Where's the line drawn on public figures and privacy? March 24, 2010 6:50 PM   Subscribe

In this thread, regarding the attacks and vandalism on Democratic Party offices nationwide, I requested a photograph of Mike Vanderboegh, the Tea Party activist who has been in the news for inciting these attacks. He has been discussed widely in mainstream media. When I asked if there were any photos of Vanderboegh, cortex said "can we please not do this" and jessamyn asked me to take it to MetaTalk if I had a problem with it.

I think that this is an overreaction and that Vanderboegh is now a newsworthy public figure. I'm wondering what your thoughts are. Was this an inappropriate request? Why or why not?
posted by Optimus Chyme to Etiquette/Policy at 6:50 PM (160 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I can't pin down where else it was said on MetaFilter recently, but: I'd rather not say anything that would draw the attention of the authorities.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:57 PM on March 24, 2010


And just for the policy line here. We absolutely forbid people from including people's personal information [email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, whatever] no matter how despicable they are. We prefer, but aren't 100% uptight about, people linking to people's personal sites in a thread on a non-related topic [notably in the recent Joel Johnson thread people were all "hey here's his molester stepdad's twitter feed!" and we were like "please don't"] but if it's someone despicable we'll often try to head off the inevitable "they suck, let's get 'em!" comments. We delete comments that threaten to kill people or say that people should be killed [in almost all cases] and we delete all comments that say someone should be raped, raped to death, or otherwise sent to prison and violated.

Your comment offered favorites for a photo of someone who seems to be particularly awful. Linking to a photo would be pushing the boundaries of okay. Offering favorites is a weird way of phrasing it [yeah I get that you can only give out one favorite, I dislike the favorites-as-currency motif, but I do not run the world]. And to me it starts a slippery slope down the road to "let's get 'em" You want to do it on your own time and on your own site fine. You want to do it in front of an audience, here may not be the place to do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


So what if he is a newsworthy figure? I'm not understanding what use a picture would be, or why it would be good to request it on the blue. Absent that piece of information, I have to go with 'inappropriate request'.
posted by Pragmatica at 6:58 PM on March 24, 2010


I'd strongly disagree that this is an inappropriate request. The individual is a public figure and in the news. A photo is not contact information.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:58 PM on March 24, 2010 [26 favorites]


Personally, I think it's a matter of public interest. You've got these jerks mouthing off about vandalizing and otherwise harming people on "the other side," why not be able to see who's the one spitting out the orders? At my old company, we showed all the new interns a photo of the co-owner's husband's crazypants ex-wife so they'd know to run and get us if she showed up (she did, eventually).

Besides, JFG'ing it doesn't appear to work, anyway. Image results on Google are really awful...probably by his design. Cowards don't ever want to come out from behind their curtains if they don't have to...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2010


Your comment offered favorites for a photo of someone who seems to be particularly awful. Linking to a photo would be pushing the boundaries of okay

Again, this isn't some random Tea Party member quietly living his life and voting and raising his kids and running a blog about RC cars. This is a guy who has been discussed on TV because he is inciting violence, and urging people to comment violence at government offices.

If this was some guy named Muhammad ibn-Ahmad urging his followers to attack government offices would you feel the same way?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's a difference between "Someone post a photo because I'm curious if the guy is ugly", and "Someone post a photo so if anyone sees him walking on the street we can rape him to death". In that context, it sounds enough like option 2 (even if it wasn't the intention).
posted by qvantamon at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a sensitive thread where the GRAR is running high that seems like a really sketchy request that could lead to people getting their pitchforks and torches together. I'm not suggesting that was your intention, but it's a perfectly reasonable interpretation of that request.
posted by lilac girl at 7:03 PM on March 24, 2010


If this was some guy named Muhammad ibn-Ahmad urging his followers to attack government offices would you feel the same way?

Is he wanted by the authorities? If not, what will be gained from posting a photo, aside from a lynch mob?
posted by qvantamon at 7:04 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe you're trying to ram this crypto-fascist, free speech killing agenda down our throats. Will someone please post the mods' home addresses so I can throw bricks through their sibling's gas lines.
posted by brevator at 7:05 PM on March 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


In that context, it sounds enough like option 2 (even if it wasn't the intention).

huh? no, in the context of the thread under discussion, OC's request for a photo does not sound like "so if anyone sees him walking on the street we can rape him to death."

as a matter of fact, I'd wager the contexts that WOULD sound like "rape him to death" are pretty few, and almost certainly more specific than an innocuous request.
posted by shmegegge at 7:06 PM on March 24, 2010


In that context, it sounds enough like option 2 (even if it wasn't the intention).

When I read a comment like this, I'm inclined to quote Manjusri's insightful comment here:

Most of the "paraphrasing" I see happening in arguments is actually distortion of the original poster's point in order to argue with a strawman rather than the actual viewpoints of the person being addressed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:09 PM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


If this was some guy named Muhammad ibn-Ahmad urging his followers to attack government offices would you feel the same way?

Yes, actually. My feelings on this are fairly consistent. The internet is large and contains multitudes. Post a picture of him on your tumblr blog if you want. Save the photoshop contests for Fark.

My home address is public but I'd still be pissed if you put it in a thread on MeFi where a bunch of people were all going GRARGRAR.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:09 PM on March 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


In that context, it sounds enough like option 2 (even if it wasn't the intention).

The context was the revelation that he was on Social Security disability. If you think my intent was to somehow get a bunch of Internet nerds together to physically attack some insane disabled hayseed, you are not part of the reality-based community.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:10 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


ffs, oc. Why in god's name do you want a picture of the guy? If you answer that, we can talk. Until then, you're just shit-stirring. And shit-stirring on Metafilter, where just about all of us agree with you, is pretty goddamned pointless when you think about it, isn't it?
posted by koeselitz at 7:10 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Optimus Chyme: “Again, this isn't some random Tea Party member quietly living his life and voting and raising his kids and running a blog about RC cars. This is a guy who has been discussed on TV because he is inciting violence, and urging people to comment violence at government offices. ¶ If this was some guy named Muhammad ibn-Ahmad urging his followers to attack government offices would you feel the same way?”

Hm. And then you say:

“If you think my intent was to somehow get a bunch of Internet nerds together to physically attack some insane disabled hayseed, you are not part of the reality-based community.”

These two things do not square with each other. The only thing I can think is that you're telling yourself some silly lie like "oh, I'm just making a point about the painful nature of invasion of privacy, I wouldn't actually tell people to commit violence, I'd just pass on the picture and point it out to prove that he really shouldn't be doing what he's doing."

Which, oddly enough, was probably his justification for his act of internet privacy-trouncing.
posted by koeselitz at 7:13 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can you diagnose "congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension" from a photograph?
posted by qvantamon at 7:14 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Questions of appropriateness aside, I guess I don't understand the why of asking for a photo when it takes all of two minutes to find the relevant Maddow clip, to satisfy that urge.
posted by Hesychia at 7:15 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you think my intent was to somehow get a bunch of Internet nerds together to physically attack some insane disabled hayseed, you are not part of the reality-based community.

It's VERY VERY easy to get that impression from such a request. It may not be what you intended, but it's understandable that the mods want to avoid any and all appearance that what's going on.

'cause it only take looney to end the party, so to speak.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 PM on March 24, 2010


Why in god's name do you want a picture of the guy?

Because I suspect that rather than looking like a Noble Freedom-Loving Warrior sent to defend The Greatest Nation on Earth from its own Evil Black President, he is a stoop-shouldered, gross old man with old man breath who spends a lot of time checking out teenage girls at Denny's. His followers clearly think a great deal of him, because so far he has been extraordinarily successful at inciting violence.

