Let 'er RIP August 10, 2010 1:15 PM   Subscribe

This is where we discuss the Ted Stevens obit post.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey to Etiquette/Policy at 1:15 PM (195 comments total)



People are being terrible assholes. The only reason I didn't delete the really early "fuck that guy" comment was because the guy who wrote it later apologized in-thread. Show some class or if you can't manage that, some restraint.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


"You could at least link to it"

Right, thanks. Linked from there to here and forgot the reverse.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:20 PM on August 10, 2010


I think it kind corrected itself after awhile. It looked like it was going to spiral into more "billion years of filth" type of pointless comments but people stepped up and redirected.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:22 PM on August 10, 2010


Someday the Orly Taitz obit thread is going to make this one look like a ride on the teacups.
posted by hermitosis at 1:23 PM on August 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


I don't know whether to be proud my thread produced a MeTa or to be disappointed that it didn't have anything to do with my behavior.
posted by Nabubrush at 1:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The gloves can come off for Cheney though, right? I don't personally want to vent a lot of profanity laden vitriol about the man but that's one death that we can probably all enjoy a communal catharsis over.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [21 favorites]


obit·u·ary
\ə-ˈbi-chə-ˌwer-ē, ō-, -ˈbi-chə-rē\
noun

a notice of a person's death usually with a short biographical account
posted by swift at 1:26 PM on August 10, 2010


If I ever do anything notable enough where there is a post about my death, I would like at least some of the "fuck THIS guy" commentary to go roughly like this.
posted by adipocere at 1:26 PM on August 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


The gloves can come off for Cheney though, right? I don't personally want to vent a lot of profanity laden vitriol about the man but that's one death that we can probably all enjoy a communal catharsis over.

Agreed. That would be like MetaFilter Christmas. I have a bottle of champagne on chill standing by so the moment can be properly celebrated without any delay.
posted by contessa at 1:27 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Orly Taitz died this morning."
"Who?"
"OR-LEE TAYTZ."
"No idea."
"You know, the Moldovan-American dentist and lawyer who was a leading figure in the 'birther' movement, which challenged whether Barack Obama was a natural-born citizen eligible to serve as President of the United States."
"Dude, no idea. Never heard of him."
"Her. You're an asshole."
"Why am I an asshole? Because I never heard of some lady that was famous for 15 minutes 40 years ago?"
"Just shut up and eat your recycled algae noodles."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [40 favorites]


People are being terrible assholes. The only reason I didn't delete the really early "fuck that guy" comment was because the guy who wrote it later apologized in-thread. Show some class or if you can't manage that, some restraint.

You can delete it if you want, it was in poor taste on my part.
posted by atrazine at 1:30 PM on August 10, 2010


I saw the Breaking News on the TV about this about an hour before it was actually posted, and I thought quite a bit in the interim about my feelings on the man.

Then, I made a comment in the thread that is barely on the thin edge of civil, so I'll try to say something kinder here;

Ted Stevens; in many ways, a better man than Dick Cheney.
posted by quin at 1:31 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Someday the Orly Taitz obit thread is going to make this one look like a ride on the teacups.

As it should. As a left-ass lefty, I can see very clearly how Ted Stevens, like Ted Kennedy, was a complicated man. Did a great many good things for his constituents (his job, by the way), and did quite a few bad things too. I view his legacy as falling into the bad overall, but I'm sure there's no shortage of people who feel that way about Ted Kennedy too.

When Dick Cheney kicks the bucket, I don't promise to behave. This is not the equivalent of that.

(Not insinuating that you were creating any equivalents whatsoever, or doing anything besides making an observation)
posted by rollbiz at 1:31 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I flagged it, knowing the moderators would give it some attention. I trust them to do the right thing.
posted by tommasz at 1:31 PM on August 10, 2010


I don't think the place to trash people is in their obit thread. (Exception: mass murderers a la Pol Pot.)

This sentiment reportedly began with the Greeks though we know it in Latin: de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est.

I also think it is still an open question whether Stevens deserves to have his name associated with the word "corrupt." I heartily disagreed with him on most things, including ANWR, and was with the baying mob when the charges against him were announced. But the prosecutorial misconduct in the criminal case was serious. It really undermines the credibility of the whole case. There is a good reason that Eric Holder decided not to re-indict.
posted by bearwife at 1:33 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Has someone already exploited the memeable mash of Orly Taitz and the O RLY? Owl?

*googles it*

Yep. Stupid 'tubes, always beating me to the punch.
posted by fontophilic at 1:33 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just you wait for the shitstorm that's brewing for when ZsaZsa Gabor kicks it.
posted by briank at 1:35 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think the place to trash people is in their obit thread. (Exception: mass murderers a la Pol Pot.)

In my opinion, if you squander hundreds of millions of dollars of public dollars via corruption in a country where tens of thousands die annually due to lack of access to healthcare, you have a lot of blood on your hands. I'm not going to comment in that thread because I have nothing good to say, but there are many ways to be a mass murderer. If there is a Hell that man is there now.
posted by mek at 1:37 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


(Exception: mass murderers a la Pol Pot.)

Hey man, say what you will about Pol Pot, but that guy ... that guy ... he could ... you never saw ... the only guy that could ...

Yeah, I got nothing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:38 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm not really mad about people being rude- yeah it kind of sucks but when you're in the US Senate people say rude things about you, it kind of comes with the territory, in life and in death.

What's more disturbing is the Fatty Arbuckle-ing: there's about 30 comments about how amazingly "corrupt" he was, before bearwife points out that he was acquitted of all the charges, which turned out to be pretty flimsy. At some point you have to take some interest in actual truth, and not just tearing down someone because he was on the other side.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:38 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


When Dick Cheney kicks the bucket, I don't promise to behave

Is this actually okay? Is this what we have to look forward to when other undesirables die, like Phelps, Coulter, Kim Jong Il, Rod Stewart?
posted by Gator at 1:39 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someday the Orly Taitz obit thread is going to make this one look like a ride on the teacups.

Orly Taitz will not go gentle into that good night; rather, once she has died she will instigate a years long series of questionable legal maneuvers in which she tries, among other things, to prove that the death certificate is not real, to dodge via judicial appeal any collection on the wages of sin, and to convince the Grim Reaper to sue himself for malpractice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:39 PM on August 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


Hey, Cool Papa Bell. Orly Taitz is a realtor, too. Let's have some respect for the woman's professional accomplishments here!
posted by contessa at 1:39 PM on August 10, 2010


Is this actually okay?

No, no it's not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:39 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I didn't get the out pour of hate for Stevens? Apart from the recent corruption charges and the comical old-coot tubes gaff, I always thought of him as a garden variety Republican. Maybe more pork barrel than some, but is that enough for grave dancing? I don't remember him as one of the Iraq war cheerleaders, or a proponent of gratuitous torture, or Guantanamo, or over the top gay bashing, or extreme nativistism, or any of the rest. If the death of every garden variety pro-business, pro-pork Republican is worthy of internet hallelujahs, we're going to have our hands full. And if nothing else, that kind of reflexive macabre crowing goes a long way towards providing even more ammunition for the Rush/Beck/freep crowds.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:40 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


jessamyn wrote:

It's fine if you didn't or don't like the guy but turning an obit post into a hyperlinked "here's the way this guy sucked" thread diminishes all of us.

A Wikipedia quote seemed like the most neutral way of commenting on the life of the public figure whose death the post was inviting me to take notice of.

If there is no acceptable criticism in an obit thread, I welcome clarification of the official or unofficial site policy.

If there is acceptable criticism in an obit
thread, I'd like to know how one is allowed to express it - because he was one flagrantly corrupt son-of-a-bitch.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:42 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey man, say what you will about Pol Pot, but that guy ... that guy ... he could ... you never saw ... the only guy that could ...

His story did provide good fodder for a Spaulding Grey monologue... that's a tiny something....
posted by hippybear at 1:44 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


obit·u·ary
\ə-ˈbi-chə-ˌwer-ē, ō-, -ˈbi-chə-rē\
noun


More like oh-BITCH-u-ary, amirite?
posted by phunniemee at 1:44 PM on August 10, 2010


Orly Taitz is a realtor, too

What's the deal with those radio ads that use the word "realtor" about fifteen times in a 30-second spot, pronouncing it, very precisely, "real-tour" every time? Those really get my goat.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:44 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is this what we have to look forward to when other undesirables die, like Phelps, Coulter, Kim Jong Il

What would you honestly expect to happen when any of those people die? A series of dots with no comments? A bunch of "Well, Fred Phelps was a pretty bad guy, but every death diminishes us" comments?

