Outting Users September 28, 2005 2:12 AM   Subscribe

Hey, MeFite Detectives! A request: Please think before you "out" someone. In our personal lives, most of us have learned that just because we can do something, it doesn't necessarily mean we should, and the same is true here. If a user (or perhaps the subject of a post, etc.) has caught your attention for some reason, and they have revealed (or you have figured out) their real life identity, and you go poking around to see what you can find, please think twice before publishing your big scoop. [more]
posted by taz (staff) to Etiquette/Policy at 2:12 AM (163 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I anticipate disagreement, but here's what I think: Arguing that if someone leaves a trail or uses their real identity, then they deserve what they get isn't persuasive. Not everyone is as aware as they should be about the transparent internet environment, but that in itself isn't a reason to punish them.

Some others are more aware, but might make a misstep; it's sad to think that we must be forever haunted by the worst or most thoughtless of our deeds or remarks, and rarely recognized for our best.

Or you may believe that you found out something about someone that deserves a public shaming: again, think twice. You have happened across one small bit of information without context. Courts don't judge people on this kind of evidence, and neither should we.

I admit that I am usually less than sympathetic with users who try to game the site with marketing / ad-related stuff, and lying self-linkers ("Oh! look what I happened to stumble across!"), and I pretty much concede those cases, within reason, in a sort of "live by the sword, die by the sword" way. But we have also outed people due to idle curiosity, high spirits, honest interest, personal grudge stuff, pile-on syndrome, eagerness to prove a point, and maybe just showing off our cyberSherlock skillz. And in these cases, I'm asking people to just stop and think a minute. We may not realize we are being punitive, but we often are, and in other cases we simply cause unnecessary distress or complication. We need to remember that we aren't just having a spontaneous conversation among friends - what you say here, for better or worse, becomes public record, and because of the popularity of the site, more public than most internet records. So let's be careful out there, and remember to use your powers for good.
posted by taz at 2:12 AM on September 28, 2005

I agree.

it's weird, though, that you said the opposite in the rcm thread. maybe it's none of my business, but is there some more recent thing that happened to inspire the change of heart?
posted by shmegegge at 2:46 AM on September 28, 2005

I agree as well. I know of two mefites that have been "outed". Both of them were interesting posters; both of them stopped coming because of their outings.
posted by Bugbread at 2:56 AM on September 28, 2005

shmegegge, you should totally look into it and find out if taz said something, and then said something else.

posted by bryak at 3:01 AM on September 28, 2005

But... well all know about you and Bugs Bunny. Is there more of a back-story?
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:05 AM on September 28, 2005

"This mefi user is clearly a petty thief" said Inspector Google.

"But Google, how can you possibly know?" asked Dr WebMD incredulously.

"Well firstly a simple whois on their personal website shows me their real name. By doing a search on this name I can find all sorts of articles written about them including this court report" he said as he pointed with his pipe at The Smoking Gun.

"Inspector Google, you never cease to amaze me!"

"Would you like to see all their group postings? They're talking about an interesting medical complaint they have on this thread."

"Uh, no that's quite alright." Dr WebMD shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

"I can also show you a satellite image of where they live if you'd prefer?"

"Umm, actually I think I'd better go back to my surgery. I have a lot of patients to see." said WebMD, sweating profusely.

"Very well Doctor, but maybe first you could explain these pictures that result from doing an image search for your name?"

"I was young! it was a long time ago! I didn't know what I was doing! It costs money to study to be a Doctor!! Waaahhh!!!!"
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:05 AM on September 28, 2005

I agree wholeheartedly.

While the discerning and critical-thought enabled human may be able to form objective, independent opinions - and even base decisions on them - I don't have much faith in the remainder of humanity at this point.

A personal example: If you google my email address, there's only a handful of links*. One of the links towards the end is to some sort of sexual dysfunction support list or some shit. Sexual dysfunction? WTF? Sexual perversion, more like! The only thing I can figure is that I pissed off some jawgrindingly angry keypuncher on craigslist and they signed me up.

Last time I checked I wasn't even listed in the actual "support network list", but just in google's cache of the search. But if you go there you'll see that it's unverified public sign-up with a totally Google-able site structure and open viewing - and there's lots of improbable signups there.

* Correction: Exhibit A. It's now the only results for a Google search for my gmail address. And I quote: "Dufus - jason23 [(at)] gmail.com". What an unrelenting font of wit. Everyone knows it's spelled "doofus".

The point is that while it might be all fun and games and hearty jests in the moment while it lasts in the thread on MeFi, but then it's there. Forever. Gone to Google cache, gone to Archive.org, gone to billions of packets across millions of eventual browsers.

So what? You may be holding a loaded gun. Information is - to bend the cliche - money. Stability. Power. Comfort. A misconstrued or even a construed word here or there could easily deny someone a needed job, admission to schooling, benefits, or the love of their life all because someone took it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner.

And this is a particularly ugly piece of work that's directly MeFi related: Exhibit B The "u.n. owen" section is appalling.
posted by loquacious at 3:08 AM on September 28, 2005

shmegegge, yeah, I know. And in the ortho case, my reaction was more in line with what I've said here. I do have mixed ideas about it, and in fact, to a certain degree, I do have a double standard. For a lot of us regular, weathered mefites, it seems to me that we are in a certain way the "cognoscenti", and that if we want to tread the line of introducing our real identities when arguing a point, then we probably do realize that the same information may be referred to when people are discussing it.

But I didn't think there was anything spiteful in the rcm thing... and while it may not have been the best choice (I wouldn't have referred to it myself), it does seem like there was some thought behind it, and mostly, I just want people to think about what they are doing - especially in the cases where it's really not pertinent to anything, and most especially in cases where the target is basically clueless.
posted by taz at 3:12 AM on September 28, 2005

And, to be honest... Yes, I guess I have kind of changed my opinion, or, really, narrowed it, based on cumulative experiences here. Because it's very difficult to lay out or a follow a complex, nuanced set of criteria for this stuff, I think we should just generally choose to err on the side of caution.
posted by taz at 3:22 AM on September 28, 2005

I think you musty have peeked at this thread last night, in which Davy seems to have gone bezerk outing everybody he could, starting with me. I found it offensive enough to have this geek making assumptions about me being Jewish, but he eventually derailed the entire thread maniacally outing everbody he could.

It was definately not ethical, and deliberately flaunted MeFi ettiquette. Would I leave MeFi? No.
posted by zaelic at 3:35 AM on September 28, 2005

I agree with taz, which doesn't surprise me. I think that the sense of "gotcha" that attends many outings indicates that they aren't meant in a neutral fashion, and that that the people who engage in them know (despite protestations to the contrary) that they're working at revealing something that many people would like to keep private. On the other hand, I think a general policy is also useful for those moments, such as in the beginning of the [thread about that firefox plugin many people use], where the outing seems completely innocuous but then develops into something objected to by the user in question.
posted by OmieWise at 4:26 AM on September 28, 2005

And I'd like to make clear that there are a variety of flavors here:

* There are disagreements between members that escalate into one party trying to 'prove" something about the other party.

* There are the subjects of posts, or the hosts of posted sites that may come across as unsavory for whatever reason, and so one or more people start snooping around.

* There are the nasty ad gamers or (knowing) selflinkers

* There are grudge attacks, clearly punitive

* There are sad cases, like the recent one, of a new member simply veering from the norm a bit and catching people's attention.

* There are cases of pure curiosity that basically result in "accidental" outings.

So I realize that it's difficult to apply a single rule, but definitely think. Think, "am I intruding into someone's private life?"; "am I taking my need to win an argument too far?"; "am I smearing someone's name without much proof or any good reason?"; "am I trying punish this person?"; "does the punishment fit the crime?"; "am I so pure that I could withstand this treatment myself?".

So if you find someone trying to boost their own site, go ahead and link to the whois, if that's the proof, but you don't need to bring up their university transcripts, or their angry Ex's revenge blog. Etc.
posted by taz at 5:00 AM on September 28, 2005

And it is just to avoid unwanted incidents like that that I walk around with my real name flapping in the breeze...
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:36 AM on September 28, 2005

You people have too much free time on your hands. There is a world outside the Metaverse!
posted by Eideteker at 5:37 AM on September 28, 2005

posted by ColdChef at 5:53 AM on September 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Sign me up for the list of people disturbed by Davy's ranting in this thread. Because his writing is so unecessarily verbose and convoluted, it's hard to understand what he is saying, but it seems to be something like "the religion of Judaism requires its followers to practice genocide." He then goes on to question a member's comments because of the member's "Jewish" name. This is truly bizarre.

I'm not advocating any "punishment" or administrator action -- everyone's free to kook out as they please, I suppose. But it's important to call a kook a kook, lest he think that bewildered silence means agreement.
posted by Mid at 6:34 AM on September 28, 2005

It's getting out of hand. I think people who engage in this sort of crap should get good long timeouts or perhaps permanent bannination.
posted by caddis at 7:04 AM on September 28, 2005

I had slowly come to like and respect davy until I hit that thread in one of my increasingly less frequent visits to MeTa, and as I read his series of increasingly shrill, defensive/aggressive, and borderline anti-Semitic comments ("So, Mr. ... Cohen, do you perhaps have some... special reason for defending ze Chews?") he went right back in the "childish and annoying" file. I can't be too harsh in my condemnation because I used to be childish and annoying myself, but that was in high school. I have a feeling davy has been out of high school for a while.

