making fun of disable folks September 28, 2009 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Some of the comments in this thread are completely offensive and...

...it's poised to ruin a really awesome thread about some really awesome people. I've flagged them but there are perhaps not too many people visiting the thread, and I'm thinking maybe they didn't get flagged enough. Because it would be really horrible if the two most popular hits about the "albino magic" are that blog post and a thread filled with jokes about murdering and eating disabled people.

this is me being very civil.
posted by Baby_Balrog to Etiquette/Policy at 7:27 AM (96 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I was up past my bedtime, lacking discernment, and added to that. Apologies. It's a horrible thing to think about so people sometimes make jokes.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:33 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my experience, if you specifically want to call mod attention to something, using the Contact link at the bottom right is really efficient.
posted by smackfu at 7:37 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It’s still a young thread. I flagged them too, so once a mod gets a hold it probably will be salvaged
posted by Think_Long at 7:37 AM on September 28, 2009


These comments are like the unholy offspring of Free Republic and Fark.

Look, it can be easy to blame "primitive" African witchdoctors for the eating of albino body parts, but it's worth taking into account the fact that albinos are in fact delicious.
posted by atrazine at 11:04 PM on September 27

The lack of pigmentation really lets the marination get evenly infused.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:10 PM on September 27

but it's worth taking into account the fact that albinos are in fact delicious.
Yeah, but everyone knows that dark meat is juicier
posted by cyphill at 11:45 PM on September 27


WAIT WHAT AFRICANS ARE BEING MURDERED BUT TECHNICALLY THEY'RE WHITE SO I CAN MAKE JOKES ABOUT IT?????

HOLY SHIT IT'S THE BEST DAY IN THE WORLD
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm inclined to agree Baby_Balrog. Thick skins are important, but substituting the word "albino's" for any other given group would probably result in a shitstorm of epic proportions.
posted by TomMelee at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2009


Optimus Chyme you might've exceeded your hyperbole quota already.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:47 AM on September 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


If you think some of the comments are offensive, I can't wait to hear what you think about murder and cannibalism for insane religious purposes. Cultural relativism aside, this is a fairly wretched example of humanity.

For most of this at MeFi, this is happening on another continent, and it's difficult to think of too much we can do that will actually stop it. As recent American excursions have demonstrated, you cannot effectively airbomb any kind of enlightenment into a given area. Most likely, nobody in this community is going to fly over and attempt to put a stop to it, and it is doubtful how very helpful that would be in any case — you'd think folks would pick up on the fact that the promised powers and cures weren't working and just quit it eventually, but that has yet to happen. I don't think hand-wringing will solve anything, either.

Sometimes, even I get a little tired of loathing these facets of humanity and would rather have a giggle, too. My capacity for energetic cursing of this sort of belief and behavior is finite; since it means nothing, perhaps a morbid laugh might be a nice change of pace.
posted by adipocere at 7:49 AM on September 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


He has a quota? I always thought he was sort of a never-ending gobstopper of hyperbole.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:49 AM on September 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is so not how I expected that thread to go when I saw it last night. I understand the impulse of making light of horrible things and I do it too but that thread's a horrifying trainwreck.
posted by Kattullus at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2009


We're all going to agree here. smackfu's right: this was a case for the contact form.
posted by koeselitz at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2009


adipocere: ... since it means nothing, perhaps a morbid laugh might be a nice change of pace.

I think that's an important human coping mechanism.

The important trick is to try to avoid laughing at the victims of the horrible acts that made you uncomfortable in the first place.
posted by koeselitz at 7:55 AM on September 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


We're all going to agree here. smackfu's right: this was a case for the contact form.
Out in the open for a bit of mild naming-and-shaming seems better to me if the thread wasn't getting much traffic.
Not that I think any of the commenters who cracked the poor taste jokes are therefore horrible people who must be excoriated and I've made my fair share of unfortunate remarks in life, but B_B's post here adds to the normative pressure for decency in discourse that a quiet message to the mods wouldn't achieve. Thus we live and learn.
posted by Abiezer at 8:14 AM on September 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


The important trick is to try to avoid laughing at the victims of the horrible acts that made you uncomfortable in the first place.

This is a really good point.

Laughing at the insane violence can help you cope. Laughter can be a great weapon against cruelty and injustice.

