Dylan Farrow NYT Letter Deserves Its Own Post February 1, 2014 11:11 PM   Subscribe

Several posts to this New York Times "open letter" from Dylan Farrow about being a survivor of abuse have been deleted [1] [2] [3] [4] on the basis that there's an open post about Mia Farrow, this is outragefilter, and that it's a touchy topic that we've "covered a lot recently". These are not convincing arguments for the deletions.

That this has been posted four different times is evidence that there's quite a bit of interest in this particular linked NYT article and is independent of more broad discussions of sexual violence against children and Mia Farrow. It's not mere outragefilter because it's in a major media outlet, will get quite a bit of follow-on media mentions in the days to come, concerns a public figure who has recently been in the news, and is a significant development in a long-running story. Not to mention that it's a heartfelt and moving plea by a survivor addressed to the public and to the Hollywood establishment.

The extant post is very broadly about Mia Farrow and is not even specifically about Woody Allen. If anything, that thread really oughtn't be all about one particular child of Farrow's and this open letter by Dylan Farrow is likely to take that thread over completely. It shouldn't, because that's not what that post is about.

It is a touchy topic, and it makes sense to have high scrutiny of random, outrage-of-the-day posts concerning it. This is not one of those posts.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich to MetaFilter-Related at 11:11 PM (297 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

The second half of the Vanity Fair article in the original FPP are about Dylan, Soon-Yi and Allen.
posted by Ardiril at 11:13 PM on February 1, 2014


I'll just quote myself from my response to email to mods on this:

I think there's probably a way to do that with a post that isn't just a single-link outragefilter sort of thing. I don't think we need to jump to post it as a bare link that doesn't offer more for discussion than people taking one side or the other and lot of fury, hate and outrage directed at each other.

I'm sure there is going to be online analysis and commentary, so it may be better to take a breath and let things develop a bit and post something a little more in-depth than the single open letter accusation.

Since the Vanity Fair piece addresses exactly these charges in the very first paragraph of the article and there has been ongoing discussion there, it's fine to continue that conversation there and see if there's a way to put something together that might be a little more nuanced than Woody / Mia-Dylan-Ronan battle lines.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:14 PM on February 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Since the Vanity Fair piece addresses exactly these charges in the very first paragraph of the article and there has been ongoing discussion there, it's fine to continue that conversation there and see if there's a way to put something together that might be a little more nuanced than Woody / Mia-Dylan-Ronan battle lines."

Okay, let me try to explain why I disagree in an indirect fashion.

I have approximately zero interest in reading that Vanity Fair article about Mia Farrow or in immersing myself in the details of a larger conflict that centers around Woody Allen.

I am very interested in what a survivor of incest has to say about her experience and how people have reacted to it.

The first article is a Vanity Fair article that covers a broad range of topics, centered around Mia Farrow. It's about Mia Farrow. It is an in-depth profile piece in a magazine.

The NYT open letter is not about Mia Farrow, it's very specifically about Dylan Farrow and her experience as a survivor. It is a focused piece in a newspaper and is newsworthy in itself.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:24 PM on February 1, 2014 [37 favorites]


I've been wondering all evening when a post about that letter would stay up. It is searing. I feel like the emotional content puts it in a different world from a dry long-form article about anything at all. That said, some supporting links about other survivors who've been ignored or gaslighted wouldn't hurt.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:27 PM on February 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


and lot of fury, hate and outrage directed at each other.

If that is the problem, delete those comments, and lock those users' accounts.
It's veto-by-mob otherwise - the people that can spew enough bile get to kill a post, no matter what.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:29 PM on February 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


"some supporting links about other survivors who've been ignored or gaslighted" ~ previously.
posted by Ardiril at 11:30 PM on February 1, 2014


Put me down voting "good deletions". Also, newsworthy in the NYT is no longer automatic proof of MeFi-worthiness. Simple "Somebody did something awful" stories usually get deleted and it's not that different when it's the Director of Annie Hall.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:34 PM on February 1, 2014 [10 favorites]


I worked on this story in the media back when it first broke. I also lived and worked in Connecticut and NYC, respectively, FWIW...

This article in The Daily Beast is a pretty great response to the NY Times Open Letter.

I'm just going to leave this here. The article I linked very much mirrors the conclusions and the research and investigations back when it first happened.

I feel badly for everyone involved. Close reading of the article I linked, which details the FACTS .....

Yeah. If inflammatory and not factual stuff was deleted from MetaFilter, than this is for the best.

Mia Farrow approved (via contract) that her clips from Woody 's films be shown at the Golden Globes. She approved this supposed "promotion" of a criminal, then back tracked on Twitter later... I guess for attention ??

There was an investigation at the time that fell flat for numerous very good reasons.

I remember this all from back when I worked on the story. The Daily Beast article humanely points out even more inconsistencies of the allegations than I was unaware of over 20 years ago.

This is super sad, but no, MetaFilter should not jump on this train.

It's not what it seems. And it's super sad.
posted by jbenben at 11:37 PM on February 1, 2014 [14 favorites]


I'm a little disturbed that a first-person account by a survivor of sexual assault is being framed as a "single open letter accusation" or as something to "take sides" on, or that there needs to be more discussion or analysis by third parties for her story to be relevant and noteworthy. Why, because it involves a famous person? There's been debate and discussion about this for years - why do we need other random people validating her story rather than letting it stand on its own?
posted by divabat at 11:38 PM on February 1, 2014 [23 favorites]


On post: wow, jbenben, "inflammatory and not factual", really?

If this is how we treat stories from survivors of sexual assault (however famous their assaulter is) then I'm not sure I feel safe enough posting here anymore.
posted by divabat at 11:40 PM on February 1, 2014 [25 favorites]


If that is the problem, delete those comments, and lock those users' accounts.

This isn't a realistic option in a thread that mostly features people's personal reactions to a horrifying, gut-wrenching situation. Deleting comments and banning users are our least and last-used tools as moderators, and in a thread based on a post that intrinsically offers only a condemn-or-doubt axis for response, it's especially unhelpful.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:42 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re divabat: I guess you might look into the germination of the allegations and the point in history where they took place...

It was ugly business. Read up on it and put it into context.

I was (sadly) part of the media bullshit surrounding this case.
posted by jbenben at 11:43 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just a note: Let's stick to discussing how this can or should best be posted here rather than using this Metatalk for reacting to the NYT link.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:45 PM on February 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


Samantha Geimer's book The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski was published last September and hasn't been the subject of an FPP. Perhaps a post on victims who spoke out would pass muster.
posted by Ardiril at 11:53 PM on February 1, 2014 [12 favorites]


I can see from the preceding, and my own reactions, why there's concern that this post would produce a very, very difficult thread. And I'm sympathetic, as I think my past MetaTalk comments indicate, to the mod concerns about contentious subjects and having a high bar to posting where they're concerned.

The problem I'm having in this case, though, is that I totally disagree that the Mia Farrow post is sufficient for the NYT piece and I think that balancing against the "shitstorm" concerns are community interest, that it's a big story (that is to say, this NYT open letter is, I think, a pretty big story in its own right), and that there are many, many posts about contentious subjects to pieces of this magnitude and interest that are allowed.

I guess I think that this is just one of those posts that can't be avoided. And that's okay, because I feel certain that a) the NYT piece is something that mefites will want to be alerted to and to read (I certainly was glad to see it, and I did so because of one of the briefly appearing posts); and b) it's something that mefites will want to discuss. It will be contentious and unpleasant for a number of people, especially the poor moderators who have to shepherd the thread. Even so.

Finally, I'm pretty sure that the stuff that we're worried about — things that we've seen above and in the Mia Farrow thread — won't be avoided by broadening the subject of the post beyond Dylan Farrow. People will still talk about Dylan Farrow and, more importantly, people are absolutely going to argue about credibility and stuff, and get really upset, no matter how many other links are included in the post. I don't really understand why the argument isn't that adding more things won't just provide more points of contention, and increase the conflict, rather than decrease it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:02 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, in the vein of an FPP about sexual assault accusations that ended in greater controversy, Crystal Mangum was sentenced to 14 years for murdering her boyfriend.
posted by Ardiril at 12:13 AM on February 2, 2014


I don't really understand why the argument isn't that adding more things won't just provide more points of contention

It might. But combine Dylan Farrow's letter with Samantha Geimer talking about Roman Polanski or Tonya Lee talking about Rolf Harris, and you have three survivors with moving personal accounts of struggling/coping with the celebrity of their abusers, not a referendum on one particular case.

I don't know if that's really a good way to handle it, but if the single link has been deleted four times, perhaps it is just a way it might stay up.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:21 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


About the only way I can think of to frame this link asides from just having it on its own is if the other links were documenting the history of this case, though I'm not sure how many sources are out there that are just reporting the incident and not trying to play Did She Cry Wolf.

Linking to other controversial cases of sexual assault (then again, aren't almost all cases of sexual assault - particularly those that hit the public eye - controversial due to societal attitudes?) seems to only result in what Ivan Fyodorovich warns about: multiple threads of contention.
posted by divabat at 12:21 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ivan, We've historically seen discussion improved by posts that offer more than the visceral flashpoint outrage link, and it's the model we try to stick to for sensitive, difficult, and/or painful topics. Whether Metafilter should drop that policy entirely is maybe a larger discussion. For now, this is the framework we are operating in, and I think it's worthwhile to discuss how this link could be offered in a post that maximizes opportunity for a civil and thoughtful discussion.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:23 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


The New York Times has tarnished its reputation in the past 15 years , such that I could not pick just one or two scandals to link to.

Publishing this open letter was a gambit at relevancy and page clicks .

The New York Times discredited itself long ago, and it doesn't lend any credibility to any story it prints among most people familiar with its current operations.
posted by jbenben at 12:27 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


jbenben, hinting at insider knowledge and then not following through by sharing that knowledge is incredibly irritating and not at all helpful to this discussion.
posted by MadamM at 12:31 AM on February 2, 2014 [50 favorites]


That Daily Beast article just made me so happy. So.. SO happy. I don't see this becoming huge news. And it shouldn't be.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:35 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


So, yeah, maybe better just to focus on our mission here. How do we handle this in the best way for a Metafilter discussion that might in some way offer more light than heat?
posted by taz (staff) at 12:40 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


on preview: taz, this kind of goes past your mission for this thread, but I could not let the "yay for the Daily Beast" article comments just stand on their own. Maybe it's demonstrative of how sexual assault is yet another topic that Metafilter Does Not Do Well, I don't know.

The Daily Beast article was written before Dylan Farrow's article, how could it be a response?

So we're going to trust second/third-hand accounts more than an account directly from the survivor? Really, Metafilter, really?

Yes Means Yes: False Rape Allegations Are Rare
Slutwalk Seattle has a great timeline of cases of rapes and sexual assault that were dismissed as victim-blaming or 'false'

I'm going to bow out for now, because if the discussion continues the way it does I'm just going to blow a gasket.
posted by divabat at 12:44 AM on February 2, 2014 [43 favorites]


ReeMonster, why does that Daily Beast article make you "So.. SO happy"? It's almost as if the author is using controversy as an excuse to write a fawning piece about Woody Allen and his cute quirks (he confuses Twitter and blogging! The author has to email Woody Allen through Allen's assistant, since Allen still uses a typewriter!) while simultaneously shitting on anyone associated with Dylan or Mia Farrow ("Her brother Ronan believes it happened, so good for him for sticking up for his sister in 140 characters or less"). It's gross. He also starts one particularly bad paragraph saying he just knows Woody Allen professionally, and ends it with an extended, classic Woody Allen monologue delivered personally to the author about his likelihood of dying from a brain tumor.

Plus, Mia Farrow maybe slept with Frank Sinatra while she was with Woody Allen, so there! The Daily Beast piece is even worse than I imagined.
posted by Corduroy at 12:47 AM on February 2, 2014 [62 favorites]


There are also issues of Mia's relationship to Nicholas Kristoff that got the accusations into the NYT as well as the timing of these accusations right after Woody being honored at the Golden Globes suggesting that Mia has gone nuclear against Woody and is using her daughter to 'get' him. Serious charges there too.

Personally, I have known more than one victim of childhood sexual abuse in my life, as well as one perpetrator (who did do prison time for it). And I was once especially close to a woman who led me to believe she was also a victim only to have her story fall apart after 20+ years of sticking to it. So maybe I'm less receptive to "victim's testimony" than I should be, but this is a stupid Hollywood tabloid story that would not exist without the parties' fame (Woody and Mia being the main parties) and stinks to high heaven on both sides. Hollywood Celebrities Are Bad People is NOT news, no matter who's the more Evil.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:49 AM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


I would have preferred to read about this Dylan Farrow article on the blue. I think that this conversation we're having in here is very blue in spirit, and not very meta-talky. I also think it's weird that people won't believe Dylan Farrow. Why would she make this shit up?
posted by oceanjesse at 12:52 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Once More: here is where we can discuss how and if to best post this, not the proxy thread for discussion of the link.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:55 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


The NYT link is paywalled, and I'm interested to read it, any hints?
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:03 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's hard to imagine any thread on the topic being anything other than a fight between people who have no personal knowledge of any relevant facts being completely invested in one side or the other thanks to whatever personal emotional baggage they are bringing, along with a couple of likely flameouts. This meta is ALREADY going down that route, so I don't see how an actual blue thread would be any more productive.
posted by modernnomad at 1:04 AM on February 2, 2014 [16 favorites]


Unless anyone is saying Mia Farrow wrote that letter, I don't see how she's relevant to this particular piece and it certainly doesn't belong in the Vanity Fair post. I think this is a strong article, interesting and engaging. It stands on its own.
posted by Danila at 1:05 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


This discussion makes me very glad indeed that there is a presumption of innocence in the U.S. justice system, no matter how heinous the accusation. Metafilter, you scare me.
posted by Wordwoman at 1:06 AM on February 2, 2014 [22 favorites]


"How do we handle this in the best way for a Metafilter discussion that might in some way offer more light than heat?"

I don't know if that's possible. Childhood sexual assault is an incredibly sensitive topic, and disbelieving children who attest to sexual assault is an even more sensitive topic.

But it's a topic that has not been banned from MeFi. It comes up when it comes up, because it's something that happens quite a bit. And I think a lot of people would have trouble with the idea of banning the topic from MeFi.

So I guess the result of this conundrum is that this specific post cannot be made to be something that doesn't cause a lot of conflict and therefore it can't be posted. I promise you that adding more things to the mix won't help. All the things that people might add could only focus the conversation even more on generally believing or disbelieving such allegations and, I assert, that would be more contentious and polarizing than would be this discussion limited to Dylan Farrow. So that's not a solution. I don't think there is a solution, if the litmus test is something that won't be an emotional and contentious thread.

But not having the thread at all is ... disturbing. It's not as bad as banning the whole topic from MeFi, but disallowing this particular post has the effect of disallowing a very high profile example of this topic, that people will be talking about tomorrow and the coming week, that people have already attempted four times to post to MeFi, from existing as a forum to learn about this particular story (Farrow's NYT piece) and to discuss these issues. This is the precise kind of event where people will want to know about this and talk about this. So not allowing this post on MeFi (or directing it to an existing thread that is only partly related) is just a different way of saying that this is something we can't talk about on MeFi.

I sincerely believe that this is a "between a rock and a hard place" situation. I don't think there's any way that a thread on the blue about this will avoid being difficult and painful. But I also don't think that simply not posting about this is viable, either.

I mean, I used to be one of the loudest voices against NewsFilter. I still don't much like it. But it's a pretty big and accepted part of MeFi. I'm having trouble with the idea that this particular topic is where we're going to draw an anti-newsfilter line or a too-contentious line.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:11 AM on February 2, 2014 [13 favorites]


"The NYT link is paywalled, and I'm interested to read it, any hints?"

Just open the link using your browser's version of "incognito" (meaning that it doesn't allow any personal data transmitted or cookies or anything).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:13 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


This bears repeating ....

It's hard to imagine any thread on the topic being anything other than a fight between people who have no personal knowledge of any relevant facts being completely invested in one side or the other thanks to whatever personal emotional baggage they are bringing, along with a couple of likely flameouts. This meta is ALREADY going down that route, so I don't see how an actual blue thread would be any more productive.

