Another complaint about Arab-Israeli difficulties posted September 1, 2005 5:47 AM   Subscribe

"I feel that the banal nature of this article offers some insight into this mindset."
...as a defense of this post. An appropriate choice of wording. [MI]
posted by Ethereal Bligh to Bugs at 5:47 AM (70 comments total)

The poster says that the point was not to cause a contentious thread. Okay, then read his defense in the most generous manner possible. He finds something on the web where a sentiment and point-of-view he finds sad/alarming/shocking is presented in a context where it is mundane. He finds this to be revealing about the human condition and wants to share that insight with the metafilter community and hopefully create an opportunity for some good discussion.

But, depending upon one's worldview, that observation could be said to apply to a vast portion of all web pages in existence, and certainly most of those which are political or current event in nature. If I were a socialist, I could find twenty CNN articles a day that would inspire exactly this same reaction. Or, alternatively, the same could be said if I were a white-supremecist. And if I were a pomo, the same could be said about everything written, ever.

Even if we just restrict ourselves to the majority point-of-view of mefites, we're still left with tens of thousands of news articles every day from media that is as relatively alien to us as the one to which the poster links.

The article itself is banal and if there's one certain diqualifying criteria for a metafilter post, it's banality. Or it should be.

I don't want to pick on mosch specifically because, honestly, this post is not that hugely different from many others. But this sort of thing is the end-result of what happens when people start to think of metafilter as predominantly a political/ideas discussion site. By that standard, the post is perfect.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:48 AM on September 1, 2005


I liked the post. Because it's a fantastic example of over-reaction. Come on! It's funny that people are so worked up over a sleeve of paper cups.

You can reply that it's sad and cry a single tear like the Native American in the anti-littering spot, but I think shitting yourself over enemy Dixie cups is always going to be funny.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:06 AM on September 1, 2005


No way is that post worse than the Playstation post.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:15 AM on September 1, 2005


I'm going to start a thread about how I find Ethereal Bligh's post to be sad, alarming, and shocking, and yet the context in which it's presented is mundane and banal.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:15 AM on September 1, 2005


Christ, Bligh, you are such a whiny, pompous ass. Seriously. Why the hell don't you just leave shit alone if you don't like it and get the hell off people's backs? Or become a petty local government official. Assuming you aren't one already. Jesus.
posted by Decani at 6:24 AM on September 1, 2005


Why the hell don't you just leave shit alone if you don't like it and get the hell off people's backs? Or become a petty local any government official.
posted by odinsdream at 6:34 AM on September 1, 2005


"Why is ______ mad about the cups?" should be the new euphamism for getting one's pants in a knot, Ethereal Bligh-stylee.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:41 AM on September 1, 2005


"No way is that post worse than the Playstation post."

No, it's not. The PS3 post is worse. But it's so self-evidently bad, it doesn't need a callout or much comment at all, really. This is bad in a way that sadly is becoming more acceptable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:42 AM on September 1, 2005



The poster says that the point was not to cause a contentious thread...

*Bligh filter kicks in*
...By that standard, the post is perfect.

I agree with Bligh. Don't think your contributions aren't appreciated around these parts mosch.
posted by Tuatara at 6:43 AM on September 1, 2005


it doesn't need a callout or much comment at all, really.

Good, then.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:44 AM on September 1, 2005


Settle down Decani. EB makes a great point/observation, perfectly suited for a MeTa discussion. Metafilter's original mission may have been lost for good long ago, at least partly... but even in today's MeFi standard, that post just doesn't make sense and doesn't even approach fitting into the guidelines. All it does is scratch off any scab that may have been finally forming over that festering Israel/Palestine topical wound that Metafilter has been carrying around forever.

But, I do agree that the story is kind of funny, in a pathetic and sad way. So what do I know?
posted by Witty at 6:51 AM on September 1, 2005


But, depending upon one's worldview, that observation could be said to apply to a vast portion of all web pages in existence, and certainly most of those which are political or current event in nature.

