Ask the Moral Compass July 17, 2007 6:42 AM   Subscribe

A recent AskMeFi question: Should I have this affair?. Some responses: Is there any personal honor left in this world? Have you no sense of decency? Your tone is one of weakness before you fuck up his life with your own selfish interests Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental? Question 2: Do people practice what they preach? Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?
posted by pollystark to Etiquette/Policy at 6:42 AM (352 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

Depends what you mean by "reflect." I'm sure many people give advice based on the mistakes they've made, so as to help others avoid making the same ones.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:48 AM on July 17, 2007


1) Community contains humans.
posted by flashboy at 6:49 AM on July 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

Say what? You do realize that this is ask.metafilter.com, not grouphug.us, right? Why would anyone bother to ask a question if people cannot answer truthfully?

Here's some news for you: anonymous will have this affair, even with all the hen clucking. Want to know why? By the time you've reached the point of asking random strangers (who have $5) about facts in your life that are this personal, you've already made up your mind and are looking for some rationalization, any rationalization to validate what you've already decided to do.

Question 2: Do people practice what they preach? Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

Of course. That doesn't change the answer though.
posted by unixrat at 6:54 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I predict this will go well.

Also, relationshipfilter must die.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:54 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh come on. I hard time believing this question was even legitimate. How could anyone possibly identify with the the OP in any way that helped justify the affair?

"Yeah, I was in a loving, mature and long-term relationship and ditched it all for this fling I had in the past. Yeah, the guy was a jerk then but his emails certainly gave me the impression that he was over that period of his life.

"Oh, how did it turn out? Well. Despite the fact that I broke up with my committed fiance, flew across the country to a city that I wasn't familiar with, and was met with an empty airport waiting room, it was great!"
posted by purephase at 6:57 AM on July 17, 2007


Jeez, who's being judgmental now polly?
posted by caddis at 6:59 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It garnered awful responses because the asker is an awful human being. And to answer question two, yes, many of us have managed long-term relationships without seriously contemplating affairs and asking people on the internet if we should go for it because we think our life is a fucking chick lit novel.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:00 AM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

I recommend books all the time but never learned how to read!
posted by cog_nate at 7:02 AM on July 17, 2007 [13 favorites]


By the way, poor Jack and Bill for getting involved with a lowlife like anon.
posted by caddis at 7:04 AM on July 17, 2007


Totally do it. You'll regret it your whole life otherwise!
posted by grobstein at 7:07 AM on July 17, 2007


shit wrong thread
posted by grobstein at 7:07 AM on July 17, 2007


Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

BECAUSE THE CHICK IS ASKING FOR AN OPINION!

Opinion is a person's ideas and thoughts towards something. It is an assessment, judgement or evaluation of something.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion


Why are you being stupid?
posted by c13 at 7:07 AM on July 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


Stupid questions beget stupid answers. Sort of like this one.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:07 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


This really doesn't seem like the best question to hang a "you guys are so mean" complaint on. The asker writes paragraphs of rationalization trying to excuse herself for a serious betrayal she wants to commit. There's nothing in what she's written that indicates that she's thinking of this in any but the most selfish way, and her actions might destroy her possible future marriage and seriously harm her fiance. She really isn't asking about an ethical dilemma, she's asking for permission. I'm not sure what other responses would be appropriate.

This is not, as should be clear, a question about polyamory or ethical slutdom or anything fun like that. Were she prepared to be honest with her fiance there wouldn't even be a question to write. This is a query about cheating.
posted by OmieWise at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2007


(Meaning this thread, of course.)
posted by Krrrlson at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2007


pollystark, according to yr userpage you've been a member for two years and have spent all of that time in AskMe. Two fucking years and you haven't realized that the "green" reflects people in "real" life, yet is "symbolic" of something "much", "much" larger. What "that" is I have no "idea". All "I" wanted was a Pepsi, but "she" wouldn't bring me "one"... just "one" Pepsi...
posted by item at 7:09 AM on July 17, 2007


What is needed for these seeking-self-love-to-the-point-of-hokey-absurdity non-questions is a simple poll widget that also displays a running total:

  • Yes
  • No


  • The redundant verbiage below the question can be thus eliminated.
    posted by meehawl at 7:11 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Do people practice what they preach? Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    I frequently tell people to choke on a bucket of cocks, yet I myself have never choked on a bucket of cocks.
    posted by languagehat at 7:13 AM on July 17, 2007 [74 favorites]


    How could anyone possibly identify with the the OP in any way that helped justify the affair?

    I considered encouraging the affair, not because I approve or disapprove, but simply because the OP seemed to have something in her that she needed to work out, right or wrong, so she might as well work it out. Sometimes, we don't want or need the stereotypical "best thing".

    As horrible as it can be, cheating on an SO isn't the worst thing in the world and those who do it aren't automatically scum, unworthy of some basic kindness. They're just human, maybe a little lost or confused. If they ask for it, help'em if you can.

    That said, cheating is a personal thing, so it's not surprising that some people are having personal reactions to the post.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 AM on July 17, 2007


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    If you're dumb enough to post a "SHOULD I CHEAT" question on ask.me, then you deserve any sort of judgment leveled against you.

    Any fun question on Ask.me is a version of Group Hug. Ask.me is about validation and this question is no different then the countless other questions on ask.me about love, lust, and the pursuit of the lulz. Annon, in this question, wanted to vent and did. We are not Annon's best friend, we are not related to them, we might not even know them. We don't have any reason to be "nice" to them beyond what jessthowtex determine.

    The question is silly, the answers are fun and this metatalk is the icing on the cake. Why this kind of question is allowed to be asked in the first place is beyond me which would be a much more valid metatalk than this lame "why do we judge?!!!" emotastic special snowflake thread.
    posted by Stynxno at 7:13 AM on July 17, 2007


    language fat lol
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:15 AM on July 17, 2007 [8 favorites]


    It is my opinion that pollystark should not have the affair.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 7:16 AM on July 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


    Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    Advice doesn't really work like that. Advice is what you SHOULD do, not what you have done. One thing I appreciate about AskMetafilter is the candor people bring to their answers. If "Anonymous" doesn't like being juded for having an affair, she should not have one.
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:19 AM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


    juded = judged
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:20 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    This really doesn't seem like the best question to hang a "you guys are so mean" complaint on.

    Meh. There were lots of good answers in the thread from the monogamy crowd. The answers mentioned here weren't them.

    This is not, as should be clear, a question about polyamory or ethical slutdom or anything fun like that.

    There's nothing in her question that says she's unwilling to talk to her fiance about about it, and she says that they have good communication. Poly relationships start somewhere, and there were people who were able to suggest that she talk to her partner honestly without feeling the need to call her evil or morally bankrupt or whatever.

    We've all made bad choices, which means that we've all been on the brink of making bad choices. It doesn't seem to me that calling people who are on the brink names is a particularly sound way of helping them or a good use of AskMe.
    posted by carmen at 7:20 AM on July 17, 2007


    Having now actually read the thread in question, I think it's going as well as a thread started by such a mindbogglingly self-centered, clueless question could go. (I see that jessamyn has removed some "silly jokes and judgeme responses," and good for her.) Lots of people are giving excellent advice, usually mixed in with a dab of moral judgment which in my view is pretty appropriate here (and I'm not a fan of moral judgment in AskMe responses). I hope that anonymous sends in an answer via a moderator along the lines of "I can't believe I was thinking of doing something so stupid and indefensible—thanks, AskMe, for helping me see the light!" But I won't hold my breath.

    Also, I'm adopting language fat lol as my new sig.

    language fat lol

    posted by languagehat at 7:25 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    You mean why are some people in this community acting like humans? You'd have a valid complaint if the answers weren't justified by the question.

    See, it's kind of simple. Not only is she asking whether she should have an affair or not. She's asking randoms on the internet whether she should have an affair while in an apparently perfect relationship with a total douchebag. What kind of response were you expecting?
    posted by liquorice at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2007


    There's nothing in her question that says she's unwilling to talk to her fiance about about it, and she says that they have good communication.

    While the poster does not explicitly rule out such a conversation, almost everything about the question, from tone to the included specifics, suggests that she's not going to talk to her fiance and that all she wants is validation for the affair. I really don't think that people are reacting to the situation as much as to the tone of pre-justification that pervades the question.
    posted by OmieWise at 7:30 AM on July 17, 2007


    Wait. My phrasing sucks. The douchebag not being her fiance, although he could be one too. Bill is a bit of a douchey name, no
    posted by liquorice at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2007


    Question Mark.
    posted by liquorice at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2007


    I frequently tell people to choke on a bucket of cocks, yet I myself have never choked on a bucket of cocks.

    Is it muscle control or do you have a freakishly wide throat?
    posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:33 AM on July 17, 2007 [15 favorites]


    There's nothing in her question that says she's unwilling to talk to her fiance about about it

    "It's almost as if things with Bill are on such a steady, strong course that a sexual affair cannot derailed it."


    Wow, this cocaine is so fucking good, it's almost as if I could fly!

    If only they didn't take people along with them.
    posted by dreamsign at 7:40 AM on July 17, 2007


    Wikipedia would spell "judgment" wrong.
    posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:40 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I frequently tell people to choke on a bucket of cocks, yet I myself have never choked on a bucket of cocks.
    posted by languagehat


    God, you're missing out. There's nothing better than coming home from work and sitting out on the porch and getting your choke on with a six-pack of Corona, a lime, and a bucket of cocks.
    posted by COBRA! at 7:42 AM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental? Question 2: Do people practice what they preach? Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    Q1: Because anon asked the community to judge her desire to have an affair when, apparently, there is nothing wrong with her primary relationship.

    Q2: I didn't see anyone in that (trainwreck of a) thread claiming to live a perfect moral life. Are you implying that only the infallible amongst us are qualified to dish out absurd advice to absurd relationship questions asked anonymously on a website? You're taking this stuff waaay too seriously.

    ps i agree with stavros relationshipfilter must die.
    posted by modernnomad at 7:42 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    Ever? It's the only kind of advice I give.
    posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:44 AM on July 17, 2007


    I am never judgemental on AskMetafilter . . . except of whores.
    posted by ND¢ at 7:45 AM on July 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    Her question warrants a judgmental response because she sounds like a horrible person. Seriously. Until Matt builds robots to answer ask.mefi questions, you'll have to put up with real people, with real feelings and opinions, answering questions.

    What is the proper response to "my finance is a great guy, but I want to sex up some random dude from my past?"

    The answers she got are honest.
    posted by chunking express at 7:45 AM on July 17, 2007


    Until Matt builds robots to answer ask.mefi questions, you'll have to put up with real people, with real feelings and opinions, answering questions.

    This is true. Of course, a robot would tell this person that's she's being completely fucking irrational, and doesn't appear to value the things she says she does.
    posted by dreamsign at 7:54 AM on July 17, 2007


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    Because whoever posted that question is an idiot, and idiots not only should be judged, but should have their drivers license revoked and prohibited from handling sharp objects.

    How do I know this person is an idiot? Because they lacked that ability to see the situation from anything other than their own perspective. It is obvious how people will respond to that question.

    What was the questioner looking for, some kind of response like:

    "Oh yes, you should have the affair, because you should always explore your feelings and sensual experiences so that you can grow into the fullness of womanhood and be self-actualized. Trust me, nothing bad can come of this. Only good things can come of it like rainbows and bunnies and wedded bliss and no seething resentment at all. If your fiancee truly loves you he will understand that you need to have this other man's sex in your body in order to know whether you are ready for marriage. If the only reason you aren't going to cheat on your fiancee is because you think he'd be upset, then maybe he isn't the right man for you? If your financee is the right man for you, he will want to be there as you enjoy this other man because he should want to share this experience with you and bring you cold drinks to refresh your throughout the prolonged duration of the interlude. You should definitely do this! Carpe diem! Je ne regrette rien! etc."

    Seriously, duh. "Should I have the affair?" Yes, because there is a very slight possibility that you'll be in a fatal gruesome car wreck on the drive over to meet sleazebag at the pay-by-the-hour, sheets optional motel.

    BTW, is this what you mean by judgmental? My therapist told be not to be so judgmental, so I toned it down. Maybe I should ask AskMe. "AskMe, am I judgmental if I think dumb idiots who are stupid should be glassed?"
    posted by Pastabagel at 7:54 AM on July 17, 2007 [17 favorites]


    CunningLinguist is Joseph Welch?
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:56 AM on July 17, 2007


    This has got to be fake. Could people really be this evil and stupid?
    posted by thirteenkiller at 7:56 AM on July 17, 2007


    This has got to be fake. Could people really be this evil and stupid?

    ...Seriously?
    posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:58 AM on July 17, 2007


    Could people really be this evil and stupid?

    Oh hells yes.
    posted by chunking express at 7:58 AM on July 17, 2007


    Awesome. A callout.

    There is a lot of myopic judging going on in AskMe, yes. Relationshipfilter should die, yes. But goddamn, you picked a really lousy example to complain about. Rarely has this community shown such unanimity.

    (I sort of think it must be a troll too, now.)
    posted by CunningLinguist at 7:59 AM on July 17, 2007


    Sadly, yes. People can build really grandiose towers of rationalization when their heart wants what it wants.
    posted by maudlin at 8:00 AM on July 17, 2007


    Well I'll be
    posted by thirteenkiller at 8:00 AM on July 17, 2007


    Your everlasting summer
    You can see it fading fast
    So you grab a piece of something
    That you think is gonna last
    You wouldnt know a diamond
    If you held it in your hand
    The things you think are precious
    I cant understand

    Are you reelin in the years
    Stowin away the time
    Are you gatherin up the tears
    Have you had enough of mine

    Ah, Steely Dan. When will the ages recoginize your vision?
    posted by dreamsign at 8:02 AM on July 17, 2007 [9 favorites]


    thirteenkiller: Get out much / Ever been in a relationship?

    (Yes, they can be.)
    posted by absalom at 8:02 AM on July 17, 2007


    I didn't see anyone in that (trainwreck of a) thread claiming to live a perfect moral life.

    There's the rub. Not one person on this thread is claiming to be some sort of guru or Jesus freak or politician campaigning on a family values platform. Every one of them is saying that she's being selfish and doesn't deserve her fiance.

    I don't see "moral judgment" here. I see something else. I think it's called "sanity."

    And I agree RelationshipFilter should be put out of its misery. Isn't there somewhere in the documentation a line like, "If you have to ask, it's not a good idea" or something like that? Can't we just link to that statement any time these relationship trainwrecks derail into the green?
    posted by dw at 8:03 AM on July 17, 2007


    dreamsign, I'm not sure I follow you're point. There is nothing inherent in the comment you've quoted that says she is unwilling to talk to him. If she talks to him and he disagrees, then they have to sort things out, but he will be spared from unknowingly marrying someone with radically different views on monogamy than he has. If he agrees, then they can start their relationship on a solid understanding of what exceptions to monogamy, or what alternatives, they want to pursue.

    chunking express, she sounds like a confused person who's about to make a choice that is horrible for her fiance and probably horrible for herself. Assuming that makes her a horrible person is your prerogative, I guess, but telling her so doesn't really answer the question. Many people gave good, honest answers that managed not to indulge their sense of moral superiority.


    on preview: The alternative to "no, you are a bad person" is not necessarily "yes, this is a good idea", a point which many people here seem to be missing.



    I don't have a huge stake in this, and it's not the best question ever, but I guess I just don't get the attitude (in any context) that a person who can't determine the right choice in a situation is, by their nature, unworthy of courtesy or aid.
    posted by carmen at 8:04 AM on July 17, 2007


    Her question warrants a judgmental response because she sounds like a horrible person.

    I'm not sure why a question by a horrible person necessitates a judgmental response. If you have an answer to the question, answer it; if not, don't. Pretty simple.

    But in this case, anon specifically asked why she shouldn't have an affair. How can one answer this without making an ethical judgment? While perhaps not asking to be judged as a person, surely the poster was asking the community to judge her (intended) actions. Most people did just that. A few people did call her names. I can forgive that, because there's an awfully fine line -- some would say fine to the point of non-existence -- between a person and her actions.

    If I'd asked, "Am I a bad person for stealing purses?" and people had answered, "Yes," would they be called out for being judgmental? It's a short stroll from that question to, "Why should I not steal purses?" (Answer: because you'd then be a bad person.)

    By the time you've reached the point of asking random strangers (who have $5) about facts in your life that are this personal, you've already made up your mind and are looking for some rationalization, any rationalization to validate what you've already decided to do.

    Why are so many people so sure of this? Granted, it's a viable psychological model -- people often do want affirmation. But it's not the only possible model.

    Maybe I'd be misguided as to the effectiveness of advice from strangers, but I can totally imagine asking an ethical or personal question that I'm truly on the fence about. And I can imagine genuinely wanting to know the answer. There might be one answer I am hoping for more than another, but that's could be equally true of, "should I buy a used iPod." Just because I'm hoping people will say "yes," it doesn't follow that I'm going to dismiss "no" and go ahead and buy the iPod anyway.

    Armchair psychologists are just as offensive as armchair judges.
    posted by grumblebee at 8:05 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I frequently tell people to choke on a bucket of cocks, yet I myself have never choked on a bucket of cocks.

    Is it muscle control or do you have a freakishly wide throat?


    Just don't use your teeth.
    posted by sephira at 8:07 AM on July 17, 2007


    Laptop psychologist, thankyouvermuch. That'll be 5 cents, please.
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:07 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Saved the thread.
    posted by liquorice at 8:08 AM on July 17, 2007


    YOUR QUESTIONS ARE BAD, AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD
    posted by Greg Nog at 8:09 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    I think this belongs in ask.
    posted by shmegegge at 8:12 AM on July 17, 2007


    I'm not sure why a question by a horrible person necessitates a judgmental response.

    I chose my words poorly. I think any answer to a question such as the pone posed in going to end up either shallow, or judgmental.

    Assuming that makes her a horrible person is your prerogative, I guess, but telling her so doesn't really answer the question

    I didn't call her a horrible person in the ask.mefi thread, because I agree it isn't appropriate there. I said her idea is a dumb one, and that people in general need to have more self-control. Those are two appropriate answers to her question, I would say.
    posted by chunking express at 8:13 AM on July 17, 2007


    I feel kinda bad about calling this girl evil and stupid. The poster seems kinda weak and childish right now, and she'd likely be better off not getting married immediately, but she's probably not irredeemable.
    posted by thirteenkiller at 8:15 AM on July 17, 2007


    Please don't kill relationshipfilter. There's so much life-affirming good advice in those threads. Read through a few - any few at random - and you'll find it.
    posted by By The Grace of God at 8:15 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    There is nothing inherent in the comment you've quoted that says she is unwilling to talk to him.

    As somone said upthread, if she had, there would be no reason for the question. If she's going to... why ask us? So she can use it as ammunition? ("Well, the folks at AskMe said it's a totally reasonable thing to do...")

    This is standard rationalization and not the first time I've heard it. I've had that line laid at my feet, myself, told about her boyfriend that "he wouldn't care". And yes, I replied: "Did you ask him?" I know it's all kid gloves on the green, and lies and delusions help soften the blow, but that blow is reality, and whether they really want it or not, the people asking these questions say they want the truth.
    posted by dreamsign at 8:15 AM on July 17, 2007


    Oof. Just pretty much across the board.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:18 AM on July 17, 2007


    a robot would tell this person that's she's being completely fucking irrational

    Or it would just roll around the floor vacuuming up dirt and dust and scaring the hell out of the cats.

    Which is sort of, like, a metaphor for this whole thing. Dude.
    posted by dersins at 8:19 AM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


    The pursuit of lulz indeed. Seriously, this question has all the earmarks of fantastic lulz possibility and I'm almost disappointed this didn't taken place elsewhere to fully take advantage of it, like livejournal or something because I feel like effin' Bela Karolyi and I've just discovered the Nadia Comaneci of lulz. Then we'd be neck deep in an explosion of fanart from drooling fan masses encouraging and depicting the OP of the question to carry through with her "romantic" plans, the inevitable bad sex and fallout after, fake accounts, anonymous comments, fake suicides, compromising photos, personal information, and furries. Because if you think this is mean, wow.

    I'm actually impressed at how even some of the more negative comments were worded. Instead of sounding like a lot of people getting together a morality posse and riding out of Morality Town into Morality Gulch to apprehend dead or alive Immoralito the most wanted immoral bandito in all of Moralitexas, but it seemed a lot of people were actually trying to say, "This is a bad idea because the guy you want to hook up with sounds like a dickbag full of two-inch dicks with herpes."
    posted by kkokkodalk at 8:29 AM on July 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


    ***** anonymous is a gangster !!! *****
    posted by sgt.serenity at 8:29 AM on July 17, 2007


    but dreamsign, "it's a bad idea" might be the truth (I certainly agree there), and "you should talk to him" might be the truth (a bit debatable, but certainly if she considers actually going through with it), but "you're a bad person" is not something that 8 paragraphs can tell us, and "you're a bad person for even considering it" is certainly not the truth.

    When someone told you "he wouldn't care" you didn't say "you are weak and indecent and have no right to that relationship," you said "did you ask him." I don't see why the poster should get less courtesy or aid. I think that we do well as humans and as a community to strive to take people seriously and treat them with compassion, especially when we are in the position of telling them they are wrong, or about to be wrong.
    posted by carmen at 8:30 AM on July 17, 2007


    Poly relationships start somewhere, and there were people who were able to suggest that she talk to her partner honestly without feeling the need to call her evil or morally bankrupt or whatever.

