Reading the room on international posts October 27, 2016 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I was a bit disappointed when the recent thread about Iceland's elections devolved into lolz pretty much from the get go. Would it be possible for us as a community to be a little more conscious of how we approach posts about other countries?

Most of the hilarity seemed to come from the fact that Iceland is a small country and that doesn't matter or something. It shouldn't matter, but it's worth noting that Iceland is bigger than South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland or Portugal. It has nearly as many people in it as The Bahamas. We've had many a thread about smaller groups of people that are not dismissed in this way.

I am not anti-lolz, far from it, and I don't think the thread is a bomb by any means. But the post framing was not really humorous, and to be honest I think it's kind of a dick move to belittle other countries, full stop. I think it's an especially dick move when we know we have mefites from this country active here, and it's a topic that matters to them and they will care about.

I think it would make for a better community if, when about to comment in a thread on a topic we know little-to-nothing about, we could consider what exactly we're contributing to the conversation.

I bring this up, because I feel a kind of trite dismissal regarding things American mefites don't especially understand or care about is a Thing. I'd like if we could be a bit more conscious of it, our roles in perpetuating it, the effect it may have on international members of this site. I am positioning this as a flaw that every American mefite has, nor as a phenomenon limited to American mefites, nor am I trying to co-opt or presuppose Kattallus' feelings about this; this are my feelings.

Thanks very much for having a read,
posted by smoke to Etiquette/Policy at 6:58 PM (64 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

I am NOT positioning this as a flaw every American mefite has. Repeat NOT positioning it as a universal flaw!!

Damn, sort of an important word to miss there, sorry!
posted by smoke at 7:14 PM on October 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


I agree, MetaFilter doesn't do "international" well and this is a good example. Indeed, most people seem to consider it an American site. Majority rules, I guess.
posted by Rumple at 7:25 PM on October 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


it's worth noting that Iceland is bigger than South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland or Portugal

Do people actually mean physical size when they talk about how small a country is? I mean I think of Iceland as a small country because it has fewer people than many other countries, not because it's, y'know, geographically small.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:52 PM on October 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yay to Kattullus!
Boo to know-nothing American parochialism!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:57 PM on October 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


I was in there doing that, not for lulz, but because I felt the FPP was way overblown in a way that itself reflected a lack of understanding with regard to multi-party parliamentary politics. Not only is it not an important story, it's not even true. Maybe if the FPP wasn't garbage, the thread wouldn't have been.

When I made a comparison to lend some scale to the story, I was called a typical American by a whole mob of British people. My comment clarifying that I wasn't any kind of American was deleted, along with half the thread, with no explanation, so I just rolled my eyes and got out of there.

I think the baseless assumption that everyone you disagree with must be American is about the stupidest thing that constantly gets trotted out around here, second only to "typical Metafilter."
posted by Sys Rq at 8:04 PM on October 27, 2016 [26 favorites]


Whether a country or a city, in Europe, Asia or the Americas, any political entity close to getting taken over by the Pirate Party is going to get more than its share of lulz... not to mention a flood of legal threats from American media corporations.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was in there doing that, not for lulz, but because I felt the FPP was way overblown

Forgive me, sys rq, but you think the best way to provide further context in a thread is to shit it up with a glib one liner? Even if you think a post is poorly constructed, it would surely be better to write your actual objection like you put here?
posted by smoke at 8:19 PM on October 27, 2016 [17 favorites]


A similar thing happened in this post.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:25 PM on October 27, 2016


If you seriously want me to apologize for comparing Iceland to a city with a comparable population, as a response to a story I felt needed to be un-blown back into proportion, I've got some disappointing news: That's not going to happen.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:47 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


(Far better that, I think, than the self-righteous tut-tutting you did in there.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:50 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


(Far better that, I think, than the self-righteous tut-tutting you did in there.)

In case you were wondering if you are being a jerk; you are.

