If you're gay and in the military you get what you deserve, huh? September 5, 2008 7:45 AM   Subscribe

This comment in an AskMe thread posted by a gay veteran wanting suggestions for how to convince his military friends of the importance of considering gay issues in the coming election may not break the guidelines, but it's incredibly wrong-headed and I wanted to take issue with it here.
posted by orange swan to Etiquette/Policy at 7:45 AM (83 comments total)

In case it gets deleted, here it is:

Well, being that I am in the military, your best bet to show your stance on gay rights is Obama, if you are serious about military and the scope of what we do, you have no option than to vote for McCain.

I have worked with homosexuals in the military and I know firsthand what happens when one of your buddies comes out while in the service as well.

I can tell you the sentiment for homosexuality in the service is very very low. You can be very anti-gay and open about it in the service and you would not get bashed like you would say walking out on the streets of Seattle or San Francisco. So, I am saying that to say, each and every homosexual that knowlingly enlists and signs their entrance papers without disclosing this is really getting what they deserve. Its like getting fired at work for a piss test when you know your job has no tolerance for drugs in the workplace. I do not feel bad when gays lose their place in the service because they lied up front and were deceitful.

You can't make heterosexuals realize what we/they take for granted when they will never be in the same situation as you. What I am saying is, if your trying to sway your friends and make them realize what they take for granted, your argument will not make it far, because unlike gays who enlist (as I talked about earlier) non-gays didnt deceive the United States Government when they enlisted.

Its a struggle your not going to win with heterosexuals in the service my friend.
posted by TeachTheDead at 10:01 AM September 5

posted by orange swan at 7:47 AM on September 5, 2008


Yeah, it sucks and seems wrongheaded on several levels. It's already been taken apart by two people, but I don't know if it should be outright deleted since the core of the comment (the military has no tolerance for gays) is probably correct and the person has experience in the military. Not everyone on the site is going to be articulate or understanding, but it sounds like person means well but communicates in a slightly clumsy manner.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:50 AM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've read it three times now and still can't make heads or tails of that comment. All het Vets are intolerant homophobes because their brothers in arms had to lie to serve? Maybe it'll make more sense plus coffee and minus eye boogers.
posted by carsonb at 7:58 AM on September 5, 2008


I've read it three times now and still can't make heads or tails of that comment. All het Vets are intolerant homophobes because their brothers in arms had to lie to serve?

And also, being gay is like doing drugs. Don't forget that gem.
posted by inigo2 at 7:59 AM on September 5, 2008


It's not an ad hominem and it's not profane or outright hateful. It makes me sad to read it, but it is a very accurate reflection of what the asker is up against. Stated more articulately than how this sentiment is usually expressed.
posted by desuetude at 8:01 AM on September 5, 2008


Sometimes the correct answer isn't the one you want to hear. It doesn't make the overall situation OK, but I think its a pretty fair estimation of the situation as it is - and as it will be, likely for some time. Its a pretty straight-on answer to the question.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:01 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can tell you the sentiment for homosexuality in the service is very very low. You can be very anti-gay and open about it in the service and you would not get bashed like you would say walking out on the streets of Seattle or San Francisco.

This part doesn't seem to make much sense, TeachTheDead. "The sentiment for homesexuality in the service is very very low" read literally means that army types aren't sentimental about gays. What did you mean to say, that the anti-gay sentiment is very, very low?

So, I am saying that to say, each and every homosexual that knowlingly enlists and signs their entrance papers without disclosing this is really getting what they deserve.

Really? Why should they have to disclose their sexuality? Why is the army asking? Why is it relevant to their ability to serve in the army? Why is it even an issue? With the ugly attitudes towards homosexuality that exist out there why do they not have the right to keep quiet about something that may lead to harassment, violence, discrimination and seriously impeded or even terminate their careers?

Its like getting fired at work for a piss test when you know your job has no tolerance for drugs in the workplace.

No, that's not a parallell case. Employers have a right to screen for the use of substances that may affect job performance. Air Canada screening its pilots for drug or alcohol use and firing them for testing postivie is NOT the same thing as the army dishonourably discharging someone for a biological condition that has no impact on job performance. It's more like firing someone because you thought they were white and they looked white and "acted" white and didn't disclose that they had a black great-grandfather. Irrelevant, and discriminatory.

I do not feel bad when gays lose their place in the service because they lied up front and were deceitful.

