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August 31, 2011 5:32 AM   Subscribe

I have sent a query to admin, but to help me get a better idea of what the MeFi community (overall) thinks, and the perspective they come from, I'm looking for feedback and discussion about why my FPP was deleted. I'm looking for reasons why, not simple statements of objection. I'm not looking to respond or debate with anyone. Unless a technical question is asked of me, I probably won't respond. I would sincerely just like to read and take or leave what I find. Thank you.

If helpful, here's a further explanation of my post:

I thought this was an important story. I thought I shouldn't focus on the "is or isn't it rape" aspect of the story. So, I did two things, I thought, in my post: 1) I pointed out the story. 2) I directed discussion towards the question of freedom of expression rather than an argument about rape.

We talk a lot about freedom of speech/expression.

But for the good of society overall, we sometimes draw lines before the most extreme cases.

Comedy is one of those cases in which we often allow more than at other times.

Witness Tosh.0, for example. On the other hand, we have had harsh reactions to cartoons which simply depict a religious figure (some of "us" have, that is).

The person, Eric, who told this story to begin with: should he be censored or should he be allowed to tell his story because it sheds light on and brings up for discussion a point worth making, or events worth knowing about? Even if he is objectionable, could good come from his expression?

These are the topics I was getting at. Part of what I'm asking to talk about here is: are these not ok topics or did I just not adequately communicate them in that post? (Note that that's just "part of" what I'm asking--other issues are welcome as well.)
posted by ottimo to Etiquette/Policy at 5:32 AM (269 comments total)

It was flame bait with too much editorialising.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:35 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you be more specific about how/what was "flame bait" and what it means to be "flame bait," in your mind? And more specific about what you mean by editorializing and and what part were such?
posted by ottimo at 5:47 AM on August 31, 2011


Thoroughly odd post headline here for this MeTa, too. "Who are MeFites?" What?

I dunno, ottimo, this is pretty weird.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:48 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


It means I'm trying to understand the community.
posted by ottimo at 5:50 AM on August 31, 2011


Unless a technical question is asked of me, I probably won't respond.

Can you tell me... what would the correct ignition timing be on a 1955 Bel Air Chevrolet, with a 327 cubic-inch engine and a four-barrel carburetor?
posted by doublehappy at 5:50 AM on August 31, 2011 [71 favorites]


I've been following this story and thought it might eventually show up on the blue. I've read your post a couple times, and one of the problems I had is that you immediately try to direct the reaction to a discussion about whether or not rape is funny. The George Carlin link was supposed to bolster that, but is completely and totally irrelevant to this story. For one thing "Eric" the monologist was possibly completely unaware that he was telling the story of a rape. He wasn't, for example, exploring the idea that he might have raped this woman and making comedy out of his feelings about it.

I agree that talking about freedom of expression in comedy is an important thing, but that's not what this incident is about at all. Anyway, that's why I was disappointed in your post.
posted by swingbraid at 5:52 AM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


Sexual assault in particular is a ridiculously explosive issue on MeFi. Has been for as long as I can remember. Starting a post with "Can rape be funny?" is going to hit all kinds of buttons with all kinds of people and cause a complete cluster, which causes the Mods to have a bad day. Things which tend to cause the Mods to have a bad day are, justifiably, subject to moderation, and the way your post was framed, there was absolutely no way this was going to work out for anyone. The fact that this hasn't become apparent to you suggests to me that you haven't spent as much time figuring out the dynamics of the community as you might have.

Frankly, I tend to think that this is just one of those things that MeFi doesn't do very well. There are others. But I understand that, and I'm content to work within the evolved confines of the community here. There are people I don't interact with, issues I have to approach more sensitively here than in other communities, and some things I just don't talk about at all. I'm not alone in this, and I doubt that there are many members who don't have a similar perspective.

But really, this is just describing how one interacts and becomes a positive member of any community, internet or otherwise. If you want to have your time here be anything approaching rewarding and productive, you'll spend a little more time sussing out the social terrain before doing what amounts to throwing a live grenade in a crowded room.

As far as doing that... just spend more time here. See how conversations go. Listen to people. Delve into the Green. Start to recognize usernames. It's a community, and it takes time and effort to understand. It's not the sort of thing that's easily reduced to a summary, and there aren't all that many rules. Just guidelines, formed and informed by wisdom.
posted by valkyryn at 5:53 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't know how to put this exactly, but there's a difference between a "here are some interesting links" post and a "here's a link, now please discuss X" post. An FPP (especially on a muy hot-button topic) that's intentionally framed so as to invite polarized views and where you purposely "direct discussion towards" some element of the links doesn't really work so well here.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:53 AM on August 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


I don't know, but Ms. Vito said:

Chevy didn't make a 327 in '55, the 327 didn't come out till '62. And it wasn't offered in the Bel Air with a four-barrel carb till '64. However, in 1964, the correct ignition timing would be four degrees before top-dead-center.
posted by ottimo at 5:54 AM on August 31, 2011 [100 favorites]


ottimo, I would strongly, strongly suggest you stick to your initial pledge of "probably not responding." This is a sensitive topic, and if this thread stays open, you're going to see plenty of people chime in. If you really want to see what people think, just stay out of it. You've explained your intentions already.

If you don't, this could all go south in a hurry.
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chevy didn't make a 327 in '55, the 327 didn't come out till '62. And it wasn't offered in the Bel Air with a four-barrel carb till '64. However, in 1964, the correct ignition timing would be four degrees before top-dead-center.

Shit just got real.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [56 favorites]


Discussion prompts on a metafilter post do not generally go well*, as the community resents being guided by the OP on what they should and should not be discussing in reaction to the post. Beyond that, for such a volatile topic, the Carlin bit seems a bit like an unnecessary and mostly unrelated tag to the topic at hand.

*Certain users of the blue have managed to develop a style to generate discussion and only discussion by using pull quotes from ultimately unnecessary links, but that's a tricky tactic and really not the point of the blue.
posted by Think_Long at 5:56 AM on August 31, 2011


In case people are curious, this was my response.
> What is wrong with a discussion of limited vs. unlimited freedom of expression?

Rape is a very touchy topic that goes very very badly on MetaFilter. Your post was flagged enough times that I did not make a judgment call, I removed it because it was clearly not working out. If you want to talk about freedom of discussion, that's one thing. If you want to take about rape, that's another. Offering an oddly provocative "can rape be funny" bit after the other part of it just seemed like a really strange way of framing what was already a sort of strange post.

You have, in the past on the site made provocative statements calling feminists idiots and other comments that sort of don't fit here. No big deal, people sort of adjust or they decide they don't like the way we do things here. However, it made your post look a little more stuntish than you may have intended it. Additionally, and this is secondary, the thing you linked to seemed to involve quite a lot of viewing before it was even getting to the part that was supposedly the subject of your post. No huge deal but it meant that your point was
sort of lost to begin with.

So, to summarize

- post on a provocative topic by a poster who has in the past seemed to not quite grok how to 'read the room' well on MetaFilter
- with a link to a media bit that wasn't really accessible without fast forwarding through a lot of it [and another link to a filesharing site which is also not really done here]
- with a leading question "can rape be funny" which is, at some level, leading and framing the discussion in a way that is normally not really done here
- it was flagged a lot by the time I saw it, making this not really a judgment call situation.

Put more succinctly: posts on really touchy topics need to be treated snesitively andor carefully if you want to make a post to MetaFilter about them. This post did not do that. It was flagged a lot by the community and it was removed. You are welcome to go to MetaTalk and ask the larger community about this if you want to.

Jessamyn
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:01 AM on August 31, 2011 [28 favorites]


doublehappy: That's a trick question. No one could answer that question.

ottimo: There might have been a post in there, somehow, but it would've taken a deft hand. What you did was the opposite of that. I'll try to explain.

Relative to the rest of the internet (e.g., a horrible place where anonymity allows people to get away with saying horrible things) Metafilter does a pretty good job of discussing tricky gender relation stuff, but we're sure not perfect at it. Look up the post on Schroedinger's Rapist to see the community in action.

What you did was link to piece of content that's incredibly upsetting for a lot of people, then suggest in a sort of wikipedia weasel-words kind of way that "some people find rape funny." Sure, some people do. Other people also find it to be a terrible crime! Framing the discussion in that particular way implicitly corners people into having a debate they don't want to have, because it doesn't seem like it should even be a debate.

Not everybody is interested in putting in the legwork required to define the precise border that separates a "funny joke" from yet another example of the way sexual violence against women is tacitly condoned by society. Your post is basically saying, "Hey, everybody! Let's do this legwork right now!"
posted by pts at 6:02 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


For me, your post was too editorially framed, and the framing seemed to (deliberately?) miss the heart of the story, which is that a guy seems to have unintentionally confessed to something that could be rape during a monologue. The issue really isn't whether or not that constituted comedy, it's why the fuck would someone be so clueless about sexual assault as to think his actions, let alone a recitation of them, was acceptable. Framing it the way you did effectively did away with the larger question of this guy and his attitude toward sexual assault, and its basic acceptability, in order to try to generate a discussion about something that really was beside the point. Hence, the framing seemed to diminish the seriousness of the (possible) sexual assault in the interests of a trumped up discussion of free speech or comedy or whatever. It's like framing a discussion of the Abu Grahb photos around the personal fashion choices of the abusers.
posted by OmieWise at 6:07 AM on August 31, 2011 [25 favorites]


As others have said, part of it is that we don't do "Let's discuss this post this way/let's discuss this aspect of the post" very well, unless it's a post about how people got their cats wedged in scanners.

Part of it was the subject matter, which we can do well here, but it often takes 1200 comments and a meTa to get to the part where we're doing it well.

Part of it, as jessamyn told you, was that it got the shit flagged out of it, which means that people didn't like it.
posted by rtha at 6:12 AM on August 31, 2011


jessamyn writes: ...a poster who has in the past seemed to not quite grok how to 'read the room' well on MetaFilter

Just wanted to say that I really like the expression 'read the room', and that there is a similar one here in Japan, means the same thing, that I like even better: 空気を読んで (kūki o yonde). That is: 'read the air'.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:12 AM on August 31, 2011 [24 favorites]


It's an interesting enough story that it might be good if eventually a good fpp was made out of it. But not one like this that was scientifically designed for maximum grar.
posted by Forktine at 6:15 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


It wasn't funny for Patti Mayonnaise. It was Funnie.
posted by doublehappy at 6:19 AM on August 31, 2011


Yeah, I had no idea of your history, but your really sorta dumb reduction to "Here is the yes/no question I want you to discuss" frame at the end (and the clueless Carlin bit you thought added necessary context) was obviously the shitty flag-trigger here. There's an ok post to be made about this, but yours wasn't it.

On the other hand, the asshole comments aimed at you just to insure the thread got deleted were just as shitty. *Exactly* just as shitty.
posted by mediareport at 6:23 AM on August 31, 2011


Yeah - there's a lot of potential for interesting discussion, but your post sort of avoided all of that and took a sharp turn into LOLRAPE.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:24 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "Can rape be funny?" as a question is a huge red flag for me.