I see two possibilities:

1) A thread happens, people take their shits, the mods clean up the worst stuff.

2) A thread happens, people take their shits, it's too ugly, thread is deleted.

I don't expect Jess or any other mods to condone the behavior, but are we going to pretend it's not going to happen when Cheney et al finally die? Because it totally is.
posted by rollbiz at 1:46 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


contessa:

The gloves can come off for Cheney though, right? I don't personally want to vent a lot of profanity laden vitriol about the man but that's one death that we can probably all enjoy a communal catharsis over.

Agreed. That would be like MetaFilter Christmas. I have a bottle of champagne on chill standing by so the moment can be properly celebrated without any delay.


When Cheney was put in the hospital the day before Chicago's Pride Parade this year, I made my boyfriend vow that if Dick died before Sunday (the day of the parade) we should make shirts that said "I Killed Dick Cheney" and wear them to the parade. We laughed and laughed, in part because the actual vow was necessary not because we might wear such tactless shirts in public (because, trust me, I've made bigger mistakes in regards to self-promotion and free shots) but because we probably wouldn't go to the parade otherwise.

But then as the weekend went on, I made him take it back, even though Cheney lived, because well, blah, blah, even war criminals have gay daughters and well...

(Also I didn't want to go to the parade, and I felt a promise made in regards to a death would have to be fulfilled.)

What I'm saying is even though Ted Stevens had no respect for my rights as a person, I'm not going to piss on his grave.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:48 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bad obit post, equally bad Metatalk post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on August 10, 2010


Rod Stewart?
posted by yhbc at 1:50 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


What about
3) No-one posts an obit thread about largely-reviled public figures / politicians when it's going to be covered in every major news outlet and won't include links to strange wonderful things you never knew or expected to see on the internet?
posted by crush-onastick at 1:50 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


3) No-one posts an obit thread about largely-reviled public figures / politicians when it's going to be covered in every major news outlet and won't include links to strange wonderful things you never knew or expected to see on the internet?

Personally? I think that'd be fantastic.

It is also completely, totally, and utterly unrealistic.
posted by rollbiz at 1:51 PM on August 10, 2010


The Cheney obit thread will be a total and mutual flameout. I mean, literally. The MeFi servers will burst into flames. Monitors will explode. Keyboards will melt. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!
posted by griphus at 1:51 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh Fred Phelps! I was like "Well the Subway commercials were annoying, but dude can swim and at least he likes to party . . ."
posted by ND¢ at 1:54 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about Karl Rove? Can we go for a drunken, crazy, non-responsible ride in the tea cups when Karl bites the big one?

Wait. I'm confused. Are we talking about the Disneyland Tea Cups Ride or the Disneyworld Tea Cups Ride? I'm sure they are different in some respect-- Florida has higher humidity for one.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:54 PM on August 10, 2010


there's about 30 comments about how amazingly "corrupt" he was, before bearwife points out that he was acquitted of all the charges

This isn't even remotely accurate. He was certainly never acquitted - the guilty verdict was vacated because the Obama administration was not interested in pursuing sentencing after he lost his re-election bid.

Most importantly, those charges were icing on a cake of pork. They had nothing to do with the bridge/road to nowhere another ridiculous examples of earmark spending.
posted by mek at 1:54 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I welcome clarification of the official or unofficial site policy.

You asked if it was too soon and I gave my answer. I don't think any other clarification is needed. The thread was starting to finally NOT be a "fuck that guy" thread and you showed up with your pullquote and then cutely asked "too soon?" and now you're in here asking questions like you just got here.

There's no policy, there is a set of guidelines which we enforce as consistently as we can. One of them is "don't be an asshole" but I guess we have to split hairs in here about whether being shitty in an "Ex-senator dies in plane crash" threads is assholish. I'm open to people's interpretations.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know, rollbiz, but it's my own private dream for the afternoon.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:56 PM on August 10, 2010


All I ask is that I live long enough to see the Sarah Palin obit thread. Please God, give me that many years and I swear I won't touch myself anymore in the next hour.
posted by nomadicink at 1:58 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I won't join the procession that's speaking their piece,
using five dollar words while praising integrity.
Just 'cause he's gone, it doesn't change that fact
he was bastard in life, thus a bastard in death
posted by nadawi at 1:58 PM on August 10, 2010


> If there is no acceptable criticism in an obit thread, I welcome clarification of the official or unofficial site policy.

If there is acceptable criticism in an obit
thread, I'd like to know how one is allowed to express it


This does raise the question of what real difference it makes where you express your criticism. You were able to call him a son of a bitch here, and that was acceptable. I'm not snarking at all, just exploring. Obviously, there are more eyes on Metafilter than Metatalk, so there's more of an audience for one's criticism, but does that really make a difference at the end of the day?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:02 PM on August 10, 2010


If Ann Coulter, or any other of the blowhard undesirables, were to pass away the most fitting obituary would be the deafening silence of being totally ignored and forgotten.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:03 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Here's Fox News slamming Kurt Vonnegut when he died, for an example of jackhole behavior towards a recently deceased member of The Other Side. We don't need this sort of thing here.
posted by Daddy-O at 2:03 PM on August 10, 2010


It's fine if you didn't or don't like the guy but turning an obit post into a hyperlinked "here's the way this guy sucked" thread diminishes all of us.

Well it ain't my call but I respectfully disagree, at least so far as posting negative information in an "obit thread" goes. For one, if there's special positive-only rules for a death announcement then I'm not sure I see the point in having them on MetaFilter.

Even putting aside the question of what qualifies as a positive comment - and Stevens and his ability to bring home the federal funds is a perfect example of how what some people would consider an abysmal negative might be a positive for others - if it's just a sendoff there's gotta be more appropriate sites where this wouldn't represent a departure from the overall site tradition of discussion and debate.

If you'll forgive a science-fiction reference I think MetaFilter produces great "speaker for the dead" type collective works about a person. Good, bad, indifferent - the Stevens thread shows they all were there and all were part of who the man was.

Now this horseshit about hoping pre or post death suffering on the man or glee at his passing? That should be beneath any person who walks upright and lives in society. It's fucking petty and impolite and people here should be better than that.

Not thirty minutes ago I was thinking how luck I have been to have had some of the uplifting and deep connections with people here, putting a complete lie to this nonsense about an "isolating" electronic world. I suppose every garden has its slugs but it's disappointing to have to confront the flip side of that coin within the same hour.
posted by phearlez at 2:04 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I started a comment, I couldn't even finish it. I could put down a dot, but that's not saying anything. If we collectively have nothing to say, maybe the post should be closed. We've said nasty things about Ted Stevens once, why say them all again?
posted by adipocere at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's the deal with those radio ads that use the word "realtor" about fifteen times in a 30-second spot, pronouncing it, very precisely, "real-tour" every time? Those really get my goat.

"Realtor" is a trademark of the National Association of Realtors (as distinct from "real-estate agent" or whatever). So, I imagine they're a) trying to get their money's worth, and b) trying to make clear they're a member of the NAR.
posted by Netzapper at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2010


Obviously, there are more eyes on Metafilter than Metatalk, so there's more of an audience for one's criticism, but does that really make a difference at the end of the day?

It would to the mods. They are in charge of making sure that Metafilter runs smoothly, and that no thread devolves into a flamewar. MeTa is the place where we have traditionally been able to let it all hang out, because the mods have designated this as a place where they generally don't have to worry about steering any dialogue for the good of the site.
posted by zarq at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2010




If we collectively have nothing to say, maybe the post should be closed. We've said nasty things about Ted Stevens once, why say them all again?

Speak for yourself. I posted a simple comment that was respectful, and neither negative nor flamebait.
posted by zarq at 2:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's my unofficial policy: say your peace about someone while they're alive and leave them alone in death. I'm not looking forward to bashing Sarah Palin or Cheney or whoever when they die. I will tell you right now fuck them. They are assholes. And then when they die I won't praise them, but I will stay silent and let their family mourn them and save my criticism for the living.
posted by ND¢ at 2:10 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


All I ask is that I live long enough to see the Sarah Palin obit thread. Please God, give me that many years and I swear I won't touch myself anymore in the next hour.

