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Calling Dr. Sash... Dr. Sash to the Grey room, please?
November 26, 2010 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Dear Orville: Please refrain from accusing me of derailing a thread by answering a direct question. Thank you. And Jess, sorry for losing my temper. You did right to delete my post.

Whether or not it offends people to consider increased carrying of firearms as a solution to the current TSA woes, I would like to know if people seriously consider it a "derail".

I have a "colorful" history on Metafilter, no argument there. But I find myself increasingly annoyed by a very small number of people frequently telling me not to derail a thread, in response to an on-topic idea they don't like for personal or ideological reasons.
posted by pla to Etiquette/Policy at 1:10 PM (118 comments total)

The gun control thing was a derail. Somebody mentioned the war on drugs earlier. That was also a derail.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:13 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to have an appropriate derail?

Because while it was a derail, it also made a lot of sense to me, personal stances on gun control notwithstanding.
posted by Thistledown at 1:15 PM on November 26, 2010


It was a stupid axe-grindy derail in my opinion.
posted by unSane at 1:18 PM on November 26, 2010


The solution is clearly to give moderators guns.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:23 PM on November 26, 2010 [26 favorites]


unSane : It was a stupid axe-grindy derail in my opinion.

I don't mean my deleted post - Yes, that one absolutely went off-topic, and I apologize for that.

But in a TSA abuses thread, in response to "If anyone has a better solution, I'm sure we would all be delighted to hear it" - How does responding with a serious alternative derail the thread?

Okay, I probably should have realized from some of the soundbyte-quality responses to my suggestion that no one had any intention of taking it seriously... But after only one round, I just don't think you can fairly call it an outright "derail". In danger of one, okay, but not the same thing.
posted by pla at 1:25 PM on November 26, 2010


I'm probably one of the most pro-gun people on MeFi, and I think it was a silly derail. I mean, what does having guns on board have to do with some wackjob in the bathroom lighting a bomb? Several attempted attacks (eg shoe and underwear bombers) have been foiled by observant passengers who were willing to act -- guns weren't needed and wouldn't have helped. The suggestion is silly, it's unworkable (tie drivers licensing to gun training? Really?), and it predictably pushed a bunch of people's buttons.
posted by Forktine at 1:25 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


But in a TSA abuses thread, in response to "If anyone has a better solution, I'm sure we would all be delighted to hear it" - How does responding with a serious alternative derail the thread?

Well, that's sort of an invitation to climb up on a hobby horse, isn't it? If I were a radical environmentalist, I might answer: Stop having airplanes and let people travel by foot. Or, if my issue was Bush's war crime, I might say: Lock up George Bush, so that the world can see we a re a nation of law and not hate us so much and try to blow us up.

Also a derail. If you find yourself upping and onning your hobby horse, especially if it's going to raise a contentious issue, there's a good chance you're about to derail.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:28 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Upping and onning"?
posted by boo_radley at 1:32 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're supposed to at least LINK TO IT
posted by hermitosis at 1:34 PM on November 26, 2010


Really?!
posted by fixedgear at 1:35 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I actually have no idea whether this is the comment in question. But at least it's a link!
posted by hermitosis at 1:36 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think this is the thread being discussed, but I'm not sure.
posted by yaymukund at 1:37 PM on November 26, 2010


I've read this far and still have no idea of who did what and why to whom. I suck at Clue.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:38 PM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


FWIW I am on record as liking guns just fine and am a former card-carrying member of the NRA. I let my membership lapse when I moved to the overseas (though I still pay my ACLU dues!) And I thought this idea bordered on insanity.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:53 PM on November 26, 2010


I, for one, think it would be an excellent idea to have as many loaded firearms aboard an aircraft. Accidental discharge is no fun down here on the ground, but I'm sure the experience could only be improved by putting it in a pressurized metal tube crammed with people hurtling through the sky.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:57 PM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


hermitosis : You're supposed to at least LINK TO IT

Ah... Oops.

Yeah, yaymukund got it right, sorry 'bout the oversight.


Astro Zombie : Well, that's sort of an invitation to climb up on a hobby horse, isn't it?

So basically, I got trolled. :I

Okay, I can now see the egg on my face. Hand me that towel, please?


Forktine : what does having guns on board have to do with some wackjob in the bathroom lighting a bomb?

The real threat (IMO) doesn't come from someone blowing up an airplane, but taking it over. School shooters rarely kill everyone indiscriminately (or else, why not just use a bomb?), but a particular group they view as having somehow maligned them.

Realistically, we can never stop truly random killing. Any one of us could go out tomorrow and randomly decide to swerve into a crowd of pedestrians at 50MPH. But killing as a means to a different goal... That we can very much minimize by having a sizable portion of the population capable of reacting to the situation in a way that brings it to a dead stop (no pun intended).
posted by pla at 2:00 PM on November 26, 2010


Everyone needs a hug gun.

Universal gun ownership to guarantee air security is bonkers, but it's a sincere response to the question, at least - although the question itself was of course a rhetorical one posed by somebody who did not believe there was a better option than the current routine.

The bit about high levels of gun ownership leading to reduced crime, on the other hand, was ipso facto a derail - it's a contentious assertion which couldn't be answered without moving the thread away from discussing the TSA, or air security in general. QED, really.

So, on the whole, I'd say probably a derail. With that in mind, telling Orville Sash to fuck off seems a little off - perhaps you could apologise to him as well as Jessamyn, rather than calling him out for a showdown? That would probably help everyone to get back to business more quickly.
posted by DNye at 2:03 PM on November 26, 2010


Sometimes during a heated argument on the blue, I'll see a post that amounts to "Don't engage this person because they are a troll" without any further justification. Are we okay with that? How is it any different from arguing against a member after digging through their post history?
posted by yaymukund at 2:07 PM on November 26, 2010


The real threat (IMO) doesn't come from someone blowing up an airplane, but taking it over.

The threat of that every happening again ended late in the morning on 9/11. Every passenger on every airplane now understands that sitting passively is no longer what happens. Handing out guns is like the pornoscanner -- a day late and a dollar short response to yesterday's tactics.
posted by Forktine at 2:09 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


DNye : With that in mind, telling Orville Sash to fuck off seems a little off - perhaps you could apologise to him as well as Jessamyn, rather than calling him out for a showdown?

Sending me a MeMail to say that I've gone off-track, I would welcome as a well-intentioned friendly gesture.

Posting an eye-rolling admonition against engaging with me in-thread expresses nothing but condescension and contempt.

