Relevance and hating the US March 18, 2008 12:41 PM   Subscribe

What's the rationale for deletion here of Planet F's comment?

The stated reason is please stick to answering the question, the question is not "do you hate the US" where a good answer is answering in the affirmative

That reads like two reasons, but from memory I can't see that either apply in that particular case. Planet F was saying, if I remember right, as politely as is consistent with frankness, that as a Canadian he wouldn't want to be annexed to the US, and that he and many of his compatriots would probably leave if any such thing were in prospect. That seems to me to fall a long way short of expressing hatred, and it's clearly relevant to the question. In fact the question specifically mentions Canada and asks whether the lack of expansion is due to other countries not wanting to join the USA.

Perhaps there were more hate-inspired comments that I missed, and this got swept up along with them? (I believe one of my own disappeared in the same purge, but I assume that was because it breached the no-humour rule).

What makes it worse is that there actually is a great deal of irrelevant stuff in that thread which has survived unscathed. The question is about the expansion of the US, not about whether it should or does have colonies, rule the world, etc. I'm aware that some are arguing that the US doesn't need to expand because it now has a mighty empire, forces lesser nations to accept the dominion of its websites even against their will, etc etc, but most of the nationalistic noodling is quite beside the point.

I'd point to wfrgms' first comment as an egregious example, which talks entirely about US colonialism without ever making any link to the actual question, and moreover has an unhelpfully patronising tone.

It looks pretty bad if a Canadian who answers that no, he wouldn't like his country annexed, thanks, is deleted as irrelevant or hateful to the US, while a free platform is given to nationalistic self-congratulation which really is beside the point.
posted by Phanx to Etiquette/Policy at 12:41 PM (56 comments total)

Planet F was saying, if I remember right, as politely as is consistent with frankness, that as a Canadian he wouldn't want to be annexed to the US

Well good, because we don't want him. Or any of you up there! And you know why? That's right- because you say "aboot".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:43 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Planet F's comment is still there.
posted by russilwvong at 12:44 PM on March 18, 2008


I'd point to wfrgms' first comment as an egregious example, which talks entirely about US colonialism without ever making any link to the actual question--

Sure it does: Direct colonialism is too expensive and not politically correct. It's more affordable to have unofficial satellite states....
posted by russilwvong at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2008


Planet F's comment (it was a different one, russilwvong) was not the only one deleted, no; it's been kind of a bumpy thread, with some answers more aggressively zingy than others.

No personal offense meant, BUT

as a Canadian I would immediately revoke my citizenship if we were to join with the US. The EU works because they have a common goal: to not have another world war on European soil (among many other things). This has not been a problem in N.A. with the exception of the war of 1812 which was TECHNICALLY between US and England, so not really Canada.

I can say for sure that if Canada joined with the US, there would be a mass exodus of refugees fleeing from a nation with little to no health care and social services. I hope I never see the day that this happens.


Which isn't crazy or hateful or anything but is also pretty much answering a question that wasn't really asked, in a way likely to lead to more deraily responses. It's not a jingoism thing, it's a basic stay-on-topic, don't-stir-things-up thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2008


And agreed, wfrgms' answer there seems to be explicitly addressing the "why no more expansion" question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:50 PM on March 18, 2008


Phanx, with all due respect, I think you're over-interpreting things just a wee bit. wfrgms' comment is hardly "nationalistic self-congratulation" - its a pretty clear-headed explanation of how the U.S. prefers "soft" colonialism over outright annexation of new territory - which does indeed address the question. If you're looking for some kind of pro-American conspiracy in deletion policy, you're going to have to look elsewhere.
posted by googly at 12:51 PM on March 18, 2008


Thanks for the clarification, cortex.

Personally, I'm all for the US annexing Canada--US politics would swing noticeably to the left.

And what googly said.
posted by russilwvong at 12:54 PM on March 18, 2008


If I had my druthers Canada would annex the U.S.
But they're too polite for that.
posted by Floydd at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2008


Personally, I'm all for the US annexing Canada--US politics would swing noticeably to the left.