Bligh, I'm not going to go tête-à-tête with you on ethics or morality, because I'd lose, and I hate that. But isn't your objection to the post a case of textbook moral relativism? Thing is, this isn't a pomo white-supremacist, or (completely) socialist community, but this is a community that abhors anti-semitism and racism. And that's not a product of our "worldview," it's just basic decency.

What don't I understand?
posted by Kwantsar at 7:07 AM on September 1, 2005


I liked the post. I thought

"I feel that the banal nature of this article offers some insight into this mindset."

was an excellent justification for it.

If the post caused a contentious thread, that's too bad even if it was predictable. I don' t think you can blame the flaws of commenters on the poster.
posted by callmejay at 7:16 AM on September 1, 2005


You're surely not suggesting that my flaws are my own fault.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:21 AM on September 1, 2005


"What don't I understand?"

My objection to the post is a technical and a practical objection. Where the moral relativism comes in is that the context in which the post is defended is that it is notable from the perspective of someone that has a different worldview from the linked article. Sure, "we" (which is arguably not the case as the thread demonstrates) all have that worldview and we therefore find the article interesting. But if we didn't, the article would be nothing but an ordinary daily news article. And, well, supposedly, those aren't worthy of being posted. Secondly, there's basically no limit to the things that "we" mostly agree upon but that we would find perverse and thought-provoking in news articles from sufficiently alien cultures. That is, there could be a half-dozen posts like this every single day from the middle-east, Africa, China, whatever. All links to mundane news articles. Yeah, right, that makes for a good post. The gloss of politics and a supposed thoughtful moral question are all that seperates this post from a "look at those funny foreigners take something for granted that we think is absurd" post. What would self-evidently be a horrible post becomes apparently acceptable if it's political and might cause a good discussion. Well, that makes sense on someone's blog or another group blog or another website. But it's not what MetaFilter is for.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:40 AM on September 1, 2005


Why is Ethereal Bligh mad about the cups?

Oooh, I like it!
posted by Plutor at 7:43 AM on September 1, 2005


That is, there could be a half-dozen posts like this every single day from the middle-east, Africa, China, whatever. All links to mundane news articles.

If that became a problem, I'd support you. But it hasn't.
posted by callmejay at 7:59 AM on September 1, 2005




We got a bogey on our tail.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:17 AM on September 1, 2005


Oh, hell. Look at the "pretty girl" post. The poster says in the post: "[I] thought it might make an interesting thread [...] Not that the writer has any great insights to share". It's posts like these that mean that you can pretty much dump anything on the FPP just because you want to shoot the shit about it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:21 AM on September 1, 2005


elendil71's Profile
member since: October 30, 2002
elendil71 has posted 2 links and 89 comments to MetaFilter
and no threads and no comments to MetaTalk
and no questions and no answers to Ask MetaFilter


What wakes this slumbering beast?
posted by NinjaPirate at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2005


NinjaPirate writes "What wakes this slumbering beast?"

Pretty girls, but e71 is neither the first or the last person (or thing) for whom that is true.
posted by OmieWise at 9:05 AM on September 1, 2005


Did this really need a MeTa thread? I mean, really?
posted by wakko at 9:07 AM on September 1, 2005


very nice tagline you got there, wakko
posted by matteo at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2005


Did this really need a MeTa thread? I mean, really?

Yes, because this is where we discuss crappy threads, why they're crappy and what we should do about them.
posted by Witty at 9:15 AM on September 1, 2005


That is, there could be a half-dozen posts like this every single day from the middle-east, Africa, China, whatever.

Today is a single day, let's see some examples. 6.5 will do (baker's half dozen).
posted by nomad at 9:19 AM on September 1, 2005


EB's MeTa post entirely misses the point, confusing the banality of the article with the significance of the post. The article is a primary source document in the current conflict in the middle east. It is significant because of its banality, what it takes for granted. While in the news, many of us hear about the removal of settlers from Gaza, and think progress is being made, the world view that is taken as a given in this article shows that there is much more going on. This is not just a case of enforcing a boycott; the end of the article, with its spectre of crypto-jewish consumer products, speaks volumes about a mindset that is different from its portrayal in most Western media, which tends to focus on Arabs as either "good" or "bad". The banality here is more along the lines of Arendt's view of Eichmann, in the sense that we achieve our evils (here, of prejudice -- not trying to draw a parallel between nazis and the article) not through horrific acts, but through a detachment from critical thinking.
posted by mabelstreet at 9:24 AM on September 1, 2005


