Thanks everyone April 15, 2013 4:20 PM   Subscribe

I just wanted to thank everyone in chat and the Explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line thread who have let us know that our friends and fellow mefites are okay, kept cool heads, provided amazing links to accurate information / feeds, and debunked false reports today. And also thank you to the mods who were on duty in both places as well, keeping everything running smoothly. This has been a terribly upsetting afternoon. The care, support and kindness in evidence has been calming and reassuring.
posted by zarq to MetaFilter-Related at 4:20 PM (383 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

This is where we give hugs.

((hugs))
posted by cooker girl at 4:22 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hear, hear. (hugs)
posted by Gorgik at 4:24 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


We are now on duty in three places. We appreciate everyone's assistance in trying to keep calm and collected as news trickles in.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:25 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


jessamyn: "We are now on duty in three places."

Crap. Sorry. It wasn't my intention to make more work for you all. If you would prefer to close this up I would have no objection.
posted by zarq at 4:28 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found MeFi maybe six to eight months after 9/11, and it would've been a huge help to me back then and I can only assume it's helping Boston people now and, yeah, just awesome job all around: MeFites who are commenting, MeFites who are restraining themselves from commenting, the mods keeping the peace, everyone.
posted by griphus at 4:32 PM on April 15, 2013


This site and the guardian website are the two sources to go to in situations such as this one. Thank you to ya'll.
posted by nostrada at 4:37 PM on April 15, 2013


I too want to thank the mods. I would also ask people try extra hard to not be assholes.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:43 PM on April 15, 2013


Thank you, mods. Thank you so very, very much.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:53 PM on April 15, 2013


Big thanks to the mods. You've had a few rough threads in the last week or so, and we appreciate your attentiveness.
posted by Jilder at 4:54 PM on April 15, 2013


Yeah, the original thread is pretty calm and helpful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:55 PM on April 15, 2013


The mods are doing a stellar job on that thread, particularly in quietly reminding people not to go off on tangents. It's why metafilter does breaking news well. Thanks.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah to be fair, we haven't done too much there. Deleted a few obviously not-okay comments and I've left a few notes but people are mostly just adding links and sharing information.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2013


We're apparently not supposed to mention the U.S. blowing up another weddding party in Afganistan in the main thread. Also, I vaguely suspect the mods would delete this article if I made a front page post about it. I'd imagine they'd make some perfectly legit complaint about the daily mail but that completely misses the (unstated) timing thing. So I'll just leave it here :

At least 30 members of an Afghan wedding party were killed and many more wounded when a U.S. plane bombed a village in the central province of Uruzgan today
posted by jeffburdges at 4:57 PM on April 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's why metafilter does breaking news well.

Sometimes does it well. Balloonboy proved this isn't always the case.

zarq, I think a meta was inevitable. This should serve fine for people's concerns in that thread.

See?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:58 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're apparently not supposed to mention the U.S. blowing up another weddding party in Afganistan in the main thread.

Yes, it comes across as totally inappropriate, off-topic and axe-grinding. I'm not even sure why you need this explained to you but I'm glad you decided to repost here so that other people besides me can tell you that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:58 PM on April 15, 2013 [91 favorites]


I've never understood what drives the need to do things like that, jeffburdges. What exactly is the point? To remind us all that other people died today too? Or is it a moralizing thing?
posted by palomar at 4:59 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


What exactly is the point?

Sanctimony. Sanctimony is the point.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:00 PM on April 15, 2013 [27 favorites]


jeffburdges, did you read the part where I asked people not to be assholes?

"I'll just leave this here" is reddit shorthand for I am going to say something stupid.

Seriously.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:00 PM on April 15, 2013 [22 favorites]


"I'll just leave this here" is reddit shorthand for I am going to say something stupid.

Also "We're apparently not supposed to..." and then doing the thing you're not supposed to always comes across as pouty teen.
posted by donnagirl at 5:05 PM on April 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


I had a GRRAR response to jeffburdges, but I'm making myself take cjorgensen's call to not be an asshole to heart.

EDIT: the next time jeffburdges does an FPP that's doesn't have anything to do with a death toll in a war zone somewhere, however, I expect the mods will ban me for flooding his thread with the civilians-killed numbers.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:06 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also making appearances at birthday parties to remind the guest of honor that it's also many millions of other people's birthday today.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:06 PM on April 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I posted it simply to humanize the victims of the U.S. attack in Afganistan, nothing more. It resonated with me today more than similar past stories precisely because I'd been reading the Boston thread. I therefore felt it relevant to share that experience. If you find it axe-grindy, then maybe that's a problem with you.

I'm certainly not happy about U.S. foreign policy, but I cannot recall ever posting about Afganistan or Iraq, well maybe back when Shrub held the reigns, not sure. So you've no basis for accusing me personally of axe grinding.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:07 PM on April 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you find it axe-grindy, maybe that's a problem with you.

Possibly. I also run this site. I like your contributions and I agree with your politics generally. However for someone who seems to pay a lot of attention to the tactical and covert operations of a number of bad actors, I'm surprised to see you not having more situational awareness of what was going on in that thread and how your contribution would appear.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:09 PM on April 15, 2013 [24 favorites]


I posted it simply to humanize the victims of the U.S. attack in Afganistan, nothing more.

I appreciate that sentiment, but the effect is one of telling people in the thread 'the people who died that you are talking about deserve less attention, because other thing.'
posted by shakespeherian at 5:10 PM on April 15, 2013 [29 favorites]


Send anyone who needs a hug to me.

I will provide all the hugs according to need.
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on April 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I will provide all the hugs according to need.

Hugs: from each, according to their ability; to each, according to their need.

Why... that sounds... like a comm.. comm... community.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:13 PM on April 15, 2013 [47 favorites]


I'm not even sure why you need this explained to you but I'm glad you decided to repost here so that other people besides me can tell you that.

Simply put -- jeffburdges -- "Christ, what an asshole."
posted by ericb at 5:17 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]




Yeah, that's a very good thread; thanks to all participants for doing a swell job on the signal:noise.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:21 PM on April 15, 2013


Whoa! I think I've just seen my first metalk deletion. Well then. Um... Yea, so here's an internet hug.

Seriously.

*hugs*
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:23 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh and yea, I liked the actions of the mods in the main thread, gently prodding yet fully functional.

Metafilter mods, just like barbed wire.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:25 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just came here to say thankyouto the mods. I jst heard the news about Boston today andam a bit numb. Tbh.
posted by Faintdreams at 5:26 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


jeffburdges: "I posted it simply to humanize the victims of the U.S. attack in Afganistan, nothing more."

You appear to have confused MetaFilter with a community that requires this service.
posted by scrump at 5:27 PM on April 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


Well said, Jessamyn. Flagged as fantastic.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:34 PM on April 15, 2013


Hugs for mods! Hugs for users! Hugs for ALL!

Unless you don't like hugs. Some people juggle geese.
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:36 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks, mods, and everyone who's keeping a cool head when it's frickin hot in here.

I also have hugs if anyone wants one.
posted by rtha at 5:37 PM on April 15, 2013


I'll take one. Here's one for you, too.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:41 PM on April 15, 2013


I'll take a hug from the RTHA, because I completely lost my shit in here about twenty minutes ago and actually had a comment (justifiably) deleted. The rage is strong in me today. Oy.
posted by scrump at 5:43 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, I like the smoothness of the main thread, so every other comment is crazy speculation. On the other hand, the moderation seems a tad too heavy handed. Hopefully that'll ease up as time goes on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, thanks to the mods. It can't be an easy day today.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:44 PM on April 15, 2013


On the other hand, the moderation seems a tad too heavy handed.

29 31 comments deleted total out of almost 1000 which is less than the overall site average and a lot of them were jokes (early "too soon"? sorts of things and Hitler nonsense), revenge fantasies, early tasteless comments or stuff like jeffburdges comment above. I've deleted maybe five comments in the last two hours. I have, on the other hand, left a lot of notes. I literally do not have time to continue to comment in this thread and manage the flags coming in.

People who would like to be helpful can basically not flag anything that is more that about 15-30 minutes old or anything other than really egregious "this needs deleting" stuff; we are reading all the comments as they come in but we have to clear the flag queue out manually. Mostly works, except in instances like this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:52 PM on April 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Er, what's the third place the mods are "on duty" with regard to these threads?
posted by Justinian at 5:52 PM on April 15, 2013


chat room, I think. Do the mods watch that?
posted by ambrosia at 5:54 PM on April 15, 2013


I posted it simply to humanize the victims of the U.S. attack in Afganistan, nothing more.

Fair enough. At this point I figure you realize you missed that target. Having said an inappropriate thing myself from time to time, I hope people can let it go.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:54 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I could use a hug. When I think of the number of marathons I stood at the finish line cheering on the runners, and people I care about I was so afraid were there, yeah I could use a hug.
posted by twiggy32 at 5:55 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


A hug from (currently) a Brit - who reassured his Iowa librarian fiancee this evening that no crazy bombing fucker is ever going to make him pause for even a millisecond in his desire to head to the USA for marriage, a better life and a place that's home - for anyone who needs or wants one.
posted by Wordshore at 5:56 PM on April 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


It does seem important to me when in the thread people are asking "what kind of person would do this?" or talking about how someone would have to be mentally ill to carry out attacks like this or about the "swamp that birthed" the perpetrators, to observe that—collectively at least—we are the sort of people who do these things. And we might actually have had a hand in creating said swamp if for example any of the perpetrators or their collaborators were inspired by having their entire families killed in an American bombing or drone strike or something of that sort.

None of that justifies it or minimizes how reprehensible it is for someone to carry out an indiscriminate attack on civilians and children but the tragedy and destruction our responses to past attacks have caused makes how we deal with what happened today important. I can agree with the mods curtailing a tack in the discussion that would inevitably get out of hand for practical purposes, and maybe now is not the time and MetaFilter is not the place even in a MeTa to have an involved conversation on the topic, but I think that sort of thing is an important context of this event and I don't consider jeffburges an asshole for mentioning it.
posted by XMLicious at 5:56 PM on April 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hugs, twiggy32.
posted by donnagirl at 5:56 PM on April 15, 2013


Er, what's the third place the mods are "on duty" with regard to these threads?

I understood that comment to mean that three mods were on duty.
posted by Tsuga at 5:57 PM on April 15, 2013


I don't want to start a whole new Metatalk thread so I'm just going to suggest this here:

Would it make sense to have a facility where a banner message could be added to the top of the comment window for a given thread? It seems like a permanent note saying "Please do not engage in speculation in this thread -- The Mods" would save a lot of trouble for both commenters and moderators.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:03 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, the moderation seems a tad too heavy handed.

Respectfully disagree in this case.
posted by mintcake! at 6:04 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


> Having said an inappropriate thing myself from time to time, I hope people can let it go.

No shit. I've said two things I can remember that I regret on this site. One was deleted. The other is still out there. I'm sure i've said stuff I would regret if it was brought to my attention. People seem to have moved on from my errors. it's one of the reasons I am still here. Letting stuff go is part of not being an asshole.

Would it make sense to have a facility where a banner message could be added to the top of the comment window for a given thread?

They for sure can comment at the top of a thread. I've seen it at least twice.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:06 PM on April 15, 2013


Once again I'm finding myself turning to Mefi for sane coverage on a global event and you guys deliver as always. Big hugs and THANK YOU everyone.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:08 PM on April 15, 2013


It does seem important to me when in the thread people are asking "what kind of person would do this?" [that] we are the sort of people who do these things.

I think this is a good example of why speculating about who would do this is a bad idea in a thread like that. Speculation invites a response, and a counter response, and eventually the thread has derailed. Not a big deal in an everyday thread but not such a good thing in a thread people are using for news about people they care about.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:08 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It seems like a permanent note saying "Please do not engage in speculation in this thread -- The Mods"

Such a sign would be odd, as people speculate about why things occurred, especially tragedies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


They for sure can comment at the top of a thread. I've seen it at least twice.

We can edit posts to include mod notes, we almost never do it and wouldn't do it for something like this. I appreciate that the speculation bothers people but this needs to be one of those community-policing things more or less. Big Official Notes from mods aren't even that effective in most cases and while we will try to guide a thread to keep it from turning into some weird morass of badness, the conversations do tend to move all over the place, even though certain individuals may not like that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:09 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


On days like today, I wish Metafilter had a tip jar.

edit: in the sense that I feel like kicking in an extra five bucks.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:09 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


And hugs for twiggy32. Here's hoping that everyone you know was far far away from the finish line.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:10 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Generally I think MeFites do very well in commenting in situations like these. Axe-grinding and repeating of baseless speculations (or predictions of baseless speculations) probably relate directly to the sense of emotional distance people have from the events. An instruction on the OP on avoiding those things (for 24 hours, or until the facts emerge, or whatever) might indeed help, especially since such posts can pull in comments from those less embedded in MeFi culture and norms. Some people do seem to need a reminder that there are Mefites who are suffering from this directly and that their needs should be prioritized. Having it come from the OP would avoid the Big Brother fears.
posted by DrMew at 6:13 PM on April 15, 2013


a permanent note saying "Please do not engage in speculation in this thread -- The Mods"

I don't think there is a blanket prohibition on speculation, though. The mods have left instructions not to go off on a couple of particular issues, but AFAIK they haven't forbade all speculation (nor should they, IMO).

Not to mention that a blanket ban on speculation potentially creates more trouble than it solves, i.e., everyone flagging any comment that seems remotely speculative about any aspect of the incident.

As an example of speculation done reasonably and non-GRARy, I'd point to comments in the last 40 minutes or so along the lines of "North Korea?" "No, almost certainly not North Korea because..."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:15 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I honestly worry a lot less than I should about Afganistan, Iraq, Siria, Israel, etc., jessamyn. I care when new conflicts happen of course, but just glaze over after a while. This one resonated a lot more than most of the wedding bombings we've committed.

I'll grant that concerns about "attention" complicate the issue because attention could potentially be zero sum, shakespeherian. I believe attention is the wrong word here however, given we're not attempting to track down the bomber online ourselves or anything.

Instead, we transitioned from news analysis to empathy a while back, but empathy has never seemed zero sum to me. If I ignore a story about a weddings bombing, it's because I'm spending "attention" doing other stuff. Yet, if I'm already empathizing with strangers, then adding more works just fine.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:17 PM on April 15, 2013


Such a sign would be odd, as people speculate about why things occurred, especially tragedies.

I agree it would be strange, but cortex asked people to shut down speculation (at least certain lines) twice.

I had thought that jessamyn had done so too, but reading back through her comments I see I was mistaken.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:17 PM on April 15, 2013


I'm not as thrilled with the thread and speculation, but I'm admittedly pretty damn shook up as that's so. close. to my house, which is really a special level of freaky I'd never before experienced.

Anyhow, I was hoping to find some refuge on MeFi, but will probably head elsewhere.
posted by sonika at 6:25 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Take care, sonika.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:32 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I ignore a story about a weddings bombing, it's because I'm spending "attention" doing other stuff. Yet, if I'm already empathizing with strangers, then adding more works just fine.

Believing that it's appropriate to show up in a place where people are discussing something else to say "Hey you are not paying attention to this other thing" is certainly an activist approach, but it does not scale well in communities unless it's just done so often that it becomes an accepted practice. And that is not how we do things here.

Put another way: I hear what you are saying but please do not do that again.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:36 PM on April 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh wow! So apparently that Daily Mail article lacks its original dateline, meaning the only date appearing on the page is today's date, which itself is an odd thing to place on archived news article. It's originally from 2002 but started spreading around social networks today because it looks like it's from today. Daily Mail suck!
posted by jeffburdges at 6:42 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you're trying to make an anti-war point by linking to the Daily Heil, you're doing it wrong.
posted by Flitcraft at 6:47 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just one more example in a long line of examples why you shouldn't ever rely on anything you read from the Daily Mail, ever. They might be right once in a while, but is it worth the risk to quote them?
posted by tzikeh at 6:48 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Daily Mail can always be relied on to use any story to advance their misbegotten agenda. Never a reliable source of news.

I'm grateful that MetaFilter again rises to the occasion during events like this. Hugs to you all.
posted by arcticseal at 6:54 PM on April 15, 2013


I find it utterly unreal that contemplating possible motives and perpetrators is suddenly "speculation" - there is a history of terrorism here in the US, and there are active terrorist organizations.

More, "Speculation" didn't do a damn thing to Richard Jewell - poor police work and worse reporting did. The cops and press (apart from the fringe right and the talking head channels) are right on top of this... I trust them to do their job. it is not disrespectful or inappropriate.

We're not talking about lynching anyone. Lots of luck finding any kind of refuge where who did it and why isn't part of the conversation. It is not disrespectful or inappropriate, and discussing it can dispel some unnecessary worries - it's unlikely North Korea was involved, and some well reasoned explanations why were given.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:00 PM on April 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


This brings up some old events for me. No, I wasn't there today, but it is triggering some old events for me. I focused on my kids after work, but after they were gone, and just before my wife got in the door I lost it. And I mean lost it. So, I'll thank you all for the hugs and well wishes. They are being put to use.

If you know any aid workers, or folks that volunteer their time and expertise to help during the recovery of a situation like this, give them a hug today.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to quietly crying.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:03 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think jeffburdges needs a ((hug)) too.

And maybe a nap.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:04 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I too have hugs for those that need them. And especially for the mods. Thank you.
posted by gauche at 7:10 PM on April 15, 2013


My husband and mother-in-law were 200 ft away from the bombs. They are 100% safe and fine, but I'm an emotional wreck tonight. Metafilter is making me feel better. Thank you.
((hugs))
posted by Fig at 7:25 PM on April 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


A good friend of mine in Boston made a comment on Twitter earlier today that sort of encapsulated how I feel about the fact that there were numerous tragedies around the world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and here (among probably others) –
To everybody talking about how many people died in Iraq today: the key is to be outraged by all of it. ALL OF IT. Let's not wedge ourselves.
That's a good way to think about it – "let's not wedge ourselves" – because what we want to do is create sympathy for these other tragedies around the world that are sadly neglected. The worst way to do that is to imply that the grief people feel about a tragedy here at home is somehow misplaced or invalid. And it's really easy to imply that – even when we might not mean to – if we make a point of insisting that people divert their attention from the present tragedy and think about another one that might not be as immediate.
posted by koeselitz at 7:31 PM on April 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


about the "swamp that birthed

So, I can shed a little light on this because that comment came out of my living room. WHen I saw my partner post it, I asked, essentially, "WTF does that mean?" and he was literally shocked I thought it was some sort of nationalistic slur. In his mind it was pure angry hyperbole, with no implication that the swamp was outside the US (in fact, we both agree this smacks of homegrown aggression). I can't really apologize for someone else's choice of words (he's often extreme in rhetoric and he can take his lumps), but since he went to bed I thought I'd say that his intent was not to suggest foreign terrorism.
posted by Miko at 7:32 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read it as metaphoric for the perpetrators being reptiles or other unpleasant animals associated with the swamp.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:46 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


No worries on my part. It didn't connote foreignness to me.
posted by XMLicious at 7:46 PM on April 15, 2013


roger ackroyd: "On days like today, I wish Metafilter had a tip jar."