    Oh, come on now. If I've learned anything from okcupid and AskMe, it's that poly relationships do NOT start with deceitful affairs on the part of one party.
    posted by tristeza at 8:34 AM on July 17, 2007


    "you're a bad person" is not something that 8 paragraphs can tell us, and "you're a bad person for even considering it" is certainly not the truth

    Don't make me pull out outrageous hypotheticals just to prove what a ridiculous statement that is. You can tell whether someone is a "bad person" (if you are willing to ever use such a label at all) in a few sentences if they are filled with enough evil intention and reported deed. As for considerations, they often tell us much more about a person than what is actually done, since evil men (and women) can also be cowards, and fearful of consequences.

    When someone told you "he wouldn't care" you didn't say "you are weak and indecent and have no right to that relationship," you said "did you ask him."

    Sure, but there went my respect for her -- not for suggesting the affair but for attempting to foist that ridiculous lie on both of us -- and from then on she avoided me, too, probably because I reminded her of the infidelity she sought, and by refusing her, making it all her own instead of half the responsibility for a betrayal. A reminder, indeed, that I cared more for her sig other, whom I had never met, than she did.

    But that's all fallout in real life, not in AskMe. Here, consequences and yes valuations need to be spelled out. People come here because they don't have someone IRL for that reality check, or because, as in all likelihood is the case with this person, they don't ask the people who will tell them answers they don't want to hear. She asked for a reality check. Here it is.
    posted by dreamsign at 8:54 AM on July 17, 2007


    There's nothing in her question that says she's unwilling to talk to her fiance about about it, and she says that they have good communication. Poly relationships start somewhere, and there were people who were able to suggest that she talk to her partner honestly without feeling the need to call her evil or morally bankrupt or whatever.

    This is not a poly relationship, because there's no poly-, it's her cheating on him.

    Not unwilling to talk to her fiance? If there truly not a horrible thing that needed to be hidden from the light of day, she would have talked about with him. "Honey, I'm going over to my sister's house." "Honey, what do you think about chicken for supper?" I'm sure she talks to her fiance all the time about all sort of normal, acceptable things. If this were one of them or if she had any intention at all of talking to him about it, she would have.

    But she doesn't and that's why she came here looking for answers.
    posted by unixrat at 8:56 AM on July 17, 2007


    I'd just like to add that I'm looking forward to seeing "Go for it! You only live once!" posted and subsequently marked Best Answer.

    If you can't have faith in humanity, consistency is not a bad 2nd place.
    posted by dreamsign at 8:58 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Please do not kill relationshipfilter. I do not know where else online to get the kind of vicarious, bitchy, gossipy thrills that the anon questions give me. I need it. To live.
    posted by mckenney at 9:00 AM on July 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


    This thread is totally depressing. Won't somebody please think about all those poor eunuchs running around cockless just so you can fill your damn buckets of shame?! I hope you all choke on your ill-gotten cocks!
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:06 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    To those who have brought it up: polyamory is a completely different question from what was asked. If the poster had said "... so now I'm confused about what I really want and am wondering if I should talk to my fiance about the possibility of an open relationship," the answers would be much different.

    If the poster had included even the smallest sign that she was considering talking to her SO about things first, the answers would be much different.

    However, the fact remains that she did post the question, which means that as willful, selfish, callous and obtuse as her framing of the matter seems, she is considering her actions (and possibly their repercussions) - so, yeah, maybe the collective is being a little bit harsh.
    posted by taz at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2007


    Won't somebody please think about all those poor eunuchs running around cockless just so you can fill your damn buckets of shame?! I hope you all choke on your ill-gotten cocks!

    Dammit, it's an established practice to harvest bucketable cocks only from cadavers (with donor cards, natch) and sexual reassignment candidates. I'm so sick of this fantasyland right-wing anti-science talking point.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Speaking as an alien parasite who feeds off the raw power of human drama and confusion, I vote for keeping anon relationshipfilter questions.
    posted by flashboy at 9:11 AM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


    What the problem with moral answers? What else was she looking for? It certainly wasn't legal or medical considerations she was after (though they may apply). And it wasn't particularly a logistical question.

    She asked an "ought" question which necessarily implicates moral answers. These answers will necessarily range from "its ok" to "its not ok"--answers which require moral judgment. If you don't like certain moral judgment, too bad for you. Morality is relative, so you will get answers which you disagree with.

    I fail to see what the problem is. Answers like "if you do, I hope you get cut from your asshole to your appetite when he finds out" don't answer the question and should be deleted. But harsh judgmentalism is an equally valid answer as praising such actions when you accept the fact that moral judgment is what is at issue in the question..
    posted by dios at 9:12 AM on July 17, 2007


    Oh, sure - let's all pretend there's no black market for cocks, and maybe it will just GO AWAY. Let's just tell the poor Castratos Mariachis they don't exist, and have another Glans Defrins MargaritaTM. Talk about fantasyland!!!
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:15 AM on July 17, 2007


    And here I thought my "...we'll never get over each other as long as we keep postponing our affair" line was FOOLPROOF!
    Dammit!! I coulda got laid if it weren't for you meddlesome kids!
    posted by Floydd at 9:15 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    ...a lot of people getting together a morality posse and riding out of Morality Town into Morality Gulch to apprehend dead or alive Immoralito the most wanted immoral bandito in all of Moralitexas...

    Dear AskMe, my fiance is the leader of the morality posse in Morality Town, but I really want to bang Immoralito all over Moralitexas. Can you suggest some songs for my mix tape?
    posted by sephira at 9:16 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    deferens
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:17 AM on July 17, 2007


    Since when can't people be judgmental? If it answers the question and it ain't a wisecrack, it seems kosher to me.

    I find it really strange how people keep inventing new rules for comments & posts based on their own personal opinions.

    I kind of wonder if posting anonymously opens you up to more intense criticism and judgment than if you posted under your real name. It kind of removes a layer of humanity from the person behind the post and makes it even easier to see things in black & white.
    posted by tastybrains at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2007


    Talk about fantasyland!!!

    Spare me. You're just trying to reframe an anti-immigration agenda as an employee-rights issues, which is laughable hypocrisy considering your own personal track-record on private cock bucketing. (Don't think I haven't seen the photos.) There's only a black market because your cronies are trying to privatize the existing supply and hike up the prices.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    also vas.
    posted by dersins at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2007


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    [Some] People in this community can't even read the [more inside]. I have no idea why you'd expect them to be able to read for meaning. Some people see "I want to do something you wouldn't even consider. Should I?" and understand it to mean "I'm going to do something you don't have the guts to. Jealous much?"

    The truth of the matter is that not everyone is born with a Robocopesque morality-compass that prevents them from thinking about bad things. Some people actually have to practice being moral. Yes, that means they are bad people. No, it doesn't mean that they can't be better people.

    People who say shit like "If you are even contemplating [x] then you are too immature for [y] and don't deserve [z]" are the AskMe equivalent of PETA activists throwing paint on fur coats: you're not going to change the minds of the people who you attack. You're only going to get more people to act like you.
    posted by 23skidoo at 9:21 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Can you suggest some songs for my mix tape?

    Back door man
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:22 AM on July 17, 2007


    Since it was trademarked and all I thought flo was just makin' that shit up.
    posted by Floydd at 9:22 AM on July 17, 2007


    Yes, that means they are bad people.

    No it doesn't -- a Bad Person is the one who does this: "hey baby, you're never gonna get over me until we get it on!"

    Speaking of which: hey babes! You know I feel for you! You know you're never going to get over me until we get it on, so let's get funky! I got a mixtape all lined up, and these swank-ass satin sheets all waitin'. Waiting for your fine selves.

    You too cortex. C'mon, you know it.
    posted by aramaic at 9:28 AM on July 17, 2007


    Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    Absolutely! How else could we be expected to have knowledge of the consequences of a bad decision?
    posted by Miko at 9:30 AM on July 17, 2007


    You are missing my point about poly relationships. I was not saying that if she has the affair, her relationship would be one. I was saying that there is good reason to suggest that she talk with her partner because by talking to him the relationships will either end or be renegotiated. It is possible that he actually would be okay with extramarital activity, thus a poly relationship would be born out of following the useful and non-judgemental advice of talking to him.

    It is unrealistic to assume that asking a question here means that the person is unwilling to ask the relevant person later. That may or may not be the case. There is simply nothing in the question that tells us whether it is or not.

    dios: the question necessitates a moral judgement of the situation and her actions/choices, but not of her fundamental person. "This is a bad idea" is a moral judgement that answers the question, "you are an evil person" is a moral judgement that does not. It is the second type that this thread calls out, and which does not have a place in AskMe.

    on preview: 23skidoo seems pretty much to have hit on a different way of saying what I am trying to get at.
    posted by carmen at 9:30 AM on July 17, 2007


    I am yet another one who only enjoys the drama. Please don't take my drama!
    posted by cowbellemoo at 9:39 AM on July 17, 2007


    It is possible that he actually would be okay with extramarital activity, thus a poly relationship would be born out of following the useful and non-judgemental advice of talking to him.

    Yea, and maybe he'd want to watch, too! Maybe he'd want to videotape it and sell copies on the internet! Considering this couple is "old-fashioned" enough that they're engaged to be married, I'm not holding my breath on the poly thing. Anything is possible, but not everything is probable.
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    Because there is a lot of overlap between here and the real world, despite appearances to the contrary. In fact, I'm often surprised how much less judgemental the average MeFi audience is than the average group of random strangers when I run some of these questions by them.

    Question 2: Do people practice what they preach? Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    I was married and I had one of those ethical slut type quickie affairs (sort of like this one anonymous is contemplating but a little more above board), but I generally advise people against them because it was sort of a headache and no matter how many times you and your partner say "oh yeah we're going to be cool with this" one person often isn't. I slept with a married guy once, but I tell people not to do that too. Somehow I suspect these were not the answers you were looking for. I give advice that goes counter to my own practices all the time because the people I am advising are not me.

    I may be wrong about this but I feel that the preachy people actually are walking the walk, and that's why they get preachy about it, because it works for them.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:43 AM on July 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


    I need the drama, man! I need it!

    I don't know where anyone can find a doctor in Chicago, or what that wart on their chin is, or what they can do to get any sort of computer/Ipod/alien transporter working again. Relationship filter is pretty much all I've got!
    posted by Ms. Saint at 9:43 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    dios: the question necessitates a moral judgement of the situation and her actions/choices, but not of her fundamental person. "This is a bad idea" is a moral judgement that answers the question, "you are an evil person" is a moral judgement that does not. It is the second type that this thread calls out, and which does not have a place in AskMe.

    I think that is a bit of a false distinction. People who do thinks which are morally wrong are morally deficient individuals. "You would be a bad person if you did this morally bad thing" is indistinguishable from "this is a morally bad thing."

    I can see an attempt to make a distinction between judgment of the action and the thought, but again, I think you are then engaging in moral judgmentalism as well: you are judging a moral condemnation regarding impure thoughts as improper. This is the problem in playing in the land of morality. Everyone is forced to be a judge or not play at all.

    "That thought is bad" is synonymous with "you are bad for thinking bad thoughts."

    If you seek moral judgment, you open yourself up to it from all corners. It cannot be any other way.
    posted by dios at 9:43 AM on July 17, 2007


    It is unrealistic to assume that asking a question here means that the person is unwilling to ask the relevant person later. That may or may not be the case. There is simply nothing in the question that tells us whether it is or not.

    I get your point in general, but I think your reading the question with glasses too rose tinted to see the evidence of her unwillingness to talk about this with her husband.

    I dislike the "you shouldn't get married" responses in all kinds of AskMe's. People are clearly unable to separate their personal thresholds for not getting married/staying with a person from the different choices that it's possible to make in that regard. But I think that suggesting that the poster seems equally open to talking with her fiance or not talking with her fiance is wishful thinking.
    posted by OmieWise at 9:44 AM on July 17, 2007


    RelationshipFilter: a bucket of cocks
    posted by buriednexttoyou at 9:47 AM on July 17, 2007


    I was saying that there is good reason to suggest that she talk with her partner because by talking to him the relationships will either end or be renegotiated. It is possible that he actually would be okay with extramarital activity, thus a poly relationship would be born out of following the useful and non-judgmental advice of talking to him.

    Well, that's a perfectly valid suggestion to make to Anonymous ... but for the *most* part the comments made to Anonymous in the original thread were also valid.

    I don't really see what polyamory has anything to do with anything. It seems like your main concern was that instead of criticizing or judging Anonymous' actions, people were criticizing or judging her character. And I think that's a valid concern. There is a difference between saying "You are an immature, selfish twit!" and "This seems like a very immature, selfish thing to do." I do think it would be best if we could all focus on actions rather than trying to assume we know everything about a person and making blanket statements.

    However, anyone here has every right to say "This seems like a very immature, selfish thing to do." It's judgmental, but as I said, I don't see why that is somehow inappropriate for AskMe.
    posted by tastybrains at 9:47 AM on July 17, 2007


    Pollystrak, don't judge me!
    posted by slimepuppy at 9:50 AM on July 17, 2007


    "That thought is bad" is synonymous with "you are bad for thinking bad thoughts."

    Is "this meal is bad" synonymous with "you are a bad cook for making this meal"?
    posted by 23skidoo at 9:51 AM on July 17, 2007


    Is "this meal is bad" synonymous with "you are a bad cook for making this meal"?
    posted by 23skidoo at 11:51 AM on July 17


    Of course not. Nor is it equivalent to what I said.
    posted by dios at 9:52 AM on July 17, 2007


    How the hell did this obvious troll of a question even make it onto the green? Why is everyone buying it?

    So many questions, so little time.
    posted by IronLizard at 9:54 AM on July 17, 2007


    Of course not. Nor is it equivalent to what I said.

    Why are they different?
    posted by 23skidoo at 9:54 AM on July 17, 2007


    TPS: I wasn't saying it was probable. OmieWise said, basically, that the question didn't deserve a non-judgmental answer because it wasn't about a healthy poly relationship. I was trying to say that giving a good answer like "talk to him" could result in such a relationship--or the end of the relationship--either of which is preferable to giving useless advice which basically leaves the husband-to-be (who some people are so concerned with that they feel right about calling the OP evil) just as bad off as it leaves the OP. Good answers are not about what it probable but about what is useful.

    tastybrains: you have my point exactly and I agree with your however.

    dios: I suspect that we have fundamentally different world views on the nature of morality.
    posted by carmen at 9:55 AM on July 17, 2007


    There is a difference between saying "You are an immature, selfish twit!" and "This seems like a very immature, selfish thing to do."

    It wasn't just what she planned to do that a lot of people were criticizing, it was also her basic premises and her attitude toward her fiance. Which brings the question a lot closer to what kind of person she is.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 9:58 AM on July 17, 2007


    Should I do x? Please don't use moral, ethical, legal, or personal reasoning in your responses. Please make no assumptions outside of the explicit details of the question as worded. Also, please refrain from harsh language and judgmentalism. Also, English responses only, please. Also, if you could please limit responses to iambic pentameter, it would be most helpful. But no limiricks, though.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:00 AM on July 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


    Is "this meal is bad" synonymous with "you are a bad cook for making this meal"?

    See, commentary can help us fill in the blanks.

    Dear AskMe: I cooked this absolutely wonderful meal and my fiance hated it. What is wrong with him? I mean, ok, I get now that red wine vinegar and white vinegar are different. Tablespoons and teaspoons are different. Tartar sauce and cream of tartar? Different. But seriously, everybody does substitutions. And this obsession with measuring everything. I mean really. Do you think he's just upset because he found out I'm cheating on him?
    posted by dreamsign at 10:01 AM on July 17, 2007


    or what CunningLinguist said.
    posted by dreamsign at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2007


    "That thought is bad" is synonymous with "you are bad for thinking bad thoughts."

    That is a really stupid comment. And yet, I don't think you are a stupid person in general. How can that be?

    It wasn't just what she planned to do that a lot of people were criticizing, it was also her basic premises and her attitude toward her fiance. Which brings the question a lot closer to what kind of person she is.

    Listen, her question hurts my brain. If she isn't, in fact, a troll, I think she is being selfish, immature, stupid, and gullible.

    But when I say she is being those things, I don't mean that she is at her core those things. Who knows what the circumstances are that are making her think in this twisted way? Who knows if in other aspects of her life is in fact quite the opposite of what this situation makes her seem?

    No person is all good or all bad. We all have conflicts between what seems like the right thing to do and what we want to do, we all make justifications for things, we all need to be told sometimes that we're acting like a jerk or we're being selfish.

    Who we are is always changing, and passing judgement on a situation or act is quite different than passing judgement on a person as a whole.
    posted by tastybrains at 10:04 AM on July 17, 2007


    The amazing thing to me is that anonymous questions phrased like trolling hooks still get through the moderation queue intact. And then, that any comments they engender are removed by moderators.

    Cognitive disconnect in moderation, sure, but that's just part of the fun of Anonymous RelationshipFilter. Anonymous, you've Rope-A-Doped AskMe again!
    posted by paulsc at 10:05 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    OmieWise said, basically, that the question didn't deserve a non-judgmental answer because it wasn't about a healthy poly relationship.

    I did not say that. I said that she framed her question in a way that suggested that she was seeking confirmation of her desire to have an affair, and that that desire doesn't make her ethical in some sort of polyamorish way because she also framed her question in a way which suggests that she probably is not thinking of talking to her SO about it.

    If you really want to see how I might answer the question, though, I suggest that you read how I answered the question.
    posted by OmieWise at 10:07 AM on July 17, 2007


    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    Because the question requires judgment, as do nearly all relationshipfilter questions. there are no universally agreed-upon, objective answers to these sorts of questions. The OP is asking for judgments, opinions, commentary. This is not the same as "where can I buy a cheap environmentally-friendly light bulb in Topeka?" or "what does standard deviation mean?" or even "what are some cool songs about polar bears?" I suspect that you are put off by the judgments flying around in that thread simply because you disagree with them.

    Question 2: Do people practice what they preach? Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    Does it matter? No really: does it matter? consider: someone gives you advice that you find enlightening, helpful, indispensable, on one of your relationship questions. Later, you find out that person has acted in ways directly contrary to their answer. What will you do then? Henceforth disregard the answer? Do the opposite? What?
    posted by googly at 10:08 AM on July 17, 2007


    You know why the poly angle is a crock (in this instance)? Because anon calls this an "affair," shows absolutely no signs of the kind of emotional maturity required for a healthy poly relationship, and because anon doesn't conclude with the statement, "I mean, I'd be totally okay if I found out Bill was boffing his high school sweetheart!" Anon shows no signs of being able to commit to one relationship - how on earth could AskMe manage the volume of questions she'd need to navigate the complexities of multiple partners?
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:12 AM on July 17, 2007


    Sorry OmieWise. I read this OP as saying people were being overly judgemental and your comment (This really doesn't seem like the best question to hang a "you guys are so mean" complaint on.) as essentially accepting that judgemental behaviour. I read the comment about poly relationships as saying that if she had framed it in terms of a poly relationship that the judgemental behaviour would not be appropriate. My original comments were amplified in ways that altered their meaning and I've become increasingly amazed at my own inability to make my actual points without getting bogged down in sidetracks. So, I summarized and thus essentially did the same thing to you. So, I apologize and leave off on trying to rephrase and recap.
    posted by carmen at 10:23 AM on July 17, 2007


    Am I in the right line for the bucket of cocks?
    posted by desjardins at 10:24 AM on July 17, 2007


    Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    FWIW, I did, just the other day, by suggesting that someone might be suited to self-employment, while making it clear that I am not suited to it.

    Question 1: Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    A statistically significant proportion of MeFites are dickbags who don't think that they're dickbags and can't be convinced that they're dickbags.
    posted by solid-one-love at 10:27 AM on July 17, 2007


    Sweet lord, do not get rid of relationship filter. I need something short novel-length to read at work on a regular/daily basis. My world is empty when a day's askme is filled with questions about wiring and pets.
    posted by spec80 at 10:31 AM on July 17, 2007


    Oh yeah, some of the best AskMe threads are relationship threads. Granted, there's about 1 good one for every 10, but when they're good, they're deliciously good.

    This one wasn't very good since it was very one-sided and predictable. I give it a C-.
    posted by tastybrains at 10:33 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    A statistically significant proportion of MeFites are dickbags who don't think that they're dickbags and can't be convinced that they're dickbags.

    *An actual conversation with a friend not so long ago*

    dreamsign: I mean, what's his problem with us, anyway?
    friend: Well, we are assholes.
    dreamsign: Oh, I'm an asshole.
    friend: No, you're not an asshole.
    dreamsign: ... you're an asshole.
    friend: I know! We both are.

    And that's why we're friends.
    See, we just want to be friends with the OPs. That's all we want. Friends tell each other stuff.
    posted by dreamsign at 10:38 AM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


    Should I do x? Please don't use moral, ethical, legal, or personal reasoning in your responses. Please make no assumptions outside of the explicit details of the question as worded. Also, please refrain from harsh language and judgmentalism. Also, English responses only, please. Also, if you could please limit responses to iambic pentameter, it would be most helpful. But no limiricks, though.

    If you do x you'll likely catch a pox,
    Or choke upon a bucket full of cocks.
    posted by Wolfdog at 10:44 AM on July 17, 2007 [6 favorites]


    I must be an incredibly naive person. This is something like the third question in a short while that plenty of other people have accused of trolling, without me being suspicious at all. I'd just always assumed that trolls would be more... outlandish. Crazy. Stupid. More like "how many times can I have intercourse with a fish before I have to dethaw it?" or "I just found out that my daughter is in a relationship with a man of a different race; should I lynch him or just tar and feather him?" You know... obvious.