At first I laughed at this but on reflection I don't think that she is anywhere near my Top Ten Most Reviled Person list. Yeah she exasperates me, she irritates me, and I find her folksy stupidity outrageous, but I just don't think at the present she has enough power to make individual lives miserable in the way that Bush, Jr. or Phelps or Santorum do.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:12 PM on August 10, 2010




Speak for yourself. I posted a simple comment that was respectful, and neither negative nor flamebait

Yes, Zarq, I thought your comment was perfect.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:15 PM on August 10, 2010




> It would to the mods. They are in charge of making sure that Metafilter runs smoothly, and that no thread devolves into a flamewar

Right, and my point was more that he had a safe place to express his criticism. It was more of a philosophical question than a site policy question. Meaning, the criticism was voiced and seen by others. Is it any more or less valid, or does one somehow need it to be in a Metafilter thread for it to be counted. In the latter case, one might need to examine what exactly they're trying to have validated.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:16 PM on August 10, 2010


SLoG, thanks.
posted by zarq at 2:17 PM on August 10, 2010


Why is this obit even posted here? We only really know of him because of "lol, tubes." Is that worth an obit? (did I just answer my own question?)
posted by ODiV at 2:18 PM on August 10, 2010


In the latter case, one might need to examine what exactly they're trying to have validated.

Ah. Yes. Interesting.
posted by zarq at 2:18 PM on August 10, 2010


There's no policy, there is a set of guidelines which we enforce as consistently as we can. One of them is "don't be an asshole" but I guess we have to split hairs in here about whether being shitty in an "Ex-senator dies in plane crash" threads is assholish. I'm open to people's interpretations.

If quoting an unflattering segment of the deceased's Wikipedia article is "shitty", then there is no acceptable criticism in an obit thread. Thank you for the clarification.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:19 PM on August 10, 2010


ODiV, I linked to at least six posts that had to do with him. He was probably the most powerful man to ever represent the interests of the State of Alaska. He was at one point the President of the Senate. He was involved in a notable corruption investigation. The Anchorage airport is named after him.

And then, on top of all that, there's the tubes thing. Jeez, you're a tough audience.
posted by Nabubrush at 2:22 PM on August 10, 2010


Why is this obit even posted here? We only really know of him because of "lol, tubes." Is that worth an obit? (did I just answer my own question?)

He led a fascinating life, and was the senior senator for Alaska for many years. If I had time and was less tired, I might have tried to do an obit post on him myself.

He was instrumental while at Interior in gaining statehood for Alaska. Illegally, I might add. Helped create legislation that helped Alaska develop into a state and economic force. Was a proponent of Native American Rights, and helped pass the largest Native land claims act in American History under Nixon. Helped pass a bill that turned 80 million acres of Alaskan wilderness into protected national park lands. Sponsored legislation in the 70's that led to the formation of the US Olympic committee.

He was mostly pro-choice. He changed his mind on global warming a few years back, and began campaigning on the idea that it really existed and was a serious threat.

But to the current generation, he was just another out-of-touch, corrupt Senator who didn't understand the new-fangled internets.
posted by zarq at 2:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


phearlez: Not thirty minutes ago I was thinking how luck I have been to have had some of the uplifting and deep connections with people here, putting a complete lie to this nonsense about an "isolating" electronic world. I suppose every garden has its slugs but it's disappointing to have to confront the flip side of that coin within the same hour.

My thought exactly. The pity is that some of the worst comments come not from usually silent lurkers who come out from under their rocks for some grave dancing, but from some of the people who often have intelligent and thoughtful things to say.
posted by three blind mice at 2:25 PM on August 10, 2010


Why is this obit even posted here? We only really know of him because of "lol, tubes."

He's actually a long-serving politician who has had a great deal of influence over his decades-long career. I'm not personally that interested in him one way or the other, but Steven's is a more significant figure than the ridiculous Series Of Tubes incident accounts for. Which is arguably why said incident was extra gobsmacking in its own right.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I fear we might be endangering something with the fact that we feel that we (Metafilter as a whole) has to show 'class' and be above voicing what we actually think. To take (as an example) the inevitable death of Margaret Thatcher. In a thread of UK mefites recently you would find people gladly saying that they will party when she is dead (cue Smiths songs, Elvis Costello et al that have appeared on mefi anticipating this prospect). If today she died then tomorrow those very same comments would seem to be deemed beyond the pale (by a fraction of the userbase, a fraction who tend to be fine folk- not looking to pick a fight, but to addreess a concern).

Question- is the fact of someones death enough to tip our acceptance of a statement made before the fact against that made after? (I'm in the no camp in case I seem to be sitting on the fence with the above)
posted by Gratishades at 2:26 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's the deal with those radio ads that use the word "realtor" about fifteen times in a 30-second spot, pronouncing it, very precisely, "real-tour" every time? Those really get my goat.

As Netzapper stated above, it is the Realtor organization defining themselves as the "legitimate" real estate group. You can be a real estate agent without being a Realtor, but it is not very common as many multiple listing services (MLS) require Realtor designation to join. Very powerful lobbying group, as well.
posted by shinynewnick at 2:26 PM on August 10, 2010


What I mean to say is... the post practically writes itself.
posted by zarq at 2:26 PM on August 10, 2010


Thanks, zarq. You said it much better than I did.
posted by Nabubrush at 2:27 PM on August 10, 2010


We only really know of him because of "lol, tubes."

Er, well perhaps you only know him in this context, but as much as I disliked some of his politics he was a very important figure in Alaska's history. I don't think it is hyperbole to say Stevens may be more important than any other single person for Alaska gaining Statehood. He was quite powerful in that state, and fairly powerful on a national level for a long time.

Yeah, it seems quite likely he was vainly corrupt, and benefited financially from some pretty shady dealings. In some ways it is only a matter of scale that separates his actions from those of many people. Which doesn't excuse his behavior, he let the temptations overrule him and I wish the Bush DOJ hadn't fucked the case against him so thoroughly so subsequent attempts would be onerous. But neither does it mean he was a monster worthy of eternal damnation, and cutesy stunt comments seemingly designed to be attention whoring.
posted by edgeways at 2:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nah, Stevens was more notable than just 'Tubes. Although I had never heard his name come up in any positive context, he certainly wasn't some trifling senator who came and went. He at least meets the notability guidelines.
posted by adipocere at 2:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was certainly never acquitted - the guilty verdict was vacated because the Obama administration was not interested in pursuing sentencing after he lost his re-election bid.



It's more complex than that. The Obama Justice Department went to court to ask a judge to drop all charges, citing prosecutoral misconduct.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:33 PM on August 10, 2010


Now this horseshit about hoping pre or post death suffering on the man or glee at his passing? That should be beneath any person who walks upright and lives in society. It's fucking petty and impolite and people here should be better than that.

I agree with that. Dancing on someone's grave is more demeaning to the dancer than the deceased, imo. A little too much of "The weasel's twist, the weasel's tooth" for my taste. But that being said, I don't think that we have to be all flowers, bunnies, and tiptoeing around, either.

Even public obits state the good with the bad about a public person's life. I don't think there is anything wrong in talking about the person's life or linking to stories about highs or low in the deceased person's life. That's the nature of being public.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:36 PM on August 10, 2010


That being said, I may not be able to restrain myself from going all weasel's tooth on cheney's, limbaugh's or beck's demise.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:38 PM on August 10, 2010


Here's President Obama's classy comment on Facebook: "A decorated World War II veteran, Senator Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform. Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Senator Stevens in this terrible accident."
posted by Daddy-O at 2:46 PM on August 10, 2010


nabubrush, thanks. You said it well, too. (And included points I missed.)
posted by zarq at 2:46 PM on August 10, 2010


The gloves can come off for Cheney though, right?

He's more machine than man, now; twisted and evil. (seriously, what can Dick Cheney do to you now that he hasn't already done? What will his death accomplish? I'd like him to live long enough to realize that he and Bush II are now permanently as popular as Donna Summer at Disco Demolition Night.)
posted by norm at 2:48 PM on August 10, 2010


That being said, I may not be able to restrain myself from going all weasel's tooth on cheney's, limbaugh's or beck's demise.

There are people who I think will improve the universe with their death, but part of my goal to not be one of them is to keep my loathsome glee inside my head and limit my audible and visible output to polite and verifiable fact.
posted by phearlez at 2:53 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


hold on a second. what on earth makes you people think Dick Cheney is going to die? Maybe statistically speaking the rest of can depend on eventually kicking the bucket, but Cheney is powered, at the moment, by a robot heart so advanced he neither needs nor has a fucking pulse. I'm sorry, but the short list of people who are gonna get the tools to live forever starts and ends at Dick motherfucking Cheney, and when the robots come to take over the world in 3---, Dick Cheney will be sitting in his bunker with the rest of the robot overlords, doing quadrillions of strategic calculations a second so that your dumb grandkids' grandkids' grandkids with their normal hearts won't even know the bombs are coming 'till they're so much irradiated ash.
posted by shmegegge at 2:54 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I mean, I'm not bragging or anything. my descendents will have been killed off already in the Slime People Revolt of 25--, also lead by Cheney.
posted by shmegegge at 2:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm with you, shmegge. When I watch Futurama, I don't see Nixon's head in that jar, let's put it that way.
posted by Nabubrush at 2:57 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dammit. +eg.
posted by Nabubrush at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2010


when other undesirables die, like Phelps, Coulter, Kim Jong Il, Rod Stewart?

