Quarantine On Aisle 96818 April 21, 2010 11:14 AM   Subscribe

User A asserts that all people with HIV should be rounded up and quarantined for life. User B points out that User A has a history of really ugly, hate-filled opinions that are not suitable for MetaFilter. Mod snips the latter comment, leaves the former, and reminds all and sundry that MeTa is the place to discuss community standards and personal issues. So here we are.

While I agree that perhaps Optimus Chyme should have posted here in the first place instead of in the thread on the blue, I am surprised and disappointed that pla's line of reasoning is allowed to persist in that thread. Cool assertions that gays (I mean, people with HIV!) should be rounded up into concentration camps (sorry -- I mean lifelong quarantine centers!) are almost impossible to counter pla without making it personal, or without taking this commentor's history into consideration.
posted by hermitosis to Etiquette/Policy at 11:14 AM (501 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

...are almost impossible to counter pla without making it personal, or without taking this commentor's history into consideration.

I didn't see Optimus' comment.

But I suppose it's worth noting that several people in that thread have responded to pla without making it personal, including lupus_yonderboy, stringbean, girlgenius, two or three cars parked under the stars, Brother Dysk and others.
posted by zarq at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


pla's first comment is fair; bringing up his (or her) posting history is not. While it isn't congruous with the general consensus of MeFi, the idea of quarantining people with terminal, infectious diseases is as old as the notion of eugenics. And while that line of argument runs contrary to many current notions of human rights, it's still at least worthy of philosophical interest.

Bringing up user's history, as has been discussed about thirteen billion times on MeTa, is generally not cool and kind of douchey, honestly.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could respond to pla's idea without making it personal or about their history like this: "HIV is not a disease that is transmitted to others by virtue of simply being in proximity to them. Ergo, your analogies to the plague fail."

It wasn't hard.
posted by modernnomad at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


on preview, what zarq and modernnomad said.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:28 AM on April 21, 2010


Without some context of overt homophobia (which may be in other threads) it's a reasonable if somewhat ignorant question. By reasonable I mean not deliberately trolling.

I strongly disagree with the characterization of Pla as hate filled, I think he/she is cold, overly-analytical, not very empathic and has a kind of mechanistic world view combined with difficulty articulating him/herself without ambiguity. (Sorry Pla)
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:30 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's almost impossible to argue with bigots simply because they don't listen to reason. It's for the same reason that the KKK deny that they are racist. I mean the idea of quarantine for people with AIDS is so ludicrous not only in it's morality, but also in it's implementation that it's pretty much given that pla is a troll.

It would be like proposing the solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to kill all the Jews or all the Palestinians. Only a troll or someone who is incapable of adding any worth to the discussion would say such a thing. Something really needs to be done about pla.
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:30 AM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


everyone to the clinics for your annual HIV screening NOW! Failure to comply earns you a trip to Aidsville.

sheesh, some ideas just never go out of style.
posted by edgeways at 11:31 AM on April 21, 2010


But I suppose it's worth noting that several people in that thread have responded to pla

And kudos to them, but they don't speak for everyone, and they aren't able to speak to the real issue with this user. That's what this thread is for.

it's still at least worthy of philosophical interest.

And it's only a coincidence that the only philosophers who seem to be interested in bringing this stuff up are the ones who have some sort of personal axe to grind.
posted by hermitosis at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


What's so oogie about pla's line of thinking is that it falls into the "those people" category. These are not thinking, breathing, laughing, loving scared and beautiful flawed creations we share the planet with but faceless masses, one step closer to dehumanization. If anything, s/he should be stomped for eatin' up some comic sans. Not to bring up posting history, which is, I think, still marginally legal on MeTa callouts, certainly.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's still at least worthy of philosophical interest.

And it's only a coincidence that the only philosophers who seem to be interested in bringing this stuff up are the ones who have some sort of personal axe to grind.


I rarely come across a philosopher who doesn't!

Sure, pla's idea might be crazy - but this is a question about site policy, not an extension of the argument taking place in the thread.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:36 AM on April 21, 2010


You could respond to pla's idea without making it personal or about their history like this...

As a gay man who's known many people who are living with or have died from HIV, and who has dealt with the threat of this disease throughout his entire sexual lifetime, I doubt I can respond to comments like that without making it personal.

Noting pla's history, I shouldn't even have to try.
posted by hermitosis at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


Not much to see here, but...

Lutoslawski: “pla's first comment is fair; bringing up his (or her) posting history is not. While it isn't congruous with the general consensus of MeFi, the idea of quarantining people with terminal, infectious diseases is as old as the notion of eugenics. And while that line of argument runs contrary to many current notions of human rights, it's still at least worthy of philosophical interest.”

I'd say the "quarantine the people with AIDS" idea is pretty much equivalent to the idea of eugenics, frankly. And I'd say that it's "worthy of philosophical interest" in the same sense. And what's more, I agree that bringing pla's posting history wasn't quite kosher. But in the event that someone expresses support for eugenics on metafilter, I think expecting people not to take it at least a little personally is probably expecting the impossible.

The original comment had to stand, I think, because it's not simply a hateful screed; it's the responsibility of the community to firmly and directly respond to that sort of thing. It's something that people might find convincing, as execrable as it may be; so it's on us to leave it out there and say why it's wrong.

And OC's response had to go, sadly, because it didn't really do that. Although I don't really blame him for it, since I kinda take it personally, too.

Like I said, not much to see here. Mods did the right thing, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 11:39 AM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


As a gay man who's known many people who are living with or have died from HIV, and who has dealt with the threat of this disease throughout his entire sexual lifetime, I doubt I can respond to comments like that without making it personal.

I want to sincerely say thank you so much for taking it here then.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:39 AM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


hermitosis: “Noting pla's history, I shouldn't even have to try.”

Also, I don't get this. Is there some hidden homophobic tone that I'm not seeing in pla's history? I guess I'm just not seeing whatever it is that OC linked to. Since it seems like you're calling pla out, do you mind letting me know what exactly about pla's history I'm supposed to be shocked at?
posted by koeselitz at 11:43 AM on April 21, 2010


It's not explicitly about homophobia, koeslitz. I think Astro Zombie summed it up nicely last time around.
posted by hermitosis at 11:46 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure this MeTa was made in good faith. I think the vast vast majority of us sympathize with you, hermitosis, but is this a genuine post about how the site is moderated, or is this just an attempt to get pla over here so they can be tarred and feathered in two threads? I'm not sure yelling 'fuck bigots' any louder or in more places will amend pla's beliefs or future commentary on this site.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:47 AM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


people have been responding to pla in-thread. He's also not welcome to continue whatever his "look at me" campaign is over on the Blue either. I don't know if he's just trying to rile people up or if he really believes those things, but the thread isn't going to turn into pla vs everyone.

That said, Optimus Chyme knows better. We've talked to him about doing this repeatedly, and it's not okay, nor are his follow-ups protesting his innocence in-thread. cortex can add to this if he wants, because I've made it pretty clear both to OC specifically, more than once or twice, and folks on the site generally that his standard ways of going after other posters are not okay.

Comment trawling is not okay. Saying "this user has a history of making provocative comments" is fine. Calling someone out the way OC did is not.

Look I've heard OC is a wonderful man in person, but some of his tactics are over the line for MetaFilter. He's been told this. He can do what he wants with that information.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:48 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to sincerely say thank you so much for taking it here then.

Same here.
posted by zarq at 11:53 AM on April 21, 2010


I wasn't aware that MetaFilter was fine with bigots. As you pointed out Lutoslawski, simply trying to argue with a bigot will not change anything. I think this metatalk was made to point out a troll/bigot who is adding nothing valuable to the blue.
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What she said. Having the thread not turn into even more of a pla-vs-all-comers thing would be keen, and part of that is folks not going all grudge-match with him in the blue. This is part of what Metatalk is for; if there's some serious site or user issue that needs talking about, fine, do it here and be clear about what the problem is and most of all do it sooner rather than later.

We don't want the blue to be some kind of no-hold-barred thunderdome where it's okay to make an extra-big mess of a given thread because you don't like someone's opinions or posting history.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2010


I'm not sure this MeTa was made in good faith. I think the vast vast majority of us sympathize with you, hermitosis, but is this a genuine post about how the site is moderated, or is this just an attempt to get pla over here so they can be tarred and feathered in two threads? I'm not sure yelling 'fuck bigots' any louder or in more places will amend pla's beliefs or future commentary on this site.

If we can have threads where people are encouraged not to get their feathers ruffled by arguing with St. Alia of the Bunnies, then I see no reason why we can have one about pla. Perhaps it's less about changing pla's mind and more about changing the way people engage him or her.
posted by zarq at 11:58 AM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


The conversation has been moved to here. Are the mods going to respond to how pla posts or continue to talk about how OC should have made a metatalk thread instead.
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:58 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you, jessamyn. While I understand the existing issues with OC, I feel that myself or almost anyone could have run up against the same rules here in trying to deal with pla.

As to what the point of this MeTa thread would then be, I simply think it's important to have something on the record that shows how destructive, unnecessary, and unwelcome these sorts of contributions from pla can be. They should, and probably will, continue to be called up in MeTa.

If having a thread here drives that home for pla, that's great. If it serves as a place where people can react more personally or emotionally against his contributions, I think that's entirely fair and appropriate as well.
posted by hermitosis at 11:59 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


pla loves the attention.
posted by milarepa at 12:01 PM on April 21, 2010


As a gay man who's known many people who are living with or have died from HIV, and who has dealt with the threat of this disease throughout his entire sexual lifetime, I doubt I can respond to comments like that without making it personal.

Noting pla's history, I shouldn't even have to try.


I think you have this exactly backwards. When an issue is of supreme importance to you, you need to be very clear when arguing that you are talking about the issue not the person. You want your argumentation to be globally applicable, not just focused on destroying the enemy-of-the-moment or perceived as simply a personal dislike of someone.
posted by DU at 12:02 PM on April 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Are the mods going to respond to how pla posts

Respond in what way? I think he's got a mix of unpopular opinions (which is not against the rules) and a tendency to be fighty in threads (which can be a problem and which has led to us deleting stuff and warning him to cut it out or take it elsewhere). We're keeping an eye out, and if he acts up we'll evaluate how to deal with it. In the mean time, we want people to not make messes out of threads just because he's in there being unlikeable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:02 PM on April 21, 2010


DU, I meant that the issue itself is personal to me.
posted by hermitosis at 12:03 PM on April 21, 2010


We don't want the blue to be some kind of no-hold-barred thunderdome where it's okay to make an extra-big mess of a given thread because you don't like someone's opinions or posting history.

Regarding this, thank you (or Jessamyn) for deleting valkyryn's comment in this thread. Sincerely appreciated. I do realize that my response was inappropriately rude, but his comment bothered the hell out of me.
posted by zarq at 12:03 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are the mods going to respond to how pla posts

What is the question that requires our response?

We're not going to let the thread become pla vs everyone. The way OC responded in-thread was not appropriate. pla is advancing an unpopular and I might say stupid opinion but it's not like he's the only person on the planet who feels that way. If his behavior on the site is such that he's antagonizing other users, having a totally chilling effect on any conversation that he is a part of, or failing to contribute any way other than dropping turds in threads, then yes we'll deal with him.

I don't mind having this conversation in MeTa either, this is where it should be happening. But MeTa isn't a place where we vote people off the island, it's a place where we talk about people's behavior and whether or not it's against the rules of the site or, if not, whether there should perhaps be other rules that take this sort of thing into account.

This certainly isn't the first time we've had a discussion about "Is user x behaving in a way that is racist/homophobic/creepy enough that they should even be allowed on the site?" so I'm not saying don't do it, but if you want to accomplish anything meaningful, have a real discussion about it, don't just shriek at him as if he were a pod person and then pat yourself on the back.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:05 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


If his behavior on the site is such that he's antagonizing other users, having a totally chilling effect on any conversation that he is a part of, or failing to contribute any way other than dropping turds in threads, then yes we'll deal with him.

Thanks, jessamyn. It helps to hear this.

MeTa isn't a place where we vote people off the island, it's a place where we talk about people's behavior and whether or not it's against the rules of the site or, if not, whether there should perhaps be other rules that take this sort of thing into account.

Thanks for this too; this is the spirit in which I made this post. I hope nothing I've written has come off as shrieky.
posted by hermitosis at 12:10 PM on April 21, 2010


So basically you're saying it's acceptable to troll cortex? I come here for the community because it's superior to almost everywhere else, but when someone can derail an interesting thread with something so irrational and hate filled it's impossible to not respond. I mean we see this happen often in Israel/Palestine threads and I've thought that the mods do a good job on keeping that kind of behavior down.

If pla has presented a rational argument than it would be fine, but it seems to me that pla just says offensive things to rile everyone up. There definitely is an argument to be had for how modern society should approach communicable illnesses. To just say let's throw them all in a camp without any regard to the historical and modern implications is incredibly offensive. Again if it's acceptable to hateful and frankly impossible things just to cause drama, well it really lowers the enjoyment I receive from this site.
posted by Allan Gordon at 12:11 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Someone in thread specifically asked how pla could make such a black-hearted comment (I'm paraphrasing). I answered, noting that posting such comments is his only reason for being here.

Are we forbidden from pointing out that bevets thinks the theory of evolution is false? It's not as if I had to spend hours "trawling." You see the name pla, you know it's a screed about black on white violence or murderers having some good ideas or advocating concentration camps.

Frankly, I need to remember that MeFi is, for all its good qualities, extremely bigot-friendly. Every time I let myself forget it, my heart breaks again and I get some pissed off note about not making things personal. As if advocating for concentration camps is a bland debate topic instead of a real and dangerous and terrible possibility that yes, can affect people personally.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:12 PM on April 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


Hahaha, I wish I could say I wasn't shrieking in this thread, but I really hate to see good conversations derailed by someone trolling.
posted by Allan Gordon at 12:13 PM on April 21, 2010


Perhaps it's less about changing pla's mind and more about changing the way people engage him or her.

Ok, I get that. As hard as it may be, I think they best thing to do in these sorts of situations then would be to just ignore pla. All the calling out probably just encourages him or her.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:15 PM on April 21, 2010


It's not trolling, at least not obviously. It's contrarianism and kind of dumb contrarianism to boot. But that he says offensive things that rile you up is not inherently evidence of trolling.
posted by klangklangston at 12:16 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So basically you're saying it's acceptable to troll cortex?

I'm saying it's unacceptable to use "I think x is trolling" as an excuse to behave badly in a thread of your own right. If you think someone is conversing in bad faith and it needs discussion, your main option is to start a metatalk thread and explain what's going on in that and drop a "hey I've started a discussion about x" in the original thread and leave it at that. Then in theory the thread can go on as best as it can and the discussion that needs happening can happen and we don't have a great muddled mess of people yelling about user x in the middle of a discussion on the blue.

The other option is to drop us a line directly via the contact form to let us know that something is up, if you want to make sure we've got eyes on it but don't feel like making it a whole site discussion thing.

Contributing to the collapse of a thread is bad behavior; thinking someone else's behavior sucks doesn't change that fact.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:16 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think they best thing to do in these sorts of situations then would be to just ignore pla.

You're saying it's more reasonable to have everyone else on the entire site adapt their behavior in response to one person, rather than expect that one person to adapt theirs?

Even if that's so, it won't work. There will always be people who won't have gotten the memo who will take the bait.
posted by hermitosis at 12:21 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Frankly, I need to remember that MeFi is, for all its good qualities, extremely bigot-friendly.

Well, in MeFi's defense, the bigots, both the genuine ones and the attention seekers, are usually taken to town both on the blue and the grey by other users. What else would you have MeFi do? Ban people who don't have the *right* opinions?
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:21 PM on April 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I don't really see it as behaving badly when you're trying to refute the idea that concentration camps are an acceptable answer to a problem facing society, but w/e. Next time I'll ignore the troll.

Also he's a troll or not the same result is being achieved. Someone is saying something incredibly offensive that derails a thread. Regardless of if he or she is a bigot or a troll pla is only being detrimental.
posted by Allan Gordon at 12:22 PM on April 21, 2010


extremely bigot-friendly.

As someone who recently went apeshit over disability issues, was mildly annoyed over the Philly fan puke thread, and got into discussions about sexism in the Dan the Man thread, I can't agree that Metafilter is extremely bigot-friendly. There are individual lapses and statements made in ignorance, but bigot-friendly? I don't see that.
posted by angrycat at 12:25 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




Frankly, I need to remember that MeFi is, for all its good qualities, extremely bigot-friendly.


Funny, I look at it as being extremely free speech friendly. Bigoted speech is free speech.
posted by spicynuts at 12:27 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd rather have bigoted idiots proclaiming themselves as such as loudly as possible, honestly. It lets me know that I don't need to bother trying to change their minds, because they're completely impervious to facts and reason.
posted by EarBucket at 12:32 PM on April 21, 2010


I've read and reread your post and comments, hermitosis, but I still can't pinpoint what it is that you want. Do you want to discuss some sort of rule that would allow comments like pla's to be deleted? Do you want to discuss the rules about bringing up poster's comment history on the blue? Do you think pla is trolling? Do you want to discuss a rule change so that we are less tolerant of users like pla?

You say that commenters on the blue "aren't able to speak to the real issue with this user. That's what this thread is for." Why don't you tell us what the real issue is here?
posted by ssg at 12:33 PM on April 21, 2010


Frankly, I need to remember that MeFi is, for all its good qualities, extremely bigot-friendly.

There's a difference between being friendly and just not having a culture of VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT. I have no friendly feelings for bigots personally, and in general the mefi community is very good at rebuking bigotry when it sees it. When folks manage to do so in a civil and restrained fashion, that's pretty great. When they get tied up in a shouting match or grudgery, that's not so great.

That's part of why our answer to this stuff is "take it to metatalk/email/elsewhere" and "flag it and move on" and explicitly not "go get 'im, boys!". Making this place uglier in the name of righteousness is not something I can get behind, and explicitly rejecting the practice of making a random mefi thread into a messy all-comers argument with someone who has obnoxious opinions is part of how we try and keep this place from turning to crap.

Which means expecting people to try and hew to the site guidelines about where and how to have community-wide discussions about a user's behavior, and expecting folks not to just go full-on battle mode in threads when they don't like what someone says or how they say it. If you want to call that being bigot-friendly, you go ahead and do that, but I've got very little polite to say in response.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:34 PM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


If we are not to hold others responsible for what they've said in the past, why do we even have user accounts? Why have favorites, why have the ability to look through someone's history at all, if we're not going to hold folks accountable for bad behavior? Yes, we should all strive to play nice, but if a user has a consistent history (good OR bad), other users should be allowed to reference it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:37 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


They can reference it by doing their own god damn research! Why should a thread devolve into a past history pile on every time someone we don't like belches their shit?
posted by spicynuts at 12:39 PM on April 21, 2010


You're saying it's more reasonable to have everyone else on the entire site adapt their behavior in response to one person, rather than expect that one person to adapt theirs?

We're saying two things:

1. When a given "one person" is behaving problematically, flag it and maybe drop us a line if you think the specific situation may get out of hand or that there's some sort of ongoing problem/trend that needs some specific attention.

2. It's incumbent on everyone on the site to not make things worse. That doesn't mean "be nice to x", that means "don't use what you dislike about x's behavior/opinions/whatever as an excuse to shrug off the expectation around here that people will be decent to each other and not make messes of threads."

Even if that's so, it won't work. There will always be people who won't have gotten the memo who will take the bait.

It works pretty well most of the time, honestly. There will, indeed, always be some folks who haven't gotten the memo. We end up talking to those people sometimes to make it clear what the memo contains. Folks who have already gotten the memo can help by flagging, emailing, using metatalk judiciously, interjecting in a brewing throwdown with some gentle guidance away from that bad direction, and in general refraining from following the memoless folks' leads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:40 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If we are not to hold others responsible for what they've said in the past, why do we even have user accounts? Why have favorites, why have the ability to look through someone's history at all, if we're not going to hold folks accountable for bad behavior? Yes, we should all strive to play nice, but if a user has a consistent history (good OR bad), other users should be allowed to reference it.

Because - really - it doesn't do much for discussion. These are online posting histories not like congressional records. On another website, I had someone do that to me once. Dig up a comment where I was pro-free speech and use that to suggest I was...I don't know what....lying? trolling? wrong? when I expressed other opinions. I agree with the idea that we ask people to consider statements before they make them, because it will be on record. But I think the idea of asking every statement ever to be consistent and dragging people through the mud on it leads to arguments that are personal rather than subject based. I think the idea on MeFi is to talk about the subject, argue about the subject, not spend time researching past comments to launch a well-cited personal attack.

On the other hand, as long as we are not going for the mob justice voting off the island popularity contest driving people away thing, I think there is a space in MeTa where it's reasonable to have a discussion about consistently inappropriate behaviors, or users who are looking for fights or stirring shit just for fun. So there's probably some room there where, if done in a sensitive way, those discussions are appropriate. But I can certainly see why that shouldn't take place in the blue.

Obviously, the above just my (irrelevant) two cents. But said as someone whose views on subjects has evolved over time and probably currently takes a different stance on many issues than previously.
posted by bunnycup at 12:44 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


that he says offensive things that rile you up is not inherently evidence of trolling.

But I thought that was essentially what trolling was. Loudly proclaiming things you don't believe to derail conversations and piss people off.
posted by orville sash at 12:44 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's a place where we talk about people's behavior and whether or not it's against the rules of the site or, if not, whether there should perhaps be other rules that take this sort of thing into account.

Jessamyn and cortex since pla's comment is still up I'd like to ask a question about it:

Is it not hate speech?

As Allan GordonM and Optimus Chyme said in thread, pla is proposing the brutal suspension of the rights of a minority population for the common good. Which was once done to Japanese Americans here in the US and to the victims of the Holocaust. We can extend the analogy even to those detained unlawfully in Guantanamo Bay.

Pla has been told by most of the people within the thread that quarantine is neither appropriate, scientifically-sound, nor practical, yet he is still insisting that it is an "efficient" solution that would give a "desirable end result." In tone, that sounds chillingly familiar to me.

How is it not hate speech to call for society's undesirables to have their rights removed, be rounded up into concentration camps and locked away for life?

If anyone here suggested such a thing in another context, would they also be allowed to have their comment stand? Haven't various posts and comments been removed for lesser infractions? I remember a certain MeFite who complained that Jews own all the property in New York. His comment was struck from the record, and he was accused of antisemitism. Certainly that statement seems rather tame compared to a call for lifetime concentration camps.

Sincerely. Respectfully. How is what he is proposing not hate speech?
posted by zarq at 12:46 PM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't really know what to say. Pla's comments at the very least are hurtful and painful to those of us who know someone who lived with and then died from AIDS or an AIDS related disease and at the most are actually dangerous.

If nothing else, Pla's comments have opened my eyes to exactly how much work we still have to do, even though we now are in the second decade of the 21st century.
posted by zizzle at 12:46 PM on April 21, 2010


if a user has a consistent history (good OR bad), other users should be allowed to reference it.

They can and they do. What we object to is the comment trawling where a user's history is dragged up where it's not relevant to the thread at hand just to remind everyone "hey user x is an asshole" and/or people using people's past histories as an excuse for their own behavior. This sort of thing is fine if it's relevant, in MeTa.

Frankly, I need to remember that MeFi is, for all its good qualities, extremely bigot-friendly.

Actually, it's not. If you can name more than 2-3 people on a site of 40,000 people who you think are actively acting like bigots on the site without any mod intervention or interference I'll disable my account and let you be mod. What we are in favor of is letting people talk it out, not letting people get into hollering matches, and not letting people bully other people because they "deserve" to be bullied. This can sometimes mean that people with shitty unpopular opinions are allowed to voice them and people who want to harass and comment stalk them are not allowed to. Sorry.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:47 PM on April 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


If we are not to hold others responsible for what they've said in the past, why do we even have user accounts?

Holding others responsible for what they've said is kind of a theoretical concept until it's implemented through some tangible action. So what form should "holding others responsible for what they've said" take?

How about disabling accounts of users who have a particularly problematic history? Well, the mods do that sometimes. What about discussing a problematic user in a MetaTalk thread? That seems to happen as well.

I think the point here is that turning a thread on the blue from a discussion of a particular on-topic statement or line of reasoning into a discussion of user X and their past commenting history is not a good thing. We don't want "holding others accountable for what they've said" to take that form.
posted by FishBike at 12:48 PM on April 21, 2010


And to be absolutely clear.... I'm not calling for him to be banned.
I wouldn't shed a tear if he were, but I'm not asking for that.

But leaving that comment up for all to see... it truly doesn't sit well with me.
posted by zarq at 12:48 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


1. When a given "one person" is behaving problematically, flag it and maybe drop us a line if you think the specific situation may get out of hand or that there's some sort of ongoing problem/trend that needs some specific attention.

2. It's incumbent on everyone on the site to not make things worse. That doesn't mean "be nice to x", that means "don't use what you dislike about x's behavior/opinions/whatever as an excuse to shrug off the expectation around here that people will be decent to each other and not make messes of threads."


You're responding to me, but this seems to be directed more at OC than at myself. I just want to make it clear that I didn't respond in the MetaFilter thread at all, and only posted here after jessamyn had already attempted to address the issue in-thread.
posted by hermitosis at 12:49 PM on April 21, 2010


"But I thought that was essentially what trolling was. Loudly proclaiming things you don't believe to derail conversations and piss people off."

Yeah, but there's no evidence that Pla doesn't believe what he proclaims.
posted by klangklangston at 12:53 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're responding to me, but this seems to be directed more at OC than at myself.

I'm responding to the quote, is all. It applies to everybody, 24/7, and wasn't meant as a specific statement about your own behavior, no.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:54 PM on April 21, 2010


pla often assumes the most offensive and extremist position possible on so many disparate issues that it's hard to presume he's arguing in good faith and really does believe everything he says.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:00 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but there's no evidence that Pla doesn't believe what he proclaims.

Nobody has only inflammatory opinions, and yet that is pretty much all pla has ever expressed here. A good-faith user would surely find some area of agreement with consensus opinion, however narrow.

What else would you have MeFi do? Ban people who don't have the *right* opinions?

I can't speak for anyone else but I am A-OK with Metafilter being an echochamber of non-concentration-camp-cheerleading. There are certain areas in which I don't see a whole lot of salutary effect coming from the expression of opposing views.
posted by enn at 1:07 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sincerely. Respectfully. How is what he is proposing not hate speech?

I think his position is foolish and at best tonedeaf and is absolutely problematic in its resemblance to some bad, bad historical shit. I think people have done a pretty good job in the thread of addressing that stuff, and I don't think there's really any good reason for him to go any further trying to argue the point in there. If comes back and tries to kick up another round of it in there that's gonna be a problem, in my opinion.

That said, I'm not going to try to peer into his soul and render judgement on his motivations. Whether he's secretly hateful, I don't know; ultimately it can't be our jobs as mods to declare people morally worthy or unworthy. Talking about whether and how and why it is or isn't hate speech is something metatalk can be a good place for, and I have no objection to people doing that. I certainly don't have a pat yes-or-no answer for you.

But having people rebut his position in thread seems like an acceptable sunshine approach to what's happened so far. Our default option is to not delete, that's what we've gone with in this case for what's still there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:08 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


pla often assumes the most offensive and extremist position possible on so many disparate issues that it's hard to presume he's arguing in good faith and really does believe everything he says.

This man is running for Congress, and Michelle Bachmann is a member of congress. I have little difficulty believing pla is sincere in his opinions. In fact he seems downright reasonable compared to things you can hear on Fox News every single day.
posted by Caduceus at 1:21 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Regarding this, thank you (or Jessamyn) for deleting valkyryn's comment in this thread.

Aaaaand, now valkyryn has started a MetaTalk thread asking why his comment was deleted.
posted by ericb at 1:36 PM on April 21, 2010


I am constantly reminded in my professional context, cortex and jessamyn, about a core value that I read you and other mods talk a lot about - that reception is different from intent.

What this discussion reminds me of is the gap between intent and reception.

What you intend is that MetaFilter and sub-sites are fair and reasonable places to discuss different types of topics in different ways, and that this fairness and reasonableness apply to all people, including those who don't read policy and those who do.

What I think ends up happening with reception is that reception is good for the majority of your users but those who lie on the extremes of the bell curves (be the curves things like intelligence, seniority, perception, politics, whatever) tend to start seeing the apparent hypocrisy generated by combinations of your intent, your style, the fact that you are all different individuals working with slightly different expectations, etc.

I don't think you are at all intentionally hypocritical, but I think that like complexity arising from simple rules, I think hypocrisy arises from good intentions if you are not extremely systematic, careful and focused tightly on consistency.

The mistake I think you make, actually, is discussing this kind of thing at length in these kinds of MetaTalk threads. There is literally no way to win these discussions.
posted by kalessin at 1:39 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think that pla's comment should be deleted.
posted by blucevalo at 1:43 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The mistake I think you make, actually, is discussing this kind of thing at length in these kinds of MetaTalk threads.

In an entirely different context from the rest of kalessin's comment (i.e. this is not a rebuttal, disagreement, agreement, etc.), that the mods will engage in those discussions is one of my fave things about Metafilter. IMHO, it makes the site more accessible, friendly, and has really, really, really helped me adjust my attitudes and expectations in a way that has made interacting here incredibly pleasant and interesting.
posted by bunnycup at 1:46 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, fuck me, someone is really arguing that people with AIDS should be quarantined for life? In this day and age?! That's milk I didn't expect to see splashed all over the bowl of MeFlakes. I'd be angrier if I weren't so flabbergasted.
posted by Kattullus at 1:47 PM on April 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


A good-faith user would surely find some area of agreement with consensus opinion, however narrow.

Good point -- by all means, let's find out where he stands on Lady Gaga, Breaking Bad, Craig Ferguson, and the Muppets before sharpening the torches.

Like Astro Zombie, I'd say pla's persona-shtick is either a way-daring iconoclast or the ultimate devil's advocate or something. Which he will probably look back on with eye-rolling mortification in ten years' time.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:48 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This can sometimes mean that people with shitty unpopular opinions are allowed to voice them and people who want to harass and comment stalk them are not allowed to.

Does "comment stalk" mean link to previous things they've said on different topics? (I am really not trying to be a jackass here, I just still don't get what that means.)
posted by Damn That Television at 1:50 PM on April 21, 2010


…because rounding up and quarantining anyone with an infectious disease is the hallmark of a small government that respects individual rights.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The mistake I think you make, actually, is discussing this kind of thing at length in these kinds of MetaTalk threads. There is literally no way to win these discussions.

I think it's important that we discuss it even if there's no clear winning move. We aren't trying to win, we're trying to provide as much context and transparency as we can about why we run the site the way we do, which some folks will come away from in any given thread feeling okay about and some people not so much, and that's just kind of the way it goes.

I hear what you're saying about intent vs. perception. At the end of the day, I hope that through being open to talking this stuff out we can make our intent as clear as possible, and that having made a habit of doing that for years now has helped establish to folks willing to hang around that our intent really is what we say it is, if for no other reason that it'd be absolutely emotionally destructive to try and present some coherent false front for years on end. Though I think most regulars around here aren't being that cynical about it, thankfully.

Does "comment stalk" mean link to previous things they've said on different topics? (I am really not trying to be a jackass here, I just still don't get what that means.)

Basically. Matter of degree and context, but when it looks like something done as a jibe or a gotcha or as a way of making an argument about a person or their history or reputation rather than the substance of what they're saying that's what folks tend to be talking about with e.g. "comment stalking" as a negative behavior.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:57 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


That said, I'm not going to try to peer into his soul and render judgement on his motivations.

I have not asked you to do so. Hate speech by definition does not take a person's motivations into account. In fact, one of the erroneous complaints that opponents of hate speech legislation often raise is that such laws are invalid because they are designed to "look into a person's heart," which they feel is patently impossible. No. Hate speech classifies the end result of a person's statements (written or spoken) as ultimately disparaging to a person or group, or an incitement to others. I believe pla's statements do precisely that.

Without any expanded context, his comments are offensive at best, and disturbing at worst. I'd expect to see such ideas being proposed at sites like Stormfront, or Free Republic. Not Metafilter.

But having people rebut his position in thread seems like an acceptable sunshine approach to what's happened so far.

I realize you take these things on a case by case basis, but it seems problematic that he has been allowed to now state his case and defend it twice, but if he tries to defend himself a third time, that somehow will be a bridge too far. This seems like an arbitrary line in the sand to me. Can you please explain?

Our default option is to not delete

But it isn't.

As I pointed out above, you regularly delete comments that are far less controversial. Why is this particular sentiment being given more of a pass than others? Is it because his comments didn't completely derail the thread?

To rephrase my question, if anyone else suggests a similar thing in another context in the future, will they also be allowed to have their comment stand, if you feel they aren't completely derailing the thread?

You're setting a bit of a precedent here that I think is worth examining.

that's what we've gone with in this case for what's still there.

I am now concerned that the standard being stuck to here is "maintain the thread's integrity" not, "prevent someone from presenting his case in our public forum for the brutal, lifelong suspension of the rights of society's undesirables for the common good."
posted by zarq at 1:58 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Nobody has only inflammatory opinions, and yet that is pretty much all pla has ever expressed here. A good-faith user would surely find some area of agreement with consensus opinion, however narrow."

This is wrong two ways. First off, Pla does have plenty of comments that are non-inflammatory. Scroll through his comment history, most of it's fairly benign. So, I'm going to go ahead and chalk the idea that he only has inflammatory opinions up to confirmation bias. Second, arguing that to be in good faith one must find common ground with consensus is fairly nonsense, and seems to be begging the question regarding the correctness of consensus opinion (which is further limited, in that you mean the consensus opinion here—certainly, Pla would line up with the consensus opinion in any number of other fora).

One of the problems with Metafilter, especially casual Metafiltering, is that we tend to remember other users only when they're being exceptional in some way—Pla's comments on the tax code are pretty much the definition of non-exceptional. There have been more than a few users who I thought were total and entire ass-jabbers until I saw some of their comments when I wasn't actively disagreeing with them.

I think Pla's comments were dumb, but I tend to think that they're more goading because they're so obviously dumb and wrong, not because they're insincere or that they represent the totality of Pla.
posted by klangklangston at 1:59 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I should say that I also agree with bunnycup. I just still don't think these kinds of arguments can have progress made against them, especially by mods.
posted by kalessin at 2:00 PM on April 21, 2010


Aaaaand, now valkyryn has started a MetaTalk thread asking why his comment was deleted.

Better he do it there than on the Blue, yes?
posted by zarq at 2:01 PM on April 21, 2010


The mistake I think you make, actually, is discussing this kind of thing at length in these kinds of MetaTalk threads. There is literally no way to win these discussions.

This is what I thought, too, and it's always been the policy on the sites I've moderated. I have no intention of changing it, but I've come to see how it works on Metafilter.

It wouldn't work on my forums, because I run forums for my company's customers, and ultimately we need to retain complete control over the community, its makeup, and its tone, for a variety of legal, business, and marketing reasons. Having this sort of discussion concedes power to the user in a way we can't afford, because the user's desires are not congruent with the company's - although hopefully they're close enough that the forum remains someplace they want to be.

But Metafilter's business model is based on making this a place where users want to be. Therefore, giving a certain amount of power over how the place is run (although obviously not complete power) is a way to make sure the site's management remains in line with the desires of the userbase. This is tempered by the experience of the mods and the broader perspective they can bring to the subject - the worst thing about user feedback is that it is truly terrible at extrapolating how-this-would-work-for-me to how-this-would-work-for-everybody.

There would probably be a perfectly functional way to do this with lots of user surveys and one-directional feedback and data analysis, but for a site that's created for the purpose of fostering discussion, it does seem to make more sense to just let people talk it out.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:03 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Frankly, I need to remember that MeFi is, for all its good qualities, extremely bigot-friendly

OC, that is not true.

Look, most of us agree that quarantining people for life is a sucky thing to do to someone, but I think we are capable of arguing WHY that is a sucky idea in such a fashion as to put the contrary poster (in this case Pla) in his or her place.

Getting the raving fantods because someone posts something that is, in your viewpoint abhorrent, is rather silly. Because it makes you seem as if you can't defend your own thoughts and beliefs and instead, need to be surrounded by an echo chamber. Don't sell yourself so short.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:12 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think pla's comment is trolling, but my evidence for that won't go over well.

I think he's making up his comments about quarantine for mumps, etc., and speaking without having accounted for how TB patients - even with drug resistant strains - are treated. Sure, there is no 'crime' in being wrong, but in this case, I think the intent was to deliberately craft speech to stir a pot. I am using the easily-verifiable-wrongness of his comment as (admittedly fairly poor, but somewhat persuasive to me) evidence. That is, I don't think he set out to make a good argument about quarantine, but failed to do so. I think he set out to achieve his modus operandi of trailblazing un-PC 'shock the sheeple' stuff, coated with a veneer of real debate about quarantine.

To me, this is critical because I feel appropriate applying different levels of benefit of the doubt to earnest discussion and mere trolling.
posted by bunnycup at 2:13 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know most users here don't believe in using killfile scripts, and rightly so - but after reading one too many of pla's assholish comments, I blocked him, and I don't regret it for a second.

