Work harder
May 8, 2012 5:50 AM   Subscribe

klangklangston's behavior in yesterday's Occupy thread sucks and it should stop.

Bullying rhetoric like "you condescending, hectoring ass", "why I treat you like an idiot", and "knock off the bullshit" does not belong on MetaFilter.

Then the mods' public call for him to "seriously work on wrapping up... the weird aggressive personalizing of your arguments" was met with things like "Christ, is this what you're like at cocktail parties?"

Work harder, klang. Please.
posted by Trurl to MetaFilter-Related at 5:50 AM (369 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I'm calling you out for not waiting until my workday was over to post this MeTa.
posted by gman at 5:56 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wait, there are still Occupy Threads?? Don't tell me people are still hanging out in parks protesting still, are they?

Why yes, I am severely out of touch, why do you ask?
posted by Grither at 5:58 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


While I understood where the sentiment was coming from, the name calling really seemed out of line. But after the mod note there was one more comment that was combative but didn't involve name calling. What else needs to be done here aside from public flogging?
posted by charred husk at 6:02 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've seen worse here, hell, I've seen worse at a pre-school. And, like the husk said, what are we trying to accomplish with this meta, looks like it's been handled.
posted by HuronBob at 6:05 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'know, if angry pro-Occupy trash talk is allowed to stand unfettered, I don't see why klang's comments should be struck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 AM on May 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


So knock off the bullshit that everyone who has maybe some concerns about what Occupy is doing, what it might do, and how it does it, is an enemy and put some goddamn critical thought into something you support rather than using all of your brain to attack imagined ideological foes.


Klang, if you're going to be this type of an asshole, come sit by me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:07 AM on May 8, 2012 [49 favorites]


Deleting the comments doesn't stop the behavior. It only hides it.
posted by crunchland at 6:11 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I give that comment an 8.7. Thank you for calling my attention to it.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:23 AM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


This sort of stuff happens at nearly every cocktail party I attend. Personal offense, while perhaps warranted, should probably not be taken.
posted by three blind mice at 6:23 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


There should just be some other website people use to talk about OWS. Any perceived slight to OWS by anybody is met with a lot of aggression. And that's just the stuff that isn't deleted. Frankly, I've seen better responses from when I used to troll FreeRepublic.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:24 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Klang's rhetoric in that thread doesn't really strike me as any different, in spirit, than the general rhetoric that comes out of the Occupy movement as a whole. If valid (if harshly worded) criticism of Occupy's intended targets is valid and legitimate, I don't see why that same criticism of Occupy isn't valid and legitimate.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:26 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seems to me that Klang's comment would have had far more impact if it had been edited at the Preview stage and had all the personal-attack and personal-affront verbiage deleted. That stuff adds no credibility at all to the arguments put, which is a pity because all those points were well worth putting.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Struck me that klang and deanklear had a robust exchange they were both capable of holding their corner in and unless either of them feel shut down, I'd let it stand.
posted by Abiezer at 6:32 AM on May 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


This MeTa isn't necessary.
posted by empath at 6:34 AM on May 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


Empress C: I dunno - liza's comment didn't go nearly as much on the offensive (nor as personal) as klang klangston's did.

Trurl, are you hoping this thread will help klang klangston make different posting decisions in the future through community attention to his posting style?
posted by batmonkey at 6:36 AM on May 8, 2012


Y'know, if angry pro-Occupy trash talk is allowed to stand unfettered, I don't see why klang's comments should be struck.

The difference is that Klang's broke the guidelines and liza's didn't. As far as letting is stand or deletion goes I highly doubt it will be removed at this point. I would also assume that Trurl knows this and is not expecting such. The point isn't to get klang's comment deleted but to gently prod him to refrain from this kind of sophomoric behavior in the future because it is not good for metafilter or political threads in general.

In the past I acted in similar ways and had to self correct. Maybe I still have further to go, but I am trying and suggest you do the same Klang.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:37 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seemed like a pretty fair comment to me. It may have veered a tad close to insulting, but given the context of the conversation it was part of it really didn't seem out of place.
posted by modernnomad at 6:38 AM on May 8, 2012


The difference is that Klang's broke the guidelines and liza's didn't. As far as letting is stand or deletion goes I highly doubt it will be removed at this point. I would also assume that Trurl knows this and is not expecting such. The point isn't to get klang's comment deleted but to gently prod him to refrain from this kind of sophomoric behavior in the future because it is not good for metafilter or political threads in general.

However, as charred husk notes above, klang reined it in after the mods spoke to him. So I'd say he's been sufficiently "prodded," yes? So then what was the point of this callout?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:41 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


As far as letting is stand or deletion goes I highly doubt it will be removed at this point. I would also assume that Trurl knows this and is not expecting such.
You're right of course, bad phrasing on my part, I really meant it would be fine if it carried on in that vein. I say this because we're picking up on the choice language here, but actually the back and forth includes a great deal of actually reading what the other has said and addressing it. No doubt that could be done with less rhetorical flourish too, but it's not something that would bother me as much as just talking past each other.
posted by Abiezer at 6:43 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trurl, are you hoping this thread will help klang klangston make different posting decisions in the future through community attention to his posting style?

Do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands.

I would like klang to stop making comments like "Christ, is this what you're like at cocktail parties?"

I would like it even better if that required only public correction from the mods. But apparently it doesn't. So here we are.
posted by Trurl at 6:44 AM on May 8, 2012


So then what was the point of this callout?

To call him out. This isn't the first time this has happened. It's a pattern of behavior that Trurl apparently feels needs to be addressed in meta. I agree.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:45 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would like it even better if that required only public correction from the mods. But apparently it doesn't.

Cite?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:45 AM on May 8, 2012


But apparently it doesn't. So here we are.

Ahhhh.... so it IS a public flogging we're after.....
posted by HuronBob at 6:46 AM on May 8, 2012


I would like klang to stop making comments like "Christ, is this what you're like at cocktail parties?"

What do you have against cocktail parties?

this kind of sophomoric behavior

~chuckle~
posted by octobersurprise at 6:47 AM on May 8, 2012


this kind of sophomoric behavior

Hey mr. chuckles notice I said I have engaged in similar behavior in the past and am trying to self correct. Nice aggro though.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2012


....What's "aggro" about what Octobersurprise said? This is a sincere question.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 AM on May 8, 2012


"Christ, is this what you're like at cocktail parties?"

Unless that water into wine thing qualified as a cocktail party, I don't think Christ ever even attended a gig like that.
posted by HuronBob at 6:51 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I doubt if any mods are even awake yet.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:52 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a reason we have the reminder about about "focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site" at the bottom of the comment post field, because this really is one the top things most likely to turn a thread into a hopeless mess.

If I see an otherwise substantive comment with over-the-top personal stuff – and I can catch it in time – I usually delete and ask the poster to repost without the personal attacks. If it's been integrated into the conversation, we usually leave a note to cut it out. If they are way over the line, the poster gets time off. But, yeah, basically we want people to make these choices for themselves. When it's a pattern of behavior that's regularly turning threads into trainwrecks, it's a bigger problem than someone who gets a bit overheated once in a while.

I also see this on a different level, though. Sometimes I see some pretty salty conversation going on between 2-a few folks who are basically well known to each and who give as good as they get, etc., and it's kind of ... well, that's what they do and ultimately aren't even taking it that seriously among themselves. But then I also see newer people emulating that style of discourse, maybe trying to fit in, maybe trying to stand out, and this isn't a great model.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:54 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Klang! Klang! Klang! went Trurl's volley...
posted by inturnaround at 6:55 AM on May 8, 2012 [31 favorites]


Cite?

See link in post.

"[Seriously work on wrapping up the name calling and the weird aggressive personalizing of your arguments from this point forward, thank you.]" - posted by jessamyn at 10:31 PM on 5/7

"I mean, Christ, is this what you're like at cocktail parties?" - posted by klangklangston at 2:03 AM on 5/8
posted by Trurl at 6:57 AM on May 8, 2012


So only one more comment and you felt this warranted a callout?

I'm wondering if maybe there's some sort of grudge underlying this whole thing, and if that's the case, this really wasn't cool.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on May 8, 2012


Out of curiosity, what is good form for launching one of these broadsides? Do you MeMail the target a few days ahead of time with something like "I'm calling you out in 72 hours. Meta, at high noon GMT".

What if the intended goes camping for a weekend or doesn't check meta for a while. I sometimes wonder if I'll discover this sort of thread sixth months later, like a bill I missed or something.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:02 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are we at Huntington Dell already?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:03 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The deleted comment was better.
posted by Wolof at 7:03 AM on May 8, 2012


There wasn't actually any deleted comments from either klang or deanklear in that thread.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:07 AM on May 8, 2012


I'm wondering if maybe there's some sort of grudge underlying this whole thing

Two can play at this game HUZZAH!!!:

I'm wondering if there's a grudge underlying this assertion of a grudge underlying this whole thing.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:08 AM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


At first, I thought that "I mean, Christ, is this what you're like at cocktail parties?" was directed at the mods, but now reading the thread, I am much less enthused.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:09 AM on May 8, 2012


(Two comments were deleted, btw: one criticizing the post [belongs in Meta] one name-calling by someone else, that wasn't anything more than quoting someone and calling them a name.)
posted by taz (staff) at 7:09 AM on May 8, 2012


The deleted comment was always better.
posted by Wolof at 7:09 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


what is good form for launching one of these broadsides?

This list should explain everything.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:10 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


So only one more comment and you felt this warranted a callout?

When it's continuing an objectionable mode of discourse that he has a long history of, yes.
posted by Trurl at 7:12 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Deleting the comments doesn't stop the behavior. It only hides it.

Which is why we prefer not to do that, we didn't do that. klang should, in my opinion, dial it back and keep the personal attacks out of his bombastic comments. I've talked to him about this and he basically disagrees with my assessment so here we are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:20 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't give a shit about any of the positions expressed in that thread, but the heat seemed to turn up way quicker than usual (and not just between Klang and Dean). Or maybe I just don't happen to read many of the more contentious threads very often.
posted by Rykey at 7:21 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Klang doesn't handle everyone with kid gloves, no. But I can't imagine how boring a site would be if everyone did. Are you sure you're giving klang the same benefit of the doubt you'd give someone if you agreed with their position?
posted by tyllwin at 7:22 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


When it's continuing an objectionable mode of discourse that he has a long history of, yes.

I see what you're saying.

I'm wondering if there's a grudge underlying this assertion of a grudge underlying this whole thing.

No, just thought escalating to callout after ONE comment past the mod's warning was a little odd. But if it's because of "a history" of such comments, then the motivation makes more sense.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on May 8, 2012


I tend to agree with Klang about 90% of the time, and then that last 10% he overreaches, says something regrettable, and makes me want to say, "Dude, not again! That's your own foot -- don't open fire!"
posted by Forktine at 7:25 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Are you sure you're giving klang the same benefit of the doubt you'd give someone if you agreed with their position?

Can't speak for the mods personally, but in my personal experience I have put forward positions that the mods agreed with but I was chastised because I was behaving like an asshole, and rightly so. I've found that it's not so much what you position is, but how well you express it that determines your interaction with the mods here.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:30 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


...rightly so pertains to being chastised not my asshole behavior.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:31 AM on May 8, 2012


Are you sure you're giving klang the same benefit of the doubt you'd give someone if you agreed with their position?

Pretty much I do agree with klang's position, so yeah.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:33 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I tend to like klang's writing as well, but he pretty often hits the third rail and starts arguing bombastically (I like that word thankyouverymuchjessamyn), and insultingly, so I just skip over now, once I realize it's him.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:34 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I absolutely did not mean to direct my comment at Jessamyn, nor anyone else in specific, and it's just coincidence that I closely followed her. It was a general question intended for everyone who found klangston problematic.
posted by tyllwin at 7:35 AM on May 8, 2012


Considered decaf, Klang?
posted to MetaTalk by ambient2 at 10:43 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites +]

posted by ambient2 at 7:40 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rykey: "but the heat seemed to turn up way quicker than usual"

The Occupy movement has gotten more and more contentious around these parts. Add a little Chomsky on top and you've got the ultimate setting for our traditional liberal vs. radical circular firing squad. These will occur more often as the election gets closer. Hurtful things will be said, the Nader effigy will be pulled out of the attic for burning.

There's no more hated enemy than the one who is closest to you. Especially since the conservatives here know better than to say peep.
posted by charred husk at 7:42 AM on May 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


the Nader effigy will be pulled out of the attic for burning

And fuck, is that thing getting threadbare.
posted by Trurl at 7:45 AM on May 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Should've kept it in the original box.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:51 AM on May 8, 2012


is this what you're like at cocktail parties?"

Well, I'm not dressed like this.
posted by fuq at 7:52 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love you guys/gals.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:52 AM on May 8, 2012


Work harder, klang.

Strange comment for an Occupy related thread, Overlord Trurl.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:55 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Careful Klang. I get comments deleted for WAY less than that. If you do this too much, the mods put a hobo mark on you or something.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:58 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


That thread was embarrassing. Instead of reading the article we jumped right into the juvenile mud slinging. It speaks poorly of the level of dialogue we nurture here when we'd rather sit around making personal attacks and hurling slander at the author of a piece than actually address the content.

Nobody halfway serious is going to want to be associated with that kind of crap, and nobody comes out of a conversation like that looking good. The comment section is a great place to discuss the article (or the broader topic) to disagree with it, cite contradictory information, debate it, share personal experiences, and so on. In theory it adds context and analysis to pieces, and that's fantastic. In practice, sometimes it feels like the youtube commentary sections. You can't have a rational, adult debate when the tone is set by jeering, sarcasm and dismissal.

I have mixed feelings about the role of moderation in correcting that kind of behavior. Maybe it's just not where I want to go to have discussions. On good days, that does happen around here, and I think that there's reason to believe we can do better. That was not a good day. (For the record, I'm not claiming to be blameless, it's really appallingly easy to get dragged down into that nonsense.)
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:02 AM on May 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


Klang crossed a line by making it personal. Not to the level of deletion, but he should not have used those words.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:03 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


This thread makes me feel like I do at work. Like I should be acting out MUCH more (because I'm clearly not using the entirety of the road). But I don't have the energy or inclination. But I guess it's nice to know I could probably push much harder into assholery without experiencing the ban hammer. You know, if I get drunk or something.
posted by kalessin at 8:03 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


P.S. I was being sarcastic.
posted by kalessin at 8:03 AM on May 8, 2012


"Empress C: I dunno - liza's comment didn't go nearly as much on the offensive (nor as personal) as klang klangston's did."

One thing I really dislike and don't understand about netiquette versus offline etiquette, is that while insulting things explicitly directed at an individual are considered unacceptable, much worse insults that are directed at a group of present individuals are considered acceptable. This would't generally be tolerated at a cocktail party, but is tolerated online.

So someone can go into, say, Occupy threads (dominated by pro-Occupy people who strongly identify with the movement) and egregiously insult pro-Occupy people as a group — including numerous people the poster knows will read the comment — and it's considered provocative and unpleasant, but acceptable. But if they say the same thing but explicitly directed at one individual (and not twenty)...then it's beyond the pale.

Worse, if someone really wants to insult someone and get away with it, all they have to do is write exactly what they'd have said to that person, but just modify all the pronouns and such so that it points to a group of people which definitely includes the insultee. Then it's okay.

Sure, I understand that there's some social and psychological distinction between insulting someone explicitly and directly and insulting them as part of a (present!) group. But it's a difference that is less great than people seem to believe it is. When you're a pro-Occupy person in a thread and someone who has been interacting with you and others writes that pro-Occupy folk are idiotic crybabies, and it comes not as some abstracted comment dropped into a thread from the outside but, rather, as part of a discussion where it's obvious to everyone that the insult was directed at people who are involved in the conversation, then those people are almost always very offended. Not quite as much as had they been insulted directly, but the indirectness doesn't count for that much.

In other words, one thing that I've had a big problem with in discourse on the 'net, and especially MeFi in my early days here, is what seems to be the acceptability of passive-aggressive insults while honest and direct insults cause shock and outrage. I cannot stand passive-aggressive behavior, and a certain style of discourse is dominated by it and that style of discourse is very common here and elsewhere on the 'net. In my very strong opinion, it's a style of discourse that is highly preferred by people who enjoy being provocative, even insulting, but are keen on avoiding the social consequences of provocative and insulting behavior. I fucking hate it.