Laughing at the victims of insane violence not so much. Laughter can also be a great weapon of cruelty and injustice.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


Because it would be really horrible if the two most popular hits about the "albino magic" are that blog post and a thread filled with jokes about murdering and eating disabled people.

The ironic thing would be if this thread got in the Google results.
posted by smackfu at 8:31 AM on September 28, 2009


Although I didn't comment in the thread in question (as I wouldn't want to appear disrespectful to albinos), I would just like to say for the record that you can have my cannibal jokes when you pry them from my chilled Carpaccio dito medio.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:34 AM on September 28, 2009


Holy tapdancing christ on a pogo stick, are those comments just awful or are we being raided by 4chan?
posted by dunkadunc at 8:39 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you think some of the comments are offensive, I can't wait to hear what you think about murder and cannibalism for insane religious purposes.

What the hell?

I don't think hand-wringing will solve anything, either.

Man, what got into you today? Is that your most charitable interpretation of the post?
posted by Skot at 8:39 AM on September 28, 2009


Oh, come on.

This is black humor, but to say that the victims are being blamed or that people are making fun of albinos because of their disability here? No, actually, that'd be making fun of the insane religious beliefs that foment the murder of the albinos. The quote, "Look, it can be easy to blame "primitive" African witchdoctors for the eating of albino body parts, but it's worth taking into account the fact that albinos are in fact delicious," pretends to rationality, and by doing so highlights how crazy eating albinos is. There's no fact that "albinos are delicious."

The joke works, just as it would if the subject were tiger penis or rhino horn, and it's not like anyone's just posting "Lol powder." Getting offended is missing the point, perhaps intentionally.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 AM on September 28, 2009 [17 favorites]


"Laughing at the victims of insane violence not so much. Laughter can also be a great weapon of cruelty and injustice."

But, just to be more explicit, that's not what's happening here. No one's going, "Lol, got et." The joke is about the insane violence.
posted by klangklangston at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2009


Low hanging fruit.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:51 AM on September 28, 2009


This is black humor,

Maybe people are confused because it looks white.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:51 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


You mean we're NOT seriously advocating the eating of albinos?

Boy did I sign up for the wrong site.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:53 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never thought of an albino as someone that had a physical disability.

Perhaps they're a set of people that suffer a social stigma of varying degrees depending upon locality, but I don't really see the 'disability' part.
posted by matty at 8:58 AM on September 28, 2009


Maybe it's just me, but it seems like pretty standard fare for MetaFilter. Certainly no darker than usual.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:00 AM on September 28, 2009


Normally I'd write some 8-paragraph civilized rant, explaining my stance and why these comments are offensive and all, but...WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:01 AM on September 28, 2009


matty: Perhaps they're a set of people that suffer a social stigma of varying degrees depending upon locality, but I don't really see the 'disability' part.

There are a whole host of disabilities that are a result of albinism, with various eye conditions being quite common. A large amount albinos are visually impaired and many are legally blind.
posted by Kattullus at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Perhaps they're a set of people that suffer a social stigma of varying degrees depending upon locality, but I don't really see the 'disability' part.

Albinism can include some pretty disabling skin and eye problems.
posted by Pax at 9:05 AM on September 28, 2009


Consumption of magical body parts. Ah, delusions of the primitives.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for Communion.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:11 AM on September 28, 2009 [14 favorites]


Then I've learned something new today!
posted by matty at 9:12 AM on September 28, 2009


Leading with the wikipedia links to albinos in popular culture probably did not help the FPP.
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2009


You know, my wife has hypomelanosis.
posted by boo_radley at 9:18 AM on September 28, 2009


Matty, albinism usually carries with it some poor eyesight, sometimes involuntary nystagmus (you know that trick where you can wiggle your eyes? Imagine that happening more or less out of your control), and as a bonus, hanging out in the sun is not so hot for them. Photodermatoses are not a great deal of joy to have, what with the sunburning and the skin cancer and all. You can get SSI on a photodermatosis alone.

Skot, I guess what I'm getting at here is that, were I suddenly granted unfathomable power ala The Cleanup (Skipp & Spector), I would cheerfully teleport over to wherever this was happening and come up with some truly gruesome retribution for everyone involved with this — it would probably be a few thousand items down on my list of Fucked Up Things To Fix. Lacking that, though, I still feel a palpable urge to lash out at some kind of manifestation of this rotten urge in humanity. I suspect I am not alone.