QFT
posted by barnacles at 7:49 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't we have some donation link?
posted by Miko at 7:55 PM on April 15, 2013


I would just like to thank MetaFilter today for being here, and being what it is and who you are. All of you, even those who posted things I didn't want to see. I was super busy, and had no time to watch or read news. You were my lifeline. Thank you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:57 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"On days like today, I wish Metafilter had a tip jar."

We're well compensated. I always like getting postcards in the mail. box 345, 05060.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:00 PM on April 15, 2013 [84 favorites]


PSA:
QFT acronym expression stands for "Quoted For Truth":
1) QFT is an expression of agreement and support, where the user stands behind you and one of your statements.
2) QFT can also be used to preserve an original forum post, so that the original author cannot edit after the fact.
posted by nostrada at 8:22 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


box 345, 05060

I wonder if a postcard would get to you addressed that way.

Might have to try. For science!
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:23 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


My dollar says it would.
posted by Miko at 8:25 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why does answering someone's question - which is still there - get my comment deleted; then I comment on that, deleted, someone else responds to me - that's still there - then my response to that get deleted?
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:28 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Proof I an not from the east coast: it took a noticeable amount of time for me to parse 05060 as a zip code.
posted by hoyland at 8:29 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


waitingtoderail - That thread is taking so long to reload that deletions are taking a while too - so you may have refreshed in between when I deleted your comment and the one replying to it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:30 PM on April 15, 2013


Dear Metafilter,

I love you, each and every one of us.

Hugs,

Lynsey
posted by Lynsey at 8:31 PM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


waitingtoderail: maybe your handle is a giveaway? :-)
posted by nostrada at 8:31 PM on April 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nah, it's a song title.
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:42 PM on April 15, 2013


OK jessamyn, postcard ready -- addressed to Box 345, 05060 -- and will go in the mail tomorrow. We'll see if it gets there. :D
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:01 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Box 345, 05060

That's easy. A real test for a small-town post office would be addressing it:

Jessamyn
05060
posted by dersins at 9:06 PM on April 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


I bet she'd get that one, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:10 PM on April 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's easy. A real test for a small-town post office would be addressing it:

Jessamyn
05060


Or just:

Jessamyn

;D

Speaking of whom, the postcard appropriately has a picture of my favorite library on the front, built in 1894.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:10 PM on April 15, 2013


A real test for a small-town post office would be addressing it: Jessamyn, 05060

You could just try holding your postcard aloft, concentrating on her name and waiting for some sort of messenger falcon to snatch it up.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:44 PM on April 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


Or try throwing it in the ocean.
posted by maryr at 9:47 PM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Or try throwing it in the ocean."

I like to think that messages tossed into the ocean always somehow arrive at their destination in some sense.

Not the literal sense. But, you know, metaphorically.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:53 PM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


ocean throwing
posted by iamabot at 10:16 PM on April 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thanks, iamabot. I started laughing until I could barely breathe watching that in a long loop. I needed that.
posted by barnacles at 10:22 PM on April 15, 2013


I'd like to offer my thanks for MetaFilter being a source of news I can handle. Broadcast media is tricked out to be anxiety producing with loud graphics and harsh music often accompanied by yellow journalism and rampant speculation (disaster coverage on television has triggered seizures for me in the past). The Blue, however, provided a wealth of links vetted by some of the pickiest fact checkers.

Thank you all.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:53 PM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


> box 345, 05060

I wonder if a postcard would get to you addressed that way.
Might have to try. For science!


Well, I came close when I tried it. For Science.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:57 PM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I couldn't believe the irony of the Afghan wedding bombing, so I tried to Google it.. It Googles just fine on web search, but when I tried a Google News search I couldn't find a search term that would make it show up.
posted by Chuckles at 11:53 PM on April 15, 2013


Chuckles: Because it happened 11 years ago.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:08 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Really? Man... I found at least two, maybe three articles, that highlighted todays/yesterdays date, and of course the article text always just says "yesterday" or whatever.. I did look for a filing date, but all I saw was today's date on the masthead.

Honestly, I can't stand when any article of any kind doesn't include the date it was written, but for news articles to omit the date just boggles the mind. Common practice though, I'm sure.

Of course it was a Close Air Support bomb, not a Drone Strike, so it should have been obvious.
posted by Chuckles at 12:28 AM on April 16, 2013


CNN has no damn dateline either, prompting people to repost this 2010 story too. CNN isn't quite so dumb as to put a clock where a dateline might go however. Also, 2010 appears in their URL.

There were actually 55 people killed in several bombings across Iraq yesterday in what RT called Black Monday in Iraq. These bombings were terrorist-like attacks leading up to next weeks election though, not U.S. strikes. Also, they targeted the airport and maybe politicians, not celebrations.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:02 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just watched the the BBC (UK, relatively quality) lunchtime news. They're leading with Boston. The entire thing is scripted in cliches, often banal; one after the other, read out in a BBC-sombre tone over (non-graphic) video footage and photographs from yesterday. All of it simplistic negative and/or horror. Unlike here and elsewhere, no footage or mention of any positive aspects e.g. the many people who rushed to help.

It's added zero to my knowledge of the event. And won't add much more to those viewers who rely predominantly or solely on TV news as an information source. If that's the BBC, dread to think of the quality / information of other TV news sources.

Glad I stuck to MetaFilter and the Guardian live blog, with the occasional delve into Twitter, yesterday.
posted by Wordshore at 5:19 AM on April 16, 2013


Yeah, I would like to note that I'm very grateful to Metafilter for providing someplace I can read updates and news without becoming a gibbering wreck.
posted by corb at 5:31 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's easy. A real test for a small-town post office would be addressing it:

Jessamyn 05060

Or just: Jessamyn


I have a letter to my great-great grandfather from Irish relatives addressed with:

[GGGrandpa's Name]
County Kansas
America
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:03 AM on April 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


If I haven't had a chance to reply directly, I'd like to thank everyone for the MeMails. Your support means so very much to this Bostonian. Thank you.
posted by sonika at 6:27 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to add my thanks, both for a place where I can check for updates without seeing photographs and for the community's and mods' efforts to keep that thread as calm as it can be.

Maybe not everyone needs a hug, but if you do, then... well, me, too. hugs
posted by Elsa at 6:30 AM on April 16, 2013


I recall there being a MeFi post on someone who thought of creative ways to address letters and such, to see if the post office would send them. For example, he/she wouldn't specify addresses, but would rather draw maps, put clues, etc.
posted by bitteroldman at 6:32 AM on April 16, 2013


Thank you. I greatly appreciate not only having a place where I can get updates without seeing photos or video, but the efforts of the mods and the community to make it as calm and good place as possible.

Hugs for all that need or wish for them. No limits, share as many as you need. [hugs]
posted by wiskunde at 6:49 AM on April 16, 2013


Hugs and well wishes, everybody!
posted by Jacen at 7:04 AM on April 16, 2013


When I was in basic training myself and another guy would often send letters home, "Kitty Corner to the Methodist Church in Leeds," and "Third house from the middle school," and we'd see who could write the most unhelpful address and still have it get there.

I sent a few letters to "Any Soldier (Either Side), Iraq" during the height of the second Iraq conflict. I got back one reply from a US soldier that said I'd made his day.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:07 AM on April 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


Man there is some sentimental bullshit in that thread, and meanwhile statements of fact get deleted as somehow offensive.

This is nowhere near the scale of 9/11. As a Boston born New Yorker who was in NYC that day, I think a lot of comments in the thread on the blue are trivializing 9/11.

Three dead and a few dozen very badly wounded is awful. But there have been worse bus accidents in the last two weeks in the US. It does not compare to 2700 dead and a city brought to its knees, dammit.

The comparison is insulting to both cities.
posted by spitbull at 7:15 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


meanwhile statements of fact get deleted as somehow offensive.

People comparing 9/11 to this at length are doing the thread a disservice. It's an insta-derail topic in a thread where we're still deleting jokes for fuck's sake. There are appropriate and less appropriate ways to do the "my disaster was worse than this disaster" thing but very few ways to do them that don't turn into flash points in a fast-moving thread. This is MetaTalk if you want to talk specifics about your situation, go ahead.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:22 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not insulting.

We have managed to process 9/11 (especially for non-New Yorkers) as the One Thing, the One Time that terrorism struck here. That the wars we engage in all over the globe came home. We said "Never Again" and meant it - but also believed it, that really, it would never happen again and it was an isolated incident and boy is this sand comfortable.

We don't know what happened in Boston. But it is quite possible it is exactly that - a terrorist attack, as a result of decisions and actions that people perceive as having nothing to do with them.

The shock of having a formerly safe place turn into a place of death cannot be underestimated.
posted by corb at 7:23 AM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Being reminiscent does not imply equivalence. For many of us, our feelings today are colored by our feelings then. If *sentimentality* is pissing you off, you are directing your anger in very much the wrong direction.
posted by libraryhead at 7:24 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a strange resonance to the way this and Sept. 11 feel for me. In 2001, I was an 8th grader in NH who spent probably one weekend a month visiting family in New York. New York was a part of my social fabric in a way that nobody else watching things with me way. And today, I'm in Ohio at graduate school aching for the city that was basically the symbol of being NOT NEW HAMPSHIRE in every fantastic way possible, that I spent hours and hours wandering around being an interesting person surrounded by interesting people, and nobody here has any context for it beyond A Tragedy At The Marathon In A Strange Eastern City. It's kind of dissociating.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:29 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gotta lay the groundwork for that big Obama blame.
posted by fleacircus at 7:51 AM on April 16, 2013


We have managed to process 9/11 (especially for non-New Yorkers) as the One Thing, the One Time that terrorism struck here.

I'm not so sure that's true.
posted by Miko at 7:59 AM on April 16, 2013


The majority of my Boston contingent was actually in Austin visiting their daughter who's in grad school at UT, but the year before, the 4 of them had been down there for the race -- I think the son ran it. No idea how their flight back in to Logan went yesterday afternoon, think they were scheduled to land in the mid-evening. Have friends in Waltham & Woostah, & have heard from everybody, but man, even when it's far away, it's close to home.

Thanks to the folks posting informative updates in the main thread, and I sure hope everyone's okay. *hugs*
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:08 AM on April 16, 2013


Gotta lay the groundwork for that big Obama blame.

If you see someone actually doing that, feel free to invite them to play a spirited game of Hide and Go Fuck Yourself, but apart from a few crazies even Fox News and RedState have been fairly supportive or at least non-combative over the last 20 hours or so. Will they turn rabid as time goes on? Probably, there's a pretty high likelihood that they will, but until they do let's not invite it.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:10 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Devils Rancher - I think Logan was only closed for about half an hour while they re-routed flight paths so they didn't go over the city/conflict with emergency response flight paths. So your friends probably got in OK - my coworker landed safely at 4PM which should have been about the worst time to land.
posted by maryr at 8:18 AM on April 16, 2013


this is just to say
I addressed a postcard
Jessamyn
05060
Lets see if it gets there
posted by scrump at 8:19 AM on April 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


spitbull: " This is nowhere near the scale of 9/11. As a Boston born New Yorker who was in NYC that day, I think a lot of comments in the thread on the blue are trivializing 9/11.

I disagree.

When tragedies happen, I think it's natural to try and relate them to our previous experiences. To events with which we're familiar. There are clear parallels to 9/11, even though the scope was smaller. As there would be in any terrorist attack. Like 9/11, this was an attack that no one has claimed responsibility for, which appears to have been deliberately targeted to large groups of civilians. Explosions, smoke, panic, injuries and first responders acting heroically. Limited information, misinformation and rumors, some of which were being reported by reputable (and not-so-reputable) news outlets. Fear. Increased security in other cities. There are unexploded bombs at the site, and the body count that could easily have been much higher. Just like on 9/11. If you remember, initial reports placed the potential body count at the twin towers at anywhere from 35,000-50,000.

All of these elements are powerful memory triggers.

A number of mefites are connected to the marathon in some way -- perhaps they had a relative or friend who was running. Some folks lived or worked in the area. We have concerns about our friends and families. Just like on 9/11.

Then too, we've had a huge cultural shift since 9/11. We're forewarned. Supposedly better prepared. Facebook probably served as a check-in hub for many people yesterday. 9/11 gave rise to many changes, but a dozen years later terrorist attacks can still happen and we're not much safer.

Making comparisons is human. Recognizing and acknowledging parallels. Speculating is human, too. No, this incident isn't as bad as 9/11. But it's still a tragedy.
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


So your friends probably got in OK

Well, yeah, the worst thing is they would be inconvenienced. They were understandably rattled, though. Glad to see you checking in maryr -- been thinking about all the Boston MeFites the last day.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:25 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to hug everyone right now.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:32 AM on April 16, 2013


Well, yeah, the worst thing is they would be inconvenienced. They were understandably rattled, though.

This was also the case for a Boston friend of mine who was returning from Chicago yesterday.
posted by immlass at 9:05 AM on April 16, 2013


I'd just like to say how much I appreciate this community. I heard the news at lunch yesterday. When I returned to work the Blue was the first place I looked and I continue to follow the story there. I haven't had any use for TV news (never do) , but the thoughtful links have provided good information as the story unfolds. Those of you in Boston are in my thoughts, as are runners everywhere, I've done my share of races and the feeling of community on race day is unequaled. My hope is that we will find a way for heal from this.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:07 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suffering is suffering is suffering. It doesn't negate one person's suffering to reflect that another person suffers more. The tragedy of the loss of a child is not lessened by the loss of 20 children, or more important than the loss of ten adults.

I just mostly try to wish really hard that everyone who's suffering gets relief, and as quickly as possible. Hope everyone has a fantastic day. Hugs from me, to you.
posted by Mooski at 9:54 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Postcard sent as well. But thanks to being the daughter and goddaughter of retired postal workers, I addressed the postcard properly. ;)
posted by luckynerd at 10:31 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is horrible, appalling and very, very sad.
However perhaps before anyone else gets all up on jeffburgess for pointing out a truth please read this: -
Greenwald; The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions.
As Gary Younge tweeted: - I'm up for us "All Being Bostonians Today". But then can we all be Yemenis tomorrow & Pakistanis the day after? That's how empathy works.
See also Juan Cole Can the Boston Bombings increase our Sympathy for Iraq and Syria, for all such Victims?.
What jeffburgess said may have seemed a bit blunt but it needed to be said.
posted by adamvasco at 10:53 AM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


What jeffburgess said may have seemed a bit blunt but it needed to be said.

What jeffburgess said seemed a lot blunt because it presupposes that other people are wrong for not literally interrupting any thread about a given subject to insist people talk about another subject, and specifically did so by (a) misreading an 11-year-old story and (b) tossing a non-sequitur reference to that in people's faces in a brand new, fast moving thread where people were trying to get a handle on something awful that actually did just happen.

Like Jess, I am probably in spirit pretty much right there with him in the larger sense that there is bad shit going on all over the world and people in the US aren't the only folks that bad things happen to, etc. But his comment in the mefi thread, was an exceptionally bad time and place and manner by which to express that. It hardly "needed to be said" unless one considers non-stop in-your-face to-hell-with-people's-feelings activism the most valuable model of discourse around.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:07 AM on April 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


I have a letter to my great-great grandfather from Irish relatives addressed with:

[GGGrandpa's Name]
County Kansas
America


This used to work fine. My wife still has an old letter addressed to her great aunt from the 30's which was about the same:

[Great Aunt]
Sabinal, Texas

She was the school teacher, so I'm sure everyone knew who she was.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That has worked to get mail to me previously (note, I no longer live at this address). I have a decent relationship with the people at my post office since I am there nearly every day. However mail that is addressed too creatively may cause me to get a small "be sure to tell your friends next time to address it like this...." lecture. I do not mind that lecture and I secretly suspect that they do not mind giving it. I like getting mail. I can not speak for cortex, LM, gnfti, taz, pb or mathowie.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:12 AM on April 16, 2013


The Westboro Baptist Church is known for two things:

1) Unrelenting gay bashing.
2) Glomming on to any public tragedy to push their message.

In fact they very quickly glommed onto this one. It pains me to see people I otherwise respect following suit.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:15 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


cortex: "It hardly "needed to be said" unless one considers non-stop in-your-face to-hell-with-people's-feelings activism the most valuable model of discourse around."

There's a time and a place for everything is the thing to remember, I think. Consider time and place when commenting.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2013


Robert Ripley of Ripley's Believe it or Not was a sort of ongoing irritation/source of pleasure for the post office because people were always coming up with creative ways to address letters to him, and none of his letter writer really knew his exact address. They always almost found him, though. One of the most amazing examples is somebody who addressed a letter to him simply by drawing a tombstone and then writing R.I.P. on it. I've seen it.

Ripley received about 3,000 letters a day -- almost a million per year. If the post office could handle that, they can handle postcards to Jessamyn.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:21 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Greenwald; The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions."

What's sort of interesting is that a few weeks ago Greenwald and I had an exchange where he quite defensively responded to a similar complaint I made about the coverage of Aaron Swartz and Barrett Brown — except I very much wasn't being critical of him because he's very consistently spoken out against these sorts of prosecutorial abuses as they much more commonly happen, every day, to poor, uneducated, mostly minority folk.

After I made that clear and praised his untiring efforts, we found that we strongly agreed. And so in this context, too, he's being self-consistent because there's not many people who've been more publicly agitating for the rights, lives, and well-being of the people the US regularly bombs.

Still, he was initially pretty defensive and perhaps he should consider that not all of the people he's implicitly criticizing are actually guilty of what he's criticizing, no more than he was guilty of my blanket criticism.

More to the point, and this was true with Greenwald and Brown, he has a stake in Brown's story and someone (me) using Brown's plight as a means to the end of arguing that other people deserve more attention was upsetting to him.

Maybe what jeffburgess wrote truly "needed" to be written. Maybe what I wrote about Swartz and Brown "needed" to be written. Maybe. I think a lot of us are sympathetic to the idea that it's a problem that what's important and personal to a certain demographic of the American public roughly defines the limits of our cultural and political empathy as revealed by our media.

But some places are more or less acceptable to make this point. A thread about something like this bombing, where many people have personal connections to the area and event, know people involved (at least two mefites know Carlos Arredondo), and which is very much about the hurt and fear they're fearing here in this place and time isn't where this is acceptable.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think I may have met Krystle Campbell in passing. If she's who I think she is, she used to ride the same bus home that I did.

Words fail me right now.
posted by pxe2000 at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2013


I'm sorry that I'm taking this badly and I'm probably just spewing noise. It's just...this is my city. This affects my people. I'm trying to hold it together at work right now.

As a side note, Gentleman Caller works as a prison librarian, and now I'm nervous about him (a) at work or (b) taking the Red Line home.
posted by pxe2000 at 11:39 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anti-wedge. Pro-hugs.

My heart is wide open.