As for outing, I've made it clear that I think it's a bad idea. But this is as pointless as most MeTa threads, because however many people agree, all it takes is one asshole to keep on outing. And there are way more assholes than that in MeFi.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 AM on September 28, 2005

What? And then just resume on another of their sock puppets?
posted by crunchland at 7:12 AM on September 28, 2005

Everything taz said makes sense, which makes it easy to agree. (Easier, anyway, than her previous, more wishy-washy stance.) The point I think I tried to make in the rcm thread (feel free to do the research on this, somebody, cause I'm too lazy) is that there are two different concepts:

* Connecting your Mefi identity, via however many steps, to any real-world information means that any 'outing' that occurs is ultimately your responsibility

* Except in cases where the outing is central to proving a tranggression (e.g. self-linking), outing people on Mefi is the act of a dick.

Please note that these are unrelated concepts. In other words, the fact that someone bears ultimate responsibility for their own outing does not make you any less of a dick if you do it.
posted by soyjoy at 7:17 AM on September 28, 2005

Has this recent thread been mentioned? (wherein a MeFi member ultimately decides to leave the site after being outed).

Taz is correct. Let's all enjoy a little distance from our literal selves here.
posted by scarabic at 7:40 AM on September 28, 2005

Psssst! scarabic! Do a "Find" on the word "rcm" on this page...
posted by soyjoy at 8:19 AM on September 28, 2005

Oh, man, I stopped following that RCM thread and assumed that everything was fine. I hadn't seen him in a few days and figured it was just academic schedules that made wasting time a little easier.
That's a real shame (I'd write him, but his email's gone and I have no real desire to, you know, google him and hunt him down... That'd seem kinda contrary given the reason why he left).
posted by klangklangston at 8:24 AM on September 28, 2005

I've always felt that MeFi should be a non-anonymous community, making "Outing" an irrelevance. There is no lack of places online for people to post anonymously to their heart's content.
posted by MattD at 8:25 AM on September 28, 2005

MattD: Eh. I'd rather have high quality posters at whatever level they're comfortable disclosing their identity than limit the potential participants to those comfortable with being public in their participation.
And man, I feel bad about the Todd Lokken thing. I just thought his name was funny. I don't really mind hurting people's feelings when they're expressing stupid views or whatever, but I do feel kinda bad that he was the victim of a pile-on then outting of past bad behavior. Poor guy. Hope we didn't scare him off forever.
posted by klangklangston at 8:39 AM on September 28, 2005

I am just waiting for the day when we out someone in the witness protection program. C'mon people, we can do it!
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:41 AM on September 28, 2005

...agreeing with those who have agreed in this thread.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:48 AM on September 28, 2005

Let's all enjoy a little distance from our literal selves here.

Then actually "distance" yourself from your mefi name. We can live in a pretend world or we can take at least the smallest amount of responsibility in our postings.
posted by justgary at 8:50 AM on September 28, 2005

I respectfully disagree Taz. I admire your intent in asking MF in general to think twice but I wonder how realistic it is. I'm not saying that those of us who use our real name (me included) should expect to be called on the carpet or exposed. I do believe that it's a risk I was willing to take and for the most part, people have respected that. Those that would choose to use that info for less-than-savory purposes, well shame on me. Like MattD said, there are places on the internet where I'm not known and pretty much let it all hang out. Here, I don't, knowing full well it could come back to haunt me.

What puzzled me in the RCM case, I had looked him up and knew all there was to know about him based on what he put in his profile. This was long before the thread where he was "outted". Something about that whole episode just didn't make sense. With the Todd L case, yeah, we went a little overboard but then again I think its unrealistic to expect people not to Google and/or investigate if something sticks in their craw.

So in a nutshell, Taz. While I empathize with your sentiment, I don't believe it's that realistic given the nature of internet and it's penchant to take no prisoners.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:31 AM on September 28, 2005

I agree with taz completely, but think people are going to keep being dicks.
posted by cortex at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2005

Wasn't u.n. owen trying to scam money out of people? Or am I thinking of someone else? If my memory is correct, I heartily approve of that particular "outing".
posted by Decani at 9:59 AM on September 28, 2005

Oh brother.

Zaelic, what are you talking about? To quote myself:

And hey, I'm not the one who outed you as a Jew: you're the one who put your name as "Bob Cohen" on your Metafilter user page. So tell me, if you were to be featured in a TV documentary wearing a T-shirt with a gay slogan in a gay bar talking in favor of gay marriage, would you be surprised if the next day somebody pointed you out by saying "Hey, there's that gay guy!"?

If you're not Jewish you're the only Cohen I've heard of who isn't. And gee, what might being Jewish have to do with calling cleardawn an antisemite for criticizing Israel?

Your "complaint" is as without merit, and you are a hysterical liar.
posted by davy at 10:01 AM on September 28, 2005

Furthermore if I outed anybody it was only zaelic: read the thread and tell me otherwise.
posted by davy at 10:02 AM on September 28, 2005

All I did was read Zaelic's user page. Some "outing witchhunt" that was!
posted by davy at 10:04 AM on September 28, 2005

Decani : I agree with that, as long as it stays within the realm of dealing with that particular instance of bad behavior. The page I linked to goes far beyond that.

Davy? Did you get hit on the head or something recently? You're coming unhinged.
posted by loquacious at 10:18 AM on September 28, 2005

davy: "Your "complaint" is as without merit, and you are a hysterical liar."

I damn near killfiled you for your vitrol in this thread, and that's from someone who has publicly stated that I don't think I'd ever actually use one. Once again, however, you spit hatred. If his complaint is without merit, prove it or STFU. Same on your opinion of him as a "hysterical liar." You're still basing both on an assumption because of his name. Grow up.

I believe that sometimes the noise can be important, if only to give context, clarity, and meaning to the signal, but you've gone off the deep end.
posted by mystyk at 10:26 AM on September 28, 2005

Cohen is a "Jewish" name? The things I learn on Metafilter...
posted by Irontom at 10:34 AM on September 28, 2005

Zaelic, I agree that davy came unhinged in that MeTa thread and looks like he might reunhinge now, but I don't see how he outed you. Repeating information that is on your MeFi user page hardly seems like excessive investigation and revelation. And while I find his comments offensive and possibly anti-semitic, I fail to see how anyone could follow the link from your MeFi user page to your home page and not conclude that you're Jewish.

Taz can correct me if I'm wrong, but it's hard for me to see how davy saying that you're Jewish is the sort of outing that she was talking about. It would be somewhat analogous to me outing her as being female because it says female on her user page. Sorry if I outed you, Taz (or spoiled anyone else's fantasy).
posted by anapestic at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2005

Holy crap. Remind me never to piss off I Eat Tapes. That's sort of creepy.
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2005

ph34r \/\/3
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:09 AM on September 28, 2005

I thought I should post something here, since I'm obviously a piece of what seems to be a controversy. Yes, I posted with my name...and, being somewhat new to blogging, didn't know that was a no-no. However, I'm honestly not afraid to have people know who I am and what I've said. I didn't mind the slams coming through fast and furious when I left my posts...I laughed along. What did start to bother me was people digging into my background, and how it was used.

I don't have much to hide...yes, I recently did something that was a poor error in judgement and didn't know was illegal. However, I took responsibility knowing I would be punished (and man, was I), and I hid nothing (tell me how many people do that these days). But, getting back to what bothered me, was people here making snap decisions on who I was and what type of person I was based upon a highly inflammatory article in a tiny, obscure, rural newspaper.

I actually considered leaving and never posting. I also considered asking Matt to change my username. But, I really don't care if you know who I am or things in my past. If you want to judge me on them, feel free to ask me and I'll tell you the whole story--then you can make a proper judgement. Otherwise, let's enjoy ourselves!

You know I'm dying to sign my name here.... :)
posted by toddlok at 11:14 AM on September 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Good man yourself Todd. Classy.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:18 AM on September 28, 2005

You're a good man Todd. You'll see and hear a few skeletons rattling around here as well. Welcome to the club. To... (just kidding!)
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:19 AM on September 28, 2005

Also Todd, email me (see profile). I have something for you.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:20 AM on September 28, 2005

>>If you're not Jewish you're the only Cohen I've heard of who isn't.

davy, I'm going to assume you're really this fucked-up IRL...because it just makes it so much easier for me to hate you.
posted by naxosaxur at 11:20 AM on September 28, 2005

Hi, Todd. Welcome.
posted by yhbc at 11:23 AM on September 28, 2005

I put my name on my user page because I don't really feel I have to hide behind a virtual self. Heck, go to my website, I work professionally as a Jewish folklorist, fer heavens' sake. I object to Davy using it to infer that I support ideas that he - ignorantly and maliciously - attributes to all Jews. It was - and continues to be - slanderous and, at this late point, it is beyond being simply ornery and contrarian, I would say it is anti-semitic, which is to say, basically just racist.

And that ain't no lie.

Davy: get off the crank and seek some help...
posted by zaelic at 11:25 AM on September 28, 2005

Wow, UN Owens was a really messed up person.
posted by dial-tone at 11:27 AM on September 28, 2005

Sorry about the ribbing, Todd. I think for me it was just one of those things that was inexplicably funny, and wasn't any statement about you.

This whole "outing" thing is just sociopathic.
posted by selfnoise at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2005

realcountrymusic's real name was not on his Metafilter User page when he was "outed"; zaelic's STILL is.