I had already blocked him on MeMail (which I won't go into here in respect of community rules etc...) - and even then, I wasn't considering using a killfile. That is, until I read still more ridiculous horseshit comments from him.

I didn't do it lightly, and actually, pla is the only person I've ever blocked. For example, even though BP and I have gotten into it a couple of times, I appreciate many of his contributions to the site. (Sorry, BP, you just came to mind because of the latest callout, not from any particular feeling of dislike.)

But as for pla - I enjoy this site and the people here too much to see it consistently shat on by one idiot. The mods have decided that his comments can stand, and I'm fine with that - but I don't want to see them. I respect what klangklangston had to say, and he does have some good points, but I could care less about "the totality of pla."
posted by HopperFan at 2:14 PM on April 21, 2010


I realize you take these things on a case by case basis, but it seems problematic that he has been allowed to now state his case and defend it twice, but if he tries to defend himself a third time, that somehow will be a bridge too far. This seems like an arbitrary line in the sand to me. Can you please explain?

It is kind of arbitrary, any reactive dealings with a developing problem tend to be, but the determining factor is at this point we've had a chance to assess the situation, try and steer things a bit, and can watch the thread like hawks for further trouble. It's not a "two okay, three bad" thing so much as a "we're on the scene now, this needs to not keep happening" thing, basically. It's been a weird crazy busy day, we have limited resources.

> Our default option is to not delete

But it isn't.


But it is. The very large majority of what gets posted on mefi as comments stays there. That includes plenty of foolish things, obnoxious things, unlikable things, even marginally nasty things. What goes tends to go based on the specific context, and there's a lot of judgement calls involved in all but the most simple, clear-cut cases.

To rephrase my question, if anyone else suggests a similar thing in another context in the future, will they also be allowed to have their comment stand, if you feel they aren't completely derailing the thread?

I am not going to predict the future; it is going to depend, as this stuff always does, on the context. I don't know what else to tell you, we've never made a practice of precedential prognostications and can't really work in general counterfactuals and hypotheticals.

I understand that you feel the comments should just go from the original thread. I respect that. I'm not inclined to go in that direction in this case, but it's not some bright-line total disagreement with your assessment; I'm just not convinced that switching positions at this point and going into further raze that specific thread of pla's comments and the responses to them is the thing to do. People telling him in public that his ideas are bad and why seems like a pretty solid way of dealing with them to me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:14 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


OK.

I'm still not happy about the comment remaining, but I can live with it. This may sound strange, but it's comforting to me to know the decision to leave it up wasn't cut and dried.

Thank you for taking the time and having the patience to explain. I don't say it enough, but I'm truly grateful that you, Jessamyn and the other mods are willing to listen to us and discuss various issues here.
posted by zarq at 3:14 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, in MeFi's defense, the bigots, both the genuine ones and the attention seekers, are usually taken to town both on the blue and the grey by other users. What else would you have MeFi do? Ban people who don't have the *right* opinions?

The proposal "let's put people in concentration camps until they die" is not merely an incorrect opinion. It is sick and disgusting.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:22 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


cortex : Respond in what way? I think he's got a mix of unpopular opinions (which is not against the rules) and a tendency to be fighty in threads

I would just like to make four points.

First, since my original faux pas in a "memorial" thread, I believe that I have kept my comments largely on-topic and appropriate (if not, as you mention, always popular) to the tone of the thread. If you believe otherwise, please let me know where and when that I might learn from my mistakes.

Second, I do invite anyone to look at my posting history, and my whole posting history rather than the handful of choice links that have already appeared (yet again) in this thread - At a glance, I'd say nine out of ten comments I make contribute positively to the subject. Only on a handful of "social" topics do we end up having the discussion go somewhat sour; and even then, as I mentioned in my first point, I have used a great deal of restraint (not 100% successfully, I'll admit) to stick to the topic and ignore personal attacks. That said, I (try to) respond to everyone who responds to me. I don't want to "take all comers", I just don't like to leave any legitimate and on-topic challenge unanswered.

Which brings me to my third point, "it takes two to tango". I have heard time and again "don't make this thread about" me - From people doing exactly that merely by saying it. And as for OC, nice guy IRL or not, let's speak honestly here, he's taken to outright threadstalking me just to post links to my past transgressions.

Finally, and not specifically addressing you, Cortex - Just for the record, religion ≠ race, transsexual ≠ homosexual, and feminists ≠ women in general. If people want to call me a bigot, rather than merely "opinionated" (key difference - I will change my stance if someone presents a sufficiently compelling argument), at least get the categories right.
posted by pla at 3:26 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The proposal "let's put people in concentration camps until they die" is not merely an incorrect opinion. It is sick and disgusting.

I think you're confused about the definition of 'opinion.' There's no such thing as an 'incorrect' opinion. Opinions can certainly be sick and disgusting. But it's not an either/or kind of thing.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:31 PM on April 21, 2010


Kattullus: Well, fuck me, someone is really arguing that people with AIDS should be quarantined for life? In this day and age?! That's milk I didn't expect to see splashed all over the bowl of MeFlakes. I'd be angrier if I weren't so flabbergasted.

No offense to every well meaning good person who has expressed this sentiment -- but as angry as comments like pla's might make most of us, making MetaFilter a safe space from the bullshit otherwise known as reality doesn't really do any good other than making people feel falsely better about the world we live in.

Exhibit A: Results 1 - 10 of about 716,000 for aids quarantine

I realize that not everybody is going to think about these issues or deal with them on a regular basis, but personally, I'd rather see idiots given the light of day in theory with hope that their theories become less likely to become the new reality.


P.S. If, in the future, they do end up coming for me and mine, will somebody please make sure I can get a good wifi signal on the other side of the barbed wire? Thanks.

I'm sorry if that offends but that was actually the least repulsive joke I was tempted to make.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:32 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The proposal "let's put people in concentration camps until they die" is not merely an incorrect opinion. It is sick and disgusting.

I agree. But what are you proposing? A ban on posters who express sick and disgusting opinions? And who must consider the opinion to be sick and disgusting in order to result in a ban? I think the current system where the community responds vociferously to such opinions is pretty good at discouraging people from voicing opinions that are considered sick and disgusting by the community. And in that regard, I join with those thanking hermitosis for bringing the issue to MeTa.
posted by The World Famous at 3:40 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bigots should be quarantined.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:54 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What definition of "bigot" will be used to decide who gets quarantined? And will all bigots be quarantined together, or will they be put in sub-quarantines according to which opinions they are intolerant of?
posted by The World Famous at 4:12 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, since it's my idea, we'll use my definition. But I like your sub-quarantines idea. Only let's just call them "Levels " or "Circles." Let's start with 9:

1) Bigots who don't believe in my powers of quarantinying of bigots, or that they are bigots, or that there is such a word as quarantinying
2) Republicans
3) Tea-partiers
4) FOX News Employees and their Mouthpieces
5) H8RZ
6) People Who Disagree with Me
7) Thugs
8) Liars
9) Self-linkers
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:24 PM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: No offense to every well meaning good person who has expressed this sentiment -- but as angry as comments like pla's might make most of us, making MetaFilter a safe space from the bullshit otherwise known as reality doesn't really do any good other than making people feel falsely better about the world we live in.

Exhibit A: Results 1 - 10 of about 716,000 for aids quarantine


Oh, I know that there are people out there who argue for it but I think your search-result exhibit belies how much of an extremist position quarantining people with HIV/AIDS is. For example is you search for syphilis quarantine you get 549,000 results. And syphilis isn't also a common term unrelated to the disease (e.g. living aids). If you search for "quarantine aids", "aids quarantine", "quarantine people with aids", "hiv quarantine", "quarantine hiv" and "quarantine people with hiv" you get a total of 17,675 results for all six search terms. Most of these seem to be about Huckabee's support for AIDS quarantine in 1992. If you add -huckabee to the search string there's a whole lot fewer hits.

Quarantining people with HIV/AIDS is a really far out there minority position today.
posted by Kattullus at 4:32 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would like to ask Pla to establish his non-trollishness/non-bigotedness by explaining why, given that HIV transmission can be prevented by condom use, would he suggest that jailing people with the disease is appropriate.
posted by angrycat at 4:37 PM on April 21, 2010


I would like to ask Pla to establish his non-trollishness/non-bigotedness by explaining why, given that HIV transmission can be prevented by condom use, would he suggest that jailing people with the disease is appropriate.

man, it is not worth it. I've argued with pla enough in the past to know he believes what he says, but let's be clear about this:

his argument in the other thread is that AIDS sufferers should be quarantined because, and I shit you not, they may not even know they have it for a decade so they'll infect people before anyone knows they had it in the first place.

give that a long thinkin' and see if it's really worth it to get deep into that stunning logic.
posted by shmegegge at 4:43 PM on April 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ugh. I'm sorry I even engaged with pla in that thread. It implied that the question is even debatable when it really. is. not. Ugh.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:56 PM on April 21, 2010


they may not even know they have it for a decade so they'll infect people before anyone knows they had it in the first place

Well, obviously the only way to be sure would be to have mandatory testing of everyone in high-risk groups. And of course you can't be sure that everyone would volunteer their risk status, so we'd have to make it a crime to lie about your sexuality. It's not bigotry, though. It's just mathematics. After all, we don't allow anyone else to just wander around like fully loaded weapons...

...except drivers. And hotdog stands. And people with fully loaded weapons.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:56 PM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


So pla is just an idiot then. How comforting.
posted by Allan Gordon at 4:58 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


After all, we don't allow anyone else to just wander around like fully loaded weapons...

But dude, the 2nd Amendment guarantees them that right.
posted by The World Famous at 5:08 PM on April 21, 2010



Which brings me to my third point, "it takes two to tango". I have heard time and again "don't make this thread about" me - From people doing exactly that merely by saying it. And as for OC, nice guy IRL or not, let's speak honestly here, he's taken to outright threadstalking me just to post links to my past transgressions.


Just on this point, it's fairly disingenuous. While you could argue that OC's comment was a bit too personal for comfort, when you make outrageous comments with little reasoned argument to back them up then you shouldn't be surprised if you get a reaction. If it wasn't OC then it would have been someone else calling you out on what you said and indeed someone else did- hermitosis.

You may not have meant to troll, but troll you did so it's hard to swallow when you paint yourself as anything else than provocative. You can't seriously be unaware that what you were saying was shocking and you should have realised that by saying it you would provoke: if you genuinely don't want to make a thread 'about you' then present such controversial points in a way that they don't become just about you. Give arguments, reasons, ground for mutual discussion.

Blaming OC for how this has turned out in anyway stinks of mudslinging to me. This is about you.
posted by litleozy at 5:39 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


And as for OC, nice guy IRL or not, let's speak honestly here, he's taken to outright threadstalking me just to post links to my past transgressions.

pla, I'm right there with litleozy for what it's worth. There's an importance to being able to read the room here. We'll deal with it if someone is threadstalking you. It would be nice if you were a little more aware at how some of your more out-there comments might be perceived on this website.

As this is not the first time this sort of thing has come up, this is slightly more troubling to me since it causes big angry fallout when it happens. Put another way, if you're not seriously aligning yourself with some of the more provocative statements you've been making, some of which have been taken in the past to be fairly bigoted sounding, you may be having a communication problem that you might want to look into. Because some of your statements sound trollish, and if you're not trolling I would think that would concern you.

This is not the first time this has happened, but we'd like it to perhaps be the last. If you are participating on this website in good faith, it's now getting to the point where we'd like you to be able to prove that through your actions here, not just by telling us that it's true.

transsexual ≠ homosexual, and feminists ≠ women in general

cortex and I are both aware that transsexuals aren't the same as gay people and that feminists are not the same as women in general. What we're saying here is that trashing any of those groups is not okay period and if it's something that you think is an integral part of your self-expression you need to go express yourself elsewhere. If you are just being misunderstood, this maybe is the wake up call to try harder.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:49 PM on April 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


"I will change my stance if someone presents a sufficiently compelling argument" strikes me-- absent any specific reference to you, pla, just as a tactic in and of itself-- as a close cousin of If You Won't Educate Me How Will I Learn.

When it comes to loaded and historically oft-discussed topics like internment for certain classes of individuals, appointing oneself the final arbiter of what might be "sufficiently compelling" for one to change one's own mind is, perhaps, problematic in and of itself as well. It would be easy to dismiss any differing perspective presented by another as insufficiently compelling and to continue on one's own way with the advocacy of morally and ethically repellent stances.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:54 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Minor quibble:
I have not asked you to do so. Hate speech by definition does not take a person's motivations into account. In fact, one of the erroneous complaints that opponents of hate speech legislation often raise is that such laws are invalid because they are designed to "look into a person's heart," which they feel is patently impossible. - zarq

Generally speaking, it does. Let's look at an example. The States doesn't really have them, on first amendment grounds. So we'll take Canada, nearest neighbour and the country for which I happen to have an annotated criminal code.

There are two sections that fall under hate propaganda.

318 (1). Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty...
Pretty clearly looking at motivation.

319(1). Every one who ... incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace
This part doesn't have intention, it's true, but it's rarely used since it requires likelihood of a breach of the peace [as in, actual violence].

319(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, ..., wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty
Wilfully. This is the heavy lifting of the section. It requires the intention of promoting hatred, you can't just be reckless.
From Martin's Code: The offence would therefore be made out only if the accused had as their conscious purpose the promotion of hatred, or if they foresaw that the promotion of hatred was certain or morally certain to result and [did it for a different reason].

Now, you can argue that this doesn't actually look into the heart of a person, because intent is not the same as motive, and you'd be right. But that's getting into a serious debate on the underpinnings of criminal law, which I don't know enough about. In general, Canadian hate speech laws do look at motivations.

With regards to his comment - first of all, it's not clear that identifiable group is made out. I dunno if HIV+ people would count. An argument could be made out that it's targeted at gays, but I think it's not a given, at least. And he could defend them by saying that he reasonably believed it to be true and that the discussion is for and it's relevant to the public interest.
So no, it's not a hate crime.

But it's a minor as hell quibble.
I like writing lots of words.

posted by Lemurrhea at 6:05 PM on April 21, 2010


Give arguments, reasons, ground for mutual discussion.

pla did give an argument. He argued that HIV carriers should be forcibly quarantined for the general social good.

That argument may not have been to many people's liking. It may not have been logical. It may not have been in line with the general direction of what metafilter deems acceptable. It may even have been reprehensible.

But I don't think pla can be accused of not making an argument.
posted by blucevalo at 6:05 PM on April 21, 2010


blucevalo: I disagree. pla's basic point was incredibly question begging: it's an acceptable argument only if you ignore all that it implicates and ignoring all that it implicates is abhorrent to pretty much anyone to has any idea of the reality of the situation, or anyone who a slight grasp of the social, cultural and historical context.

Because of this, what pla said is not something you can engage with. And you should always be able to engage with an argument if it is properly formed.
posted by litleozy at 6:13 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lemurrhea, I was referring to the various US state laws regarding hate speech, not Canadian. Cortex and I are both American, and our shared legislation is what I'm most familiar with.

Yes, Canadian hate crimes laws look at intent and motivations, not just the end result.

With regards to his comment - first of all, it's not clear that identifiable group is made out. I dunno if HIV+ people would count. An argument could be made out that it's targeted at gays, but I think it's not a given, at least. And he could defend them by saying that he reasonably believed it to be true and that the discussion is for and it's relevant to the public interest.

Identifiable group: Those who are HIV+. That's clear enough for me.
posted by zarq at 6:28 PM on April 21, 2010


pla did give an argument. He argued that HIV carriers should be forcibly quarantined for the general social good.

But as jessamyn said, it's not really about what arguments he makes so much as how and when he chooses to present them. It's not a correct reading of the room to just, for example, waltz into a memorial thread about women who were murdered and start dropping truth bombs about feminism.

I think any reasonably civil person who wanted to make the argument that pla did in the HIV thread would do so with suitable preamble and an extra heaping helping of respectful framing. For example: "I know this may sound like an extreme position, and of course I don't mean to imply that people with HIV/AIDS should be treated like criminals or second-class citizens, but the world AIDS pandemic has reached a crisis point [cite data]. Countries like the U.S. need to take the lead in containing the spread of this deadly virus before it threatens all of our collective survival [cite this or that medical study]..." etc. The argument would still be bullshit, but at least it would be respectful bullshit.

Basically, the more controversial or provocative the argument is likely to be, the more careful thought has to go into laying the foundation. Otherwise, it just ends up sounding like a trollish quip intended to piss people off for the shock value.
posted by albrecht at 6:35 PM on April 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


pla's comment reminds me of Dr. "Bones" Brennan, only on The Blue- the kind of person who says something which comes off as hateful and completely WTF without honestly realizing. Maybe this is the writer's test ground for the purely analytical, completely devoid of compassionate thought processes.
posted by jmd82 at 7:28 PM on April 21, 2010


jessamyn : This is not the first time this has happened, but we'd like it to perhaps be the last.

Can you expand on the second "this"? Not the historical precedent, but the immediate sense of it?

You didn't send me to MeTa (from the parent FP) for getting personal* or off-topic. I may have posted an unpopular idea, but one both relevant to the issue at hand and not straying all that far from a direct counterpoint to the very first link in the FP. Unless you truly expect me to just throw in yet another "me too" on every topic, frowning at the site-dictated bad guys and rooting for the corresponding good guys, I can think of no more appropriate thread for my stance, than the one to which I posted.


If you are participating on this website in good faith, it's now getting to the point where we'd like you to be able to prove that through your actions here, not just by telling us that it's true.

I would like to think that the other 90% of my posts would have demonstrated my sincerity. My participation on AskMeFi. My generally civil (if unpopular) tone.

Put bluntly, I do not take it as a good sign that MeFi welcomes my input on a wide variety of topics, then resorts to calling me out as a troll, or insincere, or just "not a good fit" whenever I don't echo the particular brand of liberal socialism dominant on the Blue. Do people seriously believe that I go from "informative" to "troll" at the roll of a die every time I log on? If not - I readily admit I need to work on ignoring those out to bait me into an (offtopic) argument; but at some point, it really starts to look just plain silly to say "good computer geek; good censored information researcher; good fan of 80s and 90s pop culture; BAD LIBERTARIAN!"


What we're saying here is that trashing any of those groups is not okay period

I realize that tu quoque does not validate, but trashing Christianity, trashing pro-lifers, trashing mens' rights groups, trashing conservatives, all very much get a pass here. I could go find a dozen examples in threads from the past week in support of that. So where do you draw the line?


* Though I do thank you for honoring my request to delete my response to OC, which would not have served the thread well in the long run
posted by pla at 7:55 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The proposal "let's put people in concentration camps until they die" is not merely an incorrect opinion. It is sick and disgusting.

(Quoting this with the hope that more people will read it because it is in italics)
posted by Damn That Television at 8:09 PM on April 21, 2010


it's an acceptable argument only if you ignore all that it implicates

I didn't say that the argument was "acceptable."

But as jessamyn said, it's not really about what arguments he makes so much as how and when he chooses to present them.

Of course. But I said nothing about the way that the argument was presented.

Trying to dismiss the argument by saying that it's not an argument is pointless.

I may have posted an unpopular idea

That you seem to want to believe that your idea is merely unpopular or unwelcome is either disingenuous or willfully obtuse, especially in the face of numerous well-formed and "sufficiently compelling" counterarguments that other people have posed repeatedly. In any case, it's not accurate to assert that your idea has been attacked merely because it is unpopular or because it doesn't fit the proper ideology. Nor is it fair to imply that anything that counters your argument is prima facie dismissible "liberal socialism."
posted by blucevalo at 8:10 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I realize that tu quoque does not validate, but trashing Christianity, trashing pro-lifers, trashing mens' rights groups, trashing conservatives, all very much get a pass here

Point out the comments where liberal socialist Mefites seriously proposed that Christians should be, say, rounded up into concentration camps until they die and maybe you'll have a point.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:15 PM on April 21, 2010 [17 favorites]



The proposal "let's put people in concentration camps until they die" is not merely an incorrect opinion. It is sick and disgusting.


So flag it and move on rather than trying to impress everyone with how cleverly you can put someone down.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


>:)
posted by Damn That Television at 8:23 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


There have been and are conservatives and libertarians on Metafilter who have managed not to piss people off every 20th comment. This doesn't have as much to do with your opinions not matching some sort of community consensus, but rather with your articulation of said opinions. I don't care if you are posting on metafilter or freerepublic, if you state something controversial without making any effort to qualify your position, you are going to have a shit storm on your hands (although freerepublic will ban you the first time). Especially in an area of controversy where the history of people advocating your idea is almost universally that of conservative homophobes.

I'm sure you think we should all take as read that your comment about isolating HIV+ individuals was not directed specifically at homosexuals, and was for you just an extension of the concept of isolating say XDR TB cases. But you have to be extremely ignorant of the politics of AIDS in the US to not realize that the primary motivation for past suggestions of that idea has been more about stigma than public health, and that people are going to lump you in with the haters if you don't carefully frame your statements.

I'm not sure what useful advice I can give you about not wandering into the minefield given that you generally appear to have an inability to appreciate or acknowledge the emotional pain you cause others, and a propensity to defend everything you said as if your intent somehow excuses the collateral damage you cause. It mitigates it enough for you to get a second and third, and maybe more chances, but you've left everyone with a bad impression of you.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:59 PM on April 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I do not take it as a good sign that MeFi welcomes my input on a wide variety of topics

It really bothers me when people do this. As far as I know, there are 5 people who can reasonably claim to speak for or as "MeFi", and, again as far as I know, they almost never do. So when you say things like this, it sounds to me like someone saying, "Oh man, Seattle was really rude to me on the bus this morning." What, the whole city weighed in?

You have a problem with some people, some people have a problem with you, that's all pretty standard in a large community. Let's not go fantasizing that this is you standing up to the monolithic State at your criminal trial or something.

Although, having said that, I think that wanting to expand government to the point that it is capable of maintaining and affording a network of zero-contact quarantine zones does make you a bad libertarian, and I think that no one could possibly use the term "staycation" in good faith, so, whatever.
posted by Errant at 9:05 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nitpick: it's isolation, not quarantine.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:10 PM on April 21, 2010


BAD LIBERTARIAN! Are you referring to yourself here? Because really what you're advocating is more fascistic in tendency, isn't it?

I be an ass for suggesting this, especially given I'm not a shrink, but I wonder if what is going on here is perhaps an untreated mental health issue.

This would explain why you drop these bombs that you must know will stir up such a reaction.

Or maybe Pla, your comment is so into outrageous territory you've broken my outrage meeter and I just feel bad you have to deal with such feelings. I hope nobody with your views ever wields any power, but I just feel sorta bad for you.
posted by angrycat at 9:11 PM on April 21, 2010


Oh, it's late so what the hell....

MetaTalk: what is going on here is perhaps an untreated mental health issue.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:15 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


So flag it and move on rather than trying to impress everyone with how cleverly you can put someone down.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 PM on April 21


Since my comment was deleted, maybe you can share with us what it said and explain why you think it was an attempt at a clever put-down. You read it, right? Because it sure as hell sounds like you didn't.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:15 PM on April 21, 2010

transsexual ≠ homosexual, and feminists ≠ women in general
cortex and I are both aware that transsexuals aren't the same as gay people and that feminists are not the same as women in general. What we're saying here is that trashing any of those groups is not okay period
That isn’t the typical scenario. We have already discussed on MetaTalk how any articulation of the case that transsexuals are not gay gets shouted down immediately. The contention “transsexuals are not gay” can be rendered as “transsexual ≠ homosexual” but it cannot be rendered as “transsexuals aren’t the same as gay people.” The contention that transsexuals have zero in common with homosexuals (as opposed to 1% or 95%) is almost impossible to articulate on MetaFilter without getting your ass kicked.

Jessamyn has sanded off the rough edges of PLA’s argument to make it sound like she understands the point he’s making. She’s making a different point, one that is comfortable and accepted here. PLA’s isn’t.

Apart from the immediately preceding paragraph, the foregoing does not necessarily represent my own opinion. I am merely discussing how PLA’s opinion has been distorted by Jessamyn.
posted by joeclark at 9:51 PM on April 21, 2010


Frankly, I need to remember that MeFi is, for all its good qualities, extremely bigot-friendly

OC, that is not true.


You have an account and the mod policy appears to be "Don't engage her unless you're going to be friendly", sooooooooo
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:52 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Put bluntly, I do not take it as a good sign that MeFi welcomes my input on a wide variety of topics, then resorts to calling me out as a troll, or insincere, or just "not a good fit" whenever I don't echo the particular brand of liberal socialism dominant on the Blue.

Put bluntly, endorsing fucking death camps is a few shades beyond not parroting MetaFilter's socio-political mores. Pathetic and fascist, yeah, being a free spirit, not quite so much.

I hope you get a canker sore.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:18 PM on April 21, 2010


We're as good as the company we keep.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:35 PM on April 21, 2010


Death camps?
I'd say a more accurate interpretation would be that Pla is treating humans as though they were a row of turnips in his garden that might benefit from an early summer thinning. That's not humane at all of course but if you think of people as turnips then an early summer thinning makes sense for the greater good of turnipkind.
posted by vapidave at 12:05 AM on April 22, 2010


pla: I realize that tu quoque does not validate, but trashing Christianity, trashing pro-lifers, trashing mens' rights groups, trashing conservatives, all very much get a pass here. I could go find a dozen examples in threads from the past week in support of that. So where do you draw the line?

The first thing that struck me reading that was that those are all choices. Having a pro-life opinion, choosing to follow the Church, voting for a conservative party, campaigning for men's rights, are all things you choose to do in some sense that does not hold for people who are HIV+, homosexual, transgender, or a woman (and attacks on feminism very easily come across as attacks on women, one needs to be VERY CAREFUL with phrasing if one feels there is legitimate criticism of the feminist movement.) Not that gives free license to advocate the wholesale slaughter of groups people choose to belong to, either, but the rules are clearer for those identities that are intrinsic.

Also, this is my favourite comment in this thread. I recommend that everyone re-read it, especially pla.
posted by Dysk at 2:00 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the point here is that its very hard to refute nonsense in a thread when Optimus decides to jump in through the glass roof, ninja costume on and guns blazing.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:03 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since my comment was deleted, maybe you can share with us what it said and explain why you think it was an attempt at a clever put-down. You read it, right? Because it sure as hell sounds like you didn't.

I didn't have to. I know your previous work well enough to extrapolate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:03 AM on April 22, 2010


EmpressCallipygos, that is not a statement that gels well with what you're accusing OC of... Something about a kettle, a pot, and some dark colour?
posted by Dysk at 4:13 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am surprised and disappointed that pla's line of reasoning is allowed to persist in that thread.

So refute it with your own line of reasoning. Hopefully with something more convincing than "pla's opinion is really really wrong!!!! So wrong, no one should see it!!!!"
posted by orthogonality at 4:16 AM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I didn't have to. I know your previous work well enough to extrapolate.

So in other words, you're arguing against something you don't know the content of? Classy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:03 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


So refute it with your own line of reasoning. Hopefully with something more convincing than "pla's opinion is really really wrong!!!! So wrong, no one should see it!!!!"

People should be able to see what they want. Metafilter should not be a platform for crazy-ass bigots to discuss sending people to death camps.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:04 AM on April 22, 2010


Pope Guilty: People should be able to see what they want.

You realise the implications of this are hugely undesirable, right? Gone is the challenging debate that shifts opinion, gone are the uncomfortable truths, gone are the valid arguments for anything with which people don't already agree... People should be challenged, ideas should be aired, arguments tried, and at the end of it all, we're a large and smart enough community to show broken logic and terrible ideas for what they are, exactly as happened in the thread on the blue. Had pla's post been deleted, we would never have arrived at this, which to my mind is progress.
posted by Dysk at 5:10 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every time I let myself forget it, my heart breaks again...

Come, lay thine head upon my breast and shed thine wounded tears, knowing that my arms are here to hold and comfort you and pick your pockets.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 AM on April 22, 2010


Cool assertions that gays...are almost impossible to counter pla without making it personal, or without taking this commentor's history into consideration.

This is utterly ridiculous and patently false. I read pla's comments in the thread and when someone actually pointed out that quarantine would cause huge civil rights issues and be insanely expensive, pla admitted it was good point they didn't have an answer to and actually sounds reasonable.

I have no idea why some people keep getting bent out of shape over the known crazy shit others say. Either roll your eyes and move on or if you think it's your mission to refute what their crazy shit, then poke the friggin' holes in the argument without making it personal, otherwise you look like just another brand of crazy and the world could do with a lot less crazy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:42 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


You realise the implications of this are hugely undesirable, right? Gone is the challenging debate that shifts opinion, gone are the uncomfortable truths, gone are the valid arguments for anything with which people don't already agree...

There's plenty of places on the web where you can go to say that people you don't like ought to be put in death camps. No matter how calmly you state it, the expression of such a sentiment is innately uncivil and has no place here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:59 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, I think that we did a much better thing today, as a community, than deleting a comment. We convinced pla that his idea was problematic. Instead of removing the offending idea from Metafilter, we removed it from the WORLD.

partially
posted by Dysk at 6:10 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's plenty of places on the web where you can go to say that people you don't like ought to be put in death camps.

Death camps? Pla proposes quarantine of HIV people and death camps are assumed? That seems like really lazy thinking. I would have preferred to have seen people ask pla exactly how quarantine would work. If someone starts spouting crazy shit, make'em explain how it's going to work in the real world. Either you'll learn something new or their craziness will be laid bare for the world to see. WIN WIN!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


People should be able to see what they want.

I don't want to see stupid ideas like this.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:22 AM on April 22, 2010


We've lost several good folk because of hateful people. In choosing to support pla's continued presence, we choose to drive away homosexuals who are just plain tired of dealing with hateful bullshit. You'd think we could offer a community where they could escape the hate, but I guess not.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:31 AM on April 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


Blatcher, what exactly do you believe that "quarantine" of thousands of people entails?

I don't want to draw out the lunacy over time. I just want it elsewhere.


We've lost several good folk because of hateful people. In choosing to support pla's continued presence, we choose to drive away homosexuals who are just plain tired of dealing with hateful bullshit. You'd think we could offer a community where they could escape the hate, but I guess not.

This is exactly what OC is talking about when he calls MeFi bigot-friendly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:38 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


we choose to drive away homosexuals who are just plain tired of dealing with hateful bullshit.

I see this sentiment come up frequently in threads like this, whether they're about pla or St. Alia or whatever, and the implication always seems to be that we should get rid of particular members rather than being that we need to behave better as a community. I really, really don't like the idea of banning people for having the wrong opinions, even if those opinions are detestable. I think that we, as a community, do a pretty good job of responding to people when they do say detestable things, and to characterize such a community as one that drives away the victims of those detestable statements is, in my opinion, false.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:39 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'd say those gay people who were driven away (if that's what indeed occurred, which, like shakespeherian, I am not convinced of) had every reason to depart if they couldn't stand the "hateful bullshit." But I'm a gay man who's staying, regardless. I'm not afraid of ideas, no matter how stupid, hateful, or repulsive they are. And I'm not in favor of censoring them or saying that they belong elsewhere. I'd rather be part of a community where these ideas are discussed and aired, and disproven, if they are disprovable, than in one where there's an out-of-the-gate ban on ideas that are thought too uncivil to countenance. Driving taboo ideas underground only makes them stronger.
posted by blucevalo at 7:44 AM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


"Death camps? Pla proposes quarantine of HIV people and death camps are assumed?"

There is no assumption, it's right in pla's claim. Since there is no cure for HIV at present and pla suggests quarantine for HIV+ individuals, the quarantine, at this point in time, would be until the death of the infected individual. With mumps, tuberculosis, and smallpox, there is the potential of recovery and therefore eventual freedom from quarantine (which is, as bunnycup pointed out in the thread, not nearly implemented as often movies and tv shows would have us believe). So the quarantine for HIV patients would be to the death (hence "death camps"). Futhermore, with these patients hidden away, it's fairly easy to see where this lifelong quarantine could lead quite quickly.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:44 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


You'd think we could offer a community where they could escape the hate, but I guess not.

It's this value judgment on the part of the mods to be tacitly accepting of certain kinds of hatefulness (by not hiding it) that is bringing me around to thinking that this is probably not, unfortunately the place for me to hang my hat.

Not saying I won't participate, not saying I don't care, just saying that I used to think I could love this place, but I think there's not enough committment to the right kind of mix of freedom of ethical expression for me to really fall in love and stay.

That's okay. I don't feel like I have any right to ask MetaFilter to be the site I want it to be. I am just expressing wistful disappointment that it isn't. I'm glad however that it is serving as the right site for so many other people.

I do think that MetaFilter does tons right and I do understand the ethical stance MetaFilter and its mods make to leave troubling statements standing and to let community reaction and discussion stand as dissent. I just don't think that that's the right way for me to respond, and it bothers me that the mod/majority rule leads to this process/mechanic because it leaves me feeling very uneasy.
posted by kalessin at 7:49 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What we object to is the comment trawling where a user's history is dragged up where it's not relevant to the thread at hand just to remind everyone "hey user x is an asshole" and/or people using people's past histories as an excuse for their own behavior. This sort of thing is fine if it's relevant, in MeTa. (from Jessamyn)

We've lost several good folk because of hateful people. In choosing to support pla's continued presence, we choose to drive away homosexuals who are just plain tired of dealing with hateful bullshit. You'd think we could offer a community where they could escape the hate, but I guess not. (from five fresh fish)

My interpretation of what Jessamyn is getting at is that digging up someone's posting history and posting it in the thread is pretty much by definition an ad hominem attack. It is not discussion about the topic at hand, it is discussion about a user. And although such threadjacking has happened before, it's pretty clearly not a direction that Matt and Co. like to go with the site.

I agree that the statements by pla are advocating something that is rather...ill-advised. The mods are pointing out that the correct response to this is to point out why it is ill advised. Attack the idea, not the person.

And if the user does indeed have a history of trolling (as opposed to inelegant expression of unpopular opinions), well, that's up to a mod. Maybe Metatalk. In my opinion though, probably something handled best through private communication. Conveniently, a mod has already brought up the issue of trolling, but that post could just as easily been a memail.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 7:58 AM on April 22, 2010


Death camps? Pla proposes quarantine of HIV people and death camps are assumed?

No assumption required.

pla's own words:
"Agreed. We would do much better to quarantine people with incurable fatal infectious diseases. With any other, almost always much more visible, disease, we do exactly that. You get mumps, typhoid, ebola, inside the continental US? Welcome to your obligatory staycation until better or dead.

So why the hell do we let people with a mostly-invisible plague roam free?

And before anyone points out that modern treatments can keep it at bay for most of a normal lifetime - Would you consider it a crime if someone strapped an explosive collar around your neck, one that you could prevent from exploding simply by calling a phone number every morning?

Still a death sentence. You just get 50 years of appeals like any other Death Row inmate."
Clearly describes a 'death camp.'
posted by ericb at 8:12 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Merely quarantining folks for the rest of their life is a prison camp, not a death camp. Death camps take actively killing people. (As a good German, I am attuned to the distinction.)

Y'all are sounding like Palinites chewing on the bone of death panels.
posted by klangklangston at 8:15 AM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think that we, as a community, do a pretty good job of responding to people when they do say detestable things, and to characterize such a community as one that drives away the victims of those detestable statements is, in my opinion, false.

Look, I don't know where I stand on the issue of what to do about people like pla and Alia. I've gotten all het about it in the past, and my initial reaction is absolutely one of "get that shit out of here," but when it comes to this site and what an administrative stance should be I can't say with any honesty that I've got the solid plan that is totally awesome and we should all do it.

That said, it is 100% true that we have lost good mefites who left rather than be subjected to more offensive bullshit, including but not limited to Ethereal Bligh and jennydiski. I agree that, as communities go, we're a good one. I also think we can improve, and that threads like this one can lead to improvement. But let's not kid ourselves: people are sick of this shit, and have and will leave because of it. People whose contributions here are/were more valuable than pla's. People who want to be represented by the admins a little bit, because at the end of the day they can't make anyone stop offending them, but the admins can. I can think of 3 people off the top of my head who, over the past 6 months, have confided in me that they're thinking of pushing the button specifically over issues like this one. And they're not the only ones. I can think of plenty of threads where people have pushed the button because they tried to speak reasonably to metafilter's vocal bigots and were shouted down and, though supported by the larger community, simply could not participate on a site where it would be ok for them to be treated that way without official repercussion.

and so maybe that's just the deal: maybe they're not the good fit for metafilter. maybe they're too sensitive, or too something-else-i-don't-know-how-to-name to let that shit roll off their backs and just keep enjoying the site. I don't know. I certainly don't have any concrete ideas on how anyone with administrative authority here should fix it. I can say in X or Y circumstance that "well, if it were ME I'd fucking delete the comment and ban that fucker to within an inch of his life" or whatever, but I'm not a mod for very very good reasons, and I'm not foolish enough to think that just because I'd handle things a certain way that that's the right way to handle them.

but again, to be clear: it is 100% verifiably and totally true that people have and will continue to leave this site over issues like this, because people like pla and Alia are allowed to advocate for the mandatory quarantining of HIV+ people without someone just getting that filthy fucking shit the fuck off the site. You can argue that we should address the bigotry rationally and civilly in the thread, and maybe you're right. Again, I don't know what the official stance should be.