I'm not in favor of insulting behavior. What I'd prefer is a prohibition on insulting behavior, not just insulting behavior that fails to hide behind passive-aggressive indirection. Or, if not that, then that both kinds of behavior are nominally acceptable with a bias towards directness so that the truth and consequences of provocative and insulting behavior aren't obscured or avoided.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:07 AM on May 8, 2012 [34 favorites]


I understand why klang was upset, and I actually thought that he was making a good point, which was being ignored and straw manned as something other than what he said.

That he got tired of hectoring is reasonable: the thread was full of lazy generalization about liberals that were being used as a proxy for personal attacks. "I'm not saying you, I just mean people like you."
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:09 AM on May 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


So someone can go into, say, Occupy threads (dominated by pro-Occupy people who strongly identify with the movement)

I don't think that's the case. Unless by 'dominated' you mean 'they post a lot'. Because I don't think in pure numbers that's the case. It's just a few people.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on May 8, 2012


Damnit Ivan: no fair writing it better and longer and posting while I was still spellchecking.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:10 AM on May 8, 2012


"I don't think that's the case. Unless by 'dominated' you mean 'they post a lot'. Because I don't think in pure numbers that's the case. It's just a few people."

That was a hypothetical. It doesn't matter what the specific group is.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:10 AM on May 8, 2012


When I read these sort of threads I imagine the discussions that must of gone on at one of these back in the days of ancient Athens. It is not a happy imagining.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:14 AM on May 8, 2012


What I'd prefer is a prohibition on insulting behavior, not just insulting behavior that fails to hide behind passive-aggressive indirection.

The problem with this is that what some people call insulting behavior others call a reasoned critique of the actions or positions of a group or ideology. The fact that some people identify with a group so completely that they take any attack on that group as a personal attack is a sign of groupthink. That goes for all sides in every debate. If the prohibition you suggest were implemented it would result in the quashing of all interesting discussion that involved opposing ideologies or groups. If I know my comment will be deleted simply for criticizing obama because some people find that insulting then in my opinion metafilter would cease to be an interesting place for discussion and turn into the kind of place you expect more authoritarian/conservative places on the net to be like.

In the context of this meta klang could have easily made his points just as cogently without the namecalling and personal insults. While some pro-occupy folks may have still been insulted by his comments I can promise you that we would not be having this meta.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:23 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is your flag button broken? Because mine works just fine.

Or maybe it's your move on button that's broken?

No, seriously, if there's one thing that bugs me more than people coming here to complain about how the mods are too mean, it's people coming here to complain about how the mods aren't mean enough.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:39 AM on May 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


If I know my comment will be deleted simply for criticizing obama

One thing I think klang was right to protest is to assume that everyone who disagrees with you is necessarily personally identified with the Democratic party and Barack Obama. This idea that Obama is a liberal and liberals do whatever it takes to support Obama is the whole reason klang was frustrated with that conversation. It has nothing to do with the substance of his criticisms, and yet you keep on trotting it out. He was directly insulting, it's true, but attacking someone for things he hasn't said is actually pretty insulting, too. It just doesn't have a flag associated with it. As klang himself put it:

But why are you so desperate to talk about Obama when my question was regarding local organizational structures of many Occupy encampments?
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:52 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really don't like these kinds of MetaTalk threads where one single person's name is what its all about. None of them have gone well.

First, what is the key point to be made and discussed by the community here? How to better argue? Less ad hominen? More self censoring? Whatever...

But what is truly achieved by this spectacle of public shaming - these threads feel like putting the individual into a stock in the market square and calling the rest of us over to pelt the tomatoes you have collected.

Note, this does not apply to the Scott Adams level of BS type of stuff but this, members of the community business.

Now, I don't want to pull out a name but look at this framing:

I would like

I would like it even better


You know, there's a lot in this world that I would like to and probably somethings I would like better but this, in this context, in this thread? Futile and puerile.

Just makes the GRAR more GRARIER... FIAMO

/ends sudden unexpected rant and wanders off to find the Laphroig
posted by infini at 8:57 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't get this at all.

If you dislike the way somebody frames an argument, it's kind of hard to tell them you don't like the way that they framed that particular argument without it being personal -- because it is. It seems to me that this was precisely the point that klang was making to deanklear. While I generally share your concerns about this issue, the way you frame it gets right up my nose.

Given that you're going to make it personal in that way, the comments klang made seemed really very modest. He didn't call anybody a cunt, or tell them to go fuck themselves. He suggested that they might not be a lot of fun at cocktail parties -- shit, helpful advice like that'd get you a Best Answer on AskMe.

Then, trurl calls out klang and tells him his behaviour sucks and it should stop.

To me, that's personalizing the issue way more than anything klang did in that thread. Telling someone that their arguments are crap is no biggie, but publically calling someone out over their bad behaviour is fighting words where I'm from, and is likely to get you a smack in the mouth.

But hey, Metatalk kind of encourages this sort of call out. It encourages a bunch of assholes to play junior prefect, and get their jockstraps in a wad over some minor and insignificant bullshit.

Get over yourselves.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:59 AM on May 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


I have no idea what you are on about as this is the first time I've brought this subject up. In fact if you actually read my comment you will see I wasn't even referring to Klang but responding to Ivan Fyodovich.

I also see you missed the part where I referenced both sides. Come on people read. Here let me quote it for you:

>The fact that some people identify with a group so completely that they take any attack on that group as a personal attack is a sign of groupthink. That goes for all sides in every debate.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:59 AM on May 8, 2012


I was responding to this comment.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:03 AM on May 8, 2012


"The problem with this is that what some people call insulting behavior others call a reasoned critique of the actions or positions of a group or ideology. The fact that some people identify with a group so completely that they take any attack on that group as a personal attack is a sign of groupthink. "

No, I disagree very strongly. I'm not talking about being critical of groups or even of being critical of individuals. It's possible to do either without being insulting (or deliberately provocative or the like). What you're defending with regard to groups should also be defended with regard to individuals.

Being insulting is distinct from being critical and, more specifically, just as in the case of such things directed at individuals, there's lots of speech directed at groups that is intended to do nothing but, or almost nothing but, insult. And I think this is almost always obvious to everyone in practice.

There's four (relevant) different ways I could respond to your comment and argument. I could attack you for presumed motivations and habits that explain why you'd defend this kind of behavior. Or, in the course of a comment directly responding to you, I could attack all people who defend this kind of behavior by talking about those presumed motivations and habits of that group. Or, I could be critical of your reasoning which leads to your denial of a distinction that I think is clear and try to elicit the points of our disagreement, assuming that we both want productive discourse. Or, I could be critical of reasoning like yours which denies that distinction and be productively critical of the group which agrees with you. I can be direct or indirect, and I can be critical or insulting.

All these things are not the same, but the biggest difference in terms of how the conversation goes, how people (you) feel about the conversation, and what it is that I'm actually intending, is between the critical and insulting examples and not between the direct and indirect examples. It's almost always obvious when someone is being insulting for the sake of being insulting — that is, it's either about them expressing their anger or about them being hurtful to another person, as opposed to having a productive conversation. Even when it's indirect, it's still obvious.

I think that the people who are passive-aggressive in this fashion (and I'm not including you in this group by the way, despite our disagreement about this) are saying what they're saying because they have a need for some conflict and/or expressing their anger but either intentionally or unconsciously are shielding themselves from the unpleasant consequences which arise from conflict and expressing anger. Also, people follow convention and when behavior X is acceptable while behavior Y is not, then people tend to believe that this indicates that there's some large and inherent qualitative distinction between the two, even when there's not. Again, in the offline world, the ability to insult present people as a group and get away with it is rare. I can't attend a cocktail party in a wealthy neighborhood and talk about how affluent people are assholes without provoking pretty much the same reaction as had I called a particular affluent person at the party an asshole. In fact, it can go even more in the opposite direction, where a direct insult is thought to be very particular to that individual and thus tolerated by the group as something between just the two of you, while a group insult involving present people will get you quickly escorted from the party (or the equivalent). Online, the opposite happens.

Offline, passive-aggressive expression is usually an interaction between two individuals. It's about their particular relationship (even if the passive-aggressive person does this with most everyone). Online, passive-aggressive expression is usually an interaction in a group context, involving numerous people. And those people on the receiving end have, as a group, a much, much weakened ability to sanction unacceptable behavior by individuals than they would in an offline social situation. This makes online group discussion a veritable utopia for passive-aggressive people. As long as they don't direct something at a specific person, they can pretty much be as insulting and aggressive as they wish.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:11 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


In fact if you actually read my comment you will see I wasn't even referring to Klang but responding to Ivan Fyodovich.

Fair enough. It seemed of a piece with what deanklear and Mayor Curley were doing in the thread, and not at all what was being discussed, but I see now that you meant it only as an absurd example and not as an actual proposal by Ivan.

Still, you were misreading Ivan, too: he wasn't calling for the deletion of every contentious assertion, but just equating direct personal attacks with attacks on groups that include your interlocutors. Since Obama is not a MeFite, there's no threat of seeing attacks on him as proxy attacks on members. Categorical attacks on Obama voters, or liberals, or Occupiers as a group would all be attacks that included members of this site.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:12 AM on May 8, 2012


Everyone's a mad because klang was right. And that cocktail party comment was definitely not over the line and barely even registers as a personal attack. It's a direct response to shitty, evasive rhetoric.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I thought klang made some good points.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:17 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Since Obama is not a MeFite,

cite?
posted by infini at 9:30 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for linking klang's post, Trurl. It was a good post and deserves more attention.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:36 AM on May 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ivan, I agree with pretty much everything you said in your response, but there is just one problem: you can't control how people will take any given comment. A religious person may be insulted at the suggestion that their particular revealed book isn't literally true. A person who accepts the science behind anthropogenic global warming might be insulted by a reasoned critique of the excessive use of models instead of hard data. A person might be insulted if their favorite author is accused of being an apologist of genocide. These are just some examples off the top of my head so please don't focus on them.

Again I agree with most of what you said, but unfortunately most humans that I have come across in my limited experience don't operate on the cold logical level(in so far as academic debates are concerned) that I think we would both like them to. So yes, in a perfect world your position is tenable and even superior, but in the real world humans are irrational and cliquey. I may be misinterpreting what exactly you are trying to say and if so I am sorry. I only disagree with your suggestion in the initial comment that there should be a prohibition on insulting behavior because what exactly that entails is a subjective judgement not an objective one.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:36 AM on May 8, 2012


FWIW I actually agree with Klang's assertion that not everyone who critiques OWS is an enemy of it or a crypto-conservative. I may disagree with his critiques of OWS, but he is certainly free to make them. The fact that he stooped to personal attacks and name calling actually does a disservice to his point which is actually quite cogent.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:44 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everyone's a mad because klang was right.

Nope, not even close. But you get points for passive aggressiveness, in trying to clumsily shove your viewpoint down everyone's throats.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:44 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


publically calling someone out over their bad behaviour is fighting words where I'm from, and is likely to get you a smack in the mouth

Calling someone an "ass" and an "idiot" can also be construed as fighting words. But since klang was at no more risk of a smack in the mouth for it than I am, this seems irrelevant.
posted by Trurl at 9:49 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Browsing that thread was like watching a bunch of people farting angrily in a cycle of escalation.
posted by ignignokt at 9:55 AM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


a bunch of people farting angrily in a cycle of escalation.

Doesn't end well. Ruins underpants.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:57 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I only disagree with your suggestion in the initial comment that there should be a prohibition on insulting behavior because what exactly that entails is a subjective judgement not an objective one."

Well, I agree that somewhere in the middle it's ambiguous. But there's a whole bunch of commentary online that is far from that ambiguous area. Saying that (present!) pro-Occupy folk are deluded idiots is not in the ambiguous area, although it's tolerated, while saying that a particular pro-Occupy person is a deluded idiot is not tolerated. Sure, on many topics people are very sensitive and will confuse criticism with insult. But the perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. We can tolerate the ambiguity, just as we necessarily generally tolerate ambiguity in life, without insisting that the ambiguous bits mean that such distinctions as I'm making are categorically impossible in practice. They're not.

You can go into pretty much any contentious MeFi thread and find many indirect comments which are egregiously provocative and intentionally insulting that are not in any respect examples of well-intended and productive commentary which are unfortunately misconstrued by those offended. Those stand, while those directed at individuals do not. I realize that this is a pervasive online etiquette distinction which seems to be obvious and sensible to perhaps a majority of people — I think this is a mistake which actually increases bad behavior rather than that it's a productive place at which to draw the line. The line should be drawn at the insult/criticism distinction, or at the egregious/tolerable distinction, not the direct/indirect distinction which is easy to identify yet practically not very meaningful. The main reason it's a pervasive standard is because it's a crystal-clear distinction, not because it is, in the end, very helpful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:04 AM on May 8, 2012


Ivan, I understand where you're coming from, but I sort of worry that its logical end point is to take away one of the things that make online conversations interesting: that you can have dialogs which you can't have a party. I really can't go to a party in someone's gated neighborhood and discuss with them whether all gated neighborhoods are socially destructive, while they tell me about about how its the only way to keep their kids safe. In a more neutral space I can have that discussion with a an implied caveat of "but you seem like a decent human being and I'm looking at a behavior, not your worth as a person." It doesn't have to stem from some passive-aggressive source. It can just be a case of "I can't say this to you in most normal social interactions, but the different rules here make the discussion possible."
posted by tyllwin at 10:06 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


On a tangent - it just struck me that people get called out for diagnosing interlocutors with schizophrenia or ADHD, but not for passive-aggression. Is it because it was moved to an appendix in DSM-IV? I guess that back in the days of DSM-III people were less cautious in general about language like that, so it would probably be hard to establish a control...
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:10 AM on May 8, 2012


"passive-aggressive" is still a general-purpose adjective like "narcissistic." You'd get called out of you said someone had a passive-aggressive personality disorder.
posted by tyllwin at 10:13 AM on May 8, 2012


That does make sense... cool. Tangent over!
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:19 AM on May 8, 2012


The main reason it's a pervasive standard is because it's a crystal-clear distinction, not because it is, in the end, very helpful.

Well one of the issues here is having easily understandable "This sort of thing is okay, this sort of thing is not okay" outlines of what is and isn't okay, especially for comments. And that is actually quite helpful in terms of keeping this place running. I understand your larger point, that this guideline may not have as much of an effect on actually promoting civil discourse as we'd like. On the other hand, it's really important that we not have opinion-based outlines of what is and isn't okay here (which people accuse us of all the time anyhow) so it's easier to draw a line and set expectations "Don't make this shit personal" that people can understand.

Some people are terrible judges of their own tone and the impact of their words. Setting up guidelines like "Don't be provocative" for comments would be difficult. We have a general guideline like that for posts and it's one of the more problematic aspects of post deletions here.

And I agree with you, the whole thing is problematic and we see a lot of people making ugly generalizations about types of people that are just bad comments. But, they're not against the rules (by and large) and we expect people to respond to them or ignore them as they see fit. However if there are people who have a sort of constant problem with this, we'll also talk to them in a "Hey you seem to show up in these threads and bitch about how much you don't like this type of person and it's a little tiresome, maybe a little less of that?" [and this is whether it's someone ranting about Texas, women, Christians, whatever] because just being the hobbyhorse axe-grinder isn't great at any level, no matter what your cause is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:20 AM on May 8, 2012


Everyone's a mad because klang was right.

Nope, not even close. But you get points for passive aggressiveness,


What's passive aggressive about flatly declaring your point of view is the right one? I'd call that blunt, and in this case inaccurate. Because everyone isn't mad. I favorited Klang's comment because A. I mostly agree, B. I specifically appreciate that there's not much passive about it.

Not that this site wouldn't sink fast if everyone just brashly said EVERYTHING that was on their mind, unfiltered. But they don't. And Klang tends to do it quite well, tends to save his best shots for situations where they're appropriate. Reminds me of an old tough-guy friend about whom it was once said, he almost always beats up the right the people. Almost.
posted by philip-random at 10:20 AM on May 8, 2012


FWIW I actually agree with Klang's assertion that not everyone who critiques OWS is an enemy of it or a crypto-conservative. I may disagree with his critiques of OWS, but he is certainly free to make them. The fact that he stooped to personal attacks and name calling actually does a disservice to his point which is actually quite cogent.