    I find it a little hard to believe that trolls would be bored enough to make questions as blase as this one.
    posted by Ms. Saint at 10:45 AM on July 17, 2007


    If you do x you'll likely catch a pox,
    Or choke upon a bucket full of cocks.


    *marks as best answer*
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:48 AM on July 17, 2007


    Cheat on a friend of mine, I'm going to think less of you, not because you cheated, but because you hurt a friend. That's what friends do.

    Cheat on some random person, I'm going to think you are the kind of person who sometimes makes mistakes that harm others. Almost everyone makes mistakes that harm others. but if you ask me for advice I'm going to suggest that you at least know what you are doing and why.

    Be an evil little shit who routinely uses and manipulates others into making mistakes that harm others and I'm going to think you are an evil little shit.

    A lot of people see to be confusing situation 1 and 2 with situation 3. That's judgementfilter.
    posted by aspo at 10:49 AM on July 17, 2007


    The distinction between judging the act and the person is valid and useful. A judgment on the person is reductive. They are bad because they did a bad thing. Well, it's a cliche, but a person is more than the worst they have ever done. I'm not particularly religious but I see this as the wisdom behind declarations that judgment is reserved for God.

    More pragmatically when you don't meet people where they are most of your speech is tuned out. I'm not saying that everyone who posts on the Green cares about that, obviously some don't. AskMe can also be a place to vent frustration, indulge self righteousness, and insult those with different standards. Still, it makes the place a little lamer. We can all shout our opinions all day long, thus Metafilter. But the point of AskMe is to help the poster with their question. Speaking to them, and not at them is a good start.
    posted by BigSky at 10:50 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Well, really. If it's anything like that bucket of chicken from KFC, most people usually consume their bucket of cocks, sequentially, one by one. Slow down and enjoy those cocks, before you choke on them!
    posted by Robert Angelo at 10:54 AM on July 17, 2007


    "Oh, sure - let's all pretend there's no black market for cocks, and maybe it will just GO AWAY. Let's just tell the poor Castratos Mariachis they don't exist, and have another Glans Defrins MargaritaTM. Talk about fantasyland!!!"

    That's why I support schlong-cell research. I mean, fetal cocks are just being thrown away, instead of filling our buckets! Also, you could probably make oil from the rest of the fetus.

    As for why I'm judgmental, it's because I funnel my deeply held anti-Semetism into pretending you're all Jews. Jews who should not have affairs!

    (And I frequently give different advice for others than I would take myself. When someone says "I would like to buy a rap-rock album by a washed-up wrestler," I respond with a "Macho Man Randy Savage is what you want!" and not "Fuck you, buy George 'The Animal' Steel!")
    posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on July 17, 2007


    Wow, klang. If I'm reading you right, you're suggesting that George "The Animal" Steele is jewish!
    posted by Mister_A at 11:03 AM on July 17, 2007


    Why are some people in this community judgemental?

    This kind of thinking gets on my nerves.

    People, there is nothing wrong with being judgemental. No matter what ethical system you believe in, if you refuse to admit that certain things are just *wrong*, then you are an unethical person. I'm dead serious about this. If you look at the larger political scene, I would say that this unwillingness to pass judgement gives conservatives the idea that left-leaning folk are generally devoid of values. Placing such a high value on being "non-judgemental" prevents meaningful dialogue, thus making it the new "politically correct."

    No, the problem isn't with being judgemental. The problem is with being *overly* judgemental. If I were to just walk around and stick my nose into other peoples' business and say things like, "Don't have an affair, because that would make you a class-A douchebag" then yes, that would make me overly-judgemental. However, the OP has approached a forum composed of people from many different backgrounds, and is asking an open question about ethics and morality. Is it appropriate to pass judgement in this case? You bet.
    posted by Afroblanco at 11:13 AM on July 17, 2007 [8 favorites]


    j-u-d-g-[THERE IS NO 'E' HERE]-m-e-n-t-a-l
    posted by desjardins at 11:26 AM on July 17, 2007


    please, for all the complaints about RelationshipFilter questions (needing to not exist), notice how they are often the most read and/or answered ones? we love that shit.

    the majority of ppl will answer with judgment based on their personal experiences and/or observations. is that bad? maybe, maybe not. but when someone posts on to ask.me, i think they ought well to know what they are getting into. they asked. if the OP of this ridiculous question had nothing to hide or be embarrassed about in terms of what a selfish, immature creature she was being in regard to her fiancé and their upcoming marriage, why did she go all anonymous on it? why not just own it?

    i personally like—and obviously like to post—relationship questions because the responses are always honest and a reality check for me; sometimes they point angles out that i might not have thought of before. sometimes ppl just need a good sharp kick in the shins that they are being idiots because we're humans and we will always try to justify ourselves into doing things that we probably shouldn't. if i am contemplating something stupid, i would want someone to say, hey, you're being an idiot. in a way, it shows that we as a community (here and in the greater sense) don't want other ppl to do stupid things that will make them (and/or other ppl) miserable.
    posted by violetk at 11:27 AM on July 17, 2007


    we love that shit.

    Say hi to Prince Phillip for me.
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:34 AM on July 17, 2007


    Worst askme callout ever.
    posted by psmealey at 11:36 AM on July 17, 2007


    No, George isn't Jewish. Neither is Randy Savage. For those curious about the Hebraic Heavyweights this list will help.
    posted by klangklangston at 11:39 AM on July 17, 2007


    AskMe is an advice column written by a committee of the disinterested, and often uninterested. Why are commenters so judgmental? Because these relationship-filter issues replay unavoidable conflicts in our own psyches. Long-term love and immediate sexual and emotional gratification sometimes conflict, and we all have to make choices that, even if they are correct, leave some residue of regret. Is it any wonder that we view these situations through a lens of justification and blame.

    Really, the poster's situation isn't much different from that of Madame Bovary. It's commonplace and a bit tawdry, just like my life and yours.
    posted by ferdydurke at 11:39 AM on July 17, 2007


    MetaFilter. Putting the "mental" in "judgmental" for 8 fabulous years.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:39 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Worst askme callout ever.

    Look up.
    posted by dersins at 11:40 AM on July 17, 2007


    j-u-d-g-e-m-e-n-t-a-l
    posted by stefanie at 11:42 AM on July 17, 2007


    MetaFilter. Putting the "mental" in "judgmental" for 8 fabulous years.

    And about half the time, an "e" as well.
    posted by Forktine at 11:45 AM on July 17, 2007


    I've been putting 'udgm' in there for 3. It's a niche.
    posted by Wolfdog at 11:46 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Dear AskMe,

    Hi, I am an insecure twit who has a crush on this guy who led me on a few years ago and then disappeared without a trace. This guy has shown up in my life recently and tells me he's game for a throw. Is a night (or 4 minutes) with this guy worth shitting on the love of my life?
    posted by psmealey at 11:46 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    People, there is nothing wrong with being judgmental.

    In all contexts? (That's a genuine question. I'm not baiting you.)

    Isn't there a utility for non-judgmental places? For instance, AskMe is about getting answers to questions. In my view, ANYTHING that sidetracks that goal makes the site less pure.

    The question is, does that matter. Is there utility and beauty in keeping the site pure. I think there is.

    Should there be limits? What should the response be to "What's the best way for me to murder my wife and get away with it?" In my view, such a question should be deleted and, perhaps, moderators should contact the authorities. But even in this case, I'm against people piling in to tell the poster how bad he is. I don't see what good that will do. And I do see how it degrades the site.

    But I can imagine arguments to the contrary.

    Whether you agree with me or not, I'm not arguing against moral judgments. I'm just suggesting they have their place.

    In this case, my reading of the question suggested the poster was ASKING for a moral judgment. So in that context, it makes sense to give one.

    Note that I feel it's morally wrong to cut certain lines from Shakespeare. You may disagree and feel like I'm being absurd. That's not important. The important thing is that, according to my moral system, making those cuts is wrong. (I'm not totally nuts. I don't think it's AS wrong as murder or rape, but that doesn't change the fact that -- to me -- it's wrong.)

    So let's say someone posts, "I'm doing a one-hour version of 'Hamlet'. Where can I get good costumes?" Do you think my moral outrage justifies me telling the poster, in the thread, that he's wrong to do this version? If not, why not? Because my morality is eccentric? Is it only okay to make judgments if you have some standard brand of morality?

    It's much easier to guard against gratuity if you guard against ALL gratuity. But I think this topic is worth discussion and thought.
    posted by grumblebee at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Dude... Macho Man is totally Jewish. He's even on your list!
    posted by team lowkey at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2007


    Really, the poster's situation isn't much different from that of Madame Bovary.

    So we should respond by telling the poster where to get arsenic?
    posted by languagehat at 11:53 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I would like to know where to get some arsenic.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2007


    But stefanie, you're not British.
    posted by desjardins at 11:59 AM on July 17, 2007


    I would like to know where to get some arsenic.

    Almonds, apple cores, and peach pits.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    So let's say someone posts, "I'm doing a one-hour version of 'Hamlet'. Where can I get good costumes?" Do you think my moral outrage justifies me telling the poster, in the thread, that he's wrong to do this version?

    In that case, I would say that venting your moral outrage in-thread would be a bad idea, simply because the OP isn't asking "is it right to do a one-hour version of Hamlet." The question is about costumes. Thus your "answer" would be a derail.

    However, I see nothing wrong with making moral judgments in a thread that is essentially about morals and ethics.
    posted by Afroblanco at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2007


    A triple layer coffin lined with lead is the one thing every Bovary fan should have.
    posted by OmieWise at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2007


    Damnit. I was going to make a really sarcastic remark involving said bucket of cocks, and accidentally copy and pasted into Google.

    The result: I just Googled "bucket of cocks" at work. I guess I had that coming. Don't you judge me.
    posted by sephira at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Flo, I think that's cyanide.
    posted by OmieWise at 12:04 PM on July 17, 2007


    Why are people so wary of labeling others based on their actions? Is it because we only have two buckets: Good Person and Bad Person? Rephrase the statement and leave out moral absolutes: If you act in a way that I could live with myself for acting, you earn trust. If you act contrary to that, you lose it. At some point, enough trust has been lost that I will refuse to associate with you (or imprison you if I'm a juror).

    Now re-label those buckets. Good becomes Trustworthy, Bad becomes "Not eligible for re-hire." Or something.
    posted by Skorgu at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Flo, I think that's cyanide.

    I grew up in Tacoma. We have arsenic in everything.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:17 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    However, I see nothing wrong with making moral judgments in a thread that is essentially about morals and ethics.

    Agreed. My point is that, though I think this is an important discussion (judgments vs. no judgments on AskMe), I think it's only useful if we're careful about context.

    For instance, you feel that my "Hamlet" remark is unacceptable, because it derails a question that's not about ethics. But do you feel ALL derails are bad? What about my other example: "What's the best way to murder my wife?" Is it okay to derail in that case? If so, why? Is it because murder is very very very wrong? (To all people? To the people who count?)
    posted by grumblebee at 12:18 PM on July 17, 2007


    I certainly think some of the responses to the thread are perhaps a wee bit more mean than necessary. The poor kid sounds like she's right on the verge of completely destroying her relationship(s) due to stupidity, immaturity, and general inexperience.

    However, I think all of those really judgmental posts serve a purpose. There's no greater wake-up call than realizing that oodles of different people all think what you're about to do is horrible, mean, and perhaps even evil. Giving the OP kind, sweet hopes for the best will not give her any insight into just how the majority of people would react to her situation, just how cruel she is likely being to her soon-to-be-husband, etc. She certainly wanted to know that. She certainly can't make anything close to an informed decision about what to do without realizing how her actions appear to most people. So, in other words, by telling her that she's being selfish and jerky, one may be doing her a whole lot more good than could be done nicely.

    Tell me that I am an individual snowflake, worthy of joy and love, and I'll feel pretty good no matter what I do. Tell me, over and over and over again that what I'm considering is unconscionable and speaks poorly of my character, and I'll probably open my eyes a little bit about my behavior.

    (...and then, of course, instantly realize that everyone's just being a jerk and I am an individual snowflake after all. Obviously.)
    posted by Ms. Saint at 12:25 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    If someone posts, "What's the best way to murder my wife," then the question for everyone else should become, "What's the best way to keep this guy from murdering his wife?" And beyond the possibilities of calling the cops, etc., the best way of achieving your aim is to talk to him in a way that encourages him to listen to what you're saying, to take your ideas into account, and to re-evaluate his plans based on what you're saying.

    Which answer might accomplish your aims, then? One that starts with "This doesn't sound like a good idea, and here's why," or one that starts with "You're a fucking moron?"

    I certainly have never changed my mind because a stranger called me a fucking moron.

    If we, as people answering questions, want to accomplish our goals of getting people we think are wrong to change their minds, it's worth examining whether the way we're going about doing so is actually achieving what we want.

    Because it really seems like the purpose of calling people names or issuing judgments on their character is not in service of changing their behaviors -- because it's pretty much a stupid way of trying to convince a stranger to change -- but simply in service of displaying our own sense of superiority.

    It's not that judgment is bad. It's that insulting other people and calling it "having judgment" is counter-productive to the purpose of AskMe, which is to help other people.
    posted by occhiblu at 12:29 PM on July 17, 2007


    klangklangston-No, George isn't Jewish. Neither is Randy Savage.

    The list you link to includes Randy Savage.

    Pee Wee Kastles
    Rafael Halperin
    Randy Savage
    Raven
    Ray Stern


    OH YEAH!! OY VEY!!! Snap into a Slim Jim, but not with dairy!!
    posted by Megafly at 12:31 PM on July 17, 2007


    "What's the best way to murder my wife?" Is it okay to derail in that case? If so, why? Is it because murder is very very very wrong?

    Well things get confusing here because while the first question is a possible AskMe question, the wife murdering one really isn't. We've definitely seen grey areas in the allowable derails -- some of them get shunted to MetaTalk and some don't -- but usually it doesn't get divided on the basis of Wrong or Right as much as some ethereal view of reasonableness, and especially what the OP is asking for.

    Some question askers are very clear that they want judgemental answers and some are equally clear that they don't. These get split sometimes when people will ask, say "help me kill my neighbor's dog" or something similar (I think we had a question like that, I don't think it lasted) and many of the responses were "No, that's not an okay thing to do."

    So if people acknowledge they're asking a touchy question and ask politely, for example, "Please don't lecture me on the dangers of smoking, I just want advice on how to smoke discretely when I visit my parents" then someone who jumps in saying "this is a great opportunity to quit the EVIL SMOKING" is derailing. For people who ask questions that are much more wide open, it can be hard to draw a line on what's derailing, but I'll note that there's a big difference between saying "That's not a very wise thing to do for these reaosns..." and "You're a fucking idiot" Both are utilizing various sorts of judgements, but one is pretty much pure judgement and one is trying to have some sort of evidence-based response and explanation for the included judgement.

    The fact that these sorts of questions wind up in MeTa so often (ones where the OP seems to be, according to some people, receiving a little too much abuse and or snark with their answers) is, I think, indicative that it's not really easy to draw the line in a lot of these cases. So, back to what you said, context matters according to both the wishes of the OP and conventional mores/traditions/expectations, the latter being the most difficult to accurately gauge ahead of time.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:34 PM on July 17, 2007


    "The list you link to includes Randy Savage."

    Dammit. I skimmed and didn't see Savage, Randy (forgetting that they sort by first names, like dipshits).

    Ah well, blame anti-Semetism.
    posted by klangklangston at 12:36 PM on July 17, 2007


    Also, I have it on good authority that George "The Animal" Steel did WTC. Make of that what you will.
    posted by team lowkey at 12:39 PM on July 17, 2007


    Sure, Randy Savage is a washed-up wrestler--and sure, he's a poet on the mean streets of Sarasota, but when you need somebody to pretend to beat up the English language, you need to look right past Savage to his brother, the legendary Lanny Poffo.
    posted by box at 12:42 PM on July 17, 2007


    Which answer might accomplish your aims, then? One that starts with "This doesn't sound like a good idea, and here's why," or one that starts with "You're a fucking moron?"

    I certainly have never changed my mind because a stranger called me a fucking moron.


    occhiblu, I've debated this a zillion times (online and off), always taking your side. If someone says to me, "You moron! Don't you know that....", all I hear is "You moron! Blah blah blah." Start with an insult and you lose me.

    Nevertheless, there are countless people who think that the best way to get through to someone is to knock some sense into them, give them tough love, etc. Generally, these seem to be people who were brought up in strict homes.

    Any I suspect that you and I, occhiblu, are not always right. I DO think that there are SOME people whose ears perk up when you yell at them. I shut down; you -- I think -- shut down. But not everyone shuts down. I perk up if you calmly and gently reason with me. But some people shut down when you do that. Again, it probably comes down to how you were raised.

    I wish people -- including myself -- were not so black and white on this issue. We need to realize that different sorts of people respond to different sorts of stimuli.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:43 PM on July 17, 2007


    jessamyn, tying what you wrote and what I wrote together, it's an even grayer area when some people view "you fucking idiot" as a flame while others view it as a genuine (tough love) attempt to help.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:48 PM on July 17, 2007


    I perk up if you calmly and gently reason with me.

    If these were calm and reasonable people, they wouldn't be posting idiotic relationship drama in AskMe.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:51 PM on July 17, 2007


    That doesn't necessarily follow. I'm not always calm and reasonable. I can be hysterical and irrational. But I still only RESPOND well to calm, reasoned argument. In fact, when I'm being stupid, I'm even less likely to respond to flames and yelling.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:57 PM on July 17, 2007


    By "that doesn't follow", I meant the presumed idea behind your post: that hysterical or fooling people don't respond to calm, reasoned argument. I think sometimes they do.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2007


    The thing is, I can understand the place for "tough love," but it necessarily requires the love part of that equation, which rather implies that the tough love-er and the tough love-ee have an existing -- or at the very least ongoing -- relationship.

    I mean, a friend saying, "Hey, you're being an asshole here" would probably make me sit up and take notice, because friends don't normally talk to each other like that and so the friend must really be thinking I'm doing something stupid. But a stranger saying "Hey, you're being an asshole" pretty much makes me think, "Fuck you."

    So maybe people are just thinking, "Well, this is how harsh I'd be to a friend in this situation, so it's fine."

    But I think there's a reason that slightly softer forms of interaction are shown to be helpful, or at least standard, in these situations. We don't normally expect our teachers, therapists, parents, tutors, mentors, or other people in the role of guide to swear at us, belittle us, or mock us; when they do, it's considered out of line and a reflection that the guide has lost control of the situation.

    So I look at the "Christ, you're being an asshole" comments as people who think they're being guides miserably failing to do so; maybe others look at the gentle hand-holding (or what I'd call, "Starting where the questioner is") answers as friends miserably failing to live up to their role as hard-asses.
    posted by occhiblu at 12:59 PM on July 17, 2007


    We are not Annon's best friend, we are not related to them

    You do not know that, sir.
    posted by Meatbomb at 1:04 PM on July 17, 2007


    I still don't see what's so bad about any of this. Sometimes the best advice is advice that's delivered unkindly.

    The "poor kid" has all but decided on a course of action that involves callously risking psychic and emotional pain to someone that clearly cares for her. That at least warrants a little derision.
    posted by psmealey at 1:18 PM on July 17, 2007


    By "that doesn't follow", I meant the presumed idea behind your post: that hysterical or fooling people don't respond to calm, reasoned argument. I think sometimes they do.

    The "calm, reasoned argument" in this case is inherently obvious, and has clearly already been rejected prior to even posting this and similar idiotic questions:

    "I want to do it. I have, so far, been completely able to compartimentalize both men: Jack's return did not have any effect on my relationship with Bill. It's almost as if things with Bill are on such a steady, strong course that a sexual affair cannot derailed it.

    Why should I not have this affair once and for all, have an amazing time with this dear friend that has returned, resolve the huge mounting sexual tension between us so we can go on being friends?
    "

    Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2007


    that a person who can't determine the right choice in a situation is, by their nature, unworthy of courtesy or aid.

    A person who cannot determine the correct choice in this particular situation is arguably dense and self-centered, and so needs stronger feedback than someone who presents a question of considerable subtlety and grey area.

    In short, saying "I don't think so" in this situation is likely going to have no impact, but there's a chance that fifty people all screaming "NO NO NO NO NO and you need to stop thinking only of yourself" is going to get through.
    posted by davejay at 1:34 PM on July 17, 2007


    To me, the calm, reasoned argument is that she's unlikely to be able to forever hide this from her future husband. And when he finds out, the shit will probably hit the fan.

    I don't see her realizing or rejecting that anywhere. All I see her thinking is that SO far her relationship with Bill is fine. In other words, she's realized that what he doesn't know, doesn't hurt him or her. Which isn't the point.


    Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.


    It upsets me to see this much selfishness, too, but are you seriously saying that people have tried reasoning with her, it hasn't worked, so now it's appropriate to try yelling at her (I see no evidence for this) or are you just mad at her and want to vent? Which would be understandable. But it would mean we're having an apples/oranges conversation.
    posted by grumblebee at 1:37 PM on July 17, 2007


    Here's a better way to demonstrate what I describe above:

    Question one: I'm torn between following the moral compass that was instilled in me by my parents, and the moral compass that I've developed on my own as an adult. In the absense of an absolute right/wrong choice to make here, I'd like to hear arguments for/against either side that might help me clarify my own feelings on the subject.

    Answers: Well-considered and polite.

    Question two: I really want to stick my hand into the fire, because I think it'll be a good thing. Should I do it?

