are as developed as they are elsewhere or not. That's what the implication of retard is, and that's what the implication of my post is.

And by the way, I've tried to avoid classifying the mentally retarded or disabled as just 'retarded', but I've done it here. So, yeah. There's that.

Oh, and to Taz, plenty of sites I've been on have discussions about moderation policy and blow-outs. And this idea of 'all newbs see this and get excited.' The implication is it's not my place to get involved, but what's the point of having this if it's not meant to be discussed? Anyways, wasn't really arguing about site policy to start with as I was arguing language and etymology and word function in context. Couldn't give much of a rat's about site policy, and would appreciate very much posters generally not continuing to write to say 'well, you've been here less than a month. Take some time to appreciate the context. Um, here's how your illegitimate, and here, and here, and here.' I mean, I'm just posting in response to questions that have been raised, and I made pretty clear that I know what actual site policy is and how metafilter is run. You guys don't exist in a vacuum, you know. It's not like a person joins and then is suddenly thrust into this world. You can get a pretty good understanding of the place, first of all. But second of all, it's kind of moot to say 'well, you shouldn't really be posting this', when something's come up in a discussion to be posted on. I mean, that's sort of the point. You're free, of course, to disregard it. But it's a little ridiculous to be upset at my posting it or try to justify my post as inexperience or to make it illegitimate. There's no point to that. I mean, a person has an account, they post on a site, what's the problem?

As for posting in the blue, I don't really like that part of the site so I generally stay away, because the set-up is irritating to me. I like Ask Me because it's more, let's say, the sort of thing I get engaged about. I would like a politics thread by way of ask me where people can have some back and forth, but blue meta has a weirdness to it that's off-putting to me. It's not bad. It's just not my cup of tea, or why I joined to post. It's mainly the lay-out. Kind've weirds me out. Hard to explain.

PS. Saying 'stick around for six months, you'll get it' is not helpful. It would be much easier to say 'this isn't a place to discuss policy', unless it is, in which case, it's strange to disregard discussions of policy especially when they're not brought up by posters, but by mods in response to posters.

I'm not bewildered by the openness of Mefi, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. Nor, am I unaware of its policies. Nor would six months time make me go 'well, yeah, I totally see it now', because it's nothing to do with practice, but with theory. I'm not arguing that kd's use of "retard" IMPROVES her aesthetic, or adds to the forums, nor that "retard" itself is FANTASTIC. I was talking about etymology and function, and later the aesthetics of language. That's not something the position changes on, because those aren't opinions. Like, you can pick up an OED, and several books to learn about these things. They're pretty static in their definitions and history. The argument about what works for metafilter, on the other hand, is also extremely subjective. There'd be nothing empirical to dissuade me from any current positions, especially as pure victories are different from common victories, and how you measure things.

I'm sure all of what's been covered in terms of how the site runs makes many people very happy and is extremely functional. I'm not, nor have I ever been, in argument with that. My experience of the site, therefore, would not alter my positions on that, since they're issues of scale. Like, what works for metafilter versus what a blank slate would be done with.

But seriously, most of this was responding to a discussion that seems interesting and open, and I don't see at all what's wrong with that. I don't see any problem in someone responding to someone else bringing up site function as a point of argument. If you introduce things into argument, they're okay to discuss is how I've always figured it.

Point, counter-point, rebuttal, rebuttal. I mean, effective, inclusive argument (not in common, but in the critical sense) and discussion is what I thought was happening, and then responded to.

If I mistook that part of it, and this part of the site and this thread specifically isn't to talk about the things that we've talked about, then I'm very sorry. But if it is, then what's the problem?

I mean, I had no problem with the way jessamyn phrased it in her like first or second response to me which was essentially, 'yeah, I don't know if you're talking about life in general or in metafilter, but this is how shit works here, and we're pretty happy with it, and we tend to idealize metafilter as an inclusive place.' Like, that's perfectly reasonable. That's actually addressing a point and saying 'it's functional for us in this way.' And maybe that opens up to more argument, sure, but at least it's development. Saying 'well, you'll get it in time' isn't an argument. It's the reflexive removal of legitimacy. If I would get it in time, then you could, like jessamyn, just explain it, since you, with that time, have apparently gotten it, and we can skip the whole part where we say I'll grow and figure it out, and you can, you know, tell me, and make a more convincing argument.

I was posting here for discussion and argument, not to practically call for sweeping change in metafilter. I was out for debate is all, and I'm sorry if the impression I gave was otherwise.