I generally respond proportionately. In this case, I found myself quite angry, and a bit sad, that some self-important minimod would go out of his way to tell others not to talk to me - Even committing the very sin he accused me of in the process. I lost my temper and Jess had to clean up the mess, and for that I apologized to her; but I consider the original sleight every bit as offensive as my response (if not moreso, since I at least directly my response directly to him, and only as a one-liner embedded in a larger actual post).


yaymukund : Sometimes during a heated argument on the blue, I'll see a post that amounts to "Don't engage this person because they are a troll" without any further justification. Are we okay with that?

Thank you... You may not support what I said, but you understand my reaction. That makes me feel rather a lot better about the situation.


Forktine : Handing out guns is like the pornoscanner -- a day late and a dollar short response to yesterday's tactics.

Fair enough... On that point, we can agree. I still think, though, that giving everyone the power to respond to a new and unknown threat beats packing helpless sardines into an aluminum can. But I'll agree to disagree on that.
posted by pla at 2:25 PM on November 26, 2010


Wow, I hadn't seen that thread. Does no one else read about the excesses of state power and think, they wouldn't behave this way to an armed populace?

Well, in reality, they'd just disarm us one by one, then keep on doing what they wanted to do. Politics and the courts are the only answers to these sorts of abuses. Not that I'm holding my breath. Still, "arm yourself" doesn't sound like a derail so much as an extreme suggestion in response to a clear abuse of state power.
posted by Dasein at 2:30 PM on November 26, 2010


I've read this far and still have no idea of who did what and why to whom. I suck at Clue.

This made me lol, but then I thought about it and wished you had said "where" instead of "why."
posted by John Cohen at 2:34 PM on November 26, 2010


If I were a radical environmentalist, I might answer: Stop having airplanes ... if my issue was Bush's war crime, I might say: Lock up George Bush ... Also a derail

I think you are confusing "derail" with "view that I disagree with".
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:34 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Scenario: A MetaFilter thread carrying a precarious load of TSA grar is hurtling dangerously down the track when passenger pla begins tampering with the controls. While he claims his actions are normal and not cause for worry, fellow passenger orville sash claims pla's interference will derail the thread, annoying hundreds. Are orville's warnings trustworthy considering his heavy investment in popcorn futures? And if they are, would it be morally acceptable to derail the thread with a fat joke in order to prevent the more toxic pla derail from occurring? Finally, would your answer change if the thread grew up to be the next Hitler?
posted by Rhaomi at 2:35 PM on November 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Well, in reality, they'd just disarm us one by one, then keep on doing what they wanted to do.

Or play us off each other, manipulating the proponents of one ideology into being their foot soldiers against others. People who believe "an armed society is a polite society" are stupid children. Everybody being armed all the time is rank naive idiocy, like any other "simple" solution to a major problem that is based on ignoring human nature and its concomitant legion of failings.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:37 PM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Fair enough, pla - if you think what Jessamyn wanted was a thread in MetaTalk calling Orville Sash out for a fight, and that this is therefore the best way to apologise to her, who am I to argue? At least it's keeping the derail out of the original thread.
posted by DNye at 2:42 PM on November 26, 2010


I think the best evidence for an armed populace is in the lack of gang related gun violence in urban centres. And the gangs are all so polite to each other, too!
posted by auto-correct at 2:42 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is why the mods should allow more than one TSA-abuses-look-at-these-assholes thread at a time. One TSA thread could be for gun control fights, and in another TSA thread people could argue about abortion, and in a third TSA thread the main debate would be just how much Obama does or does not suck, etc.
posted by Drastic at 2:51 PM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I still think, though, that giving everyone the power to respond to a new and unknown threat beats packing helpless sardines into an aluminum can.

But we're not helpless. A guy with a bomb on a plane will not be deterred by armed passengers, and since 9/11, unarmed passengers will not be deterred by a guy with a bomb. The passengers who noticed the shoe bomber were unarmed, and he was stopped without anyone having to shoot him.
posted by rtha at 2:59 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, Glenn Beck has a more moderate proposition along the same lines, which is to allow people with concealed-carry licenses to carry their firearms on board. The logic presumably being that there are always going to be more people on the side of the angels carrying handguns than there might be bad guys. I have a feeling that that works up until a group of domestic terrorists get concealed carry licenses and book tickets on the same flight, of course, which is where compulsory firearms for all would at least help the ratio...
posted by DNye at 3:01 PM on November 26, 2010


Fair enough, pla - if you think what Jessamyn wanted was a thread in MetaTalk calling Orville Sash out for a fight, and that this is therefore the best way to apologise to her, who am I to argue?

Really, this is one of the reasons we dislike these "TSA did something shitty, GRAR" posts. They make people angry, angry people argue, we have to moderate people being assholes to each other, and there's usually at least one MeTa thread if not more growing out of them.

But in a TSA abuses thread, in response to "If anyone has a better solution, I'm sure we would all be delighted to hear it" - How does responding with a serious alternative derail the thread?

You say what you have to say and then if it turns into you and a few people wrestling with each other about that topic at the expense of the main topic, maybe you take things to email? Guns are a tough topic on MeFi and seriously thinking you can start talking about "hey maybe people need to start carrying weapons" without it having an effect on an already pesky thread seems either overly hopeful or a little clueless. That said, I'd like to see people not calling each other trolls generally unless they want to come here and talk about things. Troll seem to be a word that people disagree on, and calling someone a troll is basically shorthand for "you're not interacting here in good faith" which, if you think that, maybe you need to come here and talk about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:09 PM on November 26, 2010


That we can very much minimize by having a sizable portion of the population capable of reacting to the situation in a way that brings it to a dead stop (no pun intended)

I took a flight once prior to 9/11, in which a man started screaming at another passenger and threatening to stab him with a fork, because the second guy had brought smelly Chinese food on the plane. The smell permeated the cabin.

Flying can a stressful experience even under normal circumstances. You're trapped in a pressurized metal tube. Now throw in delays, lines, pre-board screenings, reminders at the beginning of the flight that the plane could crash-land, turbulence and restrictions on moving about the cabin. Limited toilet access. Smokers can't. People are inconsiderate. Loud talkers. Obnoxious seat-mates. Kids may kick the back of your seat and let's not even talk about the lack of legroom for anyone over 6-feet tall.

When we become stressed, we may lose perspective. Small offenses may suddenly seem larger than they should. Deadly weapons rarely defuse such situations. And the assumption that they will act as a deterrent to a terrorist, someone who is presumably by definition willing to die for his cause and therefore not rational, seems foolhardy.
posted by zarq at 3:16 PM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


Does no one else read about the excesses of state power and think, they wouldn't behave this way to an armed populace?