Demythologize him, expose him for the physical wretch he is, undermine his influence.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:15 PM on March 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Is the rest of your internet broken? Google him. Metafilter is not the sole source of information in the world.
posted by rtha at 7:17 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you diagnose "congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension" from a photograph?

I would be really surprised if Optimus Chyme is Bill Frist.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:21 PM on March 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Demythologize him, expose him for the physical wretch he is, undermine his influence.

Yeah and if he looked like Stephen Hawking, what then? Dude, if you're planning on using what he looks like to undermine his message, you're going to look like you don't have much of a message yourself.

It should be noted that I agree with your assessment of the man's words, by the way.
posted by Pragmatica at 7:21 PM on March 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


This was an inappropriate request that speaks poorly of you. You should thank the mods for deleting it. The joy you would experience at seeing him exposed as ugly is ugly.

His disability, should he have one, does not impact the credibility of his (odious) opinions.
posted by pseudonick at 7:21 PM on March 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Because I suspect that rather than looking like a Noble Freedom-Loving Warrior sent to defend The Greatest Nation on Earth from its own Evil Black President, he is a stoop-shouldered, gross old man with old man breath who spends a lot of time checking out teenage girls at Denny's.

Because you can make that distinction based on a snapshot? Heroes can be ugly and have bad breath too!
posted by brundlefly at 7:25 PM on March 24, 2010


Heroes can be ugly and have bad breath too!

Finally, my chance to pull out the ole' Barack Obama/BO joke again.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:26 PM on March 24, 2010


Because I suspect that rather than looking like a Noble Freedom-Loving Warrior sent to defend The Greatest Nation on Earth from its own Evil Black President, he is a stoop-shouldered, gross old man with old man breath who spends a lot of time checking out teenage girls at Denny's.

I'm not saying that you're going to cut the guy's gas line or throw bricks at his house, but this type of absolutely baseless demonizing is exactly what makes it so easy for people like Teabaggers to... cut peoples' gas lines and throw bricks at their houses.

Feel superior because you're not a colossal asshole - not because you're better than this disgusting straw man you've drawn up.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 7:28 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


WTF would a picture of someone prove to you?

Let me answer that for you: nothing.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:29 PM on March 24, 2010


OC, are you attempting to steal this man's soul?
posted by decagon at 7:33 PM on March 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


That's bad kharma, man.
posted by brundlefly at 7:35 PM on March 24, 2010


Demythologize him, expose him for the physical wretch he is, undermine his influence.

I assume this means that you'll verbally taunt him and belittle him in front of ... MetaFilter? Because that sort of thing isn't really that great either. It gets flagged a lot and people don't like it. To a lot of people it reads like bullying and to a lot of other people it just reads as creepy. If you want to go to the guys house and fight him, that's your business, but people being all "Watch me take this guy down a notch!" and then make fun of them and their peculiarities, either mental or physical, in the comments aren't really helping make this a better place or making the world safe from right wing nutcases either.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 PM on March 24, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm not saying that you're going to cut the guy's gas line or throw bricks at his house, but this type of absolutely baseless demonizing is exactly what makes it so easy for people like Teabaggers to... cut peoples' gas lines and throw bricks at their houses.

not it is not, and please for the love of god stop saying things like this. stop blaming psychotic conservatives responding to a constant stream of hate-filled violent rhetoric from the republican propaganda machine on liberals being snarky as though snark were the problem. people like vanderbough are the problem. the usefulness of a photo of him aside, he is part of the cause of the problem of right wing terrorism. OC and people who snark about politics are not.
posted by shmegegge at 7:42 PM on March 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


this type of absolutely baseless demonizing is exactly what makes it so easy for people like Teabaggers to... cut peoples' gas lines and throw bricks at their houses.

"It's liberals' fault that we're threatening to kill people."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:44 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This guy is a terrorist. There is no reasonable definition of the word "terrorist" that does not fit this guy. He is a public figure by any stretch of the imagination, as he is inciting violence, intimidation and terror against an elected member of Congress.
posted by Damn That Television at 7:47 PM on March 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


Fascist and protofascist politics hinge on the masculinization of the fascists- they puff themselves up into a parody of strength, power, and masculinity. Demonstrating that they are, in fact, weak and powerless is part of the process of eliminating their ability to inspire and evangelise.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:47 PM on March 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


A photo is not contact information.

The existence of a photo is not the issue. The dynamic created by e.g. goading folks to go track down a photo is the issue.

The mob dynamic is an awful, fucked up thing. People generally understand that when it's something manifesting in a context that they find loathsome; they sometimes don't make the same connection when it's something they see as just or righteous. That's one of the most damnable and dangerous things about the mob dynamic.

I don't believe, Optimus Chyme, that you intended to do or to incite anything dangerous. Nonetheless, I don't think the shades-of-mob-justice implications of starting down the road of tracking some guy down is something we even should sneeze at on this site. I think it's a very, very bad direction to go in.

Which is why I said, and have said in similar situations in the past, and will about anything like this in the future that I see: please don't. Go elsewhere to do that if it's something you feel you really must do, but please leave it off of Metafilter. I don't want this to turn into that kind of place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:48 PM on March 24, 2010 [21 favorites]


Considering all the topical websites on the internet full of people who might also share this interest of yours, why are you asking here, where you're being told to cut it out?
posted by ardgedee at 7:56 PM on March 24, 2010


Shmegegge/Optimus, I'm not blaming liberals for what the Teabaggers do. I said nothing about liberals at all. And please point out where I said that the Teabeggers' conduct is justified. I know that the false equivalence is everyone's favorite logical fallacy nowadays, but you're trying to jam that square peg into a round hole here.

I was only referring to what Optimus himself was doing. And what I'm saying is that the picture he painted is completely and totally a creation of his own imagination. If you have some proof that Mr. Vanderboegh is a filthy girl-toucher, feel free to throw it out. Until then, there are enough reasons to dislike the guy without making up new ones out of thin air.

No, what Optimus is doing here is definitely not on par with what the Teabeggers did - but it's still distasteful.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 7:57 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you have some proof that Mr. Vanderboegh is a filthy girl-toucher, feel free to throw it out.

Yes, like some sort of picture or something, Optimus. Or don't you have the proof? Clock's ticking, dum dum.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:09 PM on March 24, 2010


In a weird sort of way, I actually would like it if someone out there made public this guy's personal information. His photo, his address, his phone number...

Not because I want anything bad to happen to him at all. I just think it would be somewhat fitting for him to experience the legitimate fear of wondering if some crackpot who took his actions personally was going to hunt him down.

These fringe tea baggers live with this imaginary fear of non-existent, self created boogiemen and a black part of my soul would actually kinda like it if I knew that, even for a little while, they were getting a taste of what they were doing to others.

But then I have to reign myself in and realize that 1.) No matter what, I wouldn't want it done here. This site is absolutely better than that. And 2.) Since there is no way I could be certain that someone out there wouldn't use the information to harm him, I couldn't in good conscious put him in a position where I placed him at risk.

Because I choose to be morally superior to him in that respect.
posted by quin at 8:14 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was thinking of FPPing this, but it seems relevant here....in China, they have what they're calling "flesh search engines" which act like online lynch mobs, posting home addresses, where they work, calls for their demise, etcetc. This Times article is pretty interesting.
posted by nevercalm at 8:16 PM on March 24, 2010


Double, nevercalm.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:20 PM on March 24, 2010


...can we just not be these people?
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 PM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


OC, if all you really want is a physical description I can give it. He's probably in his 60s, a fairly muscled guy somewhere between blocky & portly with grey har & glasses. Somewhat piercing eyes. Think Brian Dennehy. He was sitting in a chair in the picture I saw, it may have been a wheelchair. Sorry to burst your bubble.
posted by scalefree at 8:43 PM on March 24, 2010


posted by Blazecock Pileon I'd strongly disagree that this is an inappropriate request. The individual is a public figure and in the news. A photo is not contact information.