Furthermore, zaelic is dishonest: in a thread about cleardawn's hobby of "bringing up the Israeli/Palestinian conflict" he contributed:

"He's incredibly effective in derailing and shutting down threads that deal with anything involving Jews." I.e., he called cleardawn an antisemite. As did OmniWise : "His mission in any thread involving Jews is not only annoying, its offensive. It is not as if these threads are about the Middle East, or US weapons exports or, even, Iraq." Said bandwagon was then jumped on by Krrlson. Whatever in the hell blahblahblah was getting at, these guys respond to cleardawn's criticising Israel by calling him an antisemite: criticising Israel is tantamount to pulling up a train.

And then that ludicrous liar zaelic accused me of "outing" him as a Jew? Add it up: he called a critic of Israel a nazi plus he has a name like Cohen -- what are the chances he's an Irish Catholic, a Japanese Buddhist, or a Nepalese Maoist? I grant you that it's not necessarily written in stone that everybody named Cohen who calls critics of Israel "antisemite" has got to be Jewish, but if the state lottery had such easy odds I'd be a millionaire by now. ("999,987 out of 1,000,000 tickets win big money!")

Furthermore, I don't think that zaelic called cleardawn an antisemite because he's Jewish; most Jews, even a lot of Jewish organizations devoted to the Israeli agenda, don't do that. No, I think zaelic dropped that turd because he's an asshole -- and a cowardly dishonest asshole at that.

To once again quote myself:

I was not defending cleardawn per se, and I was not going by what cleardawn said but what was said about cleardawn -- for one thing I was under the impression that it would take me hours to read all the hundreds of "offensive" examples of his "anti-semitism". I gather that he's accused of inserting something tantamount to a Mein Kampf chapter into every thread he participates in: something like "He popped into a thread about Curtis Sliwa and John Gotti Junior -- which had nothing to do with Jews except that happened in New York where there are lots of Jews -- with a diatribe on the Jewish plot to adulterate our bodily fluids! From Curtis Sliwa to the Protocols in three comments flat!"

Then when I (re-?) read the actual comments blahblahblah referred to they sounded slightly out of place but otherwise tame enough, certainly not as offensive as a lot of those pro- and anti-Bush posts in the Katrina threads. THIS is Metafilter's vaunted fire-breathing anti-semite demagogue?



On preview, as for me being "possibly antisemitic", I am not against the Jews as a people, people with usually Jewish names, people of Jewish heritage, whatever; I don't even hold IDF soldiers non-refusal against them personally (as I don't hold U.S. National Guards choice to show up when called to Iraq instead of run to Canada against them), etc. etc. What I am against is the Jewish religion -- as I'm also against the Christian and Islamic religions, and for the same reasons; I am also (if this is any surprise) really down on Zionism (even when Jerry Falwell does it). But like I said, hey, if those who are unable or unwilling to recognize these distinctions still insist on calling me a nazi, whatever: quite often all you get by denying antisemitism is called "an antisemite who denies it".

And if I had fun arguing with a "liberal" Christian by pointing out that the Holy Bible really did call for the extermination of Canaanites and homos nobody would call me an antisemite -- simply because I'd be arguing with a Christian and not a Jew, even though the God is the same and the scriptures are held holy in common.

As to whether I am a "K00K", again, 'whatever'. I do get a bit "exhuberant" sometimes, I do love to argue, and I have been known to think I know what I'm ranting about only to find I don't (such as thinking Neturei Karta was Satmar); if that brands one a K00K there are dozens of 'em around here. (But I won't name names, even though I'm sure several people already thought of a few who'd fit that, because lawd fuhbid I should "out" somebody as a '(fellow?) k00k' who has not announced it in at least one thread (e.g., "I, Aloysius Blowhardius, proudly out myself as a k00k!").

And naxosaxur, you should know from what I told you 10 months ago that I consider your hatred a badge of honor. Thank you!
posted by davy at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2005

Hooray for Todd! Todd Lokkin.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:29 AM on September 28, 2005

Outing someone can have real world consequences and is not cool under 99.99% of circumstances (I can think of some situations where I could see it being okay but vengeance isn't one of them).

People have their reasons for keeping their identities private and respecting those wishes, even with people you disagree with and possibly harbor intense dislike for, is part of behaving as a respectful member of a community.

My opinion is that anyone intentionally outing someone else for no reason save their own wounded pride or ego should be permanently banned from the site.

And Toddlok, good on you for having a sense of humor about the ribbing (for your pleasure!).
posted by fenriq at 11:31 AM on September 28, 2005

Davy said: I.e., he called cleardawn an antisemite

But I didn't, you see. Again, your inference.

And then that ludicrous liar zaelic accused me of "outing" him as a Jew?

Go to the RealCountryMusic thread to learn more about "outing."

he called a critic of Israel a nazi plus he has a name like Cohen --

I did? I called him a N-A-Z-I? Really?

Actually, myGrandfather came to the US in 1924 with the name Oneskansky, but the innigration officials couldn't spell it at Ellis Island so he chose to go with his Hebrew name.

Agin: the issue of "outing" isn't as important as the words and intent of the person doing the "outing." I'm thick skinned enough to write Davy off as a crank - he wouldn't be the only one on Metafilter. But what if I wanted to post something abvout, say, kosher Chinese food? Would that post get dumped in like ... well, the original post about Sefardic culture?
posted by zaelic at 11:41 AM on September 28, 2005

davy writes "I.e., he called cleardawn an antisemite. As did OmniWise :"

davy, that simply isn't true. In the comments linked neither zaelic nor I called cleardawn an anti-Semite. I can't speak for z., but I wasn't being cute about it, I just don't want to argue from ontology in the way of people who suggest that identities rather than ideas are important. I was very conscious to not do it in the case of cleardawn because that would make it too easy to dismiss the complaints I have about his style. What's clear, because he made the statement himself, is that cleardawn thinks that discussing the issue of I/P "in threads with a Jewish interest (and therefore readership)" is his prerogative. All that was pointed out was that he derails threads thereby.

And, by the way, many people make the mistake of writing "OmniWise," which is not my user name. I don't really call what I get called, but I'm quite sure I'm not Omni- anything, least of all, wise.
posted by OmieWise at 11:43 AM on September 28, 2005

Aye , nice one todd , good to have you here , i got arrested for not paying a bill in pizza hut once if that's any help , we could join forces and go on a crime spree or something.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:45 AM on September 28, 2005

You know you're a kook when you block-quote paragraphs of your own postings.
posted by Mid at 11:46 AM on September 28, 2005

I, for one, routinely use google to for background on issues and people when I discuss things on the internet. This might occasionally "bring out" the occasional skeleton, but does it matter that zaelic is a jew or that Todd Lokken(Todd Lokken!) committed some crimes? These did not require any real detective-work to unveil; If the writing is on the wall, are we supposed to ignore it?

I do agree that many of these so-called outings are made vindictively as personal attacks but I think they're personal attacks first and "outing" public information second. Oh and yes, information that can be found on Google is public information, like it or not.
posted by lazy-ville at 11:49 AM on September 28, 2005

I think I'll have that little drinkie now....
posted by zaelic at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2005

And that davy guy is a fucking kook.
posted by lazy-ville at 11:52 AM on September 28, 2005

Huh. I thought the name Cohen was related, in some way at some point in time, with being a Kohen.

Hmm. Here's what wikipedia says:

"Cohen as a surname:

Many Kohanim have a surname that reflects their status, such as Cohen itself, Conn or "Anglicised" variants like Conway. Cogan may be due to a confusion between the h and g sounds in parts of Eastern Europe, or a corruption of Kagan. Katz may be short for Kohen Tzedek (Righteous Kohen). However, by no means all Jews with such surnames are Kohanim. Also, some Cohens may be Irish (corruption of Cohan)."

posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:55 AM on September 28, 2005

Good man, Todd!

lazy-ville, yeah it's part of the internet culture; we have a lot of information easily available, not all of it accurate, or fair, and some of it completely false. Todd's MeFi crime was signing three comments. Why start digging dirt? Do we really want to contribute to an atmosphere of fear where everyone is afraid that if they put one foot wrong the hounds of hell will be unleashed?

Anyway, sometimes it's just a matter of acting in haste, without considering what it might mean... which is why my request is just to think before doing something like this.

In other news, the davy / cleardawn / Jewish thing is getting to be a site-wide obssesive-compulsive tic that threatens to take over every thread. After following the earlier thread a bit, as well as all of the original post, I really don't believe that further discussion is going to clear things up.
posted by taz at 11:58 AM on September 28, 2005

davy, since you seem unaware of it, zaelic is an incredibly learned and interesting guy who speaks several dialects of Romanes and plays music with all sorts of groups. (He's discussed all this in MeFi, so I'm not outing him, just saving you the trouble of searching the archives to find out, which of course you wouldn't bother to do anyway). He's contributed a great deal to MeFi, both in posts and comments. To dismiss him as a "cowardly dishonest asshole" is simply to reveal yourself as one of those infantile people who can't disagree with someone without calling them names. And to preempt the obvious retort: no, I'm not calling you names because I disagree with you; I've disagreed with you in threads before without doing so. I'm calling you childish and infantile because that's how you're behaving. And I'm not leaning harder on the anti-Semitic part because I'm making the charitable assumption that you haven't known many Jews and have no idea how you're coming across. But listen to what people are telling you: you're not coming across as some noble slayer of religious claptrap, you're coming across as an anti-Semite. Trust me on this, pointing at someone called Cohen and saying they must support the worst policies of the state of Israel is pretty much equivalent to saying "Say, boy, looks like you got more'n a touch of the tarbrush; maybe you'd like to go back to Africa?" I don't think you mean to come across that way, so you might want to step back and rethink your approach.
posted by languagehat at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2005

Just to be clear: I left not just because I was "outed", but also because of a very real fear the outing threatened my job prospects (particularly, because around the time of my outing, there were several FPPs about people who had lost jobs when their employers discovered their blogs).