We already have an armed populace. Since Obama was elected, people have been buying ammunition faster than it can be manufactured. My local sporting goods store was advertising for Black Friday a sale on tactical shotguns -- you can pick up a Mossberg for $259, and no-name ones even cheaper. I am sure that guns outnumber people in my neighborhood by a significant margin. No one is being disarmed.

And yet, having all these guns turns out to be totally useless in terms of resisting the actual implementation of the creeping reach of the security state. No matter how many guns I have in my gun safe, I still have to go through the pornoscanner. You deal with incipient police states and constitutional infringements the old-fashioned way -- lawsuits, civil disobedience, electing politicians who have a spine, etc.
posted by Forktine at 3:24 PM on November 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


Hi, Pla.

I'm sorry I made you mad. My comment is an extension of my frustration with the way you engage on metafilter. You have been the subject of frequent criticism for taking conversations in a radically different direction by introducing a very extreme idea that on the face of it seems pretty bizarre. Suggesting that everyone carry guns, at least to the majority of Metafilter users (as judged by the response in the thread) is one of these, and it immediately knocked an otherwise lively and (for the most part) civil conversation off course.

This is not the first time this has happened. You have also advocated the quarantining of people with HIV, as well as banning minarets on mosques in ways that make me think you don't truly consider the logical consequences of these ideas. When you make comments like these, the thread is invariably reduced to mefites justifiably making you defend your extreme position, thereby ending the actual conversation. Hence my comment.

The TSA thread was contentious, but I thought people all around were making interesting and engaging points. And then you came in and said "give everyone guns" and just like that, it started going in a sharply different, sharply more miserable direction. A familiar direction.

Since you think it would help to memail first, in the future, I'll do just that. I didn't see your response before it got wiped by the mods, but I have seen you shrug off much worse, so I find myself a little surprised at your response.

And Rhaomi, while I understand how you might assume I have a vested interest in the sale of popcorn, I am an altogether different Orville
posted by orville sash at 3:43 PM on November 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


Somebody mentioned the war on drugs earlier. That was also a derail.

Not at all.
posted by telstar at 3:44 PM on November 26, 2010


I think you are confusing "derail" with "view that I disagree with".

No, those are views I somewhat agree with. But they lead to people arguing about whether or not Bush is a war criminal, of if its reasonable to expect people to reduce their fuel consumption, instead of whether or not it's right to hold a woman hostage for an hour in revenge for her demanding that people know their jobs.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:46 PM on November 26, 2010


Not at all.

Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:49 PM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


.pla eht ni regnarts a dnif uoy nehw sneppah tahw si sihT
posted by Eideteker at 3:50 PM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Since Obama was elected, people have been buying ammunition faster than it can be manufactured.

As the close relative of a gun dealer, I can vouch for this. Said relative will put in an order to the manufacturer for, say, 200 cases of primers, and only 60 will show up because they literally cannot make them fast enough. Whereas he used to mainly deal to friends and friends-of-friends, he now gets phone calls hourly from fifth-hand contacts who are looking for literally anything they can find.
posted by hermitosis at 3:52 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


orville sash : I'm sorry I made you mad. My comment is an extension of my frustration with the way you engage on metafilter. You have been the subject of frequent criticism for taking conversations in a radically different direction by introducing a very extreme idea that on the face of it seems pretty bizarre.

Apology accepted. And I apologize for losing my temper at you.

As for my content... I realize I have some odd ideas, and sometimes I make factual mistakes. Most of the time, though, it comes as a surprise to me how negatively people take some of my ideas (though I suppose you could chalk up some of it to moments of exceptionally bad judgment and I should have known better).

In this case, I honestly had no expectation whatsoever that my suggestion would lead as far off course as it did. I didn't expect MeFi to embrace the idea, but I didn't expect anything even remotely like the response I got. And in part, that no doubt contributed to my reaction to you, having multiple people not only disagree, but respond with nonsequiturs and ridicule.


but I have seen you shrug off much worse, so I find myself a little surprised at your response.

Agreed... Normally I maintain my composure to a degree that at least one MeFite has called "scary". And I can't solidly say why your comment bothered me so. But I'll drop it now and move on, peace made.
posted by pla at 4:05 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Normally I maintain my composure to a degree that at least one MeFite has called "scary".

Probably a good quality to have, if you are covered in guns.
posted by hermitosis at 4:11 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was a stupid axe-grindy derail in my opinion.

Exactly. An attempt to steer the discussion elsewhere.
posted by ericb at 4:17 PM on November 26, 2010


pla: "In this case, I honestly had no expectation whatsoever that my suggestion would lead as far off course as it did. I didn't expect MeFi to embrace the idea, but I didn't expect anything even remotely like the response I got."

The outcome you got was 100% predictable. I'm concerned that if you cannot, in fact, make that prediction than you are not reading MeFi right. I mean that literally; perhaps your reading in threads in which you are not participating isn't extensive enough. Because really, the pulse on hot-button issues isn't hard to pick up around here. It is understandable that people interpret your failure in that regard as trolling at worst, derailing at best.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:26 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is is my penis, this is my gun,
This one's for chickens, this one's for chickens, too.
posted by loquacious at 4:29 PM on November 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


The ease with which you lost your temper, pla, is a pretty good argument against guns on planes. Few things piss people off like flying and the attendant delays, frustrations, indignities, and discomforts.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2010


This is my penis. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joseph Gurl : The ease with which you lost your temper, pla, is a pretty good argument against guns on planes. Few things piss people off like flying and the attendant delays, frustrations, indignities, and discomforts.

Calmly telling someone off, while certainly a sign that I should have stepped away from the computer for an hour instead of clicking "post", doesn't quite equate to committing murder because I've had a bad day. :)

That said, I have to agree with you that air travel does force people to endure a prolonged, highly stressful situation, which not everyone would deal with equally well.
posted by pla at 4:52 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since Obama was elected, people have been buying ammunition faster than it can be manufactured.


Why hasn't he been taking credit for revitalising this classically American industry? Man, open goal...

The weird thing is, though, I don't really understand why you'd do that - except as a security blanket, I suppose. Once you have the guns, and are convinced that the President is going to try to usher in the New New World Order, what do you do? Set up a compound in the mountains and shoot at any federal representative who comes near you? That'll stop policemen, and maybe even give soldiers and mechanised infantry pause, but how many of those compounds are equipped to stop jets or tanks?