This individual is not a public figure. He's a guy with a web page, posting his opinions on the Internet, just like you and me.

posted by quin In a weird sort of way, I actually would like it if someone out there made public this guy's personal information. His photo, his address, his phone number.

He has, along with an invitation for folks to pay him a visit.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:57 PM on March 24, 2010


He must be pretty lonely. Maybe someone will bake him a pie and bring it over. :)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:04 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Fascist and protofascist politics hinge on the masculinization of the fascists- they puff themselves up into a parody of strength, power, and masculinity. Demonstrating that they are, in fact, weak and powerless is part of the process of eliminating their ability to inspire and evangelise."

That's a fair point, but the thing is that plenty of us know this but don't particularly feel lke Mee-fie is the place to be relentlessly combating fascists who aren't here, especially at the cost of arguably skeevy behavior. Not a big deal either way, I guess, but one of my personal peeves with fiction is when writers use physical description as destiny for characters.
posted by klangklangston at 9:30 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


but don't particularly feel lke Mee-fie

you misspelled meh-fee.
posted by shmegegge at 9:35 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


MEE-FIE FOREVER
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:36 PM on March 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is not your Posse Nerditatus.
posted by bardic at 9:38 PM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


This individual is not a public figure. He's a guy with a web page, posting his opinions on the Internet, just like you and me.
If he was, say, was suing someone for defamation, he would almost certainly be found to be a public figure. Not saying that's the standard used on Metafilter, but he is making himself a public figure. If you actively do things to get yourself on the news, knowing that those things will probably get you on the news, you're definitely a public figure.
posted by ishotjr at 9:43 PM on March 24, 2010


Also, "you and me" don't make threats and encourage people to cause harm to others and their property. Those aren't simply opinions.
posted by ishotjr at 9:45 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


To poorly channel Rian Malan:

Look at this photograph. It is a picture of a man, Mike Vanderboegh. He is a corpulent white man, staring directly into the camera, smiling falsely. He is very self-satisfied by his actions. Look at his eyes, how they look in this picture. Can you, dear reader, account for the lack of doubt in his eyes? Can you account for the look of hatred and vengeance and a lust for blood in those eyes? Of course not. Dear reader, truely, you would never feel such hateful destructive feelings, never such hatred...


...or would you?
posted by fuq at 10:14 PM on March 24, 2010


If there was a thread about someone that killed three people in a shopping mall at random, and someone asked for a picture of him, the mods wouldn't even notice.

In this case, the thread made the mods uncomfortable because passions were running high, and in that context, the mods felt that your request for a picture was threatening and mob-ish, even though it is born of the same motivations as any other request for a picture.

Is this fair? No. Is it justified? Probably not. But it's the way things work here. There's guidelines, but the mods don't work from a set of written formulas to reach judgments. It's why in previous MetaTalk threads, people are able to point out instances in which the mods did one thing, but later on, they did another, even though the circumstances were very similar. They're caring people working largely off of gut feel, not the Supreme Court working off of the Constitution.

Still, in the end, it generally works out better than, say, Reddit, or any user moderated site. The price we pay is that once in a great while you get screwed, and absolute fairness is not available for every comment deletion.

Sometimes, you should try to change the minds of the mods, like maybe when they've deleted an entire thread with lots of great information. In this case, OC, I know you feel wronged, but the world wouldn't change with the reinstatement of your comment.

I'd let it go, but I certainly understand why you're miffed.
posted by ignignokt at 10:17 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, there's nothing to reinstate. I didn't delete OC's comment; I quoted and replied to it and said "please don't do this".
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:33 PM on March 24, 2010


still looking for mike vanderboegh photos, need for inspiration for my teaparty fanart deviantart page. wanna draw a pic where him and greg w howard are fighting raul emmanuel but drawn like master chief and the arbiter fighting tartarus in halo 2. thanks
posted by threetoed at 11:27 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


OC, you can get a picture of this dude ANYWHERE. Is MeFi your only window on reality, or are you just trying to make some kind of statement here?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:43 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This individual is not a public figure. He's a guy with a web page, posting his opinions on the Internet, just like you and me.

I don't know what you do in your spare time, but I wouldn't call the opinions we express on Metafilter anywhere near equivalent to calling for violent physical attacks on politicians while leading militia groups on the side. He has made himself a public figure in every sense of the word agreed upon in common usage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 AM on March 25, 2010


I don't care if someone finds a picture of this guy and posts a link to it or not; or perhaps just MeMails it to Optimus, and yeah, maybe it was unnecessary to ask here (i.e. a good google can probably find a photo), but IMO it was in no way an unreasonable question. As for the argument that he's not a public figure--he's *nationwide news*, for crying out loud. That's pretty public.
posted by tzikeh at 1:50 AM on March 25, 2010


A theoretical:

The comment stands. Someone links a picture. Someone else links an address. No Metafilter members actually end up doing anything, but a week later Vanderboegh's run down in a hit-and-run while crossing the street after dinner one night. Optimus Chyme and Blazecock Pileon continue to rant freely on the internet and sleep soundly at night, free of the knowledge that *they personally* did anything to harm anyone else.

---

As someone who's lived, quite literally, way too close to the razor's edge on this issue, I can't overstate my support for the mod's position on this issue enough.

I think I've typed about it in these parts before - if my memory serves me correctly it was with regards to Prop 8, when someone posted a google-maps link that documented the physical addresses of those who made monetary contributions to the proposition.

Think about that for a second. Those are real addresses, many of them the exact locations where real people live or work. Somebody's father, or daughter, somebody's brother, or lover. There are faces with each of those names. Now, granted, they may be faces that support something that we as a community are vehemently opposed against (in general), but how would we feel about some right-wing nut-job site posting a similar link with the addresses of those who donated to causes opposing the bill? Because...some of those addresses would be our own. Doesn't feel so good when you turn it around, does it?

I realize that isn't what's in question here exactly, but its close enough.

When I was in 7th grade, some guy showed up at my school claiming to be related to me and needing to take me to meet my family, asking where I could be found. Fortunately the school administration was wise enough to call the cops, but he got away before they got there. This was at a time when my father had been in office and had taken a position on an issue that was rather disagreeable to a certain sub-set of his constituency.

I don't really give two shits who Vanderboegh is or what he's done or said or stands for or whatever. At the end of the day he's a person who probably has a family and people he cares about and people who care about him. Just like each of us do.

The internet makes a lot of wonderful things possible, but it also facilitates more than a couple very, very scary things. This is one of those things. And its a pre-condition to my presence on Metafilter.

The day we're done being upstanding enough to not resort to this kind of crap is the day I'm done here as well. I love this site and its members, but not more than my family or my own personal safety. I would hope most people here could say the same.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:02 AM on March 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


Allkindsoftime, your comment's import is highly offensive and without merit. Shame on you, sir.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 AM on March 25, 2010


"They suck, let's get 'em!"

Would you say that wanting to be there when an attorney general somewhere prosecutes under RICO falls under that Aegis? Because I would not only favorite the hell out of anyone who set me up with tickets to that show, but spouse them and all their loved ones!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:37 AM on March 25, 2010


You don't know how to use Google images?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:11 AM on March 25, 2010


I like that idea.
posted by gman at 4:42 AM on March 25, 2010


A theoretical:

The comment stands. Someone links a picture. Someone else links an address. No Metafilter members actually end up doing anything, but a week later Vanderboegh's run down in a hit-and-run while crossing the street after dinner one night. Optimus Chyme and Blazecock Pileon continue to rant freely on the internet and sleep soundly at night, free of the knowledge that *they personally* did anything to harm anyone else.


Allkindsoftime's shameful and ridiculous accusation seems to remain posted on Metafilter.