Absolutely. One of the things that pisses me off in these OWS threads though (and I am not talking about Klang here) is the idea that's put forth that there is little internal criticism within OWS, and the slap downs are just some mefites' ways of giving the movement a much-needed reality check.

Every working group meeting and most online discussions from the working groups I'm involved with consist of lots of respectful back and forth that examines multiple concerns and ideas about approaches, actions, goals, etc. Not just for the specific issues central to those working groups but to the movement as a whole. We aren't utter morons who don't have access to all of the same media the people who are critiquing the movement (though it's a stretch to call the "loser park-camper cop-baiting pseudo-liberal smug smelly violent hippies-get-a-job" comments critique). Considering and planning where the movement needs to go and how it best to get it there along with shorter term goals and actions is addressed all of the time. This is the *hard work* part of being involved and fully engaging with other participants, and rigorous discourse and analysis before and after every decision and/or action is healthy and crucial.
posted by stagewhisper at 10:22 AM on May 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


it's easier to draw a line and set expectations "Don't make this shit personal" that people can understand.

Should this also be considered to apply for entire threads in addition to comments alone?
posted by infini at 10:27 AM on May 8, 2012


klangklangston was disagreeing disagreeing sharply but coherently with another poster. Yeah, we could do with less "Just consider this, you condescending, hectoring ass", but there's a big difference between this and comments which consist solely or primarily of insults. I think comments like this should be allowed to stand, though the participant(s) could stand to dial it back a bit. I think I think comments that consist purely of insults should be deleted.

And I think comments primarily insult people because of who they are (eg. "we don't need fucking rednecks like you here") are much worse than comments that insult people for what they said ("that's fucking idiotic").
posted by nangar at 10:39 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Should this also be considered to apply for entire threads in addition to comments alone?

I don't understand what you mean. Maybe you could elaborate?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:40 AM on May 8, 2012


Since Obama is not a MeFite,

cite?


Close. Celt.
posted by O'Bama at 10:47 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are starving children in Africa you know. $5 can go a long way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:53 AM on May 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Absolutely. One of the things that pisses me off in these OWS threads though (and I am not talking about Klang here) is the idea that's put forth that there is little internal criticism within OWS, and the slap downs are just some mefites' ways of giving the movement a much-needed reality check.

To quote Joe Macare of truth-out.org on responses to Occupy: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they write endless op-eds telling you what you ought to do".
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:53 AM on May 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


Shit, there are starving children in your city in North America, among a million other worthy recipients. I hate that jokey one-off account shit.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 AM on May 8, 2012


I bookend in shit, I tell ya.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should this also be considered to apply for entire threads in addition to comments alone?

I don't understand what you mean. Maybe you could elaborate?


Ja, sorry about that one liner. I was referring to threads like this one we are in which could be considered an ad hominem thread, i.e. making it personal by singling out one individual (and this is not the only one) and perhaps finding another way to address one on one issues - like email, memail, the mod channel or whatever... and of course, there might be caveats or considerations (for the judgement calls) such as does this callout require the community's participation? Is it relevant? It is necessary? That is kind of what I was thinking but its a rambling thought, from the original idea of "not making things personal".

Yes, its the gray but these type of callouts could conceivably deleted and I think perhaps, at minimum, should be not encouraged, if they cannot be deleted for a wide variety of reasons etc etc.

(Hope this makes some sense, fingers seem fuzzy typoing today)
posted by infini at 11:00 AM on May 8, 2012


What's passive aggressive about flatly declaring your point of view is the right one?

There's a wide, wide gulf of difference between making a reasoned case for your view, and flatly declaring yours to be automatically correct by using the community as proxy mob.

Trurl's callout is correct, because klang is frequently belligerent and has chosen not rein it in. If flagging doesn't work, then bringing it to Metatalk is the correct thing to do.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ja, sorry about that one liner. I was referring to threads like this one we are in which could be considered an ad hominem thread, i.e. making it personal by singling out one individual (and this is not the only one) and perhaps finding another way to address one on one issues

MetaTalk has different guidelines than the rest of the site and having threads to call out a particular individual aren't against the guidelines although we'd appreciate people being somewhat careful about them. The guidelines are flat out different as far as removing comments as well. The sorts of insults that would be deleted in MeFi might be okay here, though we'll still delete the rare egregiously over the top bomb-lobbing sort of comment from here.

But at some level if you think that someone has an ongoing issue that you feel is affecting the community and you don't feel that he mods are resolving it, it's okay to bring it here. The fact that some people don't like that aspect of it--this community is particularly sensitive to the public shaming aspect of individual callouts--doesn't mean it's not okay to do it. It just tends to not go well, so people have to take their chances when they make that sort of a post here.

We'd like people to try other avenues of communication first, sure. However if those don't work, MetaTalk is an option. Partly it's good for setting expectations in a "Is this user's behavior a problem for others here?" and partly it can give you a public mod response to how they feel about it which may help inform your actions and opinions going forward.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:05 AM on May 8, 2012


does this callout require the community's participation?

I think it does in this case.

If klang is going to flagrantly ignore the mods, who actually have the power to delete his comments or suspend his commenting privileges, he's certainly not going to heed a single MeFite contacting him privately.
posted by Trurl at 11:08 AM on May 8, 2012


Not sure how klang's comment is any more insulting than Trurl's standard operating procedure. I'll take a direct insult over an insufferable, holier-than-thou manner everday.

No amount of name calling is more insulting than obnoxious rhetoric like "If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you."
posted by spaltavian at 11:08 AM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes, and reading Blazecock Pileon's comment helped clarify the need for this thread to exist, which I had not at all perceived or understood until this moment.

That, therefore informs me that part of the problem is the framing of these callouts, perhaps, than the actual fact of such a thread.

What, if anything, can we do/can be done to help mitigate bad framing leading to wendell threads?

Something like what you do for FPPs? Delete the bad framing and then allow the callout to be republished with better framing? Especially if it is individual calling out type of MetaTalk post?
posted by infini at 11:11 AM on May 8, 2012


Not sure how klang's comment is any more insulting than Trurl's standard operating procedure.

And this kind of derail is frustrating, too. If you don't like the person making the callout, you can make your own separate Metatalk thread, instead of trying to hijack this one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems a bit disingenuous to solicit suggestions for helping callout threads to go better by derailing one in progress.
posted by cribcage at 11:14 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shit, there are starving children in your city in North America, among a million other worthy recipients. I hate that jokey one-off account shit.

You think that's bad, The Avengers opening weekend just killed 200 million starving kids. Joss Whedon is worse than Hitler.
posted by O'Bama at 11:14 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I appreciate your thoughtful response, jessamyn.

As I mentioned, this is sort of a particular sore-spot for me and I can't say exactly why that is. I don't really like confrontation at all, but I personally find direct confrontation and aggression easier to deal with than the kind that is clearly intended to provoke or hurt but which is presented in a form which provides plausible deniability. In my experience this latter kind of comment, and this kind of behavior from someone over time, causes a great deal of generalized bad feeling and more collateral conflict than it avoids. And I guess what really bothers me is that there's so little accountability. With direct aggression and bad behavior, there's a responsibility for the consequences that's difficult to avoid (removing oneself from the discussion is usually the only way to do so).

But with this indirect stuff, the people at which it's (in)directed still get their feelings hurt and get upset, and they either stifle any reaction because they somehow feel it to be disproportionate or invalid, or they end up responding to it directly with anger...and then they become the Bad Guy. (I admit, I find myself in this situation regularly; though much less often now than in the past.)

And from the perspective of being the person who says provocative or insulting or hurtful things, I prefer that my choices have immediate and unambiguous consequences for which I am held responsible. For example, if in an theism/atheism thread I were to get angry and call someone a jerk, then I immediately feel the consequences of that choice and learn from it. Alternatively, if, in the same thread, I were to get angry and call atheists or theists in general jerks, then it will cause some heat in response, but usually because I used excessive language and not because I was implicitly calling actual people participating in the conversation jerks. And the heated responses will be spread around, usually involving numerous people who are upset in response, or on my behalf. I don't learn from this.

I am not happy about this particular MeTa callout, but I think it's a useful example for this general topic. Whether or not klang's comment was objectionable, the fact that he used strong and insulting language in a direct manner meant that he has been held responsible for it. If he had not directed his words specifically toward deanklear but, as part of engaging deanklear in the conversation, had directed the very same harsh words toward the group which deanklear was representing in the exchange, he'd have gotten away with it while insulting deanklear almost as much and, worse, everyone else there who was in the same targeted group. In the case of what actually happened, his insults were directed only against a specific person and he's been immediately held responsible for them. In the alternative, his insults would have been directed toward numerous people present and he wouldn't have been held responsible for them — or, at least, not very much so.

I think this situation is a better situation than the more usual alternative. Everyone, especially klang, is forced to think about the words they use and how they affect people. In the usual alternative, we pretend those words have less impact than they do and we don't learn from our behavior.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:15 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, its the gray but these type of callouts could conceivably deleted and I think perhaps, at minimum, should be not encouraged, if they cannot be deleted for a wide variety of reasons etc etc.

How long have you been around? Also, this callout has been pretty tame. No one is calling for Klang to be banned or even to have his comments deleted. Some of us would just like it if he could try to be a bit more cordial.

I'm thinking Joe.........ahem...I mean Trurl's history has a lot to do with what I see as a pretty straightforward callout being derailed by some very disingenuous mefites who should probably knock it off.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:16 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm confused by all these hints and undercurrents and implications. I shall at least step back and allow this proceed.

I think I was thinking more of earlier ones which singled individuals out than this one in particular and then simply entered into the conversation further in answering a question.

/night.
posted by infini at 11:19 AM on May 8, 2012


Yeah, we could do with less "Just consider this, you condescending, hectoring ass", but there's a big difference between this and comments which consist solely or primarily of insults.

The difference in my eyes is one is someone doing something that really sucks, and the other is someone dragging down something that's otherwise okay by doing something that really sucks. I don't really feel like sticking a shitty personal jab into a substantive comment mitigates the shittiness so much as it just makes the situation, discursively and moderatively, more of a clusterfuck.

So it's a hard thing. Inasmuch as its a thing that klang in particular has made a habit of and we've tried to talk to him about it with not 100% success, it's a thing I'm not really surprised to see come up in metatalk, though certainly its not unique to him. We could, indeed, do with less of it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:21 AM on May 8, 2012


What a hilarious meta. 100 comments and we're already into rules-lawyering as opposed to acknowledging the fact that if that post had been pro-occupy, no one would bat an eyelash at it. Snark and sarcasm in the service of far-left goals is fine, but not in the service of anyone else's goals.

It's not enough that this site is already overwhelmingly culturally progressive and pro-occupy, it's not enough that moderators already do more than enough at the margins to discourage honest expression of non-liberal viewpoints. No, the mods must get even more restrictive to protect the precious campers.

I imagine I'll be spending a lot less time here until this goddamned election is over, at least.
posted by downing street memo at 11:26 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Trurl's standard operating procedure

Uh huh. Well, post your own callout and we can all have a big old donnybrook.

Here, it seems a weak attempt to change the subject.
posted by Trurl at 11:28 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


the fact that he used strong and insulting language in a direct manner meant that he has been held responsible for it.

One can't be held responsible by mods short of a timeout or the banhammer. The option the mods give people is to take responsibility for their actions and moving forward attempt to self correct. According to the mods Klang has been adamant that his behavior is ok. Furthermore the mods are also on the record as stating that this kind of behavior is definitely not ok for metafilter...that seems to be a pretty good reason for a callout. If he chooses to continue in this manner a callout will not be necessary as the mods will probably give him a vacation. Which will be unfortunate because as much as I disagree with Klang sometimes he is always intellectually honest in his debates. When I do have a disagreement with him I can be sure that he won't falsely represent what I have said to further his own rhetorical goals unlike many here do.

Everyone, especially klang, is forced to think about the words they use and how they affect people.

Could you elaborate? Why especially Klang? I would think all mefites should think about what they say and how they say it.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:29 AM on May 8, 2012


moderators already do more than enough at the margins to discourage honest expression of non-liberal viewpoints....

....I imagine I'll be spending a lot less time here until this goddamned election is over, at least



I imagine some of the time you won't be spending here will be the time you might have spent providing evidence of this nebulous accusation.
posted by O'Bama at 11:30 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seems to me you don't want to talk about it. Seems to me you just turn your pretty head and walk away.
posted by slogger at 11:31 AM on May 8, 2012


Maybe it's just me, but MetaFilter has become an increasingly angry place over the past few years, probably as a result of the recession. Combine the anger with the dogmatic, self-righteous idealism found in the OWS threads and you get... magic!
posted by KokuRyu at 11:33 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Callouts certainly need context to make sense to those unaware of histories.
posted by infini at 11:33 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Maybe it's just me, but MetaFilter has become an increasingly angry place over the past few years,

Nah, same as always, like fucking and light speed.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:36 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


What a hilarious meta. 100 comments and we're already into rules-lawyering as opposed to acknowledging the fact that if that post had been pro-occupy, no one would bat an eyelash at it. Snark and sarcasm in the service of far-left goals is fine, but not in the service of anyone else's goals.

To be super clear, I mostly agree with klang at an ideological level on the things that I think he is too routinely shitty about in his choice of presentation. People going in crappy insulting/personal directions with their comments sucks, period. To whatever degree there's (reductively speaking) a lefty demographic bias in the userbase, it results in actually a lot more pain-in-the-ass work for us being generated by the folks on that side of the fence, not less, because crappy behavior is crappy regardless of whether it's in the service of a majority opinion or of something any of us might personally agree with.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:40 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not enough that this site is already overwhelmingly culturally progressive and pro-occupy, it's not enough that moderators already do more than enough at the margins to discourage honest expression of non-liberal viewpoints. No, the mods must get even more restrictive to protect the precious campers.

You do realize that Klang is actually, or at least according to some of his comments, a supporter of OWS.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:42 AM on May 8, 2012


Maybe it's just me, but MetaFilter has become an increasingly angry place over the past few years

Nah, same as always, like fucking and light speed.


E=MC2, where E=enmity, M=MetaFilter, and C=coitus
posted by O'Bama at 11:43 AM on May 8, 2012


Has anyone spoken up to clarify all the subtle disingenousities yet?
posted by infini at 11:44 AM on May 8, 2012


an increasingly angry place over the past few years, probably as a result of the recession

Given this site's lefty cant, I would say the current president is more divisive than the last.
posted by Trochanter at 11:45 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man I love/hate this place.
posted by Sailormom at 11:46 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The truth is the mods are all secret LaRouchies, the bias in their moderation style becomes clear when you keep that in mind.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:48 AM on May 8, 2012


downing street memo declared:
"the fact that if that post had been pro-occupy, no one would bat an eyelash at it. Snark and sarcasm in the service of far-left goals is fine, but not in the service of anyone else's goals."

?!

That's not even real. Why do people insist on this bizarre conspiracy theory?
posted by batmonkey at 11:48 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone spoken up to clarify all the subtle disingenousities yet?

Dude, you said you were leaving...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe no one's said this yet....


Metafilter: a bunch of people farting angrily in a cycle of escalation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why do people insist on this bizarre conspiracy theory?

The right's persecution complex is not something within reach of evidence or argument. The sheer emotional reward of the guaranteed moral high ground — of always being able to play the aggrieved victim — is enough.

This thread is a great example: here we have an internecine spat about various positions critical of OWS, entirely between self-identified liberal-progressive-leftish people, many of whom the mods are actively scolding — and somehow it still all goes to show that the right is the true victim here. This is a delusion, not a truth-claim; it exists because it's emotionally rewarding ego-protection, not because it corresponds to reality.
posted by RogerB at 11:58 AM on May 8, 2012 [18 favorites]




It's not enough that this site is already overwhelmingly culturally progressive and pro-occupy...


Did you read that thread? It started out on the right foot by suggesting that Noam Chomsky might be senile and support Khmer Rouge.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:01 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The actual right wing would be debating if Chomsky should just be shunned and reviled or thrown into prison. Posting thoughts and positions utterly common on the American right would get you kicked pretty quickly here. You really don't think that MeFi is a liberal place?

But I dunno what difference that makes, because Klang is a definite liberal in 2012 US. It's a fight inside the family.
posted by tyllwin at 12:14 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh huh. Well, post your own callout and we can all have a big old donnybrook.