Have some love if you need some. I'm pretty sure everyone needs some.
posted by batmonkey at 11:50 AM on April 16, 2013


As a colleague wrote elsewhere (and she's okay with reproduction here):

"Posting about there was a bombing/tragedy/etc somewhere in the world besides Boston, in an effort/attempt to share/embarrass/belittle/school/educate others, is a douche move."
posted by Wordshore at 11:52 AM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know this was brought up, then dropped, in both this thread and the main one, but if someone mentions the intentions of North Korea related to shows of violence, here is an interesting NPR piece that emphasizes North Korea as a bully who threatens, not as one who acts out: Threats And Crises Are 'Just Normal North Korean Diplomacy'. Professor Andrei Lankov, who studied in North Korea in the 1980s, and now teaches at Seoul's Kookmin University said
[These threats of nuclear strikes are] "just normal North Korean diplomacy. When North Koreans believe that it's time to start negotiations [over their nuclear ambitions, for instance] in order to squeeze more aid and political concessions from the outside world, [they] start from manufacturing a crisis. ... They promise usually to make Seoul or other capitals enter a 'sea of fire.' And the world media run headlines about the Korean Peninsula being on the brink of war. Of course, it's not on the brink of war, it's just [the] normal show."
He also mentioned that "a nuke is a vital tool of their blackmail diplomacy." This segment aired on the morning of April 15, and was not related at all to the Boston marathon events. I'm posting it here as a long-winded way of saying this sort of bombing is counter to discussions based on threats. Actually attacking a nation results in retaliation of some sort, not additional foreign aid.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2013


In the same way that I didn't think it could be too early or not the time to talk about the issue of gun control in the wake of Newtown or other mass shootings, I don't think it can be too early here to say that a most appropriate response to this would be to make sure that as a country we ensure that we don't do this to anyone else no matter how strenuously our politicians insist that it's necessary to launch military operations where it "accidentally" happens again and again and again.

I'm saying that as someone who had to run down the list of my friends and family yesterday to make sure they were okay because the majority of them live either in Boston or in the Boston area near enough to have been in attendance at the Marathon finish line.

(And again, I don't object at all to the mods ensuring that this aspect of the discussion is segregated here into MeTa. I just don't agree with the degree of condemnation of jeffburdges, at least not if all he did was mention a similar bombing of a wedding party by the U.S. military - I didn't see the original text of the comment in the thread.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Posting about there was a bombing/tragedy/etc somewhere in the world besides Boston, in an effort/attempt to share/embarrass/belittle/school/educate others, is a douche move."

I've been thinking about this for a while. At first, I was annoyed how big of a deal this bombing is, when there are similar and more deadly acts of terror happening elsewhere in the world.

But then I realized that this means the US (at large) is fortunate, that our tragedies are fewer and farther between, so we are not yet desensitized to them. I wish more places were as fortunate as we are. This doesn't mean that we're any shining example of how to do things, just that we have it pretty well off.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:02 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


In some ways, it feels like going to a funeral in order to remind people that there's a funeral down the street where two people are being buried, instead of just one.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


If the funeral down the street was for people who have been designated as acceptable casualties by the attendees of the first funeral or by the representatives they've been putting in charge again and again, it does not seem entirely inappropriate to me.
posted by XMLicious at 12:20 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a Bostonian, I would like permission to grieve for the tragedy in my city today without being told that it's "not so bad," thanks. I still have plenty of empathy for other parts of the world that are hurting, but it doesn't make the wound in my own backyard less painful.

It's possible to care about many things at once and while MeFi is not a safe space or a Boston specific site, that we have many members directly affected by this is something to keep in mind when trying to place this in context. For the world, is this the worst thing that happened yesterday? No, probably not. For the city of Boston, however, and those of us who call it home, it absolutely was.
posted by sonika at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


If the funeral down the street was for people who have been designated as acceptable casualties by the attendees of the first funeral or by the representatives they've been putting in charge again and again, it does not seem entirely inappropriate to me.

Really? Because it violates some very basic rules of respecting those who are grieving. Especially when you consider that one of the three dead in this instance was an 8-year-old boy, who hardly can be held culpable for anything his "representatives" chose.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:40 PM on April 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


To me, the discussions of gun control after Newtown were more germane, since it pertains to something citizens can do that pertains to stopping or mitigating future similar attacks. We don't know the source of this attack, and explicitly drawing links with events in Muslim countries feels to me like sketching causal links (even unintentionally or with the best of intentions) that aren't warranted and could be harmful.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


XMLicious: "If the funeral down the street was for people who have been designated as acceptable casualties by the attendees of the first funeral or by the representatives they've been putting in charge again and again, it does not seem entirely inappropriate to me."

This attitude is at the very least tone-deaf and would be viewed as colossally disrespectful in many, if not most, human cultures.
posted by scrump at 12:49 PM on April 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


Someone needs to try Justice West, 05060 and see if it gets there. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 1:18 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or maybe "Librarian/lifeguard, 05060." I bet that'd work too.
posted by rtha at 1:32 PM on April 16, 2013




Can I just say how nice it is to have a place where I don't have to feel any need to justify my sympathy for the people of Boston in general and the victims and their families in particular? It can be very hard to constantly deal with the barrage of "but what about all the deaths CAUSED by the US, huh, huh?" when you're still trying to figure out if faraway friends and family are safe.
posted by bardophile at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


... there's a funeral down the street where two people are being buried, instead of just one

I feel like there's a throng of mourners around a cathedral illuminated by spot lights, crying out "Why, oh, why?" after walking by a dozen other little churches with their collections of caskets, lit only by a few candles.

I'm not trying to one-up tragedies, because any meaningless death is a tragedy. Just don't lose sight of your place in this world.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:41 PM on April 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


But my place in this world is in Boston.
posted by maryr at 1:48 PM on April 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


Then I'll invite the gawkers to depart and leave you to grieve. I'm sorry for you and everyone in/of your city.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:51 PM on April 16, 2013


filthy light thief: "I'm not trying to one-up tragedies, because any meaningless death is a tragedy. Just don't lose sight of your place in this world."

MetaFilter is the last place on the Internet I think needs this kind of crap.

This community is highly aware, highly involved, and generally pretty damn informed, and I simply do not understand how you can possibly claim that the problem here is that MetaFilter tends to "lose sight of your place in this world".

Go solve this non-problem somewhere else, because we don't need it here. It's insulting, it's offensive, and it completely fails to respect the fact that MetaFilter is one of the places on the Internet where you are guaranteed to get some perspective.
posted by scrump at 2:45 PM on April 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm sorry, I apologize to y'all. I've seen too much coverage elsewhere, and I chose to vent here. Again, my apologies, and I'll keep away from news for a while.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:12 PM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks, flt.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:15 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's insulting, it's offensive

I didn't find it to be so. I took it as a call to feel connected to human suffering on a wider level -- an urge toward an all-encompassing empathy.

That's just how some of us see this situation. There's no need to attempt to shame or shush those who have a different perspective, when they have voiced that perspective in respectful terms.
posted by nacho fries at 4:03 PM on April 16, 2013


jessamyn: "I like getting mail. I can not speak for cortex, LM, gnfti, taz, pb or mathowie."

It should go without saying that restless_nomad, of course, has no fixed address. :)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 4:13 PM on April 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I posted a couple of links on how to help in the other thread, wanted to leave them here, too. Links at boston.com, they seem to be updating these. CNN also has a short list.

Posted from news organizations, because I am presuming they have been vetted.
posted by annsunny at 4:17 PM on April 16, 2013


nacho fries: "There's no need to attempt to shame or shush those who have a different perspective, when they have voiced that perspective in respectful terms."

Maybe you see it as respectful, but I see it as patronizing as hell.

For example, I don't think it's outrageously oversensitive to read the statement "just don't lose sight of your place in the world" as some sort of advice. Well, I have a problem with that, because it presupposes that I am either at risk of losing sight of my place in the world, or that I need to be warned against it.

Both of those presuppositions are patronizing and assume facts not in evidence about me. And I resent the hell out of that.

You want to talk about your feelings and your motivations, go right ahead. But if you presume to tell me what's inside my head, I will call you on it. If I happen to be a little less than politic about it, I view that as a risk that comes with the territory.
posted by scrump at 4:24 PM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's a sucky two days and the only good or positive thing in these days is the way strangers are helping strangers, the way that some people are being kind or mind-blowingly brave.

I'm gonna chalk some things I don't like in this thread or the one on the blue up to a failure to communicate coupled with raw, raw nerves.

I'm gonna think that everyone really does need a hug.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2013


It should go without saying that restless_nomad, of course, has no fixed address. :)

I thought it was because being stuck in one place can make a nomad restless to move on.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:30 PM on April 16, 2013


For those needing hugs
posted by Jacqueline at 5:42 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really? Because it violates some very basic rules of respecting those who are grieving. Especially when you consider that one of the three dead in this instance was an 8-year-old boy, who hardly can be held culpable for anything his "representatives" chose.

I said something about a funeral where the attendees have acceeded to visiting upon others the misery and sorrow they're currently experiencing.

I do not think that it's alien to all human cultures to voice hope for all acts of violence to end at a funeral - not just the ones that brought about the current funeral, and even specific acts of violence that those grieving have influence over ending. Indeed at the funerals I have attended and at other events and ceremonies where the dead are commemorated that has been fairly common, in my experience.
posted by XMLicious at 5:46 PM on April 16, 2013


Just dropping by to say thanks to MetaFilter for being so damn great. A great place to find relevant news, and comfort: even with some jarring comments, simply having a place to turn to for information and discourse is comforting. Feeling like there's a a place to belong is comforting.

Thanks, and not just for this time, but for a number of times for as long as I've been reading MeFi.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:53 PM on April 16, 2013


I have hugs, homemade cookies, and velour blankets pre-warmed that come with kitties or puppies for those in need. My thoughts in particular for those in Boston; I'm saddened for your loss and amazed by your collective coming together after this tragedy.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:07 PM on April 16, 2013


I'm on my way to meet a friend for dinner, and the bus just went past the Warfield, where the marquee says the Dropkick Murphys are playing tonight. That should be a show.
posted by rtha at 6:19 PM on April 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


It should go without saying that restless_nomad, of course, has no fixed address.

Hah! Indeed.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:32 PM on April 16, 2013


I am sorry for inexplicably forgetting you r_n. It's been a weird few days.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:11 PM on April 16, 2013


Oh, no worries, it's funnier that way.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:22 PM on April 16, 2013


For what it's worth, this discussion on MeTa did make me think a little bit more about all the places in the world that this has somehow grotesquely become routine. It just didn't make me feel any better as I went to sleep knowing that that family will never see their eight year old become an obnoxious middle schooler or an awkward teenager or an amazing adult.
posted by maryr at 7:38 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Not that the families of the BU grad student or the 29 year old restaurant manager deserve any less sympathy. There's just something about that eight year old never becoming a fully fledged adult person that really gets me.)
posted by maryr at 7:40 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally, I wouldn't have brought up all the innocent people the US is always killing and maiming on this particular occasion, because of course I understand why it would hurt some of you to think about that now, or to feel accused of not thinking about it enough. Still, it did get brought up, and so, at least those of you who have not been directly affected by this tragedy in Boston - could you not bear that small hurt gracefully? Just once, solidarity with the people who are bleeding and hurting and grieving in more embattled parts of the world meant that something was asked of you that felt difficult to give. And by shouting down jeffburdges, you just make it clear that when it's not you who gets to be the good person, instructing craven politicians to oppose war (at the cost of what's difficult for them to give, of course: money and power and pride), the victims of Western military violence just won't be acknowledged, and it's actually offensive for anybody to demand such a thing of you. I'm sure it is obnoxious to be asked, and I suppose it doesn't really make a difference either way, but, my god, it's such a little thing to type "Yes, I am just as heartbroken about people getting blown up in Afghanistan", or even to say nothing. This "How dare you, now is not the time" stuff makes me sad. I think it will never be convenient enough or appropriate enough to stand up for the abused of the world, and their dignity, humanity, and need for protection and relief from all the same kinds of pain as the rest of us - certainly not for the people with any power at all to do so.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:34 PM on April 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I feel plenty sad about plenty of things, but this conversation is about one sad thing that is DIRECTLY affecting some if us, which is very different from other sad things we may care about that aren't part of our day to day lives. Any time a tragedy happens are we supposed to not talk about it and focus on all the other horrors in the world?

It's a derail of a conversation about Boston to suddenly go down a tangent to children being bombed by the military. It's possible to have strong feelings about both, to be equally affected by both, but this thread is about the former. If you want to have a different conversation, start one, don't hijack other people's grief as not being good enough for you.
posted by sonika at 8:52 PM on April 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


The difficult part is, when do you say when, then? Is it always okay to show up in a thread about BBQ and say "Meat is murder"? Is it okay to answer someone's question about a late term abortion by telling them to consider adoption instead? Every time we have a thread about rape is it appropriate to talk about the many people who are raped in prisons? Or raped legally by their husbands in other countries? We spend an awful lot of time moderating this place specifically because people feel that their reason for disrupting a thing is more important than the thing being disrupted.

The implication that by talking about one thing we have lost room in our heart for other things is incorrect. The implication that people here are valuing or caring about the wrong things is toxic to community discussion and cohesion. Knowing how to appropriately and tactfully bring such things up when other people are emotionally fragile and upset is something that people are going to need to weigh in the balance when they contemplate how to do this. Many people are bad at it. Many people use the urgency of their thing to steamroll others' things. It is very hard to stay alive when you feel you need to care about all the important things at once and people are regularly brought to their knees in AskMe because they can't gracefully do it and they feel that they have failed in life because they can't save all the hurting people and the missing pets and the poisoned oceans. And we all have to learn how to do what we can but to also learn to be okay that we can't do it all.

And, as cortex said above, it's actually okay to say "Now is not the time, here, on MetaFilter" because otherwise there is literally no way to keep this place from becoming a place where anyone who cares a lot about anything feels justified in lambasting other people for their lack of attention to their preferred thing. There is a big world out there that we regularly encourage people to become involved with; the fact that people didn't mention Afghanistan when they are shocked and frightened by an attack in their own homes doesn't mean much other than they are busy and sad and distracted.

Telling them they're doing it wrong is not just trite and obnoxious, it's more or less disallowed here. I am sorry if some people feel that makes MetaFilter less valuable. Part of my job is setting expectations. And now is not the time to jump into a thread about a recent and raw human tragedy and imply that people have forgotten about all the less recent and equally raw human tragedies.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:54 PM on April 16, 2013 [44 favorites]


Suffering is suffering is suffering.

If it's true that one person's suffering is equal to another person's suffering, then 3 people dying is one one-thousandth as bad as 3,000 people dying.
posted by John Cohen at 8:56 PM on April 16, 2013


Just once, solidarity with the people who are bleeding and hurting and grieving in more embattled parts of the world meant that something was asked of you that felt difficult to give.

What's so obnoxious about this sort of thing is the presumption that people don't spend as much of their day thinking about the world's ills and evils as those of you who opportunistically seize on their personal grief to make a political point do.

I suspect that they do, and that the last thing they need is some naif suggesting their worldview isn't large enough. You really have no idea how much activism, love, sacrifice people have already given, and do give continuously, to causes outside their own little world. So please, really, don't elect yourself priest and deliver sermons. When you want to point to an injustice, do it, but be kind enough not to assume that someone in the middle of personal, family, community, regional, national, or whatever forms of grief is someone who needs to hear your message right now.

I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of already have a lot more on our "attempt to change the world" CVs than some of you who simply can't resist the urge to intone a lecture.

it's such a little thing to type "Yes, I am just as heartbroken about people getting blown up in Afghanistan"

I'm not sure whether I'd consider that blackmail, theatre, or both, but I know I consider it pointless. Why should my grief come with a responsibility to display my bona fides?

Just please.
posted by Miko at 8:56 PM on April 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


Just once, solidarity with the people who are bleeding and hurting and grieving in more embattled parts of the world meant that something was asked of you that felt difficult to give.

You presume too much about who this community is comprised of. And that presumption is just as exclusionary as the behavior for which you are chiding the rest of the community.
posted by bardophile at 9:10 PM on April 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, just to back up what others said - I feel fairly confident that just about everybody who was in that thread expressing shock and horror and heartbreak would agree it is bad for the US to kill innocent civilians and that it happens too often. They probably agree on a lot of other things too.

It would also be out of place to come into the thread saying "nobody has acknowledged that malnutrition kills children every day, we should all be doing more to prevent this."

Sure, that's an important issue. But it's not our topic in that thread, and it's doubly weird to inject it there in a way that seems to accuse other commenters of not caring about it -- seeming to demand everyone switch gears to talk about this other topic, or else reveal their true uncaring nature. And it's extra weird to put people in that position when they're reacting with shock to a genuinely scary and awful thing that has happened in a place where they may have friends/family/a personal history.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:30 PM on April 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


This "How dare you, now is not the time" stuff makes me sad. I think it will never be convenient enough or appropriate enough to stand up for the abused of the world, and their dignity, humanity, and need for protection and relief from all the same kinds of pain as the rest of us - certainly not for the people with any power at all to do so.

Thank you for saying this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:32 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it's okay in the Boston bombing fpp to tell people to remember other victims in other places, then is there any thread where it's not okay to tell people to remember a terrible thing that has happened somewhere? And if not, why not?
posted by rtha at 9:41 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The irony here is mindblowing.
posted by scrump at 9:42 PM on April 16, 2013


I think it will never be convenient enough or appropriate enough to stand up for the abused of the world, and their dignity, humanity, and need for protection and relief from all the same kinds of pain as the rest of us

Really? Because I live in a constant soup of people doing just that.

Could you tell me why you feel it is inconvenient for you do that on a daily basis?

certainly not for the people with any power at all to do so.

Were those the people in the thread?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:51 PM on April 16, 2013


I should add, obviously what both jessamyn and I said above applies specifically to a discussion at MetaFilter -- within the specific community here, and within the structure of pretty narrowly topic-based threads that we have here.

None of that means people should limit what they say on their own blogs, or in the wider internet or letters to Congress or other places. So it's not "you can't talk about this at all now", instead it's "you can't talk about this in the very specific venue of this MetaFilter thread." Maybe it can feel as if one is being told to keep quiet overall -- but I hope not. Really it's just a matter of how this one community works, one place among many, and there are a lot of other, much-more-effective ways to advocate for change which are still very much available.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:01 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm aware that there are activists and different kinds of people on Metafilter. If I gave the impression of being gleeful and self-righteous when I commented, it was the wrong one. I was uncomfortable that in a discussion of the USA's more recent major terrorist attack, the people who are being hurt and killed by their response to the second most recent one are getting talked about as if they were an irrelevancy and a threat to the legitimacy of everyone's grief. I don't think that people here don't care about people in Afghanistan. (I think they probably generally care about them less, and that that's understandable, but not exactly right.) To speak more carefully this time, I feel like people are responding to the implied allegation that sadness over the bad thing that happened in Boston is in opposition to sadness over the bad thing that's happening in Afghanistan by affirming that they really are in opposition, so that talking about the latter (which is, again, relevant in clear ways to me) is disrespectful to the discussion of the former. I don't think that's the case. Nobody has to talk about things they don't want to, or that seem irrelevant to them, but the idea that other people are just being antagonistic by bringing Afghanistan up in a discussion about a rare terrorist incident in America seems so much of a piece with general attitudes to the whole issue, some of which are compassionate, some of which are callous, but so many of which seem really quick to draw the line at which it all becomes too offensive to talk about.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:42 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if I totally understood what you wrote, totcputs, but, yeah, even if there's very good reasons why it's a bad idea to jump in and say "that thing over there is just as important!" that doesn't mean that anyone doing so is motivated by antagonism or just being a jerk. Rather, I think it's more likely than not that it's a surfeit of good-intentions, though gone awry.