PS. The hitler in the profile is really Hitler but with clown make-up. This was a combination of things. Partly, it was to do with people jokerizing avatars about a year and a half back. Partly it was to do with the idea of the clown tyrant, this sad sociopath. But it is largely to do with a series of stories I wrote like an alcoholics anonymous handbook called "The Genocidal Maniac's Handbook to Recovery" with essentially a tyrant akin to hitler getting running out and being made to hide in the slums of the people he slaughtered. And those people get wiped out in the hunt for him, ironically, like people who kept Jewish folks, and you see this sad sociopath watching these children play in rubble, and all that sort and he paints his face like a clown to entertain these dead and dying children whose lives he is responsible for ruining. So, that's what that is.
posted by happysurge at 3:03 PM on August 10, 2009


I was out for debate is all, and I'm sorry if the impression I gave was otherwise.

Since you're in MetaTalk I think it seemed to a lot of people that what you were debating was, at some level, site policy. If you're just debating what you see as peoples' hypocrisy through the lens of how they interact on MetaFilter [and usually at least somewhat following the site policies] I don't think you're doing a great job explaining what you are after.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:15 PM on August 10, 2009


happysurge: "shmeggege, retarded people are retarded. It doesn't mean they are sub-human, but their mental faculties are certainly well below average.

I am aware that this doesn't mean they are sub-human. The person who keeps implying that they are is you. You can say that you don't think they're sub-human, but the implication of using retard or retarded as an insult is that suffering from mental retardation makes on sub-human. so if you don't want to imply that they're sub-human, then stop using that insult.

That's not bigotry. If someone classified me as a retarded person, it wouldn't be bigotry for someone else to say 'hey, your mental processes are probably not developed as mine.'

no, it would just be an asshole thing to say.

It would probably be true. As a matter of fact, if someone smarter than me says that now, it's still probably true. Retarded people actually have an ailment or a handicap. They just do. It's true.

the step in your logic that you're missing is how this ailment makes it okay for them to be an identifier for stupidity. it's a medical condition. they can't help it. if you keep acting like it would be totally horrible to be like them, you're casting aspersions on people who are suffering from a disorder and can't do anything about it.

It doesn't mean they're useless or we should kill them.

nobody said that's what you were saying.

They have many different personalities and contributions. The question is mental faculties, and whether those are as developed as they are elsewhere or not. That's what the implication of retard is, and that's what the implication of my post is."

no, the question is whether or not using them to call other people stupid is an insult to the developmentally disabled. the answer is yes it is, and you haven't given any reason to believe otherwise. as I've already shown, you continue to discuss the developmentally disabled as though they were sub-human. until you stop seeing them that way, you're not going to understand this pretty basic point.
posted by shmegegge at 3:37 PM on August 10, 2009


Yeah, that's true. But, yeah, I wasn't actually trying to change mefi. Sorry for giving that impression. I'm always much more modest in my goals than I seem, I think. Much more limited in the scope of my discussions than I come off. Something to work on, I guess.
posted by happysurge at 3:38 PM on August 10, 2009


shmeggege, this is cross-talk. I'm saying, the implication of mental retardation is an inadequacy by way of mental development, not sub-humanity. I wouldn't want to be retarded because my mental development would be slowed and I would have a lot more trouble communicating and articulating thoughts at a higher level. And I already have a lot of trouble doing that.

I don't believe that retarded people are sub-human. The implication of what I'm saying is there's a practical mentally inadequacy that you're pointing to.

Let me put it this way. Let's say you dressed in really shoddy close, and someone said 'you're dressed like a hobo.' People don't want to be homeless. It's very often not a choice, but a series of circumstances. They're not, however, sub-human. It's just that an aspect of their condition, of their situation, is undesirable to the average person who doesn't share their afflictions of poverty in one sense or another.

It may be a stark reminder of a painful reality, and it may be reductive, but it is not to see someone as sub-human. I don't see mentally retarded people as sub-human. I see them with a challenge that I wouldn't want to have.

If you say 'quit shaking, Parkinson's', you're not saying people with Parkinson's are sub-human. You're talking about an aspect of the disease that's very real, and putting it on a person that doesn't have it to insult them. It's as if you're goading them, saying, 'you don't have this impediment, so why are you producing thoughts or actions as though you did?'

I don't think it's meant to treat them as sub-human. I mean, if it is, then it can be just as easily said that any medical diagnosis or compartmentalization of people based on difference or ailment is a quarantine of sub-humanity. And if that's what you want to say, then I'll go with you. I'll accept that framing, and within that framing, I would agree with you. But you haven't made that bigger argument though, so what we have is cross-talk, because we're arguing different framing, but perhaps not being so clear on what those framings are.
posted by happysurge at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, MetaTalk is for talking *about* MetaFilter. This isn't exactly the finer points of debate club you were looking for. Exactly the kinds of discussions you want to have happen over there all the time. And if it's the *blue* that bugs you, you can change to "Plain Theme" layout which shows all of the pages as white w/black text. There's a link to it in your preferences.