There is a question there that could be asked, something like "How does humor work around horrible sensitive subjects?" and someone could probably make a good FPP out of it. Or, given the material you started with, looking at the question of whether or not this guy got up and confessed to a crime as part of an improv night could have made a good FPP.

Bu that was not the question you asked.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:27 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Disclaimer: I am just one MeFite. I do not speak for any other MeFites, let alone the MeFi community.

That said, I think the post would have been OK if you had left off everything after "(video of the monologue included in this article)."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:30 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "Can rape be funny?" as a question is a huge red flag for me.

Let me say for the record, btw that the answer to the question is and always will be "no". And yes, big honking red flag.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


Comedy is one of those cases in which we often allow more than at other times.

Witness Tosh.0, for example.


When you find yourself using Tosh.0 as a guide to acceptable behavior, it is time to step back and think about the choices that led you to this situation.
posted by zamboni at 6:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [35 favorites]


I think an excellent post could have been made (though still, obviously, a contentious one) dealing with the perspective of the man who told the story vs the perspective of the audience and how the man was reported to the authorities by the comedy club.

Looking at the incident from a "are rape jokes okay?"* perspective, especially if you link to the NPR coverage, seems tone deaf to me. As the NPR article brings up, there are troubling issues with the story on more than one level. The article doesn't get into humor but the ramifications of the story itself.

My immediate response, which dovetails with the NPR take, was to 1) wonder how the man could be so clueless that the story he was telling would be perceived as rape to at least some, if not the majority, of his audience, and 2) wonder how I would deal with the situation if I were a person sitting in the club or a representative of the club. Do I report a rape here? If I don't, am I complicit in letting a rapist go free?

That's the way I would have approached this, anyway.

*No.
posted by misha at 6:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


A good FPP has an interesting central topic with one or more key links, maybe some relevant supporting links, and features a neutral tone that doesn't lead discussion, state a position or attempt to sway opinion. It is "I think this is interesting and I want to share it with the group" and that's all. MetaFilter isn't a bully pulpit or an oral defence, it's show & tell without too much tell.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:39 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let me say for the record, btw that the answer to the question is and always will be "no". And yes, big honking red flag.

I have laughed at a rape joke.
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on August 31, 2011 [13 favorites]


Can you be more specific about how/what was "flame bait" and what it means to be "flame bait," in your mind? And more specific about what you mean by editorializing and and what part were such?

Can't speak at all for By the Grace of God, but here's my take.

"Flame bait" is something that is obviously or intentionally going to provoke an angry reaction.

As you say you intended to steer the thread to a conversation about whether or not rape can be funny. Floating the idea that rape can be funny is something that is going to make many people very, very angry (are you aware that there are many active members here who have been/had loved ones be sexually assaulted or almost sexually assaulted?)

Now, you may think that's not fair to you for people to get angry at something you want to talk about. Or get angry at something that wouldn't anger you personally. Or you may think your intent is what matters (not intending to provoke fights). But it is still flame bait anyway because it's obviously going to make people angry. If that's not obvious to you, spend a lot more time in threads tagged with rape or sexual assault or threads that mention rape or sexual assault.

You also may not think it's not fair for you to have to consider whether your posting would make people angry. And you may not think it's fair for a post of yours to be removed even if it is flame bait. However, on this site, we are just not supposed to post flame bait, that's just how it is in this one corner of the internet.

IF you want to post something that is POTENTIALLY flame bait, you have to be very very careful with your framing to reduce the likelihood that it will start fights and make people angry. It doesn't appear that you made any efforts at all to do so.

On the contrary, some of your framing makes it a lot worse.

1. Immediately after you first allude to idea you want to discuss -- whether or not rape can be funny: While there may be an argument about whether it was rape, George Carlin once addressed the another aspect of this story

You post a comedy bit. Not an article or some sober-minded serious discussion about whether or not rape can be funny, but a comedy bit. So, already inviting people to laugh at rape. And this was THE ONLY THING you posted to "spark discussion" about this topic. You didn't share any links coming from a perspective that rape is NOT funny. So, it came off as not at all a true good-faith attempt to have a serious-minded, complex discussion about this topic, but an attempt to share a funny comedy bit about rape and demonstrate that joking about rape can be funny.

2. Here, you frame the issue in a way that sets up a false choice:

Can rape be funny or are there limits to the freedom of expression in comedic (or any other) art form?

To me this comes off as you implying, "If you don't think rape can be funny, you're just an oppressing oppressor trying to smother art and kill everyone's freedom of speech, man." It's implying that rape victims and others who take rape very seriously are the true oppressors against the poor male comedians who want to laugh at it. That's angering.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:41 AM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


But yeah, the framing of the post was really weird even though the link was fascinating.
posted by empath at 6:41 AM on August 31, 2011


First and foremost, ending the post with any variant of a discussion-leading question is flame-bait.
Second, feminist issues on MeFi are flame-bait. Why? Primarily because no one is working from the same page of definitions.
posted by Ardiril at 6:41 AM on August 31, 2011


Also, uh "Can rape be funny" is kind of a dumb question. Is their the possibility of humor around the topic of rape? Sure, if handled appropriatedly. Is the act itself funny? No, never.
posted by empath at 6:43 AM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


I thought this was an important story.

This is the heart of your problem, I think. The mandate of the site is interesting links, not important stories. There are lots of important, discussion-worthy things that don't get posted. There are a thousand and one news and current affiars websites that do that. In my experience, the best posts here aren't constructed that way.
posted by bonehead at 6:45 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


Let me say for the record, btw that the answer to the question is and always will be "no".

It's a bullshit question. It's written in such a way that a single example of someone finding rape "funny" will prove the affirmative. And what does it even mean to be "funny". There are something like 7 billion people alive right now. I'd imagine that at least one of those people has laughed at a rape joke, or even at an act of rape in progress.

Can loaded questions about controversial subjects as discussion topics on internet message-boards be considered "flame-bait"?
posted by doublehappy at 6:47 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think what you've got here, ottimo, are two halves of two completely different -- and potentially interesting -- FPPs, which you spliced together into a hybrid that didn't quite succeed.

Allow me to explain:

1. The initial link, the NPR one, was relating an incident in which a man got up at a comedy club, and told a story that no doubt his friends had responded positively to. However -- and the article you linked to goes on to frame the story this way -- there is a differnence between telling a story to your friends, who are all people you know and people whose reactions you can predict -- and telling a story to a room of strangers, many of whom may react VERY differently to your tale. That actually would have been an interesting discussion itself -- how the rise in people self-publishing books, self-producing their own films and music, and the like, has affected people who make that sudden shift from "I'm just doing this for my friends" to "I'm doing this for the world at large". People whose work only appeals to a small audience sometimes don't KNOW that their work only appeals to a small audience, and can get a rude shock. Or, they can finally FIND that audience. But the core discussion is how the recent ability of people to self-promote has affected the commons.

2. The George Carlin link about whether rape can be "funny" would go well in an FPP about comedy in general; I could see it working in a post alongside an essay discussing whether 9/11 can be funny, or whether racist jokes can be funny, or with an article discussing the changes in attitudes about what people thought were funny (in other words, looking at how people in the 1920's and 1930's thought Amos n' Andy was really funny, but today we don't, and looking at how that change happened).

Instead, you spliced these two links together into something that made it look like you were trying to say "hey, here's a guy who took advantage of the current reality TV show trend to tell a story and it backfired on him -- but have you ever thought about whether rape is funny?" It was kind of a disconnect. You had two interesting core ideas that didn't go together. However, while I can't speak for others, I know I'd certainly be curious about an FPP looking at "here's a guy who took advantage of the current reality TV show trend to tell a story, but it backfired on him -- how else have people been affected by that kind of backfire effect?" or an FPP looking at "here's what George Carlin says about whether rape is funny -- here's what other people say about controversial things being funny -- and here's how whether or not something's funny can change."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 AM on August 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Well, all kinds of things are funny depending on where you are on the privilege scale. That's something that Metafilter has taught me - the significance of privilege. If you've never felt the horror of *insert horrific thing here* then you're perspective is going to be completely different to someone else who has had a different experience.

Asking for opinions on this particular situation seems to be inviting everyone into an incredible shitstorm. Not framed well for a FPP. Comments should come organically or not at all.
posted by h00py at 6:50 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought this was an important story.

RULE OF THUMB
This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post
This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post
posted by Gator at 6:57 AM on August 31, 2011 [29 favorites]


Likely about half of your readers here are women. Of those, likely about 1 in 5 have personally been raped, and I suspect nearly all have been sexually assaulted at some time in their lives. Many of those here who haven't themselves been assaulted will be close to someone who has. This means that most of your readership likely have some reason to empathise strongly with victims of rape.

Imagine what it feels like for someone who's experienced this kind of thing, or knows it's likely to happen to them, to watch a long piece where a rapist describes a rape - at length and in detail. It's a little like a horror film. It foreshadows the nasty conclusion again and again. It provides little opportunities for the story to take a turn and end on a better note... but it never does. All the while, many of the readers are putting themselves right in the shoes of the rape victim and thinking: Yes, this terrifying situation could (or did!) happen to me. Except that in a horror film, the audience doesn't laugh along with the monster.

Now imagine what it's like to get to the end of that and be asked "So! Can rape ever be funny?"

It's a pretty offensive non-sequitur in this context.
posted by emilyw at 7:02 AM on August 31, 2011 [19 favorites]



Thoroughly odd post headline here for this MeTa, too. "Who are MeFites?" What?

It's a paraphrase of "who are parents?" by the shaggs.

There, I've actually bothered engaging with this chap, my advice to you is that if you don't realise or can't frame an fpp about such a subject in the first instance and then start claiming some sort of need for victimy hand holding reeducation - well you should probably just leave, or they should just banhammer you, seeing as you're clearly at it.

Unless a technical question is asked of me, I probably won't respond.

Ok, how quickly can you disable your account ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:02 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, in addition to being angering, this is just really sloppy logic which in and of itself makes threads derail:

Can rape be funny or are there limits to the freedom of expression in comedic (or any other) art form?


It's quite possible to think it's disgusting and/or unfunny to joke about certain things, and yet in no way want to limit anyone's freedom to do so.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:04 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


My perception is that you feel that you are being censored for choosing to do a post on a hugely controversial topic. I can't speak to this really, there are plenty of controversial posts that stand and go well when they are set up sensitively and without an agenda.

FPPs should never, ever end with "Now here is the question for you to discuss, community..." if you understood this place better you would understand just how jarring this part of your post was.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm just left here wondering just what kind of technical question the OP was thinking he might have been asked.

What's a gaffer? How can I hack my new Touchpad? Why is the sky blue?
posted by inturnaround at 7:07 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I prefer to think that you have just arrived on this planet and therefore English is not your first language and you are not familiar with our culture.
posted by desjardins at 7:07 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eric, who told this story to begin with: should he be censored or should he be allowed to tell his story because it sheds light on and brings up for discussion a point worth making, or events worth knowing about? Even if he is objectionable, could good come from his expression?