The OP said he wasn't asked and didn't tell. I suspect that's the case with a lot of vets and active military types in his cohort. So he didn't lie. But I digress. In any case my stance is the army has no business using homosexuality as a screening criteria. When officials have set up immoral policies (not illegal, immoral) one may morally (if not legally) act contrary to those policies.
posted by orange swan at 8:05 AM on September 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Take everything TeachTheDead posts with a liberal serving of salt. If MeFi had bozofilters, he'd be on mine.
posted by adamrice at 8:09 AM on September 5, 2008


This part doesn't seem to make much sense, TeachTheDead. "The sentiment for homesexuality in the service is very very low" read literally means that army types aren't sentimental about gays.

I think it's easy to read this as a clumsy choice of words. I'd imagine that swapping out "sentiment for" in favor of "esteem for" or "opinions of" would be a more clear statement of what TeachTheDead was getting at, though only he can confirm that.

And I'm pretty much where Matt is on this. I think it's a rather stark way of putting it, and I don't agree with the emotional thrust of it (and very much disagree with the existing policy in the armed forces), but the comment seems to have been made in good faith attempt to respond to the question and should probably, with its in-thread replies, stay up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:13 AM on September 5, 2008


Wow, can't a guy have a disagreeable opinion here without being hauled off to MeTa to be made a public spectacle of? For people (read: liberals) who claim to have an open mind about differing opinions, you sure have a funny way of showing it. This thread really should be closed; you may not like the opinion, but it was on-topic, honest, and non-threatening
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:17 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the comment does violate the guidelines, in the most basic of ways: it doesn't answer the question.

TeachTheDead is entitled to his opinion on whether gay people should serve in the military and entitled to express that opinion, but that post is a really weird and inappropriate forum to choose. The question isn't, "Should I join the military even though I'm gay?" it's "Given that the military is pretty homophobic, how can I talk to my old military buddies about this political issue that affects gay people?" TTD's response is "You can't. The military is homophobic." Which matty, as a gay veteran, already knows. TTD doesn't tell matty anything he doesn't already know, and then tacks on a bit about how any harassment gay people experience in the military is their fault.

The problem isn't that the comment is offensive, it's that the comment is offensive and not helpful.
posted by hippugeek at 8:17 AM on September 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


OC, don't do that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:19 AM on September 5, 2008


I lost my temper in there a little, sorry about that.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:22 AM on September 5, 2008


Take everything TeachTheDead posts with a liberal serving of salt. If MeFi had bozofilters, he'd be on mine.

Yep. I've noticed a couple WTF answers from him before -- one in someone asking about decent punk music, in which he recommended Rush; the other in the thread about whether being concerned about a male babysitter is being irrational. But there's certainly no shortage of silly answers on AskMe; lord knows I've given a few.
posted by LionIndex at 8:24 AM on September 5, 2008


So, I am saying that to say, each and every homosexual that knowlingly enlists and signs their entrance papers without disclosing this is really getting what they deserve. Its like getting fired at work for a piss test when you know your job has no tolerance for drugs in the workplace. I do not feel bad when gays lose their place in the service because they lied up front and were deceitful.

I think this is not onliy inaccurate (Don't Ask, Don't Tell doesn't mean if you Don't Tell you are lying), but I think it's also pretty much a derail. OP wasn't asking about gays in the military, he was asking about relating to his military friends on the topic of human rights in the civilian world. At least that's how I read it.

For people (read: liberals) who claim to have an open mind about differing opinions, you sure have a funny way of showing it.

I realllly looooove the "tolerance for intolerance and prejudice" arguments.
posted by Pax at 8:25 AM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


(or what hippugeek said)
posted by Pax at 8:25 AM on September 5, 2008


but it's incredibly wrong-headed

I tend to agrees, but the poster is simply talking about what he sees in the military. You can argue that it's wrong, but I don't see how you can argue that he isn't seeing what he's seeing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:28 AM on September 5, 2008


Yeah well, if you have any opinion that is even SLIGHTLY anti-gay in the military go here

http://ask.metafilter.com/100949/How-can-I-make-them-see

in it you'll see i make very plain and instructional the policy of such in the service. But i get accused of being the bad guy. HOWEVER, as i get based, those bashing me are free to bash, while I get refered to here. What a joke Meta is becomming.
posted by TeachTheDead at 8:29 AM on September 5, 2008


I don't see how you can argue that he isn't seeing what he's seeing

Seeing what he's seeing and blaming the wrong person--even under DADT, Don't Tell is not lying.
posted by Pax at 8:32 AM on September 5, 2008


Wow, can't a guy have a disagreeable opinion here without being hauled off to MeTa to be made a public spectacle of? For people (read: liberals) who claim to have an open mind about differing opinions, you sure have a funny way of showing it. This thread really should be closed; you may not like the opinion, but it was on-topic, honest, and non-threatening

My purpose in posting this thread was not to make a public spectacle of this commenter, but to address the substance of his comment. The AskMe question was not the place to do that, and since others here would find this comment problematic I also hoped to keep a good question from being derailed by others. And it seems to me that if you post a comment in a public discussion forum others are quite within the limits of human decency if they wish to rebut and discuss it. TeachTheDead will also be within his rights to post here defending his words if he feels I am wrong or misunderstood him.
posted by orange swan at 8:35 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The poster isn't even in "the service" anymore, he's out, he's a civilian, and he wants some basic rights. Shouldn't even those in the military be able to understand that civilians should have rights? If not, perhaps the wrong people are "defending freedom".

