So a murderer walks into a bar... April 28, 2008 9:53 PM   Subscribe

The filesystem jokes in this Reiser trial thread struck me as being in particularly bad taste.

I'm not actually sure why this bugs me more than the general MeFi snark, but the general internet tendency to make jokes about this murder trial while it's a current event has always left a bad taste in my mouth.

Am I being unneccessarily prudish? Where's the line? Does this cross it?
posted by Asymptote to Etiquette/Policy at 9:53 PM (79 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I dunno. I don't get the jokes, not being that type of nerd, but dude's a convicted murderer. Seeing as he, and not the victim, is the target of the jokes, what's the problem?
posted by Bookhouse at 9:57 PM on April 28, 2008


Where's the line? Does this cross it?
posted by Asymptote


Stop that.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:59 PM on April 28, 2008 [58 favorites]


There's no excuse for going around in excrement stained underwear. Wash up properly before you replace your drawers and be fresh all day.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 PM on April 28, 2008


I was just dissapointed because they all sucked.
posted by puke & cry at 10:01 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Besides seanyboys.
posted by puke & cry at 10:01 PM on April 28, 2008


This is one of those cases where the post is so eponysterical that it has to be intentional.
posted by empath at 10:02 PM on April 28, 2008


I'm more shocked that this comment got 6 favorites. People actually think nerds get railroaded in the American court system? For fucks sake get some perspective, people.
posted by puke & cry at 10:07 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's what I'm trying to figure out. Maybe I feel for him because he's a socially awkward nerd. (Not that I could see myself ever driven to murder.) But there are now two kids without parents because of this whole mess.

And no, I completely didn't notice the eponystericality until you pointed it out.
posted by Asymptote at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2008


Er, the "what I'm trying to figure out" is " Seeing as he, and not the victim, is the target of the jokes, what's the problem?", not puke & cry's comment on the American court system.
posted by Asymptote at 10:09 PM on April 28, 2008


What?
posted by dg at 10:20 PM on April 28, 2008


I'm incoherent and sleepy right now. Feel free to ignore my replies if they don't make sense.
posted by Asymptote at 10:25 PM on April 28, 2008


One user's bad taste is another user's Mexican candy.
posted by carsonb at 10:53 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree wholeheartedly with this callout. As was so convincingly argued & endorsed recently, gallows humour can only be exercised if you're the one on the gallows, so only Reiser can joke about himself.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:06 PM on April 28, 2008


But there are now two kids without parents because of this whole mess.

So we're supposed to "think of the children" and not make jokes?

The jokes were bad and uncreative, but I'm pretty sure Mr. Reiser won't be crying himself to sleep because of what some guy on MetaFilter said.
posted by cmonkey at 11:22 PM on April 28, 2008


Asymptote, I don't think these jokes are in particularly bad taste. I don't think they're particularly funny, either, but only because command line jokes are pretty tired at this point. Unless you're a brilliant internet comic strip, which MeFi is not.

The distinction Ubu seems to be missing is that making fun of victims is pretty heinous. Making fun of perpetrators is not the same thing, even when it's in bad taste.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:23 PM on April 28, 2008


Bah. The only line, it seems to me, should be that you don't mock or make jokes in front of people personally involved in a situation. No Challenger jokes to astronauts familes. No Waco jokes to Branch Davidians. And so on.

This? Not so much.
posted by Justinian at 11:24 PM on April 28, 2008


gallows humour can only be exercised if you're the one on the gallows

We're all on the gallows. Some of us just haven't realized it yet.
posted by Justinian at 11:26 PM on April 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


Wow, somebody needs a drink. And it's me!
posted by Justinian at 11:38 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


idunno, i just thought that wife-murdering wasn't something that we joked about here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:58 PM on April 28, 2008


I didn't see anyone joking about wife-murdering. I saw people joking about someone being convicted.

I may have missed something, though.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:27 AM on April 29, 2008


We're all on the gallows. But some of us are staring at the crotch of the hangman.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:29 AM on April 29, 2008


Holy sweet ironies, Ubu, leave the kids alone! They don't realize!
posted by carsonb at 12:32 AM on April 29, 2008


I think that there's an inbuilt desire in humans to make off-colour jokes, and in some situations people get hurt by these jokes. This happens more often in social spaces like this which feel private but which are actually public. If this happens in real life, I tend to shrug it off. My personal feeling is that humour and laughter are tied pretty closely to the fear response, so darker more personal issues shouldn't be taboo.

I'm not sure what to say about it though. On the one hand I've seen situations where every small thing which could offend is censored, and it hasn't been a nice environment. Pretty much everything which is funny has a victim, and as soon as you stop people laughing about these things you start enforcing a totalitarian greyness which is humourless and inhuman.

