Mandatory Mourning? April 12, 2007 5:57 PM   Subscribe

So let me see if I have this right...we're only allowed to comment in this thread if we heap glowing praise upon the recently deceased? Huh. Sorry I missed the memo.
posted by davidmsc to Etiquette/Policy at 5:57 PM (301 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I know that MOST people here at MeFi worship at the altar of people like Vonnegut, but I - and many others in the non-MeFi-world - didn't. So how come I was chastised for being less-than-complimentary about the man, while the legions of haters of Bush and Co are able to defame, insult, mock, and generally hate anything conservative, Republican, Christian, or otherwise to the right of Al Franken, generally without fear of being censored or deleted or called-out?
posted by davidmsc at 6:00 PM on April 12, 2007


Care to share your deleted comment with us here?
posted by cillit bang at 6:00 PM on April 12, 2007


Is this the thread where we work out our persecution complexes?
posted by psmealey at 6:01 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


They're wrong to chastise you. Did you flag them? Your comment was deleted?

We should all be free to be honest in obit threads and in all threads. (see my comments in Reagan's obit thread, or Nixon's or Ford's, etc)
posted by amberglow at 6:05 PM on April 12, 2007


Oh Jesus Christ. The man was a war veteran and a well-known author. His politics may have been different then yours but have some goddamn respect. It's no reason to troll.

Is it just me or is this place a hell of a lot whinier lately? I thought seasonal affective disorder ended in spring... ?
posted by purephase at 6:06 PM on April 12, 2007


For posterity and reference:

good riddance to a pathetic wretch.

and

hey, lighten up, jokeefe...when the vast majority of people here on mefi would openly CHEER if president bush were to die, or throw a party upon hearing that dick cheney suffered a heart attack, or - worse still - actually HOPE that bush and members of his staff or party actually WILL die -- then for pete's sake, cut me a just a little bit of slack for voicing my tiny little opinion about the passing of a man - at the age of 84 - who was an absolute idiot.

If you want to complain about the deletion, go to it, but don't dress that up there as "less-than-complimentary" or simply falling short of "heap[ing] glowing praise".

Dancing on graves tends to bring out negative responses from folks, and I guess in this case a tremendous number of flags. I'm not the one who axed 'em—I've been staying away from even the nastier comments in the blue as a vote of cautio—but I can't really fault Matt or Jess for doing so.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:06 PM on April 12, 2007


This one's not bad: davidmsc: you should try reading Vonnegut again. You might "get it" if you continue trying.

I wish yours was still there. Leaving responses to you but not your original comment is stupid.
posted by amberglow at 6:07 PM on April 12, 2007


I said, roughly, good riddance to someone who I think was an absolute, utter idiot.

Did it add anything constructive to the thread? Probably not. But by the same token, does adding a "." to the thread add anything constructive? I dunno...but it seems that mine was deleted simply for not following the party line. I have seen many people post far, far worse things in other threads - including obit threads - with no deletion.

And psmealey - no, this is where we work out genuine curiousity about having an honest opinion deleted. It hasn't happened to me very often -- perhaps twice in over six years -- so I'm interested to hear the reason(s) for this.
posted by davidmsc at 6:08 PM on April 12, 2007


legions of haters of Bush and Co are able to defame, insult, mock, and generally hate anything conservative...

When they die in horrible, painful ways we will be sure to put on a solemn facade for their obligatory obit threads.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:08 PM on April 12, 2007


I said, roughly, good riddance to someone who I think was an absolute, utter idiot.

There's a 99.99999% chance that you won't be as sharp-witted, or as loved as he was at 84 years old.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:09 PM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Oh, and we can give this crapping in obit threads a new nickanme: "Westboroing" in the thread.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:12 PM on April 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


"Shitting in threads" is sometimes enough of a cause for deletion but what defines shitting in a thread is contextual. Leaping into an obit thread just to say "good riddance" and then following up to fight with someone who thought you were being a jerk (and managing to slag the entire site while you're at it) is shitting in a thread, potentially derailing and flagged to hell. There's no chastising happening here. I'd also like to note that there have been a lot of useful discussions of Christianity on AskMe lately.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:13 PM on April 12, 2007


we can give this crapping in obit threads a new nickanme:

What about "Phelpsing"?
posted by psmealey at 6:13 PM on April 12, 2007


I don't think your comment should have been deleted. I do think you have strange and oddly petulant reasons for making it, but that's a different story.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:15 PM on April 12, 2007


Who would have thought that Vonnegut was as divisive a figure as Bush and Cheney?

Oh, he's not.

I find your level of vitriol towards him kind of odd, must be a neocon thing. And you're defense of "Hey, if you can bash Bush I can do this!" doesn't really fly.
posted by puke & cry at 6:16 PM on April 12, 2007


Oh, I guess I should add that it's also odd that your comments were deleted.
posted by puke & cry at 6:18 PM on April 12, 2007


I seem to recall I had nothing good to say in the Reagan obituary thread, but if my comment had been (hell, it might have been, for all I know) deleted, I wouldn't have complained.

That said, one can offer a reasoned comment why one believes that post-mortem hagiography of a public figure is unwarranted, and if that person was highly popular, take the flack with aplomb.

Or one can drop a short caustic, contrarian opinion, couched in terms as inflammatory as possible, without any kind of explanation or justification, then whine when it is not received with good grace and fellowship.

I'm not big on comment deletion if the comments are substantive and not just Worthless Internet Opinion, but davidmsc's 'good riddance to a pathetic wretch' and 'an absolute idiot', well...

It is left as an exercise for the reader to separate the shit and the shinola here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:20 PM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Crap deletion, even if shouting 'He was an idiot!' in an obituary thread without bothering to explain why seems a wee bit troll-ish.

I'm actually interested - why do you think Vonnegut was an idiot, davidmsc? Having read most of his books, 'idiot' isn't a word that springs to mind, regardless of one's politics.
posted by jack_mo at 6:21 PM on April 12, 2007


davidmsc you have been around long enough to know better.

Or put another way, when did the departed come to where you work and slap the dick out of your mouth?
posted by nola at 6:22 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Much as I abhor davidmsc's point of view, I disagree with the deletion of his comment, zillions of flags or not. Because I can't help but think that the self-effacing Mr. Vonnegut would've enjoyed davidmsc's vitriol. One of KV's greatest talents was taking self-important blowhards like davidmsc and writing a illluminating story around them. Breakfast of Champions springs to mind.
posted by telstar at 6:29 PM on April 12, 2007


I do have to admit that I found the Johnny Hart pile-on a little... distasteful. Not that it's not an argument that shouldn't take place on MeFi (it's a very worthwhile argument to have, for all kinds of reasons), but I'd say the day the guy dies is pretty much the absolute worst day for having that argument.

Same here.

Oddly, davidmsc, I find myself almost, sort of, kind of agreeing with you, but in a completely opposite-end-of-the-spectrum way. But why would I drag out stuff like that on the night of the man's death? That's not very decent.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:29 PM on April 12, 2007


what davidmsc said was cruel and inappropriate, especially considering how many people were truly mourning someone who had touched their lives in a positive way.

i hate bush's policies as much as the next guy but i'm not going to show up at his funeral to laugh in his friends' faces.

i didn't flag the comment but i'm glad it's gone.
posted by crackingdes at 6:30 PM on April 12, 2007


Big man, davidmsc, ha ha, charade you are.
posted by breezeway at 6:32 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The revolution will not be posted.
posted by phaedon at 6:34 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


why do you think Vonnegut was an idiot, davidmsc? Having read most of his books, 'idiot' isn't a word that springs to mind, regardless of one's politics.

Don't bother. davidmsc exhausted all his intellectual powers making the statements he did. Asking him to explain further requires a certain depth that does not exist.
posted by wendell at 6:41 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


That said, one can offer a reasoned comment why one believes that post-mortem hagiography of a public figure is unwarranted

Congratulations. For the first time in GodKnowsHowLong I had to look-up a word. I mean, I kinda got it from context, but:

Main Entry: ha·gi·og·ra·phy
Pronunciation: -gE-'ä-gr&-fE, -jE-
Function: noun
1 : biography of saints or venerated persons
2 : idealizing or idolizing biography

Also, anyone who runs a website whose URL plays off the many, many ways there are to misspell Merriam-Webster after you've had a few drinks needs to be dragged out into the street and shot in the head.
posted by Cyrano at 6:42 PM on April 12, 2007


fyi cyrano: hagia in greek means saint or holy. which is why this beautiful building has its name.
posted by phaedon at 6:45 PM on April 12, 2007


I don't agree with davidmsc's comments, I don't agree with the decision to delete them.

I cried reading that thread.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 6:47 PM on April 12, 2007


psst, Cyrano, you can just do m-w.com to avoid the misspellings.
posted by piratebowling at 6:50 PM on April 12, 2007


I do have to admit that I found the Johnny Hart pile-on a little... distasteful.

that is odd ... we can crap all over hart but not vonnegut? ... not that i think either is very useful to do, but it really does make it look like a case of whose ox gets gored ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:54 PM on April 12, 2007


Leaping into an obit thread just to say "good riddance"...is shitting in a thread, potentially derailing...

Derailing what? You're right about the definition of "shitting" being contextual; and in the context of MetaFilter obituary threads, I fail to see how almost anything could qualify. It's a string of periods, for Christ's sake. It's not like he was interrupting an actual conversation.
posted by cribcage at 6:57 PM on April 12, 2007


I think the deletion was wrong and a little oppressive. It seems so viewpoint-based.

If it were Thomas Wolfe who had passed away, or some other author who was nowhere near as popular as Vonnegut among the participants on Mefi, don't you think that derogatory remarks like davidmsc's would still be on the thread for everyone's review and comment?
posted by Slap Factory at 6:58 PM on April 12, 2007


legions of haters of Bush and Co are able to defame, insult, mock, and generally hate anything conservative...

When they die in horrible, painful ways we will be sure to put on a solemn facade for their obligatory obit threads.


not i.
posted by quonsar at 6:59 PM on April 12, 2007


WWVT? (What would Vonnegut think?)

My guess is that he'd think it was a crap deletion, if you could ever get him to read something on the Internet.
posted by found missing at 7:00 PM on April 12, 2007


I dont think the comments should have been deleted.

I understand that his comments got a lot of flags, but, to my mind, the people flagging were acting in the same spirit of petulance as he was.

That is, I doubt their intent was to say: "Hmmm. His comments might lead to unnecessary derail. I best flag them for the good of the community." so much as "Yeah, well fuck you too. And I'm flagging you so your comment gets dispatched to oblivion."
posted by vacapinta at 7:01 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


davidmsc: as somebody who has defended you when you've offered unpopular opinions here in the past, let me say this: I didn't like it when people badmouthed Anna Nicole Smith in her RIP thread, and I don't like it here. Whether you agreed with the man's opinions or not, the man could write and cranked out a pretty serious body of work. And I reiterate that obit threads should not be referendums on a person's character, merely a chance for those who want to to pay their respects, and in the interest of respect for the dead, that should not be disturbed. Surely a military man like yourself (and I mean that sincerely) should understand that.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 PM on April 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


should not be referendums on a person's character

says who?
posted by found missing at 7:03 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


They often are referendums, as they should be if you ask me.
posted by found missing at 7:03 PM on April 12, 2007


"I dunno...but it seems that mine was deleted simply for not following the party line."

So there I was, taking a crap on the desert cart, and the maitre'd had the effrontery to ask me to leave, just because I wasn't following the party "Don't shit on the desert cart" line.
Of course, if I was French, it woulda been OK, but he threw me out anyway.
posted by klangklangston at 7:04 PM on April 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


Mission Accomplished!
posted by OmieWise at 7:05 PM on April 12, 2007


For comparison.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:05 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


obit threads a way to pay their respects? you been on the internet way too long. it's a frickin' web site, jonmc. and anna nicole smith? that bitch was a deformed exhibitionist cow and we're all better off now she's dead.
posted by quonsar at 7:06 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]



says who?


says me. I don't show up at the funerals of people I don't like an offer lists of their faults to their loved ones. (not saying that's what dave did. I didn't see the comments so I don't know what he said). And to paraphrase what I said in the ANS obit thread, this is a novelist were talking about, not a head of state. Let's all pull it in a notch.
posted by jonmc at 7:07 PM on April 12, 2007


call me a sentimental old fool, q.
posted by jonmc at 7:08 PM on April 12, 2007


commenting in a metafilter thread has nothing to do with showing up at a funeral and listing the faults of the deceased to thier families. nada. zip. zero. earth to jonmc, time to re-enter the atmosphere.
posted by quonsar at 7:10 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The man was a war veteran and a well-known author.

you know who else was a war veteran and well-known author?
posted by quonsar at 7:11 PM on April 12, 2007 [22 favorites]


maybe not, q, old friend, but I like to err on the side of decency.
posted by jonmc at 7:11 PM on April 12, 2007


Memo
To: All
Subject: New TPS Report Covers
Yeah. We're using the new covers on the TPS Reports going forward, m'kay? Oh, and - let's try not to shit all over the obit threads, anymore. It's unprofessional.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:11 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cyrano, I'm fond of doing it this way.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:12 PM on April 12, 2007


There was a way to say what the jerk said without being deliberately insulting to the dead person or to folks who care about the dead person. If you can't find a way to post a measured negative comment about someone recently deceased, then grow the fuck up or stay out of obit threads for people you didn't like (and yes, that should apply to political figures, too). Measured negative comments, fine, if you must. Deliberately insulting and aggressive horseshit? Not fine.