With that, though, it becomes quite easy to transfer that anger to whatever set of people, nearby, who aren't sharing your exact reaction. That's what I'm getting at. Wailing in harmony does nothing; waggling fingers at people for not joining the chorus of tears is beyond useless. At times, that tendency here verges perilously close to some kind of social display; who amongst the bereaved might dig the deepest furrows into their cheeks, and so prove that the magnitude of their feeling is the greatest?

Some people laugh at a situation as ghastly as it is irrational; it's as worthless at solving the problem as any other response we might have, but it is ours. Pity that diversity is such a commonly praised quality in our lifestyles but not in our emotions.
posted by adipocere at 9:19 AM on September 28, 2009 [24 favorites]


That was a beautiful comment adipocere.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:30 AM on September 28, 2009


this is happening on another continent, and it's difficult to think of too much we can do that will actually stop it.

There's the right attitude! Nothing we can do about this. Might as well make a joke about it.

Dude, go back and read Baby_Balrog's post in the original thread. There's plenty you can do. I get so sick of hearing the "well America fubar-ed this-or-that in whatever-stan so there's not much we can stand on to help the people being eaten in whereever-beria now." Gimme a fucking break, that's a perhaps the weakest global cop-out from those most able to help those who most need it. That's the epitome of weak.

And "contact form" my ass. This is a good call-out and I'm in there with you adding flags, Baby_Balrog.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:30 AM on September 28, 2009


"Lol powder."

The current slang for cocaine, I'm told.
posted by jonmc at 9:41 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Removed the string of jokey comments. I'm not really happy with either solution—I think the comments were, yeah, pretty tone-deaf and weren't going to help that thread at all, but it also becomes a "what humor is and isn't allowed" sort of discussion once we start taking action on this sort of thing and so I'm left feeling a little uncomfortable with removing them rather than letting it just be worked out in the clear.

But that's not a busy thread where this stuff would have just been swallowed up as incidental noise, and having it right at the start was shittier than it would have been as late-thread silly-season stuff after folks had already been able to get into substantive discussion and any ensuing jokery might have been more clearly considered in that context, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:45 AM on September 28, 2009


Luckily the deleted comments are still re-posted here.
posted by smackfu at 9:47 AM on September 28, 2009


And "contact form" my ass. This is a good call-out and I'm in there with you adding flags, Baby_Balrog.

I guess it depends on what the point of this call-out was. I read it as "please mods delete these crummy comments quickly before the thread is derailed more", in which case I stand by my suggestion to use the contact form.
posted by smackfu at 9:50 AM on September 28, 2009


I don't know guys - we can wax philosophical and dissect the origins of humor and human behavior all day, but the day someone starts cannibalizing black women all over town, I'd like to think that if I look to the mefi community, I'd get a little bit more than a highbrow comment from a non-black woman along the lines of "Well, dark meat is tasty."


I mean, that's straight up cold.


And if someone called someone in the mefi community out about it, I'd hope those folks would consider their rationalizations and explanations, and then rather than lead with them, consider the elegance of the Burhanistan Method (TM). Reviewing their comments in the light of day - if this really was true for them - go with a light: "Yeah, my bad on that. I can do a little better. I overshot the witty and landed in the piss."

As for being able to do something other than collective handwringing - what about forwarding the link to a friend to raise awareness, making a donation, or just shooting them an email of support?

I'd personally be jazzed if I had an organization called "Stop Cannibalizing Black Women All Over Town" and I got an email of solidarity and support from someone in Tanzania. Or Iceland. Or wherever. I'd start thinking that the planet was a pretty okay place to live.

I'm not saying we shouldn't be witty or snark. I'm just saying that I think sometimes we can be witty and snark, overshoot, and then need to decently apologize for pissing on someone. Particularly if someone politely taps us on the shoulder and says, "The pissing. Could you not, here?" It might mean that in this individual case your witty banter overshot the mark.
posted by anitanita at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


This is black humor

But isn't that stuff white people like?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I don't know guys - we can wax philosophical and dissect the origins of humor and human behavior all day, but the day someone starts cannibalizing black women all over town, I'd like to think that if I look to the mefi community, I'd get a little bit more than a highbrow comment from a non-black woman along the lines of "Well, dark meat is tasty.""

Due respect, but there was more to that joke than just "Dark meat is tasty." If albinos were being eaten because the myth or stereotype was that they were tasty, then that would be a fair analogy and the joke would have been far worse. Instead, they're being killed and eaten because of supposed "magic powers." It's that attitude that's being ridiculed by satirically endorsing it.