WTF is wrong with Rod Stewart? The Faces were a good band, and granted some of his solo stuff is crap, but compared to a lot of other pop it's not really that bad. I can think of a whole lot of singers who deserve our wrath more than Rod, and even with Rod there's nothing really offensive about him. So I'm not getting the Rod hate at all.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:00 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


> I'm open to people's interpretations.

Well, if you want input, my call (as an anarchist and a diehard supporter of free speech) is that people should feel free to say whatever they want in an obit thread, especially about politicians. Politicians spend their entire lives wheedling, cadging, lying, and backstabbing so they can grab the brass ring and get to the point where it all pays off and they can get the big bucks from lobbyists and feel that sweet sweet heroin rush of power, and then after they leave the governmental institution of their choice, they can become a lobbyist themselves or go on high-priced speaking tours or whatever they feel like, they've got it made. Why the hell should they be favored with "speak no ill" culture when it comes to their MeFi obit posts? I said bad things about Reagan in his post and I fully intend to say bad things about Cheney in his unless it's made very clear that the mods really don't want it, as seriously as they don't want "fuck you" directed at a fellow MeFite. I appreciate everything the mods do and I don't want to make their lives harder unnecessarily, but I don't see how telling the truth about a scumbag, dead or not, makes their lives harder. I know civility and niceness are important to you, jessamyn, but I know free speech is as well, and I hope the latter will prevail here.
posted by languagehat at 3:04 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I apologize if this was already posted but for those who want to know the details, here's what happened after Stevens was convicted of corruption. Note the very angry comments by the judges who reviewed this case:

In February 2009, FBI agent Chad Joy filed a whistleblower affidavit, alleging that prosecutors and FBI agents conspired to withhold and conceal evidence that could have resulted in a verdict of "not guilty."[102] In his affidavit, Joy alleged that prosecutors intentionally sent a key witness back to Alaska after the witness performed poorly during a mock cross examination. The witness, Rocky Williams, later notified the defense attorneys that his testimony would undercut the prosecution's claim that his company had spent its own money renovating Sen. Stevens' house. Joy further alleged that the prosecutors intentionally withheld Brady material including redacted prior statements of a witness, and a memo from Bill Allen stating that Sen. Stevens probably would have paid for the goods and services if asked. Joy further alleged that a female FBI agent had an inappropriate relationship with Allen, who also gave gifts to FBI agents and helped one agent's relative get a job.

As a result of Joy's affidavit and claims by the defense that prosecutorial misconduct caused an unfair trial, Judge Sullivan ordered a hearing to be held on February 13, 2009, to determine whether a new trial should be ordered. At the February 13 hearing the judge held the prosecutors in contempt for failing to deliver documents to Stevens' legal counsel.[103] Judge Sullivan called this conduct "outrageous."
Convictions voided and indictment dismissed

On behalf of Attorney General Holder, Paul O'Brien submitted a "Motion of The United States To Set Aside The Verdict And Dismiss The Indictment With Prejudice" in connection with case No. 08-231 early on April 1, 2009. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan soon signed the order; as it occurred prior to sentencing, it had the effect of vacating Stevens' conviction. During the trial, the Judge expressed concern and anger regarding prosecutorial conduct and related issues. Attorney General Holder was reportedly very angry at the prosecutors' apparent withholding of exculpatory evidence, and wanted to send a message that prosecutorial misconduct would not be tolerated under his watch. After the Judge held the prosecutors in contempt, Holder replaced the entire trial team, including top officials at the public integrity section. Nina Totenberg of NPR reported the misconduct, Stevens' age, and the fact he was no longer in office prompted him to drop all charges against Stevens—effectively vacating the guilty verdict.[5] The Associated Press subsequently confirmed NPR's report.

The final straw for Holder, according to numerous reports, was the discovery of a previously undocumented interview with Bill Allen, the prosecution's star witness. Allen stated that the fair-market value of the repairs to Stevens' house was around $80,000—far less than the $250,000 he said it cost at trial. More seriously, Allen said in the interview that he didn't recall talking to Bob Persons, a friend of Stevens, regarding the repair bill for Stevens' House. This directly contradicted Allen's testimony at trial, in which he claimed Stevens asked him to give Persons a note Stevens sent him asking for a bill on the repair work. At trial, Allen said Persons had told him the note shouldn't be taken seriously because "Ted's just covering his ass." Even without the notes, Stevens' attorneys claimed that they thought Allen was lying about the conversation.

Later that day, Stevens' attorney, Brendan Sullivan, said that Holder's decision was forced by "extraordinary evidence of government corruption." He also said that prosecutors not only withheld evidence, but "created false testimony that they gave us and actually presented false testimony in the courtroom"--two incidents that would have made it very likely that the convictions would have been overturned on appeal.

On April 7, 2009, federal judge Emmet G. Sullivan formally accepted Holder's motion to set aside the verdict and throw out the indictment,[107] based on what he called the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he'd ever seen. He also initiated a criminal contempt investigation of six members of the prosecution. Although an internal probe by the Office of Professional Responsibility was already underway, Sullivan said he was not willing to trust it due to the "shocking and disturbing" nature of the misconduct
.
posted by bearwife at 3:05 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


> WTF is wrong with Rod Stewart?

Also, this. Every Picture Tells a Story is worth everything Your Favorite Band ever did. Show some respect. Most of us will get bloated and irrelevant before we pass on.
posted by languagehat at 3:06 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Question- is the fact of someones death enough to tip our acceptance of a statement made before the fact against that made after?

I don't think it's the fact of the person's death, per se - I can't speak for the mods, but so far as I'm concerned, it would be absolutely fine to drop a reference to Stevens' corruption investigation into a thread about Alaskan politics a couple of months down the line, just as it would have been to do the same last week.

Immediately after someone's death, though, a thread entirely about them and full of criticism feels an awful lot like the commenters were waiting to unload as much bile as possible, a pretty horrible spectacle anyway but somehow made worse because the subject of the post is now definitely unable to rebut any of it. It's not classy, is basically what I'm saying here.

The thread in question didn't go too badly - most comments seemed to be along the lines of "not the greatest guy, but in so far as anyone's death is sad, this is sad", which is fine. That makes the difference between a discussion and a pile-on, only one of which is remotely useful.
posted by ZsigE at 3:06 PM on August 10, 2010


Yeah, Faces were great. Leave Rod alone.

To take (as an example) the inevitable death of Margaret Thatcher.

Whine and Grine/Stay Dead Margaret
posted by fixedgear at 3:07 PM on August 10, 2010


You have to divvy up his career to understand the Rod Hate. His, uh, most recent work has left even some ardent fans shaking with rage as he did the Great American Songbook stuff. I know one person who threw out her Rod Stewart CDs due to his schmaltzy covers.
posted by adipocere at 3:07 PM on August 10, 2010


Since we won't be allowed to say so when Fred Phelps dies, I'll go ahead and say it now:

Fuck him, and good riddance!
posted by darkstar at 3:12 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know civility and niceness are important to you, jessamyn, but I know free speech is as well, and I hope the latter will prevail here.

I don't care about niceness so much as the general site reputation as being totally full of social misfit assholes. The "I piss on your grave" stuff wouldn't be okay in other threads--we generally delete crap along the lines of "I hope someone harms/kills them"--and I don't see that it should be different just because it's an obit thread and Stevens was a jerk. Want to talk about the guy and about his legacy, even if it's in unflattering terms, fine. Want to make a winky joke about what a fucker he was and then ask me if that's okay, I'll say it's not.

This has nothing to do, to my mind, about not saying the guy was a scumbag, it's about not having the thread become a circle jerk to see who can be more fuckery in an obit thread where other people are doing the normal discussion, sharing comments, talking about stuff types of things. Don't get me wrong, my personal political viewpoints along these lines are much more like "kill 'em all" but I have a vested interest in not having this place turn into the place where people get their hate/fight on about dead people, religion, monogamy or whatever the topic du jour is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:13 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Somehow, I refrained from speaking ill of the dead in the George Steinbrenner obit post. It was really really really really hard.