I'd just like to let everyone know that I didn't read a single thing Blight said, and you guys would be better off if you did the same. I have to deal with people like him at work constantly, speaking to hear themselves speak, always attempting to validate their own existance using what they think is their own intellect, their individuality and their enlightenment, when in reality it's just a constant internal battle to find enough garbage to endlessly ramble on about.
posted by angry modem at 9:53 AM on September 1, 2005


I second angrymodem.
posted by Stynxno at 9:56 AM on September 1, 2005


"EB's MeTa post entirely misses the point, confusing the banality of the article with the significance of the post."

Oh, please. Your argument is that the merit of the post lies in the significance of the post while acknowledging that the subject of the post is banal. That is exactly what makes it a bad post: the post is primarily about itself. It is about the context the poster creates by calling attention to the post.

Your invocation of Hannah Arendt while sensational is also self-defeating because, yes, her argument is that evil is often banal and we are blind. If that's true—and I agree that this is true—then essentially this post is proselytizing to its audience an "awakened" point of view about commonplace evil. Anyone wanting to make this point—and it is upon this point that everyone's defense of this post rests—you could, by definition, do so using any of the millions of web pages published daily that are examples the banality of evil. And you could do so a million times a day with equal justification as is being presented here.

The bottom line is that posts are not about the poster and not about the audience of the post. They are about what they are ostensively about and must stand scrutiny on the link's virtues alone. Those virtues being, essentially, rarity. The rarity of high intrinsic interest, and the rarity of simple existence.

"Today is a single day, let's see some examples. 6.5 will do (baker's half dozen)."

You really don't think I easily could find a pages to links that:

• Assert racial differences of morality in the support of a policy argument?
• Assert that evolution is self-evidently false and thus its teaching is necessarily the product of conspiracy?
• Assert that the New Orleans disaster is God's punishment for its tolerance of sin?
• Take for granted the absurdity of allowing women to vote?
• Implicitly approves of the use of child labor?
• Asserts that Israel had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks?
• Refers to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
• Takes for granted the acceptability of having a $15K diamond-studed collar on an heiress's dog in the context of people living within mere miles who are dying because of inadequate health care?

I could go on and on and on. The world is full of things that seem to "us" to be outrageous and worthy of notice while "they" seem to just take for granted that it's business as usual. You could have a website devoted to nothing but noting these absurdities and discussing them...oh, wait, that describes almost every politically-themed blog there is, huh?

That's all the defending I'll do of my callout.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:10 AM on September 1, 2005


Those aren't examples, they're characteristics of examples. Stop stinkin and start linkin.
posted by nomad at 10:16 AM on September 1, 2005


No. I don't want to and I don't need to. Hell, one of them was a post just two days ago.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:30 AM on September 1, 2005


My next FPP:

------------------------------------
This guy just can't seem to make up his mind about the war in Iraq... or maybe he's just sad about Katrina. Perhaps a game of chess is in this man's future. What do you think... about anything?
------------------------------------
posted by Witty at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2005


I recommend that people ignore angry modem because, mostly, he's the kind of man who has three computers in his house connected to the internet and idling on irc at all times, one of which is also downloading porn 24 hours a day. Not to mention that his username contains not one of, but both the words angry and modem...which does, I agree, provide some insight into the whole porn thing and the repeated "oh you just think you're so special, don't you?" whining. But there's no need to get personal. Don't you agree, Decani?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:44 AM on September 1, 2005


The world is full of things that seem to "us" to be outrageous and worthy of notice while "they" seem to just take for granted that it's business as usual.