You do see now that the problem with Eric wasn't a free speech issue, I hope. It wasn't "Should Eric be able to make jokes about rape?" but rather "Whoah, did he basically, cluelessly, confess to a room full of people that he had committed rape?" Tacking on an "I want to talk about rape and comedy" oversimplified false dichotomy was incredibly ham-fisted and clumsy. Metafilter isn't high school debate club. For the most part.

Yes, there are subjects that Metafilter doesn't do well, but I don't think that's the core of the issue here. You took a story about a man who may have confessed to rape in the form of a joke, and used it to talk about free speech. This is like posting a story about a man who drowned a litter of puppies in a burlap sack and asking us if we think the San Francisco plastic bag ban is a good or bad idea.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:10 AM on August 31, 2011 [31 favorites]


For the record, here is the full comment (which Jessamyn referred to) in which I called feminists idiots:

"turns out feminists are just like every other group of people: a few good, but most of them are idiots."

Perhaps ironically, perhaps appropriately, I was paraphrasing/adapting a George Carlin phrase with that comment.

This was a not particularly well-timed or supported comment on my part (in that particular thread), but without going into specifics, let me say that there are aspects and approaches to what is called "feminism" that I strongly believe in and support. And many other words and "isms" could be substituted into that comment for "feminism," and the point would still be made.

Thank you, Jessamyn, for taking the time to further explain the administrative perspective to me. And thank you, as well, to everyone else who has taken their time to respectfully and thoughtfully offer their explanations.

Please continue to comment--I am reading them all.
posted by ottimo at 7:12 AM on August 31, 2011


I think rape is a pretty darned touchy subject, but I wouldn't go so far as to say we never do it well. However, there was not a good chance of this post doing well.

The main reason is this. You say:

"2) I directed discussion towards the question of freedom of expression rather than an argument about rape."

Not gonna happen.

It's important to realize that on MetaFilter, you actually cannot direct discussion. It's not possible. You're not a teacher or facilitator in front of a classroom, and can't force people to focus on a topic that is tangentially related to your post which you thought was a cool topic for discussion.

So you can introduce a topic, and the community will latch onto aspects of the topic which they want to discuss, and those aspects are somewhat out of your control and can't be fully determined by you. In this case, people did not find this to be a good occasion to talk about freedom of speech. Because rape is a pretty sensitive topic and because there is a history of posts about rape leading to some very strained moments, people are more likely to want to talk about the politics of rape and the rape content in the post itself, and your question of whether rape "can be funny" is going to just read to many as provocatively offensive. And predictably, people will take exception to the question and focus on issues other than the very loosely-related freedom of speech issue, and we're off to the races discussing something totally other than what you might have hoped, in a way that's not likely to remain civil.
posted by Miko at 7:13 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Anything makes some people laugh. Doesn't mean it "is" "funny."
posted by Namlit at 7:19 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Carlin bit was a terrible illustration to try and make your point with. While it might be possible to make a good (probably tasteless) joke about rape, that was probably the most reactionary and unfunny bit I've ever heard Carlin do.

So I went from the sound clip to the text, and fuck me but it was pretty well *all* lame. It was like I'd just discovered that this icon of American comedy was really just a bourgeois Chubby Brown.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:25 AM on August 31, 2011


I have sent a query to admin, but to help me get a better idea of what the MeFi community (overall) thinks

Asking for "a better idea" from "the community" after having received a detailed explanation from Jessamyn shows how much you don't get MetaFilter. Contrary to most places on the Web, MetaFilter moderators are not only members of the community, they are those who have the most feelers (tools and knowledge) in the community.

Trying to oppose "the community" to "the admins" rarely works here, not because the admins are "right" but because they are generally "in sync" with the community.
posted by bru at 7:31 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't even read the rest of this thread, as it is doing all sorts of triggery stuff; but let me ask you, OP: If you had done a similar FPP with a monologue tacked on the end that was something like, "Can the Holocaust be funny? What about killing kittens? Babies? Cute little birdies?"

I know it sounds all dramatic and shit to put it this way, but because I went through a Bad Thing that is the subject of your FPP, you'd have to lead me very gently through this story in order for me not to bolt and run. 'Is rape funny' has the effect of pinching me hard. Or doing something to my gut, because it actually made my stomach hurt a bit.

Anyway, there's my answer.
posted by angrycat at 7:32 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it's also sad how Carlin gets trotted out a lot to give authority to some point about being able to be edgy and in-your-face or, more factually, an asshole, and that any criticism of being an asshole is censorship. Carlin made some excellent and pithy observations about the human experience, but how he became the poster boy for "if you can't laugh at this, maybe you don't have a sense of humor" is beyond me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:35 AM on August 31, 2011 [23 favorites]


I'm just mangling a quote from a previous discussion (that my google-fu fails to find), but a good guide is

- You think people would like to see this --> good post
- You think it's important that other people see this --> bad post

Your framing put this solidly in the second category.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:38 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


bru, I posted this thread before having read/received a response from Jessamyn. I wanted to hear from both admins and the community, whether they were the same or different. I did not mean to oppose them, I just didn't want to limit myself to one in case they were different. I freely admit that I'm still learning about this community.
posted by ottimo at 7:42 AM on August 31, 2011


Even if they were different, where does that put you?
posted by odinsdream at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2011


Your choice of topics to share sure run to a type, don't they?

Please continue to comment--I am reading them all.

Oh, I don't doubt that.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:47 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I posted this thread before having read/received a response from Jessamyn. I wanted to hear from both admins and the community, whether they were the same or different.

....I'm afraid I don't understand the logic behind this plan.

If the moderators are the ones that establish the rules for a community, how would you be served by learning whether others in the community itself think differently? I'm sure you could indeed find people who disagree with the moderators, but -- since they have no power, their different opinion is largely incidental.

I freely admit that I'm still learning about this community.

With all due respect, it seems like the questions you're asking about the community may not quite be questions that help you understand how it works.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on August 31, 2011


angrycat, I want to acknowledge your question, but to fully respond to it here would probably not be the best idea. I truly wish the best for you, and if there's anything I can do to help, including responding further (in any format), let me know.
posted by ottimo at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2011


Tosh.0 guy has a countdown to retirement clock on his website. Will he simply stop working in showbusiness or will he actually hang himself in a tragically funny way and auto-post it to Youtube posthumously? Can suicide be funny?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:54 AM on August 31, 2011


Can suicide be funny?

Carlin has a bit about that as well.
posted by ottimo at 7:57 AM on August 31, 2011


Let's hope so. For all the work he's put into it, Daniel Tosh deserves at least one chance to be funny.
posted by griphus at 7:57 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyway, the short answer is that people love their triggers in spite of themselves.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2011


Ottimo, I have a sincere question -- is English your native language?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2011


Great work - we have all seen your post begging the question whether or not "rape" is funny. Good job, troll!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:08 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


If ottimo is George Carlin, THAT would be funny!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:09 AM on August 31, 2011


A front page post on the blue coloured website is not a question. Questions are answered in the green coloured website.
posted by infini at 8:10 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


For the record, I don't think this:

You have, in the past on the site made provocative statements calling feminists idiots

is a remotely fair characterization of this:

turns out feminists are just like every other group of people: a few good, but most of them are idiots.
posted by andoatnp at 8:11 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, you're right. A few of them aren't idiots. Clearly he has been sorely mischaracterized.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:17 AM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


You mixed a chatfilter AskMe with a link to comedy routines as a FPP on the blue. Your post didn't know what it was.

That's enough for deletion.

The question was, put seriously: Can rape be funny?

Any other questions?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:17 AM on August 31, 2011


How so, andoatnp? Because he qualified it by saying "most of them" were idiots? If qualifying things is what makes the difference here, Jessamyn never said he called them ALL idiots. What she said is literally and substantively correct.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:19 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anything can be funny to an individual. It mostly depends on mood and circumstance and wording and distance.

What is funny to some can also be catastrophically awful to others or just cringe-worthy or simply painfully wrong.

You have to word this kind of thing carefully. I don't think you did that when you invited everyone to tell you exactly what they thought about this. Guaranteed shit-storm.
posted by h00py at 8:22 AM on August 31, 2011


I have one, can we make fun of the fact that a post was deleted then the person makes a meta which furher enhances the fun.
so, can making stark raving loony faces at this post can be funny, fucking A.
posted by clavdivs at 8:22 AM on August 31, 2011


If she had said, instead, You have, in the past on the site made provocative statements calling most feminists idiots would that then be a fair characterization? Do you think the lack of that one word is what takes the characterization from "100% fair" to "not remotely fair"?
posted by Ashley801 at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ottimo, I have a sincere question -- is English your native language?

That question is perhaps not technical enough.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can state with certainty that no one in this thread is George Carlin.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:25 AM on August 31, 2011


But how many people in this thread are bald with a ponytail? That should count.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:27 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


or snorted enough ya-ye to build a few schools.
posted by clavdivs at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2011


But how many people in this thread are bald with a ponytail? That should count.

Talk about issues sensitive to this community...
posted by joe lisboa at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh and also: define "funny". The fact that some people have it in themselves to hargh arf sniggery-whoop-wheee about things that are disgusting to others has nothing to do with "funny" in and of itself.
posted by Namlit at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


> The fact that some people have it in themselves to hargh arf sniggery-whoop-wheee about things that are disgusting to others has nothing to do with "funny" in and of itself.

Well, as an aside, of course it does. Is there an empirical standard of humor?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:30 AM on August 31, 2011


Everyone knows that George Carlin never comes to meTa. He prefers the helpful and relatively snark-free atmosphere of askme.
posted by rtha at 8:30 AM on August 31, 2011


Witness Tosh.0, for example.

Oh god, do we have to?

I think it's also sad how Carlin gets trotted out a lot to give authority to some point about being able to be edgy and in-your-face or, more factually, an asshole, and that any criticism of being an asshole is censorship. Carlin made some excellent and pithy observations about the human experience, but how he became the poster boy for "if you can't laugh at this, maybe you don't have a sense of humor" is beyond me.

The problem is that Lenny Bruce's stuff, while probably a lot more relevant for that whole "where is the line between free expression and social mores", is also a lot less accessible and ha-ha funny. And also that Lenny Bruce was so obviously a huge asshole, and died long before he could mellow out and write a half-dozen bathroom-reading bestsellers, that you don't get the same sort of Uncle/Grandpa Talks Dirty fuzzies as with a Carlin pullquote.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:30 AM on August 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


The big thing is that you ended the post with a question. Don't do that.

If there's something to discuss, we'll discuss it. No need to steer us.

And, worse, it was a Yes or No question! Dude.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ottimo, I have a sincere question -- is English your native language?

That question is perhaps not technical enough.


Je ne comprends pas.
posted by ottimo at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2011


Now, when you say "most feminists", do you mean the individualist feminists, the collectivist feminists, or the moderates? Can we assume that you are including the conservative feminists by default?
posted by Ardiril at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2011


Je ne comprends pas.