Oh, as another aside: marriage wasn't originally a religious institution. It became that later. At first it was actually a civil arrangement, which is why early modern European marriages were conducted outside the church, on the church porch, rather than inside it.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:36 AM on September 5, 2008


I do not feel bad when gays lose their place in the service because they lied up front and were deceitful.

Yeah, because every 18-year-old guy (or woman) who's grown up in a homophobic culture knows they're gay when they enlist.

I didn't come out until I was nearly 21 (although I'd known long before that). I've had and do have friends who didn't come out until they were older than that, and a lot of them didn't "know" they were gay/bi/queer when they were younger. I suppose they deserve whatever they get in the military, too.

From a 2006 survey of those in the military:

"According to the new Zogby data, however, nearly three in four troops (73%) say they are personally comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians."
posted by rtha at 8:37 AM on September 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


TeachTheDead, further comments on that subject in the askme thread will continue to be deleted; this thread has been pointed out explicitly, twice, and you're aware that it's here. That's how AskMe and Metatalk work, and you need to respect that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:38 AM on September 5, 2008


MeTa is not the forum to address the substance of his comment. That's why we have e-mail and MeFiMail. It's prett clear that you wanted the community to discuss the opinion, and that MeFi being so gay-friendly, he'd get his ass handed to him. That's pretty low.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:42 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're only trying to educate!
posted by Hildegarde at 8:43 AM on September 5, 2008


As others have said, TeachTheDead's comments are often far outside the norm for what you generally see around here. But you know, our government does actually have a don't ask-don't tell policy for the military, right? It may be f-ed up, but there it is.
posted by amro at 8:46 AM on September 5, 2008


Right but THD is saying that not telling = lying.
posted by Pax at 8:50 AM on September 5, 2008


...the military has no tolerance for gays... is probably correct and the person has experience in the military.

Wrong. Let me repeat my recent post in AskMe here...

73 percent of military members are comfortable with gays. Nearly one in four (23 percent) service members report knowing for sure that someone in their unit is lesbian or gay, including 21 percent of those in combat units. Only 37 percent want to keep the current DADT policy. (December 2006).

Study: Gays in Military Would Not Be Disruptive
"A bipartisan panel of retired military commanders has concluded that Congress should repeal 'don’t ask, don’t tell' and allow gays to serve openly in the military. One commander helped Bill Clinton implement the current policy in 1993 but says it’s flawed by an assumption of disruption when no evidence exists for it.

The study [PDF], commissioned by UC Santa Barbara, found no evidence that gays serving openly would affect morale, unit cohesion or readiness." (July 2008)
Sam Nunn Reconsiders DADT: ‘Times Change,’ May Be ‘Appropriate’ To Lift The Ban On Gays In The Military (June 2008).

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Tells Cadets Military Ready to Accept Gay Service Members (May 2008).

Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military (July 2008).
posted by ericb at 8:51 AM on September 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


MeTa is not the forum to address the substance of his comment. That's why we have e-mail and MeFiMail.

When someone writes a derail-inducing comment in AskMe that doesn't get deleted, there's pretty much always going to be a MeTa post about it. If AskMe couldn't use MeTa as a steam-release valve like that, the mods would have to deal with a lot more garbage. Having a bunch of separate MeFiMail threads and appeals to the mods would be a less efficient way of handling it.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:52 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


"That's why we have e-mail and MeFiMail. It's prett clear that you wanted the community to discuss the opinion, and that MeFi being so gay-friendly, he'd get his ass handed to him. That's pretty low."

Why is that low? I'm sorry, but when you say something stupid, you should expect to have your ass handed to you by the community. That can't happen in AskMe. And this isn't a personal beef per se, which is when email's appropriate. This is bad advice (doesn't answer the question), with a whole lot of bullshit frosting (McCain is only better for the military than Obama if you consider Bush's policies good for the military).
posted by klangklangston at 8:54 AM on September 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wow, can't a guy have a disagreeable opinion here without being hauled off to MeTa to be made a public spectacle of? For people (read: liberals) who claim to have an open mind about differing opinions, you sure have a funny way of showing it.