What the jerk in question here did was deliberately designed to anger people who felt strongly about the deceased. Not only should it have been deleted, but the jerk should have gotten a week off, too.
posted by mediareport at 7:13 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, dave, the man's record as a veteran and POW should earn him some measure of respect, airman to soldier, right?
posted by jonmc at 7:13 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll comment in MetaTalk defending your right to say it.
posted by knave at 7:13 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


No more shitting on the desert (sic) cart. Cumming is fine.
posted by found missing at 7:16 PM on April 12, 2007


full disclosure: davidmsc and I have been friendly-in the online sense-since I became active here and he's never been anything but decent to me, so maybe he'll listen to what I'm saying and realize how he might have offended people. I wasn't thrilled about a lot of the comments in the Reagan thread (and I despised the man's politics), so I'd be a complete hypocrite if I didn't admonish dave as well. and coming from me, maybe he'll hear it.
posted by jonmc at 7:17 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


ShrinkFilter
posted by phaedon at 7:20 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure whether to be more upset about the comment deletion or the whiny heel who called it out. In Reagan's obituary thread you were upset by the people who didn't eulogize the man, now you're upset because your comment shitting in another person's obituary was deleted. I actually kind of sympathized on Reagan's and other obituaries, using an obituary for your soap box lacks tact. Of course you're not big enough a man to live by your own standards and I bet you'll also be one of the first persons to get your panties in a bunch when somebody says something negative over the next dead conservative hero so you'll get to practice your whining over that too.
posted by substrate at 7:25 PM on April 12, 2007


substrate: I'm kind of in favor of across-the-board respect for the dead, except in the case of say, Hitler or Pol Pot or Osama Bin Laden. Reagan was kind of problematic in that he was a head of state which puts him in a different position from a novelist or a centerfold model.

But what I'm ultimately saying is: people have gotten out of line in obit threads before, and even though I like you dave, I'd be hypocrite if I didn't say you were out of line here.
posted by jonmc at 7:29 PM on April 12, 2007


I didn't really read the Hart thread when it came along—I dipped into the first few comments but didn't come back. So I just went and read the whole thing, and I'm not seeing the crapping-all-over-Hart being cited here. What I saw was an unusually contentious obit thread.

Here's the worst direct attacks on Hart that I saw: 1, 2, 3.

And here's a pretty direct attack on his work: 4.

So there is a small but steady arc of unflinchingly negative (though at least expository) remarks about Hart, but they're mostly by Heywood Mogroot and 2sheets, with only occasional true snipes by others. Other comments are more nuanced in their position on Hart, and many explicitly praise him and argue with the negative comments.

There's also some discussion of the grave-dancing situation itself: 5, 6.

And even an attack on people for failing to pile on Hart: 7.

Read top-to-bottom, the thread makes it clear that a number of people on mefi have strong and varying feelings about Hart's work as controversial and christian, a few users found him personally objectionable without reservation, and a lot of people had mild negative things to say about the comic strips he was famous for, independent of any comment on Hart or his character.

It has a lot of defense and discussion of Hart, a few direct attacks (and corresponding rebukes), a bunch of BC/Id/comics humor, and a pile of '.'s. Still not a really respectful send off, but not the crap-fest it's been cited as here, and, notably, the negative stuff was by and large explained at paragraph length and in mostly civil terms.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:30 PM on April 12, 2007


I would have deleted it.
davidmsc knew exactly what he was doing: not just giving an opinion as he pleads now, but doing a deliberate provocation just to watch what happens next.
This thread is now interesting because of the deletion: we are talking about the limits of what can be done in what context. The topic is important, the deletion is not.
posted by bru at 7:34 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you had posted a critique of the guy's character or work that had any substance to it whatsoever, I would be on your side here. But as it stands, I think it was trolling in the classic sense:

...a troll is someone who intentionally posts derogatory or otherwise inflammatory messages about sensitive topics in an established online community such as an online discussion forum to bait users into responding.

Trolling = derail, and that's how I flagged it.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:37 PM on April 12, 2007


This is not an open system and I think comments that seem tailor made to piss off people for the benefit of the commenter alone have every right to be removed. In addition it was a comment that managed to not only express your disdain for the death of an individual but make broad sweeping, insulting, generalizations of the community at large. Yeah, that's so deserving of posterity. If you had come into the thread saying something to the effect of "I never understood his books and thought his writing was poor, too bad he is dead" your comment would not have been deleted.
posted by edgeways at 7:42 PM on April 12, 2007


Turns out your shit ain't so special, davidmsc. Quit whining.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:45 PM on April 12, 2007


"I said, roughly, good riddance to someone who I think was an absolute, utter idiot."

And the mods, roughly, did the same thing to you. Metafilter— now with irony.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 PM on April 12, 2007 [13 favorites]


Alright. I think we've reached something of a consensus that dave was out of line. The question is what can we do about it. Whatever you might think of his politics (and as an athiest, pro-gay rights, pro-choice conservative he's not exactly your typical neo-con and thus I think he can add an interesting perspective here), he generally seems to be a decent, good guy. So let's appeal to that sense of decency and also lead by example and refrain from the impulse to get nasty in the obit threads of those who, in the grand scheme of things, are minor players. How's that sound?
posted by jonmc at 7:51 PM on April 12, 2007


Those comments should NOT have been deleted.

That was a bad decision.

I don't think I've read an obit thread on the site yet where there wasn't at least one person coming in with a negative view. Personally, I hate the obit threads, but whatever. Silencing dissenting voices just because it hurts some people's feelings is not a good direction for this site to take.
posted by willnot at 7:53 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


willnot, he didn't just "come out with a negative view." If he had criticized Vonnegut's life and work in even a semi-coherent way, I'm sure it would've stood. Instead, he just said "good riddance to a pathetic wretch" and tried to start a Bush-related derail.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:00 PM on April 12, 2007


I have never even read any Vonnegut. I did read much of the thread and I have read this thread. I was hoping for an explanation by davidmsc for his comment. I have not seen it yet, but I did read a comment from Monkeyfilter that seems to maybe be saying what davidmsc was trying to say. Or not. I have no idea, but thought I would copy the comment to here:

"When the news of a person's death brings forth such an outpouring of gratitude for his work and joy in his memory, one should think it indicates nothing but a life well spent. From what I've read of Kurt Vonnegut in interviews and articles he seemed like a delightful and irascible man, who endured the world's atrocities with dignity, humour and intelligence.

As for his literary work ... I can admit only to reading Cat's Cradle, Timequake and The Sirens of Titan. Merely on the basis of these few novels, and while I enjoy much of his invention, his pacing, and his plotting, I would like to say that I abhor the mind-numbing stupidity that coats next to every sentence.

For me (and aesthetics is always a subjective pursuit) Vonnegut's writing – but I really mean Vonnegut’s style - is ninety-nine percent pretentious, vacuous, idiotic bullshit. It is utterly lacking in grace or wit of enough substance to counter the piss-sweet smell of masturbatory pseudo-wisdom that stenches out from every creak of his good-ol' home-spun rockin'-chair pronouncements.

His style is not so much infantile as unforgivably teenage. No aphorism is too trite for him, no verbal tick too meaningless - and these are trotted out as examples of such great profundity - so it goes ding-a-ling hi-ho - as if his great invention was just a mirror for a thousand people who, like him, thought themselves simultaneously deeply wise and zanily hip, and who, like him, didn't actually have anything to say (or think). God made mud lucky me lucky mud.

I cannot help but think that Vonnegut sought his own apotheosis in the paragraph. There he could be the wise overlord of the world, who characters his novels with himself, who can call down lovingly to the babies to welcome them (on behalf of all creation) to Earth. Welcome to Earth, idiotic children, my readers. I will describe it for you. I can summarize it for you. I can understand it for you. It is simple. Everything is simple. Be simple. Ding-a-ling.

In Timequake, Vonnegut grants his readers the boon of double-spaces between paragraphs, so that they might have sufficient pause to ponder his near-infinite sagaciousness. For me, the audacity - the hubris - of this typographical strategy saved the book from being completely lacking in interest."

the quidnunc kid
posted by flarbuse at 8:06 PM on April 12, 2007


I like finding a dissenting voice in obit threads, as long as it is backed up by something reasonably factual. The tendency to airbrush the dead isn't one of humanity's more attractive traits, as it tends to lead towards sainthood and absolutism. Finding something less than perfect about someone adds depth and character to their history.

However, mere opinion isn't enough. If you have some data on why you dislike Vonnegut, let's hear it. Did he cheat on his taxes, abuse children, or try to stop fluoridation? You could point out that Niven and Pournelle openly mocked him in Inferno and that would at least be interesting. You could talk about his work: "I liked his short stories but his novels seemed fairly immature until he came out with Bluebeard." Just calling him a wretch isn't all that informative and isn't worthy of a derail from people who would like to share pleasant memories, anecdotes, or at least sympathy.
posted by adipocere at 8:09 PM on April 12, 2007


quonsar writes "you know who else was a war veteran and well-known author?"

Awesome. Just awesome.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:10 PM on April 12, 2007


flarbuse writes "the quidnunc kid"

I love Vonnegut, but that's not a bad critique, and it's worthy of response.

Not it.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:12 PM on April 12, 2007


Interestingly, Vonnegut was a free speech absolutist, going far beyond what the US Constitution's First Amendment requires. He would have been disappointed to have seen anyone's comment deleted.
posted by Falconetti at 8:13 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


OK I'll start. The witty aphorisms are ironic and meant to be held out for mockery. They are the mantras of antiheros, and form the basis of a critique of "common sense" human thought, especially religious thought. I think a lot of people miss this.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:15 PM on April 12, 2007


I thought the comment was from a teenager. I have no idea who the commentator is or how old he is, but it exhibited the same "zing" and lack of tact that characterizes the young and zealous.

His second comment was more disturbing...in it he petulantly puts forth the case that by taking a dump in the thread he was balancing imagined future "crimes" against people he venerates. That's just weird and creepy. It's the same mindset that doesn't examine law-breaking and scandal within its own "team" on its merits but looks to find a similar crime done in the past by the opposition as a way of justifying the illegal action.

All that said, the comments should have been left UNLESS they were a huge hassle for the admins, who simply didn't want to deal with whatever sirens and warning lights go off in MF Central when posts are repeatedly flagged.
posted by maxwelton at 8:20 PM on April 12, 2007


The only thing I miss is you mr_roboto, when your not around. <@:'(
posted by nola at 8:21 PM on April 12, 2007


Alright one more thing. People kept typing "So it goes." in response to KV's death and that pissed me the fuck off because "so it goes" was what the Tralfamadorians said and they were fucking evil, awful motherfuckers. The kind of motherfuckers who would watch a massacre and shrug their shoulders. Why does anyone want to imitate their customs and their religion? They are supposed to be a mirror of what is wrong with human nature. Don't repeat their sayings.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:26 PM on April 12, 2007


How's that sound?

like a slightly inebriated mary poppins.
posted by quonsar at 8:32 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


See, I would like it if obit threads spurred more discussion and less periods, because I think being reverent online is kind of cheap a lot of the time. The accounts in the thread of how Vonnegut moved people were really riveting, but a comment along the lines of quidnunc's would have been welcomed (by me anyway - but then, I'm pretty ambivalent about Vonnegut's style, though I did admire the man). Davidmsc's comment, however, would have been plain ol' trolling in any other conversation about Vonnegut. However. The thread had seemed to digest the little thumbtack he left well enough, so I don't see the need for the cleanup crew – in fact, in the blue, I would very much like to not ever see a cleanup crew unless a thread is actively going south.

That's me, blah blah blah.
posted by furiousthought at 8:33 PM on April 12, 2007


He was trolling, so I don't think we lose anything by having his comments removed. Since he wasn't banned, he was free to add more comments to the thread explaining his hatred for KV.

But he chose to whine here instead. I expect that means that there is no reason behind his hatred. Or, at least, the reason have no factual basis.
posted by nightwood at 8:34 PM on April 12, 2007


jonmc writes "as an athiest, pro-gay rights, pro-choice conservative he's not exactly your typical neo-con"

Isn't that pretty much the typical neocon mold? I thought they were like mostly reformed Maoists who have decided that the US should use its might to spread Western Culture to the benighted races or whatever without any regard to God or domestic social policy.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:42 PM on April 12, 2007


Metafilter: in soviet russia, troll calls out SELF!

seriously davidmsc... "good riddance" is a far cry from "less than complimentary".

While you were a disrespectful douchenozzle for making that post in the first place, you should win Ass Goblin of the Year(tm) for posting to MeTa to whine about it being deleted.
posted by twiggy at 8:45 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The thread probably would have veered off into a different direction if David's comment had stayed with a lot of piling on of outrage against him. I actually would like to know why he doesn't like KV, I have read negative literary critiques of his work but I'm guessing that this has more to do with his humanism or his anti-military views.
posted by octothorpe at 8:46 PM on April 12, 2007


/shrug
Not the first time this MeTa thread comes up with the passing of some stars. Somebody's always going to come in and rebel against the . and somebody will come here to bitch about it.
Same arguments; different dead person.
posted by jmd82 at 8:50 PM on April 12, 2007


Why does anyone want to imitate their customs and their religion? They are supposed to be a mirror of what is wrong with human nature. Don't repeat their sayings.

Nobody's imitating any custom. They're just using words he wrote to reflect back on him even if it is a twisted homage. You can't assume everyone is "reading the text" at the same level as you.
posted by vacapinta at 8:52 PM on April 12, 2007


vacapinta writes "They're just using words he wrote to reflect back on him even if it is a twisted homage. "

Yeah, I know. It doesn't really "piss me off". I've just seen some really shallow readings of KV and these homages tend to feed into those.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:54 PM on April 12, 2007


I disagree quite vehemently with the quidnunc kid's analysis, but it was entertainingly written, and if davidmsc had been up to the task of writing something like that rather than lobbing verbal turds, I'd've been the first to buy him a beer and join in a session of Rage Against The Mods.

But he wasn't, and I'm not, and that's life.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:56 PM on April 12, 2007


I would have been interested to know why davidmsc thought KV was an idiot too. However his presentation would lead me to disregard anything he said pretty quickly. It's interesting to have a contrary opinion, but saying "good riddance to an idiot" makes me view the contrarian's points (if he had any) with considerable doubt with regards to their worth.

If it were a Bush obit thread most would already understand any signs of jubilation, should there be any; we've discussed how he's started wars and ruined lives numerous times. Vonnegut, on the other hand, has not been discussed ad nauseum, especially with respect to any possible negative aspects of his character.

Grow up, davidmsc. I respect your right to a different opinion in this forum. In fact it would have been fascinating to hear why you have such an opinion, but being a shitheel about it just doesn't seem to get you anywhere except frustrated that the admin didn't want to listen to your meaningless sound-bite.
posted by dazed_one at 9:11 PM on April 12, 2007


I sheet on your thread.
I flag on your sheet.
I MeTa your flag.
I sheet on your MeTa.
We are friends a-gain!
(repeat)
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 9:12 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Here's my issue with davidmsc's comments: this was a loving thread where dozens upon dozens of people reflected on how much Vonnegut has meant to them, not only artistically but also very personally.