/PSA
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:55 PM on October 27, 2016 [15 favorites]


One-liners are almost never a good way to communicate a substantive point. There are just not enough people in any given thread that have enough context to figure out what you intend, and there are way too many other possible reads without that context. If you intend to actually communicate, I urge you to take the time to actually say what you mean.

Also, please can it with the name-calling, and ideally also with the being jerks. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:09 PM on October 27, 2016 [26 favorites]


This happens with many, many posts about Japan. People rush to burst through the door just to reduce an entire country to the "WTF JAPAN LOL!?" catchphrase. There are certainly exceptions (the feminist reading of Anime thread comes to mind), but if there's a short one-off video, or a brief news story, there's invariably very tired reductionist thinking that comes to the fore quickly.
posted by codacorolla at 9:29 PM on October 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


To a (not total) degree, the post sets the initial tone and there's some responsibility on the post creator. And God knows I've gotten wrong, or misused, this responsibility on more than a few times as a post creator myself. Seeing the not-serious title of the Iceland post - sometimes such a title feels like an implicit "have a fun time and don't take it all seriously in this thread" instruct - the thread did seem to befit this to an extent. So it's ended up as a mix of knockabout stuff to LOL or eyeroll at or quickly skim past, and substantive and meaty comments, as more than a few threads do.

On that latter front, I'm grateful to the detailed and well-written comment by the ever-excellent Kattullus, which is a better (clearer) analysis of the election situation in Iceland than has been presented in many online and print newspapers I've ruffled of late.

As someone who regularly gets mistaken around here for an American (I come from here, currently live in England, and am an English citizen with a mixture of English, Scottish, Norwegian and French ancestry), one of the odd things on MetaFilter is when a MeFiteFite does a LOL about a country and someone retorts with a variation on "(All) Americans are ignorant and xenophobic", not realising the deep irony of their reply. I had this a few years back when I made a lightly flippant comment about my own birth region in England and was "told off" for being an American who was clueless about England or some eye-rolling drivel like that. Bizarre, and I get the feeling that a few specific folk are often itching to find a reason/excuse to comment "LOOK! AN AMERICAN! BAD!" whenever possible.
posted by Wordshore at 10:28 PM on October 27, 2016 [20 favorites]


On read back have erroneously written MeFiteFite in that comment, but am curiously liking it, not editing it and may use it again in other circumstances.
posted by Wordshore at 10:29 PM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Were a lot of comments deleted? Sys Rq mentioned a few, and the thread seems more balanced to me now than it did this morning.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 10:30 PM on October 27, 2016


Only a handful, actually, and mostly related to Sys Rq's original remark.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:32 PM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


You're right, sys rq. I should have kept my scolding out of that comment and left it at as expression of gratitude. My pique got the better of me, and I'll try to rein it in better next time.

It would be a shame if this thread got too focused on the nationality of the commenters rather than than the phenomenon itself. "Not all Americans" is kind of beside the point, I feel, and as an issue this has cropped up enough times that there is I think indisputably a cultural aspect at play.
posted by smoke at 10:54 PM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, please can it with the name-calling, and ideally also with the being jerks. Thanks.

There's definitely definitely no logic to human behaviour.

(Ég elska Ísland, Ég tala ekki Islensku)
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:42 PM on October 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm sorry I called Sys Rq an American. I knew they weren't, I was just being mean.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:35 AM on October 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm never glib when it comes to Icelandic japery.
posted by clavdivs at 2:15 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I didn't know Iceland was even supposed to be a LOL TINY CRAZEES country.
posted by Coda Tronca at 2:59 AM on October 28, 2016


Metafilter is good at having conversations about many things, but alas, "international" is not always one of them. I know this isn't ideal, but I'd rather be thankful about the former than angry about the latter.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 4:52 AM on October 28, 2016


It's a shame though. What you're calling 'international' is really most of the world. For many of us, it's 'life as we know it'.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:14 AM on October 28, 2016 [31 favorites]


As a UK expat living in Japan, I agree it's a shame. That's why I think we should look at the way we collectively handle "international" as an important work-in-progress. Smoke is right to bring this topic to the grey.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:21 AM on October 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


It's not 'international', in my view, so much as 'non-US'. I'm not an international member of this site: I live in only one country. What makes me different from the majority of members here is that this country is not the US.

