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Australian Racism Denial - uergh!
October 9, 2009 1:04 AM   Subscribe

The sheer amount of racism denial in this thread is seriously frightening me.

Blackface was never a problem in Australia? Racism is rare? Racism is a thing of history and doesn't apply to Australians? People speaking up and critiquing Australia's entrenched racism are just "peckerheads"?

Wow. I don't feel safe posting in that thread anymore. To them it's like the experiences of myself and my peers don't even matter.
posted by divabat to Etiquette/Policy at 1:04 AM (370 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Hmmm, a contentious thread about a contentious issue is liable to be problematic. Most of it is borne from ignorance and it's progressing as well as I would have expected. The racism in the OKCupid dating thread has been far more blatant and upsetting.
posted by crossoverman at 1:47 AM on October 9, 2009


I just read that whole thread -- those denying racism are clearly in the minority, it seems to me, and the majority are taking them to task for it. Maybe you should mention specific examples?
posted by creasy boy at 1:53 AM on October 9, 2009


Can't this battle be fought in that thread?
posted by pracowity at 2:11 AM on October 9, 2009


I think the debate in that thread is quite respectful and well-considered, overall. I read through the whole thing looking for hate-speech of some kind, but saw very little of that. Could it be that you are taking this too personally, divabat?
posted by dg at 4:19 AM on October 9, 2009


Person says they "don't feel safe" in the racism thread and we get 4 immediate dismissals of her concerns. Ironolarious.
posted by DU at 4:39 AM on October 9, 2009 [19 favorites]


DU: ha, seriously.

I refer to the comments by uncanny hengeman and Joe in Australia, amongst others. It has been a couple of hours since I last saw the thread though. And just because they're in the minority doesn't make it any less disturbing.
posted by divabat at 4:45 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't this battle be fought in that thread?

This is what MetaTalk is for.

I think there's a bit of assholery going on there, to be sure. Just like there's assholery in every thread. And some people, you'll never change their mind, no matter what you put in front of them. What really pissed me off is a comment earlier in the thread that basically stated that anybody who would take a stunt like that and turn it into an issue is only doing it to impress the chicks in their fucking liberal arts class or some bullshit like that. I don't need to be a moral person to impress chicks, that's what my tight jeans are for.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:22 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


To them it's like the experiences of myself and my peers don't even matter.

Well, that would be anecdotal evidence. Certainly you guys do studies like we do here in the states?
posted by floam at 5:23 AM on October 9, 2009


floam: first Google hit was a study performed a year ago by the University of Western Sydney. I know surveys aren't solid evidence and most are rigged but as far as rough outlines go you can have a read here.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:31 AM on October 9, 2009


And just because they're in the minority doesn't make it any less disturbing.

Wouldn't it be more disturbing if they were in the majority?

There's going to be some diversity of viewpoint in any thread, so in a thread about racism, I'd expect there to be a few outliers on the side of "oh that's not racist, it's all in good fun". Sure it can be disturbing, but I think the takeaway message from that thread is that most metafilter users think racism is a big problem in Australia.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:32 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Racism scientifically proven to not exist, you heard it here on MeTa first.
posted by DU at 5:32 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, that would be anecdotal evidence. Certainly you guys do studies like we do here in the states?

When divabat says it's like her experiences don't matter, I don't think she's saying she thinks that they disprove any other viewpoint on the subject. I think she would just like to be able to relate her experiences without being dismissed with these "What the fuck are you talking about?" / "Fail." / "peckerheads" type responses.

(And I don't know if you're deliberately being provocative, but: "you guys do studies like we do here in the states?" Really?)
posted by creeky at 5:40 AM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree with pracowity -- you seem to be handling the issue just fine in-thread, along with support from apparently a majority of posters. I don't think there's anything in it that reveals something endemic about mefi, or one comment that is so outrageous that everyone's attention on the site needs to be drawn to it, so i'm not sure what needs to come here. Naturally, I may have missed some things in my reading, so if there are specific examples, please let us know.
posted by modernnomad at 5:42 AM on October 9, 2009


No, you have not. You have not seen someone walking down a street with your hypothetical Australian Racist joke. You just have not. You cannot say it, either, because you haven't seen it.

So there!
posted by Grither at 5:54 AM on October 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


Person says they "don't feel safe" in the racism thread

I don't understand this part. How does one get harmed by participating in a thread?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 AM on October 9, 2009 [14 favorites]


How does one get harmed by participating in a thread?

Oh come on. Words create a social climate and social climates affect feelings. This isn't brain surgery, and you're not stupid, so stop being disingenuous.
posted by mediareport at 6:03 AM on October 9, 2009 [23 favorites]


I don't understand this part. How does one get harmed by participating in a thread?

To expand on that, there's a big difference between finding someone's words offensive, wrong or ignorant and finding them threatening, which is clearly implied by the word "unsafe". Are you really being threatened or do you just find them offensively wrong?
posted by scalefree at 6:07 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just read through the last two thirds or so of that thread, and it looks actually a lot better than most discussions of race on MeFi. There's a few turds in there (but there always are), and they aren't doing the kind of deliberately nasty shit-stirring that they sometimes do. I wouldn't call it great, but it's not nearly as hostile and off-putting as some previous discussions have been.
posted by Forktine at 6:07 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


turgid dahlia: I think there's a bit of assholery going on there, to be sure.

Yep - how about "Australia is a profoundly racist and comprehensively stupid country," for starters?
posted by creeky at 6:09 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


scalefree, I can tell you that even after years of being out and loud about it, seeing a virulently homophobic online discussion where participants are high-fiving each other's fag jokes can make me feel unsafe. It happens. We can argue where on the scale of generic MeFi racism this particular example falls, sure, but dismissing out-of-hand the idea that online communities can feel unsafe is absurdly simple-minded.
posted by mediareport at 6:11 AM on October 9, 2009


Yep - how about "Australia is a profoundly racist and comprehensively stupid country," for starters?

Oh god you've somehow taken what I've said and decontextualized it and turned it around so it reflects on me what the fuck? Typical Belgian.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:17 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


This isn't brain surgery, and you're not stupid, so stop being disingenuous.

It saddens me to see you using your telepathic goods the wrong way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 AM on October 9, 2009


Yep - how about "Australia is a profoundly racist and comprehensively stupid country," for starters?

Please. If an American had made that comment about the US it would have 400 favourites.
posted by atrazine at 6:23 AM on October 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


but dismissing out-of-hand the idea that online communities can feel unsafe is absurdly simple-minded.

No one did that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 AM on October 9, 2009


At least one of those arguments is not over whether Australia has a racism problem, but whether minstrelsy ever had a history in Australia. As I understand it, divabat, you're arguing that "minstrelsy" should include hiring non-Aboriginal actors for theater roles and putting makeup on them to make them look Aboriginal, whereas Joe in Australia is arguing that "minstrelsy" is a narrower term, meaning the cartoonish black face/white eyes and a certain kind of performance. The question is relevant because it speaks to whether Australians' ignorance about how offensive minstrelsy is may be somewhat understandable, depending on whether it's part of their history.

I don't think it's offensive to argue with you over that. It can't be "everyone who disagrees with me is denying racism."

That said, I personally think blackface is so buffoonish that I can't believe it requires a national history with it to see immediately that it's offensive. I'd think that Australians would have experience with cartoonish depictions of other races more generally (Asians come to mind as having been cruelly caricatured) to help them understand the insult.
posted by palliser at 6:25 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man I wish I had 400 favourites.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:27 AM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


No one did that.

It's been strongly suggested, it's bullshit, and I'm glad you're now joining me in putting it to rest.
posted by mediareport at 6:39 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please. If an American had made that comment about the US it would have 400 favourites.

Sure. This one has 20 favourites right now. People love this kind of heavy-handed generalisation, especially coming from natives of the very country they're slagging off. But it does absolutely nothing to further the debate. It just gets people's backs up. The nasty comments that divabat is talking about weren't so much in reaction to what she had said - they were lashing out at the idea that Australia is a "profoundly racist" country.

I absolutely agree with divabat that some commenters were way out of line, but equally I don't think you can call a country "comprehensively stupid" and then be all "yeah, pfff, those assholey comments, hey?"
posted by creeky at 6:42 AM on October 9, 2009


No, seriously, I don't understand and am curious how posting in a thread makes a person feel unsafe. Not saying those who feel that way are wrong, but wondering how and why they feel the way they feel. To me a thread, particularly where one is using a pseudonym isn't unsafe, despite however hostile it may be.

I'm not talking about a general feeling of being unsafe due to the ugliness of a thread, but rather feeling unsafe to post in a thread. How would posting a comment in a thread be dangerous?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:45 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Person says they "don't feel safe" in the racism thread and we get 4 immediate dismissals of her concerns. Ironolarious.

How does disagreeing with someone constitute making them feel unsafe?
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:50 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I absolutely agree with divabat that some commenters were way out of line, but equally I don't think you can call a country "comprehensively stupid" and then be all "yeah, pfff, those assholey comments, hey?"

You might not be able to, I can do it just fine.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:54 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Experiences of myself and my peers don't even matter.
posted by JeffK at 7:05 AM on October 9, 2009


Eh, just to be clear, DU, I wasn't dismissing divabat's concern. Rather, I read through the original thread and thought it was being handled perfectly fine in the thread itself, and wanted more detail on the nature of her complaint. Please don't lump me in with the anti-anti-racists.
posted by creasy boy at 7:08 AM on October 9, 2009


How would posting a comment in a thread be dangerous?

Just think of an example from whatever set of situations made you deny this:

but dismissing out-of-hand the idea that online communities can feel unsafe is absurdly simple-minded.

No one did that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher

posted by DU at 7:35 AM on October 9, 2009


How does one get harmed by participating in a thread?

Jessamyn knows where you live. In fact, she's standing right behind you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:35 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the unsafe comment is a little strange. Are you saying that you feel continuing to post in the thread would make you real-world target of some of the other posters, divabat?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:42 AM on October 9, 2009


Ignorance is a little different from actual racism. It was a stupid skit that did not go off as planned.

If they had engaged in shucking and jiving and used exaggerated dialect and been carrying watermelons, it would have been racist. This was just ignorant of the message that wearing blackface sends.

Is dressing in drag sexist?

Is a British actor playing an American role in an American accent culture-ist?
posted by gjc at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2009

This was just ignorant of the message that wearing blackface sends.
I find it hard to believe that someone could have enough cultural knowledge to know what blackface is in the first place and somehow have never stumbled across the reasons why it's inappropriate.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:55 AM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd just like to pipe up here and say that racism most definitely exists in countries like Australia - I'm thinking of Canada in this case.

My wife is non-white and is not from Canada. We lived in a small suburb of a city here. The suburb was white and British. There are a lot of Indians, but they live outside of town and stick to themselves.

Anyway, my wife never liked living in this small town because she got the vibe from a lot of people that they didn't like her because she's Asian. We moved into the city, and she feels more comfortable now.

Until she went to see "Australia" with a friend. And the women in the row behind her kept muttering "fucking Japs, fucking Japs".

I believe the word "Japs" was also used a lot in the movie Australia.

Fancy that, eh?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:55 AM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is dressing in drag sexist?

Sometimes. I mean, you've seen those dudes who dress up as "chicks" for Halloween with bad wigs and boobs and stuff and the whole joke is, hur hur, I'm a chick but I'm really a dude, right?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 AM on October 9, 2009


Sorry, "indians" in this case should have been "First Nations."
posted by KokuRyu at 7:56 AM on October 9, 2009


For lots of people, racism only exists insofar as where they can see it. It's kind of like the way my dad thinks. He doesn't believe brown people can be gay. He's never met a brown person that is gay so going by that logic, he believes that gay brown people just don't exist.

To some people in that thread, maybe they haven't directly experienced racism or seen it played out before them. Even if they have, it's easy to rationalise such an event away through a myriad of other reasons. "Oh, he was acting like a dick anyway." "She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time." "The guys were drunk, they would have beat up anyone!"

That's probably where a lot of our racial issues stem from in the first place. We're so keen to prove ourselves as NOT-RACIST that we bend over backwards to prove how there must be some other reason why the event occurred. (You see this played out over and over again in Australian history. In recent times, the first things that pop into my head are the Indian student bashing's and the Cronulla riots.)

It can be so so frustrating to have been a victim of a racial attack and see these individual acts as part of a larger poisonous culture that has infested our country and then have it thrown back in your face from other Australians. That's pretty much what happened in the other thread. Yes, the event in question was "just" some stupid skit on television but it's the reactions to that that are most telling. When so many people are unwilling to call a spade a spade, when they're unwilling to even acknowledge that there might be a problem then all this goes far beyond the Jackson Jive and Darryl fucking Sommers.

All that said, I think it has been an interesting and enlightening thread - some of that was contributed by you, divabat. I hope you don't bow out just because of a couple of boorish posters, you seem to tackle racism head-on in reality - why not in the virtual world as well?
posted by liquorice at 7:59 AM on October 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


Wow. I don't feel safe posting in that thread anymore.

I have been trying for like 5 minutes to come up with something to fill in the blank where I would feel confident saying "People everyone will agree that _________ is racist". But I can't. It's impossible. Anytime you enter into a discussion about racist acts, you should be prepared for someone to defend those acts. Unless you're talking to people whose opinions you are already familiar with, it's definitely going to happen. Yes, it totally sucks when people stick their fingers in their ears and find explanations why the acts aren't motivated by racism. It's annoying. But don't let that stop you from posting in the thread.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:05 AM on October 9, 2009


the women in the row behind her kept muttering "fucking Japs, fucking Japs".

I was in a restaurant last night and some old guy a few tables over said something about how he "hates the Japanese". Given his age, I assumed this was in re: WWII. What's hilarious, I now realize, is that this was an Italian restaurant.

(To be fair to him, if that's the phrase I want, he could have been talking about electronics. I saw him with an iPhone later. Oddly disconcerting to see a palsied hand attempting to navigate such a futuristic device. I wonder if Apple user tested old people.)
posted by DU at 8:09 AM on October 9, 2009


If they had engaged in shucking and jiving and used exaggerated dialect and been carrying watermelons, it would have been racist. This was just ignorant of the message that wearing blackface sends.

Did you watch the video? It's starts off with shucking and jiving and exaggerated dialect. The group is called Jackson Jive, for fuck's sake. And since when has "ignorant" ever meant "not racist"?

Honestly, either you didn't watch the video, or you don't know what the terminology you just employed means. Either way, I would suggest a remedial introduction to racism might be in order before you leap to the defense of an act that is just the most contemporary example of long history of denigrating African Americans.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:11 AM on October 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


don't feel safe posting in that thread anymore.

How so? I didn't see any threats, were they deleted?
posted by spaltavian at 8:31 AM on October 9, 2009


"Safe" doesn't exclusively mean "physically safe." Because somebody doesn't feel safe in an online forum doesn't mean they are afraid somebody is going to find them offline and attack them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2009 [11 favorites]


Safe really does mean that. Otherwise, you're talking about "comfortable" or "welcome".
posted by spaltavian at 8:47 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Unless you honestly think that thread can cause actually psychological trauma. Distress at someone having a different viewpoint doesn't qualify.
posted by spaltavian at 8:50 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The dictionary definition of one word isn't what's important here. What's important is what divabat meant when she said it. Divabat, what did you mean when you said you felt unsafe?
posted by ocherdraco at 8:53 AM on October 9, 2009


If they had engaged in shucking and jiving and used exaggerated dialect and been carrying watermelons, it would have been racist.

Well, it wasn't *that* far from it TBH. I mean, you could argue that freaking-the-fuck-out at blackface is a peculiarly American thing and that to everyone else it's merely weird and a bit distasteful, but that really is a sketch where at some point in the process someone should have said "Eh? What the fuck are we doing? Let's stop".
posted by Artw at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2009


Wait, are we sure this isn't a class issue?
posted by ignignokt at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's probably where a lot of our racial issues stem from in the first place. We're so keen to prove ourselves as NOT-RACIST that we bend over backwards to prove how there must be some other reason why the event occurred.

This is dead on, especially at MetaFilter.
posted by ignignokt at 9:01 AM on October 9, 2009


Safe really does mean that.

It also really means other things. Do you complain to people that use "attacked" to mean "verbally savaged" or "disagreed violently"? As in "Republicans attacked Obama's healthcare plan" or "divabat attacked the notion that racism was dead"?