Here, it seems a weak attempt to change the subject.


I'm saying that klang's behavior matches your own; in other words, you're getting out of it what you put into it. I don't think it's fair for you to act like a jerk, but claim klangklangston actions are beyond the pale. You simply avoided curse words.

Saying this: If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you.", is an insult. It was just as bad, if not worse, than him calling you a name.

I'm not "calling you out", because both offenses are quite small: you were being jerkish while having an coherent argument, rather than pure noise. And your level of obnoxiousness is probably only a little higher than my own. Still, don't be suprised that people react to the way you speak to them.
posted by spaltavian at 12:18 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone spoken up to clarify all the subtle disingenousities yet?

I'm naming my new passive-aggressive surf/drone project "The Subtle Disingenousities."

What a hilarious meta ... I imagine I'll be spending a lot less time here until this goddamned election is over, at least.

If it's all so hilarious, why are you leaving?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:25 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spaltavian, can you please set up your own thread, instead of derailing this one?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:31 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


But I dunno what difference that makes, because Klang is a definite liberal in 2012 US.

Ask him about gun ownership.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:33 PM on May 8, 2012


The right's persecution complex is not something within reach of evidence or argument. The sheer emotional reward of the guaranteed moral high ground — of always being able to play the aggrieved victim — is enough.

I do not consider myself a right-winger, rather someone not convinced by the absolute certainty with which progressive narratives of politics are sold around here.

Look at the thread now. Ironmouth is being accused of concern trolling - which is, of course, another way of calling someone a liar. Does the comment stand? Of course it does; personal attacks, sarcasm and snark are fine on Metafilter if you're a left-winger who has fully bought into Occupy. But if you're skeptical about the group's tactics, or - heavens - disagree with the simplistic narratives they push? You better express yourself according to every letter of Metafilter law or find your comment deleted.
posted by downing street memo at 12:34 PM on May 8, 2012



Look at the thread now. Ironmouth is being accused of concern trolling - which is, of course, another way of calling someone a liar. Does the comment stand? Of course it does; personal attacks, sarcasm and snark are fine on Metafilter if you're a left-winger who has fully bought into Occupy. But if you're skeptical about the group's tactics, or - heavens - disagree with the simplistic narratives they push? You better express yourself according to every letter of Metafilter law or find your comment deleted.


I'm just going to quote myself here, because I really think you're overlooking something:


Did you read that thread? It started out on the right foot by suggesting that Noam Chomsky might be senile and support Khmer Rouge.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:01 PM on May 8 [1 favorite +] [!]

posted by Stagger Lee at 12:36 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


tyllwin asked:
"You really don't think that MeFi is a liberal place?"

Neither here nor there. The point I was personally making was that there is no grand conspiracy of silencing the right-leaning for valid opinions expressed within the guidelines. They may not be the most common voices here, but they are not being oppressed here.
posted by batmonkey at 12:36 PM on May 8, 2012


"...because so little is at stake."
posted by jfuller at 12:37 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fine. You didn't like the first post. I'm not sure what that has to do with the rest of the thread or the tenor of MeFi political discussions in general, which is absolutely, positively hostile to anyone with opinions that differ from garden-variety left-wing activists.
posted by downing street memo at 12:38 PM on May 8, 2012


Ask him about gun ownership.

Ah, so it's the never fail a litmus test method as opposed to looking at how closely they match with which end of the spectrum on a variety of issues? Thank God. Now I can stop having to call myself a liberal and go back to being something else!

there is no grand conspiracy of silencing the right-leaning

I agree that there is not. MeFi is more tolerant of right-wing opinion than most right-wing web sites are of leftist opinions.
posted by tyllwin at 12:40 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The point isn't to get klang's comment deleted but to gently prod him to refrain from this kind of sophomoric behavior in the future because it is not good for metafilter or political threads in general.

It won't happen. Never has.
posted by juiceCake at 12:42 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


how can a global site lean one way or another re us politics ? Or is all this liberal etc business meant to imply that we are all american now ? (fone caps )
posted by infini at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


personal attacks, sarcasm and snark are fine on Metafilter if you're a left-winger who has fully bought into Occupy ... You better express yourself according to every letter of Metafilter law or find your comment deleted.

I am a liberal snarkopotamous who is very skeptical Occupy's political efficacy and I think Trurl (among others) is a silly, silly man and yet my comments remain. I refute you thus, sir.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth shows up in all of of the OWS threads to express his concern about how the hippies are dressed, he says he supports them but he does nothing but criticize them. It reads as textbook concern trolling to me, and even if he is genuine the result is indistinguishable from concern trolling.

His repetition in practically every political argument he engages in that the people who disagree with him are all only doing it because they are "emotional" is also condescending as hell and adds nothing to the conversation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Saying this: If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you.", is an insult. It was just as bad, if not worse, than him calling you a name.

You appear to be confusing me with the person klang was arguing with.
posted by Trurl at 12:46 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Saying this: If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you.", is an insult.

...um....How?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Spaltavian, can you please set up your own thread, instead of derailing this one?

I think what's he's saying is germane to the thread at hand.
posted by aspo at 12:50 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saying this: If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you.", is an insult.

Are you being serious? Sometimes I don't get American humor.
posted by pracowity at 12:52 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Look at the thread now. Ironmouth is being accused of concern trolling - which is, of course, another way of calling someone a liar. Does the comment stand? Of course it does; personal attacks, sarcasm and snark are fine on Metafilter if you're a left-winger who has fully bought into Occupy. But if you're skeptical about the group's tactics, or - heavens - disagree with the simplistic narratives they push? You better express yourself according to every letter of Metafilter law or find your comment deleted.

I wouldn't say it is calling me a liar, it is a simple ad hominem attack designed to avoid actually answering the question--instead attacking the motives of the people involved, rather than saying "here are my reasons why I think its OK that people are perceiving us as breaking windows and committing vandalism."
posted by Ironmouth at 12:54 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Trurl (among others) is a silly, silly man

First they call you silly. Then they call you silly, silly. Then you win.
posted by Trurl at 12:55 PM on May 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Then you win favorites on the internets!!!
posted by octobersurprise at 12:58 PM on May 8, 2012


Ironmouth shows up in all of of the OWS threads to express his concern about how the hippies are dressed, he says he supports them but he does nothing but criticize them. It reads as textbook concern trolling to me, and even if he is genuine the result is indistinguishable from concern trolling.

His repetition in practically every political argument he engages in that the people who disagree with him are all only doing it because they are "emotional" is also condescending as hell and adds nothing to the conversation.


let's be clear. I'm saying that in the past, it sure worked great. It created the modern conservative movement. Why emphasize your differences with the rest of the country rather than emphasize what you have in common with them. Calling for a May Day march in San Fran is excellent. Then allowing persons accompanying you to then break windows and destroy stores is stupid. I'm saying to win, look like the 99% you are trying to help. Because they are hard to convince. In Nixon's time they got whipped for this very reason. They did dumb things that did no good for them. Nixon's plumbers even went out and tried to do more insane things amongst them. You have to police for agent provocateurs. You can't just say "gee that wasn't us," because people don't look at your presser afterwords. They look at the crowd around an event you called breaking windows.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:59 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Or, you win a false sense of victory while the things that really upset you enough to vent on Metafilter continue to get worse while you're doing nothing in real life.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:59 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


His repetition in practically every political argument he engages in that the people who disagree with him are all only doing it because they are "emotional" is also condescending as hell and adds nothing to the conversation.

Then what is the point of looking and acting far different than the people you are trying to convince that you represent them? What is the point of giant puppets and all of that? If you aren't doing it to satiate your own anger, why are you doing that? Because Joe Suburbia (a member of the 99% by definition) is also into those things?
posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think everyone is already aware you are concerned they are sabotaging their chance at victory.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:01 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn said recently, "We have a closer-to-a-rule-than-a-guideline guideline about calling people trolls." She's here and can explain the moderator thinking better than I can, so I won't interpret that statement, but here's what I said in reply: If the rule is that people cannot publicly accuse each other of trolling, I think that's a good thing. It's a personal attack that is particularly corrosive to discussion. It makes the site worse. The contact form is an option that doesn't.
posted by cribcage at 1:03 PM on May 8, 2012


Ironmouth, these people aren't wearing costumes. They're young people dressing as they dress. Get over it.
posted by Trochanter at 1:04 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


In fact, it's possible that the way they look might attract other young people to the cause. And probably, if anything can come of this, it will come from the young.
posted by Trochanter at 1:06 PM on May 8, 2012


Ah, so it's the never fail a litmus test method

I was joking. There used to be a photo of Klang holding a gun on his profile.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2012


This really needs to not turn into a proxy argument about OWS or political imaging/branding stuff.

Ironmouth, to the extent that this thread is partly about people doing stuff that we've asked them not to do and asking you to sort of lay off or chill out in those sorts of threads is one of those thing, this is a re-up on that point. You are one of the folks who does seem to just get into those arguments every dang time and it would be nice to see you ease off a bit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:10 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


it's possible that the way they look might attract other young people to the cause.

It is possible. Nothing is as attractive to young people as other hip young people.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:14 PM on May 8, 2012


I just want to state for the record that all of you are perfectly welcome to hector my ass anytime.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:19 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


spaltavian said:
"No amount of name calling is more insulting than obnoxious rhetoric like "If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you.""

What a weird position to take.
posted by batmonkey at 1:21 PM on May 8, 2012


TBH I;'m happier when "Occupy" related threads are clearly marked as you know they are primarily the domain of tedious groupthink bores and outsiders are going to get a mouthful. Kind of sucks if that should overlap with any other subject of interest, but we already have this with Wikileaks the defend_Assange-at-all-costs croud and the whole business with fruit branded computers, so I'm sure it will work out.
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


And what do you know... Since this callout, klang's contributions to the Occupy thread have been beyond reproach.

Who says the system doesn't work?
posted by Trurl at 1:25 PM on May 8, 2012


artw, you're such a dreamy, freethinking iconoclast, you're simply the most!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:25 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is possible. Nothing is as attractive to young people as other hip young people.

Not sure what to make of that.
posted by Trochanter at 1:30 PM on May 8, 2012


And what do you know... Since this callout, klang's contributions to the Occupy thread have been beyond reproach.

Well bless your heart.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:33 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Who says the system doesn't work?

Seems to work like my Rock Tiger System™

But we have no idea. My argument was that klang was ratcheting down anyhow, but without any actual corroboration from him we're just playing the "Let's read everyone's mind" game which is really not that fun, which is surprising considering how often people seem to play it.

And to speak to cribcage's point above. Our feeling is that once you've accused someone of trolling, you're basically making an argument personal as well as talking about more general site issues and we feel like if that's what you think, you need to talk to us or come to MetaTalk because there is pretty much no simple way to discuss "Is this user trolling" and have the original discussion remain intact.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:42 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well bless your heart.

Now that's how you do snide. Props.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:42 PM on May 8, 2012


we're just playing the "Let's read everyone's mind" game which is really not that fun, which is surprising considering how often people seem to play it.

Basically it is the Metafilter version of Farmville.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:43 PM on May 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


I do not consider myself a right-winger, rather someone not convinced by the absolute certainty with which progressive narratives of politics are sold around here. [...] personal attacks, sarcasm and snark are fine on Metafilter if you're a left-winger who has fully bought into Occupy

the tenor of MeFi political discussions in general, which is absolutely, positively hostile to anyone with opinions that differ from garden-variety left-wing activists

I don't disagree that a given MeFi politics thread sometimes seems to have a strong consensus current which makes disagreeing feel like swimming upstream, but you're oversimplifying how that works so hugely that your descriptions just seem totally false to me. There are times when it seems like questioning or disagreeing with certain positions or ideas (probably, yes, on average these tend to be liberal-ish ideas) is met with a heap more derision and/or smug condescension than it ought to be. But I can think of a lot of times that the comments that get that treatment have come from other directions besides the right — from a hardcore civil-libertarian stance against "hate" speech/crime laws, say, from anarchists or Marxists or other kinds of (left) radicals who are skeptical of work-within-the-system meliorism or identity politics or electoral campaigning, and so on ad infinitum.

It just seems nuts to portray MeFi as a unified front of "left-wingers" and "garden-variety... activists" when there is so much vocal intra-left and/or leftist-versus-liberal and/or what-the-hell-is-the-left-anyway disagreement here — and so little consistency even across any two threads about what positions draw the most flak. The political current depends on who shows up that day, and what mood they're in; and a ton of what might look like "political" censure is really responding more to the bad manners of a given comment/commenter than the position involved, especially with the few highly vocal, highly repetitive regulars to these arguments. It's nowhere near as homogeneous nor as predictable as you're making it out to be.
posted by RogerB at 1:43 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Roland: would you believe I was born well north of the Mason/Dixon line?....

(This New England-born gal also makes some kick-ass jambalaya, too. Go figure.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on May 8, 2012


We take all comers to our superior snark culture here in the south. I'm just sad that, as a man, my ability to bust out with 'Well bless your heart" is sadly limited. I just confine myself to a guttural "mmmm hmm" followed by spitting tobacco juice on the offender's shoes.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2012


Would you like some sweet tea with that?
posted by O'Bama at 1:51 PM on May 8, 2012


we already have this with Wikileaks the defend_Assange-at-all-costs croud and the whole business with fruit branded computers, so I'm sure it will work out

Keep grinding your axe, Artw.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:52 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm actually prouder of the jambalaya than the snark....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:53 PM on May 8, 2012


Re: direct insults and group insults -

I think the important distinction between these two is the former is an attack on a person's character, while the latter is an attack on a set of behaviors.

Like, for example: someone starts a thread about the punk rock movement of the late 70s/early 80s, and someone said "I think Green Day counts as punk - punk is a musical style, not a political or cultural stance".

Direct insult: "Marisa, you mealy-mouthed corporate apologist poseur dicknose, you are fucking wrong."

Group insult: "I really wish people would understand that punk rock as a musical form and punk rock as a political-cultural movement are inseparable, and it amazes me how deluded these sell-outs are."

The difference I see here is, the latter is calling out a set of behaviors, attitudes or opinions held by a large number of people; it is identifying what the speaker considers problematic behavior, separate from whichever individual might be exhibiting this behavior. The former, on the other hand, swings the focus away from the actual heart of the matter - the attitudes expressed - and makes the argument All About The Other Guy.

In other words, I think the "group insult", if anything, is more direct, because it stays on point as far as where the heart of the problem is concerned, while "direct insults" put far more weight on "this is me all up in your grill" than the issues the speaker actually has a problem with.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:56 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


But we have no idea.

It's entirely possible that his fury is but temporarily spent - awaiting only the next overstressing of his "thin tolerance for bullshit" for the chest-poking to resume.

But until he shows up here to disprove it, I am at liberty to adhere to my preferred Rock Tiger hypothesis.
posted by Trurl at 1:58 PM on May 8, 2012


Sure. In the absence of evidence, all hypotheses are equally valid.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:00 PM on May 8, 2012


Logic bomb.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:01 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it was because the Supermoon is waning. IN YOUR FACE, TRURL
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:02 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth shouldn't be discouraged from posting. His opinions, accurate or not, are always at least reasonable and argued in a reasonable way. His posts are far above the average of mefi civility and show impressive restraint in response to people with lower standards.

Maybe he's right, maybe he isn't, but I'd rather read that argument than some accusation of a guy on the internet being a covert operative or whatever which is essentially pointless and unknowable.
posted by Winnemac at 2:04 PM on May 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


My only problem with that input of his is when it's derailing, but even that's not a huge deal to me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:05 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marisa, you mealy-mouthed corporate apologist poseur dicknose, how are you doing? Seems like we've not seen you in ages.
posted by Abiezer at 2:07 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe he's right, maybe he isn't, but I'd rather read that argument than some accusation of a guy on the internet being a covert operative or whatever which is essentially pointless and unknowable.

It's not an either/or thing, though. The choices aren't Ironmouth or That Other Guy; there's thousands of people active on this site and in the cases where for a given topic one person or a handful of people seem to always show up and occupy many of the conversations that happen, that has the effect of crowding out other voices and making those threads kind of tediously repetitive.