On planes, of course, the point of having a gun is much more pointy - a half-dozen friends from a militia group or terrorist cell could book a flight together and probably mess the plane up pretty effectively by discharging firearms into the fuselage wiring or towards the fuel tank before anyone else could shoot them, or having most start shooting while one or two take advantage of the distraction to use the explosive they have smuggled aboard, or similar. On the whole, I think "no security checks - compulsory gun ownership" would be a gift for people aiming to destroy planes, e.g. over major cities. It would possibly make it harder to hijack planes, but at this point that's already pretty hard - sealed cockpits, pilots under orders not to leave the cockpit, and so on.

Incidentally, The real threat (IMO) doesn't come from someone blowing up an airplane, but taking it over. School shooters rarely kill everyone indiscriminately (or else, why not just use a bomb?), but a particular group they view as having somehow maligned them seems like a non-sequitur, for quite a few reasons. I think this may need a bit more thought.
posted by DNye at 4:54 PM on November 26, 2010


Man, Metafilter has come a long way from cats in scanners to pornoscanners.
posted by special-k at 5:00 PM on November 26, 2010


DNye : seems like a non-sequitur, for quite a few reasons. I think this may need a bit more thought.

My train-of-thought on that...

Forktine pointed out that terrorist attacks (at least on planes) have moved from "control" to "destruction/chaos".

I largely agree with that, but consider it something of a non-issue - A tragedy when (not if) it happens, yes, but I *still* have a literally 10,000% greater chance of dying in a car crash (and probably quite a bit higher, since I have a longish commute and rarely fly).

So I responded by addressing what I see as the actual underlying threat - Not blowing up the plane, but crashing it into the Superbowl, or Disneyland, or even another densely packed office highrise.

The school shooter part recapitulates my earlier point about one of the side-perks to an armed populace; No one blows up a school, they go after the jocks or the cheerleaders or the preps or whatever random group the assailant views as "the enemy".

So basically, I wanted to concede the point that an armed populace won't stop isolated random acts of violence, but point out that truly random acts of violence with "body count" as their core purpose really don't happen very often.


special-k : Man, Metafilter has come a long way from cats in scanners to pornoscanners.

Can Schrodinger's cat get a weapon through in at least one of two possible universes? ;)
posted by pla at 5:13 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

No it isn't.
posted by GeckoDundee at 5:15 PM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


This derail thing? Don't we have a procedure for dealing with that?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:20 PM on November 26, 2010


metafilter has really become fun, that thread was a, a, i say vote lictors for the MODS, matt gets 4, 2 each for the duo and pb gets a machinegun
posted by clavdivs at 8:35 PM on October 14 [!]

hands out more 'guns' to the other mods.
WTF is this thread. metaphor for anger week. "wink if ya got em."


posted by clavdivs at 5:28 PM on November 26, 2010


The solution is clearly to give moderators guns.

mods with guns
mods with guns
Taking over
But it won't be long
They're mesmerized
Skeletons
mods with guns
mods with guns
Easy does it, easy does it, they got something to say no to

Drinking out (is she real, is she)
Pacifier (is she real, is she)
Vitamin souls (is she real, is she)
The street desire (is she real, is she)
Doesn't make sense to (is she real, is she)
But it won't be long (is she real, is she)
mods with guns
mods with guns
Easy does it, easy does it, they got something to say no to

And they're turning us into monsters
Turning us into fire
Turning us into monsters
It's all desire
It's all desire
It's all desire

Drinking out
Pacifier
Sinking soul
There you are
Doesn't make side to
But it won't be long
Cause mods with guns
mods with guns
Easy does it, easy does it, they got something to say no to

And they're turning us into monsters
Turning us into fire
Turning us into monsters
It's all desire
It's all desire
It's all desire

Is she, is she real, is she
Is she real, is she (it's real)
Is she, is she real, is she
Is she real, is she (it's real)
[etc]

Is she is she real
posted by special-k at 5:35 PM on November 26, 2010


"an armed society is a polite society"

Come on, there is historical evidence. The Wild West period in the US gave us Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill, Billy the Kid, and other legendary Guys-Who-Were-Real-Polite-To-Everybody.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:42 PM on November 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Afghanistan is also an extremely armed society. The Taliban are noted for their manners.
posted by unSane at 5:45 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


You can have my penis when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:52 PM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


pla: Well, the reason people tend not to blow up schools (and I really am kind of amazed that this needs to be explained) is that making bombs is quite tricky - much harder than obtaining a firearm, in places where school shootings tend to occur. Making bombs big enough to blow up buildings is hard, and hard to do without drawing attention to yourself - again, far more so than obtaining firearms. Harris and Klebold did attempt to make and detonate bombs, including propane bombs intended to cause massive structural damage, but most of them did not explode. Because making bombs is hard, and largely beyond the abilities and resources of a school shooter. With a less armed populace, you don't get fewer school shootings and more people blowing up schools - you just get fewer school shootings.

(Oh, and the traditional model of the school shooting may have a goal in mind in the preamble, but rapidly descends into random killing. It's best not to romanticise spree killers - they tend not to be strong on organisation.)

By the same token, hijacking an American plane is going to be very hard. Hijacking a plane in American airspace is going to be very hard. Hijacking a plane in American airspace and flying it into Disneyland or the Superbowl without it being shot down en route will be very hard indeed. Your desire to have everyone on planes armed is not going to have a very large effect on how hard or easy it might be to achieve these goals, I think.

What your plan would do would make it comparatively easy to damage or destroy a large number of planes in US airspace. Whereas the 9/11 attacks took a large amount of time, people, resources, planning and effort, if everyone could take firearms on board planes you'd probably just need a couple of people per plane and very little forward planning - much less complexity of planning for intelligence services to pick up and prevent, and much less resource committed to each attempt. It would be a terrorist's dream - and would also really open up the skies to spree killers and rage killers, for whom air travel has traditionally not been a good option at all.

Anyway. Short version: your belief is not a good one, for a number of reasons, and the factual bases you build it on are unsound. However, since your longish commute probably doesn't take you to Arlington, the consequences of you holding it are probably not that severe.
posted by DNye at 6:57 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


You can have my penis when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

I believe there is a TSA procedure for that.
posted by unSane at 7:05 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I shoot down aircraft every day.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:14 PM on November 26, 2010


"She's so particular, she likes a smith and wesson or colt.
But she'll give you some smoten' as long as she's cockin' the bolt.
Better hold on when she's up to her tricks
Playin' russian roulette but she'll load all six.
Gun smote, gun smote, gun smote,
She's a real gun lover,
Gun smote, (gun smote) gun smote, (gun smote) gun smote,
She's a real gun smoter tonight."