You mean this thread? Where a bunch of people, including the moderators, other commenters, and pinko liberals like myself defend TeachTheDead's original comment, even while disagreeing with it? What, we can't discuss controversial opinions without oppressing a minority? No-one has called TeachTheDead names here or attacked him personally.
posted by desuetude at 8:57 AM on September 5, 2008


MeTa is not the forum to address the substance of his comment.

I disagree. One of the purposes of MetaTalk is to serve as a forum for these sort of side arguments that would otherwise derail a thread on the green or the blue. That's why cortex has posted another link in the thread directing people who want to comment on this issue to come here. And again, TeachTheDead posted his opinion in a public forum. It's appropriate to address his opinion publicly.

And I certainly don't support the kind of comments that attack him personally (i.e., by calling him "retarded"). But given that his opinion is wrong, it's perfectly appropriate to rebutt it as opposed to allowing it to stand unchallenged.
posted by orange swan at 8:58 AM on September 5, 2008


Did my comment get deleted? I was serious.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:59 AM on September 5, 2008


(My MeTa comment, I mean - I didn't post in the AskMe.)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:59 AM on September 5, 2008


Yes it did. I don't care if you were serious; you were invoking personal correspondence and being a huge jerk. Like I said, don't do that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:02 AM on September 5, 2008


How the fuck can an opinion be wrong? Whatever, I'm done here. Gay rights are an extremely sensiive topic around here and given election fever, it's probably best that I keep out until sanity returns sometime in November.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:03 AM on September 5, 2008


Yeah, I really don't get why that comment was allowed to stay up - it just flat out doesn't answer the question. Sure, the questioner adds a load of probably unnecessary preamble, but the actual question is very clearly stated:

My question is... What I'm looking for is a resource that can provide me with FACTUAL examples of gay couples that were denied visitation rights in hospitals when one of the partners became sick or were dying/died.

TeachTheDead ignores that, and just decides to chat about what he thinks about gays in the military. What's worth keeping? Even the idea that he's adding valuable perspective because he's a military man himself who knows how homophobic the forces can be doesn't hold water, because the original questioner is also a military man and his entire query is predicated on a degree of military homophobia.
posted by flashboy at 9:04 AM on September 5, 2008


How the fuck can an opinion be wrong?

You really think people's opinions can't be wrong? Really?
posted by orange swan at 9:06 AM on September 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


I disagree with you very strongly, TeachTheDead, but I really like your posts; you ring so true to me, and something about your overall view of the world, though wrong (I'd say) on almost every particular point I could pull out of what you've said, feels very right to me in a way I cannot articulate even to myself.

Yeah, you're going to take some hits here; I believe it shouldn't be happening and I'd spare you if I could, but you're doing something valuable to me and I hope you'll keep doing it.
posted by jamjam at 9:06 AM on September 5, 2008


I'm the OP in the AskMe thread. I've gotten some great responses over there and they're truly appreciated. As for this issue??? Welll, to each his own I suppose - but for the record:

I was 'out' to my friends while in the military. It was a non-issue to them.

Apparently I was in a much different situation than Teach the Dead, since I never experienced any homophobia. Even when there would be talk about OTHER people that everyone thought was gay, it was always just a collective shrug and then everyone got back to work. Must've just been a different environment.

I joined the military knowing full well I was gay. I took DADT at face value. Again, no one asked and I didn't tell. Don't confuse that with being out to my friends. I relate DADT to the command structure, not your interpersonal relationships.

I found DADT to be DETRIMENTAL to unit cohesion, mostly because I saw over and over again gay service members who would intentionally distance themselves from their peers. I was an aviator... in a squadron you spend EVERY MINUTE with your squadron mates - especially when deployed. There's no room for a personal life... but there's plenty of time to discuss it! In other words, your business is everyone's business. I spent plenty of time building up walls to keep my truly private life away from those who I didn't want to know I was gay. In the aircraft I flew everything was a team effort. You read each others moves and know how to anticipate what each other is doing... I did that job well, but I always felt if I'd been more a part of the group that maybe I could have done even better.

At any rate, I love the military. I thank them every day for the job they do (remember... they don't set policy, your elected officials do!!!) and I'm proud to have served. Wouldn't exchange the experience for anything. I also thank the military for the Million-Dollar training they provided me when got me a kick-ass job when I got out! :-)
posted by matty at 9:37 AM on September 5, 2008 [16 favorites]


Maybe you agree with TeachTheDead, and maybe you disagree. I'm talking about something else.