Thank you, modernnomad. You've spoken for me. The phrase that comes to mind is cognitive bias. I know I'm guilty of it sometimes. I suspect everyone is. So the fresh FPP on this particular issue that I look forward to is the one that comes at it from a cognitive bias angle. That would be fascinating indeed.
posted by philip-random at 1:15 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think a single link is fine; seems like there's a lot of interesting history that people are interested in filling in and discussing. Plus, it's Dylan Farrow's article, and I think that trumps any "previously"'s that people might feel obliged to throw into a thread.
I don't think that Dylan Farrow's article should have been deleted just because of the Mia Farrow article. They aren't the same person and this isn't the same topic.

Maybe the outrage filter reason is viable, but I disagree with the Mia Farrow open thread deletion reason.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:15 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Since the Vanity Fair piece addresses exactly these charges in the very first paragraph of the article and there has been ongoing discussion there, it's fine to continue that conversation there and see if there's a way to put something together that might be a little more nuanced than Woody / Mia-Dylan-Ronan battle lines.

But... that is exactly the problem with trying to have this conversation there.

Dylan's letter had absolutely nothing to do with "Woody/Mia-Dylan-Ronan battle lines" and Twitter and Frank Sinatra and Scandal and Dramazzz. It had nothing whatsoever to do with any of that.

Dylan's letter was an extremely direct, focused, and raw firsthand account of the experience of child molestation, and of being targeted as a child by a sexual predator. That is what it was about. Not Celebrity Tabloid Dramaz.

Would you say, "You can only talk about the assassination of JFK in a thread that has already been started about the dramaz with him and Marilyn Monroe and Jackie and that girl he messed around with in the pool, there's already an open thread on him you see."

This girl is saying that she was sexually molested at the age of 7 by her father. The fact that her father happened to be *~*Woody Allen*~* may be relevant in some respects (being an internationally adored icon with a great deal of power and money), but his tabloidish antics are utterly irrelevant.
posted by cairdeas at 1:21 AM on February 2, 2014 [16 favorites]


As I said in the beginning of this thread, I think there's probably a way to do that with a post that isn't just a single-link outragefilter sort of thing.

So to be explicit, there can be a post on this. Yes.

How should that post be framed and presented to offer us the best opportunity for a discussion that isn't all hate, anger, attacks on each other, flaming out, and people leaving the site, etc.?

I understand the argument that no matter what efforts are made there is no way to present this without it being a clusterfuck shitstorm, but a thoughtful effort that would be a good post anyway can possibly help mitigate some of the violent reactions that drive that.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:32 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


The accusations by Dylan Farrow have EVERYTHING to do with the Mia Vs. Woody feud; they were publicly made by others long before. It has long been an element of the Tabloid Dramaz. See my prior link here.

Here's what should make up a good Mefi post about Child Sexual Abuse, not one celebrity case with issues that make for a higher-than-average likelihood of false accusation.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:34 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, in my understanding of "outrage-filter" it means, "here's something awful in the world, that you can't do anything but be angry about."

Dylan's letter is not that.

Have any of you had the experience of criticizing a well-known, well-loved, very popular person - publicly? It's scary, right? It can be even terrifying. You can experience an astonishing amount of blowback even if it's just another parent in the PTA. You can attract bullies who will follow you for years after that, pounding at you sadistically. You can be ostracized. Your family can be ostracized. You can be punished passive aggressively. You can be punished overtly with a big smile. You can receive threats. You can be targeted for years.

Can you imagine, then, criticizing someone who is well known and well-loved by millions upon millions of people around the globe? Saying something that will cause millions upon millions of people, strangers, utter rage, make them want to rip you to shreds?

That is the first thing that Dylan's letter is, it's an artifact of a very young person's willingness to put herself in the line of that kind of fire. That alone makes it interesting, worthwhile, incredible.

Dylan's letter asks society to look at itself, to look at the way we respond to those famous people who seem familiar, who we identify with, who make us happy, who we feel like we know, who remind us of our own families. Our willingness to think the best of them, our willingness to attack, rip to shreds, people who seem to threaten them. That makes it interesting, worthwhile.

Dylan's letter is a very articulate, sharp, thoughtful, and focused account of child abuse experienced at a very, very young age. That is not a perspective we often hear, publicly. That makes it interesting and worthwhile.

Dylan is a human being who is asking us to learn about this issue, think about it, and talk about it. Her letter was not written for us to helplessly fume in outrage about. It was written to get us to think and talk. I think that makes it a good fit for this blog.
posted by cairdeas at 1:35 AM on February 2, 2014 [43 favorites]


"I understand the argument than no matter what efforts are made there is no way to present this without it being a clusterfuck shitstorm, but a thoughtful effort that would be a good post anyway can possibly help mitigate some of the violent reactions that drive that."

I understand that you understand that, but I, personally, can't imagine any way that this could be presented that would help and I feel certain that the examples given above wouldn't help but would also make it worse. Other cases where accusations are deemed not credible won't help. Other cases where survivors talk about their experiences and are implicitly thought to be credible will be hotly contested by those who think that Dylan Farrow's are not. Certainly including cases where accusations were proved to be false will provoke outrage. And including both won't provide balance so much as it will provide equal opportunities for outrage on both sides for their inclusion.

Just adding more statistics and context about sexual assault of children and incest won't help, because people will complain that this particular case is different. And then other people will be angry about that.

Basically, the only thing that might work is a post about something else. Which isn't a solution. What people want to post about is Dylan Farrow's open letter in the New York Times. Nothing added to that, as far as I can see, from what's already suggested to what I can imagine, is going to make a discussion about Dylan Farrow's situation any less contentious.

"Here's what should make up a good Mefi post about Child Sexual Abuse, not one celebrity case with issues that make for a higher-than-average likelihood of false accusation."

onefellswoop, you're begging the question. Your argument that it's a bad post presupposes that her accusation isn't credible. That's basically your argument. But the issues involved are those concerning how certain kinds of victims aren't thought to be credible. That's not a valid basis for arguing against the post and it's not an argument that the mods have ever used for deleting the post, nor when talking about it here.

So can we not have any more comments in this thread that support the deletion on the basis that Dylan Farrow's accusation isn't credible? That's not the issue involved in this thread.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:47 AM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yes. Pasting together a thread with a group of different accounts of child molestation/rape by celebrities, in completely different situations having nothing to do with each other, will turn into a thread about how they are or aren't the same thing. I think it would just be a huge derail about nothing.

People want to talk about this one, by itself. There's more than enough in this situation, by itself, to have a worthwhile conversation about.
posted by cairdeas at 1:50 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Taking the Polanski case mentioned upthread, and this one here, one could also conceivably frame an FPP around the power imbalance inherent in these type of situations where the silence is enforced out of the sheer necessity of survival and inability to bring power to justice.
posted by infini at 1:50 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


The letter is short, very specific. I struggle to think what anyone here would have to add to it, honestly. Coupled with the undeniable controversy and opinions about it - whether you take on side or another - I think it would be a nightmare for the mods. We can already see fault lines forming and anger in this thread. I cannot possibly see how it would go well, and I don't think it's fair to blame it on members who have doubts or whatever; they know just as much about this as anyone: Which is to say nothing.
posted by smoke at 1:56 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, infini, I think that's worth talking about and certainly implicit in Farrow's letter, but it's not something that would solve the problem we're discussing, which is how to make a post that would be less contentious than the single-link post. Your suggestion would make this problem worse (providing two high-profile cases to argue about), even though it's completely relevant and is exactly the sort of thing people do to make better posts.

I really think we're on the horns of a dilemma here.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:56 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not every news story requires a post on MeFi, especially not every celebrity news story. Also, wait a day or 2, and there may be more content available to frame a post.
posted by theora55 at 2:29 AM on February 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


A last thought from me.

I think it's very, very important to read the entire piece itself to give an opinion how it should/shouldn't be posted here; its fitness or unfitness for this site.

It's very short - just a page, a 5 or 6 minute read. Here is the link again.

I think some people have preconceived ideas of the piece or its content, that actually have little to nothing to do with what it really is.
posted by cairdeas at 2:42 AM on February 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


Metabloid
posted by telstar at 3:06 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the deletions were a mistake.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:24 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cairdeas, I get your passion for this, but it seems pretty clearly to fall on the "people NEED to see this" side of the line which we've often drawn upon in MetaTalk as something that usually makes for a bad post, within the purposes for which MeFi is understood to serve.
posted by modernnomad at 3:27 AM on February 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


it seems pretty clearly to fall on the "people NEED to see this" side of the line

I respectfully disagree.

Some people find it interesting and worthwhile to talk about computers and dessert recipes, to watch comedy videos and cat videos and read comics.

Some people find it interesting and worthwhile to talk about culture, society, human interaction, money, power, ethics, and behavior.

Some people are interested in neither and some people are interested in both.

Being interested in a topic, finding a topic worthwhile, finding someone's contribution to a topic to be astonishing -- and also being passionate about a topic, are not mutually exclusive. People are passionate about everything here. It doesn't mean, ipso facto, that we should not have posts about things people are passionate about. That would be silly.

Personally, I don't think "Metafilter NEEDS to see this." I think, "I know that a lot of people on Metafilter would be very interested in this and I would really like to see what they have to say about it."
posted by cairdeas at 3:34 AM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


Of course - a lot of people on MeFi are interested in social justice generally, mid-east politics, etc, and I often am interested in what mefites might say about them. I am also capable of recognizing that these topics also generally do not lend themselves to constructive debate threads, but rather polarized shouting matches between groups equally convinced of their own righteousness that tend to end badly for all concerned. That is why we tend to have a higher bar in those kinds of threads, and quite frankly an open letter accusing a parental figure of sexual abuse is necessarily going to be so button-pushing that it also should meet a higher bar, or exist in some kind of context that can lead to a discussion that is something different than "man, this guy is a total fucker" -> "hey there's no proof!" -> "how DARE you question this victim?" -> "i thought we were innocent until proven guilty in this country!" and on and on and on.
posted by modernnomad at 3:51 AM on February 2, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think the deletions were the right thing to do. There is no way MetaFilter can discuss this subject.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:22 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, in my understanding of "outrage-filter" it means, "here's something awful in the world, that you can't do anything but be angry about."

I kinda wish the mods would not use Mefi insiderspeak like "outragefilter" and "lolxians" when describing deletion reasons. They function in this context as silencing terms. I don't think this link is outragefilter at all, or that it's outragefilter any more than any other link about sex abuse is outragefilter, but bringing this up just shifts debate to the meaning of the word.

Basically, calling a post outragefilter is like calling it a terrorist.
posted by painquale at 4:26 AM on February 2, 2014 [11 favorites]


If the Daily Beast article wasn't so problematic in it's delivery and use of tangential 'evidence' to support it's coy stance, it *might* have been a way to frame this without relying on the testimony of the memories of a 7 year old.

As it stands, I think the deletions were right.
posted by panaceanot at 4:44 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Basically, calling a post outragefilter is like calling it a terrorist.

Pish tosh to that.

I think this would be a very hard post to make not be a shitshow, and I'm pretty damned sure this MeTa gives great examples why. Just a for example, there's linking Roman Polanski's case with Woody Allen's case, where a major caveat is that only one of those two directors has actually been found guilty.

It is the sort of post where any even slight variation from the main narrative, even if only on a minor, unrelated point, gets shouted down as victim-blaming, rape-denying, fellow-gaslighting behaviours. It's not about the content of the letter so much as that it constitutes a firm accusation but with a celebrity vacuum around it, which leads to speculation, hurt feelings and lots and lots of anger, righteous and otherwise.

Can discussions of child abuse and molestation go well on Metafilter? Certainly. But I'm pretty damned certain this one wouldn't.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:30 AM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


New Post. I say leave it up.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:32 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Personally, I don't think 'Metafilter NEEDS to see this.' I think, 'I know that a lot of people on Metafilter would be very interested in this and I would really like to see what they have to say about it.'"

Yeah, there's absolutely no aspect of me making this MetaTalk post that is about thinking that this is an important thing that MeFi needs to see. It's that I saw the fourth deleted post before it was deleted, read the piece, then came back to discover that the post had been deleted and, furthermore, it was the fourth time it had been posted. It seems clear to me that there's a lot of interest in this post and it's not even remotely in the category of being posted because the poster(s) thinks that other people ought to know about it.

"New Post. I say leave it up."

Well, that's a post I wouldn't have read and wouldn't have followed the link because it's all about fucking Woody Allen and the controversy about whether we can like fucking Woody Allen movies while considering the possibility that he's a pedophile. That's not a topic that's interesting to me.

Furthermore, it's insulting to the entire perspective of Dylan Farrow's NYT open-letter. It basically cedes the entire discussion to one about Woody Allen and his oeuvre, using her attestation of being a survivor of incest as an interesting way into a discussion about Woody Allen and aesthetics, of all things. It's directly contrary to the spirit of Farrow's letter.

It seems to me that some people are confused and think that this discussion is about a Woody Allen post. It's not.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:41 AM on February 2, 2014 [15 favorites]


I've read both the letter and the Beast article and I really don't understand how people can have such strong opinions in regard to a decades-old, highly publicized, very contentious case that is really no one's business other than the people involved. None of us were there and none of us know what really happened. There is so much "he said, she said" from both sides involved, I just wouldn't know where to begin if I were forced to take a side. Thankfully I live in a world where I don't have to. And I don't want to, I have my own to worry about. Regardless, children have been damaged, either sexually and/or emotionally and that is the saddest tragedy of all.

I get that some people want to talk about these topics and have been victims of horrible abuse or may have been wrongly accused of horrible abuse, and each person brings their own personal experiences to these discussions and that makes these posts very emotional. And if even in this Meta people say they need to step away because they are getting so angry, then maybe this isn't a good topic for a MeFi FPP the way it is framed.

This is the second time this week where someone made a Meta calling out deletions after mods deleted and then suggested that the author re-write the FPP. I don't understand why these Meta's exist. All the mods (who have to babysit such emotional/hot button threads) are doing is asking for a better framed FPP for these touchier topics, and from what I saw as a result of the other thread, the final post was a better one.

Ivan, I'm sorry you're not getting the FPP you want to talk about this topic, but maybe in a few days, or maybe even somewhere else on the web, you might find more satisfaction.
posted by NoraCharles at 5:52 AM on February 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


That's not a topic that's interesting to me.

Then next time, make a post that interests you, rather than creating a MeTa and multiple comments within and then complaining that someone didn't make the post you wanted to see.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:59 AM on February 2, 2014 [13 favorites]


Brandon's post includes two links to articles discussing how people and the media have reacted to previous cases of celebrities doing bad stuff. I think framing a post about Dylan Farrow's letter in terms of 'let's think about how we're reacting to this' makes this a much better post than the previous ones, and more likely to encourage a thoughtful discussion.
posted by nangar at 6:04 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ivan, thanks for posting this. I saw the deletes last night, and took a walk rather than posting a MeTa. I think this firmly falls in the "bad delete" area, and I wholly agree that insisting this be discussed in a thread on Mia Farrow/Woody Allen completely trivializes the impact of this disclosure.

I'd have a lot more sympathy towards the mod position expressed by taz if I hadn't been watching Snowden-disclosure-filter here for the past n months. I work in network security and I'm tired of, every two weeks, a new FPP that's pulling something under the Snowden umbrella. It doesn't sit right that for right now, we need to discuss in a tangentially related thread with no framing whatsoever.

Then next time, make a post that interests you

Except someone already did. 4 times. And they were deleted. So we're here discussing if it was a bad delete. The next time someone makes a MeTa that doesn't interest you...
posted by bfranklin at 6:11 AM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think the deletions were the right thing to do. There is no way MetaFilter can discuss this subject.

You'd be surprised. I thought there was no way to discuss a video of a small owl being blow-dried, but MetaFilter often rises up and surpasses my expectations. I'm glad that the newest post is up and that we have the opportunity to try.
posted by kimberussell at 6:13 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


i just saw the original link and read Kristof's introduction. Couldn't get past a few words of the actual piece itself but based on what Kristof writes, and how he frames his decision to publish this, I'd say its high time Metafilter grew up into mature adulthood. The internet isn't just young male gaming geeking gawkers anymore, as many of us can attest.
posted by infini at 6:20 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Ivan, I'm sorry you're not getting the FPP you want to talk about this topic, but maybe in a few days, or maybe even somewhere else on the web, you might find more satisfaction."