Perhaps it's pretty clear at this point, but as I see it, there's two separate but very good arguments against doing this.

The first is that when something matters to someone, and especially when it involves their own experience of grief or pain, then it's just darn inconsiderate to implicitly (or explicitly!) devalue their grief and pain by insisting that they should be concentrating on those other things.

But the second is just practical, though convincingly so: almost any discussion about sensitive, important things could be criticized in this way, it upsets people and makes them combative, and therefore it invariably leads to a whole bunch of conflict and hurt feelings, pretty much every time.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:06 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just looked at the three posts you have made, two or three cars, and I notice none are about issues of global awareness that you think we should be more aware of. I mean, one of them is a about an entertaiment website. Why don't you care about the world's suffering?
posted by Miko at 4:20 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just looked at the three posts you have made, two or three cars, and I notice none are about issues of global awareness that you think we should be more aware of. I mean, one of them is a about an entertaiment website. Why don't you care about the world's suffering?

Isn't this out of bounds? Or are posting histories okay, but not commenting histories?
posted by hoyland at 4:46 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This whole "There are way worse tragedies thing" is the most obnoxious thing to come along. I don't even understand why it's being raised. Are you trying to prove your progressive credentials? How edgy you are?

Wait a day or two. The snarky comments will still be there.
posted by corb at 4:47 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


First of all, I woke up this morning shocked to have commented in a thread like this at all. I must have been in a very different place last night.

Second, I don't really see personal grief as a thing that can be devalued, and in any case, I think it would be so strange for someone here to want to do that that it doesn't make sense to interpret anyone's behaviour that way. It's this "national grief" stuff I don't understand. I understand feeling it, of course, but it seems to me that there have been some very self-serving and destructive norms surrounding American grief in effect in the US, and wherever the US is felt to have ears, ever since September 2001. It's still controversial to talk about Afghan and Iraqi civilians as innocents and victims, in that even people who don't object to those terms in theory seem to think actually talking about it is too fighty. Like I said, I understand why people don't want to discuss all that now (even though I insist that the issue is not merely tangential in this case) but I think that once it was brought up, it would have been better to say nothing than to go along with the idea that to talk about those groups' suffering is to act against people who are hurting in America. I'm appreciating your broader principle of not holding two funerals at once a little bit more now, but at first it seemed to me like the same thing that's been going on for the last twelve years, with catastrophic consequences. Rushing off to work, so sorry if that was not quite coherent.

On preview, Miko, I'm really not interested in waving my dick around today, sorry.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:49 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is there anyone here whose FPPs and comments are made in direct proportion to the associated degree of suffering and injustice in the world? That is, has someone figured which are the biggest problems and then made sure that they talk about those problems with a frequency tied to their severity? If none of us actually does that, maybe we could be a little more charitable with people being particularly interested in the Boston attack given the number of MeFi users with ties to Boston. I'm from Minnesota. I comment a lot in threads that discuss Minnesota. Does that mean someone needs to come into those threads and tell me that people in Afghanistan or California are just as important as those in Minnesota?

If you want to talk about tragedies elsewhere in the world, there are places to do that, even sometimes places on Metafilter to discuss specific issues. For example, there's an open thread discussing that new report on the U.S. torturing people.
posted by Area Man at 4:53 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think totcputs is being snarky. She seems to be pretty earnest, actually.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:53 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


This whole "There are way worse tragedies thing" is the most obnoxious thing to come along.

I dunno. To me, the most obnoxious thing to come along is that this incident will be plastered all over front page news worldwide for weeks, when in Iraq it would be considered a good day. Mohammed & all his virgin unicorns would shit rainbows until the whole Middle East looked like My Little Pony Land if only a few people died in bombings in a day.

The past 3 years have shown recorded civilian deaths due to violence like this at over 4,000 human beings per year. Divided by 365, that's already more than 3 Boston bombings per day, every single day for over 3 years.

Boston was a tragedy, all the deaths in Iraq have been tragedies; it's not a pissing contest. But to rule "oh, let's not even mention the thousands upon thousands of people who have been suffering similarly elsewhere even though it's completely on topic because [insert rationalisation here]" is really quite fucked up and completely lacking in empathy at a time when conditions should be ripe for precisely spreading that kind of empathy.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:09 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


On the day of the bombing when nerves were still raw and no one really knew what was happening, it was obnoxious behavior that was unlikely to make people more empathic.
posted by Area Man at 5:35 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


But to rule "oh, let's not even mention the thousands upon thousands of people who have been suffering similarly elsewhere even though it's completely on topic because [insert rationalisation here]" is really quite fucked up and completely lacking in empathy at a time when conditions should be ripe for precisely spreading that kind of empathy.

How is it on topic? The topic is "bombing at Boston marathon" not "violence in the world" or "tragic ways people have died today." If you think we should have a conversation about violence in Iraq, I don't disagree; make a post about it. A post about a specific incident of violence in America is not a place to make a point about (so far as we know) unrelated violence in other places, nor is it a place to talk about car accidents; it's a place to talk about the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:39 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Agreed, Area Man. Obviously, people on MeFi are more likely to have family & friends in Boston than in Baghdad or Tikrit, so the need for immediate information without noise or side arguments makes total sense.

I'm interested in how this plays out in the media over time. The Sydney Morning Herald had a few of the front pages devoted to Boston, but also a good big half page article about similar violence in Iraq, for example. Leading into elections, it's apparently getting worse over there.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:40 AM on April 17, 2013


A post about a specific incident of violence in America is not a place to make a point about (so far as we know) unrelated violence in other places, nor is it a place to talk about car accidents; it's a place to talk about the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

Gee, funny. The thread(s) about Sandy Hook were apparently OK to mention other gun-related violence in other places than Sandy Hook. Does this rule about keeping things local stop at the borders of the US?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:48 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This was a block from my house. If I'm supposed to be *exactly* as upset about bombings half the world away, I suppose am just a moral failure by your standards.
posted by sonika at 6:09 AM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, they haven't posted in threads, but I've been MeMailed by direct neighbors of mine. There are many of us in this space who are dealing with this in our literal backyard. We'd very much like to care about our home without being told that it's insignificant and we should be caring about "more important" things.
posted by sonika at 6:13 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm actually not particularly on board with making the (initial breaking news) Sandy Hook thread about other gun-related violence in the US, and those comments were fairly contentious, if I recall correctly. That said, there is an obvious connection between gun crime at Sandy Hook and gun crime in other parts of the United States. They're governed by the same laws, influenced by the same culture, etc.

What do you see as the connection between political violence in Iraq and the bombing at the Boston Marathon, because I don't see anyone really articulating it beyond the fact that both involve violence. If every thread about any individual act of violence is open season to talk about any other violent thing that has ever happened then thread would be an absolute nightmare and completely useless.

It's also true that, for people directly affected by this, they're dealing with something really shocking and hard to deal with; some of them clearly didn't like being told that they should also take this moment to care about other things because they are worse. You claim to be trying to build empathy, but telling people who are actively grieving that their problems aren't as bad as other people's problems is such a colossally terrible way to do that that I seriously doubt whether or not that's anyone's real goal. That are hundreds of days in the year when Americans aren't dealing with anything like this; it's not like you're hurting for opportunities to discuss people dying in Iraq when it won't come across as offensively inconsiderate to other people.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:22 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thread(s) about Sandy Hook were apparently OK to mention other gun-related violence in other places than Sandy Hook.

Which is not the same thing as saying it would have gone well if someone had popped into the beginning of the earliest Sandy Hook thread to say "gee, a bunch of kids in Iraq got shot in the last month, curious how no one wants to talk about that" or something equivalent. (That's aside from whether it's really all that great the way people tend to instantly go into OKAY GUN CONTROL DEBATE TIME NOW in those contexts. That's a different discussion.)

Key point: there's a practical difference between saying "no talking about directly related or contrasting topics regarding this topic, period"—which no mod has said and I don't think anyone else has even really argued for here—and "don't rush into a breaking news discussion where people are freshly upset about something bad that just happened to throw out a 'well what about this other tragedy?' derail".

The latter is what actually happened, is what we actually took action on, and what jeffburdgess promptly made a stink about in here as well. Good intentions aside, it's just a crappy way to interface with a raw, developing situation. Not because it's Boston, not because the thing being injected is a non-US thing, but because it's just a terribly tone-deaf way to behave.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:25 AM on April 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


OK, how about for a start, maybe people stop framing this as "caring about Boston" vs "Caring about 'more important' things"?

I certainly never said that, and I don't know if anybody else did, either. However, I note that it's been part of the mods' narrative & framing of the (non) discussion.

To use Sandy Hook as an example again, if somebody in that thread mentioned another gun tragedy elsewhere, I am certain that it was not to diminish the Sandy Hook tragedy. It was to highlight a commonality amongst similar tragedies.

On preview: telling people who are actively grieving that their problems aren't as bad as other people's problems is such a colossally terrible way to do that that I seriously doubt whether or not that's anyone's real goal

Who said that? I certainly didn't, so your argument isn't with me.

What do you see as the connection between political violence in Iraq and the bombing at the Boston Marathon, because I don't see anyone really articulating it beyond the fact that both involve violence.

Maybe you don't see it being articulated precisely because anybody trying to mention anything else, anywhere else in the world, is either being deleted or shouted down? How can anybody discuss the parallels, motivations, effects, politics, reactions or otherwise of deliberate bombings of civilians if pedants keep trying to bring the conversation back to what the fucking mayor of Boston said in his 6 o'clock speech (and don't you dare talk about anything else or you'll get shouted down by a very loud echo chamber)?

Note, of course, that this discussion is in Metatalk, not in the thread itself. It's about a matter of moderation & site policy, and I don't think the majority Americans in here realise just quite how insularly they are behaving with rather bizarre & almost unprecedented "stick to what we say the topic is" rules.

posted by UbuRoivas at 6:35 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


And on post-view: cortex, you mentioned tone deafness. I completely understand that, if it's a matter of barging into an unfolding tragedy to say "huh, that's nothing! What about Rwanda?" or whatever.

Even more tone deaf, though, is the massive privileging of an American tragedy, over equally awful (although numerically orders of magnitude greater) tragedies elsewhere, to the extent that for anybody to say something neutral-to-positive like "Hey, maybe this is an opportunity to build bridges" still gets shouted down.

Try imagining it in a situation that doesn't involve the US, and see how things would be handled. As a thought experiment, what if after decades of IRA bombing in England, a bomb went off in Dublin? What kinds of discussions might or might not be allowed?

I really don't mean to get into an argument about all of this, but I've been watching this thing for days without saying anything, and to be honest the - for want of better terms - censorship & groupthink are rather depressing, for a bunch of people who really ought to be able to actually discuss things, rather than just toeing flag-wavey lines.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:45 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I dunno. To me, the most obnoxious thing to come along is that this incident will be plastered all over front page news worldwide for weeks, when in Iraq it would be considered a good day. Mohammed & all his virgin unicorns would shit rainbows until the whole Middle East looked like My Little Pony Land if only a few people died in bombings in a day.

The past 3 years have shown recorded civilian deaths due to violence like this at over 4,000 human beings per year. Divided by 365, that's already more than 3 Boston bombings per day, every single day for over 3 years.


This is literally you saying that the bombing in Boston wasn't as bad as violence in Iraq. In Iraq it would be "a good day" and it's "3 Boston bombings per day every single day for 3 years." That is precisely you telling people that they're problems aren't as bad as other people's problems. As is often the case, you're not wrong, you're just an asshole.

"Stick to the topic" is a hardly unprecedented rule on Metafilter, especially in times when emotions are running high. If you want to have a conversation about other tragedies that you think are also important, make a post about it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:46 AM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


OK, how about for a start, maybe people stop framing this as "caring about Boston" vs "Caring about 'more important' things"?

This is basic conversational etiquette we're talking about, though. Unilaterally preempting the topic to inject something else is an act of prioritization: it's saying, the thing you're talking about is not important enough not to interrupt with this thing I think you should be talking about instead. That's what gets signalled. Again, I'm not divining motives here, I'm just talking about the structure of discourse as a thing that happens.

This is not a site where there's only one constant and monolithic conversation ever happening, so it's not some damned-both-ways thing where one has to choose between either mentioning Other Terrible Thing in a specific thread at a specific time or never discussing it. That's what makes injecting a "what about these other dead people?" thing right into the early bits of the Boston thread problematic.

I do not see what is not clear about this: choosing one of the small windows in which it's the least possible good time to do something and then doubling down and that and getting pushback is not the same thing as being told that no time is ever a good time.

Even more tone deaf, though, is the massive privileging of an American tragedy, over equally awful (although numerically orders of magnitude greater) tragedies elsewhere, to the extent that for anybody to say something neutral-to-positive like "Hey, maybe this is an opportunity to build bridges" still gets shouted down.

Which is not what happened in the Boston thread. I do not understand why you are using objections to active tone-deafness in the beginning of that specific thread as some lever by which to complain about something else that no one here has been arguing.

As a thought experiment, what if after decades of IRA bombing in England, a bomb went off in Dublin?

We weren't running a fucking thought experiment, we were moderating an actual thread that was actually happening.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:47 AM on April 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


I get that the mayor of Boston means nothing to you and you weren't particularly concerned about the possibility of secondary devices and other issues at play on Monday, but have some empathy. There will be time to talk about the broader issues, including the connection, if any, with a 13-year-old incident in Afghanistan.

Did comments about this being a chance to build bridges get shouted down?
posted by Area Man at 6:49 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bulgarokotonos: nope, not at all. You selectively quoted, and ignored "Boston was a tragedy, all the deaths in Iraq have been tragedies; it's not a pissing contest."

Every pointless human death is a tragedy. I cannot stress that enough. Please don't misconstrue me. I specifically said it is not a a pissing contest. That's part of the whole point.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2013


but have some empathy.

Thank you for saying this. It's all well and good to think of all people who are suffering around the world, but in THAT thread, there are people who were actually on the course in Boston. There are those of us who ran other races this weekend, and are still profoundly shaken by what happened. Introducing a non sequitur, no matter how well intentioned, isn't helping.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:52 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Adding some lip service about it not being a pissing contest doesn't really change the fact that you specifically told people who had a bomb go off outside their houses that in Iraq their experience would be "a good day." You can't see how that's pretty insensitive and tone deaf?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:54 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


What if you told people in Mogadishu that the bombings they are experiencing this year are nothing compared to the violence in Syria or Iraq? It wouldn't be helpful if said in response to their grief and fear following a particular bombing.
posted by Area Man at 6:58 AM on April 17, 2013


Bulgo, I was talking about the inevitable media response. If you read again without projecting what you want to hear, you may notice that. It certainly wasn't telling Boston folk how they should feel, and the latter disclaimer about pissing contests reiterated that, for those who missed the point the first time.

Cortex, you're more intelligent than not to understand thought experiments. Just sayin'. Mull it over for a few months then tell me what you think.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:59 AM on April 17, 2013


Area Man, to repeat for about the fourth or fifth time: nobody (or not me, at least) was saying that one suffering was less than another. If you suffer, it helps to understand what others suffer. Why is this so hard to understand? Why keep reframing it?*

* there's an obvious armchair psychologist's answer to this, but that's not my argument, although I'd bet it has a little to do with what's going on here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:02 AM on April 17, 2013


Cortex, you're more intelligent than not to understand thought experiments.

I fucking hate when people say shit like this. It's the most passive-aggressive form of insult.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:08 AM on April 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


If you suffer, it helps to understand what others suffer. Why is this so hard to understand? Why keep reframing it?*

Why would someone think that it's the moment to teach that to Bostonians on Metafilter right now?

Sometimes threads about places you live suck to participate in. I live in Texas. A lot of threads about where I live suck hard for me because they're all about what assholes my neighbors are (and they are, but they're my assholes). Maybe we could make a thread following up on a bombing that's local to a bunch of Mefites--a thread they're relying on for information and, appropriately or not, moral support--not suck so much for them by suggesting they need schooling to feel bad about shitty things a government they may oppose did somewhere in the rest of the world.
posted by immlass at 7:12 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just sayin'.

In my dreams, every time someone says these two words they're in the process of stepping on a rake.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:15 AM on April 17, 2013 [44 favorites]


I fucking hate when people say shit like this. It's the most passive-aggressive form of insult.

What, no love for "Bless your heart"?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bless your heart, step on a rake, and may you be accused of "teaching" people.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:20 AM on April 17, 2013


Just an observation about this MeTa thread, the FPP and the comments therein.

There seems to have been an uptick in comments in the past 24 hours that would have been best filed in the “times-I-wished-I-had-not-hit-ENTER-and-instead-went-for-a-walk” folder. Not a huge or new observation of course, just something I noticed.

The thread will be there tomorrow and it will be open for commenting I am sure.

Just sayin’

Now where is that rake?
posted by lampshade at 7:22 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Area Man, to repeat for about the fourth or fifth time: nobody (or not me, at least) was saying that one suffering was less than another. If you suffer, it helps to understand what others suffer. Why is this so hard to understand? Why keep reframing it?*

* there's an obvious armchair psychologist's answer to this, but that's not my argument, although I'd bet it has a little to do with what's going on here.


I don't think I'm the one re-framing the issue. You seem to be responding to theoretical deletions that did not occur, rather than the timing and content of what set off this whole argument. I didn't understand the veiled insult in your comment about armchair pyschology, but please don't feel any need to expand and clarify. I'll just assume that you think I'm morally deficient and psychologically troubled. (I notice that Bulgaroktonos has also been accused of "projecting," so the at least I'm not alone in being subjected to armchair analysis.)

Disclaimers don't actually work the way you seem to think. As the movie Taladega Nights taught us, saying "with all due respect" doesn't actually make the words that follow respectful. Similarly, a disclaimer about not wanting a pissing contest or thinking that all tragedies are equal that is followed by language suggesting the opposite has little effect if contradicted by the following sentences and clauses.
posted by Area Man at 7:27 AM on April 17, 2013


And as Luigi Pirandello taught us, "right you are if you think you are".

Goodnight all, and take care.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:32 AM on April 17, 2013


Sorry about my last sentence. What a mess. Even the edit option couldn't save me.
posted by Area Man at 7:33 AM on April 17, 2013


Cortex, you're more intelligent than not to understand thought experiments. Just sayin'. Mull it over for a few months then tell me what you think.

The point my esteemed colleague was making is that it's been a hell of a few days here. People are, understandably, upset about a number of things, many of them different. Trying to explain what we have done and are doing is complex enough without people making up clunky metaphors about what we might have done had a situation been different, which it is not.

We're right here with you trying to untangle how to best run this community. We're right there with you disliking the 24 hour news cycle's approach to this or any other tragedy. We are trying to be a place that is more useful than THIS JUST IN WE STILL KNOW NOTHING headlines. However, it's a lot easier if people don't add additional layers of crap on top of it.