Hardly an Ironmouth-only thing; hardly something constrained to one topic. But it is a thing, and it's a thing we've talked to him about. The request is not "stop talking", it's "throttle it back a bunch so it doesn't feel like every conversation is predictably a venue another round of the same thing."
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:08 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marisa, that isn't a group insult at all: it's a textbook case of attacking an argument and not a group. (Well, it attacks Green Day, but they're not here.)

When I think about group attacks, I imagine something like this: "As bad as the band is, the fans are worse. Fans of Green Day are all petit bourgeois teenagers without principles to sell out." That could potentially include members of the site, and it's not really much better than saying: "You like Green Day? You must be some unprincipled petit bourgeois teenager!"
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:08 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth shows up in all of of the OWS threads to express his concern about how the hippies are dressed, he says he supports them but he does nothing but criticize them. It reads as textbook concern trolling to me, and even if he is genuine the result is indistinguishable from concern trolling.

Who cares? This is not an Occupy Wallstreet blog. If you want to enforce groupthink, go to dailykos.
posted by empath at 2:09 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Well, it attacks Green Day, but they're not here.)

I smell another stunt account on its way!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:10 PM on May 8, 2012


Keep grinding your axe, Artw.

Heh.

LOOK OVER THERE! IT'AS SOMEONE SAYING SOMETHING ABOUT OBAMA AND IT'S NOT AN INSULT! YOU BETTER GET POSTING!

/slips off.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on May 8, 2012


I smell another stunt account on its way!

I hope so: Matt promised me a commission on all stunt account sign-ups today, but it's slow goddamn going!
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:12 PM on May 8, 2012


LOOK OVER THERE! IT'AS SOMEONE SAYING SOMETHING ABOUT OBAMA AND IT'S NOT AN INSULT! YOU BETTER GET POSTING!

s/OBAMA/APPLE
posted by entropicamericana at 2:16 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I think about group attacks, I imagine something like this: "As bad as the band is, the fans are worse. Fans of Green Day are all petit bourgeois teenagers without principles to sell out." That could potentially include members of the site, and it's not really much better than saying: "You like Green Day? You must be some unprincipled petit bourgeois teenager!"

Hm. Yeah, although on the plus side, any Green Day fans reading are given enough cognitive wiggle-room to reasonably think, "Well, he's not talking about me!"

In the example upthread, with liza's comment, she is clearly talking about a certain type of anti-OWSer - the lazy, snark-chucking, non-contributing sort. Now, other people who have problems with the Occupy movement, to whatever degree, definitely have the freedom to judge for themselves if these points apply to them or not.

Calling someone out directly and hurling those kinds of judgements at them, to me, seems like a different story, and leans heavily on the personal rather than the behavior.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:18 PM on May 8, 2012


But until he shows up here to disprove it, I am at liberty to adhere to my preferred Rock Tiger hypothesis.

When you put it like that, there's no way Klang can't show his face in this callout now! Unless, of course, he doesn't really give a toss about what hypothythii are caroming around in your head.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The choices aren't Ironmouth or That Other Guy

Third party solutions won't work, I'm told.
posted by Trurl at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


s/OBAMA/APPLE

s/OBAMA/ASSANGE
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:29 PM on May 8, 2012


she is clearly talking about a certain type of anti-OWSer - the lazy, snark-chucking, non-contributing sort.

I see this a lot with the group insults - when confronted, people generally claim something like what you did - that the target gets to decide whether or not the insult fits.

Which to me is totally disengenuous. The insulter is engaged with one person, either through direct address or quoting, and applies an insult to a group that the insulter apparently thinks the insultee is a part of. But then gets to shade with, for example, 'well, that was only directed at stupid people, so only if you identify as stupid can you claim that I insulted you specifically,' which most people are not going to do.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:29 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


have the freedom to judge for themselves if these points apply to them or not.

But when you quote someone and then make those kinds of attacks, it's intended to be about them. Especially when it's totally nonrespnsive to the quote.

To be clear, I'm not calling for increased moderation of such behavior, just pointing out that there's no substantive difference between personal attacks and group attacks aimed at your group. In this context, could you help taking it personally if I start talking about how much I love Iceland? (LOVE! Hiked a big volcano there last year. Absurdly good food. Best tap water I've ever had. Yes, I know that's an absurd thing to compliment, but damn! It was good.) If I said bad things about it, you'd be reasonable to interpret that as a personal attack, right? Why else am I bringing it up, but as a way of talking about you without using your name?
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:31 PM on May 8, 2012


Yeah, I'm not saying it's the greatest way to engage or anything. I just think weighing the criticism more heavily on the set of behaviors and attitudes is a better way to go. It's still confrontational, and can be done shittily, but at the very least we're talking more about the characteristics than what's wrong with User X.

Also, you went up Eyjafjallajökull last year? That's pretty ballsy - the foreign press coverage scared me so shitless I don't go further east than Vík anymore.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:35 PM on May 8, 2012


Sorry if I went into it here, but some other commenters made a series of statements saying what the other thread was like, and then some people started making comments regarding my participation in that thread on the basis of my arguments, not on the basis of any sort of saying mean things about anyone.

My point about Klang crossing the line but not being deletion worth stands.

Other than that, go after me in the other thread if you please.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:44 PM on May 8, 2012


Sorry if I went into it here, but...

Things would be a lot simpler here if people were able to just let other people's comments about them go unanswered sometimes in the interest of letting things drop.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:48 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You talking to me? Cause it sounds like you're talking to me.
posted by O'Bama at 2:58 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Yeah, I'm not saying it's the greatest way to engage or anything. I just think weighing the criticism more heavily on the set of behaviors and attitudes is a better way to go."

I totally agree with you that criticism should be about behaviors and attitudes and not character, but I totally don't see how that is contingent in any respect upon whether the criticism is directed at one person or many people.

I am utterly baffled at what seems to be your strong intuitive sense that there's this specific qualitative difference between indicvidual and group insults. The example provided by anotherpanacea is entirely unambiguous in being just as insulting, as even you admit. Yet you then repeat your assertion that there's this inherent difference. It's weird. There's no reason whatsoever that group criticism would necessarily be more about attitudes and behavior and individual criticism more about character. Just changing the number of people involved doesn't magically determine whether something is about character or behavior.

If the ethos is to criticize only attitudes and behavior, then one can restrict oneself to doing that with both individual-directed and group-directed criticism. Indeed, assuming that group-directed criticism necessarily is accordance with this ethos is a good way to be unaware when it very much is not.

Your argument seems to me to be an example of how ingrained it is in most people, at least online, to think that there's something inherently benign (or at least mostly unobjectionable) about saying anything about other people so long as its not specific to a particular person, even when the generalization includes people to whom the sentiment is expressed.

In contrast, as the man of twists and turns mentions, one credible argument that is often put forward is that if its not individually-directed, then anyone at whom it applies has the option of convincing (deluding?) themselves that it doesn't. This is a nifty alternative meaning to the phrase "plausible deniability", because it's about the plausible denial of the listener. Which, tellingly, also becomes plausible deniability of the speaker. Saying that Christians are ignorant and deluded and then claiming that, no, you shouldn't assume that you're one of the ignorant and deluded Christians and, importantly, that I didn't intend to include you as one of those ignorant and deluded Christians even though you're a Christian and I didn't explicitly exclude you, is a pretty mealy-mouthed tactic. I agree with a man of twists and turns that this is often disingenuous and is bad behavior. But I also think that the convention of group-directed insults as being acceptable when individual-directed insults are not causes some people, like possibly yourself, to just sort of find themselves being insulting in this way out of habit and conformance and mostly being unaware that it's actually often legitimately insulting and hurtful to other people. This provides even more cover for the people who are intending in some sense to be insulting.

I think that if one has something to say that would be unacceptably insulting and hurtful to say when directed at an individual person, then it should also be unacceptably insulting and hurtful to say it when it's framed as a general comment about a group which includes individuals present in the discussion. It shouldn't be any easier to insult (to continue my example) Christians who are present in an conversation by insulting them as a group than it would be to insult them individually in particular.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:01 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's sort of uncharitable of klang to not even show up for his own call-out.
posted by crunchland at 3:04 PM on May 8, 2012


Who cares? This is not an Occupy Wallstreet blog. If you want to enforce groupthink, go to dailykos.

I'm happy to discuss anti-OWS views, the issue with Ironmouth is he is reading off the same script in every thread on them with the clean up the hippies stuff. Or if not that, something similar. He is in those threads to complain and he finds something to complain about every time even though he claims to support the movement, that's why it comes off like concern trolling after the tenth time.

Not to mention the 41% self-id conservative thing, and the disagreement with him=emotional stuff that he trots out for any political argument on any subject.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:05 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am almost certainly showing my ignorance here, but... Rock Tiger system? Is this, like, a foolproof system for not being eaten by rock tigers, the proof of the efficacy of which is not having been eaten by a rock tiger?
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:06 PM on May 8, 2012


ROSF: SIMPSONS DID IT
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:07 PM on May 8, 2012


Later, a full-force Bear Patrol is on watch. Homer watches proudly.

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a
charm.
Lisa: That's spacious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
[Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
[Lisa refuses at first, then takes the exchange]
-- Maybe he wants it as a pet, "Much Apu About Nothing"

posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:07 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's sort of uncharitable of klang to not even show up for his own call-out.

I think it's his call to make.

Regardless of its merits, in all seriousness, I am in awe of his ability to do it.
posted by Trurl at 3:10 PM on May 8, 2012


"That's spacious reasoning, Dad."

I was curious if this was your error, and because I guessed that it wasn't, I googled it. This appears in many, many transcriptions of that episode. I don't know if they mostly originated from one or a few sources, or if it's a very common mistake.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:11 PM on May 8, 2012


It seems at least possible to me that as a logic professor I may have lost track of the way that ordinary people use the universal quantifiers, but generally speaking if you say "All X are Y" then you're implying that the X you're currently talking to is Y.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:11 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Probably originally came from the source I used, SNPP, they have been doing those transcriptions forever and tend to be a go-to site.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:15 PM on May 8, 2012


Weirdly, I did a search in my Evernote files to find the Tiger Rock quote to try to help and it came up...because only because I used it in a Metatalk thread about two years ago.

And in further "behind the scenes at MCMikeNamara's comment attempts", when I tried to search comments for "specious reasoning" to find that comment for the above link, I couldn't find it -- because I typed in "spacious reasoning" accidentally.

And it came up in 7 comments. Almost all the same cut and paste Simpsons quote probably. (I didn't actually notice the typo at first, just that, after I decided to use it as search input, I was shocked that the term "specious reasoning" only came up that few times in discussions here because... well, you know why.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:21 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am utterly baffled at what seems to be your strong intuitive sense that there's this specific qualitative difference between indicvidual and group insults. The example provided by anotherpanacea is entirely unambiguous in being just as insulting, as even you admit. Yet you then repeat your assertion that there's this inherent difference. It's weird.

Really? Alright, let me try to de-baffle and de-weird this then. But to start: it's not an "intuitive" sense of mine. Maybe it doesn't make sense to you, but that doesn't mean I'm going on gut instinct here.

I think there's a matter of degree here that needs to be recognized. Calling out a set of behaviors is not the same as calling out a specific person. We have examples such as anotherpanacea's, which yes, are insulting. Because it's saying "all Green Day fans are like This". On the other hand, when a comment is not directed at any specific person, but a set of behaviors that someone considers undesirable - however sanctimonious they might sound - this shifts the focus away from the personal and onto the behavior, and I can't see anything wrong with that, to be honest. "I don't like it when Green Day fans do X", for example.

I'm just saying there's a spectrum here, is all. Just because someone is directing criticism at a group does not necessarily mean they are attributing the criticism to everyone in that group, and I think being able to read criticism for that distinction is really helpful, because all too often I see people leaping to the assumption that they, as a member of said group, are being personally called out, when the critic is addressing behaviors within that group done by some or most, but not all, within the selection.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:24 PM on May 8, 2012


EmpressCallipygos: Saying this: If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you.", is an insult.

...um....How?


I'll answer that as soon as you tell my why you hate America.
posted by spaltavian at 3:25 PM on May 8, 2012


If you use spacious reasoning, you can get some serious dang time.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2012


"Regardless of its merits, in all seriousness, I am in awe of his ability to do it."

I don't think I've ever been the subject of a MeTa post, but I'd like to think that if I were the subject of one like this one, I'd do the same as klang. Threads like these almost never go well for the subject of the callout when they are involved in the thread. When they stay away, it's almost always better for them in both the short and long runs. It must be difficult to stay away when one has been attacked/criticized in such a high-profile manner, but conversely, it must also be a strong incentive to stay away when one has enough experience reading such threads to know how badly they almost always go for their subjects. So I don't know if it takes as much self-control as you seem to be assuming, providing that the person involved is very aware of the long history of such posts and their subjects.

"It seems at least possible to me that as a logic professor I may have lost track of the way that ordinary people use the universal quantifiers, but generally speaking if you say "All X are Y" then you're implying that the X you're currently talking to is Y."

I'm with you on this. But, looking at it from the other point-of-view, I think part of what's going on with this and why many people have a strong intuition that there's something much different about group-directed speech has a lot to do with the more non-rational, instinctive aspects of human social interaction and challenge/dominance signifiers and such. Like, say, the distinction between looking someone in the eye and not looking them in the eye while one is engaged in a particular behavior. There's no reason that the eye contact and the other behavior necessarily provide deeply important context for each other, but as it happens in humans as well as many other animals, they do. It may be that the distinction between saying something to a particular person and saying something to a group of people creates a distinction between the actual meanings of the words involved, even if literally there is not the distinction we're discussing.

However, I don't think this really clears everything up because I think that this general principle, if it's something that truly is active in humans, is also involved in passive-aggressive behavior categorically. Passive-aggressive behavior is a type of behavior that expresses its aggression in ways that are less likely to provoke a strong and direct response. They're not, on the whole, that much less aggressive; but, rather, they just aren't aggressive in the particular ways that tend to cause people to feel immediately and strongly aggrieved. And just because there's a lack of that strong immediate response doesn't mean that the behavior involved necessarily lacks the negative qualities that the more aggressive behavior includes.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:30 PM on May 8, 2012


"It seems at least possible to me that as a logic professor I may have lost track of the way that ordinary people use the universal quantifiers, but generally speaking if you say "All X are Y" then you're implying that the X you're currently talking to is Y."

Sometimes, sure. But a lot of the time people just use words kind of sloppily. I've plenty of times had people say to me an "all x are y" statement that includes me (something like, "all men are jerks," say); if I then say "hey, what about me?" they'll invariably look surprised and tell me that they don't mean me, they mean those other X. It's more like they meant most, many, or even some X are Y, at least some of the time, sometimes -- but it's a lot more forceful and fun to say "all X are Y" and be done with it.

If you are applying the tools of formal logic to colloquial speech and informal writing, you are going to get contradictions, guaranteed.
posted by Forktine at 3:38 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll answer that as soon as you tell my why you hate America.

......'kay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:40 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never been to a cocktail party. Are they fun?
posted by Decani at 3:50 PM on May 8, 2012


No.
posted by O'Bama at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2012


"I'm just saying there's a spectrum here, is all. Just because someone is directing criticism at a group does not necessarily mean they are attributing the criticism to everyone in that group, and I think being able to read criticism for that distinction is really helpful, because all too often I see people leaping to the assumption that they, as a member of said group, are being personally called out, when the critic is addressing behaviors within that group done by some or most, but not all, within the selection."

I disagree because I think that if one intends to talk about a certain kind of behavior prevalent within a group, then one should talk about that behavior and not use the group as a whole as a shorthand for that behavior. Further, I think that what you're claiming is pretty much exactly the opposite of how most people think and behave — that is, they don't keep in mind that individuals vary and that generalizing about a group isn't a categorical statement about that group. Rather, I think that most people just end up equating their generalization with all members of that group, excepting the occasions when they're confronted with the exceptions (or they know someone personally who they think of as an exception). In this very thread there's a good example of this with regard to how many people think about gun owners.

And, again, there's just no connection between group/individual and behavior/character. If you want to be only critical about behavior and not character, then concentrating upon the group/individual distinction isn't going to help you, even though you keep claiming that it does. You're actually arguing in the alternative here — on the one hand, you are asserting that group criticisms are inherently more likely to be criticisms of behavior and attitudes and not character, so in that sense they're not insults or objectionable in the way we're discussing. But, on the other hand, you're arguing that criticism aimed at groups which are insults or objectionable are not necessarily insults or objectionable to any individual people because such generalizations are understood to not apply universally. But if the former argument is true, then the latter argument is either entirely irrelevant or unnecessary. That you feel the need to offer both arguments implies that one are weak.