I think the topic is Dylan Farrow's open-letter, and not how we think about Woody Allen, the filmmaker. Those are two very different topics.

"Brandon's post includes two links to articles discussing how people and the media have reacted to previous cases of celebrities doing bad stuff."

Yes. Which is about something very different than Dylan Farrow's letter. I don't understand how it is that people seem to think that "how we think about an alleged pedophile" is the same discussion as "how we think about someone who claims to be the victim of a pedophile".

Dylan Farrow's letter was about Dylan Farrow and her experience of being a survivor. It wasn't about Woody Allen and a post about Woody Allen isn't the same thing as a post about Dylan Farrow's letter.

"Then next time, make a post that interests you, rather than creating a MeTa and multiple comments within and then complaining that someone didn't make the post you wanted to see."

What bfranklin wrote. The post I wanted to see had been made, and deleted. If I could think of a way to post about this that would have satisfied what taz was asking for, I would have. It didn't occur to me to make it a post about how aesthetics intersects with the artist's moral character because that's a post about a different topic, even if it contained the same link.

I understand that this was your sincere attempt to post this in a way that would be acceptable; but I think it ended up being effectively a post on an entirely different subject and, in this way, it ends up perversely reinforcing what Dylan Farrow was complaining about in her letter.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:26 AM on February 2, 2014 [10 favorites]


I think MetaFilter can have the difficult and contentious conversations about sensitive subjects, but single links on the topics rarely work well. How the FPP is written can often derail a thread before it has even started. I think we can have this conversation and keep it respectful.
posted by arcticseal at 6:27 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've read both the letter and the Beast article and I really don't understand how people can have such strong opinions in regard to a decades-old, highly publicized, very contentious case that is really no one's business other than the people involved.

But it is "our" business; sexual assault is not something that has only happened to this one person. The way people handle these stories teaches us what to expect and how to behave. That is culture. It is inescapable. We do not live in vacuums, untouched by the experiences of others.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:33 AM on February 2, 2014 [43 favorites]


I'm a little disturbed that a first-person account by a survivor of sexual assault is being framed as a "single open letter accusation" or as something to "take sides" on, or that there needs to be more discussion or analysis by third parties for her story to be relevant and noteworthy.

So we should just presume the person who's been accused of a crime, who was never convicted or even prosecuted after a lengthy investigation, to be guilty? Without considering any other relevant evidence? Um ... why?
posted by John Cohen at 7:15 AM on February 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


Even with the re-framing, the post that was allowed to stand has turned into the exact same armchair-quarterbacking & speculation shitfest that the first four deletions were attempting to avoid. Sorry BB it's not you, but the comments are mostly the worst of metafilter on aggregate. Yet again, outrage, line in sand, choose a side, yell across it. Not good community behavior at all.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:51 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


So we should just presume the person who's been accused of a crime, who was never convicted or even prosecuted after a lengthy investigation, to be guilty?

There's now an actual open post on the subject, you can go make your comments there. This thread should not become a referendum on that topic and we'd like people to take comments about the Dylan Farrow letter (and not how MeFi handles/handled posts about it) to that thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:51 AM on February 2, 2014


Well, the first freaking comment in that thread...
posted by Trochanter at 7:54 AM on February 2, 2014


Well, the first freaking comment in that thread...

Isn't something we can really control. Short of deleting it, that is. If people want to turn that thread into "Let's discuss bad comments on other sites and bring up other very controversial rape accusations" that's what they're going to do. These threads tend to go badly no matter how well they are framed because people are very close to the topic, often have personal experiences that are upsetting to them even before they read the links, and find the topic of rape difficult to deal with in a general sense. Add to that the fact that this is something that happened decades ago and concerned someone very famous that people respect(ed) (so there's a cognitive dissonance problem that people are processing in real time) and there's the additional "Shit, what can we even DO?!" aspect to it combined with internet people's "What happened to innocent until proven guilty" concerns and it's a mess waiting to happen. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:58 AM on February 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is a very lightly moderated site. Even the best version of that thread will be quite difficult. Anyone who would like it to go better and would like to be able to discuss difficult topics on this site without them turning into almost immediate shouting matches would be advised to try to make that discussion into the best discussion it can be. It's not just a mod job.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:00 AM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think the topic is Dylan Farrow's open-letter, and not how we think about Woody Allen, the filmmaker. Those are two very different topics.

There is not any possible FPP framing that is going to separate those topics. It's very difficult to control the direction of a thread on MetaFilter about controversial issues. If focused discussion is important to you the post might be a better fit for a more heavily-moderated venue or your own blog.
posted by anifinder at 8:05 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ivan, if you're interested in "what a survivor of incest has to say about her experience and how people have reacted to it," try something more than the single link that was deleted four times. It's not as if Farrow's letter is the only example of such or the definitive example.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "Ivan, if you're interested in "what a survivor of incest has to say about her experience and how people have reacted to it," try something more than the single link that was deleted four times. It's not as if Farrow's letter is the only example of such or the definitive example."

There is little reason for us to believe that such would not be deleted forthwith in anticipation of people being shitty to each other in the thread. As this was.
posted by zarq at 8:17 AM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


I wasn't doing a mod complaint. I just found it funny after slogging through all the agonizing in this thread, hearing that you guys had decided to let a Dylan thread stand, and I pop over to read it and I see that as the first comment -- made FOUR minutes after the post went up.

Just funny's all.
posted by Trochanter at 8:17 AM on February 2, 2014


Anyone who would like it to go better and would like to be able to discuss difficult topics on this site without them turning into almost immediate shouting matches would be advised to try to make that discussion into the best discussion it can be.

I seriously have no idea of what I could contribute at this point that would further this aim. "Stop shouting at each other" seems like more of a MeTa type comment, which is why I brought it here, and why I generally thought that the first four deletions were the responsible route. Even before the shouting begins, what is there to say at this remove from the events? I'm baffled as to how to discuss it and dismayed that similarly baffled people are discussing it anyway.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:23 AM on February 2, 2014


Here is an example of a MeTa before the FPP.
posted by infini at 8:38 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


"There is little reason for us to believe that such would not be deleted forthwith in anticipation of people being shitty to each other in the thread. As this was."

And, anyway, the goal here wasn't to find some version of the post that would satisfy the mods. The goal was to find a version of the post that would serve the purpose that the mods were arguing for.

I don't believe that a post with other examples of disbelieved survivors would have avoided being contentious, as I already wrote, and I think it would have added more points of contention, as I already wrote. That's why I didn't make such a post.

Brandon's comments are bothersome to me because they're predicated upon the idea that I oughtn't complain about either the deletions or his post because I could have written a post that the mods would have approved. And that's clearly the case, as he did it. It never occurred to me to throw in some other things alongside the NYT link in order to satisfy what the mods were asking for, because they were clear that they were asking for these things for a reason, there was an outcome that they desired. An outcome I agreed with, if it were possible. But I don't think it was possible, thus I didn't make such a post.

I didn't see this as an exercise of "outwit the mods".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:38 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


a mod job.

That sounds dirty for some reason, but I like it.
posted by Melismata at 10:16 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really think we could have gone without having this "conversation", which I put in quotes because people seem to have very quickly come down on who they believed in this and there is very little productive likely to come of it. I also agree that it's no one person's fault or anything. I start to feel like this may be one of those areas like Israel/Palestine where it is not a topic that is capable of being handled well and it is going to cause so many hurt feelings that maybe we should just not do this.

Not that it's not up to the mods, but I hope this is something they consider for in future when making judgments about whether to let such things stand.

I know a lot of the comments in Allen's defense were not intended to be as such, and I am trying to remind myself of that repeatedly, and I'm not looking at it again, but it's still difficult for me to see so many comments in one place on this site of all places that can be so easily construed as "we generally need to assume that rape accusations are false until proven otherwise". And that's sort of the trouble, not one comment but a thread in which so many such comments are going to appear in one place. This isn't best of the web, this is double-edged outragefilter, even with the slight change to framing.
posted by Sequence at 10:18 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just like in the most recent trans issues thread, the arguments and who made them were completely predictable. I get the sense that being contrarians on issues like gender, rape, etc is as much a game to them than any sort of real (albeit misplaced IMO) concern.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:28 AM on February 2, 2014


Brandon's comments are bothersome to me because they're predicated upon the idea that I oughtn't complain about either the deletions or his post because I could have written a post that the mods would have approved.

No less bothersome than your comments saying that a link to Farrow's letter could only mean X. Add that you write that you wouldn't have clicked on the link and that the post created is insulting to Farrow's perspective and it's very much a case of "Jesus, go write your post if you want it to be about this very narrow view" rather than complaining about what someone else did.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:32 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I get the sense that being contrarians on issues like gender, rape, etc is as much a game to them than any sort of real (albeit misplaced IMO) concern.

Maybe I can say this without making anyone feel attacked since my "passion" on this topic was politely called out earlier, and it's pretty clear what my own opinions are?

Speaking about this thread alone, I didn't get the sense that anyone in this thread was playing a game or trolling, or being a contrarian just for lulz. People may disagree, may even disagree in ways that we find deeply troubling, but to me, that does not mean that they are playing a game.
posted by cairdeas at 10:34 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Speaking just for myself-

I think there is also the "picky internet person" syndrome, which I've certainly been prone to. It's not malice or a game or any agenda, it's just a picky person noticing some imprecision in phrasing, or caveat omitted, or counterexample inadequately dealt with, or an interesting abstract question about categories or evidence, or whatever, and really seizing on that in a way that might not be great for the rest of the room - which is why people are exhorted to read the room.

I do think in general it's helpful if we can do these discussions without accusing people of secret bad motives.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:36 AM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


And I think it is okay to have a conversation where not everyone agrees, and I think it is okay to have a conversation where people disagree, vehemently, and I also think it is okay to have a conversation where people find each other's opinions mutually abhorrent. That's part of being an adult, that's part of having adult conversations. How can you ever consider yourself an adult if you're unwilling to have a conversation where you might hear opinions that upset you? I know very well that there are topics that people have trauma around, and I understand only needing to talk about those topics in a certain way, when that is the case. But, so far, Metafilter is not a safe space, yet.
posted by cairdeas at 10:39 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


zombieflanders: "Just like in the most recent trans issues thread, the arguments and who made them were completely predictable. I get the sense that being contrarians on issues like gender, rape, etc is as much a game to them than any sort of real (albeit misplaced IMO) concern."

The same people pipe up on the same topic (rape accusations) with the same perspective on both sides. I feel it's unhelpful to accuse people of trolling when you disagree with them.

If you can't understand their point of view, that's one thing. But that doesn't mean they're being manipulative and commenting in bad faith.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


but it's still difficult for me to see so many comments in one place on this site of all places that can be so easily construed as "we generally need to assume that rape accusations are false until proven otherwise".

I don't have an opinion about whether Allen did this, although for what it's worth he certainly seems like a creep to me.

But there is of course a presumption of innocence in the system of justice in the USA. Accusations against a defendant *are* considered false until proven - as far as I know, for all crimes, including rape.
posted by JeffL at 10:42 AM on February 2, 2014


Please take discussion of the actual case, presumption of innocence, etc over to the blue.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:46 AM on February 2, 2014


Honestly, the idea that sexual abuse is considered a contentious issue on MetaFilter that involves "taking sides" says less about the topic itself and more about the fact that we have a vocal contingent of toxic members that prevents us from discussing these things in a constructive manner.
posted by threeants at 10:50 AM on February 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


LobsterMitten: I think there is also the "picky internet person" syndrome, which I've certainly been prone to. It's not malice or a game or any agenda, it's just a picky person noticing some imprecision in phrasing, or caveat omitted, or counterexample inadequately dealt with, or an interesting abstract question about categories or evidence, or whatever, and really seizing on that in a way that might not be great for the rest of the room - which is why people are exhorted to read the room.

I do think in general it's helpful if we can do these discussions without accusing people of secret bad motives.


zarq: The same people pipe up on the same topic (rape accusations) with the same perspective on both sides. I feel it's unhelpful to accuse people of trolling when you disagree with them.

If you can't understand their point of view, that's one thing. But that doesn't mean they're being manipulative and commenting in bad faith.


Maybe, but I get the feeling that if you've been shown proof over and over again on the likelihood of false accusations or the burden of proof in sexual assaults, repeated assertions to the contrary just seem disingenuous. And when it's done by people who have a history of conflating unrelated arguments or continually misreading the room on the same topics over and over again, it raises red flags for me.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:51 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Honestly, the idea that sexual abuse is considered a contentious issue on MetaFilter that involves "taking sides" says less about the topic itself and more about the fact that we have a contingent of toxic members that prevents us from discussing these things in a constructive, adult manner.

I just want to politely disagree, again.

In this Meta alone we have posts from several long-time members who are decidedly non-toxic, with a very long history of positive contributions to the site, who are saying things that can be construed as "taking the wrong side," so to speak.

I don't think this is a situation where everyone needs to think and say the same thing, and everyone needs to be concerned about certain things and not concerned about others, or else they are a toxic person.
posted by cairdeas at 10:54 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


the idea that sexual abuse is considered a contentious issue

That brings forth imagery of people divided over whether sexual abuse is a good or bad thing, which I don't think matches what goes on.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


Honestly, the idea that sexual abuse is considered a contentious issue on MetaFilter that involves "taking sides"

This makes it sound as if there is disagreement on Metafilter as to whether or not sexual abuse is a bad thing. I'm pretty sure that's not the case, and not at all what anybody here is saying.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


The first response by a moderator in this thread defended deleting threads on this topic by saying, "I don't think we need to jump to post it as a bare link that doesn't offer more for discussion than people taking one side or the other". I'm not pulling this language out of my butt.
posted by threeants at 10:59 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


And I'm not criticizing taz per se either; I think her read is fairly realistic in many ways, even if it's not the response I would have had or would have preferred a mod to have had. I'm pointing out that the community context leading to this state of affairs is somewhat fucked-up.
posted by threeants at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Taking sides" in this context is not taking sides on the question of whether sexual abuse in general happens, or is wrong. I haven't seen any disagreement over that.

It's taking sides on whether to believe an individual person's report -- or taking sides on some other specific question like that -- or feeling as if there's a pro-Mia Farrow camp and an anti-Mia Farrow camp or whatever.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:04 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: I didn't want to ask in the thread 'cause its already kinda crappy, but I don't understand the inforgraphic you posted. It shows the rate of false accusations as 1/1250 or 0.08%(!) and claims even that is an overestimation. But then below it says that the data shows the rate of false accusations is between 2-8%. Which means the infographic is off by a factor of something like 100 by its own measure.

Hell, Amanda Marcotte (the author of the piece you linked) even says that infographic is misleading and needs to be fixed. So it seems like you probably shouldn't link to an article which says that the very infographic in that article is incorrect and should be fixed?
posted by Justinian at 11:06 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


On one side we have reason; on the other, emotion. The two will never coexist.
posted by Ardiril at 11:07 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't get me wrong threeants, I also found that troubling.

But I think for many of people who have posted, when they are "taking one side or the other," it's not that they are taking sides on whether or not rape and child abuse are okay, or ever happen.

Yes, there were a bunch of winking, knowing comments in the thread about "women scorned" and women who want revenge in contentious divorces. And there were a bunch of comments to the effect of how accusations of child abuse are the new witch hysteria.

Those comments, in my opinion, sucked.

But a lot of other people brought up issues that were not just that kind of inanity.

Here are some of the issues I saw people bring up:

-What do we think when someone has already been investigated on this issue by law enforcement, and law enforcement has come to the opposite conclusion?

-How do we know who to believe when two people say opposite things and there are serious consequences at stake for each?

-What are the ethics around believing/disbelieving a particular person's account of an event, when you were not there to see it, and it happened decades into the past?

-How should we treat a person who has been accused of a serious crime, whether we believe he is guilty, or whether we believe that he is not guilty -- when the accusation hasn't be proven or maybe is not provable?

Those are just a few. I think those are all legitimate things to discuss. I think a desire to discuss them is not wrong and is not toxic.