Anyone who thinks it's fine to waltz into that and bid goodbye to a pathetic wretch has some serious fucking problems.
posted by ORthey at 9:13 PM on April 12, 2007


OK, here it is: in hindsight - and upon reading this MeTa thread - it does indeed appear that my comment was troll-like. I did it primarily to demonstrate that not EVERYBODY is enamored of KV; my goal was not to troll, but I can see why it was interpreted so. I should have provided some linkage to explain why I didn't like him and given context to my opinion. Here's just a tiny example, and one more. Politically, I despised him - that's my primary frame of reference. Artistically -- well, I did attempt to read "Cats Cradle" about 12 years ago, and couldn't even get past the first two chapters, despite several attempts. It was nonsensical, and not in any kind of fun, whimsical manner.

And hearing from jonmc does indeed carry weight with me -- he is one of the few MeFites who can "reel me in," so to speak. I hear you, jon, and see your point/s.

I hereby apologize for poor sportsmanship in the original thread. Sincerely.

Note: no apology for bringing this to MeTa -- I was genuinely interested in learning more about the "obit thread etiquette," and I have thus been schooled.
posted by davidmsc at 9:17 PM on April 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


Well played, sir.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2007


I'm kind of in favor of across-the-board respect for the dead, except in the case of say, Hitler or Pol Pot or Osama Bin Laden. Reagan was kind of problematic in that he was a head of state which puts him in a different position from a novelist or a centerfold model.

At the risk of expanding upon said "different position," I suppose it might cause an argument to suggest a slight difference in the average considerations one should make upon the life of an author with opinions one might object to and a President who personally endorsed the cocaine-funded operations of South American terrorist death squads, but what the hell, we've just finished a week where calling some college students hos is exactly the same thing as the lyrics to a 50 Cent song, so fuck it, let's just officially agree context is actually an arbitrary concept for the history of all future internet discussions from here on until the end of time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:22 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hereby apologize for poor sportsmanship in the original thread. Sincerely.

Appreciated. And thanks for backing up your opinion with that extra info.
posted by dazed_one at 9:23 PM on April 12, 2007


But the links you posted don't explain much to me about your objections to KV.

Wrt the LGF thread, for example, what your argument with what was quoted? Do you think terrorists can't be brave or experience a high from their fanaticism?
posted by ottereroticist at 9:26 PM on April 12, 2007


Nevertheless there is a superb irony in linking to LGF as some kind of standard-bearer for your beliefs in a thread in which you complain about your comment being deleted.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:30 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


...let's just officially agree context is actually an arbitrary concept for the history of all future internet discussions from here on until the end of time.

I'd second that motion, but isn't that already the way things are done on the Web, even more elsewhere than here?
posted by wendell at 9:32 PM on April 12, 2007


Good deal, davidmsc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:33 PM on April 12, 2007


Wrt the LGF thread, for example, what your argument with what was quoted? Do you think terrorists can't be brave or experience a high from their fanaticism?

That's what I was thinking, otter, but I figured here wasn't the place for the debate to open up.

It's possible some folks may associate brave with their concept of "good", thus perceiving KV's statement as an endorsement of terror tactics.
posted by dazed_one at 9:33 PM on April 12, 2007


Comparing Bush to Hitler; praising the terrorists (yes, he was) and comparing them to soldiers; believing it is wrong for rich people (esp. Americans) to have more (money, possessions, whatever) than others; just a few reasons.

And no, terrorists - specifically of the 9/11 variety - should not be described as "brave." That word should be reserved for people who do heroic things -- not cowardly, destructive, evil things. They were sick, pathetic, suicidal thugs -- not "brave soldiers." Attempting to portray them as such is despicable.
posted by davidmsc at 9:33 PM on April 12, 2007


I was all ready to go apeshit at this meta thread. but then davidmsc showed some sincere and really admirable sportsmanship. whatever I may think of your initial comments, sir, I appreciate your open-mindedness. At the least, it shows that you had your heart in the right place. It makes sense to want to speak what you see as the truth in a situation where it seems like everyone is towing a party line. It sucks that it went down the way it did, but god damn if you didn't show some excellent character by listening and appreciating what others had to say, here.

Where your arguments against KV are concerned, I have nothing to say. Your opinions are your own, and more power to you.
posted by shmegegge at 9:38 PM on April 12, 2007


I couldn't really find anything that I could really disagree with in those links but I'm guessing that you did. But on the other hand, while I'm already planning a party for Jan 20 2009, I still wouldn't cheer if GWB dies. As a great man sang, "A man ain't an island / John Donne wasn't lying". As much as I despise what the president has done to my country, he's still a human and everyone of us deserves a "." when we go.
posted by octothorpe at 9:39 PM on April 12, 2007


It's possible to bravely commit horrible actions, and it's also possible to do good deeds in a cowardly manner.
posted by furiousthought at 9:39 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Oh and by the way I disagreed with the deletion; to the point of composing and previewing, but not posting, a MeTa thread asking what the principled basis for it was, earlier today. The only reason I didn't post it was because I was busy and wouldn't have been able to follow or participate in any discussion which folllowed. I vehemently disagree with you on more things than I don't, but I'm with Voltaire on this. Only comments which violate accepted [and preferably published] site guidelines should be deleted and I didn't think yours fell into that category.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:39 PM on April 12, 2007


And no, terrorists - specifically of the 9/11 variety - should not be described as "brave." That word should be reserved for people who do heroic things -- not cowardly, destructive, evil things.

I don't agree, davidmsc. Perhaps the word "heroic" should be reserved for people who do heroic things. I do, however, disagree with KV's assesment of the terrorists being honourable, but honour is such a subjective thing - so contingent on a personal definition.

I'd have to agree with your belief that they were sick and suicidal thugs, and I don't think that they were honourable, but they did face death and to do so must require some bravery.
posted by dazed_one at 9:42 PM on April 12, 2007


Someone quote from the Vonnegut book where he said that everyone who wasn't a Unitarian Universalist was going to burn in hell forever, and I'll agree that the deletion was unfair. Good on davidmsc for apologizing, though.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:48 PM on April 12, 2007


Excellent. So, we're all in agreement that we're going to stop using the asinine "." in obit threads and instead use our words?
posted by found missing at 9:50 PM on April 12, 2007


Hm, I don't know if linking to an lgf article entitled "Kurt Vonnegut: Moonbat" does wonders for your position. Maybe you'd like to link to stormfront next?
posted by puke & cry at 9:55 PM on April 12, 2007


Say what you want about the man, but I made the mistake of getting a collection of his short stories as read by the man himself on tape for a cross-country trip. Boy, could he ever drone on about anything and everything. The man could probably have lulled a caffeinated chipmunk to sleep.

This comment is doubly impolitic, since Cornellians are not allowed to say anything bad about our hallowed dead. There I go, blythely ignoring social mores, yet again.
posted by Eideteker at 10:00 PM on April 12, 2007


The hero of this thread is jonmc.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:06 PM on April 12, 2007


"Here's just a tiny example, and one more. Politically, I despised him - that's my primary frame of reference."

Well, your frame of reference is shit on this one. Like, for example, the LGF clip that you cite— it's amazingly poor reporting, and was fisked back when it came out. Like, y'know, missing the "Dulce es decorum est pro patria mori," and attributing it to Vonnegut.
Two problems here are that a) he's a subtle and masterful ironist a lot of the time (though things like Harrison Bergeron, which I think you'd like, are certainly hamfisted), so it's hard to take anything he says completely seriously, and b) he was 84 and was nowhere near as coherent as he was even five or ten years ago. I didn't blame my gramma for thinking Democrats were going to make sodomy mandatory under Clinton, I realized that her faculties were just gone and she was sort of rehashing things she had thought before without a lot of coherence.
Further, the couple of books cited here (and by quidunc) are his weakest, excepting Cat's Cradle. And even for my money, he was wildly uneven. Like, Slaughterhouse 5 is fucking brilliant and should be read by nearly everyone, but Breakfast of Champions was, in my opinion, really self-indulgent and kinda a chore to wade through (but hey, I thought the same thing about On The Road). Timequake was widely acknowledged as past his prime (like trying to get in on the Rolling Stones by starting with Voodoo You), and Sirens of Titan, well, I haven't read that in years, but I remember it being muddled and clumsy. That doesn't mean that his short stories weren't exceptional, or that books like Player Piano or Slapstick or God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater weren't pretty good.

It's kinda like saying "Good riddance" to Tom Clancy (who I don't think is nearly as good an author, but he's the best political counterpart I can think of off the top of my head) because you saw Red October and thought that it was plodding. It's ignorant and dickish, sorry.

Oh, and the "So it goes" thing was something that Vonnegut repeated many times himself— that's why people are picking it up.
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Welcome to Earth, idiotic children, my readers. I will describe it for you. I can summarize it for you. I can understand it for you. It is simple. Everything is simple. Be simple. Ding-a-ling.

What he said. I loved Vonnegut's short stories-- Harrison Bergeron and A Deer In The Works, for instance--when I was a teenager but for me, his novels were lazy and self-indulgent and his writing worse with each book published. The more popular and beloved he became, the less craft he put into his writing. And he became very, very popular and beloved indeed and wrote, so to speak, so many books thereafter. It was like he was in a race with himself to see how little thought and effort he put into the next book.

I liked him more in his role as a political speaker and public personality and enjoyed some of his interviews and I am sorry he died. But, for a fact, I never cared for his novels. I suspect that, as a prose stylist, future generations will rank him somewhere near Robert Heinlein and Tom Clancy, if not L. Ron Hubbard.

They were sick, pathetic, suicidal thugs -- not "brave soldiers." Attempting to portray them as such is despicable.

I disagree.

To intentionally and knowingly give one's life for a cause takes courage. I am quite sure that Mohammed Atta chose to give his life for what he thought a noble cause and that his choice was a deeply moral decision. Just because one can push a button and kill thousands unseen from a distance does not invest one with any ethical elevation. To be one's own smart bomb takes far more courage than dropping atom bombs or cluster munitions on non-combatant civilians from ten thousand feet. You can demonize the 9/11 bombers all you want but I think the argument can be made that they were idealists and acted from a deeply felt morality--as much, say, as any Kamikaze pilot in World War II. Nobody calls them sick, pathetic thugs.

As an atrocity what they did was nothing compared to what America did in bombing Dresden or Hiroshima or the Tokyo fire raid, and, in numbers of civilian lives lost, barely holds a candle to, say, Israel's saturation of Southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the final days of the recent war they lost to Hezbollah.
posted by y2karl at 10:10 PM on April 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


Ah, politics. What won't it turn to shit?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:23 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


The irony is that modern American fascists "libertarians" use Harrison Bergeron as an excuse to shit on the poor and minorities.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:39 PM on April 12, 2007


Eulogize them all you want y2karl, it will not make it right.

Personally I think that the comment should stand because of what Falconetti said. KV would have wanted it to stay.

And maybe I missed something, but it seems to me that davidmsc has been a pretty cool member here for a long time, and very helpful on askme. I have never seen any bad behavior from him. If it was some random noob shitting in the thread then maybe delete it. But the dude has earned his bones.
posted by vronsky at 10:55 PM on April 12, 2007


And if I remember correctly, kamikaze pilots flew alone, not with kidnapped civilians, and they also attacked military targets.
posted by vronsky at 11:05 PM on April 12, 2007


And this deletion was beyond stupid. Because Kurt Vonnegut, a man who fought against fascism, would have been proud to have been called an "idiot" by the modern American variety.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:11 PM on April 12, 2007


What won't it turn to shit?

Shit.
posted by pompomtom at 11:20 PM on April 12, 2007


Turning dross into gold, pompomtom, is the hard kind of alchemical magic. Turning dross into dross, that's child's play. Just pop into any political thread and have a look!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:26 PM on April 12, 2007


Wank all you want, this deletion was viewpoint-based. It was a very bad lapse in jessamyn's judgment and it's a real shame that this thread doesn't have an admission of error, with the same grace as davidmc's, from her and those who flagged the comment.

Whatever argument can be applied to davidmc's comment applies to the hateful comments in our obituary threads. Hand-waving about "context" is just another way of privileging one's own viewpoint over those who disagree.

Davidmc's comment is only disruptive because his opinion is the extreme minority. Deleting it on that basis is just another way of deleting a minority viewpoint.

I have both been hateful in obit threads (Reagan) and argued against the hatefulness in others (most recently, that Johnny Hart thread). I have no opinion on whether the community should decide collectively on what we think is proper behavior in obituary threads. But this deletion is very unfair.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:29 PM on April 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Eulogize them all you want y2karl, it will not make it right.

I merely pointed out that by, their own lights, they were something akin to patriots, attacking an evil empire. That is not excusing what they did. Demonize them all you want but our country killed civilians by the hundreds of thousands when it dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and another hundred thousand when we firebombed Tokyo. Where exactly is the moral superiority in those deeds ?
posted by y2karl at 11:30 PM on April 12, 2007


It was a very bad lapse in jessamyn's judgment and it's a real shame that this thread doesn't have an admission of error, with the same grace as davidmc's, from her and those who flagged the comment.

Yes, those that flagged the comment(s) as a derail should be ashamed and admit they just weren't thinking straight. Clearly everyone involved is at fault here.

Do you actually read your comments before you post them?
posted by puke & cry at 11:43 PM on April 12, 2007


"Yes, those that flagged the comment(s) as a derail should be ashamed and admit they just weren't thinking straight."

Yeah, assuming they aren't so quick to flag things as "derail" when it's not their ox being gored. Which is a safe assumption.

Anyway, the derail flag doesn't belong on a site with a lot of argument, such as MetaFilter. It's too subjective and prone to be used as an excuse for silencing unpopular views.