But it occurs to me that, if I had AIDS or HIV, and someone were advocating my imprisonment in what amounts to a death camp because of my condition, the idea that I am supposed to meet that bigotry with reason and civility while he is free to continue actively offending me would be repellent.

maybe I wouldn't be a good fit for metafilter then. maybe all the good and decent folks who left because of bigotry aren't good fits for metafilter. but I can't help but wonder what kind of community we're building when people who are actively offended by bigotry aren't a good fit, and people who are actively offensive as bigots fit better.
posted by shmegegge at 8:17 AM on April 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


Separate from where I stand on whether this particular comment ought to be deleted, I like the stance that a lot of thought and decision and transparency goes into considering whether or not to delete. For me, to obtain the things I hope to obtain out of Metafilter, simply pretending we live in a sanitized world full of sanitized ideas isn't helpful. Because the reality is people think those things, no matter how wrong, stupid, offensive, unethical, cruel or asinine those things may be. I appreciate the opportunity to shoot them down, to talk about it, to hope that the power of my words and persuasion makes at least some very small (even if unacknowledged) change. Even if all I do is put the tiniest little crack in that wall.

On the other hand, I believe this particular comment was trolling. With a troll, the opportunity to engage in real discussion doesn't exist. So it's basically throwing around these same views for fun. It's not a difference of whether I could succeed in persuading for a change in views, as some people hold hardcore to beliefs I disagree with and it's wise to know it's not worth trying to change them. I respect that. It's what I would call 'good faith' discussion. However, the decision has been made on this comment, and I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the discussion.

A sanitized Metafilter, where we all just say aspirationally ethical things reflecting mutually-shared ideas and no others, would bore the pants right off of me. So I think there's a line, and I appreciate (in terms of understanding and agreeing) that there is no default stance to delete or not delete.
posted by bunnycup at 8:21 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


That said, it is 100% true that we have lost good mefites who left rather than be subjected to more offensive bullshit, including but not limited to Ethereal Bligh and jennydiski.

I think I need to clarify what I said: I wasn't suggesting that people haven't left; I was stating that this is not because of the community driving people away because of its lax attitude on bigotry.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:25 AM on April 22, 2010


I can think of plenty of threads where people have pushed the button because they tried to speak reasonably to metafilter's vocal bigots and were shouted down and, though supported by the larger community, simply could not participate on a site where it would be ok for them to be treated that way without official repercussion.

I've been argued with, blasted, sneered at, yelled at, and disagreed with here, and I've even had a few comments deleted by the mods. But I've never felt shouted down. And I've been here going on 8 years and counting. I don't think I'm particularly thick-skinned, and neither do I think I've been a shrinking violet.
posted by blucevalo at 8:26 AM on April 22, 2010


I hope you get a canker sore.

This is a wonderful insult. I will be appropriating it for future use.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:29 AM on April 22, 2010


because at the end of the day they can't make anyone stop offending them

Yes, yes, they absolutely can- by ignoring them.

the idea that I am supposed to meet that bigotry with reason and civility while he is free to continue actively offending me would be repellent.

Then don't take up the mantle of engaging them. Because engaging them would ideally involve being civil and using reason.

------------

Maybe it's because I started elsewhere online, but Metafilter is easily the most sensitive, tolerant place I've ever been. If someone couldn't take the right-wing heat from here, I would honestly have no idea where to tell them to go.
posted by Jpfed at 8:33 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Blatcher, what exactly do you believe that "quarantine" of thousands of people entails?


I don't know. It strikes me as batshineinsane at first blush, so I'm curious exactly how this grand plan would work on a global scale across numerous countries, so yes, I'd probably ask just to see the ludicrous perform art, secure in the knowledge that it didn't have a hope in hell of actually happening.

I get that some people just want these sort of comments instantly deleted and the users banned, I just worry about that line, i.e. when do we listen and we do we toss somebody out.

And if push comes to shove and pla has to be escorted off the site, I'd rather have such comments as public evidence as why it was done.

Merely quarantining folks for the rest of their life is a prison camp, not a death camp.

Thanks klang, that was the point I was failing to articulate. 'Death camp' is loaded phrase and I'd rather it be used correctly, instead of diluting it.

...because people like pla and Alia are allowed to advocate for the mandatory quarantining of HIV+ people...

Did Alia say that? I honestly don't know, so a cite would be cool, thanks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:46 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Alia didn't post in the thread at all, actually.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:48 AM on April 22, 2010


It's just funny that it's not okay anymore under current MeFi rules to poke fun at individual states (Maine, Texas), but floating around the idea that we can take care of "undesirables" by imprisoning them for life is completely normal and fine and part of a reasonable discourse. And you can't point out the fact that the person advocating these ideas has a long history of getting basic facts wrong. And you can't point out that they have a history of either trolling or whatever you call it when someone actually belives insane shit based on false premises. And I'm too old and too mean to have the patience to teach dull children who should know better why murder is wrong.

Thanks klang, that was the point I was failing to articulate. 'Death camp' is loaded phrase and I'd rather it be used correctly, instead of diluting it.

We can call it a prison camp or a rehabilitation camp when we find a cure for AIDS. putting someone in a camp and waiting until they die is still a death camp. It's a different method of execution, but just as sure and true as gas or the firing squad.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Did Alia say that? I honestly don't know, so a cite would be cool, thanks.

She did not.

St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:12 PM on April 21:
"OC, that is not true.

Look, most of us agree that quarantining people for life is a sucky thing to do to someone, but I think we are capable of arguing WHY that is a sucky idea in such a fashion as to put the contrary poster (in this case Pla) in his or her place."

posted by zarq at 9:00 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


ericb : Clearly describes a 'death camp.

Way to ignore context. Try this reading instead:

"And before anyone points out that modern treatments can keep it at bay for most of a normal lifetime [...] Still a death sentence. You just get 50 years of appeals like any other Death Row inmate."

Wow, if you connect your underlined quote to the most recent idea, rather than to a (standalone) idea two paragraphs earlier, it suddenly doesn't sound like marching people off to the desert to die.

And that frustrates me. I know I don't always write as well as I should, but I really can't help think that some people deliberately try to find the least charitable - Hell, the most monstrous - way to twist my words possible.


Brandon Blatcher : I would have preferred to have seen people ask pla exactly how quarantine would work.

As would I, because apparently we could have nipped a lot of this BS right in the bud.

Honestly, I never even thought of "rounding them up", or "concentration camps", or killing people before the disease did, or anything of the sort. blucevalo brought up the idea of rounding people up in some kind of camp in the desert, and the first appearance of both the oft-repeated soundbite "let's put people in concentration camps until they die" and the conflation between HIV and gays, hermitosis gets credit for. I didn't even suggest the much less loaded "prison camps".

Personally, I imagined it working much the same ways as "traditional" quarantines - and someone feel free to point out if I have this impression factually incorrect - Basically just a form of house arrest. Due to the long-term nature of AIDS, however, I would have suggested a (optional!) modification to that, something more like communes (or for the less generous readers, leper colonies). Not "death camps" where we round up a few million people and ship them off to the desert to likely die of malnutrition before the AIDS kills them.

That said, in hindsight I can see that idea has a number of flaws with it.
posted by pla at 9:00 AM on April 22, 2010


blucevalo brought up the idea of rounding people up in some kind of camp in the desert

Indeed I did. And you never answered my question in the original thread, except to dismissively say that "the logistics don't matter, just the end result."
posted by blucevalo at 9:04 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


pla: That said, in hindsight I can see that idea has a number of flaws with it.

This has to be the most masterfully understated assertion on MeTa in quite some time.
posted by Len at 9:05 AM on April 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


It's just funny that it's not okay anymore under current MeFi rules to poke fun at individual states (Maine, Texas), but floating around the idea that we can take care of "undesirables" by imprisoning them for life is completely normal and fine and part of a reasonable discourse.

I think there's a reasonable difference between stereotyping and making fun of people based on their geography vs. seriously advancing an argument, no matter how awful the argument (both in construction and in premise), and because of this difference I don't think it's reasonable to posit this as a double standard.

And you can't point out the fact that the person advocating these ideas has a long history of getting basic facts wrong. And you can't point out that they have a history of either trolling or whatever you call it when someone actually belives insane shit based on false premises.

Like I said in a different thread, what's the point of doing this? If I have a long, long history on MeFi of saying things like '1+1=6' and then one day in a thread on aquifers I make an argument about water conservation in the Southeastern US, why are my stupid math comments relevant? Either explain why my conservation argument is flawed, or don't. Merely saying 'His argument must be wrong because three years ago he didn't know basic arithmetic' is ad hominem. If your reason for bringing it up is that you think I'm a troll, then that's an issue for MeTa and the mods, not for the thread at hand.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:10 AM on April 22, 2010


Yeah, Alia said nothing about quarantining.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:11 AM on April 22, 2010


the idea that I am supposed to meet that bigotry with reason and civility while he is free to continue actively offending me would be repellent

This is why I keep coming back to the question of "do I really want to stick around here?" I am not mentioning this in a "I'm preparing you all to weep when I flounce out" sense, but in a "Yes, thank you for articulating that. That's the thing that bothers me about this form of tolerance." sense.

When dnab left, I saw his departure as partly to do with this dynamic.

The other thing that bothers me about the dynamic of MetaFilter's tolerance-of-things-said policy is that the other flavor of discussion especially when criticizing responses to bigotry is that suggestion that activists and activist agendas are not tolerated or justified.

I have often said on MetaTalk that I am from an activist background. Not being able to respond to bigotry directly is deeply frustrating, feels deliberately silencing and is on the whole very difficult for me to get used to or to be civil about. Not only that, but being able to respond directly is part and parcel with being an activist. That's part of what we do.

I think it's a combination of this total frustration from the activist viewpoint and the appearance of tolerating deeply offensive things said that really bother me.

From an administrative/mod standpoint I think that the kinds of mod behaviors that would help me feel better about participating in MetaFilter would be:
1) When mods delete things, they ought to be a lot more specific about why they did and who they deleted (and I totally understand that this way might make more things worse and might not be worth it)
2) That if a MetaTalk thread opens about something like pla's comment, they think about moving (not copying) pla's comment to the MetaTalk thread instead of leaving it up on the MetaFilter thread

I do understand the need for compartmentalization, but I do not understand the need to leave comments widely considered offensive in the Blue when they're being discussed on MetaTalk. We live in a world of hyperlinking (which to me means that folks inside our community are perfectly capable of navigating wherever the potentially offensive content lies) and the way we do it now seems to really potentially give visitors who come in from search engines the wrong idea about our community (in that we are much more bigot friendly than we actually are).
posted by kalessin at 9:11 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Basically just a form of house arrest.

I'm sure the 1 million+ people living with HIV/AIDS in the US would be gratified to know that you don't want them rounded up and put in an internment camp -- just put under permanent house arrest or shipped off to some version of Father Damien de Vuester's Molokai.
posted by blucevalo at 9:12 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


blucevalo : Indeed I did. And you never answered my question in the original thread, except to dismissively say that "the logistics don't matter, just the end result."

I thought your comment so outrageous (as, apparently, did everyone - They just attributed it to me rather than to you) that you meant it as mere hyperbole, a caricature of my stance for the purpose of setting up a strawman. On re-reading it, however, I see that I did have my chance to explain how I meant it, I just didn't think at that time that my suggestion would snowball into some dark-side parody involving death camps for all gays.
posted by pla at 9:15 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You thought my comment outrageous. That's rich!
posted by blucevalo at 9:15 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


kalessin : That if a MetaTalk thread opens about something like pla's comment, they think about moving (not copying) pla's comment to the MetaTalk thread instead of leaving it up on the MetaFilter thread

If a mod had told me to take it to MeTa, that likely would have happened.

I would point out yet again that in this case, OC got spanked for personal attacks against me, not me for making a suggestion that other people's baggage twisted into the second holocaust.
posted by pla at 9:19 AM on April 22, 2010


Personally, I imagined it working much the same ways as "traditional" quarantines - and someone feel free to point out if I have this impression factually incorrect - Basically just a form of house arrest.

1. I already did.
2. See my prior reference, in the other thread, to Typhoid Mary - imprisoned against her will in an isolation hospital. As another historical reference, leper colonies in Hawaii:

In early 1866, the first leprosy victims were shipped to Kalaupapa and existed for 7 years before Father Damien arrived.

The area was void of all amenities. No buildings, shelters nor potable water were available. These first arrivals dwelled in rock enclosures, caves, and in the most rudimentary shacks, built of sticks and dried leaves
. (cite)

Some individuals sent here didn't even have leprosy. There was little due process protection for people forcibly shipped to a leper colony.

I realize those are two historical rather than modern examples, but perhaps they underscore the sensitivity associated with these topics, and enlighten you a little about why people are responding so strongly. If you are being sincere in your more recent statements, a judgment on which I have no opinion, this may be of relevance to you.
posted by bunnycup at 9:20 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Did Alia say that? I honestly don't know, so a cite would be cool, thanks.

no, and my sentence construction was unclear. I simply meant that people who advocate bigotry, like pla and alia do, are free to say things like "we should quarantine" etc... sorry for the confusion.
posted by shmegegge at 9:21 AM on April 22, 2010


Those of you in favour of keeping hateful bigots on this site should perhaps just fuck on off to the likes of Stormfront and the American Family Association, instead of making MetaFilter into a sewer pit of despicable people vomiting their shitheaded idiocy in our midst.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 AM on April 22, 2010


"It's just funny that it's not okay anymore under current MeFi rules to poke fun at individual states (Maine, Texas),"

Wait, we can't mess with Texas anymore? What about subtly implying that living in Ohio is an apt punishment?
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 AM on April 22, 2010


pla, I'm glad you're here, as you seem like a decently reasonable person. Can I ask you a question, in all honesty? Have you noticed the way that you seem to cause an awful lot of controversy on this site, and do you have any ideas as to why that might be?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:24 AM on April 22, 2010


If I have a long, long history on MeFi of saying things like '1+1=6' and then one day in a thread on aquifers I make an argument about water conservation in the Southeastern US, why are my stupid math comments relevant?

Again, it's that he has a history of making conclusion based on false premises. It's not like saying someone's advice on relationships is wrong because they fucked up math six months ago, it's saying that certain people have little or no credibility because they make up things to suit their needs. In the Ecole Polytechnique thread, pla misattributed, misinterpreted, and misused feminist quotes to support the idea that killer Marc Lepine's hatred of feminism was justified. This is in a memorial thread about fourteen murdered women, by the way.

So when that same person decides to "solve" the HIV crisis for us, starts off with a ridiculous-soudning position and fails to support it in any way, why is it incumbent on us to give him the benefit of the doubt?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


"That said, in hindsight I can see that idea has a number of flaws with it."

"Rounding up AIDS victims for quarantine sounds like a good idea, but is practically infeasible."

The More You Know
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would point out yet again that in this case, OC got spanked for personal attacks against me, not me for making a suggestion that other people's baggage twisted into the second holocaust.

The comments you made were problematic not because of "other people's baggage" but because you suggested rounding up a population of undesirables, depriving them of their rights and locking them into camps until they died. You then defended this idea in thread twice, so someone made a MeTa FPP about it.

There are clear and disturbing precedents for what you suggested in humanity's recent history. This has been pointed out by several people here, including myself. It's not our "baggage" that is the problem here. It's your ignorance of history.

If you're looking for someone to blame for this MeTa callout, please direct yourself to the nearest mirror.
posted by zarq at 9:34 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also,

I would point out yet again that in this case, OC got spanked for personal attacks against me, not me for making a suggestion that other people's baggage twisted into the second holocaust.

The reason that OC "got spanked" is because he gave the right argument in the wrong place on the site. Or is it your assertion that he had his facts wrong?
posted by zarq at 9:36 AM on April 22, 2010


If I have a long, long history on MeFi of saying things like '1+1=6' and then one day in a thread on aquifers I make an argument about water conservation in the Southeastern US, why are my stupid math comments relevant?

That's all well and good when the two arguments aren't related in any way, shape, or form. But when a cretinous asshole spews hate, documenting the past history of that hate is relevant.

For one thing, it helps others avoid saying things like "you seem like a decently reasonable person" to a fellow who has time and again spewed a sewer's worth of the stupidest possible shit.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know I don't always write as well as I should, but I really can't help think that some people deliberately try to find the least charitable - Hell, the most monstrous - way to twist my words possible.

That said, in hindsight I can see that idea has a number of flaws with it


pla, I am going to respond in the most charitable way to twist your words possible:

You seem to have 5 distinct problems with the way you interact here -

1) You do not articulate your ideas well.
2) Your ideas are poorly thought out in the first place.
3) Your poorly articulated, poorly thought out ideas are often of an offensive nature to many here.
4) When presented with clear evidence of either of the first two points, you choose instead to engage those who attack you on the third point, again with poorly articulated, poorly thought out responses.
5) You've done this pretty consistently, and therefore pretty much poisoned the well of charitable interpretation.

Based on my own mistakes in similar veins over the years, I can offer this advice: On points 1 and 2, try deleting the first three or four comments you type up before posting. Then read your fifth attempt and be absolutely sure that you've really thought through how it will sound outside of your own head. Try reading it aloud. Point 3 may actually be unavoidable if that's truly your nature, but it doesn't have to be a complete nonstarter in conversation if points 1, 2, and 4 are addressed. Point 4 is simple: put up or shut up. If your ideas are worth defending, defend your ideas instead of your pride. That requires reading, understanding, and responding in kind to those who provide thoughtful refutations of your ideas. Point 5 takes time, and possibly $5 (same as in town).

Good luck.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:38 AM on April 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


So when that same person decides to "solve" the HIV crisis for us, starts off with a ridiculous-soudning position and fails to support it in any way, why is it incumbent on us to give him the benefit of the doubt?

This makes sense, and I guess I'd say that it isn't incumbent on you to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I still don't see why it's necessary to link to previous unrelated things he's said when you have a big dumb error-filled argument sitting right in front of you to tear apart. Even if it's unintentional, it's very easy to read such linking to previous dumb shitty things he's said as you intentionally attempting to tarnish pla's image in your current disagreement with him, or as an attempt to derail the conversation into arguing all over again about the dumb shitty things he said about feminism. Case in point: I'm aware of the Ecole Polytechnique thread, and it's been linked in here already I believe, but you mention it again and emphasize the shittiness of what pla said, which at least for me is very difficult to read as anything but your attempting to persuade me by pointing out pla's shitty behavior in the past.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:38 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


pla, speaking of things I find repellent, I find your opinions repellent and I find your styling yourself as the rhetorical victim here also repellent.
posted by kalessin at 9:38 AM on April 22, 2010


For one thing, it helps others avoid saying things like "you seem like a decently reasonable person" to a fellow who has time and again spewed a sewer's worth of the stupidest possible shit.

Call me crazy, but in my fucked-up world it's a lot easier to talk to people when you're being nice to them.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:40 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those of you in favour of keeping hateful bigots on this site should perhaps just fuck on off to the likes of Stormfront and the American Family Association, instead of making MetaFilter into a sewer pit of despicable people vomiting their shitheaded idiocy in our midst.

Or perhaps you should just fuck on off and start your own site, rather than pronouncing on who belongs here, and why, and how, as though you have some sort of authority or endorsement from the community to do so. I'm sure people would be climbing over one another to join it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:40 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I never even thought of "rounding them up", or "concentration camps", or killing people before the disease did, or anything of the sort.

You gotta realize that rounding people up for anything is bound to spark this time of reaction.

That said, in hindsight I can see that idea has a number of flaws with it.

The problem is that is doesn't solve anything except maybe have people feel as though something is being done.

In order for quarantine to work, it would have to be 100% effective for decades on a global scale. First off, that's just not going to happen, there are too many variables in there, the chief being that you're restricting people against their will for a very specific reason, to keep them from non HIV people. The way I see it, the almost instant human reaction among HIV positives will to infect other people, 'caused they're pissed and denied their rights. In order to prevent that, you're going to have to 100% effective on a global scale and that's just not possible, there's going to dumb or greedy guard some where, some chance moment. Hell, how do you even guard HIV people with non HIV people? You can't, the first thing a pissed off positive will do is whatever it takes to infect the negative person and boom, another problem. Ok, so you use HIV positives to guard other positives, right? Yeah, not going to work, not 100%.

Let's not even get into the massive expense of this, along with the legal and moral questions of actually implementing it.

What problem are you trying to solve here? How will quarantine solve that problem? These are the essential questions that I don't think you're considering pla.

And I'm too old and too mean to have the patience to teach dull children who should know better why murder is wrong.

Then quit doing it.

Yeah, Alia said nothing about quarantining.

If that's the case, it would cool if we could stick to lambasting people for what they said or did, not because we dislike them.

So when that same person decides to "solve" the HIV crisis for us, starts off with a ridiculous-soudning position and fails to support it in any way, why is it incumbent on us to give him the benefit of the doubt?

Not so much benefit of the doubt, but change the points and lines of thought.

Honestly OC, this just might not be your cup of tea here, you have a bombastic way of operating on the site, which on the one hand I find hilarious, so props for entertaining me, but it some instances I don't think it really helps, you know? I agree with your general views, but find the way express them to just be...what's the word I'm looking for....it just seems to fan the flames of hatred as opposed to solving any sort of problem.

That said, I do want to be clear that I don't think every shitty line of thought has a place on Metafilter, some of just needs to go, I just don't think pla's comments on that thread fit the "GET OUT NOW" action.

God, I need a corned beef sandwich
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:43 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish: "Those of you in favour of keeping hateful bigots on this site should perhaps just fuck on off to the likes of Stormfront and the American Family Association, instead of making MetaFilter into a sewer pit of despicable people vomiting their shitheaded idiocy in our midst."

No, I don't want to.
posted by charred husk at 9:43 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it wrong of me to have substituted Brandon Blatcher's "God I need a corned beef sandwich" with "Christ, what an asshole" in my head?
posted by kalessin at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2010


Those of you in favour of keeping hateful bigots on this site should perhaps just fuck on off to the likes of Stormfront and the American Family Association

I can guarantee that neither of those sites would have much to do with a gay freak like me that didn't involve a steel-toed boot in the face repeated about 100 times.
posted by blucevalo at 9:49 AM on April 22, 2010


Honestly OC, this just might not be your cup of tea here, you have a bombastic way of operating on the site, which on the one hand I find hilarious, so props for entertaining me, but it some instances I don't think it really helps, you know? I agree with your general views, but find the way express them to just be...what's the word I'm looking for....it just seems to fan the flames of hatred as opposed to solving any sort of problem.


I totally agree, and not to speak for others but that's probably a common sentiment. I hold many of the same views on issues that OC does, but the way he responds to others seems primarily motivated by an urge to belittle and diss them with an "oh, snap!", rather than to actually try to seek some common understanding. I know there's a contingent of people here who think that shaming or humiliating people with wrong views is somehow a form of social correction, but in most cases it just serves to cheapen discourse. Maybe I'm just getting old, but that kind of slamming, rhetorically or with pitched sarcasm, is kind of a drag.

God, I need a corned beef sandwich

I'm not familiar with this euphemism.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:49 AM on April 22, 2010


Or perhaps you should just fuck on off and start your own site, rather than pronouncing on who belongs here, and why, and how, as though you have some sort of authority or endorsement from the community to do so. I'm sure people would be climbing over one another to join it.

you know, I know fff gets all riled up sometimes, and this is one of those times. And I know that his way of saying things is pretty flammable. But just to be clear, this is sort of what people are talking about with the whole "bigotry friendly" thing. suddenly using curse words and calling outright bigotry "vile shit" is a problem, but some people think it's cool to tell fff to fuck off and start his own site in response.

I like fff. And I like Alvy, too. I don't want either of them to fuck off. I kind of want us to start thinking about what message we send, though, when we tell good people whose contributions over the years are valuable (such as fff) to fuck off because he's angry about pla wanting to quarantine HIV victims.
posted by shmegegge at 9:51 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


I would point out yet again that in this case, OC got spanked for personal attacks against me, not me for making a suggestion that other people's baggage twisted into the second holocaust.

Let's be super clear here: OC got a couple comments deleted because of an administrative issue orthogonal to your own behavior, and your own behavior in this sort of arguing-hard-and-tonedeaf thing is something you have done before, and that is a problem that you need to deal with. I don't think jessamyn was unclear in addressing the fact that we have a problem with how you act here sometimes, regardless of your internal motivations or your ability to refrain from getting into headache-inducing throwdowns 90% of the time. Almost everyone else on this site pegs that number at about 99.5%; your way of interacting with people here is, indeed, a problem out or proportion with what we have to deal with with most folks.

You need to either find a way to be less obnoxious about how you express and defend your ideas, or consider whether this is a place you're are going to manage to get along in the future. And you certainly need to not try and tell people that OC is the whole problem and you're the victim here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:52 AM on April 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


pla: ...the conflation between HIV and gays, hermitosis gets credit for.

Maybe in the sense that in this specific instance you, personally, did not equate the two. But in the larger sense, it's not hermitosis that gets credit for it.

There is a huge historical (and, hell, current) conflation between the two. In some systems, if a pre-identified-as-gay baby were shuttled right from the womb into an inviolable plastic bubble, raised to maturity therein, and emerged on his 18th birthday to have sex with another such pristine gay virgin, neither of them would be able to honestly donate blood. Because, ZOMG MANONMAN=AIDS.

When you ignore that pre-existing conflation, some of the credit for the resulting shitstorm is yours.
posted by CKmtl at 10:07 AM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


> That said, it is 100% true that we have lost good mefites who left rather than be subjected to more offensive bullshit, including but not limited to Ethereal Bligh and jennydiski.

Those people, while good and admirable people, were too sensitive for MetaFilter. No site can be all things to all people. If MeFi were as sanitized as EB and jennydiski wanted it, it would be too boring for me (and, I suspect, a fair number of others).

> Those of you in favour of keeping hateful bigots on this site should perhaps just fuck on off to the likes of Stormfront and the American Family Association, instead of making MetaFilter into a sewer pit of despicable people vomiting their shitheaded idiocy in our midst.

Once again, five fresh fish makes himself more repellent than whoever he is trying to get banned today.
posted by languagehat at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's this value judgment on the part of the mods to be tacitly accepting of certain kinds of hatefulness (by not hiding it) that is bringing me around to thinking that this is probably not, unfortunately the place for me to hang my hat.

Kalessin, I feel much the same way some days - I actually stopped reading Metafilter entirely back in the day, when the blue just got too hostile in general for me to handle. It still is, on even remotely hot-button topics, so I just don't spend all that much time there.

I was trying to articulate why I simultaneously agree completely with your discomfort and yet feel like I've reached a place of equilibrium, and I figured out how I did it. And here's what it is - I read the gray religiously.

Because the mods aren't tolerating bigotry - but the way the site is set up compartmentalizes the reactions to it. Intellectual arguments refuting substantive points stay in the blue; emotional reactions go to the gray. I need to know that I'm not alone in my emotional reactions, and just reading the blue can give me the impression that I am. So I read the gray instead, and I know that I'm not alone - in fact, the majority of the site tends to react in similar ways. And that's all I need to feel like I'm on stable ground engaging on contentious issues.

But I still don't read the kinds of threads that create MeTa posts very often, because I can't compartmentalize like that. I'd rather just talk about social mores and site management directly, and read the articles and react to them privately. That's my peace with the site at the moment, and it seems to be working fine.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:37 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


cortex : And you certainly need to not try and tell people that OC is the whole problem and you're the victim here.

Make no mistake, I did not say that. I don't particularly see a victim here, myself included. Just attributing causes to the causer - This thread started because Jess told OC to take it to MeTa. As for why OC had an "administrative issue", I'll leave that to your discretion, but you can't have it both ways - Either he made personal attacks in violation of the rules, or he didn't, making this a non-issue.

Yes, my past behavior has caused you a number of headaches, but as I mentioned, I really thought I had toned it down enough. Above, I challenged you to point out where I have transgressed since your last admonition, to which you didn't respond. I take that silence as a positive sign, yet you still describe me as a problem in the present tense. If the "problem" to which you refer involves nothing more than what I believe, then yes, I probably should leave the site. I don't see that as benefiting either of us, however.


shakespeherian : pla, I'm glad you're here, as you seem like a decently reasonable person. Can I ask you a question, in all honesty? Have you noticed the way that you seem to cause an awful lot of controversy on this site, and do you have any ideas as to why that might be?

I recognize that I hold unpopular views on a number of social topics. I understand that, on a few occasions, I have said things that a few fellow MeFites found personally hurtful - Though I don't think I've ever done so as a personal attack, only in that they took something I said personally rather than in the intended abstract sense.

As for the outright hate I seem to inspire - No, I do not understand that. If people mildly disagree with me, let's discuss the issue. If they radically disagree with me, just ignore me. If they can't even see my name without frothing at the mouth, talk to HopperFan to learn how to completely hide my posts. But that whole threads go South because of one poster? That, I simply cannot grasp.


It's Raining Florence Henderson : Your ideas are poorly thought out in the first place.

I didn't submit the quarantine idea as a fully fleshed out proposal for immediate adoption by the federal government. I mentioned it mostly as a point of discussion, one option (that I had, past-tense, favored - see my response to your #4, below) somewhat less severe than prison, which if you'll all recall, started as the original topic.


Your poorly articulated, poorly thought out ideas are often of an offensive nature to many here.

Reiterating my response to shakespeherian, although I have to acknowledge that fact, I don't "get" it. Just ignore me, if you disagree so vehemently. I just can't relate to letting a random internet commenter get to me in the way you describe.


When presented with clear evidence of either of the first two points, you choose instead to engage those who attack you on the third point, again with poorly articulated, poorly thought out responses.

You mean like the fact that I tempered my view on quarantining in-thread, when presented with evidence that I actually considered meaningful? Yeah, right, I never back down.

I think the key problem on this point comes from our respective definitions of a "sufficiently compelling" argument. I don't give a damn about the humanitarian angle, so 200 people all shouting me down as a monster have absolutely no effect on my opinion. The historical details of how we've screwed up such ideas in the past I do seriously consider, but from the angle of "how can we make that better", not as a god-given dictate never to try that again.

One person, however, presenting a "real" argument, on the basis of civil rights, economics, and logistics, made me completely reevaluate my position. If I missed earlier iterations of that argument, well, I may have just missed them, they may not have come out as eloquently as the commenter believed, or I may just have misunderstood the intent. I do have the all too human trait of fallibility, after all.


You've done this pretty consistently, and therefore pretty much poisoned the well of charitable interpretation.

Again, 200 people calling me a monster doesn't sway me. In past threads, with few exceptions, I've seen no real reason to change my views. I've had particular details of my supporting evidence picked apart, but very rarely does anyone go right to the heart of my opinion itself. I have no desire to revisit old topics, so case in point from the present discussion, mumps. Yes, I had my facts wrong about that specific disease - But any of a dozen other diseases would have made the point just as well; attacking my choice of mumps as example therefore had zero effect in weakening my core argument.


Based on my own mistakes in similar veins over the years, I can offer this advice

And I sincerely thank you for that advice.
posted by pla at 10:38 AM on April 22, 2010


pla-

To piggy back on what Florence Henderson said, specifically about doing some research/reflection on comments beforehand,
some rudimentary research on quarantine protocol is not that difficult to find. For example, you might want to check out what the CDC has to say about it.

Modern quarantine is used when:

a person or a well-defined group of people has been exposed to a highly dangerous and highly contagious disease

# resources are available to care for quarantined people, and
# resources are available to implement and maintain the quarantine and deliver essential services.

Modern quarantine is more likely to involve limited numbers of exposed persons in small areas than to involve large numbers of persons in whole neighborhoods or cities.


So first off CDC is unlikely to quarantine a whole neighborhood, never mind try to cope with a worldwide pandemic

There's also the issues of the TYPE of diseases in which a quarantine is considered, notably, highly contagious diseases. The diseases you name, like Mumps and TB, can be communicated through casual contact-just being in the same space. HIV is considerably more difficult to contract.

Just a quick casual search would have helped you to understand why this is 1 an "idea has a number of flaws with it" 2 an emotional hotbutton for quite a few people, myself included
posted by miss-lapin at 10:42 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


200 people all shouting me down as a monster have absolutely no effect on my opinion.

You might consider that if 200 people all think you're a monster you might find yourself unwelcome among them.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:45 AM on April 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


200 people all shouting me down as a monster have absolutely no effect on my opinion

Neither do 200 facts, despite your protestations that you may have made a mild modification to some trivial part of your stance based on someone's mention of mumps.
posted by blucevalo at 10:50 AM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


pla, I want to reinforce a bit of what miss-lapin just said because I agree with her wholeheartedly and I think there is something to be gained in examining that way of thinking. Note that she is not attacking you or lobbing personal criticism your way, so let's stay focused on the issue. Again, I think there's something to learn about the way MeFi works and functions, at least in my lowly, lone-user, non-mod opinion.

By way of allegory/analogy, every once in awhile a Facebook poll pops up about whether people on welfare should be subjected to drug tests prior to receiving benefits. People vote yes or no. It's Facebook - a dumb poll, where rigorous debate and real consideration aren't expected. People will state a strong opinion sometimes, either for the lulz or simply to trigger debate or whatever. That's sort of the tone on FB, ya know? I would expect that kind of approach to happen there - a quick, dirty, unconsidered opinion. On FB, I would be unsurprised to see a comment like "Oh hell yes ppls can't be spending my tax money on drugs yo. Let's test every damn one of them." or whatever.

Here on Metafilter, that way of thinking is less popular - literally that method of debate and discussion is somewhat disliked(*). Here on Metafilter, I would expect a deeper and more nuanced debate of the topic. Without intending to speak for others, I think most people would expect to see more subtlety here. While not every argument need be perfectly cited - this is for fun, not for work, after all - people tend to expect a rudimentary basic search and at least some understanding of the background. The kinds of one off statements appropriate on FB might often be unpopular here(*). Here, I would expect to see a cost-benefit analysis of testing issue, together with an examination of the role of culture, crime-ridden neighborhoods, and economics on drug and the drug trade.

So, to try to wrap it up succinctly, I think (in my own personal opinion) part of the reason people are making much of the factual error inherent in your initial quarantine suggestion, is that it is more like the one-off jokey FB comment than the caliber of comments many of us expect here. It makes you seem trolling, not engaged in good faith. That you've as much as admitted you put no effort in the comments seems, again only to me, more rather than less damning. I think, if I understand correctly, this is what people mean when they talk about your tone. I am not trying to read you a lecture, or tell you how to behave. That's not my place to do. But if you honestly want to understand why you get negative attention, the above is my two cents on a factor that might be playing in.

(*) Note: Yes, of course, one liners and jokes and lulzy comments and quips abound at Metafilter. But I am getting at what I see as the dominantly popular way of engaging in Real Discussion About A Serious Topic on Metafilter
posted by bunnycup at 10:56 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


You mean like the fact that I tempered my view on quarantining in-thread, when presented with evidence that I actually considered meaningful?

Between your third and fourth comments in-thread, this FPP was created, and the community addressed the first three comments you had made. It would have been impossible at the time to address your fourth comment then. You hadn't made it yet. But to be clear about what you have and haven't done to date...

18 hours after you made the first of those three comments, you made a fourth which did not temper your view, but only accepted as a correction that the US does not routinely quarantine those with illnesses.

At 7:45pm last night, you made an additional, fifth comment, which still did not retract your statement that a minority population should have their rights deprived and be locked away until they get well or die. You merely acknowledged that your "brutal" solution involved "[an] expense angle ... civil rights and logistics issues."

Yeah, right, I never back down.

I did not say you never do. However, in that thread, where it would be most appropriate for you to do so, you have not.

I think the key problem on this point comes from our respective definitions of a "sufficiently compelling" argument. I don't give a damn about the humanitarian angle, so 200 people all shouting me down as a monster have absolutely no effect on my opinion.

Well, let me know how that "final solution" works out for you.

The historical details of how we've screwed up such ideas in the past I do seriously consider, but from the angle of "how can we make that better", not as a god-given dictate never to try that again.

Perhaps it's my own personal failing that I fail to see the brilliance evident behind the thesis, "Let's Make A Better Concentration Camp!"

I highly fucking doubt it, though.

I do have the all too human trait of fallibility, after all.

This is an understatement whose proportions are rapidly becoming biblical.
posted by zarq at 10:58 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


What's funny about these threads is that everyone is probably sitting in an office quietly typing away, living in some kind of bifurcated dream.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:01 AM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


As for the outright hate I seem to inspire - No, I do not understand that.

Pla, you advocated rounding forcefully rounding up a certain segment of the populace. We tried that in WWII, in both Germany and American to use two obvious examples, and have come to the conclusion that was extremely wrong to do. It was wrong to round up Jews and systematically kill them and it was wrong to round up Japanese-Americans and haul them off to camps for fear that they'd betray their home country.