So, yeah, that's why people think you're talking about MetaFilter itself. Because that's what the grey is for.

And AskMe isn't for debate either, it's for answering questions. Honestly, the types of discussions that you want do happen on MetaFilter - just not in the areas that you've been visiting.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:51 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Couldn't give much of a rat's about site policy, and would appreciate very much posters generally not continuing to write to say 'well, you've been here less than a month. Take some time to appreciate the context.

Pretty much gave up on you right there. Fuck it, I tried. Gonna get some popcorn and continue to enjoy your oh-so-entertaining attempts to join a community.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:17 PM on August 10, 2009


Happysurge, you are using the exact same logic here that my mom employs to justify calling Latinos "wetbacks" -- she maintains that the term is descriptive, not perjorative, because "they have to swim across a river or ocean to get here, so their backs are wet when you arrive, you see" (her exact words). The fact that she is technically correct about how some of the population she is describing initially arrived in this country doesn't make her unapologetic use of the term, much like your continued insistence that retard is a descriptor, nothing more, any less odious.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:25 PM on August 10, 2009


Is it time for the flameout yet? This has been going on for a long time.
posted by fixedgear at 4:33 PM on August 10, 2009


Shh. Don't ruin it.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:37 PM on August 10, 2009




happysurge: "Let me put it this way. Let's say you dressed in really shoddy close, and someone said 'you're dressed like a hobo.' People don't want to be homeless. It's very often not a choice, but a series of circumstances. They're not, however, sub-human. It's just that an aspect of their condition, of their situation, is undesirable to the average person who doesn't share their afflictions of poverty in one sense or another. "

1. you're not going to make it sound like there's no greater implication to calling people retards. let's be clear about this: when you use retard or retarded as an insult, the implication is that no one would want to be like a retard because it would be a humiliating, insulting, dehumanizing thing to be. this is an inescapable conclusion of what you're saying. there is no interpretation of the insult that does not include this implication. accept it, because it's the truth.

2. you keep coming up with analogies that don't support your point, from the faggot/nigger one earlier, to the amputee one, and now the hobo one and the despicable parkinson's one. what do you imagine actual homeless people would think if they heard you speaking that way? someone who worked in a shelter? your other examples are also offensive. maybe you wouldn't think it was too bad a thing to say, maybe your friends wouldn't, but you don't get to decide that. you don't get to tell people what they can or should be offended by. it's not up to you. to repeat it, with emphasis so that you understand that this is the central crux of your ignorance and foolishness: you don't get to tell people what they can or should be offended by. it's not up to you.

I don't see mentally retarded people as sub-human.

then prove it. stop implying they're sub-human. stop using them as an insult. start thinking about what they would feel if they heard you talking that way and get outside of your own head long enough to consider someone else's feelings.

so what we have is cross-talk, because we're arguing different framing, but perhaps not being so clear on what those framings are.

no we don't have cross-talk, and we're not arguing different framings. you're arguing from a position of nearly total ignorance, and trying to tell other people what they're allowed to be offended by, simultaneously dismissing the feelings of actual people because you simply don't care about them.
posted by shmegegge at 4:56 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like a politics thread by way of ask me where people can have some back and forth,

Yeah, that's not what askme is for. The blue is good for that.

and I made pretty clear that I know what actual site policy is and how metafilter is run.

You've made it pretty clear that you don't, really.

It's not that meTa posts don't evolve or devolve into these kinds of discussions with fair frequency, because they do. It's a steam-valve for derails that happen in askme, and sometimes in the blue. It's a place to say "Can we have XYZ functionality?" (aka a pony request) It's a place to propose meetups and say "Hey, this thing over here is broken." I'm not at all surprised that this post became a discussion about the use of the word "retard" and its relations as an insult, but if I'd just posted a not-related-to-anything "Hey can we discuss XYZ?" thread here, it would likely have been closed pretty quick.

As for your insistence that "retard" when flung in an argument at an opponent with whom you disagree is simply descriptive, you're either being disingenuous or....I don't know. Someone who disagrees with you is not automatically or necessarily stupid, you know. Do I (frequently) think, in the privacy of my own head, that someone advancing argument A is stupid? Yes. But when I respond to them with actual words, I say "Your argument is stupid, and here's why." It's much more effective.
posted by rtha at 5:21 PM on August 10, 2009


> Like, you can pick up an OED, and several books to learn about these things.

