Metafilter Etiquette 101: Obit Threads December 19, 2011 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Kim Jong Il died yesterday and everybody took a long, satisfying shit on his corpse. Some were confused about why was this OK, though. The mods felt this has been explained before and needed no further explanation. I disagree.

Go to Metatalk, they said. Mods are standing by, they said. Well, here I am. Can anyone explain it proper obit thread behavior to me like I'm a six year old?
posted by falameufilho to Etiquette/Policy at 10:33 AM (437 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

read the room.
posted by sweetkid at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2011 [18 favorites]


Can anyone explain it proper obit thread behavior to me like I'm a six year old?

Sometimes when a bad man is no longer around to do bad things people feel good.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:35 AM on December 19, 2011 [63 favorites]


smell the room..
posted by mannequito at 10:35 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not that obit threads are holy places where the dead must be revered, it's that an obit thread isn't a place for a fight. Basically, since everyone was in agreement that Kim Jong Il's corpse deserved to be communally shat upon, the obit thread was going fine.

If there's disagreement about how the deceased are to be treated, then default to saying something nice or saying nothing. But there was no disagreement in this case.
posted by fatbird at 10:36 AM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh the Cheney thread should be interesting.......
posted by wheelieman at 10:37 AM on December 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


It was obviously a pretty lazy and rushed post. But, while I would've liked to see a better post the resultant thread probably would've been the same.

And if you're under the impression that shitting on the dead is verboten, I invite you to read the Falwell obit post.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:39 AM on December 19, 2011


I'm eagerly awaiting a defense or apology of Kim Jong Il. Was he secretly a kind man? Just misunderstood? Enlighten us.

Also, linking to a comment by giving it a misleading description (i.e. "needed no further explanation") is not cool.
posted by mattbucher at 10:42 AM on December 19, 2011



Oh the Cheney thread should be interesting.......


First you'd have to prove he is, technically speaking, alive.
posted by The Whelk at 10:42 AM on December 19, 2011 [28 favorites]


I avoided the post because I'm uncomfortable celebrating someone's recent death no matter the individual. However that is my personal feeling, and the collective evil of celebrating a man's death is probably vastly outweighed by the actual evil the man accomplished.
posted by Think_Long at 10:42 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh the Cheney thread should be interesting.......

First you'd have to prove he is, technically speaking, alive


He can only be undead, but it is my understanding that you can't prove a negative.
posted by Think_Long at 10:43 AM on December 19, 2011


Can anyone explain it proper obit thread behavior to me like I'm a six year old?

Do you really not understand, or are you passive-aggressively complaining/showboating? Because if you REALLY HONESTLY don't understand, well, someone patient will probably be along to explain it, and if it is the other, well, please knock it off.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:43 AM on December 19, 2011 [22 favorites]


I think that you're looking for an official, iron-clad rule -- something in black-and-white in detail -- that you can point to and it says "If you do X, then the mods will do Y."

But the "rule" is more of a shades-of-gray suggestion rather than a "read the FAQ" rule; because there are shades-of-gray when it comes to how good or bad a person is:

* Just about everyone can agree that Mr. Rogers was Hella Cool. Odds are that if you said something nasty, everyone would be pissed off. So it is wise to not.

* At the other end of the spectrum, just about everyone can agree that dictators like Bin Laden, Kim-Jong Il, and Qadafi were rat-bastards. You do still have people who are of the perspective that "celebrating anyone's death, no matter how heinous they are, is rude," but the vast majority of people believe that "yep, they're evil". So some "taking a shit on the corpse" is more so tolerated, because the odds that that "taking a shit" would be forgiven are overwhelmingly good.

* The real tricky part comes in the middle -- with the Mother Theresas, the Jimmy Falwells, the Roman Polanskis. The people who have both some good AND some bad; the people for whom it isn't quite as cut-and-dry where they fall on the "good/evil" perspective. Now, I know that YOU may have definite opinoins on each of these people -- but the thing is, you don't know the odds of everyone else SHARING your opinion. So it's wise to either not say anything, or err on the side of caution; what is UNwise is trying to use the obit thread as a sort of "let's hash it out, for once and for all, whether Roman Polanski is good or bad."

You may have seen some kind of "let's not do this here" in a Roman-Polanski type of thread. This, however, was a dictator-is-dead thread, where everyone pretty much agrees that the guy was an asshole, so there was no disputing that fact, so we could go nuts mocking (or abstain if we didn't want to). QED.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on December 19, 2011 [24 favorites]


The entire thing is incredibly poor taste, and I'd like to see people be a lot more respectful. It's fine to be relieved that someone with a negative influence on the world dies, but you can do that without stooping to a level that actually discourages dialogue and alienates anyone that was affected by said death.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:46 AM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


the Jimmy Falwells

Worst late night talk show ever.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:47 AM on December 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm eagerly awaiting a defense or apology of Kim Jong Il. Was he secretly a kind man? Just misunderstood? Enlighten us.

Whatever kind of person he was in private, he was a terrible, terrible ruler who made he people suffer immensely for not very much. I doubt you will find many people to argue that point. On the other hand, gloating over the dead is forgivable only when that person was personally evil to you, and, even then, it's kind of tacky.

Nothing is going to make Kim Jong Il better or worse than he was, now. We can make ourselves better or worse, however. I think that's the point.

On the other hand, the obvious solution is to stay out of that thread. Gloaters gonna gloat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:47 AM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


> but you can do that without stooping to a level that actually discourages dialogue and alienates anyone that was affected by said death.

This seems unlikely with Kim, though, no? I think all I saw in that thread was people lamenting the circumstances in which he was enabled to become the despot that he was. No one here knew him or was a family member, and to presume sadness at his passing is a bit... presumptuous.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:48 AM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


the Jimmy Falwells

Worst late night talk show ever.


worst doo-wop group ever.
posted by Think_Long at 10:49 AM on December 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


WHAT did you just say about I would have preferred that post be deleted because it was completely lazy in creation. A link or two about the man, North and South Korea and the future of both would not have been hard to make.

Can we get agreement on that, no single link obit posts? And if one is made, it be deleted?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:51 AM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


...It's JERRY Falwell, isn't it? Crap.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


read the room.

It's only OK to do bad things when it's a pile-on?
posted by DU at 10:54 AM on December 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Can we get agreement on that, no single link obit posts? And if one is made, it be deleted?

There probably would have been about two thousand one-link posts deleted before a passable FPP was produced.

If the post doesn't live up to your standards, why not add some context in the comments?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:55 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Was he secretly a kind man? Just misunderstood?

"What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans, man? That he had wisdom? Bullshit, man!"
posted by scody at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2011 [30 favorites]


NPR quotes Bill Clinton's advisor Wendy Sherman with a more fair and balanced view on Kim:

He was smart and a quick problem-solver," Sherman says. "He is also witty and humorous. Our overall impression was very different from the way he was known to the outside world."
posted by lukemeister at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see people be a lot more respectful

Kim Jong Il is, literally, without exaggeration of any sort, responsible for the needless, wanton, cruel deaths of millions of people - many of whom were children whom he starved to death to preserve the political system that kept him in power. He's one of the worst murders in human history. If "respect" is to have any meaning at all, why should it be accoded to him?

If you're talking about being respectful of others in the thread, then I would agree, but that's not how I read your comment, so let me know if I've misunderstood you.
posted by Dasein at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2011 [47 favorites]


Jimmy Falwells,

and Jerry Swaggarts.
posted by jonmc at 10:57 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


You wait and see what I post when Thatcher goes. Oh boy oh boy.
posted by Decani at 10:58 AM on December 19, 2011 [31 favorites]


Can we get agreement on that, no single link obit posts? And if one is made, it be deleted?

What's the point? We'll get a couple links to Wikipedia and maybe a decent article from earlier this year that is suddenly, woefully irrelevant.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:58 AM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


If joking around was ok in the "end of the world methane" thread it should be fine in the "Il is dead" thread too.
posted by futz at 10:59 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


His death has a profound effect on the people of North Korea and maybe the rest of the peninsula. No one knows what's going to happen next. To make jokey comments about the death of a bad guy when the consequences for millions isn't known is in poor taste.
posted by vincele at 11:00 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kim Jong il's is a strange death to gloat over anyway, even if you are an inveterate death-gloater, because his death put an end to his suffering, but not to the suffering of the North Korean people.
posted by jamjam at 11:00 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


If "respect" is to have any meaning at all, why should it be accoded to him?

Isn't that exactly what respect means? To be civilized and gracious even in the face of disagreement?

I don't really care about Kim at all, but there are some terrible arguments being put forward in this thread.
posted by DU at 11:00 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


You wait and see what I post when Thatcher goes

Just don't use a Blackberry to do it
posted by Hoopo at 11:01 AM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the post doesn't live up to your standards, why not add some context in the comments?

Why can't some people expel just a wee more brainpower and effort?

What's the point?

Aim higher.

We'll get a couple links to Wikipedia and maybe a decent article from earlier this year that is suddenly, woefully irrelevant.

AIM HIGHER. If all you can think to do for an obit post is a single link or just Wikipedia links, then maybe you shouldn't be making an obit post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:01 AM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


If "respect" is to have any meaning at all, why should it be accoded to him?

Not to him, so much as to those that might read the thread. A lot of people were affected by it, and the conversation is happening in an accessible, public-ish place.

Judging from the way links of mourners were tossed around, I guess we're having a hard time understanding that somebody might be upset by the whole thing, but apparently some people are. I'd rather not ridicule people for their grief and laugh at them.

I don't see any real value to ":)" in an obit thread, it's not a criticism of the guy's international politics. I'm not defending the guy, but that doesn't mean that we need to race to the bottom.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:02 AM on December 19, 2011


The entire thing is incredibly poor taste

Please explain to us riffraff how the announcement of Kim's death is tasteless.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: There probably would have been about two thousand one-link posts deleted before a passable FPP was produced.

If the post doesn't live up to your standards, why not add some context in the comments?


The norm around here is to delete single link obit posts, and I'm not sure why this should be an exception. We are not a news site, and it's not like the dude was gonna rise from the dead (although that would have made for a much more interesting post). I think the lazy, rushed, bull shit post that we got, actually contributed to the overall shitty level of discourse we saw in that thread. I'd love to know why that post stood.
posted by gman at 11:05 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shitty obit for a shitty man.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2011


Can we get agreement on that, no single link obit posts? And if one is made, it be deleted?

I think if someone is famous enough writing a load of context for something that is more of a death announcement than an obituary isn't really necessary. Perhaps in a day or two there will be more comment and analysis but I think for now it was probably more necessary to just have some important global news out.
posted by pmcp at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's human to feel an impulse to self-righteous joy at the passing of a person who has done bad things - the more bad things, the greater the joy.

That said, I also take the point of view that overcoming that impulse is a step in the right direction for everyone.
posted by Mooski at 11:08 AM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe proper obit behavior for people like you, falameufilho, is to just stay out of it. This isn't the first time you've been confused. Perhaps it's best to just move on.
posted by msali at 11:11 AM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Isn't that exactly what respect means?

No.

actually discourages dialogue and alienates anyone that was affected by said death

I would throw out there that North Koreans won't be reading this thread, as only the North Korean elite have access of any kind to the internet and my understanding is that even that's heavily restricted too. I'm not sure what dialogue would be possible here with anyone that wasn't isolated in North Korea and subjected to decades of bizarre propaganda; pretty much everyone who had something to compare Kim-Jong Il to thinks he was kind of an asshole AFAIK. The only "dialogue" is going to be about how big of an asshole he was.
posted by Hoopo at 11:12 AM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Can we get agreement on that, no single link obit posts? And if one is made, it be deleted?

Not as a bright-line rule, no. It's possible the link is a really good obituary; it's possible for a post with more than one link to really suck. As a general notion, putting a bit of effort into an obit post is a good one, though, yes.

That's aside from the question of this specific post, which was, yes, rushed and lazy, but by the time we saw it was already off and running and I honestly didn't feel like spending my Sunday night playing whackamole trying to hold out for a sufficiently good post about the sudden announcement of the death of a dictator. This is one of those situations where Big News plus Sudden News adds up to more of a force of nature news event situation than the more interesting and more obit-like obituary posts we see, anyway.

I continue to be annoyed by people who think quoting Team America is quality discourse, but that's my own baggage.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:13 AM on December 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


Now it is we who are so ronery. So ronery and sadry arone.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:32 PM on December 18 [12 favorites +] [Flagged] [quote]
Since two mods have now weighed in on that post, and the first reply to this comment didn't happen until seven hours later (unless stuff was deleted that I'm not aware of,) I think I can fairly ask this:

Why in the world is that comment still standing? I get that it's part of a meme. But did no one else flag it but me?
posted by zarq at 11:14 AM on December 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Maybe proper obit behavior for people like you, falameufilho, is to just stay out of it. This isn't the first time you've been confused.

Everyone needs a hug.
posted by smackfu at 11:14 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to know why that post stood.

Because the thread was filling up with a steady stream of comments immediately after being posted. And I'm sure the mods decided to just let that lazy post stay rather than play whack-a-mole with the dozens of other lazy obit posts that would've inevitably appeared in its place.
posted by mediated self at 11:14 AM on December 19, 2011


The behavioral norm in obit threads is to err towards politeness and discretion when there is a conflict of opinion - the people who respect somebody and mourn their passing get the right of way, conversation-wise.

When opinion is so uniformly against somebody, though -- and Kim Jong-Il was one of the most hated people in the world -- requiring people to be nice and discreet and respectful for this dead man would be far more disruptive than letting people say their piece, no matter how vilifying it is, since that's going to be the consensus opinion anyway.

Requiring a literal and rules-bound parity in all situations is not really how this works.
posted by ardgedee at 11:16 AM on December 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why in the world is that comment still standing? I get that it's part of a meme. But did no one else flag it but me?

It got flagged a bunch; people also specifically rebuked it in thread; it's, see above, a long-running jokey quote of Il's puppet character in Team America, which provides a much more specific context than "stereotyping Asian speech" out of the blue and was I think more or less inevitably going to be referenced one way or the other in the thread, but doesn't make it any less dumb a thing to go trotting out as far as I'm concerned and I'm glad people called it out in the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:16 AM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


If there's disagreement about how the deceased are to be treated, then default to saying something nice or saying nothing. But there was no disagreement in this case.

There was actually a fair bit of deletion early in the thread as a few folks posted the Metafilter obit-standard moment-of-silence dots and a couple of folks specifically said 'those of you posting dots know where you can stick them' and the like. It's one thing for an obit thread to be pretty nasty towards the deceased-- and I didn't expect any different from this one, for obvious reasons-- but there were a few people who were specifically pissed off that anyone would be less than nasty towards the deceased, and I think that's pretty shitty.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:17 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


scody's comment flagged as insensitive and disrespectful and for scooping me on that gag.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:18 AM on December 19, 2011


I'm no great fan of Christopher Hitchens, but I saw that the thread was not the place to start a fight debate. On the other hand, nobody has a good word to say for the Dear Leader, and frankly few have much knowledge at all to properly criticize his regime and the aftermath of his death, other than "it's fucked up".

You wait and see what I post when Thatcher goes. Oh boy oh boy.

I don't think I will be able to resist that one either. Although I hope that thoughtful criticism will be forthcoming.
posted by Jehan at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's talk about how MetaFilter actually handles shocking news threads:

Steve Jobs: single link to Apple press release
Bin Laden: single link to an announcement at whitehouse.gov of an imminent press conference
Saddam Hussein: single link to MSNBC article
Muammar Gaddafi: links to multiple news sources carrying the same information; some background of the fighting in Sirte
9/11: single link to the CNN homepage www.cnn.com
Amy Winehouse: gets the best eulogy; multiple news sources, wikipedia and a bunch of links to best moments on youtube.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:21 AM on December 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd love to know why that post stood.

A few reasons, from my perspective

- lack of flagging meant that we felt the community didn't see it as a problem
- late on a weekend night when we felt like "make a better post" directives might mean having to say yes/no on four or five posts all of which would fill up as fast as we could close them, thus necessitating a late night MeTa thread that we didn't want to deal with
- not thinking Kim Jong Il would really be getting a better obit post, honestly, and might actually get a worse one.
- the Sunday of the Solstice bonfire in my neighborhood is my only holiday celebration and restless_nomad is on vacation. Not excusing anything but explaining the data points that went into our decision.

Nearly every obit post on MeFi has at least some folks who are bummed out and some folks who are either not or actively happy the person is dead. This is one of those rare "monsters who died" situations where there is basically no one who is calling for "hey let's show some respect for the guy" though there are people who feel that we should show respect for the dead generally which is being somewhat debated.

That said comments that are like "if you leave a dot in this thread for this guy you should shove it up your ass" [I'm paraphrasing, but not by much] are out of line and not okay for any sort of thread and obit threads aren't an exception.

There's no bright line rule. If you expect one you will be disappointed. Not understanding how the death of a universally-hated dictator is different from the death of someone where there are more complicated feelings [i.e. Hitchens] or people who people who knew them generally liked [i.e. Hoban] really isn't something we can spell out for you, you will have to sort of stick around and learn and/or ask questions if you don't get it.

Moderating obit threads is one of the crappier parts of this otherwise-pretty-great job, so I'd appreciate if people who are the Usual Suspects who are always fighting in them or about them could maybe just ascertain their own role in the MeFi ecosystem )we will happily help with advice or suggestions) and maybe either flag and move on, email us, or just determine that there are things about the site you may not understand.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:23 AM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is everyone, no matter how heinous, deserving of "respect?" Is there no threshold that can be crossed where an individual no longer should be afforded any respect? If that is the case, as seems to be implied by some commenters' arguments, then the word "respect" is basically meaningless.
posted by Falconetti at 11:23 AM on December 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


The norm around here is to delete single link obit posts....

....It is? When did that become a "norm"?

Single link news posts, maybe -- if that single link was thin. By way of analogy -- remember in the very, very, VERY early aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, some people thought back to the truck bomb at the World Trade Center and were claiming it was similarly a Muslim group, and it actually took a couple hours before official announcements of "no, we think this was local terrorists" came out? A single-link "bomb at Oklahoma City, they think it was a Muslim group" would have been linked, precisely for the "but we don't know that yet so why say it" reason.

But a single-link obit post -- especially if you're talking about a particular person who's close to the vest when it comes to publicity -- I've not really seen that being a problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:25 AM on December 19, 2011


Obit threads on metafilter are the worst kind of echo chambers. If they went away, I wouldn't even shed a dot.
posted by found missing at 11:27 AM on December 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


....It is? When did that become a "norm"?

When people started complaining that good people deserved better posts than just a link to CNN with a post text of "So-and-so has died". Especially since they were always first since they took no effort, and with the first-past-the-post rule, that crappy post would be the one that stayed up. So at some point the mods started taking the approach that a crappy obit post would be replaced by a good one posted later.

OTOH, not sure if this applies when the person is someone everyone knows.
posted by smackfu at 11:28 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Steve Jobs: single link to Apple press release
Bin Laden: single link to an announcement at whitehouse.gov of an imminent press conference
Saddam Hussein: single link to MSNBC article
Muammar Gaddafi: links to multiple news sources carrying the same information; some background of the fighting in Sirte
9/11: single link to the CNN homepage www.cnn.com
Amy Winehouse: gets the best eulogy; multiple news sources, wikipedia and a bunch of links to best moments on youtube.


I agree that a better obit post for Hussein, Gaddafi, and Bin Laden would have included a bunch of links to their best moments on youtube.
posted by mreleganza at 11:31 AM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm glad that shitty quote stayed -- because even though with context, some may consider it less racist than people originally thought, I think that an edge case called out in thread is better than disappearing without explanation because maybe, just maybe, a lesson gets through. (Hint: Just because someone else did it first doesn't make it less racist.)