And I think that there is space to bring up these issues. I think that when we tamp them down, sometimes, it makes people even more frantic and they become even more worried and freaked out, and strident. If there is a time and a place to discuss these things, then, we can't always say every single time that this is not the time and it is not the place.

P.S. I could not care less about either Mia Farrow or Woody Allen, personally.
posted by cairdeas at 11:11 AM on February 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's taking sides on whether to believe an individual person's report

Ok, but what I'm saying is that yes, it reflects poorly on us that a topic like this is considered to inherently invoke a "taking sides on whether to believe" discussion in the first place. This conversation always dominates the other conversations. The same people always make every discussion peripheral to sexual abuse a "taking sides on whether to believe" discussion.
posted by threeants at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


This conversation always dominates the other conversations.

That, I do agree with.
posted by cairdeas at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2014


zombieflanders: " Maybe, but I get the feeling that if you've been shown proof over and over again on the likelihood of false accusations or the burden of proof in sexual assaults, repeated assertions to the contrary just seem disingenuous. And when it's done by people who have a history of conflating unrelated arguments or continually misreading the room on the same topics over and over again, it raises red flags for me."

I get that. But when a person wants to believe something, they may ignore or handwave away evidence that proves it wrong. On emotional topics, people are unlikely to stay dispassionate and keep a wholly open mind. They walk into a thread with a certain amount of baggage and assumptions and that's the foundation from which they comment.

The simple truth is, (and I say this as someone who truly believes Dylan Farrow was sexually assaulted by Woody Allen,) the details of the Farrow case aren't enough for an airtight conviction in a court of law or the court of opinion. In this case, there's nothing that can be proved. The likelihood of her giving false testimony will be colored in some minds by the fact that she has already given conflicting testimony, and that people suspect she was coached by her adoptive mother. It is impossible to point to what we know about this case and say without a shadow of a doubt that Woody Allen molested Dylan Farrow. So people are likely to come down on both sides. Some will say it happened. Some will say it won't

Also, if people don't know or believe the history and overall pattern of child self-reporting for abuse and sexual assault, then they're likely to think that all children react to being raped the same way an adult might, and expect them to disclose in a certain way and time frame to the police and medical authorities.
Certain concepts:
- that kids don't have an adult's coping mechanisms
- that there are different dynamics at play than when one adult rapes another
- that sexual abuse cases involving children usually only involve a single witness: the child, who may not have the ability to understand or properly verbalize what has been done to them
...are all things that may have to be explained to be understood by outsiders, and even then can be hard to wrap one's head around.
posted by zarq at 11:14 AM on February 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


The legal presumption of innocence is not the same thing as assuming all reports of crime are false, if it were, no crimes would ever be investigated or prosecuted. The idea that reporting a crime or taking any such reports seriously is automatically a violation of the rights of the accused is something that only comes up with allegations of sexual assault.

The presumption of innocence in the US court system means that person should not be punished unless they have been found guilty by a court. It does not mean that all allegations of wrong-doing are false.
posted by nangar at 11:18 AM on February 2, 2014 [19 favorites]


cairdeas, I don't disagree that those are potentially interesting topics. But I guess I would feel a lot more comfortable with them if 1) it didn't seem like the same people always trotted them out regardless of the situation in question and 2) they didn't suck all the air out of the room.

also:

it's not that they are taking sides on whether or not rape and child abuse are okay, or ever happen.


I really feel that people who set the bar farcically high for even entertaining the possibility of a rape allegation's veracity are de facto saying rape is okay or doesn't ever happen. I apologize if that sounds inflammatory. But there really are people on MetaFilter who seem to need to see a document signed by a Justice of the Peace bearing witness to a rape before being willing to discuss anything related to the topic in good faith.
posted by threeants at 11:21 AM on February 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hell, Amanda Marcotte (the author of the piece you linked) even says that infographic is misleading and needs to be fixed. So it seems like you probably shouldn't link to an article which says that the very infographic in that article is incorrect and should be fixed?

I meant it to be about the problems with terminology and the article's point about current viewpoints (as opposed to those who would tend to agree with the infographic), but in retrospect there's probably a better link.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:22 AM on February 2, 2014


"The presumption of innocence in the US court system means that person should not be punished unless they have been found guilty by a court."

Since courts are the medium by which society has agreed to determine veracity, then that presumption of innocence must extend out to society. Individuals can disagree, but the social mechanism (here, MeFi discussions) must proceed without meting punishment.
posted by Ardiril at 11:23 AM on February 2, 2014


I really feel that people who set the bar farcically high for even entertaining the possibility of a rape allegation's veracity are de facto saying rape is okay or doesn't ever happen. I apologize if that sounds inflammatory. But there really are people on MetaFilter who seem to need to see a document signed by a Justice of the Peace bearing witness to a rape before being willing to discuss anything related to the topic in good faith.

Absolutely. I agree with you there, that definitely does happen.
posted by cairdeas at 11:23 AM on February 2, 2014


Ardiril: Since courts are the medium by which society has agreed to determine veracity, then that presumption of innocence must extend out to society. Individuals can disagree, but the social mechanism (here, MeFi discussions) must move on without meting punishment.

That is your opinion, which you are entitled to, but other intelligent and reasonable people disagree.
posted by cairdeas at 11:25 AM on February 2, 2014


"other intelligent and reasonable people disagree" - I said that individuals can disagree. That is fine. However, Society (with a capital S) must choose one method or the other, courts or mob.
posted by Ardiril at 11:28 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


And there were a bunch of comments to the effect of how accusations of child abuse are the new witch hysteria.

Those comments, in my opinion, sucked.


I'm about halfway through the thread now, and came back here to see what might be going on. Interesting that the "new witch hysteria" is being discussed right now. For what it's worth, the position I'm seeing being put forth is not that Farrow's allegations are akin to witchcraft allegations, but ...

If the uncorroborated testimony of children is powerful enough to convict people of something that is imaginary, then shouldn't we be worried about the power of uncorroborated testimony of children with respect to offenses that do exist? How can we trust something (using the corroborated testimony of children) that has been shown to have such an effect on jurors?

this is a relevant point and goes a long way to my thinking that (so far) that thread is going remarkably well. Certainly better than I imagined. So far, people are mostly showing restraint, mostly keeping to stuff that can actually be rationally discussed with some degree of civility, mostly not taking personal shots.

I've certainly learned a thing or two.
posted by philip-random at 11:29 AM on February 2, 2014


> On one side we have reason; on the other, emotion. The two will never coexist.

I think it's more like: 'on one side we have emotion; on the other side we have emotion'.
posted by nangar at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2014 [14 favorites]


I said that individuals can disagree. That is fine. However, Society (with a capital S) must choose one method or the other, courts or mob.

Intelligent and reasonable people can disagree with you on what Society with a capital S must or must not do, the difference between criminal punishment and social consequences, the purposes of a court process, the legitimacy of holding opinions on factual matters that were not handed down by a jury or judge, and the number of options available to Society,
posted by cairdeas at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


A court by any other name is still a court. See also, jingle-jangle fallacies.
posted by Ardiril at 11:34 AM on February 2, 2014


I guess what frustrates me is the handful of disingenuous people who recurrently pop up in these threads being all, "I totally almost believed this...until [random nitpick]!", where a review of their posting record would show them to be, for all intents and purposes, rape denialists.
posted by threeants at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


I dislike these deletions because Dylan Farrow's piece should actually be center stage here, not some piece on Mia Farrow, the blogosphere's commentary, etc. All that belongs below the fold or in comments.

We need a better way to handle threads with contentious primary links : Comments that collect enough flags quickly enough could become invisible until a moderator either approves or deletes them. Any comments that appears to quote a hidden or deleted comment could receive an automated warning, which lets them rethink entering that debate.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:38 AM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ardiril's been a Heinlein Markov bot this whole time.
posted by bleep-blop at 11:40 AM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


My shrink would probably agree. ;-P
posted by Ardiril at 11:42 AM on February 2, 2014


Comments that collect enough flags quickly enough could become invisible until a moderator either approves or deletes them.

Non-starter. Suggestions that take into account the way this site actually runs would be useful to discuss.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:46 AM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm lucky that my molester wasn't famous.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:08 PM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, not that anything about that is lucky, but...

Just judging from what happens when a "pillar of the community" molests someone and is accused, in podunk, the experience of accusing a beloved celebrity is hard to fathom.
posted by cairdeas at 12:22 PM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


The legal presumption of innocence is not the same thing as assuming all reports of crime are false, if it were, no crimes would ever be investigated or prosecuted. The idea that reporting a crime or taking any such reports seriously is automatically a violation of the rights of the accused is something that only comes up with allegations of sexual assault.

The presumption of innocence in the US court system means that person should not be punished unless they have been found guilty by a court. It does not mean that all allegations of wrong-doing are false.


THANK YOU. When a suspect is being investigated for, say, murder, investigators proceed on the assumption that he or she is just as likely to be guilty as innocent, and proceed accordingly. It's only in the case of rape or child abuse that everybody tiptoes around and won't even entertain even the slightest potential possibility of guilt until after conviction.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:30 PM on February 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


Comments that are not about how MetaFilter deals with this really need to be in one of the open threads and not here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on February 2, 2014


A court by any other name is still a court.

This is probably the dumbest comment you've made in this thread so far. Metafilter threads? They're courts! Talking with friends? Also a court! Any time an opinion is expressed, well buddy, you got yourself a court right there! And really, aren't we all courts, each in their own way?
posted by Greg Nog at 1:03 PM on February 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'll ramble for a moment here :

I rarely ever post stories like the Dylan Farrow piece, stories of rape, police brutality, etc. on my own personal twitter or facebook feeds for not-wholly-dissimilar reasons to why they aren't posted here. I'm not explicitly worried about folks fighting on those feeds, but truthfully stories about individuals are in a way "small news".

The real story is always the systematic nature of the abuse, wether it is rape, police brutality, etc. And here Dylan Farrow interaction with other abuse victims too. Such "aggregate stories" are what's interesting and people should discuss. Sadly, the world turns more on "small news" rather than aggregates.

Imho, the tragedy is that interesting aggregate stories, studies, etc. get ignored, deleted, etc., including ones dispassionate enough for reasonable discussion, just because the media, mefi, etc. "does not do X well".

My own personal compromise is to subscribe to twitter feeds, facebook pages, etc. that report on abuses the media, mefi, etc. "does not do well". I probably won't retweet all that "small news", but at least one more set of eyes sees it, and those sources always post the most interesting studies, aggregate stories, etc. that won't easily appear in the media, mefi, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:03 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I couldn't find a twitter for Dylan Farrow, but @rapevictimadv looks good, so followed.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:26 PM on February 2, 2014


If celebriies have any valid uses at all, and I think they certainly do, those would have to include the way their status magnifies whatever they do so much that a whole society can get the chance to work out how it feels about-- and what it should do about-- complex issues through them, and I believe that's what's happening right now with Allen and Farrow.

And I very much appreciate the opportunity to see how this community does that and to participate in it.
posted by jamjam at 2:08 PM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


jeffburdges: " The real story is always the systematic nature of the abuse, wether it is rape, police brutality, etc. And here Dylan Farrow interaction with other abuse victims too. Such "aggregate stories" are what's interesting and people should discuss. Sadly, the world turns more on "small news" rather than aggregates. "

Multiple stories are a statistic. Systemic abuse is a tragedy, but harder for the general public to understand on a visceral level.

"I am a young woman who was raped in my attic by my famous adoptive father when I was only seven years old" makes it very personal. Hard to ignore.

The New York Times could print thousands upon thousands of powerful, first-person stories from child rape, child abuse or adult rape victims. Dylan Farrow has a famous father, so they printed hers. I agree with you that we should be concentrating on aggregate stories. But this one editorial could conceivably spur a wider conversation and that's a good thing, no?
posted by zarq at 2:11 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree. Just explaining why I take note but rarely repost this sort of thing.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:07 PM on February 2, 2014


this sort of thing.

I'm not sure how many ways we can tell people to not make this MeTa post into a MeFi-post-by-proxy.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:13 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Would you believe all the sites are white and I can't tell 'em apart? No?
posted by zarq at 3:29 PM on February 2, 2014


I really feel that people who set the bar farcically high for even entertaining the possibility of a rape allegation's veracity are de facto saying rape is okay or doesn't ever happen.

You may feel that way, but it's not true. People who want to see evidence that a crime was committed before they believe it do not believe that said crime was never committed. Insisting that they do is the definition of bad faith.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:52 PM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can you guys remove the ability to comment on the Gray but not, say, the Blue? That would be useful for people who can't help posting in the wrong subsite. If not, maybe a good pony?
posted by Justinian at 4:00 PM on February 2, 2014


We can't and it's probably a can of worms we don't want to open.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:55 PM on February 2, 2014


Justinian: "Can you guys remove the ability to comment on the Gray but not, say, the Blue? That would be useful for people who can't help posting in the wrong subsite. If not, maybe a good pony?"

Holy shit, what a horrible idea. That would actually legitimize the "SILENCED ALL MY LIFE" trope. Seriously — how could it possibly work out well to tell somebody (whose behavior is apparently already at least borderline problematic or just-not-getting-it, or they wouldn't be being considered for partial-banning) "you can't post on the subsite that's dedicated to discussing how this place works, what's okay and what's not okay, and how members of the community think things ought to be done"?

If somebody is allowed to be a contributing member of MeFi at all, I think it's essentially that they be allowed to participate in MeTa.

(Glad to see that mod opinion is apparently "this is a non-starter".)
posted by Lexica at 6:38 PM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bah. My pony is dead :(
posted by Justinian at 6:51 PM on February 2, 2014


I'm not sure how we can do this better, but I will say I'm super squicked by that Daily Beast article and the way people are talking about speaking out about sexual assault as "tabloid bs."
posted by corb at 6:52 PM on February 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


i think they were good deletions, absolutely outrage filter. also, very easy to find on the internet, there's no need to also post it here. this is a case of "what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:10 PM on February 2, 2014


Who is the goose and who is the gander there?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:11 PM on February 2, 2014


And who's good?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:23 PM on February 2, 2014


You mean what's good? I'm not clear on that either, and I usually understand immediately the nuanced points cupcake1337 brings to the table.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:28 PM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


I guess you, BB, might be the gander. The other posts were the geese. And what's good is deletion?
posted by Drinky Die at 8:29 PM on February 2, 2014


Duuude, the bait, it's got a hook in it, don't eat it.
posted by cairdeas at 8:31 PM on February 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


I consider cupcake1337 a valued participant on the site and in these discussions, his perspective is a very important point of consideration for me even though it seems I may disagree on this particular topic.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:33 PM on February 2, 2014


Seriously, please don't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:33 PM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to say to everyone who posted in the thread so far that I really appreciated the chance to read that conversation. It was a very complex, thoughtful conversation with a large number of high quality comments. For what it was about, I would not be surprised if it had among the least amount of hostility and hatred for any discussion of this particular piece on a large internet site or media outlet. Many people were clearly doing their very best. I think that it has been worth it.
posted by cairdeas at 9:02 PM on February 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think it went mostly as I expected it to - a couple of people surprised me, but mostly it was a starkly drawn line of either you completely believed Dylan Farrow or you didn't, and anything that didn't fit your thesis would get dismissed and attacked.

The non-boycott boycotts weren't a surprise, either, the number of people who were quick to add that they never liked his works and would never see one of his movies, like it's a sacrifice if you weren't going to anyway.

I was glad that the actual accusing other posters of condoning rape was deleted, and though there was a bucketload of insinuation that if you had any doubts or questions about how things happened that you were a driving contributor to rape culture, that's not quite as harsh, nor flaggable.

It felt like it became 'you're either with us, or you condone child rape, including my own sexual abuse' very quickly, but there was still room for some nuanced exchanges in places. So maybe not a total loss of a thread - and looking less likely to cause flameouts than I thought - but still a thread I didn't personally feel was necessary to have, specifically, here. 'Slightly better than expected' doesn't equal 'great thread' to me.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:08 PM on February 2, 2014 [11 favorites]


My god, coming into work today, reading this thread, reading the thread on the blue. This is a sad day for metafilter. Today I have read some of the worst comments ever made on this site.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:55 AM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


cairdeas: "I just wanted to say to everyone who posted in the thread so far that I really appreciated the chance to read that conversation. It was a very complex, thoughtful conversation with a large number of high quality comments.