Americans would move to the left in response to terror attacks from Canadian insurgents? I doubt it.
posted by Dasein at 1:02 PM on March 18, 2008


If I had my druthers Canada would annex the U.S.
But they're too polite for that.


If by "polite" you mean "repulsed", then yes.


[Iz A Merkin]
posted by Koko at 1:05 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Let me quote from the question:

And why not Canada/Mexico? Is the issue that no-one wants to join Planet F's response explains that 'not Canada', because indeed it doesn't want to join. I don't see how you can construe this as irrelevant.

On wfrgms' remarks, the point is that the question is about expansion - adding new States to the Union. wfrgms only talks about colonialism, which is another matter. The US could be expansionist but not colonialist, or colonialist but not expansionist (or neither, of course). Hawaii, Alaska - Texas for that matter - are not colonies of the United States, and what wfrgms says does nothing to explain what the questioner wanted explained.
posted by Phanx at 1:07 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


is also pretty much answering a question that wasn't really asked

For those who say that countries don't want to be taken over by the US, why not?

It was really asked.

It's also a question that's understandably guaranteed to annoy Canadians. Given that the poster is British, presumably he'd understand why an American asking "hey, how come the rest of Ireland doesn't join the UK?" would come across as pretty frigging thick.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:22 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The whole thread got really stupid really fast.

The answer to the question was the very first response. Then people decided to pile on, completely not answering the question, because the OP asked the question in a slightly ignorant fashion. (making too strong analogies between EU expansion and US expansion).

"Colonialism", etc, do absolutely nothing to answer the question. I think I would have deleted everything past the first response and closed the thread, but I would be a total nazi of a moderator.
posted by gregvr at 1:22 PM on March 18, 2008


So who needs the hug, Phanx or the mods?
posted by owtytrof at 1:23 PM on March 18, 2008


I still need one.

The question has the weird "why not mexico/canada?" aspect which allowed for Canadians saying "becuz we hate u" which doesn't really help and we had to make some judgment calls about whether slightly huffy but sort of on-topic answers would be sticking around early on the in the thread.

I know people really like to debate matters of US and foreign [to the US] policy but that thread seemed 1) not the real place for it and 2) poised at many points to turn into a real mess and I think cortex and I were both keeping an eye on it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:32 PM on March 18, 2008


It was really asked.

My read on his answer is that he was responding to the unasked question, "what would you do given the bizarre hypothetical of the US actually annexing Canada". I can totally appreciate people (Canadians, Americans, others) finding aspects of the question annoying, and in fact we're inclined to watch a question like this a bit closer than some specifically to try and prevent that annoyance from spilling out into cascading sidebars and derails from the question.

I can totally see where Planet F was coming from, but I don't frankly think he was doing a great job of approaching the question in a productive way with that answer.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2008


wfrgms only talks about colonialism,

I think you're just getting hung up on the word "colonialism". To actually expand territory, its actual land mass, the US would have to buy land from other countries or conquer it militarily. I think the military option is all that wfrgms is referring to.

Hawaii, Alaska - Texas for that matter - are not colonies of the United States

No, they're obviously states now, but they were previously "territories" which really isn't too different of a thing from a colony. The big difference might be that a colony might always be seen as a subsidiary unit to the mother country while US territories were intended to be become states at some point.

Anyway, aside from turning our current territories into states or the US and other countries mutually deciding to merge, colonialism of some sort is really the only available option for gaining land that can be turned into states at any point. wfrgms is just saying that it's easier for us to install client governments instead of going through the whole business of actually adding land area to the US.
posted by LionIndex at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2008


You're all going to want to join when President Obama takes over.
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on March 18, 2008


The whole thread got really stupid really fast.

No, it started that way, equating European apples and American oranges.
posted by timeistight at 1:46 PM on March 18, 2008


I thought cortex had conceded that Planet F wasn't expressing hate?