I just deleted the quote that had graphic descriptions of maimed, injured and dying people directly above this one. Don't do that here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:07 AM on April 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the MeTa, zarq! *sigh*

(Less sarcastically, if this MeTa keeps the grar in here instead of in the main thread, then it seems like it's doing its job. So, really, thank you.)
posted by maryr at 8:37 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hear you, UbuRovias. I think people are just not in a place to listen to your nuance right now, even in Metatalk, which is a shame, but understandable. Hopefully a deeper conversation will emerge once there's enough distance from this event. Note: Everyone needs a hug.
posted by agregoli at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


maryr, this is definitely not the thread I thought I was making. :)

But yeah, if it works as a stress valve for the main post, then I'd rather see that too. Thanks. :)
posted by zarq at 9:16 AM on April 17, 2013


What do you see as the connection between political violence in Iraq and the bombing at the Boston Marathon, because I don't see anyone really articulating it

I have to agree with this; from an international politics standpoint, we have a basket of apples and a basket of oranges here, and if there is indeed a relationship between the Boston Marathon bombing and bombings in Kabul that goes beyond technology or broad and relatively uninformative generalities like "this is the fruit of bad policy (which we don't even know yet in the case of Boston), that relationship has not been demonstrated. But since we also seem not to want to let people hijack this thread into specious comparisons, it is not something we're going to be able to see articulated. Not here and now, anyway. It is the stuff of provocative contrasts and good opinion pieces, but the immediate, personal aftermath is just about the worst place to make this kind of an argument.

It's also true that, for people directly affected by this, they're dealing with something really shocking and hard to deal with; some of them clearly didn't like being told that they should also take this moment to care about other things because they are worse.

Part of what I hate about this sort of thing is that it's a really bad argument:

1. Bad MeFite cares about Bad Thing.
2. Bad MeFites do not already know a lot about Worse Things.
3. Bad MeFites do not already care a lot about Worse Thigs.
4. Therefore the reason Bad MeFites are not talking about Bad Thing instead of Worse Things is that they do not know or care about Worse Things.
5. It is therefore my job now to prod them into awareness of Worse Things.

Despite assumptions 2, 3 , and 4 being completely false, there's a profound arrogance to statement/conclusion 5. I wish people would stop reacting to the cartoon Bad MeFite in their heads and take a moment to realize that here is a place where we have a largely literally, politically engaged group of people which includes veterans, journalists, writers, public lawyers, activists and organizers, NGO workers, social work and medicine professionals. I feel fairly confident saying that many people here do not need the primer on Worse Things, because they are already attending conferences, reading publications, following issues, in fact personally experiencing issues, donating money and volunteer time, communicating with their representatives, and much more than I can probably imagine. In other words, you have the wrong target.

This is at least part of the reason people get angry. Yes, the false premises "you don't care, you don't care" are annoying. But the outright presumption that you actually know how engaged and active people are in a topic that is not even part of the thread at hand is just arrogance.

Think also about the rather personal way in which it's framed - as a response to grief. I thik there may have been and certainly could be comments which reflect on the fact that people do live with sudden, dramatic violence every day all around the world. I feel I've seen a few of those here already, though it could have been elsewhere since (see above) I read other things too. There is room for reflection on the toll of violence. There is room for discussion of something related, like types of injuries in Afghanistant vs. types in Boston, response patterns and treatment protocols there vs. here, etc. Those things are somewhat relevant, because they are substantive. However, a simple "You all don't care enough about other people to whom this happens" is a direct, personal accusation in a way that a comparitive or reportorial or informative comment is not. The substance of the problem comments is not "Here is a way in which this incident is similar to other incidents of bombing worldwide," but "you are a bad person because of the way you're respondign to this incident." IT's totally understandable for people to not want to be called a bad person, however obliquely.
posted by Miko at 9:23 AM on April 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Question for people here who feel particularly connected to this incident: what are your thoughts about the discussion re: the bombs' construction that is taking place in that thread? Analysis of ball bearings, pressure cookers, and so on.

I'm of two minds about it. One the one hand, why not discuss it openly, if it's of interest. On the other, if a thread like that one requires an extra level of sensitivity among participants to make it go well, that type of discussion feels a bit indelicate.
posted by nacho fries at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2013


I hear you, UbuRovias. I think people are just not in a place to listen to your nuance right now...

{reads back up thread}

Oh, "nuance". Assume that's how you'd describe, for example the WBC when they opportunistically and deliberately picket funerals, even when repeatedly told (and they know perfectly well) that it's offensive and the worst possible time and place?

Which keeps coming to mind reading this thread. There seems uncomfortably little difference between their antics and promotional ethos, and those of people who take this and similar opportunities to shove their agenda (even when it's agreeable) in other peoples faces, repeatedly.

If a bunch of people are upset, grieving, and say repeatedly that it's the wrong time and place, offensive, to have politics thrust on them - it's a pretty clear hint to back off and/or find a more appropriate time, place, or FPP to make their point. Civilized people (as most thankfully are), with a measure of emotional intelligence, compassion, empathy and above all respect, would do so.
posted by Wordshore at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Even more tone deaf, though, is the massive privileging of an American tragedy, over equally awful (although numerically orders of magnitude greater) tragedies elsewhere, to the extent that for anybody to say something neutral-to-positive like "Hey, maybe this is an opportunity to build bridges" still gets shouted down.


I think it matters how you phrase it. We have this undeleted comment over in the original thread on the Blue for instance:
In a phone conversation with a friend in Germany we spoke this afternoon about the 2005 London bus bombings, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the 2002 Bali bombing, the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings, etc. Not happy to join the club, but ever aware that this shit sucks! Big time!
It's clearly expressing empathy for people who've dealt with similar tragedies elsewhere. It's fine, and doubt if a single person flagged it. I'm not sure why they would. A comment that comes across as taking this event as an opportunity to say 'fuck you' to Americans is obviously going to go over less well.

From what he's said here.I think jeffburdgess intended his comment in the same spirit as the one I quoted, but apparently, and unfortunately, it didn't come across that way.
posted by nangar at 9:29 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


If I were to crash one of those slightly obnoxious bacon-lovefest threads with a cheerless quip about how many people were dying of starvation annually, I would be regarded as off topic. The subject in that thread is bacon.

If I were to take the time to point out the devastation caused by feral animals globally in one of our frequent fluffy animal video threads, I would also be regarded as being off topic.

SoI figure it's reasonable to expect folk to refrain from bringing up death tolls from other parts of the world in a thread dedicated to the Boston Marathon bombings. You worry so much, make your own thread. There's certainly room for discussion about rising tensions in Iraq in light of the upcoming elections. However, that thread is about the Boston Marathon bombings. You're not educating anyone, you're not improving the state of empathy in the world, and you certainly aren't impressing anyone with your knowledge of world politics. You're off topic.
posted by Jilder at 9:33 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


From what he's said here.I think jeffburdgess intended his comment in the same spirit as the one I quoted, but apparently, and unfortunately, it didn't come across that way.

He wrote, quote:

We're apparently not supposed to mention the U.S. blowing up another weddding party in Afganistan in the main thread...

I call total and utter bullshit on your "same spirit" statement.
posted by Wordshore at 9:38 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was in the midst of taking care of my dying mom, I might've punched someone who told me I should put my suffering in a broader context and that doing so might make me feel better, or something.

Not too long after she died, I did find it very helpful, comforting even, to put my suffering and pain in a broader context. It was at a time and place and way of my choosing.
posted by rtha at 9:38 AM on April 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


I just looked at the three posts you have made, two or three cars, and I notice none are about issues of global awareness that you think we should be more aware of. I mean, one of them is a about an entertaiment website. Why don't you care about the world's suffering?

That was intentionally hurtful. You dug through his/her history to publicly shame him/her. How does that advance the discussion?
posted by nacho fries at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Question for people here who feel particularly connected to this incident: what are your thoughts about the discussion re: the bombs' construction that is taking place in that thread? Analysis of ball bearings, pressure cookers, and so on.

I'm not particularly connected to it relative to any other Bostonian — I live 5 miles away, some friends were near the finish line or running, but no one I know was hurt. The closest I get to a connection is that a coworker's niece was injured and probably not going to make it.

I don't think discussing the mechanics of the attack is particularly upsetting. I want to know what happened and why. Simultaneously, I feel very lucky that more people weren't hurt or killed, so I appreciate the intentions of people pointing out the relative scale of the attack to other bombings, but I know that more people are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, you know? I don't really need to be reminded. I will probably be less focused on me and mine if and when they catch someone or find a motive or anything.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:52 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I see how people are taking UbuR's comments, but I don't see him as doing what people are accusing him of. Not the time to talk about any of it, sure. But I don't see the framing of "pay attention to this other thing instead" from what he said. Human interpretation being as uneven as it is, I see I'm in the far minority, and I'm not fighting to say anything similar or argue that it should be allowed, but wanted to speak up and say there's at least one other person that doesn't agree with the framing of his statements. At any rate, not trying to make trouble for the mods, please don't anyone hate on me. *ducks head*
posted by agregoli at 9:59 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the original thread, I originally composed a comment where I compared the effectiveness of a bomb to a gun, because a conservative talking point is that we don't really need gun control, because people can just make bombs. Here it was, a bomb, at an event that was, in part, dedicated to Sandy Hook, and two massive bombs resulted in far less fatalities than a lone gunman managed in five minutes.

I deleted it. There will be time to discuss that, and I think it must be discussed. But that was not the time. People were still dying. They may still be dying. It's exceedingly poor form to piggyback on a tragedy as it is happens to discuss broader topics, because it sounds like the tragedy is just a pretext for the discussion you want to have. And one not need wait too long -- with violence in America, there is a risk of being told it is never appropriate to discuss, because there is always a more recent tragedy. But when you're discussing a specific event, and there is blood still on the ground, it's a time for comfort, not for making points.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:13 AM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


UbuRovias, have a look at this picture and tell us again how we are "privileging" for expressing our despair and heartbreak.

I dare you.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:17 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Question for people here who feel particularly connected to this incident: what are your thoughts about the discussion re: the bombs' construction that is taking place in that thread? Analysis of ball bearings, pressure cookers, and so on.

Questions about the construction: I don't read them closely, but they don't bother me. They seem like people trying to find a way to engage with what's happened and find an outlet for the nervous energy an event like this creates. Kind of like re-organizing your book shelves the night before an important interview.

Some of the people discussing the politics/nationality of the people who did this, or comparing this event to other events in the world, bother me. Because some seem to be using this event to advance their own cause. If they see a connection, well, the can certainly tell us they see that connection. To repeatedly demand that others see the same connection, right now, they can fuck off.

I'm not saying this is right policy for MetaFilter. I'm just telling you how I feel about it.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:23 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stupid insomnia.

Oh, "nuance". Assume that's how you'd describe, for example the WBC when they opportunistically and deliberately picket funerals, even when repeatedly told (and they know perfectly well) that it's offensive and the worst possible time and place?

Which keeps coming to mind reading this thread. There seems uncomfortably little difference between their antics and promotional ethos, and those of people who take this and similar opportunities to shove their agenda (even when it's agreeable) in other peoples faces, repeatedly.

If a bunch of people are upset, grieving, and say repeatedly that it's the wrong time and place, offensive, to have politics thrust on them - it's a pretty clear hint to back off and/or find a more appropriate time, place, or FPP to make their point. Civilized people (as most thankfully are), with a measure of emotional intelligence, compassion, empathy and above all respect, would do so.


Oh, FFS, wordshore. If you're going to compare me with the fucking Westborough Baptist Church, then it's gloves off in the Clunky Metaphor World Challenge. I'll be Pitt the Destroyer. This is a Parliament. MetaTalk Parliamentary privilege rules, OK?

There is barely a "bunch of people are upset, grieving, and say repeatedly that it's the wrong time and place, offensive, to have politics thrust on them". This is a worldwide community of over 100.000 registered members, and not everybody sees everything through wounded red-white-blue striped filters.

There are probably less than a few dozen Bostonians here, about the same number as Sydneysiders, I would guess, so infinitesimally none of you are arguing from the privileged position of those directly affected by the tragedy.

As far as I have seen, there is no "bunch of people upset & grieving (etc)" but a bunch of people remote from the incident willing to co-opt that emotional response to make arguments on behalf of people they don't actually represent.

Speaking of which...Celsius1414: that boy was the one killed in the bombing, right? It grieves me more than you might think. I have a little boy of my own & honestly, I can barely see the screen right now; this is an awful tragedy; I have never said otherwise.

As I have said previously, this is not a dick-waving contest about suffering, though. Some of you might have watched Homeland, in which that bloodnut guy defected because the drone-killing of the "Bad Guy"'s kid. It's no different. This shit is happening all over the place. To blinker oneself & say LA LA LAAAAA BOSTON LA LA LAAAA is exactly the opposite of the kind of humanistic, empathetic response you are looking for.

I teared up equally over kids killed at Sandy Hook. Same with kids killed in Fallujah. Do you want me to link photos of dead Iraqi kids, because that's always possible. There are many of them.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why should a discussion not include the advancing of causes? The entire world is talking about this incident in terms of the causes represented on various imaginary sides of various imaginary conflicts. For a number of families, this is an intensely personal grief. The rest of us, no matter how high minded our condolences or our appeals for various limitations (always on others' discourse, mind you!), are in it for something other than pure personal grief too.

If you didn't lose someone, you can't really say anything without advancing a cause except "how horrible, how can I help, I hope you're ok." And that has been said thousands of times in the Mefi thread alone already. So your choices are close it down or discuss ideas.
posted by spitbull at 10:38 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, this is where we trot out images of victims' suffering to emotionally waterboard rogue MeFites to come around to our way of thinking?
posted by nacho fries at 10:39 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


apparently. it makes for sound logical argument.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:45 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kind of like re-organizing your book shelves the night before an important interview.

OH THANK GOD THERE'S ANOTHER
posted by shakespeherian at 10:47 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wrote a long comment, nacho fries, but you put it perfectly.

I am not aware of an MeFite who actually lost someone or had someone close to them injured on Monday. So where the self-righteousness is coming from around here is a bit of a mystery. Until you remember how many other topics of discussion around here have lately been seriously affected by a heightened effort to police the boundaries of expression in this community within very narrow terms of political correctness.

You must grieve as you are told, comrade.
posted by spitbull at 10:49 AM on April 17, 2013


I just deleted the quote that had graphic descriptions of maimed, injured and dying people directly above this one. Don't do that here.

Sorry, Jessamyn - I posted that from an EOD soldier and didn't realize it would be too graphic for MeTa.
posted by corb at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2013


One could say the same thing about "remember the dead Iraqi children!", spitbull.
posted by Jilder at 10:55 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not aware of an MeFite who actually lost someone or had someone close to them injured on Monday. So where the self-righteousness is coming from around here is a bit of a mystery.

There were plenty in the thread who live in Boston, had friends in the race, or worked in the vicinity, including, as I recall, one who is friends with the fellow in the cowboy hat who was assisting victims, and another whose significant other is a nurse and was helping the wounded. I am not sure it is helpful to minimize their actual distress, or to describe requests for sensitivity as "self righteousness." That seems like it risks making the conversation more heated, and chastising people for their real grief, and mocking and minimizing this discussion under some weird sense that conversation is being policed.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:57 AM on April 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am not aware of an MeFite who actually lost someone or had someone close to them injured on Monday.

sweetkid made a really incisive remark in the thread:
Born and raised in bland as anything suburban Northern Virginia, one of my favorite things about ;iving in the Northeast (specifically New England/New York) is the strong sense of place people have. It's addictive but it adds an extra sting to things like this. Hard to describe.
Someone else I knew once said that when she lived in New York and had an incredibly small apartment it didn't bother her, because it was like her apartment was just her bedroom, and the entire city was her home.

I grew up in an anonymous suburb too, and am one of the least city-proud, lets-all-join-in people around. I am sometimes amazed about how strongly I feel about my city. Which right now has a huge whole in the middle of it.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


When their is a terrorist attack in one's own city, region, or country, people get freaked out, even if they aren't themselves victims. In those hours after the attack when it isn't clear what's happened, jeffburdge's efforts to bring up a horibble incident in Afghanistan that happened more than 10 years ago wasn't likely to lead to any sort of productive discussion or encourage empathy for persons elsewhere in the world. It was a good deletion. Honestly, how does it harm you if the discussion waits a day or two before it can move on to broader issues or if there has to be a separate FPP to discuss the rising violence in Iraq? UboRovias, I thought you'd already conceded the timing was inappropriate when you agreed with one of my earlier comments.
posted by Area Man at 11:10 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why is this disgraceful comment still here. It is a personal attack using a person's posting history.
Miko, I know you come from Boston and I know you are hurting and for that I hurt with you, but that comment from someone of your stature in this community would be better off retracted or gone.
posted by adamvasco at 11:15 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why is this disgraceful comment still here.

Because while it's a crappy way to frame an argument and we have reasons for specifically discouraging history-diving potshots, that comment is also not getting into weird "here are some personal details about you!" dossier territory or otherwise really hitting the higher-than-elsewhere threshold we have for things that get deleted in Metatalk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2013


Why is this disgarceful comment still here. It is a personal attack using a person's posting history.

Because it's MetaTalk and we expect people to work that sort of stuff out among themselves, but I agree with you: not cool.

how many other topics of discussion around here have lately been seriously affected by a heightened effort to police the boundaries of expression in this community within very narrow terms of political correctness.

Not happening. Some people are acting like jerks and we tell them to act like they are members of a community with a more wide range of viewpoints than they might otherwise be used to dealing with. This is, and has always been, a lightly moderated site where the level of comment deletions hovers between 1-2%. I'm aware some people would prefer that number was lower. Others would prefer that it be higher.

We do the community's bidding in almost all cases. If you have issue with particular mod decisions, MeTa is available to you as much as anyone else. This schticky "political correctness" accusation is beneath you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:22 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am not aware of an MeFite who actually lost someone or had someone close to them injured on Monday. So where the self-righteousness is coming from around here is a bit of a mystery. Until you remember how many other topics of discussion around here have lately been seriously affected by a heightened effort to police the boundaries of expression in this community within very narrow terms of political correctness.

You must grieve as you are told, comrade.


As in most cases, I feel like this conversation would go a shitton better if we spoke sincerely and directly without hyperbole or sarcasm because now there's about to be thirty people who will jump in to point out how screamingly over-the-top you're being here.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


The entire world is talking about this incident in terms of the causes represented on various imaginary sides of various imaginary conflicts.

That sounds like a bullshit discussion being had by the entire world. Inferences piled on inferences (turtles all the way down), all to support everyone's pre-existing views. I say this not to suggest that such a dicussion should be discouraged by the moderators. I am not, however, wishing that we were having more of that sort of discussion.

On a different note, showing that picture to UbuRoivas was a dick move.
posted by Area Man at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2013


(Note: none of what I've typed below is specifically in reference to the argument about comments upthread debating the appropriateness or not of mentioning this or that other tragic event in the original thread, and nor should it be taken as an endorsement of any other opinion in this thread. It is, instead, a perhaps-rambling attempt to clarify my own thoughts on how some people outside of America have considered the media coverage of what happened in Boston, and how such considerations can often look ill-thought-through to people directly and indirectly affected by recent events.)