And many of them were yours. Thank you for that.

You, xarnop, divabat and many other folks wrote quite eloquent and heartfelt comments in that thread. It was appreciated.
posted by zarq at 7:32 AM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "Today I have read some of the worst comments ever made on this site."

One of the things some parents say is a person can't really know what being a parent is like until they have kids. I don't know if that's true, but it was for me personally. Looking back I can honestly say I had no clue.

I tend to think similarly about this topic. Being a child, enduring sexual abuse and then having to process that as a kid is a unique experience that can't really be accurately compared to anything else. Where being helpless, not fully understanding the world of adults and obeying authority is an inherent part of childhood: your toolset for dealing with such things is limited and must be learned. Then as an adult having to deal with what happened to you back then is a completely different experience. You have questions that simply cannot be resolved logically. Feelings of guilt and self-blame are extremely common.

The entire situation is unique enough that I think if a person hasn't been through it themselves it can be hard to mentally grasp how kids and adult survivors deal with it. Process it. Every kid handles it differently. There's no predictable roadmap. Logic fails us here. Intellectually, a person may get it. Emotionally, I'm not so sure.

So people who were not abused as children may have difficulty getting what it's like to be someone who was. They may not understand why, for example, telling people that their memories of trauma aren't trustworthy might be viewed as an attack. Child abuse, especially when it involves rape by a parent / authority figure, can alter your entire worldview.

We shouldn't excuse comments that victim-blame. But at the same time I wonder how many comments in that thread were simply due to a impossibly-large gap in understanding.
posted by zarq at 7:50 AM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


But this one editorial could conceivably spur a wider conversation and that's a good thing, no?

No. Because it's a famous, shaky case involving famous people going through a breakup from 20 years ago and tabloid gossip, and the whole thing feeds into the celebrity gossip/shallow entertainment newz machine. (For similar reasons, I loathe the "I will bring up Polanski as the monster we can all agree on" thing I see on the Internet. Like that's a recent case, and that Polanski movies from the past few years are breaking box office records. It's a Cult of Celebrity thing, only with a different slant.)
posted by raysmj at 8:02 AM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


We shouldn't excuse comments that victim-blame. But at the same time I wonder how many comments in that thread were simply due to a impossibly-large gap in understanding.

It's horrifyingly depressing that survivors of rape and sexual abuse might have to add their concerns to the "101" conversation about FPPs.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:11 AM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry that I de-meta'ed the conversation. This is a hot-button issue for me.

I try to attribute the apparent refusal of many members of this site to even try to put themselves in the shoes of those of us who have been molested to mere thoughtlessness or ignorance, but some here are outright callous with their victim-blaming. That's much harder for me to forgive.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:38 AM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I try to attribute the apparent refusal of many members of this site to even try to put themselves in the shoes of those of us who have been molested to mere thoughtlessness, but some here are outright callous with their victim-blaming. That's much harder for me to forgive.

If you truly believe that this is the failing people are displaying in this thread and the other, if you really think that people are lacking any empathy to see things from your perspective and experience because they wish to blame the victim, or for that matter that anyone in either thread is honestly blaming the seven-year-old girl for these circumstances, I cannot fathom why you would still regard this as a website worth spending time on.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:43 AM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: " It's horrifyingly depressing that survivors of rape and sexual abuse might have to add their concerns to the "101" conversation about FPPs."

Yes.

But better that someone not have the personal experience and find it difficult to relate, than the reverse.
posted by zarq at 9:57 AM on February 3, 2014


gadge emeritus, you might have missed the comments which said that accusations of sexual molestation were the modern day Salem Witch trials, because of how often children lie. And the comments that said Dylan was possibly brainwashed by the one parent who stood up for her.

The brainwashing comments, at least, don't directly blame Dylan. But I think that if you have never been in a situation, as a child, where bad things are being done to you, and you are aggressively branded as a liar, as a fabulist, as an attention-seeker, as someone with an overactive imagination, it is hard to imagine the panic and distress that creates. When I was a child, I developed extreme anxiety and eating disorders because of how often and how much I was getting hit. I was repeatedly told what an attention seeking liar I was as my weight dropped below 80 lbs (at a height of over 5 feet) and my hair was falling out.

The one time I can recall in which an adult outside of the entire situation directly, assertively, and very bravely stood up for me, she was branded as a drunk degenerate.

I cannot fathom why you would still regard this as a website worth spending time on.

In life, there are people who disagree with us, don't understand, have a different perspective to us, or even attack us. That is just life. If I didn't think it was worth spending time in that kind of environment, I'd have to find a new planet.
posted by cairdeas at 10:07 AM on February 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


The downside to having threads about topics that are hotly controversial is that people will usually show up and make comments in them that create and provoke controversy. This is how it works. I do not, at all, begrudge people who don't like to have those sorts of conversations or who find them upsetting or otherwise not their cup of tea. I will, however, continually remind people that expecting MetaFilter to be different from how it is and has basically always been is not something that we-as-mods can actually do much about and something that it's difficult for the community to approach as a whole because it requires a sort of consistency of thought that is difficult enough to find in a single person, much less in a group of disparate individuals with different life experiences.

My experience, and I may be quite privileged to have this be the case, is that once I became an adult people were awful to me mostly only online, and mostly decent to me in real life. In real life it's easy to see the shitty outlier comments as very much not reflecting a sort of consensual reality but only one cruddy person's bad thoughts (no matter how loudly they proclaim them) because you can see everyone else making a sort of "hey man not cool" face (or not, again this has been my experience) in a way that you can't online.

People's stickiness surrounding bad comments is also something that affects how people interact with and enjoy/dislike their experiences here. I often joke that one of the things that makes me decent at my job here is that I have a limited memory for specific awful comments but just a general hand-wavey "yeah that person likes to press buttons" "Yeah those two people don't get along" which means that a lot of the moderation here isn't grudge based, or we try not to make it that way anyhow.

I know it's challenging for people and I know the challenges can be harder when people have been through some shit and suspect that other people either can't or won't understand. Helping people understand in whatever way we know how to do, within the limits of the guidelines here, is a big chunk of what I feel like this site's purpose it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:24 AM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


Actually, I posted one of those witch trials comments, just in that I asked whether I was the only person who had been taught The Crucible in high school and told to draw parallels between it and communism and accusations of child abuse. Except for the one guy saying he used it as a trial strategy (which, what the hell?) the parallels drawn were completely different from saying (paraphrased) 'witches don't exist, so child abuse doesn't exist', no matter how many times other commenters got outraged and claimed that is what was meant.

The brainwashing comments came because of several suggestions, including from doctors at the time and one from one of the other Farrow children, that there had been anywhere from guiding to brainwashing of Dylan in the getting of her testimony. They were, again, not blanket (again, paraphrased) 'children with abuse claims are mostly coerced into lying' statements, even though that is how they were painted.

And again, you are doing what a number of people in the thread were doing, which is saying, in effect, 'this horrible thing happened to me, which means if you doubt any aspect of what Dylan Farrow said then you are doubting me and all children who ever were abused'. It's some kind of awful appeal to authority of experience, and it doesn't promote a sharing of experience as much as using it as a cudgel to say I Am Right and You Are Wrong.

The reason I cannot fathom why someone would stay on the site if they believed what double block and bleed said is that it would make MetaFilter akin to many of the dregs of Reddit or b or any other place where even a veneer of respectability is obscuring posters just dying to deny that abuse exists and to, apparently, do it to belittle all abuse survivors they encounter. I don't agree with that assessment, but if I did think that of people in that thread? I can't see why you'd stay.

As you say, in life people disagree with us. But as often happens online, in this case if you disagree you're not just wrong, but you are a Bad Person who Isn't Properly Condemning Child Abuse. That's... about what I expected from the thread, and it's giving that in spades.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:29 AM on February 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


But I think that if you have never been in a situation, as a child, where bad things are being done to you, and you are aggressively branded as a liar, as a fabulist, as an attention-seeker, as someone with an overactive imagination, it is hard to imagine the panic and distress that creates.

Summary of the first conversation between my mother and the school principal:

Him: She’s just making it up to get attention; you know how little girls are.

Her: Here’s the doctor’s report, showing that the bruising and swelling were so bad she needed a catheter.

Him: Well, if it DID happen, and I’m not stipulating it did, then it must have happened at home. I’m going to call CPS and turn you in for child abuse.

Her: Here’s the second page of the doctor’s report that dates the bruises to the time when she was in school; you can check it against your attendance records.

And that’s when the REAL ugliness got started. Even though I was "lucky" enough to have physical evidence left on me, I can count on less than the fingers of one hand the number of people who didn't bend over backwards to try to handwave the whole thing away or, at the very least, into my own lap or my mother's.

You know, I've done a lot of healing, and this incident is hardly the defining moment of my life or even the worst thing that's ever happened to me. But it was a big lesson early on in the Just World Phenomenon, and in not trusting authority further than you can piss on them.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:29 AM on February 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


And again, you are doing what a number of people in the thread were doing, which is saying, in effect, 'this horrible thing happened to me, which means if you doubt any aspect of what Dylan Farrow said then you are doubting me and all children who ever were abused'. It's some kind of awful appeal to authority of experience, and it doesn't promote a sharing of experience as much as using it as a cudgel to say I Am Right and You Are Wrong.

Hey, gadge emeritus? I'm not doing that. That's not my intention in any way.

The person who actually wrote the comment is telling you that she is not saying that about you.

I am trying to explain my own point of view, nothing more.
posted by cairdeas at 10:34 AM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jessamyn makes a valid point. One of the advantages of having hung around for eons is that over time, people's personalities shine through, regardless of the words and rebuttals and hand waving that may go on. You can only put on a face for so long before your true thoughts shine clearly through.
posted by infini at 10:39 AM on February 3, 2014


And the comments that said Dylan was possibly brainwashed by the one parent who stood up for her. The brainwashing comments, at least,

My understanding is that one of Dylan Farrow's siblings said they were brainwashed by Mia Farrow. While bringing up brainwashing unprompted may be a sure sign of denial, victim-blaming or misogyny in a "generic" abuse case, that doesn't seem to be what's going on here.
posted by spaltavian at 10:51 AM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The person who actually wrote the comment is telling you that she is not saying that about you.

Hey, I know none of this is about me. This isn't a personal attack - or defence. I don't even think it's necessarily the intent. But in a thread like that one? With the information presented to us? How are you supposed to respond to someone writing these multi-paragraph descriptions of horrible events that happened to them? Beyond the standard "Bloody hell I'm sorry that happened to you," and if it's not clear, I am very sorry all these horrible things happened to you, and to everyone else who shared their story. But those who disagreed that the letter had to be believed, 100% no exceptions, were by strong inference being put in the category of abuse-deniers, much like those who had hurt fellow posters in the past.

It doesn't mean you (and this is all generic you) know what happened here. Naturally, it informs your perspective - how could it not. But it doesn't actually give you the information, it just affects which information you'll give more weight to, whether you'll listen to anyone who isn't sure of what happened or dismiss them all as fanboys or enthralled by the patriarchy defending another monster, whether you'll listen to all the siblings or accept only the one who fully supports his sister, or the one who believes there was brainwashing involved being raised by Mia Farrow. Whether the writer in The Daily Beast is horrible, or the writer for Vanity Fair is horrible.

But still that certainty, and epithets, and extreme bad-faith assumptions of other posters, and the decrying of the state of MetaFilter - all that happened, as it was always going to. Because this is a specific case with specific evidence and specific material to look at and judge, and it is being (unfairly, in my opinion) being held as a metonymy of how MeFites regard child abuse in general.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:01 AM on February 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


gadge emeritus, you might have missed the comments which said that accusations of sexual molestation were the modern day Salem Witch trials, because of how often children lie.

No one said that. They made the comparison because:
1) Many people (including at least one deleted commentor in that thread) proudly assert that they will always believe accusations of molestation, whatever the evidence. Therefore people accessed of sexual molestation are put in the position of proving their innocence to those unwilling to be convinced
2 In very recent memory, many people were harshly punished- both by public opinion and the legal system- for accusations of molestation that were fishy at the time, and ultimately proved entirely false.

Repeatedly insisting people said things they didn't say is a bad way to approach a topic.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:21 AM on February 3, 2014


I think part of what's going on with those comments detailing abuse and the hostile response children receive when they say they were abused is an attempt to center the survivor and prevent her from being silenced by virtue of being ignored. Woody Allen, Mia and Ronan Farrow, they all matter but the heart of the post is Dylan Farrow's letter, her words and her pleas. There were so many attempts to dismiss the relevance of the letter to the story and some of those dismissals echoed ways child abuse survivors are usually dismissed.

It also seems like Dylan Farrow was being treated as a child still, and thus easily dismissed as brainwashed or troubled and thus not to be listened to, whereas there was very little in the letter to indicate anything other than a sound in mind adult woman putting her experience out there. So I think a lot of the responses from child abuse survivors sharing their experiences that might read as attempts to silence people were actually just focusing the response to the story on a survivor-centered perspective. Also, there were survivors in the thread who did not believe Dylan but still focused on her and why they didn't buy it.

This is not to say that nothing else can be discussed but the words in the letter, but that is the focus of the FPP (along with the art/artist aspect that I thought went well in comments) so bringing up all these other people needs to be done carefully in a way that was not glibly dismissive.
posted by Danila at 11:26 AM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


many people were harshly punished-

As all the evidence actually shows, this is simply not the case, in any fashion, that false accusations are rampant, frequent, or common.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:27 AM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


How are you supposed to respond to

This is the fundamental error - that we must of course respond. That we must of course comment, that our comments are useful, or interesting, or enlightening.

The ability to comment is available, not mandatory.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:40 AM on February 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: " 1) Many people (including at least one deleted commentor in that thread) proudly assert that they will always believe accusations of molestation, whatever the evidence. Therefore people accessed of sexual molestation are put in the position of proving their innocence to those unwilling to be convinced"

Taking people who accuse others of abuse or molestation seriously is a good thing, in my humble opinion. This comment from xarnop was a good one:
What many of us have found in supporting survivors is that this common combination of traits that occur when people are accused results in a society that breeds and supports abusers who manage to operate without interference from the law. To counter that, on the community level, many of us have grown to take a survivor focused response to accusations-- when we can't know either way, we will support the survivors story and ensure they feel safe in their community. This counter balances the fact that the courts fail to convict many known abusers and such people live among us. So yes, the courts will favor innocent until proven guilty but I think it's healthy for communities to take into consideration accusations of abuse and take them seriously in further dealings with the accused to look out for the vulnerable and stand in support of those who may have been harmed.

posted by zarq at 11:44 AM on February 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


This comment from xarnop was a good one

That comment by xarnop, alone, could have made it worthwhile for us all to discuss this issue.
posted by cairdeas at 11:56 AM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Many people (including at least one deleted commentor in that thread) proudly assert that they will always believe accusations of molestation, whatever the evidence[...]Repeatedly insisting people said things they didn't say is a bad way to approach a topic.

You're doing that thing again, the one where you do exactly what you criticize others for doing. In that thread, I saw people saying they're willing to give more weight to the accuser's accounts. I saw people saying that Dylan's account resonates with them as victims of abuse. I saw people pouring out their lived experiences and how awful the cries for evidence and witnesses in actions intended to leave no evidence and be conducted where there are no witnesses. I saw people say how hard it is to be thought of as a liar because they didn't speak up at the "right" time or to the "right" people, often authority figures. I can't speak for the deleted comment(s), but I don't see this pattern happening how you described it, and I certainly don't see anybody that's proud of it.

Repeatedly insisting people said things they didn't say is a bad way to approach a topic.

Yes, it is.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:24 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't really have an answer for this, but this is just a note that I was one of two or three people in a thread of dozens the other week that had a different opinion than everyone else. It wasn't an especially offensive or disrespectful opinion, I think, just different and specific to my life and experiences. And I came out of it a little shellshocked by how vehemently people disagreed with me and sort of insinuated that I was a bad person for believing what I believed.