I hold no animus toward the person who outed me (I think it was Gyan, but honestly I don't remember). I do still boggle at another fellow who, having happily used my Metafilthy extension, renounced using it after learning "orthogonality" had written it; I just don't understand the thought process there.

But what really soured me on Mefi was that my repeated requests to Mathowie to redact the "outing" information went entirely unanswered. It's Mathowie's site, and of course he can do as he likes with it, but Mathowie didn't even give me the courtesy of a reply.

Jessamyn, who I'd initially written, did pass along to me that while there had been a standard practice of redacting personal information, Mathowie (for reasons unspecified) didn't feel doing so would be "useful" in my case. (I'll also note that previous email to Mathowie in which I'd asked how my Metafilthy extension could be modified to best suit his site, also went unanswered.)

Particularly galling was to see a few days later, after Mathowie had ignored my pleas to redact my real name from a few comments, the deletion of two entire Meta threads that pointed out embarrassing but already fixed bugs in Mathowie's Mefi software.

(Note for anyone wanting to email me: please don't think I'm ignoring you: the email in my profile no longer works, and I don't feel like paying to upgrade it to working condition. Enterprising web-sleuths, of course, can probably discover my "real" email; if so, hopefully they'll refrain from publishing it here.)
posted by orthogonality at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2005

I think I'll have that little drinkie now...

If I have learned only one thing from this thread, it is that zaelic will be drinking Manischewitz.
posted by cortex at 12:02 PM on September 28, 2005

Isn't Zaelic Gaelic ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:06 PM on September 28, 2005

No, slivovitz, actually.
posted by zaelic at 12:07 PM on September 28, 2005

You hysterical liar!
posted by cortex at 12:16 PM on September 28, 2005

Todd: Thank you for having a sense of humor. Welcome to the rabble.

Orthogonality: I miss you and your posts. Damn the bastards.
posted by loquacious at 12:34 PM on September 28, 2005

...Why start digging dirt? Do we really want to contribute to an atmosphere of fear where everyone is afraid that if they put one foot wrong the hounds of hell will be unleashed?

A google search is not "digging dirt". Pointing out the results of said google search is not "releasing the hounds of hell". Google is like a communal memory, if you remember that some guy you're talking was in the paper for some reason, is it reasonable to ask him if he's the guy in the paper?
posted by lazy-ville at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2005

toddlok - good on you for going along with the ribbing -- and deciding to stay.

It was interesting to see how the "meme" of signing Todd Lokken (or some other name) spread so quickly here and at MetaChat. If it's any consolation, your posting above and this entire affair have led to your being noticed and appreciated as a new member of MeFi. Welcome aboard.
posted by ericb at 12:40 PM on September 28, 2005

and by Google I mean The Internet (often brought to us by Google)
posted by lazy-ville at 12:43 PM on September 28, 2005

if you remember that some guy you're talking was in the paper for some reason, is it reasonable to ask him if he's the guy in the paper?

Why was he in the paper? When was he in the paper? Is the reason he was in the paper at all germane to your current run-in with him? Would bringing up his having been in the paper be awkward or embarrassing for him? Would bringing it up contribute anything good to the situation you, he, and possible others are in? Is there any reason you can't quietly ask him out of earshot others?

I guess the answer depends on a whole lot of things.
posted by cortex at 12:44 PM on September 28, 2005

earshot of the others
posted by cortex at 12:45 PM on September 28, 2005

"Google is like a communal memory..."

Look, we live in the information age. We've gone back to the times of the village in terms of privacy. That's okay with me, I think the urban anonymity of contemporary life has been bad for us.

But recall something about villages and older personal codes of honor: there was a strong sense of and respect for privacy precisely because as a practical matter there was very little of it. This is where we're at again today.

These days, you can find out almost anything about anyone. Google is no small tool in that toolbox. So now we have to resurrect codes of personal privacy. Just because you can find out something about someone, doesn't mean you should.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:49 PM on September 28, 2005

Let's put it this way, lazy-ville: few people think that it's perfectly ordinary to rummage through someone else's garbage to see what sort of letters and bills they might have thrown out, go through microfiche at the library to see if we might catch their name in some scandal, or follow them around to see where they might go, and whom they might talk to there, and what they are discussing. Usually people have to have a really good reason to go through this trouble, or else they are a stalker or mentally unstable.

The only difference is that internet makes it easy. Just because you don't have to move your butt doesn't mean it's not creepy. But even so, if that's your thing - why publish what you find? Why discuss what you found? To punish someone? To warn them? To make them afraid?
posted by taz at 12:50 PM on September 28, 2005

Ortho: I miss you and your posts.

For whatever it's worth - I always get much much better results with IM than email (though my profile indicates a bias). Not just with MeFi but everywhere. If you want to get a bit creepy . . . there's a nice "I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME, FUCKER" factor going on there if they're not idle or marked away.
posted by Ryvar at 12:54 PM on September 28, 2005


most of the un owen stuff you see there was brought up and researched to prove she was attempting to, at the least, misrepresent herself (as a reasonable person deserving of charity), if not outright defraud the users of metafilter in order to gain financially.

after that, the ieattapes crowd found it amusing and kept the information hanging around on the wiki.

i don't find it any more "creepy" than the whole kaycee nicole thing, although it might be much more juvenile.
posted by fishfucker at 12:58 PM on September 28, 2005

What? And then just resume on another of their sock puppets?
posted by Dreamghost at 11:25 AM PST on September 28 [!]

Hey, dreamghost, go fuck yourself. My name is right here for anyone to see. If you want to pick a fight don't be a fucking coward.
posted by Rothko at 1:00 PM on September 28, 2005

fishfucker, I wasn't really talking about that, though in my opinion, u.n. is not a well girl, and I also have a problem with hounding someone who is mentally unstable. But I'm not in a position to tell people what to do, nor do I want to be.

Some people see everyone as a potential target, and it's like that in real life as well. What I am after is perhaps some agreement that on this site we will try to use our heads a bit about the information we reveal about others.
posted by taz at 1:08 PM on September 28, 2005

Just because you can find out something about someone, doesn't mean you should...but they will regardless of anyone's attempts otherwise. (fixed)

You cannot hold people here to those standards. It's like trying to fold soup. Look, my name, address, picture and news story about the incident with a camel and a waterbed has been public knowledge for some time but so far, so good. Nobody has felt a need to publicly shame me (not that they could). I understand certain people's need to see MF at a utopian online community but lets be real. Rose colored glasses are so 70's.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:17 PM on September 28, 2005

What I am after is perhaps some agreement that on this site we will try to use our heads a bit about the information we reveal about others.

Sorry, missed that in preview. That seems more than reasonable. Although handshake agreements are shaky by nature, I can get with that Taz.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:20 PM on September 28, 2005

Since today I'm apparently all about distinguishing between things that are getting conflated, let me point out that l'affaire Todd Lokken had two distinct aspects:

1) Spreading the meme of signing posts "Todd Lokken" (no period, of course)

2) Looking up IRL info on Todd Lokken and publishing/discussing it here.

As an early adopter of #1 - because I thought it was both corrective and harmless (plus unlike previous self-namers, it's so much fun to say!) - I was aghast to see #2 occur, and I still don't understand why some people seemed to think that one would logically lead to the other.

Regardless, when we talk about it, we should be clear that these are two separate phenomena, and Todd, to whatever extent my participation in #1 made #2 possible, I apologize.
posted by soyjoy at 1:21 PM on September 28, 2005

Taz: The only difference is that internet makes it easy.

EB:Just because you can find out something about someone, doesn't mean you should.

That's an enormous difference. In terms of human experience, googling is much closer to knowing the stuff already than finding it out. And Google is communal so anyone can choose to know this stuff about anyone. EB's village comparison is apt: In a village everyone knows everyone. You are right that pointing out things about people in public discussion could be rude or just inane, but it would _not_ be revealing secrets. However, I see Taz is talking about the U.N. Owen stuff which has taken some research so not all of my points apply.
posted by lazy-ville at 1:27 PM on September 28, 2005

good points, taz. I agree with you.
posted by fishfucker at 1:34 PM on September 28, 2005

Hey, dreamghost, go fuck yourself. My name is right here for anyone to see. If you want to pick a fight don't be a fucking coward.
posted by Rothko at 1:00 PM PST on September 28 [!]

Coward How? Your the fucking coward who accused others of having sockpuppet accounts. (falsely i may add)

But the moment your ass is banned from this site you hop on to another sock puppet account and brag that you have 5 more. Making the time out Matt gave you meaningless.

Your nothing but a cancer on this site. Your melodramatic outbursts and tantrums and smug attitude really stink up any thread you participate in.

Please take your shrill condescending attitude and your temper tantrums and shoveit!

Nobodys buying your bullshit.

as for a fight? bring it.
posted by Dreamghost at 2:10 PM on September 28, 2005

Why do I see Fonzie in a leather coat, jean-shorts and on water skis?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:28 PM on September 28, 2005

posted by Rothko at 2:32 PM on September 28, 2005

Drama queen.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:42 PM on September 28, 2005


I predict two hits:

Me punching Dreamghost, and then me punching Rothko. And then both of you crying. And then both of you having angry make-up sex.
posted by naxosaxur at 2:42 PM on September 28, 2005

Aww, man... Another Rothko flamewar? Dreaminghost, I like playing knives-out with Alex as much as the next dude, but this isn't a good one to throw down on(the offense is small, the gains to be made are miniscule, and the fight will sour everyone). We all know who Alex is, and it's not a big deal (aside, maybe, from not having his entire posting history in one spot, but I rarely read through the Alex Archives).