Therefore, for the record, and to protect myself from the possibility of future legal action because of allkindsoftime's accusation:

At no point in this thread or the original Metafilter thread did I ever wish harm — physical or otherwise — on Mr. Vanderboegh, either directly or indirectly. At no point did I state any personal opinion about this individual at any time.

Further:

Allkindsoftime is a worthless coward for accusing me of wanting to wish a violent death on someone without him actually having the courage to come out and say so.

Putting an "Oh, sorry, it's just a theoretical!" at the top is no excuse.

For allkindsoftime to insinuate that I said or meant anything other than what I did say is cowardly and disgusting.

Shame on allkindsoftime, and I hope the community will call out his comment as the ugly screed that it is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:28 AM on March 25, 2010


OC, you can get a picture of this dude ANYWHERE. Is MeFi your only window on reality, or are you just trying to make some kind of statement here?

FWIW, I just spent ten minutes looking and couldn't find one. Maybe I'm a search engine dummy, but at the least it isn't staring you in the face.
posted by Kwine at 5:44 AM on March 25, 2010


Oh great, another argument between the same people. And this time it's bold.
posted by smackfu at 5:45 AM on March 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'd like to call out Blazecock Pileon's egregious use of the bold tag. It really loses its power after about the third time.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:49 AM on March 25, 2010


JINX.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:49 AM on March 25, 2010


BP, I didn't think he had insinuated any such thing.

I thought allkindsoftime said that there was the possibility that, given a link to a photo and address to a certain person in a thread, somebody else on the whole wide Internet - somebody with less ethics than BP and OC - might see fit to cause that person a fatal accident.

He further implied that our failing to restrain ourselves in what is ultimately an exercise in futility and debasement (because we would never dogwhistle or commit actual violence, we know we wouldn't, still, talking about it speculatively demeans us) could, through no intent of our own, lead to someone's death or mangling. Would that be our fault? allkindsoftime thinks that it would.

last of all, the obvious implication is that if metafilter could be that cavalier about other people's security, somebody else might do us the same (dis)courtesy.

so AKOT says he would leave the community rather than be associated with a place that lacks self control and ethical behavior to the extent of causing reciprocal risk to its own members.

I could be wrong, or you could disagree, but I think that's the real import of the statement.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:49 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


BP, I didn't think he had insinuated any such thing.

He issued a false accusation, period. His rant was ugly and it needs to be removed. I don't want investigators at my door for things I did not say, type or do.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:55 AM on March 25, 2010


would you like it better if it contained no names, but otherwise remained as posted?
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:01 AM on March 25, 2010


don't want investigators at my door for things I did not say, type or do.

But I brought chips and salsa!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:07 AM on March 25, 2010


would you like it better if it contained no names, but otherwise remained as posted?

If there was any other intent than to falsely accuse me of wishing physical harm to another human being, then my name would not have been mentioned.

As it stands, whether allkindsoftime has an axe to grind or not, I don't give a damn. But I don't like being accused of that stuff. It's offensive and it's wrong, and I really wish it would get dealt with.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:08 AM on March 25, 2010


I read it again. he didn't accuse you of wishing physical harm to another human being. he suggested that you were pursuing a theoretical argument that could safely continue, whether or not somebody else made a dogwhistle out of it.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:13 AM on March 25, 2010


I read it again. he didn't accuse you of wishing physical harm to another human being.

He did, when there was no reason to do so and no reason to mention my name, at all. Seriously, what the fuck.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:15 AM on March 25, 2010


You don't know how to use Google images?

My initial reaction to this was: "You don't know how to read?", but let me please repeat what I said last night, in case you missed it.

"Image results on Google are really awful...probably by his design. Cowards don't ever want to come out from behind their curtains if they don't have to..."

So in other words, he and his ilk are perfectly comfortable targeting people they disagree with and giving their crazy adherents the tools with which to threaten and harass, yet they're big, stupid sissies who won't subject themselves to the same standard.

I'm a public figure when it comes to my area of expertise. Plug in my name into Google Images and you're going to get at least three different headshots of me, let alone all the other stuff. Someone who is bored and has enough time on their hands could very easily track me down if they wanted to. Such is life. It's part and parcel of being "famous" (note, these are sarcasm quotes, because it's not like designers and authors at my level are, you know, Stephen King).

He brought it on himself by his actions in the same way I caused people to want to interact with me by publishing so many books people like. The only difference is that I'm not a crazy person calling for my adherents to go throw bricks through crocheters' windows.

If I remember correctly, they did show a photo of him on Maddow the other night. Is she going to get blamed if someone cuts his BBQ grill gas line now?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:17 AM on March 25, 2010


Hey, I read on Metafilter that Mike Vanderboegh is a filthy girl-toucher. Is this true?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:40 AM on March 25, 2010


well, as Jessamyn pointed out upthread, there's a difference between having your contact information on the Internet and having someone specifically call attention to your contact information in the context of a thread about something you said or did that made somebody on the whole wide Internet unhappy. I still think that's the distinction we're talking about here.

and if Mike VanderCrazypants wants to post his own address, phone number, driver license photo and google streetview on his own website, that's his business. But I wouldn't put it here, or even link to it here because 1) we have a thread about how much he makes us cry and 2) we're savvy Internet users, not a bunch of WHYLOs who don't know how to search. if you want it, go find it yourself, don't ask for it here and put that thought in 10 bajillion other minds.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:45 AM on March 25, 2010


bitter-girl: anecdatapoint - I am profligate in my indiscretion online but the only GIS hits in the first 5 pages of a search on my not-too-common first and last names are two small social networking headshot thumbnails...
posted by jtron at 6:45 AM on March 25, 2010


He brought it on himself by his actions

But the argument that "he started it!" is not required to be resolved by Metafilter answering in kind. That's the point. If OC wants to go do whatever with a picture of this guy, well, fine, but he doesn't get to make the rest of mefi play along. To me, that's the issue here.

I happen to think the "he started it!" argument is a never-ending rabbit hole and therefore a bad argument, but if OC or anyone else here wants to go that way, the metafilter policy is go do that in your own sandbox, not this one.
posted by rtha at 6:45 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh my god you guys no one must ask what a domestic terrorist looks like it's just so, so mean

dropping this only out of respect for cortex

OC out
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:55 AM on March 25, 2010


Because I suspect that rather than looking like a Noble Freedom-Loving Warrior sent to defend The Greatest Nation on Earth from its own Evil Black President, he is a stoop-shouldered, gross old man with old man breath...

This comment is blatantly and disgustingly ageist. What, exactly, would his being "old" have to do with anything, Optimus Chyme? What do you have against old people? While we're at it, what do you have against stoop-shouldered people?
Take your bigotry and your hate elsewhere.
posted by rocket88 at 7:01 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


THIS IS WHAT A DOMESTIC TERRORIST LOOKS LIKE

as a person of grossness with old man breath I decry your insensitivity, OC
posted by jtron at 7:03 AM on March 25, 2010


I'm a crusader for justice...on the internet.

In real life I sit on the internet and post alot about crusading for justice.
posted by Schmoopy at 7:03 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


What, exactly, would his being "old" have to do with anything

AARP discounts on ammo? Because the rEVOLution must be over by five to make the Early Bird Buffet?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 AM on March 25, 2010


Matlock on the new three dollar bills?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:11 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Acts of domestic terrorism rich in fiber and age-essential nutrients like Calcium, B Vitamins and antioxidants to keep pace with your changing nutritional needs?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:15 AM on March 25, 2010


nope
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:16 AM on March 25, 2010


Because the rEVOLution must be over by five to make the Early Bird Buffet?

Well, Jim Bunning says Senate hearings have to be over by 2 p.m. so he can get his nap
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:18 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I don't like being accused of that stuff.

Nobody accused you of wanting or doing anything other than what you're explicitly saying you want: this guy's photo posted.