This is all moot. The simple truth is that almost every obituary thread that's ever been posted to MetaFilter has had at least one comment saying basically "good riddance" with little or no elaboration. Davidmc's comment was no different except that he had the misfortune of doing so when the overwhelming majority of MetaFilter sentiment was against him. In past obituary threads, when anyone has complained about such hateful comments, the justification hasn't been "this opinion is shared by a enough mefites to make it sufficiently non-derailing" but rather "the comment is accurate, the dead person deserves it" and "we allow differences of opinion here".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:05 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let me tell y'all a secret. You can defend Vonnegut without defending the completely idiotic things he's said.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:09 AM on April 13, 2007


The simple truth is that almost every obituary thread that's ever been posted to MetaFilter has had at least one comment saying basically "good riddance" with little or no elaboration. Davidmc's comment was no different except that he had the misfortune of doing so when the overwhelming majority of MetaFilter sentiment was against him.

Certainly, that may be the case. But there's no reason we should just accept it as the cost of doing business. It happens, maybe a lot (I don't pay much attention to the inevitable obit threads), but we'll never see fewer people being shitty in that particular way if we just let it slide, I don't think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:14 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, assuming they aren't so quick to flag things as "derail" when it's not their ox being gored. Which is a safe assumption.

Not really, those comments could have been flagged because of their caustic tone regardless of that persons "ox being gored".

And I object to your point that the comments were only deleted because of unpopular sentiment. I see little proof of your "In past obituary threads" argument. They were deleted because of their inflammatory, drive-by nature.
posted by puke & cry at 12:30 AM on April 13, 2007


EB you're full of shit on this one. It's just a deletion of an admitted trollish comment. It gets kind of boring hearing about all these previous occasions of obit thread shitting being allowed. So what? We don't have rigid rules and the moderators try to make best calls in all the circumstances. You don't have to agree but this is really not a big deal.

And I don't know a great deal about KV's life or public politics but I'm glad he lived and wrote some books. I don't care too much about dissenters or critics who wish to disparage the man or his writing style. The bunch of KV books I read made me smile and think a bit differently about the world. I'm just thankful for that.
posted by peacay at 1:05 AM on April 13, 2007


I might point out that even the Steve Irwin obit thread had its fair share of people criticizing the man, and Irwin (it can be argued) was probably far less polarizing an individual than Vonnegut.

It is probably fair to criticise a person in an obit thread. But as davidmc has now learned (and good on him for it too), it's a wise idea to voice those opinions respectfully.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:19 AM on April 13, 2007


And no, terrorists - specifically of the 9/11 variety - should not be described as "brave." That word should be reserved for people who do heroic things -- not cowardly, destructive, evil things. They were sick, pathetic, suicidal thugs -- not "brave soldiers." Attempting to portray them as such is despicable.

When men are fighting each other, the two sides have their own, different, heroes. This is normal and to be expected.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:13 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


davidmsc: "And no, terrorists - specifically of the 9/11 variety - should not be described as "brave." That word should be reserved for people who do heroic things -- not cowardly, destructive, evil things. They were sick, pathetic, suicidal thugs -- not "brave soldiers." Attempting to portray them as such is despicable."

Like Meatbomb says, it depends on which side you're standing on. The literal definitions of some of the words you're using don't really apply. I refuse to call either our soldiers or theirs "cowardly", since they're all willing to do things that I'd shit my pants doing.
posted by Plutor at 3:52 AM on April 13, 2007


Harrison Bergeron

Dave, read that short story. Razor sharp satire and politically not that far from some of your views. and kudos on your sportmanship sir.
posted by jonmc at 4:18 AM on April 13, 2007


Attempting to portray them as such is despicable.

or bitter, tangy irony.
posted by quonsar at 4:22 AM on April 13, 2007


jonmc, please stop fetishizing military service. It's unseemly. There's only two things that having served earns you: the right to bellyache about the service, and the obligation to point out and correct the innumerable civilian mischaracterizations of the military experience. This isn't Starship Troopers, and god willing it never will be.

Combat vets have some additional rights and responsibilities, of course, primary among which is doing one's best to minimize the number of future combat vets. In my view Kurt discharged this obligation with exceptional honor and integrity.

davidmsc, by contrast, wouldn't know honor if he tripped over it. His apology is disingenuous, his contempt for this site and all of its users self-evident, and (as others have pointed out) his invocation of imagined future crimes as justification for his own malfeasance straight out of both the neocon playbook and the DSM. I wouldn't pause to scrape him off my boots.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:43 AM on April 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


adam: I don't fetishize military service, but I do respect the job even when I'm against the form it sometimes takes. But I do know that davidmsc is in the military and proud of it and was using that to try and reel him in is all.
posted by jonmc at 4:53 AM on April 13, 2007


(also, this is where online interaction becaomes somewhat unpleasant. As I said before, I've been friendly online with david and I've hung out with adamgreenfield and had a good time and by trying to broker somekind of reconciliation, I wind up standing here (to push the military metaphor further) like some UN Peacekeeping force that's about to get it's collective ass shot off)
posted by jonmc at 5:04 AM on April 13, 2007


so ... i take it everyone's going to say nice things about fred phelps when he dies?

vonnegut was a man who liked to stir up controversy a bit ... if i were to state, for example, that the american national anthem was "gibberish sprinkled with question marks", on a site like lgf, i would be banned as a troll, wouldn't i?

but when vonnegut does it in breakfast of champions, he's writing literature and not trolling ... i guess

people are funny ... we tell each other all the time on this board that we are "not special snowflakes" and disrespect and abuse each other all the time ... but when we "melt" into identical puddles of "h2o", suddenly we are to say appropriate and kind things

wouldn't it be a better world if we were overly kind to the living and unkind to the dead instead of the other way around?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:08 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


What about "Phelpsing"?

Sanctimorum ?
posted by y2karl at 5:11 AM on April 13, 2007


Davidmsc's comment was deliberately provocative, as he provides no context for his contribution. He took a big smelly dump in the thread. Then, in his [more inside] comment in this callout, he sprays a powerful stream of asparagus piss over this load of shit, by regaling us with a litany of all those things for which he has felts unjustly persecuted over the years. And then when he pleads ignorance about it this just adds a thick layer of lustrous white frosting to top off this cake from hell.

This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

No, I don't think his comment should have been deleted, but he should have at least been pushed into offering more of an accounting for it there. I can name at least two or three other MeFites of davidmsc's political stripe that would have happily done that, and there wouldn't have been either a deletion or this lame callout.
posted by psmealey at 5:20 AM on April 13, 2007


His apology is disingenuous, his contempt for this site and all of its users self-evident, and (as others have pointed out) his invocation of imagined future crimes as justification for his own malfeasance straight out of both the neocon playbook and the DSM.

Gonna have to go with this. The fact that Mr msc's gotten so little shit (relatively speaking) in this thread has made me feel a little greasy about the whole peace love and understanding thing to be honest.

I'm all about the metaphorical community-based reconciliation reacharound, but there are limits.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:21 AM on April 13, 2007


"....and anna nicole smith? that bitch was a deformed exhibitionist cow and we're all better off now she's dead"

Is this a "now delete this" test?
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 5:21 AM on April 13, 2007


People kept typing "So it goes." in response to KV's death and that pissed me the fuck off because "so it goes" was what the Tralfamadorians said and they were fucking evil, awful motherfuckers. The kind of motherfuckers who would watch a massacre and shrug their shoulders. Why does anyone want to imitate their customs and their religion? They are supposed to be a mirror of what is wrong with human nature. Don't repeat their sayings.

Yeah, save it for when that bitch Linda Ellerbee dies.
But I digress. Please continue...
posted by hal9k at 5:26 AM on April 13, 2007


Look if Morrissey dies, I promise not to be mean in his obit thread. I can't show the courage of my convictions any deeper than that.
posted by jonmc at 5:30 AM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


if Morrissey dies

I didn't know that Moz was sick. Is he in a coma? Is it really see-hee-hee-hee-rious?
posted by psmealey at 5:32 AM on April 13, 2007


good grief, adamgreenfield -- WTF did I ever to you?

I am sincere in my apology -- what I did in the original thread was stupid, and I regret doing it. It's that simple.

But calling me out as dishonorable, etc. -- cripes. And I do not have contempt for MeFi and all MeFites. A few users, certainly, but come on -- I've been a loyal member of this community for enough years to make one mistake and be forgiven.

And please don't disparage jonmc's attempt to to broker peace -- he is one of the sanest voices in this odd little community of ours. His appreciation of military service is admirable, and he does not "fetishize" it - he understands the purpose and the value of it (rather than blanketing all who serve as baby-killers, or servants of big oil, etc), and he also is aware of occasional flaws in same.
posted by davidmsc at 5:38 AM on April 13, 2007


ok, dave, but there's a flip side to that. adamgreenfield is something of a crotchety guy (and I've occasionally wanted to throttle him and I know the feeling is mutual) but he's also a fundamentally decent guy and nowhere near a kneejerk parlor liberal of the type we disparage, so maybe he's not wrong for maybe wanting more elucidation on why you felt the need to make the comments.
posted by jonmc at 5:42 AM on April 13, 2007


Cat's in the cradle.

This is oxford blue reporting live from the internets.
posted by oxford blue at 5:48 AM on April 13, 2007


I think I am going to favorite this thread, and then when someone I like has an obit thread....post the link to here.


I'm hoping that people will now be civil in obit threads but I am not holding my breath, as it seems like a double standard is in place.

Meanwhile it has been ages since I read Vonnegut so I can't comment on his writing skill but I AM sad he's gone. Even tho I'm sure he and I had little common ground.
posted by konolia at 6:01 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


if davidmsc had been up to the task of writing something like that rather than lobbing verbal turds, I'd've been the first to buy him a beer

Great, davidmsc stole my beer. Fucking typical.

I say ban him.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:03 AM on April 13, 2007


What adamgreenfield said. And for Christ's sake, let's not indulge this middlebrow dingbat's attention whoring with attempts to "broker peace" and ask for "elucidation". If he actually had anything remotely insightful to say about the FPP where took a big fat shit, he'd have said it by now.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:04 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not persuaded that davidmc's perceived (by some) intent to merely "take a shit in the thread" makes a real difference here. When people have felt very strongly about other people who have died, they've made comments in obit threads that are also intentionally provocative. That's, you know, part of the point to making such a comment in a thread full of respectful periods. The only difference is that more people agreed with them than agree with davidmc. Furthermore, when we start psychoanalyzing someone to determine if their comment is acceptable, we're going to inevitably project onto them according to how we feel about their comment. It's a very faulty test.

Yes, I know that there's not perfect consistency here and that things like this are evaluated one at a time. That's okay, I've argued in favor of this. Indeed, I think it's a good way to do things. And, yes, I understand that guessing the intent of someone factors into this.

That's fine when there's lots of ambiguity. This case isn't ambiguous. It's simple. Davidmc's behavior, if it was different, wasn't that different. In contrast, the obit thread with regard to the community reaction to the notable, was _that_ different. It's the thread and community reaction to the death that is different, not davidmc's comment. So it was how the community feels about the death that made davidmc's comment unacceptable. And that's unacceptable because that's not how we do things here. We're not LGF or freepers. We can handle provocative, contrary opinion on things we feel strongly about. We may react angrily, but we don't delete comments or ban people for it. That's my hope, anyway.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:05 AM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


No damn cat, no damn cradle.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:07 AM on April 13, 2007


than agree with davidmc.

davidmsc. we're not related.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 AM on April 13, 2007


Sorry.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:27 AM on April 13, 2007


I think it bears revisiting that there is no "we" in Metafilter, but there is fetal merit.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:34 AM on April 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Even tho I'm sure he and I had little common ground.

Connie, darlin', you speak the very same language Mr. Vonnegut did. Trust me on this, and give him a read. People of good faith are people of good faith, even if you don't capitalize the 'F'. He was, and I believe that you are.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:36 AM on April 13, 2007


Davidmc's comment is only disruptive because his opinion is the extreme minority. Deleting it on that basis is just another way of deleting a minority viewpoint.

That's a willfully blind reading; without the benefit of having seen the original material, one could presume from this that it read something like "I do not agree with the idea that KV was a worthy man deserving all this positive attention."

Even davidmsc hasn't tried to prop that one up.

The comments were not the viewpoint; axing them did not ban dissent from the thread. They were disruptive because they were provocative and provided nothing of substance to react to. I have no doubt that fondness for KV drove some of that reaction, but I don't think it's just that, since I've got very little to say about the man (never read him, saw the film of SH5 when I was too young to get it) and I thought the comments were shitty, baiting bullshit.

I know there's a fair contingent of "nothing should ever be deleted" folks, and those will not be satisfied with an exception, and that's unresolvable: we disagree. So be it. I think if you believe it is ever acceptable to delete comments, deleting zero-substance-all-provocation stuff like those in question here falls in the bucket of acceptability.

Again, with comparison to the Hart thread, I didn't see any direct attack therein that was as lacking in actual content as what got deleted here. People keep arguing as if this is an attempt to quell dissent in an unfair fashion, but if people want to have substantial discussion of why they think KV is a stupid old wretch, those should stand.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:58 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


*grips cortex's shoulder, drinking offhand*

You are a good and and capable moderator, my friend. Relax.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:04 AM on April 13, 2007


The general rule of thumb for obit threads should be, if you're going to say something negative about someone, explain yourself, and show some respect in doing so.
posted by drezdn at 7:18 AM on April 13, 2007


That's a willfully blind reading

Exactly. EB's bending over backwards to avoid the simple truth here. There will always be plenty of room at MeFi for negative comments in obit threads, classy or not. But the least we can do is pull the rug out from assholes who jump in *just* to insult the people who are mourning.
posted by mediareport at 7:20 AM on April 13, 2007


This "say something substantial if you are negative in an obit thread" is an ex post facto creation of a rule to justify this deletion. No such rule has existed before today.

"They were disruptive because they were provocative and provided nothing of substance to react to."

You keep pointing to the Johnny Hart thread to make your case and you are ignoring the many other obit threads and comments therein that blow your case out of the water. For example, a number of comments in the Anna Nichole Smith or Reagan threads meet the test in your above quote.

You also seem to be ignoring the fact that opinion in this thread has so far been about half-and-half, or (without counting) mildly leaning against the deletion. I'm willing to bet that as people see this thread this morning for the first time, there's going to be a lot more comments that say "davidmsc was being a jerk, but the comment shouldn't have been deleted". Why would they say that? Not because they're hardcore anti-deletion folks. I'm not a hardcore anti-deletion partisan. They're saying that because the deletion looks to them to be exceptional. They're saying that because they know that people have made comments similar to davidmsc's in other obit threads in the past that haven't been deleted.