Thinking that your own experiences and feelings as a middle-age, middle-class white American male are what everyone else is and should be having is a big part of racism.
posted by DU at 9:02 AM on October 9, 2009 [8 favorites]



Is a British actor playing an American role in an American accent culture-ist?


Depends on how well they do the accent.
posted by thivaia at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2009


Divabat is Australian, and it's about 3am in the morning there as I type this, so there probably won't be quick answer from her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2009


Once jonmc gets here he'll remind us that everyone is racist and we can shut this thing down.
posted by you just lost the game at 9:14 AM on October 9, 2009


And it should be obvious by now that she probably wasn't speaking in the strictest sense of the word "safe".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:20 AM on October 9, 2009


For the record, I hate drow. Smarmy sexually ambiguous Underdark-dwelling pointy-eared ratfuck bastards.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:21 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wow. I don't feel safe posting in that thread anymore.

Wow. I *never* feel unsafe operating my computer. I mostly feel quite safe at all times, unless I'm trying to merge onto US131 from I-96 at rush hour. You must be an absolute basket case when you step away from the keyboard and into the real world.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 9:25 AM on October 9, 2009


Safe was probably not the best choice of words. I'm guessing she meant that she didn't feel comfortable expressing her honest opinion.
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


For the record, I hate drow. Smarmy sexually ambiguous Underdark-dwelling pointy-eared ratfuck bastards.

Yeah. And don't even get me started on the goddamn svirfneblin.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:37 AM on October 9, 2009


Late to thread, but since this seems to be race week on MeFi, so what the hell.

I spent a few weeks on an extended job interview in Australia (Sydney). Since I was seriously considering this gig, I made a real effort to see what it would take to actually live there, as opposed to the more typical Australia as Australian flavored Australian theme park tourist route.

From this perspective of this 1st generation Asian American male (my parents immigrated, not me), I got a distinct anti-Asian vibe off the Aussies. At least at first. As soon as I opened my mouth to reveal myself a Yank, people were remarkably more warm. Almost like a switch had been flipped.

I observed this to my interviewers over drinks, and to a person, they made class distinctions between myself and the Asians that I guess were supposed to be treated that way.

Yes, anecdata, but the whole experience told me something. No, I didn't move to Australia.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 9:44 AM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


My experience on mefi has exposed me to more Australians than I had ever listened to / read before, and the sum effect on my conception of their character has not been positive. What's with that? Are dick-measuring, skin-thickening and verbal glassing national folk arts there? Hmm. OZIST. But seriously, what motivates this persistent apparently substantial difference in practices of cultural sensitivity between US and AUS?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:50 AM on October 9, 2009


Person says they "don't feel safe" in the racism thread and we get 4 immediate dismissals of her concerns. Ironolarious.

Please don't mistake disagreement for "dismissal."
posted by grobstein at 9:51 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Covered already, you gully dwarf.
posted by waraw at 10:00 AM on October 9, 2009


You must be an absolute basket case when you step away from the keyboard and into the real world.

Some people feel that MeFi is a community and that we have certain responsibilities towards one another. Considering your background, I'm appalled at the amount of nasty you can dish out here sometimes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:02 AM on October 9, 2009 [34 favorites]


fuckin' too right.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:07 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. I don't feel safe posting in that thread anymore.

Wow. I *never* feel unsafe operating my computer. I mostly feel quite safe at all times, unless I'm trying to merge onto US131 from I-96 at rush hour. You must be an absolute basket case when you step away from the keyboard and into the real world.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 9:25 AM on October 9 [+] [!]


Wow. Dude, are you really that kind of jerk? Eww. Someone says that they feel unsafe (maybe thier definition of safety is different from yours) and you ridicule them? Really? Wow. Just wow.
posted by dchrssyr at 10:14 AM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thank you, jessamyn.
posted by dchrssyr at 10:16 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least one of those arguments is not over whether Australia has a racism problem, but whether minstrelsy ever had a history in Australia. As I understand it, divabat, you're arguing that "minstrelsy" should include hiring non-Aboriginal actors for theater roles and putting makeup on them to make them look Aboriginal, whereas Joe in Australia is arguing that "minstrelsy" is a narrower term, meaning the cartoonish black face/white eyes and a certain kind of performance. The question is relevant because it speaks to whether Australians' ignorance about how offensive minstrelsy is may be somewhat understandable, depending on whether it's part of their history.

I don't think that the question of Australians' ignorance of the history of minstrelsy in America is that relevant.

A bunch of guys getting together and saying, "Dudes! Let's dress up and pretend to be black people! That'll be soooo funny. Can you imagine? Us, as black dudes?" It's kinda racist.

A hat that's bigger than a normal hat. Now that's funny.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:19 AM on October 9, 2009


Some people feel that MeFi is a community and that we have certain responsibilities towards one another.

Agreed. But do those responsibilities REALLY include coddling someone who is "seriously frightened" and "does not feel safe" when others disagree with her using words only, without ever having threatened her (so far as I saw)?

As far as I can tell, this MeTa is not much deeper than "I am shocked and upset that people disagree with me," plus melodramatic language. I get that she takes issues with people's approaches to a sensitive topic, but it is just that - a difficult topic on which people's opinions widely differ, have always widely differed, and probably will always widely differ. I think the ridicule in this thread is coming because many people posting assume that she does not LITERALLY feel unsafe or frightened (and that if she did, that would be more than a little bit ridiculous), but that instead she simply chose a deliberately melodramatic and provoking way of communicating how shocked she is that people disagree with her in relation to a topic on which people always disagree.
posted by bunnycup at 10:21 AM on October 9, 2009 [12 favorites]


"Wait, are we sure this isn't a class issue?"

In the sense that the performers were displaying none, yes.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:24 AM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


(P.S. The above not intended to suggest that it is acceptable to completely verbally crucify divabat for ill-considered and silly word-choice.)
posted by bunnycup at 10:24 AM on October 9, 2009


Blackface can be funny. Somebody in the thread mentioned Tropic Thunder. As with all comedies, your mileage may cary on how much you like the humor, but the fact that Robert Downey Jr. was essentially in blackface throughout the movie was treated very smartly, in that the blackface was the problem, and he was called repeatedly on it. And his version of a black character wasn't your typical stereotype, but seemed, instead, intended as a parody of African-American tough-guys that you frequently see in action films. But even that didn't make the blackface allowable, or the fact that he was portraying a black character, and the tension created by that was the source of the comedy.

This is light years away from "black people are funny, so let's dress like them and act like them." The truth is, I have seen actual minstrel acts -- which are undeniably racist -- that have demonstrated more respect for black people than was shown in that Australian video, because, however misconceived, the performers in the minstrel acts actually adored black culture and were trying to impersonate it. This was just blackface buffoonery, as though the only thing important about the Jacksons are that they are black, and therefore no impersonation is required. All you have to do is rub some cork on your face and do a shuffling, badly timed impersonation of the sorts of spinning and clapping dance moves that soul artists specialized in (and did with much greater talent), and there you have it, Jacksons. It's bad enough that it's racist -- and it is, whether the performers were aware of it or meant it to be. Insult is added to injury by the fact that it was so fucking lazy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:27 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine, from what I'm hearing Autralia is like FROM Australians in that thread, what divabat, as a South Asian woman living there, would be made to feel unsafe by. I cannot imagine that, lucky me. I do know, however, that she is cool and deserves to be engaged in discourse respectfully, and that when people don't do that, but instead mock or deride her point of view or professed experiences, they are allying themselves with the wrong side of an important argument for (at best) petty, inconsequential, imaginary reasons.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


Are dick-measuring, skin-thickening and verbal glassing national folk arts there?

Apart from the first one (q.v. Tall Poppy Syndrome), pretty much, yeah. Taking the piss is an entrenched part of the "national character". It's usually leavened with a healthy dose of self-deprecation.

But seriously, what motivates this persistent apparently substantial difference in practices of cultural sensitivity between US and AUS?

Apart from being different countries, with different social mores? Dunno. (Personally, I blame Ubu Roivas.)
posted by zamboni at 10:34 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't feel particularly "safe" posting in any thread on metafilter. There's a high likelihood that someone will disagree with me, probably vehemently, and that confuses and scares me.

note: that wasn't sarcasm
posted by shammack at 10:35 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]



My experience on mefi has exposed me to more Australians than I had ever listened to / read before, and the sum effect on my conception of their character has not been positive. What's with that? Are dick-measuring, skin-thickening and verbal glassing national folk arts there? Hmm. OZIST. But seriously, what motivates this persistent apparently substantial difference in practices of cultural sensitivity between US and AUS?


There is a touch of irony about making a negative generalisation about a country based on your admittedly limited experience when you're in a thread about racism.

As for the difference in cultural sensitivity, I think the first clue would be that we're different countries. In many ways, I find the 'less sensitive' atmosphere here preferable. The trouble is when people assume that being less sensitive about, say, swearing on tv, means that it's okay to be less sensitive about other issues.

Dick measuring is a standard practice among dickheads, true, but skin thicking and verbal glassing are fairly widespread. Most of the time it's not remotely malicious, and I'll happily trade barbs with friends and coworkers for the humour and the wordplay and the fun of it, knowing that I'm not crossing any lines. Of course, some people will cross those lines, and that's when it's less fun. There's a strong history of the laconic, irreverent Australian. In many ways, it's a healthy thing. This is a perfect example of its downside- the 'stop making such a fuss' defence when something really is worth making a fuss about.

As for blackface in Australia, I certainly would presume that knowing of it means you should know exactly why it shouldn't be done. I knew vaguely of blackface long, long before I knew anything about minstrel shows and Jim Crow and the history of racism in America, and if I'd seen this skit yeeeears ago I probably would have wondered what the fuss is about. I'm not defending them at all- this is definitely in the 'ashamed to be Australian' box, along with Cronulla and Tampa and the Stolen Generation and Lleyton Hewitt- but I'm fairly sure this was not malicious racism that deserves intense hatred, but ignorant racism that requires education.
posted by twirlypen at 10:39 AM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


You must be an absolute basket case when you step away from the keyboard and into the real world.

As someone who is confused by her statement, suspects she's being a bit over the top and asking for clarification, that's a completely shitty thing to say to another person. It isn't how Mefites roll in terms of treating each other and it never should be so please don't start.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:43 AM on October 9, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm fairly sure this was not malicious racism that deserves intense hatred, but ignorant racism that requires education.

I expect you're right about that. The problem for me here isn't so much the performance itself, which I gather isn't a very widespread sort of thing in Australia. It's the indifference of the people surveyed about the event. It's very hard to educate people about a problem when they don't see it as a problem.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:45 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Agreed. But do those responsibilities REALLY include coddling someone who is "seriously frightened" and "does not feel safe" when others disagree with her using words only, without ever having threatened her (so far as I saw)?

That's not really what I was referring to. It's an open subject how far individuals need to go in terms of how much they want to accede to someone's emotional responses to a topic. However, ridicule and attack when someone sincerely says that something makes them feel bad is totally beyond the pale uncool, in my opinion.

In my personal worldview, I think consideration is due to people who feel frightened and unsafe. I'm aware that other people don't share that view and that's fine. I don't feel the need to impress that view on the MeFi community. But calling consideration "coddling" to my mind displays a pretty serious divergence from what the OP was talking about. I suppose you could argue that my calling it consideration is a flip side of the same coin.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:55 AM on October 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


I suppose you could argue that my calling it consideration is a flip side of the same coin.

I'm glad that you're the one who gets to make that call, jessamyn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


So what, exactly, is Hovercraft Eel's background, and is this common MeFi knowledge?
posted by HopperFan at 11:05 AM on October 9, 2009


I'm fairly sure this was not malicious racism that deserves intense hatred, but ignorant racism that requires education.

Even if this is the case (and I mean, this wasn't just minstrelsy--this was putting on comically exaggerated blackface to impersonate actual people, which is a bit more out there in my book), Connick's response was correct: "You get zero points, because this is in incredibly bad taste."

The people reacted to this with "OH STUPID AMERICAN WHY IS HE JUDGING US AMERICA SUCKS BLACKFACE IS COOL" are the people I'm more leery of, rather than the idiots who thought that a blackface "tribute" to the Jackson family was a good idea.

Why is Connick judging your fellow Australians, folks? Because he was invited to do that. He was invited to assess their performance, and he assessed it as stupid and tacky.

The "WHOEVER SMELT IT DEALT IT" defense about racist thoughts, words, actions, or musical numbers is uncool as fuck.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:09 AM on October 9, 2009


Blackface can be funny. Somebody in the thread mentioned Tropic Thunder. As with all comedies, your mileage may cary on how much you like the humor, but the fact that Robert Downey Jr. was essentially in blackface throughout the movie was treated very smartly

Tropic Thunder was funny.

I submit, though, that the performance was not "blackface" as the term is commonly used and understood.

The character was not a caricature of a black man. Rather, what made it funny was the caricature of a white man's misguided effort to become a black man in service to method acting. "Remember hearing about DeNiro gaining and losing 100 pounds for Raging Bull? OK, take that to an insane extreme..."

I'm not splitting hairs. For example, this "take it to extreme" angle on humor is the essence of the movie's "what do you mean, you people" joke.

I think if the script called for Robert Downey Jr to actually smear shoe polish on his skin, instead of spending hours in the makeup chair to perfect the look of someone that underwent a surgical procedure, he wouldn't have taken the role.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:10 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


You're right, Cool Papa Bell. I used blackface as a general term for someone making themselves look black, but Robert Downey Jr.'s performance wasn't precisely what is meant when people discuss blackface.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on October 9, 2009


The character was not a caricature of a black man. Rather, what made it funny was the caricature of a white man's misguided effort to become a black man in service to method acting.

This. We were laughing at the white character who thought that it was cool to pretend to be a black person (the "What do you mean, 'What do you mean, "You people?"'?" thing was one of the best one-liners I've seen in a long time), not at a caricature of an imaginary ridiculous "black person" he was impersonating.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:15 AM on October 9, 2009


There's a big difference between Placido Domingo wearing a turban and a darker makeup than his usual stage makeup to sing Otello (which I still find vaguely unsettling, to be honest) and some people putting on shoe polish and "cooning" it up as a "tribute" to the Jackson family. The blackface antics add nothing to a performance of the Jacksons' musical oeuvre, whereas in Otello there are many plot points that hinge on the title character's being "a Moor" in medieval Venice.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:20 AM on October 9, 2009


So what, exactly, is Hovercraft Eel's background, and is this common MeFi knowledge?

He's quonsar. I'm assuming that okay to mention, since it was a mod who alluded to his past in the first place.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:21 AM on October 9, 2009


In my personal worldview, I think consideration is due to people who feel frightened and unsafe.

Me too, but I think you and I are dancing around two topics in our little back and forth here. I realize your original statement was directed to the cruelty of the "absolute basket case" comment, and I don't think we disagree about that. But I intended to draw out further the issue of how MeFites as a community should react when someone has (or pretends to have) such extreme sensitivity that the presence of others holding and voicing different opinions in a non-threatening way, gives them cause to complain about their safety.

Because I didn't see (although it may have been deleted) any actual threatening or outside-Mefi-norms cruel comments directed toward divabat in the MeFi thread, I'm actually interested in a mod's perspective of whether the MeTa is really reasonable, whether there is real cause for dramatic complaint when people disagree on a difficult topic. Do those who disagree with divabat owe her an apology for disagreeing? Is this going to become a no-disagreement-permitted-because-people-might-get-sad-or-scared community? How much deference does one person with outlying views command? Does being frightened of disagreement trump others' rights to disagree? Whether you call it "coddling" or "consideration", what are we supposed to DO about it?

I don't know, maybe I am making too much of it but I am personally really interested in that.
posted by bunnycup at 11:22 AM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think the word that some people question is "sincerely."

Sincerity is hard to gauge in real life, much less via text. I would not taunt someone who I thought was seriously frightened: a light sweat, a trembling in the legs that they might be poised to flee, raised pulse and respiration. I would offer them a glass of water and a chair. I would reassure them and perhaps look for a light blanket if they got shocky, pale, with cold fingertips.

However, if I thought that the response reported was reported only, for effect, I might feel as if that someone was attempting to manipulate me as some kind of rhetorical device, and in turn might become less than enchanted with their approach. I would probably evaluate any requests made with a few extra dollops of dubiousness, just as I do whenever someone tries to "sell" me a little too hard on something.