I think that there are a couple of factors that make this such a difficult thing to discuss:

First is that from outwith the United States (and from within it, for that matter, for a lot of people), in countries which have maybe a decades-long history of dealing with similar terrorist incidents, the blanket 24 hour news cycle coverage of this from American networks looks much like 24 hour news cycle coverage of any major event: it's needlessly sensationalistic, and full of unwarranted and/or useless or even damaging speculation.

Second is that American news culture truly is a behemoth, and not just available to Americans any more; it hasn't become a defacto part of the culture of other countries as much as, say Hollywood films, but it's definitely a bigger and more pervasive deal than it was pre-internet and cable/satellite TV. So those of us elsewhere – and I would count myself in this – can know far more about the minutae of, say, American politics than all but the most dedicated of (e.g. British-based) US politics junkies of 30 years ago. Combine this with the insularity of that media juggernaut – not any insularity on the part of MeFites – which often reports events in the rest of the world with a perfunctory shrug of "some people in another country died; that's tragic. Next up, here's Tom with the weather!", and you have a situation where the abiding memory a lot of foreign people have of American coverage of $tragic_event_in_your_own_country is treating it as little more than a footnote. Add this to the aforementioned sensationalism of Boston (or other tragedies') coverage, and many peoples' first reaction might be, or is, to think that said coverage is (i) over the top and (ii) in stark contrast to how the same media used to cover tragedies in their own country.

Now, you might say, well, this happened in Boston. Obviously it's going to get more and more intense coverage than something that happened in, say, Belfast or London or Bilbao or Moscow or wherever. Which is true and completely understandable: someone sets off two bombs in your country, as opposed to halfway around the world, and three people die and 180-odd are horrifically injured, then of course you're going to be more interested and more affected: these are much more likely people you know, places you've been, events you've attended, not some horrible but abstract tragedy 7,500 miles away.

All true. But I think maybe part of what is being lost in translation, as it were, is that there's a history going back decades of news coverage of similar acts of terrorism in other countries in which we don't remember – because it mostly wasn't there – the current 24 hour news cycle method of dealing with them. So our default idea of how the news "should" cover something like this is not blanket sensationalism, pointless speculation and the rest (though that's not to say it wasn't there; just that it wasn't as pervasive as it is now). Which leads to an assumption that – since this was not the way things were done in our memories – everything about this particular news cycle is out of all proportion. (We look at current, say, BBC coverage of a similar event and think it's similarly off the scale.)

I think all of the above is much more related to the historical trends in American and global news reactions to events, and how people in countries outside America have experienced those changes, than it is an instance of people elsewhere thinking that the grief of people in Boston (or elsewhere) who were affected by the bombing is illegitimate, or out of proportion.

Indeed, part of it, I think, comes from a kind of weary resignation: as if the message is yes, it's horrible. Yes, you think you'll never get used to it. You won't want to get used to it, because that's a grim thing to think. You will get used to it. Trust us. In the original thread, The Whelk said "I'm so upset that I find "following a fast moving thread about a horrible disaster." such a familiar feeling." This is down the same line, a few years or decades hence. Looking at it like that, it's more a feeling of sorrow – an acknowledgement that other people have been there before, and while it's horrible, it does eventually get better, in that you learn coping mechanisms.

In short, it can be a way of saying yes, we've been there. Yes, it's fucking horrible. Yes, we sympathise. Yes, we're sorry for your loss, as they say at every funeral I've ever been to.
posted by Len at 12:09 PM on April 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


o.O
posted by zarq at 12:15 PM on April 17, 2013


zarq: o.O

If that's in reference to what I said, I hope I haven't been out of line.
posted by Len at 12:16 PM on April 17, 2013


Oh, it's a link now. Ignore that.
posted by Len at 12:17 PM on April 17, 2013


Yeah, sorry. I should have used the "link" button, didn't and somehow messed up the html. Didn't have a problem with what you said.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on April 17, 2013


I made lots of friends on 9/11 by blurting out "This is a logical consequence of our foreign policy since 1948," just as the second tower was hit. I was in a teller line.

I was in a rural gas station this time and I kept my opinions to myself.

Just commiserate. We'll talk later.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


No problem, zarq. Being the paranoid sort, I tend to think the worst :)
posted by Len at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


No worries. :)
posted by zarq at 12:44 PM on April 17, 2013


People here should, and do, realize that this experience is shared with millions of people across the rest of the world. It seems incorrect to say that the visceral response of Bostonian mefites is jingoistic. I suppose I can't speak for people outside of the US, but what responses I've seen have been really locally directed. More people in Boston Red Sox shirts, for example, and I noticed a bunch of marathon and running shirts around yesterday and today. Less "USA USA" through red, white, and blue tinged glasses. In general, people are contextualizing this. And within that context is a lot of sadness for friends (yes, there are mefites with friends injured), family, and another illusion of safety shattered.

It is almost certainly premature to say this is a direct consequence of US foreign policy, unless you know something BPD and the rest of the folks investigating this do not.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:52 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very well said, Len. I think this probably what UbuRoivas was trying to get at, but you managed to do it without attacking MeFites.
posted by nangar at 12:52 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


HA, should I file a bug report that the new comment notification came up, you know where it says 5 new comments if you haven't refreshed for a while, and said "0 new comments" as a clickable link and then disappeared?

Seriously, maybe I'm just oblivious but I've seen, personally seen, more deletions in this metatalk than any other metatalk I've ever metatalked. Not that I disagree with them, it's just that seeing them at all is interesting. It gives one the impression that folks are fired up a bit more than usual.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:13 PM on April 17, 2013


Those deletions were a simple posted-in-wrong-thread error, and the commenter asked to have them deleted.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:15 PM on April 17, 2013


Yeah, it was wrong-thread mispost stuff. Not a useful barometer of anything, really.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:16 PM on April 17, 2013


Speaking of which...Celsius1414: that boy was the one killed in the bombing, right? It grieves me more than you might think. I have a little boy of my own & honestly, I can barely see the screen right now; this is an awful tragedy; I have never said otherwise.

I am glad to hear that - frankly it's the first identifiably empathetic, non-trolling thing I've seen out of you in this thread.

If a bunch of caring, intelligent people likely agree with you that what a great deal of what the American military has done over the last 10+ years is horribly wrong, and then those same people tell you that you are acting in a heartless, tone-deaf manner... well, I'm just saying maybe the problem isn't their supposedly lax attitude about American atrocities.

And maybe, just maybe, they don't need you to tell them they are acting privileged about it all, at least until a decent period has gone by.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another piece to add to adamvasco's list upthread:

Rafia Zakaria: The Tragedies of Other Places
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yea, I wasn't judging or complaining, just noting the mechanic from my end.

Can't be a fun job right now. Thanks.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:38 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was intentionally hurtful. You dug through his/her history to publicly shame him/her. How does that advance the discussion?

I looked at what his/her posts were which is two clicks from a username, so I would't say I "dug." Yes, this was probably one of those clumsy and ill-advised efforts to demonstrate the hypocrisy of setting priorities for others' discourse while not applying the same rigorous standards of content to one's own. I recognize that it was personal, but hopefully in a way similar to "you don't care sufficiently" is.

I am not aware of an MeFite who actually lost someone or had someone close to them injured on Monday. So where the self-righteousness is coming from around here is a bit of a mystery.

I don't know that anybody's really being self-righteous. Lots of people have been very moved and saddened. I'll tell you, one of the things I despise absolutely the most about disaster, war, or in fact any kind of shared miserable experience is having people play their bona fides like poker hands. I had plenty 'nuff of the "I was thisssss close" narrative after 9/11 and it generally sickens me, so I don't mean to indulge it. No matter how close someone was ("across town!"), someone else was closer ("10th floor!") and someone else was closer still ("actually my brother was killed!") and then you are playing one seriously lame-ass game. So I never ask people for bona fides and I rarely give any of mine. If they're upset, I will trust that the reason is a good one for them. But I have two points about this.

First, though I live 30 minutes from Boston I did not lose anyone in the marathon that I knew personally, nor is anyone I know personally among the injured, that I know of. However, my friend was there with his wife and two children under five watching his father-in-law run. Six people from my former employer's office were running, and 5 people from my town's running club were running. So I know a lot of people who were present, and lucky-for-them enough to be unscathed. Martin Richard's father is an 1988 alum of the local high school in the town where I live, which town is hosting a candlelight vigil tomorrow night about it, and we are putting together a fundraiser for his and other victims' families as part of an event going on at my job tomorrow night. Does any of this mean I'm in personal mourning? No. But it does mean that it's not an abstract event 1000 miles away from me that doesn't feel directly connected to my life - it does feel connected. So I'm irked when someone says "you should really be shedding tears for X other community now, you callous Americentric person you" when it's my community here that needs my support right now, and from whom I draw comfort now. And also, because I'm not callous in general, and try hard not to be Americentric.

Second thing, it's not a mental illness to find events that happen in your personal frame of experience - your geography, your subculture, your family, your nationality - more impactful than events that are outside of it. It is not the most evolved of human traits, I'm sure we agree, but it is entirely cognitively normal. It is measurable and understandable. Can we rise above it? Yes. Do we? Sometimes. But to malign people as awful individuals because they partake of a very normal psychological thing - identification - based on similarities that are a part of their own identity seems not very nice and, in fact, not especially empathetic. I understand that there are many detriments to the general social weakness of human beings at identifying with people whose lives, clothes, food, language, whatever is different (which are corollary to social strengths that also come along with all that). I share with many of you the belief that it is necessary to overcome our more tribal inclinations. But at the same time, I don't damn those inclinations. They are, actually, the beginning of empathy. If you can care about someone outside yourself, you can care about anyone outside yourself. The farther out you can get on that ring, the more empathy you develop. So I'm happy if people identify with the marathon's victims, even if the identification is based on "OMG, I used to work at an office across from there," or "I know someone who knows someone who was there." The trick in getting people to go beyond their first-order similarities in identification is in finding something to identify with in people whose similarities are not at first evident. The risk people run by making the normal instinct to feel more strongly about events you can understand, that are part of your culture, in places you know, by people who are familiar to you in their way of life into a kind of moral failing, and castigating them for that, is that they will really just turn off to the message you were trying to convey because they have become convinced you think they're bad people at heart.

This is all why I think asking people to demonstrate their bona fides by demanding an expression of empathy at a certain time in a certain way is suspect - often a form of empty theatre, a game of one-upmanship, a stipulation about what appropriate responses are and aren't. It's one thing to say "Man, this just makes me think of how many people around the world have to deal with this day in day out, and it breaks my heart," but it's quite another to say to a second person "show me that this breaks your heart. Now."
posted by Miko at 1:54 PM on April 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


As I have said previously, this is not a dick-waving contest about suffering, though. [....]This shit is happening all over the place. To blinker oneself & say LA LA LAAAAA BOSTON LA LA LAAAA is exactly the opposite of the kind of humanistic, empathetic response you are looking for.

How is "you're not caring enough about this other group of people's suffering as much as you're caring about that group of people's suffering" not a dick-waving contest? You are judging someone based on whether or not they care about something in a sufficient amount, and you are making a value judgement about X as compared to Y and expecting everyone else to follow suit.

Dude, it is simply human nature to get more emotionally invested in the things that are closest to you. That is not because of a lack of care, that is simple human nature. The most empathetic person in the world is going to be more affected by the death of their own spouse than they are the death of a friend's spouse, than they are the death of a celebrity's spouse, then they are the death of someone else's spouse they read about on the news - not because they consider one suffering person is more valuable than the other, but because they have a greater or lesser degree of intimacy with different people therein.

In the grand scheme of things all suffering is equal, but the person whose neighborhood just got blown the fuck up is going to have a much more intimate and emotional reaction to that than they are going ot have to another neighborhood that's gotten blown the fuck up. That is how human nature just is.

We have not all attained sufficient Buddha nature to avoid this kind of reaction. Cut us some slack.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on April 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


And two more people from my town were just announced to be among the victims being treated in Boston hospitals.
posted by Miko at 2:06 PM on April 17, 2013


In 2011 my niece died at 8 months old in her mothers arms. We still talk about it at family gatherings. right after it happened I cried for days. We still have little rituals to remember her when the family gets together. The CDC tells me that more than 23,000 American children under 1 year of age died in that same year. Should I bring this up at the next family gathering to my in laws. Should I say, "Look I know you guys are suffering terribly over this, and I feel bad too; but lets have some perspective. At least your daughter had first rate medical care throughout her life and access to resources that the crack baby premies never had."

That's pretty much what you're doing when you try to pull in Baghdad or Baluchistan to this conversation.
posted by humanfont at 2:19 PM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


frankly it's the first identifiably empathetic, non-trolling thing I've seen out of you in this thread

He's not a troll. Please knock that shit off. Disagree with him if you do, but don't characterize him and his opinions that way. And it's especially stupid when you're trying to school people in the ways of being kind. Ugh.
posted by heyho at 2:22 PM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


frankly it's the first identifiably empathetic, non-trolling thing I've seen out of you in this thread

That's just petty, personal, B.S. and undercuts your entire "argument".
posted by Rumple at 2:28 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


As far as I have seen, there is no "bunch of people upset & grieving (etc)" but a bunch of people remote from the incident willing to co-opt that emotional response to make arguments on behalf of people they don't actually represent.

I have fucking well learned over the last year or so to stay out of any threads regarding topics that I'm emotionally involved with and/or have direct personal experiences related to, especially when they deal with unfolding trauma. Can't imagine I'm the only one. I'm not going to dignify the comments alluding to jingoism by having to defend my own activist cred, but I do find them condescending and offensive at this precise moment in time when we know so little about the who and whys.

I am INTIMATELY connected in multiple ways to this incident, and will probably be seeking counseling soon to deal with the aftermath. Luckily I have others around me who understand and/or share those connections to mourn with, including my beautiful husband who worked in the WFC and stood and watched the towers fall from in front of our driveway instead of making his way in to work that morning in 2001.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:36 PM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Second thing, it's not a mental illness to find events that happen in your personal frame of experience - your geography, your subculture, your family, your nationality - more impactful than events that are outside of it.

It's worth noting that some people respond by appearing to do the opposite and they're perfectly okay, too. 'This isn't so bad because X terrible thing has happened elsewhere and people managed, so I can manage in this situation.'
posted by hoyland at 2:49 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


And some people are me and feel they should try to be rational, fail and then get confused.
posted by hoyland at 2:51 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


All I know is that when I left home on this work trip which is pretty long (10 weeks) I packed my smallest pressure cooker so I could make a quick dal and rice. Guess I won't be flying home with it, given I'm a dark skinned individual with a foreign accent.
posted by infini at 2:52 PM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suspect at this point anyone bringing a pressure cooker onto a plane would be subject to pretty intense scrutiny regardless of pigmentation / accent.
posted by dersins at 3:02 PM on April 17, 2013


second thing, it's not a mental illness to find events that happen in your personal frame of experience - your geography, your subculture, your family, your nationality - more impactful than events that are outside of it. It is not the most evolved of human traits, I'm sure we agree, but it is entirely cognitively normal. It is measurable and understandable.

I only ever see people who are part of a majority culture say things like this.

I wrote a bunch of other things about my feelings about that that I deleted, but. We have a strong cultural bias in the US about what is considered important and impactful, and I don't think biology is the only thing that drives it.

(this comment is not intended to call anyone out or say we should be talking about other tragedies in the context of Boston in the Boston thread).
posted by sweetkid at 3:14 PM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Miko: I looked at what his/her posts were which is two clicks from a username, so I would't say I "dug." Yes, this was probably one of those clumsy and ill-advised efforts to demonstrate the hypocrisy of setting priorities for others' discourse while not applying the same rigorous standards of content to one's own. I recognize that it was personal, but hopefully in a way similar to "you don't care sufficiently" is.

Miko, I appreciate your contributions to MeFi – they're certainly a lot more voluminous and informative that what I've said over the years, and you usually gave me something to think about that hadn't occurred to me before – but I think this is a rather disingenuous response. I don't think that it really makes a difference whether you spent an age quote-mining someone's comment history for bombshells, or whether you looked at the most recent posts they made, which are "two clicks from a username". Ethically, both approaches have the same function, in that you're castigating someone by actively examining their history here without taking into account what they do elsewhere (either online or in real life), which you have limited knowledge of. As you acknowledged, two or three cars ... doesn't know what you or anyone else does outside of MeFi for other causes; likewise, you don't know what they do.

(It's late here and I have work early, so forgive me if it takes me until tomorrow afternoon to respond, should I need to.)
posted by Len at 3:25 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


How is "you're not caring enough about this other group of people's suffering as much as you're caring about that group of people's suffering" not a dick-waving contest? You are judging someone based on whether or not they care about something in a sufficient amount, and you are making a value judgement about X as compared to Y and expecting everyone else to follow suit.

1. No, I'm not & never was judging anybody based on whether they care about something in a sufficient amount. I specifically said, in white and blue, in my first comment that these are all tragedies. They are all equally awful. I reiterated that point so many times that the only way to miss the point would be to either skim the thread or read with a preconceived interpretation in mind.

Please do not attribute to me arguments that I did not make, and in fact explicitly rejected.

I did make a point about media coverage, which you might be conflating with a totally unrelated issue about popular sentiment or feelings. I also said that people connected with Boston will naturally want to know details of the event as it unfolds without external noise, which is totally normal & expected.

Nothing about any of this is to be taken as judging people on whether they "care enough" about something or to imply that they don't "care enough" about something else. I agreed at least 2 or 3 times that butting into an unfolding thread on the blue to say "You think that's bad...what about this other thing over here?" is inappropriate & tone deaf, and of course that's not something that I did anyway.

As this is metatalk, I made some comments, however, about site moderation & policy, which again is not talking about what people should think, but about what kinds of discussions are or are not allowable, even using a clunky thought experiment metaphor (IRA) & a somewhat analogous situation (Sandy Hook) to provide both imaginary & real points of reference for comparison.

If there's any way to make this any clearer, I'd be happy to put it into any prescribed format that makes it easier to understand, but perhaps I'll just state again: I am explicitly not telling people generally, or Bostonians, or anybody actually connected with this tragedy, what to think about this or other tragedies, or what their relative values are. As far as I am concerned, they are all exactly equally horrible, but my own valuations aren't even the issue here.

2. No, I'm not making a value judgement about X as compared to Y. See above.

3. No, I'm not expecting everyone else to follow suit. This point is redundant, considering neither of the above are true.

Having cleared those 3 complete red herrings up, I don't think there are any mistakes left in that comment for me to correct.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:39 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"you're not caring enough about this other group of people's suffering as much as you're caring about that group of people's suffering"

Ctrl-F reveals that the words in quotes were not written by the person you are attributing them to.

This discussion is complex and challenging enough without requiring the participants to fact-check statements others are putting in quotes.
posted by nacho fries at 3:49 PM on April 17, 2013


hopefully in a way similar to "you don't care sufficiently" is.