If you disagree with TeachTheDead: have you considered that maybe it's still best to let his opinion remain on record, because it is better to remain aware of exactly what those with whom you disagree are actually thinking?

You can't refute someone's argument if you never SEE their argument.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 AM on September 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah well, if you have any opinion that is even SLIGHTLY anti-gay in the military go here

http://ask.metafilter.com/100949/How-can-I-make-them-see

in it you'll see i make very plain and instructional the policy of such in the service. But i get accused of being the bad guy. HOWEVER, as i get based, those bashing me are free to bash, while I get refered to here. What a joke Meta is becomming.


Well, gee Teach, I suppose what you did here is sort of like failing a piss test at work when you knew your job had a no drugs policy. I'm surprised you didn't know the sentiment for homophobia is very very low at Metafilter. Each and every homosexual apologist for systematized prejudice that knowlingly enlists and signs their entrance papers without disclosing this blames the oppressed for their oppression is really getting what they deserve.
posted by shmegegge at 9:43 AM on September 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


What a joke Meta is becomming.

Have you been lurking for a while, or do you mean that it's been becoming a joke over the last month and a half?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:45 AM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


SeizeTheDay: How the fuck can an opinion be wrong?

Um, because the facts you base your opinions on are incorrect, or you are asserting an opinion based on a narrow range of experience as if it's universal?


TTD said I can tell you the sentiment for homosexuality in the service is very very low. and ericb linked to various articles refuting this. Matty's experience refutes this.

TTD said You can't make heterosexuals realize what we/they take for granted when they will never be in the same situation as you. Which may be true in his experience, but is not - vastly and gigantically not - in my experience or the experiences of tons of other people I know.
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on September 5, 2008


Delete comment, kill poster.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:00 AM on September 5, 2008


I think we should cut TtD a little slack as it appears that English is not his first language and he may be having a hard time expressing himself.

wait... what?
posted by stet at 10:28 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


And also, being gay is like doing drugs. Don't forget that gem.

I assumed that what he meant by this was both behaviours are highly stigmatized in certain (in this case, military) circles.

Is that somehow not true?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:33 AM on September 5, 2008


I assumed that what he meant by this was both behaviours are highly stigmatized in certain (in this case, military) circles.

Is that somehow not true?


While that is true, that's not what I took away from it. I guess we're just reading it differently. Similar to orange swan's comments.
posted by inigo2 at 10:39 AM on September 5, 2008


OK, I've noticed from the links that ericb posted that it apparently *isn't* true, but that's still something of a surprise to me. It isn't that long ago when being gay was stigmatized. I'm betting that attitudes are somewhat different in your hard core infantry units to attitudes among the kitchen or the administrative staff.

Attitudes are changing, and changing fast, but not necessarily evenly all over.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2008


This is bad advice (doesn't answer the question), with a whole lot of bullshit frosting (McCain is only better for the military than Obama if you consider Bush's policies good for the military).

That's a subject that could really be further elaborated on. It's really amazing how so large a percentage of the military is still buying the whole "liberals are weak on defense and will dismantle the military and so on and so forth" line of conservative propaganda when it is so, so obvious that the most recent republican policies have been consistently harmful to the interests of the military and veterans, particularly in terms of healthcare for veterans, getting the benefits (like education) they deserve for serving our country after they've left the military, and, you know, having decent equipment while they're still in combat zones.

The fact that so many military people still support the same party that spent millions (or billions? I'm too lazy to get the numbers) on mercenaries while not providing decent body or vehicle armor for our actual enlisted men is really a credit to how effective the conservative smearing of liberals has been as far as defense goes.

Either that, or a truly terrifying number of people are joining the military because they want to kill people instead of because they want to defend our country. Then I could see wanting to support the party that is going to consistently send you into war zones.

The OP of the AskMe should consider adding some of those arguments to his arguments about gay rights.
posted by Caduceus at 10:45 AM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


While that is true, that's not what I took away from it.

I think it depends on whether you read his comment as descriptive or normative. I read it as descriptive myself -- despite a certain clumsiness of expression. His affection for McCain would normally incline me towards a normative interpretation, but I really felt that he was struggling to honestly describe his own experience of being in the military, and the attitudes that he encountered there.

Perhaps I'm being over-generous, but that was how I read his comment.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:47 AM on September 5, 2008


(Though to be fair, I can see how a lot of military people might have lingering bias against liberals left over from the treatment many Vietnam veterans got from primarily liberal war protesters during that era.)
posted by Caduceus at 10:48 AM on September 5, 2008


Take everything TeachTheDead posts with a liberal serving of salt. If MeFi had bozofilters, he'd be on mine.