Really?? Cool! Thanks, dude! Now I can learn about these things, brb!
posted by languagehat at 5:41 PM on August 10, 2009


languagehat, if you'd like I can direct you to a "library" where you can learn things



it is in my van
posted by kathrineg at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awesome, this flameout has its own bookmobile!
posted by subbes at 7:12 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


kathrineg you spelled liberry wrong, you dope!
posted by Mister_A at 7:18 PM on August 10, 2009


Why does the book mobile smelllllliiiikkkeeeeeeeetttthhhheeeerrrrrr
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2009


Mmmmmm eeeeetheeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..................

heeeeeeelllllloooooooooooooo cooooooooorrrrrteeeeeksssssss
posted by Mister_A at 7:20 PM on August 10, 2009


Really?? Cool! Thanks, dude! Now I can learn about these things, brb!

I knew I saw the languagehat beam go on right there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:27 PM on August 10, 2009


There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a creepy book mobile owner in the depths of an ether binge.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:47 PM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dude my feet look so tiny. Look at 'em dude!
posted by Mister_A at 7:50 PM on August 10, 2009


My hand are huge! They can touch anything but themselves.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:07 PM on August 10, 2009


Say, which way to the ether frolic?
posted by Bookhouse at 9:07 PM on August 10, 2009


Doooooood! No, I mean, but, doooooooooooood!!!
posted by rtha at 9:20 PM on August 10, 2009


"Help him, help him."
posted by paulsc at 9:35 PM on August 10, 2009


I love you all so much right now, Metafilter.
posted by jokeefe at 9:37 PM on August 10, 2009


Is there we're smoking books? I've got some vintage Tolstoy. That there's a smooooooooootttttttthhhhhhhhhhh trip.

Oh that? The Pynchon? No, you don't want that. That shit will fuck you up.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:54 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


See? Now look what all of us have done! Our bickering about the word "retard" has killed Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Metafilter has killed a Kennedy. I hope you are all happy.
posted by nevercalm at 7:54 AM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's kind of funny to me how if I pronounce the word retard in the sense of reverting progress, as in re-TARD instead of RE-tard, it loses its negative connotation. Instead it sounds delightfully British and sensible. But that's just me,
posted by lazaruslong at 8:02 AM on August 11, 2009


.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:02 AM on August 11, 2009


Wait, what? Who died?
posted by kathrineg at 8:19 AM on August 11, 2009


I don't know, but it smells like they died in your bookmobile. And those cherry Kool-aid stains on the carpeting don't help.
posted by subbes at 8:51 AM on August 11, 2009


So, this thread is long and stale, but kldickson's at it again.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 PM on August 17, 2009


(although jimmythefish was a dick there)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:35 PM on August 17, 2009


This is one of the major reasons I don't like uneducated people.
posted by kldickson


It's mutual, shithead.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:45 PM on August 17, 2009


So, this thread is long and stale, but kldickson's at it again.

He/She really never missed a beat, other than dropping the "(*)tard" construct from the vocabulary.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:44 AM on August 18, 2009


The first comment, about Nuremburg, was totally fine.

The second comment was deleted, I guess.

The third comment was not nice but the entire thread is a bit of a clusterfuck, so
posted by kathrineg at 3:55 AM on August 18, 2009


my assessment matches katherineg's. If kldickson is just crabby, that won't make her that different from many other people on the site. It's more the GRAR GRAR stuff we're concerned about.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:13 AM on August 18, 2009


what if u got aspagers
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:35 AM on August 18, 2009


yeah, that third comment sucks mightily, but only in the same way some of my own comments have sucked, along with those of many other people here.

that first one is pretty much the completely appropriate answer to anyone who says "in the military, you kill who you're supposed to and you don't ask questions."
posted by shmegegge at 7:38 AM on August 18, 2009


There were other deletions, but whatever. I agree with the Nuremberg sentiments.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:42 AM on August 18, 2009


HURF DURF GRAR GRAR
posted by grouse at 7:59 AM on August 18, 2009


I did nix like three or four comments from the middle of the Nuremberg exchange (notably, jimmy starting in with the FUCK YOU and kl coming right back with her own) as well as a throwaway religious-baiting comment in another thread. What remains is, yeah, pretty much meh crabbiness, which I don't think improves the site any but isn't really actionable stuff.

In general it just feels like a lot of people have been either drunk or hungover in the last week or so and taking it out on metafilter, and I do with that would tail off.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:29 AM on August 18, 2009


I do with that would tail off, too, boss. *hic!*

If withers were horses, beggars would be tin cups. That's synecdoche.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2009


The plural of synecdoche is not errata.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:00 AM on August 18, 2009


Maybe it's the enormously hot weather here on the East Coast mixed with the impending end of summer.

:(
posted by kathrineg at 10:01 AM on August 18, 2009


I have A/C in my van
posted by kathrineg at 10:01 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is all happening because I'm on vacation, isn't it?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:18 AM on August 18, 2009


kathrineg: "I have A/C in my van"

are... are you trying to get me to ride in your unmarked van?
posted by shmegegge at 10:20 AM on August 18, 2009


jessamyn: This is all happening because I'm on vacation, isn't it?