    Answers: A whole pile of "NO YOU IDIOT NO!"
    posted by davejay at 1:41 PM on July 17, 2007


    It upsets me to see this much selfishness, too, but are you seriously saying that people have tried reasoning with her, it hasn't worked, so now it's appropriate to try yelling at her (I see no evidence for this) or are you just mad at her and want to vent? Which would be understandable. But it would mean we're having an apples/oranges conversation.

    Honestly? I didn't answer this in the green because I cannot answer the question according to the rules because I see no evidence that this person has the necessary empathy to give a shit. If I thought for one second that anon would seriously consider putting off her own gratification for someone else's sake - as opposed to because it might eventually screw things up for her - I might have tried to jump in on Bill's behalf. But honestly - I think anon has already made up her mind, and that Bill is better off without her anyway, so hopefully this all blows up as soon as possible.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:45 PM on July 17, 2007


    davejay, I think anon's main point of denseness (not her main point of immorality) is her belief that her husband won't eventually find out the truth.

    Or maybe it's not that she doesn't believe he won't find out the truth. Maybe she's one of the many people who lives in the present and has a hard time visualizing or gut-feeling the future. In the present, he doesn't know about the affair (or potential affair), and she may have a hard time thinking past that.

    That sounds silly, but maybe Jack lives hundreds of miles away and doesn't share any friends in common with Bill. In which case, it might be hard to imagine that he'll ever find out.

    Those of us in longterm relationships (or at least me) come to feel that we can't hide anything from our partners. If I have a secret, I just assume that my wife will discover it. But I didn't get this at first, and it wasn't true at first. It's true now, because she knows me so well. She's had thirteen years to observe me.

    But it's not outlandish to think that if you've hidden something really well, no one will ever find out -- or at least not to dwell on the (seemingly unlikely) possibility that people will find out. If most people felt that "the truth will out," there's be much less crime and deception in the world. But people think they can keep secrets, and they get reinforcement in this belief because they ARE successful for keeping them for a long time (sometimes forever).

    So I can imagine someone thinking: okay, I'm incredibly hot for this guy, and I really really want to sleep with him. If I do, it will make me happy, and there's no way my husband will know. Me doing it or not doing it will result to the same amount of happiness for my husband, but me not doing it will result in less happiness for me. Why should I NOT do it?

    If you read my comment in the thread, you'll no I'm against the affair. But I don't think anon is necessarily as dimwitted as you do. To me, she seems to have some pretty common cognitive biases. She also thinks a charming cad cares about her. Well, that's pretty common, too -- sometimes even with smart people.
    posted by grumblebee at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    let's try: If you read my comment in the thread, you'll know I'm against the affair...
    posted by grumblebee at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2007


    But that kind of raises the question, IRFH, of why did she ask in the first place? She, like Darth Vader at the end of Revenge of the Jedi, must still have some good left in her.

    For my own part, I only felt compelled to answer it myself because I have seen people do stupid, sleazy shit like that time and again (and caused themselves much deserved misery in the process), but if one person is dissuaded from doing it based on the reasons given, or it gives them pause, then mission accomplished.
    posted by psmealey at 1:54 PM on July 17, 2007


    Aw, poo. Wish I'd seen this thread earlier; can't take the time at the moment to plow through the 171 posts above.

    This AskMe thread makes me love MeFi members. There are many thoughtful, touching answers in that thread, not least TryTheTilapia's. The thread affirms love and commitment in a very memorable way. It's an eye-opener, and one of my favorite threads on MetaFilter.

    And I agree with grumblebee, that there is advice offered in various ways on the thread, and it seems likely that one or more of the answers will hit home with the OP. So along with giving some enduring food for thought to spectators like me, it in all likelihood had real world effects for the person who asked the question.
    posted by ibmcginty at 1:54 PM on July 17, 2007


    I agree with occhiblu, and this is an important point. When there is an established relationship within which someone's best interests are held then courtesy is not as important as between two relative strangers. After all an insult is a sign of an antagonistic relationship, but if I know that someone is looking out for me then I can listen to the subtext.

    I also think that some people learn by seeing that the crowd as a whole disapproves of not only what they're doing but who they are. In my opinion, this brings on conformity more than anything else but I'm sure it can bring on introspection at times as well.

    Still, approaching someone with respect works with most. Not to say it works miracles, anonymous may have already been committed to doing the affair. But it doesn't end the discussion before it starts. It's also a matter of what's the appropriate tone. I think AskMe is plenty frank. It's not like people are reluctant to speak plainly.

    -----

    Skorgu,

    The issue is reduction and abstraction, which I suppose in this context are synonyms. Obviously we handicap each other all the time on a wide range of characteristics but that doesn't have anything to do with what we're talking about. Sure if I see you fail to meet your word enough times I'm not going to ask you to house sit. And there are a number of observations in the original thread where likely behavioral tendencies of anonymous were pointed out (looking for attention, impulsive, captivated by feelings). Calling someone evil is on a different order of abstraction. That's what the whole issue with judgment is. It isn't someone saying you have given enough evidence for having tendency X that I am going to assume it will play into future interactions with you. Those kinds of concrete observations are more accurate and sometimes they can be open to change.

    And then there are the practical issues that come with thinking of the person and speaking to them by label.

    And on preview:

    "The "calm, reasoned argument" in this case is inherently obvious, and has clearly already been rejected prior to even posting this and similar idiotic questions:"

    But this same point goes the other way. That most people will disapprove of infidelity and react with strong disapproval is inherently obvious. If anything your quote works better to argue against name-calling and yelling. Those have been predicted and dismissed without a doubt.

    -----

    "A person who cannot determine the correct choice in this particular situation is arguably dense and self-centered, and so needs stronger feedback than someone who presents a question of considerable subtlety and grey area."

    But the question is what will persuade. "Stronger feedback" means nothing. If you are speaking you want to be heard by the audience at the appropriate volume. How could your feedback be stronger if it makes it more likely for the questioner to tune you out from the get go?
    posted by BigSky at 1:55 PM on July 17, 2007


    Is a night (or 4 minutes) with this guy worth shitting on the love of my life?

    BLAST HIM!!!!
    posted by kamikazegopher at 1:57 PM on July 17, 2007


    Before I post in Askme, I always try as hard as I can to reign in the judgemental impulses and get rid of any snottiness I may be feeling. I'm hardly perfect, but my approach gets me closer to where I want to be than others I've seen.

    I'd have to go back through and check for individual examples... but surely I've advised someone against taking the angry, vengeful route and instead taking the smart, calm, collected fork in the road. If I have, then I've certainly been hypocritical because there are definitely times when I've lost my temper in touchy situations. If I can extrapolate from my own experiences, I'd have to say that many of us try to advise the questioner to go with the type of behavior we know/believe to be best rather than the type of behavior we can be pretty sure we'd engage in in that situation. So, yeah, there's bound to be some distance between the former and the latter.
    posted by Clay201 at 1:59 PM on July 17, 2007


    But this same point goes the other way. That most people will disapprove of infidelity and react with strong disapproval is inherently obvious. If anything your quote works better to argue against name-calling and yelling. Those have been predicted and dismissed without a doubt.

    Which is why I didn't bother. It's also why I don't have anything against those who did, though. I doubt they're persuading anybody, but I agree with the general sense that this is someone who deserves to be (virtually) slapped.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:01 PM on July 17, 2007


    davejay, I think anon's main point of denseness (not her main point of immorality) is her belief that her husband won't eventually find out the truth.

    I agree that it's certainly a main point, and with everything else you've said.

    Nevertheless, I'll also wager that another main point of density is her lack of understanding that even if he never finds out, this will have a huge impact on their relationship, because she will have a marriage that's supposed to be based on trust, and she will have dropped her end of it even before they got married. That's such a basic, fundamental fact about what marriage (or any committed relationship) requires that, to me at least, the density on that point is blinding.

    In short, anyone who thinks that marriage is about whether their partner knows that they're not trustworthy is already missing the point completely.
    posted by davejay at 2:09 PM on July 17, 2007


    but I agree with the general sense that this is someone who deserves to be (virtually) slapped.

    So do I, but I'm not exactly sure what (you or) I mean by that. When I believe in (or wish for) a just universe, there are certain people in it who, I feel, deserve free candy. There are others who deserve birds shitting in their hair. But what do I mean by "deserve"?

    Do I mean that if the good are rewarded and the wicked are punished, I'll be happy? Do I mean that some sort of cosmic balance will be restored? OR do I mean via the carrot and the stick, people will learn a lesson?

    It's that last one I'm unsure of. I've been rapped on the knuckles too many times to believe that rappings are good teaching tools. Trouble is, I've been rapped for things I didn't do, so my brain doesn't know how to interpret the message when it happens for things I DID do. Also, I can be too caught up in the pain to worry about lessons I should be learning. And that reptilian part of my brain can make me respond by lashing out at you, the rapper, rather than pondering the mistakes that left me with an aching hand.

    So I think it's fine to wish for justice in the world. What's not fine is to confuse one's wish for the wicked to be punished with a belief that this punishment will also act as a teaching tool.

    Yet this confusion happens -- and is even encouraged -- all the time. People talk about incarceration this way. It makes sure justice is served and it acts as a corrective.

    It MAY act as a corrective -- for some people. But our desire to see justice served can make us blind to the fact that it's not always a good teaching tool.
    posted by grumblebee at 2:11 PM on July 17, 2007


    But that kind of raises the question, IRFH, of why did she ask in the first place?

    I'm guessing for the same reason that total fucking crazy morons allow themselves to be filmed on reality shows being total fucking crazy morons. The fact that they lack the ability to see themselves clearly outside the context of their own desires is the cause of both the original issues and the resulting public trainwrecks.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:12 PM on July 17, 2007


    Question two: I really want to stick my hand into the fire, because I think it'll be a good thing. Should I do it?

    Answers: A whole pile of "NO YOU IDIOT NO!"


    Is that how you would characterize the majority of the responses? It's hard to say now that the thread has been trimmed, but so many of them seemed to take the tone "I can't believe you would want to stick your hand in the fire. What the fuck is wrong with you? People who would even entertain such a thing are so totally fucked up."
    posted by 23skidoo at 2:13 PM on July 17, 2007


    In short, anyone who thinks that marriage is about whether their partner knows that they're not trustworthy is already missing the point completely.

    I take your point, and at heart I agree with it. I wouldn't cheat on my wife, even if a wizard waved a wand and assured me she'd never know. But why wouldn't I? The reasons are complicated. They involve abstract concepts, such as "relationships are based on trust" and "my feelings about myself."

    Those are a little hard to discuss and quantify. MUST a marriage be based on 100% honesty? I don't know. But I DO know that most of the time it's impossible to keep a deception going forever. That's a tangible fact, and it affects everyone, whether they're fundamentally honest or dishonest.
    posted by grumblebee at 2:17 PM on July 17, 2007


    It's hard to say now that the thread has been trimmed

    I don't know about cortex or mathowie, but I only removed a few "you are a fucking psycho" type comments and left most of them there.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:21 PM on July 17, 2007


    I'm not exactly sure what (you or) I mean by that. When I believe in (or wish for) a just universe, there are certain people in it who, I feel, deserve free candy. There are others who deserve birds shitting in their hair. But what do I mean by "deserve"?

    I don't believe in justice. What I mean by "deserve" is that while I don't believe it will do any good, and I won't break the Code of the Green just to satisfy my own distaste for her, I won't shed any tears for anon if people there treat her roughly while answering her pointless and self-serving question.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:21 PM on July 17, 2007


    I find this dynamic a little odd and complicated:

    A. Should I do X?

    B. You've already decided to do X, so what's the point of me giving you any advice? Go ahead. Shoot yourself in the foot.

    So if B doesn't think A will listen, why is B even posting? Is it to show that he's smart enough to see through A? Is it some kind of "reverse psychology" (he really DOES think A might listen, but only if approached obliquely)? Is it just venting?
    posted by grumblebee at 2:21 PM on July 17, 2007


    I'm confused, It's Raining. You don't believe in justice, but you don't mind seeing people punish anon? If you don't believe in justice, what's the point of the punishment? Sadism? I know you don't mean that. But it sounds like you DO believe in justice. It sounds like you feel that anon has behaved badly and it makes you feel good to see her get whipped for that.

    Which makes you a pretty normal person in my book.

    My point was that this sort of justice does more to make us (the people who have to hear about the bad behavior) feel good than it helps the wrong-doer learn a lesson.

    I also don't necessarily have a problem with that. I just have a problem when we confuse doling out justice with teaching a lesson.
    posted by grumblebee at 2:26 PM on July 17, 2007


    It sounds like you feel that anon has behaved badly and it makes you feel good to see her get whipped for that.

    "Good?" No. Indifferent to the consequences to her? Yes. Sad about the consequences to others? Also "yes."

    My point was that this sort of justice does more to make us (the people who have to hear about the bad behavior) feel good than it helps the wrong-doer learn a lesson.

    Hence, it is not justice.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:30 PM on July 17, 2007


    I don't know about cortex or mathowie, but I only removed a few "you are a fucking psycho" type comments and left most of them there.

    Yeah, I've maybe popped one throwaway in there, maybe none at all. It's not the sort of thread I read for pleasure, regardless, so I've been avoiding it except where the flag queue has told me otherwise.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:31 PM on July 17, 2007


    Metafilter: Overthinking a bucket of cocks.
    posted by gnomeloaf at 2:32 PM on July 17, 2007


    We're just trying to avoid choking on them.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:35 PM on July 17, 2007


    Ok, so you define justice as "a lesson learned." That's cool. There is another system, in which punishments and rewards are doled out (to the wicked and the virtuous), regardless of whether or not anyone learns a lesson. There should be a distinct name for this -- maybe there is -- that doesn't have any didactic connotations.

    Many people subscribe to this system. For instance, there are those who feel that capital punishment is just, even though the criminal is dead afterwards and so can't learn a lesson (although, I guess he can if you believe in an afterlife). Maybe the lesson is for other people, living people who will now be dissuaded from committing the same crime.

    But I'm betting there are plenty of people who would say that (a) they don't believe in an afterlife, (b) they think murderers should be executed even if no one learns a lesson from it, and (c) that would be justice.
    posted by grumblebee at 2:36 PM on July 17, 2007


    Ok, so you define justice as "a lesson learned."

    No - I define justice as "the scales are balanced." Except - I've never seen any evidence that the scales can ever really be balanced. Hence - I don't believe in justice.

    But I'm betting there are plenty of people who would say that (a) they don't believe in an afterlife, (b) they think murderers should be executed even if no one learns a lesson from it

    Yes, so far...

    and (c) that would be justice.

    Not justice. Prudence.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:44 PM on July 17, 2007


    About five years ago I met this guy, let's call him Jack. We hit it off as friends, had the most amazing conversations, stimulating, fun, intelectually charged.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    posted by quonsar at 2:50 PM on July 17, 2007


    I never judge. Judgmental people are evil. I hope they burn in hell. They are worse than generalizers — who are all stupid. I know. I met one once.

    I grew up in Tacoma. We have arsenic in everything.

    Relax. The Serial Killers will get you first.


    In short, anyone who thinks that marriage is about whether their partner knows that they're not trustworthy is already missing the point completely.

    Yup. I would never cheat on my wife.

    I cheated on a few girlfriends and it was all trouble and drama. I was surprised to find that my dick would offer no great advise to me after the fact. Oh. Sure. Beforehand he was all "I got it covered. Don't worry. This will be awesome. I got your back."

    Afterwards all I ever got was his answering machine "Mmmm. Yeah. This is your dick.. ahhhh... I'm napping right now. Leave a message and I'll call you right back. Kay? Bye."

    People most likely to advise you against cheating are people who have been cheated on. And you don't graduate from life until that has happened to you.

    People most likely to advise you to go for it are people who don't get laid all that much in the first place. And who wants to listen to them?
    posted by tkchrist at 2:55 PM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


    Relax. The Serial Killers will get you first.

    Hence my pro-death penalty stance. ;-)
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:57 PM on July 17, 2007


    PS. My advise to Anon was to go ahead with the affair on the conditions that:

    A) She is hot

    B) He is hot

    C) They video tape it and post it online. So I can see the purity of the "love" and thus know 100% if it was right.

    But my answer got deleted. Damn it.
    posted by tkchrist at 3:00 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Must not have been hot.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:02 PM on July 17, 2007


    i honestly have no idea why my comment to her question was removed. i was very sarcastic but (like many posters did consequently and equally as bluntly) i did answer her question by encouraging to tell her fiancé (seeing as she felt the relationship was so strong) or break it off with the fiancé because he deserved better than to get hitched to someone who cheated on him. my answer was no more harsh than a lot of the posts that were left and i didn't call her any names.
    posted by violetk at 3:11 PM on July 17, 2007


    Yeah, but you have no idea why a lot of things are removed.
    posted by klangklangston at 3:13 PM on July 17, 2007


    Oh, and are we talking about definitions of justice now? Because I got this huge wad of Plato's Republic that's just waiting to come out, whether it's even halfway relevant or not, and it looks like we're creeping toward a time when I can be blasé about referencing Thrasymachus...
    posted by klangklangston at 3:16 PM on July 17, 2007


    Honestly, violetk, there's a big gap between

    i honestly have no idea why my comment to her question was removed.

    and

    i was very sarcastic

    that needs some filling, thus: please cut it out with the ranty, sarcastic askme comments. It looks like you've already had several of that sort of thing deleted in the short time you've been here, and it'd be nice if you could lay off some with the ZOMG and stick more to the answering of the question.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 3:17 PM on July 17, 2007


    I'd love to klang, but I gots to go get me some lunch. You start without me.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:18 PM on July 17, 2007


    [e.] ᾿Αλλὰ μέντοι, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, βούλομαί γε, εἰ μὴ ἀδικῶ.

    Σκόπει δή, ἔφη.

    Σκεπτέον, εἶπον· καὶ ὥς γε ἐντεῦθεν ἰδεῖν, συμφωνίᾳ τινὶ καὶ ἁρμονίᾳ προσέοικεν μᾶλλον ἢ τὰ πρότερον.

    Πῶς;

    Κόσμος πού τις, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ἡ σωφροσύνη ἐστὶν καὶ ἡδονῶν τινων καὶ ἐπιθυμιῶν ἐγκράτεια, ὥς φασι κρείττω δὴ αὑτοῦ ἀποφαίνοντες οὐκ οἶδ’ ὅντινα τρόπον, καὶ ἄλλα ἄττα τοιαῦτα ὥσπερ ἴχνη αὐτῆς λέγεται. ἦ γάρ;

    Πάντων μάλιστα, ἔφη.

    Οὐκοῦν τὸ μὲν κρείττω αὑτοῦ γελοῖον; ὁ γὰρ ἑαυτοῦ κρείττων καὶ ἥττων δήπου ἂν αὑτοῦ εἴη καὶ ὁ ἥττων κρείττων· [431a] ὁ αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐν ἅπασιν τούτοις προσαγορεύεται.

    Τί δ’ οὔ;

    ᾿Αλλ’, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, φαίνεταί μοι βούλεσθαι λέγειν οὗτος ὁ λόγος ὥς τι ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ περὶ τὴν ψυχὴν τὸ μὲν βέλτιον ἔνι, τὸ δὲ χεῖρον, καὶ ὅταν μὲν τὸ βέλτιον φύσει τοῦ χείρονος ἐγκρατὲς ᾖ, τοῦτο λέγειν τὸ κρείττω αὑτοῦ —ἐπαινεῖ γοῦν—ὅταν δὲ ὑπὸ τροφῆς κακῆς ἤ τινος ὁμιλίας κρατηθῇ ὑπὸ πλήθους τοῦ χείρονος σμικρότερον τὸ βέλτιον [b.] ὄν, τοῦτο δὲ ὡς ἐν ὀνείδει ψέγειν τε καὶ καλεῖν ἥττω ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἀκόλαστον τὸν οὕτω διακείμενον.

    Καὶ γὰρ ἔοικεν, ἔφη.
    posted by languagehat at 3:36 PM on July 17, 2007


    Greek to me, lfat.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 3:41 PM on July 17, 2007


    If English is good enough for God, it's good enough for me. KING JAMES ALL THE WAY!

    (My old roommate coulda read that, but I can't... I can, however, argue endlessly about Glaucon.)
    posted by klangklangston at 3:50 PM on July 17, 2007


    i was very sarcastic

    Pretty much any comment that can be read in that Homer Simpson "I'm Mr Burns blah blah blah. I'm a stupidhead blah blah blah" tone of voice doesn't have much of a chance of thriving in an AskMe thread.

    You may be a little tone deaf for that sort of thing, but your response was pretty high on the sarcasm-meter and pretty low on the "answers the question" scale.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:22 PM on July 17, 2007


    Next on Metafilter: Due to her previously undiagnosed brain tumor, Anonymous falls into a coma before she can break off the affair. Will Bill ever know her true intentions? Will Jack stay by her side? Or in a bizarre twist of faith, will Jack and Bill fall in love with each other, only to be torn apart when each finds out their relationship with Anonymous?
    posted by geoff. at 4:29 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    That post may well be the second in a serial AskMe installment. Here's Part I.
    posted by psmealey at 4:34 PM on July 17, 2007


    Ouyay areway away igbay atfay owshay offway.
    posted by tkchrist at 4:51 PM on July 17, 2007


    See, I figured there might be a few non-Greek-readers in the room, which is why I included the link to a translation (with the first phrase of my excerpt helpfully highlighted).