Sometimes I think that it might get harder, like with the Cheney example. Of course, the eventual Cheney obit comes, I won't have to speak ill. I'll speak the truth about his politics and politics. The facts will condemn him much more than my vitriol ever will.
posted by .kobayashi. at 3:13 PM on August 10, 2010


Come on, Phelps is disgusting but he's been an entertaining object of your scorn for as long as the web has been popular. Channel your hate towards James Dobson if you need to do that sort of thing.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:15 PM on August 10, 2010


The rhythm of Cheney's heart is beating like a drum
with the words "go fuck yourself" rolling off his tongue
No, never will he be deposed,
for his locale is undisclosed
and that thing in his chest is defibrillating
posted by norm at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is a difference between what you are allowed to get away with saying/doing and what is actually polite for you to say/do.

As we grow up and assume adult responsibilities, we are supposed to get better at identifying and being responsible to those differences. Not all of us are committed to that goal.

For my part I would like to be able to look back at my adult life and be able to say that I was responsible more often than not. I realize that not everyone shares that priority.
posted by kalessin at 3:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


ZsigE, appreciate your viewpoint; it is not pretty. I just don't think that we are somehow ambassadors for a movement. If an individual wants to be 'unclassy', 'unpretty' then I don't think we should look to nueter that. Sometimes bad things should be said. The people that Mefi throws most opprobrium on seem to be those that publicly subscribe to a viewpoint of judging others. I understand that you think that lowering oneself (and our Mefi in the process) is a terrible thing. Fair play. I just think that saying what one actually thinks may be closer to the point than presenting a good front. Not saying you are presenting ay sort of 'front', but you are asking for others to do so.

(On preview; jesaamyn don't know what sort of comments you had to delete so assume it is worse than the thread- sympathies, I am more worried about the self-policing than the Mods.)
posted by Gratishades at 3:21 PM on August 10, 2010


I may not be able to restrain myself from going all weasel's tooth on cheney's, limbaugh's or beck's demise.

Limbaugh. Oh boy. I won't trust myself to write anything On The Day, so I will just have to do it now. That pestilent bag of noisome gas, that putrescent, festering ambulatory pustule, that wretched stain of excrescence deserves to be tormented in the Eighth Circle of Hell for all time. Unfortunately Hell does not exist except as a fictional concept. It's almost enough to turn me Catholic just so I can have the pleasure of imagining Satan's minions merrily jabbing away at his eternally burning carcass.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:22 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


> This has nothing to do, to my mind, about not saying the guy was a scumbag, it's about not having the thread become a circle jerk to see who can be more fuckery in an obit thread where other people are doing the normal discussion, sharing comments, talking about stuff types of things.

OK, that's fair enough. Thanks for clarifying. (And don't worry, I wasn't in much doubt about your my personal political viewpoints.)
posted by languagehat at 3:26 PM on August 10, 2010


(Oops. I wasn't in much doubt about yours; I wasn't in any doubt about mine.)
posted by languagehat at 3:27 PM on August 10, 2010


His, uh, most recent work has left even some ardent fans shaking with rage as he did the Great American Songbook stuff. I know one person who threw out her Rod Stewart CDs due to his schmaltzy covers.

Dude I didn't think his standards were that bad, and I'm a jazz fan. Now granted I didn't rush out to buy them, but compared to KD Lang crooning with Tony Bennett or Iggy Pop's recent forays into jazz standard territory, I don't really see the problem.

Also: if someone makes music you like, even if you dislike all that person's subsequent output and feel it pales in comparison, how does that undermine the earlier stuff?

I mean have you actually heard Mick Jagger's solo records, or for that matter Ron Wood's? To my ears they suck a lot harder than anything Rod ever did. Plus Rod is still a kind of AbFab sex symbol to women who drink pink champagne, so it's okay by me if he morphs into Tom Jones or Wayne Newton or Lou Christie or Gary Glitter (minus the pedo) or whatever: there's a kind of cheesy glory to it all, and it's hard for me to be offended or embarrassed by it. He's fucking Rod Stewart.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:27 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn it HP LaserJet- are you stalking my mum? She drinks pink chamapagne (well it's pink and has bubbles and a cork ipso facto pink chmapagne) and has an unhealthy obsession with Rod Stewart/
posted by Gratishades at 3:33 PM on August 10, 2010


Oh, it doesn't bother me so much. I'm more in the "pretend it doesn't exist" camp for Stewart, the same way that there was Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and the tragically unfinished Return of the Jedi. Who knows what would have happened after that? I guess we'll never know.

Weirdly, with the people I know, it seems to be the older crowd who are more dismayed at Stewart's recent efforts.
posted by adipocere at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2010


Damn it HP LaserJet- are you stalking my mum? She drinks pink chamapagne (well it's pink and has bubbles and a cork ipso facto pink chmapagne) and has an unhealthy obsession with Rod Stewart/

No I'm not stalking her, but feel free to memail me her number.* If she's single that is.

*I keed, I keed
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2010


ODiV, I linked to at least six posts that had to do with him.

Yeah, I've seen those posts through the years and I've been under the mistaken impression that MetaFilter's awareness and interest in him was kicked off and sustained by his famous explanation of the Internet. This impression was helped along by the countless references to his comments in every thread about him.

Thanks for setting me straight, everyone (Nabubrush, zarq, cortex, edgeways, adipocere). I shouldn't be so quick to conflate my experience with MetaFilter's as a whole. Never would have posted a comment like that to the blue, though.

Can I plead Canadian on this one?
posted by ODiV at 3:37 PM on August 10, 2010


I have a really hard time convincing other people - even some who self-identify as music nerds - that Rod Stewart used to be good great. It's like I'm trying to convince them that Hitler was a lollipop salesman before he went into politics or something.

I blame it all on this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:39 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Most of us will get bloated and irrelevant before we pass on."

Some of us sooner than others.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 3:45 PM on August 10, 2010


As a serious Palin candidacy for President begins to look all but inevitable, I do sincerely regret that a person who had no cause to love her, and knew precisely where all the bodies in Alaska politics are buried has so abruptly joined them, but I'm very relieved that the fact there are survivors seems to take the crash out of the 'possible conspiracy' column (as well as for Sean O'Keefe and son and loved ones).

And the 'series of tubes' thing is actually inspired, and worthy of all the recognition it got.
posted by jamjam at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I just learned that this song was plagiarized for 'Da Ya Think I'm Sexy'. And we say Youtube commenters never say anything good...
posted by norm at 3:49 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


hard time convincing other people - even some who self-identify as music nerds - that Rod Stewart used to be good

Well look he was never a Nick Drake or Bob Dylan or Gram Parsons or Jim Morrison or some kind of musical genius, but he had his moments and he made some decent music. I was never a huge fan, but comparing him to Kim Jong Il, whose early records really suck, is just eccentric and mean spirited. Have you heard Kim Jong Il's version of "Maggie May"? Probably not: it was so bad even he finally had all the copies burned. But I managed to get my hands on one, very rare, at a record shop in Pyongyang, and smuggle it out of the country. Later that week, at a posh Seoul penthouse apartment, I dropped the vinyl slab on an old record player, and the party grew silent. "That is horrible, they are decimating Mr. Stewart's hit," said the host of the party, "who is it?" "Well," I countered, "I wanted it to be a surprise. Would you believe Kim Jong Il?" An audible gasp filled the room. Needless to say, I was escorted to the door, and told to leave at once. They kept the record, and I was never able to retrieve it.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:54 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


This has nothing to do, to my mind, about not saying the guy was a scumbag, it's about not having the thread become a circle jerk to see who can be more fuckery in an obit thread where other people are doing the normal discussion, sharing comments, talking about stuff types of things.

How do we differentiate expressing our heartfelt feelings of disgust at a person's career or personal habits, and "fuckery"? I don't have a strong enough opinion on Stevens to express either disgust or fuckery in-thread. But, I know people whose passing I will celebrate.

Is the issue one of stunting? If I make up some shit, and make it funny, that's maybe not okay? But, if I genuinely hate the guy and go on at length about it, is that cool? How many sardonic rhetorical devices may I use before it becomes fuckery and no longer genuine scumbag-calling?

I know that MeFi is known for keeping conversations almost scarily hate-free. But, I argue that anger and wrath for a single individual or voluntary organization is different from racist, sexist, classist, *ist hatred.

It seems like a human right to strongly abhor an individual for their objectively-confirmed actions. I hate Bush. I'm not interested in being responsible for his demise, but I would not be displeased to hear that he had succumbed "to his decade-long fight with rampant bowel cancer". I don't feel that my schadenfreude harms anybody, and it would make me feel pretty good.

Because, really, what better revenge is there on a bastard than to outlive the motherfucker and talk shit after he's dead?
posted by Netzapper at 3:54 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Because, really, what better revenge is there on a bastard than to outlive the motherfucker and talk shit after he's dead?