Yes. We all coordinate. I believe I'm scheduled for a flameout on the weekend of... *checks calendar* September 26th through the 28th when you're attending your second cousin's wedding in Issaquah, Washington. According to my calendar I'm supposed to post a vague yet contentious AskMe, get really fighty in the thread and then make an indignant MeTa post where I eventually get banned after threatening to wring the neck of cortex's pet budgie.
posted by Kattullus at 10:37 AM on August 18, 2009


Oh right and I'm supposed to post your address and phone # on a Save the Budgies message board
posted by kathrineg at 10:38 AM on August 18, 2009


but it won't be on Metafilter so you can't ban me BOOYAH
posted by kathrineg at 10:38 AM on August 18, 2009


Sept. 26th-28th?

Hey, Kattullus, can we switch? I'm currently down for the weekend of Oct 2, but I might be in a place with no internet access that weekend, and no access means no flameout, and we can't have that now, can we? My schedule shows that I'm supposed to post a vaguely editorializing FPP and then get fighty when someone tells me to GMOB - then meTa, etc. Let me know if this works for you.
posted by rtha at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2009


Oct. 2nd? Sure thing. Let's let the various baiters, rilers, grudgees and defenders know so there's no mix-up.
posted by Kattullus at 12:03 PM on August 18, 2009


Yeah, you guys please coordinate, and send out an updated memo this time, okay?
posted by jokeefe at 12:06 PM on August 18, 2009


Also, I'm interested in katherineg's van. It sounds like a fine ride!
posted by jokeefe at 12:07 PM on August 18, 2009


It's pretty awesome...for a death panel van.
posted by rtha at 12:25 PM on August 18, 2009


Ooh, it has death panel siding?
posted by Kattullus at 12:37 PM on August 18, 2009


It really warms up the interior compared to the exposed metal plating, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:40 PM on August 18, 2009


Damn it, I missed the deadline to sign up for the mix CDs AND the flameouts. When's the next round?
posted by little e at 12:55 PM on August 18, 2009


Don't worry, little e; the flameout list never closes.

*adds little e to list*
posted by rtha at 1:03 PM on August 18, 2009


I thought your "nobody tells me nothing" flameout wasn't supposed to start until tomorrow, little e. And wait, am I supposed to be the one making "popcorn" comments or the guy linking to a store selling pitchforks?
posted by Kattullus at 1:04 PM on August 18, 2009


Tomorrow? I guess I can do tomorrow, but I was really hoping for a weekend or holiday.
posted by little e at 1:05 PM on August 18, 2009


You were scheduled for a weekend! I have it right here, little e on the 28th, NOT the 18th

LERN 2 READ
posted by kathrineg at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2009


Take it up with rtha, she's a Member on The Committee while I am merely an Alternate.
posted by Kattullus at 1:11 PM on August 18, 2009


Wait, I thought I had a "nobody tells me nothing" coming up, but in a flameout MeTa thread.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:13 PM on August 18, 2009


Oh, sweet, that's perfect actually. Mild fightiness to kick off the weekend, followed by gradual escalation. I'm aiming for actual bannination Monday morning around 8 am, just in time for all the North Americans beginning their work week. I'M GOING FOR A THOUSAND COUNT THREAD
posted by little e at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2009


if you could get a little drunk, we'd appreciate it down here in the headquarters/van
posted by kathrineg at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2009


better yet. you stay sober. we'll get drunk.
posted by shmegegge at 1:21 PM on August 18, 2009


WHATEVER

DOES ANYONE EVEN READ THE COMMENTS DOWN HERE

cortex, you should close this already.
posted by pineapple at 1:22 PM on August 18, 2009


Oh, definitely. It's my first flameout, and I'm a little nervous to tell the truth so some alcohol will help. I don't want to get too drunk, though, because then instead of arguing I'll just end up propositioning people via mefi mail, then inviting everyone to a meetup in my pants.
posted by little e at 1:22 PM on August 18, 2009


Yup, it should be the 28th, for little e.

Pronoiac, I have you down for the 5th as "coyly complaining about inappropriate mefimail" leading to "posting under sockpuppet without meaning to" (gotta remember to close those tabs, people!), then "half-assed insulting apology blaming behavior on lack of sleep." How you work in the flameout is up to you.

Kattullus, you're pitchforks. I'm lawn chairs. We don't have anyone on popcorn yet.
posted by rtha at 1:26 PM on August 18, 2009


DON'T MAKE ME TRY TO BREAK OUT OF MY ETHER HAZE LONG ENOUGH TO INSTRUCT KATHRINEG TO TURN THIS UNMARKED VAN AROUND
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:28 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll do the popcorn, light the Languagehat beacon, and keep little e going with a supply of towels, a bucket of ice, and whispered invective whenever she/he comes reeling back into the corner for a break.
posted by jokeefe at 1:29 PM on August 18, 2009


Why would you want to do that, cortex? Here, take a nice good whiff of this....
posted by jokeefe at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2009


You people.