The idea that what you want could lead to some ugly places is, well, something you might want to consider.
posted by ook at 7:26 AM on March 25, 2010


toodleydoodley, that was seriously one of the more fucked up things to have happened over the past few days, if you ask me. It's the McCain "take your ball and go home" shit that annoys me even more than Teabags McDomesticTerrorismPants, all things considered. We expect guys like Vanderboegh to act like dicks -- supposedly there's a higher standard for sitting Congressfolk.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:33 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, if you're planning on using what he looks like to undermine his message, you're going to look like you don't have much of a message yourself.

Except that the people who believe his message are the same ones who get swayed by a pretty face. He's not trying to convince reasoning adults of sound minds with an image.
posted by scrutiny at 7:36 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


We expect guys like Vanderboegh to act like dicks -- supposedly there's a higher standard for sitting Congressfolk.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:33 AM on March 25 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]


that's the mind-blower for me too. however, the longer this stupidity goes on - and for Bunning, it's gone on for years (and FWIW his district loves that shit - their bumper stickers read "don't blame me, I voted for Bunning") - the more "normal" it becomes.

the whole fucking party needs a long time-out, and then it needs to eat all its dinner, and I'm still not sure about dessert, and then a nap, and then we'll talk about it.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:44 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


From wiki:
In April 2006, Time magazine called him one of America's Five Worst Senators. The magazine dubbed him The Underperformer for his "lackluster performance", saying he "shows little interest in policy unless it involves baseball", and criticized his hostility towards staff and fellow Senators and his "bizarre behavior" during his 2004 campaign.
posted by electroboy at 8:10 AM on March 25, 2010


He did, when there was no reason to do so and no reason to mention my name, at all. Seriously, what the fuck.
No, he really didn't. Are you pretending to act like a loony to make some kind of point?
posted by planet at 8:13 AM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


saying he "shows little interest in policy unless it involves baseball"

Oh my god, so in other words, he's the next Dubya? AWESOME. /snark snark snark
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:38 AM on March 25, 2010


Hoppittamoppita + grar+ ??? = METATALK!!!
posted by josher71 at 8:41 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, he really didn't. Are you pretending to act like a loony to make some kind of point?

Flagged. Your comment is offensive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:12 AM on March 25, 2010


Whatever you are doing, BP, it's kind of weird.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:17 AM on March 25, 2010


I just don't like baseless accusations of the kind that was in this thread. I should not have been called out that way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2010


I think BP is trying to make a point that people on MetaFilter are big giant crybabies who are offended by stupid nothings because they are whiners and dumb. NOTE THIS IS SPECULATION ON MY PART AND NOT AN ASSERTION PLEASE DO NOT BREAK MY KNEECAPS BP LIKE YOU DID TO THAT ONE OTHER GUY
posted by shakespeherian at 9:22 AM on March 25, 2010


Optimus Chyme and Blazecock Pileon continue to rant freely on the internet and sleep soundly at night, free of the knowledge that *they personally* did anything to harm anyone else.


Yeah, and? I mean, I get that you're insinuating that BP and OC are somehow contributing to an atmosphere that creates harm or bad behavior without personally being involved, and ostensibly drawing a rhetorical parallel between them and Vanderboegh. But the thing is, that's a specious comparison—OC and BP want Vanderboegh stopped, not killed, and frankly, I can see why BP is offended at your implication of indirect responsibility. It kinda feels like you're singling him out because of a grudge, not because of the substance of anything he said. But if something bad happened to any number of public figures I happen to despise, I damn well sure will sleep well at night because I had nothing to do with it.
posted by klangklangston at 9:29 AM on March 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


"I just don't like baseless accusations of the kind that was in this thread. I should not have been called out that way."

No, you shouldn't have been. But you are coming across as way more aggrieved than social custom dictates. It was baseless, fair readers will grasp that themselves, and all you're doing is letting folks gin you up.
posted by klangklangston at 9:34 AM on March 25, 2010


all you're doing is letting folks gin you up

Yeah, you're right. All I said was that the guy was a militia leader who had been in the news, and that therefore he's a public figure. Apparently that means I'm one of two really bad people on Metafilter who would be okay with him being run over by a car, despite trying to clarify my non-violent view as best as I could. Ah, well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:37 AM on March 25, 2010


It's not a baseless accusation, BP. I know you're all het up about this, and to be honest if you're even a tenth as offended as you've proclaimed you are in this thread I don't doubt that you're probably about to combust internally. But what allkindsoftime said was perfectly rational, and if you calm down a moment I can't but believe that you'll see that.

Seriously – read it again. The situation he laid out was this: you and Optimus Chyme have argued here that it's reasonable to ask for this person's picture. No matter what your intentions in asking for that picture, you argued that it was a reasonable request, and I don't think you can deny that. allkindsoftime's hypothetical was: what if, regardless of your inner hopes and dreams, the fact that that request was granted led to a dire situation for the person? The only accusation allkindsoftime made of you was that you would be callous and unfeeling enough not to care if someone died because of it; and maybe that's a rough accusation, but it's far from accusing someone of actively trying to get someone killed. He really didn't even come close to accusing you of any such thing, nor did he even imply that you'd hope something like that would happen.

I think the purpose of the hypothetical was to jar you into thinking about the possible consequences of your argument that this is a reasonable request. And honestly I take his point, which is a good one.

Finally, regardless of everything else, the request isn't a very nice one, and I wish you'd see that. Context matters. You can pretend that there's no context by proclaiming that this is a public figure, so it's reasonable to ask for the picture, but proclaiming it doesn't make it so. The simple fact is that, for all of us watching this turn of events on metafilter, here's the play-by-play:

1. Asshole right-winger angrily posts someone's personal info on the internet, urging fellow travelers to "stop on by" the person's house.
2. Person who info belongs to has their gas line cut, potentially threatening their life.
3. OC says: What an asshole. Hey, by the way, can somebody get me a picture of this guy?
4. You say: A picture? Seems like a reasonable request.

How hard it to see that, when you ask to see a picture of someone who you admit has just done something terrible and despicable, it's a little worrying, to say the least? I know you didn't ask for the picture, but you must have noticed that it was a very worrying and unfortunate request to make, didn't you?

I'm certain that OC didn't mean anything by it, and that he brought it here because he was stung by the deletion, not because he was actually angry that he didn't get the picture. I'm pretty sure that all he wanted to do was mock the guy and make fun of him a bit. But your defense of his request just exacerbated the problem, because, to any rational person with the context in mind, it's an odd thing to ask for. You yourself have admitted here that the only reason anyone would want the guy's picture is because he's done something despicable. How is that a reason? And how does that not have all sorts of worrying implications, whether those implications are true or not?
posted by koeselitz at 9:44 AM on March 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm sorta baffled by why this is an issue at all.

BP didn't ask for this man's phone number, address, email address or anything - just a picture. I had to read the thread twice to really believe that people were upset by this - why? What exactly will a picture do? Do you expect BP to somehow track him down with a picture?

And I myself was reading the article and thinking, "I wonder what this guy looks like." I do that all the time when I read news stories - this is why news articles will often have photographs of the people involved - so you can look at them in the face. It's particularly true with criminals - you look at them and say, "Wow, this is what someone who does [insert crime or bad thing here] looks like.

If BP hadn't done it, I would have - in all innocence.

I don't see one person here presenting any sort of reasonable scenario where posting this picture (which BTW seems to be impossible to find anyway) causes any sort of harm or mischief. If the picture's already on the internet, anyone crazy enough to want to harm this man will find it, and anyone lazy enough not to find the picture on their own isn't going to be the sort of person to commit a crime.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that BP was looking for the photo to make fun of this person. And what's wrong with that? Isn't this guy a public figure - by choice? Aren't they in essence threatening terrible things? Why does he deserve protection from ridicule?

