AskMe thread going badly October 30, 2006 6:30 AM   Subscribe

This AskMe appears to be getting nasty with comments like:
ps - morally, you're a lot sleazier than the coach is ... and you're just as stupid
posted by beaucoupkevin to Etiquette/Policy at 6:30 AM (76 comments total)

Stupid question made worse by the lack of anonymous follow-ups.
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


The AskMe in question is pretty damn bad on its own merits.
posted by clevershark at 6:39 AM on October 30, 2006


Anon does not appear to recognize how sleazy he or she is contemplating being. Yes there was a nasty tone to that comment, but it needed to be said. I hope Anon is listening.
posted by caddis at 6:43 AM on October 30, 2006


While it is a morally dubious question, I don't think comments like that are going to help him or her "see the light."
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:45 AM on October 30, 2006


(hmm, it looks like the issue of comments not showing up in preview has returned. When I previewed my comment cleverhshark's comment did not show. Matt, I thought that bug was fixed?)
posted by caddis at 6:45 AM on October 30, 2006


at least the people who are being mean to the extortionist are doing so in a non-anonymous manner
posted by matteo at 6:46 AM on October 30, 2006


"The AskMe in question is pretty damn bad on its own merits."

Personally I think it's better than Anon asked the question and got responses like "Actually that's illegal & ethically pretty bad", rather than not asking the question at all and never realising the error of their ways.

Insulting/non-answer answers are still stupid though.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:54 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Seems to me that any question whose title is of the form 'Is [thing which sounds completely illegal to non-lawyers] always illegal?' is a guaranteed train-wreck in any context where the responders are not the asker's lawyer. The only opinions that will be provided will be moral judgments, not legal ones. And the tone of this particular asker does rather invite moral judgments, too.
posted by beniamino at 7:01 AM on October 30, 2006


beaucoupkevin, how do you think people with weak moral barometers "see the light"? Are you saying it's impossible to tell these bad askers (stuff like this seems to come up pretty often) that their question is founded on evil, or that gently implying what they want to do is wrong is going to get the job done?

I'm not really condoning stabs at the asker, but I do think there are occasions where the *real* answer to the question is "wtf are you thinking to begin with" and you should be able to say that, somehow. Well-balanced and reasoned responses to this makes ask.mefi useful in helping others do borderline illegal or amoral stuff.
posted by shownomercy at 7:02 AM on October 30, 2006


beaucoupkevin, how do you think people with weak moral barometers "see the light"? Are you saying it's impossible to tell these bad askers (stuff like this seems to come up pretty often) that their question is founded on evil, or that gently implying what they want to do is wrong is going to get the job done?

While what the poster was asking about is fairly repugnant, the non-helpful dissing really doesn't add anything to the discussion. Several comments in the thread are great and point to complications for following such a course of action without excessive moralizing.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:07 AM on October 30, 2006


If you can't answer a question without calling the asker stupid or sleazy (unless the question asks "Am I stupid/sleazy?") you should probably step away from the keyboard andlet other people answer. There are always other people. Most of the responses in that thread have been okay. If it starts to turn into a nyah nyah nyah fest, I'll step in.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:07 AM on October 30, 2006


quite frankly, this whole thing reads like it's out of peyton place

look, blackmailing people is sleazy ... and stupid ... how is anon to know that the answer to "quit your job or i show your wife the e-mails" isn't going to be a gun in his face?

it's a nasty situation that anon would create here ... and if my reply to him is too mean and nasty to be tolerated by him, how the hell is he going to be able to deal with the extreme meanness and nastiness of what he's thinking of doing?

what are you saying, anyway ... that we should treat him with kid gloves as he prepares to get involved in a brutal and degrading fight?

he'd better get used to it ... what i said ain't gonna be nothing compared to what some others will say if he goes through with this
posted by pyramid termite at 7:09 AM on October 30, 2006


I like birdlips's answer. It sure has tremendous explanatory power.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:13 AM on October 30, 2006


pt-

You're acting as if the objection is to the parts of your answer where you strongly caution the OP that blackmail can lead to a lot of unintended consequences. It isn't, it's to the part where you indulge in the luxury of moral indignation in a ps. That you could give a strongly worded cautionary answer without the explicit judgement is evident because you did so, until you decided to add your postscript. I agree that the poster is considering something sleazy, but I'm not sure that's germane to the answering the question. (In the same way that I'd hate people to condemn someone who asked for ways to have as much anonymous sex as possible, simply because they don't like the idea of having anonymous sex.)
posted by OmieWise at 7:32 AM on October 30, 2006


All that said, I'm not sure any of this rises to the level of a callout.
posted by OmieWise at 7:33 AM on October 30, 2006


A bucket of lye, 40 five year olds, and no, the bear would kill you every time.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:34 AM on October 30, 2006


FYI: Not to sound rude, but I really don't care if anyone thinks I shouldn't get rid of him.

Vote for deletion; Anon seems to be fishing for affirmation more than anything else.

And speaking of fishy, I find it hard to believe that a school district admin is unfamiliar with the labour laws and union regulations pertinent to this situation.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:35 AM on October 30, 2006


I like birdlips's answer.

It appears to have been deleted. What was it?
posted by languagehat at 7:37 AM on October 30, 2006


What was it?

--"You're not sleeping with his wife are you?"
posted by peacay at 7:41 AM on October 30, 2006


It isn't, it's to the part where you indulge in the luxury of moral indignation in a ps.

ooh, i called him sleazy and stupid ... actually what i really wanted to call him was a pissheaded drygulching ratfucker but i'm sure that would have been a bit much

whatever, i've said my piece, and he can deal with it or not ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:46 AM on October 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


Nice: your bad behavior is the poster's problem? I don't give a rat's ass for anonymous's feelings, I care about how AskMe is used, so my objection to your moral righteousness (in this thread or that) is predicated on the idea that you can be an adult about posting correctly.
posted by OmieWise at 7:49 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


The OP has determined that he might not be able to get his employee fired if he goes through the normal, legal and socially-acceptable methods of termination. So he's contemplating resorting to blackmail and asking if it's always illegal (which, I thought it was, but IANAL). And then asks if he could get in trouble (seriously, duh). And then says he doesn't want to hear anyone say that he shouldn't get rid of the guy. I think pyramid termite is right on.

The fact that someone is considering resorting to criminal activity to get rid of an employee because he is upset with the employee's sexual activities is sleazy and stupid. Not to mention the fact that he's basically looking for an okay and trying to insinuate that if his logic/argument/reason is strong enough, maybe it isn't always illegal.

I get that he's upset because marriage is sacred, affairs are bad, lewd communication via company email is wrong (actually, really the only offense here...), etc. But he needs to keep his nose out of his employee's bedroom.

I'd be more concerned about the fact that one of the staff members could file a sexual harassment suit against the guy, and he or the district could be liable for having prior knowledge or something but IANAL so I don't know if that even is a possibility.
posted by ml98tu at 7:49 AM on October 30, 2006


The issue here is whether the fact that you dislike the actions or opinions of the question asker entitle you to insert insulting judgemental commentary in the AskMe thread (as opposed to here, where it's okay) and the answer is "No." We'll err on the side of leaving them in if, in this case, they're mostly helpful but the whole "The OP is a scoundrel and should be horsewhipped" defense to your own bad behavior in the thread isn't legit.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:54 AM on October 30, 2006


Dear AskMe-
I have several corpses rotting beneath the floorboards of my house. I worry that my neighbors will catch on. How best to dispose of them discreetly?

FYI: Not to sound rude, but I really don't care if anyone thinks I shouldn't get rid of them.
posted by felix betachat at 8:02 AM on October 30, 2006


I have no problem with the moral indignation, but it would go down a lot better if it was directed at the behavior rather than at Anon. "What you are proposing would be even sleazier than what the coach is doing, and even dumber."
posted by caddis at 8:10 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


dear felix -

that's not the kind of thing ask me is really meant to help you with ... your local library probably has plenty of information about it and your local librarian will be only too happy to assist you

ps you stink
posted by pyramid termite at 8:10 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


The notion of contacting his wife is tacky and fraught with problems. That is not a proper or professional response.

Actually, I think this response by rmhsinc is rather well-said. I'm genuinely curious to find out if this is okay, since it doesn't seem quite as judgmental. It deals with the behavior rather than the person, as Caddis mentions.
posted by ml98tu at 8:13 AM on October 30, 2006


Dear felix,

Somehow, you seemed to have missed the best AskMe answer ever.
posted by chiababe at 8:14 AM on October 30, 2006


caddis has the Wisdom—if a sketchy moral position seems tied to a question and deserves a response, respond in measured and constructive manner to the ideas behind the position. A blustery Fuck You to anonymous doesn't accomplish anything.
posted by cortex at 8:15 AM on October 30, 2006


felix, these guys will find them unless you dissolve those bodies. Try lye.
posted by caddis at 8:33 AM on October 30, 2006


I read the last line of the question very differently, as the poster not being interested in commentary about whether or not the coach should be fired, not on whether or not the blackmail is a good idea. There's nothing wrong with delimiting a question in such a fashion, especially if we don't have the information necessary to make a judgment about the termination.

I suspect that part of the indignation that the question has raised is because this audience uses might tend to use work computer resources in ways that might not be strictly condoned by their employers. (I know I do.)
posted by OmieWise at 8:36 AM on October 30, 2006


The prerson asking is an idiot, on many levels. Anyone telling him that is doing him a favor.
posted by orthogonality at 9:03 AM on October 30, 2006


How best to dispose of them discreetly?


Call your local Chinese restaurant
posted by matteo at 9:38 AM on October 30, 2006


jesus christ, how many times have we been over this? This is AskMe; If you can't give a straightforward answer to the question, keep your mouth shut.

If you don't like the question, tough shit.

If you want to editorialize and explain to the OP what a morally bankrupt jackass they are, fine, but at least make an attempt to couch it in a real answer. i.e.: "You are probably likely to get sued blah blah etc, and you might wnat to try to do x, but you should really reconsider doing it at all because pretty much everyone agrees that what you are asking is silly/stupid/morally repugnant/whatever."


What caddis and cortex said.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:03 AM on October 30, 2006


The fact that someone is considering resorting to criminal activity to get rid of an employee because he is upset with the employee's sexual activities is sleazy and stupid.

The question wasn't "Should I do this thing that I already know to be illegal," it was "Is this thing that I want to do illegal?"

The fact that the asker doesn't know all the laws of the land makes him ignorant, not stupid or sleazy. There are lots of people whose main reason for not breaking laws isn't some sort of moral compass from on high, but from a desire (for whatever reason) to not break laws. At the end of the day, they still end up not doing bad things. This person could be one of those people, and simply telling him "This thing is illegal" could be enough to answer the question AND get him to do the right thing.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:05 AM on October 30, 2006


The prerson asking is an idiot, on many levels. Anyone telling him that is doing him a favor.

Of course, but the way you call them an idiot remains important. Not throwing insults at the poster and keeping sharp criticism directed at the behavior/ideas rather than the person is the very least we can do to help keep AskMe useful. Think of it as a puzzle - how to say "you're a fucking moron!" in as helpful a way as possible. It's even fun. But it's definitely necessary to stop AskMe from devolving into [*shudder*] Yahoo Answers.

Anyone who doesn't see that is an idiot, on many levels.
posted by mediareport at 10:10 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ask yourselves ...

If some politician was asked to resign quietly in the face of numerous affairs or face a public humiliation, then how many of you would be calling it blackmail? If a company had told an employee that a quiet resignation would lead to a "substantial bonus", would you all be just as angry?

The noise of moral outrage in the linked thread shrieks of nothing more than hysteria.

The question could have been worded more carefully, but if you think that this sort of thing doesn't go on all the time then you're naive.
posted by seanyboy at 10:22 AM on October 30, 2006


I'm not surprised this showed up in Meta.

I have to say I'm surprised at the idea that a non-lawyer can't answer a question like that. I mean do you really need a lawyer to tell you that blackmail is illegal?
posted by delmoi at 10:29 AM on October 30, 2006


If some politician was asked to resign quietly in the face of numerous affairs or face a public humiliation, then how many of you would be calling it blackmail? If a company had told an employee that a quiet resignation would lead to a "substantial bonus", would you all be just as angry?

Well, the rules are different at that level. When you're a politician you're not just an employee you're a representative of the people who elected you.
posted by delmoi at 10:33 AM on October 30, 2006


The question could have been worded more carefully, but if you think that this sort of thing doesn't go on all the time then you're naive.

Rape, domestic violence, drunk driving, public corruption, these things go on all the time. That dosn't mean they're not crimes or that they're not moraly wrong...
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on October 30, 2006


The OP knows blackmail is illegal. Otherwise he would have titled it: "Is blackmail illegal?" rather than "Is blackmail always illegal?"

As I read it, he's hoping that his actions and situation will fit within some framework of acceptable blackmail. It's like asking if it's illegal to kill a man because he was homeless and raped your girlfriend. Basically stating that you are hoping that the circumstances of your unique situation make it acceptable, even though traditionally, it would be illegal. I don't see that as ignorance.

FWIW, I don't think its about the law. To me, this whole thing is about this guy wanting to act on his own morals. If it were about the law, he could have phrased it to ask what he needs to do to make sure the guy is fired, despite a strong teachers union. Even then it would still be moralistic, but IMO it becomes more about law and HR procedure than the the current question. Thankfully, folks have written in with procedure recommendations, so at least he's getting some good alternative advice.
posted by ml98tu at 11:54 AM on October 30, 2006


Just curious...
Am i the only one that thinks the OP is female? (I'm female, and the question has female vibes...")
posted by ramix at 12:14 PM on October 30, 2006


To me, this whole thing is about this guy wanting to act on his own morals

Exactly. There is no other way to slice this. Love the parting sentence, as well:

Not to sound rude, but I really don't care if anyone thinks I shouldn't get rid of him.

Heh, that is so incredibly pathetic. Do you, beaucoupkevin, really think it's such a travesty that this individual had some binary-scorn addressed to him?

This isn't CoddleMeFilter. If you ask something psychotic, illegal or flat out insulting and it's not deleted you should fully expect to be told you are a psychotic criminal asshole.
posted by prostyle at 12:19 PM on October 30, 2006


The OP knows blackmail is illegal. Otherwise he would have titled it: "Is blackmail illegal?" rather than "Is blackmail always illegal?"

Knowing that blackmail is sometimes illegal doesn't mean that you know that it's always illegal. There are things that illegal in some circumstances, and not in others. Sometimes prostitution is legal, other times not. Sometimes buying drugs is legal, othertimes not. Sometimes discrimination is legal, other times not. You can be aware of the general illegalness of an activity and still be ignorant that 1) there are exceptions to the rule or 2) there are no exceptions to the rule.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:21 PM on October 30, 2006


Heh, that is so incredibly pathetic. Do you, beaucoupkevin, really think it's such a travesty that this individual had some binary-scorn addressed to him?

No, but I think it's fucking rude.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 12:32 PM on October 30, 2006


No ramix, you are not. I picked up the same vibes. However, is Anon's gender relevant?
posted by caddis at 12:33 PM on October 30, 2006


"Love the parting sentence, as well:

Not to sound rude, but I really don't care if anyone thinks I shouldn't get rid of him."


You seem to think the poster is trying to constrain negative answers to their question, but they were just trying to keep jerks from answering a question that wasn't asked and for which they have neither the information nor expertise to offer an opinion. Seems perfectly legit to me, although less of a cause for righteous indignation ("psychotic", indeed!) than some seem to find it.
posted by OmieWise at 12:37 PM on October 30, 2006


23skidoo - I see your point now. Thanks for the clarification.

Ramix, I was wondering that too but thought it could really go either way.
posted by ml98tu at 12:41 PM on October 30, 2006


ramix, I assumed female as well...
posted by Stauf at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2006


Call your local Chinese restaurant

Holy shit, dude. And you've gotten in my face about offensive humour. (I mean, I hate the goddamn Chinese as much as the next guy, but still.... [/haha see it's only a joke])
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:56 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a guy, but I wonder if the response would have been diffrent if we knew the askers gender.
posted by delmoi at 12:57 PM on October 30, 2006


No, but I think it's fucking rude.

Rude like abusing your administrative access to investigate an e-mail inbox on a server wherein you discover a completely unrelated issue that you perceive could be leveraged to the detriment of the personal life of the owner of said inbox? Yeah, wow. Shame on those who would question such behavior. How fucking rude!

...they were just trying to keep jerks from answering a question that wasn't asked and for which they have neither the information nor expertise to offer an opinion.

Jerks like people who would blackmail an individual over something they discovered circumstantially that happens to be none of their business but could be manipulated to their distinct advantage?

Tell me, OmieWise, what exactly would constitute the background of an individual who retains the qualities necessary to process "the information and the expertise" to offer an opinion in this area?
posted by prostyle at 1:12 PM on October 30, 2006


seanyboy writes "If some politician was asked to resign quietly in the face of numerous affairs or face a public humiliation, then how many of you would be calling it blackmail? If a company had told an employee that a quiet resignation would lead to a 'substantial bonus', would you all be just as angry?"

I'd have no problem with the latter, it's essentially an early retirement package being offered to the employee. As to the first elected officials get there jobs on popularity, if your no longer popular it won't be around next time. Your average wage slave shouldn't have his personal life impact his job performance rating.
posted by Mitheral at 1:15 PM on October 30, 2006



If you can't answer a question without calling the asker stupid or sleazy (unless the question asks "Am I stupid/sleazy?") you should probably step away from the keyboard andlet other people answer. There are always other people. Most of the responses in that thread have been okay. If it starts to turn into a nyah nyah nyah fest, I'll step in.


I would like to do [creepy, unethical, wildly irresponsible thing]. Is there any way I can do this thing legally? Please, Askme, help me impose my will upon others, and no naysayers!

I don't actively participate in these threads. They turn me off of Askme, though, and I'm always a bit embarrassed that the approach to them seems to be completely hands off.

I guess I just don't understand the logic behind it: if someone asks a question from a very specific--and in this case dodgy--moral framework, expecting respondents to ignore said moral framework is a bit much. Actually, let me be more clear: it's not so much asking people to ignore this moral framework, which is not necessarily difficult in a non-participatory context; what you're actually asking is that people consent to this moral framework should they wish to answer the question.

I find that a bit repugnant, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. But, as I said, I mostly just ignore them, but it does cause me to read Askme far less frequently than the rest of the site.
posted by The God Complex at 1:47 PM on October 30, 2006


Sorry formatting was messed up. The last line of italics is supposed to be separated, as it's my tongue-in-cheek version of what the poster is asking.

(just to be clear)

posted by The God Complex at 1:49 PM on October 30, 2006


If some politician was asked to resign quietly in the face of numerous affairs or face a public humiliation, then how many of you would be calling it blackmail? If a company had told an employee that a quiet resignation would lead to a "substantial bonus", would you all be just as angry?

If someone digging through someone's e-mails for a different reason found something that had absolutely no relevance to what they were doing, then, yes, I would call it blackmail. There's a very distinct difference between someone who pursues a "public life" and a teacher. I don't care what a teacher does when he's not at school, as long as it's legal--and even some illegal things (drug use) wouldn't bother me in the slightest. As long as it doesn't affect the teacher's performance as a teacher, it means nothing to me.
posted by The God Complex at 1:52 PM on October 30, 2006


"abusing your administrative access to investigate an e-mail inbox ... completely unrelated issue ... detriment of the personal life of the owner of said inbox...discovered circumstantially...none of their business...their distinct advantage?"

Well, prostyle, I would expect the minimum criteria to be an understanding of what knowledge one does and does not have about the situation. In this case, there's simply no evidence of abuse of "administrative access" while there is strong circumstancial evidence of legitimate access. After all, it's called administrative access, and not IT access. You may not like the idea that your employer can read your emails and track you surfing habits, but that doesn't make it wrong, nor does it make those who do it morally suspect.

Similarly, while you've drawn a distinct line between that investigation and what was discovered, all that the poster said is that what was discovered was not the original purpose of the investigation. That doesn't mean that it isn't germane to the coach's employment history, nor does it mean that it has no bearing on the original investigation. If the cops come into your house searching for a murder weapon and find a pot farm, you're still in trouble. (The comparisons to larger crimes are those of the folks who think the investigator's behavior was egregious.)

I don't know if what I've suggested is true. It might be that the poster is a complete asshole, certainly their idea of using blackmail is horrible. However, the assumption in this thread and that seems to be that their entire worldview is irremediably screwy and must be condemned in order to restore order to the world. Your comments, prostyle, bear that out. Their are so many judgments made in your short sarcastic screed that you're the best argument I can think of for why more information is absolutely called for before the blanket condemnations commence.
posted by OmieWise at 1:59 PM on October 30, 2006


I vote we find out who is, and then feather and tar him.

I mean, what a cad!
posted by oxford blue at 3:01 PM on October 30, 2006


However, the assumption in this thread and that seems to be that their entire worldview is irremediably screwy and must be condemned in order to restore order to the world.

That's a ridiculous mischaracterization.
posted by The God Complex at 3:14 PM on October 30, 2006


what you're actually asking is that people consent to this moral framework should they wish to answer the question.

No, what's being asked is that people not behave like assholes in AskMe, even when responding to an asshole. That doesn't seem like a huge cognitive leap to me. If you're so repelled by the poster you can't bring yourself to answer without using words like "fucking" and "sleazebag," tiptoe out and leave others to answer it. AskMe is not a platform for our displays of self-righteousness.
posted by languagehat at 3:23 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yes, but some questions need to be answered within the moral framework they have established. I'm not speaking about this thread specifically (all the comments seem fine to me), but to a more general principle that has been discussed on the grey before. If I ask, for example, whether it is better to use Tactic A or Tactic B in the commission of a morally dubious act of questionable legality (but not outright illegality), the respondent has two options: 1.) to simply choose A or B and not acknowledge the moral framework they're consenting to by asking the question, or 2.) to question said moral framework in the process of answering the question.

Occasionally, it appears that AskMe comments are deleted, or at the very least admonished, for the second option, even when the questioning seems, from my vantage point, to be very appropriate.

None of which is to say that I'm a fan of name-calling, of course. There is surely no need to lower the level of discourse further while admonishing another for the same ;)
posted by The God Complex at 3:39 PM on October 30, 2006


AskMe is not a platform for our displays of self-righteousness.

I think it's inevitable that the deluge of self-righteousness shown here in the grey and often in the blue will leak into the pristine green. Sadly, I don't think it's possible to completely turn off the elitist, snobby, arrogant snarkery that defines the average MeFite. Which isn't to say that we should simply allow it, but meh...what's an admin to do? So many otherwise extremely useful and intelligent comments are often laced with assholishness and smug condescension. If we eliminated those characteristics, you'd have a blank website. :-)

I empathize with the plight of the admins in this case. It's tough to start pruning and set definite limits. It's like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry shaves his chest. He didn't start out trying to have a bare chest, but as he was evening out the assymmetry, inertia took over and suddenly there was nothing left. How, in finite terms, can we define the amount of discretion any admin uses to eliminate useless comments? Does the comment have to be completely valueless? Kinda valueless? Remotely valueless? And who decides?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:48 PM on October 30, 2006


I assume I'm not the only one who's noticed the increase in "I did / want to do something which is / may be wrong / morally ambiguous; how can I / should I / can I continue getting away with it / do something even worse? p.s. no arguments, helpful answers only pls thks" AskMe's recently.

Does anyone else suspect AskMe is being mined for someone's ethics or philosophy homework, or maybe a soon-to-be-published damning exposé on the loose and flexible morality of on-line forums?

(Which is why I read those questions, laugh at the descending spiral of hot-headed replies, then return to my day job of killing only the most adorable little kittens and puppies for fun and profit.)
posted by Pinback at 4:15 PM on October 30, 2006


You know what's really annoying about all this? The fact that it is actually perfectly legal in many cases to fire someone for having an affair.

PS: I am not anyone's lawyer.
posted by footnote at 5:00 PM on October 30, 2006


AskMetaFilter: It's like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry shaves his chest
posted by Stauf at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2006


It is perfectly legal to fire anyone for pretty much any reason at all [excepting race, gender, all that discrimination jazz] in "work-at-will" states.

Don't like your employees' sports team affiliation? Fire 'em.
How about their hairstyle? Fire 'em.
Annoying unvoiced alveolar lateral fricative? Fire 'em.
Dinner choices? Guess.

In any case: omg thanks be to you oh awesome arbiters of what is right and good, what would we do without you.

p.s. take your moralizing elsewhere, kthxbi.

IANALeither.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2006


Ok, let's give the OP the benefit of the doubt here and see how evil he really is. He works at this school, and there's a counselor/coach who is probably more than a bit of a skeez. Allegations of skeezy behavior come to light, as they are known to do, and it's this guy's job to investigate. Upon searching the school's server (there's no real right to privacy in professional e-mail, that one went out the window ages ago) our OP discovers that there is no evidence to back up these current allegations. However, evidence of unrelated and as yet, undiscovered, skeezy behavior does exist, and has the potential to cause massive headaches down the road. OP wants to, naturally, avoid this trainwreck he sees coming a mile away and wants to know if there's some (maybe, sort of, kinda, little bit) extra-legal way of getting this guy to get himself gone with a minimum of fuss. Now his idea (tell the guy's wife) was rather stupid, but telling the guy that the jig is up and it's time to go is probably the right decision here. I can think of a certain Speaker of the House who's probably wishing he did something like this a while back.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:50 PM on October 30, 2006


However, is Anon's gender relevant?

Maybe. Part of what irked me out about the question was grinding the ax against the male employee but having no concern over the behavior of the female staff members. It takes two to have an affair, why wish to punish only one person?
posted by peeedro at 5:54 PM on October 30, 2006


Is there really a reason why legal questions and/or "how do I get away with {insert action here} without repercussions?" are allowed on Ask.MeFi?

Chatfilter questions are deleted as soon as they're noted, and while chatfilter may end up as nothing more than a babbly BBS thread, the legally/morally questionable entries seem to lead to nothing more than heated debates, pointed fingers, and a faster scroll off the page of what many would consider to be more deserving questions.

We really can't tell Mr. School Admin/ principal/ who-knows-what how to get rid of the employee he wants to get rid of. We don't know the contract, the law in his state, etc., etc. And if he's looking for absolution, well, Ask.MeFi's purpose isn't for people to come get moral support.

On a larger scale - do we (the Metafilter community) really need/want to be the ones to tell them how to commit legal blackmail? Even if we know how? Do we want to be the ones who tell them how to get rid of the body? (I know it was a joke question/answer (at least I hope it was), but it highlights the point.) It seems like these kinds of questions don't serve any purpose at all, but cause strife and lasting bad feelings amongst members of the community.

Does anyone else find them to be a rather negative aspect of Ask.MeFi? Maybe even the ~most~ negative?
posted by Meep! Eek! at 6:30 PM on October 30, 2006


Is there really a reason why legal questions and/or "how do I get away with {insert action here} without repercussions?" are allowed on Ask.MeFi?

It seems like these kinds of questions don't serve any purpose at all, but cause strife and lasting bad feelings amongst members of the community.


The question didn't ask how to get away with blackmail. The question asked whether blackmail is always illegal. The purpose the question serves is to let someone know that blackmail is always illegal.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:01 PM on October 30, 2006


23skidoo: The question didn't ask how to get away with blackmail. The question asked whether blackmail is always illegal. The purpose the question serves is to let someone know that blackmail is always illegal.

And, as you might have noted, my comment also dealt with other questions of this type, not just this particular instance.

If, in this particular case, the questioner wanted to know if blackmail was illegal in his place of residence, he could have either looked it up in the relevant legal statutes for his country/state/community, or checked with a lawyer. We aren't his lawyers, nor do we even know ~where~ he is, or what the relevant laws there are. For all we know he is in some country with completely different laws from the ones any one of us might know, and therefore we have no idea what would be legal where he is. I have no personal knowledge of the laws around the world, nor would I attempt to give legal advice to someone who has given so little information that I can't even begin to guess what jurisdiction he lives in.

I reiterate - I think the question has no purpose.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 7:34 PM on October 30, 2006


languagehat: what's being asked is that people not behave like assholes in AskMe, even when responding to an asshole.

The God Complex: Yes, but some questions need to be answered within the moral framework they have established.

I think you are both right. However, if we get away from personal attacks ("you are bad") and focus instead on behavior ("that action is bad") we can more effectively address the moral issue. When someone asks "how can I sleep with my brother's wife without my brother knowing" he needs to be told not to do that. Telling him he is the World's biggest jerk for even thinking such a thought, although true, is perhaps not the best way to make the point. Focus on the action. It is the same when disciplining little kids. Do you tell them that they are evil for doing something wrong or rather that they performed a bad action. How do these words play into one's psyche and how to they affect behavior (and decorum in the forum - ha, I'm a lame poet)? When someone asks the morally suspect question, the best answer is often to question whether they should follow such action. The difficult part is how to best enter the moral fray.

I wish that I always followed my own advice. I have directed some pretty harsh attacks at folks who have asked how to commit crimes, defraud, etc. in AskMe, and the attacks were not all limited to the behavior. Sometimes people just push you over the edge because you can not believe how callous they can be.

The morons who take a blind rule follower approach to never allowing anyone to question the motive of an AskMe poster really do MeFi a disservice. This place is a gem on the tubes which form the interwebs. People think here. The blind rule followers don't. They should just go play in Fark.

It all comes down to judgment. Use it.
posted by caddis at 7:38 PM on October 30, 2006


In this case, there's simply no evidence of abuse of "administrative access" while there is strong circumstancial evidence of legitimate access.

Yes, I realized that was poorly worded after I posted it. My reference of abuse was towards the posters motivation for acting on the information which, while obtained through completely proper channels based on their position, was entirely ancillary to the original investigation.

Their are so many judgments made in your short sarcastic screed that you're the best argument I can think of for why more information is absolutely called for before the blanket condemnations commence.

Wow, well, I didn't think it was much of a screed myself. I was more curious as to the interpretations of those who were so baffled at the "negative" responses to the framework provided by the poster. You'd notice I didn't actually get involved in the AskMe, and if I had brought my tone to that question I would feel rightly accused of screedworthy nonsense. However, much like The God Complex, Meep! Eek! and some others who have expressed similar sentiments I find questions of this nature borderline in terms of their intrinsic value and ability to foster rational discussion.

The OP should know better, and they do know better - because they flat out stated that the ancillary information acquired was not sufficient to get this person removed from their staff - teachers union be damned, etc. Look, I might agree with both sides a little bit here, but I'm not trying to make a judgment on the qualities of either party. I simply find it a ridiculous waste of resources, this MeTa included.
posted by prostyle at 6:04 AM on October 31, 2006


Fair enough.

You'll notice, too, that I didn't comment in the AskMe, nor have I defended the poster's actions here. My point has mostly been that 1) there are plenty of ways to tell the poster that they've got the wrong idea about how to go about this without calling them "sleazy" to their face, and 2) that the comment at the end doesn't confirm their sleaziness so much as put a legitimate limit on what the question reveals and asks.

I didn't think the responses were too egregious; my rhetoric in this thread was overwrought, but not maliciously meant.
posted by OmieWise at 6:33 AM on October 31, 2006


>Call your local Chinese restaurant

For the record, because not enough people are saying so: offensive, stupid, not funny.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:59 PM on November 1, 2006


I just made a point on the thread -- do we even know these emails are real? For all we know they're just some freaky fantasy game the guy plays, with himself or someone else. If I was his union rep and it came to that, that'd be the first thing I'd say. "My client has a rich fantasy life!"
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:01 PM on November 1, 2006


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