This callout should be on the list of threads whose subject matter will seem outrageous and worthy of notice to some, while most people just take it for granted that it's business as usual.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:55 AM on September 1, 2005


Or people who don't think it's outrageous, necessarily, but see the trend as "business as usual" and think it's worth discussing (without being attacked and insulted for it of course).
posted by Witty at 10:58 AM on September 1, 2005


I tend to agree that any FPP poster who suggests that they know that they are not posting a very good link should reconsider the FPP before they make it. The rest of this seems like the standard argument between Better Links!/Better Discussion!

ad hominem attacks on EB for posting this callout seem puerile, especially ones which simply weigh in to say that they are ignoring the poster. MetaTalk is the proper place for this discussion even if you disagree that the post is a bad one.
posted by OmieWise at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2005


Great Seller!! Would Buy Israeli Paper Cups Again!!!1!A+++
posted by Balisong at 11:24 AM on September 1, 2005


Witty, That's an awesome FPP!!
I wish to subscribe to your newsblather.

That FPP example is put together much like Fox News stories.
posted by Balisong at 11:27 AM on September 1, 2005


I don't understand: who are we trying to ban today?
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:34 AM on September 1, 2005


MetaFilter: I don't understand: who are we trying to ban today?

Just wait. I'm working on a GreaseMonkey script that will actually go over to the homes of problem posters and punch them in the gut.
posted by mystyk at 11:40 AM on September 1, 2005


Bugs?
posted by anapestic at 11:44 AM on September 1, 2005


I could go on and on and on.

No, really?
posted by ericb at 11:44 AM on September 1, 2005


Reading this thread is like finding an Israeli-made paper cup in a Saudi Arabia coffee shop. It's funny and reassuring in a vague and satisfying way, but you know it's not supposed to be there, because it's one of those stupid things that starts wars.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:56 AM on September 1, 2005


Why is everybody mad about the cups?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:57 AM on September 1, 2005 [1 favorite]


Piss poor and typically long-winded callout.
posted by Joeforking at 11:58 AM on September 1, 2005


I am this close | | to changing my years-held support of NewsFilter. By the end of today, EB may just push me over the edge, cuz right now I am thinking he is right.
posted by mischief at 11:58 AM on September 1, 2005


1992: "Can't we all just get along?"
2005: "Why is everybody mad about the cups?"
posted by fandango_matt at 12:01 PM on September 1, 2005


MetaFilter: We Are Happy To Serve You.
posted by Vidiot at 1:56 PM on September 1, 2005


Maybe we should all chip in & hire EB an editor? I'll go for average FPPs over tedious, pompous and long-winded callouts most days. And some syrup to go with all the waffle.
posted by i_cola at 2:37 PM on September 1, 2005


This happens every time anyone posts an item that even tangentially criticizes Isreal. It's tiresome.
posted by undule at 2:52 PM on September 1, 2005


I'm not criticizing it on that basis. I'm no fan of Israel.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:03 PM on September 1, 2005


Heh. I think EB should have to pay for the editor. And I think I should be that editor.
I won't make him any less wonky (don't worry EB), but I will make him more succinct.
Also, I know that he hates putting punctuation inside of quotation marks, so I'll keep that stylistic tic!
Oh, and I think he should pay me a lot. Not because the work is hard or essential, but because I'm nearly broke.
posted by klangklangston at 3:27 PM on September 1, 2005


But...I'm nearly broke. That complicates matters.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:06 PM on September 1, 2005


I'll go for average FPPs over tedious, pompous and long-winded callouts most days.

Amen.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 4:46 PM on September 1, 2005


The article is a primary source document in the current conflict in the middle east. It is significant because of its banality, what it takes for granted.

OK, I could see this argument in a world in which most MeFites were unaware of the longstanding mutual hatred of Israel and the surrounding Arab nations. If most people here thought the Middle East was an earthly paradise of milk and honey, where the lion lay down with the lamb, this would be a clarion wake-up call. People! Arabs don't like Israel! AWAKE!

But this is not that world. Can there possibly be a single person here who is surprised to find that people in an Arab country are upset to find out their cups are Made in That Blank Space on the Map Over to the West?