And the fact that the person under discussion is a disgusting waste of protoplasm isn't central to the issue - but it does make it even more ridiculous that so many people are contorting reasonable logic to protect an awful person.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:52 AM on March 25, 2010


"the fact that that request was granted led to a dire situation for the person?"

If you presented some even vaguely plausible scenario where this might be the case, you might have an argument.

As I said - if the picture existed on the net, someone determined to do this man harm could easily find it. And it's really unclear how a picture is really very useful in the quest to do someone harm, compared to, say, an address.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:55 AM on March 25, 2010


I think the issue isn't that there was a request for a photo like 'Hmm, just out of curiosity, what does he look like? I often wonder what people look like when I'm reading news stories' but it was specifically as follows:
The collectivist bloggos are making much of the fact that after suffering congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension, that I fell back on Social Security Disability. They feel that I am hypocritical for taking government pennies.

P.S. Anyone with a good photo of this guy gets mad favorites. Please come through for me.
To my eyes, it comes across as, at best, let's see how decrepit and falling-aparty this guy looks so we can mock him, or, at worst, let's begin the angry mob process. It was left up by the mods, and cortex simply said 'can we please not do this.' It's still there; you can go take a look at it. The entire situation reads, to me, as 'This is something we would like to discourage, because it can go to bad places, and doesn't seem to have any good places to go besides that.' The fact that the original comment is still up would seem to indicate that it is not verboten, but rather something we'd like to discourage, as a community.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:59 AM on March 25, 2010


I'm going to disagree with the Mods here and rebel. Optimus, here is a picture of Mike Vanderboegh taken at a recent family gathering. Please use sensitively.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:00 AM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The comment stands. Someone links a picture. Someone else links an address.

Well considering that the last part there is very much forbidden and has been discussed at length, this argument fails completely.
posted by Big_B at 10:02 AM on March 25, 2010


lupus_yonderboy: “As I said - if the picture existed on the net, someone determined to do this man harm could easily find it. And it's really unclear how a picture is really very useful in the quest to do someone harm, compared to, say, an address.”

How hard is it to understand that there are creepy implications in the request? This guy is a total asshole. Say, I'd really like his picture - can somebody get that for me?

Seriously, I would think that this would be blindingly obvious. It's a weird request. It implies certain things. I know OC and BP well enough to know that neither of them ever meant to imply those things, but I would think at this point it's clear to everybody that those implications are there.

And I think the only reason BP and OC might still be upset about it is because their pride has been hurt, and because they feel insulted at having been accused of intentionally implying something that they never meant to indicate.
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 AM on March 25, 2010


Also, may I add that this fellow is actually using a nom de guerre and that attempts to track him down using official records is going to draw a blank.

As anyone can tell you, "vanderboegh" is actually the noise a Nazi makes when he coughs.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:03 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


so many people are contorting reasonable logic to protect an awful person.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:52 PM on March 25 [+] [!]


I can see your point, except - I don't think the aim is to protect an awful person. I think the aim is to protect ourselves and other not-awful people from the consequences of mob rage.

nobody's saying OC shouldn't be able to go look up this guy's picture and if he wants to, go ride by his house and yell insults out the car window. it's a free country and if the guy's outside, you can see him. in fact, if OC knows somebody who's better at image searching than he is, I don't think anybody has a problem with OC asking that dude, "hey, can you find me a picture of this particular dickhead."

but, I think we do have a problem with somebody asking in public if anybody has a picture of this guy, when the result of anybody having a picture will be the posting of a link to the picture, which eventually (in the context of a "let's show this motherfucker something" thread) looks a lot like tacking up a "Wanted" poster for the whole Internet to see.

there's so much noise on the web, it's really hard to find people, addresses and pictures, even when they're in plain sight. OTOH, when people start posting signs and arrows telling you where someone is and what to do about it, you can lose control of your little public shame project really fast if the wrong person follows your directions. what if - like in the case we're talking about - we get a link to the wrong picture or address?

Oops.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:05 AM on March 25, 2010


The comment stands. Someone links a picture. Someone else links an address.

Well considering that the last part there is very much forbidden and has been discussed at length, this argument fails completely.
posted by Big_B at 1:02 PM on March 25 [+] [!]


lots of things are forbidden. doesn't mean they don't happen. the other side of free will is self control.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:06 AM on March 25, 2010


To my eyes, it comes across as, at best, let's see how decrepit and falling-aparty this guy looks so we can mock him,

I'm sorry - why aren't we allowed to do that? I mean, it's not like we didn't post a zillion pictures of Bush and mock him, right? Here's a man who is encouraging people to commit violence - who has become a public figure through his own efforts - who stands for things like the violent overthrow of our elected government - why, exactly, should we be protecting him from the mockery he so deeply deserves, the mockery he applies to the rest of us?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:07 AM on March 25, 2010


I think the aim is to protect ourselves and other not-awful people from the consequences of mob rage.

Give me, please, some even vaguely plausible scenario where this happens. It's not like we're talking about MeFi hosting the picture, are we? We're talking about a link to a picture that exists on some other server!

Again - we make fun of Kim Jung Il on this site all the time. He's been known to do terrible things to people all over the world. Does that mean we shouldn't do it?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:11 AM on March 25, 2010


lupus_yonderboy: “Again - we make fun of Kim Jung Il on this site all the time. He's been known to do terrible things to people all over the world. Does that mean we shouldn't do it?”

You're not paying attention. shakespeherian said that that was the likelihood at best. The fact remains that there are unfortunate implications. This guy hurt people by spreading info on the internet. The request was to spread is picture on the internet. Regardless of the intent of the request, it implied certain things we don't want to imply. How difficult is this for you to grasp?

The implications were unfortunate enough that, regardless of the poster's (relatively) innocuous intentions, the comment had to be deleted, end of. And, yes, OC just wanted to make fun of the guy. But he doesn't have such a burning need to make fun of the guy that we should abrogate all concerns about unfortunate implications that might make us look like we're saying something that we're definitely not.

I think it's really, really important that those of us who are actually right-thinking folks respond to this guy with a resounding "this person is acting in a low and despicable manner, and we won't stoop to his level." Like it or not, OC's comment appeared to be stooping. So it had to go.
posted by koeselitz at 10:15 AM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


existing scenario - Mike VonDipwit posts the address of the congressman's brother and somebody creeps up and cuts the congressman's brother's propane line.

equally plausible scenario - someone on MeFi links an Internet photo of Mike VonDipwit that they got from some source other than the DMV (so it may or may not be MVonDipwit); someone else posts an address they got out of the Qwest database that may or may not be up to date - maybe Mike moved and somebody else lives there now. Three weeks later, after we've moved on, somebody else on the whole wide Internet reads this thread (because this is not our private intranet), sees the photo and address and goes out and commits (insert personal or property crime) at the wrong house.

also, are you seriously comparing Joe Private Citizen with the Dear Leader in any realm of the real world?
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:19 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're not paying attention.

I am paying attention.

Regardless of the intent of the request, it implied certain things we don't want to imply. How difficult is this for you to grasp?

Apparently, impossible. Again, what does posting a link to another site imply? I do not see it.

(I might add that I'm being quite polite here - might I ask you to do the same? Thanks!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:21 AM on March 25, 2010


someone else posts an address

As we know, addresses are forbidden to post on MeFi for this very reason. You might as well start your scenario with BP buying Vanderwhoosie an ice cream.

also, are you seriously comparing Joe Private Citizen with the Dear Leader in any realm of the real world?

This is not "Joe Private Citizen" - this is "Joe Public Figure" by his own choice.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:24 AM on March 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is what I said last night, which addresses the actual thing that happened on the site and more or less the scope of what we're actually looking at in terms of site policy.