Humanity made be hugely flawed, but we have learned a bit from history, to the point where anyone advocating rounding up any segment of the populace immediately prompts feels of anger and revulsion, not only for the idea but for the person advocating it. Lots of people feel that we've already been down this road, so anyone who's offering it as solution is perceived either as seriously deranged or seriously stupid and quite possibly both.

You may disagree with that line of thought, but you do need to realize that other people don't and the comment you made was bound to stir up shit, no matter your intention. That's why your statement of "...a suggestion that other people's baggage twisted into the second holocaust" probably pissed off more people because it's signaling that you profoundly don't understand what the significance of what you're saying.

I'm not asking you to agree with other people's thoughts on the subject, but I am asking that you make an effort to understand what these sort of comments mean to people and how articulating them shapes or derails any discussion you wish to have.

If they radically disagree with me, just ignore me.

That's really not possible when you're suggesting something people find extremely reprehensible, heinous and morally wrong on a number of levels.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:02 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Those people, while good and admirable people, were too sensitive for MetaFilter. No site can be all things to all people. If MeFi were as sanitized as EB and jennydiski wanted it, it would be too boring for me (and, I suspect, a fair number of others).

well, I acknowledged the possibility that they were too sensitive for metafilter. but I'd like to know what about their ideal vision for the site would have been too boring for you and the suspected others. maybe if you link to a comment that was just too boring an idea, I'd understand.
posted by shmegegge at 11:07 AM on April 22, 2010


I'm finding it a bit ironic that the likes of EB are considered "too sensitive" for MeFi, but that when a hateful bigot whinges about how mean people are, he's not considered "too sensitive" and can even find people to stand up for him.

It must be topsy-turvy Thursday.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 AM on April 22, 2010


EB was tiring and ultimately boring with his violent writing while supposedly striving to defeat violence against women.

Jenny Diski didn't quite get the hang of the site and seemed to be pulling for a Metafilter centered around discussions as opposed to links, which would have turned the place into reedit I think. Considering her MetaTalk on the subject spawned the infamous 1,163 comment feminism thread which birthed the sexism and racism flags, it's understandable that flashpoint prompting anyone to say "the hell with this".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:25 AM on April 22, 2010


when a hateful bigot whinges about how mean people are, he's not considered "too sensitive" and can even find people to stand up for him.


fff, It's a real stretch to say that anyone is actually "standing up" for pla, here. More people are making the case that a bigoted viewpoint should not necessarily be grounds for banning in and of itself.

Now, in the case of your comment it seems you are drawing a false equivalency between standing up for pla and your own statements being condemned as repellent. Calling your repellent comments for what they are does not even remotely qualify as standing up for a bigot.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:26 AM on April 22, 2010


As one who could be accused of standing up for pla, it's abundantly clear from my comments that I'm not doing that. What I am standing up for is the notion that ideas should be allowed to circulate here, for discussion, for debate, for debunking, for disembowelment if need be. I don't believe that's a radical stance to take, nor do I believe that taking it is defending bigotry.
posted by blucevalo at 11:34 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would like to forcefully round up a certain segment of the populace, namely everyone in this thread, and force them to enjoy some ice cream and the alcoholic beverage of their choice. I realize that this aspect of my attempted totalitarian dictatorship will prove unappealing to some, but I'm sure you'll all realize the error of your ways once drunk and giddy with the sugar rush.
posted by elizardbits at 11:34 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


As for the outright hate I seem to inspire - No, I do not understand that.

pla, again, with all respect, I think you need to take a good look around at this place and see that there are a lot of other people who have unpopular opinions, and that it therefore seems unlikely that the 'outright hate' you mention is merely a consequence of the unpopularity of opinions. If I were in your position, and I mean this will all sincerity, I would take the feeling of being outright hated, combined with the fact that this cannot simply be chalked up to the unpopularity of my opinions, as a very good reason to attempt to reflect on what the differences between myself and those other unpopular-opinionated people might be.

This is not to suggest that you haven't done that, but so far I see no evidence that you are attempting to analyze your personal style of rhetoric, and prefer to explain it away with disagreement and common human fallibility, as though the present tension between yourself and a large number of members of this site is merely some quirk of the universe and not any indication that there might be something worth correcting.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:37 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think EB and jd really fit the martyr role very well; IIRC, the former kind of blew up when it was pointed out he didn't walk his talk, and the latter seemed to have a weird idea about their role and general importance in the community.

Crazy times, then. We were all so young!

On preview, what Brandon Blatcher said, pretty much.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:39 AM on April 22, 2010


I would like to forcefully round up a certain segment of the populace, namely everyone in this thread, and force them to enjoy some ice cream and the alcoholic beverage of their choice.

Guinness floats for everybody!
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:42 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


EB's outright hostility towards people really would seem very much out of place here now.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:43 AM on April 22, 2010


Guinness floats for everybody!

Dude, Obi Wan died, that's just gross.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:46 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Elizardbits is my favourite dictator.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:53 AM on April 22, 2010


Elizardbits is my favourite dictator.

I have an army of sexbots that can make drinks AND ice cream.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:01 PM on April 22, 2010


Whenever I hear or read the word "sexbot" I always picture an old-style vintage robot (something like this) going I WILL SEX YOU UP *WHIRRRRRRR* I WILL SEX YOU UP *WHIRRRRRRR* I WILL SEX YOU UP and I get the urge to hide under my bed.
posted by Kattullus at 12:10 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


including but not limited to Ethereal Bligh and jennydiski.

EB came out with a manifesto on Thanksgiving Day basically telling all the women on the site that they needed to engage in civil disobedience to get Matt to change the site's approach to dealing with sexist language and rhetoric. He sent it to all the women who had posted in the sexism thread except for me. He was at odds with the community idea of the site and couldn't sit comfortably with the idea that the way things were running was not in keeping with the way he felt that they should be run. I understand and appreciate that some people miss him and his contributions a great deal, but what ultimately sent him packing was not any particular bigoted people per se, but his unwillingness to accept where we felt we needed to draw the line on an admin basis regarding sexist behavior on the site.

As I've said previously, we have not ever been in a position where someone has said "either they go or I go" but we do draw the line on people being unable to work within the community generally speaking and this can mean making out there statements and engaging in a take-on-all-comers pugilistic stance in the middle of a thread or it can mean comment trawling to formulate an attack against someone who you think deserves it. We can argue til we're blue in the face about whether one sort of behavior is worse, but I mostly see it as "need to change" "really should change" and "probably won't change but we don't like it" [see the other spoilers thread in MeTa]. If people want to argue that we should be drawing the lines in different places, that's fine, but engaging in hyperbole about how the site actually works isn't really that useful and doesn't help us solve the real life problems that we have to deal with here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


You can take my hyperbole when you pry it from my cold, dead perbole!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:45 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


elizardbits : I would like to forcefully round up a certain segment of the populace, namely everyone in this thread, and force them to enjoy some ice cream and the alcoholic beverage of their choice.

Okay, you win. :)
posted by pla at 12:46 PM on April 22, 2010


my cold, dead perbole!

There are pills to perk that right up.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:50 PM on April 22, 2010


...maybe I wouldn't be a good fit for metafilter then. maybe all the good and decent folks who left because of bigotry aren't good fits for metafilter. but I can't help but wonder what kind of community we're building when people who are actively offended by bigotry aren't a good fit, and people who are actively offensive as bigots fit better.

This is such a perfect summary of what I haven't been able to articulate, lately. I don't have an answer either, and I don't envy the mods their job, and I realize that this might be an unfortunate necessity of the policies needed to moderate the site as a whole. But it really does seem, sometimes, that more and more often it's coming down to a fight between horrible sentiments expressed civilly (which stay) and genuine and justified anger in response to those comments, which then gets nixed. And while I understand the underlying administrative reasoning behind this, I can't in all honesty be happy about where the line gets drawn, sometimes.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:16 PM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


If people want to argue that we should be drawing the lines in different places, that's fine, but engaging in hyperbole about how the site actually works isn't really that useful and doesn't help us solve the real life problems that we have to deal with here.

I don't know that I'm really engaging in hyperbole by saying EB and jennydiski - among others - have left because of their problems with offensive behavior around here. Sure, there's more to the EB thing, but I don't think it's unreasonable to say the offensive behavior was part of it, and I kind of think it's not all that - I don't know, complete? - to say "but what ultimately sent him packing was not any particular bigoted people per se, but his unwillingness to accept where we felt we needed to draw the line on an admin basis regarding sexist behavior on the site." I mean, sure, I don't recall it being particular people, either. I do recall him having a problem with certain trends in behavior. This is not to say that he didn't also have a problem with admins drawing lines, but I do think that general community behavior was part of it.

so yeah, I don't think I was engaging in hyperbole at all. Everything I said was accurate to the best of my knowledge. people have left because of offensive behavior here - which is not to say that there isn't more to it - more people are considering leaving for the same reason, and currently I can see why people who are directly offended by things like what pla said would feel like they are left to themselves to deal with that.

as I said, maybe that's how the site works and maybe those people AREN'T cut out for mefi. for myself, I'd rather have EB than pla and alia, and I think it speaks poorly for us that they can hack it here, but some other people can't. I don't know what the solution is, and I'm not trying to put it on you guys to provide one, but i think that if anyone else sees it as a problem and would like to work toward solving it then it's a decent idea for me to at least mention what I think. I know I've gotten out of hand about this before, but if I can I'd like to assure you that this is not my raging asshole anti-mod face, here. This is me being as calm and reasonable about this as I can.
posted by shmegegge at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


but I can't help but wonder what kind of community we're building when people who are actively offended by bigotry aren't a good fit, and people who are actively offensive as bigots fit better.

I think the issue is that those who are actively offended start to actively attack the bigots, instead of what they're saying or advocating and that's just not right in any community (though understandable), nor should it be. If you tried to attack a bigot in real life you'd get brought up on charges, so I'm not seeing much difference in the mods stand here. Attack the statements, stances, views of the bigots all you want, but once you start attacking them personally, you've crossed a line and I think it's perfectly understandable if the guardians/caretakers/cops of any community put a stop to that.

Just because you are morally correct does not give your right to wail on another human being. Frankly, it weakens your cause.

I have zero interest in making martyrs of bigots or misogynists or any of hundred other detestable viewpoints, it just feeds their victim mentality. I'd prefer to be able to say "Look, you had your say, and well, it's false/wrong/won't work and here's why. Now either come up with something new, change your viewpoints or run along"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:44 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd rather have EB than pla and alia, and I think it speaks poorly for us that they can hack it here, but some other people can't.

That speaks poorly of EB if he can be so easily chased away, especially now that the site is much better about sexism.

There are some really contemptible people in the world and pla and Alia are faily low on that scale, IMO. Hell, Alia at least had the guts to admit she was wrong about her positive thoughts of Palin, I doubt EB would apologize for any of the vitriol he wrote.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:52 PM on April 22, 2010


> That speaks poorly of EB if he can be so easily chased away

Yes, I have to admit my opinion of him lessened considerably, not only because he took his marbles and left but because he was so shitty to the mods in the course of so doing.
posted by languagehat at 2:11 PM on April 22, 2010


Those of you in favour of keeping hateful bigots on this site should perhaps just fuck on off to the likes of Stormfront and the American Family Association, instead of making MetaFilter into a sewer pit of despicable people vomiting their shitheaded idiocy in our midst.

Gah....even though I probably agree with you 90% of the time, and probably have never agreed with pla, your histrionics are at least as annoying as his (and certainly more frequent), and just as likely to turn me away from the site.

Not that either of you could ever hold hold that much sway over me.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:33 PM on April 22, 2010


Your poorly articulated, poorly thought out ideas are often of an offensive nature to many here.

Reiterating my response to shakespeherian, although I have to acknowledge that fact, I don't "get" it. Just ignore me, if you disagree so vehemently. I just can't relate to letting a random internet commenter get to me in the way you describe.


Hahahahaha. Pla is such a horrible person. Why are all these women mad at me they should learn how to not get mad at the internet. Brilliant argument. The fact that you don't take things personally means everyone else should act the same ways.
posted by Allan Gordon at 2:51 PM on April 22, 2010


I really can't help think that some people deliberately try to find the least charitable - Hell, the most monstrous - way to twist my words possible.

That's SOP at MetaFilter, pla. Hadn't you noticed?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:04 PM on April 22, 2010


total frustration from the activist viewpoint

I'm so thankful that so-called "activists" are frustrated on MetaFilter. Go engage in your vacuous posturing elsewhere. Come back when you're ready to engage in a mature exchange of ideas.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:12 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dr., heal thyself.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:14 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the issue is that those who are actively offended start to actively attack the bigots, instead of what they're saying or advocating and that's just not right in any community (though understandable), nor should it be.

The problem with this advice/rule/guideline is that it tends to come across as a tone argument. I'm not gay or HIV+ or anything, but if I were, I don't know that I could have reacted rationally to pla's comments. As much as I hate all the drama, and as little use as I have for some of fff's histrionics in this thread (sorry fff), there's something a bit off about effectively telling someone who's HIV+, or gay and lost a lot of people in their community to HIV, or anyone who has an HIV+ friend or loved one, that they're too emotionally involved to argue with someone promoting a quarantine when they get snippy with someone like pla.

I respect the hard work the mods are doing, and I approve of "attack the idea, not the person", but I also understand folks who post on the thread are only human. It's hard to respond rationally and respectfully to the idea of quarantining people you care about for life.
posted by immlass at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


No need to apologize, immlass.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:34 PM on April 22, 2010


No one is saying that we all have to be tolerant of bullshit. The only thing the mods are saying is that there are better ways to be INtolerant of bullshit.

Be as intolerant of bullshit as you want. Just....be intolerant of bullshit by a) flagging it, or b) disputing the bullshit itself. If, however, you choose to be intolerant of bullshit by a) making dumb jokes that mock the bullshitter in question, b) attacking the bullshitter instead of the bullshit itself, or c) attacking a group the bullshitter belongs to, you don't combat the bullshit -- you just make them a martyr and yourself an asshole.

Be as intolerant of bullshit as you want, just don't spread your own bullshit in the process, is all the mods are saying.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:49 PM on April 22, 2010


jesus, is crabby appleton always this crabby?
posted by angrycat at 4:52 PM on April 22, 2010


(said jokingly, CA)
posted by angrycat at 4:53 PM on April 22, 2010


but I also understand folks who post on the thread are only human. It's hard to respond rationally and respectfully to the idea of quarantining people you care about for life.

Right there with you. It's a weird thing sometimes to have to argue policy on stuff like this because I very much do understand and empathize with that feeling. When it comes to people reacting passionately/angrily/etc to stuff they find upsetting or odious or what have you, we try and approach it as much as possible in terms of "please don't do that" rather than "how dare you" because, yeah, it happens. People are human, they get upset about things they care about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:56 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm so thankful that so-called "activists" are frustrated on MetaFilter. Go engage in your vacuous posturing elsewhere. Come back when you're ready to engage in a mature exchange of ideas.

This is dumb and so are you. Stuff your self-importance up your ass and light it on fire.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:07 PM on April 22, 2010


PG, the whole problem is that when you tell off someone who accuses activists of being "immature" by telling them to "stuff their self-importance up their ass and light it on fire", this makes them less inclined to believe that they are wrong. "See?" They tell themselves, "what did I tell you -- activists are all vacuous and immature. Therefore, I can safely ignore them, because they do things like tell me to light my ass on fire. So, fuck 'em."

The people who are telling you to tone it down a notch aren't just doing so because they want you to play nice. Some of them are telling you to tone it down a notch because you're fucking up the work we're trying to do and making us look stupid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:12 PM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


"Stuff your self-importance up your ass and light it on fire."

Hm, pretty good, but I still think "I hope you get a canker sore" is a better insult.
posted by HopperFan at 5:16 PM on April 22, 2010


Epictetus looks on reservedly.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:28 PM on April 22, 2010


EC, I get where you're coming from, but Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with. His sole purpose on this website seems to be shitting in Metatalk about how we are all so dumb.
posted by chiababe at 5:43 PM on April 22, 2010


EC, I get where you're coming from, but Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with. His sole purpose on this website seems to be shitting in Metatalk about how we are all so dumb.

I'm not actually talking only about how PG is engaging with Crabby, or only about PG for that matter. I'm speaking much, much more generally.

Although, you do beg the question -- if Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with, and all he does talk about is how we're all dumb, why engage in conversation with him at all?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:55 PM on April 22, 2010


I've been thinking a ton about why this bugs me, and it's hard to articulate, but as near as I can get is this. Over the years, there's been an evolution of accepted norms around here, a specific example being the boyzone issue, which led to "sexist" becoming a flag. I honestly objected to this at first, on the grounds that "offensive" already covered it and I sometimes think that singling out females as "other" does more harm than good. But in the long run I think it's been an incredibly good way of illuminating, and thus cutting back on, the amount of sexist crap that goes on here, and was a major net benefit to the general experience here. And this is an example of metafilter officially drawing a line and saying ok, we're not thought police, but we've decided as a community that the following thing is JUST NOT OK here. And I honestly don't know why that hasn't happened with the bigotry. Flat-out gay bashing does get deleted, but a lot of the more insidious and sublty nasty bigotry doesn't currently fall under JUST NOT OK territory, and I think that if we're defining this site as a place that- thankfully- a lot of us want to be, it should be.

And this would eliminate a lot of the underlying issue in these threads, namely the content of comments versus the tone, because if "bigoted" becomes one of the things that we, as a community, have decided that we just don't do here, it doesn't matter how nicely or rationally someone puts it- it will just drop right down the same hole as all the "I'd hit it" comments that we've all learned just don't fly here. And there is a great deal of precedent for this type of judgment call being something the site does, and does well.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 6:32 PM on April 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


Something I forgot (other than to check for typos, dammit), is the whole slippery slope argument about what is fair game, etc. Because there's also been a lot of discussion lately about what we should be allowed to debate/criticize, ie, religious people, people from Maine, Phillies' fans (and as a yankee fan, I find this hilarious because you wouldn't believe the amount of shit-talking we get about that on here) and where you draw the line. And since that might be a factor in the whole decision to rule that a certain class of talk is ok/not ok, it seems like maybe the deciding factor is choice. All sorts of things that I personally think are nuts- moving to delaware, liking the National League, going to church- probably don't seem nuts to a lot of other people, but the reason we can discuss that stuff is that these things are all choices, and as such, are opinions, and opinions and choices should always be open for debate in any kind of rational and reasonably mature forum. Whereas your sex or gender or skin color or orientation or what have you is just what you ARE. If we're drawing the line between "totally fair game" and "not cool" that's where I'd draw it. Then again, I'm pretty hammered right now.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 7:00 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flat-out gay bashing does get deleted, but a lot of the more insidious and sublty nasty bigotry doesn't currently fall under JUST NOT OK territory

I agree with you generally. The reason it's easy to say "I'd hit it" is no longer okay is because it's clearly identifiable and whether someone meant it as a joke or meant it as casual sexism sort of doesn't matter. Same for using racial epithets, we sort of don't care if you mean it as a joke. The real insidious part of the insidious bigotry is that it's tougher to define.

And anything that's loose definition-wise means mods have to step in. And we're not saying that we don't want to and we're not saying that it's not a worthwhile thing, but we're saying it's really challenging to try to explain -- to the tone deaf, to people who don't agree, to the new user -- what exactly the line is supposed to be here. I want people to feel okay coming here without people saying they think they should be locked into camps, obviously. But I've personally been happier in the past in most cases letting the community tell people "dude, not okay" because I think we don't see much of that sort of thing. It's possible I'm not paying close enough attention, certainly.

So we can make sure we're paying attention and ask people to, if not post Meta threads at least send us email when shit like this does happen so we can sort of eyeball what's going on and whether it seems big dealish enough to make a larger mod adjustment.

At the same time, I'd appreciate if people would not just be like "hey bigots run rampant here!" because it's not true and it's overlooking a lot of the work the community in general does do to keep things sane and sensible here most of the time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:03 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn: I absolutely wasn't saying that I think you let bigots run rampant here, and I'm sorry if it came off that way- the point was more that that sort of talk wasn't a categorical mefi No, and I wish there was a way that it could be. But I do really appreciate that the ambiguity of the subject makes it much more difficult a thing to police.
"People with AIDS should be quarantined till they die" seems pretty unambiguous, though. In this particular case.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 7:14 PM on April 22, 2010


[...] Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with.

That would be a novelty.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:46 PM on April 22, 2010


It's like that guy you walk in in the restroom who is posturing in the mirror but when he sees you see him he freaks out and tries to play it off.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:50 PM on April 22, 2010


Too many douchebags, not enough water.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:09 PM on April 22, 2010


Who are you calling a douchebag, five fresh fish?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:16 PM on April 22, 2010


Fresh Fish, water, too...drunk....to make proper....juxtaposition...
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 8:21 PM on April 22, 2010


Too many dicks on the dance floor?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:24 PM on April 22, 2010


I want people to feel okay coming here without people saying they think they should be locked into camps, obviously. But I've personally been happier in the past in most cases letting the community tell people "dude, not okay" because I think we don't see much of that sort of thing.

I guess this is where my rubber meets the road. I think that a given person would feel more comfortable coming here if we, the users, had a bit more free reign in responding to other users who think people should be locked into camps. I'm of the opinion that insults and mocking are about as far from the worst thing that can happen to a person as it gets. If someone like pla wants to open their yap about whatever nonsense they think is a good idea then I think they implicitly accept that those who are smarter or funnier than them may rip it apart should they feel so inclined. This is how it works in real life and I don't see why Metafilter should be a place that treats monumentally stupid ideas with kid gloves.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:09 PM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]



Jessamyn: I absolutely wasn't saying that I think you let bigots run rampant here,



I disagree - you cant see the posts in here for the burning crosses and swastikas.
What was once a haven of feckless american lefties is now best described as a cross between a klan meeting and Nuremberg rally.




AND JESSAMYN AND CORTEX LET IT HAPPEN
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:13 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


just put under permanent house arrest or shipped off to some version of Father Damien de Vuester's Molokai

The US Government's Molokai. Father Damien just volunteered to live there.

I'm sure you know that, but the way it was worded, it sounded like it was Father Damien's idea or something.
posted by palliser at 9:25 PM on April 22, 2010


True fact: my Reddit account was DISABLED after I linked this video (not work safe, obviously, but then again, what is these days) . . . anxious to see if this same kind of thought-crime bullshiat flies here, too. So if I am myseriously "disappeared" for linking to that video by one of the mods, well, it's been fun, kiddies. Ta ta, keep pretending that there's a difference between the two parties, and be sure to eat you're Wheaties.
posted by Damn That Television at 10:12 PM on April 22, 2010


Sorry, yes, you're right. Didn't mean to imply that he created the colony.
posted by blucevalo at 10:13 PM on April 22, 2010


(Referring back to palliser)
posted by blucevalo at 10:13 PM on April 22, 2010


No, you're Wheaties.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:15 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


my Reddit account was DISABLED after I linked this video

Having watched the video all the way through, I could totally get behind that decision.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:21 PM on April 22, 2010


wait, reddit still exists?
posted by shmegegge at 10:25 PM on April 22, 2010


anxious to see if this same kind of thought-crime bullshiat flies here, too.

No, but for penance you'll need to superman five of those hos and ghostride a whip.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:27 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If someone like pla wants to open their yap about whatever nonsense they think is a good idea then I think they implicitly accept that those who are smarter or funnier than them may rip it apart should they feel so inclined.

Well said.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:35 PM on April 22, 2010


If someone like pla wants to open their yap about whatever nonsense they think is a good idea then I think they implicitly accept that those who are smarter or funnier than them may rip it apart should they feel so inclined.

I agree. But the operative word is "rip it apart", as opposed to "rip him apart", and I think that's an important distinction.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although, you do beg the question -- if Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with, and all he does talk about is how we're all dumb, why engage in conversation with him at all?

If Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with, and all he does talk about is how we're all done, why is he allowed to post?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:28 AM on April 23, 2010


why is he allowed to post?

Because we don't ban people just for being cranky. Is this a serious question?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:32 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whereas your sex or gender or skin color or orientation or what have you is just what you ARE. If we're drawing the line between "totally fair game" and "not cool" that's where I'd draw it.

The problem with drawing lines is that once you've drawn, you gotta stick to it and not everyone agrees where the line should be.

Here's the comment which prompted all of this. What specifically are you proposing should have been done with that comment?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 AM on April 23, 2010


Because we don't ban people just for being cranky.

And thank heaven for that.
posted by zarq at 6:25 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder what kind of community we're building when people who are actively offended by bigotry aren't a good fit, and people who are actively offensive as bigots fit better.

Yes, this. I've noticed this attitude on site: "Well, we're not going to ban people who are outright hateful and offensive, so you just have to play nice with them or maybe you should go somewhere else." And it's disconcerting at best. I get that we need to have a site where we can have open discussion, even if there are unpopular opinions - and I get that there's a bit of a "Well, where do you draw the line?" issue - but at the same time, certain users crop up over and over again as having totally hateful points of view and saying "We're not going to ban them, so you need to learn how to cope" is actively driving away people who view this as harboring the bigots. It's really disturbing to see THIS as the site policy rather than - if not banning the bigots - deleting some of the beyond the pale comments that get people so heated in the first place.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:31 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not just about being cranky. If chiababe's assessment is correct and Crabby isn't interested in doing anything but shitting, why provide a venue for that? MeFi is a community. Why should the community feel obligated to somebody who just wants to shit on it?

(I'm honestly starting to think more about rockhopper, if anyone remembers him.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:49 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always assumed CA was someone's bitching-in-MeTa sockpuppet.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:56 AM on April 23, 2010


If chiababe's assessment is correct...

Don't we need a truth commission to verify whether it is indeed correct?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 AM on April 23, 2010


jessamyn, if Pope Guilty didn't mean it as a serious question, then I do.

The question isn't whether Crabby is cranky. The question is about whether Crabby is just a thread shitter or just someone who likes to wind people up. The other question is whether pla, who is clearly hostile, clearly bigoted, clearly offensive in his opinions and attitude is really the person whose opinion we want to leave up on the original thread when there's clearly a lot of community dissent to that opinion, or whether in discussing that community dissent it wouldn't be a better idea to move that content to where it's being discussed and reacted to.

Whether you as a mod want to or don't want to explicitly send a message you do so with both your actions and your inactions. The message you are sending enforces the policy you have set (assuming that things are as they appear to be and that you mod according to general site policy), and the policy you set and conform to has certain social costs and benefits.

I see this discussion and some of the commenters' dissent to your policy of handling bigoted statements and assertions like pla's as a strong indicator that there is some social frission in reaction to your site mod policy.

I think that a lot of the folks who are still here in this thread discussing this with you and cortex are looking for you as mods to acknowledge that. Whether or not you and matthowie actually go look at the policy and consider changing it is of course your business, but how we individually choose to react to both the policy and your moderation actions/inactions is ours (e.g. personal conscience, tolerance for differences in ethics between our personal ethics and the site policy's ethics/moderators' ethics, etc.) AND yours (e.g. personal conscience, site revenue derived from our contributions, general user reaction to policy/enforcement, etc.).
posted by kalessin at 7:06 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


True fact: my Reddit account was DISABLED after I linked this video (not work safe, obviously, but then again, what is these days) .

Damn that Television, I've gpne back to being one of your fans. I appreciate the idea of somebody with munches so powerful they are contemplating eating their Blackberry.
posted by angrycat at 8:02 AM on April 23, 2010


(I'm honestly starting to think more about rockhopper, if anyone remembers him.)

Hrm. I hadn't thought about Crabby in that context before. Do you think his primary MO is to enter threads and deliberately try to derail them? I always felt he was more of grouchy malcontent than anything else.
posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on April 23, 2010


I know that your comment is directed at cortex, jessamyn and mathowie, kalesssin, but let me take a stab at answering one part of your argument, that of whether pla and Crabby Appleton should be banned. We don't know whether Crabby Appleton is a thread-shitter or a wind-up-merchant or just a guy who's swallowed a few too many bitter pills in his time. Same goes for pla. He's articulated some views I think are morally reprehensible, but I don't think they're very well thought out and I do think that he'll probably change his mind. It might take a while, but if really thinks through ideas like quarantining people with AIDS, I think he must come to the realization that it's both immoral and completely implausible as a solution to anything. I think he's wrong in his views, but I don't think he's a bad person. In fact, from other contributions I'd guess he's a pretty nice guy.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is always the best course of action. Yeah, sometimes that means drama where there would be no drama otherwise, but drama is a natural part of any healthy community. The question is not "how do we stop drama?" so much as "how do we deal with drama when it happens?"

To me banning is a bad way of dealing with drama. Talking about it is good. For better or worse (and I'd say better), talking is how we on MetaFilter have always dealt with drama. Of course, drama begets drama, but someone needs to be pretty far gone to be banned. And even when banned (and this is one of the things I cherish most about MetaFilter) people can rejoin under a new name. The Brand New Day policy may cause some drama (e.g. when people hound users who've rejoined after a banning) mostly it's worked well. I think that the operating assumption here is that everybody's valued. Yeah, that means that some people get away with behavior that would get them banned on other sites, but on the other hand, that means other people get away with similar behavior in the service of good, which can change our community for the better. MetaFilter is an open community, and to be open, the community must tolerate its fringes. A MetaFilter which is more ready to exile people is a MetaFilter that is more closed, more hostile and less moral.
posted by Kattullus at 8:26 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rockhopper wasn't that horrible; I honestly don't think CA is or would be either, if he were willing or able to get out from under the role he's created for himself, which is essentially a davy-esque 'Moi contre Le MeFi' type dealy. Eventually, once a person becomes very invested in their persona and the community has formulated a fairly universal default response to that persona, there's little chance of either party changing their mindset, since one reinforces the other.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:33 AM on April 23, 2010


Now, if people would stop making sixcolors jokes everything would be perfect.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:36 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think he's wrong in his views, but I don't think he's a bad person.

Voicing and defending morally reprehensible views doesn't exactly make someone a good person. If it were, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and Michele Bachmann would be G-d's gift to humanity.

You're trying to divorce pla from the statements he's made. That's nice. It's kind of you and all, but speaking purely for myself, I'm not planning to idealize him based on who I'd like him to be.

What is wrong with judging people on their words and actions? Or are you suggesting we hold him to a different standard than other MeFites?
posted by zarq at 8:36 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


And again, I'm not calling for him to be banned. (I feel like I have to keep repeating this for some reason.)
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


grapefruitmoon : Well, we're not going to ban people who are outright hateful and offensive, so you just have to play nice with them or maybe you should go somewhere else.

The problem with this oft-repeated stance involves what people actually say vs how others take it.

If I (or anyone) had actually started ranting about Hermitosis' caricature of my comment, proposing in no uncertain terms some sort of "final solution" for all non-heterosexual people, I have little doubt the mods would have acted swiftly and mercilessly.

Instead, we have two fundamental issues here -- Interpretation, and sensitivity1.

Interpretationally, did I say what Hermitosis (most likely sincerely) believes I said? I know that I meant nothing even close to that. A few people in this thread have defended that I didn't say it quite as badly as all that. Most people seem to have simply taken this MeTa's FP at face value2. A few people have ratcheted up the hate of their interpretation. And, a few people have just dropped in to throw a few F-bombs into the discussion for no apparent purpose other than to raise tempers a bit more.

On sensitivity, in the eyes of EB and jennydiski3, most of you appeared as offensive as you consider me. On the other end of the spectrum, you simply will not ever offend me. Most people lie somewhere between those extremes4.

So, how do you draw a line that depends not on the words themselves, but on subjective5 interpretation thereof? On that, I will commend the mods; they seem to do a pretty good job in filtering the explicit hate speech from the subjectively questionable content6.


Also, a side note, I've considered my problem with poor communication. Except for my tendency to start sentences with a conjunction7, I have basically flawless grammar. I've therefore decided to start hypothesis testing. Hypothesis #1, which I address in this post, I use too many sub-clauses, making my sentences unparsably complex. In this post, I've therefore tried writing shorter sentences and moving my longer parentheticals to footnotes. Let me know if it works better. Thanks.


1: Or "personal offense threshold", if you prefer
2: Not here for that one, so taking this from context
3: Whether or not they bothered to evaluate my original statements, a detail I can never know
4: Or so I presume, I really can't relate
5: I don't mean that in any "tricky" Nihilistic sense, so please, just don't go there
6: Though seriously guys, I'd really like feedback when you consider my words near the line, I don't learn much from vague threats every three months or so
7: A stylistic habit I picked up from reading too much really really old lit as a child, and technically not grammatically incorrect

posted by pla at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2010


"Yes, this. I've noticed this attitude on site: "Well, we're not going to ban people who are outright hateful and offensive, so you just have to play nice with them or maybe you should go somewhere else." And it's disconcerting at best. I get that we need to have a site where we can have open discussion, even if there are unpopular opinions - and I get that there's a bit of a "Well, where do you draw the line?" issue - but at the same time, certain users crop up over and over again as having totally hateful points of view and saying "We're not going to ban them, so you need to learn how to cope" is actively driving away people who view this as harboring the bigots. It's really disturbing to see THIS as the site policy rather than - if not banning the bigots - deleting some of the beyond the pale comments that get people so heated in the first place."

Seriously? Seriously?

Look, what offends you doesn't necessarily offend me. What offends me doesn't necessarily offend you. Further, Metafilter's like living in a balmy climate, where people forget what real cold feels like, so they break out the winter jackets when the mercury hits 60°. By slowly transitioning toward the fun-times-nicey-nice that seems the MeFi utopia, people still get offended just as often, but their triggers get more sensitive. And sure, some of this may be because as MeFi continues and the community becomes more connected, every slight feels more intimate and more personal, but I also think that it's because people forget what truly offensive shit looks like and thus can't deal with the middling, piddling level we have here. I mean, seriously (again), Pla was offensive and dumb but that's one set of comments out of how many posted here every day? They stick out as exceptional, not as normative, yet compared to the vast world out there, the amplitude of offense really isn't that high. Shit, I have coworkers who are actively stumping for gay rights who say shit like this. You take a moment, explain why it's a bad idea, and everyone moves on because it's not (generally) hate, it's stupidity and tone-deafness.

This may be because I'm the kind of person who doesn't mind mixing it up, and doesn't mind Metafilter as a place where people mix it up, but there really is no reasonable way to argue that everything that's offensive or hateful should be banned, or that every user that is perceived as offensive or hateful should be banned—those types of determinations are too subjective. Instead, what the mods seem to do is operate closer to an objective standard of discourse that's detrimental to the community, and they do that (at least seemingly, like all of my comments on moderation, it's not like I ever clear these things ahead of time or get verification afterward) based on both the initial comment and the response it gets from the community. Then they operate by triage, removing the initial comment and the fight that results (and sometimes, arguments are hard to discern from fights here, so they give a bit of leeway, because yeah, we like to argue). And because they've been doing this for nigh on a decade, they're pretty good at predicting what sort of bullshit is going to lead to what other bullshit, but my sense is that it's largely gut and learned behavior—like judging whether a pitch is a fastball or a breaking ball—rather than any strict experimental decision tree.

Finally, y'know, I'm someone who folks have called to have banned before. I don't know for certain, but I'm willing to bet that OC and Pope Guilty are as well. Why? Because I've said shit that offends people, and I'll probably keep saying shit that offends people. I've had the mods pull my coat over it and I've tried to step my game up, but the notion that just because someone offends some other members of the community (it's incredibly hard to get a legitimate referendum on the community consensus) they should be banned is anathema to me. I understand that folks will be banned for continually disrupting the community, but even that should be done with reluctance, and certainly not on the simple declarations that someone is "clearly offensive" (the "clearly" language is something that I recognize as rhetorically attractive and have used myself, but when I was editing opinion writers, I always tried to strike, because it's generally used as an assertion in the place of evidence, and if something is so clearly something, you shouldn't have to tell your audience such).

The community can and should set standards, but those standards can and should be focused on the effects, not on the viewpoints. Otherwise, all the pieties about respecting disagreement are fundamentally undermined. (I wish I still had my Critiques of Democracy book that had a fantastic essay by Chantal Mouffe about zones of contention in politics, and how plurality in democracy necessarily conflicts with cohesion, and that if you have a truly pluralistic democracy, there will always be voices that will argue for the annihilation of that democracy—and that Rawls' pretensions to divining though rationality the correct choice are inherently bounded by the temptation to simply dismiss your opponents as irrational thus obviating the conflict.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Metafilter's like living in a balmy climate, where people forget what real cold feels like

Brrrr.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:50 AM on April 23, 2010


Hypothesis #1, which I address in this post, I use too many sub-clauses, making my sentences unparsably complex. In this post, I've therefore tried writing shorter sentences and moving my longer parentheticals to footnotes. Let me know if it works better.

If this isn't a joke (and I can't tell if it is,) I think the real problem is that you are really not good at reading (or writing) for tone. Tone has nothing at all to do with grammar or "correctness"; it has everything to do with context, word choice, and subtext.

Trying to teach writing for tone is something I am struggling with - it seems to be as much a knack as a learned skill. I've seen people improve with practice, but they were all pretty good at it to start with.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:50 AM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


What about telling pla he needs to stay out of threads that touch upon historically oppressed demographics for X period of time?