And, 2bucksplus, I'm not sure what kind of point your list was trying to make. (I thought I did at first but don't want to assume.) I think all it shows is that all of those things other than Amy Winehouse were actually breaking news, which is why one link posts stand when Winehouse's death got more. There was no hurry for a Winehouse death post, whereas the rest were itching to be talked about. Whether or not that's the way the site should be is another story, but I don't think it means that this place is somehow more focused on popular culture or is turning into TMZ -- in fact, I think it means the opposite.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:32 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is everyone, no matter how heinous, deserving of "respect?"

Every living thing is deserving of respect. A person's actions can be reprehensible and worthy of condemnation, but life itself is precious and deserves our consideration.

Millions of people died under Kim Jong-Il's rule, but we don't ask ourselves about their worthiness. How many of them were committing terrible acts or would go on to do so? We don't care, we just know that their lives were stolen from them by decisions and actions that were taken without respect for life.

Don't follow in that example. Every life is worth respecting, even those belonging to people we hold in contempt.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is everyone, no matter how heinous, deserving of "respect?" Is there no threshold that can be crossed where an individual no longer should be afforded any respect? If that is the case, as seems to be implied by some commenters' arguments, then the word "respect" is basically meaningless.

Without taking one side or the other on whether every human being is automatically deserving of respect, the argument "if everyone is deserving of respect, then 'respect' is meaningless" seems bizarre. I don't follow the reasoning there. It makes about as much sense to me as saying "If you say 'everyone needs oxygen to live' then 'oxygen' is meaningless."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:34 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's talk about how MetaFilter actually handles shocking news threads:

That's exactly right, there have been a lot of lazily made, single link obit posts. We, as a community, should do better.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:36 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone should do a mock-up of how a MeFi obit thread for Hitler may have gone in 1945.
posted by vidur at 11:37 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is everyone, no matter how heinous, deserving of "respect?"

I don't hold a great deal of respect for Kim, but I think that spitting on his grave is creepy and would reflect poorly on my as a person. And the death of any human being can be occasion for quiet reflection: it is a reminder of my ultimate destiny, and that I ought to consider my own actions and place in the universe to ensure that I am always attempting to do better. Kim, I assume, was loved, and practiced small kindnesses, and he was also a monster. No one is the cartoon we perceive them to be from half a world away. I do not think Kim was a good person, but neither to I think I am incapable of my own monstrosity, despite my loves and my small kindnesses. I posted a . in the obit thread because death is solemn and being better than Kim consists of a conjunction of circumstance and effort.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:39 AM on December 19, 2011 [28 favorites]


One of my favorite judges was unfailingly respectful to the criminal defendants who appeared before him. It didn't matter if he was sentencing someone to 10 years for rape, rejecting a frivolous motion, or telling a rowdy defendant to settle down, he was always respectful.

I think that's the kind of respect folks might be asking for in obit threads. It's possible to be respectful and still point out that Kim Jong Il brought a terrible blight onto this planet. Of course in cases where the deceased is personally responsible for fewer than, say, a million deaths, it might be better to wait a few weeks or find a smaller audience for comments like that ...
posted by jhc at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


the collective evil of celebrating a man's death is probably vastly outweighed by the actual evil the man accomplished.

Probably?
posted by OmieWise at 11:47 AM on December 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


My twitter feed was full of "three bad guys died this year lol!!" yesterday. It must be nice to live in the moral universe of a six-year-old.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


cortex: "It got flagged a bunch; people also specifically rebuked it in thread;

Out of curiosity, were any comments responding to it deleted? Because if not, unless I missed something it was only really addressed in thread many hours and a couple of hundred comments later. First obliquely referenced by Jessamyn, and then it was called out directly by Bitter Old Punk this morning. So, assuming that no comments referring to it were deleted, and knowing that it got flagged a bunch, it could have been deleted before people started responding to it, no?

it's, see above, a long-running jokey quote of Il's puppet character in Team America, which provides a much more specific context than "stereotyping Asian speech" out of the blue

I understand what you're saying, but think the context doesn't change the fact that it's still racist and offensive. Just because it was part of the dialogue of a shitty movie doesn't mean that quoting it somehow more acceptable.

and was I think more or less inevitably going to be referenced one way or the other in the thread, but doesn't make it any less dumb a thing to go trotting out as far as I'm concerned and I'm glad people called it out in the thread."

I realize and empathize that you're all caught in a bit of a no-win situation here. If you deleted it, no doubt people would be saying that was fascism or something. Especially with the recent deletions dust up(s).

But I have to say, seeing that ugly racist garbage sitting in a thread turns my stomach. And am dismayed it's still there.
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think the confusion here doesn't come from the fact that a hard and fast rule has been laid down by the mods, but by the fact that contentious deaths will usually cause a number of persons to act and speak as if there were a hard and fast rule. Someone will always imply that it's metafilter policy to allow nobody to speak ill of the dead.

I know that because of this, in contentious death threads, I've thought "Wait til someone you all hate dies, and see if you're singing from the same hymn sheet then. Just you wait for Thatcher to die. Then I'm going to put a dot in that post and cause merry hell on metatalk"

This is a thought I try not to act on BTW.

In situations where there is a contentious death, I get the feeling that within the fans of said contentious person, a loud minority will take over the conversation to such a degree as to force the mods to have to silence those that want to say "Hang on, this person is no good." This is done either for the public good or because the flagging system highlights those that are at odds with site opinion.

This all comes back to my feelings on how those that have minority opinions on metafilter are more likely to have comments deleted than those that bray personal insults and escalate fights from the back of the crowd. I'm beginning to think it's a bit of a hobby horse of mine.

I think there's little the mods can do about this imbalance in comment deletion. It's part of the social nature of the site, and I'm sure that all the moderators have sat down with each other at some point and scratched their heads over what to do to fix it and have come up short. I think it's a problem that can ONLY be solved by the users.

In this situation. I would prefer it that anybodies death thread (with the exception of members of the site) could be large and mature enough to hold contrary opinions. There needs to be space for both dots and vitriol. And we all need to be big enough to accept that sometimes public people can inspire love and hatred in equal degrees & just because you thought that a person was awesome doesn't mean you should attack those who feel the opposite or try and get the contentious opinions deleted.

Sidebar note: In some death threads that go wrong, someone always pulls out the "What if a family member or friend of this person was to read this thread." argument. I think it's a strong argument, but my gut feeling is that the option to cause insult to bereaving people should stay with the commentator. Points can be refuted, and we can fill the rest of the thread up with love but we should still allow contention however upsetting it may be to others.

tl;dr - We all need to flag comments based not on what we're saying about the dead celebrities but on what we're saying about each other.
posted by seanyboy at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Unprofessional is how I would describe the other thread. The jokes are distracting and borderline ignorant/othering/racist. The moralizations about this person not deserving respect or dignity are completely subjective and offer nothing to intellectual discourse.

Personally, I'm astounded that people still fall for individualistic reasoning, i.e. it was "his fault, as a person, so there". Villains don't exist, antagonists do.
posted by polymodus at 11:55 AM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


unprofessional and distracting? Whose profession is this? What is it distracting from?
posted by Hoopo at 11:57 AM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


You're not getting paid? Check your direct deposit info with pb...
posted by Burhanistan at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: And, 2bucksplus, I'm not sure what kind of point your list was trying to make.

The point of my list is that MetaFilter already has a defacto mode for posting big news stories. In almost every case it's just a single link to some authority with a short confirmation article. We can debate whether or not we should do better (and I'm sympathetic to Brandon's point), but the reality is that such posts live or die by their timestamp rather than their quality. To change our behavior as a community when posting breaking news threads would require heavy mod involvement and consistent user education.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're not getting paid? Check your direct deposit info with pb...


Please just shut up. If it wasn't obvious I didn't use that word literally let me explicitly point out that that was the closest word I could think of. Your sarcasm is not helpful.
posted by polymodus at 12:01 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


unprofessional and distracting? Whose profession is this? What is it distracting from?


This is idiotic.
posted by polymodus at 12:02 PM on December 19, 2011


Please just shut up

Telling people to shut up isn't very professional.
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on December 19, 2011 [23 favorites]


The sanctimoniousness directed at those who aren't sufficiently respectful of a mass murderer and torturer (or of "life", whatever that means) is shocking.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:04 PM on December 19, 2011 [24 favorites]


heh
posted by Burhanistan at 12:05 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Telling people to shut up isn't very professional.

This is stupid. You're conflating the appearance of professionalism with actual professionalism, for instance having a serious conversation. Moreover may I suggest you try not to get hung up over a piece of diction in the first place.
posted by polymodus at 12:05 PM on December 19, 2011


Lighten up, Francis.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:06 PM on December 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


The sanctimoniousness directed at those who aren't sufficiently respectful of a mass murderer and torturer (or of "life", whatever that means) is shocking.

I said nothing of the sort. You're projecting your own opinions on what I wrote.
posted by polymodus at 12:07 PM on December 19, 2011


Lighten up, Francis.

I don't have to and you should know that.
posted by polymodus at 12:07 PM on December 19, 2011


I said nothing of the sort. You're projecting your own opinions on what I wrote.

Not everything is about you.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:07 PM on December 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Maybe everybody chill a bit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:07 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I invoke the law of Bill & Ted.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2011


I don't think it's about respecting Kim Jong-Il, or even the abstract notion of "life." It's about respecting the community. Some people think shitting up obituary threads is disrespectful of MetaFilter. I don't know if I agree, but calling them a bunch of dictator-loving supporters of mass murder is a bullshit straw man and you know it.
posted by Zozo at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2011


As an aside, here's a link to a tumblelog: http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com. Does what it says on the tin.
posted by WalkingAround at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


2bucksplus: " the reality is that such posts live or die by their timestamp rather than their quality."

Not necessarily with obit posts. There's a precedent of obits being deleted by the mods, with the reasoning given as "somebody make a better post, please."

The one that stands out most in my mind was the frenzy of posts after Michael Jackson died. That's not to say that they do it frequently, and it does happen.

The problem of course is that the mods then would have to stay on top of the damned front page to delete obit posts that appear, before they fill up with too many comments (thereby pissing off a lot of people.) It's unrealistic and unfair to expect them to do so regularly.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on December 19, 2011


My thought on it, early on (right before we were told we couldn't share those thoughts in the thread) was that I really hoped that Metafilter was classier than that thread was.

It sort of saddens me to watch people wallow in that kind of glee over someone's death, it just doesn't speak well of this community.
posted by tomswift at 12:09 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe everybody chill a bit.

I know, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:09 PM on December 19, 2011


Falconetti: “Is everyone, no matter how heinous, deserving of ‘respect?’ Is there no threshold that can be crossed where an individual no longer should be afforded any respect? If that is the case, as seems to be implied by some commenters' arguments, then the word ‘respect’ is basically meaningless.”

This question always gets asked about these things; and understandably there are people on both sides of it. Tell Me No Lies gave a pretty good argument on the "everyone deserves a modicum of respect" line, whether I agree with it or not.

But the problem with all this, I think, is that this question is so unimportant that it's almost incoherent. It doesn't matter whether Kim Jong Il deserves respect. He is dead. There is some ancillary sense in which respect for dead people might mean something, but at this point any respect or disrespect we show to Kim Jong Il will have no effect whatsoever on his happiness or well-being or whatever, because those things do not and cannot exist ever again. At this point – without any exaggeration – the name "Kim Jong Il" refers to an inanimate object, a thing, a hunk of rotting flesh sitting in a box. You cannot "respect" or "disrespect" a thing. You cannot "disrespect" a rock. If a person kicks a rock in frustration, or shouts angrily at a rock, or jeers when a rock falls into a stream, we don't ask whether the rock deserves some respect. We may ask whether the person doing the jeering might deserve more self-respect, but we have no compunction about the rock.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of people still very much alive in North Korea face a very uncertain future. It's hard to know what will happen in the power vacuum; the military leaders are likely to step in, but there are questions about whether the chosen successor will know how to take firm control the way the last leader did. This leads to some fears about instability. And not only for North Korea; the military has always cultivated a certain amount of weaponry, and as meager as that weaponry may be in comparison to that of the United States or other countries, it is still dangerous. The people of South Korea, of Japan, of China, and of other countries have reason to be somewhat worried right now. Those are things that are worthy of our consideration.

So every time I see a gleeful comment about a dead person, that's what I see – a person jeering at a rock or a pile of dirt. It's silly. And it reeks of the fear of death &Ndash; "ha ha, stupid corpse!" Most of all, it ignores all the actually important happening in this situation – that is, the stuff that has an impact on real, living human beings.

A wise man once said that we ought to concern ourselves with the living, and let the dead bury their own. It's shocking advice, since it's often so hard to let go of those who die; but in this case, that shouldn't be a problem. And that advice is more apt than ever. Kim Jong Il's death warrants a smirk, nothing more.
posted by koeselitz at 12:10 PM on December 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


I stayed out of that thread & only gave it the barest skim, because from what I saw it seemed overwhelmingly petty & distasteful.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:10 PM on December 19, 2011


Millions of people died under Kim Jong-Il's rule, but we don't ask ourselves about their worthiness.

Yeah, those starving children were just asking for it!
posted by John Cohen at 12:10 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


calling them a bunch of dictator-loving supporters of mass murder is a bullshit straw man and you know it.

I'm not so sure there aren't a couple people who DON'T know that that kind of accusation is a straw man. (Not that I'm accusing anyone of being deliberately obtuse, more like, "Okay, with anyone else it'd be a straw man, but with [dictator] it's just DIFFERENT".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2011


If you want a tacky obit thread, check out the Anna Nicole Smith one.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2011


I don't know if I agree, but calling them a bunch of dictator-loving supporters of mass murder is a bullshit straw man and you know it.

Actually, I called them shockingly sanctimonious.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


It sort of saddens me to watch people wallow in that kind of glee over someone's death, it just doesn't speak well of this community.

Yeah, it bums me out which is why I celebrate positive rather than negative things. Removing a dictator from power isn't why you celebrate, it's when the dictator is replaced by a better system.

But then sometimes it's hard to find things to celebrate. :(
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:12 PM on December 19, 2011


I kind of think blaming the situation in North Korea on Kim Jong Il is a bit short sighted. He didn't create the dictatorship, and from what I understand, he was never particularly in charge of it, the military was. He was probably as much a prisoner as the people are, although one who led a much more comfortable life.

Nothing is going to change for them with his death, anyway.
posted by empath at 12:13 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Go to Metatalk, they said. Mods are standing by, they said. Well, here I am. Can anyone explain it proper obit thread behavior to me like I'm a six year old?

The mods gave us a license to il.
posted by futz at 12:17 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


He was probably as much a prisoner as the people are

Yeah, poor guy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 PM on December 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


The sanctimoniousness directed at those who aren't sufficiently respectful of a mass murderer and torturer (or of "life", whatever that means) is shocking.

If this is directed at me, I apologize: It wasn't my intention to be sanctimonious. It was my intention to answer a question that was posed in this thread about whether everyone is deserving of respect; I was also attempting to answer some questions (rhetorical or otherwise) posted in the original thread about why anyone would post a dot in an obit thread about a terrible dictator. I believe I've answered honestly. If that makes me a sanctimonious person, then I guess so.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:23 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Steve Jobs: single link to Apple press release
Bin Laden: single link to an announcement at whitehouse.gov of an imminent press conference
Saddam Hussein: single link to MSNBC article
Muammar Gaddafi: links to multiple news sources carrying the same information; some background of the fighting in Sirte
9/11: single link to the CNN homepage www.cnn.com
Amy Winehouse: gets the best eulogy; multiple news sources, wikipedia and a bunch of links to best moments on youtube.



and then there was Jesse Helms
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:23 PM on December 19, 2011


I mean, I don't feel particularly sorry for him. But I don't think he had a lot of choice of how he lived his life. It would have taken an extraordinary person to change the system there, and he seemed thoroughly below average.
posted by empath at 12:24 PM on December 19, 2011


Look, Kim Jong Il is pretty much an edge-case for "how evil a human being can be". Even if you absolutely hate that post, edge-case input = edge-case result. It's not everyday that a sociopathic dictator who Orwell would've found unbelievable passes away.

Obit threads on metafilter are the worst kind of echo chambers.

Obit threads on metafilter are not really expected to be places of debate or discussion. When somebody posts a "." in an obit thread, that's not about communicating or discussing with other people - that's something you do for yourself. The exact content is between you and the person that died. So obit threads on Metafilter seem to be more about dealing with the death than discussing it; which is perfectly okay, I think. So being upset that they're echo-chambers kind of misses the point I think. Not all Metafilter threads need to serve the same purpose.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is idiotic.

I don't even know what you're talking about. I don't understand the point you are trying to make. Villains don't exist? Of course they do. Of course the actions of a dictator are their own fault. What are you even talking about with regards to "subjectivity"?
posted by Hoopo at 12:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the Anna Nicole Smith obit thread: Explain to me how, exactly, the state of simply "being a human" has some kind of intrinsic, respect-demanding property.
posted by mediated self at 12:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


James Brown is still dead!
posted by ericb at 12:28 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I can best sum up how I felt reading that thread by saying that it invoked the same sort of feeling as I'd get watching a mob cheer at a murderer's public execution. I wouldn't necessarily feel a lot of compassion for the murderer, but, as someone who tries to have faith in human nature, I would feel really let down by the mob.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 12:30 PM on December 19, 2011 [23 favorites]


I walked out of the thread when I saw how many people had shown up purely to mock and gloat over the death, and that the thread was old/large enough where this behavior was likely to continue unchecked.

I think it's possible to feel relief and even happiness when someone monstrous dies without being tacky and callous about it. I'm not terribly concerned about being seen as sanctimonious by people who would write those kinds of comments at the news of someone's passing. Talking plainly and intelligently about the way he might have ruined other people's lives is a grownup reaction. Giggle-fits and shit-smearing, not so much.
posted by hermitosis at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Without taking one side or the other on whether every human being is automatically deserving of respect, the argument "if everyone is deserving of respect, then 'respect' is meaningless" seems bizarre. I don't follow the reasoning there. It makes about as much sense to me as saying "If you say 'everyone needs oxygen to live' then 'oxygen' is meaningless."

That's pretty silly. I mean, look up the dictionary definition of "respect" - it's not a "special regard" for someone if there's nothing special about it. Or put another way: if everyone rates being a 5-star general than being a 5-star general is completely meaningless.

I think this is a case of two sides talking past each other, though - some folks saying that everyone deserves to be treated with "respect" really mean everybody deserves to be treated with a basic level of decency. No particular disagreement from me on that point but like I said, Kim Jong Il's an edge case for evil. If ever there was a forgivable lapse in basic decency this has gotta rank pretty high. Really doesn't seem worth getting worked up into a holier-than-thou froth about.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:35 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


At this point – without any exaggeration – the name "Kim Jong Il" refers to an inanimate object, a thing, a hunk of rotting flesh sitting in a box. You cannot "respect" or "disrespect" a thing. You cannot "disrespect" a rock. If a person kicks a rock in frustration, or shouts angrily at a rock, or jeers when a rock falls into a stream, we don't ask whether the rock deserves some respect.

I disagree with the above on at least two grounds.

First, I would argue that it is possible to respect or disrespect an inanimate object. The Mona Lisa is an inanimate object. But you can go to the Louvre and look at the Mona Lisa thoughtfully and think about how it makes you feel and admire da Vinci's technique and so forth, which is respecting the Mona Lisa, or you can go and spray-paint a bright red "X" across it which would be disrespecting it. (OK, you can't because it's behind glass and everything, but you get the idea.)

It's true that you can't really respect or disrespect an ordinary, everyday rock, but that's because the rock is without meaning, not because the rock is inanimate. Put the rock in the British Museum with a sign saying "this is the rock upon which Isaac Newton sat when the apple fell on his head," and the rock could be respected or disrespected.

Second, I would argue "Kim Jong Il" does not refer merely to the hunk of rotting flesh, but to the man who was. We do not consider "the corpse of Kim Jong Il" to be a redundant construction, as would be the case if the semantics of speaking of someone deceased worked the way you suggest. "The corpse of Kim Jong Il" is not considered synonymous with "Kim Jong Il." While it is true that nothing we say now here on MetaFilter can add or subtract to Kim's well-being and happiness, frankly the same was true when he was alive.