-a redacted version of a ZZ Top song*

St. Vitus Fool disclaimer: god help me run and fast like


posted by clavdivs at 7:41 PM on November 26, 2010


Dear Orville:

Don't fuck with orville, he'll sic wilbur on your ass. Wright Bros reprasentin...
posted by jonmc at 7:57 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


School shooters rarely kill everyone indiscriminately (or else, why not just use a bomb?), but a particular group they view as having somehow maligned them.

Assumes facts not in evidence.

Fact: People do blow up schools. And office buildings.

Fact: In general, when school shooters kill "a particular group" that group is "women and girls." The mythology that, say, the Columbine shooters were aiming to kill the jocks and Christians has been amply debunked.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:00 PM on November 26, 2010


old news?
posted by clavdivs at 8:22 PM on November 26, 2010


I am so glad I missed that HIV quarantine thread.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:22 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


{I smote that name BTY TIA)
posted by clavdivs at 8:25 PM on November 26, 2010


Sidhedevil : Fact: People do blow up schools. And office buildings.

And you only had to go back 83 years to find an example? Well, consider me put in my place!

(as for Oklahoma city - Blowing up a federal building, unintended victims aside, hardly counts as indiscriminate mass murder. I'd call it "Insufficiently specific", at best - Stories of daycare centers on the first floor aside... FEDERAL BUILDING).


Sometimes, MeFi makes it difficult to express contrition for my actual errors.

Funny, that.
posted by pla at 8:51 PM on November 26, 2010


Nah, it's just you.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 PM on November 26, 2010


Oh, Federal Building makes all the difference.





I see.
posted by unSane at 8:53 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Gold Dust Twins.
posted by clavdivs at 9:14 PM on November 26, 2010


Gold Dust Kids
posted by Sailormom at 9:28 PM on November 26, 2010


You don't have to think "Oh, Obama's going to bring the new world order, we have to stock up on ammunition to defend ourselves" to think this is a good time to stockpile; if you're a gun enthusiast with the mindset that a left-leaning government is going to proffer and support programs for gun and ammunition control, and you're of the mindset that a left-leaning government is going to be in power for the near future, then stockpiling ammunition is a perfectly rational thing to do. Scarcity often brings significant profits to those who stockpile in advance, and even if you're just a hobbyist without a profit motive, you'll want to buy now to avoid feeding those profits that other people are taking, later on.
posted by davejay at 9:47 PM on November 26, 2010


School shooters rarely kill everyone indiscriminately...

Sometimes, MeFi makes it difficult to express contrition for my actual errors.my actual errors


Your comments in the original thread refer to "lone-gunman-in-a-clock-tower" which can only be a reference to the case of Charles Whitman, the Texas University clock tower sniper. All of his victims that day were shot at random starting with members of the Gabour and Lamport family who did nothing more than happen to be visiting the building the next day. The other victims were shot on the ground from the 27th floor which precludes any intentionality in the choice of victims.
posted by tallus at 10:44 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"lone-gunman-in-a-clock-tower"

This could be a metaphor.
posted by clavdivs at 10:50 PM on November 26, 2010


(as for Oklahoma city - Blowing up a federal building, unintended victims aside, hardly counts as indiscriminate mass murder. I'd call it "Insufficiently specific", at best - Stories of daycare centers on the first floor aside... FEDERAL BUILDING).

whut.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:02 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


(as for Oklahoma city - Blowing up a federal building, unintended victims aside, hardly counts as indiscriminate mass murder. I'd call it "Insufficiently specific", at best - Stories of daycare centers on the first floor aside... FEDERAL BUILDING).

Really?
posted by stet at 11:14 PM on November 26, 2010


i would not even try to think that up let alone type it.
posted by clavdivs at 11:24 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think Joe's response sums that one up just fine.
posted by maryr at 11:47 PM on November 26, 2010


Oh, universal gun ownership. Most people seem like they should be disqualified from possessing reproductive organs*. I'm not sure living in a world where the ability to take life was that common or easy would be all beer and skittles.

*No one here, of course, because we're exceptional.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:47 PM on November 26, 2010


"... Hardly counts as indiscriminate mass murder. I'd call it 'Insufficiently specific'"

"Supervillains and their hypercritical mothers, on the next Dr. Phil."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:50 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think Joe's response sums that one up just fine.

Do I really need to play connect-the-dots so often?

If you consider the federal government your enemy, it hardly counts as random to attack the largest symbol of their power to which you have access. That doesn't make it right, or even well-aimed. It just eliminates the all too easy excuse of calling it random destruction just for destruction's sake.
posted by pla at 11:56 PM on November 26, 2010


Right, OK, but your phrasing makes it sound like, "Oops, well, they didn't mean to kill a bunch of children, they just weren't specific enough." The phrase unintended victims aside is really not helping your point. I think it's pretty clear they intended victims and they didn't much care who they were - that would be in the indiscriminate part.
posted by maryr at 12:08 AM on November 27, 2010


Perhaps it's because this thread was started at a time that's late in the evening in Europe - but so far I haven't seen people considering what would happen with a plane for of armed people landing on a European airport.

Pla, guns are not welcome here, and it looks like our method of keeping inner cities civilized work better than having universal gun ownership, so I don't think your idea will go over well outside the USA. Have you ever considered this angle of your idea? From what I read in this thread you're not the only one who hasn't.

Actually, let me answer your question "How does responding with a serious alternative derail the thread?"

I haven't seen your comment in question, but the lack of discussion of international considerations above make me assume you didn't address the point, and that makes it a non-serious alternative - there are some blindingly obvious things not thought out - and thus a derail.

But that's just me. I probably wouldn't even flag it, I would just move on and ignore it.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:09 AM on November 27, 2010


Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

Not at all.
posted by telstar at 2:34 AM on November 27, 2010


Once you have the guns [...] what do you do?

I don't think the people stockpiling ammunition are thinking that far ahead.


you're of the mindset that a left-leaning government is going to be in power for the near future, then stockpiling ammunition is a perfectly rational thing to do.

I don't disagree with this on the face of it, but I believe the premise is flawed. Is there any evidence whatsoever that the Obama administration will be pursuing firearm regulation? I know he paid lipservice to renewing the assault rifle ban when pressed on it, but beyond that?

This seems an awful lot like a bunch of bullshit that the NRA -- a manifestly pro-GOP political organization -- cooked up while trying to get John Mccain elected. Arms control isn't even on the *radar* of this administration from what I can tell.