Arguments to the extreme on either side really don't have much basis for application to the reality of what generally goes on (and what we'd prefer not to have go on) around here. We don't want to see mefi tread in ugly or problematic directions, and that's why I spoke up in the thread on the blue to ask OC and people in general not to take the sort of tack OC's request took. It's neither an attempt to defend jackasses nor an accusation that OC had genuinely malicious intent; it's an attempt to keep things around here from even moving into the territory where that sort of thing would be a serious concern.

And, again: the comment was not deleted.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:25 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like it or not, OC's comment appeared to be stooping. So it had to go.

That's an astonishingly low barrier to censorship - one that Metafilter certainly doesn't apply anywhere else!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:26 AM on March 25, 2010


actually, I only came in to say that I didn't think AKOT was explicitly accusing either OC or BP of deliberately wishing or trying to cause harm to another person, but merely that their requests *could* (not would, just could) cause harm and that could result in blowback for all users here.

unfortunately, I stayed to defend AKOT's argument itself, which is that posting links to a photo is a slippery slope to posting links to an address, which, accurate or not (photos/addresses) could lead to harm on the intended person or another.

I'm not sure the extent to which I believe that, so I'm out. sorry to burn so many pixels.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:29 AM on March 25, 2010


Hey, I just saw whatsisface on the teevee! Keep an eye out for a doughy older white dude with glasses that sort of looks like an accountant or your dad.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:29 AM on March 25, 2010


Slippery slope arguments are always wrong. There isn't one real-world thing that isn't applicable to slippery slope arguments. Any policy, any idea, any real world thing is amenable to it. If you eat sugar, how can you condemn crack? If you discipline your child, how can you condemn child murder?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:37 AM on March 25, 2010


Even if posting/linking the photo never led to violence, or for some reason had no possibility of leading to real world violence, it would still serve as an object for your Two Minutes Hate, a fruitless and pointless effort serving only to cement in your mind this person's otherness and despicableness.

If I were to show you a line up of 5 pasty old guys, would you know which one you were supposed to hate? Do you hope to divine some further insight into what ignorance looks like?

I don't think this is an activity thoughtful people should engage in. I'd like to think MetaFilter is filled with thoughtful people.
posted by fontophilic at 10:43 AM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry - why aren't we allowed to do that? I mean, it's not like we didn't post a zillion pictures of Bush and mock him, right?

I didn't say we aren't allowed to do that. In fact, I pointed out that that comment was left up. I said that we'd like to discourage that.

I also said that the best-case scenario was that it came from a desire to mock the appearance of a guy who has several health problems. We are allowed to do this, yes. Why would we want to encourage that sort of thing, though?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on March 25, 2010


I really can't believe that on Metafilter I'm reading people supporting mocking somebody's appearance. Is this a fucking beauty pageant? This asshole's ideas and actions are ugly. That's what should be mocked and abhorred. Are people's ideas more abhorrent if they're ugly? Are they more palatable if they're good looking?

WTF people.
posted by kmz at 11:07 AM on March 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


Why would we want to encourage that sort of thing, though?

Allowing is not encouraging.

I'm reading people supporting mocking somebody's appearance.

Allowing is not supporting.

I might also add that the idea of suppressing a link to someone's photo because you fear that we might mock it is going pretty far.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:18 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


help help I'm being suppressed.
posted by rtha at 11:20 AM on March 25, 2010


I might also add that the idea of suppressing a link to someone's photo because you fear that we might mock it is going pretty far.

Who has suppressed anything? Cortex asked that we please not do that sort of thing. The original comment was not deleted.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:22 AM on March 25, 2010


Thanks, cortex, for pointing out again that the comment was not deleted. I'd missed that. That means we're not really talking about censorship here – we're talking about whether or not something should be in the thread, or in metatalk.

lupus_yonderboy: “Apparently, impossible. Again, what does posting a link to another site imply? I do not see it. ¶ (I might add that I'm being quite polite here - might I ask you to do the same? Thanks!)”

*sigh* Is it not possible for a request for a picture to imply something? Seriously, every single time I say this you ignore what I say, so why should I say it again?

How in god's name is it polite for you to ignore what other people are saying when you're capable of actually responding to their arguments? I know very well that you're an intelligent and thoughtful person, so the only possibility is that you're being disingenuous when you say that you just don't understand what we're on about.

Guy who's an asshole spreads personal info viciously on internet.

Someone on metafilter says, "hey, that guy is an asshole! Say, can someone spread his personal photo to me on the internet please?"

Connect the dots – the implication's there. If you know OC and BP like I do, you know they would never intend that implication, but I'm sure most of the people flagging the comment don't know them that well, and for them, it's a perfectly reasonable assumption to make.

Honestly, I've spelled this out three or four times already. Either tell me I'm wrong and give an argument, or let it go, but please cut it out with the aloof "I simply don't understand" stuff - I know for a fact you're more intelligent than that.
posted by koeselitz at 11:26 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I might also add that the idea of suppressing a link to someone's photo because you fear that we might mock it is going pretty far.

Yup. And that's not what happened. It's tough since we do a lot of decision-making on an ad hoc basis, to figure out what might happen in a slightly different hypothetical where the premises were slightly different. And I'm sure that our "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" approach can be more than a little maddening sometimes.

That said, the facts of this exchange include who was asking, the tenor of the thread, what was already being said, what the thread was about, what we did [and did not do] and how people reacted to it. No links were suppressed and we explained pretty patiently and without rancor why we feel that this is something that is important to the site. And that if people wanted to talk about that, the proper place to do that is here and not in the thread itself.

We do not want to encourage an atmosphere that implies a "let's get 'em" mob dynamic mentality here on this site. People can go elsewhere and do that sort of thing if they want to. Jeering at and taunting people who are not even on the site [evil people, nice people, I don't care] is really not a great community dynamic and we'd love to see less of it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:34 AM on March 25, 2010


Great work here by mods and koeslitz, king of metatalk, towards the continued reasonableness and sanity of blue threads. The entire left side of the country could learn a lot from the metafilter attitude: stay positive and focus on what's actually important, in the face of any and all madness. If you accept the rules of the game from the forces of chaos, you have already lost.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:42 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also said that the best-case scenario was that it came from a desire to mock the appearance of a guy who has several health problems. We are allowed to do this, yes. Why would we want to encourage that sort of thing, though?

I really can't believe that on Metafilter I'm reading people supporting mocking somebody's appearance. Is this a fucking beauty pageant? This asshole's ideas and actions are ugly. That's what should be mocked and abhorred. Are people's ideas more abhorrent if they're ugly? Are they more palatable if they're good looking?

As a person whose appearance would be mocked by many people on this website (and I know because I have so very many times enjoyed reading comments mocking the appearance of people who resemble me in certain ways), I'd like to say that I really appreciate shakespherian's consistent voice in this thread, and kmz's as well.
posted by not that girl at 11:50 AM on March 25, 2010


We do not want to encourage an atmosphere that implies a "let's get 'em" mob dynamic mentality here on this site.

Well, I'm checking out of this - but I still fail to see how posting a link to a picture of a public figure in any way encourages a "let's get 'em" mob dynamic.

I was interested to see the face of someone who's plotting violent overthrow of the US government; I still am; I have no interest in "getting" this guy in the slightest.

If we had posted such a link and people had mocked it, you could have flagged those comments and moved on.

And to claim that the moderator stepping in and saying, "Don't answer this question" isn't suppressing the question is simply not so.

(Still, I love this place, and this fairly civilized conversation is one of the reasons why... have a good day!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:58 AM on March 25, 2010


I also said that the best-case scenario was that it came from a desire to mock the appearance of a guy who has several health problems.

It's a guy who has several health problems and is encouraging violence against the people who would allow others to receive the same help he's getting for those health problems. That's the thing. Once a person becomes that kind of deranged, I'm no longer inclined to accept the health problems as a reason not to insult him or her.