So every time I see a gleeful comment about a dead person, that's what I see – a person jeering at a rock or a pile of dirt.

And does the same apply to people saying nice things? When a person makes a warm comment about Mr. Rogers, are they doing nothing more than saying something nice about a pile of dirt?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:36 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm not too concerned about being seen as sanctimonious either. I offered my opinion earlier in this thread purely as a reflection on myself and how I want to see myself, I wasn't trying to pass judgement on others.

polymodus - Metatalk can be a pretty confrontational place, we're quick to judge and we're quick to joke here. You can't take anything that's said too personally, and never, in the history of metatalk, has telling anyone to 'shut up' ever worked. This is where we go to not shut up.
posted by Think_Long at 12:36 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't feel particularly sorry for him. But I don't think he had a lot of choice of how he lived his life.

He was a dictator! Of course he had a choice. Or, if someone else was forcing him to starve millions of people, then the only ethical solution was for him to commit suicide.
posted by John Cohen at 12:37 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean, I don't feel particularly sorry for him. But I don't think he had a lot of choice of how he lived his life. It would have taken an extraordinary person to change the system there, and he seemed thoroughly below average.

Are you fucking kidding me? If Kim Jong Il, proprietor of the slave state of North Korea, is not responsible for his own behaviour, then no one is.
posted by Dasein at 12:44 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is where we go to not shut up.

Well said! And eponysterically too, by Think_Long.

I'm speaking as a nonparticipant in the thread, which was fairly predictable in tone given how truly dreadful Kim Jong Il was -- mass starvation of his population while living the life of a sultan, was just one of his lovable human behaviors.

But in this forum, it seems entirely appropriate to me that people would feel free to vent their true feelings about him. I for one was very happy to read my Ipad bulletins this AM about his death. It would certainly not be right to say something like that at his funeral or in a court that was responsible for trying or sentencing him. But this is MetaFilter, and people are entitled to express their views, assuming they do it grammatically and without employing an offensive font.

I think it's fine to critique the obit's tone too, by the way. MetaFilter: where we go to not shut up.
posted by bearwife at 12:46 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


You wait and see what I post when Thatcher goes. Oh boy oh boy.

I'm planning to go with "Was she found surrounded by her hoard of long expired tiny milk cartons?"
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:48 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think this is a case of two sides talking past each other, though - some folks saying that everyone deserves to be treated with "respect" really mean everybody deserves to be treated with a basic level of decency. No particular disagreement from me on that point but like I said, Kim Jong Il's an edge case for evil. If ever there was a forgivable lapse in basic decency this has gotta rank pretty high. Really doesn't seem worth getting worked up into a holier-than-thou froth about.

I agree with this. My earlier comment wondering whether everyone deserves "respect" was misinterpreted because I think I was looking at what "respect" meant differently than others. My take on it is much more prosaic and less metaphysical. Everyone deserves a presupposition of decency for the very fact they are human, but how you live your life, your actions and your deeds and your opinions, modifies the level of respect I have for you. Taking a shit on Kim Jong Il, in life or dead, leaves me unperturbed, as he was an absurdly heinous, evil man. I also don't see how making light of his death, at his expense, degrades some general notion of human dignity either.
posted by Falconetti at 12:50 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kim Jong-Il spent his life actively making things worse for millions for his own benefit. He created a mythology that made him out to be perfection incarnate and godlike while his people starved. He lived in luxury and died of old age and natural causes. This is a man for whom there will be extravagant memorials and monuments erected, celebrating his legacy. State resources will fund this while people continue to starve and live without electricity.

It's hard to compete for attention with someone who giant statues and extravagant public displays and whose supporters have a monopoly on the spread of information. What we can hope for is that people everywhere mock and deride his memory mercilessly to ensure that legacy is every bit as tarnished as it deserves.
posted by Hoopo at 12:50 PM on December 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh, we're going to do "Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher" all over her grave? Good to know so we can prep the dancers.
posted by 26.2 at 12:51 PM on December 19, 2011


Talking plainly and intelligently about the way he might have ruined other people's lives is a grownup reaction. Giggle-fits and shit-smearing, not so much.

I remember two North Korean brothers we were at camp with me one year when I was about 10 whose families escaped. Both of them nearly starved to death early in life (we had a collection for them as Cub Scouts just to get them to camp and their story actually helped raise a lot of money.) They were still chronically underweight then, just skin and bones, and their clothes were dirty and torn. As you can tell, with the broken English and poverty, they were outcasts in our society too.

As you may recognize, their problems are not solved simply by getting out. Their family was dirt poor, if I recall correctly their father worked in a dry cleaning factory and spoke little to no English. The hell they lived was a little less now, but life was still very hard for them.

They were both kind and respectful almost to a fault. My interaction with them was brief, but noticeable. Even for the "lucky" ones who got out, Kim Jong Il sentenced them to a life of hardship that extends even past his own reign by cutting them off from the world and forcing them to be labourers.

So, if I seem a little angry today, it's because the death of Kim Jong Il doesn't mean the end of the pain and suffering he's caused for millions of people. People will still die today because of him and it will take hundreds of years of progressive change to stop the suffering.

I think back to those two North Korean boys, both kind to a fault, and I get so angry that a man can die and still cause so much pain. So, while you might look at death as an end to be marked, I look at it as a blip on the timeline of pain and suffering he caused and think yeah, he was a monster yesterday and he's a monster today.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 12:53 PM on December 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


I think it's possible to feel relief and even happiness when someone monstrous dies without being tacky and callous about it. I'm not terribly concerned about being seen as sanctimonious by people who would write those kinds of comments at the news of someone's passing. Talking plainly and intelligently about the way he might have ruined other people's lives is a grownup reaction. Giggle-fits and shit-smearing, not so much.


Besides the racist nonsense, which was shitty as hell, show me the "callous". I generally respect what you have to say here and I'd really like to understand. Is any kind of expression of relief or happiness callous? And callous towards whom? Someone who is already dead? His family? Are they likely to be reading the thread?

Making jokes about this kind of thing just isn't my bag, but I completely understand why people would, and it seems like a victimless "crime".

Hence my shock.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2011


That's pretty silly. I mean, look up the dictionary definition of "respect" - it's not a "special regard" for someone if there's nothing special about it.

You're assuming the "special" regard has to be in comparison to other humans only.

It is not meaningless to say "all humans are deserving of a 'high and special regard' which is not accorded to non-human things." (Not saying I agree or disagree with such a position, only that I do not find it meaningless.)

Nor is it meaningless to say "all living things are deserving of a 'high and special regard' which is not accorded to non-living things." (A position I decidedly disagree with, at least when it comes to mosquitos, but not one I find meaningless.)

I think this is a case of two sides talking past each other, though - some folks saying that everyone deserves to be treated with "respect" really mean everybody deserves to be treated with a basic level of decency.

Yeah, that I can agree with.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2011


I also don't see how making light of his death, at his expense, degrades some general notion of human dignity either.

Fair enough. I guess the question I ask myself is: "When is it okay to hate?"

I'm sure it's hopelessly naive, but I think the world as a whole will be a lot better off when most people answer 'Never' to that question.
posted by Mooski at 12:55 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


"and just 'cause he's gone doesn't change the fact:
he was a bastard in life, thus a bastard in death...

posted by nadawi at 12:58 PM on December 19, 2011


"Moderating obit threads is one of the crappier parts of this otherwise-pretty-great job..."

Yeah, so why do we have them? I can't see how they're not, as a group, the single most worthless posts and threads on MetaFilter. It's not like people won't learn of these things otherwise—and, anyway, MeFi isn't a news site. And it's not like "good discussion happens in them", either—an argument often used to justify crappy posts.

And, specifically, they cause a disproportionate amount of discord. Does anyone love obituary posts? But I know a fair number of people hate them.

They're a hassle for the admins and for the community. They provide the community with very little value.

Why can't we just not have them?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:01 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


For many people the "respect for the dead" goes out the window for despots. I try not to participate in it not because I think the dead despot deserves respect, but it is pointless.

I for one, wouldn't shed a tear if obit threads went away. They all suck with the pointless circle jerking dots and the inevitable fights that break out regardless of who it is. But I'm not going to piss on the obit threads with using the royal "we" to complain that the post or its comments aren't up to standards.

But what I'd really love to see happen is for people to stop whining about how "we can do better than this" types of complaints on posts. Who is this "we." Metafilter is not the Borg or North Korean State Television. There will be diversity of opinion. There will be assholes. There will be people who think we shouldn't speak ill of the dead no matter how bad the motherfucker was. There's someone in this thread that thinks it wasn't Il's fault that the job he inherited from his dad was his fault. There's people who dance in the streets and celebrate death. There will be people that will make jokes and be snarky regardless of the situation. Metafilter is, after all, just a website.

If you want better post than someone else posted, you should have written it. It isn't too late for a well-written fair and balanced* eulogy for that fuckwad. But gee, you don't have time for that. If you think the comments are crass and not up to your ideal projection of a website that only has a $5 lifetime cost of entry, then you need to either a) lead by example or b) perhaps seek a smaller, more likeminded crowd. But the passive-agressive we can do better comes off as condescending and schoolmarmish.


*fair and balanced is a trademark of Fox News, LLC, a subsidiary of News Corp, Inc and is used without permission. Speaking of obits, the post when Rupert Murdoch drops dead, will be pretty civilized, I'm sure we'll show the man some respect.
posted by birdherder at 1:02 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I guess the question I ask myself is: "When is it okay to hate?"

I'm sure it's hopelessly naive, but I think the world as a whole will be a lot better off when most people answer 'Never' to that question.


Why should be be emotionally neutered in the face of the worst enormities in the world today? Hatred is an appropriate response to a man who starves millions, terrorizes a nation, threatens nuclear war and kills without mercy while drinking Hennessy XO.
posted by Dasein at 1:02 PM on December 19, 2011 [15 favorites]


I don't feel particularly sorry for him. But I don't think he had a lot of choice of how he lived his life.

He was a dictator! Of course he had a choice. Or, if someone else was forcing him to starve millions of people, then the only ethical solution was for him to commit suicide.


Well I think this is one of many examples highlighting how people allocate causation differently. The idea of absolute responsibility is a conventional, mainstream Western one. It is problematic because it denies structuralist explanations.

On the other end of the spectrum if you take the Zen approach, then Kim Jong-Il and everything surrounding him is as/like a force of nature. Thus the vitriol and lack of empathy should be self-evidently pointless.

Or suppose you read this whole episode following all the markers of Greek tragedy. In what sense is even a dictator responsible, if he came with fundamental flaws from the very beginning that would drive him down an inevitable road of suffering for everyone involved? Were his choices real? Etc.

The lesson from Sophocle's Antigone is that all the characters are pitiable. The play works because of audience catharsis, i.e. a sense of relief that none of it happened to us.
posted by polymodus at 1:03 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


If ol' Kim Jong Il was a hipster, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:05 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rodrigo Lamaitre, your anecdote just now is a perfect example of the kind of comment that I'd be happy to read an entire thread's worth of.

show me the "callous".

Anything that encourages people to dehumanize others -- the poor, the despicable, the ill, the "other" -- merely perpetuates the kind of mentality that makes evil dictators possible.

I'm not constantly fighting to be seen as a fully-fledged human just so that I can earn the right to decide who's in my league and who isn't.
posted by hermitosis at 1:08 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


He was a dictator!

He inherited it, he didn't create it.
posted by empath at 1:09 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm happy because he's with Jesus now.
posted by LordSludge at 1:15 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why can't we just not have them?

A number of reasons

- axing things for content is something we try not to do as much as possible and there are many good obit threads so "obits" isn't a category that falls under "things MeFi does not do well"
- they are very very easy to avoid if you do not want to read them
- the only way to make them not exist is either deleting them all personally or creating an automated thing to do it. The first case makes my job worse, not better. The second is something we've never done in the history of the site. Not that this is all about me, but if the problem we're trying to solve is partially about these things being difficult to moderate, that doesn't help that, al all.
- lastly for a lot of people, their first post is an obit. It's a type of post that is easy to make, you don't have to justify it and it's not that tough to make a good one if you are trying [and not just trying to be first]. So the fact that MeFi has them is sort of a feature not a bug in many cases, threads like this being the notable exception.

Realistically they are party of the MeFi landscape. I wish they would go better but they're not so terrible that I think they need to go away as a category.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:17 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or suppose you read this whole episode following all the markers of Greek tragedy.

I wonder where the families put into glass rooms and fed chemical weapons fit in this tragic narrative. What is Greek for choking on one's own vomit?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:20 PM on December 19, 2011


He inherited it, he didn't create it.

I must have missed the time he said, "instead of another statue of me, how about we feed some people. We can still call it something about me, like 'Great Leader Benevolent Beans n Rice Day'"
posted by nomisxid at 1:20 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


He inherited it, he didn't create it.

That doesn't change anything. He was -- even if he was mostly a figurehead for the military regime -- in a position of power and even without turning North Korea into a western democracy would make the living conditions of his country better. But he followed the path of his old man who even today is recognized as Eternal Leader of the country. His dad is worshipped like a god by design of the regime. He took full advantage of it. He did nothing with his image as being the son of a god to make reforms. So fuck him.
posted by birdherder at 1:21 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


there are often great, personal stories in obit threads. even in the one we're discussing, i learned lots i didn't know about the region.
posted by nadawi at 1:23 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


To clarify my second sentence: Il was in a position of power and --- even without turning North Korea into a western democracy -- could make the living conditions better.
posted by birdherder at 1:25 PM on December 19, 2011


Ivan Fyodorovich: " Yeah, so why do we have them? I can't see how they're not, as a group, the single most worthless posts and threads on MetaFilter.

I disagree. We've had this conversation before, more than once and I commented in that thread here.

It's not like people won't learn of these things otherwise—and, anyway, MeFi isn't a news site. And it's not like "good discussion happens in them", either—an argument often used to justify crappy posts.

This is a list of obits from the MeFi Wiki: Obituaries. I did a large part of the work in compiling that page. The other person who did a ton of work on it is RichardP.

There are posts there for people I've certainly never heard of. And a lot of other people who said they hadn't either. There are lengthy posts, short ones and in between. And links to the lives and stories of people, good and bad, who might otherwise have remained pretty obscure. Now they're part of Mefi's archives. And yes, most of those threads went smoothly, without rancor.

And, specifically, they cause a disproportionate amount of discord.

For some of them, their subjects did as well. But they don't have to. And frankly, if you're going to eliminate posts that cause a disproportionate amount of discord, then posts about politics should be first on the list, not obits 'cause politicalfilter is far more likely to get people shouting at each other.

Does anyone love obituary posts?

When they're done right? I do. Absolutely. Fascinating stuff. And I've done a few myself.
posted by zarq at 1:25 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


He inherited it, he didn't create it.

You are working awfully hard to defend this guy, who is, by all accounts of survivors who made it out of his regime, a monster.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:26 PM on December 19, 2011


I'd have trouble agreeing that obit posts provide very little good when comments
like this one, which came to mind immediately, are spurred by them.

Just this week I've also gotten reading recommendations thanks to obit threads -- reading that the guy who wrote "Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas" had died struck a chord, sure, but then seeing how people who'd read his other works reacted convinced me that I should seek out Russell Hoban's work.

There's value there.
posted by rewil at 1:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Il was in a position of power and --- even without turning North Korea into a western democracy -- could make the living conditions better.

But I think you can't know this: you're just hypothesizing without proving the "could' part of your statement. Unless you know something about the situation that most people don't.
posted by polymodus at 1:27 PM on December 19, 2011


I've had some time to think about this, and I think it's ok when someone like Kim dies to feel sorry for their family members, but I still think getting upset about people being happy that he is dead to be utterly sanctimonious and pretentious, the very worst qualities of this community. Then again, I had people telling me in a different internet forum back in 2005 that it was wrong for me to be happy that William Rehnquist was dead too, so I guess a lot of people could easily point to people like me being the worst of this community. Maybe I am missing some compassion gene or something. Either way, you can be damn sure I'm staying out of the future Dick Cheney obit thread.
posted by MattMangels at 1:29 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I give y'all to ppop on my grave regardless of my sins. I'll be orbiting Kepler-B in my new robot body, laughing at you poopin' suckers.
posted by angrycat at 1:30 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


He inherited it, he didn't create it.

He didn't exactly turn it down or do anything to fix it. But hey, I suppose he inherited his personality type too. empath, I have the greatest respect for you but I really think you should read up on the guy before you continue defending him as a helpless victim of circumstance. By most accounts he was a smart guy and very much in control of things.

And, specifically, they cause a disproportionate amount of discord.

From where I sit, most of the discord caused by obit threads comes from the folks who complain that Metafilter shouldn't have obit threads every single time there's an obit thread.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


We know that he ordered the torture and execution of political prisoners. Are you saying the idea that he could have chosen not to do that requires specific proof?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:33 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kim Jong Il died yesterday and everybody took a long, satisfying shit on his corpse.

I'm more offended by this than anything in the thread!
posted by thinkpiece at 1:34 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Il was in a position of power and --- even without turning North Korea into a western democracy -- could make the living conditions better.

But I think you can't know this: you're just hypothesizing without proving the "could' part of your statement. Unless you know something about the situation that most people don't.


There is some truly bizzare apologetic bullshit going on in this thread. The guy chose to spend his country's foreign reserves on weapons, not food. He chose to close the country off to trade. Stalin and Gorbachev both ran the Soviet Union. They were not equally evil. You don't need to be a crony of the Kim regime to know that he made things worse, not better, and that it could have been different if he'd wanted it to be.
posted by Dasein at 1:34 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


But I think you can't know this: you're just hypothesizing without proving the "could' part of your statement. Unless you know something about the situation that most people don't.

So are you.
posted by birdherder at 1:34 PM on December 19, 2011


I still think getting upset about people being happy that he is dead to be utterly sanctimonious and pretentious

Be as happy as you like. For me, it's all in how you express yourself -- don't be surprised if people think less of you for dropping the standards for discourse to the absolute lowest possible point.
posted by hermitosis at 1:35 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


before you continue defending him

I think the opposing frame of mind is not so much defending an individual who was most obviously a nexus of pain and suffering in this world, but objecting to the idea that it is interesting, necessary, or productive in attacking something in the first place.
posted by polymodus at 1:37 PM on December 19, 2011


He didn't exactly turn it down or do anything to fix it. But hey, I suppose he inherited his personality type too. empath, I have the greatest respect for you but I really think you should read up on the guy before you continue defending him as a helpless victim of circumstance

I'm not defending him as a helpless victim of circumstance, but the military would have just as soon assassinated him as let him 'reform' anything. Dictatorships don't really work that way, once the institutions are established.
posted by empath at 1:38 PM on December 19, 2011


Anything that encourages people to dehumanize others -- the poor, the despicable, the ill, the "other" -- merely perpetuates the kind of mentality that makes evil dictators possible.

I'm not constantly fighting to be seen as a fully-fledged human just so that I can earn the right to decide who's in my league and who isn't.


The part I don't get is sticking "the despicable" in with the poor and the ill. Some people really are not in your league, and Kim Jong-Il is one of them.

Judging people on the content of their character is not inherently bad just because some people are judged on shit that has nothing to do with anything.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:38 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was a lot of bumph to plow through, but some people gave interesting insights or personal stories — the good stuff I come to MeFi for.

He inherited it, he didn't create it.

The more I think about this statement, the more I like it. Because it applies to almost all of us. (For different values of 'it'.)

That's why I like the Jewish concept of tikkun olam. The job of repairing the world is all of ours.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:39 PM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Obit posts are terrible. Best case, you get a bunch of ritualistic blop and a bit of story time. It isn't even community-building ritualistic blop because it's all periods. Or, you get a bunch of not-very-good jokes and a bunch of other people having an enthusiastic prig-off. I guess occasionally there's a really good joke? I don't remember one offhand.

the only way to make them not exist is either deleting them all personally or creating an automated thing to do it.