Ctrl-F, same comment as above.
posted by nacho fries at 3:51 PM on April 17, 2013


Okay, UbuRoivas, then why ARE you posting about Iraqi casualties in a thread about the Boston Marathon? Do you just see all topics on the blue as a merry free-for-all where anyone can say any mad old thing they want?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:53 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or, to make my own question more clear - in a thread that discusses one particular kind of tragedy, what exactly is the reason why you brought up another unrelated tragedy? What is the specific connection you were seeking to make?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:54 PM on April 17, 2013


This has been a terribly upsetting afternoon. The care, support and kindness in evidence has been calming and reassuring.
posted by mintcake! at 3:57 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I see no posts from UbuRoivas in the Boston thread.
posted by nacho fries at 3:58 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll tell you, one of the things I despise absolutely the most about disaster, war, or in fact any kind of shared miserable experience is having people play their bona fides like poker hands

Yes. I was trying to tease out my feelings about this earlier. This kind of talk gives me such a visceral negative reaction. I don't know why. People are innocently expressing empathy through identification. It's like when you talk to your friend about a problem, and they say "oh yes I had that problem. I know how you are feeling." Not to mention that people are experiencing genuine emotions of grief, fear, sadness and so on because of their various connections to the victims or the city or the marathon. But I think it bothers me for two reasons that aren't entirely rational: 1) the one upmanship veers in the direction of perversion and 2) you actually weren't there. (I realize this is just another version of "there are other tragedies in the world that make your personal tragedy less important." Bear with me).

I don't judge people who do it, because I do it too. And at the end of the day, I'm not sure where my feelings come from on this, and whether I'm "right" or just... defensive or ... I don't really know.

I think part of what troubles me about this tendency is that it betrays a limited capacity for caring (in an emotional, not intellectual way) about unfamiliar or distant people and events. Or at least, that the speaker thinks his or her listener feels that way.

I imagine it goes something like this: I empathize more with the experiences of those whom I can relate to based on geography, culture, etc., for very human reasons. I assume the same goes for you. Relatedly, I want to express my feelings about a tragedy, and I believe the "greater" empathy I can show the better. I will therefore convey my feelings by telling you how few degrees there were between me and this tragedy. When I say that my nephew's girlfriend was two blocks away, you know that this has hit me in the gut. My emotion isn't a show; it's real. (Or, less charitably, I'm important because I'm connected to this huge event).

But proximity alone isn't a stand in for empathy, is it? I'm not imagining and understanding the emotions of a victim -- I'm trying to get as physically close as possible to being the victim myself. Either because my empathizing powers don't extend too far-- or I don't think yours do.

I'm being ridiculous here. I guess what I'm trying to say is 1) assertions of proximity shouldn't be a prereq or the equivalence of expressing one's feelings about an event; 2) that being said, assertions of proximity shouldn't be discarded as posturing as they are (I think more often than not) backed by emotion, and not just a game of who was closest to the tragedy; and 3) the aftermath of a tragic event is a really bad time to reflect too much about this kind of thing (sorry). On a person to person basis, an individual's reaction doesn't say anything about his feelings about anything else, it only tells us what he is feeling right now towards this event. And I don't think any of us want to be in the business of questioning the sincerity or appropriate focus of others' emotions, now or ever.
posted by murfed13 at 3:58 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I see no posts from UbuRoivas in the Boston thread.

Perhaps that's because the mods REMOVED them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:05 PM on April 17, 2013


Can you summarize what those posts were, then, please, since you've referenced them here?
posted by nacho fries at 4:07 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos:

1. I wasn't posting about Iraqi casualties in a thread about the Boston Marathon. I'm mentioning it in a metatalk thread as a matter of site policy, which is a different thing.

2. No, of course all topics are not merry free-for-alls. Some level of appropriate restraint is required in any thread, be it about your favourite band, cute cats, or human tragedies.

I am making the specific connection that, if & when there are broader discussions, analogies or parallels etc that can be made (eg between Sandy Hook and other gun-related violence elsewhere) then it has been historically, and should be acceptable for people to be able to discuss those connections, without mods & other community members trying to block out those discussions by declaring that a thread is about only specific facts about one specific localised situation. If it had been any number of threads about any number of other situations worldwide, the opinions & talk would have been far more wide-ranging than things were on the the blue, which has been largely a mixture of unfolding news events, plus the equivalent of "." posts.

I see no posts from UbuRoivas in the Boston thread.

Perhaps that's because the mods REMOVED them.


That is categorically not true, and it's bad faith of you to suggest it. Again, people are reading what they want to read in complete defiance of the principles I have explicitly stated & reiterated a number of times now.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:07 PM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Perhaps that's because the mods REMOVED them.

This may sound like a joke in your head....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:08 PM on April 17, 2013


I suspected as much, Ubu. Thank you for verifying it.
posted by nacho fries at 4:08 PM on April 17, 2013


This may sound like a joke in your head....

That's OK, and really I took it as a joke. No harm, no foul.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:18 PM on April 17, 2013


I actually did not mean it as a joke, it was indeed sincerely what I thought had happened. However, I stand corrected, and I apologize for making that claim.

But my question, if I may re-direct, remains: I am not certain what it is exactly you are trying to say here. I am referring to this:
But to rule "oh, let's not even mention the thousands upon thousands of people who have been suffering similarly elsewhere even though it's completely on topic because [insert rationalisation here]" is really quite fucked up and completely lacking in empathy at a time when conditions should be ripe for precisely spreading that kind of empathy.
So, I take that to mean that you at least support the idea of mentioning Iraqi casualities in a Boston Marathon thread. So, to that statement, I still ask - why?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 PM on April 17, 2013


So, okay, if your goal is to get people to listen, have you considered that this is about the least effective way to do it?

Because I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm pretty much looking at anyone who's dug in their heels on this issue and have appointed themselves Grief Monitor for MetaFilter, and making a list of people whose contributions I can ignore.

So congratulations: you've guaranteed that I'm not going to read your message, whatever it is.
posted by scrump at 4:46 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I stand corrected, and I apologize for making that claim.

Thank you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:49 PM on April 17, 2013


There is a legitimate discussion to be had over the reasons that bomb attacks in other parts of the world don't get the same level of coverage as this one. I think the answer is fairly obvious, but it is certainly something that could be talked about here.

The important thing though, is that the way to initiate that discussion is not to just drop a comment like "US bombs Afghan wedding party", without further comment, into an "ongoing incident" thread. The "I'll just leave this here..." attitude is a really big problem, and we should do our best to avoid it. MetaFilter can do so much better.
posted by knapah at 4:51 PM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure to whom you are addressing your remark, scrump, but speaking for myself: I'm interested in reading all points-of-view, including (and perhaps especially) those that seem foreign to my own.

I very much appreciate, in particular, Bostonians who have come in and articulated why certain types of posts don't sit well with them. I get it now, moreso than I did prior to the thread. The fact that I may still hold an opposing view doesn't mean I'm unwilling to hear more of the same from those folks.
posted by nacho fries at 4:52 PM on April 17, 2013


This isn't about views. This is about behavior.
posted by scrump at 4:54 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not sure why you're thanking me, BP, but...you're welcome.

There is a legitimate discussion to be had over the reasons that bomb attacks in other parts of the world don't get the same level of coverage as this one. I think the answer is fairly obvious, but it is certainly something that could be talked about here. The important thing though, is that the way to initiate that discussion is not to just drop a comment like "US bombs Afghan wedding party", without further comment, into an "ongoing incident" thread.

This raises a point (going back to the "spreading empathy" goal ubu mentioned above); yes, I will agree that the events of 9/11 did leave me more empathetic to those in other cities around the world which are suffering similar fates. However - I had to get through three years of processing my own experience in order to get to that point. It was not instantaneous in the slightest.

And that's the same all over - we all of us have to deal sufficiently enough with our own shit before we can see into what others around us are dealing with. We tell people all the time in AskMe that "make sure you put your own mask on first before tending to others around you," and there's a reason for that - no one really can deal with what's happening in places outside their immediate lives if what's happening in their own life is fucked up beyond belief. Once we've dealt with it, yeah, then. But not before then.

Which is why bringing up the Iraqi wedding in the midst of the Boston thread seemed, at the very least, naive - yes, some people in Boston may find their way to a place where they are indeed more empathetic to those facing bombing in war zones in other countries. But not on the very same day that they're reeling in shock from being bombed themselves. And at the very least, it feels quite tone-deaf to assume they'd be ready right away.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:01 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, is it the actual deletion in the actual Boston thread still a matter of controversy? If not, are we fighting about what the response might be to comments made in some other thread or in that thread at a later date?
posted by Area Man at 5:09 PM on April 17, 2013


Just in case this gets somehow misattributed: bringing up an old story about an Afghan (not Iraqi) wedding in the thread on the blue had nothing to do with me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:11 PM on April 17, 2013


It's worth mentioning that there have been numerous references and comparisons to similar incidents both inside and outside the US in the original "Explosions at Boston Marathon" thread.

Perhaps it would make sense to verify that there was in fact a general mod policy against such references and comparisons before condemning or defending it.
posted by nangar at 5:14 PM on April 17, 2013


I'm pretty much looking at anyone who's dug in their heels on this issue and have appointed themselves Grief Monitor for MetaFilter, and making a list of people whose contributions I can ignore.

Haha, you'll have fun reading a blank page, then.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:14 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uffdah.
posted by nacho fries at 5:15 PM on April 17, 2013


Perhaps it would make sense to verify that there was in fact a general mod policy against such references and comparisons before condemning or defending it.

Yeah, there totally isn't. If that's helpful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:15 PM on April 17, 2013


Just in case this gets somehow misattributed: bringing up an old story about an Afghan (not Iraqi) wedding in the thread on the blue had nothing to do with me.

Objection sustained.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:19 PM on April 17, 2013


Someone characterized UboRoivas's comments as "nuanced" but they're not — they're bludgeoning. And this really bugs me because there are numerous people in this thread, before and after UboRoivas, who have expressed the same positions that UboRoivas has expressed, including at least two of the mods, with much more tact and ... nuance.

As has been demonstrated in this thread and basically, through all of time and space, making arguments built around imputed motives always ends badly. So I'll limit myself to characterizing what I think is the tone of the comments — most of those I consider tactful and nuanced, including (I hope) my own, which express the same concerns that UboRoivas has, just don't have an angry tone to them. UboRoivas's do. Or, additionally or alternatively, they don't have a sense of being judgmental of other people present, while UboRoivas's do. Maybe these comments weren't intended to have that character. But that's why there's been so much heat in this thread (and including a few similarly provocative comments like Miko's response to what seemed to me to be a mild, well-intentioned, and carefully qualified comment).

Like others here (I'm confident, based upon numerous comments), I'm ambivalent about this whole issue and am uncomfortable with a blanket prohibition on discussing these points but am equally uncomfortable with asserting that not discussing them is somehow a moral failure that implicates people who quite understandably are most concerned about and sensitive to the matter right in front of us.

If there is a way that it ought to be, and can be, discussed, it surely excludes telling people that there's something wrong with them for being very preoccupied and upset about the Boston bombings. And not just avoiding doing this explicitly, but avoiding doing it implicitly. Tone and just not typing out a comment when you're pissed-off matters a lot in this context.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:49 PM on April 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Thank you for that, Ivan Fyodorovich.

I've always had nothing but the highest respect for your comments, so if you're saying that I'm coming across as angry, then I'll take that humbly as a cue to leave the thread & resist any temptation to respond any further. I appreciate the reality check & apologise if my comments have been too combative in tone.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:08 PM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Coming back after an absence and having just caught up on reading this thread, I would say that mentioning other bombings simply for the sake of urging people to contemplate or care about the same thing happening elsewhere makes no sense and can easily be quite insulting depending upon how it's phrased.

The significance to me of mentioning things like Afghan weddings being bombed by the U.S. military is that in addition to people getting extra-super-gung-ho about making next year's Boston Marathon a celebrated success another possible response to this event would be to strive to prevent the bombings of civilians and children, and the attendant suffering we've got an up-close look at right now, that we as American citizens might have leverage to help obstruct.

But even that sort of sentiment I'm perfectly okay with keeping out of the main thread; I decided against trying to mention it there myself. I just don't see those things as irrelevant or unrelated as some others appear to.
posted by XMLicious at 6:09 PM on April 17, 2013


You're welcome, UboRoivas, I'm very glad that I could help calm it down a bit. Again, I'm also very concerned about the things you're concerned about and I think those are important things to talk about. But I'm also very concerned with not making people feel like I'm telling them that they don't have a right to their fear, pain, and grief. For whatever complicated set of reasons, which several people have tried to elucidate here (Miko, for example), this is really a big deal to a lot of people and when people are hurt and upset we should be generous, rather than suspicious, about why they're hurt and upset. We should be sensitive to other people's pain, not dismissive.

When this whole thing started in this thread with jeffburgess's comments, I typed and then erased something I wrote using my own congenital illness, which I share with my sister, as an example. I have pretty strong feelings and thoughts that it really isn't all that bad, relatively speaking. That I feel this way is not (as far as I can tell) a coping mechanism which I am on some level insincere about; I really feel, by and large, quite blessed in my life. But my sister is very sensitive to me saying this because it's hard for her not to hear it as telling her how to feel about her illness. I very much don't say this to her about her experience, but it's difficult for me to even describe my own experience in her presence without pushing her buttons. And that's okay. It really is okay.

People's pain is their own, it stands apart from everything else in some sense, and really the only people who even remotely have any right to relativize/compare this pain are the sufferers themselves. Otherwise, it's not really anyone else's business; we can't get into other people's heads, anyway; and by and large it's far more productive to let people feel what they feel without judging them, explicitly or implicitly, for it. However, we can engage them in their rational thinking, if we do it in a way that doesn't threaten the legitimacy of how they feel. It just takes being, well, consideration.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:28 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I only ever see people who are part of a majority culture say things like this.

I've been on the end of hearing my same comment from people in non-dominant/majority cultures more than onc; those experiences are among the things that inform my thinking on it. So I have to disagree that's a monolithic point of view that only majority individuals have.
posted by Miko at 6:47 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the example of your discourse, Uburoivas and IvanF. You're doing that good thing that I only ever see on-line here on MetaFilter.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:52 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I've been on the end of hearing my same comment from people in non-dominant/majority cultures more than onc; those experiences are among the things that inform my thinking on it. So I have to disagree that's a monolithic point of view that only majority individuals have."

Yeah, I think it's certain that the concentration of empathy and the like to in-group is a human phenomenon, not primarily a function of privilege.

That said, I think that there's a closely related and quite valid point that perhaps sweetkid had in mind: that minority cultures, as a function of being embedded within a majority culture they (usually) cannot ignore, are forced to expand some of these limits. It probably includes empathy (though I suspect that out-group lack of empathy is often intensified, rather than reduced, related to levels of oppressions and such) but certainly includes things like an asymmetric awareness of the out-group's values (in this context, the majority's) and interests and cultural artifacts, etc.

Which does play into this discussion about media culture and awareness — per UboRoivas's comments, much of the rest of the world knows many details about this Boston bombing while most Americans couldn't name any examples of similar bombings outside the US. There is an asymmetry. (In that example, not of numbers in the majority/minority sense, but of relative cultural influence.)

But I'm uncertain about how much this affects empathy because, as I wrote, I think it can work in both directions in different situations and within different people.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:18 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's not a troll. Please knock that shit off. Disagree with him if you do, but don't characterize him and his opinions that way.

Respectfully:

Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

I stand by my "trollish" adjective, but am willing to let the general thread go. Obviously, grinding about this isn't helping anyone.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:31 PM on April 17, 2013


Respectfully, unless you know what his intent was, this is not a thing you know about him. Ubu is a long time commenter and is trying to make himself effectively understood. Be cool.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:33 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think your glosses on that idea are good points, Ivan F.
posted by Miko at 7:40 PM on April 17, 2013


Miko said: Second thing, it's not a mental illness to find events that happen in your personal frame of experience - your geography, your subculture, your family, your nationality - more impactful than events that are outside of it. It is not the most evolved of human traits, I'm sure we agree, but it is entirely cognitively normal.

sweetkid said: I only ever see people who are part of a majority culture say things like this.

I have been thinking about this since I read it earlier today, and wondering if I'm reading sweetkid's meaning correctly.

I would freely say that the 2011 Tucson shooting had more impact on me than the Boston bombings, or bombings in Afghanistan, but I 't truly don't think it's because I'm white, or middle-class, or college educated, or whatever other majority traits I possess. All acts of violence I hear about hurt my heart, but I live in Tucson, I went to school with Gabrielle Giffords, the hospital she was brought to is a block from my house, and the pain experienced by my friends, family, and community directly surrounded me, and had an impact on many daily interactions for a while. Acknowledging that connections to incidents increases their impact on you doesn't mean you lack empathy for other incidents, right?
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:58 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, I didn't mean that Squeak Attack. I think Ivan Fyodorovich caught on fine to my meaning when he wrote:


That said, I think that there's a closely related and quite valid point that perhaps sweetkid had in mind: that minority cultures, as a function of being embedded within a majority culture they (usually) cannot ignore, are forced to expand some of these limits. It probably includes empathy (though I suspect that out-group lack of empathy is often intensified, rather than reduced, related to levels of oppressions and such) but certainly includes things like an asymmetric awareness of the out-group's values (in this context, the majority's) and interests and cultural artifacts, etc.


What I mean is that I often hear a sort of shruggo "people care more about their own" kinda thing but when you're not a majority group it can be harder to suss out what "your own" really means. For example I'm Indian American but grew up in a nearly all white area as Indian Americans often do, hence needing to expand limits. For me to care only or mostly about Indian Americans would be absurd. Even to expect me to spend most of my time around only other Indian American people would be basically impossible.

Also race is such a constructed thing that it's hard for anyone to really evaluate who's "their own" or not. I just don't buy that it's this entirely biological innate thing for people to care more about people who look like them because I think the definition of who you look like can be mostly learned and is personal and variable.
posted by sweetkid at 8:23 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's just something to think about I think.
posted by sweetkid at 8:27 PM on April 17, 2013


It seems clear to me if you think about something like a murder. If all my friends are young white people and one of them gets murdered, I'm sad because my friend's just been murdered, but society is also telling me how tragic their murder is and that I'm right to be sad. But if all my friends are young black men and one gets murdered, I'm still just as sad because my friend's been murdered, but the local news isn't telling the whole city to be sad about it too. If I'm a member of the privileged group, I'm getting all these signals about how things close to me are tragic and everyone should be sad about them, so I think everyone should be especially sad about things close to them, whereas if I'm not a member of the privileged group, I'm sad about things that affect me directly, but I'm also always been told to be sad about things affecting the privileged group that perhaps have nothing to do with me.