Sort of a time out, still problematic as a solution, far from perfect, but might be a good balancing act between the freedom of speech needs and the freedom from bigotry needs of the site.
posted by angrycat at 8:55 AM on April 23, 2010


but might be a good balancing act between the freedom of speech needs and the freedom from bigotry needs

I've never seen a playground see-saw that could pivot on a razor blade.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:57 AM on April 23, 2010


What about telling pla he needs to stay out of threads that touch upon historically oppressed demographics for X period of time?

And if he cannot comply with the edict, weeaboo!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:03 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let me know if it works better.

What would work better is if you considered that many people seem to think youre a trollish asshole and if you don't want them to think that you need to worry about substance and not style. If you don't feel like addressing any of that, it's your business but the benefit of the doubt we're giving you can be easily rescinded.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:08 AM on April 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Interpretationally, did I say what Hermitosis (most likely sincerely) believes I said? I know that I meant nothing even close to that. A few people in this thread have defended that I didn't say it quite as badly as all that. Most people seem to have simply taken this MeTa's FP at face value2. A few people have ratcheted up the hate of their interpretation. And, a few people have just dropped in to throw a few F-bombs into the discussion for no apparent purpose other than to raise tempers a bit more.

This is not a tone problem. Nor were you misinterpreted. Some of us took offense at your initial proposal. Inasmuch as it might possibly considered so, our outrage was reasonable and justified.

Please note that it took you 36 hours and a massive call-out thread to stop defending, try to clarify and disassociate yourself from it.
posted by zarq at 9:09 AM on April 23, 2010


> is really the person whose opinion we want to leave up on the original thread when there's clearly a lot of community dissent to that opinion

God forbid an opinion should be allowed to remain when there's clearly a lot of community dissent to that opinion.
posted by languagehat at 9:22 AM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yes, advocating that any group of people be rounded up and quarantined is never ever going to go over well, unless you're surrounded by so very messed up people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on April 23, 2010


Well, it is somewhat problematic when that dissent isn't actually permitted in that space, and I think there may be more elegant ways to handle the separation between the blue and the gray, but I haven't formulated an actual pony request yet.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:26 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq : Please note that it took you 36 hours and a massive call-out thread to stop defending, try to clarify and disassociate yourself from it.

So now I not only need to see thing your way, I need to not defend my ideas and I have a time limit? Do I get an extension for such necessities as "sleep"?

Yeah, I probably won't last long here.
posted by pla at 9:26 AM on April 23, 2010


So now I not only need to see thing your way, I need to not defend my ideas and I have a time limit? Do I get an extension for such necessities as "sleep"?

By all means, you should be able to take all the time you need for sleep. My point is simply that you made a few comments within those 36 hours defending your idea, which gives lie to assertion that you were outright misinterpreted.
posted by zarq at 9:31 AM on April 23, 2010


pla: Your communication issues aren't really with your grammar, which I would say is generally fine. I do agree with restless_nomad's comment about tone, but I think that's maybe a secondary issue. In my opinion, the two primary issues are context and subtext issues.

The context issue is that you seem to wind up having to backtrack and clarify your statements and intent quite a bit. This suggests that a possible strategy might be to carefully flesh out and compose your initial statements with the same care that you have recently applied to your responding statements. I've pulled my own pants down a few times around here with carelessly tossed off pithy comments that came off waayyy differently than I had intended. It wasn't the reader's fault, it was mine. And the more sensitive the subject, the more care has to go into the thinking, and then the writing. Never assume we're going to understand what you mean. Give us the context to understand your thinking.

The subtext issue is harder, maybe. I'm still not entirely clear on whether you actually care that you offended people, or if you really understand why they were offended. You tossed off a line earlier about not caring about the humanitarian angle that still worries me. But subtext matters. There are many members here, and family and friends of members, who would be directly affected if your proposal were ever to gain ground. This isn't just a theoretical to blithely toss around for debate. You are talking about people's lives. Lives which, to be blunt, are already rife with plenty of crap-taking. Keep this in mind if you really care how people will take your meaning.

And then the tone thing. If you continue to act as though you don't care what people think, expect to be taken at your word.

Okay - late for a meeting. Good luck.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:31 AM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, it is somewhat problematic when that dissent isn't actually permitted in that space

Dissent is permitted, and I believe it is present and accounted for in the original thread. What's not permitted is carte blanche in how that dissent is expressed, which is why we nixed a couple of comments.

Finding that balance between letting people express understandable passionate responses to something they disagree with or dislike seeing and not letting people get overly nasty is hard. Again, it's a weird place for us as mods because we're not approaching this from some soulless "now now, let's not say anything hasty" position. But empathizing with how people feel is not license to stop trying to keep this place from being its worst, and frustrating as it is sometimes that means telling people who have good reasons to be upset to cool it a little in how they approach expressing that upset.

and I think there may be more elegant ways to handle the separation between the blue and the gray, but I haven't formulated an actual pony request yet.

It's hard stuff. I'm always interested in the idea of how to make things work smoother, as conservative as we are generally about making changes to the basic flow of the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 AM on April 23, 2010


Yeah, I meant more in the "this comment makes me feel unwelcome here" vs. "this comment expresses an argument with which I disagree" - which I am personally really really bad at distinguishing on hot-button issues, so I just don't read the blue on those topics much. It's too hard for me to split my emotional reaction enough so I can have two separate conversations in two separate places about the different halves - and while I think that split ultimately works just fine for the site, I still struggle with it for me and wish I didn't have to quite so much.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:47 AM on April 23, 2010


But empathizing with how people feel is not license to stop trying to keep this place from being its worst

cortex, jessamyn, I get that your calculus of how to figure who to talk to and when is finely honed and borne of tons of experience with a side of trying to be as ethical as possible about enforcement of policy.

I just think my calculus is very different and would give us different end results (note that I do not at all assert that the results would be better - I really do get that your moderation choices are a result of years of experience and an already finely honed policy and enforcement pattern).

I'm also still on the fence about whether the difference in that calculus is or is not enough to make me go away and take my time, attention and contributions to another virtual place.

I think it's pretty clear especially in this thread that there are a number of other people who are on the same or similar fences. I wish it were enough to convince you to revise your calculations and find another way to walk the fine line between empathy and enforcement.

Would a pony request be a better way to get that to possibly happen, or is this whole discussion really just jerking off? Or do discussions like this also contribute to your overall style of moderation and choice-making in moderation?
posted by kalessin at 9:50 AM on April 23, 2010


The following is from an email from somebody close to me who is a non-member but follows the site closely and asked me to post.. They're not my thoughts, but I am in accord with them. As a lawyer, my first client died from AIDS complications. She decided to be taken off of life support; her family begged me to convince her otherwise. I spent a lot of time crying about it. I represented quite a few HIV+ clients subsequent to that. And I know that there are many on this site who are closer to this issue than I am.

The following are from the non-member's email.

Pla, since you don’t seem to understand what about your posts were so offensive, let me touch on a few points that I think have not been adequately addressed here:


And before anyone points out that modern treatments can keep it at bay for most of a normal lifetime - Would you consider it a crime if someone strapped an explosive collar around your neck, one that you could prevent from exploding simply by calling a phone number every morning?

Still a death sentence. You just get 50 years of appeals like any other Death Row inmate.



This “death sentence” term that you are banding about off the cuff is an acutely painful reality that people diagnosed with HIV are hit with, like a punch to the gut, upon diagnosis. It takes trememdous strength and willpower along with mental and spiritual anguish to come to terms with this condition and to move on to live a fulfilling life. Treating this subject so carelessly is very thoughtless and disrespectful.



We would do much better to quarantine people with incurable fatal infectious diseases



Another sensitive point with HIV is the socially crippling stigma associated with it. People diagnosed with HIV experience intense feelings of isolation and being ostracized by society (who can they talk to? who will love them?) Again you show no appreciation for this.



But you defend your remarks on logical grounds only without consideration of the god damn context of what you are saying!



Pla- there are people out there, who are HIV positive who are working, contributing to society, raising children, and they are good responsible people who contracted the disease by no fault of their own. And you would banish them, tear them from their children, destroy their lives and those around them?



That you failed to consider these things before commenting on such a sensitive issue is appalling enough, but that in retrospect you are still unable of the slightest contrition is truly beyond the pale.
posted by angrycat at 9:51 AM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pla I don't know if you realize this or not, but the way you argue is very unpleasant. People don't like to be talked down to and if you think that's an appropriate way to frame an argument it's going to be no surprise when the next meta thread pops up.

First you present an irrational argument for throwing everyone with HIV into a camp. Fair enough, but when you go on about how you don't care about modern sensibilities it really reeks of a troll and you should realize that.

Yet it's not like you are going to change so this process will probably be indefinite. Pla says something incredibly offensive, the mods argue for the importance of open discussion, and a lot of people are left sore. I have a great amount of respect for the ACLU and the idea of freedom of speech, but you seem to just say things to cause drama for fun.

I by no means expected a dissertation on how we could quarantine everyone with HIV, but when someone is expressing an incredibly offensive belief they should at the very least do a little research.

That's why though I am fine with people expressing controversial opinions, when they are just talking out of their ass it leads me to believe that they're trolling. So next time instead of saying let's round up everyone with HIV and offering almost nothing as an argument for, you should at least cite previous attempts at quarantines and try to make an argument that the cost benefit of such an approach is positive for society.
posted by Allan Gordon at 9:58 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Surely there's a gentle way to remind someone that they do in fact suck shit.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:05 AM on April 23, 2010


Or do discussions like this also contribute to your overall style of moderation and choice-making in moderation?

They do. This is, arguably, the main way that moderation policy and community expectations about same grow and change over time. But it's a big, big ship and we've learned to steer it slowly and cautiously, and that can be understandably frustrating for folks who want to see things change. I don't think that's entirely fixable, because I don't believe playing loose with the rudder would work well in this community.

And so even when we understand and sympathize and agree with the arguments folks make for how they would like this place to be vs. how they feel it is, it's going to be a slow, plodding process to get change in place. In no small part that's because there's rarely clear and wholly unambiguous community consensus about what this place is right now, let alone what it should be instead and how to get there. This thread is evidence of that, and it's not atypical: even with a whole bunch of smart, passionate, thoughtful people in here who are good people who care about this place and generally care about each other and have a lot of common ethical ground, there's a lot of disagreement about how to approach and adjudicate and resolve both specific and general conflicts on the site.

It bothers us, of course it bothers us, that people can be left feeling dismissed or ignored by the way the site is vs. how they'd like it to be, and I wish there was a clear and simple way to help avoid that, but I don't know of one. Making sudden significant changes to how the site runs is not a workable approach. Talking this stuff out in Metatalk and looking for places where incremental change may improve one of the many standing compromises that keeps this place alive is more of what we can and have managed over time, but there's very little chance for instant gratification there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:09 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Yes, advocating that any group of people be rounded up and quarantined is never ever going to go over well, unless you're surrounded by so very messed up people."

I think serious advocacy of rounding up people and quarantining them is never going to go well except in weird milieus. However, I routinely advocate that Teabaggers, SUV drivers, people with obnoxious ringtones, people who order slowly at fast food restaurants, people that don't understand how the security checkpoints at airports work, health care bureaucrats, double-parkers, my moronic neighbors, and other classes of people that fall under the general rubric of annoying or frustrating me should be rounded up and at best quarantined until they're less stupid but ideally clubbed to death like seals.

In hindsight, I recognize several flaws with this argument. (And I doubt that there's anyone without a personal list of people who will be up against the wall when the revolution comes.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks (I don't know how to properly express the magnitude, so I'll just mention it), cortex.
posted by kalessin at 10:25 AM on April 23, 2010


do discussions like this also contribute to your overall style of moderation and choice-making in moderation?

Just to "me too" here, I agree with what cortex said. Without these discussions, all we have is the flag queue and the occasional email pointing to community feeligns on a bunch of different things. It's useful for people to speak up and say how they feel.

And also as cortex said, any change that comes is going to be necessarily somewhat slow. There's a pretty plodding aspect to some of what we do that I'm sure infuriates people who would prefer things to be handled more swiftly and with more finality. That sort of thing doesn't really happen on MeFi so much anymore. Instead we've got the slightly bureaucratic "okay, this sort of thing is pissing people off, so let's tease apart what parts of that are things we can approach from a mod standpoint and then start trying to figure out what we can do about those things..."

I know to some people it's clear what or who the problem is and what needs to be done. From our vantage point, we're much more comfortable making sure there's a fair process, a set of steps we go through, to make sure the things we do, mod stances we take, are explicated cleary and implemented fairly to the extent that we can do that. I know it's frustrating.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:38 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq : My point is simply that you made a few comments within those 36 hours defending your idea, which gives lie to assertion that you were outright misinterpreted.

Can you show me a single comment where I defended the "concentration camp" interpretation?

I defended the idea of a quarantine, nothing more. Well, not quite true - Since then, I have defended my intent, totally meta to the original topic.



It's Raining Florence Henderson : I'm still not entirely clear on whether you actually care that you offended people, or if you really understand why they were offended.

Thank you for that comment, I found it helpful and well-written. To respond, though...

I don't want to offend people. I also don't mind if I step on a few - few! - toes. I do recognize it as a problem when every conversation I walk through has half the participants limping away in casts.

Hey, I'll admit my ignorance of the details of Regan-era gay rights movement topics, and I do feel bad if Hermitosis seriously took my statement as an indirect personal attack. In my life, though, I've always just accepted gays as no different than me, except in the gender of their sexual partners. So when I suggest quarantining people with AIDS, I mean just that. Not concentration camps, not an anti-gay agenda, just "human disease + contagious = minimize exposure".

Have I heard of Reagan's policies on dealing with AIDS? Have I read about the Stonewall riots? Have I seen modern prophets of hate such as Phelps or Graham ranting about such issues? Sure. But it has no personal meaning to me - Only to the extent that on reading about Fred's latest shenanigans, I think... "Christ, what an asshole".

And as for the benefit of the doubt - Even now, long after recanting my original view in light of evidence that it really wouldn't work so well in practice, we still have commenters getting their panties in a bunch over both what I didn't say, and what I no longer defend. It stops counting as doing me a favor when I've gone and removed the "doubt" part of the equation.

I don't expect forgiveness from those who had their feelings hurt; I would prefer that people move on instead of continuing to flog the original horse, long since dead.


angrycat : This “death sentence” term that you are banding about off the cuff is an acutely painful reality that people diagnosed with HIV are hit with, like a punch to the gut, upon diagnosis.

And they very much have my sympathy for dying before they "should".

I wrote quite a lot more on this, and feel it better that I snip it all. They have my sympathy, period.


Allan Gordon : Fair enough, but when you go on about how you don't care about modern sensibilities it really reeks of a troll and you should realize that.

Not that I don't "care" about them, I don't have them. I don't read my posts and say "wow, what a hurtful thing to say", and then decide whether or not to let it stand. I explicitly look at what I write and consciously analyze it for whatever "sensitive" contexts I may have inadvertently violated. I write and re-write and edit and sanitize, and still end up stumbling into territory deemed offensive to subculture-X because of events from 1856 of which only members of that culture and historians/ethnologists thereof have much awareness.

Believe it or not, I deliberated on some of these comments for hours before posting, trying to see if I could find anything offensive about them. And I still don't catch everything, apparently.
posted by pla at 10:44 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Panties in a bunch? Pla -- jeez, I really don't know what to say.
posted by angrycat at 10:47 AM on April 23, 2010


and still end up stumbling into territory deemed offensive to subculture-X because of events from 1856 of which only members of that culture and historians/ethnologists thereof have much awareness.

yeah, I think that's usually the problem with you, is your penchant for stumbling into territory deemed offensive by subculture-X because of events from 1856 of which only members of that culture and historians/ethnologists thereof have much awareness.

you know, like quarantining people with HIV.

honestly, at this point I wish insensitivity were your only problem.
posted by shmegegge at 10:55 AM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can you show me a single comment where I defended the "concentration camp" interpretation?

I did not say you defended an interpretation. I said that people took offense at your initial proposal and that you defended it, which....

I defended the idea of a quarantine, nothing more.

...you admit doing.
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on April 23, 2010


pla: stumbling into territory deemed offensive to subculture-X because of events from 1856 of which only members of that culture and historians/ethnologists thereof have much awareness.

This is really not a subculture thing, and this isn't ancient history. Besides the difference between something that happened in 1856 and something that happened in the 1980s, when most everyone who is a member of MetaFilter was alive, there's the factor that most everyone who isn't gay has close friends or family members who are gay. My uncle is gay. I grew up in Iceland, which has low rates of HIV transmission and is very accepting of sexuality (our current Prime Minister is a lesbian, to give one example). Even here the fear of AIDS was such that my family always had a low-level anxiety he'd contract HIV. Not that anyone thought he'd put himself in any unnecessary risk, but still there was an ever-present worry.

When you throw an idea like "let's quarantine people with HIV" out there, you're stepping into an area where a lot of people, not just those with HIV, not just gay people, but everyone who's related to or friends with a gay person, has long-running anxieties. Irrespective of what I think of your idea, that particular subject is a tender one for most people reading this. You aren't just stepping on the toes of a minority, you're actively jumping up and down in an area of tender feelings for most MeFites.

Quarantining people with HIV isn't an idea that exists in isolation, it's a gut-level fear for many.
posted by Kattullus at 11:10 AM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Even now, long after recanting my original view in light of evidence that it really wouldn't work so well in practice, we still have commenters getting their panties in a bunch over both what I didn't say, and what I no longer defend. It stops counting as doing me a favor when I've gone and removed the "doubt" part of the equation.

You have recanted. I quite clearly acknowledged it.

The issue here is not whether you have or have not recanted. It is that you continue to insist that your initial intent was misinterpreted, prior to that moment.
posted by zarq at 11:19 AM on April 23, 2010


I think "work smoother" might be to not let scallywags and bigots get away with being offensive time and again by hiding their history of dickishness.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:25 AM on April 23, 2010


I write and re-write and edit and sanitize, and still end up stumbling into territory deemed offensive to subculture-X because of events from 1856 of which only members of that culture and historians/ethnologists thereof have much awareness.

No. God, I know this response is going to get me in trouble and be "typically me" and whatever criticisms are the thing right now, but I have to be honest: I think your problem is that you are ignorant and poorly educated and also probably not very smart. I am not saying this to get a rise out of you or hurt your feelings or score points. I am trying to empathize with your situation and ask myself "how could I get myself in this mess if I were in pla's shoes?"

And the only answer I can come up with is that there is just a ton of stuff you don't understand. You know that the Stonewall riots happened, but you don't know what they mean. You've heard of the civil rights issues 80s homosexuals dealt with, but you don't know what they mean. You are barely, barely skimming the surface of these issues - in some cases not even that - and then making these sweeping proclamations about how you'd deal with it. And in these proclamations you happen to include the idea that certain people here, on MetaFilter, and our friends and family, should be locked in cages until the day they die.

And you're surprised that people react poorly to you?

Maybe if you tried to educate yourself first before telling us The Way it Ought To Be, you wouldn't be widely disliked. Your history of getting facts wrong and then using those same wrong facts to make literally insane conclusions is not helping anyone, least of all yourself.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:26 AM on April 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


I don't expect forgiveness from those who had their feelings hurt; I would prefer that people move on instead of continuing to flog the original horse, long since dead.

Yeah, that's not quite how people work, they don't just move on, particularly now that you've established a certain history in terms of being inflammatory. I'm not saying that's right or fair or even decent, just that it seems to be fact of human nature that people don't let stuff go.

At this point pla, I think you're in the realm of nothing much is going to change. As you continue to defend and or clarify what you intended, I think you're inadvertently digging a larger hole for yourself (i.e. the "panties in a bunch" comment, which doesn't fly well around here). I think people are still too angry to really listen to you, so maybe decide if you want to move forward and strive not to be offensive, quietly say "fuck all of you" or some place in between all that.

Good luck.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:27 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm the kind of person who doesn't mind mixing it up, and doesn't mind Metafilter as a place where people mix it up, but there really is no reasonable way to argue that everything that's offensive or hateful should be banned, or that every user that is perceived as offensive or hateful should be banned—those types of determinations are too subjective.

Oh, I don't mean that at all. I'm only talking about the context of the times where it happens over and over with the same user - it's tough to sit by and see the official stance be "Deal with it." I'm talking about things that are called out - in public - over and over again, which are few and far between. I certainly don't think that every thing someone says that I don't agree with should be banned or deleted. Nor do I even have a "list" of users in the back of my head who should get up against the wall in the coming revolution. I'm only saying that it does suck to sit by and see that serious objections by the community to stuff that really is truly offensive are met with a well-meaning "Yeah, we know it sucks, but you have to deal" which feels like the person making the hateful comments is being protected in a weird bizarro kind of way.

The community can and should set standards, but those standards can and should be focused on the effects, not on the viewpoints.

Yes, I agree. And I think that there are certain comments, that like you say - you can see the shit coming from a mile away. And I'm never really sure why they stand because to me - it seems like "Time to put on the waders for THIS mess" is a pretty obvious conclusion - but I'm not a mod.

(And I doubt that there's anyone without a personal list of people who will be up against the wall when the revolution comes.)

I read this on preview, and yeah, I'll admit - I've got a very short list: Rhode Island drivers who create lanes where there are none and/or occupy more than one lane at a time - sometimes simultaneously. I shake my fist at them, I shake it so hard.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:28 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and what Optimus Chyme said.

I'm guessing that the community is thinking that anyone who'd suggest rounding people up for camps literally can't be ignorant, so they have to be bigots (hence tagging you as such), because nobody with a lick of sense or education could possibly suggest that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:31 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Surely there's a gentle way to remind someone that they do in fact suck shit.

Obviously this is still in the prototype stage, but Ampersand Greeting's 'Just Because...' division has been working on a little number that just might be the answer to your prayers.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:35 AM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obviously this is still in the prototype stage, but Ampersand Greeting's 'Just Because...' division has been working on a little number that just might be the answer to your prayers.

That isn't the liquid schmoopy I ordered.
posted by zarq at 11:38 AM on April 23, 2010


So it goes.

I'm in a generous mood today, so without recognizing anyone's right to interrogate me, I'll just say that I'm 100% sincere about everything I've said in this thread, and about most things I say on this site. The exceptions are ironic, satirical, or jocular remarks. I know that not everyone recognizes all of those instances, but I'm seldom inclined to go through tedious explanations.

Those of you who view this site as a lonely-hearts club or a kind of dating site may find this difficult to fathom, but I really don't particularly care what any of you think of me (with very few exceptions, and those provisional). If you can wrap your mind around this, it may help you understand some of my remarks (or lack thereof, in some cases) better.

It's interesting that chiapet disgorged this incredibly ad hominem remark ("Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with.") and a bunch of you just ran with it. Well, it's a canard. I'm always ready to try new things. Being reasoned with on MetaTalk would be a real novelty, so of course I'm interested.

I'll briefly summarize where I'm coming from. There's a lot to like about MetaFilter. But from my perspective, there are some things to seriously dislike. I've come to the conclusion that those things will never change here, so there's no real point in my engaging the mods or the community about them. The basic problem is a difference in values, or in the ordering of the value hierarchy, between my values and those of the mods and of many influential members of MetaFilter. Some of you don't seem to believe that such a thing is possible, i.e., you believe that everyone must have the same values and that they must be the correct values, i.e., your values. Good luck with that. But the notion of values differences explains a lot in the realm of human conflict. And although it's obvious that I think my values are better (or I wouldn't hold them), I'm not interested in crusading about them. After all, it's not my site.

These days, when I comment about MetaFilter here, it's for one of two reasons: I'm in a mood that makes me particularly sensitive to seeing the same old stupid shit happening yet again and I get angry. (My green-ish skin tone notwithstanding, I'm still human, after all.) Or I see someone else who's puzzled about what's going on here and I feel I can give them some insight into how things work (and have worked, historically) on MetaFilter. A lot of stuff goes on here that is far from intuitive to a rational person, and it took me a long time (too long, really) to figure a lot of it out. Helping others who might be having similar difficulties is a public service, although probably not one that the mods are especially thrilled about. It's one that I only perform on a pretty random, ad hoc basis, though.

So that is the explanation for what it pleases some of the biggest assholes on MetaFilter (which is saying a lot) to call "shitting". I'm not usually interested in pissing people off (although there are occasional exceptions), but I don't go very far out of my way to avoid it, either. I think I've been more restrained lately, in general, but it doesn't take much for a flap to start about anything I say. I'm trying to cut back on commenting even more, but I still read MetaFilter, and I've been sleep-deprived a lot of the time lately, so it's a work in progress. I probably shouldn't read MetaTalk, but, really, it's the most amusing part of MetaFilter if one is able to remain detached.

While I'm here, I'll just mention that there are a few (on the order of 10) egregious assholes on MetaFilter that the site would be infinitely better off without. You can see some of them at work in this thread, and there's a callout of another in this one. And in case you're inclined to dismiss anything Crabby Appleton has to say, you should know that I'm far from being the only person here who thinks this.

The shit-asses will never go away. But they'll never run me off, either. I know how to get banned, should I so desire. And because I'm not one of the sacred cows around here, I know those techniques would work for me. But I don't plan to use them, and I hope to taper off my commenting on Meta issues over time.

If you engage me directly, then, unless I'm consciously practicing my forbearance, I'll probably treat you about same the way you treat me. The mods don't like this, but it's just the scientifically-validated strategy of tit-for-tat, so, over the total population of MetaFilter over time, they may be fighting a losing battle there.

As for my alleged "self-importance", I've never thought of myself that way. But if anyone would know, it'd be Pope Guilty, so I may have to do a little more self-examination there. Careful, PG. Looks like kalessin is shaping up to be some serious competition in that arena.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:56 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"same the" -> "the same"
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2010


Crabby, with all respect, while I wouldn't accuse you of self-importance as such, there's certainly an unpleasant whiff of condescension and smug, aloof superiority that probably isn't necessary to communicate your points effectively.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, "I'm not self-important! Just read ten paragraphs of undiluted smugness!" isn't a persuasive argument.

I mean, seriously, your whole argument is that everyone on MeFi but you is dumb and unable to see outside the self. Why the fuck would anybody read that post and think anything other than "Oh, he's a self-impressed asshole"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:17 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian, thanks for your comment. I'll respond later.

Pope Guilty, if I don't explain myself I'm a drive-by thread-shitter. If I do explain myself, I'm a prolix, self-impressed asshole. You don't have to read the ten paragraphs; I give you special dispensation. And it's clear that you haven't anyway. ("your whole argument is that everyone on MeFi but you is dumb and unable to see outside the self." Really, where do you get this stuff?)

I know you'd rather make up stuff about me and discuss that. OK, whatever.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:36 PM on April 23, 2010


The exceptions are ironic, satirical, or jocular remarks. I know that not everyone recognizes all of those instances, but I'm seldom inclined to go through tedious explanations.

Those of you who view this site as a lonely-hearts club or a kind of dating site may find this difficult to fathom, but I really don't particularly care what any of you think of me (with very few exceptions, and those provisional). If you can wrap your mind around this, it may help you understand some of my remarks (or lack thereof, in some cases) better.

Being reasoned with on MetaTalk would be a real novelty

Some of you don't seem to believe that such a thing is possible, i.e., you believe that everyone must have the same values and that they must be the correct values, i.e., your values.


Why on earth would anybody read that and think the author was smug or self-important? It's baffling!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:43 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


For a minute there, the ultra-competitive side of me was all, "No way! I'm the most self-important MeFite!" But then the attention-whore side of me was like, "No way! I'm the most self-important MeFite!" But then the philosophical side of me said, "Can't you see that both of you are right?" But then my inner patriarch interrupted with, "If you kids don't quitcher bitching, I'm going to come back there and knock your heads together!" And then I was all like, "Does anybody else feel like an ice cream?" "And then my inner editor goes, "Nobody ever actually feels like an ice cream, moran!" But then my uber-smartass side starts screaming, "I'M MELLLLLLTIIIIIING!!!" And at that point I'd pretty much lost the thread. So I guess my point is: The meds aren't working.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:05 PM on April 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


I miss dios.
posted by Kattullus at 1:06 PM on April 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Pope Guilty : I mean, seriously, your whole argument is that everyone on MeFi but you is dumb and unable to see outside the self.

Not exactly - I would call his argument (minus the out-of-place bits about getting people banned) eloquent and pretty much exactly the way I've started to feel, expressed perhaps six months from now (presuming I don't get banned in the meantime). And, if he'll forgive my attempted interpretation, he didn't call you "dumb", he called you an only slightly less rabid version of (my impression, from context, of) EB.

And looking back, I see that yes, it does appear that a mere dozen or so names keep popping up in the context of people who have a serious problem with me. Errant (not meant as one of those names) caught me in an example of sloppy thinking - I shouldn't say that "Metafilter" values my contributions in non-social-issues threads. Similarly, I shouldn't presume that the handful of posters in this thread represent the opinions of MeFi in general (and for those of you lurking who have expressed your support, thank you again).

That said, regardless of whether I value your opinion of me, the mods have also chastised me and I need to take that seriously if I want to keep playing in their sandbox.

And after seeing the jaws drop over one common English expression (don't start - Just... Don't. I won't respond) from my previous comment, don't consider that a given.


I think angrycat's idea, on a self-imposed basis, has some merit. I don't have a problem with the rest of the site, so why do I continue to frustrate myself in certain topics? Unfortunately, while I feel that I can contribute meaningfully to MeFi on "neutral" topics, MeFi has the most to offer me on social topics. And that leads to a dilemma about which I need to think for a while.


And for the record - Still not crying "victim" here - no one except me can ever make me a victim, and I don't have any intention of doing so. You (individually) believe what you believe, and I just have to accept that and find a way to either avoid the subject, or deal with you (collectively).
posted by pla at 1:17 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton, your little rant was filled with strawmen and generalizations about your own projections about people who frequent Metafilter. There's almost zero actual substance there, other than a bit of insight into your own neuroses. Really, if that's all you have what are you doing here?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:20 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


First of all, for those following along, notice how Pope Guilty never addresses the substance of anything I say. He simply finds a point of attack and, when I respond to that, ignores the response and forwards the attack. It's a common rhetorical technique used on MetaFilter against those who aren't considered "one of us".

OK, PG. At the risk of being derided again for my "self-importance", I'll address each of your quotations from my comment:
The exceptions are ironic, satirical, or jocular remarks. I know that not everyone recognizes all of those instances, but I'm seldom inclined to go through tedious explanations.
If you're looking for the least charitable interpretation of what I'm saying there (c.f.) I guess you could interpret that as my saying "MeFites are too dumb to recognize irony or satire". In general, I don't believe that's the case (although, again, there are exceptions). My humor is sometimes obscure, and it's not reasonable for me to expect everyone to always get my references. Those who don't can shake their heads and move on. Those who do might get a chuckle. I said this mainly to forestall some clever person bringing up such remarks as examples of my alleged insincerity.
Those of you who view this site as a lonely-hearts club or a kind of dating site may find this difficult to fathom, but I really don't particularly care what any of you think of me (with very few exceptions, and those provisional). If you can wrap your mind around this, it may help you understand some of my remarks (or lack thereof, in some cases) better.
This is a phenomenon that I find kind of disgusting about the site. That's just my feeling, though, and probably not one that's widely shared. I'm not sure how it translates into calling people "dumb", though. If you're looking for a mate, I guess it might be a smart thing to do, and it seems to be sanctioned and engaged in by the mods, so whatever. But. If that's your orientation to the site, I can see how it would be puzzling to see someone who's not playing that game, and how you might consider that to be obnoxious behavior, instead of, well, just not playing that game. I thought it would be helpful to explain that. But, again, as usual, it just became fodder for PG to find the most negative interpretation. Anyone starting to see a pattern here?
Being reasoned with on MetaTalk would be a real novelty
I could have been a little clearer by saying that it would be a real novelty for me. Do you seriously intend to dispute this? If so, you're full of shit and one need look no farther than the MetaTalk archives to figure that out. This thread, with the exception of shakesepherian's remark, is a perfect instance, so far. (His remark, you might notice, is not particularly complimentary, but is at least couched in a reasonable way.)
Some of you don't seem to believe that such a thing is possible, i.e., you believe that everyone must have the same values and that they must be the correct values, i.e., your values.
I don't see anything controversial about this observation. The calls to ban pla in this thread are a perfect example.

So, in PG's world, "some of you might have difficulty with X" becomes "all y'all are dumb!". Interesting. Do you want that to be your world too?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:32 PM on April 23, 2010


Those of you who view this site as a lonely-hearts club or a kind of dating site...

Really?

Unbelievable.
posted by ericb at 1:37 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only reason I'm not responding substantively at this point is that there doesn't seem to be a need for it; Crabby's made my point quite well.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2010


Those of you who view this site as a lonely-hearts club or a kind of dating site may find this difficult to fathom, but I really don't particularly care what any of you think of me (with very few exceptions, and those provisional). If you can wrap your mind around this, it may help you understand some of my remarks (or lack thereof, in some cases) better.

How bitter and antisocial do you have to be to see people's genuine enjoyment of a reasonably friendly and rational environment as some kind of desperate cyber-orgy? Jesus.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:51 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


The only reason Pope Guilty is not responding substantively at this point is that he has no interest in having a substantive discussion in good faith. So much the worse for him.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:55 PM on April 23, 2010


What is there to substantively talk about? We're in the realm of your hangups, not of anything that could really be considered objective or external.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:56 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, if I don't explain myself I'm a drive-by thread-shitter. If I do explain myself, I'm a prolix, self-impressed asshole. You don't have to read the ten paragraphs; I give you special dispensation.

Point of order: I believe it is well-established that only the Pope can grant special dispensation. Just saying.
posted by The World Famous at 2:00 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you reasoning with me, Burhanistan? Forgive me, it's difficult to tell. You see, I wrote my little rant with my little fingers on my little computer in my little office, and I'm having trouble reading your little words on the little screen. Maybe we could talk about what a shitty place MetaFilter can be for anyone who doesn't swallow and regurgitate every aspect of the party line. Or maybe not.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:05 PM on April 23, 2010


And after seeing the jaws drop over one common English expression (don't start - Just... Don't. I won't respond) from my previous comment

I'm going to start, though I won't expect you to respond.

The common English phrase "panties in a bunch" is viewed, along with terms like "hysterical", as being anti-woman and kind of demeaning to multiple genders; at the very least, it seems dismissive and hand-wavy. Now, I don't expect you to agree that they are demeaning, but since you want to improve the reception of your statements and you want to avoid misunderstanding of your point, you should be aware that these terms and phrases are widely viewed as derogatory and using them is almost guaranteed to provoke a knee-jerk, hostile response.

Please note, I am not accusing you of misogyny, and I am not telling you what you can and can't say. You can say whatever you want. But it may be useful to you to know that some of the things you (or I) may say with harmless intent will assuredly not be taken that way, because of their history and etymology, and if that's a shitstorm you wish to avoid, there are turns of phrase you may wish to avoid, in the interest of clarity.
posted by Errant at 2:07 PM on April 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


If you're looking for a mate, I guess it might be a smart thing to do, and it seems to be sanctioned and engaged in by the mods, so whatever.

I assume you're talking about me because all the other mods are married dudes and have been since they were working here. MeFi is just a place where you can meet people, same as the supermarket, same as church, same as the pizza shop. I'm not sure why you have this sneery approach to that. You don't want to turn online friends into real life friends, that's totally cool. Other people want to? That should be cool also.

Maybe we could talk about what a shitty place MetaFilter can be for anyone who doesn't swallow and regurgitate every aspect of the party line.

The great thing about people's participation here being 100% voluntary is that we can tell people who hate it that they are welcome to leave. And if they want to stay, they can help us make it better. I'd love to hear more about this supposed party line, though I suspect I probably won't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:16 PM on April 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Maybe we could talk about what a shitty place MetaFilter can be for anyone who doesn't swallow and regurgitate every aspect of the party line. Or maybe not.

I come nowhere close to swallowing and regurgitating every aspect of the party line, and I quite like it here.

Pope Guilty and many notable others disagree quite sharply with some of my most deeply-held values, and do so vocally. And yet I don't tend to get into fights with them, even when they write things that annoy or insult me. In fact, through rational, calm, civil discourse, I have seen my own views shaped and changed by even the most adamant and aggravating members of MetaFilter.

(Also, "hysterical" is not seen as being anti-woman generally, notwithstanding the provenance of the term. To see it as an anti-woman term requires some seriously tortured interpretation and hair-trigger reactionism. "Panties-in-a-bunch," on the other hand, is clearly sexist on its face.)
posted by The World Famous at 2:17 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"hysterical" is not seen as being anti-woman generally

Depends on who you are. It's come up enough times on MeTa/MeFi that using it as a rejoinder against a woman who you think is being exaggeratedly upset about something seems like a pretty gendered insult. It's got the unfortunate double meaning where one aspect is "hey I'm going to use this term that's been used against women to belittle their feelings and opinions for a century" and the other is "you're losing your cool"

It's become clear through discussion here that it is, at best, a loaded term. I do not think I am a hair-trigger reactionary and I'd suggest using it with caution if you're trying to make yourself understood and not just hurling insults.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:20 PM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


The shit-asses will never go away.