It seems like about 80 or 90 percent of the people in the main thread (including, by the way, me) feel one way, and a minority of people feel another. I understand wanting to argue the logic or emotional impact of things, and I do this all the time, including in that thread, but I wonder if maybe the minority doesn't have to be crushed into oblivion or brought around to everyone else's way of thinking and we can still have a good conversation. Not that people are trying to do that, and I understand this is exactly what cairdeas was arguing upthread. We are all just arguing our own points of view and quibbling over the small areas where we're not on common ground. I don't know how to argue my side, as part of the majority, without sort of crushing the other side with the weight of 10 comments to 1. I mean, when it was me on the other side of this, I felt like shit just looking at the hundreds of favorites the other side was racking up. Just sometimes I wish MetaFilter was less "You're wrong!" "No, you're wrong" and more "I disagree with you but I think you're view is interesting because [blah]."

So maybe I will go and try to leave a "I disagree with you but" comment in the main thread.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:52 PM on February 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


"I believe the woman who says her father sexually assaulted her. Every time. I don't care if someone hands me a million reasons why it might not have happened. I will never care about that. I believe the woman who says she has been sexually assaulted."

posted by shmegegge at 5:33 PM on February 2


For what it's worth -- not much, I know -- that seems to be along the line of what ThatFuzzyBastard was discussing.

- - -

Moderators: was the allowance of both I/P (or rather, SodaStream) and sexual abuse FPPs on the same day related to it being Super Sunday? It seems that you were willing to take on quite a challenge, and I appreciate it very much.
posted by mr. digits at 1:09 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


It was, to be certain, super.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:10 PM on February 3, 2014


*jaw drops*

SodaStream's main factory is in the West Bank?! And they're an Israeli company?!
posted by zarq at 1:20 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


!!! Let's throw a net over this detour and relocate it before it spawns, eh?
posted by cairdeas at 1:35 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


was the allowance of both I/P (or rather, SodaStream) and sexual abuse FPPs on the same day related to it being Super Sunday?

How the hell should we know? Please jehu, do not start talking about the I/P thread in this thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:38 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth -- not much, I know -- that seems to be along the line of what ThatFuzzyBastard was discussing.

Which is neither "many people" nor "proudly asserting," which is in line with my criticisms of that characterization.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:41 PM on February 3, 2014


Moderators: was the allowance of both I/P (or rather, SodaStream) and sexual abuse FPPs on the same day related to it being Super Sunday?

FUMBLE!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 PM on February 3, 2014


That was indeed the comment I had in mind. It was quite a proud assertion, stated forthrightly and without shilly-shallying, and it mirrored the sentiments of many, including xanocorp's much-loved comment.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:51 PM on February 3, 2014


including xanocorp's much-loved comment.

I honestly don't know if this is an auto-correct issue or what, but we do not have a user named xanocorp
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:58 PM on February 3, 2014


I wish the existing post had never been made, and a new one centering around this that maybe included the other links from the existing post as context on the "more inside" could be made.

Do i think this desperately needs to be posted on its own? no, it should go in the existing thread. Do i wish the current thread had centered around this and not the "can you separate an artist from their work?" framing about Mr. Allen? yes, because i think that was a shitty way to approach this whole thing and created a lot of dumb-assed discussion and a giant longboat thread of people saying outrageous shit like the whole witch trials derail(which sounded like something STRAIGHT out of reddits mensrights section).

cairdeas: The brainwashing comments, at least, don't directly blame Dylan. But I think that if you have never been in a situation, as a child, where bad things are being done to you, and you are aggressively branded as a liar, as a fabulist, as an attention-seeker, as someone with an overactive imagination, it is hard to imagine the panic and distress that creates.

I think this is, -and i rarely use this term since i think it is both often misused or used as a club-, a gigantic display of privelege if you do not have vivid childhood memories of this sort of thing.

Gadge emeritus: But still that certainty, and epithets, and extreme bad-faith assumptions of other posters, and the decrying of the state of MetaFilter - all that happened, as it was always going to. Because this is a specific case with specific evidence and specific material to look at and judge, and it is being (unfairly, in my opinion) being held as a metonymy of how MeFites regard child abuse in general.

This is my biggest issue with that thread. It reminds me a lot of one of the better comments ever posted on this site, which is Etrigans sort of formula for a flawed pattern of interpersonal conflict.

Basically, Everyone started making this leap of "If you think this about this specific situation, then you think this about all these other situations too! Therefor you have these other general bad opinions of things and are a terrible person!". Like, everyone kept trying to take it to this greater meta level of discussion not just about this situation with Dylan and Woody, but to make some grand stand for their general thoughts about CSA in general.

This ended up turning the entire thing in a baggage claim inside a hobby horse show and shine. I feel like at least half of that thread should be fucking deleted.
posted by emptythought at 1:58 PM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love you all and everyone needs a hug BUT this thread must be released from my recent activity, into the wild blue yonder.

have a nice glass of red wine, forget about teh petit squabbles, think of the future
posted by infini at 2:01 PM on February 3, 2014


jessamyn: "but we do not have a user named xanocorp"

I assume TFB meant xarnop.
posted by zarq at 2:01 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "1) Many people (including at least one deleted commentor in that thread) proudly assert that they will always believe accusations of molestation, whatever the evidence. "

Here's the comment in question:
"I believe the woman who says her father sexually assaulted her. Every time. I don't care if someone hands me a million reasons why it might not have happened. I will never care about that. I believe the woman who says she has been sexually assaulted."

posted by shmegegge at 5:33 PM on February 2
Guess what? "...whatever the evidence" isn't what schmegegge said. What he said was, "I don't care if someone hands me a million reasons why it might not have happened."

Excuses 'why it might not have happened.' Very different than actual evidence.
posted by zarq at 2:04 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


That was indeed the comment I had in mind. It was quite a proud assertion, stated forthrightly and without shilly-shallying, and it mirrored the sentiments of many, including xanocorp's much-loved comment.

There are 16 comments by xarnop in that thread, and not a single one of them says what you are accusing them and others of.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:11 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


"...whatever the evidence" isn't what schmegegge said. What he said was, "I don't care if someone hands me a million reasons why it might not have happened."

I had not noted the contrast between "evidence" and "reasons", and I agree that it may be extremely meaningful. Changing "reasons" to "excuses" also strikes me as the sort of thing that may be quite significant, however.
posted by mr. digits at 2:19 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Have people considered just staying away from some of these threads? I avoided the Allen/Farrow thread almost entirely and have not yet had cause to regret that decision.

On the other hand, watching the Super Bowl was also pretty depressing so maybe I didn't come out as far ahead as I might have.
posted by Justinian at 3:54 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had not noted the contrast between "evidence" and "reasons", and I agree that it may be extremely meaningful.

There's a lot of that going around. I got smacked by a couple of people who incorrectly read something I said (and thanks to the person I corrected for being so nice about the correction, too). A little charitable reading, performed more slowly, before responding, could help that thread a lot.
posted by immlass at 4:04 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


So tell me, zarq, do you believe that "reason" is synonymous with "excuse"? Seeing as you couldn't be asserting things proudly it seems reasonable enough to discuss semantics a bit.
posted by mr. digits at 5:47 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


No. But "someone hands me a million reasons" seemed close at the time. In hindsight I probably wouldn't have substituted the word given a second chance.
posted by zarq at 6:01 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


That I understand. Thanks.
posted by mr. digits at 6:03 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


gadge emeritus: "And again, you are doing what a number of people in the thread were doing, which is saying, in effect, 'this horrible thing happened to me, which means if you doubt any aspect of what Dylan Farrow said then you are doubting me and all children who ever were abused'. It's some kind of awful appeal to authority of experience, and it doesn't promote a sharing of experience as much as using it as a cudgel to say I Am Right and You Are Wrong.

The reason I cannot fathom why someone would stay on the site if they believed what double block and bleed said is that it would make MetaFilter akin to many of the dregs of Reddit or b or any other place where even a veneer of respectability is obscuring posters just dying to deny that abuse exists and to, apparently, do it to belittle all abuse survivors they encounter. I don't agree with that assessment, but if I did think that of people in that thread? I can't see why you'd stay.

As you say, in life people disagree with us. But as often happens online, in this case if you disagree you're not just wrong, but you are a Bad Person who Isn't Properly Condemning Child Abuse. That's... about what I expected from the thread, and it's giving that in spades.
"

Let's say that I held the opinion that child birth isn't really that bad and that women play the whole thing up for sympathy and special favors. Even if I believed this (I absolutely don't), it would be inappropriate for me to offer that opinion because I haven't and never can live though that experience as a man. When it comes to that issue, I must defer to the women who can speak about it from experience. There is no substitute. When women say that child birth is really fucking painful, I take them at their word. I listen even though I can never truly understand. I try to keep in mind that each such experience is personal and unique. The same is true of child abuse and a whole lot of other things. If you haven't lived it, try listening to those who have.

Doubting the story doesn't make you a terrible person. Although I give the story a great deal of credence, I understand that there's room for doubt. All I'm asking is that people try to express those doubts with some modicum of tact and care for the feelings of other members of this forum. Comparing those who accuse their molesters today with those who made accusations at the Salem witch trials is, quite frankly, one of the most insulting things I've ever read. It compares apples to battleships and seriously casts doubt in my mind as to whether you are simply blinded by the privilege of blissful ignorance or if you have some more malicious intent. I hope that it is the former because the latter would not only make you a Bad Person, it would make you an asshole.

I've been reading Metafilter since 2001 and I've been a member under this and a previous account since memberships opened in 2004. I enjoy the contributions of the overwhelming majority of the people here. There are a small number of people who slightly annoy me and vanishingly few people whom I detest. I intend to be part of this community for a long time to come.

tl;dr:

* Some things have to be experienced to be understood.
* Try to be nice to other people
* I'm not going anywhere
posted by double block and bleed at 8:24 PM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


in this case if you disagree you're not just wrong, but you are a Bad Person who Isn't Properly Condemning Child Abuse. That's... about what I expected from the thread, and it's giving that in spades.

Honestly, I didn't read the thread in that way at all, just to show how perspectives differ. As someone who believes Dylan Farrow's account, I thought the majority view in the thread was that we can't know. Supported by varying degrees of "memories aren't necessarily reliable" and "Woody Allen and Mia Farrow both suck, so..."

To me the pushback in defense of DF seemed to come mostly in the form of rebutting speculation about how unlikely it is that her story is true. A lot of that speculation seemed to echo the comments made by Weide in the Daily Beast column and was ripe for rebuttal.

I don't really see the "you are a Bad Person if you disagree" part. Maybe within the specific argument about similarities to the Salem witch trials--that part got heated. But really, it was predictable that introducing such an explosive comparison in the context of discussing one woman's personal account was not going to go over well. Apart from that near-derail, it's just not the case that everyone withholding judgment on Woody Allen was labelled "Bad Person."
posted by torticat at 9:13 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


actually I'm pretty sure that victims are just about the worst people imaginable to expect to come to a rational assessment of similar accusations.

They are probably the best folks to offer fellow victims support and empathy.

Let's say that I held the opinion that child birth isn't really that bad and that women play the whole thing up for sympathy and special favors. Even if I believed this (I absolutely don't), it would be inappropriate for me to offer that opinion because I haven't and never can live though that experience as a man. When it comes to that issue, I must defer to the women who can speak about it from experience. There is no substitute. When women say that child birth is really fucking painful, I take them at their word. I listen even though I can never truly understand. I try to keep in mind that each such experience is personal and unique. The same is true of child abuse and a whole lot of other things. If you haven't lived it, try listening to those who have.

This is a weird analogy. No one is questioning the impact and pain of abuse in that thread. Saying "I'm not sure" or even the hypothetical "Mia's crazy and she brainwashed the kids" is not making light or questioning the real physical and emotional damage that results from abuse.
posted by JPD at 6:20 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


"The reason I cannot fathom why someone would stay on the site if they believed what double block and bleed said is that it would make MetaFilter akin to many of the dregs of Reddit or b or any other place where even a veneer of respectability is obscuring posters just dying to deny that abuse exists and to, apparently, do it to belittle all abuse survivors they encounter. I don't agree with that assessment, but if I did think that of people in that thread? I can't see why you'd stay."

This is just silly.

From what I hear there was a lot of sexism and worse race and class offenses on metafilter before people who thought those statements were hurtful and wrong stood up about it and had some very difficult discussions and changed either moderation policies or community behavior through a better understanding of why some statements are harmful even if the person saying it didn't understand it was harmful.

You really think it's impossible for anyone on metafilter to say anything classist, sexist, racist, or victim blaming without meaning to, or just not caring even if that's so? And you really think instead of calling people out any one concerned about that should go into hiding or something?

What a terribly awful proposal and a great way to deny any potential that horrible things could possibly be said on metafilter. I don't think it's on people harmed by harmful behavior to go into hiding, I think we get a better world when people stand up and talk about it and ask those people being harmful to reconsider and communities to reconsider what kind of behavior they tolerate or enable.

There's good moderation here, I think, that sort of allows people to say hurtful things sometimes. That can be a good things in some discussions. It also allows people to say hurtful things and think they can't possibly be hurtful or they would have been moderated. That's not how moderation works here, I don't think. It's not a "safe place" or moderated to be that way. That doesn't mean some members here can't value asking communities to reconsider doing things that are actively harmful to survivors (or women or people of color, GLBT people, or low income people, or people with disabilities, etc).

Until we know something is hurtful, we don't know. It's SO embarrasing when we get things wrong or don't realize we said something is kind of hurtful or not very cool. I've done that too and it's embarrasing and not fun to realize. I'm not trying to make people who mess up feel bad. But neither am I going to stop pointing out problematic responses to abuse reporting in this community or any other. Those responses are normal, common responses. They can aslo be problematic. Pointing out why doesn't mean I should just leave the site?

If you can't handle hearing you or someone else said something hurtful maybe this community isn't a safe space for you and you should leave because your sensitivity and right to say hurtful things is not going to go unchecked by other community members?

I seriously can't believe you really think people who feel harmed by a community or group of people should go into hiding instead of saying something. That is a toxic belief you've got there. Overall, you're allowed to say what you want. People are allowed to say if and why they think that's problematic or harmful.
posted by xarnop at 6:28 AM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


mr. digits: "That I understand. Thanks."

No worries. Thanks for asking.
posted by zarq at 6:46 AM on February 4, 2014


actually I'm pretty sure that victims are just about the worst people imaginable to expect to come to a rational assessment of similar accusations.

This is really fucking offensive, and is akin to saying that only people who....

Wait no analogy is needed. Its exactly like saying that survivors of sexual abuse should not be entrusted to evaluate allegations of sexual abuse. WTF
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:15 AM on February 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


yes that's precisely what I am saying. I stand by it and really don't fucking care if you find it offensive.

Emotion in decision making is bad.
posted by JPD at 7:20 AM on February 4, 2014


This meta thread, and the thread that inspired it is really helpful in providing a list of people not to listen to in the future. Holy shit.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:28 AM on February 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


Oh that's adorably snide.
posted by JPD at 7:31 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


JPD: "yes that's precisely what I am saying. I stand by it and really don't fucking care if you find it offensive.

Emotion in decision making is bad.
"

You're assuming that we're all utterly incapable of separating emotion from our objectivity, which is in fact rather offensive.

You honestly don't think that the people who have actually been through a traumatic experience can possibly offer objective insight about similar experiences?

Wow.
posted by zarq at 7:38 AM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


JPD: " I stand by it and really don't fucking care if you find it offensive.

Emotion in decision making is bad.
"

Also, the irony embedded in these two sentences is rather rich.
posted by zarq at 7:39 AM on February 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


"Emotion in decision making is bad."

That's often true.

However, I'm not a survivor. I've worked with survivors. I did so during the RSA era. I know a lot about incest, sexual assault in general, about memory and survivor testimony, and about the research concerning false reporting. I think that there's far more reason to believe Dylan's account than there is to be skeptical of it. I am certain that those who are inclined to be skeptical and to find reasons why her account is not likely to be true are the ones who are biased. The alternative is that they're badly misinformed about the relevant issues, both in general and specifically. But that raises the question as to why they would be so misinformed and so insistent on remaining misinformed. Which leads back to bias.