Otherwise, I agree.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:25 AM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I agree that we should discuss the Icelandic elections with the same level of sober, restrained, analytic consideration with which we approach the american elections.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:41 AM on October 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


I am absolutely NOT saying that we as a community are super awesome about sensitivity to others' cultures.

However. The title was lulzy, and I couldn't agree more with what oneswellfoop said above:

any political entity close to getting taken over by the Pirate Party is going to get more than its share of lulz


Pirate Party. IMO it's an unfortunate word choice for a political party, given the vast history the world already has with pirates (fictional and non-fictional).

That said, there was definitely room to have a more nuanced discussion but the FPP itself wasn't really set up for a heavy discussion about the party's platform and the implications of the party gaining the majority.

I'm not sure this is the FPP to base the "be more sensitive about others' cultures" conversation (that we should DEFINITELY have) on.
posted by cooker girl at 5:59 AM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I agree that we should discuss the Icelandic elections with the same level of sober, restrained, analytic consideration with which we approach the american elections.

Appreciate the sarcasm, but there's actually another thread going on where some people are complaining that it's nasty to Clinton to call her the 'lesser of two evils.'
posted by Coda Tronca at 6:00 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


This issue is as old as MetaFilter. It's gotten better as mods now often delete US-centric derails in non-US FPPs but it's still there. Previouslies: [July 2015][August 2014][April 2014][February 2014][January 2011][October 2010][June 2010][March 2010][September 2008][February 2006][August 2004 (and 2 years earlier... )][March 2003][January 2001]. Mathowie floated the idea of regional Metafilters back in 2000 due to the amount of US elections posts but he couldn't see a way to make it work and ended up having a "Friday night freakout" about it.
posted by elgilito at 7:15 AM on October 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


there's actually another thread going on where some people are complaining that it's nasty to Clinton to call her the 'lesser of two evils.'

The best part of that thread is the point where someone complains that it's rude to call Trekkers Trekkies. At which point I started thinking of the old Shatner SNL sketch. "What's wrong with you people? Don't you have a life?" Nearly everyone in that thread thinks that someone else isn't giving them the respect they are due.

And yet no one, there or here, has offered any concrete suggestions for curbing this so-called problem: more comment deletions, more topic deletions, more explicit rules on what can or can't be written or how topics can be approached? Or who gets to address them? None of those ideas really thrill me and I don't have any others. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My comment clarifying that I wasn't any kind of American was deleted, along with half the thread, with no explanation, so I just rolled my eyes and got out of there.

It's exasperating to be directly addressed, reply, and then discover that not only was your reply deleted, but that every further attempt to reply gets deleted, too. I find that the only way to mitigate the heartbreak of psoriasis deleted replies is to just not get too invested in anything I write here in the first place.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by octobersurprise at 9:24 AM on October 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


but there's actually another thread going on [...]

The best part of that thread is [...]

Maybe in a MeTa about how US-centric points of view are derailing non-US-centric posts, it would be a good idea to not start derails about an acrimonious US-centric MeTa. That MeTa is still open if you folks really want to discuss points made there.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:37 AM on October 28, 2016 [14 favorites]


And yet no one, there or here, has offered any concrete suggestions for curbing this so-called problem: more comment deletions, more topic deletions, more explicit rules on what can or can't be written or how topics can be approached? Or who gets to address them? None of those ideas really thrill me and I don't have any others. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

OK, I'll try a few off the top of my head. These are all intended as requests for other members, not for mod action/deletion:

- Be mindful of other cultures/countries
- Don't turn a thread about a particular small country into a discussion about your big country (example: in the Christchurch earthquake thread, people talking about how bad it would be, hypothetically, if that earthquake hit LA. At the time I had actual friends living through the actual earthquake). In the Iceland thread, this could read as 'don't use a thread about Icelandic politics as an opportunity to ride your hobby-horses about Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit, neither of which have much to do with Iceland').
- Learn from and listen to the people who come from that culture/country. We're right here! You don't need to give a long, wrong explanation about my culture based on having met someone from it, once. You could just let me talk about it. Once I do talk about it, you could listen [real example: someone posted something wrong about my country's history. A couple of us corrected them. Then other people came in, made the same mistake, and had a conversation that completely ignored our presence/comments]. To be fair, MeFi is better than many sites at doing this right. But if you don't know something - it's OK to be quiet, and ask about it.
- consider that your perspective might not be the only one; other people do things differently [maybe more of an issue on the Green]
- Try to keep the lulz down. I disagree that the Icelandic thread was badly framed: it was possible for people to make interesting contributions - Katallus, but also acb, and others who attempted to discuss things like the value of referenda.

[I am not an appointed spokesman for small countries on MeFi, opinions are my own]
posted by Pink Frost at 11:45 AM on October 28, 2016 [30 favorites]


Only a handful, actually, and mostly related to Sys Rq's original remark.

Completely untrue.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:39 PM on October 28, 2016

Only a handful, actually, and mostly related to Sys Rq's original remark.

Completely untrue.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:39 PM on October 28 [+] [!]
Is doubling down on your poor behaviour in this thread by arguing with a mod is necessarily the path to success ... ?
posted by dotgirl at 12:47 PM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


If the mod is mistaken, and that mistake maligns me, yeah, I have a problem with that, and I'm going to say so. If expecting the truth from moderators makes me a jerk, well, apparently I'm already one of those, so, fuck it.

"Not all Americans" is kind of beside the point, I feel, and as an issue this has cropped up enough times that there is I think indisputably a cultural aspect at play.

Yes, there is: The stereotyping of 320,000,000 people, plus anyone you choose to arbitrarily lump in with them because you don't agree with what they have to say. That's far more offensive than suggesting that Iceland is small, IMO.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:15 PM on October 28, 2016


Yeah, there were a few comments in that thread which made me roll my eyes. Nothing too bad, but people were making comments without checking to see if their assumptions are correct (such as the nature of the Icelandic Pirate Party which has diverged sharply from other Pirate Parties towards a social democratic line).

That said, I knew that there would be a large number of MeFites who would be interested in a long-winded explainer on what the situation is in Icelandic politics, and therefore it would be worth the time it took me to write and fact-check. MeFites are too diverse a group to make any generalities beyond the obvious (e.g. they have access to the web) but one feature that is overrepresented in us is a streak of curiosity. I really appreciate that MetaFilter is a community of people that are interested in the wider world and are willing to spend time reading about it.
posted by Kattullus at 1:16 PM on October 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


If the mod is mistaken

There were a total of seven comments removed from that thread. 6 of the 7 were either by you or a response in a chain off of one of your comments. The mod was not mistaken; it's completely untrue to suggest that either part of the statement you quoted from restless_nomad was untrue. This is bizarre.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Iceland's on the map now.
posted by Coda Tronca at 1:52 PM on October 28, 2016


6 of the 7 were either by you or a response in a chain off of one of your comments.

Shifting goalposts in bold for your convenience.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:57 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


A user asked: Were a lot of comments deleted? Sys Rq mentioned a few, and the thread seems more balanced to me now than it did this morning.

restless_nomad responded: Only a handful, actually, and mostly related to Sys Rq's original remark.