Yeah, I get the feeling that the guy's not all there - I hope he really isn't in the military.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:53 AM on September 5, 2008


Is that somehow not true?

It's a bad analogy because it brings with it a lot of extra connotations that don't really apply to both situations. Just like you can't compare someone to Hitler without at least insinuating that they are similar to the Nazis, you can't compare someone to an illegal drug user without insinuating that they are similar to drug addicts.

Also, the attitude about drugs in the workplace and gays in the military are obviously vastly different relative to each other. There is absolutely nothing close to Don't Ask Don't Tell with regards to drugs in the corporate environment, for example.

I think analogies are a very useful tool in expressing a point, but the trick to using them right is to pick an alalogy that captures exactly the relationship that you want to express and nothing more. Even if TeachTheDead didn't mean for the analogy to carry so much negative subtext, the analogy itself is objectively bad.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:02 AM on September 5, 2008


TeachTheDead: I see from your profile that you're christian. On the off chance that you read through this thread again, try to get some perspective on people's reaction to your "they get what they deserve" angle with the following.

How many early christians were tortured and executed, or put to the lions, in Rome? They could have avoided all of that by toeing the Roman line and renouncing their faith. Were they wrong to go headlong into a situation that they knew could end badly?
"Hey, buddy. Nice sandals. Anyway, listen, OK? You and I both know how things work here. All you have to do is not worship in the manner you want, and just burn a little incense in front of this statue. Otherwise some bad shit's going to happen. You'll deserve it and I won't feel sorry for you, because you'd be wrong to stubbornly do what you're doing. After all, you knew what might happen if you went against the emperor."
If there were such a thing as a time machine, would you think it right for someone to lecture them like that? Would you do it?

'Cause that's what you're doing.
posted by CKmtl at 11:13 AM on September 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


"I was an aviator... "

matty: "Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a fly-by."
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 11:30 AM on September 5, 2008


"Just like you can't compare someone to Hitler without at least insinuating that they are similar to the Nazis, you can't compare someone to an illegal drug user without insinuating that they are similar to drug addicts."

That doesn't mean that you're comparing someone with all aspects of Hitler. That's why it annoys me when people invoke Godwin like it's an argument ender, and I see the mistake of this line of thinking a lot. Like when people freak over comparisons of Republicans to fascists. It is, to say the least, extremely unlikely that the Republicans would institute a holocaust like the Nazis, but that's not the only thing that fascists did that was antithetical to goods we hold.

This isn't saying that drug addict was an apt comparison to draw, nor that arguments often weakened by the assumption of congruity by the audience.
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]



"I was an aviator... "

matty: "Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a fly-by."
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 2:30 PM on September 5 [+] [!]


LOL! Would it be inappropriate to say I was definitely a 'Top' Gun?? ZING!!!!!
posted by matty at 12:07 PM on September 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


LOL! Would it be inappropriate to say I was definitely a 'Top' Gun?? ZING!!!!!

Just when certain folks bigoted attitudes bum me out, the thread takes a turn towards junior high level and a smile returns to my face and my faith in humanity is restored. Thanks matty!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:12 PM on September 5, 2008


I assumed that what he meant by this was both behaviours are highly stigmatized in certain (in this case, military) circles.

That doesn't mean that you're comparing someone with all aspects of Hitler.


I took it as a comment that the gay/drug user analogy was inappropriate to the extent that using drugs is "bad" and a choice, whereas sexual orientation is neither.
posted by Pax at 12:14 PM on September 5, 2008


When the hell am I going to get a jah-lop-eno and cheese?
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:18 PM on September 5, 2008


Normative or descriptive, he is factually wrong, it is not illegal to be gay and in the military. It is illegal for him to be asked about his orientation and it is illegal to declare or otherwise have it become 'known' that you are gay.
posted by Snyder at 12:18 PM on September 5, 2008


Without wanting to derail further, I'd encourage those who believe this:

if you are serious about military and the scope of what we do, you have no option than to vote for McCain.

to read George Packer's excellent Vets for Democrats piece in the New Yorker.
posted by judith at 12:27 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's a subject that could really be further elaborated on. It's really amazing how so large a percentage of the military is still buying the whole "liberals are weak on defense and will dismantle the military and so on and so forth" line of conservative propaganda when it is so, so obvious that the most recent republican policies have been consistently harmful to the interests of the military and veterans, particularly in terms of healthcare for veterans, getting the benefits (like education) they deserve for serving our country after they've left the military, and, you know, having decent equipment while they're still in combat zones.