I think respect is very important, but part of respecting other people involves speaking honestly when you want something. Hopefully the community here has enough mutual respect that we can do that. I'm not being flip, either, having re-written this three times since about seven a.m.; I believe the community has started privileging tactics over sincerity, and that rarely turns out well.
posted by adipocere at 11:24 AM on October 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


I actually don't even know quonsar's background, but of course I recognize the user name.

I just assumed it must be common knowledge, or it wouldn't have been referenced publicly, even by a mod.
posted by HopperFan at 11:24 AM on October 9, 2009


adipocere: well said.
posted by bunnycup at 11:26 AM on October 9, 2009


> There is a touch of irony about making a negative generalisation about a country based on your admittedly limited experience when you're in a thread about racism.

no kidding. Huh. I'm seeing more evidence of irony-consciousness in my comment than evidence of negative generalizations, though.

> As for the difference in cultural sensitivity, I think the first clue would be that we're different countries.

I'm fairly sure this was not malicious racism that deserves intense hatred, but ignorant racism that requires education.


And who's going to take up this patient pedagogial task?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:32 AM on October 9, 2009


Australia is racist as fuck. I've been several times now, and it creeps me out each time. Do they still have those immigrant/refugee detention centres in the dessert?
posted by chunking express at 11:49 AM on October 9, 2009


Whether you call it "coddling" or "consideration", what are we supposed to DO about it?

Isn't the MeFi Prime Directive "don't be an asshole"?

And isn't the answer to "who decides who's being an asshole?" "the mods"?

So it seems like the answer is that, when you see a comment you think is someone being an asshole, you flag it for the mods' adjudication, yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2009


That said, Melbourne is pretty awesome as cities go. And Sydney has a really nice waterfront.
posted by chunking express at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2009


Also, Tim Tams.
posted by chunking express at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


So it seems like the answer is that, when you see a comment you think is someone being an asshole, you flag it for the mods' adjudication, yes?

Sure, but does "disagreeing" = "being asshole"? Should we start flagging comments and posting dramatic MeTa's whenever someone disagrees with us?
posted by bunnycup at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2009


bunnycup: "But I intended to draw out further the issue of how MeFites as a community should react when someone has (or pretends to have) such extreme sensitivity that the presence of others holding and voicing different opinions in a non-threatening way, gives them cause to complain about their safety."

some people in this thread are familiar with the language of counselors, social workers, therapists et al. some people are not. among the former, and among the people they counsel and work with, saying something like "I don't feel safe" is a perfectly valid and well understood way of describing the mixture of fear/mistrust/discomfort/anxiety that none of those words fully convey individually. further it is a matter of mental/emotional well being, not just actual fear of physical attack. that you are not familiar with this is ok.

what is not ok is you then propping your ignorance up with phrases like "ill-considered and silly word-choice," or words like "coddling."

so, for anyone else in this thread who feels the need to get up on their stump and make a big fucking deal out of divabat's perfectly reasonable and well considered choice of phrase, do yourselves and everyone else in the thread a favor and recognize that you are speaking from a position of ignorance. take a tip from Brandon Blatcher and simply ask a question respectfully, with an open mind to new information.

because you're not being the smart alecky realist, or the straight-talkin' regular guy, or the sensible centrist, or even the snarky pedant. you're just the jerk who doesn't know what the fuck they're talking about.
posted by shmegegge at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2009 [24 favorites]


Do they still have those immigrant/refugee detention centres in the dessert?

DON'T ORDER THE PAVLOVA! IT HAS POLES AND SLOVAKS IN IT!

Pretty much every first-world country has shitty immigrant detention centers in the least appealing and clement locales, so I wouldn't single out AUS for that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:56 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lentrohamsanin: "He's quonsar."

consider me shocked. his posting style (and amount) doesn't remotely resemble quonsar's.
posted by shmegegge at 11:57 AM on October 9, 2009


A bunch of guys getting together and saying, "Dudes! Let's dress up and pretend to be black people! That'll be soooo funny. Can you imagine? Us, as black dudes?" It's kinda racist.

I think it's racist, as I made clear at the end of my comment. Dressing yourself as a cartoonish version of a member of another race means mocking them as a group, and you don't need an education in the history of minstrelsy to understand that.

My only point was that I didn't think it was fair to characterize comments that distinguished America's history from Australia's as anti-anti-racism, and I could easily see someone jumping in to argue a small point without having an argument with the larger point that this is racist.

It's not off-the-wall to say that Americans have a better understanding of how offensive minstrelsy is, nor to want to reserve the term for a particular kind of buffoonish performance, and not use it for putting dark makeup on actors to make them look more like the ethnic group they're portraying. I just think when you call out something on MeTa, you're saying these comments are outside the realm of reasoned, respectful debate, and I don't agree that the comments regarding the Australian history of minstrelsy, or lack thereof, qualify.
posted by palliser at 11:57 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do they still have those immigrant/refugee detention centres in the dessert?

If you're thinking of Woomera, it's been closed since 2003.
posted by zamboni at 11:58 AM on October 9, 2009


He's quonsar.

Hunh, I could have sworn that had been discussed and dismissed in a previous episode of MeTa.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:59 AM on October 9, 2009


Sure, but does "disagreeing" = "being asshole"? Should we start flagging comments and posting dramatic MeTa's whenever someone disagrees with us?

How did you get there? Divabat's post indicated that she felt people were being assholes in the blue thread. Other people's posts indicated that they felt people were being assholes to her in this thread.

Yes, one person's "being an asshole" is another person's "disagreement", and that's why there are mods--to decide which characterization they think is correct.

There are people on this site who apparently think that sending really angry MeMails that include shit like "Fuck you" and "You are the worst thing about this site" is part of "disagreement". I know, because I've gotten some. I think those people were being assholes, but I'm sure that they'd characterize that behavior as simple disagreement.

You're strawmanning this if you suggest that nobody has registered an opinion that any of the stuff that you are characterizing as "disagreement" is, in their opinion, "being an asshole." The mods' job is to argue the toss between those points of view.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:00 PM on October 9, 2009


shmegegge, I will in future read the entire MeFi site as a therapy session...wait, no I won't, because that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!
posted by bunnycup at 12:01 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


You're strawmanning this if you suggest that nobody has registered an opinion that any of the stuff that you are characterizing as "disagreement" is, in their opinion, "being an asshole." The mods' job is to argue the toss between those points of view.

Yep, agreed. If you read my comment upthread, I was looking for a discussion from mods and Mefite's on how we tease out and understand the difference between the two, in this particular situation and going forward.
posted by bunnycup at 12:02 PM on October 9, 2009


bunnycup, what the fuck? If you are not familiar with the usage of "I don't feel safe" for "the attitudes expressed creep me out," that's fine. But it's a very common usage.

In other news, my car is not literally made of fecal matter; my least-favorite TV personality is not literally an enormous rectum; and your argument is not literally a homunculus made of dried cereal stalks.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:04 PM on October 9, 2009 [11 favorites]


bunnycup: "shmegegge, I will in future read the entire MeFi site as a therapy session...wait, no I won't, because that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!"

or you could go back to fark, where comments like that are considered witty.
posted by shmegegge at 12:05 PM on October 9, 2009


Ah, I was thinking of this.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:08 PM on October 9, 2009


It does nothing to enhance my goodwill towards the MetaFilter community that someone expresses concern about a thread/larger issue and when trying to discuss it with the community, she is immediately jumped on for her choice of words. Way to walk past the forest AND the trees straight down Dickwad Pedantry Lane.

Must we? Really? Can't we just agree that word choice aside, this profoundly harshed her mellow and then move on to discussing the ACTUAL ISSUE?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:11 PM on October 9, 2009 [14 favorites]


Sidhedevil, a MORE common usage of the words "seriously frightening" and "I don't feel safe" is in regards to a sense of physical safety and danger. Now, I still have not seen divabat pop in to tell us exactly what she means, and I understand that's not likely since it's the middle of the night where she lives.

Furthermore, my concerns - about whether the entire community should stop for one who is either "scared" (whether you mean it as "scared" or "offended"), are really very sincerely meant. You and shmegegge are criticizing my views (using just as strong language or stronger language than I saw directed at divabat in the MeFi thread, again unless something was deleted before I read it), and rightly so in my opinion. You disagree, and are welcome to express it.

Do we really want to move toward the standard where the fact that one person is "creeped out" (as you put it) stops the presses? In fact, if as you suggest she used the words "seriously frightened" and "don't feel safe" to just mean that she didn't like the opinions others expressed, I am even LESS comfortable with a community chilling speech, holding back from discussion, for that reason.

Sure, we should all use civil and polite terms (hint, hint!) and not 'creep each other out' on purpose, but in a thread about racism tempers will get high. And my sense is that those tempers and discomfort are going to be an unavoidable side effect. If you think that I am defending comments designed to deliberately make divabat uncomfortable, you have it wrong. I simply don't think that the entire world or discussion needs to stop because someone is "creeped out" by opposite opinions.
posted by bunnycup at 12:13 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I simply don't think that the entire world or discussion needs to stop because someone is "creeped out" by opposite opinions. (bunnycup)

Is that what divabat was suggesting? Wasn't she, rather, excusing herself from the conversation that made her, at the very least, uncomfortable, and bringing that aspect of it here, to MetaTalk, which was expressly created for this kind of conversation so that the conversation in the thread wouldn't have to stop?
posted by ocherdraco at 12:16 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


See, this is why people should link to specific comments in a MeTa post. Because everyone's all tiptoeing around calling out anyone in particular, and we're running around in circles instead of being able to address whether specific comments were too much, and if so why.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:21 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Divabat's post indicated that she felt people were being assholes in the blue thread.

I don't think this callout is about how the opinions were presented (well, except for "peckerheads"), it's about the opinions themselves, which are characterized as being outside the realm of reasoned debate: "Blackface was never a problem in Australia? Racism is rare? Racism is a thing of history and doesn't apply to Australians? People speaking up and critiquing Australia's entrenched racism are just 'peckerheads'? Wow. I don't feel safe posting in that thread anymore."

I think what people are uncomfortable with is that the idea that arguing with someone, however respectfully, when she makes these points, is unacceptable here. This seems to me to be a different question from whether "fuck you" and "you are the worst" are acceptable.

I'm sure that racism is a current problem in Australia, as it is in every racially mixed society I'm aware of, but I don't think that saying "blackface was never a problem in Australia" is beyond the pale, no matter how upset someone might get in hearing it.
posted by palliser at 12:29 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


"There are people on this site who apparently think that sending really angry MeMails that include shit like "Fuck you" and "You are the worst thing about this site" is part of "disagreement". I know, because I've gotten some. I think those people were being assholes, but I'm sure that they'd characterize that behavior as simple disagreement."

Which is weird, because I wouldn't expect you to get those notes, and I can't remember ever getting them and I seem like the kind of person who would get 'em.

Not sayin' you don't, just saying 'How weird.'
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 PM on October 9, 2009


ocherdraco, perhaps you are right - again we don't know because divabat hasn't been able to tell us. What does divabat want to achieve by this MeTa? I assumed it was not simply a big hug and a promise that we love her, but that she wanted to achieve a change in behavior or approach to discourse on contested topics.
posted by bunnycup at 12:33 PM on October 9, 2009


I think that a lot of people here are taking a very literal view of "not feeling safe." One doesn't need to fear an actual hatchet flying out of the computer screen to become afraid. I have read many things that made me feel less safe - especially when they reflect a reality that I know and fear and reinforce my concept of the threat. I would imagine that if racists were a threat to me, I would find the comments in that thread (among others) not only infuriating, but frightening. I know that I came away from a few of the more contentious sexism threads and felt that I could not really count on others understanding or even caring about my viewpoint - in fact, some of the anger expressed in those posts made me feel less safe in my "real life." Words express realities, realities can be frightening. I think that it's easy to forget that one's own experience is not always the same for others. I don't think that the OP is exaggerating their discomfort over the impact that comments made in that post had on them.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:37 PM on October 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


I was in a restaurant last night and some old guy a few tables over said something about how he "hates the Japanese". Given his age, I assumed this was in re: WWII. What's hilarious, I now realize, is that this was an Italian restaurant.

(To be fair to him, if that's the phrase I want, he could have been talking about electronics. I saw him with an iPhone later. Oddly disconcerting to see a palsied hand attempting to navigate such a futuristic device. I wonder if Apple user tested old people.)


Flagged as ageist.
posted by timeistight at 12:42 PM on October 9, 2009


Up until this moment, I hadn't realized there was something wrong with my MeMail. Has anybody besides klang not gotten messages from me?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:43 PM on October 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


bunnycup: "again we don't know because divabat hasn't been able to tell us."

no, we do know, because this is how metatalk works. insofar as it's possible to know anything without telepathy, we know that divabat used this thread the way ocherdraco described because that's what metatalk is for, not your "stop the presses" version. you don't participate here a lot, so that may be contributing to your confusion, but when someone posts something like this here, and it happens all the time, it's to say "what's in this thread is bad, let's discuss the badness here, not there."
posted by shmegegge at 12:44 PM on October 9, 2009


This is all my opinion. bunnycup, I think you're overstating for effect here, but I'd like to chime in since you seem to have asked.

I'm actually interested in a mod's perspective of whether the MeTa is really reasonable, whether there is real cause for dramatic complaint when people disagree on a difficult topic.

Okay. yes, this MeTa is reasonable. Almost all of them are. Yes, there is cause for complaint when people disagree on a difficult topic.

Do those who disagree with divabat owe her an apology for disagreeing?

Not really, no.

Is this going to become a no-disagreement-permitted-because-people-might-get-sad-or-scared community?

I don't think that is a good faith question and I'm tired of people starting with the whole "oh now we can't talk about anything because someone's feelings might get hurt" routine. Seriously, stop it. People can say things make them unhappy without the required remedy being "everyone be nice from now on" Taking things to MeTa is exactly what should happen. Discouraging people from making MeTa posts is exactly what shouldn't happen.

How much deference does one person with outlying views command?

Depends on the community, basically one person can pass on their feelings to other people to see if they feel the same way.

Does being frightened of disagreement trump others' rights to disagree? Whether you call it "coddling" or "consideration", what are we supposed to DO about it?


I've stated repeatedly, that there's a difference between holding strong personal opinion and your right to communicate that opinion in exactly the way to want to without consideration of the fact that this is a community of people with differing opinions, emotions and life experiences. If people are not able to have discussions about difficult topics without being total assholes about it, then no they can't have discussions here. Otherwise of course they can.

We try to make an effort to have some sort of mefi-normative ideas here [i.e. if you're upset by swearing, that's unlikely to change; if you're upset buy racist remarks, that may change] and some are fixed and some are flexible/ What we're discussing in MeTa here is the flexibility of the idea of talking about topics in a heated discussion and how much that sort of thing can alienate people and how we feel, as a community about that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:44 PM on October 9, 2009 [16 favorites]


I think it's racist, as I made clear at the end of my comment.

I wasn't implying that you didn't find it racist. I was just trying to say that I personally think blackface is so buffoonish that I can't believe it requires a national history with it to see immediately that it's offensive.

Which is exactly what you said. But I'm guess I'm not so good with the small font. Sorry.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:49 PM on October 9, 2009


consider me shocked. his posting style (and amount) doesn't remotely resemble quonsar's.

What about the eel in his pants?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2009


Wait, are we sure this isn't a class issue?

I read this thread before watching the clip. When I saw that comment, I thought, "Ha-ha-ha, obvious joke for people who're made uncomfortable by class issues, but this probably isn't a class issue."

Then I watched the clip.

They were all medical students originally. They're now all medical professionals making about as much money as you can legally make without being a CEO.

The producers of the show and the owners of the network aren't working class.

Yeah. It's a class issue. The most racist people tend to be rich. Middle and upper class people love to blame the working classes for racism, but racism has always been promoted by the rich. Arguably, it began with Bacon's Rebellion, and it's been going ever since.
posted by shetterly at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2009


It's an open subject how far individuals need to go in terms of how much they want to accede to someone's emotional responses to a topic. However, ridicule and attack when someone sincerely says that something makes them feel bad is totally beyond the pale uncool, in my opinion.