If you killed obit posts, eventually people would stop posting them! And I don't see how getting rid of front-page-posts is more onerous than wading through and pruning their comments.
posted by furiousthought at 1:39 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me tell you all about an opposing frame of mind that is not interesting, necessary, or productive...
posted by Hoopo at 1:39 PM on December 19, 2011


There is some truly bizzare apologetic bullshit going on in this thread. The guy chose to spend his country's foreign reserves on weapons, not food. He chose to close the country off to trade.

His father created the military that ran the country, his father closed the country off to the outside world.

I'm not really apologizing for him. I just think he's not solely or even mostly responsible for the problems in NK.
posted by empath at 1:40 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The part I don't get is sticking "the despicable" in with the poor and the ill. Some people really are not in your league, and Kim Jong-Il is one of them.

I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I don't really believe this.

Judging people on the content of their character is not inherently bad just because some people are judged on shit that has nothing to do with anything.

How or whether one judges others isn't exactly the same as deciding exactly what one contributes to a public forum at the time of those others' passing. Anyhow, I think obits like these are one area in which MetaFilter fails to live up to the high standard for intellectualism or open-mindedness that it often prides itself on.
posted by hermitosis at 1:44 PM on December 19, 2011


I'm not defending him as a helpless victim of circumstance, but the military would have just as soon assassinated him as let him 'reform' anything.

Did you read the links I posted? The key one is the testimony from Hwang Jang-yop - here, let me pull out some quotes:

�� The elder Kim was mindful of advice from others, while Kim Jong-il is arrogant and self-centered in policy decision. In addition, the junior Kim does not take kindly to criticism or opinions different from his own, and all digression and dissent is answered by swift punishment.

�� Kim Jong-il micromanages every detail of government business from deciding the number of floors and rooms in houses for party secretaries to sending gifts to his subordinates.

�� Absolute obedience to Kim Jong-il is the only way to gain swift promotion within his power hierarchy. He also tends to dominate meetings and conferences, and to lead all discussion to conclusions congruent with his own.
...
�� The junior Kim wrested the post of party organization secretary from his uncle in September 1973, and solidified his status as heir by virtue of his entry to the politburo in February of the following year.

These are quotes from the highest ranking North Korean defector ever. Someone who personally taught Kim Jong-Il; someone who actually knows what he's talking about.

You can argue that the apparatus would have prevented him from being better than his father all you want - but someone who actually knew both of them and lived in their country explicitly says he was worse than his father.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:45 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


You can argue that the apparatus would have prevented him from being better than his father all you want - but someone who actually knew both of them and lived in their country explicitly says he was worse than his father.

Right, but what I'm saying is that if it hadn't been him, it would have been someone like him. He's a cog in a machine.
posted by empath at 1:47 PM on December 19, 2011


Ah, good times that Falwell thread!
posted by spitbull at 1:50 PM on December 19, 2011


Right, but what I'm saying is that if it hadn't been him, it would have been someone like him. He's a cog in a machine.
Sure, but it was him. So he's the despot. If it was someone else, they'd be the despot. You can hate the player and the game.
posted by birdherder at 1:51 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


LOL witty and humorous Kim, sorry about the millions dead.

Seriously, there are some damn preachy folks riding around on mighty high horses here. Kim was a monster, plain and simple. One does not mourn the passing of monsters.
posted by spitbull at 1:53 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, if getting rid of obituary posts is a non-starter, it's easy to see why the fight against newsfilter was lost a long, long time ago. Obituary posts epitomize everything that's wrong with newsfilter posts but with none of their (very few) redeeming values.

Ah, well.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:53 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seriously, there are some damn preachy folks riding around on mighty high horses here.

Who?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:54 PM on December 19, 2011


The part I don't get is sticking "the despicable" in with the poor and the ill. Some people really are not in your league, and Kim Jong-Il is one of them.

I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I don't really believe this.

We'll have to agree to disagree about your relative level of awesomeness compared to Kim Jong-Il.

Heh.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:56 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay, I give up, empath. I get you testimony direct from a North Korean defector saying that Kim Jong-il micromanaged that machine, that Kim Jong-il helped build that machine, and you tell me he was just a cog in it. You don't feel the need to produce any evidence to support your claim or even really acknowledge the evidence I'm showing you. I'm not sure why, but you're being pretty much textbook irrationally-impervious-to-reason about this, so I'm done.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:58 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I still think getting upset about people being happy that he is dead to be utterly sanctimonious and pretentious, the very worst qualities of this community.

That's outrageous!

Being insufferable know-it-alls and snobs is the worst quality of this community, being sanctimonious and pretentious is like second or third.
posted by Artw at 1:58 PM on December 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Okay, I give up, empath. I get you testimony direct from a North Korean defector saying that Kim Jong-il micromanaged that machine, that Kim Jong-il helped build that machine, and you tell me he was just a cog in it.

I think you are confusing a person's actions for their agency. It is a philosophical problem and I think this is where various viewpoints being shared now differ.
posted by polymodus at 2:02 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is a philosophical problem

Tell that to his victims.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tell that to his victims.

That's a separate issue and there's room for that too. Again this is lumping things together.
posted by polymodus at 2:06 PM on December 19, 2011


First obliquely referenced by Jessamyn, and then it was called out directly by Bitter Old Punk this morning.

I flagged both of the 'Asian people talk funny' comments and then criticised them in my contribution (strangely, it had never occurred to me before today that I might be confused with BitterOldPunk). Apologies if this made them harder to delete, but as Zarq points out it was seven hours after they were made and it's my understanding that the offensive/racism/sexism flag gets fairly immediate attention, so I assumed a decision had been made that they should stand.

As for the thread, there seemed to be a lot of lulz and uninformative noise. I think I have as low an opinion of the morals of the Kim family as anyone, but a lot of the rude and jokey comments in the thread were both insufficient to sum up the horror of North Korea and cheapening to Metafilter as a community, IMO. I agree with shakespeherian: I don't piss on evil people's graves; not because it shows a lack of respect for them, but because it shows a lack of respect for me.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:08 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Busy Old Fool: " (strangely, it had never occurred to me before today that I might be confused with BitterOldPunk). "

Ack. I'm sorry about that. I saw a three word name that started with "B" and apparently got confused.
posted by zarq at 2:10 PM on December 19, 2011


he's taking the Zen approach, polymodus. He's lumping the separate things together because the separate things are like a force of nature.
posted by Hoopo at 2:11 PM on December 19, 2011


As for the thread, there seemed to be a lot of lulz and uninformative noise. I think I have as low an opinion of the morals of the Kim family as anyone, but a lot of the rude and jokey comments in the thread were both insufficient to sum up the horror of North Korea and cheapening to Metafilter as a community, IMO. I agree with shakespeherian: I don't piss on evil people's graves; not because it shows a lack of respect for them, but because it shows a lack of respect for me.

It is very much about self respect. People who somehow concluded that some of us were "defending" KJL probably didn't look at it from this perspective.
posted by polymodus at 2:11 PM on December 19, 2011


If you were brought up in the USA - sure you would shit on the thread.

Another dictator dies naturally this time without intervention or war. Sounds more like a mob boss that got to florida to me.

For all the money, pressure, influence that went into and against him, his legacy stops at 69 years of age.

Some of us hope there will be change. But real change, not change as a sound-bite, nor one of many of his statues being torn down, will span a radical generational change in people.

The rest of us simply realise his death opens a new chapter and chance for hope.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 2:12 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


he's taking the Zen approach, polymodus. He's lumping the separate things together because the separate things are like a force of nature.

I don't think Zen is about literally treating things as monolithic. That is a stereotype. Besides, Zen is by no means the only valid way to think about things.
posted by polymodus at 2:13 PM on December 19, 2011


One final thing I'm going to add: I agree that user in-fighting and lizard-brain gloating over people dying doesn't make for a great discussion, but simply posting "." doesn't add anything to the discussion either. For some reason the mods only have a problem with one of these things.
posted by MattMangels at 2:15 PM on December 19, 2011


Saying something is "zen" is practically meaningless, really. There are so many interpretations and variations. Usually when I see it used, it's either some kind of lazy shorthand for being chilled out or else someone is trying to bludgeon you because you're not reverent.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:15 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I blame those little rakes.
posted by found missing at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was far more irritated by the lazy, lulzy, repetitive jokes than I was by the acrimony. I know the thread was moving quickly, but for the love of god, please at least ctrl-F before you post your groundbreakingly hilarious "haha I didn't even know he was Il!!!!! GEDDIT" joke.
posted by dialetheia at 2:21 PM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


You don't feel the need to produce any evidence to support your claim or even really acknowledge the evidence I'm showing you. I'm not sure why, but you're being pretty much textbook irrationally-impervious-to-reason about this, so I'm done.

I can read wikipedia, too. I'm just not a fan of the Great Man theory of history, and I don't think individuals make that much difference. Nothing is going to change in NK because of his death. It's a systemic problem, not a problem with one guy.
posted by empath at 2:22 PM on December 19, 2011


I was far more irritated by the lazy, lulzy, repetitive jokes than I was by the acrimony. I know the thread was moving quickly, but for the love of god, please at least ctrl-F before you post your groundbreakingly hilarious "haha I didn't even know he was Il!!!!! GEDDIT" joke.

Well, I do kinda wish I'd saved this one up for the meta thread.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on December 19, 2011


Christ, that Anna Nicole Smith thread is hideous. I can't say I was a fan of hers, but she died very young and her life had a tragic edge - her story is literally the stuff of opera.

I mean, I can imagine a debate like this about a figure like Jade Goody (who possibly didn't get an obit thread here, but she was a reality TV star known for being thick and (allegedly) racist, then died at 28 from cervical cancer which was fully documented in every single newspaper and magazine ever) or Princess Diana, but come on. We're not talking about someone who did a lot of work for charidee here.
posted by mippy at 2:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was far more irritated by the lazy, lulzy, repetitive jokes than I was by the acrimony. Yes, I was too. At the time I read it, there were a few good, context-adding and informed comments, a few hopeful ones and lots of arguing over respect, all hidden amongst tons of jokes that were nearly all the same pun. I like good puns and I love bad puns, but these were so meh/lazy as to not even register as either. Of course, if you start to delete the (duplicate) jokes you get a 1000 comment Meta post raging about it and we've already had that this week.
posted by soelo at 2:29 PM on December 19, 2011


MattMangels: "One final thing I'm going to add: I agree that user in-fighting and lizard-brain gloating over people dying doesn't make for a great discussion, but simply posting "." doesn't add anything to the discussion either. For some reason the mods only have a problem with one of these things."

There's a greasemonkey script that allows you to remove them. And of course, a wiki page on the topic, complete with links to previous MeTa complaint threads
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


else someone is trying to bludgeon you because you're not reverent.

I don't know how you came to that interpretation. I was speaking my point of view, giving a series of basic remarks that were open to further discussion. Nowhere did I say some of the jokes weren't funny.
posted by polymodus at 2:30 PM on December 19, 2011


That's a separate issue and there's room for that too.

There's nothing separate about it. You and someone else have made a series of comments in this thread that try to reconceptualize and forgive his actions, as if he has always been carried along by forces greater than himself, never once being in control of his faculties or choices. Being learned and somewhat familiar with the subject, it is offensive to reinvent the Kim Jong Il years as some detached abstraction of a Greek tragedy, at the least, and the height of arrogance and stupidity to equate his condition with that of his powerless victims.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:32 PM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]




...It's JERRY Falwell, isn't it? Crap.

And yet in getting his name wrong, you've accomplished more than any shit-dumping obit thread could accomplish -- you've accelerated his ego's journey to oblivion.

Half-forgotten already.
posted by philip-random at 2:42 PM on December 19, 2011


I don't piss on evil people's graves

But it's got a good beat and I can dance to it
posted by Hoopo at 2:45 PM on December 19, 2011


Well now we get a chance to be nice. Jon BonJovi just died.
posted by spitbull at 2:47 PM on December 19, 2011


Hi, addressing each of your points:

I don't condone his actions. How did you conclude this?

I didn't say that a structuralist interpretation was the only interpretation. I pointed out that the individualistic interpretation of causality cannot stand alone, fundamentally because people are not closed systems. And therefore some of the cited condescension/snideness in the main thread leaves something to be desired. Especially when it came from those who were not actual Koreans.

I think it is kind of uncritical to not use literature as a source of perspective and understanding. It is not about trying to fit the story of North Korea into a particular kind of ancient story, but rather using the valuable ideas in those story to inform modern politics and the human condition.

This is the crucial point of difference:
the height of arrogance and stupidity to equate his condition with that of his powerless victims.

This assumes the two are comparable. But by what metric? It is sloppy thinking.
posted by polymodus at 2:49 PM on December 19, 2011


Bet you a dollar that's a hoax.
posted by rtha at 2:49 PM on December 19, 2011


(that was to spitbull)
posted by rtha at 2:50 PM on December 19, 2011


Yeah sorry only had it from one source. Sorry if I was suckered.
posted by spitbull at 2:51 PM on December 19, 2011


Jon Bon Jovi has caused considerable suffering in this world. I just thought I'd get that in before it gets deleted from his upcoming (I hope in the far future) obit thread.
posted by found missing at 2:54 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not wanting to get into an analysis of whether the Kim Jong-il obit thread was appropriate or not, but I just want to say that I was shocked and a little disappointed to find a thread with a tone as crowing and coarse as that on the blue.

I'm no fan of dictators, but that left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps I'm being naive, but somehow (and I'm not even really sure why) I sort of assumed we were above that kind of thing.
posted by Chairboy at 2:55 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without Bon Jovi there would be no this.
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


found missing: "Jon Bon Jovi has caused considerable suffering in this world."

He's a figurehead. Richie Sambora was the evil mastermind behind I can't even finish that sentence without laughing.
posted by zarq at 2:57 PM on December 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Jon Bon Jovi has caused considerable suffering in this world.

Yup, speaking purely subjectively, the man cost me far more grief and pain than Kim Jong Il.
posted by philip-random at 2:59 PM on December 19, 2011


I can't believe this was a MetaFilter thread.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:01 PM on December 19, 2011


Without Bon Jovi there would be no this

F*** I hate Ecstasy.
posted by philip-random at 3:01 PM on December 19, 2011


I'm no fan of dictators, but that left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps I'm being naive, but somehow (and I'm not even really sure why) I sort of assumed we were above that kind of thing.

You ever had a ballistic missile fired at you just for lulz? I have.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:02 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't believe you played the ballistic missile card.
posted by found missing at 3:04 PM on December 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


In addition to the Kim Jong Il post, the front page currently shows obit posts for Warren Hellman and Václav Havel, both of which seem to be going just fine. And one of those two people I would not have heard of without the post. I think they pretty well refute the "obit posts are worthless" arguments here.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:06 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


F*** I hate Ecstasy.

It was really awesome the first time they did the Belinda Carlisle Bon Jovi thing 15 years ago.
posted by empath at 3:10 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate: If you like hagiography, yes. Where is the reasoned critique of Havel, for instance? It isn't there because it doesn't fit the room. Echo chamber.
posted by found missing at 3:10 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right, I said I was done with this thread, I'll just drop a couple more links here, for more info on Hwang Jang-yop.

And I guess I'll admit I wonder why the folks so willing to minimize Kim Jong-il's personal responsibility for unspeakably heinous crimes and consider them to be "systemic" instead aren't willing to minimize MeFite's personal responsibility for trashing him in an obit post. It's systemic, really; the whole of Western culture hates and parodies Kim Jong-il so those posters can't really be blamed! And if it hadn't been them it would've just been somebody else, right? Am I doing this right, guys?
posted by mstokes650 at 3:11 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh?

Oh.

No, I didn't comment in the obit thread. Not because I believe all living things are deserving of respect (I don't) but because I'd spent the previous hour or so on Twitter making terrible Kim Jong Il puns and gleefully desecrating that evil fuck's bloated corpse and I was all tapped out.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:12 PM on December 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


It was really awesome the first time they did the Belinda Carlisle Bon Jovi thing 15 years ago.

Oh great, remind me of age and the inevitability of death why don't you! I hardly think this is the thread for that.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2011


What was that (probably Boing Boing derived) post about new fashionable hackers and that one person who "hacked everything they touched"?
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on December 19, 2011


wrong thread
posted by Artw at 3:15 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where is the reasoned critique of Havel, for instance? It isn't there because it doesn't fit the room.

It isn't there because no one's posted it. The thread's still open. What are you waiting for?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:16 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bon Jovi is not dead.
posted by soelo at 3:16 PM on December 19, 2011


Some of the later Frank Zappa albums he most likely admired were utterly pretentious jazz wank! Ha!
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


It isn't there b/c it would totally be deleted.
posted by found missing at 3:17 PM on December 19, 2011


I am one who said I would spit on his grave (I did not say piss, but anyway) and I sincerely apologize if I offended anyone or "lowered the discourse"...

I curse occasionally, and I said the mo-fo word in my comment. I was angry and overjoyed at the same time. If it bothered you, I really am sorry. If it lowered the discourse here, I apologize to all who were affected by my coarse, unintelligent, disgusting celebration of death.

But really, I cried and cried and cried after doing just a tiny bit of research on Kim Jong Il and North Korea. I have donated money to the causes I feel are helping the refugees. I educate people where I can about what is going on there.

I was coarse, because my feelings about it are very coarse. There is no gray area here for me. I would (metaphorically) spit on his grave, and if you think it's got to do with a lack of self-respect, I'll ask you to think again. It's more like a rage and a powerlessness.

I get what people are saying about mob mentality, and there is no way I would have personally gone along with a mob to physically harm another person, but as far as respect, I respect people when they are respectable.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:18 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is an AMA on Reddit posted a week ago:

I am an American citizen who travels to North Korea each year. I have done so since 2008 and have a total of 38 days in the country.

Why do you travel to North Korea? There are a number of reasons for me. The first is that I have traveled all over the socialist bloc in the old days and North Korea is the last one standing. I was raised as an Army brat and saw the Cold War from the other side. I have a degree in East Asian politics and this was only natural to want to go after traveling China in the old days. I also have a disdain for "experts" of any kind that have never set foot in the society they are studying. (This was very common during the Cold War and with North Korea.)...

What are you allowed to photograph? One of the reasons I go is to document the society. I have taken 20,000 photos. The photo restrictions are the toughest I have encountered. I used to tour Eastern Europe on my own as well as the USSR but this is something different. In Cuba they do not care what you shoot. Here you will have minders and it can be difficult. I want to take photos of the Korean people and their lives. That is not always possible. They will not shoot you but they will threaten or get others in the group to talk to you.

posted by futz at 3:19 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


aren't willing to minimize MeFite's personal responsibility for trashing him in an obit post

Has anyone asserted that it is your "fault" for thinking a certain way? No. Another key difference is that non of us here are or were in a dialog with Kim Jong-Il.
posted by polymodus at 3:19 PM on December 19, 2011


Interestingly enough, from August 2010:

rollbiz: When Dick Cheney kicks the bucket, I don't promise to behave

Gator: Is this actually okay? Is this what we have to look forward to when other undesirables die, like Phelps, Coulter, Kim Jong Il, Rod Stewart?

Jessamyn: No, it's not.


Also:

Jessamyn: I don't care about niceness so much as the general site reputation as being totally full of social misfit assholes. The "I piss on your grave" stuff wouldn't be okay in other threads--we generally delete crap along the lines of "I hope someone harms/kills them"--and I don't see that it should be different just because it's an obit thread and Stevens was a jerk. Want to talk about the guy and about his legacy, even if it's in unflattering terms, fine. Want to make a winky joke about what a fucker he was and then ask me if that's okay, I'll say it's not.

This has nothing to do, to my mind, about not saying the guy was a scumbag, it's about not having the thread become a circle jerk to see who can be more fuckery in an obit thread where other people are doing the normal discussion, sharing comments, talking about stuff types of things. Don't get me wrong, my personal political viewpoints along these lines are much more like "kill 'em all" but I have a vested interest in not having this place turn into the place where people get their hate/fight on about dead people, religion, monogamy or whatever the topic du jour is.

posted by zarq at 3:20 PM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


It isn't there b/c it would totally be deleted.