Caduceus, you and I are on the same page, there. I kept it down to a dull roar to avoid a total derail on the current administration's policies, but that's what I was thinking, too.
posted by desuetude at 12:32 PM on September 5, 2008


Like when people freak over comparisons of Republicans to fascists. It is, to say the least, extremely unlikely that the Republicans would institute a holocaust like the Nazis, but that's not the only thing that fascists did that was antithetical to goods we hold.

But you're implicitly saying "Those guys are a lot like the group that committed some of the worst atrocities in human history (except for the part about the atrocities)." You can't expect people to ignore the defining aspect of the subject in your analogy for the sake of the analogy, it's just not going to happen.

When you compare X to Y for some aspect, all of the other aspects come into play just by bringing up the comparison. There's a comedic list of bad similes, for example, that contains this one: "The hailstones leapt from the pavement just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease." It's a bad analogy because the mental image of fried maggots is absolutely disgusting, whereas the hailstones are completely benign. It doesn't matter that they are similar in the aspect used in the comparison, because they are distractingly different in other aspects.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:33 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I kept it down to a dull roar to avoid a total derail on the current administration's policies

Yeah, that's why I posted that here instead of in the actual AskMe thread, since it doesn't really answer the question.

I run into that problem a lot in AskMe, actually.
posted by Caduceus at 1:49 PM on September 5, 2008


I don't agree with the comment but I see no reason why it should be deleted - it's one person's honest (and informed) opinion.

(For the record, I'm gay.)
posted by serazin at 2:16 PM on September 5, 2008


like, your being gay set a record? of what?
posted by matteo at 2:52 PM on September 5, 2008


Normative or descriptive, he is factually wrong, it is not illegal to be gay and in the military.

I've read that comment over and over and I can't for the life of me find any reference to the legality or otherwise of being gay in the military in there.

There's a reference to how he doesn't have any sympathy for people who are chucked out of the military when it's somehow learned that they are gay. Are you claiming that this never happens?

Or are we talking about something other than the comment that was the subject of the call out?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:35 PM on September 5, 2008


I think we're talking about e.g. this line:

I do not feel bad when gays lose their place in the service because they lied up front and were deceitful.

They're not losing their place in the service because they lied. They didn't even lie. As I understand, there is no portion of the recruitment forms that reads thus:
Are you homosexual? (You must choose one answer.)
[ ]YES [ ]NO
It may be a fair, if reprehensible, characterization of current military that to reveal your homosexuality is grounds for dismissal from the force, but that has not one goddamned thing to do with being dismissed for having lied or even, in the strictest sense, being gay.

It's okay to be gay and in the military. You do not have to lie to pull that off. You just have to, for official purposes at the very least, not disclose it, and the policy is in fact that you are supposed to not disclose it. As bizarre a hoop-jump as that is, there's a distinction there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:44 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


But it got favorited!...oh
posted by granted at 3:47 PM on September 5, 2008


"But you're implicitly saying "Those guys are a lot like the group that committed some of the worst atrocities in human history (except for the part about the atrocities)." You can't expect people to ignore the defining aspect of the subject in your analogy for the sake of the analogy, it's just not going to happen."

No. You're confusing implication with inference. Though I did miss an "aren't" in the final sentence of my previous comment: "This isn't saying that drug addict was an apt comparison to draw, nor that arguments aren't often weakened by the assumption of congruity by the audience."

But otherwise, you're at the point where you can't compare, say, a public transportation plan from America to one from 1939 Berlin, even if they are direct parallels that have nothing to do with any other Nazi policy and they are overtly similar.
posted by klangklangston at 4:05 PM on September 5, 2008

(For the record, I'm gay.)
posted by serazin at 2:16 PM on September 5 [+] [!]

like, your being gay set a record? of what?
posted by matteo at 2:52 PM on September 5 [+] [!]
I'm pretty sure the record belongs to this guy.
posted by heeeraldo at 5:16 PM on September 5, 2008


But it got favorited!...oh

Yes, the guy favourites his own comments. I've never seen anyone do that before.
posted by orange swan at 5:44 PM on September 5, 2008


Really?
posted by nola at 6:34 PM on September 5, 2008


burnmp3s: "you can't compare someone to an illegal drug user without insinuating that they are similar to drug addicts"

Really?? "You remind me of this stoner hippy guy in my university philosophy course" insinuates "You're like a meth head".

That's the shitty logic that people use when they mix up homosexuality and pedophilia. "Well, some gays are pedophiles, so comparing someone to a gay person is insinuating they're like a pedophile". "Some drug users are junkies, so comparing someone to a drug user is insinuating they're like a junkie".
posted by Bugbread at 8:57 PM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


This comment in an AskMe thread... may not break the guidelines, but it's incredibly wrong-headed and I wanted to take issue with it here. In case it gets deleted, here it is...