I think there's also an open question as to whether the matter of safety was genuine or a melodramatic overstatement meant to push our buttons. I feel a deep responsibility to make sure my fellow MeFites feel safe; I don't feel so strongly about enforcing a code of acceptable opinions. Ridicule & attacks are uncalled for in any event, but I honestly feel uncertain as to whether I'm being manipulated or not.
posted by scalefree at 12:55 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm sure that racism is a current problem in Australia, as it is in every racially mixed society I'm aware of, but I don't think that saying "blackface was never a problem in Australia" is beyond the pale, no matter how upset someone might get in hearing it.

I agree with you and not divabat that that comment is not particularly inappropriate or tendentious (though I think it's weirdly worded--"never a problem" is an odd way of looking at it, but I don't flag comments for "weirdly worded").

But I think that saying "racism is rare" and the whole "peckerheads" business are pretty outgecreeping comments, and I would have flagged those if I hadn't avoided that thread because I knew some people would be typing creepy shit in it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:56 PM on October 9, 2009


Note to self: Shetterly can be counted on for a class derail in every thread about race.

Note to self: I am also a socialist. How did I avoid this?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 PM on October 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah. It's a class issue. The most racist people tend to be rich. Middle and upper class people love to blame the working classes for racism, but racism has always been promoted by the rich. Arguably, it began with Bacon's Rebellion, and it's been going ever since.

Although I agree with you that racism is fostered by the wealthy white elites as a way of keeping the poor white people and poor people of color fighting between themselves, how is this particular bullshit "a class issue"? The Jackson family are wealthier and more powerful than a group of Australian doctors, and they're the people who were being mocked as caricatured black stereotypes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:59 PM on October 9, 2009


shetterly, it would be really nice if you could maybe not do that in every single MeTa thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:01 PM on October 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


Okay, rich people hiring racists to do racist routines on national television isn't a class issue. My bad. Carry on.
posted by shetterly at 1:03 PM on October 9, 2009


Sidhedevil, you really think they were mocking the Jackson Five and not black people? I think you could do a skit mocking the Jackson Five's clothes and music and dance moves in a way that was specific to them, that exaggerated the band's most characteristic elements.

That skit?

It was just about shoe polish and jumping around on stage. That's simple, old-fashioned laughing at the coons racism.
posted by shetterly at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2009


Thanks, The Light Fantastic. I was composing a tedious explanation of what "safe space" means in the context of conversations involving minority or marginalized groups in another window, but work kept getting in the way, and now you've put it better than I could have.
posted by Shepherd at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2009


I think there's also an open question as to whether the matter of safety was genuine or a melodramatic overstatement meant to push our buttons.

It's hard for me not to see this as the "tone argument" in play, and I don't think that's cool or appropriate. It is a very very common strategy by people who are in a position of higher status in a discussion (adults with children, teachers with students, for just two examples) to suggest that the person of lower status in the discussion is being manipulative, melodramatic, or overemotional.

Of course, sometimes said person is being manipulative--that does happen. I'm not seeing it here, but of course we may disagree.

I want to be very honest, though, and say that I feel like a lot of the "divabat doesn't really feel the way she said she did" comments in this thread are pretty creepy examples of the "tone argument." And seeing as it's 6:00 in the morning in Australia, I don't think it's worthwhile to speculate about what she feels until she's, you know, awake.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sidhedevil, you really think they were mocking the Jackson Five and not black people?

Yes, I think a group called "The Jackson Jive" performing music made famous by the Jackson family is referring specifically to the Jackson family. Call me crazy if you like.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:07 PM on October 9, 2009


Oh, I am so glad I previewed, since I had typed in a long response about my understanding of why we have MeTa, and Jessamyn stepped in with her thoughts (which I was curious to hear) about it.

What we're discussing in MeTa here is the flexibility of the idea of talking about topics in a heated discussion and how much that sort of thing can alienate people and how we feel, as a community about that.

Thanks! I am interested in that discussion. I think there are a few people on each side of the fence - some thinking the comments in the MeFi were unreasonable, and some not. I agree with others who state that the level of discourse within the original fold is within the general boundary. I like contentious debate, that's why I read this site rather than joined a knitting and crochet forum (not to say knitting cannot get heated). I mostly like to read, but sometimes I like to chime in. I hope that we as a community endeavor to be civil, but accept that others hold different opinions. And I really hope that doesn't change.

/not overstating for effect, sincerely interested in the issue.
posted by bunnycup at 1:08 PM on October 9, 2009


Wait a minute. Sidhedevil, you're defending that racist shit?

Sorry about being a bit hot now, but I just watched the thing. I went there expecting to see that folks had over-reacted to something that was only meant to mock the Jackson Five.

But that clip's critics are right. It's pure racist shit.
posted by shetterly at 1:10 PM on October 9, 2009


Hell, it's not just racist shit. The vocal imitation of Michael? Add homophobia to the charges.
posted by shetterly at 1:12 PM on October 9, 2009


Harry Connick is my hero of the day. Maybe he didn't hit anyone because he couldn't decide who to hit first.
posted by shetterly at 1:16 PM on October 9, 2009


shetterly: I'm totally with jessamyn. You bring up class every time race is mentioned. Those of us who have read more than one of these threads can already see your comments coming a mile away. "Oh, a thread about race. shetterly is going to turn this into a class issue." Honestly, it doesn't even need to be said. We get it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:17 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course they're making fun of the Jacksons specifically. And they way they have chosen to do so mocks blacks in general.

Is there a class element at play? Probably, but there's probably also a touch of xenophobia, a hint of tall poppy syndrome, and maybe a few dozen more elements at play here. The dominant element is race, however, and I suspect the frustration with the fact that discussions about race always include somebody bringing up class is that it often serves as a mechanism for moving the conversation away from race, when that subject has barely had a chance to get aired out. If I can suggest something: Unless you honestly feel that class is the most important element in a specific discussion about racism, it might not be necessary to bring it up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:17 PM on October 9, 2009


grapefruitmoon, ignignokt brought it up. Now, if you want to defend the folks who decided to put that racist shit on the air, that's your right.
posted by shetterly at 1:19 PM on October 9, 2009


Grapefruitmoon is doing nothing of the sort, shetterly, and ignignokt seems to have raised it in jest.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:20 PM on October 9, 2009


if you want to defend the folks who decided to put that racist shit on the air, that's your right.

Just because people think your predictable tangents are annoying doesn't mean they approve of the things you condemn.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:21 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Assuming that people are expressing their opinions/disagreement in good faith and aren't racist jackasses and/or historically ignorant, how does one go about making another poster feel "safe" in this context? Are there other options than "avoid the subject" or "keep your divergent opinions to yourself"?
posted by Challahtronix at 1:22 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sidhedevil, you're defending that racist shit?

grapefruitmoon, ignignokt brought it up. Now, if you want to defend the folks who decided to put that racist shit on the air, that's your right.

Wow, that's some quality trolling.
posted by kmz at 1:22 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Now, if you want to defend the folks who decided to put that racist shit on the air, that's your right.

Please, please, PLEASE do not put words in my mouth. I beg of you. I was speaking to you, and no one else, about your commentary in this and other race related threads and NOTHING ELSE. Do not turn this around into some issue about opinions that I have at no point expressed.

Putting me on the defensive about stuff that I never even ALLUDED to saying is a cheap move.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:23 PM on October 9, 2009


Astro Zombie, they're using the Jacksons in a half-assed way to mock black people. If they meant to mock the Jacksons specifically, they would've put a little more effort into the costumes and the moves. That looked like somebody who created a routine based on vague memories of seeing the Jacksons on MTV.

Look, I'll defend people's right to use make-up to look like anyone they want. But when you do it to so little purpose, with so little thought about what you're doing? That's just racist shit.
posted by shetterly at 1:23 PM on October 9, 2009


Do you think I disagree with your assessment? You're actually rephrasing something I said right here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:25 PM on October 9, 2009


Wait a minute. Sidhedevil, you're defending that racist shit?

What? Have you suddenly suffered some kind of catastrophic brain injury? Or slipped into Bizarro World?

Saying "this is racism and I don't see a class element to it" is not "defending racist shit" in any way. Did you miss my ten zillion comments in this thread about how it's offensive and racist?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:25 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Putting me on the defensive about stuff that I never even ALLUDED to saying is a cheap move.

Fair enough, and I apologize. Is it more accurate to say you would prefer to avoid discussing who is promoting the racist bullshit?
posted by shetterly at 1:26 PM on October 9, 2009


Right here, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:26 PM on October 9, 2009


If they meant to mock the Jacksons specifically, they would've put a little more effort into the costumes and the moves.

Are you fucking for real? They called themselves "The Jackson Jive." They then made up and acted like the worst blackface caricatures ever, not because they were classist rather than racist, but because they're totally untalented hacks who were blind to the astonishing racism of their performance choices.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:27 PM on October 9, 2009


Is it more accurate to say you would prefer to avoid discussing who is promoting the racist bullshit?

Shetterly, we know that rich white people are the ones promoting racist bullshit. You leave out the "white" part that comes in between the "rich" and "people" every. single. time.

The targets of this racist bullshit included poor black people (who are the targets of minstrelsy), and rich black people (the Jackson family, whose name was used and to whom this embarrassing bit of "cooning" was described as "a tribute").
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2009


shetterly: "grapefruitmoon, ignignokt brought it up."

fucking stop! you did this same thing in the other damn thread. this is your axe that you've ground before, and you don't get to pawn it off on someone else that you're grinding it again. just because someone else mentioned class (I strongly suspect that ignignokt was actually trying to joke about your contributions to the other two threads) doesn't mean you get a free pass to do this again. that class is part of racism is not being debated, and you don't need to remind anyone of the fact every time racism comes up. you've made 9 comments in half an hour, and you're derailing the thread. just stop. please. just stop.

also, your attacks on grapefruitmoon are way the fuck out of line, including your backhanded apology.

shetterly: "Putting me on the defensive about stuff that I never even ALLUDED to saying is a cheap move.

Fair enough, and I apologize. Is it more accurate to say you would prefer to avoid discussing who is promoting the racist bullshit?
"
posted by shmegegge at 1:30 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I complain about America-centricism and get told to move on and skip the thread and also told that I make equally shitty posts. I am, in short, told the problem is me. This is, of course, somewhere between partially and completely true.

You think the people in the thread are being racists? Go read a different thread.
posted by GuyZero at 1:32 PM on October 9, 2009


Saying "this is racism and I don't see a class element to it" is not "defending racist shit" in any way.

Yes, I understand that you don't see a class element.

But who said they were "classist rather than racist"? They're classist AND racist. That's what intersectionality is all about: both, not either.
posted by shetterly at 1:33 PM on October 9, 2009


[slight derail]
Reading what some folks --- by no means most or even many -- have written in this thread and the other current MeTa race thread has somehow has made me even sadder and angrier than I was yesterday evening about the fact that a thread with a post as moving and profound as gingerailment's in it devolved into a discussion of pie and Dr. Strange.

[/slight derail]

But I still have hope. I already think MeFi and MeTa race threads are, on the whole, a lot better than they used to be, and I credit the heightened awareness about non-normative issues raised by the tireless work of our female members in fighting boyzone for improving the tone. Thanks!
posted by lord_wolf at 1:33 PM on October 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


Is it just me, or is every MeTa thread starting to look the same? Maybe it's time for the cabal to shake the Meta Snowglobe again, let some fresh, virgin drama fall to ground. The old drama is crusting over and showing a suspicious hint of yellow.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:34 PM on October 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


Re: The class thing, I unconsciously everyone read the other thread about race and was making a joke about the instant "this is about class, not race!" responses that came up there. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by ignignokt at 1:35 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Okay, I'm taking a time-out. Maybe when I've been away from that clip for as long as y'all have, I'll be more dispassionate too.

ignignokt, no worries. I did think your comment was perfectly legit, right until the assholes started talking about their professions.
posted by shetterly at 1:39 PM on October 9, 2009


Is it just me, or is every MeTa thread starting to look the same?

Not just you Flo baby, not just you.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2009


But who said they were "classist rather than racist"? They're classist AND racist. That's what intersectionality is all about: both, not either.

I guess I misparsed your comment here:

Yeah. It's a class issue.

In future, perhaps writing something more like "Yeah. It's a class issue, too" might avoid that kind of confusion in your readers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:43 PM on October 9, 2009


In future, perhaps writing something more like "Yeah. It's a class issue, too" might avoid that kind of confusion in your readers.

Good point. Sorry. Taking my time-out now.
posted by shetterly at 1:48 PM on October 9, 2009


You got class in my race! You got race in my class! FORM CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD AND KILL EACH OTHER OTHER SEMANTIC ISSUES!
posted by Artw at 1:49 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or is every MeTa thread starting to look the same?

Drama just isn't what it used to be. Too many hurt feelings for not enough cause.
posted by bunnycup at 1:49 PM on October 9, 2009


You think the people in the thread are being racists? Go read a different thread.

With some topics, I just think "haters gonna hate" (thanks jtron) and move on, but
I think racism is one of those things that usually needs to be checked. It's like letting someone spreading an idea like "Obama was educated in Islamic extremist madrassas." Sometimes if you let that shit go, people will pick up on it.

This is not to say you have to sit there and argue with the posters that say things that are racist or misleading until they admit that they're wrong, but presenting a different point of view or mention where they're wrong goes a long way toward keeping the racist snowball from growing.

Maybe this is a little less necessary on MetaFilter than it is in other situations, but I think it's generally the right thing to do.
posted by ignignokt at 2:04 PM on October 9, 2009


But I still have hope. I already think MeFi and MeTa race threads are, on the whole, a lot better than they used to be, and I credit the heightened awareness about non-normative issues raised by the tireless work of our female members in fighting boyzone for improving the tone. Thanks!


I'd like to endorse this, and especially give credit to muddgirl and grapefruitmoon, among several others, for helping me think more deeply about certain issues (and for maintaining savoir faire throughout). Sidhedevil and Astro Zombie are both pretty spiffy, too.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:11 PM on October 9, 2009


I don't think that the question of Australians' ignorance of the history of minstrelsy in America is that relevant.

I have some news for you.

Now, brace yourself, because this is obviously going to be stunning news for you, but the rest of the world is not, in fact, obliged to know and kowtow to every preoccupation of the culture of the United States of America, which is itself not, in fact the ultimate and final arbitar of all that is good and righteous in the world.
posted by rodgerd at 2:15 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


One of these days I'm going to create a sockpuppet, be very prolific for about a month, then have an epic flameout in Metatalk... then I'm going to log in as myself again and pretend that person flaming out is someone else.

I guess I just have to sit on my left hand for a while and use to type the flame out...
posted by qvantamon at 2:16 PM on October 9, 2009


I think it's generally the right thing to do.

So divabat did it. And now... ? Now what? What's the "call to action" to use a trite marketing phrase? Does she want those other commenters censured? Banned? Their comments removed? Does she want them to think in a completely different way?

Sure, those comments are some combination of factually wrong and generally offensive. So what? There's no guarantee that you're going to love every byte of text posted to MetaFilter.

At any rate, this is anotehr hit-and-run callout where the OP makes... it's not even an accusation, I'm not exactly sure how to categorize the issue at hand. The OP complains using language that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and then disappears. And everyone else has a heated argument about semantics with a few ad homenims thrown in for good measure.
posted by GuyZero at 2:16 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't feel safe" is a perfectly valid and well understood way of describing the mixture of fear/mistrust/discomfort/anxiety

No, it's a perfectly valid and well understood way of describing the possibility of physical or mental trauma. The "ignorance" displayed is by people who seriously expect the rest of us to adopt this farcical phrasing.
posted by spaltavian at 2:17 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Now, brace yourself, because this is obviously going to be stunning news for you, but the rest of the world is not, in fact, obliged to know and kowtow to every preoccupation of the culture of the United States of America, which is itself not, in fact the ultimate and final arbitar of all that is good and righteous in the world.

Brace yourself: Nobody said they did. But when Australians choose to make fun of American performers, and borrow from an American performance tradition, doing 20 seconds worth of research on the internet doesn't mean they are kowtowing.

And kowtowing isn't really considered tasteful phraseology anymore, and that's widely understood everywhere.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Drama just isn't what it used to be. Too many hurt feelings for not enough cause.