I welcome evidence contradicting this just so I am more educated on the matter. I don't subscribe to any mercenary or ninja magazines so am possibly out of the loop on the current state of us being taken over by radical centrist liberals.
posted by cj_ at 2:39 AM on November 27, 2010


I haven't seen your comment in question, but the lack of discussion of international considerations above make me assume you didn't address the point, and that makes it a non-serious alternative - there are some blindingly obvious things not thought out - and thus a derail.

Signs would need to be posted on airport kiosks: WARNING. Flights originating from this terminal may proceed into unarmed territory. Some areas of the world are so uncivilized that they do not recognize the necessity of universal carry. These countries may feature unarmed persons within the vicinity of any given international visitor. TRAVELERS SHOULD PROCEED AT THEIR OWN RISK.
posted by telstar at 3:12 AM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Afghanistan is also an extremely armed society.

Gun ownership in Mexico seems to be fairly commonplace, though you're limited to owning just ten guns, and can't own a handgun bigger than a .38.

Presumably the crime rate there is a consequence of the fact that not everyone can carry an assault rifle at all times?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:00 AM on November 27, 2010


You can have my penis when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

I've heard better pick-up lines.
posted by h00py at 4:16 AM on November 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sure, it would only work for internal flights - but internal flights are less secure than international flights, anyway - you can board one with a wider range of documentation, which makes it easier to falsify documents showing that one is in a group permitted to carry the firearm on board (I assume that non-US citizens on US internal flights would not be permitted to carry on their guns, but at this point I guess anything goes - if you believe that more guns leads to a more secure environment, possibly who is holding those guns is not relevant).

You couldn't do this on any flight which was taking off or landing in any other country - I think you might struggle with doing it on a flight that passes through another country's airspace - unless every country decided to go bonkers at the same time. In which eventuality, I would be fascinated to see how the section of the American public represented by this argument might feel on a charter flight in North Africa surrounded by armed Muslims, say - not hugely secure, I wager.

It's a mad plan, certainly, but I think a sincerely advanced one - that comes down to the question of when it's OK to identify someone as a troll or intentional derailer, where I think it's good practice to assume good faith. Whereas the casual addition of highly contentious statistical interpretations to the effect that high gun ownership leads to lower crime rates (from, as it turns out, a publication that also believes that the IRS is persecuting pro-Israel Jewish businesses - that is, a mad publication) is clearly a derail, because even if one is unable to see that it is mad one should be able to see that it's offtopic and likely to be controversial. Is that about right?
posted by DNye at 4:27 AM on November 27, 2010


I suggest an initial phase of allowing universal carry of shampoo, breast milk and nail clippers on all flights. We could monitor that and see how it affects safety before proceeding to more dangerous weapons such as toothpaste.
posted by nowonmai at 5:03 AM on November 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


The solution is clearly to give moderators guns.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:23 PM on November 26


I think the solution is to make everyone who calls someone out settle the matter by having a naked jelly-wrestling bout until honour is restored. That would be the classy way of dealing with conflict.
posted by Decani at 5:16 AM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guns-on-planes issue aside, I think it is a little dishonest to throw a giant wrench into a thread by using the topic at hand to wedge in a pet issue of yours and then act all wide-eyed and innocent when people quite rightly respond that you might be derailing the conversation. Seems the classy thing to do would be to own up to it, and consider that maybe all these other people don't have a political agenda against you (especially considering how this community does respond respectfully to thoughtful conservativism), but just might be right that you're muddying the waters.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:22 AM on November 27, 2010


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing : I think it is a little dishonest to throw a giant wrench into a thread by using the topic at hand to wedge in a pet issue of yours.

If I had that as a pet issue, something that I try to twist every topic into a discussion about it, you might have a point.

If someone can tell me a way to search just my posts, I'll gladly give you hard numbers; but in almost 600 comments on MeFi, prior to this thread I doubt I've mentioned guns more than a handful of times... Maybe two handfuls if you want to count vague references to the second amendment.

So who has the "pet issue" problems here?


Now, if we accidentally get on a discussion of intellectual property rights... Guilty as charged. ;)


DNye : from, as it turns out, a publication that also believes that the IRS is persecuting pro-Israel Jewish businesses

Yes, I failed to sufficiently vet that link... Its inadequacies already came up in-thread, thanks. As for poisoning the well, well, Google doesn't care about a site's stance on Israel when it has content that matches your search for "violent crime gun ownership statistics".


Decani : I think the solution is to make everyone who calls someone out settle the matter by having a naked jelly-wrestling bout until honour is restored. That would be the classy way of dealing with conflict.

I feel that I've made my peace with Orville... But your way sounds more fun, show me to the jelly-pit! :D
posted by pla at 5:41 AM on November 27, 2010


If I had that as a pet issue, something that I try to twist every topic into a discussion about it, you might have a point.

I didn't say you that guns on planes is an issue that you bring into each and every thread. I did say that you must be aware that shoving a tangentially related topic, one that you must know is going to cause this type of attention-garnering, has a very strong chance of derailing the thread into Let's Talk About This Idea of pla's, and I have no idea why you pretend otherwise.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:47 AM on November 27, 2010


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing : I did say that you must be aware that shoving a tangentially related topic, one that you must know is going to cause this type of attention-garnering, has a very strong chance of derailing the thread into Let's Talk About This Idea of pla's, and I have no idea why you pretend otherwise.

Well, because in that one sentence, you just asserted three problematic "facts" that only a psychic could prove:

1) "you must be aware that shoving a tangentially related topic" - As I've already said, I consider it a bit more apropos than "tangential". You can disagree, but you just can't assert that I believed it irrelevant.

2) "you must know is going to cause this". Nope. Stupid of me not to have predicted it, given the political leanings I've come to know and love amongst MeFites, but if I had expected such a derailing effect I wouldn't have mentioned it.

3) "why you pretend otherwise". Again, you don't get to tell me my motives and level of sincerity. You can call me wrong, you say that you believe that I argue in bad faith, you can ignore me or flag my posts because you don't want to talk to me. But you can't guess at my thoughts and feelings and use that as a premise in anything even remotely resembling a valid argument.
posted by pla at 6:18 AM on November 27, 2010


An armed society may or may not be a polite society, but do you know what is a very polite society? A totally fucking unconscious society. Yes! Now, I don't know a lot about pharmaceuticals and shit, but on "Dexter" Dexter's got this stuff that he puts in a hypodermic and sticks in a bad guy's neck and that motherfucker is out a light. I mean, BAM! It's like, fucking instantaneous, man. So what if we just skipped all the bullshit and had our asses knocked the fuck out before we got on the plane? Nobody's hijacking a damn thing then, and maybe that JetBlue guy could even come back to work, his job would be so mellow. If you can think of a safer way to fly, I'd love to hear it. Don't be shy! I really wanna know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:50 AM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dude, I'm sure we've all googled "[Thing I want to say is the case]", then linked to the first publication that supports our opinion, but I think there's an honour code that we don't admit it.