You're not saying, are you, that Planet F's comment was itself on topic and not trollish, but was deleted because it was liable to provoke bad behaviour from others? And that it basically felt right to delete the irritating Canadian rather than the US patriots who you foresaw might react badly?

Because you realise that would amount to confessing to bias in the policy?
posted by Phanx at 1:50 PM on March 18, 2008


My read on his answer is that he was responding to the unasked question

The poster asked "For those who say that countries don't want to be taken over by the US, why not?" Planet F responded that he wouldn't want to be part of a country with the (relative lack of) health care and social services that the US has. It's a perfectly valid answer to the asked question.

I know people really like to debate matters of US and foreign [to the US] policy but that thread seemed 1) not the real place for it

"Why don't you want to be taken over by the US" is a poor context to discuss US domestic and foreign policy? So what would be an appropriate aspect of the US to mention there?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:52 PM on March 18, 2008


You're not saying, are you, that Planet F's comment was itself on topic and not trollish, but was deleted because it was liable to provoke bad behaviour from others?

No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that in my opinion Planet F's deleted comment was well-meaning enough but was in fact straying from the topic a bit. Difference of opinion, maybe, but we certainly don't have a policy of deleting perfectly okay answers just because we're worried about the responses; the issue is with flawed answers. His may have been the least problematic of the ones that got removed, but from my perspective it was still, yes, kind of problematic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:56 PM on March 18, 2008


"Why don't you want to be taken over by the US" is a poor context to discuss US domestic and foreign policy?

It's honestly a poor question to ask in the green period—it's kind of hopelessly chatty and provocative—but in this case it was a rider to a more reasonable main question and so here we find ourselves splitting hairs on the issue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:57 PM on March 18, 2008


Oh wow. Posting to a metatalk about my own post MIGHT be damaging, and really I never meant to contest to deletion of my post (Thanks for backing me up, though Phanx) I really DID feel like I was answering the question, and still do, but I don't really care one way or the other if my post got deleted.

Just wanted to say one thing... I'm female...heh.
posted by Planet F at 2:36 PM on March 18, 2008


scratch post and replace with "comment"
posted by Planet F at 2:37 PM on March 18, 2008


No, it started that way

Yeah, that's one of the dumber AskMe questions I've seen—it practically begged for derails and flamewars. I have a hard time understanding why the poster didn't simply ask "How did the expansion of the US come to an end?" or something equally non-provocative. "And why not Canada/Mexico?" sounds like trollery to me.
posted by languagehat at 2:37 PM on March 18, 2008


Ditto languagehat ^. I'm still trying to smooth down my fur after reading that question.
posted by lunaazul at 2:46 PM on March 18, 2008


Yeah, that's one of the dumber AskMe questions I've seen

come on, really?











really?
posted by shmegegge at 3:06 PM on March 18, 2008


Just wanted to say one thing... I'm female...heh.

Heh indeed. I blame Phanx, but apologies for my own pronominal crimes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:18 PM on March 18, 2008


Bad question, worse deletion. Brickbats all-'round.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 5:06 PM on March 18, 2008


Talking about trends in American Colonialism is a direct response to the asked question of why hasn't the U.S. looked to grow further? A radically leftist answer to this question is that it has been more profitable for the United States to exercise influence on post-colonial governments than to extend the benefits of citizenship to new populations. There are certainly other interpretations of history, but this one does directly answer one half of the question.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:26 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm with Armitage Shanks and Phanx on this one. The question was Surely there'd be some Caribbean islands that would be keen on membership? And why not Canada. Planet F's answer gave historical and current reasons why not. Much more egregious comments (if this can at all be considered egregious) have been allowed to stand. I don't think Cortex and Jessamyn screw up very often, but this time they did.
posted by Neiltupper at 6:49 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't see a US-bias conspiracy or anything, but Planet F's comment seemed perfectly reasonable to me, and answered at least part of the question.