Toddlok: I'm glad that you had a sense of humor about what we were doin'. You know what was funny about it? Todd Lokken.
posted by klangklangston at 2:45 PM on September 28, 2005

Hypocrite & Coward
posted by Dreamghost at 2:46 PM on September 28, 2005

Why do I see Fonzie in a leather coat, jean-shorts and on water skis?

haha. goodone
posted by Dreamghost at 2:46 PM on September 28, 2005


I certainly wasn't trying to accuse you of anything or say you shouldn't feel two ways about something.

I was just curious as to whether or not something new had happened that I wasn't aware of recently.
posted by shmegegge at 2:47 PM on September 28, 2005

Dreamghost, I don't think you're making yourself look very good by picking a fight here. The Alex/Rothko situation is outside the scope of this thread, and you just look like a child poking a hive of angry bees. And Alex, just stop taking the bait.
posted by anapestic at 2:55 PM on September 28, 2005

most of the un owen stuff you see there was brought up and researched to prove she was attempting to, at the least, misrepresent herself (as a reasonable person deserving of charity), if not outright defraud the users of metafilter in order to gain financially.

Oh ?

Table of contents [showhide]
1 Known Aliases

2 The Dirt That Was Gathered...2.2 JVB on Polyamory...

2.12 Erotic Fiction...

2.13.2 JVB on Arafat (scroll down)...

2.13.5 JVB's sister...

2.13.6 AskMe revelations...

And what do those entries have to do with defrauding members of metafilter ?

Collecting and posting everything someone has said online in any forum on any topic, even when the information is about incredibly personal topics not germane to any possible grifting is just plain malicious. Public information or not, it's really creepy to see much effort put into something so incredibly spiteful.
posted by y2karl at 2:57 PM on September 28, 2005

And Alex, just stop taking the bait.
posted by anapestic at 2:55 PM PST on September 28 [!]

Awesome. Assholes like him get to pick a fight without consequences.
posted by Rothko at 3:02 PM on September 28, 2005

If we work at it, we could probably goad Rothko, naxosaxur, davy, and maybe dreamghost into flaming out in this single thread! That would be totally cool.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:07 PM on September 28, 2005

lazy-ville : "If the writing is on the wall, are we supposed to ignore it? "

Wel...yes. If your choices are:

1) Point out publicly available and obvious information. Drive off good member.
2) Don't point out publicly available and obvious information. Don't drive off good members.

then it seems to me obvious that 2 is the better choice. 1 isn't morally incorrect or anything, it's just dumb. Like raising your hand when a bank robber says "Right, this is a stickup! We'z taking all your money! Any of youse got a problem wit dat?"
posted by Bugbread at 3:07 PM on September 28, 2005

That would be totally cool.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:07 PM PST on September 28 [!]

Like, totally, dude!
posted by Rothko at 3:09 PM on September 28, 2005

who's u.n owen ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:14 PM on September 28, 2005

Awesome. Assholes like him get to pick a fight without consequences.

Well, you could argue that the consequence would be that the other party ends up looking like a fight-picking asshole. That argument kind of requires you to hold yourself above such behavior, though.
posted by cortex at 3:18 PM on September 28, 2005

Assholes like him get to pick a fight without consequences.

Assholes like any assholes get to be assholes in public and have people think "Wow, they're assholes." Picking fights isn't against the rules, it's just often sort of lame. Taking the bait and letting someone goad you into having a total freakout is lame in its own right. They're two separate kinds of lame that are often found together.

And, what bugbread, tax &c. said about going all private detective on people. It's not cool, and we'll usually try fairly hard to keep people's personal information off of MeFi if that's what they want and that's what they've been trying to do.
posted by jessamyn at 3:20 PM on September 28, 2005

It's sort of interesting that a noticeable minority of prolific Internet women seem to have borderline personality disorder. 1) Personal drama, 2) inappropriate and frequent sexual subtext, 3) defensiveness, 4) vindictiveness and cultivation of male allies, 5) cycles of intense activity.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:23 PM on September 28, 2005

EB: Huh?
posted by Bugbread at 3:29 PM on September 28, 2005

EB-What are you talking about?
posted by OmieWise at 3:32 PM on September 28, 2005

EB - what site are you clicking on? Prolific Internet women? Is that child safe?
posted by zaelic at 3:35 PM on September 28, 2005

I forgot who said this, but someone once said that the essence of civilization is the habit of being willfully and tactfully ignorant of certain behaviors and traits of other people.

I think about this topic a lot because, like many people, I'm a sort of control freak for whom knowledge of other people is very valuable and I seek it for personal security reasons. To some degree I'm definitely a snooper; but even prior to that I am ununsually cognizant of revealing details about people and I take special care to remember those details. My instinct is to see the availability of the information as a signal determining the acceptability of my accessing it. My adult life has seen a long and slow change in my ethical beliefs about this sort of thing and while my instincts haven't changed, I've tried to modify my behavior because I've realized that the onus is upon me to control my snooping about other people, not on them to protect themselves. This is a particular example of a general moral principle.

I've probably written about this before here, but a couple years ago I read about FACS and the primary researcher behind it. FACS is a facial expression taxonomy which, among other things, involves those "microexpressions" you may have heard about. Microexpressions are usually unnoticed, at least consciously, by most people but are involuntary on the part of the person expressing themselves. And they are very revealing. I find the idea of being very proficient in FACS to be very, very appealing, for the power and security reasons mentioned earlier. But it raises the question: is it right to possess and indiscriminately use this skill? I think it's probably not right. And, really, this parallels stuff like someone's unusual Google-fu and general ability to use the net to ferret out information about people. Simply put, it's uncool.

On preview: I was thinking about u.n. owen. It was mostly a non-sequitor.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:39 PM on September 28, 2005

It's sort of interesting that a noticeable minority of prolific Internet women seem to have borderline personality disorder.

The plot thickens...
posted by justgary at 3:41 PM on September 28, 2005

Apropos of something: Ignoring people who show a particular personality trait drives him/her batshit insane.
posted by deborah at 3:44 PM on September 28, 2005

Deborah, is this some sort of prolific Internet woman thing?
posted by cortex at 3:54 PM on September 28, 2005

shmegegge - don't worry, I didn't take any offense at all. In fact I was thinking about it myself.; the rcm thing was a strange one to me... to claim your real identity in one thread while saying you prefer not to have the connection in another, yet still referring to it, is kind of odd, and I found it mitigating in that case.

But after all our trouble with these situations, one way or another, it seems best to just try to generally avoid it.

/prolific Internet woman thing
posted by taz at 4:15 PM on September 28, 2005

God damnit, whose flameout is this?
posted by LarryC at 4:39 PM on September 28, 2005

From my experience, the vast majority of times when someone -- usually but not always a Jew, and almost always a Zionist (can the pro-Israel right-wing Christian fundies be called Zionists?) -- says of someone something like "in every thread with anything vaguely to do with Jews So-and-so criticises Israel" s/he is strongly implying that the Israel-criticizer is an antisemite -- or if one thinks So-and-so is Jewish s/he gets called a "self-hating Jew"; it's the way things are usually encoded, like when someone says "Bob is (flips limp-wrist gesture)" s/he is usually at least strongly implying s/he thinks that Bob is gay, though maybe in some particular gestural dialect (that's so small or foreign that I haven't heard of it) the "limp wrist" means "Taoist from Taiwan".

Like I said, this is not an infallible rule, but it's disingenuous for zaelic to act like I'm making up my very own personal artefact. Yet if zaelic is indeed one of what my 30-odd years of experience with this constellation of subjects leads me to think is a very small percentage of people who say things like that with no intention of implying that the person is an antisemite then I apologize for what seems to me an honest mistake.

And in case it really is as "from Outer Space" to zaelic as he seems to want us to believe, I used "nazi" as a shorthand synonym for "antisemite", the way "KKK" is used as shorthand for "anti-African-American Caucasian racist"; I am aware of the looseness of this association, just as I am aware that not even every Southron minority-hater who is a "card-carrying member" of a group of like-minded fellows is a member of any of the Ku Klux Klan factions. (Some are KKK, some are Hammerskins, etc. etc.) Nevertheless that also is one of the major ways things get coded: for a lot of people, myself included, when someone thinks "nazi" they associate it with the Holocaust, which for some reason is usually taken to refer to "the murder of 6 million Jews" -- and vice versa. Surely zaelic has heard this idea before, and probably better put.

As for me, I frigging hate it when I hear or read a critic of Israel called an antisemite, almost as much as I hate it when people drop turds in threads about health problems in Kentucky like "I hope all those inbred hillbilly Bush fans die!" (Note: most people in Kentucky are not hillbillies, nor are we all inbred, nor are we all "Bush fans".) If someone points out to me that I sometimes get as "oversensitive" to shit like that as some right-wing Zionist Jews do to statements like "I don't recognize Israel's right to exist" -- even if "I hope all you hillbillies die!" is a straightforward expression of prejudice, while "I don't support Israel" is a political opinion -- then I'll have to plead guilty. I try to keep my "oversensitivity" to anti-hillbilly prejudice down around here because I have the distinct impression that most Mefites think it's perfectly okay to spout shit like that (due for one thing to the scarcity of rebukes or callouts), while it's not okay to say things like "Hitler didn't kill enough Jews"; zaelic is lucky to have been born into what is a favored minority on these sites, while I was not born into a fraction of metawhatsit users who it's not okay to insult.