Good to know who to ask if something is ouchy enough for legitimate hurt feelings.
posted by rtha at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


At any rate, this is anotehr hit-and-run callout where the OP makes... it's not even an accusation, I'm not exactly sure how to categorize the issue at hand. The OP complains using language that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and then disappears.

What, did you want her to stay up all night?
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:22 PM on October 9, 2009


At any rate, this is anotehr hit-and-run callout

It's 7 a.m. in Australia. People are not obliged to stay up all night so that the posters in US and Canada can get instant responses.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:24 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


People are also not obliged to make MetaTalk posts.
posted by GuyZero at 2:26 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good to know who to ask if something is ouchy enough for legitimate hurt feelings.

Good thing I am not in serious fear for my LIFE because of that comment!
posted by bunnycup at 2:27 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


People are also not obliged to make MetaTalk posts.

"Discouraging people from making MeTa posts is exactly what shouldn't happen."
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:28 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie, I believe the need to stay up all night could have been cut short by specific quotes and suggested remedies. That did not happen.

It's okay to make a post or a question that isn't totally clear; I have made unclear questions. However, if I want someone to do something, my choice is either to be clear about what I want or I can monitor what is going on. Nobody said that the latter was required, but, if it is skipped, than the former would be best employed.
posted by adipocere at 2:29 PM on October 9, 2009


People are also not obliged to make MetaTalk posts.

Calling something "hit and run" when pretty much the entire thread has occurred during the original poster's sleeping hours is kind of silly.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:29 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


At any rate to be quasi-helpful, if you're going to make a MeTa post, you could at least state what is is that you want to see happen and not simply make ambiguous statements. The OP has not stated that any site rules have been broken nor has she made any specific requests. Where's this supposed to go exactly?
posted by GuyZero at 2:30 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, looking up kowtowing online, it still seems quite popular, despite my memories of considerable discussion in publishing circles about the phrase, in that it takes a specific Chinese expression of respect and turns it into one of groverling obsequience, and therefore is not especially respectful. I guess that conclusion is not universal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:31 PM on October 9, 2009


However, if I want someone to do something, my choice is either to be clear about what I want or I can monitor what is going on.

I think that divabat wanted to express an opinion that she, as someone living in Australia who is a member of an ethnic/racial group that is a minority in that country, was freaked out by some of the posts in that thread.

Could she have been clearer? Absolutely. But calling it a "hit and run" is pretty out of order considering that it's sleepytime in Oz.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:31 PM on October 9, 2009


The OP has not stated that any site rules have been broken nor has she made any specific requests. Where's this supposed to go exactly?

THANK YOU!

Also, if you want to start a discussion about something (which I assume divabat does), start the discussion when you are free to....discuss it? Not mandatory, but sure helpful for useful discourse.
posted by bunnycup at 2:32 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Alright, on careful re-reading of Jess's comment, I'm rehashing here. I will process to pillory myself on a private discussion board for doing so.
posted by GuyZero at 2:32 PM on October 9, 2009


er, process -> proceed
posted by GuyZero at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2009


Do MetaTalk threads generally start with the OP offering solutions? That doesn't jibe with my exprerience of them. Sometimes it's just to get the ball of a discussion rolling in MeTa, instead of MeFi. That seems totally legitimate to me, and an actual discussion has ensued.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, if you want to start a discussion about something (which I assume divabat does), start the discussion when you are free to....discuss it?

She did. The problem with that was that most of the people in the US and Canada were asleep at that point. By the time they had woken up, she had most likely gone to sleep.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:34 PM on October 9, 2009


Eh, good point. There's no actual time where divabat and most of the US mefite's would likely be awake concurrently.
posted by bunnycup at 2:36 PM on October 9, 2009


spaltavian: "No, it's a perfectly valid and well understood way of describing the possibility of physical or mental trauma. The "ignorance" displayed is by people who seriously expect the rest of us to adopt this farcical phrasing."

ok, so we know now that you're not familiar with the definition of ignorance. let's also put the context back into the quote of mine you butchered:

some people in this thread are familiar with the language of counselors, social workers, therapists et al. some people are not. among the former, and among the people they counsel and work with, saying something like "I don't feel safe" is a perfectly valid and well understood way of describing the mixture of fear/mistrust/discomfort/anxiety that none of those words fully convey individually. further it is a matter of mental/emotional well being, not just actual fear of physical attack. that you are not familiar with this is ok.

see, that whole quoting out of context thing can drastically alter the meaning of a sentence.
posted by shmegegge at 2:37 PM on October 9, 2009


. Is it more accurate to say you would prefer to avoid discussing who is promoting the racist bullshit?

No, it's more accurate to say that I've noticed that you bring class into every discussion that ever happens about race and I don't think you need to do it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:38 PM on October 9, 2009


Oh wow, I don't know what I did to earn your praise, Infinite Jest, but it totally made my day. I'm glad that my MeTa contributions have not been totally useless. Thnx!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2009


Good thing I am not in serious fear for my LIFE because of that comment!

Quit it already. Jesus.
posted by rtha at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2009 [11 favorites]


So divabat did it. And now... ? Now what? What's the "call to action" to use a trite marketing phrase? Does she want those other commenters censured? Banned? Their comments removed? Does she want them to think in a completely different way?

Sure, those comments are some combination of factually wrong and generally offensive. So what? There's no guarantee that you're going to love every byte of text posted to MetaFilter.


Well, I'm speaking more generally to the idea of speaking up in a thread (or via MetaTalk) rather than just ignoring it and going to another thread as you suggested, not DivaBat's specific complaint, but I think this MeTa thread is fine, too.

And like I said, it's not about punishing any particular commenters or even getting them to admit that they're wrong.
posted by ignignokt at 2:41 PM on October 9, 2009


Rodgerd: I have some news for you.

Now, brace yourself, because this is obviously going to be stunning news for you, but the rest of the world is not, in fact, obliged to know and kowtow to every preoccupation of the culture of the United States of America


Right, but the point is that it doesn't matter whether these performers had any knowledge of the US traditions or not. It doesn't matter if they'd never heard of minstelry. It doesn't matter if the US had never existed. What they were doing was, in itself, racist. Which is the point I believe ActingTheGoat was making.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:42 PM on October 9, 2009


The US is a profoundly racist and comprehensively stupid country.

PS: I am an American. Pls fav'rite me moar.
posted by orthogonality at 2:46 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm jumping in late, but I've been away from the computer or a while. I started the thread because I thought it was a good starting point from which to discuss modern conceptions of racial issues in Australia.

I'm not unfamiliar with the country; I am a white American who lived there for a number of years and I have family there. I really like the place – hell, I'm going back for Christmas, anyone want to do a meetup?

That said, my experiences with race issues were, to be frank, largely not positive. My work took me into regular, sustained contact with indigenous Australians, to a far greater extent than average white Australians, and yet when I would discuss my work with people (typically, civil servants and university students, this was in Canberra), the reactions tended towards some truly awful things. I recall meeting a woman who worked for DFAT telling me that indigenous Australians were lazy dole bludgers who didn't "realize how well they've got it!" Recently in the US, I encountered a trio of Canberrans who said that a fence should be built around the NT and all indigenous Australians locked up inside it. These were people I had only just met in a bar, and who weren't even drunk (yet). This was the sort of talk they were comfortable in sharing with me, because I was white and I knew about their country.

Granted, those are very extreme examples. But I found in Australia that folks were a bit more tonedeaf about race and racial issues than, in my experience, were people in Canada, the US, and Britain. My thoughts are that Australians tended to only see racism when it occurred in Big Ways (see: Cronulla, KKK, etc.) and that the idea of small racism (see: White Privilege, etc.) was a genuinely hard thing to get through to them on.

Again, I don't want to sound like I'm shitting on the country and its people. There's so much good over there, but in certain areas, they're behind the curve and need to start moving into new realizations and understandings of the ways that racism can pervade a society. Of course of course OF COURSE this is all not to say that America is non-racist. Of course that's not the case! But I wasn't trying to debate American racism with that thread; we do that all the time.

Finally, I hope divabat feels safe in speaking in MetaFilter, because she always pops up in Australia-related threads and I really value her contributions. I do not doubt for an instant that, as a woman of Southeast Asian descent in Australia, she has seen and experienced racism and sexism in ways that your (say) typical Aussie bloke simply has no idea about, and furthermore some of the responses in that thread make it obvious that many typical (read: white) Australians would have a hard time understanding or seeing the racism she experiences, even if explicitly pointed out to them. This is what Australian society needs to start doing a lot of self-reflection and work on.
posted by barnacles at 2:46 PM on October 9, 2009 [18 favorites]


rtha, your sarcasm filter is broken!
posted by bunnycup at 2:47 PM on October 9, 2009


bunnycup, it came across as sarcasm intended solely to belittle the OP for "not feeling safe." As such I don't find it funny. I'm guessing rtha doesn't either.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:52 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


I actually don't even know quonsar's background, but of course I recognize the user name.

I knew it would all pass away eventually, of course. I just didn't realize it would happen so soon.
posted by timeistight at 2:53 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


One by one, the stars are blinking out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:55 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


bunnycup, it came across as sarcasm intended solely to belittle the OP for "not feeling safe."

Oh, well then you both got it right. Sorry for the confusion!
posted by bunnycup at 2:56 PM on October 9, 2009


Racism? THIS! IS! A CLASS ISSUE!
posted by chunking express at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2009


chunking, you're late.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2009


Late, but no less amusing.
posted by bunnycup at 3:02 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah sorry. I have been watching Heroes. I can't stop myself.
posted by chunking express at 3:03 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shhhhhh, there's no excuse for a sense of humor in an otherwise serious, Very Important thread!
posted by bunnycup at 3:05 PM on October 9, 2009


I knew it would all pass away eventually, of course. I just didn't realize it would happen so soon.
posted by timeistight


Or perhaps it's because I just don't care to remember information about people's backgrounds here on MeFi, or to go digging it up. I have better things to fill my brain with.

If it's a dickwad comment, it's a dickwad comment. End of story.
posted by HopperFan at 3:05 PM on October 9, 2009


bunnycup, you're being a jerk in a thread that doesn't need jerks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:08 PM on October 9, 2009 [16 favorites]


I'm guessing rtha doesn't either.

This guess is correct.
posted by rtha at 3:09 PM on October 9, 2009



Shhhhhh, there's no excuse for a sense of humor in an otherwise serious, Very Important thread!


You are being totally unpleasant here. This community gave you a lot of support when you went through a very difficult time and I do not understand why this is making you go all snarky.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:14 PM on October 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


Ambrosia Voyeur, GOOD POINT. The OP is already seriously frightened ffs!! A little bit of humor could push her over the edge.
posted by bunnycup at 3:14 PM on October 9, 2009


Jess, I'm not a bit snarky. I'm jesting. Relax!
posted by bunnycup at 3:16 PM on October 9, 2009


Shhhhhh, there's no excuse for a sense of humor in an otherwise serious, Very Important thread!

Seriously, bunnycup, I'm not sure what the grounds for your investment in being so consistently jerkish in this thread are but I kind of wish you'd either stick to discussing this stuff in something like respectful earnest or just clock out of the thread; you seem at this point to be hanging around solely and specifically to be mean, and that doesn't seem like a great plan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:17 PM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


bunnycup, STOP IT. I mean, holy fuck, you're just being a complete asshat in this thread.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:17 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


bunnycup, your options at this point are to take a walk, or have a walk-taking being given to you. Your choice.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:18 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Due to the time zone issues, the actual debate in the thread in question seems to be between Australians, while the MetaTalk arguments are only between Americans. None of the people called out actually showed up here, for instance. That doesn't seem that useful.
posted by smackfu at 3:18 PM on October 9, 2009


Can you make that a perma? I wouldn't want to chill discussion by mentioning my dead kid!
posted by bunnycup at 3:19 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


True, but we got to go through the whole class-in-race issue again, on an issue that for once pretty clearly doesn't have class as a confounding variable.
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on October 9, 2009


ah. drunk posting.
posted by shmegegge at 3:21 PM on October 9, 2009


Is it, perhaps, 5 o'clock where you are?
posted by small_ruminant at 3:21 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can you make that a perma? I wouldn't want to chill discussion by mentioning my dead kid!

And my irony meter goes bang. Holy fuck.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:22 PM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


The GRAR levels are harshing my general life buzz.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:22 PM on October 9, 2009


Okay, take the day off.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:23 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're thinking of Woomera, it's been closed since 2003.

Nice. Go Australia!
posted by chunking express at 3:25 PM on October 9, 2009


> chill discussion by mentioning my dead kid!

> ah. drunk posting.

I'm confused. Is a "dead kid" a cocktail? What's in it?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:26 PM on October 9, 2009


Ambrosia Voyeur: "I'm confused. Is a "dead kid" a cocktail? What's in it?"

no, I mean that she's acting like she's drunk. a dead kid is not a cocktail.
posted by shmegegge at 3:27 PM on October 9, 2009


Can you make that a perma? I wouldn't want to chill discussion by mentioning my dead kid!

Oh what the hell.

Please, bunnycup, go take a walk or something. Clean out the garage, watch a good-but-stupid movie - something, anything.

On preview: and now you have time for those things. All the better.
posted by rtha at 3:28 PM on October 9, 2009


Always a bit strange how people go mental on MetaTalk.
posted by chunking express at 3:29 PM on October 9, 2009


Wow that was uncalled for AV. Way over the line.

Shittiest meta thread ever. On both sides.
posted by vronsky at 3:29 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


sorry, schmegegge, I'm far more prone to faux-naivete than actual. jerkishness begetting jerkishness. mea culpa.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:31 PM on October 9, 2009


I feel like I can never have a flameout now, because I've met cortex face to face and laughed and been drunk with him, and shitting on the site will be like kicking him straight in the junk after that. More mod tours, maybe?
posted by adamdschneider at 3:33 PM on October 9, 2009


This community gave you a lot of support when you went through a very difficult time

Uhh, seriously? Don't do this.
posted by spaltavian at 3:34 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I cannot stress this enough: Beets in their hamburgers.

One should not expect people to understand racial sensitivity when they can't even understand a chicken salad sandwich.

IT'S NOT A CHICKEN BREAST WITH LETTUCE, YOU RACIST FUCKS.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:34 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh give me a break, vronsky, if she's in here blithely waving around her personal travails while being derisive of other people's, making arguments about the insubstantiality of online discourse to effect feelings, I don't feel exceptioanally obligated to take the highest road in response to her. But it's not a who's the darkest fucker contest, so again, my bad.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:34 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm confused. Is a "dead kid" a cocktail? What's in it?

Her. Child. Died. For anyone who hasn't twigged to the meta-issues here. AV I really hope you didn't know that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:34 PM on October 9, 2009


Uhh, seriously? Don't do this.

Don't do what? Ask people not to abuse the community? Remind people that the community has been there for them in the past? This is not a secret sort of like "we gave you money" thing, this is a "you asked a lot of questions and got a lot of advice here" situation, it's not sekrit mod stuff and I think it's apropos when someone seems to suddenly be being crappy to someone else having a hard time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:36 PM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh my goodness.

I was going to come in here to talk about "feeling safe" commenting on MeFi, but the topic seems to have shifted.
posted by subbes at 3:37 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, I didn't know it till she said it, apparently apropos of nothing.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:38 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm jumping in late, but I've been away from the computer or a while. I started the thread because I thought it was a good starting point from which to discuss modern conceptions of racial issues in Australia.

And I think that, regardless of how these threads tend to get really contentious, it's worthwhile to have them. I think this sort of follows on what ignignokt was saying.

I think that, on Metafilter, with each post we each choose how much we want to add fuel to the troll-fire and how much we want to step back, compose ourselves, and post something that is considerate, humane, and thoughtful, while still maintaining a strong perspective: it can be done, and the latter tactic is in fact more powerful.

I know all of us have been guilty at one time or another of acting like trolls, it's certainly true for me. This probably has a very strong correlation with how much we are personally challenged by the topic of the discussion at hand. But the thing I've always loved about Metafilter since I discovered it was the fact that those people who tend to stick around on this site realize that we are all humans behind the keybard and monitor, and don't feel like we have the right to wantonly hurt people, we don't have the right to be consistently facile or flippant, and we genuinely want the world to be a better place. Based on the behavior of the mods, I believe I'm right about that, as they consistently work to engender a particular environment which I think is congruent with what I'm talking about.