Soooo, we're about done here then, right?
posted by Gator at 8:40 AM on August 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's only necessary to ask a question when the answer is not already known. As a result, asking unnecessary questions is at best annoying and at worst infuriating.

Going on and on about it just makes a bad situation worse.
posted by tommasz at 8:42 AM on August 31, 2011


Ottimo, i see you responded to a JOKE about my question, but not my question. Could you respond to my question, "Is English your native language"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, don't get all Jules Winnfield on him.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


No one is forced to answer anyone's questions.
posted by smackfu at 8:48 AM on August 31, 2011


No one is forced to answer anyone's questions.

No, but it's a good way to be dismissed as being in bad faith.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


If she had said, instead, You have, in the past on the site made provocative statements calling most feminists idiots would that then be a fair characterization?

No, that still wouldn't be fair, since it would leave out so much context as to effectively change the meaning of his statement. His comment (assuming he's quoting it accurately and it's the only such comment he made) was specifically saying that the distribution of idiots among feminists is the same as the distribution among society as a whole. Yet Jessamyn tars his reputation based on the claim that he called "feminists idiots," which obviously sounds like he said feminists have an outstanding tendency to be idiots rather than just saying they're human and thus have the normal strengths and weaknesses of humans in general.

If someone had made an identical comment but saying "men" or "Republicans" or "white people" or "hipsters" instead of "feminists," I'm sure no one would be saying it was stereotyping the entire group as idiots. I don't see any reason to interpret the rest of the sentence differently based on which noun is used.
posted by John Cohen at 8:50 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yet Jessamyn tars his reputation based on the claim that he called "feminists idiots,"

I would seriously not have brought this up at all except that he came to MeTa without any real indication that he'd even read the careful response that I wrote him this morning. I was intending to have a private discussion with him and I even considered whether leaving that line out was the more prudent thing to do if I reposted my own email to him here in MetaTalk.

I decided to err on the side of including that line since it was germane to my explanation to him about what part of the problem might have been with his post. If I read his previous comment in that way, it's entirely possible that other people did as well. And being a guy who makes dismissive comments about feminists, while not in any way against-the-rules, does become a data point when we're considering how to interpret a slightly strange post about whether rape jokes can be funny.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:58 AM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


I hear you John, but I guess to me the context doesn't change anything. Even if you think most people in humanity are idiots, and an equal proportion of feminist are idiots... you still think most feminists are idiots. If you think most feminists are idiots, that's not going to help when you make a post centered around one of the biggest hot-button feminist issues. It doesn't seem very likely that someone would take a lot of care to be sensitive about offending people he sees as mostly idiots.

For whatever it's worth, if the word had been men or white people or black people or whatever, I would still see it as stereotyping most of the group (not the entire group) as idiots.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:58 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just curious how that comment from his history came up. Was it flagged heavily, and heavily flagged comments show on the user's profile? Or was it added to that admin-only notes section?
posted by smackfu at 8:59 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, all the above aside, I don't really see that comment as a good faith expression that feminists have all the normal strengths and weaknesses of humans. I see it as someone wanting to call feminists stupid in a way that still covered his butt against being accused of sexism. I could be right, I could be wrong, but that's how it comes off to me.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2011 [14 favorites]


What I get from the FPP is that it's really begging the question. The subtext I hear is "I think this is funny & if you don't, you're not only wrong but you have no sense of humor to boot". As a discussion starter it's a setup for failure. And that's only reinforced by your passive-aggressive "I may or may not answer you" post here.
posted by scalefree at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


There, I've actually bothered engaging with this chap, my advice to you is that if you don't realise or can't frame an fpp about such a subject in the first instance and then start claiming some sort of need for victimy hand holding reeducation - well you should probably just leave, or they should just banhammer you, seeing as you're clearly at it.

Wow, that's kindof a jerky thing to say for someone who's made similar mistakes recently.
posted by Hoopo at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2011


was it added to that admin-only notes section?

Watch List for Mefites Who Challenge Mods On Deletions
posted by Ardiril at 9:03 AM on August 31, 2011


victimy hand holding reeducation

Victim blame much?
posted by Ardiril at 9:04 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


A gaffer is the chief electrician on a film set. The gaffer's assistant is called the best boy.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:05 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


A gaffer is actually a joke in the credits of the classic comedy movie "Airplane".
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2011


Watch List for Mefites Who Challenge Mods On Deletions

When that list is posted by WikiLeaks it'd make an excellent FPP.
posted by scalefree at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just thought he really liked me :(
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2011


If someone had made an identical comment but saying "men" or "Republicans" or "white people" or "hipsters" instead of "feminists," I'm sure no one would be saying it was stereotyping the entire group as idiots. I don't see any reason to interpret the rest of the sentence differently based on which noun is used.

I'm gonna go way out on a limb here and suggest that, yes, calling most of any group idiots is kind of a crappy way to engage a topic, and people doing that tend to undercut whatever merit their comment might have. It's lousy behavior, and people do often complain or flag when someone starts doing that.

In any case, the comment was not some one-liner out of context, it was the coda on a big argument he got himself into with a non-sequitur "not Kant, cunt, geddit?" type joke, so it was not exactly a neutral setting where "it's just a statistical observation about groups in general" makes much sense as a defense.

Not that this really needs beanplating, but for what that's worth.

I'm just curious how that comment from his history came up. Was it flagged heavily, and heavily flagged comments show on the user's profile? Or was it added to that admin-only notes section?

It was flagged at the time and, per above, part of a big throwdown he got himself into that we eventually had to tell everyone to cut out. From a very new user that was enough of a thing that we dropped a quick note in the admin-side userpage.

Watch List for Mefites Who Challenge Mods On Deletions

Oddly enough, that's not how it works. If we made a note for everyone who disagreed with something we said or did here, we'd be too busy with that to get anything done.

The watchlist that we do have is 95% likely spammers and 5% people with either weird circumstances (brand new users acting out conspicuously) or really established problems with e.g. impulse control. It's mostly why spam has a much shorter shelf life these days than it might have five years ago; to a lesser degree it's why crazy flameout shenanigans don't happen or run at length the way they used to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


No one is forced to answer anyone's questions.

I was giving him the benefit of the doubt that he hadn't seen my question or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on August 31, 2011


the admin-side userpage

Says it all. :)
posted by Ardiril at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2011


"can rape be funny"

I find Canola (Brassica napus) to be a singularly unfunny member of the Mustard family. (unlike Cabbage which is just an absolute laugh riot...)

*reads thread more carefully*

...Oh... OH!

posted by quin at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Says it all. :)

Says what all?

That we use anything other than limited and unreliable human memory to keep track over a period of years of everything that happens on a site with tens of thousands of users seems like basic sane-making administrative stuff to me. If you've got a specific objection to some aspect of that, feel free to talk about it, but so far your thesis appears to be something like "mods keep tabs, sux amirite?" without anything we can actually usefully respond to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:13 AM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


As a feminist, I am kinda miffed that the OP implies (if only statistically) that I am an idiot. In short, I understand the objection. That said, I will likely get over his (?) impression, as I am off to the ball-park to take in a day game with my first place team.

So there is that. Which is nice.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:13 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn -

I did post on MeTa immediately after having sent you a message, and therefore before having read your response. As I said before, I wanted both/all perspectives. I wasn't sure if you would respond or if you would, how soon you would respond to my email to you.

I have no problem with you responding by email and on this thread--I appreciate the time you've devoted to doing both. It was faster and more thorough than I expected, but as has been made clear, I'm relatively new and didn't know exactly what to expect.

Regarding your characterization of my comment on feminists, I did feel it valuable to include the whole comment, but as for the discussion about it...I think it could be valuable, but I think my role in this thread is best to not be a part of that.
posted by ottimo at 9:15 AM on August 31, 2011


to a lesser degree it's why crazy flameout shenanigans don't happen or run at length the way they used to.

I kinda miss these.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2011


Can suicide be funny?

Mine will be hysterical. It's a whole performance piece I've been working on for years. First, I take a drug underdose. Then, I climb up a skyscraper, loosen my tie, moisterize the rough patches of skin over my wrists, and give flowers to the cops who show up in response to some idiot climbing up the side of a skyscraper. Then, I have a heart attack, 'cause I'm really not in the kind of shape to be climbing up the side of a skyscraper with or without taking drugs. Plus, I'm wearing a clown nose. Okay, it might not be funny to anyone but me, but hey - you can't please everybody, right? Physical comedy is dead, anymore.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, no, cortex, not at all. We have always treated "the Moderators" here pretty much the same way we treat "the Cabal", just that "the Moderators" have real-world counterparts. You joke about moderation in the abstract as often as anybody.

As for the "Says it all" quip, you see, I was intimating a list but you verified not just a list, but actual database allocations that already exist for each individual username, albeit for the most part empty.

[... and for crying out loud, if my page doesn't have LOONY scrawled across it by now, well, what can I say?]
posted by Ardiril at 9:27 AM on August 31, 2011


Why are we asking about native languages? The examples don't point that way
posted by infini at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2011


When that list is posted by WikiLeaks it'd make an excellent FPP.

....about the character of Julian Assange.
posted by Hoopo at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2011


I was intimating a list but you verified not just a list, but actual database allocations that already exist for each individual username, albeit for the most part empty.

We've talked about that before. We have a notes field on the back end. It's no secret. Mine, for example says this

7/5/07: Jessamyn making tedious feature requests on mailing list again. Consider timeout. -c
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:31 AM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Feature request: Can we at least try to spell "majordomo" correctly? I do not need to explain to patrons why I'm reading about a mangodildo."
posted by griphus at 9:38 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm cleaning my oven.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:39 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


(brand new users acting out conspicuously)

My gut tells me that a good portion are not "new users" so much as "new accounts". Performance art. It is just too much of a perfect storm of fuckedupness...

The selective answering of direct questions in this thread, the thing with the 327 answer, it's slick, inside baseball and playing for laughs, yet also the poor guy is so oops pardon me I just don't get it, please and thank you and just one more thing while I learn about this community and its mores...

Me, I will not engage further because I don't want to be played for a chump.

But maybe I'm being too cynical - have underestimated the ability of people to be completely clueless fucking morons before.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:41 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Kansas City to lose by 2...1 if it rains
posted by clavdivs at 9:41 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The oven is self-cleaning, your smoking again.
posted by clavdivs at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2011


mangodildo: Man god? I'll do.
posted by Ardiril at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never underestimate my ability to be a completely clueless fucking moron. That is where I'm a completely clueless fucking viking.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why are we asking about native languages?

We're dealing with someone who's not really grasping things people are telling him. I'm trying to ascertain whether it's because of that, or whether the dude's just loopy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on August 31, 2011


yes, i discern no placeable idiom but that means little.
posted by clavdivs at 9:45 AM on August 31, 2011


please and thank you and just one more thing while I learn about this community and its mores

When you get called out most for a comedic rape post, that's a more.