If by "it" you are referring to "reasoned critique," that is a flat out lie. Does cheap snark get deleted from obit threads? Sure. Reasoned critique of the recently deceased? I am unaware of a single instance where such has been deleted from an obit thread.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2011


soelo: "Bon Jovi is not dead."

Is this the place where I can complain about that?

I'm Kidding!
posted by zarq at 3:24 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If this were Ask MetaFilter, I would go to Grinxtdr's comment and click "Mark as Best Answer".
posted by MattMangels at 3:25 PM on December 19, 2011


I don't care about Kim Jong Il or what people say about him. I'd just like to point out that Metafilter's reaction to his death is really no different from the bloodthirsty howling that we ridicule Teabaggers and Republicans for.

You know who your enemies are! Howl yourselves hoarse! I'm sure the men in charge will be delighted to discover that even Metafilter can be brought to hate on cue.
posted by klanawa at 3:25 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

Can anyone explain it proper obit thread behavior to me like I'm a six year old?
You know that joke about how everyone driving slower than you is an idiot and everyone driving faster is a maniac?

It's like that, except with schadenfreude instead of speed.
posted by roystgnr at 3:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


Bon Jovi is not dead.

Here's the thing. A younger I might've cheered the sudden death of Mr. Jovi. But how wrong I would've been. Because in no time, we'd be deluged with all manner of fond fucking king of the big-haired power wimp memories.

Nah, long life, Bon Jon. May you find the deep obscurity you so richly deserve.
posted by philip-random at 3:29 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This death deserves an obituary and treatment as a news event. Setting aside the question of whether it's seemly to celebrate a man's death, we don't know what his death means for the people he's persecuted and who continue to suffer. What we do know is that Koreans are entering the unknown. It is premature to celebrate the ending of an era.

Some of the reaction I've seen here reminds me of the excitement in the US press over the images of Iraqis celebrating the "fall" of Baghdad, and reactions on the internet to the death of Osama bin Ladin. A bad guy is gone, but surely there's more to say than that?

My ideal thread would try to make sense out of what we're seeing: contain links to informed discussion of the man's life and the consequences of his death.

The jokes in that thread are the same jokes trotted out today on far-right websites.
posted by vincele at 3:34 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


we ridicule Teabaggers and Republicans for ... even Metafilter can be brought to hate
We don't all do these things. We are a community with many diverse opinions and emotions.

Hate can be ugly, but can we stop shaming people who admit to hating someone for their despicable actions? You may believe that hate is the source of evil in the world. I personally believe greed (for wealth or power) is the source of more evil and that hate is sometimes constructively turned into justice. You may say you dislike someone or something and I may say I hate it. It's just a word used to describe an emotion. A word that should not inspire the fear that it does, in my opinion.
posted by soelo at 3:37 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay if he hadn't died - if there was just a post about him. A post to that "Looking at Things" Tumblr. A serious post about conditions in North Korea. The thread would, predictably be full of ridicule and criticism. I can guarantee there wouldn't have been people shouting that the man be shown some respect; there wouldn't have been this Metatalk thread.

So why are we allowed to criticize him when he's alive, but when he's dead (of natural causes, at a fair age, in comfort and luxury no less) suddenly we have to shut up? It's just death. It happens. His legacy continues. Say what you want about him, he doesn't give a shit anymore.
posted by Jimbob at 3:37 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Howl yourselves hoarse! I'm sure the men in charge will be delighted to discover that even Metafilter can be brought to hate on cue.

Perhaps, but the men in charge don't have to worry at all about people who can never be roused to anger, so as long as you're dealing in absolutes you pick your poison, eh?

Whatever, that's stupid if you think about it at all for a second. The people in charge don't care either way.
posted by furiousthought at 3:38 PM on December 19, 2011


It isn't there b/c it would totally be deleted.

For what would it be deleted? The Hitchens obit thread, last time I looked at it, was full of dots, people saying how awesome he was, and people saying they didn't like him at all for the following reasons. It didn't seem to be full of people being assholes to each other.
posted by rtha at 3:43 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to point out that Metafilter's reaction to his death is really no different from the bloodthirsty howling that we ridicule Teabaggers and Republicans for.

Well there's a teensy tiny difference. We had that reaction because he was a cruel murderous dictator. Right-wingers start the bloodthirsty howling when someone tries to improve America's broken health care system or says that man-made climate change is real.

Honestly, what are you people trying to prove with comments like this?
posted by MattMangels at 3:48 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


that we're bad people and we should feel bad, of course
posted by Hoopo at 3:52 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


...It's JERRY Falwell, isn't it? Crap.

That guy that Stephen King played in Creepshow? Pretty sure that was Jordy Falwell.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:54 PM on December 19, 2011


If by "it" you are referring to "reasoned critique," that is a flat out lie. Does cheap snark get deleted from obit threads? Sure. Reasoned critique of the recently deceased? I am unaware of a single instance where such has been deleted from an obit thread.

Kind of hard to monitor what isn't in threads anymore. But, remember that Harry Morgan obit thread? Where someone brought up a matter of domestic abuse? Well, that was factual and I don't think it was cheap snark. But it was deleted. I guess the rules aren't clear to me, although they seem clear to others.
posted by found missing at 3:54 PM on December 19, 2011


They come in force with sharpened swords,
Those knights their noble weapons bear
And bark their battle, voices strained,
All quick to speak but long to hear.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:58 PM on December 19, 2011


I believe celebrations over people's deaths should only be done IRL. Posting about it just seems too distant.
posted by fuq at 4:01 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think you people even know what you're arguing about any more. Seriously.

If it's not holier than thou bullshit, the weird calls of racism, or frankly astonishing attempts to out-intellectualise each other, then it's bringing up comments made in the past without properly contextualising them in the arena of "this is a difficult juggling act, and we're doing the best we can."

/cue outrage at which ever part of the above statement gives you enough of an argument boner to continue this utterly pointless use of bandwidth.
posted by seanyboy at 4:01 PM on December 19, 2011


Is it ironic to post a confrontational comment in a thread you call pointless?
posted by found missing at 4:05 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where someone brought up a matter of domestic abuse? Well, that was factual and I don't think it was cheap snark. But it was deleted.

It was presented horribly, right out the gate. We were clear to the commenter that if they really wanted to have a conversation about that they could so but they had to try a little bit harder than a driveby one-liner.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:06 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was a lot in the Kim thread that was presented horribly, and right out of the gate.
posted by found missing at 4:15 PM on December 19, 2011


Well there's a teensy tiny difference. We had that reaction because he was a cruel murderous dictator. Right-wingers start the bloodthirsty howling when someone tries to improve America's broken health care system or says that man-made climate change is real.

Going to point out that your own explanation is based on internal knowledge and judgment, whereas in the following sentence your explanation of the behavior of others is based on an external correlation rather than their corresponding internal reasoning. I question the accuracy of such comparisons because this kind of informational asymmetry in human cognition has been studied by psychologists; it is known to have implications towards how people understand and resolve conflicting ideas.
posted by polymodus at 4:16 PM on December 19, 2011


Mine seemed to be one of the comments that got people riled up. To reiterate, I did not say I wanted to piss on his grave. That is not accurate, but pretty close.

I did link to Seoul Train so perhaps you can overlook my language and watch the documentary.

Since I put my money where my mouth is in regards to helping the people of NK, I won't feel too terribly bad about it what I said. I believe that Metafilter will survive it. I have faith.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 4:17 PM on December 19, 2011


simply posting "." doesn't add anything to the discussion either. For some reason the mods only have a problem with one of these things.

Telling people to cram the dots up their ass is arguably worse than the dot. That is what you said, that was the first comment I deleted from the thread and when I left the "go to MetaTalk" comment. If you don't like the site conventions, that's your business, but the dot is a long standing site convention.

Where someone brought up a matter of domestic abuse?

Someone did that, later in the thread, and it was fine. Early single-note "he was a wife beater" comments in an obit thread where people are like "gee that's too bad" is the definition of threadshitting. There are ways to get across the same content without seeming like a misanthropic asshole.

Interestingly enough, from August 2010

And this is why we don't like to play the "Well how is this going to work in the future when THIS THING happens, huh?" game. So hey it's a year and a half later and Kim Jong Il dies and the site response is depressing. Guess I was overly optimistic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:18 PM on December 19, 2011


You know who else drunk all the Hennessey you had on your shelf? Y
posted by Burhanistan at 4:19 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it Julian?
posted by found missing at 4:20 PM on December 19, 2011


Y the Last Man drank all the Hennessey?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:21 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stupid tablet keyboard.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:23 PM on December 19, 2011


your own explanation is based on internal knowledge and judgment, whereas in the following sentence your explanation of the behavior of others is based on an external correlation rather than their corresponding internal reasoning

Are you Spock?
posted by Hoopo at 4:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Going to point out that your own explanation is based on internal knowledge and judgment, whereas in the following sentence your explanation of the behavior of others is based on an external correlation rather than their corresponding internal reasoning. I question the accuracy of such comparisons because this kind of informational asymmetry in human cognition has been studied by psychologists; it is known to have implications towards how people understand and resolve conflicting ideas.

You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down and you see a tortoise, polymodus, it's crawling towards you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back, polymodus. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping. Why is that, polymodus?
posted by mstokes650 at 4:27 PM on December 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


dammit Hoopo!
posted by mstokes650 at 4:28 PM on December 19, 2011


If Kim Jong-Il's death is creating this much turmoil and confusion on MetaFilter, we can only guess at the chaos that is occurring behind the scenes on the private UN Security Council IRC chat channel.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:33 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Zarq's quote from the past is critical to this discussion. The perspective expressed in that comment is very different than how it seems to be handled now. I like what was said in that quote.
posted by tomswift at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing bothered me most was the (mostly, not uniformly) high levels of ignorance proudly on display. Judging by many of the comments, most mefites know shit-all about North Korea or Kim Jong Il.

Of course, this doesn't stop people from commenting in most threads - obit or not - but for me it's particularly distasteful to see this Yahoo braying, as if commenters are not only comfortable, but actually proud of their insular and blinkered worldview. It's one thing to say, "Well, I don't know much about North Korea, but he sure seemed a right bastard.", and another to be all "Hahaha! He talks funny! Stupid Asian Bogeyman is dead! Here's some soundbites America has used for every dictator we hate for the last sixty years and some kind of garbled anecdote I half-remembered from Sixty Minutes in 1998! Evil! Woo!"

That is just meh. I'm not concerned about Kim Jong Il and respect and what-not, but that kind of arrant cheer-leading-blase-ignorance-tabloid-circlejerk is a shame. There's an interesting convo to be had about it - and a few commenters were having it, but the signal to noise ratio is awfully high.
posted by smoke at 4:36 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Obit threads are universally terrible. The only time they don't 100% suck is the rare occasions when someone actually puts a little effort into the initial post. The comments themselves are always, always, always shit.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2011


And trying to find consistency in how people deal with obit threads is futile at best.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:40 PM on December 19, 2011


"Well, I don't know much about North Korea, but he sure seemed a right bastard."

I would not claim to be an expert on North Korea, but I maintain an interest in current affairs, bastardry and ridiculous freaks, and that Kim Jong Il was a horrible little bastard would be my take away too. Are they wrong? Or just right by mistake?
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on December 19, 2011


If you look at the nytimes comments (sorted by reader's picks), they are quite good. There, I drew the comparison. reddit.com was half jokes, half sincere attempts at sharing info and analysis. Haven't yet checked out the other online forums.
posted by polymodus at 4:43 PM on December 19, 2011


reddit.com was half jokes, half sincere attempts at sharing info and analysis.

And also this... Kim Jung Il died recently and as a brony thats going to head back to Korea in a few days I'm scared
posted by Artw at 4:46 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The perspective expressed in that comment is very different than how it seems to be handled now.

The perspective was an optimistic best guess on something that didn't happen like we planned. Obit threads rarely do and our response has a lot to do with who is around and the snap judgments that we have to make. Sorry you didn't like them. Most of the modding stuff we do isn't quite so time sensitive, obit threads are so there's going to be a little more range in how they go down there modwise.

However, userbasewise, more people seemed to want the Kim Jong Il thread to be what it turned into, so we didn't preemptively moderate it too much. People didn't flag the steady stream of "fuck that guy" comments. We deleted maybe 10 out of 430 comments [one of which was a Kickstarter plug, one of which was a series of typos, several of which were personal attacks and responses to them]. This thread is the flip-side of the "taz deleted too much" thread. We left that thread basically alone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:51 PM on December 19, 2011


Fwiw, I thought y'all handled both threads consistently.and was trying to point that out. Site reaction: consistent. Mod reaction: consistent.
posted by zarq at 4:57 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I began about three different comments in that thread before I realized that I didn't give a flying fuck that he was dead. Fuck Kim Jong Il and his whole family forever. But it seemed the wrong place to say thatand I certainly wasn't going to honor him with a peeble so, I had nothing to contribute and moved on.

So thanks for this thread to be able to say that Falamuefilho, but the man was and is inseparable from issues in North Korea, and I think many people stuck to talking about his death in terms of what that means for that nation, and that region, and U.S. policy in that regard, and yeah some shots were taken, it's entirely to be expected.

Let's all move on, this shouldn't turn into a MeTa mess, as tends to happen sometimes with these hard delicate ethical questions.
posted by Skygazer at 5:03 PM on December 19, 2011


and another to be all "Hahaha! He talks funny! Stupid Asian Bogeyman is dead!

I'll still take that over what Scientific American's got.
posted by Hoopo at 5:04 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"not having this place turn into the place where people get their hate/fight on about dead people"

I'm still voting for that philosophy...
posted by tomswift at 5:07 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll still take that over what Scientific American's got.

Oh lordy. I agree.
posted by smoke at 5:09 PM on December 19, 2011


This thread is the flip-side of the "taz deleted too much" thread.

shh, quit giving people ideas for their next taz callout
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


One night, I was sleeping next to my man. The phone rang. It was my daughter.

"Mom, I'm in labor, I need you to come now!" she said.

I turned to my partner. "Don't expect me to go out at this time of night," he answered.

I was afraid of driving two hours in the dark by myself, but I did. I got to the hospital, and warily greeted my daughter's partner, whom I did not approve of, him being much older than she, and being a disagreeable sort of man altogether. Still, he seemed concerned and he was there.

After many hours, my daughter gave birth to a wee son. He was perfect, this little baby. So tiny, yet perfect in form.

Unfortunately, he was too little to survive, the poor little guy. They dressed him in a gown and bonnet and the chaplain was called. My daughter held him in her arms, and then they laid him in a bassinet. She spoke words over him and I felt his soul go up to Heaven, wherever that is. Then the little guy was gone, poor little thing, his lungs weren't developed enough, so he had no chance. We had a funeral.

Later, I learned that this guy, my daughter's partner, had beat her and thrown her up against the wall. And admonished her for not going up and down the stairs with groceries. She was advised bedrest from five months on, and yet this guy, who was much older, had made her babysit other kids from their building, and she had lifted toddlers and such when she was supposed to be on bed rest. And this man had the nerve to act concerned when my daughter asked me to go to one of her pre-natal visits.

He has since taken off to California. And tried to marry young girls in Reno, who have contacted my daughter because he was trying to marry illegally.

I say, yes. I have read about Kim Jong Il many times, and how he killed his own people with an EMP bomb while he hid underground. And none of them should have died, as my little grandbaby should not have died. But they did, and it was a result of cruelty. A lack of empathy toward another human being.

I can't pretend to know what drive these people, the abusers of humankind. We an excuse it all we want, but it still comes down to the fact that they killed another with zero empathy. One, or a million, it is wrong. And we stand by and let it happen. Who is the real killer here? Us, or us who watches the act and lets it happen?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:57 PM on December 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Sorry for my typos. Fill in the blanks.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2011


The moralizations about this person not deserving respect or dignity are completely subjective and offer nothing to intellectual discourse.

You know, I posted a personal anecdote earlier in this thread, and perhaps where I missed the mark was pointing out how much what I am expressing is based on how I feel about the guy. I knew a couple of kids back in the day and thus, the North Korean experience resonates more with me than, say, the Tutsis of Rwanda did. I hate him. I only met two of the people affected by him, but their struggle was enough to know I hate him for what he did to them.

This is where I have a problem with your entire poetic waxing in this thread; you're invalidating emotional expression as "unprofessional" and offering "nothing to intellectual discourse." People often use "professionalism" as a cover to subvert emotional or subjective responses in situations where they don't like them.

Death is an emotional trigger for many people and some of those emotions are messy. I don't appreciate all of the jokes in the thread, but that's my subjective opinion. "Professionalism" is an attempt to box things into your own opinion of what is right and what is wrong and to label it as something else.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


WTF?
posted by gertzedek at 6:24 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jimbob: So why are we allowed to criticize him when he's alive, but when he's dead [...] suddenly we have to shut up? It's just death. It happens.

I'm not speaking for myself here, which is always risky, but: Lots of people think death is sacred.
posted by stebulus at 6:25 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I don't think cheering the death of an evil person is a bad thing, I do think it's a bit misguided in this case, as his death changes nothing for the North Korean people or North Korea's neighbors for the better. And especially since, if you take it all the circumstances of his death into account, it's essentially, "Kil Jong Il died old, free, in the lap of luxury, and leaving behind a domestic and foreign policy which will at the very least stay exactly the same - woo hoo!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:39 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


All I know is, KJI's death is and was big news in Japan, so participating in the obit thread didn't seem particularly unusual to me. He's also been more than some sort of abstract bogeyman here - KJI and his regime have represented a clear and present danger to all Japanese folks, especially since the bastards started lobbing ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, and, more recently, over Japan into the Pacific Ocean. There's also a large ethnic Korean community in Japan, especially in the Kansai region, and especially in the small town where I live. So I can't understand why we have to leave a simple "." for this guy. But then I remembered that most MeFites probably have little background knowledge about North Korea.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:41 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I think you are confusing a person's actions for their agency. It is a philosophical problem and I think this is where various viewpoints being shared now differ."

Look, I jerk off by making snarky comments about dead dictators; you jerk off by positing sanctimonious philosophical wankery. At the very least, have the decency to recognize that the same deterministic apologetics you trot out for Kim impel my fingers to take the piss outta ya.
posted by klangklangston at 7:42 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or maybe you could both jerk off elsewhere?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't. I might have to eat the biscuit.
posted by klangklangston at 7:52 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hitler was an animal lover.
posted by bardic at 8:10 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Klang, I think you are being trolled. I flagged two of polymodus' comments in this thread; I just can't see him as anything other than a troll with a thesaurus. His most recent comment was actually kind of funny.
posted by MattMangels at 8:11 PM on December 19, 2011


What i want to know is whether taking a long satisfying shit on a corpse necrophilia, or coprophilia?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:11 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or maybe you could both jerk off elsewhere?

Is this referring to something I said? I would appreciate a clarification.

Look, I jerk off by making snarky comments about dead dictators; you jerk off by positing sanctimonious philosophical wankery. At the very least, have the decency to recognize that the same deterministic apologetics you trot out for Kim impel my fingers to take the piss outta ya.

You are being mean. You have just made personal attacks as well as threatened me physically. If you disagree with something I said, then please just say so directly, either here or privately. I am not one to walk away from the possibility of productive exchange.
posted by polymodus at 8:30 PM on December 19, 2011


Ahh the holidays, when mefites have the time to pick fights over a dead dictator.
posted by iamabot at 8:32 PM on December 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


threatened me physically

Can you point to exactly where this happened? "Take the piss outta ya" is not a physical threat.
posted by spaltavian at 8:42 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ahh the holidays, when mefites have the time to pick fights over a dead dictator.

Better than fighting with your relatives.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:46 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Klang, a catheter works better.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:47 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Better than fighting with your relatives.