It's like reading A Modest Proposal and complaining that Swift is laughing at the Irish who have to eat babies.
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


On reflection, my cannibalism joke was tasteless and I regret making it. I'm glad to see it deleted.
posted by atrazine at 10:30 AM on September 28, 2009


klangklangston is the Brad Pitt to my Ed Norton. He talks like I want to talk and posts like I want to post. Every way I want to be - that's him.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:51 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


On reflection, my cannibalism joke was tasteless

ahem
posted by Think_Long at 10:51 AM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


The thread is much better now that it's a string of 20 comments that are re-phrasings of "this is a horrible practice."
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:52 AM on September 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Some people laugh at a situation as ghastly as it is irrational; it's as worthless at solving the problem as any other response we might have, but it is ours.

Elegantly stated. Thanks for responding.
posted by Skot at 10:53 AM on September 28, 2009


Atrazine, your joke was the best one of the bunch. I think the fuss here is that the context may have been inappropriate. I'm pretty sure if you were doing a bit of standup, that joke would have gotten a laugh. The problem with making jokes on this site is it's a standup venue where every audience member also has their own microphone.

I think people here can git a bit too huffy if a joke falls flat. It's a thing that happens.

And I don't really get that "if you substituted something else..." analysis of jokes. Jokes are about language and context. If I make a joke about having sex with my wife, of course it's a more offensive joke if I substitute the word "daughter". But it's also a completely different joke. And just because a word is in a joke doesn't mean that's what the joke is "about"
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:54 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay Klanglangston,

I can stretch my analogy to include the fact that someone is cannibalizing black women all over town because they believe it will give them magical powers. And then someone in the community says "well, that's a silly belief, but I gotta say, dark meat is tasty".

But it doesn't get away from the fact that sometimes if one makes such a comment, and someone else says 'hey, ouch', I'd probably wouldn't lead with a "oh come on, it's satire. It's funny. It works".

I'm trying to say that the "primitive" African witchdoctors" joke works...for you. Personally it doesn't for me, not because I don't 'get it', precisely because it still implies that the albinos are a commodity and that still isn't funny in any context for me. Perhaps what's different for me is that when I imagine saying "...but albinos are delicious" to one of those individuals who live with albinism in Tanzania, the words just sort of die in my mouth.

In the end it comes down to this: I think if I'm not part of a particular community, I have to try harder to get the humor it right. Swift's humor around the selling of Irish children works precisely because he is Irish. Chris Rock's comedy video about Driving While Black works because he is black. Jeff Foxworthy's "Redneck" jokes work because he describes himself as a redneck. I imagine Chris Rock's jokes would die in Jeff Foxworthy's mouth as well. . I can't imagine Chris Rock joking about selling Irish babies would go over like a house on fire either. That just seems to be the way it works.

Because it's not just about the joke. It's about the teller of the joke as well, and if they are an 'insider' or an 'outsider'. It's a big guess, but I'm assuming in this case many of us are 'outsiders' in the context of albinism in Africa. Which means we have a greater chance to overshoot the funny, and land in the crass.
posted by anitanita at 10:57 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that Swift's 'Modest Proposal' has a higher probability of working as comedy because he is Irish. It's not only that he gets the nuance, but it's absurd that he himself, an Irishman, would say such a thing. If a non-Irish person attempted the 'sell Irish kids for food' joke, it is possible they could hit the bullseye of humor, but it's be harder. Much harder.
posted by anitanita at 11:12 AM on September 28, 2009


Swift's modest proposal would have been called out and flagged all to hell if there was a MetaFilter back then, too. We're collectively not as savvy as we like to pretend to be, and as the reaction here shows, whichever side manages to collect a mob first generally wins.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:24 AM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


The thread is much better now that it's a string of 20 comments that are re-phrasings of "this is a horrible practice."

It's still open, if you feel that you have something cool or constructive to contribute.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:25 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


The sad thing is, there's nothing at all magical about eating albinos. It's eating red heads that gives you magical powers.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:29 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not to be overly quibblesome but A Modest Proposal wasn't just a sheet of paper that said "Irish Babies: Plentiful and Yummilicious!" but a long, carefully argued essay that, and this is crucial, is absolutely hilarious, even 280 years later. If you're gonna be offensive you better be damn fucking funny.
posted by Kattullus at 11:47 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


"If a non-Irish person attempted the 'sell Irish kids for food' joke, it is possible they could hit the bullseye of humor, but it's be harder. Much harder."