When you get tempers riled for acting like a child, that's a more

When you Kant make cunt jokes without pissing off folks, that's a more.



sorry, forgot i wasn't flapjax for a second
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:45 AM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


When an eel lunges out and he bites off your snout

That's a moray
posted by shakespeherian at 9:46 AM on August 31, 2011 [43 favorites]


sorry, forgot i wasn't flapjax for a second

That's a paddlin'.
posted by rhizome at 9:46 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's numberwang.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:48 AM on August 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


... and these are lamprey.
posted by Ardiril at 9:49 AM on August 31, 2011


That is where I'm a completely clueless fucking viking.

True Blood is awesome, but this season hasn't really been doing it for me..
posted by Hoopo at 9:50 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


We've talked about that before. We have a notes field on the back end. It's no secret. Mine, for example says this

7/5/07: Jessamyn making tedious feature requests on mailing list again. Consider timeout. -c


I run a tiny private forum for my ten friends that are not in my head, and about half of us are moderators.

Much of the interaction these days is us giving each other warnings for things like 'used My Little Pony joke on Tuesday' or 'did not respect the sanctity of Hello Kitty'.

I'm glad that it happens that way on real websites, too.
posted by winna at 9:52 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


My gut tells me that a good portion are not "new users" so much as "new accounts". Performance art. It is just too much of a perfect storm of fuckedupness...

Well, it's one of those things we pretty actively look out for. Not to say a returnee could through sheer luck or dedicated effort slip under the radar with a new or secondary account, but it's not trivial.

It's a big internet out there, people who are new here aren't necessarily new to hanging out or arguing in discussion spaces in general; all else being equal, the likely answer is that they're importing habits and expectations from other spaces rather than recycling those from some previous existence here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on August 31, 2011


"At an improv comedy show on August 14, audience members were invited to step up to the microphone and tell a story that would inspire an improv set. Partway through the performance, a man who identifies himself as "Eric" begins to tell his story."
____________________________________________________

This article, from NPR, describes the event which some considered an admission of rape (video of the monologue included in article).



If that was all it was I think it would have been fine. The rest of the post ruined it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't speak native Eng, but I googled the thing:

That's a "moray!"
posted by Dumsnill at 9:55 AM on August 31, 2011


When a hooker disdains to take a Cruise on a train

That's De Mornay
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ottimo, i see you responded to a JOKE about my question, but not my question. Could you respond to my question, "Is English your native language"?

Okay, but if you know I was responding jokingly, or "to a joke," you probably already have the answer.

Though I feel like I'm responding "Who's there?" to a knock-knock joke, the answer is yes, English is my first language. Proceed.
posted by ottimo at 9:56 AM on August 31, 2011


English is my first language, who?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:57 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was hoping for that.
posted by ottimo at 10:03 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, because you're kinda desperate for attention and also a bit stupid.

But congratulations on having your hopes fulfilled. Was it everything you thought it would be?
posted by klangklangston at 10:05 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, I think we have pretty much established that ottimo is either one of "us" or a quonsar wannabe, the two being mutually exclusive of course.
posted by Ardiril at 10:06 AM on August 31, 2011


Meatbomb, I am not an old user with a new account. I am a relatively new user who has spent way more than the suggested time reading and making some comments before posting on the blue.

I really am trying to figure out how I may or may not fit into this community, and my recent FPP's, Jessamyn's input, and this thread have gone a long way towards helping me out in that.

I would hope you'd consider that a good thing rather than what you stated before.
posted by ottimo at 10:06 AM on August 31, 2011


Also just noticed the author of that NPR blog is Metafilter's own excellent contributor Linda_Holmes who I would like to see respond here to whatever the discussion ended up being about. If the Moderators don't object I would like to post the exact truncated and factual version I just set up there.

I know that Metafilter can be emotional about this issue, but I think this blog post is fascinating and well-written and deserves attention, despite whatever issues folks may have with the OP (who I think deserves more sympathy than he's getting and less face-punching.)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:07 AM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


(Though stating that you won't respond and the responding 1100 times ITT is really annoying bro, chill out).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, now that you have us all foaming and warmed up, post away.
posted by Ardiril at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2011


PS. I explained in my post here why I probably should not respond to the individual ideas in this thread, but rather, read and absorb them, and only repond to practical matters that might help clarify concrete questions.
posted by ottimo at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2011


I'm not foaming yet. Can you assist?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:11 AM on August 31, 2011


If the Moderators don't object I would like to post the exact truncated and factual version I just set up there.

Generally when there's an active Meta post about a topic we'd usually love it if people would wait a little bit for things to die down, in our dream world. You can, of course post it whenever you want. I just feel that it's one of those "for best results, give it a few days" situations.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:11 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, because you're kinda desperate for attention and also a bit stupid.

Oh, be nice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Potomac Avenue: Thanks for your input. I didn't say I wouldn't repspond at all. I'm just avoiding debating the issues in this case.
posted by ottimo at 10:12 AM on August 31, 2011


ottimo, your post (and specifically the 'can rape be funny' aspect of it) made me have a physical reaction. I'm not going to say that it made me ill, but as I read it I felt a pit form in my stomach, a tight hole that only began to let up once I saw all the negative feedback you were collecting in the comments. I flagged it. I couldn't tell you the last time I flagged a post but it's been a long goddamn time.

So I guess I didn't like your post because it made my tummy hurt.
posted by item at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I'm not foaming yet." - I could stick a duster up your ass and ride you hard. Do you consent?

{OK, last one, I promise. Closing the browser and turning off the wifi.}
posted by Ardiril at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2011


jessamyn: word up. will wait to reframe, though I don't obviously have dibs or nothing.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2011


Oh, be nice.

I was just going to delete it and grump at him privately, but this works too.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2011


Do you consent?

Walk away of your own volition please.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:15 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


has spent way more than the suggested time reading and making some comments before posting on the blue.

See, it doesn't seem like it. Or, you haven't absorbed some of the norms/standards but you think you have. Because if you had, you'd probably have guessed that "talk about this part of the post" doesn't really fly, and that some topics (rape, I/P, a few others) have to be framed really carefully to avoid a shitstorm and flagging, and even then may get flagged and fighty. You didn't frame your post well and you made it clear that you thought we should discuss this and not that.

Take what I say with a grain of salt if you like; you can see by my posting history that I haven't made a ton of fpps, and you can see that they're all pretty much "look at this neat thing!" rather than "here's a thing that's important that I want to talk about." Some people are good at making the latter kind of post; I am not one of them, so I don't make them. You might fall into that category too - nothing wrong with that at all, since this place is best with both kinds of posts.
posted by rtha at 10:17 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


item: I understand. I've had that feeling myself about certain things in my life. I'm glad the negative comments helped. I wish you the best.
posted by ottimo at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2011


Who else wants a big pizza pie...
posted by clavdivs at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


we'd usually love it if people would wait a little bit for things to die down, in our dream world

I was dreaming this morning that a rhino and a cougar escaped from a private zoo next door to the house I was at (in the dream - wasn't my real house). I avoided the rhino, but was still worried about it, but then it was attacked and killed by the bear and wolf that were in the yard of the house I was at while the cougar looked on (note to self: always rent houses with bears and wolves in the yard). In the dream, there was some kind of voiceover about how normally the wolf would save the innards of its kill for the cubs, but the announcer was wondering whether the bear would honor the wolf's right to the kill. Then I woke up, pissed as hell that I'd never know whether the bear had honored the wolf's right to present the innards to the cubs.

This thread reminds me of that dream for some reason.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:24 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


We're dealing with someone who's not really grasping things people are telling him. I'm trying to ascertain whether it's because of that, or whether the dude's just loopy.

He is right here in this thread, you know. And actually seems to be trying to make an effort to figure stuff out, which is not generally the mark of someone who's loopy.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:25 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bears don't honor shit. They are not known for their honor.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're dealing with someone who's not really grasping things people are telling him. I'm trying to ascertain whether it's because of that, or whether the dude's just loopy.

I get the sense you don't often realize how condescending many of your interactions with other site members are, EmpressCallipygos. It's not them, it's you.

This surely seems like a sniping attack, especially in light of my having bridled at your condescension in a recent thread. I wouldn't (probably shouldn't, as it's unlikely to go well) say anything, but I see you making positive contributions all over the place and then marring a fine impression with unnecessary contumely.

Is it an act? Are you cleaving to an Empress persona that demands occasional bursts of snide hauteur? I've allowed handles to shape my persona before; it's a real temptation. And I'm sure there are all sorts of things that I do (for example, directing this sort of personal aside) that are equally unpleasant.

Indeed, it's a good way to get a reaction out of someone, implying that they lack the ability to comprehend what's going on in a thread. But it's ugly and, I daresay, a bit out of character.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Bears don't honor shit.

They do in the woods. Or so I have heard.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


> They do in the woods. Or so I have heard.

I'm forever going to conflate bears shitting with trees falling in the woods now, thanks.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:36 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


More like Gelatto Fascist, amirite?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:38 AM on August 31, 2011


If the Pope shits in the woods, does he make a sound?
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bears love the woods. That's where they're the Pope.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:39 AM on August 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Damn you, cortex! Must you be so cerebral?!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:39 AM on August 31, 2011


how I may or may not fit into this community

For starters, fill out your profile page. Doesn't have to be everything fully disclosed, but something. The blankness looks like "that guy conducting the rape joke experiment" rather than "community member".
posted by Meatbomb at 10:40 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was all set to say that this was probably the typical MeFi hypersensitivity about any mention of rape, but then I actually looked at the post carefully and I have to say I agree it was poorly framed. You presented a fairly interesting incident and then turned it into a request for chatfilter about an understandably sensitive and fraught subject. Not, as the saying goes, a good post for Metafilter.
posted by Decani at 10:42 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


will do, meatbomb.
posted by ottimo at 10:43 AM on August 31, 2011


If the Pope shits in the woods, does he make a sound?

Depends.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:44 AM on August 31, 2011


could someone offer an updated, specific definition of "chatfilter?" I think I know the gist, but to be clear, as it were...
posted by ottimo at 10:45 AM on August 31, 2011


I've allowed handles to shape my persona before; it's a real temptation.

I have found myself screaming, leg-dangling, stooping, soaring, and eating small mammals raw, so yes, watch out for this.
posted by rtha at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Charmin helps muffle the initial blast.
posted by clavdivs at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2011


> I'm not foaming yet. Can you assist?


You may be living in a hard water town.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:47 AM on August 31, 2011


ottimo, that's covered in the FAQ
posted by cranberry_nut at 10:51 AM on August 31, 2011


could someone offer an updated, specific definition of "chatfilter?" I think I know the gist, but to be clear, as it were...

refer to your first post...does that help. Look, your trolling albeit intellectually. You know how to frame a post IMO. The subject matter is the contention here, not the framework.
posted by clavdivs at 10:55 AM on August 31, 2011


ottimo, I think you are trying to understand MeFi. Your post, as noted, had way too much editorializing.