But, still, I think my previous comment about there possibly being some modal context that changes the literal meaning of the words is probably true. It's not about either of things you're arguing it's about; but, rather, it's that (literally and metaphorically) looking someone in the eye and saying something to them means something different in a very important social respect than it does when you say the same thing, with the same literal meaning, when not looking someone in the eye or otherwise addressing an individual in particular. The main problem I have with this, among others, is that in the online world these modal differences are much more ambiguous. In offline interaction, there's all sorts of attendant cues/behaviors that make these distinctions clear. Offline, there's a huge difference between addressing someone while looking them in the eye and addressing them while not looking them in the eye and addressing a group. Online, there's not nearly such a difference. Instead, the literal meaning of the words themselves carries most of the communicative burden. Because of that, the logical, rational parsing of the meanings of someone's words weighs relatively much more heavily than it otherwise would and so we're back to anotherpanacea's point that "if you say 'All X are Y' then you're implying that the X you're currently talking to is Y."
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:54 PM on May 8, 2012


I think that what you're claiming is pretty much exactly the opposite of how most people think and behave — that is, they don't keep in mind that individuals vary and that generalizing about a group isn't a categorical statement about that group.

If there are people who read "I don't like it when X people do Y" as "All X people do Y", then I don't really see that as the problem of the critic but of the person not reading critically enough to make the distinction.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, you all need to drop these silly disputes and read the Archie Meets KISS comic about the real crisis!
posted by jonmc at 4:05 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's sort of uncharitable of klang to not even show up for his own call-out.

I've been called-out twice (at least). The first time, I participated. I didn't especially get anything out of it, and after seeing a pattern of how things go when people participate in these threads, I opted not to participate in the second one. It was the right call. I think Klang is making a smart decision not to participate—which isn't surprising, since Klang is a pretty smart dude.
posted by cribcage at 4:08 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's sort of uncharitable of klang to not even show up for his own call-out.

Really? God, I wouldn't show up if I was him, either. Threads like this are usually a total shit-show - whether MeTa as a body attacks or defends the target.
posted by smoke at 4:11 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've never been called out and I know I've engaged in some bad behavior. Sometimes I'll click on MeTa and hold my breath, but there's been no call-out thus far.

If it were to happen, and it was set up like this? Like hell I would participate. Especially early on. And given how jessamyn's said she and klang have already talked about this, I don't see what good it would do him to dive into the shark tank anyway.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:14 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, if I were klang, I'd stay way the fuck away from this thread. Talk about a snakepit.
posted by kalessin at 4:17 PM on May 8, 2012


He's got form on this, he never showed up for that arse-kicking party I held in his honour either.
posted by Abiezer at 4:20 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You think I'm kidding? Klang you of all people need to read this important missive! (really. it's actually damn good.)
posted by jonmc at 4:28 PM on May 8, 2012


Regardless of its merits, in all seriousness, I am in awe of his ability to do it.

I thought that at first too, and then, as the day wore on, and this became more and more tedious, I realized he was just a lot smarter than the rest of us (and a lot more skilled in picking his battles).
posted by HuronBob at 4:34 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


But a lot of the time people just use words kind of sloppily. I've plenty of times had people say to me an "all x are y" statement that includes me (something like, "all men are jerks," say); if I then say "hey, what about me?" they'll invariably look surprised and tell me that they don't mean me, they mean those other X. It's more like they meant most, many, or even some X are Y, at least some of the time, sometimes -- but it's a lot more forceful and fun to say "all X are Y" and be done with it.

If you are applying the tools of formal logic to colloquial speech and informal writing, you are going to get contradictions, guaranteed.


This is one of my biggest pet peeves on the site -- the idea that "we can't generalize" (which is, oddly enough, always advanced by human beings who have no problem acting upon countless generalizations and/or group affiliations in day to day life). I understand why people say this, as there are obviously exceptions to every generalization, but the idea that we shouldn't talk about group behavior at all is just bizarre. It's not even taken seriously by the people who espouse it, since the vast majority will turn around and attack widely-reviled groups a la Godwin (or Glenn Beck), so I'm not sure why the rest of us should take it seriously.

I disagree because I think that if one intends to talk about a certain kind of behavior prevalent within a group, then one should talk about that behavior and not use the group as a whole as a shorthand for that behavior.

The problem with this is that all groups are equal, but some groups are more equal than others. Power dynamics can make Behavior A extremely harmful when performed by the members of Group B, yet scarcely harmful at all when performed by people in Group C. "Talking about behavior" assumes that the issue is innate to the behavior itself, rather than the consequences of that behavior -- which may in fact change radically from group to group.

Or, in short: behaviors are bad because of what they do as well as what they are, and group affiliation has bearing on the former. Complaints like "not every X does Y!" or "but people not in X do Y too! Obviously Y is the problem!" can be worse than meaningless in the face of the actual consequences of X doing Y as a group. This is why "men's rights" and "reverse racism" aren't the issues of earth-shattering importance some people seem to think they are, for instance.
posted by vorfeed at 4:40 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, we're not talking about generalizations of men and white people, here. We're talking about obviously false generalizations of Occupiers and leftist critics of Occupy. I'm happy to say that "All white men benefit from unearned privilege" and have it apply to myself and my specific white male interlocutors.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:50 PM on May 8, 2012


I don't see what good it would do him to dive into the shark tank anyway.

The Old Gods have been awakened. Tribute must be paid.

Perhaps a sandwich?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:59 PM on May 8, 2012


You know, I'm actually in the midst of a rather ugly and difficult labor dispute at my job, and I stand behind my union and what they're doing. Some people involved in or fight have ties to Occupy, others (including myself) have qualms about them and we've talked frankly about that and still manage to work together productively both on the job and in our labor fight. This is why the crazy-ass combative nature of the Occupy threads here is kind of annoying to me.
posted by jonmc at 5:00 PM on May 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


"If it were to happen, and it was set up like this? Like hell I would participate. Especially early on. And given how jessamyn's said she and klang have already talked about this, I don't see what good it would do him to dive into the shark tank anyway."

It's really kind of unfortunate that it works this way. Well, my inclination is to think it's unfortunate. Maybe it's not. But it just seems like it would be better if the accused could participate and defend themselves and it would be productive. It rubs me the wrong way that it's better for pretty much everyone for the accused to stay away. Even so, as many of us seem to agree, history shows that good almost never comes from the subject of a MeTa's participation in the thread.

"If there are people who read 'I don't like it when X people do Y' as 'All X people do Y', then I don't really see that as the problem of the critic but of the person not reading critically enough to make the distinction.

I agree. But if, in practice, all these group-directed comments specifically were in that form, then we wouldn't be arguing about this. But they're not. In fact, they're rarely in that form. More frequently, they're in the form of 'X people are Y' or 'X people do Z' (which is distinct from 'many X people do Z'). Your examples are explicitly about behavior and are explicitly not categorical. But being explicitly about behavior and being explicitly not categorical means they're independent of whether they're directed towards individuals or groups. I'm not criticizing group directed comments that are explicitly about particular behaviors and explicitly not categorical and you don't need to defend such statements from my non-existent criticism.

"This is one of my biggest pet peeves on the site -- the idea that "we can't generalize" (which is, oddly enough, always advanced by human beings who have no problem acting upon countless generalizations and/or group affiliations in day to day life). I understand why people say this, as there are obviously exceptions to every generalization, but the idea that we shouldn't talk about group behavior at all is just bizarre."

I'm not sure to whom you are responding, because I certainly am not asserting that people should never generalize. I do think that at some point generalization becomes caricature and at that point is highly prejudicial and conducive to really sloppy thinking that is very socially harmful; but the specific argument here was about generalizing in insulting ways about a class of people which includes individuals with whom one is conversing. That generalizing about classes of people is a natural and unavoidable part of human cognition and not necessarily harmful has little to say about whether all such generalizations should be acceptable in all social contexts. Which is pretty much your point about so-called "reverse racism" — the context matters and so, similarly, it matters whether or not the group you're generalizing about includes people who are present. Arguing that generalization should be pretty much okay is in direct contradiction to your point that context matters.

"You think I'm kidding? Klang you of all people need to read this important missive! (really. it's actually damn good.)"

In October of 1978, I had just started my freshman year in high school and the prior two years (in junior high) had seen my first big break from the music my parents preferred and my discovery of the (at that time and place) scary and rebellious band KISS. I can vividly remember listening to Detroit Rock City (Destroyer was the first of their albums I bought) over and over on my semi-portable stereo turntable. And, in fact, on Halloween a year later in Lubbock I saw my very first rock concert on my own without my parents (with three friends, one older who had a driver's license and his own pickup to make the 90 minute drive). The concert arena was picketed by dozens of fundamentalists who claimed that KISS were satanists and corrupting children. That should have made the experience that much outre and tantalizing for me, but I was already mostly just very annoyed at the parochial small-mindedness of the Bible Belt. (Every year the prom was controversial because of the dancing.)

It was KISS's Dynasty tour — not a great album, but the tour was the first to include Gene Simmons in his wire-rigged flying stunt and Ace's fireworks rocket-shooting guitars. It was a great concert and still one of the best I've ever seen. I was close enough to the stage so that when they fired up the upward-aimed flamethrowers that surrounded the stage, I easily felt the heat.

However, that previous October, my freshman year, was when their TV movie Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park appeared on television. Even by that time, my infatuation with KISS had begun to seem a bit juvenile and unsophisticated; they were my entree into "hard rock", but once there, I found a bunch of more interesting stuff than Gene, Ace, Paul, and Peter's music. (Speaking of Ace's music, though, I heard Back in the New York Groove for the first time in decades when my then girlfriend's daughter was playing it incessantly a couple of years ago. And, weirdly, I think that song has weathered better than many of KISS's.)

Incidentally, also my freshman year my dad brought back for me from his visit to Juarez a huge black-velvet painting of the band à la the Dynasty cover. Unfortunately, I threw it out when I moved away from home after high school. Dammit.

The night the TV movie aired, I recall being simultaneously excited to see it and a little embarrassed by it. It's probably difficult for younger people today to understand this, and it probably has a lot to do with my own transition into adolescence, but right at that time KISS was moving from being a somewhat outre hard-rocking band to a somewhat ridiculous and campy parody of, well, something. (Sort of like Gene Simmons himself.) These days, KISS might as well be ABBA...harmless 70s fluff.

Were it not for bad luck, the spring of '79 might otherwise have been when I saw my first rock concert on my own, rather than the fall when I saw KISS. Heart had a date in my small farming/college town for their Dog and Butterfly tour and I saved and bought a ticket. But they canceled the date. Now, I maybe kind sorta think I'd have rather seen that Heart concert than the KISS concert. Nah, KISS was a lot of fun.

All that is to say that an Archie Meets KISS comic book pretty much is the apotheosis of everything that I feared about KISS that (Sunday?) evening when I watched that silly TV movie. I'm not sure what it says about the future I've found myself living in when such a newly published comic can be a campy pastime enjoyed by adults thirty-four years later.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:23 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


IF: it's actually kind of slyly subversive in certain parts (and sincerely affectionate, since Gene Simmons is an enormous comic book fan) and there's some great references to Kiss' music scattered throughout. It's fun. You'll like it.
posted by jonmc at 5:27 PM on May 8, 2012


The next issue in the series is even better: Jughead Meets the Juggalos.
posted by O'Bama at 5:30 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


klang's behavior in that thread is less of a personal attack, and more of a drill sergeant yelling at the flabbiest, mushy-headedest pack of culture warriors he's ever had the misfortune to lay eyes upon. Call up Karl Rove and tell him we give up, it's not even that we don't want to win, it's that we don't deserve to win if this is who we are, are you listening or is there some abnormal aspect of your character which would create a troublesome irregularity or otherwise cause you to be seen as unfit for duty in this historical era? I guess klang makes us run through the swamp, and Jenkins actually dies or maybe just quits and that's sad but okay, but by the end klang's saluting us, and you think he's going to cry, but it's just we made him proud is all.
posted by fleacircus at 5:47 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even so, as many of us seem to agree, history shows that good almost never comes from the subject of a MeTa's participation in the thread.

Possible Ways In Which To Participate In Your Metatalk Call-Out

1. Leave a short, polite comment that, as you value this community, you will seriously consider the opinions being made about your posting habits, and thank them all for their input.

2. Leave a terse dismissal of the accusations, peppered with observations about the OP's mother and her ability to jump in the air and get stuck.

3. Bang out a 4000-word screed howling with self-loathing/everyone-but-self-loathing, followed by account deletion, never to return. See also 7.

4. Quote each person who commented in the call-out, and respond at length to each one with thoughtful, sincere remarks about their points.

5. Quote each person who commented in the call-out, and respond to each one with a line from "Stairway to Heaven", posted in sequential order.

6. Pretend your account has been hijacked over the past 3 months by your spiteful and now-evicted roommate, while you were hang-gliding in Tierra del Fuego, raising money for an orphanage.

7. Create a whole new account, only this time adopting the persona of a character from Fallout 3.

8. Quickly record an apology song, upload it to MetaMusic, then post a link to it in the call-out thread without further comment.

9. Write a play starring the call-out OP as a mysterious wealthy baron, and everyone who comments in the thread as his dinner guests at his estate in the country one stormy night, miles away from the nearest town. Then record a reading of it, playing the entire cast, upload it to Soundcloud, and link it in the thread. Preferably while quoting a completely unrelated comment.

10. Take a photograph of your self looking contrite, holding your hands over your chest in the shape of a heart. Completely dispel any hard feelings with how adorable you look.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:03 PM on May 8, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm just going to keep option number 5 in my back pocket from now on, thank you!
posted by Chekhovian at 6:06 PM on May 8, 2012


It's hilarious the folks trying to make Klang a martyr. This has been the tamest callout I've ever seen. But really if I was him I wouldn't show up either. There is nothing he can say in his defense he broke the guidelines and he knows it. So going forward everyone knows where things stand: Klang thinks it's ok to call people insulting names on the blue. This is not a debatable issue. Jessamyn confirmed this up thread when she stated:

>klang should, in my opinion, dial it back and keep the personal attacks out of his bombastic comments. I've talked to him about this and he basically disagrees with my assessment so here we are.

He simply doesn't believe he's in the wrong here. Which is unfortunate, because while I don't always agree with his arguments and positions I don't want them to be silenced because he can't learn to not call people names...something most people learn in gradeschool....in the big picture I think he is an asset to the site insofar as he often presents a different viewpoint than the echochamber. Again
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:06 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty awesomely hilarious comment, MStPT, but your first item is actually really, really good advice:

"Leave a short, polite comment that, as you value this community, you will seriously consider the opinions being made about your posting habits, and thank them all for their input."

I'd like to see people taking this possibility seriously. I mean, I know that it won't be sincere in some people's cases, but it would be great when it is and it would still be pretty promoting of good-feelings even when it wasn't.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:12 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think I'd want to live in a future that lacked room for an Archie Meets KISS comic. It's just too awful to imagine.

Also, I wouldn't show up for my call-out, either. Where's the fun in that?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 PM on May 8, 2012


It's hilarious the folks trying to make Klang a martyr. This has been the tamest callout I've ever seen. But really if I was him I wouldn't show up either. There is nothing he can say in his defense he broke the guidelines and he knows it. So going forward everyone knows where things stand: Klang thinks it's ok to call people insulting names on the blue. This is not a debatable issue

Appearances to the contrary, this thread is not actually a trial.
posted by empath at 6:20 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, the Archies have come a long way lately. IIRC, they've featured both an interracial kiss and a gay male character recently. Plus there's two separate 'universes' going now: one where Archie married Betty, one where he married Veronica. That's pretty advanced.

Also, my wife teaches high school in a tough neighborhood in the Bronx and she sometimes gets comics for her kids with reading difficulties. Apparently, they dig the Archies. Who knew. (There is a very affluent section of the Bronx called Riverdale. Coincidence?)
posted by jonmc at 6:22 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Appearances to the contrary, this thread is not actually a trial.