Also, I agree with it, and I would be one of the ones fleeing. I like having my own government, as screwed up as it is, thank you.
posted by sandraregina at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another voice in the chorus: there was nothing about that comment that could reasonably be parsed as "cuz we hate u". It was restrained and an answer. Its only fault was that it answered the part of the question that was either ignorance or trollery.
posted by ~ at 8:05 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, I'd love to go back to Canada and take up arms against the invaders as part of a Free and United CanucK insurgency. Sure would make for an interesting few years, at least. [/derail conga line]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:22 PM on March 18, 2008


which allowed for Canadians saying "becuz we hate u"

I can't vouch for the other deleted comments but you said (in email) that my answer was "basically fuck America". I don't think it was that at all. I like America. I like Americans. But would I want my country to become part of America, which presently is a pretty ridiculous country in many non-Americans' minds? Absolutely not. That's neither "fuck America" or "I hate America".
posted by dobbs at 8:38 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think that this is a bit of undeserved snark against the U.S:

from the actual question, posted by Planet F:
If you're asking about raising the standard of living, than maybe don't include canada in the possible countries to be joined with the US. Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Joining Canada to the U.S. wouldn't significantly change the standard of living of either one. Good luck making a convincing case that one has a higher standard of living than the other.
posted by oaf at 9:05 PM on March 18, 2008


Joining Canada to the U.S. wouldn't significantly change the standard of living of either one. Good luck making a convincing case that one has a higher standard of living than the other.

UN Human Development index. 2007: Canada #4 and rising, USA #14 and falling.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:14 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Joining Canada to the U.S. wouldn't significantly change the standard of living of either one. Good luck making a convincing case that one has a higher standard of living than the other.

Although canada IS higher on the list of standards of living (my google foo failed miserably at finding a reliable site to prove this, but i know it's out there somewhere) than the US, my main point was that Canada would NOT have a greatly improved standard living, so if that was one of the points of the question then Canada should not have been included.

I could've been much, much, undeservedly snarky if I tried (in fact I tried VERY hard to eliminate all traces of snark...)
posted by Planet F at 9:17 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


ah! thank you stavrosthewonderchicken, you out googled me.
posted by Planet F at 9:18 PM on March 18, 2008


UN Human Development index

Yes, I said "standard of living."
posted by oaf at 9:24 PM on March 18, 2008


(And you gave me something else.)
posted by oaf at 9:26 PM on March 18, 2008


Good luck making a convincing case that one has a higher standard of living than the other.

Good luck making a convincing case that his comment said or implied that.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:27 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good luck making a convincing case that his comment said or implied that.

I'll repeat the comment again, so that you can read it:

If you're asking about raising the standard of living, than maybe don't include canada in the possible countries to be joined with the US. Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Case made. Next?
posted by oaf at 9:29 PM on March 18, 2008


Yes, I said "standard of living." (And you gave me something else.)
The Human Development Index (HDI) is the normalized measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living, and GDP per capita for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to determine and indicate whether a country is a developed, developing, or an underdeveloped country. It is also used to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.
You wanted a cookie, I gave you an entire boxful. Quit yer whining.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:31 PM on March 18, 2008


Note that I'm not saying that there's a huge difference between #4 and #14. I'm just saying your assertion that these things are to some extent quantifiable is nonsense.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:32 PM on March 18, 2008


You wanted a cookie, I gave you an entire boxful.

Does the relative HDI tell you anything about the relative standard of living? (Here's a hint: that list puts Spain and Italy above Germany and Ireland above Switzerland, the UK, and Luxembourg. And here's the answer: no.)
posted by oaf at 9:34 PM on March 18, 2008


your assertion that these things are to some extent quantifiable

Please point out where I made this assertion.
posted by oaf at 9:35 PM on March 18, 2008


I'll repeat the comment again, so that you can read it:

Do you have problems with elementary reading comprehension? Here's the entire comment again, since you seem to having trouble understanding it:

If you're asking about raising the standard of living, than maybe don't include canada in the possible countries to be joined with the US. Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

That statement doesn't claim that it's higher than the US. It only says that raising the standard of living wouldn't be a reason for Canada to join the US. (Which you even acknowledge by saying "Joining Canada to the U.S. wouldn't significantly change the standard of living of either one.")
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:40 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please point out where I made this assertion.