And, Metafilter is not a discussion site. The Front Page is for interesting things on the web. It gets used for posts about news, politics, issues, funny stuff, games, blogs, and lots of cool stuff. When you try to organize the discussion of your post, you've crossed the line into DiscussionFilter, which is Not What Metafilter Is For. Discussion happens; it's often really good discussion, but the OP can't guide it. 1st, you're not huge enough to guide it; MeFi discussions take on a great big life of their own. 2nd, the deal is: Make an awesome post, with awesome link(s). That's it. Everybody else gets to take it from there.

I don't have time to look at your posting history and form an opinion about you; I'm replying as if your postings are in good faith. Do some reading in the Wiki, and keep trying. It's okay to have a learning curve.
posted by theora55 at 10:56 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The FAQ on chatfilter is about AskMeFi posts, which I only read once a long time ago, but I will try to translate the idea to that comment about my FPP. I am seeing that trend in the feedback.
posted by ottimo at 10:59 AM on August 31, 2011


If the link cannot stand on its own as something truly interesting for us to go look at, with or without an interesting discussion about it - and/or, if the post author heavily augments the link with attempts to steer the discussion - then a post may be said to be "ChatFilter". In other words, a thinly-veiled attempt to start a specific conversation, as opposed to following the MetaFilter fiat, which is to present interesting content, rather than solicit interesting debate.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:05 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The FAQ entry on chatfilter is, yeah, focused specifically on Ask because that's where it's a really visible recurring issue. The general ideas in there do translate roughly to making a post to the blue—a chatty, discussion-heavy thread is fine on the blue but the post itself needs not to be largely a discussion prompt.

One first-approximation approach to putting a post together is to imagine whether it would make sense without any comments. Does it stand as an interesting thing on the web, as just a read-only "take a look at this" heads-up? A solid post will work that way just fine in almost all cases.

The discussion that comes with posts is great, but it needs to not be the primary reason for the post to exist, or it's chatbait, not sharing something neat from out there on the internet. Stuff that doesn't hew to this basic idea as well tends to produce most of the not-so-great kinds of discussion we have here, and run a much higher risk of deletion as well, and those two things aren't entirely unrelated.

Hence the big disinclination in the community toward posts that have discussion prompts, whether explicit ("Can rape be funny?" or "X is Y, discuss") or implicit (personal/editorial/bloggy framing that involves the poster's opinions or stance in the framing of the post). It's not that such things are bad in some fundamental sense, it's just that they aren't okay for posts to the front page of Metafilter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's interesting that AskMe has all these human relation questions where people are super nice to the socially awkward (who no one doubts are legit users), but if someone is awkward online, it's full on attack mode.
posted by smackfu at 11:11 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


By DiscussionFilter, of course, I meant ChatFilter.

Meatbomb's suggestion that populating the profile page is a good idea is a very good idea.
posted by theora55 at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2011


To be fair, people will come down on awkwardness in askme sometimes too, and it's not everybody goes into attack mode elsewhere.

Maybe more the organizing principle is that people often do a better job of being gracious and understanding when talking about some external example of awkwardness than they do when being personally confronted by an awkward transgression. "Dear askme, how do I deal with my awkwardness in this real life situation?" is a materially different kind of stimulus than conspicuously pushing a bunch of buttons with a poorly framed post.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Very useful comments to me, cortex and raining F.H. Though I should say, I got a distinctly different impression when I first joined and read all the background info. But I do also think there has been some value to this post beyond my better understanding of that parameter of mefi.
posted by ottimo at 11:17 AM on August 31, 2011


Not to mention that attack mode is generally deleted in AskMe.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:17 AM on August 31, 2011


If the Pope shits in the woods, does he make a sound?

Fwiw, after years of research, I can reveal the platonic ideal of this question is "Does Dolly Parton shit on the Pope?"

Thank you.
posted by Jofus at 11:17 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I saw ottimo's post on the front page of Metatalk, I thought the deleted post would be about rape, but not that rape.

I thought it would be about the Mennonite rapes in Bolivia:

A court in Bolivia has sentenced seven members of a reclusive conservative Christian group to 25 years in prison for raping more than 100 women. ...

The court heard that the men sprayed a substance derived from the belladonna plant normally used to anaesthetise cows through bedroom windows at night, sedating entire families.

They then raped the women and girls. The youngest victim was nine years old.

posted by jamjam at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2011


I think there should be more rape


prevention and education programs.
posted by banshee at 11:29 AM on August 31, 2011


I think this thread is creeping me out with the amount of times the word 'rape' is casually being thrown around.
posted by Think_Long at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


Mennonite rapes in Bolivia

I'm not sure why you assume this is somehow an okay place for a rape-post-by-proxy but I assure you it is not and the pullquotes about child rape are beyond the pale. What is going on here?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:35 AM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


Another thread about rape was deleted recently, though I thought the discussion could be very interesting. But the moderators appear to have decided that rape is too sensitive to be a thread topic.
posted by jb at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2011


A quick review of the "rape" tag on Mefi will make it clear that posts a rape have not been prohibited. What the moderators have decided, mostly, is that posting on contentious or difficult topic requires a higher minimum amount of care than posting about less provocative stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:40 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


the pullquotes about child rape are beyond the pale.

Could they go away, then?
posted by rollbiz at 11:42 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another thread about rape was deleted recently, though I thought the discussion could be very interesting.

The single-link post to a blog op-ed article that started out this way: "Whacked out, drunken-ass consent is still consent; otherwise we have to reexamine a woman’s right to drink." That was another not-particularly edge-case deletion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:45 AM on August 31, 2011


Whatever the Metafilter equivalent of that scene in Jaws where they bullshit about their scars is?

This is not that.
posted by Jofus at 11:45 AM on August 31, 2011


I'm not sure why you assume this is somehow an okay place for a rape-post-by-proxy but I assure you it is not and the pullquotes about child rape are beyond the pale. What is going on here?
posted by jessamyn

I posted that because I'm kind of in a state of shock about it, I think.

My justification is that i think it illustrates how important it is to be able to talk openly about rape.

If you can't, things like this become much more likely.
posted by jamjam at 11:48 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't say I wouldn't repspond at all. I'm just avoiding debating the issues in this case.

When you can split these hairs even more finely, you'll be just right for this thread place. Study this comment, for example; the craftsmanship is exquisite.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:49 AM on August 31, 2011


My justification is that i think it illustrates how important it is to be able to talk openly about rape.

and you thought that this meta thread was the place to do it because ....?
posted by desjardins at 11:51 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note: I am swapping in another word because the repeated discussions about "rape" as a topic are making me feel a little oogy too.

Another thread about [Spacklepaste] was deleted recently, though I thought the discussion could be very interesting. But the moderators appear to have decided that [Spacklepaste] is too sensitive to be a thread topic.

That sounds like another framing issue. Simply mentioning a news item in which a bunch of people got [Spacklepasted] doesn't really...provoke much discussion. Because what is the range of opinions you're expecting? You don't expect anyone to say "yay for [spacklepaste]," right, so all you're going to get is a lot of people effectively saying "[spacklepaste] is bad", "I concur about [spacklepaste] being bad", "yeah, boo for [spacklepaste]," and....a bunch of people sitting around and agreeing with each other isn't a discussion, really.

However, if the post is actually about something else -- say, a trial in which someone was arrested for [spacklepaste] but the evidence exonerated him ten years later and someone had found the witness had ulterior motives in framing him, and there was an argument that the witness had deliberately chosen [spacklepaste] as the crime to frame him with because of the heinous nature of the crime? That may be different, becuase that's not a discussion about [spacklepaste], it's about a miscarriage of justice and the imperfection of the legal system. At least, it'd read that way to me (the mod's word is, of course, law).

[Spacklepaste] isn't like the Voldemort of topics here, people just need to think about framing. Like you do with any hot topic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the question of consent in that op-ed was an excellent one; if you disagree, then we could have had a good argument about it. But instead it was deleted, so I assumed that rape and the question of consent was considered to be too sensitive a topic for metafilter.
posted by jb at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2011


Because this is a thread about whether we can talk about rape here, and if so, how, among other things.

I also wanted to understand whether there is a way that story could ever be an FPP.

I chose to do that here instead of making an independent Metatalk post partly because I thought people reading this thread would already be on their guard about rape enough to read it without being harmed by it.
posted by jamjam at 12:00 PM on August 31, 2011


jamjam: Your framing of the comment that included the hypothetical post followed the pattern of a classic method for derailing.
posted by Ardiril at 12:04 PM on August 31, 2011


I thought the question of consent in that op-ed was an excellent one

The question of consent across different social boundaries is a complicated one and I think can be interesting to dig into when framed carefully. Some knowingly-controversial op-ed on the subject as a prompt for discussion is not what qualifies as careful framing of the subject on the blue.

There's a need to separate out subject from execution if you really want to get a clearer picture of how this stuff operates on the site. "Deleted, ergo the subject must be verboten" is basically never the correct conclusion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:05 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of the problems surrounding "rape humor" is that people see someone like Louis CK or George Carlin do a joke about rape and think, "Hey, that means rape is funny and I'm going to make a funny about it right now." Which is sort of like seeing seeing Tony Hawk execute a 900 and think "somebody hand me a skateboard and point me to the nearest ramp, this is going to be awesome."
posted by Bookhouse at 12:21 PM on August 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


Because this is a thread about whether we can talk about rape here

I don't see it that way. It's been clearly established that we can talk about it, because there have been other posts about it. I see the thread as being about why ottimo's particular post was deleted. It wasn't deleted because it was about rape, per se, otherwise Potomac Avenue's proposed post would have gotten permanently shot down. Your comment was basically "hey since we are talking about rape look at this awful thing that happened."
posted by desjardins at 12:29 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that at one time, Louis CK, George Carlin and Tony Hawk were also among the ones seeing someone and then doing the amateur imitations.
posted by Ardiril at 12:32 PM on August 31, 2011


George Carlin pulls out a mean 900.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:33 PM on August 31, 2011


Because this is a thread about whether we can talk about rape here, and if so, how, among other things.

Are we in the same thread? Because I'm pretty sure this is the thread about how to properly frame an FPP without editorializing, trying to steer the discussion, or missing the entire point of the links in said FPP.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:38 PM on August 31, 2011 [13 favorites]


Except that at one time, Louis CK, George Carlin and Tony Hawk were also among the ones seeing someone and then doing the amateur imitations.

And they fell down and got hurt a lot in the process. MetaFilter isn't open mic night and it isn't your local skate park.
posted by nickmark at 12:40 PM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter isn't open mic night and it isn't your local skate park. - Wanna bet? Try 'participatory satire' on for size. ... and don't even try to claim it ain't. ;-P
posted by Ardiril at 12:43 PM on August 31, 2011


The Louis CK joke above wasn't about the funniness of sexual assault, it was about the funniness of someone wanting something that everyone has been told not to do, and somehow expecting another person to intuit that in spite of all the taboos about doing that very thing. I'm not saying you could substitute any sort of other act in and have the same joke, but laughing at that joke is not about laughing because another person has been violated.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:50 PM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think a lot of the problems surrounding "rape humor" is that people see someone like Louis CK or George Carlin do a joke about rape and think, "Hey, that means rape is funny and I'm going to make a funny about it right now.