Yeah, I want to see what this clown looks like and Google images hasn't been all that helpful. But I also sorta understand that Metafilter might not be the place to track that shit down. Having said that, anyone who thinks that OC would've backed off had the man appeared to be attractive is sorely unfamiliar with OC's ability to compose an insult. This man is a shithead and his shithead appearance confirms this no matter what he looks like. It's the nice thing about shitheads.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:32 PM on March 25, 2010


I still fail to see how posting a link to a picture of a public figure in any way encourages a "let's get 'em" mob dynamic.

I'm not trying to be overly snarky here, but this is why you're not a moderator. Anticipating the effects of certain conversational directions on the overall tone of a thread is what a mod does, and ours here are damned good at it.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:32 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


hi-res pictures of koeselitz!
posted by jtron at 1:41 PM on March 25, 2010




Christ. It's all fun and games until someone has to swear out a restraining order.

I damn near considered that after some nut posted my personal info on my Congressman's Facebook page. And I'm a sweetheart there, let me tell you. No name calling, I provide cites, I ignore idiots, the whole bit.

It got taken down, but it still showed up in peoples' notifications. Dammit, I just had to take a Xanax because now I'm reliving it.

So yeah, even asking for that kind of thing will feed the paranoia - not do any "demythologizing". It won't help, and it'll likely hurt.

The FBI/authorities are apparently looking into this guy? Great. That's all I need to know.
posted by lysdexic at 2:49 PM on March 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we start posting photos of pubic figures now?
posted by qvantamon at 2:51 PM on March 25, 2010


Provide links to television station interviews that Vanderboegh did with affiliate networks weeks before he incited violence against the federal government? Sure ... if you want to get banhammered >:_)
posted by Damn That Television at 3:58 PM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Because I suspect that rather than looking like a Noble Freedom-Loving Warrior sent to defend The Greatest Nation on Earth from its own Evil Black President, he is a stoop-shouldered, gross old man with old man breath who spends a lot of time checking out teenage girls at Denny's. His followers clearly think a great deal of him, because so far he has been extraordinarily successful at inciting violence.

Demythologize him, expose him for the physical wretch he is, undermine his influence."

posted by vapidave at 6:43 PM on March 25, 2010


Vanderboegh said he once worked as a warehouse manager but now lives on government disability checks. He said he receives $1,300 a month because of his congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension. He has private health insurance through his wife, who works for a company that sells forklift products.

Definite libertarian warrior material.
posted by Rumple at 8:19 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slippery slope arguments are always wrong. There isn't one real-world thing that isn't applicable to slippery slope arguments. Any policy, any idea, any real world thing is amenable to it. If you eat sugar, how can you condemn crack? If you discipline your child, how can you condemn child murder?

Wait, so you can't make slippery slope arguments ever because that would put you on a slippery slope to making them always?
posted by yarrow at 8:34 PM on March 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can see why BP is offended at your implication of indirect responsibility. It kinda feels like you're singling him out because of a grudge, not because of the substance of anything he said.

For the record, I have no personal axe to grind with BP, OC, or anyone else on MeFi on this matter. I was simply a) sighting OC as the OP and b) sighting BP as the biggest stated supporter of his cause in this regard, in this thread. Of note:

---

I'd strongly disagree that this is an inappropriate request. The individual is a public figure and in the news. A photo is not contact information.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:58 AM on March 25 [26 favorites +] [!]

---

So, judging by count of favorite, there are at least 26 other people who I could list in that same original sentence, people who apparently think that this is not an inappropriate request.

I *do* think its an inappropriate request, or at least one that sets up a very uncomfortable and very unnecessary precedent. I use MeTa as my venue to state my opinion, the same way BP did his. I don't apologize for that.

BP, I while I can understand your offense at my implication of your indirect responsibility in the injury of another person, I don't think that anything of that nature has happened, and so my implication remains a hypothetical. I should point out I could very well add my own name - allkindsoftime - to the list of community members who *could* be complicit indirectly in such an occurrence, were MeFi as a community and website somehow able to serve as a resource to ANYONE WITH ACCESS TO THE INTERNET who might find materials to help them do something that neither you nor I would ever support let alone condone.

I hope you can accept that I didn't mean to besmirch you personally and I think nothing less of you as a person, while I maintain a different point of view from yours as clearly stated on this matter. Further, I don't appreciate your reducing this conversation to name-calling - I'd submit that I am not the childish one in this discussion.

Last, I would apologize for my inability to rejoin the discussion until now based on my time zone and limited access to the internet, but after reading the above I suppose its best that I was not here.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:16 AM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Demythologize him, expose him for the physical wretch he is, undermine his influence.

You mean....you'd do something like this?

If you dislike the Tea Baggers, why would you borrow techniques from their playbook?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think that's what he was intending.
posted by shmegegge at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2010


Yeah, I don't think that's what he was intending.

What, other than who's doing the requesting, is the difference in these two instances? Both parties are holding up the way someone looks and spoofing it in an effort to discredit them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 PM on March 26, 2010


I think there's a big difference between a photoshopped ignorant propaganda piece and just asking for a pic.
posted by shmegegge at 6:58 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think there's a big difference between a photoshopped ignorant propaganda piece and just asking for a pic.

Even when the clearly-stated reason for the request is so that one can "demythologize him, expose him for the physical wretch he is, undermine his influence"?

It's not the request itself, it's the stated reason for the request I'm looking at.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:39 PM on March 26, 2010


Even when the clearly-stated reason for the request is so that one can "demythologize him, expose him for the physical wretch he is, undermine his influence"?

well, there's a whole rest of a comment there, where he explains that he believes his followers mythologize him and imagine him to be some idealized man. he then explains that he believes a photo of the actual man will shatter this image. so yes, I think that's different. Maybe the end result would have been silly and not great. But nothing about his request or his stated intentions strike me as being even remotely similar to the pic you posted.
posted by shmegegge at 9:07 PM on March 26, 2010


But nothing about his request or his stated intentions strike me as being even remotely similar to the pic you posted.

Which is a large part of why I didn't post my link. I just didn't see any good reason to do it.
posted by scalefree at 10:13 PM on March 26, 2010


well, there's a whole rest of a comment there, where he explains that he believes his followers mythologize him and imagine him to be some idealized man. he then explains that he believes a photo of the actual man will shatter this image. so yes, I think that's different.

Even when Obama's opponents -- hell, even a lot of them here -- accuse Obama's supporters of "mythologizing him" and "imagining him to be an idealized man"? How many times have you seen cracks in here about whether or not Obama walks on water?

Mind you -- I think the Photoshop I linked to was just too damn silly to be worth getting upset about. I generally think using pictures TO demythologize people is a cheap and immature shot anyway. What I consistently fail to understand, though, is why people who claim to be "better" than their rivals actually turn to using the very same tactics which their rivals are using to rile THEM up, and why they fail to see that this is making THEM look just as silly and immature and ridiculous as the people they're trying to combat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 AM on March 27, 2010


Just to be clear, there's nothing to reinstate. I didn't delete OC's comment; I quoted and replied to it and said "please don't do this".

Oh. Sorry about that, mods!
posted by ignignokt at 6:05 AM on March 29, 2010


yeah that's it i was going to do a shitty photoshop

you cracked the case
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:50 AM on March 29, 2010


you cracked the case

There's a really easy way to not make people have to guess what it is you plan on doing with something, and that's to just tell them up front rather than dancing around the issue.
posted by scalefree at 3:04 PM on March 29, 2010


I already explained exactly what I wanted the photo for - to satisfy my curiosity, a, and b, to have a laugh at a gross old man wearing a trademarked "depressing divorced dad" windbreaker. This has already been covered in the thread. Guessing about dumb Photoshop shit came last, for unfathomable reasons.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:33 AM on March 30, 2010


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