Survivors are well-equipped to recognize a number of things which are common to experiences of being survivors of sexual assault, and this is particularly true with incest and other forms of childhood sexual assault by trusted caretakers. That doesn't mean that any individual survivor is an authority on someone else's experience, as experiences vary. But it does mean that survivors have some inherent credibility on these issues, which should really go without saying.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:40 AM on February 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: " Survivors are well-equipped to recognize a number of things which are common to experiences of being survivors of sexual assault, and this is particularly true with incest and other forms of childhood sexual assault by trusted caretakers. That doesn't mean that any individual survivor is an authority on someone else's experience, as experiences vary. But it does mean that survivors have some inherent credibility on these issues, which should really go without saying."

Thank you very, very much for saying this.
posted by zarq at 7:44 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


actually I'm pretty sure that victims are just about the worst people imaginable to expect to come to a rational assessment of similar accusations.

I’m not so sure about that. They have firsthand experience with seeing how:

1. Perpetrators can fool others, even authority figures, into believing they’ve done nothing wrong and the accusations are everybody else’s fault

2. Most people are so anxious to believe bad things aren’t happening that they’ll bend over backwards to deny or explain away any odd behavior by the accused or statements by the accuser

In other words, they can see patterns that people without experience with those situations might not pick up on. It’s the same reason a sponsor is helpful in AA.

Now, I'm not saying that victims are the ONLY people who can possibly participate in these discussion, but I think it would be a serious mistake to disqualify them wholesale and deprive the discussion of the inside information they bring to the table.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:00 AM on February 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


This is still MetaTalk and I see no occasion to make any sort of mod call here, but just as a person who is also here I do think it can't hurt if folks do actually fucking care what other people find offensive, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 8:00 AM on February 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


Why is it that those who are eager to insist that "emotion in decision making is bad" so often defend their irrelevant, unrealistic convictions by using such emotionally charged language? It's almost like people who truly believe they've reached the singularly lofty peak of unimpeachable logic and rationality are actively engaging in the very practice they claim to abhor. And that's not even touching on society's well-known predilection for axiomatically disbelieving (alleged!) victims of (alleged!) sexual assault, let alone the rampant and centuries-old proliferation of the whole "men = logical, honest, rational; women = illogical, emotional, prone to exaggeration and hyperbole" to-do.

In what universe are "emotion" and "logic" wholly separate wells from which buckets of opinion can be simply, delicately, and individually drawn, rather than hazy, ever-shifting points on the amorphous and slippery continuum across which our daily litanies of decisions must be made? Man, I really wouldn't want to live there, but it seems like it must be nice to exist in a headspace where "the way it really is" just so happens to neatly align with the way you personally want it to be.
posted by divined by radio at 8:05 AM on February 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


I seriously can't believe you really think people who feel harmed by a community or group of people should go into hiding instead of saying something.

Wouldn't that be horrible, if that was what I said? Good thing, then, I didn't.

The point I made was that if you believe that there's 'many members' posting in that thread trying to victim-blame a seven year old girl for her abuse, 'callous victim-blaming' being the exact phrase used by double block and bleed. Or that people are 'refusing' to even try and empathise with victims of abuse, victims who are sharing their thoughts in the exact same thread... then MetaFilter is not a good website to be spending time on, for anybody really. Because that would be some pretty shocking behaviour that would, I imagine, be flagged and face mod scrutiny, just for starters, and would seriously question the value of the site if it went unchecked.

In other words, xarnop, you spent paragraphs castigating me for something you only thought I said. This is something that happens a lot in threads, and everybody has been guilty of it at some time, but it is always something to watch out for. Especially in threads destined for trouble, like the ones revolving around Dylan Farrow's letter were.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:17 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


People on Metafilter are not significantly better than people anywhere else. We do try, bless us, and we have moderators to keep us in line, but humans gonna human. You can't discuss abuse on any general interest site without running in to ever present toxic attitudes. People keep going because they are sadly used to it already.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:35 AM on February 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that victims are just about the worst people imaginable to expect to come to a rational assessment of similar accusations.

Yeah, fuck this. It's been fun, guys.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:37 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


uggggggh no
posted by Drinky Die at 8:42 AM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can't really blame ya though.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:42 AM on February 4, 2014


:(
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:44 AM on February 4, 2014


Well, poop.
posted by Jpfed at 8:44 AM on February 4, 2014


Aw shit.
posted by zarq at 8:47 AM on February 4, 2014


You're assuming that we're all utterly incapable of separating emotion from our objectivity, which is in fact rather offensive.

You essentially are. We all are. It makes you human. There are things I am incapable of opining on objectively as well.
posted by JPD at 8:48 AM on February 4, 2014


Ugh.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:51 AM on February 4, 2014


So the only people qualified to make a decision are people who have never experienced this in any capacity?
posted by divabat at 8:52 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


If it's not emotion that is causing you to post some...really low quality comments lacking in reasonable amounts of empathy right now...I don't know what it could be, JPD.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:54 AM on February 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


You essentially are. We all are. It makes you human. There are things I am incapable of opining on objectively as well.

Which is why the best people to control women's health are men, the best people to legislate civil rights are white, and the best people to define the traditions of marriage are straight?
posted by zombieflanders at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


So the only people qualified to make a decision are people who have never experienced this in any capacity?

That of course would never apply to other times of crimes/offenses, like murder, robbery, or physical assault.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2014


Oh that's adorably snide.

Accurate, though.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:02 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The point I made was that if you believe that there's 'many members' posting in that thread trying to victim-blame a seven year old girl for her abuse, 'callous victim-blaming' being the exact phrase used by double block and bleed. Or that people are 'refusing' to even try and empathise with victims of abuse, victims who are sharing their thoughts in the exact same thread... then MetaFilter is not a good website to be spending time on, for anybody really. Because that would be some pretty shocking behaviour that would, I imagine, be flagged and face mod scrutiny, just for starters, and would seriously question the value of the site if it went unchecked."

I hear exactly what you're saying. I just disagree with you. And think you're arguing that it isn't possible victim blaming could have occured by default of "metafilter just wouldn't let it happen so it couldn't have happened"

I see what your saying. I think it's problematic and a large way in which accusations are dismissed. The mods do not delete all statements that could be harmful to survivors. They kind of hope for people to have some decency and listen to how others respond to the comments they make- I think. People without decency or moral convictions are allowed to use this site as far as I can tell. The mods police some of the most outrageous attacks but more subtle forms of racism, classism, sexism, and harmful language to vulnerable people is often handled through community discussion.

Or people leaving.
posted by xarnop at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2014


gadge: Wouldn't that be horrible, if that was what I said? Good thing, then, I didn't.

You actually did say these things. Here, I will show you.
If you truly believe that this is the failing people are displaying in this thread and the other, if you really think that people are lacking any empathy to see things from your perspective and experience because they wish to blame the victim, or for that matter that anyone in either thread is honestly blaming the seven-year-old girl for these circumstances, I cannot fathom why you would still regard this as a website worth spending time on.

You're using the evidence of contiued participation by users who "truly believe" and "really think" etc as evidence that they do not actually believe and think these things, because if those things existed "then MetaFilter is not a good website to be spending time on" and "I can't see why you'd stay." Comparing MeFi to "the dregs of reddit" et al.

Therefore, if these things were present, these people should leave. You can't see a reason for them to stay. So, according to you, they must not be present, since these people do not leave.

But this reasoning is backwards, and relies on the assumption that MetaFilter is somehow removed from the Internet, and human culture as a whole. These elements are present and normal, regular, everyday expressions, reflected here.

You are also taking the sheer existence of those comments as evidence of their non-shittiness, since if they were so terrible, they would, you "imagine" be flagged and moderated - see also your statement "there's not really a point to flagging comments because if it was going to be deleted it would have happened already. " But the moderation staff is not in every thread, and comments that do not stand out do not get flagged. In MeFi Labs, we see this effect. "3,429 members flagged problem posts and comments 46,249 times" out of 14,148 members who can said to have been active, since they added at least one favorite. Less than 1/3 of users use flags, and even assuming only one flag per comment or post, that works to 0.07 flags per comment or post.
Why flag a comment that fits into the pattern of the world?

"Normal" is not the same as good or correct.

would seriously question the value of the site if it went unchecked.
I completely agree with you.

JPD: snide? Because you think you're one of the one's going to be ignored? Why would you think that?

I would say "you can't possibly believe that a person's prior statements have no bearing on their reliability or accuracy," but that would be based on a theory that people don't think stupid things, which is manifestly untrue, I'm sure you'll agree.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:10 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


And yeah, the default of all communities that are not specifically designed for survivors is that victim blaming, and harmful, demeaning accusations toward survivors are the norm. You can't be in communities as a survivor and not face this. It's everywhere, even sometimes the systems that are supposed to support survivors.
posted by xarnop at 9:11 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


JPD: " You essentially are. We all are. It makes you human. There are things I am incapable of opining on objectively as well."

We're not speaking of a predilection for politics here, but rather a person's short- and long-term adaption to trauma. A degree of disassociation is a normal reaction to various types of trauma. When it happens to a mild degree, we consider it a coping or defense mechanism. More extreme cases are considered disorders.

You're making an assumption that emotion automatically and in every case impairs the objectivity of those who have undergone trauma. I don't think there's any scientific basis to support that claim.
posted by zarq at 9:13 AM on February 4, 2014


If it weren't for the subject matter under advisement I'd be diverted by the naïveté of championing the notion that logic can be divorced from emotion as if that idea hadn't been shattered by multiple advances in philosophy and critical theory in the last seventy years.

In this context, though, it's not just a cute piece of antique thinking.
posted by winna at 9:14 AM on February 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


Because that would be some pretty shocking behaviour that would, I imagine, be flagged and face mod scrutiny, just for starters, and would seriously question the value of the site if it went unchecked.

But it is shocking behavior - which is why so many people in this thread and the other one are shocked - it does face mod scrutiny - which is why so many comments in the other thread, if only the worst ones, have been deleted - and it does devalue the site - which is why Marisa Stole the Precious Thing has redbuttoned.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


For the record, we've deleted 15 out of 503 comments in that thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:20 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is that a higher ratio than average for contentious threads?
posted by zarq at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2014


I find the emotions sidebar to be really fascinating, because as someone who has no real dog in this hunt--not a fan, seen one Woody Allen movie, as mentioned in the thread--I find so much of the pushback against Dylan Farrow's account to be emotionally based. A lot of fans of the films seem to identify very personally with them and the idea that the films are being tainted as the products of a child molestor seems very personally offensive to some participants.

The idea that the defense of (Dylan) Farrow is coming out of emotion but the defense of Allen is coming out of a place of pure logic is patently ridiculous.
posted by immlass at 9:24 AM on February 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


Is that a higher ratio than average for contentious threads?

Sitewide average is 1-1.5% We don't keep any data on how contentious threads vary in this respect.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:24 AM on February 4, 2014


Sorry if I gave an inflated impression of the deletions. The mods have been active in these threads, is all I meant. It's false, on its face, to say this behavior doesn't arise on Metafilter. It's false, on its face, to say it doesn't face scrutiny.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:26 AM on February 4, 2014


Ah. OK. Was just wondering if it was making y'all work harder than usual. Especially since posts containing just the original editorial were deleted four times as potential outragefilter.
posted by zarq at 9:26 AM on February 4, 2014


Yes, we are working harder than usual.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:27 AM on February 4, 2014


It's hard for me to imagine very many people not having strong emotions about this topic. Hell, I bet a lot of people have sort of conflicting strong emotions about this topic. In my off-line life, I'm watching people struggle with "Woody Allen is my favorite filmmaker, and what the hell do I do now that I'm convinced he's a pedophile" and "I want to support victims in all instances, and I don't know what to do about the fact that I think it's possible that what Dylan Farrow believes happened didn't really happen" and just all sorts of complicated, emotion-filled responses. I think identifying very strongly with the possibility of being falsely accused, which is often a theme in sexual assault threads here, is an emotional response. It seems really naive to think that anyone is going to respond to this without emotion and really indefensible to claim that only one kind of emotional response is off-limits.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:33 AM on February 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh that's adorably snide.

That's about all the merit your trolling deserves.

But please, tell us more about irrational emotion, Mr. "I don't fucking care if you're offended"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:34 AM on February 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


jessamyn: "Yes, we are working harder than usual."

Sorry. :(
posted by zarq at 9:37 AM on February 4, 2014


Yes, we are working harder than usual.

Thanks, even as someone who wanted the thread up it was obvious this would be the case but I still think it was worthwhile.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:06 AM on February 4, 2014


A lot of fans of the films seem to identify very personally with them and the idea that the films are being tainted as the products of a child molestor seems very personally offensive to some participants.

If you choose to find them tainted due to the fact that he was their director, that's fine. I don't object to that at all. Who should it offend me or anyone else? The condemnations I've seen of them are shallow and misinformed as regards the films he directed, though, and no one who's watched them can pretend to know much about his life and inner world, ultimately. (I never thought "Manhattan" was presented as a case study in how to live well, anyway. Not exactly! And I can barely remember details about the film, except for the ending and the cinematography, watched it 15-20 years ago.)
posted by raysmj at 10:23 AM on February 4, 2014


due to the fact that he was their director

IMDB credits Allen as writer and director on most of his major films. He picks subject matter, theme, and approach, and there's plenty of room for discussion about the themes he chooses and the approach he takes to them and how it relates to his personal life. If you want to write a semi-autobiographical roman a clef, don't be surprised when people judge you on it, or use it as context for judging you.
posted by immlass at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


don't be surprised when people judge you on it, or use it as context for judging you.

Oh my goodness, yes, immlass. Woody Allen wrote Manhattan in the year after his affair (in his mid-40s) with a 17-yo girl. I mean I love Manhattan, and I'm sorry to have the experience of it soured by knowledge of Allen's other personal problems. But probably even the fact that I love the movie goes to show Allen's success in framing his own actions in a way that is sympathetic to the general public.

I don't see Allen's movies as "evidence" of specific wrongdoing on his part; they can't be used that way. But indicators of where he coming from? Hell yes. If we don't see Woody Allen's body of work as giving insight into his own experience and perspective, then he's been wasting his time all these years.
posted by torticat at 11:26 AM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


The idea that the defense of (Dylan) Farrow is coming out of emotion but the defense of Allen is coming out of a place of pure logic is patently ridiculous.

yup. emotion on both sides. Quoting myself from earlier on in this thread, just before the FPP that finally lasted got posted:

The phrase that comes to mind is cognitive bias. I know I'm guilty of it sometimes. I suspect everyone is. So the fresh FPP on this particular issue that I look forward to is the one that comes at it from a cognitive bias angle. That would be fascinating indeed.

Interesting now that the biggest insight I've had from the whole thing is not concerned with who did or didn't do what etc ... but how so many of us seem to feel compelled to come down on one side or other of the issue. Guilty or innocent? Because, in an actual criminal situation, the only people who ever really need to do this are judges and juries. Everybody else is just a spectator, entitled to their opinion but ultimately, from a legal standpoint, who cares?

Confusion is okay.
posted by philip-random at 11:36 AM on February 4, 2014


In "Manhattan" the main character breaks the relationship off, right? Since he thinks he should be with someone his own age. He sees at the end that he wants to get back with her.

Otherwise, I though Woody wanted to tell stories and make movies, not give you insight into the interior of a celebrity's interior world.
posted by raysmj at 2:01 PM on February 4, 2014


Oh, and of course she leaves New York and his character. And she ends up seeming to be be the only sane character in the whole movie. What relevance does that have to this case, specifically? None.
posted by raysmj at 2:06 PM on February 4, 2014


Not to harp on this, but the discussion of Woody Allen's movies and whether they're relevant to the accusations should move back over to the blue.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2014


I didn't think I belonged there, if the point that was to have a discussion about child abuse and this one case.
posted by raysmj at 2:10 PM on February 4, 2014


There may just not be a specific thread on the site where an exegesis on the films of Woody Allen is really the going subject. That's an okay situation, folks can just hold it until such a thing exists or take it to email if they're wanting some sort of ongoing side-correspondence about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:16 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


There may just not be a specific thread on the site where an exegesis on the films of Woody Allen is really the going subject.