If you guys want to admit that you're creating this rule now and henceforth begin to enforce it, that's great. It'll be interesting to see what happens, and there'll be MeTa threads for almost every obit thread and lots of links to this one; but, hey, go for it. Just don't pretend that this deletion was fair. If you believe that it is, you're deluding yourselves. It stood out in contrast, in the thread and in flaggings, not for what it was inherently.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:42 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just so long as we all know that the Thatcher obit is going to be vituperative.
posted by biffa at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2007


I know there's a fair contingent of "nothing should ever be deleted" folks, and those will not be satisfied with an exception, and that's unresolvable: we disagree. So be it. I think if you believe it is ever acceptable to delete comments, deleting zero-substance-all-provocation stuff like those in question here falls in the bucket of acceptability.

I am new here. Does this zero-substance-all-provocation = deletion principle apply generally or only in obit threads?

It seems predictable that somebody who is not feted by 90-something percent of the participants here will pass away in the next couple of days, and somebody who adored that person will create an obit FPP, and then a few posters will crap all over it in an insensitive substance-free manner. It looks like that happens all the time.

Are the mods really going to get in the business of policing those threads just for the sake of removing anti-Vonnegut comments? That seems like a lot of work. Maybe it's better just to come up with a rule that if you criticize Kurt Vonnegut, you need substance behind your criticism or else your comment would be deleted. Even better, a list of people who are so well-respected on a personal level by so many members of this community that it is forbidden to speak ill of those people without good cause for doing so.
posted by Slap Factory at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2007


I'm going on a metafilter fast. I think my brain will be happy with me soon.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:55 AM on April 13, 2007


So davidmsc says something stupid and provocative, like lots of people do around here, and then he has the balls to own up to it and apologize. And some people refuse to accept the apology and keep piling on. It's no wonder he thinks he's being persecuted around here. When someone offers you his hand, don't spit on it.

"God damn it, you’ve got to be kind", indeed.
posted by fuzz at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2007


I agree 100% with Ethereal Bligh. Provocative, non-substantive comments remain in most of the obit threads. For example, the first four comments in the Milton Friedman obit:

.
posted by orthogonality at 11:10 AM on November 16 [+][!]

.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:11 AM on November 16 [+][!]

Straight to hell.
posted by docgonzo at 11:13 AM on November 16 [+] [!]

.
posted by gyc at 11:14 AM on November 16 [+] [!]
posted by probablysteve at 8:05 AM on April 13, 2007


This "say something substantial if you are negative in an obit thread" is an ex post facto creation of a rule to justify this deletion. No such rule has existed before today.

Look, t's not a rule, it's an explanation. In the strictest terms, it's speculation, since I wasn't the one who pulled the trigger and I haven't discussed it with Matt or Jess in enough detail to even know who did.

Let me be clear: I'm explaining my take on why what happened is not, in my opinion, a big deal. I'm not speaking to policy, or revealing the mind of Mattamyn.

Ex post facto rule? "Do not post contentless thread-shitting comments in obits"? No. There is no rule, and has never been one, as such, and I'd be surprised if that changed. I can't say I think those threads would be worse for a rule, but it'd be a hard row to hoe.

But I think "please don't recklessly, provocatively shit in threads" is a widely regarded Pretty Good Notion here—we've seen how many callouts over the years about this or that shitty, disruptive comment or exchange or axe-grinding posting habit lowering the signal:noise on the blue?—and, pragmatically, that has for me a little more long-view priority than the notion that any comment, no matter how shitty and what the context, deserves a long and happy life.

I bring up the Hart thread because others brought it up as a point of distinction, and because when I poked into it I didn't see the comparison they seemed to be making. I didn't read the Reagan thread when it went down, and reports seem to be it's considerably worse, and I think that sucks, but short of giving it a full readthrough this morning I can't say whether or not any exceptional pruning would have helped it.

I'd rather nobody shat lazily in obit threads or any others. Obit threads are going to be touchier than others, and I'd be happy if people thought about that a bit more before going off.

Vigorous debate is good. Dissent is good. Angry, substantial rebukes to prevailing opinion are good. Random, thoughtless shitting isn't, and while that's not a hard-and-fast rule, it strikes as just about exactly the point at which the possibility of deletion crests the horizon of reasonableness. That's my take.

So no. No rule. Just a common sense shift in probability: there's a greater (but still, history around here has shown, damned minimal) chance that, when you do something thoughtless and shitty, it might get deleted. No strict consistency, no bright red line delimiting the border. There is no fair. This place being fair would kill it.

The excellent thing about it is that we can actually talk about it over here.

I'm willing to bet that as people see this thread this morning for the first time, there's going to be a lot more comments that say "davidmsc was being a jerk, but the comment shouldn't have been deleted".

Maybe they will. I'm willing to consider the idea that the never-delete-anything contingent is bigger than I think it is, and in the majority. On the other hand, I'd submit that most folks don't even come to Metatalk, self-selection being a big factor in response, and so people who have an objection to what happened are a lot more likely to show up here and say so. Kind of immeasurable, there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:14 AM on April 13, 2007


Illegitimi non carborundum, cortex. You're doing a great job.
posted by psmealey at 8:29 AM on April 13, 2007


E_B is pretty much right on this one.

I have no preference one way or the other because I ignore the obit threads. But if you are going to allow them--which we seem inclined to do (even though on 50% of them my reaction is "who?")--then you need to either allow them to be free form commentary or places of respect. Once you start saying "you need to be rationally critical of this person but not this person" then you are just going down a road where dangers lie. Trust me, if Coulter bites the dust tomorrow, watch the comments in her thread. But surely we are not going to take a position that some people are objectively worthy of respect and some aren't.

.
posted by orthogonality at 11:10 AM on November 16 [+][!]
.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:11 AM on November 16 [+][!]
Straight to hell.
posted by docgonzo at 11:13 AM on November 16 [+] [!]
.
posted by gyc at 11:14 AM on November 16 [+] [!]


That's pretty telling right there in the Friedman thread.

But from a moderator's standpoint, its less of an issue: I am willing to bet not many people flagged the comment "straight to hell" because it was Friedman, while lots of people flagged the comment when it was one of their sacred angels being condemned in the Vonnegut thread.

"I hope that bitch goes to hell and spends eternity getting raped by demons" probably gets (rightfully) flagged to shit if it is posted in a Katrina vanden Heuvel obit thread and probably gets favorited if it is posted in a Coulter obit thread. So from a moderators perspective, one is more likely to be deleted.

Of course the easiest way out this mess is to not allow obit threads; or if they are allowed, make them free fire zones. Defining what is sufficiently respectful or a criticism of enough substance is needlessly problematic.
posted by dios at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Of course the easiest way out this mess is to not allow obit threads; or if they are allowed, make them free fire zones.

Or alternatively, only permit sincere tributes that contain interesting links about the deceased's life, times, influence or works, rather than, say, a one-link post to his or her Obit in the NY Times.
posted by psmealey at 8:39 AM on April 13, 2007


Look, if you act like a dick, you're going to get deleted. Why is this hard to understand?
posted by empath at 8:47 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I hope that bitch goes to hell and spends eternity getting raped by demons"

I would guess that comment would get favorited and flagged to shit in a Coulter obit.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:47 AM on April 13, 2007


Look, if you act like a dick, you're going to get deleted.

That really needs to be expanded a little:

"Look, if you act like a dick, you're increasing to greater than nil the probability that you're going to get deleted."
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:53 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


But I think "please don't recklessly, provocatively shit in threads" is a widely regarded Pretty Good Notion here...

You keep dodging the point, Cortex. You're criticizing the comment, but nobody's defending it. Most people are saying, "You're right, it sucked. And it deserved to be deleted every bit as much as the 400 equivalent comments that have been posted in nearly every MeFi obituary thread. Sooo...whadafxup?"

Moderation is inconsistent. That's fine, because it's a small price to pay for some of the benefits that MetaFilter has over similar websites. But in this instance, the inconsistency appears to be ideologically based. See constrasting examples above. You appear to be making a special argument that, if you're going to post criticism in an obituary thread about Kurt Vonnegut, then you'd better provide substance.
posted by cribcage at 8:54 AM on April 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Why is this hard to understand?"

It's easy to understand. It's also not true.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:54 AM on April 13, 2007


The problem isn't the criticism of the obit subject, and it is disingenous to continue insisting the deletions were because of that.

Rather, that the deletion is resulting from criticism that is really being aimed at many other users of the site, simply for the purposes of stirring the pot. This is also known as "shitting in the thread".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:59 AM on April 13, 2007


"The problem isn't the criticism of the obit subject, and it is disingenous to continue insisting the deletions were because of that.

Rather, that the deletion is resulting from criticism that is really being aimed at many other users of the site, simply for the purposes of stirring the pot. This is also known as 'shitting in the thread'."


The comment was unambiguously a criticism of the obit subject and your speculation of what it was "really" aimed at is merely speculation. Therefore, you're the one asserting the obscure view as "obvious" while I'm asserting the obvious as obvious. One of us is being disingenuous, and it's not me.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:08 AM on April 13, 2007


Perhaps Blazecock is referring to the second comment and EB to the first?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:13 AM on April 13, 2007


You know, we'd all be a lot less prone to legalistic sniping over the appropriateness of obit comments if we'd just renounce civilization and become hunter-gatherers.
posted by COBRA! at 9:14 AM on April 13, 2007


I'm all for axing the "." in favor of actual discussion, but some of you people are obviously really pissed you weren't allowed to provoke the masses by poking them with a stick.


Look, if you act like a dick, you're going to get deleted.

QFT
posted by Big_B at 9:15 AM on April 13, 2007


The comment was unambiguously a criticism of the obit subject and your speculation of what it was "really" aimed at is merely speculation.

Speculation informed by the administrators' explanations and by davidmsc's own mea culpa.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:15 AM on April 13, 2007


One of us is being disingenuous, and it's not me.

Perhaps you're not being intentional about it, so I retract the charged language of "disingenousness". But, nonetheless, your impression of the deletion appears to be incorrect.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:17 AM on April 13, 2007


You keep dodging the point, Cortex. You're criticizing the comment, but nobody's defending it. Most people are saying, "You're right, it sucked. And it deserved to be deleted every bit as much as the 400 equivalent comments that have been posted in nearly every MeFi obituary thread. Sooo...whadafxup?"

Moderation is inconsistent. That's fine, because it's a small price to pay for some of the benefits that MetaFilter has over similar websites. But in this instance, the inconsistency appears to be ideologically based. See constrasting examples above. You appear to be making a special argument that, if you're going to post criticism in an obituary thread about Kurt Vonnegut, then you'd better provide substance.


It's really not intended as a dodge, cribcage. I'm not defending the deletion of these comments on the basis of the subject, I'm defending it on the basis of the shittiness of the comments. I'd probably defend the decision to delete equally shitty comments from other infamous obit threads, but this is the one where it happened and got called out while I've been on the clock.

I find the suggestion that criticism of KV is being disallowed to be troubling not because it betrays some ideological administrative/community bent but because davidmsc's deleted comments being in sharper contrast to a positive thread doesn't make the comments any less shitty. That KV was well-liked doesn't generate a get-out-of-jail-free card for lazy shit, and in this case davidmsc's comments got the rare treatment. It's not about KV, and only nominally about the apparent strong goodwill of the average mefite for KV; all of that is filtered through the flag queue, an admin's gut-reading of the situation, and a desire to prevent an ensuing feedback loop of shittiness.

I defend the deletion because I think the comments were useless, bad for the quality (as opposed to merely the mood) of the thread, and don't have anything to defend them. That the guy who posted both those comments and this thread has agreed with that suggests that maybe these comments don't represent much of a line in the sand.

I consider lazy, shitty comments in obit threads and elsewhere to be one of the ugly side effects of mefi being so lightly moderated. I'm pretty strongly in favor of that philosophy of light moderation, regardless of the shit that sometimes squats at the border of permissability. cribcage, you make the argument that nobody is defending the comment, but a fair number of people have been saying it should not be deleted, which is explicitly a defense. Not praise, but a defense, and the question of why or when comments should or shouldn't for whatever reason be nuked is the one I've taken the most interest in here.

Moderation is inconsistent. The Reagan thread was ugly? That sucks. Future obits might get ugly too. It's hard to change the collective mefite opinion on someone, good or bad, and the best we can hope for short of heavy moderation is that people will be responsible and thoughtful enough to at least flesh out their negative comments and add a little signal to the debate. Few if any comments will be deleted, regardless, unless something changes. I don't personally think that means that no comments should be deleted, but that's clearly a matter of opinion, and one that is inevitably colored by viewing the situation from a practical-maintenance POV.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on April 13, 2007


Let's remember that the users and moderators are all more or less human, and will make subjective judgments that, from my point of view, actually enhance the site, rather than doing everything according to some arbitrary rule book. Shitting in the Vonnegut thread is not going to win you any friends here, because shitting in any thread is going to be frowned upon. A well-constructed criticism or dismantling of Vonnegut's mystique wouldn't have been deleted; also, a comment like yours might not have been deleted from another thread, but would likely have been frowned upon by the members.

There's no hard-and-fast rule here, but when it comes to this sort of thing, in the words of Thomas the Tank Engine, "It's not wrong, but you just don't do it."
posted by Mister_A at 9:31 AM on April 13, 2007


You're criticizing the comment, but nobody's defending it.

I'll defend it. To the extent we allow those kind of comments (see, e.g., Reagan or Friedman threads), then the comment was just fine.

I'll also compliment the deletion if there is a rule constructed out of it that will be implemented following.