None of us can be effectively prescriptive about other people's behavior, which I think is what also makes these Metatalk threads so difficult for so many people--they are often about behavior that we don't like, and people bristle when they feel like they're being told what to do, right? However, it's important for people to be able to express their discontent and give the main threads a chance to continue without getting derailed...but now I'm telling you all what you already know.

I'm just trying to say (without trying to tell anyone how to act, but to make a suggestion): if, next time we read someone's post and it pisses us off 'cause that person was being an ASSHOLE and then we start writing the MOST pointed post nailing them with their OWN bullshit because they FUCKING DESERVE it those racist/sexist/nationalist/stupid/ignorant/arrogant/whatever dickheads...and instead of hitting post, we ask ourselves if we are really helping the thread, helping ourselves, if we could possibly lighten up and come from a place of humor and compassion and making this community a better place, well, then I think this community would only improve.

Okay, that's my probably irritating, self-righteous spiel for you all right now. But, as jessamyn said recently, quite cogently, "everyone on MeFi is either irritable or irritating and many of us are both." C'est la vie.
posted by dubitable at 3:38 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah. It's gotten hugely unsafe. Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:41 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wait, didn't we have a dozen MeTa threads awhile back about how some women on the site felt unsafe because of sexist comments? How is this really any different? Except that there are probably not many Australian people of color on the site (divabat is the only one that comes to mind).
posted by desjardins at 3:43 PM on October 9, 2009


Don't do what?

Honestly? To an outsider, it kind of looked like you threw that in her face. Getting help when your child dies means you never get to snark when somebody makes a hyperbolic post? Really? I thought you guys were the ones saying don't bring up people's posting history. That was pretty disappointing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:44 PM on October 9, 2009 [17 favorites]


Jesus fuck, people. Way to mar Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:44 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Could one of the mods please remove the "cocktail" comments? They are unbelievably offensive and make me ashamed to be a member here.
posted by vronsky at 3:47 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


To an outsider, it kind of looked like you threw that in her face.

My bad then, I think I think about MeTa as a little more insular and only populated by peopel who sort of already know this stuff so I say things I might otherwise stick in an email. My apologies.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:48 PM on October 9, 2009


They are unbelievably offensive and make me ashamed to be a member here.

I agree, but I don't think they should be deleted.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:49 PM on October 9, 2009


I agree with the comments to the effect that bringing up bunnycup's previous reliance on MeTa, or wherever this grief support stuff happened, was pointless as a contribution to the public forum. It seems to have provoked her going to another level of snarky antagonism, anyway, with the LETS JUST TALK ABOUT MY DEAD KID THEN SHALL WE bomb which I reacted so uncoolly to.

I don't know how to recuperate MeTa's tendency to create identifiers for people as reductive as "the lady who fell off a truck" or whatever, but I don't think continuing to spread the news of who they are in those specific iconic ways to those not already in-the-know does that best.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:50 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because like, if I want to talk about someone's challenges, I'll be in a thread about them. I'm in a thread about divabat's. Right?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:51 PM on October 9, 2009


Getting help when your child dies means you never get to snark when somebody makes a hyperbolic post?

If you make a joke once, you can say you were being snarky.

If you make the same joke like 10 times, you're being a jerk.

No one should get a Jerk Pass. If you're being a jerk, people should be able to ask you to stop, even if it involves (gasp) mentioning things that have happened on this site in the past.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:51 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


MeTa's tendency to create identifiers for people as reductive as "the lady who fell off a truck" or whatever

The people who use that UserNotes GreaseMonkey script (which lets you jot down your grudges for future reference) don't help.
posted by smackfu at 3:52 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


To an outsider, it kind of looked like you threw that in her face.

It didn't sound that way to me. (And I didn't put the username with the reason for receiving support until the it was typed out explicitly.) I thought it was a warranted, level-headed plea, actually. The longer version might have been "You felt 'safe' and comfortable enough to share rough stuff here, so you need to acknowledge other people's rights to feel 'safe' and comfortable too, and to discuss those boundaries."

We all have shit and tragedies in our lives. Some is made public, some is kept private. We don't get to rank our own tragedies as worse than anyone else's, and we don't get to use them to excuse assholish behavior. And that is very definitely what was on display here.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:55 PM on October 9, 2009 [14 favorites]


Well to change up the discussion a little.

"There are people on this site who apparently think that sending really angry MeMails that include shit like "Fuck you" and "You are the worst thing about this site" is part of "disagreement". I know, because I've gotten some. I think those people were being assholes, but I'm sure that they'd characterize that behavior as simple disagreement."

Which is weird, because I wouldn't expect you to get those notes, and I can't remember ever getting them and I seem like the kind of person who would get 'em.

Not sayin' you don't, just saying 'How weird.'
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 PM


I think those two comments bookend, and I suspect on purpose by klang, something I find interesting that has a tendency to happen in some discussions around here. An insightful comment about it here by adipocere.

I'm sorry to see this thread has devolved otherwise.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:56 PM on October 9, 2009


No worries, jessamyn. Sometimes shit doesn't come out the way you mean it to. Hell, it happened to me in this same thread. Based on my decreasing contacts numbers, I suspect somebody thought I was whining about having yet another -ism thread, when in fact I was whining about having to have another -ism thread. But those are the risks of writing shit in real time. Sometimes it doesn't come out the way you mean it to. But thanks for the apology. That was classy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:57 PM on October 9, 2009


The tricky bit is that you can say really nasty things in a MeMail, that you wouldn't say in these threads, and nobody can repost it because that's like a capitol offense.
posted by smackfu at 3:59 PM on October 9, 2009


You can send totally sketchy/abusive MeMail to us (or tell us about it) and we'll give someone some time off for it. Using the tool to harass or abuse other MeFites is against the rules. You can also say "hey you sent me abusive MeMail" and that's not breaking any rules.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:05 PM on October 9, 2009


Btw...

Could she have been clearer? Absolutely. But calling it a "hit and run" is pretty out of order considering that it's sleepytime in Oz.

So let's agree that the OP is pretty unclear and I'll admit that I was wrong to say "hit and run". Fair enough. Certainly it seems like everyone could use a bit more sleep around these parts.
posted by GuyZero at 4:09 PM on October 9, 2009


The people who use that UserNotes GreaseMonkey script (which lets you jot down your grudges for future reference) don't help.

*makes note in smackfu's profile*

Seriously, though, I use that script. I use it pretty much to remember the real names of mefites I meet at meetups. I think I have two notes attached to mefites along the lines of "troll, ignore [link to relevant thread]", and everything else is "Name is [realname]; owe a beer from meetup on [date]!"
posted by rtha at 4:11 PM on October 9, 2009


Remember how your mom use to kick you outta the house, 'cause you were spending too much time in front of the tv/videogames/trying her clothes on?

No? I bet if you went outside right now, you'd remember it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:18 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do Brandon's Mom's pants make my ass look big?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:22 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suppose I should be more specific. My comment wasn't about MeMail, but about the idea of basing an argument on anecdotal data and the possible insincerity that comes with it. Even to the extent where someone says "I saw that, it happened" and the counterpoint being "Really? That sounds a bit farfetched", of which neither seems to move a discussion into better terrain and the eventual prove it/disprove it question doesn't put it any closer to a resolve for some people. I don't know. Not that either of these things are wrong, it's just something I see happen and I am curious why some people use it as a foxhole when battling it out.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:25 PM on October 9, 2009


which I reacted so uncoolly to

I think you misspelled "cruelly."
posted by palliser at 4:27 PM on October 9, 2009


I think you misspelled "cruelly."

Come on, she didn't know; just let it go.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:30 PM on October 9, 2009


Morning. It's a quarter past 9 now; I just got up.

The person who said this was similar to the discussions on sexism in Mefi (and also The Light Fantastic and whoever brought up the sociology comparison) have the right idea. I don't literally think that someone's going to bang on my door and kill me, no. However, this sort of conversation disturbs me and makes me feel like my voice is not valued here on Mefi:

Me: This thing still disturbs (ethnic group) and here's why.
Them: But that's history! It doesn't exist now!
Me: No, it still exists now (examples).
Them: No it doesn't. You fail.
Me: I experienced it.
Them: You're just saying that to impress some chick.
Me: o_O

This sort of thing makes me feel that my experiences are not valued and that I should just shut up and move away. I spent a lot of time last night trying to get people to understand why their performances may not be very racially sensitive, and instead of "oh ok, I shall consider that" I get tons of defensiveness and people telling me I "jumped the gun". On things that I have been mulling about and considering for most of my life. Right.

What I would like to see on Metafilter:

* Concerns not being immediately dismissed off-hand
* Checks on the tone argument - "oh you're saying that wrong"
* People checking their privilege and not immediately denying the experiences other people have had.

my screen's a little messed up at the moment but hopefully that clears up some things for you.
posted by divabat at 4:34 PM on October 9, 2009 [13 favorites]


What really pissed me off is a comment earlier in the thread that basically stated that anybody who would take a stunt like that and turn it into an issue is only doing it to impress the chicks in their fucking liberal arts class or some bullshit like that.

Has that comment been deleted? I can't see it on thread - and I'm pretty much prepared to put on my warhead if any MeFite has made that comment.
posted by panboi at 4:37 PM on October 9, 2009


I feel like we need to post divabat's response in a new thread and start the fuck over.
posted by desjardins at 4:38 PM on October 9, 2009


Come on, she didn't know; just let it go.

If I'm reading correctly, she did know when she made the "cocktail" comment -- "faux-naivete" and all. she just didn't know before bunnycup brought it up, which was before.

But if I'm wrong, then I'm sorry for harping on it. It's just that as I read it, she did know before she made the comment, and in that case, it was exceptionally cruel.
posted by palliser at 4:40 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


divabat, you may have said already, but are you in some position of power in this organization putting on the performances? If so, why waste so much time trying to get them to understand? Some people just aren't open to being taught. You can state your (quite valid) viewpoints once, and if they brush them off, follow up with "That's fine, but you still need to find something else to perform." I wouldn't think it's the end of the world for them, but who knows, actors=drama.

If you're not in any kind of authoritative position, I'm sorry. That must be terribly frustrating.
posted by HopperFan at 4:42 PM on October 9, 2009


This sort of thing makes me feel that my experiences are not valued and that I should just shut up and move away.

Not at all, your experiences are valued, as is your opinion, especially on Metafilter. Don't shut up and don't move away and thank you for taking the time to clarify. I apologize if I came off as rude, demanding or insensitive, it was not my intent at all, just confused and wondering what you meant. Again, thanks for taking the time to respond, it is appreciated.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:48 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


HopperFan: No power or authority; in fact in comparison I'm rather new. And these are different people I'm dealing with, they live in a different country.
posted by divabat at 4:52 PM on October 9, 2009


"What's a dead kid?" was my uncool, cruel, however you take it, version of "wtf are you talking about with this dead kid business?" I mean, I assumed she was being straight about the actual kid, but she only mentioned it AS a conversation-stopper, which it was. I wasn't into her busting one of those out for no conceivable reason as the piece de resistance of a shit campaign, so I snarked my little heart out. And was a jerk, in a thread with no need of them, with a comment-joke about the inability to find an appropriate context for a "dead kid" in this thread. It was dark as fuck but only intended as snark about "why are we talking about you and your bizness," because lordamighty, I have a heart about actual kids who exist for more than snarky shouting, and probably wouldn't snark about them HAVING died or so.

So. Completely knowingly jerkish behavior. On Metatalk. Yep. Who's running the spanking machine? Did I mention my parents are getting divorced for the third time? That might be relevant. (It isn't.)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:55 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


divabat, I spent most of this thread wishing you wouldn't come back to it. I got het up wishing that, actually. I hope what you find here doesn't make your day sucky in any way.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:56 PM on October 9, 2009


Everyone's drinking but me.

Again.

>sigh<
posted by small_ruminant at 4:56 PM on October 9, 2009


Divabat: I'm wondering why you think the responses in the original thread weren't enough. I saw a lot of people pushing back against the denials of racism. How should the thread have gone? Again, this is a genuine question, not meant as a dismissal. And now I'm going to bed.
posted by creasy boy at 4:59 PM on October 9, 2009


Ambrosia Voyeur: aww. I got a MeMail asking to return, and a whole bunch of comments here on the same lines...so tadah! Thanks for the concern though.
posted by divabat at 5:00 PM on October 9, 2009


she only mentioned it AS a conversation-stopper, which it was. I wasn't into her busting one of those out for no conceivable reason as the piece de resistance of a shit campaign, so I snarked my little heart out.

To me it seems she mentioned it after Jessamyn brought it up here. Snarking about someone's dead child is exactly as you described: Jerkish.
posted by Houstonian at 5:00 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


...then I guess I already described it pretty well.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:02 PM on October 9, 2009


creasy boy: For a while there I felt that I was the only one speaking up about the racism denial (though more came by when I logged off). Also, just the fact that there *are* racism deniers out there who would discredit what I'm saying was disturbing. If they were open to speaking up, who else is dismissing what I have to say offhand but just can't be bothered to comment? I don't want to keep fighting this all day; I've been doing it for most of my life already.
posted by divabat at 5:02 PM on October 9, 2009


"Do Brandon's Mom's pants make my ass look big?"

No, your ass would look big in pretty much anything, lardo.

:)
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:03 PM on October 9, 2009


Has that comment been deleted? I can't see it on thread - and I'm pretty much prepared to put on my warhead if any MeFite has made that comment.

At the top of this thread, Creeky linked to several sketchy comments made in response to divabat, including the "calling out racism just to get girls" remark. It may have been inadvertent, but there was definitely an ugly browbeating vibe going on there for a while that I think subsided, but quite possibly only because divabat walked away from the thread.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:04 PM on October 9, 2009


I can't read that thread either.

Listen up folks. Yes, blackface is racist and that segment on Hey Hey should never have gone ahead. But to then enter a thread on MeFi and start making generalistic comments that suggest Australia is on the whole a racist country full of illiterates and rednecks is racist as well. It's also not Ok to make such generalizations even if you're an Australian. Turgid, I'm looking at you.

Yes, there are definitely racist people in Australia, just as there are racists in every other country in the world. And yep, anyone who denies the segment was racist is a moron. But to claim that a stupid act on a stupid segment of a stupid show is indicative of anything in Australia is itself stupid. And to claim that the relatively small segment of Australian society who deny the segment but managed to get their comments made public was racist is indicative of the Australian populace as a whole is just as dumb.

That is all. Back to being on my honemoon.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:07 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The comments creeky linked were all by one user. I agree they were dismissive, rude and heavily reliant on internet putdowns, and that they also downplayed the racism in the performance and in Australian society generally. But why call out the whole thread?
posted by palliser at 5:08 PM on October 9, 2009


I cannot stress this enough: Beets in their hamburgers.

Yeah, well, you guys put extra hamburgers in your hamburgers so at least we're getting some vitamin...whatever.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:09 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Turgid, I'm looking at you.

HYPERBOLE IS THE BEST THING EVER!

Of course my experience is anecdotal, but in the end, if we weren't racist and stupid we wouldn't be having this nationwide angst-fest about the skit because it would never have been aired.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:13 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


But to then enter a thread on MeFi and start making generalistic comments that suggest Australia is on the whole a racist country full of illiterates and rednecks is racist as well.

No, that's not "racist" because Australia is a country, not a racial or ethnic group.

It's certainly an example of national prejudice or xenophobia, but it's not an example of racism.

My comment wasn't about MeMail, but about the idea of basing an argument on anecdotal data and the possible insincerity that comes with it. Even to the extent where someone says "I saw that, it happened" and the counterpoint being "Really? That sounds a bit farfetched", of which neither seems to move a discussion into better terrain and the eventual prove it/disprove it question

It wasn't eventual before you asked it. I will be sure to forward the next insanely fighty MeMail I get to you, though; I don't save them, so I don't have any on hand (in box) at the moment.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:14 PM on October 9, 2009


Of course, I could just be lying, because one thing this thread certainly shows is that nobody ever loses their cool and gets over-the-top fighty on MetaFilter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:15 PM on October 9, 2009


That is all. Back to being on my honemoon.

More hit-and-run posting!

I have to repeat what I've been saying over-and-over in that thread and in other discussions on the issue - it's not even that the segment went to air that disturbs me. Hey Hey always traded on low-brow, bigoted and sexist humour back in the day. A reunion wasn't going to make that any better.