*checks calendar* Damn! I've shown my hand too soon!
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:35 PM on August 18, 2009


Ooh, can we have a celebratory post-flameout meetup in the van? I'll bring foot shaped cookies!*

*this guy was my next door neighbor at the time of the described incident, so for me all things pedal fall into the same category as sketchy unmarked vans

keep little e going with a supply of towels, a bucket of ice, and whispered invective whenever she/he comes reeling back into the corner for a break.

Notably, these would be helpful for either the scheduled flameout or the threatened meetup.
posted by little e at 1:36 PM on August 18, 2009


The meetup in the unmarked van? Oh good! I was told that there would be puppies there. Right in the back, behind the driver's seat.
posted by jokeefe at 1:40 PM on August 18, 2009


Oh, are the puppies already in the van? I thought there was candy in the van, but that we were going to look for the lost puppy.
posted by little e at 1:45 PM on August 18, 2009


Gracias, rtha. I'm thinking "drunken flameout." I'm weighing the entertainment value of utterly incoherently shouting at my incompetent keyboard (JST TYP WHT II SAY DUMAS) vs. a longer simmering obliquely threatening sort of thing (oh, those Albanians, will find done to them what they've done to tuna, oh yes).

*this guy was my next door neighbor at the time of the described incident*

MAJOR FOOT FETISH, REPORTING FOR DUTY, SIR!
posted by Pronoiac at 1:47 PM on August 18, 2009



Notably, these would be helpful for either the scheduled flameout or the threatened meetup.


Or the ether party.
posted by contraption at 1:48 PM on August 18, 2009


For a meetup in the unmarked death panel van, I think we need pie. And bacon. I can bring those.
posted by rtha at 1:49 PM on August 18, 2009


Did someone say pie?
posted by gingerbeer at 1:56 PM on August 18, 2009


Yep, candy, pie, puppies. Just pay no attention to cortex, tied up in the back and making those silly noises.
posted by jokeefe at 2:00 PM on August 18, 2009


Company car!
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sweet!

Love the vanity plate.
posted by rtha at 2:06 PM on August 18, 2009


I had to take a test for some bookstore job today, and I aced the no-neck math questions, but sat thre puzzling for too long over questions like "A customer has an imaginary complaint, which of the following is the best way of responding:

A) Explain to the customer that their complaint is imaginary.
B) Treat imaginary complaint exactly like actual complaint.
C) Pretend to listen, take no action.
D) Decide imaginary complaints reflect upon the character of the complainer."

Well, y'know, how imaginary? And depending on how imaginary the complaint was, any of those options may be the most viable. If they think negroes are poisoning their copy of Aristotle's Poetics, it's going to be hard to treat that like an actual complaint, isn't it?

There was also a question about whether it's better "in a job that deals with the public" to perform your duties with "diligence, efficiency and loyalty" or with "a good attitude." I dunno, man, I guess it's better to be pissy and do your job than it is to be personable and slack, from the customer's perspective, I guess.

I liked the last test I had to take for employment better, which was basically just a bunch of questions that were all like, "Have you ever stolen from an employer?" because at least then I could just lie and pop my gum and be like, gosh boss, shrinkage is wrong, I'd fo' sho' report any bad people I saw a-stealin'. Can I have the job now so I can run off copies of my party fliers and do acid on the overnight shifts?
posted by klangklangston at 4:13 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


A couple weekends ago, I was doing a program at work about applying for jobs online. And there was one dude who was applying at, I dunno, Target or Walmart or someplace. After he went through about three or four screens of personal information, the next page had just one question: have you ever been convicted of a felony? The guy clicked 'yes,' and the next screen was, like, 'Thank you for applying. Don't call us--we'll call you.' And the guy was, like, 'Wow, that was a short application.' And I was like, 'Yeah, that was short.'
posted by box at 4:19 PM on August 18, 2009


So, did the van call him?
posted by subbes at 4:21 PM on August 18, 2009


Did someone say flameout??
posted by languagehat at 4:56 PM on August 18, 2009


Oh, not till the 28th. Dammit.
posted by languagehat at 4:56 PM on August 18, 2009


Sorry LH. I was just checking to make sure the beacon was working properly and I must have turned it on accidentally. :(
posted by jokeefe at 6:07 PM on August 18, 2009


I AM BACK FROM VACATION

and do not leave again until saturday
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:15 PM on August 18, 2009


See y'all Saturday.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:15 PM on August 18, 2009


Well, we could practice for Saturday. A warm-up session, if you will. I'll start.