The key is consistency, or, since perfection is impossible, a concerted effort towards consistency. It is not without reason that communities/governments have laws. Why do we reject the notion of rules here? We have some rules: no self-links or double posts, but there seems to be a rejection of other rules. We instead prefer to rely on very nebulous guidelines which just cause problems in consistency and needless strife. What's the virtue in doing that? Why is that preferable over bright-line rules?
posted by dios at 9:33 AM on April 13, 2007


Moderation is inconsistent. The Reagan thread was ugly? That sucks

Like I said before, I despised Reagan's politics. and I took a lot of shit for that as a teenager. The reason I objected to some of the nastier comments in the obit thread was because theoretically someday Bill Clinton will die and there'll be ugly comments from rightward leaning assholes, and I'd just like to be able say that I hold the moral high ground in that eventuality.
posted by jonmc at 9:35 AM on April 13, 2007


And lest there be some confusion: I make that last comment with full respect and no general criticism of how this site is moderated because I think it is done so pretty well... I just make the comment more as a question on why they don't make it easier on themselves by having rules.
posted by dios at 9:38 AM on April 13, 2007


I've made my case. I think jessamyn had good intentions and believes she was just pruning a disruptive, much-flagged, comment from a thread. I don't know how much she thought about similar comments in past threads or whether the inconsistency of this deleted would appear to be viewpoint-based. The bottom line is that it does appear to be viewpoint-based because of this inconsistency; and given the vast history of similar comments in previous obituary threads which haven't been deleted, it is asking a lot for people to believe that the particular context of this deletion—that it was an extreme minority opinion which upset many people—wasn't a strong factor in the deletion, though possibly/probably unconscious. I'm much less upset with jessamyn's deletion than the attempts to justify it after the fact and the ahistorical claims that this comment is qualitatively distinct from those that preceded it. It's the inability for some people to think self-critically beyond their gut reaction that rankles me.

Cortex's argument is a non-argument. He's saying that he doesn't like these sorts of comments and he doesn't like them when they've appeared in the past and that's why he agrees that this one should have been deleted...but that he's not responsible for the lack of deletion in past obit threads and, hey, the future lack of deletions in obit threads is okay with him, too. Because, really, he's just a-okay with this deletion and that's all he's concerned with. Well, d'uh. We already know that. He might as well have simply posted "it's okay because I say it's okay".

I don't have a strong opinion on a blanket rule about how to behave in obituary threads. I've been extremely hateful and provocative and argued that it was reasonable, and I've argued against hateful and provocative comments in obit threads. I liked KV and made my respectful comment in that thread and I don't view davidmsc's comment favorably. I also find that I'm not outraged by it, either. I wasn't outraged by the comments I argued against in the Johnny Hart thread and, by the way, I didn't flag them, either. If they had been deleted, I would have protested the deletion just as I'm protesting this one—even though I argued against them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:39 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


He might as well have simply posted "it's okay because I say it's okay".

cortex took the time to outline his P.O.V. in detail, as I have you. Reducing it to a momism kinda sucks.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:45 AM on April 13, 2007


Setting firmer guidelines on content is trickier than it looks, I think, dios. There can be a very fine line between intense criticism and trolling, esp. in obit threads. I find these kinds of attacks reprehensible in any obit thread; I am not saying that one can't post anything but adulation in an obit thread, but I do find that some comments are a bit over board.

And on top of that, there is the substantial question of what, exactly, is an obit thread? I'm not being facetious, I'm just pointing out that a thread about the execution of Saddam Hussein i(yes, this is an extreme example) is not at all the same as a thread about the passing of a beloved author.

The last thing I want to say is that I prefer asshattery at the funeral to the kind of crap I saw in the first, best Robert Anton Wilson obit thread. In that one, people took the time to post, "Who the fuck is Robert Anton Wilson and why should I care?" I have seen similar stuff in obit threads for jazz musicians, etc. Classy stuff.
posted by Mister_A at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2007


.
posted by Stynxno at 9:47 AM on April 13, 2007


Why do we reject the notion of rules here? We have some rules: no self-links or double posts, but there seems to be a rejection of other rules. We instead prefer to rely on very nebulous guidelines which just cause problems in consistency and needless strife. What's the virtue in doing that? Why is that preferable over bright-line rules?

I was actually thinking about that; I have a really strong preference for nebulous guidelines over bright-line rules, and I wanted to figure out why.

I think it's because coming up with bright-line rules that are truly appropriate for every nuance and contingency and personality quirk is awfully tough; more so when you're dealing with a big, contentious community of intelligent people, some of whom will inevitably try to game whatever system's put firmly in place.

I don't think bright-line rules would end strife. They'd just cause a different sort. Instead of people arguing over inconsistency, they'd aregue over rules-lawyering and interpretations.

I dunno. Bright-line rules make sense in the real world when there's money or personal liberty on the line. Here? I think they'd shift problems, not solve them.
posted by COBRA! at 9:47 AM on April 13, 2007


This "say something substantial if you are negative in an obit thread" is an ex post facto creation of a rule to justify this deletion. No such rule has existed before today.

The ability to create ex post facto rules is a feature, not a bug, of the "benevolent dictatorship" model of government.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:00 AM on April 13, 2007


davidmsc - You were trolling. After reading 100+ posts in the gray, you seem to have grasped that. I would have preferred your comment had not been deleted, if only so that your ridiculous position on this subject could have been exposed, discussed and discarded.

And for the record, there's plenty of us who whole-heartedly wish Bush, Cheney and the entire cabal long, healthy lives. In prison.

Cuz the thing is, folks who STILL support the cabal in spite of what the last seven years have demonstrated is operating under a severe, terrifying logic deficit. Bush's death would fill me with dread, because frankly, I'm a little afraid of what folks still not over the September 12 Nationalism Hangover would do while under the martyr haze.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:08 AM on April 13, 2007


I think it's because coming up with bright-line rules that are truly appropriate for every nuance and contingency and personality quirk is awfully tough; more so when you're dealing with a big, contentious community of intelligent people, some of whom will inevitably try to game whatever system's put firmly in place.

Of course. That's the way the world works. But I think we can accept two basic principles:

1. An eye towards consistency is a good thing; and
2. Whether there be rules or no rules, any system of moderation is going to involve subjective human components because it is implemented by flawed humans.

Once you accept those two principles, that difficulty you identified is diminished. What is more subjective and more apt to lack consistency?
(a) the subjective application of rules; or
(b) the subjective application of undefined ad hoc discretion.

I would submit it is the former. And that is why all governments have laws. There is no perfect system of completely objective moderation, but having rules help eliminate some issues of consistency in discretion. Rules serve two functions: to deter behavior from citizens/members and provide viable and defensible grounds for governments/moderators to act. Sure there will be quibbles with regards to subjective application of rules, but it will inevitably be a smaller issue than subjective ad hoc decisions.
posted by dios at 10:09 AM on April 13, 2007


davidmsc was being a jerk, but the comment shouldn't have been deleted. So to speak. I feel obligated to chime in that the deletion in question is not defensible given the comments that have stood in other obit threads.
posted by taliaferro at 10:13 AM on April 13, 2007


davidmsc - You were trolling.
....
And for the record, there's plenty of us who whole-heartedly wish Bush, Cheney and the entire cabal long, healthy lives. In prison. Cuz the thing is, folks who STILL support the cabal in spite of what the last seven years have demonstrated is operating under a severe, terrifying logic deficit. Bush's death would fill me with dread, because frankly, I'm a little afraid of what folks still not over the September 12 Nationalism Hangover would do while under the martyr haze.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:08 PM on April 13


So you accuse him of trolling and then post that? Were you under the assumption that your little screed was relevant to this thread? Did you believe that topic was once that needed to be discussed? Did you write it in confrontational and divisive terms? Did you understand that it might cause some reaction by posting it? Is trolling in the eye of the beholder/reader?
posted by dios at 10:13 AM on April 13, 2007


EB, I'd have been okay with non-deletion of these comments too; point in fact, I looked at them and didn't hit the button. It's not (frustratingly, to me, but I recognize it's a matter of personal taste) out the norm around here for people to be pretty nasty about things. I don't believe that a failure to delete only and each comment beyond impossibly-precisely-defined Threshold X means that nothing should be deleted, no matter how crappy, is all. If you want to interpret that as handwaving dismissal of the importance of the issue, I can't stop you, but I'm not trying to wrap it up in a tautology and roundfile it.

To be explicit, I have reservations about the deletion, just as I'd have reservations about the comments standing if they had. I'm not merely blinking and shrugging and wondering what the big deal: I get that it's contentious, I'm arguably pretty damned hyperaware of the contention these days. One of the things that people have complained about over time in Metatalk is a lack of active transparency from Matt about some of these things—that he's too terse in his explanations, or unwilling to sink time he sees as better spent on other site issues having it out in Metatalk. I might be helping some of those folks to rapidly revise their feelings on the subject of lengthy discussion of the admin perspective, but I figure an attempt at detailed explanation (even, in this case, sympathetic and speculative) is a good thing.

And to be clear: it's not that davidmsc's comments were "qualitatively distinct from those that preceded it"; it's that they happened to get nuked, and we ended up with a thread about it. People with a position on the subject are speaking their mind, including me. That's one of the ways things actually do change a little around here, and it's possible that one of the results of this thread will be increased admin conservativism about deleting even the shittiest and laziest of comments in obit threads. That's the system in action (or inaction, if it doesn't stick).

dios asks about hard rules and bright lines. I think they're bad ideas, because this—light, somewhat ad hoc moderation with direct community feedback as a lighthouse along the rockier patches—seems definitive of how mefi functions, and yards better than a tightly-wound set of rules. I'm not sure what those rules would prevent; I suspect we'd just see much more in-thread rules-whoring (justified by the clearly posted restrictions) and maybe less off-band dissection of community norms and moderation decisions in Metatalk. At the risk of displaying my opinion again: ick.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:16 AM on April 13, 2007


dios - I was trying to respond to the pair of blue posts that were at the heart of this - that the death of Bush & Co would be celebrated. I might have my blood up a bit, still, and may have damaged my glass house a bit.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:20 AM on April 13, 2007


Three more posts and you get a silver medal of clusterfuck, davidmsc.
posted by boo_radley at 10:29 AM on April 13, 2007


And this deletion was beyond stupid. Because Kurt Vonnegut, a man who fought against fascism, would have been proud to have been called an "idiot" by the modern American variety.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:11 AM on April 13


Kurt Vonnegut would not have given two measly shits what any given user on this site would have had to say about his death.

E_B is pretty much right on this one.

No he isn't. Moderation inconsistency is a fact of life here. The comment deserved deletion, as do many of the others from earlier threads that did not get deletion. That those other comments were not deleted does not reflect on the merit of davidmsc's comments, but rather on prior inconsistencies of moderation. The only way to look at EB's volumes of commentary, here, is to see prior mistakes and be glad that they caught it this time. You want to act like there's a terrible bias infecting our administrators? Go ahead. They're human beings though, and the far more likely answer is that there's only so perfect they're going to be, and unless something gets a shit ton of flags it's not going to come to their attention, especially in obit threads several hundred comments long.

There isn't a system in place that alerts them via some magical graph as to the nature of every comment posted here, folks. If we're not flagging it, chances are they're not noticing it, and if we're not flagging it in significant volume, the chances are just as low that they'd notice it. They notice and take care of what they can, but they cannot read every comment and evaluate it on a one by one basis. Point out however many inconsistencies you want, it only shows how totally unreasonable your expectations are.
posted by shmegegge at 10:29 AM on April 13, 2007


I'm with cortex here. Suggesting we change the basic way MetaFilter has always run over this issue is just silly.

If we were to implement a rule, however, it would have to be always remove negative comments in obit threads. I would fight for an amedment though that would exempt heads of state. They make decisions everyday that, whether they be right or wrong, fuck a lot people over in ways that the work of writers and playboy bunnies just don't.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 10:37 AM on April 13, 2007


You want to act like there's a terrible bias infecting our administrators? Go ahead.

No. Nor did I. In fact, I thought I made that clear. The "bias" is in the userbase. Which is why that comment got flagged enough to merit deletion, while the Friedman one did not. The comment in question is so contentious and trolling because Vonnegut is a saint to our biased userbase. Again, it would not be considered trolling in the Friedman thread. The problem for our moderators (whom I think are very fair-minded and well-intentioned people) is that they have to try to moderate a biased site from an unbiased position. As E_B points out, I have no doubt that jessamyn deleted the comment without any consideration of the substance or slant of it. It was flagged to death, was superficially crass, and was therefore deleted. The problem here is the suggestion by users to justify it after the fact as if it was wrong in an objective sense while also making "ahistorical claims that this comment is qualitatively distinct from those that preceded it." The bias isn't in the moderation. The bias is in the fact that the comment is seen as somehow distinct from the ones in the Friedman/Reagan thread. It it what it is: an expression of dislike for a person who died, which is common in all obit threads. It was just a sacred cow getting the barb this time.

Incidentally, bias is value neutral term. To say something is biased is not to make a judgment at all about the propriety of the viewpoint.
posted by dios at 10:53 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The general rule to end all rules here is "don't be an asshole" which is enforced fairly loosely and evoked infrequently. Assholisheness is contextual also; what may seem assholish in an obit thread might fit right in to a ponygirl thread. It's also community-based in that we rely on members of the community to flag and point out downright assholish behavior. Comparing something that was deleted to something that remained undeleted is really not a fair comparison for a few reasons

- We may not have seen the comments that were undeleted whether this was due to lack of flagging, vacation or who knows what.
- Mores on the site may have changed over the years. Early AskMe questions were chattier than current ones are. The rules have shifted.
- Apples and oranges. Each thread is different and has a different tone and a different vibe. Something out of place in one thread (which helps define what assholish bahavior is) might fit in well in another. I didn't read the Johnny Hart thread or the Reagan thread, so I have no idea what went on there.

My only other addition is that I don't care about KV one way or the other and I don't see obit threads as a "sacred space" where no dissent is tolerated. davidsmc's first comment probably would have stayed if it hadn't been followed by the second one which was much more assholish. It was also followed by someone saying "fuck you" to it which seemed to indicate that a) a derail might be starting that would be a pain and b) leaving the first comment while removing the second "fuck you" comment was likely going to not work particularly well [you can't really remove a comment by someone who feels insulted while not removing whatever insulted them - oy we get letters]. The second comment also fell into "axe grinding with the site" territory (and I read your apology and that's cool with me davidsmc) which really need to go into MetaTalk.

Inconsistency has a lot more to do with the depth to which any of the admins dig into long threads on topics that may not interest us (if there aren't flags and we don't care about the topic we may skip them just like anyone else would do). I don't really see how this makes this deletion seem "viewpoint-based" unless you're comparing it to other threads that I didn't participate in or didn't see. None of us go looking for stuff to delete, ever.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:54 AM on April 13, 2007


shmegegge, you make good points. However, that this was a convergence of events and that moderation is necessarily inconsistent is not in contention. Not by me, anyway. I think the deletion was an error. What bugs me is the arguing that the deletion is fine because it's different than other comments that have preceded it.