But that's question begging—you're saying that you couldn't know whether A Modest Proposal was funny satire until you knew that Swift was Irish. A Modest Proposal was published anonymously, and much of the humor comes from the purported identity of the narrator. The way you're proposing evaluating satire supposes that the analysis exists before the work.

Further, and I realize that you're largely presenting a bowdlerized pomo view of humor, you're confusing a discussion of power norms for a question of satirical targets. Just because a joke mentions black people does not mean that it's about black people, or that black people are being satirized. If there were a spate of black women being cannibalized—an analogy I think you're making more out of a desire to scare defenders away from it than out of any real probative value—then saying that, "To be fair, the side of the Rice Crispies box has some excellent recipes for eating black women," is not making fun of black women. The purported recipes don't exist, the idea that they would is absurd, and therein lies the joke. It's certainly tasteless, but tasteless isn't necessarily bad, and reformulating that joke would draw a definite contrast to the actual horror of the hypothetical event.

It's possible to even go further with that, substituting "Uncle Ben's" or "Aunt Jemima" for "Rice Crispies." That would be more fraught, but as both of those brands have been criticized for their arguably racist logos and advertising, in that case it's possible to construct a joke that satirizes the dominant white culture for a de facto encouragement of eating black women.

Is there a danger in being seen as racist, or (in this case) as insensitive to albinos? Yes, of course. But there's no satire at all without risk. There are certainly many times when Juvenal comes across as a petulant twerp, especially when he's describing women as transgressing social roles, but he does an excellent job of skewering the mores of his day.

I realize that attacks on bourgeoise morality are predictable at this point, but they persist for a reason, and they're far less prevalent than the normative assumptions of the bourgeoisie. And the insistence that something can't be both funny and crass or crass and worthwhile is one of those normative assumptions.
posted by klangklangston at 11:58 AM on September 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Which means we have a greater chance to overshoot the funny, and land in the crass.

And? Your point being...?

All satire should come to a screeching halt because there's not just a chance of landing in the crass, but a greater chance? Is that it?

Holy shit. Ask Mom to rub some Bactine on your wound and get back in the game. You wanna fight hurtful satire? Bring some better satire to the table.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:07 PM on September 28, 2009


"Not to be overly quibblesome but A Modest Proposal wasn't just a sheet of paper that said "Irish Babies: Plentiful and Yummilicious!" but a long, carefully argued essay that, and this is crucial, is absolutely hilarious, even 280 years later. If you're gonna be offensive you better be damn fucking funny."

Irrespective of the debate about whether eating albinos give you magical powers, which James Randi is flying in to investigate now, satires don't actually have to be offensive or funny. AMP draws much of its form from Tertullian's Apologeticus, which in part skewers Roman beliefs about early Christians. It's not offensive, really, in that lines like, "Oh what fame would that governor have acquired, if he had ferreted out some one, who had already eaten up a hundred infants!" refer to official edicts that were unfounded on their face—Tertullian is mocking the belief that Christians eat babies as absurd, just as it's absurd to believe that eating albinos gives magic powers.

Further, while there are some trenchant lines, and the piece is often characterized as a satire, the overall form is calm, somber, and as the title makes obvious, an apologetic more related to the Greek tradition. So while nominally offensive to the authority of Trajan and his governors, the tone, offensiveness and humor are not necessarily the necessary and sufficient requirements for viewing something as satire.
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on September 28, 2009


You wanna fight hurtful satire? Bring some better satire to the table.

Or just get that shit deleted so that we don't have to watch you pop wheelies on a funeral mound.
posted by hermitosis at 12:23 PM on September 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Is this much different?
posted by ODiV at 12:30 PM on September 28, 2009


I suggest that people are dealing with a grisly situation using humour in the only way they can.

After all, the question "do these body parts contain mystical energies" cannot be answered. Maybe they do.
We're beyond the realm of evidence here.

And "will eating them confer special powers?" Maybe they will. How can you or I say?

The practice is abhorrent, but the theory may be sound. Clearly we must remain open to the idea.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:17 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is this where I queue up to complain about Steve Albini?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:37 PM on September 28, 2009


Is there a danger in being seen as racist, or (in this case) as insensitive to albinos? Yes, of course. But there's no satire at all without risk.