But on the other, there are situations where jokes made upset the hell out of me. Date Rape drug jokes (of which there are many on metafilter) really upset me. I thought the recent slew of jibes at John Prescott about his Bulimia were in poor taste. In these situations, there was a part of me that wanted to say "You shouldn't say this. It's not nice. Since when was xxxx something we joked about." It's natural that I thought that, but I have to balance my own responses against those of the people who made the jokes.

My current response in these situations is to try not to get too upset about them. Rarely are jokes like this meant maliciously. They're a natural response to difficult and gruesome situations. I also try to limit the offensiveness of my own words, but I don't try too hard. I think that's important. Making cracks about the World Trade Center in 2001 was off limits, but joking about Anna Nicole Smith's death isn't. I wouldn't joke about the death of a friends sister, but I would joke about a friend getting MRSA and possibly losing mobility in his right arm. If someone is hurt ("My Wife was murdered and I don't think this is funny."), I'll apologise and stop doing what I was doing. It's a fine line I think we all need to draw individually, and it's a line we sometimes cross accidentally but I do think it's a line we need to bump against on occasion.
posted by seanyboy at 12:49 AM on April 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Welcome to Metafilter, Asymptote. You may not fit in.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:02 AM on April 29, 2008


Asymptote, are you jealous that no matter how close you get, you can't ever cross the line?

Is this callout just an attempt to troll this lame joke out of the likes of me
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:55 AM on April 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


I love mexican candy, specially hot and sour tamarind based stuff. And I also love saltlakrits. I specially like them in ice cream form.

The jokes in the thread? Almost funny.

No matter how cliched this sounds, the whole Reiser affair reminds me of The Stranger by Camus. Emotionally and socially weird people will not do well when judged by the 'normal'. I believe a more charismatic and mainstream guy would have needed better evidence to go to jail, and Reiser might have not been convicted by a jury of his true peers, weird obsessed software engineers, close to genius. In this way, I am in the gallows.

"Where were you, Mr. Curare, the afternoon of May 23 2007?"
"Alone, Your Honor, in my room, with no witnesses, reading an electronics textbook for 36 hours straight, eating cereal out of the box."
"Did you not find it strange, Mr. Curare, not to hear from your wife at all for 24 hours?"
"No, Your Honor, I lose track of time when I read technical stuff and get in the zone, and I always assume that if something important happens, I will eventually get notified."
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:06 AM on April 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


There's still an active debate over Reiser's conduct in the trial, and whether the verdict was fair. The jokes are in bad taste, but they're not derailing the thread.
posted by ardgedee at 4:10 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


one for seanyboy & DarlingBri:

Austrian Josef Fritzl is writing a new book.

People are doubting though whether it will be a best cellar.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:52 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're worried about filesystem jokes in a thread about a murder in which

a: the comments in the thread will never have ANY importance in the case
b: see a.

worry about some other stuff that might actually be worth worrying about:
- failing economy
- war in foriegn lands
- global warming
- the possibility of another 4 years of republican presidency
- etc.
- etc.

and please, get back to me if you're worrying about these things i've listed ends. then we can get together and make that thread about a person who probably murdered his wife more respectful of nerds, or whatever you're after here.
posted by localhuman at 5:13 AM on April 29, 2008


Jerry Sadowitz (sp?) called this the Comedy Tax - in other words, the price you pay for laughing at other people's misfortune is that somewhere deep inside you, you have a blindspot.

One day someone will be standing in that blindspot with a joke about your Mother that will floor you.

And that's the comedy tax. That's the price you pay so that jokes about 9/11, on 9/11 with families involved in 9/11 are funny.

And I can live with that.
posted by Jofus at 5:31 AM on April 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


If it wasn't for the hypernerd angle, I'm not even sure a newsfiltery "OMG crime update" thread would have stuck around. I thought the jokes were in bad taste but not super flagged or, to my eyes, deleteworthy.

I'm with seanyboy that I'm a LOT more squicked out making fun of people who have some sort of personal problem that gets flayed in public (though there's a decent argument that Reiser is seriously mentally ill, of course) or making fun of victims (in the "woke up and her pussy was sore lol" vein that we have seen and that are more likely to vanish) that pushes the line a lot more.

The whole reason tragedy threads tend to go badly here is exactly this dichotomy. For some people this is a huge mess for the kids, a sad time for families and just a damned shame. For others it's more of a "wow that is deeply and truly fucked, let's express our disbelief" situation. The two sides have a hard time coexisting in threads. That said, in that thread, they managed to do an okay job, I thought.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:39 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


The jokes were terrible and in poor taste... I LOLed.