To this you responded "Completely untrue", full stop. Which makes no sense, because someone asked a straightforward question and she answered it accurately. If there is something you are on about here other than (a) the number of comments removed and (b) whether they're related to your original remark, please make it a hell of a lot clearer what that is and why you think restless_nomad's comment addressing only those two specific points has something to do with it, because "Completely untrue" provides zero information there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:06 PM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sys rq, you seem very concerned about stereotyping regarding Americans. I tried to put a lengthy disclaimer at the end of my post to reiterate this wasn't what I wanted to do. Additionally, whilst I appreciate your spirited defense of the American identity, I can't help wishing you would apply such vigor other, less privileged and visible identities on the site.

... You seem to be taking this whole thing rather personally? This MeTa wasn't directed specifically at you.
posted by smoke at 2:10 PM on October 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


I have two 'maybe meant to be funny' comments in that thread. As odd as it is, they aren't meant to be funny. My first comment on not wanting to approach an island nation from either sea nor air is inspired from an old favorite site of mine, ginandtacos.com where the author makes the clear case 'There are no libertarians in airplanes'. This can be considered inclusive to boats as well. I stand by that comment as non-funny even if 0% of people reading the thread knew the reference I was making.
My second comment, regarding Paul Thereaux's book 'The Mosquito Coast' (and the Harrison Ford movie) both delve into the concept of self starters mid life crisising their families into the middle of nowhere and building a self sufficient village which simultaneously devalues the lives of the inhabitants, and acknowledges them, eventually resulting in his whole camp burning to the ground. Once again, if you don't know the reference to The Mosquito Coast, because holy shit, the book is 35 years old and the movie is 30 - I know its once again a very small subset of folks that can recall the story.

And then we consider that for it to truly be relevant to those in Iceland... well... lets just assume that pool of people are like... 3.

In both cases, my comments are short, target, but yeah, without the context and nuance, I could see where they seem flip. In that sense I am sorry. With this context, I hope that they are at least interpretable - and that hopefully someone can see why I would think them relevant.

But the big thing on Libertarian paradise is this: by libertarian ideals, it would seem to me that they would encourage an additional influx of like minded people - which would likely include some pretty shitty american libertarian tech a-holes. This kind of governmental change becomes a global problem - quickly.

... but uh yeah, I didn't even see this meta until someone sent me a memail (and I couldn't tell if you were cool with what I said or mad about it - either way - it's all good - I simultaneously mean 'Sorry and no offense intended, and I'll do my best to improve my comment quality and clarity' as well as 'thank you and I have a great level of respect for your posting history and I appreciate your ?possible? compliment that I failed to parse because I'm not able to keep up with metafilter over the past 4 weeks to the level that I like to'. Anyway...
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:58 PM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nanukthedog: But the big thing on Libertarian paradise is this: by libertarian ideals, it would seem to me that they would encourage an additional influx of like minded people - which would likely include some pretty shitty american libertarian tech a-holes. This kind of governmental change becomes a global problem - quickly.

The thing is though, the Icelandic Pirate Party isn't libertarian. Their policies are largely social democratic. Heck, they even support copyright (but in altered form).
posted by Kattullus at 12:00 AM on October 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


Nanukthedog, your comments were entirely about what you think of "shitty american libertarian tech a-holes". They had nothing at all to do with the Icelandic Pirate Party, their likely coalition partners, the Left-Green Movement, the Social Democratic Alliance and Bright Future, what's going on in Icelandic politics, or what policies any of these parties advocate. You clearly have strong opinions about American "techno-libertarians", but in the context of the thread, you were just mouthing off from a position of complete ignorance.