The post is explicitly framed as a discussion of how art relates to an artist. I happen to think that one of the four deleted posts focusing on Dylan Farrow's experience and perspective should have stayed up, for reasons Ivan explained eloquently, but that ship has sailed.
posted by lalex at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I'm not specifically objecting to it in that thread, my only point is that if raysmj feels like the stuff he wants to talk about on that front isn't appropriate for that thread that's an okay way to feel but that doesn't make this thread de facto appropriate for it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on February 4, 2014


If you specifically want to talk about whether you want to watch his movies in general or not anymore, that would be fine with me. Posing this as a story about his child abuse case and then discussing it as about child abuse and survivors/victims generally speaking, then going and condemning his films for their supposed moral depravity and insight into his presumed child abuse seems ... well, profoundly unhelpful, or just plain lynch-mobby.
posted by raysmj at 2:40 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


immlass: The idea that the defense of (Dylan) Farrow is coming out of emotion but the defense of Allen is coming out of a place of pure logic is patently ridiculous.

Yea, and there's a huge undercurrent being denied by them there of "it's coming from a place of emotion because a woman is saying it"

Reading a lot of the posts in the FPP, and in this thread are really dogwhistling the shit out of that one. Smart people are writing this stuff in a pretty precise way to avoid any trigger words or phrases that would make it obvious that's what they're getting at, but when you take their message and viewpoint as a whole it's pretty goddamn obvious.

The whole "Oh, she's just doing it for attention" thing is really gross in the same kind of way too.

You can't really say a woman is making a claim like this from a place of emotion not logic, or that it's some kind of attention grab without sounding exactly like and whether you "intended" it or not, saying something pretty misogynistic. You don't get to unbolt that baggage or association with intent.

Also, you can't get in to the "Defending Allen comes from a place of logic" thing without sounding like a redditor. You just can't. For exactly the same reasons, and especially because quite a lot of the people defending allen and making both sets of points were men, it just scans as "Men are all logical and righteous and women are all attention seeking and emotionally driven and illogical and unreliable narrators". And bam, you sound like a tiresome asshole.

There are tens of comments in that thread that fit the fomula you described, and if you take that last quoted sentence of mine and read them, then read that, it sounds like an IMDB summary of the same plot, or at best a sarcastic description of the same story.

Having read the whole thread and kept up with it, and slept on it, i really think this is one of the grossest sets of FPP comments i've ever seen on this site since the mid 2000s. I really don't think the people comparing it to 4chan or reddit were all that far off. There were just less slurs, more cloaking of shitty views, and more pushback that didn't get buried. Quite a few people chose to double down on or "Clarify" their shitty statements though.

Really though, can you argue with that assessment if you go in and read how many comments essentially say either "This is an attention grab" in aggregate, or "You're just defending this from a place of emotion" or make that whole appeal to the "You are a terrible person to talk about this as someone who as experienced something similar since you're just going to get all emotional".

Stinky dumpster on a sunny day.
posted by emptythought at 2:49 PM on February 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


"there's not really a point to flagging comments because if it was going to be deleted it would have happened already. "

I did say that. In another thread. About my interaction with the site. Because I don't often read threads in the peak US hours and therefore the threads are usually set by the time I get to them, conversation has incorporated a comment I might not like, etc. I'm glad someone's reading my older comments, though.

Therefore, if these things were present, these people should leave.

If I truly thought those things were present, especially in the amount suggested rather than one crank causing trouble and getting roundly thrashed for it, I wouldn't read MetaFilter anymore. Victim-blaming a child for their sexual assault? I didn't see that. I saw people suggest (based off of other comments and articles on the case) that she had been coached, consciously or unconsciously, and people saying she might believe it to be true even if it didn't, actually, happen. I definitely saw a heaping of sympathy for her from posters, no matter where they fell on what they thought might have happened.

But blaming her? And those being allowed to stand? Would you want to keep reading that website? I wouldn't. I remain incredulous that if someone thinks that is what's there, thinks so low of the posters here, that they'd keep reading.

And to emptythought: I don't know if that undercurrent is there. It is, indeed, quite possible. I will say, though, that I saw there were several women expressing doubt and several men expressing 100% support, while also sharing their own stories of abuse. Several standing in for 'more than a couple but I don't have exact numbers'.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:55 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


gadge emeritus: "I remain incredulous that if someone thinks that is what's there, thinks so low of the posters here, that they'd keep reading.

My decision to continue reading the site is really no one else's concern but my own. It's certainly not open to your purview. I made it clear how I feel about the majority of posters above. Your comments insinuate that it would be so much better for everyone involved if I were to disappear in a puff of smoke or something. I've also made it clear that's not going to happen.

JPD: "yes that's precisely what I am saying. I stand by it and really don't fucking care if you find it offensive."

This is beneath contempt.

Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Yeah, fuck this. It's been fun, guys."

God damnit.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:43 PM on February 4, 2014


One of the things I have noticed all my life about people who proclaim themselves to be far more rational and logical than others, is that they are actually usually less logical than others, they just have more trouble recognizing or ever acknowledging any of their logic fails and times when they are driven by emotion, and way more hostile and defensive when anyone points it out.
posted by cairdeas at 6:54 PM on February 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


I don't want you to leave. I'm not trying to silence anyone. I just thought it was immense hyperbole on your part to describe the other posters in that fashion, and don't believe anyone could truly think MetaFilter was such a hive of scum and villainy as described and still be a place anyone would want to be. If you felt I was trying to hound you off the site, I apologise - it was not my intention, and I tried to be precise in choosing my words to not suggest you should leave without having to pre-emptively defend myself from anyone misreading my comments. This clearly failed.

Of the 15 comments deleted in that thread, I read one of them, which didn't blame the victim, rather suggested another user was condoning rape. I don't think any other comment still in the thread does that, though a number suggest other people are turning a wilful blind eye towards child abuse. Were comments blaming Dylan for any abuse she suffered part of the other deleted comments, or are they still in the thread for you to link to?
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:01 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


"One of the things I have noticed all my life about people who proclaim themselves to be far more rational and logical than others, is that they are actually usually less logical than others, they just have more trouble recognizing or ever acknowledging any of their logic fails and times when they are driven by emotion, and way more hostile and defensive when anyone points it out."

I see that often, too. And what's really interesting to me about this is that because of some combination of my temperament and my childhood with an emotionally abusive father who was prone to being suddenly irrationally angry and would behave unpredictably, it is very important to me to be rational and to understand things. I am almost obsessively contemplative and am driven by anxiety that my beliefs might be self-serving, that in any interpersonal conflict I might be in the wrong and emotionally biased against seeing and admitting this. (This has tended to work against me in relationships, as I've had partners who will use that against me, as I am very quick to assume that I'm the person who is in the wrong.)

The point is that I try very hard to be rational and thoughtful, certainly I work at it as much as anyone else I've ever known.

And, even so, I don't tend to think that I'm that much more rational than other people in discussions, in conflicts, and such. I think I might be somewhat more so, on average. But I don't at all have that sense of being on a mountaintop looking down on all the emotional and irrational people below that I encounter in the kind of people you're mentioning.

We're all emotional and have biases — a really good way to be unaware of those things and to let them unduly influence you is to imagine that you're exempt from this. I query my own emotional investment in things all the time, and there's always some investment or I wouldn't be involved in the conversation. And aside from the most obvious things, it can be pretty hard to pin down how I may be blinkered about something. I just don't ever feel so confident in my lack of bias that I'm going to take that high-handed stance. Well, also, it's totally counter-productive. On the occasions when I do feel I have a more distanced and evenhanded view contrasted against someone who is deeply emotionally invested and, in relative terms, not making as much sense as they think they are, I just feel kind of frustrated but also empathetic because there are certainly things about which I feel that way. It is totally unhelpful to patronize someone by telling them they're emotional and irrational.

And, to repeat, none of us are ever so unemotional and rational as we might sometimes think ourselves. Emotional investment is weird; it can hide in plain sight and we can go years and years thinking we're dispassionate about something until one day realizing that this wasn't the case at all. It's like privilege, really, in that a lot of emotional investment and related biases can be effectively invisible because they're so constant, and so shared among the people we know, that they just seem like part of the bedrock of reality. And then one day you are in a new place and with new people and you've changed and suddenly you realize that you had this huge investment in seeing things in a certain way, it validated all sorts of things that were important to you, it made you feel good, and you never were aware of it. You thought such and such was right and true because it was self-evident and completely noncontroversial, something completely divorced from passion and anything anyone would argue about. But it wasn't. You needed it to be true.

The people who want to be rational and fair and to have fewer as opposed to greater biases should be deeply suspicious whenever they think they've accomplished this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:10 AM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Where is the emotion in defaulting to "innocent until proven guilty" and letting the court system decide the issue? Especially when you consider our only source of information is profit-driven news media?
posted by Ardiril at 10:04 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Yeah, fuck this. It's been fun, guys."

God damnit.


Doublefuck. Marisa Stole the Precious Thing was a great contributor to this site and it is a shame we lost her because people wanted to be dicks to incest survivors.
posted by corb at 10:26 AM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Corb, I agree completely but... Marisa is a 'him' :)
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on February 5, 2014


If corb has made a gender mistake;
now corb weeps for missing the edit window;
move corb's fists towards the sky;
now emotion of corb is shame;
say "...Dammit".
posted by corb at 10:36 AM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Where is the emotion in defaulting to "innocent until proven guilty" and letting the court system decide the issue? Especially when you consider our only source of information is profit-driven news media?

The source of the information is Dylan herself.

We don't use the courts to decide truth or falsity, we use the courts to decide if a person warrants punishment by the state.

I suggest you read the threads.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:53 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


"The source of the information is Dylan herself." - Are the words in that letter hers or her lawyers'?
posted by Ardiril at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2014


"we use the courts to decide if a person warrants punishment by the state."

This is false. We use the courts to determine if the evidence merits a guilty verdict, and only thereafter is punishment decided.
posted by Ardiril at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2014


We don't use the courts to decide truth or falsity, we use the courts to decide if a person warrants punishment by the state.

And we now use the Internet and traditional print and broadcast and cable media to decide that, in re to celebrity cases that are disputed, even within the families in question, by children in that family? Have you ever served on a jury or grand jury? Do you know how difficult the truth is to gauge, even in what may seem like open-and-shut cases. on the surface, and with cases involving a great amount of detailed information and evidence?
posted by raysmj at 11:14 AM on February 5, 2014


"we now use the Internet and traditional print and broadcast and cable media to decide that"

Obviously, because very few here are showiing any indication of thinking for themselves.
posted by Ardiril at 11:17 AM on February 5, 2014


Are the words in that letter hers or her lawyers'?

More importantly, were her lawyers abused as children, so that we know to ignore them?
posted by bleep-blop at 11:18 AM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Do you know how difficult the truth is to gauge, even in what may seem like open-and-shut cases. on the surface, and with cases involving a great amount of detailed information and evidence?"

Yes, I do "know how difficult the truth is to gauge." That is why I depend on the decisions made by those entrusted with making those decisions for society.
posted by Ardiril at 11:22 AM on February 5, 2014


If y'all need to have a free-form argument about the role or not of courts in whatever, that's not something this Metatalk thread needs to house.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:27 AM on February 5, 2014


OK, restated then.

Where is the emotion in deciding "not to decide based on the evidence presented by third parties"?
posted by Ardiril at 11:31 AM on February 5, 2014


On presumption of innocence
This is a basic principle: until it is proven otherwise, beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s important to extend the presumption of innocence to Dylan Farrow, and presume that she is not guilty of the crime of lying about what Woody Allen did to her.

If you are saying things like “We can’t really know what happened” and extra-specially pleading on behalf of the extra-special Woody Allen, then you are saying that his innocence is more presumptive than hers. You are saying that he is on trial, not her: he deserves judicial safeguards in the court of public opinion, but she does not.
posted by corb at 11:48 AM on February 5, 2014


"The source of the information is Dylan herself." - Are the words in that letter hers or her lawyers'?

Are the words in that letter hers or her laywers? Am I viewing them in the New York Times, or in a facsimile thereof indistinguishable from the genuine article? Am I really seeing them, or is a clever demon making me believe that I sense things, or even exist, at all? That clever demon! Why won't he leave me be ...
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:50 AM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


corb: All of that second paragraph, absolutely true, and most people likely would label that 'lack of compassion'.

RE: you forgot 'Did the New York Times edit it in any way?"
posted by Ardiril at 11:57 AM on February 5, 2014


Where is the emotion in deciding "not to decide based on the evidence presented by third parties"?

Seriously, what the fuck? We have Dylan writing a letter saying that Woody Allen molested her. And you're suggesting that no, she did not write that letter, that the words she uses aren't hers.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:57 AM on February 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


MP: My position is that we have no idea if the words are hers.
posted by Ardiril at 11:58 AM on February 5, 2014


Considering that those related to the case and have access to unfiltered communication such as Twitter (like Mia and Ronan) aren't refuting Kristof, it seems like we actually have a pretty good idea.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:04 PM on February 5, 2014


Hey. Now that the words under the byline allege sexual assault, we have to challenge the accuracy of the byline. That way the words don't matter. This is just good skepticism here, folks. Next up: Is Thomas Friedman's column actually written by the reanimated corpse of James Joyce
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:04 PM on February 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Do you always maintain an aggressive skepticism about authorship whenever you encounter a written work or do you save your doubts for open letters accusing powerful men of sexual assault?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:05 PM on February 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


Corb: In the courts, the rights of the accused are sacrosanct, written into the Bill of Rights. States have passed various victim's rights and counseling services into law, but the idea that one is presumed innocent into proven guilty is not anything that deserves a "special pleading" for any one person, but for all, and is of utmost importance, always. I think the accused deserve the right to keep moving on in society as well, if the cases against them are not proven too, even if that means you don't have to support that person's work. The idea of trying things via the media in our celebrity gossip-saturated culture doesn't work for me, though, is bothersome on a number of levels.

I don't agree with challenging authorship, for the record.
posted by raysmj at 12:07 PM on February 5, 2014


zf: You trust Twitter?
RE: "allege sexual assault" does not mean it happened.
MP: I believe my history here on MeFi supports the former.
posted by Ardiril at 12:07 PM on February 5, 2014


MP: I believe my history here on MeFi supports that.

But how do we know you really wrote all those comments?
posted by cjelli at 12:09 PM on February 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


cj: I didn't. ;-P
posted by Ardiril at 12:10 PM on February 5, 2014


You trust Twitter?

Do you? Because if you don't, then you don't believe Mia and Ronan made the tweets they sent out earlier in support of Dylan that kicked off this current brouhaha, in which case you don't believe there's any controversy in the first place.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:11 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


People, he's trolling you.

In perhaps the most ridiculously obvious way possible.
posted by zarq at 12:12 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


zf: True again, this is outrage porn with a bunch of bored people passing time until COB.
posted by Ardiril at 12:12 PM on February 5, 2014


Seriously, stop it folks. There is an open thread. If you're not discussing How MeFi Deals with this Stuff, maybe give this thread a pass. Ardiril, specifically, knock it off.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:13 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, zarq, they are trolling me for not answering my question, but dancing all around it.
posted by Ardiril at 12:13 PM on February 5, 2014


Go to the main thread or MeMail to have this discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:14 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Done.
posted by Ardiril at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2014


So if arguments can't be ported over to the other thread, how should we handle this?
posted by mr. digits at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2014


Memail?
posted by mr. digits at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2014


how should we handle this?

Deletion and temp-bans. Especially for Brand-New-Day users.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2014


mefimail would be fine. Seeming to be engaging the actual conversation that exists is also okay. Blindly pasting a comment from an argument in one thread into another is not so workable, and Ardiril knows better and should not require being told to cool it multiple times before he cools it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:24 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Gotcha.
posted by mr. digits at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2014


Basically if you want to have an argument/discussion but either

1. no one else wants to have it with you, or
2. there's no proper place on the site to have it

then you need to go elsewhere. If you are a longtime user with a history of stirring up shit, this goes double for you. People can get ahold of us via the contact form if this seems at all unclear, but it's been a busy set of days on the site and we don't really have time for this sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:29 PM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Auf Wiedersehen.
posted by Ardiril at 1:52 PM on February 5, 2014


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