I'm not sure comparing a few one-liners about a minor news item to some of the greatest satirical works of all time is appropriate. Those were easy cannibalism jokes, and the point was just to get a laugh out of the subject matter rather than to bring about any kind of social change (which is a key component of satire in my opinion).

Really, those kinds of comments have a lot more in common with 4chan and lulz than Swift and satire. I have no problem in general with taking serious or taboo subjects and turning them into purposely offensive or absurd humor, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the place for it is in the first few comments on a post in the blue. If I want to see a lot of lazy and/or offensive jokes about any given topic there are plenty of sites I can go to see them, and part of the reason I like MetaFilter is that the discussions around here tend to be better than that.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:10 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Consumption of magical body parts. Ah, delusions of the primitives.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for Communion.


Hey, Jesus pretty much said "eat (this replica of) me." Albinos, to my understanding, did not.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:15 PM on September 28, 2009


"I'm not sure comparing a few one-liners about a minor news item to some of the greatest satirical works of all time is appropriate. Those were easy cannibalism jokes, and the point was just to get a laugh out of the subject matter rather than to bring about any kind of social change (which is a key component of satire in my opinion)."

Except Menippean Satire, or, say, the vast majority of The Onion. Satire doesn't have to have a social conscience—most of the Satyricon is about some stinky-crotched reprobate trying to get laid, not reform Nero's Rome.

And complaining that one-liners shouldn't be compared to great works of satire seems to miss the point—they're both satirical, and a "great" reference is one that most people will recognize.
posted by klangklangston at 2:32 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: sort of a never-ending gobstopper of hyperbole.
posted by axiom at 2:40 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please. The comments in the thread were hardly some clever satire; they were the equivalent of dropping into the Polanski thread and announcing, "But hey, who can resist 13 year old arse?"
posted by rodgerd at 2:55 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"But hey, who can resist 13 year old arse?"
posted by rodgerd


Eponytasteless.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:57 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"But hey, who can resist 13 year old arse?"

That depends. Will there be Bearnaise sauce? Side dishes? A gripping pinot noir?

Look, many people will say you shouldn't make fun of the disabled. They may be right. But other people will tell you that can't make fun of the disabled. They are flat wrong.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:21 PM on September 28, 2009


Even the remaining comments are beyond the pale.
posted by GuyZero at 3:33 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey: Is this where I queue up to complain about Steve Albini?

Please, please, please tell me that's not a setup for a joke about Big Black.
posted by koeselitz at 3:50 PM on September 28, 2009


You would prefer Rapeman?
posted by klangklangston at 4:24 PM on September 28, 2009


So, I'm a little curious.

I have been here awhile, and I mostly lurk, but what exactly is the litmus test for what is offensive enough to delete? I mean, I understand why way off-the-wall stuff that derails the thread gets nixed, but stuff like the comments in the thread above leave me scratching my head.

Would a joke or about killing American soldiers be treated the same as a joke about eating albinos? I find them both to be sensitive subjects, is it based on the number of flags that it accumulates?

I want to nth what was said above regarding dark humor. I know quite a few people, myself included, who use this sort of coping mechanism when faced with intense, gruesome, very awful situations. The jokes have no bearing on our values, or morals.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 4:44 PM on September 28, 2009


I'm not trying to stir the pot, btw.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 4:45 PM on September 28, 2009


I think it's mostly a "slippery slope to Farkville" thing.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:47 PM on September 28, 2009


That thread wouldn't have even shown up if this website had a professional white background.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:55 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The "albinos are delicious" comment cracked me up, but for some reason I felt like the "Dark Meat" joke went too far.
posted by empath at 5:03 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do all British people really pronounce it "Al-bee-no" -- not "Al-bye-no" as Americans do?
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 5:07 PM on September 28, 2009


That thread wouldn't have even shown up if this website had a professional white background.

My version of it does!

C17H19NO3, I'm a little late to this thread and I'm not sure what "the thread above" means. It's a little tricky from our perspective because comments in a thread that may not have been getting a lot of attention suddenly have the white hot light of MeTa cast on them and suddenly people notice them and object to them. So there's not a flag limit per se and there's not a "this isn't funny" limit per se, but generally speaking really lulzy tasteless jokes that are contributing to a "this thread on a semi-serious subject has become a gross-out joke contest" atmosphere may be deleted. We'll never out and out say "yeah we delete those" because context matters a lot but it's more like we reserve the right to delete stuff like that if it's screwing things up.