This presumes that their ghost can hear you (or read your comments on the internet). Otherwise, it's not really revenge.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:57 PM on August 10, 2010


.
posted by knave at 3:57 PM on August 10, 2010


This presumes that their ghost can hear you (or read your comments on the internet). Otherwise, it's not really revenge.

It makes me feel good. And it doesn't hurt him... unless you presuppose a ghost?

Passes my morality test.
posted by Netzapper at 4:05 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree with languagehat--"people should feel free to say whatever they want in an obit thread." I don't hold with "never speak ill of the dead," or especially "if you can't say something nice...." If we don't say anything at all if we can't say something nice, there wouldn't be much discussion on MetaFilter. I'm not talking about insulting one another; I'm talking about the debates about the topics in FPPs that lead to real thought and discussion. Since we can say not-nice things elsewhere, holding obit threads to a higher standard seems almost arbitrary. It's not like we're saying this stuff at the deceased's memorial service.

II don't care one way or the other about Stevens, and I feel bad for those who loved him, but if I hated the guy I would have absolutely no compunction about saying "good riddance" in an obit thread. It would just be a comment relating how *I* feel about him dying. Why should anyone else have a problem with that?
posted by tzikeh at 4:05 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Want to talk about the guy and about his legacy, even if it's in unflattering terms, fine. Want to make a winky joke about what a fucker he was and then ask me if that's okay, I'll say it's not.

So if I had only used the Wikipedia quote, it would have been "fine". But adding the words "Too soon?" made it "shitty".

Interesting.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:05 PM on August 10, 2010


Most of us will get bloated and irrelevant before we pass on.

I plan to continue to do so after I pass on, as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:07 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting.

You are not new here. We do not play the "why is this one okay and that one not okay?" game here. I can explain the guidelines and how we enforce them again if you'd like. Or you can try to pick up some of the nuances of how this site tends to operate. And yeah adding an ironic "I know I am being edgy here" line to the end could make a comment cross the line, as might its placement in the thread, and possibly the fact that it was you who posted it. Sorry.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:09 PM on August 10, 2010


The optimal solution here would be no more 'obituary' threads, of course.

But that's not going to happen.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:10 PM on August 10, 2010


Look, if everyone could just stop dying.
posted by ODiV at 4:13 PM on August 10, 2010


Outliving a person you thought was evil, does not make you the winner.
posted by Cranberry at 4:17 PM on August 10, 2010


Good Lord, rusty, I think that Mencken has already written Palin's obit....
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:18 PM on August 10, 2010


Five people died in this crash. And Stevens was widely respected and an icon in Alaska, and he lived quite an impressive life.

I didn't like Stevens. I don't have a problem with saying that in an obit thread, or for that matter reading others say it. I have been known to say at live memorial services that the person at issue was not my cup of tea.

But there's a difference between saying you didn't like him in the obit thread versus doing a happy dance there.

MetaFilter has a mean side which does not show us to advantage. (I say this with love in my heart, because this is my favorite place on the internet, bar none.) And as a big free speech advocate, I'd add that rights come with responsibilities, like figuring out when is the right time and the right tone. If your animus must burst out somewhere, what's so tough about opening a MeTa thread like this one?

Just my opinion.
posted by bearwife at 4:19 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


... and possibly the fact that it was you who posted it. Sorry.

In return, I apologize for making a high-maintenance thread more so.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:29 PM on August 10, 2010


zarq writes "He was instrumental while at Interior in gaining statehood for Alaska. Illegally, I might add. Helped create legislation that helped Alaska develop into a state and economic force. Was a proponent of Native American Rights, and helped pass the largest Native land claims act in American History under Nixon. Helped pass a bill that turned 80 million acres of Alaskan wilderness into protected national park lands. Sponsored legislation in the 70's that led to the formation of the US Olympic committee. "

I wish people would pair even a teeny bit of context with the name in obit posts. There must be dozens of Ted Stephens dieing each year it would be nice for those who aren't steeped in *Famous Person's* influence sphere if a differentiator was included.

* resists stunt posting John Kerry has died to the front page *
posted by Mitheral at 4:30 PM on August 10, 2010


There was a Steinbrenner obit thread and nobody got pissy?

Amazing. Now there is a man I hated with passion. I really don't care any more one way or the other, but I did not read the man's obituaries.

The individual who I have the biggest hatred for right now is either Bernanke or Geitner or Blankfein. If one of them drops dead tomorrow I will not be reading their stupid obituaries.

Other than that I applaud Jessamyn. She is one cool cucumber!
posted by bukvich at 4:41 PM on August 10, 2010


> There was a Steinbrenner obit thread and nobody got pissy?

I deliberately stayed out of that one because it was all respectful and shit and if I'd said anything it would have harshed the mellow and after all he didn't kill anybody. But since we're in the gray and the subject has come up: yes, he was horrible. (If I'd been a Yankee fan, I'd have hated him; as a Mets fan, I took ghoulish glee in his horribleness. The Mets owners were just boring and incompetent.)
posted by languagehat at 5:05 PM on August 10, 2010


And yeah adding an ironic "I know I am being edgy here" line to the end could make a comment cross the line, as might its placement in the thread, and possibly the fact that it was you who posted it. Sorry.
posted by jessamyn


I think this is much too much hostility for a mod to be expressing toward a member without greater justification than I'm seeing in this thread and in what hasn't been deleted in the other, where Joe Beese's comment is far from being the most caustic either above or below it.

Sorry (only I really am, in this case).
posted by jamjam at 5:28 PM on August 10, 2010


joe beese is not a stranger to the community or conflict or metatalk. i generally like him and his contributions, but i don't think jessamyn was out of line.
posted by nadawi at 5:36 PM on August 10, 2010


As a socialist, green, liberal, animal-loving, hippy, punk, communist, my hope is for Senator Stevens to rest in peace, and I wish the very best for his family and every other person too. Life is hard. Why make it harder?

And oh yeah, the Yankees still suck.
posted by belvidere at 5:42 PM on August 10, 2010





hermitosis: "Someday the Orly Taitz obit thread is going to make this one look like a ride on the teacups"

Orly? (insert owl jpg here)

...

What? That meme could come back.
posted by Bonzai at 6:02 PM on August 10, 2010


I know jack about the deceased here.

But my general thought on the topic of obituary posts is this: The deceased is past caring about any of our comments, good, bad or indifferent. But that person has family and loved ones. I'd like to think that none of us would want to cause any of THEM any added pain.

So, perhaps we could think of that before we post on an obit thread.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:47 PM on August 10, 2010


i guess i've never much understood that line of reasoning when the person in question profited monetarily and socially for their crimes. who do you think he shared that money and prestige with? family and loved ones would be my guess.
posted by nadawi at 6:53 PM on August 10, 2010


Nadawi, that's an understandable assumption-but ONLY an assumption. I prefer to err on the side of grace, myself.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:35 PM on August 10, 2010


Show some class or if you can't manage that, some restraint.

Went back to 2007 when Falwell died and 2008 when Helms died for comparison. I know we do not play the "why is this one okay and that one not okay?" game here but those threads were both incredibly vitriolic, complete with wiki links to awful behavior, that it seems not right to leave unasked why it would be okay for them but not for Cheney -- or indeed anyone that someone might despise for whatever reason.
posted by waraw at 7:51 PM on August 10, 2010


why it would be okay for them but not for Cheney

One of the things I love about the gang who runs this place is their willingness to step up and say, "You know this stuff that's been happening since day one, but as the years go by and more and more people sign up it's been getting more and more noticeable? Yeah, it's starting to make a lot more people uncomfortable and maybe we should talk about making an effort to dial it back."

See also: Boyzone/casual misogyny, the c-word, recipe derails, jokey AskMe questions and non-answers, et al.
posted by Gator at 7:57 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Silly rabbit, Cheney won't die, he doesn't even have a pulse.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:14 PM on August 10, 2010


Yeah, I would point to the Falwell and Helms threads as good examples of just why we are not happy with the idea of "get nasty" as a condoned approach to obit-of-unlikeable-person threads. I think we'd go after those a bit harder now than we did two or three years ago, though ultimately it's hard to draw a clear bright line between Harsh Rebuke and Needless Fuckery in any case.

I don't think we will ever, ever declare open season on anybody—there was no "hey, go crazy, they deserve it" mod dictum for Helms or Falwell, and there's won't be for Cheney or whoever the fuck else—and the fact that people are going to be nasty sometimes despite that doesn't change it. Stuff that's pushing it too much may in fact get deleted from a thread; we can't frame this in terms of "be no worse than the worst thing ever undeleted" and stay sane and keep this place from going to hell.