Really empath? really? are you sure? I was under the impression that jessamyn was the judge and cortex the executioner.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:23 PM on May 8, 2012


Or, in the words of the sainted Oscar, "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:24 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


When people say that people from state X are all a bunch of ignorant inbred hicks, it is an insult directed at any an all people from that state would might read it. When a person mocks the mental capacity of Christians, it an insult directed at any Christians reading it. It's reasonable to assume that the person making the statement believes their statement to be substantially true, and when the person making it clearly knows that people who are members of that group are participating in the conversation, it's reasonable to assume that it's directed at people participating in the conversation.

Statements of this form only occasionally attribute a behavior to a members of group. When they do, they are actually attributing the behavior they claim members of the group engage in to members of the group. Usually it's the group members intrinsic value as human beings that's denigrated, and when behavioral allegations are thrown in, it's just used to underline this.

When a person makes a statement like this about an ethnic group, class or gender, it's reasonable to accuse the person making the statement of bigotry, because that's basically the definition of bigotry. Saying "oh, you're an exception" does not get you a free pass on bigotry or BS generalizations any more than "some of my best friends are X" does.
posted by nangar at 6:26 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I could execute a nice scotch right about now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:28 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


posted by AElfwine Evenstar I was under the impression that jessamyn was the judge and cortex the executioner.

The next time someone is banned, we could call it a cortexecution.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:28 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Plus there's two separate 'universes' going now: one where Archie married Betty, one where he married Veronica.

I can't wait to see The Crisis On Infinite Archie.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:35 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


(and Kevin Keller, the gay Archie character makes a big appearance in the Kiss/Archie comic)
posted by jonmc at 6:37 PM on May 8, 2012


Archie dies. A year later, four Archie's come back. But are any of them the real Archie?
posted by O'Bama at 6:40 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hint: Archie is his own Arch-nemesis.
posted by O'Bama at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2012


I've never been to a cocktail party. Are they fun?

Ever played pin the tail on the donkey? It's like that, but without the donkey. Fun for some, less so for others.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:46 PM on May 8, 2012


this thread is not actually a trial

It's a plane with snakes on it! Or is it snacks?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 PM on May 8, 2012


I could execute a nice scotch right about now.

I suggest trying a nice tasty glass of Flor de Caña with a bit of ice and a twist of lime. Go for the Gran Reserva 7 year old, and remember to sip it. After a few of these all your troubles will be forgotten.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:55 PM on May 8, 2012


Kevin Keller, the gay Archie character makes a big appearance in the Kiss/Archie comic

Ha.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:59 PM on May 8, 2012


I love you guys.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:05 PM on May 8, 2012


Also, I feel like in a lot of respects my politics are not dissimilar from trurl's and I also think his non politics FPPs are some of the best stuff this website has to offer. But I don't agree with this callout. I'm still deeply in love with him.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:15 PM on May 8, 2012


I'm still deeply in love with him.

Meh, I was more smitten during the Beese era. But tbh I think that had more to do with the sexy profile pic than anything else.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:24 PM on May 8, 2012


infini: "I really don't like these kinds of MetaTalk threads where one single person's name is what its all about. None of them have gone well. "

That's not so. The thread where rtha called out kldickson, for example.

On the other hand, kldickson did cancel her account a month later.
posted by zarq at 7:41 PM on May 8, 2012


Meh, I was more smitten during the Beese era.

Beads??
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:02 PM on May 8, 2012


AElfwine Evenstar perhaps you should reflect upon your comments in this post regarding the ideal and observe incongruous nature of your actual behavior in the referenced thread. Consider as an example your latest post where you state: For the last time, the goddamn point is that MLK wasn't the leader of some monolithic entity that "won" the civil rights movement
posted by humanfont at 9:25 PM on May 8, 2012


The thread where rtha called out kldickson
A great point was made in that thread:
"...these individual call-outs so often end up akin to a Maoist struggle session. Often makes me as uncomfortable as any original offence..."
posted by Chekhovian at 9:59 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


he can't learn to not call people names...something most people learn in gradeschool....

I don't think that was much better, really.
posted by Hoopo at 10:06 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


/find tone
2 results

polymodus is disappointed.
posted by polymodus at 10:43 PM on May 8, 2012


I didn't read the thread in question, and I've never noticed him being outrageously aggressive in the past that I can recall, but I must admit I kind of feel like klang has earned a few knock off the bullshits.

I don't think that's a phrase that is in any way outside the pale in general, myself, even if I do understand the wisdom of a moderation policy that seeks to rein in people shouting at other people where possible.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:50 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Why don't we require everyone to go all Emily Post and never use any swear words and lets all sit down for tea and crumpets and never have any arguments about anything.

A little full and frank discussion never hurt anyone. Some of you wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds on usenet.
posted by Justinian at 11:16 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of you wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds on usenet.

Usenet is still there. There is a reason that many alternatives to it now exist.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:56 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Here's the thing about the righteous and/or hellish struggle for the right to get personal and call other members insulting things: it hurts the site. It makes the place where you want to come have a relatively informed adult conversation worse, and it makes it less likely to remain a place where people who want to have a relatively informed adult conversation will come.

What are the upsides of calling someone an insulting name?

You might amuse some people (a few of the ones who agree with your "side")

You get it off your chest (some other people may vicariously get it off their chest, too)

You get to show how hard you are, or how cleverly you can lob an insult

It might make the thread all about you... which, maybe you like that attention

[more upsides]?

What are the downsides?

Conversation becomes more hostile generally and specifically, in the thread and on the site

Focus shifts from the topic of the thread to the "personalities" involved

Discussion becomes fragmented, with some people still struggling to talk about the topic, some discussing the spat between two or more users, and meta discussions breaking out about other users and behavior on the site

Mods usually end up having to try to clean up a mess, either with deletions of derails and meta stuff and/or trying to steer things with a note, which also makes some people angry. No fun for anyone.

People become infuriated, emails and flags are flying, Metatalk threads are opened, people close their accounts, grudges are formed

Some smart, interesting people are dissuaded from participating in that thread/threads like it/the site

Some other people see this stuff and figure that's how the cool kids on Metafilter play it, and start jumping into threads throwing around insults and striving to be as sarcastic as possible

Everybody starts feeling like posts that inspire these sorts of insults and personal aggression are topics that "Metafilter doesn't do well," which also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

(Dire Overstated Dystopic Conclusion: Metafilter becomes a place with less informed adult discussion, more snark, infighting, sarcasm, insults, flame wars, and dumb talk. In other words, more like the rest of the internet. And the worst part is that this can happen because the quality of interaction here is generally higher than that, directly due to the fact that most people do try to restrain themselves – which is what makes it possible for the clever person who wants to show off with sarcasm and insults to stand out more and get more attention... which inspires more like-behavior. But if that continues to the logical conclusion, the original performer will become just one more snarking, insulting, hostile, aggressive face in the big, big crowd of snarking, insulting, hostile, aggressive faces. No longer special. The people who wanted a higher level of discourse will have to find it elsewhere and the people who just want to attack and insult people have one more cozy home. Then the wolves come and devour us all, scattering our bones far and wide among the abandoned ghost towns of formerly vital posts and threads, and the few huddled survivors, ragged and starving, wait for daylight to venture from their hiding places, but daylight never comes. )
posted by taz (staff) at 12:18 AM on May 9, 2012 [23 favorites]


Some of you wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds on usenet.

Tell us about the comment wars again, Uncle Bob. Tell us about the time you and your buddy were pinned down in alt.tv.beavis-n-butthead. Tell us about the time you dodged poo in Yahoo comments!
posted by pracowity at 12:32 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Then the wolves come and devour us all, scattering our bones far and wide among the abandoned ghost towns of formerly vital posts and threads, and the few huddled survivors, ragged and starving, wait for daylight to venture from their hiding places, but daylight never comes.

*spouses taz instantly*
posted by infini at 1:34 AM on May 9, 2012


...and the few huddled survivors, ragged and starving, wait for daylight to venture from their hiding places, but daylight never comes.

Uncle Bob: "...and that is what happened after the Usenet Comment Wars. We were lucky to find shelter in alt.alien.vampire.flonk.fonk.flonk. Pray that you never see that day on Metafilter."
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:00 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Look at the thread now. Ironmouth is being accused of concern trolling - which is, of course, another way of calling someone a liar.

If I had wanted to call Ironmouth a liar, I would've called him that, not said his behaviour was concern trolling. Which it was.

Taking somebody to task for their bad behaviour != insulting them, even if you don't agree that they behaved badly. I've got no bone to pick with Ironmouth, other than that they made a bad argument.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:25 AM on May 9, 2012


I think it's sort of uncharitable of klang to not even show up for his own call-out.

I think his comments on the blue make it pretty clear what his response might be. In case you were wondering, pointing out that insults break the guidelines is "high-falutin' bullshit"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:26 AM on May 9, 2012


Meant to link here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:27 AM on May 9, 2012


klang told me once that i could shove a Heineken up my ass.

I eventually forgave him for that childish bullshit. And I'm damn glad he's around these parts, even if he occasionally veers a little farther into that kind of schoolyard territory than I'd like.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:33 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our feeling is that once you've accused someone of trolling, you're basically making an argument personal as well as talking about more general site issues and we feel like if that's what you think, you need to talk to us or come to MetaTalk because there is pretty much no simple way to discuss "Is this user trolling" and have the original discussion remain intact.

I understand that point of view and why the mods take it, though I do disagree with it up to a point. There's a difference between attacking somebody on their behaviour (even if you are wrong about it) and on what they are. In the thread in question I don't think I called Ironmouth a troll, just that he was concern trolling, which, you know, is a debating tactic everybody regardless their political orientation engages in now and then, isn't that big a deal but does need to be pointed out if you see it. Furthermore, I also argued why I thought that what they were doing was concern trolling; this wasn't just an empty aside.

Finally, that sort of thing for me is part and parcel of an animated discussion and it wouldn't even occur to me to bring in da net.police for. It's not somebody behaving badly or being a bad person, it's just somebody using a dodgy tactic to win an argument.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:33 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I had wanted to call Ironmouth a liar, I would've called him that, not said his behaviour was concern trolling. Which it was.

Trolling is, by definition, insincere, including concern trolling. Perhaps you didn't mean that, but that's how the term is used.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:47 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Naah, it's not nearly as black and white as all that, unless you call everything that's not the unvarnished, uncensored truth "lying".
posted by MartinWisse at 2:52 AM on May 9, 2012


AElfwine Evenstar perhaps you should reflect upon your comments in this post regarding the ideal and observe incongruous nature of your actual behavior in the referenced thread. Consider as an example your latest post where you state: For the last time, the goddamn point is that MLK wasn't the leader of some monolithic entity that "won" the civil rights movement

Hey if you want to call me out for my behavior in that thread go ahead and make a meta about it. Notice it's never been my position that Klang should stop swearing on the blue, just that he quit with the juvenile name calling.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:06 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Then the wolves come and devour us all, scattering our bones far and wide among the abandoned ghost towns of formerly vital posts and threads, and the few huddled survivors, ragged and starving, wait for daylight to venture from their hiding places, but daylight never comes.

Having seen an epic flamewar on an Austen list, I can tell you that this is the good outcome. We shall not speak of the bad one, because even the very flicker of its memory across my mind reduces me to a weeping, sodden ball of misery.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:07 AM on May 9, 2012


MetaFilter: People become infuriated, emails and flags are flying, Metatalk threads are opened, people close their accounts, grudges are formed
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:10 AM on May 9, 2012


A little full and frank discussion never hurt anyone. Some of you wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds on usenet.

As someone who spent years in various newgroups, partaking in cross-posted flamewars with rec.guns and regularly trading opprobrium with anti-cyclist trolls on the rec.bicycles.* hierarchy, I feel qualified to roll my eyes at this sort of internet tough guy talk.

Fun as it was at the time, the standard style of argument on Usenet was pathological abusive nitpicking, with endless nested quoting and smug 'your failure to address my third, sixth and seventh points is noted' crowing, as if simply having more patience to construct houses of cards out of greater-than signs than your opponent proved the strength of your case. Since I had many hours to kill (lacking both a work ethic and a social circle) and was young enough to know the truth about everything, I was pretty bloody good at it, but there is no sense in which is was a golden age of debate.

Listen, since you see Usenet as an ideal, why do you want to turn Metafilter into a home for multi-page grudge matches, accusations of pedophilia, Godwin-in-60-seconds Hitler comparisons and casual sexism?

Well, you don't want that, of course. I just horribly misrepresented your desire for more tolerance of aggressive debating - in the same way as you're misrepresenting calls for less insulting language as a demand for tea, crumpets, no arguments and no swearing. Members here differ over whether the most hostile 0.3% or the most hostile 0.4% of comments are unacceptable, not whether we should lurch to regarding absolutely nothing or 10% of comments as beyond the pale.

Personally, I tend to think that the loss of voices who are unwilling to debate without insults is outweighed by the loss of voices who don't care to participate in discussions where insults are tolerated. I could be wrong, though - perhaps the former are more valuable than the latter.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:44 AM on May 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


Some of you wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds on usenet.

are you kidding? - there were people who made a net.career out of whining endlessly about other posters' abusiveness

---

>>We were lucky to find shelter in alt.alien.vampire.flonk.fonk.flonk.

we were lucky to find raoul xemblinoksy in alt.alien.vampire.flonk.flonk.flonk
posted by pyramid termite at 5:04 AM on May 9, 2012


no swearing

In all seriousness, this would be a fucking effective way to improve the quality of our discourse. Swearing is a fucking forceful way of expressing emotion, but this isn't what we fucking need. Forcing people to express themselves without fucking swearing would lead to more moderate and better fucking conversation.

(Swearing added for illustration, not for sarcasm - I really mean it.)
posted by alasdair at 5:28 AM on May 9, 2012


Metafilter: better fucking conversation
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:33 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I'm ever at a cocktail party talking to some friendly agreeable person nodding even when they slightly disagree because, hey, we're at a cocktail party I'll be all like christ, is this what you're like on Metafilter?
posted by klue at 5:50 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


klang told me once that i could shove a Heineken up my ass.

please take the cap off first.
posted by HuronBob at 6:13 AM on May 9, 2012


If you can open one that way, you probably need to unclench.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:21 AM on May 9, 2012


Having seen an epic flamewar on an Austen list

You know, the thought of Jane Austen engaging in a flamewar is strangely delightful. She would have been so....elegant about it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:23 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The behavior's allowed so it seems like it ain't gonna stop. Are we up to double super-secret probation yet? Seems like it's on the mods to issue an ultimatum or they condone it and we live with it (or don't).
posted by ambient2 at 6:32 AM on May 9, 2012


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single poster in possession of the cheek to disagree with me must be worse than Hitler.
posted by Abiezer at 6:32 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


> I love you guys.

Where's eyeballkid when we need him?
posted by languagehat at 7:22 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, the thought of Jane Austen engaging in a flamewar is strangely delightful. She would have been so....elegant about it.

It started out classy, I'll give it that. By the end civility was a long forgotten notion and Anglo-Saxon words of the sort which I am pretty sure would never have crossed Jane's lips were being tossed about with the drunken abandon that one associates with sailors on shore leave. Careers were forgotten, old friendships broken, ex-graduate students turned on advisors; nothing was sacred and personal insults were sharpened by secrets spilled over years of far too much drinking at conferences.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2012


Metafilter: better fucking conversation

Oh Oh Oh [redacted]
posted by infini at 8:17 AM on May 9, 2012


Never simulate sex here.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 AM on May 9, 2012


GOES TO TROLLEY
....GOES THE BELLLLLL

sorry klang, ethel merman is hard to do off the cuff.
posted by clavdivs at 8:22 AM on May 9, 2012


Kling Klang is what you should be associating.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2012


ya, like you knew ethel merman
posted by clavdivs at 8:27 AM on May 9, 2012


I imagined thus of the Jane Austen fans, lesbiasparrow; I was more wondering what it would be like if Jane Austen herself tried to engage in a flamewar.
grizzle258: You think Pride and Prejudice outranks Sense and Sensibility? You wouldn't know good literature if it smacked you in the ass.

Austen4-e-va: Say what, you booger? You wanna try saying that again after I've kicked your ass from here to Bath?

j-Austen1: grizzle258, how horrible it is to say such things to another! And yet what a blessing that one cares for none of it!

grizzle258: ....uh....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on May 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was more wondering what it would be like if Jane Austen herself tried to engage in a flamewar.