God only knows if that made any sense. It feels like it was run on sentence central. I also don't know if that murder example extends at all. Though I suppose if I think back to the July 7th bombings, where I was in the 'it is improbable that anyone I care about has been injured, but it is possible' group surrounded by members of the 'this is something that happened on another continent and has nothing to do with me' group, where we're talking about pure numbers rather than privilege, I very much felt like I it would be unacceptable for me to talk about what I was feeling. Not that it wasn't (presumably) more affecting to me, but that I didn't feel I could admit that without everyone thinking I was a crazy person or whatever. So maybe that's an example of this phenomenon.
posted by hoyland at 8:29 PM on April 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


If all my friends are young white people and one of them gets murdered, I'm sad because my friend's just been murdered, but society is also telling me how tragic their murder is and that I'm right to be sad. But if all my friends are young black men and one gets murdered, I'm still just as sad because my friend's been murdered, but the local news isn't telling the whole city to be sad about it too.

I think that's pretty spot on, I do.
posted by sweetkid at 8:33 PM on April 17, 2013


Okay, thanks, sweetkid. I understand what hoyland is saying, whereas I couldn't parse Ivan Fyodorovich's meaning at all.

I don't think Miko meant anything as limited or ungenerous as I thought you implied in your comment I quoted, so I needed to ask.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:43 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think Miko was being ungenerous, either, which is why I included the note I wasn't calling her or anyone else at all.
posted by sweetkid at 8:46 PM on April 17, 2013


To expand a bit on proximity... Half of my neighborhood is blocked off right now. There are police and Nat'l Guard and just "scary looking big guys with guns" outside my grocery store. This is the unsettling part of being feet away from a tragedy. I can't forget about it when I turn off the news. It's just... THERE and will be for a long time. Every time I walk down the street for quite some time will be "that's where this happened."

So, no, it's not the same grief as losing a loved one and I'd never claim that it was. It's a different sort of broken heartedness, like having your home damaged in a flood.
posted by sonika at 9:05 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those dismissive statements about the West, Texas fertilizer explosion in the Boston Bombing thread, by some of the very same sanctimonious Bostonians piping up here, are sort of a marvel of blinkered self-absorption...
posted by Rumple at 10:29 PM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Indeed.

And if people want to be dismissive, I wish they would speak for themselves, and use "I" rather than "we" when they state opinions as if they were facts.
posted by nacho fries at 11:14 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apologies if I offended anyone with my fertilizer joke. I only heard about it from it being posted in the thread and it sounded like another rumor/unrelated event that people were randomly throwing into the thread after a day of media rumor whiplash. Sorry. I hope all your loved ones are safe.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:54 PM on April 17, 2013


IF that meant me, Rumple, I just apologized and mentioned where I was coming from. And my comment was absolutely not meant to be dismissive to people in West, TX, just to emphasize that it's not the same place as Waco. I was trying to was oppose the idea that the events are connected to Waco. This is an entirely different place from Waco and we only conflate the two because Waco is famous for something else.

Also race is such a constructed thing that it's hard for anyone to really evaluate who's "their own" or not. I just don't buy that it's this entirely biological innate thing for people to care more about people who look like them because I think the definition of who you look like can be mostly learned and is personal and variable.

To be clear, I was absolutely not talking specifically about or limiting myself to race as a definition of who is "closer to" you. Identity construction is complex, and race is part of it. But I wasn't saying that people do or don't identify with victims based only on their race (that would be weird), but that they identify with them based on personal factors, of rich race may be one - but other personal factors can be even more powerful, like geography/place, shared experiences (like school or work), similarity in age, similarity in parental status or family structure, shared language and cultural references, etc.
posted by Miko at 5:19 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


use "I" rather than "we" when they state opinions as if they were facts.

I'll pass on this one. Human beings have tendencies to do certain things. I could switch "we" for "many people" if I wanted to weasel it. But it's probably not a stretch to suggest that "many people" would never have heard of West, TX and would not find this unusually sinister had there never been a Waco seige. The media presentation of the story would have been somewhat the same - Waco is a bigger city and the nearest referent so it probably would still be called "a town near Waco" - but the other elements required to suggest a story about a sinister connection between the incidents would have been absent and "we" (human beings) would be processing it as a story about a industrial disaster. "We/human beings" like to connect events into rational patterns. We're (we, human beings) heavily biased towards doing so, and it can lead "us" (human beings) to wrong conclusions.

Finally, if you want to call somebody out, please just do it. I dislike having to guess whether you're making a passive-aggressive reference to me or talking to someone else.
posted by Miko at 5:25 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finally, if you want to call somebody out, please just do it. I dislike having to guess whether you're making a passive-aggressive reference to me or talking to someone else.

Yea... I ctrl+f'd this thread for "we." Let's just say it comes up a lot.

Also, just speaking from experience here, I think some people use "we" to soften what might otherwise come off as an attack-y statement. Sure, you might still think it's an attack. But I think in many contexts, it's a person trying to communicate in a non-accusatory, colloborative way.
posted by murfed13 at 5:37 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Finally, if you want to call somebody out, please just do it. I dislike having to guess whether you're making a passive-aggressive reference to me or talking to someone else."

I dunno. I think passive-aggression is much less a description of a specific, individual behavior than it is a pattern of behavior. I totally know where you're coming from on this because I can recall at least one example from past days of someone who consistently made critical comments about me that were both veiled and not direct (either as part of a comment directed at someone else, or a general statement made to everyone). And that is very much passive-aggressive.

But there are lots of particular times when it's better to not directly criticize someone. For numerous reasons, really. That uncertainty you describe can be a virtue because it inhibits aggressive responses. And, generally, direct criticism produces stronger defensiveness which also corresponds to a more aggressive response. Not only that, and arguably more importantly, direct conflict is much more likely to incite bystanders into the conflict, where the indirect and veiled stuff will not. It does seems like it's a little dishonest/sly or something; and it is if it's an indiscriminate pattern and, especially, used as plausible deniability. But when used appropriately it can be ... tactful.

"Also, just speaking from experience here, I think some people use 'we' to soften what might otherwise come off as an attack-y statement. "

This is definitely true when the "we" is used in a statement that, because of that choice, ends up being self-critical. As opposed to "some people" (mildly accusatory), "many/most people" (moderately accusatory), or "you" (very accusatory). I very often deliberately will use "we" in such statements, not to imply that the statement necessarily applies to everyone present, but to imply that insofar as I am saying something uncomplimentary or critical, I'm including myself.

It can backfire — we're too caught-up in our consumerist lives to care about global warming is sure to really piss off a bunch of people who do, in fact, care a great deal about global warming. Which is really why if you want to accomplish this purpose, it's best to choose some/many of us, which both avoids that problem but accomplishes the goal of softening with self-criticism (and/or because the self-criticism is the point).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:04 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't tell if I'm being called out or not, and I'd appreciate if someone would just say it if their comments are directed at me. FWIW, whether or not I'm sanctimonious I didn't make comments - dismissive or otherwise - about Texas as I didn't hear about it until reading it in the thread, I was on the road yesterday.
posted by sonika at 6:12 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


. I think passive-aggression is much less a description of a specific, individual behavior than it is a pattern of behavior.

To a psychologist, yes. Can a specific action be an action of indirect aggression? Absolutely.

I reject most of your arguments in favor of indirect aggression and my observations don't accord with yours. What it does is allow people a way to make accuations while maintaining a position of innocence ("Oh, I didn't mean you, just in general,") and to your point about defense, it also effectively prevents anyone from defending themselves against it without publicly identifying with the pool of people accused, so it's quite a rhetorical trap, as well.

If I have done something that has offended someone, I want to know about it in clear terms.
posted by Miko at 6:17 AM on April 18, 2013


This was a lovely comment. It made a word picture in my mind that helped me connect with the story in ways the news descriptions don't. This is a good example of why we should let people feel and share their outpourings of locally based sentiment. I am not about to tell this person to stop and remember the victims of Boston or the victims of wherever else. I want to hear more things like this, about the texture of this community and the personal meaning it has for people. To direct people to share other sentiments begins to shut this down. Yes, we need to work to overcome parochialism. But this kind of comment - coming from anywhere in the world, and I wish we had more people here who could speak to many places in the world - is the kind of thing that can really promote that actually happening.
posted by Miko at 6:29 AM on April 18, 2013


Ivan, man, this comment is some kind of conversational Feat of Strength. Bravo.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:55 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I flagged this comment in the main thread.

I really think the "I wish [type of person] masterminded the bombing because it would help advance [important political or social agenda]" construction is not at all productive, and can quickly spin out of control.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:47 AM on April 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


How long until it's time to discuss St Johnny Johnny John's and my whacking great education at incredibly tedious length?

My guess is about 3 days.
posted by Wolof at 7:53 AM on April 18, 2013



I really think the "I wish [type of person] masterminded the bombing because it would help advance [important political or social agenda]" construction is not at all productive, and can quickly spin out of control.


yeah that comment really weirded me out and made me uncomfortable.
posted by sweetkid at 7:55 AM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


UbuRoivas: " I've always had nothing but the highest respect for your comments, so if you're saying that I'm coming across as angry, then I'll take that humbly as a cue to leave the thread & resist any temptation to respond any further. I appreciate the reality check & apologise if my comments have been too combative in tone."

Ubu. that was quite gracious and polite of you. Ivan, thanks for calming things down.
posted by zarq at 7:59 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Ivan, man, this comment is some kind of conversational Feat of Strength. Bravo."

Thanks, EmpressCallipygos. That's kind of you to say. But I actually think my comment could have been much better and that the fact that things turned out well was more due to serendipity and UboRoivas being generous than it was the merits of my comment, such as they were. I just wish that sort of thing happened more often.

"What it does is allow people a way to make accusations while maintaining a position of innocence ('Oh, I didn't mean you, just in general,') and to your point about defense, it also effectively prevents anyone from defending themselves against it without publicly identifying with the pool of people accused, so it's quite a rhetorical trap, as well."

I agree with you about a million percent. I mean, I really really do. There's definitely a certain personality type that displays a weird brand of passive-aggression that seems like civility but really is a means to be critical and slyly insulting while doing it in a way that is less likely to rile up onlookers and has built-in plausible deniability.

But I really think this applies only when it's a pattern. When it's not a pattern, then I think one should be generous in interpretation and not assume that it's an accusation and consequently one should not necessarily feel the need to defend oneself.

Things don't always have to be so personal, they often aren't so personal, and they often shouldn't be personal. Some criticisms of behavior are about the behavior and not about the person who did it — they're not accusations.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:30 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could switch "we" for "many people" if I wanted to weasel it.

"Many people" or "some people" is simply more accurate than "we". And there's nothing weaselly about being accurate.

My "we" comment applies to multiple posts in this thread, as well as the West, TX, one. I'm not part of the "we" of which you and others have spoken, in terms of specific behaviors and ideologies "we" supposedly share. And I don't care to be lectured at as if I were, or as if I didn't know a thing or two myself about humans and what makes them tick.
posted by nacho fries at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2013


I'm one of the people who generally doesn't mention other people by name when disputing their claims, for most of the reasons IvanF describes. But I usually do quote back part of the statement I'm disputing. I think that calling out by name does raise the aggression level more than calling out the statement.

As for weaseling behind vague words, I see that a lot in the media, but I haven't been aware of it as a major issue 'round here. Maybe it's something I'll notice more now that it's been brought to my attention.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:52 AM on April 18, 2013


I really think the "I wish [type of person] masterminded the bombing because it would help advance [important political or social agenda]" construction is not at all productive, and can quickly spin out of control.

This really bothered me a lot too. Especially because the veteran community is, like other minority communities often portrayed inaccurately in the media, crossing their fingers that this isn't going to be another thing to throw at millions of people.

Not to mention it just seems kind of ghoulish.
posted by corb at 11:10 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Especially because the veteran community is, like other minority communities often portrayed inaccurately in the media

I could be wrong but I think that quin may be part of or aligned with the veteran community. I don't think it was the best time to maybe talk about it but it was clearly a comment intended to be thoughtful and appropriate to the mood of the thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:18 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not part of the "we" of which you and others have spoken, in terms of specific behaviors and ideologies "we" supposedly share

Well, I try to restrict it to things which I think are well supported generalizations about humans. Humans do create stories out of unrelated facts as well as related ones. Humans do have more visceral reactions to events that are closer to them than events that they have little connection with. Etc. I may have failed to use it appropriately here and there, and others may have used it in a way that doesn't take in an accurate representation of your views.

I can't promise I won't ever do it again; it's part of the way I express myself and there are a lot of audiences outside MeFi where I use it all the time and it is more effective than some other constructions for those purposes. But you're of course always welcome to say "I don't do what you just said "we" do."

I finally did the CTRL-F for "we" and, if anything, it's really interesting how this little two-letter word is used to refer to many many groups as "we" -- Americans, MetaFilter people, the mod team, and everyone. I don't know that I've used it in a way that's unsupportable as a broad generalization about human psychology, or in another way that doesn't make the referent clear, but if I have, sorry, and of course except yourself if you need to.
posted by Miko at 2:52 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miko's response to what seemed to me to be a mild, well-intentioned, and carefully qualified comment

I missed this before. I have to say, I did not see that comment in that way. I just re-read it, and I still do not see that comment that way. It could be that it really was meant mildly and was well-intentioned, but I can't reconcile that reading with what's written here. It could be that I just have no history with that user and, at that point in the discussion, was really not inclined toward a charitable interpretation of what they were saying. I say this just by way of saying that if you're seeing something like "whoa, Miko brought out the big guns after a totally innocuous comment! She must want to pick on someone for no reason!" that's not how I am thinking about it. I really found it cutting and rude. It upset me and felt like emotional blackmail.

What a fucking useless week.
posted by Miko at 3:06 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesus, This Week
posted by homunculus at 9:35 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two bombing suspects apparently now in custody.

(should go in the main thread, yeah, but I suspect that one will crash my browser)
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:51 PM on April 18, 2013


Nothing against Rhaomi, who made a good FPP, but the comments in the new post overwhelmingly seems to me a fantastic example of breaking news inspiring a collection of empty crap because there isn't really anything to discuss.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 AM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's my new idea. Since it seems impossible to prevent people from doing internet detective work, and since it also seems hard for people to make sense of the scanner, and hard for people to tell what a 'source' is, and how much verification is verification and stuff, maybe what we need is a digital badge for these citizen investigative journalists. It could at least offer people the help to learn how to understand and treat scanner info, the differences in police description of status with regard to suspects, telling good sources from lousy sources, tracking sources to their point of origin, etc. If we're going to be living with this maybe at least people could get better at it.
posted by Miko at 9:45 AM on April 19, 2013


Would that come with a secret decoder ring? I've always wanted one of those.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:56 AM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why not, happy to sweeten the deal. Patches too! I'm only half joking. At least if you saw someone who had earned the badge, you might give them a slight edge in your personal credulity for what they're saying.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on April 19, 2013




Yeah, as long as it also says "USA."
posted by Miko at 5:19 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny how all those dark skinned sightings turned out to be Chechnyan eh?
posted by infini at 10:50 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I did not see that comment in that way."

That's fair. In my response to it, I admitted that I had trouble understanding what he meant, so it's just as possible that I missed the parts that offended you.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:02 AM on April 20, 2013


I think I, like a lot of people, have been a little more of a raw nerve lately than usual so that is undoubtedly part of it. It's likely that I'd have expressed myself differently on this point if conditions were different.
posted by Miko at 4:30 PM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like everyone in my yoga class this morning was struggling through it, me included. Just a really draining week. The teacher made practicing inner calm and balance the theme of the class and I'm trying it.
posted by sweetkid at 5:43 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]






The zip code post on the blue reminded me of this thread. Hey Jessamyn, did any postcards that had minimal addressing get to you?
posted by luckynerd at 11:48 AM on April 26, 2013


I've been out of town for over a week so I haven't been back to the mailbox (hello from DeSoto Kansas!) but I will let people know.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2013


I've been out of town for over a week so I haven't been back to the mailbox

**Uncovers postcard under pile of papers, runs out to mail box, whistles innocently**
posted by ambrosia at 3:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, I'm curious.
If anyone wants to send me a postcard, try this:
Luckynerd
92397-0201

I'll let you know if I get it. :)
(My PO Box knows I get email addressed to Luckynerd on occasion)
posted by luckynerd at 11:44 AM on April 29, 2013


I got back from my trip to a mailbox full of postcards! The most cryptically addressed was just Box 345, 05060. Nothing with just my name and town ... yet.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:08 PM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Chomsky has now made the point everyone mistakenly thought I was making :
"When we experience terror at home, we must remember the United States’s use of terror abroad."
posted by jeffburdges at 5:22 PM on May 2, 2013


The thing is, it's not like a it's a new or sophisticated point. It's obvious. It's there all the time. It doesn't hurt anyone to revisit it, but it's not like a brand new insight of any kind.

That's one reason I find it irritating to have it waved in my face as if someone just thought of it and the rest of us never have, especially when our attention is momentarily devoted to a local and highly emotional set of needs. Yes, the US for the last - well, let's say the US since the Spanish-American war - has been in a really tenuous moral position vis-a-vis our various and pointed activities overseas vs. our stated and to some degree lived ideals at home, and the US has for quite some time been reasonably accused of solipsism and exceptionalism and not been particularly internationalistic in our consciousness. That's all true. We grant that. Anyone even mildly sympathetic to the point grants that. It's not even 101 level, it's World Civ in high school level.

This is partly why it rankles - it's not even so much the choice of relatively tightly targeted, almost personal, critique, or the seizure of the inopportune moment of immediate shock and grief, as it is the basic insult: someone thinks they know something special about the world, and are thus particularly sensitive and impassioned, which the rest of us don't know and haven't given sufficient thought to. That's a faulty assumption.
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"someone thinks they know something special about the world, and are thus particularly sensitive and impassioned, which the rest of us don't know and haven't given sufficient thought to. That's a faulty assumption."

Yes and no. If the "rest of us" is "all Americans", then no. It's not what's taught in high school history and it's not what the overwhelming majority of Americans believe. The overwhelming majority do, in fact, believe that our foreign policy history and our stated ideals are in accordance. They have no clue and won't believe you when you detail all the actions and even occupations against foreign governments at the behest of Dole Fruit, the occupation of the Philippines (to which you allude), or the death squads, or the CIA training of Shah's secret police, or, more recently, that the CIA was running a bunch of secret overseas prisons where they tortured foreign nationals. Most of this kind of thing they've never heard of and, when they do hear of it, they consider it crazy conspiracy nonsense by people who "hate America".

If "the rest of us" means "people like you and me", a group that is well-represented on (but not necessarily characteristic of) MetaFilter, then, yeah, sure.

And I agree with you that there's something both insulting and self-indulgent when people feel the need to emphatically make that case here because this is one of the few places where it's not as necessary. That's true for Chomsky's audience, too.

On the other hand, you're wrong about it being common knowledge of the average American, it's absolutely not the mainstream media narrative, and it's understandable that within this larger context some people will feel the urge to keep saying, no, the emperor has no clothes. Also, he's a monster.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:01 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the "rest of us" is "all Americans",

It's MeFites. As in the subject of most of this discussion: whether this sort of thing is welcome on MetaFilter. Again, if you want to talk about how much stupider most Americans are than you, that's fine, I guess, but that's not the audience here.
posted by Miko at 6:59 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose Chomsky's audience is folk wishing to see how to make this argument themselves.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:10 AM on May 4, 2013


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