I considered that, and the fact that in 3 days I will be trapped with 12 of them in a remote cabin in the woods for 10 days, and I think it's probably still preferable to argue with them than slap fight on the internet about some dead asshole.
posted by iamabot at 8:47 PM on December 19, 2011


I'm not a huge fan of Orson Scott Card (google Card and homophobia), but I will admit to being a fan of his "Speaker for the Dead" concept. Metafilter is not a funeral home or family website - it's a place where people post links that may be of interest and worthy of discussion. The best obituary threads on Metafilter are the ones that discuss both the good and the bad of the deceased's life. This pressure to only say nice or respectful things about the dead is a profound misunderstanding of why obituary threads exist, I think, and why they're posted on Metafilter.

These threads are a memorialization, to be sure, but a memorialization of how the community views the entirety of a person's life - both the good and the bad. For some people, the bad heavily outweighs any good the deceased may have done. The vast majority of people are not saints, and they don't deserve to be treated as though they were (saints are pretty dull in any case - the person of alloyed character is usually far more interesting). Commenting about the negative in a person's life, character or actions is not disrespectful of the dead or of the site. Rather it's a good discussion, which is one of the best features of Metafilter, and one I hope continues in the future.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:50 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


And, BTW, I think polymodus is the one taking the mickey (as it were) this time. He doesn't strike me as one to be so painfully literal.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:54 PM on December 19, 2011


The good thing about Kim Jung-Il's life is that he worked on behalf of the people with the strength of one thousand hearts, while singing the song of one thousand cranes. His eyes shone like rainbows as he instructed the disabled veterans on how to fabricate better rubber boots for the workers. His touch was the fluttering of one thousand sparrows, his breath the ripening of one thousand sheaves of wheat... Those are some of the good things I remember.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:58 PM on December 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


futz: If joking around was ok in the "end of the world methane" thread it should be fine in the "Il is dead" thread too.

But fifty-eight jokes from the methane thread were removed. I'm not sure how you get the idea-- oh, ok, I think I see what you mean. Again, those jokes were mostly of the laugh-so-as-not-to-despair variety (about a potentially extinction-level natural phenomena), whereas here we're talking about a dead individual, and the jokes are of the "ha ha, so ronery" variety.

Like somebody else said upthread, it's got nothing to do with respecting Jong-Il, it's about respecting oneself and the community.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:02 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


> You have just made personal attacks as well as threatened me physically.

You're seriously pinging the troll meter with that. He was joking about a circle jerk.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:26 PM on December 19, 2011


"I am not one to walk away from the possibility of productive exchange."

oh god he's jerking the other one what with the bells on it
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're seriously pinging the troll meter with that. He was joking about a circle jerk.


spaltavian pointed out that it was an idiom. So I guess this is just another instance of how internet conversations can be so easily misunderstood. Can we rewind that? Thanks.
posted by polymodus at 9:44 PM on December 19, 2011



However, userbasewise, more people seemed to want the Kim Jong Il thread to be what it turned into, so we didn't preemptively moderate it too much.

I've encountered at least one mod saying this ain't Fark, but the KJI thread and the methane thread were more than a little Fark-esque and the Anna Nicole thread was an embarrassment.

As much as there may be a tricky balance 'tween moderation and what people want, seems like if people want Farked-up threads, there's a decent chance they'll get 'em?
posted by ambient2 at 10:14 PM on December 19, 2011


This thread is the flip-side of the "taz deleted too much" thread. We left that thread basically alone.

Is this supposed to be some sort of "See, this is what happens when we don't delete things" experiment? If so I think you're still missing the point.
posted by Big_B at 10:29 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, it's a practical example of the fact that there is variation in how much hands-on time different threads get because conditions and circumstances vary. Sunday was a lower-availability day for random real life reasons than would be normal even for a weekend at this point, and that combined with a super-provocative but low-discussion-potential death news thread lead to a lot of noise of the sort that I don't think any of is really inclined to defend as Metafilter doing a good job.

It was not an exercise in making a point by intentionally abandoning a thread, jessamyn is just pointing out the contrast in the situations that did arise organically, and it's a reasonable thing to emphasize as far as the difficulty of finding any kind of magic bullet approach to lulzy thread dynamics.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh shut up with this "everyone is human" crap. Kim Jong Il is the rare instance where the dude the media machine tells us is the bad guy IS ACTUALLY THE BAD GUY. So shut up and let us enjoy our fun, OKAY?!
posted by Afroblanco at 11:19 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kim Jong Il died yesterday and everybody took a long, satisfying shit on his corpse. Some were confused about why was this OK, though.

Because he shat upon the mangled, emaciated, tortured corpses of millions. And that's just in his own country, leaving apart the people that he personally had kidnapped, murdered, bombed, torpedoed or shelled abroad.

Is it right to shit on the corpse of someone like that? Most certainly: My only regret is that I can only do it metaphorically, not literally.

Respect can be earned or lost. Before his demise Kim Jong-Il was a disgusting human being. Now he's a disgusting pile of decaying flesh. I don't see why merely by dying he should have earned the respect that he didn't deserve in life. Besides, he already has the entire population of North Korea to "mourn" him, he doesn't need or deserve my respect on top of that.
posted by Skeptic at 1:16 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every living thing is deserving of respect.

Well, no - certainly, all people (I'll assume we're not talking about plants here) have a right to live, and I have a duty to respect that right, but I don't have a duty to respect all people in general (whatever that might mean). Indeed, if a person is as reprehensible as Kim, I have a duty to oppose and denounce them in the strongest terms, to want them to be brought to justice, and to be punished for their crimes.

A person's actions can be reprehensible and worthy of condemnation, but life itself is precious and deserves our consideration.

We're not talking about taking his life, or about violating his rights. He's just dead, and now that he is, the sanctity of life doesn't really enter into it, and nor does the fact that he once had functioning respiratory and nervous systems.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:53 AM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I'm not a huge fan of Orson Scott Card (google Card and homophobia), but I will admit to being a fan of his 'Speaker for the Dead' concept."

Yeah, that was awesome and the only thing that strikes me as important and worthwhile from my reading those books twenty years ago. At the time, I got really excited about the concept and hoped that it would be a "thing". I wanted to promulgate it, 'cause that's what I basically do with this kind of social change stuff (do it myself and hope others follow), but, well, it's not like I had a lot of people dying around me whose family asked me to run their funerals.

But it's a great concept. It's what I want at my funeral...people describing me and my life as it really was. I've never wanted people to like me or respect me for things that aren't really true or really me now while I've been alive; I don't want people to like me or respect me for things that aren't true or accurate when I'm dead, either. If I've been a worthless asshole, then I ought to be eulogized and remembered as such.

You know, I understand that there are people close to the deceased, people who loved them, and those are living people who deserve some consideration. A funeral is really about them, honestly, and that throws a monkey-wrench into what I write above because, hell, I'll be dead anyway and my family doesn't want to hear that I was a worthless asshole. I guess opinion on this will be divided between those who think the funeral/memorial is about the person or the people who survived him/her.

But that's not the case with public speech about public figures. When public figures die and are remembered in public, then the one thing that is about is their lives and how they affected the world and the rest of us who are still here and, not incidentally, their responsibility as moral actors in the public sphere. For these deceased, in this context, it is an offense against truth and the integrity of public life to present them exclusively positively out of some misguided idea of "respect" or even generosity.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:15 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Klang made biscuits?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:17 AM on December 20, 2011


Uch. They were super dry and whatever sauce he put on there was really salty and didn't help at all.
posted by gman at 3:03 AM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


the KJI thread and the methane thread were more than a little Fark-esque

They have apologists for mass murderers on Fark?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 AM on December 20, 2011


Of course they do.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:16 AM on December 20, 2011


You wait and see what I post when Thatcher goes.

Don't forget to include a link to this.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:30 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: if you don't have something nice to say, take a crap on the corpse. And have a biscuit.

I look forward to Cheney's turn.
posted by spitbull at 4:26 AM on December 20, 2011


I look forward to Cheney's turn.

BTW, don't know if it's true or not, but I just read here (first time I'd seen his name mentioned with regard to it) that Cheney had some hand in crafting the NDAA (codifying indefinite military detention without charges for US citizens) that Obama is expected to sign off on.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:40 AM on December 20, 2011


I only read the first 150 comments here, but this is what I think: Even though I don't really agree with the idea that NewsFilter is a bad thing, I would make an exception for World Leader Dies stories*. Nobody is going to be ignorant of the death if it's not posted on MetaFilter. Also, no world leaders are universally loved, so there will always be some who are inclined to say bad things about them when they go. A post here about one of those deaths is unnecessary and an implicit invitation to dump on the corpse. I fully-well realize that the WLD posts won't stop, and that it would be futile to expect the mods to delete them all, but in a perfect MetaFilter, they would not happen.

Obituaries for people whose death didn't make headlines everywhere else are fine, because even obscure people have some fans here.


* I say this even though I know it will be tough to refrain from gloating when Cheney finally grinds to a halt.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:41 AM on December 20, 2011


even obscure people have some fans here.

Or often people who become fans of some recently deceased person they knew nothing of, because of the obit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:44 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


" I say this even though I know it will be tough to refrain from gloating when Cheney finally grinds to a halt."

Shit, I was watching Homeland last night and during the scene when the sniper was setting up in someone's high-rise apartment to shoot the VP (who was in office during the Iraq invasion and had personally authorized bad shit) while the resident was tied up and forced to watch, I found myself thinking, "Huh. If I were in that situation and the guy was taking a bead on ole' Dick, would I be very motivated to try and stop him?"

So I'm way beyond worrying about whether I'll gloat when the fucker dies. I know I will.

BTW, I decided that I would try to stop it, in the interests of preventing other people being hurt and the rule of law and all.

Fucking rule of law. Sigh.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:49 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


*smacks gman with a rolled version of the FAQ*

Bad MeFite, BAD. Not shitting indoors.!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 AM on December 20, 2011


I am not one to walk away from the possibility of productive exchange.

That's "productive" in the sense of "a productive cough," right?
posted by aught at 6:54 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Indeed, if a person is as reprehensible as Kim, I have a duty to oppose and denounce them in the strongest terms, to want them to be brought to justice, and to be punished for their crimes.

Okay...

He's just dead, and now that he is, the sanctity of life doesn't really enter into it, and nor does the fact that he once had functioning respiratory and nervous systems.

Who or what are we bringing to justice and punishing by shitting on his obituary then? Not his corpse, I hope.

It seems to me that the thread in question is commenting on his death. For me a better end to his tyranny would have been a change of heart, but failing that I greet his death with relief and great hope for the people of North Korea.

But respect for life is not an either/or situation. We can hold our joy at the end of a tyrant at the same time we mourn the fact that someone's brother, someone's father, someone's son has died.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:41 AM on December 20, 2011


Who or what are we bringing to justice and punishing by shitting on his obituary then?

Most tyrants are quite concerned about posterity. To see their fellow tyrants' names be dragged through the mud after their deaths may give them second thoughts. Therefore, shitting on past tyrants' obits is nor just and moral, it's an utterly necessary and salutary measure directed at future tyrants, starting with Kim Jong-Il's own son.
posted by Skeptic at 7:55 AM on December 20, 2011


"not only just and moral", sorry
posted by Skeptic at 7:56 AM on December 20, 2011


Tell Me No Lies: But respect for life is not an either/or situation. We can hold our joy at the end of a tyrant at the same time we mourn the fact that someone's brother, someone's father, someone's son has died.

Kim Jong-Il's son is the heir to continue his terrible works, and his father is the Great Leader whose shoes he attempted to fill. Fuck his family, the world would be better off with the lot of them dead.

In fact, anyone who looks at someone like Kim or Cheney or Rummy and cries because that horrible person is dead is a horrible person by association, and they can get fucked. Morn Ronald Regan? Fuck you.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2011


Edgy!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 AM on December 20, 2011


Or, Pelosi, amirite!!!
posted by found missing at 9:41 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


cries because that horrible person is dead is a horrible person by association, and they can get fucked.

I'm sorry you feel that way.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:43 AM on December 20, 2011


Tell Me No Lies: I'm sorry you feel that way.

I'm sorry you feel the need to be such an accommodating doormat, in this case to people who would literally not hesitate to put you into a slave labor death camp.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:54 AM on December 20, 2011


In fact, anyone who looks at someone like Kim or Cheney or Rummy and cries because that horrible person is dead is a horrible person by association, and they can get fucked.

This is the sort of thing that tends to not go well over here. It's fine if that's the freak flag you want to fly, but it's worth understanding that this sort of "fuck all y'all comment" tends to go poorly here and worse when your spelling is off.

And I guess it's worth pointing out that if you're going to use MeTa to just personally attack other users in specific, you need to find a way to express your thoughts without looking like you're actively trolling the userbase. Kim Jong Il was a monster, okay. Have a conversation about that, don't just go hollering about your personal opinions of who can get fucked because they don't express their emotions the same way you do. Seriously, it's toxic to discussion, makes everything all about you, and causes people to not pay attention to what you're saying.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


My bad. What I really meant was "won't someone think of those poor, poor monsters and what they suffered through?"

I mean we hear so much about the concentration camps, but what about the poor men who designed them? Poor guys need a hug too. Everyone needs a hug.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are options besides "hug all dictators" and "fuck you".
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


There should at least be kissing as an in-between.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:17 AM on December 20, 2011


and worse when your spelling is off.

So true. ILU, metafilter.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:18 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or maybe even a feel under the dictator's jump suit.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:18 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is that total unquestioned despotic authority in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:22 AM on December 20, 2011


Paisley, don't be obtuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on December 20, 2011


Other People's Feelings Are Super Important (And So Is Bitching About Spellong)
posted by paisley henosis at 10:37 AM on December 20, 2011


Shut up and get out there and assassinate some despots.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:41 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


That little fucker sure could drop the bass.
posted by gman at 10:45 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spellong

This is wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2011


Or your political enemies. Romney and Cheney are still alive, aren't they? Aren't their lives worthless, like Reagan?
posted by charred husk at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this a trick question?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:54 AM on December 20, 2011


Kim Jong Il died?
posted by mazola at 10:54 AM on December 20, 2011


A fetishistic code of silence after death only, only serves to enable people to do bad things. No matter what kind of monster I am in life, if the slate is wiped clean when they plant me, then the ends really do justify the means after all.

Not to mention how hypocritical it is. If you aren't allowed to speak ill of the recently deceased because it might be mean then how can you speak ill of anyone, ever? Pol Pot off limits now? What about Genghis Khan?

So, yeah, if you want to be a hypocritical enabler of monsters, then get fucked. This Means You.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2011


He'd been Il.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2011


> If you aren't allowed to speak ill of the recently deceased because it might be mean then how can you speak ill of anyone, ever?

Are you sniffing glue? Did you read the original obit thread on Kim Jong Il? Are you lonely right now?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:57 AM on December 20, 2011


"So, yeah, if you want to be a hypocritical enabler of monsters, then get fucked. This Means You."

Lon Mem? Is that you?

Well, anyway. If you're still around after that, you've made your point. I agree with your damn point. Totally. Can you give it a rest, now?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:57 AM on December 20, 2011


So, yeah, if you want to be a hypocritical enabler of monsters, then get fucked. This Means You.

You are tilting at windmills. This is not happening. People agree with you. Give it a rest.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:59 AM on December 20, 2011


What about Genghis Khan?

Bette Davis was remarkable in that.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:00 AM on December 20, 2011


jessamyn: People agree with you. Give it a rest.

Be interesting to see if they agree when I say it about the president who ordered the assassination of a US citizen.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:02 AM on December 20, 2011


Don't keep us in suspense!
posted by Burhanistan at 11:04 AM on December 20, 2011


This is gonna be so good. Go on, do it!
posted by gman at 11:06 AM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


People are people so why should it be
Hereditary dictators with terrible hair and cults of personality behave pretty badly
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


No matter what kind of monster I am in life, if the slate is wiped clean when they plant me, then the ends really do justify the means after all.

I get it. You're DELIBERATELY trying to prove this point by acting really odious and narrow-minded NOW, so when you die we all remember and go "oh, hey, remember he was saying about this?...."

So, congratulations on being really committed to your goal, I guess, but I gotta say it may really backfire on you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the official Jesse Helms obituary thread. Reading my own comments there makes me smile. He's been dead three and a half years and the fact still brings joy to my heart.
posted by Nelson at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are options besides "hug all dictators" and "fuck you".

Actually, these are the only two albums put out by jonmc's band, I do believe.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


You can't hug every dictator.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can't hug every dictator.

You can posthumously.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:37 AM on December 20, 2011


So, yeah, if you want to be a hypocritical enabler of monsters, then get fucked. This Means You.

I don't think there's anything wrong with speaking ill of the guy. By all accounts, he was a complete bastard. I just think laying all the sins of the NK regime at his feet is more than a little bit simplistic. And tap dancing on his grave is tactless, since basically nothing has changed for the NK's, and nothing is likely to change in the near future as a result of his death.
posted by empath at 11:37 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This would be why they hustled us through the tomb of Lenin so fast...
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on December 20, 2011


nothing is likely to change in the near future as a result of his death.

That's not true! Things could get worse!
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can't hug every dictator.

But if you try sometimes, you'll find you'll hug who you need.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2011


Therefore, shitting on past tyrants' obits is nor just and moral, it's an utterly necessary and salutary measure directed at future tyrants, starting with Kim Jong-Il's own son.

I understand the general theory, but in the immediate case of Kim Jong-Il's son it seems like it would be more productive to focus on how great of a leader he has the opportunity to be. "Fuck your father, he was an asshole" seems more likely to engender defensiveness and a determination to stick with the status quo.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:06 PM on December 20, 2011


I want to be a hypocritical enabler of monsters.

(I have it on good authority that those guys get laid like crazy.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:10 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]




So, yeah, if you want to be a hypocritical enabler of monsters, then get fucked. This Means You.

I was curious what this would look like on an Uncle Sam poster. Uncle Sam wants YOU to spell better.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:18 PM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


That is an absolutely great link, Naberius; thank you.

It's interesting how Kim Jong Il's father came to power: "Handpicked by Joseph Stalin to rule over North Korea and a fluent Russian speaker himself, Kim Il Sung...", because Stalin also personally chose Mao, and particularly for me because Kim Jong Il's death put me in mind of one of the accounts I read of Stalin's death.

His recently deceased daughter Svetlana claimed that Stalin had a stroke and fell to the floor, and was allowed to lie there by his closest underlings for days until he died, while everyone went about their business as if nothing had happened.
posted by jamjam at 3:35 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's anything wrong with speaking ill of the guy. By all accounts, he was a complete bastard. I just think laying all the sins of the NK regime at his feet is more than a little bit simplistic. And tap dancing on his grave is tactless, since basically nothing has changed for the NK's, and nothing is likely to change in the near future as a result of his death.

This highlights the basic problem with MeFi’s obit posts. They might be memorials: “Let’s mourn Anon’s death.” Or old-style obits: “Here’s a narrative of Anon’s life.” Or retrospectives: “Anon did lots of things and here’s some analysis of the history and ongoing effects of those things.”

There’s no way to compress all three functions, with their contradictory standards, into one post and its comments. Tactlessness is an issue only for memorials; over-simplifying applies only to retrospectives. Thread-shitting or valuable analysis? Well, pick your context.

Jessamyn’s already said that obit posts will never be banned. But what about instituting a time limit? Posts based on someone’s death will not appear until 56 hours after said someone’s death.

The time limit means that those whose only reaction consists of a “.” will find another emotional outlet. Those who have something more significant to share will presumably be just as eager to share it 56 hours later. This does conflate the old-style obit with the retrospective – but that's far better than what we’ve got now.
posted by dogrose at 3:38 PM on December 20, 2011


His recently deceased daughter Svetlana claimed that Stalin had a stroke and fell to the floor, and was allowed to lie there by his closest underlings for days until he died, while everyone went about their business as if nothing had happened.

Interesting! Is there any link to an account of that? I wasn't able to find one with a casual Google search.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:43 PM on December 20, 2011


Interesting! Is there any link to an account of that? I wasn't able to find one with a casual Google search.