You don't seem to give a shit, or understand how mouthing off from a position of complete ignorance can being annoying to people who people who are actually interested in the topic, in this case, people who are interested in the Icelandic election.
posted by nangar at 1:24 AM on October 29, 2016 [14 favorites]

any political entity close to getting taken over by the Pirate Party is going to get more than its share of lulz

Pirate Party. IMO it's an unfortunate word choice for a political party, given the vast history the world already has with pirates (fictional and non-fictional).
But this is just projection, based on an arguably inappropriate and provincial set of cultural reference points. Wouldn't you want to use this as an opportunity for finding out about what's actually a pretty major political movement in Europe across a number of states, rather than assuming that your own understanding of what a pirate is means that the topic is self-evidently ludicrous? Here's what the movement itself has to say about its intellectual and ethical underpinnings:
The PPI advocate on the international level for the promotion of the goals its members share such as protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the digital age, consumer and authors rights-oriented reform of copyright and related rights, support for information privacy, transparency and free access to information.
None of those issues sounds particularly lulz worthy to me.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:24 AM on October 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


You assume I don't or didn't know anything about the party based on my opinion that they chose an unfortunate name. I do know what the party stands for and I do still think it's an unfortunate name.

I was merely putting forth an opinion as to why this specific post would attract lulz. I stand by that opinion. Like it or not, there is a history with the word and even though you don't want them to, people are going to react to their first impressions. Do I agree with them? Immaterial. It's going to happen whether I want it to or not.
posted by cooker girl at 6:52 AM on October 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I didn't even see this meta until someone sent me a memail (and I couldn't tell if you were cool with what I said or mad about it

Hey, if you meant mine, not mad, I respect you and hope you don't think i was dissing you. I won't address the last couple of comments about "ingorance" because I don't really see it. I think it unfair that folks are re-litagating a comment. I say this because what I see is a person explaining themselves and another being cool, not fighty with his remark. I memailed because I believe this is the best way to hash things out or clarify, seems to work.
I've said ignorant things and have learned. Here is an example (scroll down to were I start to spout) of my ass getting handed to me which was humbling, learning and I can say I view the subject matter different now.
My wish, my hope is that "we" can communicate more, so dress that way for Halloween. Dress to be the best person you can.
posted by clavdivs at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2016


But this is just projection, based on an arguably inappropriate and provincial set of cultural reference points. Wouldn't you want to use this as an opportunity for finding out about what's actually a pretty major political movement in Europe across a number of states, rather than assuming that your own understanding of what a pirate is means that the topic is self-evidently ludicrous?

This response caused me to wonder instead what it was about pirates that many of us misunderstood in history. Very little it seems. More to the point, it isn't our burden that we don't get it, but it is their PR problem that their would-be supporters don't get it. More ironic though is the idea that people show up demanding to be taken seriously with the name that is generously taken as a joke (otherwise it invokes theft and violence, or more modernly, internet attacks).
posted by Brian B. at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2016


In Icelandic, the Pirate Party doesn't share a name with pirates, as in those people who attack ships at sea. The word for that is "sjóræningi" (literally "sea robber"). They are called Pírataflokkurinn. "Pírati", though obviously a loan word from the word "pirate" (which came into English and other languages from French and ultimately from Latin), only means, in Icelandic, "a member of the Pirate Party". Not that it stops them from using the black flag as their logo, though instead of a skull and bones they have a stockfish.
posted by Kattullus at 11:46 AM on October 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


instead of a skull and bones they have a stockfish.

Nitpick: The Pirate Party logo has no skulls and bones, it's a stylized P, in the shape of a sail (examples: original, international).
posted by effbot at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I see stockfish
posted by clavdivs at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I see two upside down faces looking at each other. Or maybe a vase.

In other news, yeah, MetaFilter doesn't do a great job on non-American politics. Also, Kattullus is a treasure.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:12 AM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I see stockfish

Yes, Katullus just mentioned that. But the rest of the logo is much older than the party; the Icelandic Pirate Party (founded 2012) is one of many members of the international Pirate Party organization and borrowed both their name and the logotype from the original Piratpartiet (founded 2006).