I dunno, something about filesystem jokes that's inherently hilarious.
posted by loiseau at 5:39 AM on April 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


get back to me if you're worrying about these things i've listed ends

Yeah, you should only care about important things.
posted by smackfu at 5:59 AM on April 29, 2008


Welcome to Metafilter, Asymptote. You may not fit in.
Yeah, but he's getting there.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:27 AM on April 29, 2008 [10 favorites]


Yeah, but he's getting there.

<3
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:35 AM on April 29, 2008


i rather suspect we'll all end up more like him, myself.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:44 AM on April 29, 2008


Gallows humor:

A condemned man walks into a bar; the bartender says, "So, you want something to drink?"

The man replies, "Nah, I'm just going to hang around."
posted by quin at 7:24 AM on April 29, 2008


Eh, OK, the general consensus seems to be that the jokes don't bother most people. I was trying to figure out whether I was being hypersensitive, and it looks like I am.

For the record, I usually loves me some gallows humor.
posted by Asymptote at 7:26 AM on April 29, 2008


"But there are now two kids without parents because of this whole mess."

Two kids are without parents because Reiser fucking killed their mom.

I just get annoyed at the vague "blame society" bullshit. There's a pretty clear cause to the kids' suffering, and it's Reiser.

As to the broader issue, it might help to paraphrase Finley Dunne and use black humor to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
posted by klangklangston at 7:58 AM on April 29, 2008


What sleeps in a soggy car, is an expert on the web and kills its mate?

a spider!
posted by nomad at 8:23 AM on April 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Two kids are without parents because Reiser fucking killed their mom."

I was referring to the murder as "this whole mess". Sorry if that wasn't clear.
posted by Asymptote at 8:42 AM on April 29, 2008


puke & cry writes "I'm more shocked that this comment got 6 favorites. People actually think nerds get railroaded in the American court system? For fucks sake get some perspective, people."

You're reading to much into favourites.

Asymptote writes "But there are now two kids without parents because of this whole mess."

One of whom murdered the other. Really I think the kids are better off without that parent.

loiseau writes "I dunno, something about filesystem jokes that's inherently hilarious."

Just the phrase filesystem jokes is enough to make me laugh.
posted by Mitheral at 8:51 AM on April 29, 2008


are you telling me you don't know how to handle a bad joke?
jeez, what do you do when you get a parking ticket?
posted by krautland at 9:23 AM on April 29, 2008


The reason we have lowest common denominator killer/murderer jokes is because asymptote jokes are TOO SUBTLE FOR THE LIKES OF Y'ALL. Geez.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:34 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


asymptote jokes never get to the point.
posted by stubby phillips at 11:22 AM on April 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


You may not fit in.

something something "best fit" something
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:26 AM on April 29, 2008


asymptote jokes never get to the point.

I was laughing so hard that I broke my funny bone. Someone drive me to l' hôpital, svp.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on April 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Most people here cant tell the difference between their asymptote and a hole in the graph.
posted by Dr. Curare at 12:22 PM on April 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can we close this? I've pretty much reached my limit with people going off on a tangent.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:31 PM on April 29, 2008


Unfortunately, to accept your motion for closure on this topic, we need a cosiner.
posted by klangklangston at 1:06 PM on April 29, 2008


Austrian Josef Fritzl is writing a new book. People are doubting though whether it will be a best cellar.

See now, a joke about Fritzl and, I dunno, fried or something would be making fun of Fritzl, the self-confessed perpetrator here. I'm fine with that.

LOLing at the cellar seems less appropriate to me because I identify the cellar with the victims and not the perpetrator, but I like to draw fine lines in sand. I have few hobbies.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:17 PM on April 29, 2008


I was going to make an MC Hammer joke so I didn't come out of this thread looking like a humorless jerk.

But try as I might, I can't quite get to a punchline.
posted by Asymptote at 2:06 PM on April 29, 2008


The reason we have lowest common denominator killer/murderer jokes is because asymptote jokes are TOO SUBTLE FOR THE LIKES OF Y'ALL.

Josef Fritzl was apparently heavily into The Sims. In the game, as in life, he set himself up with a house - equipped with a cellar - and locked his simulated daughter into the cellar.

Over time, she even had seven virtual children. Due to the vagaries of the game, one of these died shortly after birth. The next time Fritzl logged on, he was overheard to exclaim: "Ach! Sim tot!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Two kids are without parents because Reiser fucking killed their mom.

Are you speaking ex cathedra, klangklangston, or are you just trying to come across as a giant gaping asshole, for a change? If neither, please tell us exactly how you came by your omniscience.