Some info here in a book called "The Unknown Stalin" (bottom of P14 and around there)
posted by firesine at 4:03 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see any real value to ":)" in an obit thread

On the other hand, "." adds vast value to every obit thread. The fact that people care enough about a dead person to spend .3 seconds tapping their . key and hitting Post Comment is truly heartwarming, and is a fitting contribution to the lives of all great people.

But yeah, single link obits are lazy in a semi-annoying Digg way. But the same could be said to almost all single-link threads.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:13 PM on December 20, 2011


Do the . comments really annoy you that much? I think that they communicate a great deal. I had no idea there was widespread revulsion at them.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:42 PM on December 20, 2011


I've been on the road for the past few days -- in Seoul, looking over my shoulder at the northern horizon every once in a while, not actually nervous but actually maybe kind of a little. As a consequence, I haven't yet seen the thread in question, or even read all of this one, but let me say (as someone who's been in Korea since the mid 90s, a large chunk of his adult life -- for what little that's worth, and I admit it's not worth much):

Fuck Kim Jong Il. Fuck that evil bloated beast of a man into the ground with the devil's dick, keep fucking the corpse until it's not even a grease stain, then salt the ground and declare it anathema for generations to come.

I'd happily take a literal shit on his corpse were I given the opportunity, but other than this little outburst, I'll try to refrain from doing it metaphorically any further. I'd have no twinges of conscience doing so, though; nor do I feel it would be a wrong thing, in my opinion, to do so in the 'actual' obituary thread.

Etymologically, an 'obituary' is nothing more than 'a record of the death of a person'. I do agree that gravedancing is unseemly in obit threads (and don't think obit threads are a Good Thing For Metafilter, but that bus has left the station, clearly) in most cases, but I also think there are people who deserve upon their death to have the full scope of their misdeeds exposed, understood, publically reviled and reflected upon. If there is good to be said about them, let it be said, but nobody is well-served by sweeping the bad (particularly when it's at this kind of scale) under the carpet in some misguided effort to avoid 'speaking ill of the dead'

There can be no mourning for a person Kim Jong Il other than by those who are literally brainwashed or whose honesty might put their lives at threat, no more so than for a Pol Pot or a (yes, sorry, Godwin) Hitler.

Too often, our supposed 'respect for human life' is the worst self-serving nonsense inspired at least in part by unresolved fear of mortality, I've come to believe, but even if it weren't, I cannot find any philosophical justification for separating what a man like that was (just another human, with whom we should feel some Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto commonality) from what he did (continue to grind tens of millions under his autocratic heel, watch over his cognac belly as millions starved to death, all in service of a desire to maintain power, and so on, horror piled upon horror).

To hell (which doesn't exist, except for the poor North Koreans who live on under the brutal regime he perpetuated) with him, and to private guilty hells of their own for his apologists.

Is this kind of unseemly fury I feel comparable to the behaviour of people who get so angry about, say, child rapists, that they verbalize the revenge fantasies they have about hunting down the rapist and killing him, a common reactive trope (even here) that I deplore? Well, maybe so. I guess I'll cop to that, and add tamping it down to my list of Wonderchicken Anger Management exercises.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:46 PM on December 20, 2011 [23 favorites]


If there is good to be said about them, let it be said, but nobody is well-served by sweeping the bad (particularly when it's at this kind of scale) under the carpet in some misguided effort to avoid 'speaking ill of the dead'

Of everybody commenting in this thread, you're one of the few people here who actually lives in the area, and I can respect your rage at Kim Jong-Il far more than most.

Still, I don't think anyone in this thread (or the original thread on the blue) is suggesting any actual facts or information about the man be 'swept under the carpet', just the non-factual bile and LOL and that sort of thing.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2011


Yeah, I hear you. Poor choice of phrase.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 PM on December 20, 2011


1. the '.' thing is great, and respectful, and a unique tradition. also, it's got no downside - how can it hurt anyone?

2. i can't believe we're having this discussion about fucking kim jong-il of all people. "hard cases make bad law" they say, and this is a great example. it's like expecting a thread about the death of idi amin or khaddafi to be thoughtful and respectful. people are not idiots - the same person can slag off kim jong-il one day, then be thoughtful and real about someone else the next - like if jon bon jovi died...whoops, another bad example...
posted by facetious at 6:28 PM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


oooops - George Galloway on Hitchens
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:40 PM on December 20, 2011


I know we haven't gotten along in the past, but I just wanted to say thanks for that comment, stavros.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 PM on December 20, 2011


Hey, it's all good, man. Hell, I can't even remember my phone number sometimes, so long-ago MeFi disagreements are long forgotten!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:12 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for checking in stavros, I've been wondering what you would have to say about all this.

(and maybe you could sidle south a bit. I hear Busan is lovely this time of year...)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:20 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


like if jon bon jovi died...whoops, another bad example...

the blaze of glory joke potential is limitless
posted by mannequito at 9:57 PM on December 20, 2011


I express my feelings about Kim by showing utter apathy over his death. Indifference is the least way to feel about someone or something, because not even feeling the need to care one way or the other about someone is worse than expending the energy on hating them.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:50 PM on December 20, 2011


The appropriate remembrance for Kim Jong Il is a fuckeulogy.I expect one in the next Bugle.
posted by jb at 11:24 PM on December 20, 2011


Too soon.
posted by bardic at 12:38 AM on December 21, 2011


Why am I not in the least bit suprised that falameufilho hasn't responded to a single comment out of the 375 in here?
posted by unigolyn at 6:51 AM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, gloating over the dead is forgivable only when that person was personally evil to you, and, even then, it's kind of tacky.

Sorry, I've been on this planet for 31 years, and I must have missed this particular memo. Why on earth shouldn't we gloat over the death of evil people? And how does it matter in the slightest whether you were affected by the evil personally?

You can't just label something "unforgivable" and "tacky" and call it a day.

I understand that in the context of having a civilized discussion, we would want to avoid pissing each other off by professing extreme positions about controversial subjects. It also makes sense that we might not want to be insensitive towards those mourning the deceased.

But it does not follow from this that the dead are somehow sacrosanct themselves. I don't see why I shouldn't call anyone a cunt when they're dead, if I'd do it to his or her face without hesitation.
posted by unigolyn at 6:59 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Dickipedia gone? That would be a blow to humanity.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:29 AM on December 21, 2011


Why on earth shouldn't we gloat over the death of evil people?

At the risk of sounding like a big dumbass - and this is meant generally of people, nothing specific to KJL - I think this is because any one person is more than their personality or even their actions. Even the worst person in history is still a human - and 'good' may yet come of them, even if inadvertently, through the practical fact of their physicality, or through their heirs. They are still one of us, they are still part of the human family.

This is why othering is so pernicious, because if we can say of an individual, "they are inhuman" (a monster, vermin, cockroaches, etc.), they're kicked out of that family and they become fair game to desiccate, torture, kill, rape, you name it. Morality goes out the window when society starts othering people.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2011


"This is why othering is so pernicious..."

Well, I agree with your basic point, but I think you're making an assumption that ought to be questioned: namely, that saying someone is a "monster", or whatever, is necessarily "othering" in the sense you mean.

Obviously, it sometimes is. Perhaps often it is.

But—I'd like to ask you to consider this carefully and believe what I'm asserting—in my case, I'm not othering when I make these sorts of judgments about people. Because my worldview includes two key beliefs: that all human beings are capable of monstrous evil, and that I'm one of those human beings capable of that monstrous evil. Hell, I should be clear that for me this comprehension runs in the opposite direction to what you might expect—I believe this because I'm quite aware of my potential for evil and don't believe myself to be exceptional, not because I've abstractly decided that all people are capable of evil and therefore I must be, too.

In my view, recognizing that people do horrible, awful things for which they should be held accountable—hated for—is essential to my humanism. It's absolutely essential, deeply important, in my view that we acknowledge people's moral capacity, good and evil, and hold them accountable for both, because it's those two things—moral capacity and choice—which are most human and most wonderful. I'm as fundamentally offended when someone denies in some way someone's responsibility for evil actions as I am when someone denies in some way someone's responsibility for good actions. Good and evil matter (I don't believe in these things metaphysically, but I believe in them and am not afraid to use the terms) and moral responsibility matters. What we do matters, in both the large and the small.

Especially when we act in the public sphere what we do matters and we should be held accountable for our actions, both good and bad. This includes pushing the buttons, giving the orders, writing the laws, adjudicating the laws, giving the advice, building the bombs or hospitals, and all that is related; but it also includes writing the articles, giving the speeches, carrying the signs, canvassing the voters, voting, and all that is related. We are all responsible, in ways large and small, for our participation in civic life.

Some people have very large responsibilities, indeed. And some of those are responsible for some very, very evil things.

I'm open to arguments from utility about how hate and public condemnation may be harmful, both to the polis and to one's self (though the latter is for that self to determine). But I'm not open to arguments that making strong moral judgments, in public, about public moral actors and their actions is somehow inherently wrong or even merely inherently inappropriate. It's essential.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that a lot of the sensibilities around this discussion are the product of a particular socioreligious context. Christian morality and ethics, both Catholic and Protestant, strongly inflect the context in which most of the people are having this argument. Not only does Christianity redirect moral accountability from here to the afterlife, and not only does it arbitrate it in numerous legalistic, technical ways that are frequently the province of authority, but in its focus on the afterlife and its promise of justice delivered, it has strongly encouraged a cultural sense of "now it is not in our hands, it is not our place to say" with regard to the moral responsibility of the deceased. This is where a lot of the distaste for condemning/denouncing the dead is coming from.

And, well, that's okay, because it's natural and difficult to avoid, even in oneself, when one is a product of this culture. But, you know, it'd be nice if people were a bit more aware of this and owned up to it and, most importantly, don't assume that everyone either shares that context or is willing to accept it as truth. Some of us resist it because it's not our worldview, and it matters to us. Yes, this involves the thorny problems of sensitivity and accommodation and majority norms for a community and I'm not arguing for any sort of immunity from pushback when someone acts like an asshole, as determined by community norms. But I am arguing that some consideration be given to the fact that some people have strongly held beliefs about ethics and morality and speech and other public acts that are not trivial and shouldn't be dismissed as trivial when they don't conform to majority sensibilities.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:15 AM on December 21, 2011


Do the . comments really annoy you that much? I think that they communicate a great deal.

Yes, for 2 reasons:
1) It forces you to scroll to find any comments of substance.
2) It's thoughtless (as in, lacking any thought). It's like if my SO got me a sappy hallmark card for Valentine's Day and didn't write anything in it. It says, "I feel like I should say something, but I can't be bothered to actually think of anything to say, so here's a meaningless gesture (that's identical to everyone else's meaningless gesture).

I had no idea there was widespread revulsion at them.
I'm probably the only one.


the '.' thing is great, and respectful, and a unique tradition. also, it's got no downside - how can it hurt anyone


It hurts and helps no one. It's vacuous. A way for you to say to yourself, "Look, I'm a good person because I've contributed and shown respect" without contributing or showing anything at all.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:25 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've posted my fair share of .s, and I don't think your assessment is correct, at least in my case. I'm not trying to say to myself or anyone else that I'm a good person for contributing and showing respect.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:27 AM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


coolguymichael: " I'm probably the only one."

As I mentioned upthread, there's a wiki page about them. The page indicates you're not the only one who is bothered by them.

coolguymichael: " It hurts and helps no one. It's vacuous. A way for you to say to yourself, "Look, I'm a good person because I've contributed and shown respect" without contributing or showing anything at all."

Quietly and respectfully acknowledging that someone has passed is in its own way a form of contribution. Similar to stopping for a moment to take off one's hat when a hearse goes by.

Personally, I don't see that as an egotistical act. Nor harmful.
posted by zarq at 9:38 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah this is one of those things where if they really bother you, there are Greasemonkey scripts to collapse the dot comments. I feel that they're a way to leave a "moment of silence" type indicator [a pebble at a gravesite maybe?] and then have the thread in your Recent Activity so you can read remembrances shared by others.

I get that they drive some people crazy (I have people who specifically have a special hate place in their heart for my workplace because of that particular feature of how the site works) but I feel we're getting into a curse-the-darkness situation. There's a way for you to not see them, they're a pretty ingrained site tradition, and reading ill intent into other people's ways of interacting with the site seems like a reach when people are telling you they're not doing that. I don't think I'm a good person, I'm just indicating that I care about something but don't have anything to add. You want to read ego into it, that's sort of your deal.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Apropos of nothing... nickyskye added the most hilarious ascii obit marker I've seen yet (kinda/sorta NSFW), in a post I made back in February.
posted by zarq at 9:46 AM on December 21, 2011


coolguymichael, I counted this many dots in your comment:

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

You are a monster. How you can type away at your prissy little keyboard and send these specks of pure evil into our eyeballs, I'll never understand. I demand that jessamyn staff attacks you with her +1 staff and then cortex staff joins the melee with his vorpal staff and taz staff puts aside her silver staff and notches an arrow in her bow, and ... hey, are you mods all related? Like you've all got the same last name and shit. I suppose you have to marry into the family to get a job at MetaFilter LLC - is that the policy??? DISGUSTING. Vote #1 quidnunc kid for a anti-nepotismal revolution and I will immediately put all my nephews to death.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:51 AM on December 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


a vorpal staff is not a thing
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:58 AM on December 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


...not yet.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on December 21, 2011


A vorpal staff is too a perfectly cromulent thing!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:01 AM on December 21, 2011


the quidnunc kid: "and ... hey, are you mods all related? Like you've all got the same last name and shit. I suppose you have to marry into the family to get a job at MetaFilter LLC - is that the policy??? DISGUSTING."

Matt adopts them. So to speak.
posted by zarq at 10:03 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It goes snicker-snonk.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:05 AM on December 21, 2011


I put on my robes and grab my vorpal staff.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 AM on December 21, 2011


The Whelk: "I put on my robes and grab my vorpal staff."

If you give me a little while, I can change the lyrics.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on December 21, 2011


It hurts and helps no one. It's vacuous. A way for you to say to yourself, "Look, I'm a good person because I've contributed and shown respect" without contributing or showing anything at all.

I'm curious (honestly) if you feel the same way about moments of silence in real life.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:43 AM on December 21, 2011


The internet is real life.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2011


"I'm curious (honestly) if you feel the same way about moments of silence in real life."

Well, I do, but that's mostly because I feel like it's (not very) covertly a religious act that I am not terribly happy about being asked to participate in. It's never really occurred to me to sincerely consider these moments of silence as being genuinely nonreligious in nature.

Attempting to do so right at this moment, I find the whole thing very puzzling when removed entirely from the "silent prayer" context. Why silence? Why must we all simultaneously have some thoughts about the person? Why must we have a public ritual of recognition for someone's death, especially if they're a public person who I (and we) have never met?

Honestly, if I'm somewhere with other people when Cheney dies and there's a "moment of silence", I'll almost certainly walk out. I won't disrupt it, or anything, but I sure as hell won't participate.

So, yeah, speaking for myself, I am not very comfortable with this whole moment of silence thing, at all.

That said, it's not as if it's any of my business when other people participate in public rituals, religious or not, that I'm not a part of and not expected to be a part of.

That's sort of true, perhaps arguably mostly true, of MeFi obituary threads, but it's not entirely true. Those threads serve multiple functions for this community and not a single one of those threads is exclusively a thread for mourners to mourn as they collectively see fit. That's sort of the problem with all this. As someone else wrote in a perceptive comment above, those threads serve several different purposes and those purposes can be, and sometimes are, very much in conflict with each other.

As is so often the case, the tension here is between what seems to some people as implicit pressure to conform to majority sensibilities/behavior and the widely acknowledged right to dissent. I don't have any categorical and simple answers to these problems any more than the admins do. It's messy. Somewhere there's healthy and productive dissent, and somewhere else there's being an asshole. At the extremes, it's easy and obvious. We often disagree about those middle, confusing areas of transition from one to the other.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:13 AM on December 21, 2011


coolguymichael, I counted this many dots in your comment:

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

You are a monster.


Had my post included only dots, it still wouldn't make me a monster, just a thoughtless person too lazy to make a meaningful comment.

Thanks for the link, zarq -- missed it earlier.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:52 PM on December 21, 2011


As for moments of silence: At least they take a whole moment of your life in which you might be reflecting. If typing a period took more than a half-second, I might be convinced there was a correlation.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:54 PM on December 21, 2011


I don't believe that I'm a thoughtless person.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on December 21, 2011


Why must we have a public ritual of recognition for someone's death, especially if they're a public person who I (and we) have never met?

Wait, let's back up even further past "moments of silence" -- if you are asking "why must we have a public ritual of recognition for someone's death," then I guess the question is, do you feel death should not be acknowledged in the first place? How about public shows of respect out of deference for the grieving family?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on December 21, 2011


coolguymichael: " Thanks for the link, zarq -- missed it earlier."

No problem!
posted by zarq at 1:25 PM on December 21, 2011


So, yeah, speaking for myself, I am not very comfortable with this whole moment of silence thing, at all.

Well you could hum to yourself. Quietly.

Then it wouldn't be silence, you see.

Or you could have yourself a moment of silent protest.
posted by longsleeves at 2:10 PM on December 21, 2011


WTF Roman Polanski died?
posted by dgeiser13 at 2:30 PM on December 21, 2011


Why must we have a public ritual of recognition for someone's death, especially if they're a public person who I (and we) have never met?

I think the public and public aspects of that are very important. The point of these for me is that we as a group are recognizing what this person has meant to us as a larger whole.

For example I have never met the current Dalai Lama but I feel that he's had a significant impact not just in my extended social group but also in the world at large. No matter what sort of personal mourning I do, I'll also want to honor him for what he did for a larger entity.

Whether that takes the form of flying halfway around the world or putting a dot on an internet forum, the action itself won't matter nearly as much as the fact that it's being done with a group. A single dot means nothing, 300 of them are a coming together that I very much appreciate.

I can understand not feeling part of that group and hence feeling no need to be part of the moment of silence, but in any case I think that's the meaning of the ritual.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:33 PM on December 21, 2011


> WTF Roman Polanski died?

No, but Charles Manson did.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:36 PM on December 21, 2011


WTF Roman Polanski died?

sorry, no -- I was just trying to think of people for whom the public opinion would be WILDLY split.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:13 PM on December 21, 2011


I don't believe that I'm a thoughtless person.

I can't say I've ever thought about it.
posted by fuq at 4:45 PM on December 21, 2011


"I can understand not feeling part of that group and hence feeling no need to be part of the moment of silence, but in any case I think that's the meaning of the ritual."

Yeah, that's fine, mostly.

I think there's been a conflation of several different things in this discussion. There's the "recognizing someone's legacy when they've died" thing. There's the "this person meant something to me and I feel a loss (or a gain)" thing. There's the "let's do one of these [the previous] things together as a community ritual" thing. And there's the "moment of silence" thing. These are all distinct, though they can be and are combined in specific cases.

When I complained about the moment of silence, I tried to explain the reasons why I am uncomfortable with it. I thought I was clear, but obviously not.

The first thing, recognizing someone's legacy, I have no problem with whatsoever, either in private or in public. And, indeed, that's central to my argument that for public figures, being honest about that legacy is crucial and necessary (and that recognizing this legacy is crucial and necessary...though I'm not certain there's any reason it has to be done immediately upon death).

The second thing, expressing with others what someone meant when they've been important to oneself, and discussing the loss (or the gain), I also have no problem with. Either in public or private. It's important to the people still here for their own reasons.

The third thing, however, can be problematic in the way that community rituals like this can always be problematic. There's the presumption that everyone in the community wants to have such a ritual and there can be a presumption that everyone shares the same sense of what the ritual is or should be. Usually, only the people who have a relationship to the deceased as in the second case are those who want to do this third thing—ritually recognize that relationship, the person, and the death. But not everyone in a community may feel that way.