    SPOILER:




    Self-control is a good thing.
    posted by languagehat at 4:59 PM on July 17, 2007


    Yeah, but Jowett's kinda unreadable. Or at least he was in my edition. I can't remember the guy that I liked better (though I do feel a little silly having favorite translations when I can't read the original).
    posted by klangklangston at 5:04 PM on July 17, 2007


    Wow, what a mess. So much is wrong with that question, not the least of which is that the OP is already being deceitful to her fiance. From my reading of the post, what started as a potentially admirable "Heard you are having a tough time Jack, but want you to know that an old friend is thinking of you." evolved into a set of e-mails leading to her drama of should I or shouldn't I. The physical cheating would merely be an escalation of something I believe is already horrible, and this lie of omission is something I would never do to someone I profess to love.

    I vote that she is not "that poor girl" and is more someone I hope grows up and realizes what she may be throwing away.
    posted by genefinder at 5:09 PM on July 17, 2007


    What society typically refers to as "justice" is really just the enforcement of order through adherence to a mostly arbitrary set of rules and consequences. In my opinion, the consequences, while arguably fitting and/or necessary in any given instance, don't represent true justice because they are based on false equivalencies. True justice, in the sense I referred to above, restores balance. However, since the past cannot be undone, and true balance could only ever be determined by an absolute moral authority, in the absence of God, there is no real justice. A semblance of order, a tip of the hat to the rules, and a simulation of justice, however, is often good enough to get one through the day.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:10 PM on July 17, 2007


    Yeah, but Jowett's kinda unreadable.

    Yeah, but the dead-tree translation I consulted (by Paul Shorey, who allegedly knew the entire Iliad by heart) isn't available online. You takes what you can get.
    posted by languagehat at 5:13 PM on July 17, 2007


    Gosh. People sure can talk and fret alot.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 PM on July 17, 2007


    OK wait, so that ask.me post wasn't the plot for Pirates of the Caribbean IV? I was all pissed about the lack of SPOILER tags.
    posted by jamaro at 5:41 PM on July 17, 2007


    If only, jamaro, if only.
    posted by that girl at 6:40 PM on July 17, 2007


    pauly shore is translating greek now? oh wait... n/m
    posted by PugAchev at 6:44 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Ha, suck it up, Aloysius Bear! Your partner, anonymous, is a slut!! And she wants hot adulterous monkey sex with me!!! I win!!!!

    (um, I think...assuming that it *is* me that she wants...?)
    posted by UbuRoivas at 6:48 PM on July 17, 2007


    There's no way to answer this question without being judgmental. The poster's asking for an opinion - basically, to contribute judgment.

    One of the real problems with this question - which I left out of my answer - is that, assuming good faith, the poster is extremely stupid. You have to have a pretty limited intellect, poor emotional maturity, deep-seated conflicts, and a lack of wisdom to ask a question like that. The stupidity is so strong as to be tragic; if you don't realize that it's stupidity, the only other possible interpretation is malevolence.

    Stupidity and malevolence are both quite noxious. They pollute interpersonal relationships - every living person has experienced this. The key part of this question is "Help me deal with my stupidity in the context of interpersonal relationships." It's hard to help stupid people - you want to make it as clear as possible without being offensive. But with a certain critical mass of stupid, this becomes nearly impossible.

    So the answerer is faced with a lose-lose situation: the answer that could possibly help is rude and gets called out on the grey; but an answer that seems appropriate and useful to people who'd never need to ask this question in the first place is not going to penetrate the armor-plate of the asker's stupidity.

    You clearly didn't realize this, pollystark. That means you're stupid too.
    posted by ikkyu2 at 7:02 PM on July 17, 2007 [11 favorites]


    booyaka! booyaka!
    posted by chunking express at 7:22 PM on July 17, 2007


    (oh, and the lolhats in this thread entirely justify its existence on their own)
    posted by UbuRoivas at 7:22 PM on July 17, 2007


    Eww! She's yours now, all over you like mould on over-ripe fruit.

    I never loved her of course, I was only in it for the fame and attention. I'm better off without her, really. *sob* How could you do this to me!
    posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:29 PM on July 17, 2007


    People still read Jowett? Equally, Shorey was responsible for such gems as, "'This then,' said I, 'if haply you now understand, is what you must say I then meant, by the statement that of all things that are such as to be of something those that are just themselves only are of things just themselves only, but things of a certain kind are of things of a certain kind." Now that's all Greek to me.
    posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:54 PM on July 17, 2007


    Hey, ikkyu2 - you seem to know quite a bit about what is "noxious" and what "pollutes interpersonal relationships." You're doing it right now with great aplomb. You might use your obvious considerable intelligence, judging by your comments in previous askMe threads, for good (what you're "trying to do here", as you phrased it, in a previous thread for which you were called out for rank arrogance and insensitivity) rather than this sort of reactionary shit. E-mail me again if you'd like to discuss this further, or confine it to a personal e-mail to the OP who hasn't chimed in for 12+ hours if you can't handle a measured, thoughtful response to your knee-jerk, venomous, sneak-attack-mode crap. You're better than this. Act like it.

    I completely disagree on the issue of the OP's "stupidity", and I certainly disagree with you or any other person presuming to equate intelligence with superiority. I've known some extraordinarily "intelligent" people who couldn't parse their significant other crying in a heap on the couch while they tended to their e-mail, who couldn’t answer the question, “So, how do you feel about that?” with more than an ambivalent grunt, and I don’t think that’s particularly advanced or better than those of us who know how we feel and can express it with a modicum of intelligence and – PERISH THE THOUGHT - tact. This may be a peculiar, ill-advised callout, but what I take from it is that the OP of this MetaTalk would like to know why seasoned posters can't exercise a modicum of self-control and not summarily dismiss the very worth of a person as a carbon-based life form based on a question they have posed to askMe. If anything, in my view, the fact of the original askMe question itself signals hope for the poor schlub who's busily trying on tuxedos and blithely going about the business of getting married while his SO plots to screw someone else behind his back. Try speaking to the OP of the askMe’s in their language and you might at least give a particularly insensitive, thoughtless jackass some food for thought. Or don't post at all.
    posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:09 PM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


    I certainly disagree with you or any other person presuming to equate intelligence with superiority.

    Boy, are you on the wrong website. Try this one.
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:21 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    i honestly have no idea why my comment to her question was removed. i was very sarcastic but (like many posters did consequently and equally as bluntly) i did answer her question

    What are you, dumb as a day-old pig?

    (It's okay, I'm being sarcastic - new born pigs aren't really all that dumb, at least not compared to other species, and I answered your question! Yay! God, I feel so helpful now! No wonder these types of questions are so popular!
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:24 PM on July 17, 2007


    Boy, are you on the wrong website. Try this one.

    You're a dear to direct to me to Fark. I love this website because the discourse is rational, thoughtful and interesting, which I'm assuming is why you're here, too. You are welcome to try and take the piss out of me if you'd like, but on this issue it is practically impossible. Thanks all the same for trying. I do appreciate it.
    posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:31 PM on July 17, 2007


    You're welcome, dear! Since we're being so thoughtful, let me school you some things, since you are so new to these parts. ikkyu2 is one of the most intelligent, well-loved members of Metafilter (which on a site this large is really saying something). And he was right in this thread when he pointed out that one does have to be lacking some sense to post such a question to this here website. Most of the previous 200 comments in this thread (as well as the original thread) would agree with the spirit of his commment. So your callout was, as you put it, both peculiar and ill-advised. I would recommend ceasing and desisting, before you make yourself look really silly. Have a good evening.
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:38 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I've known some extraordinarily "intelligent" people who couldn't parse their significant other crying in a heap on the couch while they tended to their e-mail


    Please explain your definition of "intelligent."


    Also,

    "this sort of reactionary shit"....."your knee-jerk, venomous, sneak-attack-mode crap."

    Please explain your definition of a "measured" response.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2007


    This was not my call-out. Have your facts straight before you start swinging.

    I have honored ikkyu2's intelligence from the start, which he knows and will honor if he has the stones to respond to me in this thread, or, in the alternative, if he chooses to e-mail me and personally shit on me because I bothered to treat the OP of the askMe as a person and not a user number. I've read the whole thread from start to finish. That's why I know who the players are and am not pulling shit out of my ass without referring to the top of the thread where the originator of this call-out is clearly posted.
    posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:49 PM on July 17, 2007


    flame on?
    posted by chunking express at 9:01 PM on July 17, 2007


    Not to get in the way of you all's shit fight here, but let me point out that the AskMe OP isn't necessarily stupid. Naivete, emotional over investment, and being a bit transfixed by this guy's charm are enough to account for the post. She may have just been looking to validate a made decision but it's also possible she's just really confused and wants the case for the other side laid out for her. She certainly isn't hearing it from anyone else.

    Also,

    "So the answerer is faced with a lose-lose situation"

    And yet you still found it worthwhile to post. Hmmm.
    posted by BigSky at 9:50 PM on July 17, 2007


    I bothered to treat the OP of the askMe as a person and not a user number.

    There's where you went wrong. You should tread an Original Poster as if you were Paul Bunyan and she was a flapjack the size of Lake Tahoe.
    posted by carsonb at 9:57 PM on July 17, 2007


    Can I please have an affair? Well, I am not married, so if YOU are married, I guess it would be an affair for you, but not me. Right? Or not? Should I post an AskMe?
    posted by The Deej at 10:01 PM on July 17, 2007


    Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    Well I try to give answers in an 'a-moral' way, meaning without respect to morality. I might explain how to do something I wouldn't do personally, for example.
    posted by delmoi at 10:05 PM on July 17, 2007


    1) Community contains humans.
    posted by flashboy


    Therefore, community may contain nuts.
    posted by The Deej at 10:21 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    There should be a t-shirt. AskMe: About My Bucket of Cocks
    posted by digitalis at 11:19 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Paul Bunyan and she was a flapjack the size of Lake Tahoe.

    HEEEEY! You stole that line!
    posted by tkchrist at 11:36 PM on July 17, 2007


    You mean people who read Mefi have sex?
    posted by DenOfSizer at 3:23 AM on July 18, 2007


    HEEEEY! You stole that line!

    Fair enough. But as a card-carrying member of the Sex Party I have due license to use it in everyday conversation.
    posted by carsonb at 5:14 AM on July 18, 2007


    ikkyu2 is one of the most intelligent, well-loved members of Metafilter (which on a site this large is really saying something). And he was right in this thread when he pointed out that one does have to be lacking some sense to post such a question to this here website. Most of the previous 200 comments in this thread (as well as the original thread) would agree with the spirit of his comment. So your callout was, as you put it, both peculiar and ill-advised. I would recommend ceasing and desisting, before you make yourself look really silly.

    In other words, if your opinion goes against that of the in-crowd or the majority, silence yourself.

    I can't think of much that offends me more than that. We learn and grow when we're forced to recognize out-of-left-field opinions.

    There are also some of us who don't see MeFi as a social club. I don't really care who has been here longest, who is friends of whom, or who is well respected. I care about who can write well and who is clear, logical and compassionate. And I'm not alone in feeling this, even though I know there are others here who get into the socializing aspect here. The two modes can co-exist, as long as we show EVERYONE here respect.

    The callout -- not by TryTheTilapia -- did NOT endorse affairs. I do think posters in the original thread pretty much unanimously advised anon that an affair would be a bad idea. TryTheTilapia was among this majority. pollystark, who started this thread, may have been part of it, too. I don't know.

    This thread simply called people out for being judgmental. Depending on the meaning of "judgmental," I agree with the callout, and I don't care if that goes against the grain here.

    I agree that anon was asking for a moral judgment of her actions. I disagree that she was asking for one of her character. And regardless of what she was asking for, judgments needn't be combined with insults or flames. Those are inappropriate and mean-spirited.

    And it's NOT the case that everyone here -- except TryTheTilapia -- thinks that sort of rude judgment is appropriate. Look back over this thread and you'll find others of this opinion. Maybe we're a small minority, but we care about this issue. And we're not on "the wrong website." We just interact with a multifaceted website in a different way than you do.
    posted by grumblebee at 5:41 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    ikkyu2 is one of the most intelligent, well-loved members of Metafilter (which on a site this large is really saying something).

    Nobody's saying he's stupid, but he sure can be a dick sometimes. On this one, I'm with the fish lady.
    posted by myeviltwin at 6:03 AM on July 18, 2007


    Wow, this thread is still running? Are you people putting methamphetamine in the bucket o' cocks, or what?
    posted by aramaic at 6:24 AM on July 18, 2007


    So the answerer is faced with a lose-lose situation: the answer that could possibly help is rude and gets called out on the grey; but an answer that seems appropriate and useful to people who'd never need to ask this question in the first place is not going to penetrate the armor-plate of the asker's stupidity.

    Where does this question-begging sentiment come from? Have people who feel that judgmental rudeness is a necessary component to a morality question ever tried being civil and had it fail? Or do you "just know" that rudeness is the only way to get your message across?
    posted by 23skidoo at 6:39 AM on July 18, 2007


    "Help me deal with my stupidity in the context of interpersonal relationships." It's hard to help stupid people - you want to make it as clear as possible without being offensive. But with a certain critical mass of stupid, this becomes nearly impossible.

    This troubles me on a couple of levels. First of all, let's dissect the concept of "stupid people." I'm not the wishy-washy sort that claims, "everyone is smart in his own way." On the other hand, I've met plenty of smart people who are stupid when it comes to certain things. In general, I think the notion that there are smart people and stupid people is as convenient an illusion as the notion that there are gay people and straight people. In reality, most people fall into the middle of the spectrum.

    Metafilter is full of people who have studied things like science and logic. And the wonderful thing about those fields is that they give you an all-purpose toolkit to think about things. Want to know how to behave in a relationship? Apply the same rational tools that you'd apply if you're trying to solve programming problem.

    But not everyone has been through that sort of education (or self-education). One can be smart (or at least not stupid) without having learned these tools. But if you haven't learned them, your approach to problem-solving will necessarily be fractured. You won't have realized that there are universal, problem-solving tools, so you'll approach each domain as if it's unique. So, for instance, you might be a brilliant painter but a sucky programmer.

    Plus, there are tons of people -- people who KNOW the toolkit -- who still have blindspots and prejudices. Is there anyone here who thinks that's not true of him or her? Who amongst us -- even the most rational -- doesn't get tripped up by passions. For many people, the blindspots are sexual or romantic; for some they're religious; for some, they involve food. Whatever. Smart people do stupid things.

    Knowing this, smart people should be smart enough not to label people stupid without knowing more about them than how they're grappling with one problem. Their approach to that problem may be stupid. That doesn't necessarily make them stupid. They might be stupid, but you can't know for sure. And what you don't know about, you should pass over in silence.

    Besides, what's the prejudice against the stupid all about? Are you 100% sure that people have control over their intelligence? And if they don't -- if they can't help being stupid -- then isn't your mockery or wagging finger on the same level as racial prejudice or homophobia? "Jesus Christ that guy is STUPID! He needs to get a fucking clue!" "Jesus Christ that guy is GAY! He needs to fuck a woman!"

    I don't expect that last observation to make me any friends. Groups that define themselves via intelligence often seem to use mockery-of-the-stupid as a form of social glue. Just as Klan members use mockery (or worse) of black people as social glue. Am I expecting too much of people by asking not to bond via scapegoats?

    Finally, I'd like to address this:


    you want to make it as clear as possible without being offensive. But with a certain critical mass of stupid, this becomes nearly impossible.


    Why impossible? A stupid person is someone who doesn't understand some basic concepts. Okay. Explain them to him. If someone doesn't understand how to get water from a sink, say, "turn the faucet handle in a clockwise motion." There's no need to say, "turn on the faucet, you idiot!"

    I spent the last six years teaching computer programming to people who, in general, had never mastered anything intellectually difficult. I would explain something really simple (to me) over and over. "A variable is like a box that you can put things in. You can give the variable a name, just as you can write a word on the side of a box with magic marker.

    "So when I type 'var score = 17', that's like taking a number 17 (imagine a candle shaped like 17) and putting it in a box, and then writing score on the side of the box. In programming, the name on the box can be used as a stand-in for the contents of the box. So if I say, 'what's score?' the computer will look in the box and say, '17'."

    Then, ten minutes later, after explaining the print statement, I'd write "print score" and students would expect to see "score" on the screen instead of "17". I'd go back over the ideas of variables and values, they'd get it for a few minutes, but when I later used "print score" again, they'd get confused -- again -- by the "17" on the screen.

    It was SO tempting to give into frustration and say, "I just EXPLAINED that, you idiot!" But what would that have accomplished? Would they have been shamed into understanding?

    Instead of doing that, I went back over the concept again. And again, if necessary, until it made sense to them. Eventually they DID get it. And at that point, the classification of stupid or smart didn't mean much. They knew what they needed to know to continue.
    posted by grumblebee at 7:00 AM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Question 2: Do people practice what they preach? Has anyone ever given advice that does not reflect the way that they themselves live their life?

    Here's what I see lacking in both Anon's question and in most of the answers: an acknowledgment of human failings. I think things would have gone differently if anon had added one simple sentence -- something along the lines of "I know that if he finds out, Bill will be terribly hurt, and I don't want to hurt him, but I don't know what to do about this powerful attraction."

    On the filp side, almost no one said, "I know what it feels like to be tempted, so I feel for you. It's really hard to resist temptation. However..."

    Without that, the responders (me included, I'm sorry to say) sound like a bunch of sinless people casting the first stone. They make it sound so easy. Just don't cheat on your husband, motherfucker! That IS the right answer, but it needn't be given without understanding -- as if it's the easiest thing in the world to resist temptation. As if only a moron would ever give into base desires.

    I do think, in many ways, Anon brought this on herself. On the other hand, we "smart" people should have risen above the level of the original post. NOT because it's the nice thing to do. Because showing an understanding of human frailty helps pave the way for the right answer: "I know it's hard, but..." Whereas making something hard seem easy or making someone into an outsider (you're stupid; we're smart) will most likely just shut them down or make them defensive.
    posted by grumblebee at 7:09 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    As if only a moron would ever give into base desires.

    That's a straw man, though. That wasn't what was stupid about the poster or the poster's question. Ikkyu2's point, which I agree with, was that the question was presented in an amoral context (without a whisper of empathy), but yet was asking for a moral answer in reply. This is beyond stupid.

    I'm all for human understanding and kindness overall, but in this specific instance, the way this particular question was asked, the OP received responses that were exactly appropriate.
    posted by psmealey at 7:22 AM on July 18, 2007


    OK, in short:

    Judging a person is not OK, judging a situation is. When I said "judgmental", I meant saying, "You! Yes you! You are a bad person!" I did not mean saying, "Doing this would make you a bad person."

    It seemed to me that in the AskMeFi question, some people were quick to make judgments (see the quoted statements in this MeTalk question) upon the OP, as opposed to judgments upon the OP's situation. This tendency crops up in many similar questions, and it makes me sad to see people from a generally intelligent community hectoring someone who is just asking for advice.
    posted by pollystark at 7:22 AM on July 18, 2007


    Here's what I see lacking in both Anon's question and in most of the answers: an acknowledgment of human failings. I think things would have gone differently if anon had added one simple sentence -- something along the lines of "I know that if he finds out, Bill will be terribly hurt, and I don't want to hurt him, but I don't know what to do about this powerful attraction."

    Wrong. She doesn't care about his feelings - if she did, she never would have said "i think our relationship could handle it" ( paraphrased). The poster is in La La Fantasy land and she's quite stuck there. She needs to be brought back down to reality and understand that the fantasy that is in her head does not exist the way she wants.

    Stop giving her the benefit of the doubt and stop reading into her statements things that aren't there. Ikkyu2 is right - she is stupid and being offensive is sometimes the only way to break down the mental barrier of self created false realities.
    posted by Stynxno at 7:26 AM on July 18, 2007


    Wrong.

    Huh? Aren't we in agreement? Didn't I begin my post by writing "what I see lacking in ... Anon's question..."?

    I'm not reading into her post. I'm neutral about it. Maybe she cares about Bill; maybe she doesn't. Do people who care NEVER act (or contemplate acting) selfishly?

    being offensive is sometimes the only way to break down the mental barrier of self created false realities.

    Can you think of times in your life when this has actually worked? I'm really asking, and I'm prepared to be wrong. My observation -- which maybe is skewed -- has shown me the opposite to be true: that insults build thicker barriers.


    I'm all for human understanding and kindness overall, but in this specific instance, the way this particular question was asked, the OP received responses that were exactly appropriate.

    Appropriate to what goal? Answering the question in a helpful way? You feel that insulting someone will make them see the error of their ways?
    posted by grumblebee at 7:39 AM on July 18, 2007


    I really didn't see the level of insult that you saw, grumblebee. I saw a certain level of frustration expressed with the OP, that her question contained an offensive level of callousness and lack of regard, and to me, that level of venting seemed appropriate. But as for the insulting remarks you refer to, those seem to have been removed (as well they should have been).
    posted by psmealey at 7:44 AM on July 18, 2007


    that level of venting seemed appropriate.

    I'm still trying to understand what you mean by "appropriate." And I mean that very honestly. I'm not trying to bait you.

    I don't see how anything can be appropriate full stop. Surely, things can only be appropriate to some task, end or goal. Right?

    So when you say that venting seemed appropriate, do you mean that venting is appropriate to answering anon's question or helping anon? Or do you mean it's an appropriate way for other members of the site to deal with their anger?

    To me -- and maybe I'm too much a purist -- that second goal makes sense here, in Metatalk, but not in AskMe.
    posted by grumblebee at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2007


    You guys should get a room. You'll never resolve these differences as long as you keep postponing your affair.
    posted by horsewithnoname at 7:58 AM on July 18, 2007


    From personal experience, my mother-in-law (now 65) in her younger days walked down a very similar path to the one indicated by OP. Always looking for the bigger, better deal, she went from one man to another, trashed two marriages, and now finds herself, chronically depressed, embittered and alone, and her adult kids will not give her the time of day.