That was my interpretation of 'Good luck making a convincing case that one has a higher standard of living than the other.'

Was I mistaken? Were you instead asserting that Canada and America have the same overall standard of living (without defining what you mean by 'standard of living')? If so, I'd say the burden of proof lies on you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:42 PM on March 18, 2008


I'm just saying your assertion that these things are to some extent quantifiable is nonsense.

OH SHIT. I forgot to put the word 'not' in there: it should have read 'I'm just saying your assertion that these things are not to some extent quantifiable is nonsense.'

Now this is getting confusing.

Fuck it, I'll just agree with you, whatever it is you're saying.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:44 PM on March 18, 2008


Mea culpa for taking Planet F to be Planet M, hugs all round, and let's leave it there.
posted by Phanx at 2:12 AM on March 19, 2008


Oi! Serious?
posted by studentbaker at 7:35 AM on March 19, 2008


Neiltupper: I don't think Cortex and Jessamyn screw up very often, but this time they did.

I don't think it was worth keeping (sorry, Planet F). It's a pretty chatty thread--I can see why it's tough to moderate. It's the kind of question where there's multiple factors involved over different periods of time, so it's hard to explain everything in a short answer; perhaps better suited to the BBQ.

Sure, there's individual Canadians such as Planet F who feel so strongly about the prospect of joining the United States that they would revoke their citizenship. But that doesn't answer the question.

The question is political, not personal. How many Canadians feel this strongly? If for some reason it came to a referendum, how many Canadians would vote for union, and how many would vote against? For that, you need some indication of how Canadians as a whole feel. There's been polls done, they're not that hard to find. (E.g. in 1999, 14% of Canadians said that they wanted Canada to become more like the US; 47% said that they wanted Canada to become less like the US.)

I can say for sure that if Canada joined with the US, there would be a mass exodus of refugees fleeing from a nation with little to no health care and social services.

This seems like complete speculation. Even under the Bush administration, perhaps the worst US presidency ever, there isn't a "mass exodus of refugees" fleeing from the United States to Canada today. Toronto Star article: in 2006, 11,000 Americans moved to Canada; in the same year, 24,000 Canadians moved to the United States.

Besides, it's been 200 years since the war of 1812. During most of that time, Canada didn't have public health care either. In the early years, English-speaking Canadians were people who fought on the Loyalist side in the American Revolution; they wanted to be part of the British Empire, not the United States. But there isn't a British Empire any longer, which is why we spend so much time trying to figure out what the Canadian identity is.

My guess is that as long as Canada holds together and continues to be well governed, it's unlikely that Canada would ever join the US. But if Quebec separates, or if Canada suffers from a prolonged period of misgovernment and political instability while the US enjoys a long period of good government, the possibility of joining the United States would become much more attractive. (This would be similar to the EU scenario.)

Generally speaking, when answering political or historical questions, I think it's useful to try to supply references and data, not just your personal opinion.
posted by russilwvong at 11:04 AM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


... while the US enjoys a long period of good government ...

I'm going to be riding a flying dragon when this happens.
posted by chunking express at 7:14 AM on March 20, 2008


I agree it appears unlikely. But the US has had extended periods of good government; think of FDR, who led the country through the Great Depression and World War II.

And Canada's had periods of misgovernment. Consider Mulroney: he put the country through endless rounds of constitutional negotiations, which eventually failed, leading to the resurgence of Quebec separatism and the near-death experience in the 1995 referendum. And then there was his failure to get the federal deficit under control: when he stepped down, interest on the federal debt was consuming one third of revenue. Of course this isn't the same level of incompetence as the Bush administration, by any means; but it was still sufficient to run the Progressive Conservative party right into the ground.
posted by russilwvong at 4:17 PM on March 20, 2008


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