The reason Australians in that post are calling ourselves racist isn't because of the skit, it's because of the continuing defense of that skit all over - on radio, on television and from colleagues and friends. It's symptomatic of other racist attitudes we recognise in this country.

I'm actually glad this got worldwide media attention, not so much for it tarnishing our name but because maybe it'll wake up a lot of Australians who still think it's funny to laugh at people in blackface or tell jokes about Aborigines.

The skit doesn't prove we're all racist, the systematic defense of it says a lot.
posted by crossoverman at 5:19 PM on October 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


Although my comment was spurred on by personal interactions I have had (online and off) my comment wasn't specifically pointing you out Sidhedevil, and as far as I know not anybody in particular. I was just readdressing the idea about the way people seem to be having discussions here.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:30 PM on October 9, 2009


At the top of this thread, Creeky linked to several sketchy comments made in response to divabat, including the "calling out racism just to get girls" remark.

Thanks FelliniBlank - I've flagged the post in question.

Obvious troll is obvious.
posted by panboi at 5:36 PM on October 9, 2009


crossoverman: I'm actually glad this got worldwide media attention, not so much for it tarnishing our name but because maybe it'll wake up a lot of Australians who still think it's funny to laugh at people in blackface or tell jokes about Aborigines.

The skit doesn't prove we're all racist, the systematic defense of it says a lot.


Yes yes yes yes yes. This. That's exactly the point I was hoping to make, but you phrased it right. But will this skit and the aftermath and fallout lead Australia to start having this national conversation? I'm hoping yes, but then I sigh and realize that modern attention spans tend to be short and that any lessons learned can be quickly forgotten.

Though, here's to hoping otherwise.
posted by barnacles at 5:41 PM on October 9, 2009


No, that's not "racist" because Australia is a country, not a racial or ethnic group.

As a word nerd, I should agree with you, but it seems like the definition of "race" has been broadening enormously in the last couple of decades, or maybe, reverting to its older, very broad sense of "a group." If you can talk about being racist against the Irish, being racist against Australians makes sense.

Uh, not makes sense in the "makes sense" sense, even if I doubt that vegemite will ever seem like a good idea to me.
posted by shetterly at 5:48 PM on October 9, 2009


The skit doesn't prove we're all racist, the systematic defense of it says a lot.

A further yes. This is what I've been trying to say, but I guess couching it in trollishness didn't help. Further comments of mine will have only a slight trolly dusting.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:50 PM on October 9, 2009


Also, I have enormous sympathy for the moderators just now. I hope they're well-paid and get great vacations. Maybe they should have a paypal button for "sorry I made your day harder--please have a cup of your favorite beverage on me."
posted by shetterly at 5:51 PM on October 9, 2009


If you can talk about being racist against the Irish, being racist against Australians makes sense.

When people talk about being racist against the Irish, they're usually talking about historic prejudice against the Irish, when the Irish were in fact considered a different race.

"Racism" against Australians doesn't make sense.
posted by palliser at 5:53 PM on October 9, 2009


Holy Cow. Much like Obama winning the Nobel, I could not have predicted who would have melted down in this thread and why.

My concept of reality is very fragile right now.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:54 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm hoping yes, but then I sigh and realize that modern attention spans tend to be short and that any lessons learned can be quickly forgotten.

Forget that happening. One of our "sporting heroes" (yes, they are exactly like Theseus and Helene, though Theseus was kind of a dickhead for killing the minotaur, which didn't even want to be in that stupid labyrinth) will soon get drunk and grope a 16 year old girl and the press will go into defense mode and he will issue an empty apology ("My judgement was impaired not from drinking, but because I was on medication for a knee injury, and I was depressed because we just lost the game.") and then hopefully there'll be another tsunami in a brown country and we can focus on that and likely point to the aid we send to them as solid evidence that we are not racist look how many sacks of rice we sent them.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:56 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Racism" against Australians doesn't make sense.

I think "racism" is being used as a synonym for "prejudiced" in this case which is perfectly acceptable in terms of literal definitions.

Also, divabat, sorry for being cross with you earlier. Although I think you could have said some of your later points in the first place and this would have gone better, your points are, IMO, well-made and quite valid.
posted by GuyZero at 6:03 PM on October 9, 2009


Palliser, when the Irish were considered a race, you could also speak of the race of horses, the race of women, and a race of wine (as in, wines from a particular region).
posted by shetterly at 6:03 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm hoping yes, but then I sigh and realize that modern attention spans tend to be short and that any lessons learned can be quickly forgotten.

If the only lesson learned is that we never see a blackface skit on Australian television again, that will be worth it, although one suspects it will end up on "20 to 1: Most Controversial TV Performances" in a couple of years time.

I know these kinds of incidences will never change ingrained societal norms, but even if a few people wake up to themselves or it gives others the courage to stand up and say "hey, that's not right" then maybe something good has come of it.

And if that's the last we see of Hey, Hey forever - good riddance!
posted by crossoverman at 6:13 PM on October 9, 2009


Sorry, what, shetterly? It was believed that the Irish were descended from a different group of ancestors than the English -- "race" in exactly the same way we mean "race," not like a race of wine.

Never mind, I don't know why I got into this sideline.
posted by palliser at 6:18 PM on October 9, 2009


Wait, yes I do: because it's wrong to equate an Australian mocking his fellow Australians with whites doing blackface.
posted by palliser at 6:20 PM on October 9, 2009


palliser, look up "race" in the Oxford English Dictionary sometime. The meaning changed dramatically in the 18th century, and it seems to be changing again today.

Okay, out of the sideline now.
posted by shetterly at 6:23 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm not talking about what "race" meant in the 18th century. I'm talking about what people mean when they use it now, to refer to attitudes of the 18th century about the Irish. They're using the current meaning to describe a historical attitude (that the Irish were descended from different ancestors).
posted by palliser at 6:40 PM on October 9, 2009


hai guys whats goin on here?

did we solve racism yet?
posted by empath at 6:42 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Looks like it.
posted by gman at 6:54 PM on October 9, 2009


And that's how Metafilter saved Christmas.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:59 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Wow, I didn't realize there were people that never posted questions or answers to AskMe.)
posted by smackfu at 7:17 PM on October 9, 2009


Damn I hate these threads. I feel all horrible and uncomfortable now. And I can't word what I want to say just right and that's giving me the shits something terrible.

I'm not racist. Lots of people I've come into contact with say and think incredibly racist things and would deck you (or at least get really, really shitty) if you dared call them on it. Conversely, lots of people I know despise racism and get really shitty if people start saying things like 'Australians are Racist!' although they know and I know that lots of Australians are very racist indeed.

It's like, 'don't call my sister the bitch a bitch, you bitch!'

Where would be without generalisations? (A lot less annoyed, I guess).

As uncomfortable as it is for those of us who aren't racist I think it's good that shit like this is being scrutinized. Of course lots of people are going to immediately get defensive, but it puts a little kernel of truth out there that may otherwise not have been considered before.

I would bet that there were a hell of a lot of people (in Australia and elsewhere) who didn't actually realise that blackface is considered to be a heinous insult. Now they know. A lot of them may not give a shit, but I'll bet it's opened a few eyes.

Unfortunately, lots of people have shrivelled empathy glands. People who are most likely to get horribly defensive and say 'can't you take a fuckin' joke??' tend to be the ones who go ballistic if they happen to be on the end of one themselves.

So, yeah. Still not worded quite right but that's at least some of it. And I'll admit to sometimes making fun of New Zealanders but it's just the accent I'm mocking, not the people, really!
posted by h00py at 8:09 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is something I totally don't understand about this, and it's making me feel like an idiot.

Astro Zombie, they're using the Jacksons in a half-assed way to mock black people. If they meant to mock the Jacksons specifically, they would've put a little more effort into the costumes and the moves. That looked like somebody who created a routine based on vague memories of seeing the Jacksons on MTV.

Look, I'll defend people's right to use make-up to look like anyone they want. But when you do it to so little purpose, with so little thought about what you're doing? That's just racist shit.


What? I've seen way shittier imitations of white groups. Especially on Hey Hey and similar events. It is totally normal for that kind of shitty imitation to pick the most obvious characteristic of the target and just imitate that (in this case, it's Michael Jackson and his black siblings). It's racist to do a bad job of imitating black guys? It wouldn't have been racist if they'd done it really really well?

And also, when this whole thing happened, and everyone started going on about how it would never happen in America because you all understand how offensive it is - how does that match up with the 'is it ok to wear blackface for halloween?' thread we JUST had?
posted by jacalata at 8:12 PM on October 9, 2009


oh, crap, I just realised that the thread isn't recent, it was linked to recently. Or something. But still.
posted by jacalata at 8:23 PM on October 9, 2009


I think people need to use the word Racialist more.

I thought the MetaTalk thread I started was a bit of a train wreck, but clearly I have been taken to school.
posted by chunking express at 8:49 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


jacalata, one single person thinking this might be an okay idea, and then a several-dozen-comment pile-on saying don't do it, is not at all comparable to a commercially produced television show putting this on. A lot of people have to think this is okay in order to put it on the TV.

And really, I think crossoverman explained it best: it's the what's-the-big-deal reaction to the show, not the show itself, that's most disturbing.
posted by palliser at 8:53 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well that was a train wreak.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 PM on October 9, 2009


Did Shetterly quit, or was he fired?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:14 PM on October 9, 2009


quit.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:18 PM on October 9, 2009


Just got in from a birthday party, haven't had time to read the thread. Did I miss anything?
posted by hermitosis at 10:21 PM on October 9, 2009


Nah we've got it covered.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:49 PM on October 9, 2009


Great!

*does 20 pushups*
posted by hermitosis at 11:46 PM on October 9, 2009


"What's a dead kid?" was my uncool, cruel, however you take it, version of "wtf are you talking about with this dead kid business?" I mean, I assumed she was being straight about the actual kid, but she only mentioned it AS a conversation-stopper, which it was.

Actually, I thought it was jessamyn who was using it as the conversation stopper. (Or snark-stopper, because bunnycup was being snarky.)

My interpretation went like this:

jess: bunnycup, stop being such an asshole. we were supportive of you when you had a hard time because your kid died.

bunnycup: yeah, way to shut me up -- by bringing up my dead kid.

av: shut up about your dead kid you drunk.

I don't know bunnycup, never had a conversation with her, didn't read her dead kid posts or offer her any support, and she was being a bit of a dick (though not much of a dick -- she clearly felt strongly about the idea of using one's professed oversensitivity as a strategy for closing down discussion).

But if I was her, I might feel that an attempt had been made to show her what it was like to be made to feel genuinely unsafe in a thread. (And I'm not suggesting this was your intention, jess. Just talking about how I might have felt had I been in her shoes and read your comment. I don't think there was any malice intended -- and generally, you're the most sensitive poster of all.)

So, do we need a MetaTalk thread to discuss this issue now?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:51 AM on October 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


What I would like to see on Metafilter:
* Concerns not being immediately dismissed off-hand

Sorry if I seemed to do that - I genuinely wondered (still do, I guess) if your reaction was somewhat excessive. I understand you are (rightfully) upset about the skit, but the thread was really not that bad to my mind. Some people were arseholes, but that's nothing you wouldn't expect anywhere this issue is being discussed.

I'll admit to sometimes making fun of New Zealanders but it's just the accent I'm mocking, not the people, really!
It's not the Kiwis who have an accent, it's Aussies! Kiwis do a much better impersonation of true English by far.
posted by dg at 1:54 AM on October 10, 2009


Turgid Dhalia, there are footy shows in most countries- sure you don't like sport- but it doesn't follow that those that do are somehow less intelligent than your sparkling self. There is a similar demographic in most western countries- and a indeed a similar racist ignorant views in China, Taiwan and Singapore.

Chanel nine is an embarrassment and an anachronism- it's rebirth of Hey Hey demonstrates this. Nine had Sam Newman doing a black face on the footy show, and that god awful, embarrassing Mahatmacoat. The have no idea- and pander to that segment of the country that thinks that's OK- but it's not particular to Australia.

Brisbane is a very different city to the rest of Australia- well maybe its a bigger Perth- I grew in Brisbane, and couldn't wait to leave- that was during Joh's time and I haven't really been back until Christmas a year ago. I was walking with my wife (who' from Taiwan) around Kenmore village- we were holding hands and people were staring- my god it's white, it's stark. Come and live in Melbourne or Sydney - or even Adelaide for that matter and see that a large part of urban Australia is actually made up of many races interacting in a fairly positive way on a day to day basis. Brisbane doesn't quite have a Chatswood or an Abbotsford.

Sure there are dickheads and stupid people everywhere- and well no offense you gotta get out more and please stop acting as a favourite whoring, paid up member of the
"Australia is the most racist place on earth and here's a five minute segment of TV to prove it" cheer squad.
posted by mattoxic at 3:21 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Phew.

I sort of overreacted in the original thread (remember that? the one about the Aussie Jackson Jive blackface gag? it was a long time ago, I know) and I lashed out at one point in a rather overbearing way, so I was sort of relieved when the thread itself kinda petered out. Now I find that my contentiousness might have helped cause this painful sequence. Ouch. Sorry, folks, for any role I might've played here.

You know what the problem with the internet is? Words; the fact that words are all we have. When words are all you have, it takes many, many words to say, meaningfully and convincingly and in a way that shows that you mean it in a specific way, something like "I care about you and I'm sorry that that thing happened to you" or "I know that the color of your skin or the country you come from doesn't make you any less of a person, and it doesn't weaken the affection I feel for you." Since things like that usually need to be expressed at the ends of arguments for the arguing people to accept that a level of closeness has been achieved and that the conflict has been resolved, the difficulty we have in saying those things in mere words tends to make arguments go on and on and on.

I'm no simpy, emotional sap; it's just a fact of human nature. Arguments that go through painful and contentious moments like this one has need to end with a hug or at the very least a smile and a squeezed hand. It's remarkable how much such a small thing is worth, but the kind of shouting that these words seem to be representing ends pretty damned fast if you're able to put your hand on somebody's shoulder, smile, and say "you know what? It's okay. It's not a big deal." Sure, everybody needs a hug. It's just a pity we can't give each other one in times like this.

So, well, as best as I can, consider yourselves all hugged. Here's hoping hard feelings can be put behind us. And tomorrow I'm going to put together the best post I could possibly think of, just for you guys, because I like you. Okay?
posted by koeselitz at 3:34 AM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Threads like this make me reminisce the golden age of sixcolors.
posted by thisperon at 3:51 AM on October 10, 2009


mattoxic, it's certainly true that Brisbane seems to consist almost exclusively of white faces. I don't live there, but I do work there (in the CBD). I've never thought of it as a racist place, though. Maybe because I'm not used to seeing people interact in a way that would show that up.

I live on the Gold Coast (yeah, yeah, no yoghurt because there's no culture, blah, blah blah) which, despite being only 60km or so away from the Brisbane CBD, is a much more multicultural place. Perhaps it's because of the tourism focus or perhaps it is because it simply attracts a wider range of people. Anyway, it seems much more obviously tolerant.

I do see inbuilt racism in older people here. There are a couple of people who I work with and who often complain about all the Asians on their train/bus. One of those people is open about a hatred of 'Japs' and doesn't understand why people don't think this is OK.

Younger people, I don't think, have the racism thing anywhere near as bad, because they've grown up with the concept of equality and tolerance. However, I don't think many young people in Australia would have any idea of the way that blackface skit would be likely to be received around the world. It's just never been a 'thing' here that I can recall. In fact, I doubt that most people in Australia regardless of age would have (until now, maybe) had any real concept for how insulting it would be. That probably reflects poorly on the country in the eyes of some, but Australia is a long way from pretty much everywhere and, until very recently, had little connection with anything happening in the northern hemisphere. It's just never come across people's radar. A pretty piss weak excuse, maybe, but there it is.
posted by dg at 4:02 AM on October 10, 2009


Sure there are dickheads and stupid people everywhere- and well no offense you gotta get out more and please stop acting as a favourite whoring, paid up member of the
"Australia is the most racist place on earth and here's a five minute segment of TV to prove it" cheer squad.


Why do you care what I do?
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:37 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


one suspects it will end up on "20 to 1: Most Controversial TV Performances" in a couple of years time.