    I wish that I could travel back in time and yell some sense into her. Her life didn't have to turn out like this, but owing completely to her sleazy, self-centered decision making process, it is.

    I realize this level of projection is probably not acceptable on the AskMe forum, but it explains some of the reaction. As I said before, setting someone up who has asked such an appalling question as a cautionary tale for the benefit of others is not really the worst thing in the world.
    posted by psmealey at 8:00 AM on July 18, 2007


    grumblebee, I'm completely confused by your candles in a box with a score on the side. I even read it twice. Good thing I'm not a programmer!
    posted by CunningLinguist at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2007


    You're way smart enough to understand it. I just didn't explain it well, here. I'm used to having a blackboard to draw little pictures on.
    posted by grumblebee at 8:21 AM on July 18, 2007


    Also, pollystark, I was sincere in asking about a lack of honor. It seems to be an outmoded notion these days, but I think that apart from being stupid and mean and self centered etc, screwing around on your fiance is dishonorable. There are certain things one does, and certain things one doesn't do. Betraying a man who loves you is one of the nonos. I questioned whether the poster has any sense of honor or decency. Somehow, you saw took that as a nasty unfair judgemental attack on her. I don't quite see it, myself.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 8:26 AM on July 18, 2007


    I'm still trying to understand what you mean by "appropriate."

    Well, purely subjective really. I know that very little sniping is tolerated on AskMe, but the what was left in response to this question was mostly in proportion to the level of mean-spiritedness present within the question itself. Of course we can agree not to tolerate any snarking in AskMe regardless of how foul the question, but this was certainly not the worst I'd ever seen.
    posted by psmealey at 8:30 AM on July 18, 2007


    CL, I agree with you about lack of honor. I stay with my wife because I love her AND because I spoke a vow. Breaking that vow would be dishonorable.

    People don't talk much about honor these days, so I share your concern that it might be outmoded. I wonder if it is -- or if you and I are just using outmoded TERMS for something that is alive and well but goes by another name (or is alive but generally unnamed).
    posted by grumblebee at 8:58 AM on July 18, 2007


    Stop giving her the benefit of the doubt and stop reading into her statements things that aren't there. Ikkyu2 is right - she is stupid and being offensive is sometimes the only way to break down the mental barrier of self created false realities.

    Then how do people learn? I was particularly stupid when it came to organic chemistry in highschool. My professor did not belittle me publicly for being a smooth-brained troglodyte and snigger in the corner while I pulled my hair out trying to pass the class. I was particularly stupid when it came to interpersonal relationships in my early twenties because of my personal experiences growing up. My therapist did not deride me and pepper our discourse with demeaning labels. I think what's at the heart of what alot of people consider "stupidity" is insecurity, self-doubt and inexperience, and not just a lack of aptitude for a certain subject. I don't think that people gain the confidence in themselves to trust their own judgment, think rationally and act accordingly if their fundamental character is under attack from the outset. And, honestly, the responses in the askMe thread were fair for the most part and certainly not as harsh as others I've read in other threads. So, though I don't agree with this callout, I still find the subject of judging a person's character rather than their actions worthwhile.

    Some will argue that askMe isn't about teaching others or being their therapists; that's a fine argument. I think, though, that the whole purpose of any question is to gather information to solve problems or stimulate thinking about problems in new ways. That is to say, to learn something you didn't know before. The very act of asking the question is as important as any answer one might get.

    Personally, I'm not reading anything into the OP's question that isn't there. For my part, I based my answer on what was there - hyperbole, rationalization, romanticizing, delusion - and proceeded from there. I warned her against making a stupid choice she will likely regret, if she has a conscience, as did many people in the thread. I don't conclude that she's a worthless and stupid person, anymore than I would draw that conclusion about a person who's convinced themselves they're going to be poisoned by the expensive canned crabmeat they've left in their bag for 8 hours, and who's run to the green to ask if they're risking life and limb by eating it anyway. For all I or anyone knows, they have a PhD in Mathematics but zero experience with cooking and choose to eat baloney sandwiches three times a day. Simply because I cook and know alot about food doesn't mean I'm smart and they're dumb. Obviously, we each have our aptitudes, and he can answer my burning questions on string theory on the green in exchange for my assuring him that pastuerized crabmeat isn't going to cut his life short.

    The analogy is not entirely apt, I know, because to eat or not to eat potentially spoiled food doesn't have the same moral implications to many people as to cheat or not to cheat. However, the OP's question reads to me as someone lacking the ability to make the morally "right" choice because a.) she's freaked out about her impending marriage and her decision making ability is being affected by it, and b.) seems like a person who doesn't truly get the concept of commitment to another person to begin with. Still, she is asking the question. That says to me there is a desire for more knowledge on the subject so she can make a decision. Some would say she merely wants affirmation - that may be true. Regardless, the opening is there to disabuse her of her notion that her actions are without consequence to her fiance and her herself. Put another way, she's trying, whether or not she knows it conciously, to learn how to choose to do the honorable thing. Even if she cheats, she'll have been forewarned and might remember all of the advice she was given in the thread that addressed her actions and not her character, and choose differently on down the line.
    posted by TryTheTilapia at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2007


    ...I'm not reading anything into the OP's question that isn't there...

    ....the OP's question reads to me as...

    My brain is going to explode.

    The moral of this story is: If you don't want people to be mean to you, don't ask if it's ok to cheat on your fiancee. It's not, at least not on MetaFilter, and probably not in the real world either.
    posted by chunking express at 10:18 AM on July 18, 2007


    Some will argue that askMe isn't about teaching others or being their therapists; that's a fine argument.

    While I approach these kinds of questions (when I approach them) as delicately as I feel I can within the constraints of the set-up, the above sentence is the key to this whole situation. Comparisons to class or to therapy are not simply partially incorrect, they're absolutely wrong. When you're about to blow something up in the lab, one would hope for a teacher who yells to stop you rather than sauntering over to suggest that you make another choice. Comparisons to therapy are even more seductive since it seems a bit like a therapeutic situations, what with the unseemly personal detail and the raw emotion, but part of the point of therapy is that you get to hear yourself being an idiot and self-correct. There was no evidence of that kind of observing ego that makes therapy possible in the questioner's disquisition.

    In general I think that we should treat such questions with a modicum of restraint (as I actually think this one was), but that's because I think AskMe is good the way it is, not because I think it bears comparison with a class or a therapy session.
    posted by OmieWise at 10:26 AM on July 18, 2007


    I've been rapped on the knuckles too many times to believe that rappings are good teaching tools....

    Then how do people learn?

    This line of reasoning really puzzles me. In an academic setting where factual content is in question, then no, it doesn't generally do good to shame or humiliate someone about their inability to grasp something. But in the interpersonal realm, in the world of society and relationships, emotions are the content. Shame and humiliation are incredibly powerful teaching tools and have been used to immense effect throughout human history. Think about something you experienced shame for in your life -- lying? shoplifting? cheating on a test? not acting on something when you should have, or saying something you shouldn't? Think about how you felt when your mistake was known - the shock and disappointment of those you love, the disapprobation, the sense of being left in the cold, beyond the pale. Think of the regret. Not comfortable at all, was it? Didn't that sort of experience make you far less likely to repeat the mistake in the future? Didn't it give you pause to realize that what you thought, in the moment, was a perfectly acceptable action was in fact beyond the bounds of the community standards in the community you belonged to?

    That is the reason why shame and disapproval are perfectly appropriate responses. This was a question about relationships, and we make choices about relationships not only on abstract ideas about honor and vows (though they are excellent guidelines) but also to strengthen our bonds with others in our communities. As adults, we are rewarded by l friendship, love, kindness, helpfulness, and sometimes commitment when we do this well with others. We are coached by shame, embarrassment, humiliation, regret, disapproval, rejection, self-recrimination, or neglect when we don't do it well. That coaching - the negative feelings caused by the reactions of others and ourselves - gives us messages about what the community standards are, what is considered acceptable, good, and bad behavior, and where we stand with others in our communities when those actions are viewed. This is a truth of life in a human culture. It is in action within all of our lives, and you can see it employed with deliberation in the military (training, unit bonding), employment (incentives, training, team-building), families (silent treatment, earned allowance), on and on.

    The OP is a member of this community and has asked a question looking for the opinions - judgements - of other members of the community. It's clear there are some standards here that are largely agreed upon (honesty, honoring commitments, respecting others) and almost every responder was referencing those standards one way or another, while making it clear (politely or otherwise) that people who don't act in accordance with those standards run the risk of being less trusted and less admired. That's the simple truth.

    Whether or not it was done with enough compassion and respect seems to be the issue in question here, and that is a worthy question. I could certainly be a more sympathetic person sometimes, though my style definitely results from being a person that appreciates straight talk, clear messages, and sometimes tough love. The use of shaming, negative words is common because it IS very effective in the context of human relationships, not because it isn't. But I want to argue against that idea that it is inappropriate to express judgment (it was asked for), or that it is inappropriate to note that the behaviors the OP was considering are strongly discouraged, in general, by the community that has been asked.
    posted by Miko at 11:01 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    When you're about to blow something up in the lab, one would hope for a teacher who yells to stop you rather than sauntering over to suggest that you make another choice.

    Well, I hope that the teacher would do whatever is most-likely to stop the student from blowing himself up.

    Maybe -- in this instance -- yelling is the best technique. But that's because yelling is really good at stopping someone from doing ONE thing in the immediate here-and-now. Someone is about to step out into traffic? Yell, startle them, and you have a good chance of stopping them. Someone is thinking of investing their life-savings in a pyramid scheme? Yelling might not work so well. They don't need to be startled out of the action that's already left their brain and is traveling down nerve-endings in their body; they need to be reasoned into a understanding of why pyramid schemes are cons.

    I'm not coming at this from a rainbow, All You Need Is Love angle. I say Do Whatever Works. If yelling works, yell. I just don't think it works.

    BUT MAYBE I'M WRONG. I keep asking for real-life examples of times when yelling solved a complex problem. I realize that such examples would be anecdotal, but at least it would be a start -- a hook into something we could talk about.

    I'm saddened the stubbornness in this thread. If, like me, you think insults and yelling don't work, are you SURE you're right? Would it be even slightly worthwhile to consider all the voices here advocating a tougher approach? Is it possible you're just so scared by all the aggression that you're closed to the idea that at times it might work?

    And for those who think a good whack on the rear end is the answer, when was the last time you considered the alternative? When was the last time you saw someone change from being yelled at?
    posted by grumblebee at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2007


    Judging a person is not OK, judging a situation is. When I said "judgmental", I meant saying, "You! Yes you! You are a bad person!" I did not mean saying, "Doing this would make you a bad person."

    I am starting to be of the opinion that this is a false distinction, a pop-psych idea that seems to have surfaced or at least been popularized during the anti-drug-related, self-esteem-education boom of the early 90s. "You're not a bad person, you just did a bad thing." While I value the embedded message that you can change your actions in order to have better relationships, I'm not sure how big a distinction there really is between a person's behavior and a person's essential nature; it gets us into the poorly understood question of what a self is, what a personality is. Is a self anything more than an aggregation of behaviors? I'm not sure.

    But if that's even close to true, if behavior is important in the definition of a self, then bad people, basically, are people who frequently do bad things.

    In this case, I still feel that it's not just a situation that's bad - that seems to remove all agency from the people involved, especially the OP. A secret affair would be a bad choice, certainly, and someone who makes a lot of bad choices (pursuing a secret affair, secretly e-mailing an old flame, misleading her fiance, being inconsiderate of his feelings, letting herself be manipulated) definitely runs the risk of being considered by others a bad person or at least one to be wary of. However, someone who makes bad choices (we all do on occasion) can also rethink and re-evaluate their choices, and most of the responses, as I said above, have been aimed at encouraging that. So I'm not sure there's really any need to distinguish whether we're talking about her behavior being bad or her essential self being bad. It is our actions that make us who we are. We are what we do.
    posted by Miko at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    If yelling works, yell.

    No one's yelling, though, grumblebee. Most of the responses are reasoned, if sometimes strongly worded.

    I don't think I've changed from being yelled at. But I've most definitely changed, many times, from being strongly shown that my actions or plans were not well received by others.
    posted by Miko at 11:17 AM on July 18, 2007


    Judging a person is not OK, judging a situation is.

    Oh, so very wrong. We all screw up, sure. None of us would want to be judged by our screwups alone. But your behavior is a result of your character. "Sure, (insert evil name here) tortured and killed, but I can't judge him. His actions were bad, sure, but that doesn't mean HE is bad."

    Bull-oney.

    We all judge people every day, and we must. Otherwise, we would get taken advantage of, stolen from, and involved with people who mean us harm.

    Yes, some people are evil.
    posted by The Deej at 11:24 AM on July 18, 2007


    So I'm not sure there's really any need to distinguish whether we're talking about her behavior being bad or her essential self being bad. It is our actions that make us who we are. We are what we do.

    I believe that, but I also believe the opposite, and I probably believe the opposite more strongly.

    If I totally changed my behavior tomorrow -- ran off and lived on a commune, gave up my rather rigid interaction with the world and started totally going with the flow, joined a polyamorous relationship, and did whatever else I could to be very different from who I am now -- would I still be myself?

    I think so. I think I have an essential self who is separate from my actions.

    Of course, I do believe that our actions shape our psyches, and so what we do does change who we are. But I think it's a nurture/nature debate, where we can't separate out "self" from "actions" particularly well and neither can we say which causes the other.

    But I've most definitely changed, many times, from being strongly shown that my actions or plans were not well received by others.

    My question on this would be whether you'd change based on your plans being badly received by people outside the situation. That's what I keep stumbling on in these debates, the idea that people I've never met, or with whom I haven't interacted with in any meaningful way, yelling at me would be in any way motivational. In this situation I would of course believe that the woman's fiance yelling at her would change her ideas of what's right and wrong. But I'm not sure if the people of AskMe yelling at her would accomplish much of anything.
    posted by occhiblu at 11:27 AM on July 18, 2007


    I think I have an essential self who is separate from my actions.

    But if so, it can only be known to you, not to others. Others can only know you by your actions. Even your physical self is only 'you' by your and others' agreement -- I think of Alzheimer's patients, for instance, who at the ends of their lives had no discernible identity remaining to their families other than the ones ascribed to them by memory and family agreement.

    it's a nurture/nature debate, where we can't separate out "self" from "actions" particularly well and neither can we say which causes the other.

    I absolutely agree with that, which is why I think it's a false distinction and not worth bothering with. All we have control over is what we do next.

    My question on this would be whether you'd change based on your plans being badly received by people outside the situation.

    Yes, absolutely. I really value being a positive, productive member of the communities I'm choosing to be part of. It's important to me that I'm in pretty good standing with most people in the world, so a wide frame of reference on personal behavior is good for me, especially when I'm seeking it from a community I respect (which AskMe would generally be). Of course, I also have no difficulty opposing dominant ideas if I think they're indefensible or negative - I can steer by my own lights, and sometimes you have to, if you feel so driven (the Quaker in me). So some combination of critical independent thought with social agreement seems to work, in general.
    posted by Miko at 11:40 AM on July 18, 2007


    I'm not sure how big a distinction there really is between a person's behavior and a person's essential nature; it gets us into the poorly understood question of what a self is, what a personality is. Is a self anything more than an aggregation of behaviors? I'm not sure.

    Good points.

    My thinking is very action-based, so I do tend to equate actions with persons. But the thing is, that doesn't simplify anything.

    For instance, I do many kind things. I'm there for my friends. I'm giving. I'm a good listener. I help people. Etc. When I was nine, I was standing on some monkey bars, looking down on one of my best friends. I was holding a pair of cymbals and I remember thinking, quite coldly, "If I drop these cymbals, they will hit my friend on the head. He'll start crying and run into the house to tell his mother. If she comes out, I can say it was an accident." I dropped the cymbals -- just to watch the little drama in my head play out.

    It was an act of pure evil. I did it. I have that somewhere in me. I haven't done anything like that since, but I've done my share of less-extreme, selfish things. I'd like to say this isn't true, but if I'm honest, I have to admit that over the last 40 years, I've done things that are unarguably bad. But like I've said, I've also done tons of selfless, good things -- taken care of sick friends, etc.

    Am I a good person or a bad person? I can't think of any meaningful way of answering that question without simplifying me -- without turning me into a cartoon character based on part of myself.

    It hurts the brain a bit to think of people this way -- as being both good and bad. I suspect that one of the reasons melodrama is so popular. It's less taxing to believe in heroes and villains. But the real world is not melodrama.

    I feel fairly comfortable calling a murderer a bad person. But I realize that this is really just shorthand. It means that this person has done something so horrible that I'm unwilling to view him as a whole person. For the sake of my own sanity, I'm only willing to view him through the lens of this one act.

    No doubt there are people out there who are EVIL -- who basically never have a good thought or do a good deed. But I suspect these creatures are extremely rare.
    posted by grumblebee at 11:49 AM on July 18, 2007


    people outside the situation.

    [Thinking about it more] In fact, if the views of people outside a personal situation were not worthwhile, then there'd be far less need for the study of ethics, philosophies of life, moral codes, religions, therapies, magazines, and how-to books.

    I think the opinions of people at a slightly greater distance are, in fact, sometimes more to be valued than those of people who know you, need you, want something from you, or already dislike you.
    posted by Miko at 11:51 AM on July 18, 2007


    I think the opinions of people at a slightly greater distance are, in fact, sometimes more to be valued than those of people who know you, need you, want something from you, or already dislike you.

    I don't think that was occhiblu's point. (Correct me if I'm wrong, occhiblu.) Her point was that we're less likely to accept insults/mocks/etc. as advice if it comes from strangers than if it comes from friends.

    A friend call call bullshit on me, and I might listen. With a stranger, I'll probably just get defensive and be unable to hear anything he says.

    But you're right in that sometimes strangers can give you an objective take on something that friends are too close to see (or be able to say). All the more reason for strangers to be calm, logical and level-headed.
    posted by grumblebee at 11:57 AM on July 18, 2007


    Am I a good person or a bad person?

    Neither, of course; I'd say you're a person with experience. You have life experience which would allow to give a quite good answer to a question such as: "I'm a nine-year-old kid. I have a chance to drop cymbals on my friend's head out of sheer curiosity and an interest in exploring my own personal power. I know there's no chance I'll get punished, because I can say it was an accident. Should I do it?"

    Not that different a question from what the OP asked, really, taken in the abstract.

    The interesting thing to me is that you knew you would not be blamed because you could say it was an accident. Now what are the chances you would have been blamed, or at least suspected, if you were a kid who had a history of actions like that? If kids who played with you were frequently the victims of mysterious 'accidents?' If you had a pattern of taking actions that resulted in pain or injury, you'd start to find that people were less likely to view you as basically kind or truthful.

    Also, you still remember it, and it sounds like you feel some shame from your actions and have made some observations or generalizations about the motivations for evil acts because of it. It's part of the learning process. In this post, the OP hasn't apparently done this sort of thing yet, and she's asking what the experiences of others have taught her about it.

    What would the course of action be if you saw another kid, today, deliberately do this action? Or about to do it? Would you begin the conversation by saying "Tempting, isn't it? But what would really happen if you did it? Here's what happened to me. Here's why it hurt me and why I still think about it, while the kid it happened to has probably forgotten completely. Here's what other people think about kids that do this. Is that the kind of life you want?"

    Because I think that's basically the sense of what most people in the thread are doing.
    posted by Miko at 11:59 AM on July 18, 2007


    we're less likely to accept insults/mocks/etc. as advice if it comes from strangers than if it comes from friends.

    I'm not so sure that it's friendship vs. distance that determines whether I listen. Instead, I think it's respect alone. Basically, considering the source - is this person wise, intelligent, knowledgeable, do they have life experience, do they have an agenda, do they have some evidence or special awareness backing their points up? If I respect them, even if I dislike them or if they're somewhat insulting, then I will at least consider the point they're making.

    Maybe that's not true for everyone at all. I'm one of those people that can tolerate a lot of strong disagreement - though I have a distaste for drama, I can listen to someone saying that my behavior is 'immature,' 'self-centered,' or any other statement that might be considered insulting if there is some chance it might be true. I think it's important to consider whether words like that might, in fact, apply to your behavior, regardless of the source. After all, you always make the final determination on how you feel about yourself and whether you need to respect that opinion. But it does wake me up when someone's motivated enough to use strong words. At the very least, it's a signal about the depth of feeling the issue might raise.
    posted by Miko at 12:05 PM on July 18, 2007


    what the experiences of others have taught her about it.

    revision: what the experiences of others have to teach her.
    posted by Miko at 12:06 PM on July 18, 2007


    Think about how you felt when your mistake was known - the shock and disappointment of those you love, the disapprobation, the sense of being left in the cold, beyond the pale. Think of the regret. Not comfortable at all, was it? Didn't that sort of experience make you far less likely to repeat the mistake in the future?

    Has everyone who has ever caught you doing something wrong been able to shame you? Has everyone who has ever told you that they held a negative opinion of your behavior been able to change it? When I think back to times when I felt ashamed or humiliated, the person who was able to make me feel that way had to say very, very little to let me know that I disappointed them.

    While shame and humiliation are powerful tools, that doesn't mean that everytime you want someone to feel ashamed that it's going to work.
    posted by 23skidoo at 12:17 PM on July 18, 2007


    I agree that most of what went on in the one particular thread that inspired the call-out was probably fine. I'm mostly objecting to people in this thread who are arguing that insulting questioners is a productive way of helping them.