Sometimes, I think unwarranted certainty should be considered the most heinous crime of all.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:22 PM on April 29, 2008


"Ach! Sim tot!"

You are in so much trouble.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2008


yes, that's what my psychiatrist always says.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:27 PM on April 29, 2008


(sorry, that fritzl joke was out of line; just what happens when you push boundaries...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:53 PM on April 29, 2008


(or maybe it's just a symptom of being a simpleton)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2008


"Are you speaking ex cathedra, klangklangston, or are you just trying to come across as a giant gaping asshole, for a change? If neither, please tell us exactly how you came by your omniscience.

Sometimes, I think unwarranted certainty should be considered the most heinous crime of all.
"

Sometimes, I think tortured rhetorical cover for pusillanimity should be punished by execution.

How can I be certain? Well, a jury of his peers convicted him of murder by weighing evidence and concluding that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

That's good enough for me to tell you to stop trying to tickle my balls of certainty with the feather of solipsism, Crabby.
posted by klangklangston at 4:04 PM on April 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Having exchanged pleasantries with klangklangston, maybe I should say something conciliatory now. How about this?

klangklangston, if you are ever framed, or railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor, for a serious crime (and I hope you never are), I hope you have a jury composed of people exactly like you.

(I don't know why I bothered posting this; after all, I'm the only one here who's real.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:15 PM on April 29, 2008


"klangklangston, if you are ever framed, or railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor, for a serious crime (and I hope you never are), I hope you have a jury composed of people exactly like you."

Funny, I'd hope for the exact same thing.

Of course, that's irrelevant to the fairly rational and reasonable conclusion that because someone has been convicted of a crime, especially given the safeguards of the American justice system, that they are guilty of said crime.

Anyone who disputes that the vast majority of folks convicted of crimes in America are, in fact, both guilty and criminals, has either watched too much television or is one of those mouth-breathing supplicants that become pen pals with child molesters and serial killers.
posted by klangklangston at 7:51 PM on April 29, 2008


Why do people think that Reiser is innocent? Just because he's a geek? Huh?
posted by Justinian at 8:09 PM on April 29, 2008


Funny, I'd hope for the exact same thing.

I know, that's what makes it so delicious. Here's another one for you: may you live in interesting times.

Of course, that's irrelevant to the fairly rational and reasonable conclusion that because someone has been convicted of a crime, [...] they are guilty of said crime.

Would you be interested in some land in Florida, by any chance?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:19 PM on April 29, 2008


> Why do people think that Reiser is innocent? Just because he's a geek? Huh?

No, they're talking about him here because he's a geek.

The people-thinking-he's-innocent is probably because there's no body and the victim was nobbing a guy who claims to have killed eight people.

It's not impossible that she's in Russia near her parents. With the kids.
posted by genghis at 9:01 PM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


As Ubu, so be low.
posted by flabdablet at 9:28 PM on April 29, 2008


Why do people think that Reiser is innocent? Just because he's a geek?

He's innocent because he's white and rendered guilty, while OJ is black, guilty, and rendered innocent. Still trying to figure that tidbit out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:36 PM on April 29, 2008


nobbing a guy who claims to have killed eight people.

Nice palming of that card. He didn't kill anybody.
posted by Justinian at 9:40 PM on April 29, 2008


As Ubu, so be low.

Hey! It usually costs disciples upwards of $200K before I initiate them into that particular mystery! How in hell am I going to pay my court fees now?!??
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on April 29, 2008


Approach the OP about a line of credit.
posted by flabdablet at 9:43 PM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


that's not how i function.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:00 PM on April 29, 2008


Too complex?
posted by flabdablet at 10:06 PM on April 29, 2008


This conversation is getting monotonic. I'm outta here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:09 PM on April 29, 2008


Reached your limit, did you?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:21 PM on April 29, 2008


[math joke]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:59 AM on April 30, 2008


NERDS!
posted by cavalier at 7:35 AM on April 30, 2008


"I know, that's what makes it so delicious. Here's another one for you: may you live in interesting times."

Oh, you sure zinged me good! That was like rain on my wedding day!

Would you be interested in some land in Florida, by any chance?

Right. The analogy here: You're making fun of people for being gullible for buying swamp land, while really believing that the Prince of Nigeria just needs a little more time to get the bullion out of the country now that you've advanced him the customs and transit money.
posted by klangklangston at 7:56 AM on April 30, 2008


Metafilter: One user's bad taste is another user's Mexican candy.
posted by Asymptote at 8:53 AM on April 30, 2008


Metafilter: Mexican candy.
posted by Asymptote at 8:57 AM on April 30, 2008


Metafilter: tickling the balls of certainty with the feather of solipsism.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:33 AM on April 30, 2008


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