If homo/xeno/gyno/whateverphobic shit appeared anywhere else in the -Filterverse, or as some vile and random non-sequitur on the Green, I'd cheer for it to get the hook. But TtD's comment, despite my strong disagreement with the sentiment expressed, is a contextually appropriate and valid response to a solicitation for such.

Sort of a weird call-out, from my point of view. If it did get deleted, what would its reproduction and this MeTa accomplish, aside from "Hey gang, isn't this comment bad and shouldn't this guy feel bad for making it?"
But it didn't get deleted, so this MeTa seems like a way to rally folks to push for the deletion that presumably at least one person's flagged as offensive/sexism/racism did not achieve. It seems like a combination playing the refs by appealing to the crowd's biases (Even if those biases are positive), have your cake and/or eat it too sort of thing.

The punk=Rush thing deserves a MeTa more, as it passes the Bad Answer test on factual, historical, musical, and moral grounds.

And plus now I have Closer To The Heart stuck in my head.

I don't agree with the comment but I see no reason why it should be deleted - it's one person's honest (and informed) opinion.

On preview, what he said, but less articulate.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:45 PM on September 5, 2008


I think it's very helpful to the OP - as context. People who checked in to answer how he might have that chat with his miliatry buds get a reminder of what kind of opinions some people have, like EmpressCallipygos said.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:22 PM on September 5, 2008


I think we're talking about e.g. this line:

Thanks Cortex.

But TtD's comment, despite my strong disagreement with the sentiment expressed, is a contextually appropriate and valid response to a solicitation for such.

So, when the votes are counted, put me down in this camp.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:43 AM on September 6, 2008


Yes, the guy favourites his own comments. I've never seen anyone do that before.

Oddly, in the Blue we see spammers do that from time to time, it's like one of the little "tells" that seems to point out spammers. However, that may just be because they're non-English speakers and have a different understanding of the site's mechanisms than other people which might explain the overlap with TtD here.

Really, the comment was pretty off-topic to my eyes and if we'd seen it early on, might have gotten removed because it didn't address the direct "I am looking for examples..." question. However, like many AskMe questions there was a larger context of "help me make them understand" going on there which can be responded to more broadly.

In any question where the OP lays out their premises one at a time, there are often going to be people who respond to the question by refuting the premises and a charitable view of TtD's response seems to indicate that this is what he was doing. It does open a can of worms however because TtD's response does appear to be factually wrong (re: deception) and it's certainly understandable that people would want to correct him. Those corrections are also likely to be off-topic, even moreso when people get pretty unhappy with the tone and the tenor of TtD's comment, above and beyond the actual content. That puts the comment into "pretty much probable derail-inducer" territory which makes a MeTa thread like this nearly a sure thing.

So, I think things worked the way they were supposed to. I see TtD popping in to AskMe from time to time with slightly off the wall answers that often get flagged and it's always sort of a judgment call what to do about them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:42 AM on September 6, 2008


when I almost (did everything but the swearing in) joined the army, oh, 25ish years ago they did ask, 'are you homosexual' and a few related questions. It seemed an odd question in such a setting. I mean it was asked orally (I know, he said orally) by, presumably, an MD. I wonder if anyone had the balls to reply "not really, but I'm bi after a six-pack"
Anyway, shortly after the question, some guys played with my balls and stuck fingers up my ass.
I totally support the military, this is just a personal observation
posted by dawson at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2008


Sort of a weird call-out, from my point of view. If it did get deleted, what would its reproduction and this MeTa accomplish, aside from "Hey gang, isn't this comment bad and shouldn't this guy feel bad for making it?"

That was not what I had in mind. I wanted to be able to rebutt the guy's opinion, and that wasn't appropriate in the thread on the green.

But it didn't get deleted, so this MeTa seems like a way to rally folks to push for the deletion that presumably at least one person's flagged as offensive/sexism/racism did not achieve.

Show me where I called for the comment's deletion. I must have missed that.

Again, what I wanted to do was counter the guy's opinion and head off a derailment of this thread by giving other people a place to react to his comment if they felt inclined.
posted by orange swan at 3:25 PM on September 6, 2008


I wanted to be able to rebutt the guy's opinion, and that wasn't appropriate in the thread on the green.

Refuting or rebutting an incorrect comment in-thread is completely appropriate so long as it's done right - a couple Answerers did just that in this case - but you're right, using MeTa to head derailing responses off at the pass does make sense.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:55 PM on September 6, 2008


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