I, myself, think a lot of the problems surrounding "rape humor" come from the fact that the people who seem to want to make those joke and the people who seem to enjoy it most are the least likely to ever experience rape.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:56 PM on August 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think a lot of the problems surrounding "rape humor" is that people see someone like Louis CK or George Carlin do a joke about rape and think, "Hey, that means rape is funny and I'm going to make a funny about it right now." Which is sort of like seeing seeing Tony Hawk execute a 900 and think "somebody hand me a skateboard and point me to the nearest ramp, this is going to be awesome."

Yes, precisely this. Every open mic I've ever hit there without fail will be someone there trying to be Carlin or Stanhope right off the bat, barking rape and race jokes at a very quiet room. You can almost hear the stories they told themselves about how the whole room was gonna love'em for being zomg so edgy when they've done zero work on the fundamentals that make Carlin, Stanhope, Hicks and CK's edginess possible in the first place. No one who pulls off the standup 900 spin that is a successful boundary-pushing joke did so by deciding to just get up there and spew bile and obscenity, expecting the crowd to reward them for it. And furthermore, every one of these guys can work clean if they have to. (or clean enough for Comedy Central at least) - walk before you run, grasshopper.

Except that at one time, Louis CK, George Carlin and Tony Hawk were also among the ones seeing someone and then doing the amateur imitations.

Yes, well. Carlin started off with decades of squeaky clean bits like the Hippy Dippy Weatherman before he'd built the samurai master skillset that made him capable of opening and crushing with abortion jokes and whatnot when he was in his autumnal splendor.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:58 PM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're dealing with someone who's not really grasping things people are telling him. I'm trying to ascertain whether it's because of that, or whether the dude's just loopy.


I really, really don't want to think about what this posters problems might be.

Trying to oppose "the community" to "the admins" rarely works here, not because the admins are "right" but because they are generally "in sync" with the community.

I feel sorry for the admins having to deal with this kind of crap and be polite at the same time, if i had a hat i would take it off.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:04 PM on August 31, 2011


Your methods are stupid! Your progress has been stupid! Your intelligence is STUPID!
posted by Brocktoon at 1:31 PM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Late to the party here, but the embedded video where 'Eric' tells his story seems to have been one of those that is fucked from a rest-of-world perspective - the interesting bit is 38 minutes in, and there's no slider or other kind of control to get there quickly.

In contrast, the OP stated that the video begins at the start of Eric's bit. So, either a regional issue or maybe a browser one, but I'm using Firefox as I'd guess bunches of others are, so the best bet is that the video is somehow configured to only be USA-friendly.

A bit of a minor technical issue, compared with the rape issue, but on a metered internet connection, there's no way I'm going to suck up 38+ minutes of video just on spec.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:44 PM on August 31, 2011


The slider is the blue line at the bottom -- took me a while to find it, too.
posted by jb at 1:53 PM on August 31, 2011


No, really, there's no blue line, nothing. The only controls are play/pause & volume. *goes off to try Safari*
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:05 PM on August 31, 2011


Same player in Safari.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2011

My justification is that i think it illustrates how important it is to be able to talk openly about rape.

If you can't, things like this become much more likely.
See, I think you may be talking "openly", but not quite "honestly"... and the gulf between those terms is vast.

You call out, or rather single out the "mennonite community" aspect... who, without question, as per the link there, support and approve of swift punishment of the people who committed vile violations (both of the teachings of the community, the religious convictions, and the norms of the "reclusive conservative" group (do you know anything of the reasons they are conservative and 'reclusive', or is that enough of an insinuation to slander them these days? There are absolutely parallels in how Mennonite groups have been treated and the Antisemitism that pervades history. And further, such actions, by individual actors [as opposed to the 'community'] are running counter to the adherence to (and respect for) local legal practices in any of the many locations Mennonite groups have re-settled to, and made homes in (a way of interacting with the local 'authority' that is common to the vast majority of the exiled, diaspora of mennonite communities).

Are you saying that this news bit makes one qualified to attack Mennonites (as in, to accuse or seemingly assert a "higher rape rate" as appears to be the insinuation, by the specificity, and singled out nature of such a comment, and seemingly the impetus for a "hey look Rape happens" comment? Why should one choose that, over any of the 89,000 reported in the United States in 2009, or the 528 reported in Canada in 2009 to single out (not including unreported cases). It is news because it isn't so common, I mean, for the rest of the world (the world at large), Rape may be said to be so common as to frequently pass without note in our "news". Why start with outliers if the goal was "awareness" that such assaults are so pervasive and widespread.

But thank you for pointing at this group and singling them out above anyone else.
posted by infinite intimation at 2:33 PM on August 31, 2011


But what about the Mennonites?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:47 PM on August 31, 2011


OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE THE AMISH
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:15 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


NO ONE EXPECTS THE AMISH IMPOSITION!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:18 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Detroit by 1
*does Tiger dance
posted by clavdivs at 3:21 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess I have the wrong definition of "technical question."
posted by The Deej at 4:21 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would have been funnier as "No one expects the Amish Implication."

"I, myself, think a lot of the problems surrounding "rape humor" come from the fact that the people who seem to want to make those joke and the people who seem to enjoy it most are the least likely to ever experience rape."

It's also important to look at how Carlin and CK's jokes work in structure — Carlin's rape jokes (that were linked) aren't about rape, they're about guys blaming women for men raping women, about the fundamental bad faith that exists there. CK's rape joke was about not wanting to accidentally be a rapist.

That's pretty easy to contrast with the dude from the improv who was blundering along and the punchline was essentially, "Raped her, LOL."

In Carlin's jokes, the humor comes from (at least partly) the injustice; the lack of humor in the improv comes in large part from the lack of justice. There's no twist, no comeuppance. He doesn't find out that the woman gave him AIDS, her husband doesn't burst in and fuck him in the ass, the woman doesn't club him in the face with a lamp and leave him there bleeding, it's "I did something horrible and got away with it and now I want to celebrate it." (I realize that those examples might also not be funny, but I'm spitballing).

That said, the whole discussion about whether it's OK to talk about rape in comedy is pretty poisoned from the beginning.
posted by klangklangston at 4:25 PM on August 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


Actually, the issue of whether or not rape can be the basis for a joke is pretty much a red herring in light of the improv clip. "Eric" is part of the "opening" in the improv show - he's supposed to tell a story that the comedians will mine for information and inspiration when they make up their scenes. The opening can be funny, but it doesn't have to be - his job there was not to tell jokes, but to tell a story.

I'm (obviously, I hope) not offering this as a defense of him, but just to point out that the story in question doesn't even actually raise the issue of comedy about rape.
posted by Ragged Richard at 4:57 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in improv and this story is, as you may guess, getting a lot of discussion everywhere where improv is regularly discussed.

The focus of conversation in every forum I frequent has ultimately turned into "what would you do if you were the host of this show."

Its a killer question because its easy to listen to his story knowing where its going to end and think "well, obviously they should have stopped him there or there."

I think, were I one of the performers, I would be thinking that this seemingly awful story was about to "turn." To whit, something was going to happen that was actually funny, or that redeemed the situation, or whatever. After doing this show a hundred times (and this particular show is one of the longest running shows in improv) and hearing hundreds of stories turn, it would be completely outside of my experience for a story not to turn into something genuinely funny. By the time I realized it was actually awful, it would be too late to stop it.

I have worked on shows where audience members have made suggestions (typically racist or homophobic) that made the rest of the audience profoundly uncomfortable, and its the responsibility of the host/performers to address that honestly and immediately. Sometimes you kick the person out, sometimes you point out the problem with what they said as politely as you can, always you try to honor the fact that most of the audience came there to watch a show and not to see the show sidetracked by one asshole.

Soliciting suggestions from the audience always involves some amount of risk (we had a regular audience member for years that, if he was allowed to give a suggestion, would suggest "Loving Barbie" no matter what was asked of him).

The larger question of "what constitutes acceptable comedy" didn't really come into play because the audience member in question was not judged to be the comedian here. Yes, in reality, he is an improviser, but in this context, he's an audience member. So, asking "is rape funny" in context of this situation and conflating that with professional comedians doing edgy comedy kind of misses the point of this whole situation.

Obviously, in the right hands, anything can be funny. Indeed, the UCB performs mined comedy from this guy's story (largely at his expense). One take-away from this story is that there are people in this world who don't honestly recognize what rape is or (worse) do recognize real rape and think its funny anyways. Another take-away is "what is it about the atmosphere of this particular improv show that led this person to think this story was a great idea?" Another is "what should the performers/house manager done?" Another is "was this guy telling the truth or, since he was an improviser, was he just fucking with the UCB guys?"

In no way, shape or form is this a story about whether rape is funny or not.

So, I think the post should have been deleted because its "if A and B then C" formula fails the logic test.

"if this audience member said this, and George Carlin said this, then rape's relative comedy value should be discussed."
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:44 PM on August 31, 2011 [23 favorites]


Quick replying here.

When I see "rape can be funny" or words to that effect, my first and only response is fuck you, you fucking worthless piece of shit. Therefore, I feel this was a great deletion, because (lacking data on others' inner thoughts) I assume that my response is typical and therefore this post would not have generated useful, positive discussion.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:37 PM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, thanks to this thread I had to google George Carlin to remember if he was dead or not.


Still dead.

/end of derail
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:45 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still dead.

More's the pity.
posted by Miko at 7:06 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vague accusations of dishonesty are way bad faith, sorry jamjam, something hit a nerve, that doesn't excuse the (passive? aggressive [accusatory]) rudeness of the framing of my response. Sorry for responding poorly to what for all i know could have been a fully honest good faith comment.
Of others,
Prepare for the worst, but presume the best... In this I failed to succeed.
posted by infinite intimation at 7:14 PM on August 31, 2011


Okay, so I'm a dude and I have no rape triggers or anything and I'm watching the vid right now and I'm about ready to throw up. So, there's that.
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:33 PM on August 31, 2011


Ewh, and it's even more icky that the idiotic improv troupe, having (jokingly) acknowledged the inappropriateness of the guy's story actually made it into a sketch instead of going "fuck no!" and moving on.
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:37 PM on August 31, 2011


I've written about five comments in my head and keep deleting them, which is probably wise. Yeah, sorry, rape is just not funny. Personally, my own opinion, not every person's ever, Carlin can manage to incorporate it into his act because 1) he is a comedic genius AND 2) his act has demonstrated to me that he gets the stupidness of our society's social constructs re: gender relations. But that's just me.
posted by smirkette at 7:51 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


>Your post was flagged enough times that I did not make a judgment call

I'm very curious about this--is this the way things work? What flag concentration triggers this "autodelete"? Does that number increase proportionally to the growth of site membership? Should this be a separate MeTa? Who's pants am I wearing?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:56 PM on August 31, 2011


I think the mods have stated several times that their deletion decisions aren't strictly based on how many flags a particular post or comment gets, but that it definitely draws their attention to it and has *some* weight in their modding decisions.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:03 PM on August 31, 2011


1000monkeys: "Ewh, and it's even more icky that the idiotic improv troupe, having (jokingly) acknowledged the inappropriateness of the guy's story actually made it into a sketch instead of going "fuck no!" and moving on."