Oh, gawd, they're probably arguing right now about how long they have to wait before they can include it. And then all the washed up celebrities will give hypocritical soundbites wondering whatever happened to Daryl Somers.
posted by harriet vane at 7:05 AM on October 10, 2009


And I'll admit to sometimes making fun of New Zealanders but it's just the accent I'm mocking, not the people, really!

I generally try not to speak too much in public if I can avoid it, because identifying myself as a Kiwi often results in open season for the "what did you say? say that again hahaha" alongside all the sheep jokes et cetera. You'd think enough of us live here that it would get old, but apparently not. I know it's all in good fun and I don't mind teasing from people I actually know but after long enough, it just gets tiring.

Then again, I am guilty of saying I could never have kids because they would be 5/8ths Australian.
posted by lwb at 8:51 AM on October 10, 2009


For what it's worth, Shetterly didn't "quit," they said they were taking a "time-out." It didn't seem like a matter of so angry I won't deal with any of you bastards again so much as an I'm way too involved and emotional on this topic so I'm taking a break type of thing.
posted by nanojath at 9:09 AM on October 10, 2009


Yeah; in the closed thread, it was recommended Shetterly voluntarily give himself a time out, or be at risk of it not being voluntary. Not sure this was a flame out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:33 AM on October 10, 2009


Specifically it was suggested he give himself some time off from that topic, not from the site in general. That said, I don't read it as flame-out either, no.

I'm hesitant to dig in on the bunnycup thing any further because she's not here to discuss it, but I do want to quickly note that while I am hearing and understanding the negative reactions some folks are having to jessamyn even mentioning bunnycup's having gotten support from the community, I was on the verge of bringing up the same thing because I was pretty shocked and dismayed by how bunnycup was acting yesterday and it did seem like kind of a shocking disconnect in context.

Jessamyn didn't bring up any specifics, and I can understand that part of the negative reaction is the feeling from people more distinctly in the know about the whole thing may have felt that even bringing up the general subject was tantamount to bringing up the specifics, but I don't think that's what Jessamyn meant to do at all and it wasn't what I had in mind when I was weighing how to broach it myself. Describing it as an attempted "snark-stopper" isn't far from the mark, but it certainly wasn't intended to do so through blunt trauma so much as a hopefully gentle "you know this can be a good place, can you please stop making it a bad one yourself right this moment?" reality-check.

I'm sorry the exchange went downhill from there, and I'm sorry if bunnycup was particularly hurt by any of it, but there's a big world of difference between taunting someone about their loss and just trying to remind someone that they are better, and that they're in a place that can be better, than how they're currently behaving. I was really hoping it was something that she'd catch on to and that she'd put the brakes on herself, and I'm sorry that's not what happened, but so it goes. We all have bad days.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:04 AM on October 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yeah; in the closed thread, it was recommended Shetterly voluntarily give himself a time out, or be at risk of it not being voluntary. Not sure this was a flame out.

Account's closed, Jessamyn says they didn't do it. In my book that's a flame-out.
posted by scalefree at 10:32 AM on October 10, 2009


On my planet flame-outs are a lot more dramatic. It's unclear if shetterly plans to come back or not, but other than what we've said publicly in the related threads, we haven't had any other words with him about this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:48 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


it certainly wasn't intended to do so through blunt trauma so much as a hopefully gentle "you know this can be a good place, can you please stop making it a bad one yourself right this moment?" reality-check.

That was certainly how I read it, and it confirmed my own sense of confusion/surprise at bunnycup's comments. In fact, I honestly assumed at first that her account must have been hijacked -- it just didn't compute that someone who received so much support from this community before would really be so unkind as to take a shit on someone else's need for support here, even for a less personally tragic/traumatic reason.
posted by scody at 2:49 PM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll admit to sometimes making fun of $group but it's just the $attribute I'm mocking, not the people, really!
posted by flabdablet at 3:53 PM on October 10, 2009


Why do you care what I do?

Because you're pandering to view that we're somehow all racists.
posted by mattoxic at 6:01 PM on October 10, 2009


Re: Bunnycup- jessamyn, cortex, not cool. Bringing up the past to correct current behavior just isn't nice. "Please knock it off" is all that was necessary. My heart broke just a little bit for poor bunnycup when I read that. And I'm a heartless bastard.
posted by gjc at 6:07 PM on October 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm with scody. Blocking undesired behaviour can be delicate enough at the most harmonious of times. Recent days have been far from the most harmonious of times. I'm for cutting a little slack here. Misjudgments happen. jessamyn already apologized.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:25 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs a hug.
posted by empath at 7:34 PM on October 10, 2009


I really think that is deeply unfair towards jessamyn - she did not bring up the tragedy that had happened to bunnycup. All she did was refer to the support bunnycup received from the community - it was bunnycup herself who made it about the tragedy, and possibly Ambrosia Voyeur's comment made it look even worse than it was. But it cannot be emphasized enough that jessamyn did not bring up what had happened to her. bunnycup was being actively, gratuitously cruel towards divabat - many people were asking her to stop, but she refused and continued to further escalate. Why is it unreasonable to try to reach out to bunnycup by reminding her that this community had been kind and caring to her in the past, and ask her to extend some of that same kindness and caring toward another member, in this case divabat? It is grossly unfair to blame jessamyn for bringing up what bunnycup brought up herself.

It may be that some of you think jessamyn shouldn't have brought up anything that could have any chance of even evoking that memory for bunnycup in the first place. But notice that bunnycup did not seem upset at first, and was only telling jessamyn to relax. Until jessamyn threatened to give her a time out. Then, and only then, she made it about what happened to her.

How was jessamyn supposed to have anticipated that? Seriously? And with all the big threads that have been going on all over the site over the past couple of days? She has already apologised, for something that in my view was in no way her fault. It wasn't jessamyn who made it about bunnycup's tragedy. It was bunnycup herself. It may be bunnycup was having a bad day - I don't know. But it wasn't jessamyn's fault. And that so many people would blame jessamyn for it, when she probably was working hard to put out fires left, right and centre here... just makes me sad.
posted by catchingsignals at 8:18 PM on October 10, 2009 [16 favorites]


A few more threads like this and we're going to need a meta-metatalk.
posted by Bonzai at 9:40 PM on October 10, 2009


I think everyone should take tomorrow off. In honor of mathowie's birthday.
posted by desjardins at 9:51 PM on October 10, 2009


Ironic (and sad, to me) that this MeTa about whether and how Metafilter should be a "safe" place for people to be able to discuss things has ended in account closures and hurt feelings, including some from people mocking/questioning the idea of "safety" here.

Now I a by no means a model mefite, but I generally try to remain calm and to see all sides of comments I disagree with and engage them in good faith. Oftentimes I won't post what I want to say because I fear that poor phrasing will cause a shitstorm that I don't want to deal with. That, to me, seems to be what divabat was referring to in this MeTa, and the fact that she was treated so shittily about it by members I had previously respected only proved her point further. This thread was started to discuss how to be kinder as a community, and quickly turned into a schoolyard brawl. And that sucks.

Very rarely (though more commonly than I'd like) a thread will get my blood up to the point where I respond with anger even though I know I'll probably regret it later. The thread linked at the top here was one such instance, though to be honest I don't regret my response yet. For anyone who hasn't read it, here's how it went:

-Australian Mefites start in by talking about the regrettable racism that pervades their culture, which they are otherwise quite fond of.
-American MeFites generally claim that they don't know much about Aussie racism, but explain why blackface is so appaling given it's place in American history.
-Some people discuss whether Bamboozled was a good movie (answer, it is deeply flawed, but still great, and everyone should see it.)
-A few Australian members respond to the criticism from other Aussies and bitch that it's just a joke and America has Glenn Beck and who are the Americans to tell Australia what to do and everyone should just be able to take a joke I know black people.
-One particular member says that the only reason anyone even noticed that it was possibly offensive is because Harry Connick Jr. said so, and that otherwise we wouldn't have batted an eye.

And that's when I got pissed. I've felt "unsafe" in other threads - not this one, this one just made me mad because people were being willfully ignorant and mocking those who tried to explain why it was so offensive. But if I were a South Asian woman living in Australia, damn right I would have felt "unsafe" commenting there. Because several posters were deliberately trying to create an environment where divabat's opinions would be met with derision.

And that sucks too. What is wrong with us in these threads.

Goddammit, you've got to be kind!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:41 PM on October 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I'll add:

Hoopy: "shriveled empathy glands" is going into my common lexicon now, so thank you for the phrase.

Astro Zombie: I'm not aware of the previous controversy or discussion of "kowtow" as an offensive term. It seems to me to have almost the exact same meaning, modern connotation, and etymological evolution of "genuflect," except that it is used far more commonly because, let's face it, it's a better word. It's short, simple, assonant, and there isn't another word (in English) quite like it.

I wasn't aware of it's Chinese origins until I looked it up after your comment. I doubt many other people using it know either. (Maybe that's a microcosm of the whole Aussie black-face thing - who knows?) In any case, It's rare when I Chinese word or phrase enters common English usage, and it's hard to imagine that we can stem the tide of how the connotation will change over time.

Maybe it is offensive though - I'll ask my better half in the morning. That just seems unlikely to me.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:56 PM on October 10, 2009


Because you're pandering to view that we're somehow all racists.

I don't "pander to views", I draw my own conclusions. No we are not all racists, because I'm not and you're probably not, but we're called a first world country and we're not all living in the first world. We're called a Christian country but we're not all Christian. Hell man, Queensland is called "The Smart State" and don't even get me fucking started.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:06 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe it is offensive though - I'll ask my better half in the morning. That just seems unlikely to me.

I wrote a little followup further downthread. I remember the subject being the use of kowtowing coming up quite a bit when I was an editor, but that discussion doesn't actually seem to have spilled out into the larger community, or even stopped newspapers from using it. I apologize for assuming it had and scolding you for your use of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:11 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


divabat, I want to thank you personally for coming back into this thread and expanding on what you meant. I was originally one of those who honestly felt that the terms "frightened" and "unsafe" were hyperbole, and I have been properly schooled.

I was coming from the perspective that, yes, of COURSE the skit was racist, but a lot of Aussie posters are coming in and saying that they know racism is a problem in Australia, and isn't that just great? I guess I thought, "Hey, I've seen this issue handled worse before."

I didn't even know that you lived in Australia, or anything about your own personal experience there, and so when I went back to to read the thread the only comment that stuck out to me was the (absurd) one about "impressing chicks."

But, as I say, I get it now. I can see how, although a lot of "yes, there is racism here," statements popped up, so did a lot of, "But hey, that's just how it is."

And that kind of insidious casual acceptance is, I agree, really scary.

Because, arguably, what's worse? Obvious racist behavior by the unwitting, or the acceptance of that same behavior by those who should know better?
posted by misha at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


jessamyn, cortex, not cool. Bringing up the past to correct current behavior just isn't nice.

Yeah, given your past I'm amazed at the amount of nasty you are capable of dishing out. It makes me askeered to post.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 6:01 PM on October 11, 2009


What's amazing is the amount of nasty I'm capable of dishing out contrasted to the amount of nasty I do actually dish out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:53 PM on October 11, 2009 [12 favorites]


Do not taunt happy fun Jessamyn
posted by flabdablet at 6:59 PM on October 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Her first name ain't baby, it's jessamyn, miss jessamyn if you're nasty.
posted by vronsky at 7:32 PM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


All night have the roses heard
The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirr’d
To the dancers dancing in tune;
Till silence fell with the waking bird,
And a hush with the setting moon.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:02 PM on October 11, 2009


What's amazing is the amount of nasty I'm capable of dishing out contrasted to the amount of nasty I do actually dish out.
Embrace the dark side!
posted by dg at 4:38 AM on October 12, 2009


Embrace the dark side!

Now what's that s'posed to mean dg!!?
posted by mattoxic at 4:54 AM on October 12, 2009


Embrace the dark side!

You think it sounds like fun, but before you know it it's all Ewoks and being burnt on a pyre and discussions about whether the exploding Death Star will destroy the local ecology and, let's be honest, it kind of implies the necessary existence of Jar-Jar.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:36 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you implying that Jar-Jar doesn't exist?
posted by dg at 3:20 PM on October 12, 2009


Of course he doesn't. In the real Star Wars universe, Han shoots first. And that shot, occurring a fraction of a second earlier than in the evil, alternate Star Wars Universe - or Lucasverse, as it's sometimes known - ricochets and kills Jar Jar offscreen.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:18 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jar Jar, having been killed in the future, is then unable to time travel back to fuck up the the prequels, and save that boring little shitbird virgin birth version of Anakin.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:21 PM on October 12, 2009


Forcing the whole "Midi-chlorian" debacle to die on arrival. A few months later, a totally kick-ass Anakin is born to Palpatine's mistress, played by Courtney Love. And Star Wars is saved for the future.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:26 PM on October 12, 2009


HOORAY!

But are there still Ewoks?
posted by ocherdraco at 4:57 PM on October 12, 2009


For dinner, yes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:22 PM on October 12, 2009


Oh goody! My favorite.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:49 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Divabat, apologies if my comment in that thread was one you thought was defending racism. I try hard not to be rascist, but don't always succeed.
I think I was trying to cover the nuance of the issue, which seemed to be being overwhelmed with very loud crys of RASCIST. So to summarise:
- I think the skit is rascist and offensive.
- I think, to steal the good phrase up thread "I'm fairly sure this was not malicious racism that deserves intense hatred, but ignorant racism that requires education."
- I was unaware that blackface was viewed as a particularly offensive form of racism, as were many Australians I talked to about this.
- The "it's just a joke" response would be much less if people did know blackface was particularly offensive
- Blackface in Minstrel terms is a different beast to getting whites to play dark skinned characters in the theatre

I certainly wouldn't want you to think I thought this was all OK, but perhaps trying to help people understand that the "its just a joke" response was not people trying to defend racism, but genuinely ignorant of how it would be viewed in cultures where the is more of a historical framework to interpret it.
I know when I lived in the UK, I was often a bit tone deaf to the nuance of some topics there. For example, the British relationship to WWII was a surprise to me, as it is so rarely mentioned in Australia.
I was thinking that US posters might think Aussies were being malicious rather than ignorant when they said "its just a joke" and the rest of the world (esp. America) went ballistic. And I don't think they were, just naive.
On the bright side, I expect *many* Aussies will now howl down any further attempts at this sort of 'humour'.
posted by bystander at 1:01 AM on October 13, 2009


On the bright side, I expect *many* Aussies will now howl down any further attempts at this sort of 'humour'

I doubt it.

The freedom to speak and act offensively is one of the bedrock Australian values, and most of us tend to think it's a bit of a giggle when people actually take offence as a result. It's a cultural thing.
posted by flabdablet at 5:16 AM on October 13, 2009


It's a cultural thing.

Along with an irrational fear of Asians taking over the country.
posted by chunking express at 7:53 AM on October 13, 2009


Not so much; Reds under the Bed and the Yellow Peril are both old hat. These days, we're all about being frightened of Sudanese refugees and anybody even vaguely Islamic.
posted by flabdablet at 8:10 AM on October 13, 2009


James Anthony Dean-Willcock's birthday ends in murder charge

Residents of Elouera Rd, Cronulla, told police of being woken about 5.30am (AEDT) on Saturday to a male yelling: "F--k off back to Japan."

According to a statement tendered by police to Parramatta Bail Court a man was heard to cry: "Help, help." One witness said he went out to his balcony and allegedly saw a man "fling the victim on to the footpath, pick up the victim, shake him and throw him to the ground."

The accused then allegedly punched Mr Alvarado to the head and body up to 10 times.

Another witness told police he saw the victim thrown on to the road, with Mr Dean-Willcocks seen "on top of the victim punching him".

"He (Mr Dean-Willcocks) was heard to yell out 'ya Jap' and "Azza, Azza, Azza," police will allege.

Another described seeing Mr Alvarado tackled, "body slammed" and punched many times.

One witness told police he yelled at Mr Dean-Willcocks to stop, asking what he was doing.

"Mate, he is Japanese and he deserves it," the accused allegedly answered. It is understood Mr Alvarado was Filipino.

posted by Comrade_robot at 8:43 AM on October 13, 2009


He does not know how he got to Cronulla

but at least he was respectful of its traditions.
posted by flabdablet at 4:25 PM on October 13, 2009


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