You must not have gotten the memo. The preferred term of art is now "shitroach."

As for my alleged "self-importance", I've never thought of myself that way.

Logic error, does not compute. People accusing you of being "self-important" doesn't mean they think you think you're self-important. It means they think you view the world in a you-centered way. Frankly, based on your comments in this and other threads, I can kind of see where they're coming from.
posted by albrecht at 2:23 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you reasoning with me, Burhanistan? Forgive me, it's difficult to tell.

Crabby Appleton, I know that at this point it's mostly a bunch of people arguing with you and calling you names, but I honestly don't know how anyone here expects to persuade anyone else to their point of view by employing a juvenile rhetoric and drippingly sarcastic tone. I believe that the only way to successfully engage an opponent is, following Gandhi, to attempt to cooperate with him in order to achieve a just end. Patience and compassion allow one to communicate ideas effectively to those who disagree; sarcasm and contempt are antithetical to conversation or conversion, and while I understand that it's pretty easy to get frustrated or fed up in online battles, it's probably best if everyone just walks the fuck away at this point, or attempt to figure out what they actually want to say and then say it rather than kind of hinting at what they want to say but slathering it with derision and snark.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:26 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is no good unless you construct a cybercube around yourself. Make no friends. Share no experiences. Enojy nothing and share nothing. You may put a Naruto poster on one (1) wall of your cybercube, but do not use nails!!! Nails may breach the cybercube. Use only approved medium-tack double-sided tape. Biologicals are your enemy. Do not trust their lies
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:27 PM on April 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


I believe that the only way to successfully engage an opponent is, following Gandhi, to attempt to cooperate with him in order to achieve a just end.

Gandhi was a manipulative little weasel, wasn't he?

On a related note, I was wondering if one is still considered a sociopath if one doesn't even care enough about other people even to wish them ill. Asking for a friend. Who has a girlfriend in Canada.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:30 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


OC if you want to send me messages at unblock me so I can agree with you.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:32 PM on April 23, 2010


at least, that is.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:32 PM on April 23, 2010


"hysterical" is not seen as being anti-woman generally

A cursory search of MeFi/MeTa suggests that it is routinely viewed as such, at least when used to describe being upset. It doesn't seem to have that connotation when used in the context of describing something funny, which is lexically interesting. But, to clarify myself, I was referring to how those terms seem to be viewed "generally" within the scope of MeFi. I may not have been explicit enough about not intending my claim to apply more generally than that; although it may hold, I don't have enough information to say. I think I was also relatively clear on "demeaning to multiple genders", notwithstanding the provenance of the term.
posted by Errant at 2:48 PM on April 23, 2010


Meh. It's late in the thread and I don't feel like starting a new Meta post, but if a user blocks you from sending them MeFi mail then they should automatically be prevented from sending you any.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:56 PM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


"So it goes.

I'm in a generous mood today, so without recognizing anyone's right to interrogate me, I'll just say that I'm 100% sincere about everything I've said in this thread, and about most things I say on this site. The exceptions are ironic, satirical, or jocular remarks. I know that not everyone recognizes all of those instances, but I'm seldom inclined to go through tedious explanations.
"

If folks aren't necessarily getting your ironic, satirical or jocular remarks, it could be that you're misjudging the tone with which they are read. It's happened to me; it's happened to everyone if they're honest.

Those of you who view this site as a lonely-hearts club or a kind of dating site may find this difficult to fathom, but I really don't particularly care what any of you think of me (with very few exceptions, and those provisional). If you can wrap your mind around this, it may help you understand some of my remarks (or lack thereof, in some cases) better."

I'm not particularly lonely on the whole, though my extended rehab has left me with a lot more time to fuck around on the internet while I write and apply for new jobs and the usual sort of computer-based nonsense. But here we are again, with your rhetoric setting up the implicit argument that people that don't understand that you're not here to be liked are regarding MeFi as a lonely hearts club or dating site. If this isn't meant to be implicit, you failed at phrasing. If it is meant to be implicit, you are creating an unfair and unflattering image of the Metafilter community, apparently in order to dismiss concerns over your tone.

It's interesting that chiapet disgorged this incredibly ad hominem remark ("Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with.") and a bunch of you just ran with it. Well, it's a canard. I'm always ready to try new things. Being reasoned with on MetaTalk would be a real novelty, so of course I'm interested.

Are you? On what issues are you interested in being reasoned with? On the issue that your participation is generally seen as goading rather than constructive? Because I'd think that there's a fair amount of evidence to that effect. Well, my rhetorical version of you responds, see previous paragraph—you don't care what people think of you. But to engage in a conversation you have to at least want to send the signals of good faith, otherwise you cannot have a conversation. If you truly don't care at all about how others perceive you, provisional exceptions noted, that's not conducive to a respectful conversation. Likewise, portraying Metafilter as having such a dearth of reason that it would be a novelty to be engaged with it here is pretty clearly dismissive, and makes people less likely to engage you with reason. It is, again, goading, rather than argument, and thus for someone so ostensibly concerned with the principles of logic and rhetoric, poor form. You're failing at your own criteria here.

I'll briefly summarize where I'm coming from. There's a lot to like about MetaFilter. But from my perspective, there are some things to seriously dislike. I've come to the conclusion that those things will never change here, so there's no real point in my engaging the mods or the community about them.

Except that you regularly do engage the mods and community over them, you simply do so in the most glib and facile way possible, refusing to elaborate due to your aforementioned lack of respect and perception that these issues are intractable. They may well be, and it's perfectly possible that you're flatly wrong about them being problems, but that you don't appear to make the good faith effort to resolve them, and instead portray this as somehow the fault of the community rather than a pretty clear rhetorical pattern on your part is frustrating to me as a member here, and I can only imagine how obnoxious it would read if I had the responsibility for making this place better and took that responsibility seriously, which describes the mods and isn't disputed by you.

The basic problem is a difference in values, or in the ordering of the value hierarchy, between my values and those of the mods and of many influential members of MetaFilter. Some of you don't seem to believe that such a thing is possible, i.e., you believe that everyone must have the same values and that they must be the correct values, i.e., your values. Good luck with that. But the notion of values differences explains a lot in the realm of human conflict. And although it's obvious that I think my values are better (or I wouldn't hold them), I'm not interested in crusading about them. After all, it's not my site."

On the whole, though, this is vague nonsense. Yes, we all have different values. Metafilter is at least doctrinally encouraging of plurality: whether or not a real intellectual or ideological plurality exists here, Metafilter is philosophically encouraging of it. However, that you have a different value hierarchy doesn't mean that you are inherently unable to articulate those values in a respectful way and be accepted, and honestly, even if you're not, it seems to me as pretty limp to simply decide that everyone else has unexamined values and that means that you can only engage them through substance-free platitudes about how your ineffable values mean that everyone else just doesn't get you and so persecutes you (or would persecute you if you were more vocal).

These days, when I comment about MetaFilter here, it's for one of two reasons: I'm in a mood that makes me particularly sensitive to seeing the same old stupid shit happening yet again and I get angry. (My green-ish skin tone notwithstanding, I'm still human, after all.) Or I see someone else who's puzzled about what's going on here and I feel I can give them some insight into how things work (and have worked, historically) on MetaFilter. A lot of stuff goes on here that is far from intuitive to a rational person, and it took me a long time (too long, really) to figure a lot of it out. Helping others who might be having similar difficulties is a public service, although probably not one that the mods are especially thrilled about. It's one that I only perform on a pretty random, ad hoc basis, though.

The first part does happen to everyone, though it's not good. The second part is again something where at first glance it appears you're making an argument, but you forget to actually back it up (which is frustrating again for someone who presents himself as a wandering monk of reason amongst us savage pagans). What stuff goes on here that's far from intuitive to a rational person? And the issues I generally see you complain about are related to others' tones and the general popularity of ideas, aside from the handwaving about "values, and those issues you have interpretations shaped by your own biases, interpretations that you present as if they were the logical deductions that follow from simple premises without accepting that the premises you reason from are not universally held (and you're generally oblique about even copping to those biases).

So that is the explanation for what it pleases some of the biggest assholes on MetaFilter (which is saying a lot) to call "shitting". I'm not usually interested in pissing people off (although there are occasional exceptions), but I don't go very far out of my way to avoid it, either. I think I've been more restrained lately, in general, but it doesn't take much for a flap to start about anything I say. I'm trying to cut back on commenting even more, but I still read MetaFilter, and I've been sleep-deprived a lot of the time lately, so it's a work in progress. I probably shouldn't read MetaTalk, but, really, it's the most amusing part of MetaFilter if one is able to remain detached.

You may not be interested in pissing people off, but it generally doesn't read as if you're interested in any real conversation either. Not caring at all about other people's responses, which you've alluded to (provisional exceptions notwithstanding) means that when you toss off an assertion without bothering to flesh it out does mean that you piss people off, and frankly, that's so understandable and basic to conversation that I'm surprised you don't seem able to recognize it as a risible rhetorical technique.

While I'm here, I'll just mention that there are a few (on the order of 10) egregious assholes on MetaFilter that the site would be infinitely better off without. You can see some of them at work in this thread, and there's a callout of another in this one. And in case you're inclined to dismiss anything Crabby Appleton has to say, you should know that I'm far from being the only person here who thinks this.

I disagree. I think that Metafilter would be better without some users' obnoxious behavior—including behavior from you that I find obnoxious—but I generally don't think that Metafilter would be better without any user I can think of. I disagree with people about plenty of things here and, like I've said, I'm willing to argue over just about anything, but that doesn't mean that I want people to leave. (At my most egotistical, I just want them to acknowledge that I am right and they've been a fool to think otherwise.)

The shit-asses will never go away. But they'll never run me off, either. I know how to get banned, should I so desire. And because I'm not one of the sacred cows around here, I know those techniques would work for me. But I don't plan to use them, and I hope to taper off my commenting on Meta issues over time.

Oh, c'mon. This is hardly some noble fight and frankly, the reason why most people who consistently push the envelope don't get banned is because they show real signs of engaging positively with the community and general awareness about when they've stepped over the line and been assholes. I mean, again, I've had to have those talks with the mods and other members. I assume that most people that have acted like assholes have had similar experiences. But the reason why it seems so much more likely that you're going to get banned is because I can't think of any time—feel free to link to it if I'm wrong—where you have overtly acted as if you would like to engage the community positively. There are plenty of neutral comments of yours that I can think of, and plenty of jokey comments (plenty of which I've laughed at), but not a commiserate number of passionate comments engaged in working within the community to better the community. By remaining "detached," you lose the protections of being engaged. And frankly, I'm fine with that.

If you engage me directly, then, unless I'm consciously practicing my forbearance, I'll probably treat you about same the way you treat me. The mods don't like this, but it's just the scientifically-validated strategy of tit-for-tat, so, over the total population of MetaFilter over time, they may be fighting a losing battle there.

And this is glib tu quoque bullshit. I mean, fuck, dude, the foundational rule here is "Don't be an asshole." That means even if you think someone else is an asshole. That other people get away with being assholes generally comes with not being assholes on the whole (assholes on the whole is the worst deli sandwich name I can imagine). That doesn't make this a dating site or a lonely hearts club—it makes it a community that discourages asshole behavior. Is that too much for you?

As for my alleged "self-importance", I've never thought of myself that way. But if anyone would know, it'd be Pope Guilty, so I may have to do a little more self-examination there. Careful, PG. Looks like kalessin is shaping up to be some serious competition in that arena.

Oh, c'mon. Fucking ditch that bullshit. Even Gore Vidal recognizes himself as a pompous ass, and your tone is twice as smirking.
posted by klangklangston at 3:22 PM on April 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


The good news is that I think I figured out why Appleton is so crabby.

The bad news is that to fix the situation, I'm afraid one of us is going to have to volunteer to...mate...with it.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:27 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's become clear through discussion here that it is, at best, a loaded term. I do not think I am a hair-trigger reactionary and I'd suggest using it with caution if you're trying to make yourself understood and not just hurling insults.

Yeah, I'm aware that the culture here recognizes a loaded nature of the term, and if I were ever tempted to use it, I would be mindful of that. It does remind me a bit of 30 Rock's joke about Tracy Jordan learning every derogatory racial term in every language and from every era and then taking offense to the use of words that, in archaic usage, might have negative racial connotations.

I don't call people "hysterical," regardless of gender, and regardless of whether it's on MeFi or elsewhere. But I think the sensitivity to it here as a loaded term is significantly higher than in the modern world at large.
posted by The World Famous at 3:41 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It does remind me a bit of 30 Rock's joke about Tracy Jordan learning every derogatory racial term in every language and from every era and then taking offense to the use of words that, in archaic usage, might have negative racial connotations.

You may be lucky enough to not have it hurled at you somewhat regularly when people are trying to minimize your feelings or beliefs. I think you're right that people on MeFi are more sensitive to it than, say, the world at large, but I think they're less sensitive than, say, a liberal arts college environment.

And, at the end of the day, if otherwise not-very-touchy people tell you that they feel it's a dismissive and sort of dickish thing to say to a woman in the community you're in, you are welcome to decide that this makes them touchy in your eyes or just decide that hey, people are different.

I think this is a far cry from making up things to get offended about just for the sake of being able to feel righteous.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:46 PM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


eh. It's late in the thread and I don't feel like starting a new Meta post, but if a user blocks you from sending them MeFi mail then they should automatically be prevented from sending you any.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:56 PM on April 23


I don't know why you're blocked I didn't mean to and I don't know how to unblock you :(

how did this get here i am not good with computers
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:46 PM on April 23, 2010


BTW -- what exactly is the 'party line' here on MeFi?
posted by ericb at 3:52 PM on April 23, 2010


And, at the end of the day, if otherwise not-very-touchy people tell you that they feel it's a dismissive and sort of dickish thing to say to a woman in the community you're in, you are welcome to decide that this makes them touchy in your eyes or just decide that hey, people are different.

I'm going to go with "hey, people are different."
posted by The World Famous at 3:54 PM on April 23, 2010


i wonder if there is a way to end this thread schoompily. Perhaps if:

Pla apologizes for offending those of us he hurt and acknowledges he has a lot to learn about the history of people with AIDS and the syndrome itself.

Pla apologizes to the mods for creating what must be a migraine-headache at this point.

Pla articulates clearly that he will avoid commenting in threads that touch upon civil rights issues for a good long while and announces his intent to read such threads so that he will continue to learn.

I don't understand where the fightiness with Crabby A. is coming from, so I have no suggestions about that.

And then, rejoice! Happiness and understanding abounds.
posted by angrycat at 3:58 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those of you who view this site as a lonely-hearts club or a kind of dating site may find this difficult to fathom

Without commenting on the rest of Crabby's explanation, I'm gonna poke up my head here and ask, "what the fuck?". Am I doing Metafilter wrong or something?
posted by immlass at 4:09 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


what exactly is the 'party line' here on MeFi?

MEETUP!!!

Top 5 Variations:

10) Single-malts at ten paces!
9) Is that a plate of beans in your pocket, or are you just... a malcontinent?
8) *gets pitchfork, makes popcorn, throws girlfriend's cat out 13th-story window*
7) "You get a spouse! You get a spouse! You get a spouse! Everybody gets a spouse!"
6) Wanna touch my BanHammer?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:11 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know why you're blocked I didn't mean to and I don't know how to unblock you :(

Check it out
posted by Burhanistan at 5:19 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could talk about what a shitty place MetaFilter can be for anyone who doesn't swallow and regurgitate every aspect of the party line.

....Wait. Can someone explain to me how you came to this conclusion in....a thread that is, in essence, devoted to a complaint about how the mods are NOT enforcing a party line more stringently?

In the interest of reasoned debate, CA, I have a sincere question. After reading your explaination -- and thank you for that, by the way -- I have to say it sounds like you really are dissatisfied with Metafilter. You feel that it is not a community that reflects your interests, you feel it is poorly run, and you feel that your views and values are not represtented.

If that's the case....why do you continue to visit this site, when it so obviously makes you unhappy? that is honestly and sincerely the only question I have as to your motivations.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:24 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


song for the occasion: Michelle Shocked's "The quality of mercy"
posted by angrycat at 5:38 PM on April 23, 2010


Nah, let's hear some Fad Gadget instead.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:46 PM on April 23, 2010


, "hysterical" is not seen as being anti-woman generally, notwithstanding the provenance of the term.

I guess this point has been addressed already, but one reason I love metafilter is that such a high degree of its members are well-spoken and educated, and for those type people, even if they have somehow not run up against woman's rights issues, the hysterical/hysterectomy connection is pretty easy to see.
posted by angrycat at 5:54 PM on April 23, 2010


> the hysterical/hysterectomy connection is pretty easy to see

It's also irrelevant, except insofar as people choose to make it relevant to them. I'm not saying people shouldn't be offended by it—far be it from me to tell people what they should be offended by—but etymology is not destiny, and nobody connects hysteria with wombs unless taught to do so.
posted by languagehat at 6:05 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you're looking for a mate, I guess it might be a smart thing to do, and it seems to be sanctioned and engaged in by the mods, so whatever.

I assume you're talking about me because all the other mods are married dudes and have been since they were working here.
Jessamyn, I'm afraid I may have misspoken. I can't seem to find a good definition of "lonely hearts club" online. If the meaning is "yet another place for people to hook up", that's not what I meant. In that case, I should have said "social club". (I was thinking of it more as a "club for lonely people" or something like that.)

So I didn't actually intend to single you out. And I certainly did not intend to accuse the married mods of any impropriety. If you want to put a link in my original comment to this comment, that's OK with me.
MeFi is just a place where you can meet people, same as the supermarket, same as church, same as the pizza shop.
No, it's not the same. It's a place where you can "meet" people, but it's a virtual place. The distinction is important, but since people here seem more interested in speculating on my psychological issues than in reasoning with me about it, I don't think I'll elaborate on why it is important.
I'm not sure why you have this sneery approach to that.
Characterizing my approach as "sneery" is, in my view, another instance of finding the most negative interpretation. But I did say that I don't like it, and I don't. Apparently that's some sort of thoughtcrime here. Whatever.
You don't want to turn online friends into real life friends, that's totally cool.
Well, no, apparently it's "sneery", "bitter", "antisocial", and, perhaps most disturbing, means that I'm not even a biological entity. (I'll have to talk to my primary-care physician about that one.)
Other people want to? That should be cool also.
Permissible? Certainly. It's not my site, after all. Cool? To have that as your primary objective on a site like MetaFilter? Not so much, at least not from my perspective. But, as I've said before, whatever.
The great thing about people's participation here being 100% voluntary is that we can tell people who hate it that they are welcome to leave.
Yes, you've told me before that I'm welcome to leave. Thanks.
And if they want to stay, they can help us make it better.
Sorry, I can't help you with that, because "better" means something different to you than it does to me.
I'd love to hear more about this supposed party line, though I suspect I probably won't.
You know that you won't, because we've been through this before, but you're playing to the crowd. So, OK, for those who haven't seen it before, I'll recap.

Everyone knows that there's a MetaFilter party line (with the possible exception of people who believe in it so fervently that it doesn't show up for them as anything other than "common sense" or "right thinking", i.e., the clueless). Again, I'm far from being the only one to ever assert this.

Many MeFites apparently are willing to disingenuously disavow any knowledge of this, a rhetorical tactic similar in an abstract way to—oh, damn, I had a great analogy from an ancient fable, but I can't use it because a bunch of MeFites will grab their pitchforks and light their torches because they consider it somehow racist to refer to it, even though it does not refer in any way to any notion of race. Darn. Oh well, anyway, it's a rhetorical ploy to suck me into a no-win situation. Here's how it works.

Anyone can rattle off most of the key tenets of the MetaFilter party line, if they're in a friendly environment. But if I tried to list them in this environment, I'd have to spend hours on it. Why? Because any written exposition of the tenets will immediately come under violent rhetorical attack. Writing in such a way as to forestall these attacks is at best difficult, at worst (and most likely, in my opinion) impossible.

But, hey, you know what? The World Famous, in the comment immediately after the one I'm responding to, refers matter-of-factly to the party line. And he "quite like[s] it here". Maybe he'd like to do it! Either I'll be proved wrong, and I'll learn something, or (more likely, in my view) he'll learn something. Either way, it's a win. How about it, Mr. Famous?

Because I'm not about to touch that particular, uh, flypaper.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:13 PM on April 23, 2010


such a high degree of its members are well-spoken and educated, and for those type people, even if they have somehow not run up against woman's rights issues, the hysterical/hysterectomy connection is pretty easy to see

In spite of what you seem to be insinuating, I believe that I am both well-spoken and educated, I have run up against women's rights issues, and I am well aware of the hysterical/hystera connection etymologically speaking.

As I perhaps didn't make sufficiently clear above, I, personally, don't tell people they're acting hysterical, because I think it's a dickish thing to say regardless of whether the term is or is not interpreted by the listener as having gender-based implications.

I did not intend to turn this into a discussion of the term or anything similar. I'm sorry I commented on it.
posted by The World Famous at 6:15 PM on April 23, 2010


I'm dying for a post-doc to come do a very broad study of "tin ear" and the commonalities tin users share.

Substituting "lonely hearts dating club" and "looking for a mate" for "social club" strikes me as tin. Assuming were not being yanked.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:35 PM on April 23, 2010


shakespeherian writes:
Are you reasoning with me, Burhanistan? Forgive me, it's difficult to tell.

Crabby Appleton, I know that at this point it's mostly a bunch of people arguing with you and calling you names, but I honestly don't know how anyone here expects to persuade anyone else to their point of view by employing a juvenile rhetoric and drippingly sarcastic tone. I believe that the only way to successfully engage an opponent is, following Gandhi, [...]
The claim was made that "Crabby has no interest in being reasoned with." A few people seemed to give credence to the canard. I averred that, to the contrary, I would be interested in being reasoned with on MetaTalk because of the novelty value. But if what I've got so far in this thread (with a small number of notable exceptions) is "being reasoned with", I guess I'm not interested in it after all. If you want to lecture somebody on derision and snark, why don't you start with the ones who started it in this thread?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:43 PM on April 23, 2010


But, hey, you know what? The World Famous, in the comment immediately after the one I'm responding to, refers matter-of-factly to the party line. And he "quite like[s] it here". Maybe he'd like to do it! Either I'll be proved wrong, and I'll learn something, or (more likely, in my view) he'll learn something. Either way, it's a win. How about it, Mr. Famous?

Sure, why not. I assumed that by "party line," you were simply referring to the views that most commonly seem to be held (or voiced) by folks on MetaFilter on various popular topics. That's all. Some other people appear to have assumed a much more detailed implication than I did. I suspect that their inquiries to you about what the "party line" is were largely reactionary and suspicious, and that they figure that your reference to a "party line" was a veiled insult to what you perceive to be some specific dominant view or group of views here.

One example that springs easily to mind is the whole "hysterical" thing, where my own view (that the term is not generally used with any "loaded" intent by the vast majority of people in American society - including those of us well-spoken and educated enough to guess or know the etymology of the word) differs from the general understanding and comportment of the MetaFilter community (As Jessamyn noted: "It's become clear through discussion here that it is, at best, a loaded term"). My view differs from the prevailing view in the community, I endeavor to be a civil and respectful member of that community, and I like it just fine.

Perhaps "party line" is too loaded a term to use to describe the general tenor of discussion and prevailing opinions on a given topic in the community. But that's the interpretation I gave your term, because I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, rather than assume that you were trying to accuse MetaFilter of having a rigid set of opinions to which its members are expected to adhere. Perhaps I misunderstood you.
posted by The World Famous at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The bad news is that to fix the situation, I'm afraid one of us is going to have to volunteer to...mate...with it.

infinitywaltz, I'm not gay, so it can't be you. (I have no problem with gay people.) But miss-lapin favorited your comment, which must mean she's volunteering. Let me know when and where.

Just kidding, miss-lapin. Hey, aren't you glad I'm not looking for a mate on MetaFilter?

(Haven't forgotten you, klang. After dinner.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:51 PM on April 23, 2010


You're going to mate with klang, after dinner?

Dude, just have some cake.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


...but you're playing to the crowd.

What a fucking dismissive, insulting thing to say to one of the moderators on MeFi.
posted by ericb at 7:08 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


guys, I wish everyone would lay off of crabby.

it's clear from his comments that he came in here intending to engage in reasoned debate.

further, he's made it plain that he values a mature exchange of ideas.

why else would he tell us, with his usual candor, that:

-"but I'm seldom inclined to go through tedious explanations... there's no real point in my engaging the mods or the community about them...

-"Are you reasoning with me, Burhanistan? Forgive me, it's difficult to tell."

-"... I don't think I'll elaborate on why it is important... But, as I've said before, whatever.... Anyone can rattle off most of the key tenets of the MetaFilter party line, if they're in a friendly environment. But if I tried to list them in this environment, I'd have to spend hours on it... Because I'm not about to touch that particular, uh, flypaper."

-"But if what I've got so far in this thread (with a small number of notable exceptions) is "being reasoned with", I guess I'm not interested in it after all."

Why can't you guys see that Crabby, as he always has, has been engaging with us in an open and forthright manner? Why can't you all understand that he is consistently, despite his best efforts, prevented from really expressing himself honestly?

Really, it is shameful the way we silence him on this site, and I hope you're all ashamed of yourselves.
posted by shmegegge at 7:08 PM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Anyone can rattle off most of the key tenets of the MetaFilter party line...

Pray tell, what are these "key tenets?"
posted by ericb at 7:13 PM on April 23, 2010


The first rule of the key tenets is, you don't talk about the key tenets.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:20 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Check it out
posted by Burhanistan at 5:19 PM on April 23


thank you i have turned off my cybershields :(
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:23 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first rule of the key tenets is, you don't talk about the key tenets.

That's right. You nail them to the cathedral doors.
posted by The World Famous at 7:24 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Didn't mean to add fuel to the fire by prolonging the "hysterical" discussion. Generally, if somebody told me I was hysterical my thought would be "Whatta dick" as opposed to "sexist jerk." Although, if I was an emotional state synonymous with hysteria, I might think "I'M GONNA KILL YOU MUTHAFUCKA." Or maybe there would be no thoughts, just a red fog of murderous rage.
posted by angrycat at 7:35 PM on April 23, 2010


Cool? To have that as your primary objective on a site like MetaFilter? Not so much, at least not from my perspective.

Where are these people whose primary objectives on MetaFilter are meetups and torrid nerdy fuckfests?
posted by CKmtl at 7:49 PM on April 23, 2010


Trolling, trolling, out on the ocean grey.
Trolling, trolling, it's how he spent his day.
And for every hook,
a user did took,
Oh trolling's a mighty fine day!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:53 PM on April 23, 2010


Perhaps Crabby has misunderstood what a "user meet" is all about. To wit, where in reality it involves a pub and appetizers, he has understood it to be a raging group orgy.

We should probably be thankful that he hasn't chosen to attend. It would have been very awkward, at least until the pub owner required him to put some clothing on.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:55 PM on April 23, 2010


This isn't going to be very popular opinion, I suspect, but I actually feel like both pla and Crabby Appleton have made genuine attempts in this thread to give the explanations of their behavior that have been asked of them. I suppose I don't find it surprising that those responses managed to add new fuel to the fire, given that those asking the questions obviously don't like either the voiced opinions or the manner of expression from either, and given that those offended on both sides of the discussion are frustrated, likely to lash out at insults real and imagined, and unlikely to read each other charitably in any case. But I do wish we could maybe at the very least not impugn each other's motives for being here and attempting to engage each other. We have everything to gain if we want it. Thanks.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:04 PM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


> Pla apologizes for offending those of us he hurt and acknowledges he has a lot to learn
> about the history of people with AIDS and the syndrome itself.
>
> Pla apologizes to the mods for creating what must be a migraine-headache at this point.
>
> Pla articulates clearly that he will avoid commenting in threads that touch upon civil
> rights issues for a good long while and announces his intent to read such threads so
> that he will continue to learn.

That would be half of it. And the anti-plas for their part can admit that to say "quarantining HIV+ individuals is wrong and I oppose it absolutely" is to say all that needs to be said, so that the off-the-scale apoplexy quotent in this thread was caused by merely irrational factors, as follows:

1. tribal fury at an impenitent violation of tribal mores, the impenitence being a great deal more infuriating than the violation.

2. more-offended-than-thou competitiveness at no personal risk, with OC at the bleeding edge and the new model, more fangs, more claws five fresh fish panting to keep up. (Hope you get better soon, fff.)

3. "community", in which the pleasure of togetherness, belonging, mutual validation, everything else Crabby meant by "dating site", all lead directly to the very closely allied pleasure all the dogs feel when they turn on one dog and rend it. Together.

4. fear, as katullus pointed out. A group for which it is an article of faith repeated loudly and often that right-wingers are irrational nutbars because they're afraid (of change, of blacks, of losing, of whatever) is a group that may not allow their own fears to ramp up their rhetoric to kindling temperature like a teabag party. Unless they are--as I frankly believe they are--also a group that isn't noticeably better than average on self-knowledge, no matter their conceit.

But our fears are justified and theirs aren't! No credit. Everyone thinks that. A group that makes such a tribal fetish of rationality as this one does, and looks down on others for failing to rise above their fears, must walk the same walk or be known for fools.
posted by jfuller at 8:07 PM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


But if I tried to list them in this environment, I'd have to spend hours on it. Why? Because any written exposition of the tenets will immediately come under violent rhetorical attack.

Who cares? Just type them in bullet form and quit all your pussyfooting.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:37 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes sir! Mr. Burhanistan, sir! I'll bend right over for you.

Seriously, what are you doing in this thread? Are you drunk?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:45 PM on April 23, 2010


Thank you so much, jfuller, for posting your comment. At least I know somebody gets it (referring to irrational factor #3).
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:48 PM on April 23, 2010


So, between delusional and troll, lies Crabby Appleton. Mentally killfiled.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:55 PM on April 23, 2010


What a fucking dismissive, insulting thing to say to one of the moderators on MeFi.

OK, ericb. She knew that she wouldn't get the answer she wants, because she's asked me the same question on several prior occasions and knows how I always respond to it. So what was she doing, if not playing to the crowd? You tell me.

If you're looking for dismissive insults to be outraged about, you might take a look at her telling me I'm welcome to leave.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:59 PM on April 23, 2010


Crabby, I'm asking yet again, sincerely. I do hope you're not taking my question as a "you're welcome to leave" dismissal, but genuine, sincere, and earnest seeking to understand -- because you give the impression of someone who is very unhappy being here in the first place, and so I'm honestly baffled why you choose to visit a place that you find unwelcoming.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:05 PM on April 23, 2010


jfuller: 4. fear, as katullus pointed out. A group for which it is an article of faith repeated loudly and often that right-wingers are irrational nutbars because they're afraid (of change, of blacks, of losing, of whatever) is a group that may not allow their own fears to ramp up their rhetoric to kindling temperature like a teabag party. Unless they are--as I frankly believe they are--also a group that isn't noticeably better than average on self-knowledge, no matter their conceit.

You seem to have misunderstood what I was getting at. Living in fear for a long time causes psychological wounds. A large number of people participating in this community lived in fear of AIDS for a very long time. That fear has started to recede, but the wounds have not yet healed. Treating a subject so rife with pain uncarefully will cause these wounds to open.

There's a verse in a poem by Icelandic poet Einar Benediktsson, which I think is germane to this discussion. It goes like this:
Eitt bros getur dimmu í dagsljós breytt,
sem dropi breytir veig heillar skálar.
Þel getur snúist við atorð eitt.
Aðgát skal höfð í nærveru sálar.
Svo oft leyndist strengur í brjósti, sem brast
við biturt andsvar, gefið án saka.
Hve iðrar margt líf eitt augnakast,
sem aldrei verður tekið til baka.

(my rough translation)

One smile can change darkness into daylight,
like a drop alters the nectar in an entire cup.
Emotion can be turned by a single harsh word.
Be cautious in the presence of a soul.
So often a hidden string lay in a breast, which broke
at a bitter retort, given without cause.
How deeply many lives regret a single glance,
which never can be taken back.
posted by Kattullus at 9:21 PM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


angrycat : Perhaps if [...]

... We all accept that our worldview doesn't describe the complete and unambiguous Truth.

And then, rejoice! Happiness and understanding abounds.

Amen, Brother! Or sister. Or one of the other(?) "multiple genders" referenced above.


The World Famous : that the term is not generally used with any "loaded" intent by the vast majority of people in American society - including those of us well-spoken and educated enough to guess or know the etymology of the word

And yet, no one sees this as symptomatic of a deeper problem? That jaws drop when someone uses an expression that wouldn't raise an eyebrow in "polite" company, or a business setting, or virtually any other context, pretty much cinches it that we have a chasm between our respective mental maps that mere "tolerance" will not bridge.


ericb : What a fucking dismissive, insulting thing to say to one of the moderators on MeFi.

Eric, I've considered your comments so far reasonably insightful, but seriously? Wipe your nose off. If nothing else, sticking it that far up Jess' behind (without a "consent to brownnose" form signed in triplicate) must count as some form of harassment.


Kattullus : Treating a subject so rife with pain uncarefully will cause these wounds to open.

"Life is pain, Princess. Anyone who says differently is selling something."
posted by pla at 9:35 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hark, violins.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 PM on April 23, 2010


Just imagine them covered in feathers.

"Watch them....collapsing."
posted by Burhanistan at 9:40 PM on April 23, 2010


I'm sort of sad that CA's issues are getting dragged into this thread. His posts, to me, while I can understand are insulting, read to me more like somebody who's not in the best head space and is sort of operating accordingly. (Wasn't sleep deprivation described at some point?)

Pla's sort of bothered me because he doesn't get hot and bothered. For me, if 200 people were yelling at me that I was a genocidal completely stupid person, I'd be crying/furious/apologizing/attacking.

I don't think he should be banned, but he does give me the wiggins in his sort of cold-bloodednesss about this.
posted by angrycat at 9:41 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: “If you're looking for dismissive insults to be outraged about, you might take a look at her telling me I'm welcome to leave.”

EmpressCallipygos: “Crabby, I'm asking yet again, sincerely. I do hope you're not taking my question as a "you're welcome to leave" dismissal, but genuine, sincere, and earnest seeking to understand -- because you give the impression of someone who is very unhappy being here in the first place, and so I'm honestly baffled why you choose to visit a place that you find unwelcoming.”

Actually, Empress, I have a feeling ol' Crabby was referring to jessamyn's comment, which was thus:

jessamyn: “The great thing about people's participation here being 100% voluntary is that we can tell people who hate it that they are welcome to leave. And if they want to stay, they can help us make it better. I'd love to hear more about this supposed party line, though I suspect I probably won't.”

The thing about it is, it's not dismissive, and it's not an insult. Crabby Appleton keeps talking about how much metafilter sucks; it only makes sense to say "hey, you don't have to stay if you don't want to." I'd really like to hear Crabby Appleton try to tease out the insult in jessamyn's comment, in the same way that I'd like to watch monkeys fly out of my ass. They're not in there, you see, so it'll be miraculous if they actually appear.

Crabby, you're apparently deeply conflicted about this; on the one hand, you hate metafilter; but on the other hand, you like being crabby. So how the hell can you keep being crabby if you leave the annoying site that makes you crabby? The amazing thing - and you're just going to have to trust me on this, I'm speaking from personal experience - is that you can actually be an angry, blithering curmudgeon even on a site you love! So my advice to you would be to find a place that isn't annoying, that doesn't have an obnoxious party line, that doesn't have moderators that "play to the crowd," and spend your time there. Seriously.

Yes, this is me inviting you to leave. You're free to do it if you wish. I don't pretend for a second that you're an idiot, but you're apparently playing out some odd personal issues I'm not aware of, because you're forcing yourself to spend time commenting on the back pages of a site that you find silly and stupid. So, though on some level I probably respect you, don't be surprised if I mock you mercilessly if you just can't seem to tear yourself away from a web site that you think is just a recapitulation of the party line.
posted by koeselitz at 9:42 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, I hadn't read your latest post before I said that.

Now I don't know. I am afraid you're asking for it, yet again.
posted by angrycat at 9:43 PM on April 23, 2010


(talking to pla, not crabby appleton)
posted by angrycat at 9:47 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kattullus : “Treating a subject so rife with pain uncarefully will cause these wounds to open.”

pla: “‘Life is pain, Princess. Anyone who says differently is selling something.’”

Oh gee, now he's quoting The Princess Bride as a justification for cruelty. How cute.
posted by koeselitz at 9:48 PM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


angrycat : I don't think he should be banned, but he does give me the wiggins in his sort of cold-bloodednesss about this.

Thank you for finally noticing! You don't need to feel creeped out, I just honestly think in coldly rational terms (though some of you would debate the "rational" part). It makes me good at what I do for a living, not always so helpful in social situations (though seriously, IRL I get along with people well enough), though.


Now I don't know. I am afraid you're asking for it, yet again.

You call that hot and bothered? I respond to people saying "fuck this, fuck that, fuck you" every other post, with a bit of humor... And I've asked for it???

Oh, wait, daring to use humor to lighten the subject probably indicates a "lack of contrition" yet again.