All that aside: it's been a very busy and fairly weird day for a whole random collection of reasons, and we're all kind of pooped. I'm sorry if Team Mod hasn't been communicating as well as we try to most days, but it's gonna happen sometimes and if that's part of the problem here, our bad. Tomorrow's another day, maybe it will be a bit less crazy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:15 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm going to do that thing, and even will alter the meaning of the original quote, but:

Metatalk: a clear bright line between Harsh Rebuke and Needless Fuckery
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sooooo want that on a T-shirt.

Thank you for the response cortex, it is much appreciated, mods deserve hugs even moreso than normal, you know the drill
posted by waraw at 8:35 PM on August 10, 2010


Well, part of the corruption in question was the couple hundred thousand expansion of his vacation home at Alyeska ski resort, so unless he didn't invite the family down for the weekend, they probably got some use out of it.
posted by Nabubrush at 8:53 PM on August 10, 2010


I have a really hard time convincing other people - even some who self-identify as music nerds - that Rod Stewart used to be great .

I love Faces, but it's probably telling that essentially all* their best songs were written by Ronnie Lane or Ian McLagan (or in one case, Bob Dylan). Still, when Rod kicks the bucket, somebody will have to stand up and remind everyone that he once made some great music.

* Pool Hall Richard is the exception
posted by Dr.Enormous at 9:19 PM on August 10, 2010


I don't think discussing the defects of a dead person is off limits in an obit thread. But something about internet culture seems to make it permissible to go all open season and gloat and piss on the graves of people we don't like when they die. It may be cathartic, in some truly negative way, but beyond that I don't see much that comes of it.
posted by blucevalo at 9:59 PM on August 10, 2010


Eh. When I clicked on the link I thought Ted Haggert had died, and I was all set to say some things a lot nastier than whatever was said in this thread.

Just because a body stopped breathing doesn't mean it didn't spend its life being an irredeemable asshole, and it doesn't mean I have to pretend otherwise
posted by paisley henosis at 10:22 PM on August 10, 2010


St. Alia of the Bunnies: But my general thought on the topic of obituary posts is this: The deceased is past caring about any of our comments, good, bad or indifferent. But that person has family and loved ones. I'd like to think that none of us would want to cause any of THEM any added pain.

I agree with the first part, 100%.

But if a monster dies, that is an objective Good Thing, and if you are sad about it, tough cookies for you. I'll be sad when my parents die because they were good people and not, like, war profiteers. If Lynne Cheney doesn't like what I have to say about her already-zombie shitbird husband, she can cram it.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:27 PM on August 10, 2010


Hey man, say what you will about Pol Pot, but that guy ... that guy ... he could ... you never saw ... the only guy that could ...

Inspire the delightful 'Paul's Pot' cooking segments on the classic CBC Radio programme 'The Great Eastern'?

Well look he was never a Nick Drake or Bob Dylan or Gram Parsons or Jim Morrison or some kind of musical genius

That's okay, neither was Jim Morrison. ZING.

We've said nasty things about Ted Stevens once, why say them all again?

Fah-fah-fah-fah-fafafafah-fah. Woah-Oh-Oh-OOOHHHH AI-AI-AI-AI-AI-AIEEEEE
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:47 PM on August 10, 2010


Well, I kind of liked some of Cat "Scratch" Stevens' songs.

Wait, whaaat? (I've been living in hotels with only hypothetical wireless for 3 days. What's this "news" thing?)
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:13 PM on August 10, 2010


If Lynne Cheney doesn't like what I have to say about her already-zombie shitbird husband, she can cram it.

Is the goal to be as classless as possible?
posted by ambient2 at 11:17 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I like Do Ya Think I'm Sexy and I don't care who knows it.
posted by cj_ at 1:01 AM on August 11, 2010


Thanks mods. You guys are ass-kickers. What a fucking hard day this must have been.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:39 AM on August 11, 2010


Heh. "Theodore."
posted by telstar at 2:16 AM on August 11, 2010


Controversial people are going to spawn controversial comments, there's really no way around it. The mods do a good job of cleaning up the worst offenders but I think passionate people are going to step over the line sometimes. Not a Ted Stevens fan, do not like nor respect him, thus I didn't comment. If I want to piss on someone's grave I do it with my friends and people I know feel the same way. Or I just travel to their grave and commence with the pissing. Either way.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:12 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm coming late to this thread, but all the bile in the Stevens obit reminded me of Free Republic.

I would appreciate it in the future if people could refrain from reminding me of Free Republic in any capacity.
posted by orville sash at 5:12 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can't tell me what to think, commie. It's a free republic country!
posted by MuffinMan at 5:22 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or I just travel to their grave and commence with the pissing.

The logistics involved here are actually more complex than you might think. Don't get me wrong, it's an enjoyable escapade, but ya gotta be pretty careful with it.

Not that I have any idea, of course.
posted by aramaic at 5:39 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it time yet to quote Byron on Castlereagh?

Posterity will ne'er survey
A nobler grave than this:
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveller, and piss.


Remember, kids, you can take out Castlereagh and put in Ted Stevens' name, and the meter will still work. But footnote carefully, or it's plagiarism.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:48 AM on August 11, 2010


You can also do this and have the meter work with "Steinbrenner." And I didn't. Me and the 'hat, maybe others too -- we deserve gold stars for not pissing in the Steinbrenner thread, that is what I'm saying.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:52 AM on August 11, 2010


My comment: can we keep this sophisticated?

Obituaries just aren't the place for political (or even moral) sniping. Unless we are talking about Hitler, anything beyond condolences for the surviving family is pretty selfish and despicable. Got a problem with Ted Stevens? Fine. Let the people who don't grieve and share and do their thing without injecting your opinion into it. At least wait until they are in the ground to dance on their graves. Have some fucking class.
posted by gjc at 5:54 AM on August 11, 2010


I disagree with GJC. I think that the obit of someone like Ted Stevens is a perfect place to criticize their behavior in life. I just think all of the "I hope that Stevens drowns in filth for a billion years in the afterlife" is a little beneath the level of discourse that mefites are perfectly capable of.
posted by orville sash at 6:04 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only time it's okay to celebrate someone's death is when they were actually in the process of killing people or making people's lives a living hell and their death was the only way to stop it.

I took no pleasure in the hanging of saddam hussein, despite the fact that the man was one of the worst killers of his generation. Because, quite simply, by the time he was hanged he was a beaten and harmless man. And can see where his execution may still have been necessary, but it was a sad thing.

On the other hand, if Kim Jong Il drops dead tomorrow and the first thing Kim Jong-un does afterwards is call in a UN minesweeping team to dismantle the DMZ, then yes, I'll be first in line to say "I'm glad that fucker's dead."
posted by 256 at 6:14 AM on August 11, 2010


161 (162) and 30 (31) uses of the word "fuck" in some form....
posted by edgeways at 7:53 AM on August 11, 2010


er ^162 (163) comments
posted by edgeways at 7:54 AM on August 11, 2010


gjc: Unless we are talking about Hitler, anything beyond condolences for the surviving family is pretty selfish and despicable.

So, wait, some people (at least one person) are beyond the threshold of having to pretend that they were human beings and not monsters. But only you get to set that line.

Sounds about right, keep up the fucking class.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:58 AM on August 11, 2010


It's not like Stevens was some horrible monster who masturbated while soldiers tossed babies into a sausage machine. Have some bleedin' perspective. If people want to keep a web forum above the ugly fray, then respect that and drop your bile in the local newspaper comment section.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:08 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


WTF is wrong with Rod Stewart?

I think it was when I was in high school, Rod had canceled a concert on short notice, so one of the local radio stations sponsored an 'event' called "giving rod the bird", that involved buying a junker Thunderbird, and letting people write all sorts of nastiness to him on it, then dropping it off at some concert where he did show up.
posted by nomisxid at 8:14 AM on August 11, 2010


orville sash: think that the obit of someone like Ted Stevens is a perfect place to criticize their behavior in life. I just think all of the "I hope that Stevens drowns in filth for a billion years in the afterlife" is a little beneath the level of discourse that mefites are perfectly capable of.

Though my comment far earlier in the thread may make it seem differently (as I said I wasn't going to be pissing on Ted Stevens's grave), I agree with this. I think pointing out a person's flaws and mistakes in an obit thread is perfectly acceptable; being a dick about it is my problem. It requires perspective on both sides and a bit of generous effort in the "think before you click" department wouldn't be a bad idea.