(Incidentally, to be clear, it's not the publication's stance on Israel that i am taking as a sign of it being a source of mad information, but rather its stance on the IRS - that it is a hotbed of enemies of Israel seeking to punish small businessmen for their stances on Israel. That's quality bonkers, right there.)
posted by DNye at 6:52 AM on November 27, 2010


"you must be aware that shoving a tangentially related topic" - As I've already said, I consider it a bit more apropos than "tangential". You can disagree, but you just can't assert that I believed it irrelevant.

Setting aside the framing, let me try and talk about this in practical terms, because questions of intent and mind-reading aside this is a kind of thing that has happened a couple times in the past with you jumping into a conversation in a disruptive way, pla.

If you're going to bring up a topic in a thread, particularly a somewhat charged thread, the basic questions that I feel like you should be posing to yourself and answering are:

- Why am I bringing this up? Is it because it clearly addresses the substantial content of the thread so far, or is it because I want to have people start talking about this?

- Is what I'm bringing up a socially or ideologically contentious subject? Is there a reasonable chance that injecting it into the conversation will be disruptive? If so, what about the subject I'm bringing up justifies that likely disruption, and how can I mitigate that disruption through careful presentation of the idea? Can I even strike an acceptable balance, or should I let this go and wait for a future thread where it's more explicitly on topic and not just loosely related to the topic?

- What responses can I anticipate to my comment? What responses do I think I'll have to those responses? Is there a reasonable chance that by bringing this topic up I'll divert attention away from the conversation so far and make it more about me and my subject or my choice to inject that subject?

Most of this is, I think, stuff folks just unconsciously or semi-consciously consider whenever they're reading a thread and get the itch to jump in on some new angle. It doesn't actually need to be a checklist or a third-degree you give yourself before commenting so much as just stuff to be generally mindful of, and I think most of the time people just do a really quick gutcheck of this sort of complex of inquiries as they decide whether to start typing a given comment, or whether to actually hit post on it when they've finished typing it or to instead close the browser tab and move on to some other thread or site instead.

But I bring it up as an explicit list there because I feel like a lot of not-great stuff that happens in conversations that lead to people talking about (and flagging) derails springs mostly from a failure to really submit a discussion tangent to community-minded scrutiny along the lines of those questions. Declaring something to be or not be a derail in some convenient binary sense is often difficult for the muddier waters of discussion tangents on complicated subjects, but the general "why am I making this comment" questions still apply perfectly well: Is it likely to be disruptive to the existing conversation; is it likely to start an argument; is it likely to make the conversation about me? A yes answer to any of those is a really good sign that maybe a comment needs reconsideration or shelving for a later date where the answers are different.

And, all questions of intent or motivation aside, this is something you've struggled with practically on a few occasions here. Which may just mean that your value for the "likely" in those sorts of questions is badly calibrated; so be it, but the practical solution to this recurring thing is for you to tune that manually. That may mean taking whatever occurs to you as the answer to "how likely is it" and assuming that it may be a lot more likely than that guess and returning to those questions with that in mind.

No one ever derailed a thread by being cautious; no one ever got called a troll for that, either. If you're struggling with those things happening when you don't think they should, recalibrating your own sense of caution may be the simplest if not the most personally satisfying solution. And given that this is a community, the personally satisfying solution is not always the workable one.

settle the matter by having a naked jelly-wrestling bout until honour is restored

If not, so much, dignity.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:00 AM on November 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Do I really need to play connect-the-dots so often?

This sort of goes hand in hand with what cortex said. If you feel yourself playing connect-the-dots all the time with people, it may be that you are not presenting your ideas in ways that are clear to them. Not a huge deal, but if it's something that consistently happens with a wide range of people and you'd like to be understood better [as you clearly can be when you take the time, I think] then you may need to build a little bit of "what is my goal here?" reflection into comments on hot button topics.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:06 AM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whether or not it offends people to consider increased carrying of firearms as a solution to the current TSA woes, I would like to know if people seriously consider it a "derail".

When you said "I would like to know if people seriously consider it a derail", did you mean "I would like to know if people seriously consider it a derail, so that I can be more in tune with what people here think and prevent derails in the future, if that's what people think I am doing"? Or did you mean "I would like to know if people consider it a derail, so I can tell them how wrong I think they are"?
posted by 23skidoo at 9:10 AM on November 27, 2010


23skidoo : did you mean "I would like to know if people seriously consider it a derail, so that I can be more in tune with what people here think and prevent derails in the future, if that's what people think I am doing"? Or did you mean "I would like to know if people consider it a derail, so I can tell them how wrong I think they are"?

Largely the former. As I didn't originally consider it a derail myself, or off-topic, or even all that tangential to the existing discussion... Well, Cortex nicely touched on that above. Not a boolean thing. Clearly my problem, but not something you can say "guns = derail" and call it good.

A "yes, you derailed" helps. Knowing that not everyone considered it a derail (though "derail" seems like the general consensus) also helps. And Understanding why it counted as a derail helps more.

Thank you, BTW, to those who have provided such feedback.

As for the latter alternative, I haven't dismissed any responses to my original question as "wrong". I've discussed a few side-topics, including the original derail, that have come up in this thread (derails of a MeTa?), but I've only called one person outright incorrect - For trying to tell me what I think.


jessamyn : If you feel yourself playing connect-the-dots all the time with people, it may be that you are not presenting your ideas in ways that are clear to them.

I remember a common scenario in high school (and only slightly less common in college, even) - The instructor would describe something to the class, then ask a question or two that they had just bluntly answered. I remember feeling... Almost embarrassed when no one would answer and the instructor would look frustrated so I'd sheepishly put up my hand and repeat back more-or-less exactly what s/he had just said. Each time, after (undeserved) praise for getting it right, I would think, "Really? You just wanted us to parrot your last sentence? Why bother?". This left me with an aversion to tediously stepping through a discussion point by painfully obvious point, preferring to discuss the interesting bits and leave the "filler" content unspoken.

As a result, I tend to write in a style that leaves a few of the dots disconnected. As you fairly point out, though, this doesn't do much for the clarity of my writing. I would guess this ties back to my use of the phrase "painfully obvious", above... What I consider obvious, others may not; And what others consider obvious, I might not (case in point, that my mention of firearms would lead to a derail, something it seems everyone but me considers painfully obvious).