    And I think, in reading through Miko's points, that the major issue for me is: If you're going to tell someone they're a bad person for acting in a certain way, and you're going to do so without any respect, then why the hell should I respect your words? I totally agree with this:

    I'm not so sure that it's friendship vs. distance that determines whether I listen. Instead, I think it's respect alone. Basically, considering the source - is this person wise, intelligent, knowledgeable, do they have life experience, do they have an agenda, do they have some evidence or special awareness backing their points up? If I respect them, even if I dislike them or if they're somewhat insulting, then I will at least consider the point they're making.

    but I think that the people here who argue that mocking or insulting a poster is helpful are those who *don't* have my respect, and so are people to whom I *don't * listen. And if you (the editorial "you") are going to argue that a person's actions determine a person's character or self, then you have to also turn that argument around and say that a person who mocks or insults other people for their bad behavior is also engaging in bad behavior and is therefore also a bad person.

    And I have no desire to take advice from bad people. And I suspect that I'm not alone in that, and I think it might be a good idea for people who think that mocking, insulting, or degrading questioners is somehow helpful, to hear that no, it's not always helpful. Because it makes me lose respect for them, and become less willing to entertain the idea that they have anything of value to share with me.
    posted by occhiblu at 12:23 PM on July 18, 2007


    (Also, yes, grumblebee interpreted me correctly. It's certainly useful to get an outside perspective, but I don't think you get any value from an outsider being mean to you. There's not a pre-existing relationship there that gives context to the insult; it's just random violence.)
    posted by occhiblu at 12:25 PM on July 18, 2007


    Why is it suddenly taboo to admit the existence of stupid people? People who cannot or will not learn? 49% of the world's population is below average by any metric you choose to measure. 49% of those people are dumb as an arsenic smoothie. I'm not talking about ignorance, either, which is what all of the sweet examples above relate to (organic chemistry as a metric for ability to learn? Really? LOL!). I'm not even talking about learning disabilities or the disadvantaged, etc. I'm simply saying that from pure statistics, a quarter of the population - roughly one and a half billion people - are going to make Paris Hilton look like Alfred E. Newton. (I know, it's only juxtaposition, but I like it.) And sure, we could argue all day about whether the sensibly-challenged are owed equal due respect, but if Forrest Gump had it right, and "stupid is as stupid does," then I'd say my statistics are probably way understating the threat.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:43 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


    49% of the world's population is below average by any metric you choose to measure.

    A great deal more than 49% of the male population of the world is above-average by the number-of-testicles metric. Median and mode are another question entirely.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:47 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I don't think it's taboo to argue the existence of stupid people, though I do suspect that (again, as with gay/straight) the relationship between smart and stupid is more complex than it tends to be seen. But I'm not trying to wiggle. I do think there are plenty of people who could reasonably be called stupid.

    The big question is ... AND?

    Should we (those of us who are so sure we're not part of that group) mock them? pity them? help them? respect them?

    Is there a major difference between mocking a stupid person and mocking a gay person?
    posted by grumblebee at 12:48 PM on July 18, 2007


    Have people who feel that judgmental rudeness is a necessary component to a morality question ever tried being civil and had it fail?

    Well, yes, actually. I wouldn't say that I feel that judgmental rudeness is necessary, but certainly I've had cases in which I've tried to be civil and have not been heard because of it. There are some people in this world -- not necessarily stupid people, either -- who seem wholly unable to hear "That's wrong," unless you act it out a bit.

    I dated one of those people for, God help me, over two years. Extraordinarily bright guy. But you could explain all day to him in calm, civil, accepting, gentle language just how and why you thought Action X was a bad idea that would hurt people, and all he would hear would be "blah blah Ginger blah blah." If you weren't being sharp with him, he figured, you couldn't really mean that you had any qualms about Action X. You were just talkin'. (I suspect this had something to do with his parents, who load up their wording with emotionality to such an extent that they never came across to me as calm unless they truly did not give a damn.) In any case, I had to learn to adjust my communication style to something he could hear. What felt like rudeness to me was signal to him.

    As for myself, sometimes a well-placed "Are you out of your MIND?" has been exactly what I needed to hear. If only because I started arguing against that rude response, and heard just how lame I was sounding.

    Is the OP one of those people? I don't know, though I rather doubt it. (And honestly, I'm not sure that it isn't just all some big Pirates of the Caribbean reference anyway.) I hope generally to be blunt without being judgmental and rude. That said, I like how AskMe answers cover the range from gentle to outraged. Somewhere in there, I figure, something's bound to get through. And at the same time, I kind of like the occasional "mean people suck!" callout, if only to keep the outrage in check a bit.
    posted by sculpin at 12:52 PM on July 18, 2007


    Why is it suddenly taboo to admit the existence of stupid people? People who cannot or will not learn?

    It's not. I mean, there are so many of them* in this thread alone, it's mind-boggling.







    *defined as however I want to define it, based mostly on anecdotes and personal biases
    posted by 23skidoo at 12:55 PM on July 18, 2007


    Why are we talking about stupid people? The OP asked if it was totally cool to do something malicious. People felt it was not. There was a lot of, "don't get married, you aren't ready" and a lot of "don't have the affair it's a stupid idea". People are being way to sensitive. Did someone point out what in the OPs question warrants our sympathy? Maybe I missed that.
    posted by chunking express at 12:57 PM on July 18, 2007


    I'm going to go ahead and assume you mean mocking them specifically because they are gay or stupid. And the honest answer is that to me, yes, there is a major difference. Whatever it says about my character, I do have an innate bias against dumb-asses.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:05 PM on July 18, 2007


    I won't say anything about your character, It's Raining, because I certainly have my own biases. But are you saying gay and stupid are different because you feel they are different?

    "Whatever it says about my character, I do have an innate bias against gay people."

    No one would get away with that here. But my guess is that you will get away with your anti-dumbass bias, and my question is why?

    Is it because dumb people really are -- somehow -- less worthy of our respect that gay people? If so, why? Is it because it's just inevitable that all groups have scapegoats and ours is stupid people? If scapegoating/prejudice/etc. is inevitable, what does it mean to be against prejudice? Do it just mean being against the forms of prejudice that it's popular to be against? (In liberal/smart-set circles, it's popular to be against racism and homophobia, not not against IQ-ism.)

    I'm not claiming superiority. I share your bias. I've made fun of stupid people plenty of times. But I worry that this is just as bad as racism. I suspect that many people can't help having the IQ that they have, so if I give into my bias, I'm berating someone for something not under their control, like skin color.
    posted by grumblebee at 1:17 PM on July 18, 2007


    Honestly, I think it's a little of everything you list (I certainly am not claiming it's an admirable bias), but you've left out a major - perhaps the major - distinction: the results of gayness, race, etc., are arguably not harmful to society (but let's not argue the point here). The results of stupidity can be highly harmful to all those around.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:23 PM on July 18, 2007


    Someone's thinking about cheating on their fiancee!!! HOLY SHIT EVERYONE EVACUATE THE BUILDING
    posted by 23skidoo at 1:26 PM on July 18, 2007


    Heh, heh, heh, heh! You said "EVACUATE!"
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:28 PM on July 18, 2007


    Is it because dumb people really are -- somehow -- less worthy of our respect that gay people?

    Um.

    Yes.
    posted by dersins at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2007


    EVERYONE EVACUATE THE BUILDING

    posted by '23skidoo'

    I laughed. A lot. I keep picturing a cartoon dog whose feet are moving really fast but he's not going anywhere. And there's some crazy bongo music sound effect in the background.
    posted by iconomy at 1:41 PM on July 18, 2007


    Is it because dumb people really are -- somehow -- less worthy of our respect that gay people?

    Let's put it another way: Are gender or sexual identity-specific perspectives, perspectives from peoples of different races, and stupid perspectives worthy of equal respect? No. Stupidity is not due equal respect.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:46 PM on July 18, 2007


    And sure, we could argue all day about whether the sensibly-challenged are owed equal due respect, but if Forrest Gump had it right, and "stupid is as stupid does," then I'd say my statistics are probably way understating the threat.

    But I don't think we're trying to argue (or at least I'm not) that stupid people are owed equal due respect all the time. (I mean, I think everyone is owed respect because they're human beings with feelings, but I mean that that's outside the scope of what we're talking about.) I am arguing that people who come to AskMetafilter for help are due respect from the people who are choosing to answer their questions, because being disrespectful or spiteful or whatever is not helpful in that context. That context being "This is where people come to get help."

    If someone's going to choose, all on his own, to participate in a website whose goal is to help people, then it seems that asking him to be helpful -- or at least asking him to use the metric of, "Is what I'm about to say going to help the poster?" as a guideline for his behavior -- is hardly out of line. And my point is that, regardless of whether we think a questioner is stupid, or dense, or selfish, or whatever, we should still try to determine if the advice we're freely choosing to give is going to accomplish the goal of being helpful -- not the goal of slapping someone down, or of stating our own opinions forcefully, or of being funny, or of showing off our knowledge, or anything else. Just whether what we say is, in our honest opinion, going to be helpful.

    And of course most answers are probably going to be some combination of "helpful" and some of the other categories. And of course we all occasionally get mad or moved or frustrated or whatever else and type out an answer designed to put someone in their place rather than to offer a hand to help them. But I find it bizarre that people continue to argue that kicking people when they're down -- and not just random people who are getting in their way, but people who have sought out help from others who can very easily choose not to get involved without any consequence to themselves -- is somehow productive.
    posted by occhiblu at 1:47 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Is it because dumb people really are -- somehow -- less worthy of our respect that gay people?

    No, it's because most people believe there are things you can do to change being dumb and not things you can do (realistically) to change being gay or black. This is also borne out by the fact that it's more okay to make fun of ignorant people but not really okay to make fun of retarded people. [this is also ignoring the weird fringey people who think you can change being gay, they are weird and fringey and edge cases and not worth arguing about]

    Of course when I say "okay" I just mean apropriate in some moderate number of situations that people like the people on MeFi would find themseves in, naturally not everyone thinks these things are okay.

    So, back to the question, people look at the OPs situation and say "wow, that's a freaking mess" and then they look at it and say "and she's approaching it in a sort of dumbass way" and then they craft their response. If it was just a question like "I'm having these feelings for this other guy while being engaged to someone else, and it's difficult and I would like some help figuring out what to do" I think people would be 1) more sympathetic and 2) probably give similar advice s they did in this thread but without the rancor. Some of that has to do with the fact that she's not approaching the topic in a way that, to many Mefites, seems dumbassed.

    So, it's one thing to be conflicted in your head and try to figure some things out and ask for advice. It's another to ask these weird "grade my report card" questions where you've predetermined either your desired answer or the narrow range of answers you'll consider acceptable ("I want to build a house, please no solutions using nails, stacked objects, wood, straw, bricks, metal or animal products please") and want to hive mind to basically help you justify your decision.

    In fact, if this question was "help me justify my decision" it would probably have been more well-received because at least the OP was being intellectually honest (as I see things) about the nature of her question.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:47 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


    And, actually, not only "productive" but "deserved."
    posted by occhiblu at 1:49 PM on July 18, 2007


    The results of stupidity can be highly harmful to all those around.

    That's a good point. It doesn't make me all that comfortable, though, because reframed that way, stupidity becomes a handicap. In some way, people in wheelchairs or blind people harm society. (I'm not sure that's quite apt, but we do have to expend resources to allow these people to live like able-bodied people.) Yet we advocate for these people.

    Also, if someone is literally retarded, we tend to respect them or at least get uneasy when someone mocks them. But we treat stupidity differently. I guess you could say that this is because it's hard to tell if someone is being willfully stupid or if they can't help it.

    But there's an ugly ugly part of me -- a part I really don't want to admit exists -- that wants to say to the part of me posting here, "Come ON, man! We make fun of stupid people! You can't take that away from us. That's so much a part of who we are, how we bond, and what defines us." That freaks me out a bit, because it's so easy to substitute other sorts of people for "stupid" people.
    posted by grumblebee at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2007


    And if you (the editorial "you") are going to argue that a person's actions determine a person's character or self, then you have to also turn that argument around and say that a person who mocks or insults other people for their bad behavior is also engaging in bad behavior...

    That's true. I don't respect insulting or mocking either, so we're pretty much in agreement that it's out of line. But I think part of my reaction to the MeTa thread we're in may result from the fact that I didn't see all that much in the thread that I thought was insulting or mocking.

    For instance, I just re-read the thread, and found these statements. I would call these firm, serious, and impactful, but couched in a responsible attempt to offer helpful advice, I don't think they're insulting. Regardless of whether you agree, do others here feel that statements like these are insulting when found in a generally respectful post?

    -you sound very immature
    -you are being very selfish
    -You're not ready for marriage.
    -Beginning a lifelong relationship with this level of deception and dishonesty is evil.
    -having an affair is deception. It's LYING.
    -It's pretty clear this guy has spun your head
    - you seem conflicted, you do not seem serious about making your marriage work.
    -Something is very, very wrong here.
    -You are really going to have to learn how to see through this kind of bs

    These assertions are most definitely harsh, but I don't see them as mocking or insulting. Had I posted the question, I'd be mulling these thoughts over quite seriously rather than shrugging them off.

    However, on my re-read, I did find some statements that seemed nothing but condemnations and they were somewhat insulting. However, those weren't the ones that were called out in this MeTa post. All of those seem warranted.
    posted by Miko at 2:10 PM on July 18, 2007


    "Shame and humiliation are incredibly powerful teaching tools"

    Shame and humiliation are not tools they are internal states. You can not control when someone will and will not feel them. There have been times when because it was so obvious that a person wanted me to feel embarrassed or ashamed that I ended up taking a perverse pride in my action instead. I don't think that's particularly unusual. There's a psychological principle that, roughly stated, when you perceive an idea or an emotion as originating from outside of you it is resisted but when you see it as originating from within you embrace it. Now there are certainly situations where people are spending a lot of time together and sharing similar goals and in those groups the concern for status is such that it makes creating shame or humiliation pretty easy. This tends to happen in institutions and families. When people have more freedom of association 'forcing' them to feel a certain way is less likely to work. I'm not saying inducing these feelings in the audience is to be avoided. If the listener starts to spontaneously feel shame while listening to advice it's probably an appropriate development. But a crowd of strangers engaging in ridicule because it is 'deserved', just shows contempt. There isn't much that is more alienating than contempt. If you speak with the goal of being heard instead of to indulge your own emotions, then I think it's to be avoided.
    posted by BigSky at 2:24 PM on July 18, 2007


    Stupidity, to me, does not fall on some measurable intelligence continuum. I do think it can be helped. It is not a simple lack of schooling, reasoning ability, verbal ability, or whatever else you think intelligence is; it is (to me at least) a state of being dull-minded, incurious, indifferent, and a lazy thinker.

    It's quite possible to have a low IQ as measured on a test, and yet be willing to learn and interested in new experiences, willing to listen and stretch your thinking. Someone who is capable of that, though they may have an IQ of 85, is not stupid. Stupidity results from a lack of exposure to and active resistance of new thoughts, and I strongly believe it can be changed. As a personal quality, it's something I don't admire or aspire to and don't want to encourage in others. If you need to mock something, stupidity is something you might be able to defend mocking because it isn't as permanent a condition as national origin, gender, or sexual orientation.

    It's still a slippery slope, though. Obesity is changeable too, and so are certain mental health conditions, but that doesn't mean mocking those characteristics is welcome, either.
    posted by Miko at 2:26 PM on July 18, 2007


    Shame and humiliation ...are internal states

    Right, that is exactly what I mean, and because of that they are powerful tools. They can cause you to make changes in yourself if you decide the feelings of shame are warranted, and they are powerfully motivating. They can cause you to rebel internally if you feel they're unwarranted, too. Sure. That's where your own judgement comes in.
    posted by Miko at 2:30 PM on July 18, 2007


    Well, I'm really just arguing in the abstract for the sake of the discussion. I usually stay the Hell out of relationshipFilter questions altogether, and I try to avoid arguing with stupid people, too. It's like masturbating with sandpaper. Or talking to myself. Not productive.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2007


    ikkyu2.. has the stones to respond to me on this thread

    I'm not quite sure what you want from me, so I'm just going to point a few things out to you.

    I completely disagree on the issue of the OP's "stupidity"

    OK. Let's go back to what you said to the OP:
    ..you will look back on your own stupidity and callousness for even considering his offer with PROFOUND REGRET.
    That's a direct quote from your answer to the original poster. You told the OP of her own "stupidity and callousness."

    Why is it OK for you to tell the OP to her face that she is stupid and callous for considering what she's asking about; yet when I say that it's sometimes hard to get through to stupid, callous people, you call me out on it? Do you really disagree?

    In fact, when I took a shot at answering the OP's question, I tried to be a bit more gentle than you were.

    So I'm wondering, what's your beef exactly?

    By the way, I thought your answer to the OP was wonderful. It was vivid, clear, enlightened, and probably has a better chance of getting through to the poor lady who asked the question than anyone else's. It struck a great balance between the obvious intent to be helpful and being quite clearly-explained and straightforwarwd. That's why I marked it as a favorite, and I note that as of this writing 49 others have done so.
    posted by ikkyu2 at 2:39 PM on July 18, 2007


    Dear AskMe: I'm about to get married to the guy of my dreams, and your dreams too. I mean, to-die-for awesome. It's weird that he even wants to be with me, because in some ways, I'm kind of an amoral bitch. This guy that I never had sex with (but always wanted to) started emailing me a while back, and I really want to have fuck him. I haven't gone through with it yet, but I fantasize about him almost daily, and think about him whenever I masturbate. What grit sandpaper should I be using?
    posted by 23skidoo at 2:46 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Metafilter: I really want to have fuck him
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:49 PM on July 18, 2007


    i can has fuck him?
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:52 PM on July 18, 2007


    Also: MetaFilter: fuck him
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:52 PM on July 18, 2007


    Miko,

    You miss the point. It is because they are internal states that they are not tools. You can't consciously manipulate them. Going into a conversation with the idea to shame a person for their own good is pretty risky. There's better ways to approach someone. If they happen to feel shame in the discussion that's a different sort of thing. Calling shame a tool in the latter context is a poor fit. Perhaps you think I'm splitting hairs here, but in my opinion this difference is real and significant.

    I also note that in this response you focus on the individual's relationship to their own shame, while in your original post you are talking about the utility of others using shaming words. It is the latter I am mostly talking about. And even for the individual to call it a tool seems a misnomer, it may be a motivator but even then more of an unconscious one. Part of the problem I have here is that when emotions are intensified there is less reflection and less conscious choice. I think people become more reactive. So in institutions (school, military, etc.) where shame and humiliation can be used effectively I think they can be quite powerful in coercing conformity. I'm more skeptical of them being as effective in inducing atonement as meeting someone where they're at.

    -----

    23skidoo,

    200 grit is fine but use plenty of lube and a feather light touch.
    posted by BigSky at 3:03 PM on July 18, 2007


    Ceiling Cat is watching you excoriate.
    posted by team lowkey at 3:16 PM on July 18, 2007


    BigSky,

    I don't really think we disagree. You're making a separate point from mine. My point is that societies use shame to reinforce boundaries for behavior and that is can be used very effectively. Your point is that no one else can control your feelings and thoughts. Both are true.

    I'm more skeptical of them being...effective in inducing atonement

    My life experience leads me to think otherwise. When I've had to feel shame, it's accompanied by regret, sorrow for the harm, and a determination to act otherwise in future. Your personality may work differently, but I don't think I'm all that unusual.
    posted by Miko at 7:40 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Alvy Ampersand,

    Don't think I haven't noticed those blue eyes hiding behind those thick glasses, or the way you saunter over to the computer with panache and grace. Have you been working out? I don't really think you need to, but hey, whatever you've been doing, it's working. Growl!

    ----

    Don't think I didn't notice the new t-shirt. The Avengers as drawn by Sal Buscema, right? Niiiiiice.
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:45 PM on July 18, 2007


    I don't understand the conflation of homosexuality and stupidity at all, other than both being in-born characteristics... But the question of stupidity and the "moral compass" does bring up a number of thoughts. I definitely feel that one flavor of stupidity is a lack of empathy, and that among other things, this is certainly one aspect of the poster's question that has evoked strong responses.

    If one doesn't have the imagination to imagine herself in the other person's shoes, if she views everyone else as not-quite-real bit players in her story, there is very little to keep her from abusing those who are so unlucky as to become entangled in her life and affairs, especially when that particular stupidity is coupled with a sense of entitlement and ego-gratification. For people who lack this sort of “human literacy” or interior moral compass, the traditional constructs for modulating their behavior have been religion, law, and social censure; what they don't have inside can be either imposed (via "rules") or encouraged (via concern over one's social standing/reputation) from outside, and as slightly gruesome as it was, the latter is what we saw here.

    Some of the very well reasoned, vivid, persuasive comments in that thread, like TryTheTilapia's will hopefully serve to inspire the poster to work towards developing her potential for empathy, compassion, awareness and self-knowledge, while others could not have failed to register as a wake-up call on the social implications of her proposed actions... so it seems that, all together, there's a lot of valuable information being transmitted.

    In other words, there's no need for either/or in the sorts of responses she received; the natural order (with the help of Jess-editing to keep the wolves at bay) that asserted itself is probably the best combined guidance available in this limited venue.
    posted by taz at 10:32 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


    For people who lack this sort of “human literacy” or interior moral compass, the traditional constructs for modulating their behavior have been religion, law, and social censure...