YOU PEOPLE make me sick.
posted by rtha at 8:01 PM on August 18, 2009


WHAT do you MEAN 'sick?'

Do you mean 'sick' as in 'cool' or 'sick as in 'ill?'

Which raises the question, do you mean 'ill' as in 'cool' or 'ill' as in 'infirm?'

Which reminds me... 'that's totally infirm' sounds like 90's slang but isn't.
posted by Kattullus at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2009


Who are you calling a ewe?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:25 PM on August 18, 2009


Stop calling! Why are you people stalking me??!!!11
posted by rtha at 8:49 PM on August 18, 2009


NEEDS MORE CAPSLOCK
posted by jokeefe at 9:48 PM on August 18, 2009


your mom needs more capslock
posted by Burhanistan at 9:50 PM on August 18, 2009


CAPSLOCK YOUR FACE
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:37 PM on August 18, 2009


Do you type to your mother with those fingers?
posted by amyms at 10:47 PM on August 18, 2009


Twenty bucks, same as in YOUR MOM
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:59 PM on August 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


cortex's mom is like a health-care town hall meeting... everybody's invited.

Yeah, that punchline's kinda lame, but I thought about it for a good five minutes, and all the other ones I came up with are, uh, a little strong.
posted by box at 10:38 AM on August 19, 2009


oh hai what's going on in here?
posted by dersins at 4:42 PM on August 19, 2009


(other than cortex's mom, I mean)
posted by dersins at 5:00 PM on August 19, 2009


Everyone's mom is in here.
posted by subbes at 5:39 PM on August 19, 2009


No, that's still just cortex's mom, she's manifold.
posted by Kattullus at 6:27 PM on August 19, 2009


And wears combat boots.

WHAT?! They're very sensible footwear.
posted by Kattullus at 6:28 PM on August 19, 2009


So, this thread is long and stale, but kldickson's at it again. In case anyone forgot. And no I'm not going to link to a specific comment because I think you have about a one in two chance of reading something from her that says "eat a bowl of dicks" or "fuck off".
posted by P.o.B. at 6:59 AM on August 31, 2009


She had a week off, she's back. We've removed a few comments and yeah we're keeping an eye on the whole thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:32 AM on August 31, 2009


So...no links? I didn't notice anything. I guess the worst are probably deleted, but still, no links at all?
posted by kathrineg at 8:10 AM on August 31, 2009


I've flagged a handful of stupid comments from them this weekend, and know a few have gotten the hook.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2009


I'm uncomfortable with calling people out with no links or quotes or anything. Obviously, the worst were deleted, but I'm looking at her recent comments and not really seeing anything horrible.
posted by kathrineg at 9:15 AM on August 31, 2009


I'm uncomfortable with calling people out with no links or quotes or anything. Obviously, the worst were deleted, but I'm looking at her recent comments and not really seeing anything horrible.

I saw two yesterday. I quoted one of them before it got deleted. It's odd -- not all of his/her/its posts are like that, but there's some sort of social blinders going on there. There's also this and this, for more fun times.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:29 AM on August 31, 2009


> I'm uncomfortable with calling people out with no links or quotes or anything. Obviously, the worst were deleted, but I'm looking at her recent comments and not really seeing anything horrible.

What are you, her defense lawyer? You seem to be the only person who doesn't realize the mods aren't picking on kldickson for some inexplicable reason but are in fact reacting to her obvious (to everyone else) dickishness.
posted by languagehat at 9:34 AM on August 31, 2009


What's interesting is how as a result of this thread, she has carefully excised the *tard construct from her vocabulary, but has utterly failed to grasp the wider implications of deriding the mental capacity of anyone with whom she disagrees. Now it's just "idiot" and "moron," because those two words in particular haven't been brought up to her in regards to the offensive words not-to-be-used pool. I detect no overall change in tenor whatsoever -- just the same anger & condescension cloaked in different slightly phraseology.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:07 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


*slightly different*. I am a moran.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2009


The sign directs you to grow a brain.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 AM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


But yeah, I saw some dumb, condescending advice on AskMe and stupidly responded, before remembering that I should just flag her (and then flagged myself too, though for some reason DUMB isn't an available self-flag option, so I think I went with "noise").

Anyway, it's gone, so I don't have to look at myself being dumb. At least, not in that instance.
posted by klangklangston at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2009


Cool, thanks for the links, I see what you're saying.
posted by kathrineg at 10:33 AM on August 31, 2009


What are you, her defense lawyer?