If somebody wants to propose we all hold hands and sing whatever multicultural anthem the consensus now supports instead of getting oversensitive at each other along whatever lines divide us I'll be more than willing to try it. Until then well, whatever: I'll let go of my "oversensitivities" when it won't leave me disarmed against those that "oppose" it.

To address this callout specifically: as zaelic himself tacitly admitted, he was just using "He outed me!" as a handy weapon against me -- he later said didn't really feel "outed", not as a closeted gay person in a small town in Appalachia would feel if his secret were revealed anyway. (See the answers.com thing on "disingenuous". )

Furthermore, in the largely Jewish neighborhood where I spent a large part of my adolescence my own born last name did not mark me specifically as a non-Jew (e.g., it's not "Hitler" or "Qadafi"), and I distinctly recall several Jewish people (by which I mean people who had mezuzas in their doorways and Stars of David around their necks and said "I'm Jewish", as well as having names like "Cohen") when they heard my name often asked me "Are you Jewish?" or even "Which shul does your family go to?" I also heard Jewish people do that with and about each other: "Bob Cohen? He's Jewish, right?" So I was under the impression that at least some Jews themselves have the concept of "a Jewish name", and even that some Jews would assume that someone named Cohen was also Jewish; that somehow escaped my list of all the things I've heard that might qualify one as "antisemitic". Is it the case that nowadays the when majority of Jews sees the name Cohen they do NOT assume "that guy might be a Jew"? Or is it "different" when Jews do it, analogous to "nigga"?

Nevertheless, I did not "rummage through zaelic's garbage"; in fact until I started this paragraph I did not even follow the home page link zaelic put on his User page (which now I see, assuming it's not a "mortal sin" for me to say so, goes to a site titled "Old Time Jewish Music From Not So Long Ago"), nor was it my intent to "put out a hit" on him or anything like that: I just wanted to check out my guess that somebody who I thought was calling someone an antisemite "came by it naturally" (so to speak), or if this was some statistically unusual point of "multicultural diversity" by somebody named "Ling Paio" or "Uday al-Saud" or "Patrick McCready" (or some other name that I have not often seen among the Jews who criticise critics of Israel that I've met or read about). I do things like this because I believe that "where you're coming from" has a lot to do with "who you are" -- not as some iron-clad no-exceptions essentialism but as a general rule of thumb of the kind I believe we all employ to some degree about a lot of things. It would really surprise me if a Wiccan of Muslim Irish extraction in Mexico City by the name of Weng Ho with dark brown skin and very curly hair spent much time insinuating that critics of Israel are 'nazis', if you know what I mean.

Nor am I saying that since zaelic's name is Cohen he must support the worst policies of the State of Israel; I'd have thought, languagehat, that somebody who works as an editor would be a little better at "reading comprehension" than I seem to have been lately. Where do you see me saying anything like that? I think I just went into that so laboriously that this paragraph should be unnecessary, but just in case, as a matter of fact, other than (apprently mis-) reading him as calling cleardawn an antisemite for crirticising Israel, I have no idea what the guy's politics are. Which is as it should be: should people assume that because I hop all over somebody for insulting Southerners I must necessarily endorse Bob Jones University, the Virginia Military Institute, or the reimposition of "black chattel slavery"? For all I know zaelic's "Peace Now" all the way; I often use my own example to show that "progressive" politics don't always obviate ethnic defensiveness. ('What did you mean by calling those pants "Daisy Dukes"? Are you saying all Southern women are floozies?') C'mon guy, you ought to read, and read me, better than that.

Of course I doubt that any of this tedious explanation, no matter how I put it, would satisfy zaelic, nor am I any more likely to roll on my belly and widdle for him than he is to me; if anything he strikes me as more stubborn in this kind of argumentation than I am. So be it. 'Whatever.' And the rest of you can take it or leave it: I have laboriously made this tedious effort to clarify myself (as "civilly and well-reasonedly" as I can given how obviously upset I've been), but if somebody still insists on picturing me as a wild-eyed psycho in an SA uniform doing web searches on zaelic so I can come to his house and boil his bunny you go right ahead and think that. Like I said, 'Whatever.'
posted by davy at 4:50 PM on September 28, 2005

I will not take the thing from your hand.
posted by zaelic at 5:04 PM on September 28, 2005

You Are Completely Off Your Rocker, Sir
posted by boaz at 5:06 PM on September 28, 2005

Can anyone else hear that annoying buzzing sound?
posted by dg at 5:20 PM on September 28, 2005

Someone needs a hug.
posted by brownpau at 5:20 PM on September 28, 2005

Wasn't u.n. owen trying to scam money out of people? Or am I thinking of someone else? If my memory is correct, I heartily approve of that particular "outing".

I actually sent U.N. Owen $30, primarily because of who was bashing her in some thread about it. And it was another member who suggested sending her cash. A sock-puppet, maybe? Obviously I know her real name because I sent her a cheque, so is that really an outing? Although I suppose looking up the rest of the info (which I didn't know about untill today, actualy) could be considered one.

As far as the RCM thing goes, that kinda sucked. RCM was a good poster, and it certanly wasn't worth "defeating" him in the thread by showing that he was wrong about wikipedia.

As far as T.L. goes, well. Hmm, I do feel bad about that, but he was attaching his full name to all of his posts.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on September 28, 2005

Totally off topic, perhaps, but where does "I will not take the thing from your hand" come from? I realize that someone said it was an Amish expression, but, well, why and from where? I was thinking of even making an AskMeFi about it.
posted by blahblahblah at 5:44 PM on September 28, 2005

In no particular order:

1. For crying out loud, just go to your user page and add your real name. Problem solved.

2. Does anyone remember Davy's first flameout? It was forgotten pretty quickly because it was eclipsed by an even greater flameout, of which we never speak.

3. Don't you love it when Languagehat comes into a thread like this and kicks some ass?

4. All hail Todd Lokken, full of grace.
posted by LarryC at 5:46 PM on September 28, 2005

Hmm, it looks like I didn't refresh this page for a couple hours or so. It's nice to Todd didn't get too upset about the whole thing. I certanly meant no offense (and I didn't think the ticket thing was a big deal at all)
posted by delmoi at 5:51 PM on September 28, 2005

It's sort of interesting that a noticeable minority of prolific Internet women seem to have borderline personality disorder. 1) Personal drama, 2) inappropriate and frequent sexual subtext, 3) defensiveness, 4) vindictiveness and cultivation of male allies, 5) cycles of intense activity.

I see you were talking about U.N. Owen, but that seems rather rude to say. I think a lot of prolifc internet guys are also crazy, or at least adicted to internet posting.

I'm starting to wonder what causes me to post on the internet so much. Several books worth, actualy. (assuming an average word count of 100, which is a very conservative estimate). I have no friggin' clue.
posted by delmoi at 5:55 PM on September 28, 2005

I will not take the thing frm your hand.
posted by zaelic at 6:02 PM on September 28, 2005

I miss tel spell checker. Especially after slivovitz.
posted by zaelic at 6:03 PM on September 28, 2005

The. The. Damn.
posted by zaelic at 6:03 PM on September 28, 2005

Speaking of Manischevitz... Your American Jewish Hour Beings you Yiddish Melodies in Swing, thanks to Manischevitz Wine! (Real Audio link....)

Warning: 1940 radio excerpt!
posted by zaelic at 6:12 PM on September 28, 2005

Actually I've been wanting to try slivovitz but around Louisville I've only seen one brand, and I didn't much like the pear brandy that company puts out -- it tasted like somebody dumped cheap vodka into a can of cling peaches. And being rare this brand's products are twice the price of drinkable bourbon; on my budget that's a big minus.

There's also a domestic U.S. product that dares to call itself "ouzo". Yuck. It's not even worth the $8 I paid for it on sale unless one needs an emetic and is too masochistic even for ipecac.
posted by davy at 6:14 PM on September 28, 2005

I will not take the thing frm your hand.

Zaelic, I am 100% on your side in this fracas, but I find that approach childish, like sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "I'm not listening! Nyah nyah nyah" or announcing that someone made your kill file.

Far better to call them a poopyhead.
posted by LarryC at 6:15 PM on September 28, 2005

Zaelic: What a tease! There is this great introduction, and I think I am about to hear 1940s Yiddish swing music or something, and it just ends! You owe us a complete sound file.
posted by LarryC at 6:20 PM on September 28, 2005


this is my first time commenting on your recent comments, and I've read as much of the backstory as I have the attention span to manage.

1. it seems you're getting frustrated at people's ability to comprehend your comments. I would like to suggest that you proofread your posts carefully before posting them. Run-on sentences, nested parenthetical statements, and straight-up unpunctuated tangential rambles in the middle of a sentence make it difficult to parse what you write. The problem really isn't the reading comprehension of other people, here.

2. I agree with language hat that your comments to zaelic are disturbing. Your defense of those comments seems to be that "Most people named Cohen are jewish, so it's a reasonable assumption." Now, I think it's odd and a little disturbing that zaelic thinks being mistaken for jewish is offensive, but that's beside the point. The point is, so what if he is? Your comments really do take on the aspect of some interogator, like languagehat depicted, insinuating some conspiracy or ulterior motive behind zaelic's beliefs simply because his last name is cohen. IT SHOULDN'T MATTER. This brings me to point 3.

3. You keep bringing up these points of order, and then fail to realize that there's no reason to bring them up. In the cleardawn thread you bring up these instances of genocide in the bible to defend him. The callout in that thread was that he was pushing his agenda in threads where it wasn't germain to the discussion. How on earth does saying "Jews have been known to commit genocide," contribute anything to a thread about off-topic agenda pushing? Do biblical genocides have something to do with jewish war heroes getting medals? No? Huh. Funny that.

See, that's why people question your motives. It's fine to say, "well, you're mistaken about [topic x], and I'd like to point that out even though it doesn't change your point." But you act like what you bring up is the meat of the discussion when it isn't. You acted like jews killing people was the point of the cleardawn callout, and it wasn't. You act like zaelic's religious beliefs have something to do with how he reacts to cleardawn, and they don't. Then, when people object to it, you act like the problem is whether cohen can reasonably be assumed to be jewish. That's not the problem. The problem is why you'd care and why you think it matters.

I don't know if you have a problem with jews. I don't care. But my screen name is yiddish, and if you brought that up like it discredited my argument on ANY TOPIC (unless that topic were whether or not I was aware of certain yiddish words) I'd tell you you were a fucking asshole.
posted by shmegegge at 6:29 PM on September 28, 2005

Davy: Ok. It ain't easy to get Slivovitz in the states, and most of the crap sold here in Europe tastes like industrial waste, but good clean plum brandy is the drink of champions around here. Absolutely clear, 120 proof, and no hangover. Ouzo is guaranteed to give you a hangover anytime, unless you buy the "No. 12 brand."

I'm headed up to the Romanian mountains tomorrow, so I'll be off Metafilter for a couple of weeks. We all need a rest sometimes.

Incidentally, I've been to Louisville, Ky. My best friend in Budapest - my old friend from University days and the guitar player I play with when I'm in "Bluegrass mode" - is from Lexington, the grandson of "Happy Chandler." His cousin ran as Democratic candidate for KY Governor in the last election and now serves as a congressman. His kids - little half Kentuckian-Hungarians - are best friends with my kid - a little half American-Hungarian.

We all gotta live our lives.
posted by zaelic at 6:35 PM on September 28, 2005

Larry C. Hank Sapoznik's amazing Yiddish Radio website. It is in there someplace.

And ok. Just for you.

posted by zaelic at 6:39 PM on September 28, 2005

posted by klangklangston at 9:27 PM on September 28, 2005

Well, thank Todd this thread has finally started to calm down.
posted by mystyk at 9:34 PM on September 28, 2005

While I empathize with your sentiment, I don't believe it's that realistic given the nature of internet and it's penchant to take no prisoners.

I agree with taz completely, but think people are going to keep being dicks.

Funny how similar these statements really are. I grow tired of this debate. If you need it spelled out for you, KevimSkomvold, taz framed this thread as a request. I support that request. Asking people not to be dicks. Get it? There is no implicit prediction that people will accept and stop being dicks. All there is is a positing that not being a dick is good, and a *request* that one not be a dick. Why people like you feel that they're disagreeing by pointing out people's tendency to be dicks is beyond me.

All you accomplish, the way you put it, is to license people to be dicks. You announce that this is all you expect. You give people permission, practically. Taz asks for more. And so do I.

Raise your expectations.
posted by scarabic at 9:47 PM on September 28, 2005

Raise your expectations.

...but be prepared for disappointment.
posted by justgary at 10:10 PM on September 28, 2005

thank Todd this thread has finally started to calm down.

Well, sure. We just needed to get rid of those damned Prolific Internet Women. If you ask me, it's all about #5, if you know what I mean.
posted by soyjoy at 10:58 PM on September 28, 2005

Aww, you go on an' leave EB alone. He's just mad that his IM crush filed an eStraining Order.
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on September 28, 2005

Fuck me, I wish (like many others do, no doubt) that I could break my *filter addiction and never come back here again. Threads like this, well intentioned as taz may have been, well, they creep me the hell out.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:02 AM on September 29, 2005

shmegegge got it exactly right. The problem was that davy was working himself up into these diatribes about how all critics of Israel are not anti-semites, which was never the issue in the first place and is not something that anyone has contested. The issue was whether criticism of Israel in every frickin' thread related to Jews is inappropriate. The subsidiary issue, maybe, was whether someone who feels the need to post criticism of Israel in every frickin' thread related to Jews might have some sort of issue with Jews.

Jumping in and defending cleardawn with quotations from the bible "proving" that the Jewish religion condones or requires genocide was, basically, a non-sequitur. And, of course, tremendously inflammatory and guaranteed to cause offense.

That said -- I'm glad things have calmed down. I think this is one of the rare 100 comment threads where things sort of worked themselves out. And I don't think davy meant to come off the way he did.
posted by Mid at 6:28 AM on September 29, 2005

Scarabic. Your laser-like analysis apparently missed this. Oh and yeah, I "get it" son.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:50 AM on September 29, 2005

Check that, Scarabic. I had to re-read your post. While I'm sorry you "grow tired" of the debate (coffee perhaps?), it does need to be pointed out here. As much as you and/or certain others would like to believe that MetaFilter is somehow shielded from the EVOLS OF TEH INTERNETS OMG1!!, I have news for you... Yeah, you know that, I understand. I get it.

Raise my expectations? What do you mean by this? What should I expect from MetaFilter? Seriously? The thought really never crossed my mind since this place is merely entertainment.

My expectations were never lowered. They're just realistic. There is a difference.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:32 AM on September 29, 2005

Decani writes "Or am I thinking of someone else? If my memory is correct, I heartily approve of that particular 'outing'."

The outing that really distured me was the Todd's.

zaelic writes "I will not take the thing from your hand."

zaelic ya got to quote the thing or no one will be sure who your talking to.
posted by Mitheral at 7:59 AM on September 29, 2005

If you're not Jewish you're the only Cohen I've heard of who isn't

down in my neck o'the woods in Antarctica, we take people like you, we tar them in penguin shit and feather them.

just so you know before you visit. don't fuck with a bunch of angry penguins (some of us may even be Jewish)
posted by PenguinBukkake at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2005

Okay, just for my information, will all those Gentile Mefites named Cohen with no Jewish ancestry please raise your hands?

I never said it was impossible for a non-Jew to be named Cohen, only that it's unlikely. After all, like I said I knew a black guy named Rosenberg -- another name that "sounds Jewish" to many people who themselves might be Jewish.

(If that pans out then I'll ask for Taiwan Chinese whose ancestral family name is Sanchez.)

Yes, I know I already addressed that in this thread (at 4:50 PM PST on September 28), but perhaps the sentence structure and/or prose style of that comment was too complex or "convoluted" for poor PenguinBukkake to follow (by 2:11 PM PST on September 29).

To answer shmegegge: I'm not saying that only Jews are allowed to oppose antisemitism (or, conversely that all Jews are required to); that also is not for me to say (and very few people would heed any "ex cathedra" pronouncements from me anyway). It's just that it's to be expected that most people will "champion 'their own'", however they define "their own", and that proportionately more people will do so than will stick up for people who are "not like them" (however they define that). E.g., proportionately more gay people than straight people will speak out against "queer-bashing", because gay people (or people who are seen as gay) are more likely to be "queer-bashed".

This is not a hard and fast rule, and I wish it were even less the case: I would be really impressed if a black Baptist preacher were to devote his life to combating anti-Semitism, or if a Jewish author were to take opposing anti-Africanism as his cause, for example, because I see it as "above and beyond the call of duty" to champion a cause that is not "your own" -- or to broaden your definition of "your own" to include people who don't seem much like you on the surface.

This does not mean that I look down on people who stand up only for "their own kind" however, as long as they don't go to outrageous extremes a la Hitler. It's possible and preferable to "champion your own kind" -- or even to speak up for Jews though you're not Jewish yourself -- without trying to oppress another group. (So I don't want to see any of those people who've decried my supposed antisemitism make any bigoted cracks about rednecks or hillbillies.)

Why any of this matters, or whether it should, I'll leave for another day.

And by the way, I did not try to "prove" that the Jewish religion condones or requires genocide, I only pointed out that in several places in the "Old Testament" it does say that the Lord GOD did indeed require it of the Israelites. Whether or not Judaism still requires or condones faith-based "ethnic cleansing" I left up to Torah scholars, who might or might not include the late Rabbi Kahane. (And whether Kahane was a Torah scholar I am of course also unable to say, it's just that I recall having heard him called this by Jews who followed him.)

In that I was responding to blahblahblah, who said of cleardawn "First, the series of incorrect but certain-sounding slanders, that Jews are religiously obligated to commit genocide (but don't worry, because 'not all Jewish people agree with that') or the equivalence between the Nazi master race and the 'chosen people...'"

(I don't know if blahblahblah was fairly and accurately characterizing cleardawn's remarks; I have enough to do now to defend myself.)

But this should in no way be interpreted as claiming that it was wise or adviseable for me to have said anything at all about it, I'm only trying now to provide some context. For further context, I have said many times that I am against the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions (and against Zionism, Falwellism and Islamism), but that I try to separate that from being against Jews, Christians or Muslims as people. E.g., despite my animus against Christianity I don't hate my family for being Christian. (And yes, I hate the religion I grew out of more than any other religion, for reasons I don't now feel up to addressing here.)

In closing, let me say that I did not mean to come off as a frothing antisemite kook (or as any kind of antisemite at all), nor did I mean to make any antisemitic remarks as I understand the concept. Nor did I mean to offend anyboy I was not directly arguing with, nor did I mean to insult anybody I was arguing with for being (perceived as?) Jewish. I won't set out to try to prove that I'm not antisemitic (though I don't think I fit that definition), but I will say that I wish no harm to anybody because s/he is Jewish (or is perceived to be and/or "has a 'Jewish' name").
posted by davy at 10:33 AM on September 30, 2005

davy, You're right of course. There's nothing loaded about referring to Kahane as a Torah scholar. I'm sure you can see how it's as neutral a comment as saying:

David Duke, Bull Connor and The Beverly Hillbillies are all typical Southerners;

Wesley Swift is a Christian biblical scholar;

Adolf Hitler accurately represents the hearts and souls of Germans and those of German descent;

and, of course, we should hold all Muslims responsible for Osama Bin Laden's positions on Islam.
posted by OmieWise at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2005

OmieWise, I did NOT say Kahane was a TYPICAL Torah scholar, or even that he has/had a wide following. I said, to quote me, "Torah scholars, who might or might not include the late Rabbi Kahane. (And whether Kahane was a Torah scholar I am of course also unable to say, it's just that I recall having heard him called this by Jews who followed him.)"

SEE? Show me where I said that all Jews are required to accept Kahane as a Torah scholar and to live by his opinions.

Surely your need to twist my words around in this ludicrous fashion proves that you are a vindictive and hateful little idiot, regardless of your race, religion, sexual preference, national origin, or whatever. I shall now quite happily regard you as SCUM.

If anyone (BESIDES OmieWise) is offended by my saying that Rabbi Kahane seems to me to have some resemblence to a Torah scholar because 1) he was a rabbi and cited religious texts in support of his views and 2) some Jewish people who seemed better equipped than me to judge took him as a Torah scholar and heeded what he said, then please a) accept my apology and b) clarify once and for all what the all-time 100% true definition of "Torah scholar" is and why Meir Kahane did not fit that defintion. (And no, "he's not a Torah scholar because I disagree with his views" won't do, any more than I can deny Plato the title "philosopher" because I dislike The Republic.)

Just whatever you do, don't come back and try to say that I have unilaterally decided what qualifications a Torah scholar must have and have included Rabbi Kahane among them, because I have done no such thing.

Once again, to make it clearer: I have heard and read Jewish people call the late Rabbi Meir Kahane a Torah scholar, and -- though I have no real idea myself what qualifies anyone to be a Torah scholar -- I also do not feel qualified to deny Kahane the title. Furthermore if I said something like "Kahane was no Torah scholar" or even referred to him as a "so-called Torah scholar" I'm sure somebody would hop on me for being NOT qualified to decide who is NOT a Torah scholar.

For that matter, I have no idea what qualified Plato to be a Philosopher other than he wrote a lot of books featuring a guy named Socrates who spouted off on all kinds of philosophical subjects; other people who supposedly knew better than me have for over 2000 years referred to Plato as a philosopher (and his character Socrates too), so I have accepted that occupational designation -- which does not seem to require that I agree with a damn thing that Plato said Socrates said.

(I know, I know, IHBT. Where's Akbar what ya need him?)
posted by davy at 2:02 PM on September 30, 2005

Well allrighty then!
posted by Mid at 3:13 PM on September 30, 2005

Oh davy, don't get mad, I'm sorry. I forgot to tell you that some Southern people who seemed better equipped than me to judge took David Duke and Bull Connor as a (and I'm quoting here) typical Southerner and heeded what they said. Same goes for the others. Does that make it alright?

And when you say SCUM, I hope you don't mean a member of Valerie Solanas's Society for Cutting Up Men, because I resigned my membership several years ago.
posted by OmieWise at 5:06 PM on September 30, 2005

Jesus, davy. You should have stayed wherever you were before you decided to come back and start insulting still more of MeFi's Finest. One of these days you'll have to decide whether you want to be a smart if abrasive voice of dissent or a particularly vicious Katzenjammer Kid; right now you're veering wildly between the two and alienating absolutely everybody. I know you'll say that's fine with you, but I don't actually think it is. You just have that Don't Fence Me In attitude, and your (and our) misfortune is that you think even the most rudimentary forms of politeness are some sort of prison The Man is forcing on you. I hope you learn better.

OmieWise, you resigned from SCUM?
*shakes head sadly*
They'll have to pry my membership card out of my cold, dead hand. Kill the men and save the world!

posted by languagehat at 5:46 PM on September 30, 2005

LH, you're talking unmerited deference, not politeness, and while you're welcome to regard any twit around here as superior to you, you can't expect me to fawn along with you.

Is that clear enough, or do I have to add "so stuff it"?
posted by davy at 7:45 PM on September 30, 2005

Davy... Davy... Come back from the abyss, Davy...
posted by klangklangston at 7:55 AM on October 1, 2005

Non-Jewish Cohen. If I remember correctly, his father was Jewish (may have converted but I am pretty sure was nonpracticing), his mother was not, and he himself is Christian.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:49 AM on October 1, 2005

MattD and others here who don't seem to get what the problem was: I know I was already identifiable. I was proudly non-anonymous on MeFi. But the point was I didn't want my offline identity to be AN ISSUE FOR DISCUSSION. That's just damn rude and creepy, unless a poster raises it him- or herself. If you fail to see the difference, imagine a thread that ends up being largely about who you are in the real world, and whether you're an asshole or not for being that person, or not fully revealing every damn detail of your offline life when asked on MeFi.

I don't miss this place as much as I thought, by the way. I just happened across this thread hunting for something else.

Bye again. And just to spite on the MeFi Nannies (in hindsight, the bitchers and moaners really look childish to me), I'm going to sign my post.

posted by realcountrymusic at 6:10 AM on October 2, 2005

In other words, it should be someone's choice how much they reveal in any given context. Get it?

posted by realcountrymusic at 6:12 AM on October 2, 2005

Nice to see you again, rcm, if only for this brief moment. You're a class act. In your honor, I'm going to sign this comment:

posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on October 2, 2005

But the point was I didn't want my offline identity to be AN ISSUE FOR DISCUSSION.

Um, then why did you repeatedly raise it?
posted by mediareport at 11:59 PM on October 2, 2005

I'm with taz. Outing may be occasionally inadvertant, but all too frequently it's just plain nasty.
posted by warbaby at 7:23 AM on October 4, 2005

Freedom of speech requires anonymity.

If anyone who makes controversial statements gets her full name and address plastered everywhere, then pretty soon, nobody will make controversial statements, and we'll have a very anodyne discussion group.

Worse, since we have, in the past, had anonymity, and therefore had freedom of speech, it follows that some people's lives could be in danger. People really could get killed after such an outing, because of what they said in some long-forgotten post about their ex-husband drug dealing, or Dodjistan's human rights record, or suchlike.

Outers should therefore be automatically banned. It's a doubleplusbad thing to do to, on principle, even if in practice it seldom matters much.
posted by cleardawn at 1:50 PM on October 14, 2005

< big>< big>< big>test
posted by Ryvar at 12:20 PM on October 15, 2005

Sister Havana said: "Non-Jewish Cohen. If I remember correctly, his father was Jewish (may have converted but I am pretty sure was nonpracticing), his mother was not, and he himself is Christian."

His father was Jewish. You say maybe he converted from Judaism, but if so I'd bet he remained "ethnically Jewish", like an Irish Catholic in Dublin might join the Hare Krishnas but does not suddenly become a Bengali.

You say Mr. William Cohen himself is Christian (though it does not say so in the Wikipedia article you point to), and he'd most likely have to go through a conversion/education process even to join a "liberal" Reform Jewish congregation, but to the Nazis he would be at least half-Jewish "racially" -- what religion a "racial Jew" practiced (if any) did not matter to them -- and their cut-off was one-quarter Jewish so as a "half-Jew" he'd be doubly "qualified". The crematoria did not discriminate against such people.

Furthermore, I bet that most Jews (however defined) would still assume someone named Cohen was Jewish: unlike "Liebowitz" or "Friedman" or other names that are not too uncommon among Jews, the word "Cohen" itself has specifically Jewish religious significance in Judaism. ("Levi" is another.) And statistically, it would be rather odd to find a Cohen with no Jewish "extraction" at all -- as odd as it would be to find a Uighur named McCready. (And remember, ex-President Fujimori had Japanese parents but he was the ruler of Peru.) Of course not everybody named Cohen is necessarily Jewish, I could change my name to Cohen tomorrow and it would not make me a Jew by any definition, but the fact remains that Cohen is a Jewish name. Since there's nothing wrong with being Jewish and/or having a Jewish name I don't know why this "issue" is at all controversial.

Anyway, "close but no cigar". Keep trying. In this particular case the odds are against it (see above), but it's not impossible.
posted by davy at 10:09 PM on October 17, 2005

Let's try this hypothetical example:

Abdullah Muhammad is:

1) Arab Muslim

2) Japanese Buddhist

3) Guatamalan Mayan.

I'll bet the likeliest answer of those three is Number 1, and that if he were say Indonesian he'd still be Muslim (or at least from a historically Muslim family) with that name; furthermore I'd bet that if he is an Indonesian Muslim he would be less likely to be offended if you assumed from his name that he's Arab than if you assumed he was a German Lutheran or a Southern Baptist.

("Abdullah Muhammad -- what a good Japanese name!")
posted by davy at 10:14 PM on October 17, 2005

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