If it had been me, I might have wanted to delete it, following cortex's reasoning that these sorts of comments are bad and should be deleted (and should have been deleted), or I might have disliked though not deleted it because doing so would be contrary to established standards which allowed such comments in the past. In the former case, I would have wanted to delete it but would have restrained myself because this, given the context, is a bad test case to start implementing this policy because of the appearance of bias.

cortex, I appreciate highly your good-faith and diligent efforts to explain yourself and the moderation. I just think you're wrong and that this particular error—as I believe it is an error—isn't trivial.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:54 AM on April 13, 2007


Fair shake, EB. Beers at lhats in fifteen, then.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:02 AM on April 13, 2007


man, this reminds me of the time when i got caught throwing paper airplanes in class by the sub and was sent to principal's office.

i had tears in my eyes because it was totally NOT FAIR that i got sent to the office because it was the first one i had thrown and everybody else was totally throwing them and more than me anyhow.

it was probably because i was the fat kid.
posted by fishfucker at 11:10 AM on April 13, 2007


"The key is consistency, or, since perfection is impossible, a concerted effort towards consistency. It is not without reason that communities/governments have laws. Why do we reject the notion of rules here? We have some rules: no self-links or double posts, but there seems to be a rejection of other rules. We instead prefer to rely on very nebulous guidelines which just cause problems in consistency and needless strife. What's the virtue in doing that? Why is that preferable over bright-line rules?"
posted by dios at 12:33 PM on April 13

One way of looking at it is that if the rules are clear, explicit, and posted where everyone can see them, then the Rulers too are bound by them; they become employees of the demos, mere functionaries instead. In democracies officials have obligations, yet a cabal has caprice.

I'm not saying this fits the admininstration of these pages, only that I'd think someone trained in Law and interested in politics and history should find such "blindingly, unspeakably obvious." (Of course maybe it's "just me.")
posted by davy at 11:10 AM on April 13, 2007


I'm a bit confused. Why are some people still making a federal case about this when the original OP admitted he was in the wrong?

I thought it would stand to reason that it would be "case closed" after that. But this is more or less how it's worked out:
1. Davidmsc: "My comments shouldn't have been deleted wtf."
2. Others: "Davidmsc's comments shouldn't have been deleted wtf."
3. Admins et al: "Here is the reasoning behind why it was deleted."
4. Davidmsc: "I see your point and agree that I was in the wrong. I apologize, but am glad that this discussion has resulted from the incident."
5. Others: "Davidmsc's comments shouldn't have been deleted wtf."
6. Cortex et al: "Here is the reasoning behind why they were deleted, again."
7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 ad nauseam.

On preview, after having accidentally not posted this comment before all my classes thus defeating the purpose of posting said comment
8. Others: "I disagree, but ok."
9. Cortex: "Word. Beer time!"
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:13 AM on April 13, 2007


(I could say "Good point, dios!" but, given what I take to be our mutual grudge, I won't clearly and explicitly commend dios in public.)
posted by davy at 11:21 AM on April 13, 2007


it was probably because i was the fat kid.

I weigh 170# with my jeans on. (And my wallet, keys and change in my pockets; man those new nickels weigh a ton!) If everybody weighs in then somebody can write a Python script to do the math for us. (Of course people would then blame "computer error...")
posted by davy at 11:28 AM on April 13, 2007


"I weigh 170# with my jeans on."

Oh, and I'm 5'6", for a BMI of 27.4; maybe we should use BMI instead, given all the 8-foot Mefites out there.
posted by davy at 11:33 AM on April 13, 2007


here's what I don't get about BMI:

I was always told that muscle weighs more than fat. So a big bulky weight lifter might way 200+ at under six feet, what does that make his BMI?
posted by shmegegge at 11:42 AM on April 13, 2007


I don't agree with davidmsc's comments, I don't agree with the decision to delete them.

Same here. I also agree with everything EB and dios have said. The justification for deletion is that the negative comment risked a derail, but so what? Why does an obit thread have to stay on (respectful) topic, whereas every other kind of MeFi thread can wander where the spirit of the moment takes it? And the reason for the "danger" was that the negative comment was unpopular, it went against MeFi groupthink. Free speech: it's not just for governments!

And I entirely reject the idea that we should say nothing ill of the dead (sorry, jonmc). I cheered when that bastard Reagan died and I have every intention of cheering when the current Bastard in Charge dies. Obit threads are not funeral parlors, they're public discussions, and when the deceased is controversial, you're going to get a variety of views, some of them bluntly and even churlishly expressed. So be it. It's only a website.
posted by languagehat at 11:46 AM on April 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


I weigh 170# with my jeans on.

heh, i've ran the gamut since those junior high days. from 135 at the low, to 220 or so at the high.

you're pretty much always the fat kid, though.
posted by fishfucker at 11:59 AM on April 13, 2007


I agree with EB, but I'd like to add that the
'moderation is inconsistent, deal with it' excuse is a woefully poor one, since it clearly wasn't a random deletion.

Imagine if the government passed a law that says "fuck the first amendment, anyone who engages in partisan politics goes to jail," but arrested only Democrats. And then excused itself with "Well, the justice system can't catch every crime, you know?"
posted by nasreddin at 12:09 PM on April 13, 2007


"So a big bulky weight lifter might way 200+ at under six feet, what does that make his BMI?"

But such people are too hunky to waist much time on Metafilter.
posted by davy at 12:11 PM on April 13, 2007


And the reason for the "danger" was that the negative comment was unpopular

(Un)popularity is not why it was deleted.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 PM on April 13, 2007


And I entirely reject the idea that we should say nothing ill of the dead (sorry, jonmc).

Say ill away. I'm just saying give it a couple days, out of class if nothing else.

you're pretty much always the fat kid, though.

well, I'm not. *flaunts gorgeous svelte form*
posted by jonmc at 12:26 PM on April 13, 2007


Wait a minute: nasreddin, davidmsc, Ethereal_Bligh, dios, amberglow and languagehat are in one thread agreeing with each other and me? Risperdal all around, folks.

But Blazecock, dancing on the grave of a popular person DOES tend to make one unpopular in circles where the decedent was popular. If G.W. Bush keeled over this weekend I'd be dancing in the streets handing out candy (and were it the good Rev. Phelps I'd want to picket his funeral), but I won't expect their supporters to be happy about my behavior. So pace both you and cortex, that IS what "popularity" MEANS.

And just for the record, I found what knew of Vonnegut too RIGHT-wing for my taste, and I formed my offhand literary biases when he was way popular with the K3wl Kidz -- and I wasn't.

So no psmealey, this is the thread where some of us gripe that our Community Weblog is too heavily weighted to one narrow paradigm.
posted by davy at 12:43 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good, at least we straightened that out.
posted by psmealey at 12:45 PM on April 13, 2007


If and when Jon Corzine dies, I plan on holding hands and shitting in that thread in uinson.
posted by phaedon at 12:50 PM on April 13, 2007


It's only a website.

More people need to say this. Like a mantra you say when you click your shoes.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:54 PM on April 13, 2007


This thread and interrobang's recent comic in which he taunts his future self has me wishing I could shit in my own obit thread. If that should happen to be relevant any time soon, will somebody please copy and paste the following? TIA

IRFH says: "Finally. Say hello to Satan for me, smartass!"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:07 PM on April 13, 2007


If and when Jon Corzine dies, I plan on holding hands and shitting in that thread in uinson.

Jon Corzine's been much friendlier and more helpful to my wife and I than all but the tiniest handful of people here. Fuck off.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:08 PM on April 13, 2007


It's only a website.

It's a Community Weblog where some of us like to remember that the community is not comprised solely of the "Hip, Now & With-It."
posted by davy at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2007


1. wishing I could shit in my own obit thread
2. *registers RIPzingr.com*
3. Profit!
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2007


If and when Jon Corzine dies

WTF? Dude, when Major Owens kicks, I'm totally crapping all over that thread. And Andrew Cuomo? He can forget about being remembered fondly, because I am all over that one too.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 1:11 PM on April 13, 2007


1. wishing I could shit in my own obit thread

Well, maybe you'll die of dysentery mid-comment.
posted by jonmc at 1:16 PM on April 13, 2007


I reserve the right the self-link my obit thread. Ban me if you want, fascmins.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:21 PM on April 13, 2007


My fifth grade teacher once claimed that I had "diarrhea of the mouth." So it seems quite possible that I might wind up terminally full of shit one day. That would show all those "it's only a website" folks.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:25 PM on April 13, 2007


"The key is consistency, or, since perfection is impossible, a concerted effort towards consistency. It is not without reason that communities/governments have laws. Why do we reject the notion of rules here? We have some rules: no self-links or double posts, but there seems to be a rejection of other rules. We instead prefer to rely on very nebulous guidelines which just cause problems in consistency and needless strife. What's the virtue in doing that? Why is that preferable over bright-line rules?"

To respond to this, I have to say that I'm influenced by Chantal Mouffe's critique of Rawls— Any bright line standards ("rational liberalism") are invariably both arbitrary and contentious; further they tend to encourage a majority's view of justice (in democracies), and tend to foment intractible disagreement.
Mouffe's argument is that rather than trying to proceed from principles, public spaces in which the inevitable conflict can occur with a maximum of transparency and with a minimum of collateral damage, should be encouraged to test and retest those principles.
I have some beefs with that (it seems like it encourages endless rancor; it itself proceeds from assumptions about good that make it somewhat question-begging; it is still no protection from majoritarianism, factionalism or demagogery), but one of the things I like about Metafilter, and that I've tried to ellucidate when, well, spouting off with the rest of the peanut gallery, is that I believe that Metatalk provides that arena of contention, and that the guidelines are generally agreeable, and that I believe that in large part mitigates the harm otherwise posed by too little or too much moderation.
The mods here are members of the community (though they remind me more of a supreme court than a jury), and as such are inconsistent— and that is a good thing.
The deletion here, which may be an error (though I don't particlularly believe it is) is one data point in a much larger system, and (correct me if I'm wrong, EB), much of the criticism of it seems to be trying to make it represent more than it does. If this was an error, it is certainly not a grevious one, and yet I get the sense that those who oppose it are seeing it as somehow a BIG DEAL. I tend to see it more not as a reflection of an articulated system, but as an expression of a probability— the comment was shitting in a thread and unpopular, the quality was poor and the context emphasized that. But rather than seeing it as now representative of a larger rubric, I think it should be seen as a blip that is a piece of moderately responsive system dealing with a lot of random data.
Or, to weigh down the comments page with yet another hackneyed thought, flipping heads a hundred times in a row doesn't necessarily mean that the next flip will be heads. Given the, what, probably hundreds of thousands of comments here, I don't think this was a particularly odd thing to have deleted.
posted by klangklangston at 1:27 PM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wish somebody would delete Klangklangston's comment. That would be ironic.
posted by Slap Factory at 1:57 PM on April 13, 2007


I wish somebody would delete Klangklangston's comment. That would be ironic.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:01 PM on April 13, 2007


davidmsc - You were trolling. After reading 100+ posts in the gray, you seem to have grasped that.

???? ... it's not trolling if it takes someone 100+ posts of argumentation to realize it could be mistaken as a troll

sometimes people just post stupid things

I have to say that I'm influenced by Chantal Mouffe's critique of Rawls

give that guy a plate of beans
posted by pyramid termite at 2:01 PM on April 13, 2007


.






for Hitler
posted by bardic at 2:02 PM on April 13, 2007


I know I'm a bit late to the party here, but if anyone's still reading: I want to apologize for setting such a snarky tone for the Johnny Hart thread. I really dislike the guy, but I'll be the first to admit that it was a bit too much of a crapfest, and that the way I posted it was largely responsible for that.
posted by naoko at 2:12 PM on April 13, 2007


It is not without reason that communities/governments have laws.

The instrument that communities use to administer laws without caprice or bias is called a "bureaucracy." Be careful what you wish for. Complaints about inconsistent treatment will go up as rules get more strict.

I've said this before: you may not agree with the call the ump makes, but you have to accept that the ump had to make a call. Let them do their jobs and move on.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:25 PM on April 13, 2007


good grief, adamgreenfield -- WTF did I ever to you?

apparently, your ambient informatics lack a certain ubiquity...
posted by quonsar at 2:29 PM on April 13, 2007


IRFH says: "Finally. Say hello to Satan for me, smartass!"

I can think of no better tribute to you Flo! To top it off, I will favorite it and then pour some of my 40 on the monitor.
posted by Mister_A at 2:32 PM on April 13, 2007


And no, terrorists - specifically of the 9/11 variety - should not be described as "brave." That word should be reserved for people who do heroic things -- not cowardly, destructive, evil things.

I love that the root of all this evil is a numbingly simplistic semantic argument. But I guess that's what you get with davidmsc.
posted by Jimbob at 2:47 PM on April 13, 2007


To elaborate; I feel that "bravery" is pretty synonymous with "courage". Suggesting the ability to face fear, and maybe death, without pause. "Heroism" is different. On the one hand, it is the application of bravery and courage for a positive outcome. But an alternative definition, now, is simply to mean some kind of impressive hard work.

- A fireman can be brave and a hero.
- An olympic gold medallist can be a hero, but not necessary brave.
- A terrorist can be brave, but certainly not a hero.

That's pretty clear in my mind. Apparently it's not clear in davidmsc's - this might be understandable, because "brave" is very rarely used in a non-positive sense. Still, it's a highly amusing reason to decide to go shit on someone's obit.
posted by Jimbob at 2:54 PM on April 13, 2007


Hmm, I think bravery is doing something when you're scared shitless to do it.
posted by Mister_A at 3:09 PM on April 13, 2007


A terrorist can be brave, but certainly not a hero.

Both of those terms are subjective to the point where that statement is meaningless.

Maybe I have another plate of beans?
posted by psmealey at 3:25 PM on April 13, 2007


"I think bravery is doing something when you're scared shitless to do it."