This sort of thing comes up pretty rarely and when it does it's more like prison rape jokes, rape jokes generally, dead people jokes in obit threads, or people sort of doing an ironic racist/sexist thing in the comments where we look and think "I can see how that person might have thought that was going to be funny, but it's going to start/has started a big derail and now it's a mess" One joke often doesn't do it, usually it's the sort of jokey pile-in that tends to drown out other conversation where it starts to be problematic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:30 PM on September 28, 2009


Hooray, I've been officially censured!

I do think the original comments, and my addition to them, were in pretty poor taste and the thread is better off without them. I also think that some people have some pretty thin skins. The comments were not making fun of the victims, they were marking the absurdity of the practice as several others have already noted.

Also, how do these comments get deleted but a post about turning the Virginia Tech shooting into a choose your own adventure complete with snarky comments stays for all eternity? I found that offensive. Should I have gotten all huffy and made a metatalk post? Should I have gone all Optimus Chyme and accused people of racism? Next time I do something that "offends" your precious sensibilities do me a favor and message me and the mods instead of trying to show everyone how self-righteous you are (Oh look at me I'm offended! I flagged this! Ooh, Ooh, I flagged it too! Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that I also flagged this and this is my offended face! It looks like a pompous smirk, but it's not!).
posted by cyphill at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2009


Jessamyn, gotcha.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 5:40 PM on September 28, 2009


My popcorn is ready for this one...I sense a blowback a'comin'.
posted by josher71 at 6:00 PM on September 28, 2009


If people want to defend their childish "edgy" jokes on the grounds of free speech or whatever, fine, but trying to compare them to Swift is just stupid.
posted by languagehat at 6:01 PM on September 28, 2009


Due respect, but there was more to that joke than just "Dark meat is tasty."

Ohhh, honey. Not THAT much more. This was no Swift.
posted by desuetude at 6:07 PM on September 28, 2009


Oh, bullshit. If you want to pretend to be the Empress Dowager of Good Taste, fine, but ignoring the comment that specifically addressed your complaint is stupid.

And making any sort of "free speech" argument here is stupider than pointing out that arguing from a presumption of "good taste" is fallacious.
posted by klangklangston at 6:09 PM on September 28, 2009


I personally don't think any of the jokes were grossly offensive, but if the point of metafilter comment threads is to have a decent 'discussion', then I can get behind deleting them, if they became the focus of the thread. I wouldn't want to see too much of a hair trigger there, though, because I do think that tasteless jokes can sometimes serve a purpose.
posted by empath at 6:33 PM on September 28, 2009


The whole "we laugh so we don't cry! :,(" faux-Hawkeye thing that shows up everywhere nowadays is so maudlin and insincere it makes my head hurt. Oh, please. I'm guessing most people, somehow denied the chance to make the joke they're thinking of, would move on to the next thread. Is a shitty "lol dark meat" comment really a coping mechanism, or just a chance to show off some cleverness?

If you wanted to share your witty comment - I like witty comments as much as the next mefite - go for it, but don't elevate it to something it's not.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:13 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Not that I think that's never a valid defense - just, it's a little "boy who cried wolf")
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:22 PM on September 28, 2009


I personally don't think any of the jokes were grossly offensive, but if the point of metafilter comment threads is to have a decent 'discussion', then I can get behind deleting them, if they became the focus of the thread.
That was about the size of it for me too - feeling was 'here's some information about a grim situation and some people trying to change it for the better' and, I suspect because of the remoteness of the subject both geographically and culturally, the thread consists largely of jokes right out the gate and I imagine it could add to a reluctance to post on similar subject matter. More that it's a bit tin-eared and too much, swamping the thread, than tasteless. Though I do also think you're better keeping your tastelessness closer to home, where you're more likely to get it right.
posted by Abiezer at 7:31 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


First of all, I used no "we laugh because we cry" excuse. It was a dumb comment. I'm human, that's my excuse.

I also did not mean the joke in any kind of racial sense (as hard as that is for even me to believe on reading the comment again). I have to admit, I didn't even realize the thread was focusing on Africa instead of Albinos in general. I clicked on the first link, read through some of the villains, got sidetracked looking at the wiki page for Gary Busey (who apparently IS actually crazy) and watched the excellent stunt video that someone posted. I saw the jokes, I followed up. My bad. I really didn't mean it beyond a white meat/dark meat joke which wasn't even clever or particularly funny. I promise to be funnier or more germane in the future.