Or we could just get rid of death, which might be easier.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:23 AM on August 11, 2010


Burhanistan:
It's not like Stevens was some horrible monster who masturbated while soldiers tossed babies into a sausage machine.


Right, but Cheney did does.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2010


> Obituaries just aren't the place for political (or even moral) sniping. Unless we are talking about Hitler, anything beyond condolences for the surviving family is pretty selfish and despicable.

That's your idea, not mine, and not a lot of people's. And what paisley henosis said: who are you to draw the line? But feel free to start a nannying MetaTalk thread when people offend your sense of what's right and proper in the future.
posted by languagehat at 8:58 AM on August 11, 2010


Who indeed are you to say I shouldn't lower myself by crowing over the death of someone else? The high road is just so exhausting. Good day to you.
posted by boo_radley at 9:43 AM on August 11, 2010


This shall henceforth be the only acceptable way to grieve on Metafilter: a pithy one-liner that can fit within the confines of a gravestone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 AM on August 11, 2010


Unless we are talking about Hitler, anything beyond condolences for the surviving family is pretty selfish and despicable.

Well, speak for yourself. There were a few politicians absolutely responsible for the cold-blooded murder of my parents, and none of them was named Hitler. I think the dead should be allowed a *modicum* of respect and commentary restraint, given that we have all made mistakes and done the occasional regrettable thing. But when the evidence is overwhelmingly such that the world would have been better off without a person in it, all bets are off. If someone doesn't like it, one hopes he or she will lead a positive enough life not for it to affect his or her own obituary.

Generally speaking, I like it when truth is not hidden.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:47 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


a pithy one-liner that can fit within the confines of a gravestone.

I can't remember who wrote it, (a poet who had lost his daughter) but this is my favourite epitaph:

"Beneath this stone doth lie
as much beauty as could die"


Pretty heavy, huh?
posted by Trochanter at 10:12 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no problem with people spouting off in an obit thread, but as obits go, the OP on that was pretty weak. If you can't muster the energy to write a little about the man's accomplishments, maybe the post announcing his death should be left to someone who can.

Hell, even if that post had accused Stevens of masturbating over corpses, that would have been something.

256: The only time it's okay to celebrate someone's death is when they were actually in the process of killing people or making people's lives a living hell and their death was the only way to stop it.

Thanks for your opinion, but mine is that it's often okay to celebrate someone's death. Particularly, but not exclusively, the death of a bad person who may have continued doing bad things, or who endeavored to make the world a worse place and enriched himself doing so. In this case, though, I don't know enough about the man to care on way or the other.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:18 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


RIP Dan Rostenkowski.
posted by fixedgear at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2010


I think it was when I was in high school, Rod had canceled a concert on short notice, so one of the local radio stations sponsored an 'event' called "giving rod the bird", that involved buying a junker Thunderbird, and letting people write all sorts of nastiness to him on it, then dropping it off at some concert where he did show up.

Our local station did the same to Van Halen. But when they dropped off the car for Diamond Dave, the once-defiant DJs turned quisling and smooched rock star butt. It was disillusioning for a young rocker.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:51 AM on August 11, 2010


heh, fixed gear. I saw that headline and thought, hm, will we get a repeat so soon? Does anyone remember him? who will make the first "RoTTenkowski" joke?
posted by crush-onastick at 11:53 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would love to do an obit, but I'm leaving work early and have much to do. i can picture his house as I used to work around the corner and when he was around there was a retinue.
RIP, indeed. One of those end of an era deaths, back when we expected our elected officials to be crooked, but hoped they didn't get too greedy.
posted by readery at 11:58 AM on August 11, 2010


adipocere: "I started a comment, I couldn't even finish it. I could put down a dot, but that's not saying anything. If we collectively have nothing to say, maybe the post should be closed. We've said nasty things about Ted Stevens once, why say them all again"

Am I the only one who realized this was a Talking Heads joke?
posted by charred husk at 12:05 PM on August 11, 2010


No, you are not.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:11 PM on August 11, 2010


cgm, I did include various and sundry other bits about the esteemed late ex-senator there and here. I guess I figured most people knew that he was the most powerful Alaskan politician ever (barring perhaps Wally Hickel) and about the tubes thing, his service in WWII, his role in working towards statehood and the more recent corruption issues - as opposed to some folks who have said they didn't really know anything about him other than the tubes thing.

I'm not sure if anyone wrote up something more detailed that got deleted. If so I apologize, as I do if my post wasn't up to snuff. I don't have a lot of experience in actually putting together FPPs. In the long run, the post got the job done, but I'll agree that's a low point at which to set the bar.
posted by Nabubrush at 12:19 PM on August 11, 2010


cortex: "No, you are not"

*bows*
posted by charred husk at 1:41 PM on August 11, 2010


metafilter: qu'est-ce que c'est?
posted by shmegegge at 2:15 PM on August 11, 2010


Celebrating the death of any human being is repugnant.
posted by hjo3 at 7:24 PM on August 11, 2010


"Celebrating the death of any human being is repugnant."

Really? I can think of any number of despicable dictators just in the last...oh, 65 years or so* whose deaths were celebrated, and rightly so.

*You do the math, Mr. Godwin
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:10 PM on August 11, 2010


Really? I can think of any number of despicable dictators just in the last...oh, 65 years or so* whose deaths were celebrated, and rightly so.

I agree to disagree. The distinction between believing the world is better with someone dead and engaging in celebration of that death may be a small one but I think it's a healthy one.
posted by phearlez at 11:13 AM on August 12, 2010


Can you imagine the obit thread if Metafilter had been around when Ayn Rand died?
posted by Tenuki at 12:15 PM on August 12, 2010


Can you imagine the obit thread if Metafilter had been around when Ayn Rand died?

One can only dream, I suppose.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:18 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The distinction between believing the world is better with someone dead and engaging in celebration of that death may be a small one but I think it's a healthy one.

Or perhaps you've just never really, really wanted someone dead. If those Italian women back in the day wanted to kick Mussolini's corpse around, and it made them feel better, then I'm going to let them decide what's healthy and what isn't. Because I have no idea.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:20 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Munchkins: "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead!"

MeFi Politeness Brigade: "Now, now, let's have some decorum."
posted by darkstar at 1:24 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


An interesting assertion. You don't think I've ever really really wanted to do something that I thought was wrong?

Obviously I'm going to let other people decide for themselves as well, at least until I get declared Supreme Emperor. I'm just responding to the declaration "rightly so."
posted by phearlez at 1:38 PM on August 12, 2010


A: "Could you maybe not post fanfic about you skullfucking the Witch's puddled corpse?"

B: "Oh, we have to be polite now..."

If you want to paint this in silly terms, we can go in both directions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:40 PM on August 12, 2010


Cortex, there's a difference between rejoicing at someone's death and representing it as pornographic necrophilia. I don't see anyone actually suggesting that we do the latter, whereas it seems like a lot of folks would like the opportunity to do the former. Hence, your "silly terms' seems like a bit of a stretch.

Needless to say, I'm not trying to get in a pissing match with the mods, since you have the authoritah, and all. I'm just pointing out that it seems a bit chiding and nannyish to suggest that folks can't express their relief and joy at a perceived oppressor's death.

Of course, MeFi is what its mods say it is, which I'm happy to accept.
posted by darkstar at 1:47 PM on August 12, 2010


And for what it's worth, I've been in a similar position as mod of LF, championing the principle that folks shouldn't use the f-bomb on the front page. It was an extremely controversial subject, too.

So I really feel for the mods who have to weigh the whole free speech vs. decorum issue.
posted by darkstar at 1:50 PM on August 12, 2010


I hear you, but my take on this is that there's a very wide spectrum of opinion in these discussion from folks, all the way from "speak no ill of the dead" to "my only regret is that i have but one bladder to empty on his grave". It feels myopic and unfairly imprecise to try and rebuke one side of that argument with a "Politeness Brigade" jab as if that's the only point of contention in any of this, is what I was reacting to.

From an admin perspective our only real stake here is, as with almost everything on mefi, "please try not to be assholes"—if you think ill of the dead and want to say so substantially and can do so without getting super ugly or nasty about it or otherwise lobbing bombs into a thread, that's generally speaking going to be okay, at the very least in the strict sense of what stays vs. what gets deleted.

People who want obits to be super-nice are never going to be happy with our approach to it, and neither are people who want to be able to get their unchecked aggro on, but hopefully the people standing somewhere between those two extremes—and that is by my reckoning the vast majority of people here—will be mostly okay with it and we'll be able to have interesting and ideally not overly contentious threads when it goes well.

Definitely not trying to have a pissing match with you, so peace.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:01 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


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