Ah, got it! Yes, going by her letters she'd have no trouble crushing the opposition in about three lines. "Expensively and nakedly dress'd" is a phrase of hers that I have used shamelessly over the years.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:49 AM on May 9, 2012


"Some of you wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds on usenet."

Presumably you're including me in this claim.

Semi-randomly selected. The estimable HmfT crafted the most amazing flames in afu and I'm sure that I tried my hand at the exercise once or twice. I didn't find one, however. If we were to allow people to insult each other directly, then insisting all attempts aspire to the awesomeness of H's would be grand.

Incidentally, while searching, I found this post I'd forgotten I'd written where I mentioned that H, well-known to everyone on afu, was also coming to some public prominence as a developer of the upcoming, highly-anticipated game, "Half-Life". Weird.

The progression of the thread is also interesting because it becomes some light-hearted usage-peeving and this was before I became a staunch descriptivist and I still naively thought that S&W wasn't utter nonsense.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:04 AM on May 9, 2012


That was one hyphenated insult.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 AM on May 9, 2012


Or, even better, we could all aspire to flame in the manner of j-Austen1.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:08 AM on May 9, 2012


The estimable HmfT crafted the most amazing flames

that is a thing of beauty, there
posted by pyramid termite at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2012


Since the house is on fire let us warm ourselves. ~ Italian Proverb
posted by infini at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2012


I wonder if HmfT drew from "Do The Right Thing" for that kind of insult style.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:22 AM on May 9, 2012


Then the wolves come and devour us all, scattering our bones far and wide among the abandoned ghost towns of formerly vital posts and threads

Note: Sometimes wolves need hugs, too.
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the worst part is that this can happen because the quality of interaction here is generally higher than that, directly due to the fact that most people do try to restrain themselves – which is what makes it possible for the clever person who wants to show off with sarcasm and insults to stand out more and get more attention... which inspires more like-behavior. But if that continues to the logical conclusion, the original performer will become just one more snarking, insulting, hostile, aggressive face in the big, big crowd of snarking, insulting, hostile, aggressive faces. No longer special. The people who wanted a higher level of discourse will have to find it elsewhere and the people who just want to attack and insult people have one more cozy home.

You people should find some heavily moderated forums and spend time in them, because you are kind of stupid. People who are hostile to each other will be hostile to each other through whatever norms are enforced by the site culture. For example, here we have someone expressing hostility by running to Metatalk and telling mommy. A site full of people like this is hardly better than a site of dedicated vulgarians. Because really, there is no "higher level of discourse," only people who are willing to contribute positive things from a baseline of good faith vs. people who are not, and furthermore, this cuts directly against your model of an ever-expanding community. What you're doing is trying to patch over all that by culling comments and apparently trying to make this site a safe space for shitty people, which seems to be working, because who wants to read more than one in ten of the comment threads around here anymore.
posted by furiousthought at 9:35 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eponysterical?
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:38 AM on May 9, 2012


You people should find some heavily moderated forums and spend time in them, because you are kind of stupid. People who are hostile to each other will be hostile to each other through whatever norms are enforced by the site culture

I thought the idea here was that it was important not to call people stupid.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2012


"I wonder if HmfT drew from 'Do The Right Thing' for that kind of insult style."

Weren't we just talking about how Do The Right Thing is such a great-goddam movie? Because it is.
Yo! Hold up! Time-out! TIME-OUT!

Y'all take a chill! Ya' need to cool...that...shit...out.

And that's the double truth.
As much as I mostly don't like furiousthought's comment, I do think this part is true:

"People who are hostile to each other will be hostile to each other through whatever norms are enforced by the site culture. [...] Because really, there is no 'higher level of discourse,' only people who are willing to contribute positive things from a baseline of good faith vs. people who are not..."

That last distinction really is the only one that truly matters. And, frankly, that is and what makes for a "higher level of discourse". Other things have some effect, but it's small compared to the effect of positive things from a baseline of good faith.

Which is part of my argument earlier. By disguising bad-faith, insulting, egregiously provocative, and otherwise offensive speech via stylistic norms, it entrenches its acceptability. When it's not disguised, then we have to deal with it as it really is. We can choose to allow it in some cases, or we can sanction (practically, authoritatively, or informally via social response) against it. By holding to such standards as "it's okay if it's not explicitly personal" we're providing a safe place for offensive speech that just happens to follow an arbitrary rule.

However, once again I have to admit that my perspective on this is somewhat overly-rational and blinkered. Style does matter in social interactions. A lot of people are just plain more comfortable in an environment where the knives are mostly hidden and used from the shadows, even if frequently. Open conflict makes many people more uncomfortable than more covert conflict. Many people find expletive-laden arguments more uncomfortable than those which lack them. We can argue whether this is a good thing, but we can't deny that it's simply true.

And it's likely that truly and universally good-faith discourse is just not possible in this kind of environment. I've been in such an environment and, at the time, took for granted how special it truly was. Now, I realize that a large number of preconditions have to be met for such an environment to be possible. And, even then, sometimes it fails.

We can't really expect MeFi to be such a place. What we can expect, however, is that people abide by an admittedly somewhat arbitrary set of rules of behavior that exist mostly as an expression of the sorts of sensibilities I described before — things like open and personal hostility making people more uncomfortable than disguised and impersonal hostility. That's just practical reality.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:05 AM on May 9, 2012


klang told me once that i could shove a Heineken up my ass.

He's probably right. The question is whether you should.
posted by pracowity at 10:38 AM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is that really the question? If you're going to shove a Dutch beer up your ass, you could do much better than Heineken. In every respect — I'm not sure the bottle would properly tickle my prostate, not to mention that it's such an unremarkable lager. As autoerotic-inebriation goes, this is pretty uninspired.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Still much more doable than Galliano.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:00 AM on May 9, 2012


furiousthought has it; people who wish to be disagreeable will be disagreeable through whatever means are available. If that is limited to passive aggressive insulting non-insults, they will use passive aggressive insulting non-insults. Which I find a lot more disagreeable than the occasional use of the word "asshole" to describe someone. At least if someone calls you an asshole you know exactly where you both stand.

The alternative isn't perfect harmony, the alternative is just a different kind of assholery.
posted by Justinian at 11:02 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Open conflict makes many people more uncomfortable than more covert conflict

Yeah, there it is. I'd much rather see the knife coming than get stabbed in the dark.
posted by Justinian at 11:03 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The alternative isn't perfect harmony, the alternative is just a different kind of assholery.

Of all animal speicies humans are well know as the biggest assholes on the planet. Just ask the great apes or dolphins.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:07 AM on May 9, 2012


The question is whether you should.

i don't think so
posted by pyramid termite at 11:10 AM on May 9, 2012


The alternative isn't perfect harmony, the alternative is just a different kind of assholery.

Or, you know, making your point without making it personal. Why the false dichotomy? This is based on the presumption that everyone wants to be an asshole, and guidelines make them channel their assholery into other venues.

Assholes are going to be assholes, and if they're concerned enough about guidelines to change their posting behavior, they're not that much of an asshole, really.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2012


I support his comments fully (even if I don't agree with all of them). I'm an independent voter so I'm fairly moderate in my stances, but even I can see that Metafilter is RIDICULOUSLY liberal - anything somebody says even vaguely conservative, no matter how logically well-supported it may be, they seem get shouted down in an insulting way by angry liberal extremists. This is a hypocritical double standard.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:21 AM on May 9, 2012


Addendum - the liberal extremists don't THINK what they're saying is insulting, because to them it makes perfect sense (hence the hypocrisy).
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:22 AM on May 9, 2012


Extremists? Seriously?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:23 AM on May 9, 2012


Is this something I'd have to be American to understand?
posted by infini at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2012


At least if someone calls you an asshole you know exactly where you both stand.

That's not especially enlightening. I find it's usually easy to tell where you stand with somebody irrespective of whether they're using profanity. More to the point, "where I stand" with somebody isn't usually my primary concern.

The text beneath the comment box on MetaFilter asks people to focus on the discussion, not on its participants. Matt has said that's why he designed the site with signatures at the bottom of each comment, not the top. If that's the goal, well, keep your eye on it and I think that obviates the question of whether passive-aggressive insults are better than outright cursing at one another. Don't worry about where you "stand" with anybody, Internet strangers as most of us are. Just discuss.
posted by cribcage at 11:49 AM on May 9, 2012


If you're going to shove a Dutch beer up your ass, you could do much better than Heineken

Try a Grolsch. The beugel might tickle your prostate.

Extremists? Seriously?

Ever encountered an angry liberal extremist? Bite your head off, man.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:49 AM on May 9, 2012


Assholes are going to be assholes, and if they're concerned enough about guidelines to change their posting behavior, they're not that much of an asshole, really.

Another point that sometimes should be borne in mind, I think, is: "if someone disagrees with you, that does not automatically make them an asshole."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 PM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I notice that klangklang is now policing the original thread, so that's good.
posted by Trochanter at 12:27 PM on May 9, 2012


the biggest assholes on the planet
That's because of all the beer-stowing.
posted by Abiezer at 12:42 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this something I'd have to be American to understand?

Dunno. But if you were American you'd definitely understand it.

The U.S. has a pathological fear of the wussification of our culture. This represents both in our moral imperative to drive big gas guzzling manly cars and in our need to present ourselves as if the only way to have a real, productive conversation is to engage in a rough spirited free-for-all. Both are toxic to the environment, but it's a small price to pay to prop up our rather shaky confidence that we really are the manly men we think we are.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:47 PM on May 9, 2012


I was referring to the dividing line and the concurrent need to always identify yourself as Liberal or conservative. When I first moved to the USA in early 1998 and got a job, our company's Controller took me out for lunch and almost the first thing he asked me was

"Are you a Liberal? This whole place is stuffed with them!"

I said, "What's that? I'm fresh off the boat and neither a citizen nor a resident"

"Are you a Democrat or a Republican?"

"What does that mean?" desperately trying to understand this man's questions.

"Which party are you registered for?"

"Can I vote for your political parties as a temporary work permit holder, you single minded, blinkered [redacted]?"

(wait, we're trying to be polite here in this thread)
posted by infini at 12:58 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've always gotta watch out for the co-worker who's eager to take the new guy out to lunch.
posted by telstar at 1:02 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


OCCUPY IS THE WORST FLAVOR OF PIE
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:08 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


But wait, there's more...

He was the staunch Republican Controller for The Second City.
posted by infini at 1:13 PM on May 9, 2012


I just don't understand improv.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:14 PM on May 9, 2012


"What is the deal with Democrats?"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:16 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a large number of American friends on Facebook, and most of them post political links, be they libertarians or Democrats or whatever. The comment threads get pretty wild and wacky as people from converging Facebook Friend Venn Diagram segments duke it out.

My Canadian Facebook friends, as a rule, rarely post about politics, or, if they do at all (and it's a small number), it's pretty dry stuff: "NDP fights to carve up Conservative omnibus bill - it's a matter of Parliamentary procedure" or "Alberta election results demonstrate the challenging, changing nature of polling and the failure of punditry".

My Japanese Facebook friends typically post mobile-uploaded photos of tasty pasta dishes and intriguing wines.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:34 PM on May 9, 2012


My Canadian Facebook friends, as a rule, rarely post about politics, or, if they do at all (and it's a small number), it's pretty dry stuff:

"Worthwhile Canadian Initiative."
posted by octobersurprise at 2:00 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Klangs done well, the man adds interestingness to the site.

Anyway, Occupy - formed only to nullify any actual substantive protest that might have sprung up elsewhere. The Green Day of protest movements.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:12 PM on May 9, 2012


Don't worry about where you "stand" with anybody, Internet strangers as most of us are. Just discuss.

I don't want Metafilter to be some kind of Internet Thunderdome. Something can be discouraged with social pressure without having to be banned. We should discourage being an asshole but not ban it.
posted by Justinian at 3:35 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "I don't want Metafilter to be some kind of Internet Thunderdome"

Please, can't we get beyond Thunderdome?
posted by subbes at 3:53 PM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


WHO RUN SNARKERTOWN
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:33 PM on May 9, 2012


Enbanhammergo ... on.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:48 PM on May 9, 2012


No, that didn't quite work.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:48 PM on May 9, 2012


two klangs enter, one Klang leaves
posted by O'Bama at 6:02 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, Occupy - formed only to nullify any actual substantive protest that might have sprung up elsewhere. The Green Day of protest movements.

Give it a fucking rest.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:05 PM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also even though I was punknotposeur in the early 80s, I kinda dig Green Day and am not ashamed to admit it.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:08 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right off the top with Green Day, however thick the punk veneer was layered on it, there was always a gifted melodic mind there. Right from Basket Case. Just listened to it again. Great pop.
posted by Trochanter at 8:34 PM on May 9, 2012


You can (and should) dig all the way back to Kerplunk! with Green Day. "2,000 Light Years Away" is the perfect sneak preview for what was to come, and I prefer the earlier version of "Welcome to Paradise."

If you want to go back to 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, you can, but there's not much I dig on that album beyond "I Was There."
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:27 AM on May 10, 2012


I notice that klangklang is now policing the original thread, so that's good.
posted by Trochanter


You call that policing? He hasn't even begun to peper spray or taze like the good old days.
posted by Sailormom at 8:13 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apropos of nothing at all, here's a passage from Adorno about how insensitive stupid people dumb down discourse:

"Even in the smallest community, the level is determined by the most subaltern of its members. Whoever says something in a conversation which is beyond the grasp of a single person, becomes tactless. For the sake of humanity, the conversation is restricted to what is nearest, most dull-witted and banal, even if only one inhuman visage is present.

Since the world has stolen speech from human beings, those who cannot be talked to are in the right. They need only stubbornly insist on their interest and their constitution, in order to prevail. The fact that the other, trying in vain to establish contact, ends up using a pleading or soliciting cadence, makes them weaker. Since the “bottleneck” [in English in original] knows no authority, which would be higher than what is factual, while thought and speech necessarily refer to such an authority, intelligence turns into naïvété, and this is what the knuckleheads irrefutably perceive. The official fealty to what is positive acts like gravity, drawing everyone down. It shows its superiority to the opposing impulse, by refusing to even deal with the latter.

Those who are more differentiated, who do not wish to perish, remain strictly constrained by the consideration of everyone who is inconsiderate. These latter need no longer be plagued by the disquiet of consciousness. Intellectual weakness, confirmed as a universal principle, appears as the energy to live. Formalistic-administrative task management, the desk-drawer separation of everything which only has meaning as something inseparable, the bull-headed insistence on arbitrary opinions in the absence of any foundation, in short the practice of reifying every stage of the failed ego-formation, withdrawing the latter from the process of experience and then maintaining it as a final “that’s just how I am,” suffices to conquer impregnable positions. One may be as certain of the understanding of others, who are similarly malformed, as of one’s own advantage. In the cynical self-trumpeting of one’s own defect lurks the intuition, that the objective Spirit [Geist] is liquidating the subjective one at the contemporary stage. They are “down to earth” [in English in original] like the zoological forebears, before these latter stood erect on their hind legs."
posted by doreur at 9:14 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that before humans could talk they just quoted each other.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:54 PM on May 10, 2012


[citation required]
posted by flabdablet at 1:45 AM on May 11, 2012


Archie Meets the Punisher was good too.

Or maybe not, but it was a thing.
posted by St. Sorryass at 2:28 AM on May 11, 2012


The beauty of Adorno's writing in Minima Moralia is that, in context, it makes perfect sense as a heavily abstracted cultural analysis, a kind of reverse Hegelian phenomenology. Outside of its context, that abstraction turns into equivocation, as in the above quote where everyone is tempted to think that it is the other who is inconsiderate and stupid, and that we ourselves are never the bottleneck.

Mining this kind of abstraction/equivocation engine is basically Slavoj Žižek's full-time job, as he admits in Tarrying with the Negative.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:58 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, I'm almost finished with my first reading of Slavoj Žižek's newest book: Less than Nothing. It is a giant of a tomb, and I recommend it to all who read his writing. I recommend it double much especially to those who found Parallax View more enjoyable than his more casual texts. As for those few who did in fact read and also finished Indivisible Remainder, then you are no longer recommended to read Less than Nothing. You are required to.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2012


HARRY PALMER?
posted by clavdivs at 7:41 AM on May 12, 2012


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