Nose to the dirt, nose to the dirt, nose to the dirt...
posted by pla at 9:54 PM on April 23, 2010


Wait your turn, Empress. I'll catch up to your comment directly. (This is a lot of work!)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:07 PM on April 23, 2010


Maybe the mods could close this. It's becoming apparent that there issues here that really don't need to be picked at on a public internet forum.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:09 PM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hear, hear. Close it up.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 PM on April 23, 2010


The shit-asses will never go away. But they'll never run me off, either. I know how to get banned, should I so desire. And because I'm not one of the sacred cows around here, I know those techniques would work for me. But I don't plan to use them, and I hope to taper off my commenting on Meta issues over time.

My impression is that there really are no sacred cow members. Instead, we are typically given a near-infinite number of opportunities to modify our behavior and align ourselves with certain basic restrictions laid out by the mods, whose primary task is to keep the site running smoothly. All restrictions stem from that.

The short list of folks who have been perma-banned includes people who threatened or stalked other members via memail (jock@law, wfrgms), or who disrupted the site so thoroughly that it became what I assume the mods believed was an "us or them" situation (sixcolors.)

Other users have been given a Brand New Day as a new user, at their request.

But generally, no. I don't believe there are any sacred cows on MeFi. If there were, OC's comment wouldn't have been deleted in the thread that spawned this callout. In fact, there'd really be no need for MeTa.
posted by zarq at 10:15 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe the mods could close this.

Translation: Crabby Appleton is coming off too well in this skirmish, let's live to fight another day.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:19 PM on April 23, 2010


Burhanistan : Maybe the mods could close this. It's becoming apparent that there issues here that really don't need to be picked at on a public internet forum.

"Oh damn - Pla has stopped playing nice after trying to reason with us for three days only to have us kick him all the harder for it! Quick, he's caught on - Close the thread!"

I admit it. I made a mistake. I paid five bucks to argue with people who want to gaze into the internet equivalent of a mirror. I promise that I will henceforth do my damnedest to stay out of social topics - Not in the interest of not getting banned, but because I actually do value open discussion of issues.

This ain't it.

I don't censor myself as strongly as I've tried to do here - To no avail - in any other situation, and yet I remain a free man. Doesn't that just gall you?


zarq : But generally, no. I don't believe there are any sacred cows on MeFi. If there were, OC's comment wouldn't have been deleted in the thread that spawned this callout. In fact, there'd really be no need for MeTa.

Sure - Different but equal. Say anything you want, just confine it to the grey.
posted by pla at 10:20 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn, Crabby, beat me to it.
posted by pla at 10:20 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hear, hear. Close it up.

I'd like to ask Team Mod not to.

I don't expect a comfortable resolution here, but we seem to have moved past the initial pileon into a discussion of sorts, and it seems constructive.

If both of you are attempting to protect certain users from what you think is inevitable fallout from their own remarks, then respectfully, I think that's laudable, but misguided. We are finally at a point where grievances are being aired (MeFestivus?!), and stifling that seems like the wrong thing to do.
posted by zarq at 10:22 PM on April 23, 2010


Sure - Different but equal. Say anything you want, just confine it to the grey.

Perhaps.
posted by zarq at 10:24 PM on April 23, 2010


Hear, hear. Close it up.

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:25 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Translation: Crabby Appleton is coming off too well in this skirmish, let's live to fight another day.

What reason is there to even make it into a skirmish? Just say what you don't like about the site in plain English.

The reason I asked for the thread to be closed is that you're coming off like a crazy person, and you seem to be having delusional issues right this moment. There's no reason to keep an open channel here for that. You're not coming off well by anyone's estimation but your own. Please take a rest and re-read your comments in the morning.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 PM on April 23, 2010


Translation: Crabby Appleton is coming off too well in this skirmish, let's live to fight another day.

This un-self-reflective attitude, in which one assumes that he not only cannot be wrong, but cannot reasonably be interpreted as wrong, is really the entire problem that this thread has been attempting to address.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:41 PM on April 23, 2010


pla: “You call that hot and bothered? I respond to people saying "fuck this, fuck that, fuck you" every other post, with a bit of humor... And I've asked for it??? ¶ Oh, wait, daring to use humor to lighten the subject probably indicates a "lack of contrition" yet again. ¶ Nose to the dirt, nose to the dirt, nose to the dirt...”

Hey, pla - look, I'm sorry my last response was snarky. And, honestly, I see that all this sincerely might not make sense. It sounds like you're sort of baffled as to why a lot of people are aghast at what you're saying. So in the interest of being straightforward and friendly, I want to try to explain that the subtext of most of your comments here is that you really don't care at all what anyone else thinks. Maybe you can see that yourself in the 'humor' in the comment before the one I've quoted; you make a crack about different genders, you mock Kattullus for trying to point out that it's good to be gentle sometimes about these things, and you mock ericb by calling him a brown-noser.

Do you see what all those 'humorous' responses have in common? They're all mocking someone. And, no, that's certainly not a bannable offense, else I myself would've been banned years ago. What's more, yes, it wasn't very intense. But it was mockery, and this seems like an odd time for you to be coming into the thread and making fun of other people. I'm not saying that people expect your nose to the dirt; even just a "whatever, let's move on" kind of thing would help the ball roll a lot nicer.
posted by koeselitz at 10:44 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, Burhanistan, I'm crazy and delusional. Those are great arguments. Reason with me some more!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:45 PM on April 23, 2010


Just say what you don't like about the site in plain English.

He did, and jfuller expanded upon what he was saying:

3. "community", in which the pleasure of togetherness, belonging, mutual validation, everything else Crabby meant by "dating site", all lead directly to the very closely allied pleasure all the dogs feel when they turn on one dog and rend it. Together.

There is a definite tendency on this site (on any site really,) toward groupthink. That's not a bad thing if you're on the "correct" side of a debate, but heaven help you if you're not: the mob will eat you for breakfast. And I say that as someone with experience on either side on various issues. I made a simple, rational and accurate complaint about Richard Dawkins in a MeTa thread a few months ago and you would have thought I'd taken a piss on the fucking god of Metafilter or something. I spent most of my time in that thread telling people to read my initial comment again and again and again, because they were more interested in defending Dawkins for what they thought I'd said than what I actually did say. The dogs were all too eager to rend and choke down chunks of my flesh if I made the slightest misstep in the thread after that.

So yes, as far as I'm concerned Crabby has made at least one good point that's probably worth discussing. If you don't want to address it, then feel free to condescendingly dismiss him as delusional and exit the thread. But I for one have no intention of doing so.
posted by zarq at 10:46 PM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Film quote.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:49 PM on April 23, 2010


Crabby Appleton: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

Eh, whatever. Honestly, Crabby, I don't dislike you that much, and I wish you the best. I mean this in the kindest way possible: maybe you need to seriously think about making a move somewhere else. I think you might be happier. If the goals and ideals you have really don't jive with the accepted paradigm here - if there really is a party line thats the mods always hold to, and if, as you said above, you mostly stick around and comment on it because it's an unjustice that makes you angry - then please don't be tied down to this place just because a few of us bastards are willing to argue with you. Do whatever makes you happiest, man - you owe it to yourself.
posted by koeselitz at 10:54 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


i wonder if there is a way to end this thread schoompily

I've said this before, but that shmoopy shit is really annoying and asinine. I'm pretty sure that the recent spate of contentious MeTas and the levels of contention within them are a reaction, at least in part, to people feeling that something that's probably more appropriate for a daycare singalong being crammed down their throats.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:58 PM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I probably should have found a synonym for contention there, but the universe fucked me over and gave me a canker sore. So cram it, suckahs.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:06 PM on April 23, 2010


I, personally, don't tell people they're acting hysterical, because I think it's a dickish thing to say...

Generally, if somebody told me I was hysterical my thought would be "Whatta dick" as opposed to "sexist jerk."

Perhaps it's the vodka but the above quotes happily manage to serve as both an intro and siren to the complexities of writing on the web when genders are at issue.

No no, I'm really happy. I think they would serve as a great starting point.


As to those that cite education or a lack of as a reason that anyone holds their opinion in non-science matters I think you are selling humans short. My daughter at 9 wouldn't have countenanced the idea of a quarantine as a solution to the spread of AIDS. Treating formal education as the sine qua non of intelligence leaves many billion people outside your purple velvet rope. Maybe that's how you got to where you are but it isn't the only path. If you cite "education" then you are a crass classist twit whose only anchor is in your identification with your degree and the reputation of the institution from which you purchased it.
posted by vapidave at 11:09 PM on April 23, 2010


My reply to klangklangston is becoming very long. When CPU time is limited, shortest-job-first becomes a surprisingly good scheduling algorithm. Sorry, Klang, I'll probably have to finish it up this afternoon.

OK, Empress, your turn.

....Wait. Can someone explain to me how you came to this conclusion [MeFi sucks for dissenters—CA] in....a thread that is, in essence, devoted to a complaint about how the mods are NOT enforcing a party line more stringently?

Regrettably, the mods are not the only ones who have the power to make MetaFilter a shitty place for some people. Really, Empress, you should give these things a little more thought.

In the interest of reasoned debate, CA, I have a sincere question. After reading your explaination -- and thank you for that, by the way --

You're welcome.

I have to say it sounds like you really are dissatisfied with Metafilter. You feel that it is not a community that reflects your interests, you feel it is poorly run, and you feel that your views and values are not represtented.

If that's the case....why do you continue to visit this site, when it so obviously makes you unhappy? that is honestly and sincerely the only question I have as to your motivations.


I've been asked this question before, but I don't think it's ever been phrased quite so politely. :-)

As I said in this comment, "There's a lot to like about MetaFilter." What there is to like mostly has to do with smart and knowledgeable people holding forth on their areas of expertise. That does happen here. But it's nearly impossible to focus solely on that kind of stuff. I like the things I like, a lot. And I dislike the things I dislike, a lot. The things I like make me happy. The things I dislike make me unhappy. You can be damned sure that if there were nothing substantial that I liked about the site, I wouldn't be here. In fact, the secret to getting rid of me would be to encourage the egregious asshole trolls here and discourage the bright and knowledgeable people, so that they leave. Wait a minute...

I hope this answers your question, Empress. Let me know if you need any further clarification.

So, folks, it's 2AM here and I need to get some sleep. Goodnight.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:22 PM on April 23, 2010


koeselitz : It sounds like you're sort of baffled as to why a lot of people are aghast at what you're saying.

Look, you've come as close to defending me in this thread as safe, given the audience - For which I sincerely thank you. But at this point, I don't need another explanation of why my words hurt some people; I need to narrow my audience to exclude those so fragile or already damaged that they allow a random internet comment to hurt them. The best way to do that, that I can see, involves me avoiding socially-oriented threads. I'll leave it as an exercise to the armchair shrinks as to why the two seem to overlap so heavily.

I enjoy "argument" in the Aristotelian sense. I'll dispassionately debate the merits and shortcomings of my opinions until the cows come home. But this crap? Not fun, not productive, and just plain not worth the effort.


you really don't care at all what anyone else thinks.

I care what people I respect think. I simply have... nine fewer potential members of that category, now. [checks UID]... Yup, I can live with that.
posted by pla at 11:51 PM on April 23, 2010


I care what people I respect think. I simply have... nine fewer potential members of that category, now. [checks UID]... Yup, I can live with that.

I assume I'm one of the nine. I can live with that too. It certainly won't stop me from weighing in here or anywhere else on the site, or from addressing you directly, though.

However, here is something that may perhaps be worth keeping in mind:
What would work better is if you considered that many people seem to think youre a trollish asshole and if you don't want them to think that you need to worry about substance and not style. If you don't feel like addressing any of that, it's your business but the benefit of the doubt we're giving you can be easily rescinded.
posted by jessamyn at 12:08 PM on April 23
Unless of course jessamyn is also one of the nine. ;)
posted by zarq at 12:24 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


pla: “... But at this point, I don't need another explanation of why my words hurt some people; I need to narrow my audience to exclude those so fragile or already damaged that they allow a random internet comment to hurt them.”

You're ignoring the key point; nearly every comment you've made here has just been mocking other people. Seriously, I can point out to you, if you like, where this has occurred, but it seems like it should be clear to to you. You can tell yourself that it's just that people are being too "fragile," but that sounds, again, distinctly like it's just an excuse for cruelty to me. Look, I know people do this on the internet all the time now - laugh off casual cruelty by saying "oh, it's just the internet, don't take it so seriously!" - but it's just an excuse for us to shrug off the obvious hurt we're causing other people.

The fact that you're constantly mocking people and being cruel to them seems pretty odd, I have to confess. I'm certain that it's at the core of the general backlash against you here. I know you don't necessarily think of it as actual cruelty, but go back over your comments and notice that nearly every one cracks at least one joke at someone else's expense. Is there a reason for this? Is it necessary?
posted by koeselitz at 12:50 AM on April 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


The funny thing for me is that everyone that portrays themselves as righteous and certain needs to circumscribe themselves. I'd think that if you are certain and want to influence opinions that it would be in your interest to entertain the ideas* of the people you disagree with if only to keep the dialogue open.
Shame and outrage only work in a village where there is no other place to go. They don't work on the internet.

*For instance, the idea Pla had could be easily construed as being on the far end of the bongy debate of "if you had a time machine would you go back and kill Hitler". Facile sure and certain to end in estimation with most people, but "yes, for sure" and "no, for sure" are the only interesting ideas there. The decision to close the bathhouses in SF is somewhere along that spectrum too I think.
I find Pla's tone dismissive but I don't find his motivation as hateful. I find it inhumane. The goal was to eliminate AIDS from spreading which is laudable of course. That he gave no consideration to the people that suffer from AIDS makes it inhumane.
I'll quote myself here:
"I'd say a more accurate interpretation would be that Pla is treating humans as though they were a row of turnips in his garden that might benefit from an early summer thinning. That's not humane at all of course but if you think of people as turnips then an early summer thinning makes sense for the greater good of turnipkind.
Hateful and inhumane may manifest the same but they are separate and each needs to be approached as such.

Pla, at this point in the discussion you are emblematic and you need not interpret any comments as concerning yourself in particular.
posted by vapidave at 1:24 AM on April 24, 2010


I hope this answers your question, Empress. Let me know if you need any further clarification.

I would like some more, thanks, at that.

I have to honestly say, I'm not sure what the "party line" is that you are referring to. I've thought it over one way and another, and...to be honest, there are simply too many things you could mean by this, precisely because -- as you have said -- there are so many people weighing in on so many different things, that I'm really uncertain which ones you think are "the party line." And I've sen the mods permit discussion on all of them, and I've seen people weigh in with passionate defenses of all of them.

So -- could you clarify exactly what "the party line" is that you believe is upheld too stringently? Is it:

Libertarianism?
Atheism?
Feminism?
Humanism?
Feminism at the expense of Humanism?
Humanism as an alternative to feminism?
Theism?
The Democratic party?
The Republican party?
Conservativism?
Progessivism?
Anarchism?
Urbanism?
Ruralism?
Americanism?
Globalism?
Any combination therof?
Anything else I've missed?

Again, I ask only because I have seen people in Mefi get into passionate discussions about all of these things -- and have honestly not detected whether any one of those is generally regarded as more "correct" than any other. The closest thing I've seen concerns religion, but even here, we have a large and vocal atheist contingency...but an equally vocal group of theists, which may be smaller, but not by much. The non-theists may seem to occasionally guide the conversation, but...the theists are large in number enough and their words stand often enough for me to feel confident that it's not a "party line" situation, but rather that it's a case of "we just happen to have more people who believe one way than the other in this finite set."

In short, I'm seeing...life on here. Some people think one thing, some think another, and every so often you have more of one group than another in a discussion and within that discussion the side with the most voices gets the biggest say. But there are simply too many counter-arguments I've seen being allowed to stand to make me think that there is any "party line" that is being enforced.

But that may be because I've honestly not seen exactlly what you're missing, because I'm not knowing what to look for. So can you, indeed, clarify what the "party line" is, or clarify what you're missing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 AM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


My take on this was that it was the adherence to group harmony at the expense of individual expression. That is to say, we place a high value on some sort of social cohesiveness and assert that things sort of go kablooey if people start ripping into other posters, so we moderate based on tone somewhat, and much less so on content. This is definitely a choice, not something we think is some sort of Natural Law and I'm aware that this is not how other people would choose to run the same community. And this really is one of the few "party line" things that if you're not in agreement, I'm sure MeFi can seem like a shitty place to be.

However in MeTa we address people's real concerns to the extent that we can, not make guesses based on some sort of projection about how people might feel. So if someone comes here and says "hey this hurts my feelings" we'll address it one way, but if someone shows up and says "this might hurt someone's feelings if taken the wrong way" we'll take it a little differently [i.e. try to ascertain if this assertion is even true, then move forward, etc] Not speaking to the original purpose for this thread, which was clearly people saying that they felt this particular set of comments was hateful and hurtful, but to the general arc of how things often go in MeTa.

It's tough because there's a vulnerability in admitting that something hurt your feelings and a lot of people go to pretty extreme lengths to not say that, while other people are more vocal about it. I'm sure that to the people who are less expressive about this sort of thing, the site can be seen to be run by the people who are the squeakier wheels about these sorts of topics, which I presume could be another possible party line.

But again, these are all guesses on my part and part of our job is drawing a middle line between people who want this site one way and people who want it to be entirely a different way. And so we muddle forward.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:29 AM on April 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


O;
posted by vapidave at 7:01 AM on April 24, 2010


Really, what is so hard about the principle "hate the 'sin' but love the 'sinner'" ? That's really it in a nutshell.

You can say something is an outrageous foul disgusting idea without accusing the author of it of being an outrageous foul disgusting person. Here's the trick: if you still want to BELIEVE the person is bad, that's up to you. But if you come on here and start whaling on people instead of whaling on ideas, then the discourse level here sinks tremendously. Which makes it hard on mods and unpleasant for all of us.

Besides, just because you like cilantro, for example, doesn't mean your ideas on eggplant recipes are beyond the pale. If you start discussing baba ghanoush and I come on here ragging you about being a dirty filthy cilantro fiend in the thread, what's the purpose in that? Better to suggest that it's good to leave cilantro out of the eggplant dip.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:26 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a definite tendency on this site (on any site really,) toward groupthink. That's not a bad thing if you're on the "correct" side of a debate, but heaven help you if you're not: the mob will eat you for breakfast. And I say that as someone with experience on either side on various issues.

Gonna have to second zarq on this. This is exactly the issue for all the "let's not hate on Texas/Maine/[rednecks from your state of choice here]" threads that have been popping up more and more often lately among the US members. It comes off to me as a function of (non Gulf) coastal urban groupthink. It's annoying as all get-out, doubly annoying when I or people like me get told it's not us because we live in Austin/voted for Obama/otherwise don't meet somebody's stereotype (thanks, I always wanted to be somebody's house Texan), and I'm well aware that it's not going to change, so I register my disapproval and go on. My experience with this is one reason why I tend to stick up for conservatives/religious folks/other Metafilter minorities that I disagree with. It sucks to be on the bad side of Metafilter consensus even when people don't mean to be mean and insulting.

This is also one of the reasons behind my rule about not posting more than 3x to say the same thing in a single thread. The rule is in part for me, to keep me from behaving badly, but it's also because there are threads here where people will basically keep pounding at you until you agree or shut up. I don't have to win those threads badly enough to stay in them and keep shouting after the third time.

That's not to say there's no dissent from groupthink. In the boobquake thread, I posted dissent to "the party line", such as it was, got some favorites, and took only good-natured joshing about it. But what I posted was in accordance with what I would call an underlying Metafilter value (feminism), so it's harder to come out swinging big against it. Posting disagreement with Dawkins is going to get you smacked harder.

I don't have a problem with having a sort of underlying groupthink/general consensus/whatever at Metafilter. That's just the way a discussion site/list/group works. I do think the consensus is stronger among certain posters who are on very regularly and post a lot on various threads than it is among the membership as a whole. Obviously there are folks like zarq and me (and apparently CA) who just don't post disagreement on certain subjects because it's picking a fight that you can't and won't win for any value of win, and will just cause another MeTa thread that's not going to resolve anything. All it does is up the number of times you (for any value of you) have been dragged to MeTa, gets you one step closer to bannination if you're headed down that road, wastes your time, and annoys the mods and the MeTa readership.

I like this place, I approve of the mods' overall policy, and I don't think anyone is doing anything wrong, but that's the way it is.
posted by immlass at 8:03 AM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Really, what is so hard about the principle "hate the 'sin' but love the 'sinner'" ? That's really it in a nutshell.

This isn't debate camp. Why shouldn't people reasonably expect to be judged on the ideas they state and positions they defend here? Should we assume they're just trolling, instead?

With regard to pla, he made a statement and defended it. Then he backtracked and recanted. Ultimately, he should be judged by the fact that he examined his argument, found it wanting, accepted responsibility for what he had said and changed his mind. I do think that's commendable.

But if you come on here and start whaling on people instead of whaling on ideas, then the discourse level here sinks tremendously. Which makes it hard on mods and unpleasant for all of us.

Why shouldn't a person defending a morally reprehensible idea be characterized as morally reprehensible for doing so? Divorcing a person's character from the values they hold and proclaim is not possible.
posted by zarq at 8:04 AM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Waling-Waling has the most ideal location. It is situated in Station 1 where the best resorts are located that offers privacy to its guests. The beach has the finest sand and the widest beach. The hotel is located in one of the most popular spots in the island because it is adjacent to the most photographed landmark rock on the beachfront.
At the Beach Hotel, your holiday in Boracay becomes an unforgettable experience. Designed in Mediterranean stlye, the Waling-Waling offers world-class accommodations that meet the standards of discrimating travelers. Beachfront rooms look out onto the white powdery sands and crystal-clear waters that Boracay is renowned for around the world. Simply step out of the hotel, and you're on White Beach, the 3.5-kilometer stretch that has been called the world's most beautiful tropical beach.
We are currently undergoing maintainance and we cannot process online reservation at this time. We are sorry for the inconvenience. For more information, we can be contactacted here.

I think this is in the Phillipines.
posted by vapidave at 8:17 AM on April 24, 2010


thanks, I always wanted to be somebody's house Texan

Not cool.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:32 AM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Why shouldn't a person defending a morally reprehensible idea be characterized as morally reprehensible for doing so?"

I'll bite. Because morally reprehensible is a relative term.

Seriously, do you want to reinforce what you believe for yourself or do you want things to change? I've never managed to convince anyone of anything by referring to their ideas as morally reprehensible.
It took me a year for me to get my wife to try peas.
posted by vapidave at 8:56 AM on April 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seriously, do you want to reinforce what you believe for yourself or do you want things to change? I've never managed to convince anyone of anything by referring to their ideas as morally reprehensible.

I am pressing that favorite button as hard as I possibly can. Because this is precisely the issue -- what, exactly, do you gain by TRASHING someone or their ideas? How well does insulting someone work as a means to get them to change their mind? Really? If you're not trying to get them to change their mind, then what ARE you trying to do?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why shouldn't a person defending a morally reprehensible idea be characterized as morally reprehensible for doing so?

Well, one reason why not is that it doesn't help. People don't usually respond to being characterized that way by examining their beliefs and re-thinking them. If they change their mind about anything as a result, it'll be their opinion of the person making the characterization, or about this site in general, neither of which is a positive change.

Whereas, when we talk about ideas instead of people, occasionally people do change their minds about their own ideas. So this generally seems to work better as far as producing positive change goes.

One could just as easily turn the question around, too, and ask why should a person defending a morally reprehensible idea be characterized as a morally reprehensible person?

Divorcing a person's character from the values they hold and proclaim is not possible.

Maybe so, but it's quite possible to have a discussion of one and not the other.
posted by FishBike at 9:11 AM on April 24, 2010


Pope Guilty: Not cool.

Eh... are you sure Immlass didn't mean "house pet" as opposed to "house slave?" That's how I understood it.
posted by Kattullus at 9:12 AM on April 24, 2010


Why shouldn't a person defending a morally reprehensible idea be characterized as morally reprehensible for doing so? Divorcing a person's character from the values they hold and proclaim is not possible.

Because insulting people makes you part of the problem instead of the solution. Because it is the internet equivalent of a discussion turning into a barfight. Which the mods then have to clean up.

Again, if you wish to think of someone as reprehensible that is your privilege. But again, this is Metafilter, not Thunderdome. If you simply must tell a user what a useless piece of protoplasm they are, that is what Memail is for. Because the rest of us really don't want to read it, and the mods are sick of having to clean up after it.

If an idea is bad, why certainly, go after it tooth and claw. But personal insults? Well, you do realize that people who sling mud get muddy as well?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:18 AM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Divorcing a person's character from the values they hold and proclaim is not possible.

Sure it is. I do it every day.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:20 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn: thanks for trying to weigh in with a "party line" attempt, but I'd really much rather hear what Crabby has to say, as he's the one who is making that claim -- or at least, he knows specifically what he means by it.

And while I'm at it, Crabby, another thing - you say that the reason that you still stay at Metafilter even though there are parts that displease you so much is that...there are parts that do not. I hope it's not too obvious a question, but...is there any overwhelming reason why you don't simply ignore the parts that displease you that much? I don't know if you're aware of this, but you give the impression of one who is actively seeking out the things you don't like. There are parts of Metafilter I don't like either, but...I simply don't engage. (There are entire sections I haven't set foot in.)

It just strikes me that just ignoring the bits you don't like (i.e., avoiding Meta Talk if you know that you'll find it dominated by a certain type of conversation) would be a more pleasant experience for you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:28 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would like to note that I agree with zarq almost always, maybe not in method but I'm sure we share the same goals, that bit of rhetoric presented an opportunity for me to make a point.
Sorry zarq, nothing personal from here. Forgive me please.
posted by vapidave at 9:34 AM on April 24, 2010


vapidave, sincerely, there's no need to apologize. You make a very good point, and it's one I want to think about for a while before responding.

I'd also like to be less infuriated about this before I do, so I'm probably going to take a few hours to respond to you, Alia and anyone else in this or any other thread. Perhaps a day or so. Because right now I'm afraid that if I respond I'm going to do so emotionally rather than logically and I know I shouldn't do that.
posted by zarq at 9:38 AM on April 24, 2010


Why shouldn't a person defending a morally reprehensible idea be characterized as morally reprehensible for doing so?

People are often more complex than their morally reprehensible ideas. There's usually a reason for why they think those things, often a poorly thought out one, or purely emotional. I think treating them as vaguely human helps to establish trust and bonds, to the point where they'll listen to you and perhaps, maybe change their mind or at least temper their views.

Sure it is. I do it every day.

Hush, you did or said something awful before and we can never ever take you seriously again on any subject otherwise our world view will crumble into tiny bits.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:38 AM on April 24, 2010


Eh... are you sure Immlass didn't mean "house pet" as opposed to "house slave?" That's how I understood it.

"Slave" wasn't the word that sprang to mind as following "house".
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:16 AM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh? Then were's the uncoolness? I wracked my brain for a bit after seeing your "not cool" comment, and that was the only uncool allusion I could come up with that fit Immlass's phrase. I'm low on sleep so I'm feeling pretty thick right now.
posted by Kattullus at 10:27 AM on April 24, 2010


Got an explanation in MeMail.
posted by Kattullus at 10:31 AM on April 24, 2010


He means "house nigger".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2010


Yeah, that was the explanation I got. It's obvious now, but my sleep deprived brain just didn't call forth that particular term.
posted by Kattullus at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2010


Crabby,

If my boyfriend knew the implications of my red hot favoriting action, he would probably be more jealous of all the time I spend on metafilter. Perhaps I should have read the favoriting MeTa more carefully.

In reality, all I did was favorite a comment that made me laugh, not generally worthy of a call out. I've written lots of comments in this thread, which I deleted without posting for fear of being too fighty. Guess my restraint was all for naught. But I learned an important lesson about the dangers of wanton favoriting. I'll be much more responsible in the future.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:38 AM on April 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"For which I sincerely thank you. But at this point, I don't need another explanation of why my words hurt some people; I need to narrow my audience to exclude those so fragile or already damaged that they allow a random internet comment to hurt them."

Cut this shit out, Pla. You're not some Socrates being condemned for your contrarian wisdom. Your idea that AIDS victims should be quarantined was moronic for about six different reasons that anyone with a good high school education should be able to grasp before their fingers finished typing it. That you say that you typed and retyped it four times is not a mark in your favor—it means that you kept having the chance to not post stupid shit yet weren't bright enough.

I don't think you realize that it's not the sensitive or "fragile" that are being protected from your comments by mod action—it's you that's being protected from having every single comment you ever make cross-referenced with all the stump-fucking stupid bullshit you've put up. Acting defiant now is like shaking your fist from behind the teacher's skirt—you shouldn't participate in contentious arguments because you'll get your ass handed to you, and not simply because you're unpopular. Any whining, stupid and weak child is unpopular, Pla. The mods have decided that Metafilter's better when we don't all sit around viciously harassing that kid, and they're right. But that doesn't mean that you're not responsible for the stupid shit you posted or that it's somehow on other people for not being up to taking whatever science you think you were dropping.
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 AM on April 24, 2010 [15 favorites]


Thank you for your attempted defense, Katullus, but it's not needed. If I'd meant to write "house nigger", I would have written it. I'm wasn't thinking of that specific term with the field and house dichotomy and I'm mildly appalled that PG put it in my mouth. (Only "mildly" because it's par for the course in MeTa.)

I assumed when I read his comment that he was cranky about the content of the comparison, which is and should be offensive for all that I meant what I said. I should have known a MeTa discussion wouldn't get that far. It's a lot easier to decide that someone meant to use an offensive term than to address the idea that you're contributing to an atmosphere that elicits the comparison.
posted by immlass at 1:29 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think treating them as vaguely human helps to establish trust and bonds, to the point where they'll listen to you and perhaps, maybe change their mind or at least temper their views.

With respect, I think treating people as human isn't, or shouldn't be, a mere ploy to ultimately win the argument or persuade an opponent. Treating people as human is how we affirm our own moral sensibility, regardless of the supposed reprehensibility of the other person. It doesn't mean that the other person is worthy of respect, it means that we are. Conversation is only possible between equals; this is the baseline for having any kind of discussion, not a means to the satisfactory conclusion of that discussion.

I think you probably agree, based on what you've said elsewhere, so I don't mean to call you out specifically; that sentence just kind of bothered me.
posted by Errant at 1:58 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


With respect, I think treating people as human isn't, or shouldn't be, a mere ploy to ultimately win the argument or persuade an opponent

You're right, it also encourages them to make cupcakes for you and isn't that one of the finer pillars of civilized society?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:06 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Il est bon d'etre de temps en temps un humaniste pour encourager les gateaux.
posted by Errant at 2:23 PM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, Brandon. Just take it from me - cupcakes make pretty awful pillars, as tasty as they may be.
posted by koeselitz at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2010


I assumed when I read his comment that he was cranky about the content of the comparison, which is and should be offensive for all that I meant what I said. I should have known a MeTa discussion wouldn't get that far. It's a lot easier to decide that someone meant to use an offensive term than to address the idea that you're contributing to an atmosphere that elicits the comparison.

So in other words, you knew it was offensive, but it's my fault for somehow forcing you to say it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:37 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm low on sleep so I'm feeling pretty thick right now.

Next up, Katullus needs to now offer a donation to MetaFilter for his "misunderstanding." ; )
posted by ericb at 4:28 PM on April 24, 2010


I can't afford to spend any more time on this. To those who are disappointed, I'm sorry. (I think that's a new way of denoting the empty set.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:33 PM on April 24, 2010


If my boyfriend knew the implications of my red hot favoriting action, he would probably be more jealous of all the time I spend on metafilter.

If you could let your boyfriend know that I wasn't actively soliciting your favorites, I would appreciate it (because he's punching me in the head RIGHT NOW).
posted by infinitywaltz at 5:32 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Infinitywaltz-

I would favorite your remark, but I fear it would making the thrashing even worse. Don't worry he'll get tired soon enough and stop ;-)
posted by miss-lapin at 6:31 PM on April 24, 2010


I can't afford to spend any more time on this. To those who are disappointed, I'm sorry. (I think that's a new way of denoting the empty set.)

This post will be open for a month. That gives you ample time to respond to the questions being posed to you. Everyone here knows about "Recent Activity" and would no doubt notice when you did respond, and continue the discussion.

It seems to me that what you really mean to say is that you are choosing not to continue the conversation. It's possible I'm overthinking it, but your choice of words, "I can't afford to spend any more time on this," suggests that to do so would impact negatively on you in some way. Which I think is rather sad, since it seems we were finally starting to have a constructive conversation.

Good luck to you, Crabby. I think it's a shame that you chose not to engage people here who appeared genuinely interested in speaking with you about your concerns and grievances. Perhaps we'll all be wise enough to keep this moment in mind in the future, if and when you bring them up again.
posted by zarq at 8:09 PM on April 24, 2010


I'm afraid I'm inclined to agree with zarq, Crabby.

I can only hope that maybe you're taking some of my advice ("....she's right, why am I spending my time hanging around MeTa if it gets me so riled up?").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This post will be open for a month. That gives you ample time to respond to the questions being posed to you.

I suppose it does, should I choose to do so. As I said at the outset, I'm not here to be interrogated.

It seems to me that what you really mean to say is that you are choosing not to continue the conversation.

Yes, at this time. I might think about whether to continue it later. Frankly, though, when I read over some of this again this evening, I was wondering what the fuck I was thinking, trying to have a reasonable conversation here. I've been around this block before, I know how it always turns out, but I did it anyway. I really don't know why.

your choice of words, "I can't afford to spend any more time on this," suggests

that if I don't get some stuff done for work pretty soon, I might end up having plenty of time to waste on MetaFilter. (And I'm sure none of you want that.) I wasted most of the afternoon and evening yesterday (until 2:20 AM) on this. Gosh, I'm sorry if that wasn't enough for all of you. And thanks for questioning my motive. MetaFilter charm at its best.

we were finally starting to have a constructive conversation.

Not that I've noticed. Perhaps you could point out the constructive parts to me; if you want me to continue, it might help me decide to do so.

I think it's a shame that you chose not to engage people here who appeared genuinely interested in speaking with you about your concerns and grievances.

Nobody here is genuinely interested in speaking with me about my concerns and grievances, zarq. I'm surprised you haven't figured that out by now. (Or, more likely, you have.) Anything I say here is mostly for the benefit of the lurkers.

If you imagine, for example, that EmpressCallipygos is genuinely interested in my answers to her questions, you haven't looked back at the history of the crap she's said to and about me in the past. And you didn't notice that when I answered her first question at some length, the question she was so sincerely interested in, she had no comment whatsoever on my answer (until she dropped this little turd, at least). You'll notice that the "cash value" of all her questions boils down to why don't you just shut the fuck up? She's just taken to phrasing it more politely now, because she finally managed to figure out that it would be rhetorically to her advantage. She's a little slow, you see.

I also seem to recall that I replied to you and to Ambrosia Voyeur in the thread about bachelor parties, and neither of you could be bothered to respond. Asking questions and not responding to the answers is a tactic, not any kind of genuine interest in finding anything out.

Perhaps we'll all be wise enough to keep this moment in mind in the future, if and when you bring them up again.

Oh, man. I must have skimmed over this sentence, because I really didn't get the sense of it until now. Perhaps you'll be wise enough to cram it up your ass.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:10 PM on April 24, 2010


BOOOOOO!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:06 PM on April 24, 2010


I'm pretty sure he means 'BOOO-urns'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:11 PM on April 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also seem to recall that I replied to you and to Ambrosia Voyeur in the thread about bachelor parties, and neither of you could be bothered to respond. Asking questions and not responding to the answers is a tactic, not any kind of genuine interest in finding anything out.

Just to address this.... actually, until this moment I hadn't realized you'd responded there. I've been making lots of comments lately and if I'm not online and following a thread carefully, it can easily slide past my notice under recent activity. This isn't the only time, either. I only noticed a comment this afternoon made by Jimmy Havok to me in another thread a couple of weeks ago, because I was curious about how the thread ended. My lack of response to you was not deliberate. I will return to that thread within the next 24-48 hours and respond to you there. I apologize for my delay.

Oh, man. I must have skimmed over this sentence, because I really didn't get the sense of it until now. Perhaps you'll be wise enough to cram it up your ass.

*sigh*

I'm not trying to tell you that you're not entitled to take your ball and go home, Crabby. We all are. But you've spoken at length about how you feel about the site, and I felt that a few people here were trying to at least meet you halfway to discuss them in good faith. It bothered me that you would walk away from that, after pointing out (I'm paraphrasing here:) that the site's groupthink and trolls might drive away the bright and knowledgeable.

I'll re-read this thread carefully in the morning to see if I can tell if I've misread the intent of the people who are asking you questions. My impression has been that there are people in this thread who are calling for you and pla to be banned for a variety of reasons I don't agree with, others who are wholly unwilling to do anything but snipe at you, others who seem willing to engage you in good faith but disagree with you (nearly) wholeheartedly, and two or three people here have seemed interested in engaging you in a friendly, nonconfrontational manner, to ask you to clarify some of the things you've said here. I did think Empress was one of the latter. I read her initial comment to you as genuinely confused that you would remain a member on a site whose guidelines and "party lines" you seemed to dislike so much.

And I will also see if I can point out constructive discussion. If after re-reading the thread I find I'm wrong, I'll say so.

She's a little slow, you see.

Personally, I am trying to learn to give people the benefit of the doubt when they ask me questions. This is not something I'm always good at, but I keep trying. So if someone changes direction in the middle of a thread, I try to acknowledge to myself that they may have changed their mind on a topic based on new information that has been revealed during the course of the thread. We're all human, after all. Some of the people here can be extremely persuasive, too. I often find my position on a topic becomes modified as it is challenged. I learn something new, and try to adjust my worldview accordingly.

For example, let's look for a moment at a couple of sentences that were made in response to something I said upthread: from vapidave:
Because morally reprehensible is a relative term.
From Brandon Blatcher:
People are often more complex than their morally reprehensible ideas.


These are damned good arguments. They're also true. I haven't yet responded to either of them, but when I do I'm going to have to take them to heart. My comment was proven wrong by a couple of simple truths.

My impression of Empress in this and other threads isn't that she's slow, but has instead taken in your comments and is responding differently as a result. In addition, these questions are not out of character for her. Time and time again on Metafilter and MetaTalk, she will ask for clarification on statements before responding to them. More than once, I've seen her ask for things to be explained to her as if she were a child.

Asking for clarification instead of responding in interpreted outrage is a good thing. It really is. I think if more people did that on a regular basis, we'd see fewer callouts.

Am extremely tired now, and am going to stop typing. My wife's been away on a business trip and I've been handling my kids solo for the last couple of days and nights, so I'm just exhausted. I hope this was coherent.
posted by zarq at 10:12 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obviously there are folks like zarq and me (and apparently CA) who just don't post disagreement on certain subjects because it's picking a fight that you can't and won't win for any value of win, and will just cause another MeTa thread that's not going to resolve anything. All it does is up the number of times you (for any value of you) have been dragged to MeTa, gets you one step closer to bannination if you're headed down that road, wastes your time, and annoys the mods and the MeTa readership.

Exactly.

Although... I must admit there aren't many topics I will outright avoid weighing in on.

I was wrong. Clearly there are sacred cows on Metafilter. But they're not users, they're discussion topics.
posted by zarq at 10:24 PM on April 24, 2010


"Yes, at this time. I might think about whether to continue it later. Frankly, though, when I read over some of this again this evening, I was wondering what the fuck I was thinking, trying to have a reasonable conversation here. I've been around this block before, I know how it always turns out, but I did it anyway. I really don't know why."

Eye rolling will be a renewable resource if you keep this tone up—I'll go have some magnetos made.

As for me, since you said a couple times you'd get to it, don't view responding as an obligation. I fired off that comment because I had time, but people have lives.

But seriously, you keep reading as the ol' two-liner: "The food here is terrible!" "Yeah, and such small portions!"
posted by klangklangston at 1:42 AM on April 25, 2010


Alright, let me address this --

If you imagine, for example, that EmpressCallipygos is genuinely interested in my answers to her questions, you haven't looked back at the history of the crap she's said to and about me in the past. And you didn't notice that when I answered her first question at some length, the question she was so sincerely interested in, she had no comment whatsoever on my answer (until she dropped this little turd, at least). You'll notice that the "cash value" of all her questions boils down to why don't you just shut the fuck up? She's just taken to phrasing it more politely now, because she finally managed to figure out that it would be rhetorically to her advantage. She's a little slow, you see.

I admit that I have been callous to you in the past. However, it's unfair to categorize my current motives as being opportunistic, or to claim that I "don't mean it" now. Because I have, sincerely, always wanted to know what was bothering you about this place.

I do apologize for the way I treated you in the past -- however, in turn, you weren't showing any effort to do much more than post little tiny cryptic snarks and then leave. When asked what you meant by some of your "turds" (to borrow a term), you'd just say some similary cryptic, an "oh, YOU know what I mean", and then leave again. As an observer, it was tremendously frustrating to read, it increased the noise in threads, and I admit that I didn't handle that frustration well. Because, no, I DIDN'T know what you meant, and I wanted you to tell me -- I've wanted to know all along -- but when all you offered by way of explanation was "oh, YOU all know," I admit I got frustrated, and took that frustration out on you.

However, you have opened up in this thread more about what you HAVE meant all along. I took that in good faith and took some deep breaths before posting everything I've said, to make sure I wasn't angry.

As to why I "didn't have a comment on your answer" right away -- I was pondering it. Simiple as that. You had responded with something in good faith, I wanted to give it the respect of full reflection.

As to what the "cash value" of my questions is -- actually, no, I don't mean "why don't you just shut the fuck up". What I mean is, I've seen you on the blue and on the green posting some sincere and good comments -- but in here, you seem very upset and unhappy. It seems to me, therefore, that you like contributing in the blue and the green just fine -- but for some reason, something about the gray is unpleasant for you. I don't want you to "shut up" on the blue or the green -- and I'm honestly wondering why you continue coming to the gray if it makes you so visibly unhappy.

Finally, I have to admit that I felt that tossing off that "she's slow" was unfair and uncalled for, and it would have been enough to trigger a snark of my own in the past. But I'm not going to do that now. I am going to say that it did disappoint me in terms of how well I thought our discourse was going though; it's making me wonder how genuine you were about wanting to finally explain yourself after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on April 25, 2010


There are definitely "sacred cow" topics on MetaFilter, that's for sure. Or at least "sacred cow" viewpoints on certain topics, which lead to people wondering things like "Why don't Catholics respond to posts about the sexual abuse scandals?" The short answer is "They already know it's a losing battle." (I've had this discussion off-site with some Catholic MeFites, it's a tough call to make "Do I defend my religion in this thread, even though I agree with a lot of the allegations, and then get lambasted for it, or do I eat a donut?") With a lot of topics it's pretty easy to see which side of the argument is better represented among MeFites, and which topics are likely to get particularly fighty if you don't share that viewpoint.

I don't know if we, as a group, have gotten more uptight as we've gotten more sensitive to trying not to be total jerks or what, but I've found that a lot of times I have to go through and defend every specific syllable that I've typed as someone will immediately take a wrong or uncharitable reading to it - much like immlass and what I'm sure was the offhand "house Texan" remark. By itself, I didn't see that as anything more than a questionable taste joke, but obviously other people read it differently and didn't think that it was an appropriate thing to say, even in jest. That's fine, but it does mean that anytime you post, especially if you know you're dissenting from the group, you get the sense that you're going to have to have defense counsel at the ready to show that you're not actually a morally reprehensible person.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:42 AM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know if we, as a group, have gotten more uptight as we've gotten more sensitive to trying not to be total jerks or what

Oh definitely, though some people would choose "more sensitive and aware" as opposed to the negative connotations of "uptight". I'm sure someone could take offense at your use of uptight, but really that's kinda overkill, isn't it?

It feels sometimes like Mefi, as a community, is blindly lurching to a stance of "I shouldn't be offended by anything I read on this site". Now that may be the fog of MetaTalk I'm hearing, where people tend to come when they're offended, but sometimes I just want to say "lighten up, ok?"

Yeah, I may have offended someone with that last quip.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2010


Pope Guilty : So in other words, you knew it was offensive, but it's my fault for somehow forcing you to say it.

No. Your "fault" lies in assuming he meant it in the worst way possible. Detecting a common theme here yet?

Even if he meant exactly what you thought, it still has a more charitable interpretation than merely an inflamatory racist comment - Rather, an accusation that certain people want to look oh-so-tolerant-and-enlightened by rabidly defending unpopular or oppressed groups against the least sleight. Either that, or your "defend the weak" detector needs some serious recalibration.

And I can go further with this, since apparently I just magically gained "oppressed group" status on MeFi - As a Maineiac, I say, go ahead and make fun of us. We sure as hell make fun of liberal socialists, and turnabout seems fair. And I suspect Texans feel quite the same way - "Bring it, Punk!"
posted by pla at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2010


Wipe your mouth, pla, you'll get foam on your keyboard.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:21 AM on April 25, 2010


Jesus. For all the words this thread's gone through you'd think we'd be better at communicating.

I'm going to risk pissing off some people by suggesting that St. Alia nailed it. This is not about finding opinions reprehensible. It is about not finding the people reprehensible who say those things. Nothing good comes out of it.

The only times I really get pissed off at this place are the times when people take something I've said and use it to judge me as a person. For me it's not politics, it's usually Apple products, which is a particularly absurd topic for heated discussion anyway. I get bothered when somebody uses my love for a particular computer to assume particular character traits about me. It's silly, you know? And it's equally silly when you talk politics. For all you might disagree with somebody's ideas, going from that to outright insulting a person is petty, hurtful, and solves nothing.

Possibly some of you here have inundated yourselves so thoroughly from mocking language that you're fine with direct insults. I have not. For all I enjoy vicious debates, the second that crosses over to a personal insult I feel stung. It's pointless behavior.

Pope Guilty, I find myself agreeing with your political stances almost in their entireties. But at the same time, you're frequently my least favorite thread participant despite the fact that you argue your points brilliantly; you stoop to a particular level of nastiness that makes me uncomfortable, and at times you seem to actively relish being petty and nasty toward people. The most recent instance I can think of was the thread with tkchrist flaming out: Reading through, I agreed with all the things you said, but there was a point where you should have been the gentleman and bowed out but you pushed things to the point where we lost a member.

It has nothing to do with debate and everything to do with manners. Not that I have the best manners myself — something I'm trying to watch right now — but conversation is not entirely about thoughts, and if you think it is you're deluding yourself.

On the other hand: I don't think Optimus Chyme's comment should have been deleted. If a user has a history, that history should be taken into account.

But even with my support of Chyme, this thread's gone a lot of really stupid places. I think here's how we should have handled this; let me know if you disagree.

— The mods argue that Chyme's post derailed the main thread and avoided addressing pla directly.
— "Fine," say we pla-oppressors, "but pla's behavior then still deserves a call-out. Shame on you, pla."
— Pla says something to the effect of "I didn't say a bad thing."
— "Yes you did," we say, "and here's why we think so."
— Pla ignores what's been said to him and says something silly.
— We ignore pla, because it's obvious we're getting nowhere.
— The next time pla says something silly, we cite this exchange as reason why we're tired of engaging him.
— So pla's dumb stuff gets flagged to hell, and removed with it's outright offensive, but his detractors don't get inflamed and risk drawing mods' ire.
— Maybe pla gets bored and leaves. Maybe pla says something so offensive that the mods talk to him. Maybe he's really here in good faith and open-minded, in which case we avoid drama enough that maybe he can listen to arguments and develop his thoughts.

Then we're all happy!
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:56 AM on April 25, 2010


If nothing else Pla you can claim that you once made me side with Pope Guilty. That's brilliant work there.
posted by vapidave at 10:11 AM on April 25, 2010


you stoop to a particular level of nastiness that makes me uncomfortable, and at times you seem to actively relish being petty and nasty toward people.

I do not share the apparently common belief that you can assess a person outside of their beliefs. We are what we believe and what we do. A person with reprehensible beliefs who supports those beliefs engages in reprehensible actions, and a person with reprehensible beliefs and reprehensible actions is a reprehensible person. I don't give a shit how nice somebody is to their neighbors or that they pet kittens extra gently and give them treats if they're a member of the Aryan Nation, you know? I believe that people who make shitty posts should be the target of nastiness directed at them in connection to those posts; either they'll go "hey, I'm being treated like a dick because I'm acting like a dick" and change or they'll fuck off somewhere else and stop shitting up Metafilter with bigotry and nastiness. The first is preferable, obviously, but since my primary goal in such interactions is a Metafilter that isn't being shat up with bigotry and nonsense, the second's fine as well.

I simply don't see how it's a loss when somebody who posts garbage decides they don't want to post here anymore.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:04 AM on April 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I believe that people who make shitty posts should be the target of nastiness directed at them in connection to those posts

Just an FYI, this opinion is not shared by us at a policy level and the nastiness thing is a problem. Sorry to keep chiming in here with "me too" sorts of things, but hounding people off the site is completely not okay, no matter how reprehensible you personally think they are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:07 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm well aware that the mods are only interested in the shallow "civility" of posts and not in any underlying nastiness or community-unfriendliness in their content.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:24 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: “I'm well aware that the mods are only interested in the shallow "civility" of posts and not in any underlying nastiness or community-unfriendliness in their content.”

If that were the case, then they wouldn't even be conscious of the problem with pla's history and situation. But they clearly are. There is a difference between trying to use a light touch and strike a fair balance, and being completely oblivious to what's going on; it's clear where the mods are in that equation because, though they'd rather not take drastic action if it isn't fair, they've been very straightforward in expressing their opinions on the subject. And it's utterly unfair to accuse them of being unconcerned about the underlying tone of what happens here.

In fact, I'd say it's almost laughable to try to justify that kind of position. They've said that they care about the underlying tone, and they've discussed in detail the problems they see and the concerns they have regarding it. What would you like to see? Would you like to see them wade in and start deleting comments and banning people outright based on underlying tone? I'm not a big booster for free speech or anything, but it seems like policing tone would have a pretty bad effect on the community here and its ability to converse about various subjects. So they try to draw a simple and distinct line in the sand, saying what sort of stuff is and isn't allowed; and they watch closely and warn people when it seems as though they're getting close to that line.

The toughest cases are the edge cases - the people who, it seems, will never cross the line, but who create a good deal of bad feeling in certain community members simply by being who they are. Again, what would you have them do here? Ban those people outright, simply because they cause bad feeling? That would skirt dangerously close to a real party-line community, which didn't tolerate any opinions different from its own - the scenario that Crabby seems to suspect has already come to pass. I'm certain that it hasn't, and I think you can blame the fact that this community is still open and vibrant chiefly on the five people who run this site.
posted by koeselitz at 11:40 AM on April 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm well aware that the mods are only interested in the shallow "civility" of posts and not in any underlying nastiness or community-unfriendliness in their content.

Oh, get off it. We're interested in people not being shitty to each other. That works on multiple levels. We think the problem of ugly or unpopular ideas being expressed is a complex one. You seem to want to defend your own sometimes crappy approach to discourse on the site on the premise that if someone is shitty enough in your personal estimation then your own behavior can't actually be problematic. That is what we're calling bullshit on in this case.

It doesn't mean we think people with ugly ideas are awesome. It doesn't mean we want those ideas not to be confronted. Like other people have said, I actually agree with you about many things that you nonetheless do a really shit job of discussing, and I wish you could find some way to not be as nasty as you often are in the process of expressing your take on things because when you are it's counter-productive and just buffets up bad dynamics around here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:45 AM on April 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm well aware that the mods are only interested in the shallow "civility" of posts and not in any underlying nastiness or community-unfriendliness in their content.

I'm well aware that you barely care what we think, but it's important to let other people know where the line is drawn and how and why we draw it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:02 PM on April 25, 2010


What I'm saying here is that it's telling that pla's post which proposed that hundreds of thousands of people- including some MeFites, I believe- be put in concentration camps until they die was allowed to stand.

Matt, Jessamyn, and Cortex can talk all day about what they're interested in and how they feel, but ultimately I have to judge by what I can see of their actions, and the long-running pattern of horribly offensive bullshit being allowed to stand while stuff that argues against it is deleted doesn't exactly put me in a mood to be overly generous in my interpretation. If the mods are doing their moderation quietly and behind the scenes, doing it all over email or MeMail, how am I supposed to look at what I can see and say "Oh, they're doing something about it"? Should I believe that simply because the mods say so? With the gap between what is being claimed and what I can see, why should I privilege what people are saying over what I can see for myself?


You seem to want to defend your own sometimes crappy approach to discourse on the site on the premise that if someone is shitty enough in your personal estimation then your own behavior can't actually be problematic.

I'm willing to admit that it can be suboptimal sometimes. But I'd rather have uncivil anti-racism than "civil" racism, uncivil feminism than "civil" misogyny. I think the damage done by pretending that people with bigoted viewpoints are valid participants in the discourse just like people who aren't bigoted shitstains far outweighs any damage done by being uncivil to bigots. The idea that the proper way to respond to, say, misogyny is with reasoned discourse is itself misogynist; it establishes misogyny as a valid viewpoint worthy of reasoned debate.


I'm well aware that you barely care what we think

I do care what you think; if I didn't, I wouldn't spend so much time arguing with you. I'd fuck off somewhere else. Ultimately you, Matt, and Cortex are responsible for what people see when they come here and when they click the comments links. I think that moderating more harshly in a particular area would make this a better community.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:19 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, here's the thing: you are coming off here as a judgemental ...I was going to say prick but I don't really care to use that terminology. That's the thing. In your eagerness to castigate the admittedly terrible view that people should be quarantined for life simply because they are unfortunate enough to have a disease (and worse, a disease not spread by casual contact!) you instead, in your eagerness to condemn another member, wind up making yourself look like an undesirable member instead. This pulls the attention off the negative viewpoint and puts it on YOUR negative behaviour, therefore, becoming a distraction to your own stated efforts.

You really need to decide what you want your results to be-do you want to convince people that this particular negative viewpoint is evil, or do you want to waste time attacking an individual? I assure you Pla is far from the only person who would casually consign AIDS sufferers to a quarantine, and instead of roasting one person, why not spend that effort clearly delineating why Pla's viewpoint is not correct nor humane? Because by being nasty here all you are doing is adding to the sum total of nastiness in the world, and many of us consider that a bit evil, frankly. You should be better than this, dude. And I know you CAN be better than this.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:34 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


the long-running pattern of horribly offensive bullshit being allowed to stand while stuff that argues against it is deleted

Well here's the thing. If we deleted pla's comment when we saw it, we'd also have to delete the comments replying to it. This includes comments by a lot of people who were making completely sound well-reasoned arguments why pla's comment was offensive and not at all okay. If we see stuff like that immediately, we often will just nuke it from orbit but the site's moderation team is small and our general approach is to try to moderate lightly. Ten people telling one guy why his comment is a problem seems like a better way to go than deleting eleven comments, ten of whom are by people who are not at all problematic to the site.

Every comment we delete is a small problem. People don't like their comments being deleted and I can't blame them. Not like we were terribly concerned with pla's feelings since he didn't seem terribly concerned about the general community feeling, but what of the other folks?

It's not like each comment exists in a vacuum and it's not even like pla's comment was a one-liner about people with HIV+ deserving to be locked up for life. Yes that's one interpretation and I'm not even arguing that it was maybe not a likely one, but it seemed like a better idea to let him try to explain himself than delete the comment because it was offensive on its face.

Because really, if we're deleting comments of people being assholes, then we lose people on all sides of the argument, there's nothing about conservative folks or religious folks or Texas folks or other groups that people like to make fun of that gives them a corner market on assholism. If anything, it's the other way around.

You don't agree, that's your right, but being dismissive and snarky about what's actually a fairly complicated issue just makes it seem like you don't really understand what's going on.

it establishes misogyny as a valid viewpoint worthy of reasoned debate.

Or worthy of being totally ignored. Or worthy of being responded to with "take this to metatalk, you're being a misogynist jerk." We've seen, for years, that many people's definitions of misogyny [and racism, and sexism, and other "this is offensive" issues] are malleable and fluid. We draw bright lines when they can be drawn [no "I'd hit it" thanks, no ironic racism] and otherwise we tell people to go to MeTa where they're allowed to behave less civilly and hash these things out.

Over the years this has not led to a site with rampant bigotry, sexism, racism or homophobia. If anything it has markedly less of these things than many other sites expecially sites with such a varied user base [it's easy to preach to the choir]. This is what we look to to see if we think things are working. We lose people sometimes and that's a problem. We kick people out sometimes and that always bothers me though sometimes it causes other problems.

And we get an awful lot of shit from people all over the map for how we're doing it wrong. Id like people to point to another community site: blog, forum, social network, whatever, that has solved this problem in a way that makes people happy. Our decisions here mean that we know some people aren't going to be happy with what we do. And the metaquestion is whether these people would be happy with anything.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on April 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think the type of company we keep says a lot about the type of people we are.

There is no validity to the opinions held by some people. It is a disservice to the community and our society to treat those odious opinions as debatable. It is also a disservice to the community when we allow those who repeatedly spew sick ideas and opinions to hide from their history of spewing such things.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:37 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying here is that it's telling that pla's post which proposed that hundreds of thousands of people- including some MeFites, I believe- be put in concentration camps until they die was allowed to stand.

A stupid, offensive idea was allowed to stand, because we think that on the balance having it stated and clearly rebuked was the better of two not-great options. I understand that you and some other folks who've spoken up in this thread disagree with the decision to go with that option. I respect that disagreement and don't think it's unreasonable to have come to that position on it; we're conflicted about the situation ourselves and have tried pretty damned hard to clearly articulate that in this thread and to talk about how we ended up there in this case and so on.

and the long-running pattern of horribly offensive bullshit being allowed to stand while stuff that argues against it is deleted

Stuff that argues against it without going in a shitty or problematic or guidelines-breaking direction is not deleted, though. Stuff that steps over the line—on either side—is more likely to get nixed.

Sometimes people have stupid, offensive ideas. Our take on speech around here is that just having bad or offensive ideas is not a bright-line, immediate-deletion-and-possible-banning violation. Again, you can disagree with that, and I can understand disagreement with that, but that's basically the way it has always worked on mefi: sometimes people have ugly opinions, and generally those ugly opinions get picked apart in conversation rather than getting round-filed immediately on general principle.

If it turns into a recurring issue with someone who can't manage to take the temperature of the place and moderate their own pursuit of some ugly or fight-starting agenda, that's where we're more likely to need to step in.

But I'd rather have uncivil anti-racism than "civil" racism, uncivil feminism than "civil" misogyny.

Which is a false dichotomy, though. We'd rather have civil anti-racism than uncivil anti-racism, and so on. And it's possible. It's been done, on this site, by plenty of people, and it's fantastic when it does happen. It's less fantastic when that goes down the toilet, regardless of who takes it there, the axe-grinding bigot or the axe-grinding anti-bigot.

The feeling that it is unfair that we don't grant some kind of explicit home-court advantage to the people arguing from the more popular or socially progressive position, that's something I can understand and sympathize with. I'm standing here essentially asking people to be decent about dealing with people who seem to be on the wrong side of the fence on some seriously contentious stuff, and I understand that. But the high road is still worth taking, and this place is not going to be made better by us condoning righteous rage as the way to go, and anyone who feels like that's too confining may be treating Metafilter as far more of an activist platform and battlefield than they should be.

Should I believe that simply because the mods say so?

Well, it's that or conclude that we're liars. Which, if you think that, I don't know why you would claim to care what we think or bother arguing with us indeed. But, seriously, I don't get paid to lie to people. There's no margin in secretly thinking bigots are awesome.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:40 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


But, FFF that assumes that you, FFF, are the sole and complete arbiter of what is odious. On some things you might have a consensus, and others, not, but you don't have the right (here, at least) to insist that your opinions are valid and that differing ones are not. You do realize that the world is filled with people who can and do insist that your own opinions have no value? You do realize that the particular sword you wish to wield has two edges? You live by the sword, you die by the sword....it is much better, and at least in this country and this website, it is a shared value that we all have the right to our own opinions, and to share them, odious or not.

You have the right to flag them, and move on.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:46 PM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've told this story before, way down another, longer and more contentious MetaTalk thread than this one.

I have a very close friend who once was on the brink of being a holocaust denier. He is kindhearted, very intelligent and highly educated. At on point back when he was about twenty he ended up reading various "revisionist history" sites and he started to believe that the holocaust had not taken place the way that it was portrayed in the media. At first it was fairly innocuous, but as time wore on it became less and less so. I became seriously alarmed when he started arguing that a lot fewer than 6 million Jews had been killed in Nazi concentration camps, a few hundred thousands at most, that the number had been inflated for propaganda purposes. I went and tracked down original sources (the Nazis were nothing if not meticulous in their documentation) and eyewitness accounts from Nazi prison guards, German civilian employees at the camps, Jewish survivors and Allied soldiers who had first come upon the camps. Because he had been reading "revisionist" websites he had never been exposed to this. He himself was shocked how far down the path to crazy he'd gone.

It is important that stupid and crazy viewpoints get an airing so that they are summarily refuted and exposed for the stupidity that they are because otherwise smart and kind people can come across seemingly legitimate books or websites that put forth nonsense and fall for it. For better or worse holding immoral opinions is a natural right, but it is a moral obligation for a society to refute that which is horribly, horribly wrong. MetaFilter is good at that obligation.

I know that it's hard to keep a level head (personally I've found that my internet rage rarely survives a round or two of Robot Unicorn Attack) but the best way to win an argument is always to keep things civil. Mocking others or attacking them personally usually only results in them gaining sympathy where none would've been aroused. When people favorite mocking zingers or expressions of anger, it's not because they've been turned around to a point of view, but because they agreed already.
posted by Kattullus at 1:08 PM on April 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Pope Guilty, here's the thing: you are coming off here as a judgemental ...I was going to say prick but I don't really care to use that terminology.

It's a good thing you didn't say it, then!
posted by shmegegge at 1:14 PM on April 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, I kinda did. But I don't like it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:18 PM on April 25, 2010


If you don't like saying it, skip the "I'm not saying it" dance and just proceed directly to not saying it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:38 PM on April 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I'm well aware that the mods are only interested in the shallow "civility" of posts and not in any underlying nastiness or community-unfriendliness in their content."

I'm assuming that you're not getting the irony of echoing one of Crabby's more articulated complaints, that people who disagree with the general ideological biases are treated poorly, even if the most egregious abuses are deleted, because of the mods' purported focus on civility over content.

"What I'm saying here is that it's telling that pla's post which proposed that hundreds of thousands of people- including some MeFites, I believe- be put in concentration camps until they die was allowed to stand."

Well, of course it was. Because while the first amendment is a canard, the community is liberal, and liberals do at least like to make the pretense of freedom. As a liberal, I believe I'm better off being confronted by ideas that I disagree with, then articulating my disagreement, rather than being protected by some nanny, even if that well-intentioned nanny is you.

"Matt, Jessamyn, and Cortex can talk all day about what they're interested in and how they feel, but ultimately I have to judge by what I can see of their actions, and the long-running pattern of horribly offensive bullshit being allowed to stand while stuff that argues against it is deleted doesn't exactly put me in a mood to be overly generous in my interpretation."

Really? I mean, I know hyperbole feels good, but a long-running pattern of horribly offensive bullshit doesn't characterize Metafilter at all, and the real long-running pattern here is that we're expected to act like adults and deal with each other rather than abdicating our own civility and reason to the authority of moderators. I can't help feeling like you're wanting to bully people here, to force them off the site because you disagree with them (or find them reprehensible or loathsome or whatever), and that this makes you read as both an ideologue and demagogue.

What's the danger of Pla's comment? That it's seen as a feasible or attractive plan? Not even Pla holds that anymore. That it's seen as indicative of the community as a whole? Only the most blithe reading of the conversation could lend that interpretation; Pla was roundly shouted down by the whole community. That having it there hurt some feelings? Well, fine, let people say so and know that they'll be supported by the community, but that we don't excise things purely because they hurt someone's feelings—there's no way to make that a policy with a userbase this big and without unfairly alienating people who do have good contributions to make. You anger and offend even folks who agree with you, so don't think that a justly applied policy would spare you from the block if those were the only criteria.

"But I'd rather have uncivil anti-racism than "civil" racism, uncivil feminism than "civil" misogyny."

Yeah, but you just assumed that someone meant "house nigger" when they said "house Texan," instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt, then acted all affronted about being called on it. When we used to have fussy horses, we'd joke about them being spooked by Indians in the tall grass—you're being spooked by Indians in the tall grass. You're so attuned to the possibility of covert dog-whistle shit that you're forgetting where you are and instead you're huffing and foaming over shit that ain't there.

"The idea that the proper way to respond to, say, misogyny is with reasoned discourse is itself misogynist; it establishes misogyny as a valid viewpoint worthy of reasoned debate."

First off, you might be only as good a judge of misogyny as you are of racism. Second off, the answer to misogyny isn't generally just wildin' out on another member. I mean, don't you remember how fucking bitter and nasty EB ended up, embracing this same strategy? And he was an erudite motherfucker.
posted by klangklangston at 1:42 PM on April 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm willing to admit that it can be suboptimal sometimes. But I'd rather have uncivil anti-racism than "civil" racism, uncivil feminism than "civil" misogyny.

The fact that civil anti-racism and civil feminism both seriously hasn't occurred to you?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:36 PM on April 25, 2010


I was thinking of being done with this thread, because I feel like I've really said all that I wanted to say, but I do want to clarify that I'm not trying to create an excluded middle of civil feminism/anti-racism- simply trying to argue that I get the impression that given a choice between uncivil feminism and "civil" misogyny, Metafilter would rather host the "civil" misogyny.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:41 PM on April 25, 2010


Wow. I left for a while to go do things in the "big room" (the one with the blue ceiling that seems really high up) and look what happens!

I think I recognize Crabby from another virtual world. Or perhaps from a tribe of people from that virtual world. The replying to your own post though, to explain it better, though? Classic!

Also, Crabby's remark that folks wanted to close the thread because e was looking good (even though from my perspective, so very not) - genius.

Also, I am another in the don't-like-"hysteria" camp, for similar reasons of long and storied sexism and dismissiveness attending its use in rhetoric.

I am not getting why folks are larking about calling things ducks in French, though.
posted by kalessin at 3:53 PM on April 25, 2010


simply trying to argue that I get the impression that given a choice between uncivil feminism and "civil" misogyny, Metafilter would rather host the "civil" misogyny.

Why do you get that impression, when there are so many examples of people counter-attacking misogyny -- but doing so with civility? If what you claim is true, the mods would be deleting the civil responses to misogyny as well.

But they're not.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on April 25, 2010


Metafilter would rather be a place where rudeness is NOT encouraged. This is a false dichotomy.

The internet is filled with many, many, many places where rudeness is not only encouraged but practically mandatory. Metafilter happens to not be one of those places. I really do not see the purpose in your wanting to be rude to people you disagree with or do not like. It does not further your aims, it does not make this a better place to be, it does not cause people like pla to see the error of their ways, and it doesn't drive off miscreants (as much as many of us suspect that is your goal. )

If you are comfortable with people's view of you as a rude person who doesn't mind insulting mods, and annoying those of us who would rather not go to the saturday night fights, that is your choice. But it is not a choice that looks good on you, or on the site at large.

I also think that many people here, not just you, forget that this site is not public domain. It belongs to Matt, and Matt and the mods are responsible for setting the vision for this place. Over the years, this has been pushed and pulled at by many people and in many directions but at this point I am fairly confident they know what they want this place to look and sound like. As much as I disagreed with Pla's post, I agree wholeheartedly with their decision to let it stand, and to allow the community to deal with the thoughts contained in it in the appropriate manner. I am confident that if Pla had posted something in a more inflammatory way, it would have been deleted. As it was, he posted something that was a horrible idea but in such a way that, again, it could be soundly refuted without hopita and mopita.

All we have here is words on a screen. We cannot and should not judge the intents of the hearts of the posters, while we can and should debate and judge the ideas they express on the site. We have to respect each other here, and we have to respect the limits of the medium. And we also have to respect the fact that none of us-NONE OF US-is the supreme fount of all received wisdom in the universe, and none of us can claim that our every opinion and thought and judgement is one hundred per cent correct. Since this is so,
let us be thankful for reasonable and thoughtful mods who, altho I do not agree with them all the time, at least can see, from my own perspective at least, that they strenuously strive to be evenhanded, fair, reasonable, and right in their dealings with us at large.

I think they do a pretty good job. Even from MY perspective. And if I can see that, I don't know why anyone else couldn't.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:01 PM on April 25, 2010


When we used to have fussy horses, we'd joke about them being spooked by Indians in the tall grass—you're being spooked by Indians in the tall grass.

You mean Native Americans?
posted by albrecht at 5:39 PM on April 25, 2010


Well here's the thing. If we deleted pla's comment when we saw it, we'd also have to delete the comments replying to it. This includes comments by a lot of people who were making completely sound well-reasoned arguments why pla's comment was offensive and not at all okay. If we see stuff like that immediately, we often will just nuke it from orbit but the site's moderation team is small and our general approach is to try to moderate lightly. Ten people telling one guy why his comment is a problem seems like a better way to go than deleting eleven comments, ten of whom are by people who are not at all problematic to the site.

So, if Team Mod had seen his comment earlier, it would probably have been nuked. But it went under the radar until a number of people had responded, and you took that into consideration when you made the choice not to nuke it. However, it wasn't the only factor used in determining whether his comment was deleted. Is that an accurate assessment?

If it is, then it's Team Mod's position that the content of pla's comment was in some way diminished or put into better context by the way people responded to it, yes?
posted by zarq at 6:20 PM on April 25, 2010


I'm still re-reading this thread. 500 freakin' comments, so it's no longer loading in its entirety on my blackberry. :P
posted by zarq at 6:22 PM on April 25, 2010


Is that an accurate assessment?

That's basically it, yeah. I don't have much more to say about it really. I'm comfortable with the decision we made, I expect other people aren't and that's fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:54 PM on April 25, 2010


That's basically it, yeah. I don't have much more to say about it really. I'm comfortable with the decision we made, I expect other people aren't and that's fine.

Yes. I'm not, but as I said upthread I can live with it. Despite the arguing and grar, this thread's discussion has been helpful, though. Thank you for being patient and clarifying.
posted by zarq at 7:48 PM on April 25, 2010


"You mean Native Americans?"

Our horses were racist.
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 PM on April 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Zarq, I do remember the mods explaining elsewhere that this tended to be their approach -- in part because, if they DID delete something that had already had so many responses, it would trigger all sorts of "....but what did pla say?" comments and possibly even another MeTa thread about wondering what Pla said, and that would have prolonged the issue (possibly even longer than it's been prolonged in this instance).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:01 AM on April 26, 2010


I can't spend much time on this, sorry.

zarq, I'll be interested to see what you come up with.

EmpressCallipygos, apology accepted. I apologize to you for the "a little slow" remark. It was uncalled-for, and I'm sorry. If I had done my usual final pass over that comment, I would probably have deleted it, but that's no excuse.

It's funny, I made two back-to-back comments in this thread that started all this. One was to tell pla that people finding the least charitable interpretation of one's remarks is standard operating procedure on MetaFilter. It is. The other said I was glad that activists found the site frustrating, which was not a complaint about the site. And that's all it took to start a big flap about my participation on the site.

I don't plan to leave this hanging, but I literally can't spend any time on it now, and maybe not for a few days.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2010


One was to tell pla that people finding the least charitable interpretation of one's remarks is standard operating procedure on MetaFilter. It is.

Well, it's not like there's one Metafilter guide for this. It's a collection of individuals. Perhaps this site attracts people that tend to have less than charitable interpretations of your words. This could be. I personally think it's more nuanced, that people aren't "out to get you" so much--or at least not "out to get *you*". I think there is probably a bias towards an interpretation of unpopular ideas as coming from a less....tolerant viewpoint. Which is probably (in my opinion) why this got escalated from a disease issue to a homophobia one. I imagine the aforementioned posting history helped people make that leap, for good or ill.

But this interpretation--it is what it is. An example: my wife misinterprets a *lot* of what I say. I feel it is often unfair. But it is what it is. I say something, she gets offended. I can say "I don't care if you got offended--that wasn't my intent!" But that does bugger all to make her feel better, and would generally make it worse. If I wish to not upset her, the solution is not to "make her see what I mean", as this is both A) not something I can really control, and B) doesn't actually help. She can know *exactly* what I meant, and she'll still be upset. I don't know why. If it were me who was offended, and I heard "I didn't mean it that way, I meant X!", and I'd be saying "Oh, I get it now, OK", and completely fine with it.

But other people have different feelings than I do. They get upset at different things. I may not understand them, but if I don't want them to be upset then I should keep their sensitivities in mind.

Finally, when people are consistently misinterpreting what I say, it's a pretty good indicator to me that perhaps I need to change the way I say it.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:45 AM on May 4, 2010


She can know *exactly* what I meant, and she'll still be upset. I don't know why. If it were me who was offended, and I heard "I didn't mean it that way, I meant X!", and I'd be saying "Oh, I get it now, OK", and completely fine with it.

A tangent, if it's okay...but I think I can explain why she's still upset.

If you think about it, the example you're proposing ("if it were me who was offended...") puts the onus on YOU to suss out what the other person meant, and puts the onus on YOU to "not be offended." The "I didn't mean it that way, I meant X" sometimes feels like it carries the subtext "...and you should have known that."

Mind you, I am NOT in the LEAST saying that that's what you yourself mean when you try to explain yourself. It's just that....when you come to a situation where you have two people who have different interpretations of the same statement, and one person means X but the other person hears Y, and Y gets them offended, then sometimes having the first person say "but I meant X" feels like a judgement about "what were you thinking, thinking I meant Y?"

I've often found that what helps is to follow up that "I didn't mean it that way, I meant X" with "but I'm sorry you heard Y, and maybe let's figure a Z instead?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:50 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


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