(And for people who think the name is silly, it was inspired by Swedish think tank Piratbyrån (The Pirate Bureau, founded 2003), which was started as a reaction against a copyright lobby group named Antipiratbyrån (The Anti-Piracy Bureau, founded 2001).)
posted by effbot at 8:39 AM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Honestly, weird names for political parties are hardly unique to the Pirate Party. In the US, off the top of my head, there were the Know-Nothing Party (kind of a nickname, but it seemed to have had more prominence than any of their official names) and the Anti-Masonic Party, and the British (and American?) Whigs got their name from a term for "cattle driver," for reasons I am having trouble getting my head around. Anyway, politics seems to generate goofy names nearly as often as sober descriptive ones.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:57 AM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anyway, politics seems to generate goofy names nearly as often as sober descriptive ones.

Gangs have goofy names, likely to soften their approach. Naming any organization generally attempts to widen its appeal. On that score, "pirate party" is perhaps a cool understatement with a hacktivist agenda. Younger voters would not be threatened because they have few if any accounts at risk and consider themselves tech-sophisticated. Ha-ha-we're-just-pirates signals a lot without sounding anti-social, because it frames itself as a joke.
posted by Brian B. at 11:19 AM on October 30, 2016


Bull Moose Party!

Discuss.
posted by clavdivs at 6:42 PM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Whigs got their name from a term for "cattle driver,"

That would be 'The Teamsters'.
posted by clavdivs at 7:23 PM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


That would be 'The Teamsters'.

Not really? Or, rather, technically yes, but, as far as I can tell, it was a very convoluted trip through a couple of dismissive nicknames for radical Presbyterians to play up the anti-Stuart and anti-Catholic aspects of the political movement. Someone with a better grounding than I in Early Modern British history might clarify, but it's hardly a clear or direct name for a political party....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:26 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is kind of covered in a fantastic essay by T. N. Corns, J. A. Downie, and W. A. Speck, "Archetypal Mystification: Polemic and Reality in English Political Literature 1640-1750," Eighteenth-Century Life, 7:3 (1982), 1–27. It's sadly not online, though.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:50 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can I posit that this plea is a good example of why "read the room" is an absurd directive? Someone who actually successfully read the room in most MeFi international politics threads would either make a snarky joke or redirect the conversation to US politics. Because that's what the room is doing.
posted by zokni at 7:31 AM on October 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


Isn't that howling with the wolves, and isn't 'reading the room' being mindful of sensitivities in that room?
posted by Namlit at 3:48 PM on October 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


Isn't that howling with the wolves, and isn't 'reading the room' being mindful of sensitivities in that room?

The problem with saying it that way is that it's going to be interpreted as code phrase for "political correctness". Sensitivity is a relative cultural and political value. Being more sensitive to one another sounds obvious (i.e. to most college-educated commenters), but too often it presupposes knowledge of what counts as sensitivity and what doesn't. For example, what is the process of deciding what behavior is sensitive and insensitive in a particular context, and what kinds of intersectional power dynamics are involved? The other person talking may not have the same set of assumptions as you or I. This is the source of a lot of social conflict.

We should be more sensitive. Or more generally, kind. The complication is that there's a lot of political and philosophical baggage behind a self-evident proposition like that. More awareness of that would help too.
posted by polymodus at 9:38 PM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also live in Iceland, and have been reporting on the elections pretty extensively over the past few days. Kattullus did an awesome job of breaking it down, so I don't need to link to the articles I wrote here. I will say though that the one comment in that thread that really stuck out was regarding their being "so little at stake" in the Icelandic elections.

I'm sorry, but that is patrician nonsense. There are real people with real lives in this very real country, and the results of the elections will have very real consequences for us. I have grown so weary of the condescending pat on the head we get from people observing these elections abroad. This isn't some fairy elf land created for your entertainment. We have problems we're struggling with, many of them caused by the previous government, and we have been steadily trending towards some kind of neolib nightmare. You don't have to give a shit about our elections, but jesus, roll back the condescending "aw look at them acting like a real country" bullshit.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:30 AM on November 1, 2016 [38 favorites]


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