That said, there is a very strange thing going on in this thread where people are attributing defenses to the people who made the original comments who have all admitted their poor taste and haven't used any of the defenses people are attributing to them. There are defenders, we are not among them.
posted by cyphill at 7:41 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


cyphill, I didn't actually mean to single you out the way I did. I just kind of threw out a short example of one of the relevant comments. I'm sorry about that.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:55 PM on September 28, 2009


While you people were totally overthinking that plate of beans, I ate them. THEY WERE DELICIOUS!
posted by double block and bleed at 9:14 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cyphill, I think you've just given me reason #378 about why my use of analogy doesn't work in an argument. I'm sorry everyone, as I see how my 'dark meat is tasty' comment lent to the derail. In the future I'll try to make my point by staying on the point, rather than the "X is just like Y" arguments. If it's that good of a point, I should be able to do it.

Anyway, for me the main point wasn't race at all, but the point about the humor litmus test of 'Does the joke that you make as a very human response to horror falter when you imagine saying it to the face of those who have experienced that horror personally?" Because if 'yes, it does falter' is the answer, then I think one hasn't cleanly cleared the 'It's satire bar'.

I know many times I feel, and am, powerless in the face of something awful. But if I can't fix it, I can at least try not to add to the misery of it with something that I think could be perceived by the victims/survivors as callousness. I don't think snark always adds callousness - sometimes it's heart piercing clarity about the absurdity of the times we live in. If I'm understanding Klangklangston and some others, that's precisely what some of the comments like 'delicious' did (hit snark-clarity, not snark-callousness). I suppose it's a different bulleye for everyone.

By the way, I think Mel Brooks is a very good example of someone who often cleared the bar and hit snark-clarity. His Blazing Saddles and the Producers both work very well on so many levels.

okay, night all.
posted by anitanita at 9:36 PM on September 28, 2009


Well, I guess that I find myself in the rather awkward position of disagreeing with those defending my comment.

The reason that "A Modest Proposal" worked is that is aped precisely the same pseudo-intellectual tone that many Hibernophobes used at the time.

Of course it wasn't done to call them "dumb papist micks that breed like rabbits" in print, but if you were to write an oily-handed essay full of misdirection and platitudes you could say "Our Irish subjects are, regrettably, less intelligent than the Englishman" Well, then that's ok.

Make sure to use the phrases "regrettably", "through no fault of their own", "for their own good", and my very favourite "in loco parentis". If you combine this sort of swill with a grammatically correct presentation and maintain the right tone of world-weary paternalism throughout, you can say the most astounding things and have people think of you as an intellectual (W.F. Buckley is a more recent example).

The reason that it worked so well for Swift is that people clung to this veneer of intellectual respectability and when he copied the style he was able to gently, gently sucker people into his argument only to trap them when they found themselves almost agreeing with infant cannibalism.

African witchdoctors who promote the eating of albinos do not ground their cannibalistic savagery on seemingly well crafted arguments or "respectable" opinion, so any satire would have no effect on them.
posted by atrazine at 3:14 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sometimes a witty quip
or poem from Astro Zombie says it well
Other times we know
that your intentions were so swell
but if you didn't read the pages
I'm afraid no excuse assuages
that even though in jest
it was really not your best
cuz' nothing lolz like malaria...
but at Metafilter
we are not your huckleberry(ia).

I personally am not offended by what was said, just rather disappointed that folks who couldn't be bothered to read the links felt that the best use of the thread was to post their lulz. I don't think there's a racial motive behind it or anything else. Derailing a pretty decent post out of the gate is a pretty crappy thing to do...especially for a cheap ass pun.
posted by TomMelee at 5:12 AM on September 29, 2009


Derailing a pretty decent post out of the gate

To be fair the post was well over 12 hours old, but that's besides the point
posted by cyphill at 8:27 AM on September 29, 2009


Just a small point -- Swift was Irish, but not "an insider" in the sense anitanita probably means it: he was Anglo Irish -- Protestant, of English descent, and part of the minority ruling class of majority-Catholic Ireland.

It's sort of a moot point, though, in that he was satirizing English proposals for the "betterment" of the Irish, rather than satirizing the Irish themselves, as atrazine notes above.
posted by palliser at 11:09 AM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]




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