    Great comment, taz, and good point. But one quibble: not everyone believes that what we call a 'moral compass' or empathy are innate. So religion, law, and social censure may not be constructs invented to make up for a lack of it, but a means of codifying behavior that has been observed, over milennia, to assist in progress toward common social goals. I personally believe concern for ethics and empathy are mostly products of early environment and teaching, with some influence perhaps from individual brain wiring, but that either way they require frequent reinforcement (internal or external, doesn't matter), or simple self-interest tends to dominate decision-making. The process AskMe has just collectively engaged is just that: a discussion functioning not only as a solution to an immediate problem, but a reinforcement of commonly held values, referencing everything people use as guides to behavior, from basic ethics to structured value systems to pleas for empathy.
    posted by Miko at 6:19 AM on July 19, 2007


    I don't understand the conflation of homosexuality and stupidity at all, other than both being in-born characteristics...

    That's why I was comparing them. It's cruel to mock, berate or chastise someone for something they can't help. (With homosexuality, depending on your point-of-view, you could also say it's cruel to mock someone for something that's not even bad.) Suck mockery puts people in a trap: you're destined to be ostracized and there's nothing you can possibly do to change that fact. Imagine everyone berating you because you don't make the simply choice of growing five inches taller. What the fuck's wrong with you, man? Why are you so short? Get with the program!

    Stupidity, to me, does not fall on some measurable intelligence continuum. I do think it can be helped. It is not a simple lack of schooling, reasoning ability, verbal ability, or whatever else you think intelligence is; it is (to me at least) a state of being dull-minded, incurious, indifferent, and a lazy thinker.

    ALL stupidity can be helped? There's no in-born aspect of it, ever -- one that can't be changed? And there's no upbringing part of it that, maybe by the teen years, is pretty much set in stone?

    I agree with you 100% that lazy-thinking habits exist, and that they can be changed. (Although I'm not convinced all people can make these changes themselves. Some, I suspect, can't make them without help. These people have to be lucky enough to find someone who can help them.) I'm not one-sided about it. There are both nature and nurture aspects to intelligence. There are changeable and unchangeable aspects. Intelligence is a complex stew.

    Without knowing a person really well, I don't get how you can make a reasonable judgment. I don't get how you can look at someone and know that they're just not trying hard enough.
    posted by grumblebee at 6:44 AM on July 19, 2007


    I don't know how you can look at someone and decide they can't learn and are unable to change.
    posted by Miko at 6:49 AM on July 19, 2007


    I don't know how you can look at someone and decide they can't learn and are unable to change.

    It's easy. Turn on TV, watch president give speech.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:33 AM on July 19, 2007


    I don't know how you can look at someone and decide they can't learn and are unable to change.

    I can't. All I can do is observe that they're acting stupidly. I have no idea whether or not they can change their behavior. I would make no assumptions either way, because I'd have noting to base such assumptions on. All the science points to the fact that some behavior is alterable and some isn't. Some alterable behavior is relatively easy to alter; some is really hard to alter.
    posted by grumblebee at 9:39 AM on July 19, 2007


    If you believe that, then how do you justify mocking stupidity?
    posted by Miko at 9:43 AM on July 19, 2007


    A big moron and a little moron are standing at the edge of a cliff. The big moron falls off, but his friend doesn't. Why not?

    'Cause he's a little mor-on.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:48 AM on July 19, 2007


    some behavior is alterable and some isn't.

    And actually, I'm not certain that science supports this assertion. If anything, there seems to be more evidence that all behavior is alterable given the right (sometimes extreme) conditions. Remember that behavior is observable and measurable while capacity or inclination is not. Capacity and inclination might be innate or immutable, but there's not a way to measure it.

    I'm very careful about assertions that intelligence (an extremely fuzzily defined concept) or the lack of it, whatever it is, is innate. If that were true, we'd be best off dividing into Alphas and Betas early on and not bothering to educate the ignorant. The history and science of education lends a lot of support to the idea that expectations are generally met. Children condemned early on as 'stupid,' and taught and tracked that way, are presented with fewer opportunities to learn and more assumptions that there's nothing to be done. I've yet to meet a human that can't learn, and I include those with mental disabilities. Stupidity is a desire not to learn and change, and I don't have to assume it when I see it; stupid people will comfortably say they aren't interested in learning/something new/changing their minds. Even that can be overcome with effort, though.
    posted by Miko at 9:50 AM on July 19, 2007


    If you believe that, then how do you justify mocking stupidity?

    I have no justification. Which was my whole point.

    there seems to be more evidence that all behavior is alterable given the right (sometimes extreme) conditions.

    Are you claiming that anyone -- given the right training and environment -- can become and Einstein or Beethoven? Or are you just saying that, given the right stimuli, anyone can achieve average intelligence? I'm not sure why average intelligence should be possible but not genius. And if you're indeed claiming that anyone can be a genius, then I think you need to support that.

    Almost all human traits are a mixture of nature and nurture, of mutable and immutable. THAT'S what science has shown. Read E. O. Wilson and Company.

    There are also traits that are, in theory, mutable but would take years of single-minded training to achieve. What if I got dropped into a society in which everyone was expected to be able to play basketball like Michael Jordan. Could I do it? I'm a short, intellectual Jewish guy.

    Obviously, I could make strides. I could work out, train, study the game, etc. I could improve. If I really want to get as good as Jordan -- assuming that's possible -- I would have to pretty much give up everything else and devote my life to basketball.

    But let's assume that, if I DID that, I would eventually -- maybe after 20 years, achieve the goal. Is it fair to berate me for not doing it? Is it a reasonable expectation to expect me to do it?

    Let's say that you're totally right and that stupidy is just lazy thinking and it's correctable. Fred grew up in a totally non-intellectual environment. His parents were high-school dropouts. In his neighborhood, no one went to college. Growing up, he rarely saw a book, never encountered logic, etc.

    To feed himself (and perhaps his family), he had to get a job working in a factor. He has been doing that, every day, from 9 to 5. In the evenings, he takes care of his sick father.

    Is it fair to berate him for lazy thinking? Yes, he CAN improve, but how is he supposed to know that he should? How is he supposed to know where to get access to the tool he needs?

    Do we live in a culture in which logicians make house calls? Do we live in a culture in which TV -- the only type of media you can expect people to watch -- provides programs on critical thinking? Do we live in a culture in which you need critical-thinking skills to do most jobs well-enough to get paid?
    posted by grumblebee at 10:26 AM on July 19, 2007


    Stupidity is a desire not to learn and change.

    Fair enough. You've defined stupidity in a specific way. I think your definition is a bit eccentric, but I can run with it. But can you look me in the eye and honestly say that YOU run with it?

    When you see someone make a dumb choice, do you think (or say), "Man, that guy is stupid?" Or do you think, "Well, he might be stupid, but if he's able and willing to change, then I guess he isn't."

    In other words, when you see someone acting stupidly, how do you know if they're able to change or not? (If you're unsure, how can you apply your definition.)

    I suspect -- from your postings here -- that you'll say ALL people can change. So when you see someone repeatedly doing stupid things, you feel comfortable -- without talking to them -- assuming that they are unwilling to change. Right?
    posted by grumblebee at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2007


    That's an awful lot of hand-wringing on behalf of stupidity. I say, stupidity is worthy of scorn no matter what its origins, and purveyors of stupidity earn whatever disrespect they receive. If they want to self-actualize, blah, blah, blah, group hug, self-esteem, koombyah my Lord, kumbyfuckinya... well, more power to them (but I ain't holdin' my breath, either). Until then - they're still stupid! Not ignorant, not underprivileged, not chained in a dungeon of despair - we've been talking about stupid people, here. Please do not help to empower them any more than they already are. There is nothing elitist about insisting that stupid ideas are not worthy of respect or consideration - trying to be fair to the stupid is madness!
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2007


    trying to be fair to the stupid is madness!

    So do you think that the stupid ALWAYS (or USUALLY) can change their ways?

    Or do you think that there are certain types of people who deserve our scorn, even if they're absolutely powerless to change? If so, I hope I never become one of those people. That would be hell.


    There is nothing elitist about insisting that stupid ideas are not worthy of respect or consideration
    [Emphasis added.]

    Agreed. Ideas are not people.
    posted by grumblebee at 11:06 AM on July 19, 2007


    I don't care whether the stupid can change their ways or not. I only care that on balance, they do not.

    Ideas are not people.

    And people are not snowflakes, either. No more disserving of automatic respect than scorn. To whatever extent it is possible to know another person, we are limited to what we can experience: their words, their deeds. So if someone walks like an asshole and talks like an asshole, to me, they are, for all practical purposes, an asshole. Same with stupid people. Maybe they've still got all this untapped potential and a really sad backstory and a mother somewhere who loves them - and they've obviously got you here to feel compassion for them - but to the rest of the world, they are what they wear - their clown face makes them a clown.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:21 AM on July 19, 2007


    Maybe they've still got all this untapped potential and a really sad backstory and a mother somewhere who loves them

    My point is -- maybe they don't.

    Either you're avoiding what I'm saying or -- more likely -- I'm not saying it clearly enough. What if you had a stroke and lost some of your cognitive abilities? When you went to the store and gave the clerk a dollar instead of a twenty, do you think she'd be justified in saying, "beer costs more than that, you stupid motherfucker"?

    Would she be justified in doing that if she didn't know about your stroke? If she did?

    Are you sure (some) stupid people aren't impaired in similar ways -- not necessarily via a stroke, but via genetics or mistakes made during their upbringing (that aren't easily alterable now)?

    Another example: I don't think there's any excuse for walking slowly down a busy, city street, making people late for their work because you feel like gazing at the sights. Does that justify me in cussing out some guy on crutches because he can't move fast enough? What about a guy who is not on crutches but has some hard-to-see impairment that makes it impossible for him to walk fast? Is it okay to bitch him out because he looks like a slowpoke and acts like a slowpoke?

    I'm not Mr. Compassion. To me honest, I mock stupid people. I've done it for years. I've always been part of the "smart group" and everyone I know does it. It's a big part of how we bond. It's a big part of what our shared humor is about.

    But I'm uneasy about it. When I really think about it, I don't have to twist my reality too much to morph it into "I mock black people. I've done it for years. I've always been a part of the 'white group' and everyone I know does it. It's a big part of how we bond. It's a big part of what our shared humor is about."

    I also know that, plenty of times, I've been berated for things that are not under my control. It's a horrible horrible feeling. I can't wish that on anyone else.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:05 PM on July 19, 2007


    What about people who say the same thing over and over? Can we mock them?
    posted by 23skidoo at 12:12 PM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


    It's not 'stupid people', it's people. Everyone is stupid in one way or another, at one time or another. Everyone still arguing this crap, for example, is pretty stupid for it.
    posted by IronLizard at 12:17 PM on July 19, 2007


    Is it okay to bitch him out because he looks like a slowpoke and acts like a slowpoke?

    So you're saying he's a gimp then.
    posted by IronLizard at 12:19 PM on July 19, 2007


    No, I would never feel right berating someone for having a physical ailment. So why should I feel right berating someone for having a mental one? I can justify it left, right and center, but if I'm honest, the "justification" is that according to the mores of my group, it's just cool to make fun of stupid people.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:22 PM on July 19, 2007


    Don't lie. You pretend not to remember that night your were drunk and laughing at the legless guy at the bar who kept falling off his stool.
    posted by IronLizard at 12:27 PM on July 19, 2007


    THAT'S what science has shown.

    Please don't lecture me about science as if I'm not literate in this area. I've done a respectable amount of coursework in cognitive science and pedagogy, more than most people; it's part of the foundation of my field. My beliefs aren't based on gut feeling, but on my knowledge of the history of formal evaluations of intelligence and of the aims and methods of education.

    Are you claiming that anyone -- given the right training and environment -- can become and Einstein or Beethoven?

    Absolutely not. I never made such a claim. People are all different and exhibit uneven development and varying ability to learn quickly in myriad skill areas. I'm more interested in making the point that there are likely people who are capable of being Beethovens, but are missing their opportunities because they've never been noticed and talked to by someone who notices their interest in and aptitude for music, or because they've simply never seen a piano. This point is being made in support of my much earlier point that other people play an important role in an individual's moral and intellectual development.

    What you're missing in your argument with me is that I don't really believe in intelligence as generally constructed. It's a flabby term that cannot be satisfactorily defined to carry all the meanings people expect it to, and it cannot be shown to exist. The same is true of a word like "stupidity," which is why I can define it as something on the order of slack-minded.

    But can you look me in the eye and honestly say that YOU run with it?

    Yes! Of course! Why do you think I'm still having this conversation? I don't believe stupidity is to be respected and encouraged. I believe it's to be deplored and discouraged. I believe it can be reduced and in theory, perhaps, even eliminated. I believe that is why we have schools, libraries, and museums. I believe in saying "All people can learn. All people can become more aware and knowledgeable and can make better choices more often."

    Or do you think that there are certain types of people who deserve our scorn, even if they're absolutely powerless to change? If so, I hope I never become one of those people. That would be hell.

    Grumblebee, the logical conclusion of the statements you're making here is that you ARE one of those people. If you don't want to be one of those people, you might need to rethink the premise that some people are immutably, hopelessly, forever stupid.
    posted by Miko at 12:28 PM on July 19, 2007


    that some people are immutably, hopelessly, forever stupid.

    LIKE 26 PERCENT OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC THAT SUPPORTS BUSH, AMIRITE??
    posted by IronLizard at 12:30 PM on July 19, 2007


    What if you had a stroke
    cussing out some guy on crutches
    some hard-to-see impairment


    Good God! These are terrible examples that don't relate to your point! These people you posit aren't stupid, they're impaired.

    The thing is, I wouldn't be mocking any of these people, even if their problems were a result of a dull intellect. To me, stupid's just sad. Sometimes I joke about stupidness, but not in front of anyone I actually think is stupid.
    posted by Miko at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2007


    Grumblebee, the logical conclusion of the statements you're making here is that you ARE one of those people.

    I may be one of those people, because I AM to stupid to understand that statement.

    I'm saying that some people may be stupid due to events that are out of their control. You're claiming that if this is true, I'm necessarily stupid? How does the first thing lead to the second?

    If you don't want to be one of those people, you might need to rethink the premise that some people are immutably, hopelessly, forever stupid.

    I don't get this, either. Let's say I'm missing a leg. What you've said is similar to saying, "If you ever want to grow your leg back, you might want to rethink your position that legs don't grow back." It doesn't matter whether I rethink that position or not. Legs DON'T grow back. I might be able to delude myself into thinking they do, but they still won't.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:34 PM on July 19, 2007


    LOGICAL FALLACY ALERT!!! OFFENDER: GRUMBLEBEE
    posted by IronLizard at 12:38 PM on July 19, 2007


    TEN YARD PENALTY
    posted by IronLizard at 12:39 PM on July 19, 2007


    Oh, I misread. I thought you were endorsing the idea that it's okay to mock people who we decide deserve our scorn, and that you wouldn't want to be one of those people (the mockers). On rereading, I see that the person you don't want to be is not the mocker, but the one deserving of scorn.

    I am sorry it looked as though I were calling you stupid - I wasn't. That was my error in reading.

    What I'm saying, though, is that you see stupidity as immutable AND you see it as okay to mock. I agree that there is no difference between doing that and mocking someone for another immutable quality, such as skin color. I think stupidity is pretty funny (differences in intellect are what make things like the Simpsons funny), but since I see it as undesirable and changeable I don't feel bad laughing at it, in the same way that I don't feel bad laughing at characters on Seinfeld for being self-involved. Does that make sense?
    posted by Miko at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2007


    "I may be one of those people, because I AM to stupid to understand that statement."

    TOO
    posted by klangklangston at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2007


    Thanks, klangklangston.

    What I'm saying, though, is that you see stupidity as immutable AND you see it as okay to mock.


    No. I see stupidity (SOMETIMES) immutable (or very hard to "mute") and NOT okay to mock.

    I may have confused the matter by admitting that I've mocked stupid people. I guess, in general, when someone says, "I do X," it means they endorse such behavior. But I don't endorse it. I think it's wrong.

    Yes, I do something that I think is wrong. I don't think that I'm alone in that, though I seem to be fairly alone in discussing it. People seem fine with saying, "I've made mistakes in the past," but I rarely see people saying, "I'm struggling with my tendency to make mistakes/bad choices right now." But surely one doesn't always quit sinning just by realizing one has been sinning.

    Like I say, in every social group I've EVER been apart of, mocking the stupid is a key ritual. For me to give that up would mean giving up all my friends (and the sorts of friends I'm likely to make in the future). And (I agree with your comment about the Simpsons), it would mean giving up something that's really fun for me.

    I may be too selfish to give all that stuff up. But -- whether you agree with me that it's mocking the stupid is wrong or not -- I feel that it's wrong, and I'm not blessed with the kind of brain that can go into denial about a wrong-action being wrong, just because I want to do it.

    And I'm not Catholic, so I can't just go to confession and be done with it.
    posted by grumblebee at 1:29 PM on July 19, 2007


    I rarely see people saying, "I'm struggling with my tendency to make mistakes/bad choices right now."

    Well, I do that, too. It's just that mocking the stupid isn't currently one of the behaviors I'm having a problem with or working on. There are plenty of other AskMes out there where I talk about my struggles with one thing or another. Which comes back around to the point of this thread - that having been on both sides, I still think it's okay and often effective for people to give firmly worded advice.
    posted by Miko at 2:01 PM on July 19, 2007


    Circling back to that with you, I'll say that I agree that "firmly worded advice" CAN be effective. Though let's be careful not to mince words. I don't think anyone here has a problem with firm words. Some of us are troubled by insults, flames and attempts at humiliation, which may or may not be the same thing as "being firm." But I'll buy that even humiliation can be effective SOMETIMES.

    To me, your claim is a bit like saying, "lectures are an effective form of teaching." That's an okay statement as-far-as it goes, but it's incomplete. It lacks context. Sure, since there are various sorts of learners, some will learn well from lectures; others will learn well from training videos or exercises."

    My guess is that most of the "tough love" people are folks who, themselves, have benefited from firm words. And most of the -- what shall we call them -- "respectful" types have benefited from that approach. (Maybe I need a thicker skin, but truthfully, I crumble under chastisement. Try to teach me a lesson by humiliating me and I won't learn. I won't even hear you. I'll just feel humiliated and I won't link that feeling to your lesson. But I'd be wrong to assume that everyone is like me.)

    I'm cool with the idea of different approaches benefiting different people. I'm less cool with, "By God this is what works for me, and I say it works for everyone else, too!"

    I think there's something I don't understand about people's relationships to lesson-teaching and learning. There's something that seems to make it as personal to them as religion or politics. I don't get why.

    I don't get why some people here feel the need to get out a megaphone and trumpet to the hills that THOSE PEOPLE ONLY UNDERSTAND THE WHIP while others feel the need to erect a billboard that says THE ONLY THING THAT EVER WORKS IS COMPASSION AND RESPECT!

    There are plenty of other AskMes out there where I talk about my struggles with one thing or another.

    I wasn't implying that you lie about your struggles. But what I've noticed is that when people are specifically arguing against something, they rarely admit that they do it. I suppose they wisely feel that (a) they'll come off as hypocritical and (b) the confession will muddle their argument. I should probably try to learn from this, though it sort of goes against my grain.
    posted by grumblebee at 2:22 PM on July 19, 2007


    I'm less cool with, "By God this is what works for me, and I say it works for everyone else, too!"

    I certainly wasn't saying that. I was saying that it's one approach that can work and that it shouldn't be prohibited or called out on AskMe unless it's needlessly condemning and not helpful. In other words, I was saying that the thread didn't merit a callout and that most things in there were well within the boundaries of 'could be helpful.'

    when people are specifically arguing against something, they rarely admit that they do it. I suppose they wisely feel that (a) they'll come off as hypocritical and (b) the confession will muddle their argument.

    There's also the very real possibility (c) that they actually don't do it.
    posted by Miko at 2:40 PM on July 19, 2007


    What if you had a stroke
    cussing out some guy on crutches
    some hard-to-see impairment
    This haiku sucks, Miko. I expected better from you.
    posted by ikkyu2 at 6:59 PM on July 19, 2007


    There's also the very real possibility (c) that they actually don't do it.

    Of course. But I never -- or almost never hear -- statements like, "X is a horrible thing to do. I do X." It seems statistically unlikely to me that the main reason that I don't hear this is your (c).
    posted by grumblebee at 7:34 PM on July 19, 2007


    Well, without any parameters or numbers at all it's hard to tell what's statistically unlikely.

    You must also consider the fact that people who don't do X, who formerly did X and stopped because it was negative, or suffered from having X done to them are a lot more likely to join in a thread condemning X, in addition to being a lot more likely not to do it themselves. That skews any putative statistics a bit.

    ANYway. There was a recent AskMe thread where someone confessed to some self-defeating, negative, and alienating behaviors and a lot of people inthread, myself included, said "I do this too." So I think it happens with some regularity. You may just not be seeing it.
    posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on July 19, 2007


    This should be the 350th comment in this thread. I go, me!
    posted by davy at 9:00 PM on July 20, 2007


    "I frequently tell people to choke on a bucket of cocks, yet I myself have never choked on a bucket of cocks."

    The secret is to eat them one at a time. Sauteed, with garlic.
    posted by davy at 9:04 PM on July 20, 2007


    I love watching the noobs at FatBucket. They always come in and order a whole bucket of cocks and some side orders, like fries, and try to choke it all down.

    My recommendation: start with the half bucket and work up.
    posted by ikkyu2 at 4:10 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


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