Not excusing it, but it might help to know why I sometimes sound more like an episode of Connections than a Ric Romero segment. :)
posted by pla at 10:21 AM on November 27, 2010


plaPoster: This left me with an aversion to tediously stepping through a discussion point by painfully obvious point, preferring to discuss the interesting bits and leave the "filler" content unspoken.

MetaFilter: Really, really bad at leaving the filler content unspoken - or indeed, uncontested. Spectacularly bad.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:26 AM on November 27, 2010


Wow. Well this is eye-opening.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:29 AM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A "yes, you derailed" helps.

Yes, you derailed.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:45 AM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Really, really bad at leaving the filler content unspoken - or indeed, uncontested. Spectacularly bad.

You think? I don't think MetaFilter, in my experience, is significantly keen on rigorous, step-by-step examination of positions or situations. Not unreasonably given that it's primarily there to share links, it is generally opposed to lengthy examinations of a particular position - in fact, one of the guidelines is that if you find your posts are responding to a particular person repeatedly, you should stop participating in the thread, I believe.
posted by DNye at 12:14 PM on November 27, 2010


why I sometimes sound more like an episode of Connections

To which episode are you referring? Because I must have missed that one.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:41 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real threat (IMO) doesn't come from someone blowing up an airplane, but taking it over.

This threat has been eliminated by simply putting a locking door on the cockpit.

Compare this already-implemented solution to Let's just let the passengers have guns. Now compare Let's just let the passengers have guns to a mixed platter of nuts, bananas, fruitcake, and batshit. Which of the two does Let's just let the passengers have guns more closely resemble?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:52 PM on November 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


The logic presumably being that there are always going to be more people on the side of the angels carrying handguns than there might be bad guys.

But this allows those carrying the guns to determine who is on the side of the angels. Sorry, I don't trust that.
posted by desuetude at 8:28 PM on November 27, 2010


But this allows those carrying the guns to determine who is on the side of the angels. Sorry, I don't trust that.

But it's so easily determined! You just gotta shoot 'em!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:31 PM on November 27, 2010


Shooting a gun in an airplane is almost certainly going to depressurize the cabin. You realize that, right? Do you trust absolutely everybody who brings a gun not only to only shoot the right people, but to do so with perfect accuracy and non-penetrating bullets?
posted by kafziel at 8:42 PM on November 27, 2010


DNye: "You think? I don't think MetaFilter, in my experience, is significantly keen on rigorous, step-by-step examination of positions or situations."

I don't mean that. I mean that we are easily distracted by things that are not related to the content of the original post - grammer and gender spring to mind most readily but all of this is, obviously, based on the threads in which I take an interest.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:56 PM on November 27, 2010


Shooting a gun in an airplane is almost certainly going to depressurize the cabin.

I thought MythBusters said it wouldn't?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:20 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, they tested whether blowing a 9mm hole would destroy the entire plane, as depicted in the movie US Marshals. You're still going to see the sort of depressurization that prompts the masks to drop and the calm voices to tell everyone they're not dying.
posted by kafziel at 10:30 PM on November 27, 2010


yaymukund writes "I'll see a post that amounts to 'Don't engage this person because they are a troll' without any further justification. Are we okay with that? How is it any different from arguing against a member after digging through their post history?"

Back in the woolly days of metafilter (IE: 6 years ago) we had a user who had similiar difficulties. klangklangston had a brilliant, imo, idea that, while it didn't actually curb his behaviour (he instead trolled out in spectacular fashion) at least reduced under collar temperatures for other members.

PeterMcDermott writes "Gun ownership in Mexico seems to be fairly commonplace, though you're limited to owning just ten guns, and can't own a handgun bigger than a .38. "

I did not know this and I find it hilarious as Canadians are only allowed handguns larger than .32 caliber (and longer than 105mm barrel). The philosophical outlook is obviously wildly different.

pla writes "The instructor would describe something to the class, then ask a question or two that they had just bluntly answered. I remember feeling... Almost embarrassed when no one would answer and the instructor would look frustrated so I'd sheepishly put up my hand and repeat back more-or-less exactly what s/he had just said. Each time, after (undeserved) praise for getting it right, I would think, 'Really? You just wanted us to parrot your last sentence? Why bother?'. This left me with an aversion to tediously stepping through a discussion point by painfully obvious point, preferring to discuss the interesting bits and leave the 'filler' content unspoken."

Instructors do this because repetition aids retention. <cynic> and half the class probably wasn't paying attention the first (or second) time</cynic>

kafziel writes "Shooting a gun in an airplane is almost certainly going to depressurize the cabin."

No it isn't. Any commercial plane already leaks more than that anyways which is why they have to keep pumps running to maintain pressure.
posted by Mitheral at 1:10 AM on November 28, 2010


PeterMcDermott writes "Gun ownership in Mexico seems to be fairly commonplace, though you're limited to owning just ten guns, and can't own a handgun bigger than a .38. "

It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's close. See here and here for details.
posted by Forktine at 6:47 AM on November 28, 2010


Any commercial plane already leaks more than that anyways which is why they have to keep pumps running to maintain pressure.

Sure, but that presupposes a single bullet hole - see Mythbusters discussion, above. Shooting a window would make a bigger hole, as would multiple impacts in the same place. Gunfire could also damage the wiring running through the plane, damage the fuel lines or fuel tanks of smaller planes and so on. However, decompression is really a red herring; If I were a terrorist (and I'd like to be quite clear that I am not, and am only speculating about the ramifications of this plan because it is an insane plan that will never be put into effect), the real value add would be distraction. The shoe bomber and the underpants bomber were prevented by people seeing what they were doing and preventing them. If everyone is looking at one terrorist, because he has just started shooting, nobody is going to be looking at another terrorist (let's call him or her the body cavity bomber) removing and activating an explosive device which is able to do far more damage than bullets could.
posted by DNye at 8:10 AM on November 28, 2010


Back in the woolly days of metafilter (IE: 6 years ago) we had a user who had similiar difficulties. klangklangston had a brilliant, imo, idea

I had no idea until right now where that saying came from on MeFi. Also I was reading your sentence "Back when we all used IE 6..." and I thought it was a great way to explain things.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:15 AM on November 28, 2010


If everyone was allowed to be armed on planes, a terrorist could surely bring one down by loudly announcing some good news so all the armed passengers would shoot dozens of holes in the roof whilst hollering and whooping. Single bullet-holes might be insignificant, but if 100 passengers each let off a clip of 30 or two there might be trouble.
posted by nowonmai at 10:27 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


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