And then the fourth thing, the moment of silence, is a particular form of the third. Notice that there's been increasing specificity in this list. Each can be (but may not be) a more specific, narrow version of the preceding. My problem with a moment of silence is that it's a very particular form of a public ritual recognizing that someone's died. I may not even want to participate in such a ritual...but if I do, exactly why is it presumed that I want to participate in one that is often explicitly a religious moment about prayer and, if not, then it's at the least one that has evolved from prayer? That's why I asked "why silence, anyway?" It was rhetorical—I know "why, silence?"; it's because it is either explicitly prayer, or it's evolved from prayer in the context of a more secular and religiously diverse society. That's the only reason it is what it is. If this weren't true, if it were truly secular, then the ritual would take another form than this very specific "approximately one minute of silence while people bow their heads just as if they were praying" form that it takes.

And, incidentally, it's kind of ironic that MeFi, with all its hostility to theism, has decided to evolve a community ritual that is a web forum mimicking of a moment of silent prayer. But, you know...whatever.

I'm not at all hostile to recognizing the significance of someone's life and the significance of their death and what all of what this means to the people still here. I'm not hostile to people doing this in public and, indeed, in some cases I think it's important and necessary. But I do have a problem with being expected to participate in a ritual I may not want to participate in (recall that the question asked was about how one feels about moments of silence "in real life"), and I especially have a problem with being expected to do so in a quasi-religious manner.

But, again, I'm usually the atheist that argues for tolerance of theists. In fact, I'm quite tolerant and I'm certainly not a New Atheist that is militant about it. But I do feel and think they way that I do, and a question was asked about what others think and feel. And, for what it's worth, I'm not a militant New Atheist, but, for example, I don't celebrate Christmas with my family because, you know, I'm not a Christian. They don't understand this, really, and lots of other people don't because, hey, isn't it all about family and such? Well, I'm sorry, I'm not going to celebrate a holiday for a religion that isn't mine and which I get kind of annoyed with its omnipresence anyway. I think it's sort of perverse that, as an atheist, the theists don't notice that I'm not bitching all the time about how I'm oppressed and how stupid they supposedly are (as too many other atheists do) but when I quietly refuse to participate in a ritual that 99.9% of the rest of the community participates in that is, well, religious, like a benediction or grace before a meal or a moment of silence for a death or whatever, I get a lot of shit about it. Which, really, is part of why the New Atheists are as pissy about all this stuff as they are.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:50 PM on December 21, 2011


it's kind of ironic that MeFi, with all its hostility to theism, has decided to evolve a community ritual that is a web forum mimicking of a moment of silent prayer.

Um, I'm a theist and I don't perceive there to be a Mefite-wide "hostility to theism" at all. There are a few very, very vocal particular anti-theists, yes. But the fact that Metafilter includes a few very vocal anti-theists does not mean that MeFi is "hostile to theism".

But that's actually getting away from the question I still have about whether you think rituals of respect for the dead are necessary in the first place. It's fair if you don't, some do, it's just a very different place from where people assume most other people are, is all, and it'd help me understand your perspective.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:58 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know "why, silence?"; it's because it is either explicitly prayer, or it's evolved from prayer in the context of a more secular and religiously diverse society.

Huh, I really disagree with that analysis. While religious ceremonies frequently include a moment of silence I don't think of it as a religious act any more than say, drinking from a cup.

Taking a pause to think about things seems part and parcel with the human psyche to me. We don't multitask well so if we need to think about something important we "stop and think for a moment". In short I think the activity ended up *in* religion rather than being spawned by it.

My $0.02 .
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:11 PM on December 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Understanding the reasoning behind allowing single link obituary posts, I wonder if the 'solution' is for those interested in a specific celebrity to craft proper multi link obit posts, just in case, just like the media does.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:50 PM on December 21, 2011


That is, write them ahead of time, and wait.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:51 PM on December 21, 2011


"In short I think the activity ended up *in* religion rather than being spawned by it."

If that were true, you'd be able to find numerous other public behaviors—say, economic transactions, relationship stuff, whatever—that include an explicit moment of silence. Do you have any examples that are not interchangeable with explicit prayer?

And do you have any historical examples of public discursive/performance contexts where explicit, shared moments of silence were historically prior to the same things but including prayer, as your theory posits?

"But that's actually getting away from the question I still have about whether you think rituals of respect for the dead are necessary in the first place."

In themselves? No, I guess. To serve the purposes I list above? Yes, I do. It seems sort of weird to me that you think I've not answered your question and that you're pressing me on it. My sense, perhaps mistaken, is that you may think that "rituals of respect for the dead" are "necessary" for some non-functional reason, that they're inherently valuable and therefore it's weird that I don't apparently agree with you about this.

I'm only guessing this because I'm puzzled by your question in conjunction with my sense that "ritual of respect for the dead" is such a deeply-entrenched and universal social custom that most people have probably internalized it so deeply that they assume it's necessary and valuable for its own sake. Which, no, I don't agree with.

But I do think that it serves an important function for (most of) the associates/family/friends of the deceased; and that for public figures it also serves an important function in the context of understanding and dealing with that person's civic legacy. And I think it serves some important and complex functions psychologically and sociologically with regard to our awareness of and relationship to mortality.

If there's a communicative difficulty here, it's probably because death for me has no metaphysical significance. For that matter, and especially, no mystical significance. That this is the opposite for 99.9% of humanity, that it's deeply mystical and metaphysical, probably means that my intellectual and, perhaps, emotional experience of human mortality is very different from most and at some level there's no common ground available for dialogue. (Though I sincerely doubt that at any deeper levels of my psychology I'm more than barely different from everyone else about mortality.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:03 PM on December 21, 2011


I'm puzzled by your question in conjunction with my sense that "ritual of respect for the dead" is such a deeply-entrenched and universal social custom that most people have probably internalized it so deeply that they assume it's necessary and valuable for its own sake. Which, no, I don't agree with.

It wasn't clear to me that you didn't agree with that, which is why I asked the question. So I hope you're not puzzled about that any more.

But I do think that it serves an important function for (most of) the associates/family/friends of the deceased; and that for public figures it also serves an important function in the context of understanding and dealing with that person's civic legacy. And I think it serves some important and complex functions psychologically and sociologically with regard to our awareness of and relationship to mortality.

So...now I'm puzzled. If I understand you, you're upset by the "." and the single-link obit threads, and you've also acknowledged that you're not sure -- personally -- what purpose any memorials for the dead serve, but yet you acknowledge that others find them important.

So...you are able to understand that others find public observances for the dead important, but....you DON'T understand why they happen on MeFi? That's where I'm not able to follow you; why is there THAT disconnect?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 AM on December 22, 2011


I understand why they happen on MeFi, sure. I understand the purpose that regular, old newsfilter posts serve, too. Doesn't mean I like any of them or that I think they're worth as much trouble to the community in general as they cause.

Someone asked specifically about moments of silence in real life, which are not really the same thing as what happens here because people have to make the positive effort to be "in" an obit thread. In real life, moments of silence can find people wherever they are, and they're expected to participate.

I think you saw my earlier comment asking why we have obit threads here. I didn't post any comments in this thread at all against the "." convention in obit threads, expecting my aside about how they're a mimicking of an offline ritual that is, I think, religious in origin. I'm not especially upset by the periods here, except insofar as they're part-and-parcel of the obit threads I don't like in the first place. I'm not among the group that's complained here about various things they find annoying/offensive about the periods specifically.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:02 AM on December 22, 2011


I don't think most people are looking for consistency, just absence of hypocrisy.

So when someone says something nasty in an obit of someone you liked, you're stuck with "Don't say that -- I liked that person" rather than trying to take the high ground with "respect for the dead" when you don't really mean it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:35 AM on December 22, 2011


an offline ritual that is, I think, religious in origin.

Religion is not banned here.
posted by longsleeves at 9:26 AM on December 22, 2011


Religion is not banned here.

Not yet at least.
posted by Think_Long at 9:36 AM on December 22, 2011


"Religion is not banned here."

Uh, yeah, I know. That is relevant, how...?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2011


That is relevant, how...?

...Because...you said that you feel the "moment of silence" and its related symbols are "religious"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2011


I thought it was a joke about a user named "religion".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:52 AM on December 22, 2011


"...Because...you said that you feel the 'moment of silence' and its related symbols are 'religious'?"

Oh. I see that longsleeve's comment is relevant if he assumed I was arguing that because I think there's a religious connection that the practice should be banned from MeFi.

But since I did not, and have not, ever argued or even implied that religion should be banned from MeFi, the presumed relevancy of his reply confused me. I suppose that if I just assume a willful misreading of whatever I write, then pretty much every response becomes relevant. I'll try to keep that in mind.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2011


Ivan, please calm down -- no one is accusing you of calling for a ban on religion.

Oh. I see that longsleeve's comment is relevant if he assumed I was arguing that because I think there's a religious connection that the practice should be banned from MeFi.

Actually, while we're talking about misreading what others write, that's not how I read his comment at all. I read it more thus:

IVAN: "This strikes me as a religious practice."
LONGSLEEVE: "Well, religion isn't banned on MeFi, so what's wrong with a religious PRACTICE on MeFi?"

He was asking for more detail about your mindset, the way I was earlier. That's ALL.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:31 AM on December 22, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "Um, I'm a theist and I don't perceive there to be a Mefite-wide "hostility to theism" at all. There are a few very, very vocal particular anti-theists, yes. But the fact that Metafilter includes a few very vocal anti-theists does not mean that MeFi is "hostile to theism"."

There is a lot of hostility expressed on Metafilter towards religion, religious concepts, religious structures and religious people. To varying degrees, and I daresay at least some of it is well-deserved. You have personally been on the receiving end of some of it, as have I.

I agree with you that this is not reflective of the entire site. However, theists who have been around for a while know that knee-jerk, hyperbolic comments are not unusual in threads about religious topics. The threads themselves don't often go that well.

When people weigh in thoughtfully, it's great. When they don't, this place can really suck for anyone on the receiving end. When the vocal anti-theists are shouting down theists, it's not hard to see why the latter might think the site as a whole intolerant.
posted by zarq at 10:37 AM on December 22, 2011


There is a lot of hostility expressed on Metafilter towards religion, religious concepts, religious structures and religious people. To varying degrees, and I daresay at least some of it is well-deserved. You have personally been on the receiving end of some of it, as have I. I agree with you that this is not reflective of the entire site. However, theists who have been around for a while know that knee-jerk, hyperbolic comments are not unusual in threads about religious topics.

But if you look more closely, you'll see that those knee-jerk, hyperbolic comments are coming from a select group, as I said initially. And in fact, a couple of the Usual Suspects haven't been doing so recently; some have left, some have been booted, and some may just be backing off.

When the vocal anti-theists are shouting down theists, it's not hard to see why the latter might think the site as a whole intolerant.

It's not hard, no. But it's also not accurate. Just like it wouldn't be hard to say any one group is typified by its most vocal and visible members, but it also wouldn't be accurate. That's why I try to distinguish between "a few people" and "a group as a whole" about everything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on December 22, 2011


Ivan Fyodorovich: " And, incidentally, it's kind of ironic that MeFi, with all its hostility to theism, has decided to evolve a community ritual that is a web forum mimicking of a moment of silent prayer. But, you know...whatever."

At the risk of sounding pedantic, there is no 'MeFi that decides.' Unless you're referring to Team Mod? The mods did not initiate this.

Some people add dots to threads. Some don't. Some do so without additional context. Some with. Some love the practice, some are "meh" and some really, really hate it. We're a diverse community. The only thing that happened here is a number of members of the community did something that developed elsewhere, it caught on with other users, and the mods have apparently decided that it's a practice that doesn't meet a "ban" or "discourage" threshold. They may personally like or dislike it, but they don't seem to moderate for or against. Oh, and we've debated it to death in a few meta threads over the years, too.

My point is simply that it evolved on its own.

Interestingly enough, flapjax at midnight and I seem to post the most threads tagged with "obituary". I'd be curious to know if our posts (which tend to be heavier on links) are more or less likely to have contentless dot comments.
posted by zarq at 10:52 AM on December 22, 2011


Jesus christ, knock it off with the racist crap!!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on December 22, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: " But if you look more closely, you'll see that those knee-jerk, hyperbolic comments are coming from a select group, as I said initially. And in fact, a couple of the Usual Suspects haven't been doing so recently; some have left, some have been booted, and some may just be backing off."

Perhaps. I'm not seeing that happening though, not when it comes to this or other contentious topics.

I think the group you're referring to isn't static. When one leaves, another takes their place or becomes more outspoken. The nature of a dynamic community.

EmpressCallipygos: " It's not hard, no. But it's also not accurate. Just like it wouldn't be hard to say any one group is typified by its most vocal and visible members, but it also wouldn't be accurate. That's why I try to distinguish between "a few people" and "a group as a whole" about everything."

One could say we are represented by our most vocal and prolific commenters on specific topics as long as their views go unchallenged. This happens in the real world as well as online.
posted by zarq at 11:40 AM on December 22, 2011


You guys have seen what happens if Dawkins is mentioned in a post, right?
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2011


Artw: "You guys have seen what happens if Dawkins is mentioned in a post, right?"

Well, to be fair, he's polarizing as hell.
posted by zarq at 12:08 PM on December 22, 2011


I was going to point out that, for a certain population, the culture of the site seems to be anti-atheist, or at least anti-new-atheist (however that terms is defined: Typically Dawkins and Jerry Coyne and Hitchens and maybe a few others). I think it's worth stating that a fair amount of the vitriol (or, conservatively, pushback) around the New Atheists comes from atheists and agnostics on the site, and that there are a decent number of theists who do not complain or speak poorly of the New Atheists; I think it's also worth stating that a lot of atheists and agnostics on the site participate in religion-related threads just as civilly as they do in any other thread. As always, I think, the issue is dickbaggery rather than any given belief system interacting with any other given belief system, and the fact that populations on either side of the a/theistic divide sometimes feel marginalized means that everyone, regardless, should try to speak with moderation about contentious subjects if they want to help the site maintain a culture with minimal dickbaggery.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


"My point is simply that it evolved on its own."

I didn't mean to imply otherwise. You know I'm not new here, right? Mine was a figure of speech.

Though I do think that it's appropriate to attribute a kind of intention and, especially, deliberation to a community as a whole even when it cannot be attributed at all to any one individual in the community. Insofar as this convention has been discussed here many times, the parts of the community which does deliberate and decide things and has intention has been active in this context.

So, yeah. The admins don't have an official position and there was no initial voting or the equivalent on it. But I think that the community, as a community, has "decided" this convention as much as it has decided any other community convention that hasn't been mandated by authority or explicitly voted upon. MetaFilter has a community character with community rituals and conventions. Communities don't have to formally decide things to decide them and endorse them and perpetuate them.

But my last word on this subject is that I just personally don't like the obit threads but I don't actually care much one way or the other about the convention of periods within them. I thought it was ironic that they're a mimicking of what I think is a offline practice with a direct relationship to religious observance; but in the context of MeFi, I don't really care. In contrast, in the offline context, I both don't like being expected to participate in such a ritual merely because I happen to be present and I especially am not happy that it's related to a religious practice. The online and offline contexts are related, but entirely distinct with regard to any arguments I've been making here and, no, absolutely I don't have a problem with religious practice on MeFi in general, only when it's arguably exclusionary. Which, in this case under discussion, I don't think it is. I hope that's clear.

"I think it's also worth stating that a lot of atheists and agnostics on the site participate in religion-related threads just as civilly as they do in any other thread. As always, I think, the issue is dickbaggery rather than any given belief system interacting with any other given belief system, and the fact that populations on either side of the a/theistic divide sometimes feel marginalized means that everyone, regardless, should try to speak with moderation about contentious subjects if they want to help the site maintain a culture with minimal dickbaggery."

Yes. That was worth repeating in full.

I've not been back long enough to form a judgment about how the site is these days. During the 2003-2008 period, though, there were a few theists who would offer their opinions on related subjects when they'd come up, just like anyone else would do, and they'd almost always get a lot of abuse because there was, at that time anyway, a widespread and very simplistic notion in the minds of a large number of people that being an observant Christian (especially) is equivalent to being horrible, bigoted, narrow-minded person who deserves to be mocked.

This was partly because at that time the theists that were here were very, um, "naive" about being theists in a context outside of people who believe as they do. And not sophisticated about the subjects, in general...in the same way that a lot of non-theists who have strong non-theist beliefs are not that sophisticated about them but have strong beliefs. I mean, I'm not making a value judgment here—we're all like this about some things, it's normal.

So, anyway, part of what you're describing above is the thing that happens when it's completely normal to say something when you're in the company of people who are likeminded—it's the kind of thing you say to your friends quite often—that is actually quite provocative or outright offensive when you say it to people who are not likeminded. And, sadly, a lot of people lack self-awareness about saying these sorts of things around people who aren't likeminded.

One thing that has changed, it seems to me from my few short months back, is that there are the valkyryns and Pater Aletheiases here and active now that were not back then. PA was the only person like himself that I can recall from the 03-08 period. Maybe the community here has a different, more positive and tolerant view of theists than it did then. I hope so.

As to the intolerance in the other direction...well, as I've already expressed in this thread, I do certainly agree that there's a lot of marginalization and intolerance directed against atheists and non-theists in the US, especially, and the rest of the world, in general. So I want to be careful and not minimize this—I personally feel it.

But, frankly, I just don't see it here on MeFi in particular. Again, maybe things have changed in a way that I've not yet seen and the tables have turned. But I'm not seeing it in this thread, or in any of the other threads that we've discussed here. I'm not seeing it in the Minchin thread, for example.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:58 PM on December 22, 2011


Ivan Fyodorovich: "But, frankly, I just don't see it here on MeFi in particular. "

I'm about to leave for a Hanukkah party and will be offline for a few hours, so I apologize for not responding more in depth to you, Ivan. But this was the most recent MeFi and Meta thread that I can think of that was... problematic.

The Meta thread eventually sorted itself out. And having re-skimmed the Gray thread but not the Blue, I see that the same topics being discussed here were also talked about there. Some good comments from Miko (naturally) et al there.

Empress, I get frustrated watching people get shouted down, mocked or snarked at. You're probably right that it's just a handful of people (and in that thread mostly one person in particular, but ugh, you know?
posted by zarq at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2011


Ivan Fyodorovich: "But, frankly, I just don't see it here on MeFi in particular. Again, maybe things have changed in a way that I've not yet seen and the tables have turned. But I'm not seeing it in this thread, or in any of the other threads that we've discussed here. I'm not seeing it in the Minchin thread, for example."

It isn't so much that the tables have turned. The barbs directed at atheists are pretty much all tone arguments - accusations of smugness and incivility. Not quite the level of "you're ruining the world" accusation that theists get, but then again atheists don't wield influence in the world like theists do. Accusations of being a jerk are seen as silencing, and voices are all they have. So it may not seem the tables are turned, but because the table just has to shift a little bit for atheists to lose ground it is still a problem. Consider that the recent theology post went great while a comment about "smug atheists" had to be deleted in this post. What makes a theism/atheism post go off the rails has also been due to accusations in this direction, along with the usual "invisible sky wizard" crap.

I've compiled a list of posts tagged religion with over 100 comments. I've been going over them and it isn't all one side being the problem here if you take the above into account.
posted by charred husk at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2011


Consider that the recent theology post went great while a comment about "smug atheists" had to be deleted in this post.

We didn't delete those comments for name-calling, we deleted one for being early pre-dooming threadshitting about how the thread wouldn't end well and one for being a personal attack on someone. The rest of that thread went okay except for the weird senseless interrogation stuff that people get into which I find unseemly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:41 PM on December 22, 2011


*throws book at wall, turns desk lamp to blare in face*

And what *exactly* do you mean by this? Tell me again.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:20 AM on December 23, 2011


Hey, don't worry 'bout my pal here - highly strung, having a bad week, you know?

Would you like a cigarette? We're not meant to smoke in here, but we can bend the rules a bit sometimes if we like you, and you seem like a reasonable sort of mod. Now, back to what you were saying before...
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:43 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


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