Right. Especially doing things that when you're not scared shitless get you called "stupid."
posted by davy at 3:41 PM on April 13, 2007


JimBob: "A terrorist can be brave, but certainly not a hero."

pmealey: "Both of those terms are subjective to the point where that statement is meaningless."

All three terms: "One man's terrorist is another man's Freedom Fighter." (To quote Reagan, I think.)
posted by davy at 3:43 PM on April 13, 2007


On the subject of choose-your-own-obituary:

I would like a huge sassy black lady to point at a portrait of me and exclaim 'fuck THIS guy!'
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:48 PM on April 13, 2007


EB had it right from the beginning. There is nothing in metafilter's past that would suggest trolling comments in obit threads would be deleted. Obit threads have always been some of the nastiest threads on metafilter. To start now cleaning up with this obit thread was asking for trouble unless this is some kind of new policy. Since that's not the case, Jess and cortex should simply go with "moderation is inconsistent". Anything else and they're just spinning their wheels and digging a hole.
posted by justgary at 3:56 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite - as my post here proves.

Oy. Coffee first. Then Metafilter.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:13 PM on April 13, 2007


Wow. I am really suprised at how this thread has developed. I appreciate the support that some of you have thrown my way -- if not for my politics, then for the etiquette and/or the discussion of the rules governing obit threads.

As I said above, I am sorry for deposting such a "content-less" turd in the OT, and due largely to this discussion here in the grey, I will be more mindful of any future postings in the blue.

Thanks all.
posted by davidmsc at 5:13 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


it would be interesting to see how a thread on bono would go tomorrow, given this.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 5:29 PM on April 13, 2007


if he was killed in a car driven by his guitar player, i think people would be on edge
posted by pyramid termite at 5:35 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


U2, Brute?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:53 PM on April 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm mullen it over.
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on April 13, 2007


And if the car was being driven out in the wilderness - where the streets have no name...and it happened on a Sunday, and there was lots of blood...

OK, OK...I'll keep my day job!
posted by davidmsc at 6:42 PM on April 13, 2007


Vonnegut was old and was starting to say stupid things. He was also a smartass with a dry sense of humour and a profound sense of irony. He was a Humanist. He had a lot of love. Read what he was doing thirty or forty years ago. These accusations of supporting terrorism are nothing but non-sequitors.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:50 PM on April 13, 2007


I don't think saying something unpopular, pointless or even stupidly malicious necessarily qualifies as "trolling" regardless of where or when one does it. And yes I am claiming a certain expertise in this area. But that hardly matters when they're planning to scrap the Internet!
posted by davy at 7:39 PM on April 13, 2007


Naming Vonnegut in the same sentence as Reagan and Bush is an ode to the power of literature.

Cheers!
posted by bru at 7:48 PM on April 13, 2007


Note too that another way out of this "dilemma" is to add an item to the FAQ saying in effect "Moderation is inconsistent, deal with it!" and stop giving anything like reasons for deleting posts or comments or closing or deleting threads, like a "voice from the whirlwind" saying only "Because I'm the Mod, that's why!" That too would obviate threads like this one as well; indeed, when someone gripes you'd just delete it. "What reasons do you need to know" if as some would say "the purpose of power is power"?
posted by davy at 8:23 PM on April 13, 2007




This is just the post-911 world, and the sooner you get used to it the better. As someone else famously said: "If we don't ever exercise it, then what's the point of having it?"
posted by found missing at 8:29 PM on April 13, 2007


And FWIW at this late stage: more power to the Mods - I don't envy them their duty, and I appreciate how they manage to keep this place usually enjoyable, always interesting, and just occasionally frustrating.

This is still one of the coolest places on the internets.
posted by davidmsc at 8:30 PM on April 13, 2007


"Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?"

you let me put a stick of dynamite on that and i'll draw out TWO of him
posted by pyramid termite at 8:37 PM on April 13, 2007


The BMI is generally recognized as being non-meaningful for athletes, and a pretty blunt instrument in general. For more granular information, go to a gym and get a body-fat test and general fitness assessment.
posted by jacalata at 8:49 PM on April 13, 2007


I think that says it all.
posted by found missing at 8:53 PM on April 13, 2007


I.e., one alternative to the Tablets of Solon is the caprice of O'Brien.

I hope what I'm trying to get at can be decoded into meaningful content, given the implications of these two comments that just popped up when I previewed this; to a lot of people, not only net.bound deskchair theoreticians like me, participating in our Community Weblog is good education in and preparation for participating in the Real World, including its sociopolitical aspects. That is, rather than simply, e.g., whine that "Life is UNFAIR!" or root for the Bushes or the Clintons, some folks can use Metafilter as a way to sort out what these issues mean, how to view them and what to do with them; rather than just passively consuming books or articles about this stuff we can get a kind of hands-on experience. (And now I've got to shut up, at least for a while, and finish washing dishes.)

[And by the way, hey quonsar! You've been cued.]
posted by davy at 8:56 PM on April 13, 2007


Hey! Maybe if Metafilter gets construed as an educational thingy it can apply for things like grants, nonprofit status and JSTOR access!
posted by davy at 9:39 PM on April 13, 2007


The general rule to end all rules here is "don't be an asshole" which is enforced fairly loosely and evoked infrequently.

Now you tell me. This site suddenly makes so much more sense, thank you for the clarification jessamyn.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:29 PM on April 13, 2007


Hey! Maybe if Metafilter gets construed as an educational thingy it can apply for things like grants, nonprofit status and JSTOR access!

davy, you're derailing the derail. This, if this thread has taught me anything, is grounds for bannination.
posted by shmegegge at 12:42 AM on April 14, 2007


The general rule to end all rules here is "don't be an asshole" which is enforced fairly loosely and evoked infrequently.

I don't think anyone disputes the "don't be an asshole" part--it's the "loosely" and "infrequently" part that lets people get away with things at some times and not at others and depending on whim, seemingly.

Obit threads are also clear and distinct from other posts--they must remain free for all opinions/views/summing-ups, whether positive, negative, content-filled or not, i feel--Otherwise we shouldn't have them at all. They won't ever be entirely respectful for anyone, nor should they be.
posted by amberglow at 11:15 AM on April 14, 2007


(also, if "." are allowed, which are content-free, so should dumping on the deceased.)
posted by amberglow at 11:15 AM on April 14, 2007


I support davidmsc and his ilk's right to have their comments kept right out there for all the world to see. That's one of the great reasons the world is turning away from their views.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:32 PM on April 14, 2007


Why not ask the Roots to simply disable the Comments box on obituary threads? No real thread, just an anouncement.

Or maybe there could be just one continuously-running obit thread, to which the only allowable additions would be other death notices. This could even add a fourth color to the site, white text on black (or maybe black text on a white ground with a black border), called something like MorteFilter.
posted by davy at 5:43 PM on April 14, 2007


(Was that better, shmegegge?)
posted by davy at 5:44 PM on April 14, 2007


Sigh.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:49 PM on April 14, 2007


foldy: I don't think Dave's part of any ilk, he's just another human stumbling around in the dark like the rest of us using his life as clues. and I've often asked for tolerance and unterstanding of my statements even if I'm occasionally an asshole or a dunderhead, so uless I want to be a total hypocrite, I have to extend that courtesy to others, especially those who've shown me friendship and kindness.
posted by jonmc at 7:30 PM on April 14, 2007


Let's have another cup of coffee.
Let's have another slice of cake.
posted by Dizzy at 8:29 PM on April 14, 2007


Obit threads are not funeral parlors, they're public discussions, and when the deceased is controversial, you're going to get a variety of views, some of them bluntly and even churlishly expressed. So be it. It's only a website.

Which, of course, is the exact same argument one would use to dismiss the idea of any kind of civility at all here at MeFi. Sorry, languagehat, you're off-base here.
posted by mediareport at 8:34 PM on April 14, 2007


Apropos of nothing, what is that dubious argument technique called where you push the idea to a radical extreme that is generally agreed to be bad?
posted by found missing at 8:56 PM on April 14, 2007


Take this thread out behind the barn and shoot it in the head, please.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 PM on April 14, 2007


My comment just got expunged from the Don Ho thread. I now feel an uncomfortable kinship with davidmsc.

Really, is that the way it's going to be now?
posted by found missing at 9:02 PM on April 14, 2007


And then pee on it.
posted by Dizzy at 9:02 PM on April 14, 2007


found missing: you can start a new metatalk thread then the miserable cycle can begin anew.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:04 PM on April 14, 2007


Dizzy: you're back! Did you enjoy the smooth, clean feeling of a mind unfettered by metafilter/talk?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:07 PM on April 14, 2007


Really, is that the way it's going to be now?

Cortex, I didn't mean that question rhetorically. I'm not allowed to make a lame joke in an obit thread?
posted by found missing at 9:24 PM on April 14, 2007


Don't look at me, I didn't do it. If you want my opinion, though, you've got something like 50/50 odds with that move: one the one hand, ha, lame reference to recent dustup! On the other hand, christ, what a lame reference to a recent dustup, and one which most folks in the thread won't get. On top of which, it would read as intentionally provocative of the admins, which may not be a really clever move after the goddam headache of this whole thing.

If you want to know for sure, email Matt and Jess and ask who did it and why. Or just let it go, because, really, it was a goddam stupid prank not worth defending.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 PM on April 14, 2007


Apropos of nothing, what is that dubious argument technique called where you push the idea to a radical extreme that is generally agreed to be bad?

Reductio ad absurdum?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 PM on April 14, 2007


Sorry, I figured you were on duty, since I saw you posting. Anyway, I let it go.

Reductio ad absurdum Cool. Thanks.
posted by found missing at 9:40 PM on April 14, 2007


Duty isn't exclusive; in any given hour, 0-3 of us might be poking the site, so it's a toss-up. So you never know.

*makes MUHAHAHA noises*
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:52 PM on April 14, 2007


praising the terrorists (yes, he was)

No, he wasn't. This isn't defending Vonnegut, this is defending the damn language. It is possible to do bad things bravely. You are wrong.
posted by spaltavian at 11:05 PM on April 14, 2007


Like, y'know, missing the "Dulce es decorum est pro patria mori," and attributing it to Vonnegut.

They still haven't figured that one out? Yeesh.
posted by homunculus at 12:27 AM on April 15, 2007


B-han!
You're kind to notice!
Spent the last week in Florida with my mother, dodging raindrops, guzzling mojitos, and avoiding her unceasing probing regarding my Personal Relationship to Higher Powers and Why Don't I Change Careers Already?
I jump back into the Blue and the Grey and it seems everybody has lost their minds.
posted by Dizzy at 1:33 AM on April 15, 2007


If it's any consolation, davidmsc's comment wasn't anywhere near as inflammatory as FOX's obituary.
posted by the_bone at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2007


that link didn't work for me, the_bone (it's probably for the best -- i hate FOX enough already)
posted by amberglow at 10:58 AM on April 15, 2007


Oops. Try this one. It's pretty depressing, though... it's almost a parody of what one would expect a FOX obit of Vonnegut to be, down to the inclusion of the phrases "left-wing screeds" and "rich and irrelevant," and a jab about his failed sudicide attempt.
posted by the_bone at 12:15 PM on April 15, 2007


Which, of course, is the exact same argument one would use to dismiss the idea of any kind of civility at all here at MeFi. Sorry, languagehat, you're off-base here.

I disagree. I'm all in favor of civility (in general, not in obit threads for assholes like Reagan); I disapprove of the idea of enforced civility. Like foldy said, if people insist on being uncivil, leave the evidence there so people can judge them on it.
posted by languagehat at 12:57 PM on April 15, 2007


I'll stop here, but it seems pretty clear that you and I disagree, languagehat, on the value of deleting egregiously insulting and inflammatory comments. I think without those deletions the site would slide downward pretty quickly, and the deletion of davidsmc's comment fits squarely within that small group of worthies.
posted by mediareport at 1:28 PM on April 15, 2007


I think the specific area of our disagreement is on what exactly is meant by "egregiously insulting." I can understand deleting comments that egregiously insult other MeFites; it's insults to public figures, even ones beloved by MeFites that should be allowed to stay. Sure, "good riddance to a pathetic wretch" is a nasty comment, and as a Vonnegut fan I don't like it, but if I get to say that about Reagan, he gets to say it about Vonnegut, in my ideal world. YMMV.
posted by languagehat at 1:34 PM on April 15, 2007


In addition, a selectively enforced civility policy obviously creates a chilling effect on discussion. I think that's the more serious problem.
posted by nasreddin at 2:35 PM on April 15, 2007


In addition, a selectively enforced civility policy obviously creates a chilling effect on discussion. I think that's the more serious problem.

I can't imagine us ever having an actual civility policy. To restate my core take on it, and address the point of disagreement between languagehat and mediareport: really negatively disruptive things are what I see as being likely candidates for the bitbucket. I like the idea of letting assholery stand for all to see; what I don't like is (a) dive-bombing signal:ratio and (b) tacit encouragement of the shittiest of the shitty.

Where an aggressively enforced "gosh, be nice" policy might have a chilling effect on vigorous discussion/argument, so too might a declaration of carte blanche on posts and comments. That, I think, is why mefi has worked well riding a de facto policy of light-handed moderation and rare comment enforcement in the blue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:16 PM on April 15, 2007


I think the specific area of our disagreement is on what exactly is meant by "egregiously insulting."

Er, not quite. You left out the deliberately inflammatory part. Without the rare and judicious deletion of obnoxiously asshole behavior - and davidsmc has admitted that was his purpose in that thread, to insult and annoy fellow members as well as insult Vonnegut's memory - MeFi would decline (maybe dramatically, like down to YouTube comment levels). Again, it's not that I want to deny folks the right to criticize newly dead famous people in obit threads. But do it with at least *some* content, if not class, or risk your precious snowflake of insult getting deleted.
posted by mediareport at 3:32 PM on April 15, 2007


Oh, and to be clear, I think that most of the folks popping into the Reagan thread to criticize him did so with enough restraint to justify their comments remaining. Even amberglow's first comment in that thread wasn't inflammatory in anything close to the way davidsmc's was.
posted by mediareport at 3:33 PM on April 15, 2007


Fair enough.
300!
posted by languagehat at 7:52 AM on April 16, 2007


This! Is! Spartatalk!
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:34 AM on April 16, 2007


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