Holy cow, really? That's awful. I only saw the Eric story part, so I didn't realize.

And I was going to comment that I liked the way they were going after the guy and how bad his story sounded, too.
posted by misha at 8:21 PM on August 31, 2011


Ugh, I know. I mean, they could have gone a lot worse with it but still...it was really icky and inappropriate, especially after they more or less acknowledge how icky it was.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:35 PM on August 31, 2011


No problem, infinite intimation.

It's such an upsetting story I don't really blame anyone for whatever reaction they may have on first hearing about it, including the impulse to attack me personally.

If I'd realized how much it would bother people, I wouldn't have posted it.

I wasn't offended by what you said in the first place, and if I may be pardoned for taking this opportunity to mention it, I think yours is an extremely original and interesting voice (and point of view), and I read your posts and comments with great attention when I see them.
posted by jamjam at 9:07 PM on August 31, 2011


I'm very curious about this--is this the way things work? What flag concentration triggers this "autodelete"?

It's not autodelete in the sense of "flag threshold reached, deleting it on principle"; that's pretty much never the case, and there have been occasions where for one reason or another we've decided to let something heavily flagged stand.

It's more a "the response here is substantial enough that deciding to delete this doesn't really require further personal justification" thing; given fairly straightforward reasons why it would be flagged and a whole lot of flags in fact manifesting, we aren't left wrestling very much with the deletion, whereas if we thought it sucked but there was no flag action we'd have to chew on it and make a call.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:46 PM on August 31, 2011


I thought they handled the sketch pretty well. They made it funny while never backing away from the point that the dude was a total creep. Maybe I'm being too soft on them, I don't know.

Incidentally, are the audience monologues the standard ASSSSCAT format nowadays? It seems less funny than using comedians with some storytelling skills. It also seems less funny without Amy Poehler.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:56 PM on August 31, 2011


This thread was like masturbating with a cheese grater: slightly amusing, but mostly painful
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:31 AM on September 1, 2011


Incidentally, are the audience monologues the standard ASSSSCAT format nowadays? It seems less funny than using comedians with some storytelling skills. It also seems less funny without Amy Poehler.

Apparently, this is typical of Assscat, though its not exlusively how its done. Its worth noting that this performance was part of the Del Close Marathon - UCB's improv festival - so the shows are largely by improvisers, for improvisers.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:54 AM on September 1, 2011


The improv community's horror at the tone deafness of their fellow improviser (Eric the monologist) is parallel to MeFi's apparent horror at the tone deafness of your post. The crux of the issue is NOT "is rape funny?" It's what do you do when one of your own gets up to contribute to the community's product (in this case a popular festival) and shows himself to be so tone deaf as to think what he did would be well received.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:42 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's with all the weird specific thanking and wishing people the best? It's like Compulsively Polite Cleverbot.
posted by asockpuppet at 5:34 AM on September 1, 2011


Let me project a bit; whenever I'm in a debate with someone and they thank me for my input or comments or whatnot, it comes across dismissive. Like 'bless your heart' in businesspeak.
posted by asockpuppet at 5:35 AM on September 1, 2011 [5 favorites]



Way upthread, Horselover Phattie posted:

Anyway, the short answer is that people love their triggers in spite of themselves.

I don't know how to read this comment charitably, I really don't. It seems to be mocking those who find certain issues upsetting.


posted by angrycat at 6:32 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try harder then. It means that people will go and be upset about a post even though it's in their better interests to ignore it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:40 AM on September 1, 2011


I think the 'trigger' language at least hints at an involuntariness of the upset, don't you think? Why would you think that people are (unwisely) choosing to become upset about something, as opposed to addressing something that is, by its nature, unpleasant/bad with deleterious effects?
posted by angrycat at 6:46 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, it's easy to get bound up in language, but there is a choice: close the window and exhale.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:46 AM on September 1, 2011


Well, it's easy to get bound up in language, but there is a choice: close the window and exhale.

Do you understand triggers? "Close the window and have a panic attack or a flashback" is just as likely an outcome here. From the conversations I've had from people who suffer from trauma related triggers, I can assure you 100% that they don't "love" them, nor are they getting upset recreationally when they're triggered just to ruin everyone's fun. Promise.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:13 AM on September 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Horselover Phattie, you could just say "close the window and exhale" instead of "people love their triggers". Yeah, it's easy to get bound up in language, so why use words that you know are going to cause conflation?
posted by Specklet at 11:15 AM on September 1, 2011


Do you understand triggers?

Not to comment on this particular exchange but mostly an opportunistic time to talk about triggers and MetaFilter, just so everyone knows mod feelings on them [this is alluded to in the FAQ but should probably be a bit clearer].

MetaFilter is not intended to be a safe space or a place where trigger warnings are mandatory or even expected. Like NSFW indicators, we'll add them if the OP asks or, much more rarely, if other people ask. That said, certain disturbing things such as graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault and/or animal abuse are things we'd appreciate that people either put behind the fold of a question or post, or behind a link (adding a warning is up to you). It's also considered polite though not mandatory to not include a lot of graphic descriptions of this nature in a place where people would not be expecting them [i.e. this thread, as opposed to a long MeFi post about the horrors of war]. Many sites have slightly different approaches to dealing with this sort of material and this, so far, has been ours more or less.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:20 AM on September 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


turns out feminists are just like every other group of people: a few good, but most of them are idiots." Perhaps ironically, perhaps appropriately, I was paraphrasing/adapting a George Carlin phrase with that comment. This was a not particularly well-timed or supported comment on my part (in that particular thread), but without going into specifics, let me say that there are aspects and approaches to what is called "feminism" that I strongly believe in and support. And many other words and "isms" could be substituted into that comment for "feminism," and the point would still be made.

On one hand, I get this, but I also wonder whether you would have seriously considered making this comment about the human condition in a thread about people who supported the Civil Rights Act or the American Indian Movement.

Because it's not edgy. It's lazy. It's a kind of decadent ruling-class luxury laziness. What it sounds like, at best, is "Well, maybe you'll get your rights, but you won't deserve it anymore than I do." It gets a reaction here because it stresses people out: "Oh, great, this guy is saying something usually only a sexist or a person who is too self-absorbed to understand that sexism isn't just an intellectual problem but wants to talk anyway would say; what fun it'll be to deal with this again here instead of just in real life." I can imagine a comedian successfully bringing this off, but in Steve-Coogan-as-Alan-Partridge mode, not as George Carlin sharing an insight. George Carlin didn't bat 1.000.
posted by Adventurer at 12:28 PM on September 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, thanks to this thread I had to google George Carlin to remember if he was dead or not.

Still dead.


Ditto Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
posted by aught at 2:01 PM on September 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ditto Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

El Godwin !
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:34 PM on September 1, 2011


That said, certain disturbing things such as graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault and/or animal abuse are things we'd appreciate that people either put behind the fold of a question or post, or behind a link...

For the love of all that's good, please do this.
posted by rain at 4:57 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the love of all that's good, please do this.

The flip side, not to be a pain about this, is that people need to realize that this is an etiquette issue and not a policy one, for the most part. So, there may be things that people consider triggering on the front page and/or in threads where you might not expect it and we hope people can roll with the occasional weird thing, just as occasionally there's an unmarked NSFW thing. If you need your life to be 100% free of these things, this is not a place that you can guarantee will be that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:09 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Can the Holocaust be funny? What about killing kittens? Babies? Cute little birdies?"


A a former 13 year old boy, I can confirm that the last 3 can be funny.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:24 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also the Upright Citizens Brigade once filmed at my dad's restaurant and I got their autographs but I lost them. The end.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:45 PM on September 1, 2011


please don't make this place your diary.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:08 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"That said, certain disturbing things such as graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault and/or animal abuse are things we'd appreciate that people either put behind the fold of a question or post, or behind a link..."

"For the love of all that's good, please do this."


Uh, ok.
posted by longsleeves at 11:47 PM on September 1, 2011


MetaFilter is not intended to be a safe space or a place where trigger warnings are mandatory or even expected.

I just want to underline how much I appreciate this policy. I'm all for people having safe spaces, but a lot of what I like about this site is that things can be surprising in both good and bad ways.
posted by Forktine at 7:15 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really, really don't want to think about what this posters problems might be.

Problems? What problems? I don't have any problems--I'm innocent and brilliant, just like everyone else in here. (My lawyer must've fucked me.)

In no way, shape or form is this a story about whether rape is funny or not.

I thought that part of the objection people had to Eric was that he thought his story would be funny and/or entertaining enough to tell to an audience and inspire improv. Also, the improv guys tried to mollify (utilize) the story with (for) humor.

When I see "rape can be funny" or words to that effect, my first and only response is fuck you, you fucking worthless piece of shit.

"Rape can be funny" is the title of the section of Carlin's set to which I linked. I did not mean to suggest that I was endorsing that comment or that those were my words. But I do see now that I needed to construct that part (especially) of the post more carefully and clearly (or leave it off entirely) for it to have been an acceptable post for MetaFilter.

What's with all the weird specific thanking and wishing people the best? [...] it comes across dismissive.

I was being sincere. In two of those instances, people expressed emotional reactions I simply wanted to acknowledge and/or validate. I don't think there were all that many other cases.

Can the Holocaust be funny?

I chuckled at the infamous "Loveline Holocaust Caller," but that doesn't mean the Holocaust itself was funny.

Because it's not edgy. It's lazy. (Adventurer)

The comment about feminism that I made was not my best moment. To fully explain the comment and its context would require delving back into the issues of the other thread, which was too full of context as it was. Suffice to say at this point that I caved and made a negative comment that wasn't necessary or productive in that situation.
posted by ottimo at 2:22 PM on September 2, 2011


I don't think you're being fair to yourself, there. Given that it was a thread about the impact of sexual assault on communities of women, "most feminists are idiots" was at least kind of ontopic.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:26 PM on September 2, 2011


Aw, thanks for the consideration, running order--bless your heart. :) Just kidding...I'm ready to move on from our past squabbles, if you'd like to join me in that. Besides, if most _______s are idiots, then it's likely we both qualify in some regard or another.

It would be a disservice, anyway, to bow out of this thread with a focus on that previous issue, which was at best a tangential issue to this post.

Rather, I'd like to say that I learned a lot from everyone's feedback, moderators and everyone else. I'm sure I'm not the first nor will be the last to require some extra attention, but I truly appreciate the effort and willingness it took/takes from all parties to engage in a thread such as this one.

And no, I'm not patronizing anyone. I certainly didn't agree with everything that was said, and some of the unsupported and judgmental criticisms speak, I think, for themselves. But even those, along with the others, I appreciate for their honesty and what I could learn from them.

Here's hoping for good future exchanges.
posted by ottimo at 10:32 PM on September 2, 2011


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