Just curious, man. Just curious.
posted by kathrineg at 10:38 AM on August 31, 2009


I know, check this out man, judge should be like *bam* "Guilty!", peace out.
posted by electroboy at 11:58 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


In general, it's like madlibs with a five-year-old boy, except that instead of "poop" for every noun, "stupid" for every adjective, and "fart" for every verb, you get "nutbag fundie" or "model/fashion person" for every noun and "is" for every verb. But still "stupid" for every adjective.
posted by palliser at 12:52 PM on August 31, 2009


I'm uncomfortable with calling people out with no links or quotes

I understand kathrineg. I don't like pointing out flaws in other people at all, but when rtha originally made this post I felt she was spot on. A lot of the stuff is mostly contributing to the conversation, but there's something about all of kldickson's comments that are just...'coarse.' Which is really kind of, *shrugs* meh. But really? Couldn't she leave a comment without all the "these people are this and they should go do this"?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2009


I see what you're saying.
posted by kathrineg at 1:30 PM on August 31, 2009


I know, check this out man, judge should be like *bam* "Guilty!", peace out.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
posted by kathrineg at 1:32 PM on August 31, 2009


Sorry guys I got distracted by the Flaming Lips concert and then by the cheap airfare and then the spectacular beautiful perfect weather and all my pretty friends I haven't seen in a long time and totally forgot I was scheduled for a flameout this weekend.

If it's any consolation, although shockingly we did not get kicked out of the winery (I mean, it was obscene and awesome I can't believe they didn't kick us out) and blessedly I lacked the hand-eye coordination to shave words into my friends' dog's fur (probably would have misspelled them anyway), yesterday's activities had a lot in common with flaming out.

(PLUS I GOT TO GO FOR AN AIRPLANE RIDE AND DRINK WINE NAMED FOR A HISTORIC DRAG QUEEN AND DID I MENTION THE CONFETTI GUNS AND FURRY ANIMAL HATS?)

why don't I have confetti guns and a furry animal hat? Seriously a Venn diagram of "Things at the Flaming Lips show" and "Things I Want for Christmas" is just one circle.
posted by little e at 6:49 PM on August 31, 2009


wait, no, addendum: I do not want sweaty bits of confetti in my cleavage or people standing beside me getting engaged for Christmas
posted by little e at 6:50 PM on August 31, 2009


and I do want to shave words into my friends' dog's fur
posted by little e at 6:51 PM on August 31, 2009


We're only at 786 comments, people! kidickson deserves at least a thousand comments! Get to it!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:47 PM on August 31, 2009


We're only at 786 comments, people! kidickson deserves at least a thousand comments! Get to it!

787, you stupid, ignorant, neo-fascist moron.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:04 PM on August 31, 2009


your favourite confetti gun blows chunks
posted by shoesfullofdust at 8:06 PM on August 31, 2009


Goddammit little e, you are such an irresponsible POS. I can't fucking believe that you were all "I can do it!" and then you just blew off a scheduled flameout for drinking. What kind of fucking mefite are you, anyway?

Don't answer that. Anyway, I totally forgot to get lawnchairs so we would have had to just stand around, or sit on the grass or something.
posted by rtha at 8:31 PM on August 31, 2009


I also hid between the grapevines to pee during the tour. Except I wasn't as hidden as I thought I was. Then I stole a bunch of grapes and ate them. HOW ABOUT THAT
posted by little e at 8:36 PM on August 31, 2009


Plus, like, I totally have a lawn chair instead of a couch. It's a pretty sweet lawn chair, it has a cupholder and everything. Tell you what, you can borrow my lawn chair, and I'll go pick a fight with this jackass.
posted by little e at 8:39 PM on August 31, 2009


Oh god, that's hilarious! You come on out to California sometime - we got a lot a vineyards to pee in!

Don't bother picking a fight with him. He's a drop-and-dash kind of guy, which makes for a one-sided, unsatisfying fight.
posted by rtha at 9:38 PM on August 31, 2009




That link might not make any sense, but that's what I was reminded of.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:36 PM on August 31, 2009


P.o.B. - You're missing a link.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:54 PM on August 31, 2009


Woah, that really didn't make sense. Egg on my face. Let me try that again...

You come on out to California sometime - we got a lot a vineyards to pee in!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:11 AM on September 1, 2009


"Oh, yes, California has got a lot of vineyards!

...

For me to pee in!"
posted by Pronoiac at 12:42 AM on September 1, 2009


I peed between some trucks behind a fake castle while hurricane Danny lashed Providence.
posted by Kattullus at 6:38 AM on September 1, 2009


I suppose I should provide some context.
posted by Kattullus at 6:39 AM on September 1, 2009


Context? We don't need context when we got vineyards to pee in!
posted by rtha at 7:08 AM on September 1, 2009


« Older The Quintessential Anonymous   |   MeFiSwap Summer 09 Mailing Deadline Reminder - Aug... Newer »

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