In short, I agree with EB. This was a stupid, pointless post, an information-free contribution to the debacle that is Israel-Palestine on MeFi.
posted by languagehat at 5:10 PM on September 1, 2005


But the important question is: Was it banal (rhymes with anal) or banal (rhymes with canal)?
OK, maybe not so important
posted by birdsquared at 7:02 PM on September 1, 2005


Personally I think anybody has the right to not buy anything s/he chooses, from anybody, for any reason, so I find nothing wrong with the post, regardless of why it was posted. Does anybody really think some Saudi hospital should literally be forced to buy paper cups from Israel? No? I didn't think so. So I give the FPP a big yawn: just another stupid, pointless post, like most of the FPPs -- and Metatalk callouts -- around here.

So I don't get why you're upset, E_B. The only sense I can make of this is that you disagree with mosch's assertion that he thinks he has a valid point to make. Otherwise your "argument" sounds like hair-splitting hyper-cerebral anal-retentive gibberish to me.

C'mon Bligh, don't you have anything better do? You make really good points and arguments in the New Orleans threads, and then you go and do this.

If you want to see a blog with nothing on it but posts you think should be there for reasons of which you approve, GYOB then.
posted by davy at 9:57 PM on September 1, 2005


davy : "I give the FPP a big yawn: just another stupid, pointless post, like most of the FPPs -- and Metatalk callouts -- around here.

"So I don't get why you're upset, E_B."


I think EB's upset because it's a stupid, pointless post.
posted by Bugbread at 10:08 PM on September 1, 2005


"I think EB's upset because it's a stupid, pointless post."

So are most of the FPPs. Remember the one on doggie dildos?

Why did he call out THIS stupid, pointless post, and work so hard on it too?

It's not like there's not at least one stupid, pointless FPP every frigging day.
posted by davy at 10:36 PM on September 1, 2005


And anyway, as SPFPPs go it wasn't that bad: reading the article did help me understand that some administrators of some hospital in Saudi Arabia got very upset about a very little thing. Kinda like Bligh, sometimes.
posted by davy at 10:47 PM on September 1, 2005


I'm guessing that he saw it as an egregious example of PoliFilter or the like, unlike doggie dildos. And (again a guess), that unlike, for example, the PS3 post, which everyone pretty much hated, and therefore didn't particularly "need" calling out, that this was the kind of post which some people support, and which he doesn't find to be in accordance with MetaFilter's intended purpose. That is, unlike the PS3 post, it's the kind of post that, if left to grow, would thrive.

Note: the above opinions are not necessarily my own, they're just my guesses about EB's opinions.
posted by Bugbread at 11:10 PM on September 1, 2005


Bugbread's guesses are spot on.

And my meta post here does seem egregiously trivial in contrast to all the much more terrible things happening yesterday upon which we ought to be paying close attention. But, in my defense, I was paying attention to those things, and I commented on them, at my musual extended length, as well. Even so, I'd just as soon not made this post when I did.

I do hate NewsPoliFilter, though, I truly do.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:51 AM on September 2, 2005


musal
posted by peacay at 4:18 AM on September 2, 2005


Heh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:39 AM on September 2, 2005


"Musual"?
Of or pertaining to Muses? (Musal)?
Heh. I can help, EB!
"But...I'm nearly broke. That complicates matters."
Well, er... Yes it does.
Take up a fund? There's a MeTa thread that never needs to happen...
posted by klangklangston at 7:16 AM on September 2, 2005


Metatalk: hair-splitting hyper-cerebral anal-retentive gibberish
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:02 AM on September 2, 2005


Metatalk: The Musual Suspects
posted by cortex at 12:14 PM on September 2, 2005


Hey Bligh, so maybe you should avoid Metafilter on Big News Days. I was surprised to find out it's not primarily a political blog.

Since then I've learned that what Metafilter really is is a mutual appreciation society for survivors of the suburbs who care very deeply about insulting ParisParamus for saying "insensitive" things.

I stick around because you're not all all bad, and because it's a bully wilderness to cry in. And because y'all can be -- including you, Brother Ethereal -- so very entertaining, usually unwittingly.
posted by davy at 10:39 PM on September 2, 2005


"Since then I've learned that what Metafilter really is is a mutual appreciation society for survivors of the suburbs who care very deeply about insulting ParisParamus for saying 'insensitive' things."

Ha! That's so true, it's scary.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:00 AM on September 3, 2005


« Older Breaking news on Mefi   |   Freedom Walk DC meetup? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments