I/P Infringement September 22, 2010 7:15 PM   Subscribe

When can we expect to have this I/P ban lifted?

It seems to me rather ridiculous that there can exist a sweeping ban on a topic like that. As I understand, the message from admins is that we can't behave ourselves so no cookies for us but uhh my hostility radar was far below threshold on this one. So far as I can tell, people are jerks on every thread, so why make an exception in this case?
posted by tybeet to Etiquette/Policy at 7:15 PM (273 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I'm outraged!
posted by carsonb at 7:21 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


To better answer your query, I bet the next appropriate Israel/Palestine thread that comes along announces 'Peace In The Middle East!'

So, uh, have fun waiting for that news to hit the wire. Until then, though, it's only more of the same. The same violence, the same conflict, the same outrage, endlessly permutated.
posted by carsonb at 7:24 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


So far as I can tell, people are jerks on every thread

This is not actually the case.

The weird savagery that is characteristic of every single I/P thread is unusual for MetaFilter. And frankly I/P posts aren't verboten, they need to be made carefully. Trotting out a UN vs. Israel post with a body count is not really the way to go about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:25 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


When can we expect to have this I/P ban lifted? --- Right about the time when there is peace in the Middle East, I imagine.
posted by crunchland at 7:26 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


For what it is worth, I thought your post was framed pretty well for such a polarizing and contentious issue.

If there are going to be topic wide bans, I'd suggest adding bikes vs. cars, cops beating people, and Alcoholics Anonymous to the list.

I seem to see a higher percentage of jerks in threads lately, but that might be my perspective.
posted by marxchivist at 7:27 PM on September 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Er, yeah. Disagree with the deletion on this one too. It's a minefield of a topic, but also newsworthy (albeit ignored by the MSM), and seemed to be framed as neutrally as it could have been.

Weekly I/P posts would not be OK. This one seemed like a good platform for a discussion...
posted by schmod at 7:28 PM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Personally, I think titling your post "U.N. - 1, Israel - 0" was pretty crass. This is not a game, and it's not a competition. This is a complicated issue that is not made any better by presenting it through a point system.

And yes, I know you were trying to make your links and summary substantial but trying to be witty of funny or whatever in your title just soured the whole presentation for me.
posted by Mouse Army at 7:31 PM on September 22, 2010 [22 favorites]


It was like hell neutral. It was "two minutes of Israel hate" bait.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:31 PM on September 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


If there are going to be topic wide bans

Better yet, there's been a modly movement encouraging less posts that foster or encourage Recreational Outrage. I don't think I/P fits exactly into that hole, but it's certainly in the same 'negative space' family.
posted by carsonb at 7:33 PM on September 22, 2010


Great news! I'm going to be setting up a new sister site of Metafilter called "I/Pfilter." It'll be a place where you can post all you want about your opinions about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I'll let you know when it's all set up, but in the meantime, I'll give you the IP address for it. It's 127.0.0.1.
posted by crunchland at 7:35 PM on September 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


It seems to me rather ridiculous that there can exist a sweeping ban on a topic like that.

There is no sweeping ban on the topic. There is a raised bar for how posts are presented given what a predictable clusterfuck the ensuing conversations can be. This didn't seem like it was clearly vaulting that bar; it's revisiting a hotbutton thing that we already had at least one thread about when it happened.

It's hard to do this stuff right, and too easy to make posts about this or that aspect that is the latest awful to come down the line.

It's a minefield of a topic, but also newsworthy (albeit ignored by the MSM)

It's a minefield of a topic that we've talked about before, and "ignored by the MSM" is more something for freepers and kos kids to fret about than for the front page of Metafilter to be beholden to. This is not a political activism site or a news outlet.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 PM on September 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


It was like hell neutral. It was "two minutes of Israel hate" bait.

To be fair, any I/P post is invariably going to involve some sort of atrocity committed by one side or the other. ("Peace in the Middle East" will be published as a retrospective, not a headline)

Thus, I suppose, proving Jessamyn's point. Why does she have to be right all the time?

I'd like to discuss the topic, but *any* story on the issue is going to be a minefield. There's also that old "every argument doesn't necessarily have two equally valid sides" mantra. It's pretty difficult to defend Israel in this instance, although that doesn't necessarily mean that we shouldn't be discussing it.

posted by schmod at 7:38 PM on September 22, 2010


So far as I can tell, people are jerks on every thread

The GRAR! is strong with this one.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:40 PM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


omg! do as you're told. this place does its job.
posted by sweetkid at 7:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


marxchivist: "For what it is worth, I thought your post was framed pretty well for such a polarizing and contentious issue.

If there are going to be topic wide bans, I'd suggest adding bikes vs. cars, cops beating people, and Alcoholics Anonymous to the list.

I seem to see a higher percentage of jerks in threads lately, but that might be my perspective.
"

If we ban everything anyone thinks metafilter 'doesn't do well' we won't have anything left to talk about
posted by flatluigi at 7:50 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Huh, other than the title I thought it was a well framed post and am a little surprised it didn't stand. Obviously its a touchy subject but the world is full of those.
posted by Rumple at 7:50 PM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


So you concede that the thread was full of people of being jerks, and you still think it's a good idea to let it stay? Compelling defense there.
posted by chinston at 7:53 PM on September 22, 2010


There is no sweeping ban on the topic. There is a raised bar for how posts are presented given what a predictable clusterfuck the ensuing conversations can be.

So there's no sweeping ban, merely a bar raised so high that no one can get over it.

I thought it was a pretty good post, about it's only flaw was the unnecessary "U.N. - 1, Israel - 0".

All the angst that ensues is based on what people bring to the thread. Basically, people are going to get ultra-fighty no matter what, as long as it's a Palestine - Israel thread.

Which is pretty sad, but I think it's a better decision to accept that we're not grown up enough to talk about these things rather than have a lot of people yelling at each other and a lot of clean up work for the mods, for no real enlightenment.
posted by wilful at 7:59 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


For what it is worth, I thought your post was framed pretty well for such a polarizing and contentious issue.

Me too. Seems that the bar for I/P posts just got raised a little higher. Opinions will obviously differ as to whether that's a bad thing.

Oh, and the idea that what some have called "recreational outrage" is by itself enough for deletion should disappear, the sooner the better. One or two deletion reasons were maybe a little glib with the phrase, but the posts I can remember that have been deleted with that in mind also had other serious problems - single link to a short op-ed, bad overly opinionated framing, etc.
posted by mediareport at 8:00 PM on September 22, 2010


We'll have a decent I/P thread...about the same time it would be safe for me to post in a Sarah Palin thread.

preemptively dreading 2012
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:02 PM on September 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


So there's no sweeping ban, merely a bar raised so high that no one can get over it.

We have very, very different ideas of "no one can get over it". Please take a look at just the israel tag. This is not a topic which people here are shy about posting. We remove a fair number of them and, frankly, the remainder is still a source of more acrimony than I think is at all worth it. But we try to compromise on this, as with basically anything else.

Again: we had a post about the flotilla. It was huge and fucking awful. I remember it very clearly. The idea that we absolutely need a sequel is not one I can subscribe to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:03 PM on September 22, 2010


Neutrality generally involves presenting both sides of the story.
posted by Behemoth at 8:04 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry. I expect we'll see a well written and well responded-to post on I/P long before I see a similarly treated post on Palin.
posted by crunchland at 8:04 PM on September 22, 2010


This is not a political activism site or a news outlet.

This.
posted by John Cohen at 8:06 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


The answer to the O.P. is - when it can be discussed with nuance and sympathy.

Example:

* * *

The intense focus on I/P is sickening, and largely detrimental to both sides. Foreigners associate the Israelis (including Berber and Arab Israelis) with european colonialists, or they associate the Palestinians (Including Christian and ethnic Lebanese) with "Filthy Arab Barbarians." Both abuse the hell out of history to make their point. The Zionists asked the Ottomans for permission to immigrate to build a jewish homeland in the 19th century, and they said "Yes." That's an end of it. No backsies, no harping on what the Romans did.

1) Israel does what it does because it (rightly) sees itself separated from holocaust only by American money and it's reputation for being able to wreck anyone's day at any time and place.

2) Palestine does what it does because the rest of the Muslim world, especially Shi'ite Arabs, eggs them on, hoping to be in the cat-bird seat when that New Caliphate comes around. (Much like American ultra-religious conservatives backing Israel because they think it will hasten the end-time.)

The solution is simple (ha! No.) - treat Palestinians as citizens, and prosecute terrorism as a crime, not an act of war - and on the other side, stop pretending you didn't lose in 1948 and declare genocide against the Jews was a terrible idea all around, and lobby for equal representation in the Knesset and land reform in the West Bank.

* * *

Blanket condemnations of either the Palestinians or the Israelis... Are. Not. Welcome.

Yet that's what it devolves into. Emotional outpourings of hate towards Israel, with =all= that entails, and angry unconditional defense of anything Israel does, with =all= that entails.

Unless you're an anti-semite or an apocalyptic evangellical, you really need to examine why you have a dog in this fight. If the answer is, Policy wonk interested in unresolved legacies of the Cold-War", welcome to the discussion. But I doubt those sorts are interested in the level of discussion MeFi has been able to muster on this matter so far.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:07 PM on September 22, 2010 [17 favorites]


If we ban everything anyone thinks metafilter 'doesn't do well' we won't have anything left to talk about

You are correct. I listed some things that had been sticking in my craw lately.

I guess we'll always have kittens, right?
posted by marxchivist at 8:16 PM on September 22, 2010


Not sure that really helped anything, S*H.

Meaning -- there's plenty in your comment to GRAR about, even if you are trying to be level-headed and fair.
posted by Mid at 8:18 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


kittens sticking in your craw? Gotta chew 30 times per bite man.
posted by edgeways at 8:24 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the post - bar the title - was fine. I don't think posters should be punished for the transgressions of commenters. I understand the responsibility and onus of posting is obviously somewhat larger than commenting, but really, if people are acting like dickheads in certain topics, then we need to tell them not to comment on those topics, and delete their comments, give time outs etc. Not punish the posters.

It seems to me that the mods are happy to do this in regards to ask.me commenters, I wish the bar was set a little higher for mefi, so mouthy agressive dickheads didn't ruin posts on fraught topics for the rest of us. Maybe this is a US thing, where people are a lot more het up/pro-israel about this issue than the rest of the world, I dunno, but it doesn't seem fair to me.
posted by smoke at 8:26 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


...there's plenty in your comment to GRAR about, even if you are trying to be level-headed and fair

Yup. So, not a good topic for these environs.

I am in a position of knowing and really, really liking Palestinian and Israeli friends, and understanding where they're both coming from politically, and disagreeing with both. I'm also something of a history wonk, which is dangerous when the facts interfere with narrative.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on September 22, 2010


tybeet: “So far as I can tell, people are jerks on every thread, so why make an exception in this case?”

By the way, you're aware of why this argument is fallacious, right? You can't argue that something is acceptable simply because other people do it; ubiquity is not a functional foundation for moral principle. In fact, some people have argued the obverse – Kant, for example, who taught that our moral principle should be to always ask: ‘what if everyone did this – what then?’

In a deeper sense, I find this kind of reasoning unsettling because of the cynicism it evinces; when you say that we may as well not make an exception because people are jerks in every thread, the impact of the statement isn't in your bald assertion that people are always jerks on Metafilter. That may seem like the controversial bit; but the thing that hits hard is the fact that you intensify the statement by implying that it's so bad that there's no hope whatsoever for things to be any different. I wonder if you really think that people are jerks in every thread; but even if you're convinced that they are, are you really convinced that they are such inveterate jerks, that they are jerks to such a degree, that there is no hope whatsoever of convincing people to act in a civil way on Metafilter? Are you really so jaded to the possibility of rational discourse that you've decided we may as well just allow any and all jerkishness to pass without trying to stop it?

In the context of posts about Israel and Palestine, I hope you can see why this attitude doesn't fill me with hopeful optimism regarding your desire to craft forward-looking posts that at least make a gesture toward seeking peace.
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 PM on September 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


...when the facts interfere with narrative.

Anytime you have more than one person and, sometimes even one is sufficient, trying to objectively establish "facts" regarding motives in human affairs, from couples to nation states, you will consistently run into problems. History as written down or passed from parent to child, as fantastic to study as it is, is terribly fraught with conjecture, wish-fulfillment and outright lies. So, if you assert "This is why..." you can only ever be partially correct at best. I would argue narrative and experience ARE history, even if they are not precisely accurate, and THAT is why long entrenched conflicts are so hard to resolve, there are disconnects with not only how each side sees the problem, but how each individual sees it.

I, perhaps, want peace in the middle east as much as anyone in this thread, but my read of the situation will be pretty different then anyone else's, and if we, mostly Americans who are mostly unaffected by the ongoing strife can not even agree why it is occurring and who bears the brunt of responsibility imagine what it is like for those who are directly physically and emotionally involved.
posted by edgeways at 9:02 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Read the Todd Henderson post for another topic Metafilter does not do well.
posted by mlis at 9:11 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not that I don't somewhat agree with you, but that post has generated fewer flags in the entire time it was open than the I/P one did in the 90 minutes it was open. Not saying people are being awesome there, but it's definitely a whole nother level of "doesn't do well"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:18 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is not a political activism site or a news outlet.

This.


Yeah, but there's still plenty of political news posted on a daily basis. Let's not pretend the bar for Palestinian/Israel issues isn't higher than what it is for other political issues. Again, folks can argue whether or not that's necessary, or whether it's a bad thing for the site at all, but I don't see how anyone can argue the fact that the contentiousness of the comments in previous P/I threads has set the bar higher than what it is for almost any other international politics post.
posted by mediareport at 9:20 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


If there are going to be topic wide bans, I'd suggest adding... Alcoholics Anonymous to the list.

For the record, my mental list of Topics Best Avoided On MetaFilter - i.e. breast feeding, declawing - did not include AA. It has now been updated.

When I saw that thread getting nasty, I flagged the post and several comments. I also used the Contact link to alert the mods. (They seem to have decided to let it ride.) There was nothing else I could do after the fact.

My bad.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:23 PM on September 22, 2010


I'm outraged!

I'M OUTRAGED THAT YOU'RE OUTRAGED!

I'll let you know when it's all set up, but in the meantime, I'll give you the IP address for it. It's 127.0.0.1

Dude, what the fuck? Not cool. That's my IP address.
posted by loquacious at 9:25 PM on September 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


Yeah, but there's still plenty of political news posted on a daily basis. Let's not pretend the bar for Palestinian/Israel issues isn't higher than what it is for other political issues.

We're not pretending that. There's no pretending. We've explicitly stated the opposite. But there's also a difference between "the bar is higher" and "no I/P posts allowed", which is the other thing-that-should-be-obvious that we still end up having to explicitly state every time one of these discussions happens.

That there's political news posted here is a result of the fact that we haven't banned political news posts; they're part of the variety of this place. But it is not a political news site, any more than it's a Lady Gaga site or a kittens site or a historical artifacts of the Spanish Civil War site, much as all those things sometimes make appearances here.

That we get as much poli/news stuff as we do does not thrill me. That it tends to be divisive and GRAR-ful when we get it, ditto. So, yes, we've absolutely fucking raised the bar a bit on such stuff in general and a bit further on the most shit-stirring specific topics in that realm over the last few years. Not nearly high enough for my own personal tastes, but we're trying to be community moderators and not taste-makers here and so we try to put up with a lot of stuff that we don't like much at all because there are some folks on the site who do like it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:28 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


it narrows the bandwidth of the politico manics
heh
posted by clavdivs at 9:34 PM on September 22, 2010


Fwiw, I saw it, thought it was biased, (the title in particular was really asinine,) flagged it and moved on. Did not comment.
posted by zarq at 9:35 PM on September 22, 2010


Please take a look at just the israel tag.

Damn, my 'Brudda Iz' FPP looks REALLY out of place in that collection of posts. Wow.
posted by zarq at 9:44 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


You Don't Mess with the Zohan
posted by nola at 9:57 PM on September 22, 2010


I'm going to be setting up a new sister site of Metafilter called "I/Pfilter."

I/PFreely.com
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:42 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think posters should be punished for the transgressions of commenters.

Deleting a post that someone makes isn't punishment.
posted by ODiV at 10:58 PM on September 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


I thought the post was fine. Repost it with a different title if that's what's getting the collective dander up; other than that it's probably damn near the most neutral post we're likely to get on the topic.

But hey, it's nice to know that as much as I roll my eyes at the tedious OMGURCENSORINME bullshit around here, it's still entirely possible to roll my eyes in the opposite direction every now and then.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:28 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"When can we expect to have this I/P ban lifted?"

Sure, this can be interpreted literally, genuinely. But I think we all know the tone and expectation that accompanies a "When can we expect..." statement. The same way we know that "Can you please pass the salt?" is not a question of ability, but rather a socially conventionalized command veiled in a politeness strategy. You're not fooling anybody here and you're also not setting up this MeTa in any other way than putting yourself on the offense and the site mods on the defense with this petulant demand, posed as a question (also, based on a false premise...there is no outright ban...and, did you think there was before you made your post?*). How can you expect to get what you want out of this from that scenario? Do you seriously want a straight answer? Perhaps a future date when your post, as written, would be allowed? What purpose would that serve? What ensures that the quality of the discussion would be changed after that point in time?

(In a similar vein as the statements in this MeTa post, these questions are rhetorical and not meant to be taken literally.)

Also, for those complaining that 'it-was-all-good-except-the-title'...well, the title was the tipping point. That little edge of the heel touched the bar and the bar fell to the mat. You can't just put the bar back, edit out that little bit and carry on with the show. The mods are trying to set a standard with I/P posts, based on past experiences. The standard wasn't met. Maybe the post was close to passing, but it was undone by that title. Can you just imagine the derail if it stayed? Or the haggling over editing post titles in order to let it stay? Isn't that a bit forest for the trees? Haggling over the details of the post framing is one of the very contentious pitfalls that are trying to be avoided with a higher standard of I/P posts. We shouldn't aim for getting as close to the bar (the standard) as we can. We want to clear the fucker completely. That way, we can actually have a new and productive discussion about this topic that doesn't involve flags, MeTas or flameouts.

*If you knew about the "ban" on I/P threads before you made the post then you were being hugely disingenous in making one anyway, far beyond testing the waters. If you didn't know about the "ban" before you made the post, then you didn't read or possibly ignored Jessamyn's deletion reason. I personally can't understand how you got here ("When can we expect the ban to be lifted?") from there, given that latter scenario.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:22 AM on September 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think it's safe to say that it is, as of now, no longer possible to make a post that references Israel or Palestine in any way whatsoever without it being instantly deleted. Am I the only one that thinks this is detrimental to the site? The direction this site is going (catering to the I'm-so-offended brigade) makes me not want to even bother anymore.

When the flag queue hits 0 there's nothing worth reading here.
posted by cj_ at 3:27 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find it completely hilarious that metafilter can't have a decent discussion on I/P.

You're all "We're so reasonable. We use logic and reasoning and discuss things rationally." when you're talking about stuff where there's consensus. And when there's a small group that disagrees with the overall site view, it's usually decided that the bad feeling comes from that small group. The so called trolls and the fight-causers.

But get a subject where there isn't consensus; get a subject which splits the group, and the mods have to ban it. They HAVE to ban it. And lets be honest here. The mods are super reasonable, super well-meaning people and they're really, really patient. But they still have to ban it.

Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals who can't discuss anything rationally if you don't agree with it. If you need proof of the fact, then it's here. You do well to remember this next time you try and post to metatalk complaining about whichever right-winger is being "deliberately provocative".
posted by seanyboy at 3:59 AM on September 23, 2010 [41 favorites]


When the flag queue hits 0 there's nothing worth reading here.

Very nice flounce, there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:12 AM on September 23, 2010


If the answer is, Policy wonk interested in unresolved legacies of the Cold-War", welcome to the discussion. But I doubt those sorts are interested in the level of discussion MeFi has been able to muster on this matter so far.

I'm an ex-policy wonk with a degree in Middle Easten Studies. I have tried, but it really is difficult to participate in these discussions.
posted by humanfont at 4:23 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man, I'd hate to be on iamkimiam's bad side.
posted by nomadicink at 4:52 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but there's still plenty of political news posted on a daily basis. Let's not pretend the bar for Palestinian/Israel issues isn't higher than what it is for other political issues.

But even if you thought I/P shouldn't have a different bar than other political/news posts, it wouldn't follow that we should lower the bar for I/P. There is another solution to that problem (if is a problem).
posted by John Cohen at 5:05 AM on September 23, 2010


We're not pretending that. There's no pretending. We've explicitly stated the opposite.

My comment was addressed to John Cohen, cortex.
posted by mediareport at 5:09 AM on September 23, 2010


But get a subject where there isn't consensus; get a subject which splits the group, and the mods have to ban it. They HAVE to ban it.

That's simply not true. Haven't you ever read a thread about cyclists, motorists & pedestrians?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wish the whole freaking world would tell both Israel and the Palestinian Authority that we're ignoring both of them (including no funding of any sort) until they can behave like civilized states and come to terms. It works with toddlers. And a whole lot of people invested in this topic behave like toddlers.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:36 AM on September 23, 2010


Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals who can't discuss anything rationally if you don't agree with it.

Is there any evidence that people on the internet discuss contentious things rationally, angry or liberal or not? It's always a death spiral where positions get misrepresented and feelings get hurt. Most other sites take these kind of debates and segregate them in an "anything goes" section where people can do their worst without bothering the people who want civil discussion.
posted by smackfu at 5:38 AM on September 23, 2010


Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals who can't discuss anything rationally if you don't agree with it

Who is the "you" here, exactly? Are you part of MetaFilter?
posted by dirtdirt at 5:44 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh boy! I get to be the first to say "Tagged with 'mommy' and 'daddy' - WTF?!"
posted by sonika at 5:50 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals who can't discuss anything rationally if you don't agree with it.

While I don't think you framed it particularly well, I think there is a kernel of truth in what you say. The site leans left, and there is sometimes an assumption from commenters that everyone shares their perspective. I will point out, however, that the mods have frequently timed out, banned, upbraided, water-boarded, and scolded commenters from both ends (and the middle!) of the political spectrum over their non-conversational axe-grinding fightiness. I'm not going to name names, but I can think of more "liberal" commenters who've gotten called out on their bad behavior than I can conservative.

But the other thing I'd like to point out is that the site demo is not as simple as you portray it. There are many, many, many "good" liberals who support Israel through thick and thin, and there are a lot of good reasons that happens. There are a lot of "good" liberals here who are very laissez-faire with regard to economic issues. There are conservatives (not that many, but they are here) who advance excellent arguments in favor of their positions, rather than spouting protest-sign nonsense. And in most cases, people read what they have to say and respond, or not, as appropriate. If some "angry liberal" attacks a conservative personally, it's generally frowned upon. If anyone attacks anyone else personally, it's generally frowned upon.

No one here is the cardboard cut-out you suggest with your comment. No one in the US or anywhere else in the world is the cardboard cut-out that we are led to believe in by political parties and the media. But here's the Israel/Palestine problem: When something big happens, it's all over the news. It's not something that needs to be posted here, because it's on the CNN front page. It's polarizing regurgitation of crap news stories and crap news stories about the hard-wired responses by the entrenched and opposing camps. Now this post, I think, could have stayed, potentially, if not for the terrible framing—it's not a fucking futbol match! Nine people are dead. There is no winner. The framing of this post fans flames that are already burning in control.

The framing of the post demonstrates another problem with I/P posts: Most people who put them up, if they're not just regurgitating the big news outlet stories, have an axe to grind. I don't have any numbers on it, but you just don't see a lot of posts on the topic that aren't straight NewsFilter or awful axe-grinding, like this most recent post.
posted by Mister_A at 6:12 AM on September 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


I/PFreely.com

I can't believe you wasted an opportunity to title this thread "When can I/P freely?"
posted by octobersurprise at 6:15 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


My comment was addressed to John Cohen, cortex.

Since the entire substance of my comment was a quote of cortex, it's a little silly to say you were responding to "John Cohen" and not "cortex."
posted by John Cohen at 6:19 AM on September 23, 2010


I flagged that one. The FPP was distastefully framed, and the discussion wasn't going in nice directions. It's not the kind of thing that leaves this place better.
posted by Forktine at 6:28 AM on September 23, 2010


Given the incredibly damning content of the AFP article on the UN probe (the seventh link and the real subject of the post) the tone of the FPP was restrained. The poster was unwise to let their opinion show in the title.
I love wide-ranging community blogs but their conversational tone, their pace and the relative anonymity of the commenters renders the blog incompetent at the task of resolving complex and controversial topics. I've never seen it work anyway. The axis of complexity is a continuum and I don't know where the damning point lies but I know the I/P subject lies well past it.
I don't think that's reason enough to delete a post though. The comments in the deleted thread were barely contentious by any standard and don't know that heated arguing in any case should be grounds for deletion.
posted by vapidave at 6:29 AM on September 23, 2010


but we're trying to be community moderators and not taste-makers

I feel like I'm missing something because I don't understand the need to frame it this way. Much of this comes down to very subjective matters of taste - there's a certain aesthetic you are trying to maintain and I don't think you owe us much more of an explanation than saying that. Otherwise, why moderate? To keep things "civil"? Isn't that subjective?
posted by victors at 6:33 AM on September 23, 2010


I find it completely hilarious that metafilter can't have a decent discussion on I/P.

I find it completely hilarious that you made a comment mocking the whole site as a bunch of infantile liberals who can't have a decent discussion unless there is total consensus, and then asked us to remember that the next time we accuse somebody of being deliberately provocative.

All right, I'll remember that the next time. Which is right now. You were being deliberately provocative. The I/P issue is one people feel passionately about, and there are some bad argumentative habits especially invested in that discussion, which both sides, regardless of party affiliation have clung to. It's backed by enormous U.S. dollars, and there's a lot of struggle there, and people feel invested. And people there are killing and dying, and so those who feel invested feel a great deal of urgency in discussing the subject. And there are few things more outrageous than people who take that passion and that urgency and the fact of real people in real pain and use it to forward a completely self-serving political ideology.

Which you just did. MetaFilter would be better if people could discuss I/P better. It would also be better without shit like what you just pulled.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:35 AM on September 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


I love wide-ranging community blogs but their conversational tone, their pace and the relative anonymity of the commenters renders the blog incompetent at the task of resolving complex and controversial topics. I've never seen it work anyway. ... I don't think that's reason enough to delete a post though.

Wait a minute, if you think this kind of thing doesn't work, why isn't that a good enough reason to delete?

This is ultimately mathowie/jessamyn/cortex's site. The site vacillates between being political and nonpolitical, and they're allowed to nudge things in the nonpolitical direction. I'm not saying that's the only reason, but it's one.
posted by John Cohen at 6:36 AM on September 23, 2010


Who is the "you" here, exactly? Are you part of MetaFilter?

It's You personally, and it's me, and it's the perverse argumentative gestalt being that is metafilter. I've no doubt that individually, we're all capable of constructive, polite discussion. But as a group we're just not capable of handling strong dissent. If that dissent is split over roughly equally sized factions, then it all kicks off.

I addressed this to a generalised "you" because I believe we all personally could do better. We all bear a responsibility towards making the group function well.

There's an assumption that the banning of I/P posts is some kind of punishment. It's not. We're all adults and we're treated as such. I believe simply that I/P posts are banned because as a group we're just not capable of keeping our cool when discussing them.
posted by seanyboy at 6:43 AM on September 23, 2010


I addressed this to a generalised "you" because I believe we all personally could do better. We all bear a responsibility towards making the group function well.

Yeah, well, maybe start with yourself, because you threw a big old stinkbomb in this thread, making it about the failures of MetaFilter liberals.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:46 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


And, if you're serious about feeling like there are places you can improve, here it my first suggestion: Starting a comment with "I find it hilarious" is not the language of constructive criticism. It's the language of mocking derision.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:48 AM on September 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


And it's because of the actions of individual posters and commenters that we're not able to keep that cool. Look, it's a touchy subject; everyone knows that. The point is, if you're going to post on such an extremely touchy subject, you should go out of your way not to fan the flames; framing your post as "Take that, Israel!" is not the right approach. Just tell 'em what you want to tell 'em, don't tell 'em how to receive and respond to the information.
posted by Mister_A at 6:49 AM on September 23, 2010


Astro Zombie: You're saying that somehow I'm using the pain in I/P and using it to serve my own political ends. That's a super strong accusation, and it's baseless.

1. We're not talking about I/P here. We're talking about why certain conversations are banned.
2. I'm not talking about I/P here. I'm talking about why certain conversations are banned.

If you're going to accuse me of deliberate provocation (a metafilter metaphor for a "strongly worded thing I disagree with"), you should do so in a way which isn't deliberately provocative and doesn't try to imply that I'm using the terrible situation in the Middle East to my own ends when I patently am not.
posted by seanyboy at 6:54 AM on September 23, 2010


So you see no problem at all with jumping on disagreements over Israel in order to paint MetaFilter as a group of immature liberals who are incapable of civility unless they're in some comfortable echo chamber where everybody agrees.

All right, let's ignore that you used I/P in order to make this case. Whatever you latched on to, and whether you intended it to be provocative, you must have been aware that painting with such a wide brush was likely to provoke a response. Especially in the way you worded it.

And if the discussion is about how to make the site better, that's not how it's done, and if you were an honest broker, you would own up to it, apologize, and step away from a thread that really seems only to function as an opportunity for you to vent your spleen about liberals.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:59 AM on September 23, 2010


making it about the failures of MetaFilter liberals.

Maybe I should have aimed it more at the failures of extremely touchy and increasingly whiny Metafilter liberals.

If you can't take a comment like "I find it hilarious", then I'd suggest you should maybe take a step back and examine why such a mild criticism causes such terrible, terrible pain.
posted by seanyboy at 7:00 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals

this is the definition of provocative and inflammatory and it lowers the level of discussion - it's pretty trolly because of how sweeping and aggressive it is.

I gather you have more conservative views than the majority of posters at MeFi

The two statements above have NOTHING to do with each other.
posted by victors at 7:00 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe I should have aimed it more at the failures of extremely touchy and increasingly whiny Metafilter liberals.

Or maybe you shouldn't make it about "metafilter liberals." But now I know -- you weren't actually serious about feeling like there is a "we" that can be involved in the improvement of this site, so I shall end my discussion with you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:02 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


seanyboy's initial post read like that of someone who has been battling the mods for ages and is about ready to flameout.
posted by smackfu at 7:04 AM on September 23, 2010


I welcome responses. And I look forward to challenging or agreeing with those responses.

Why was what I said so provocative? Why does it anger so much that I may find humour in something which says to me that bad blood on this site isn't caused by extremist views; it's caused by the inability for the group to handle dissent?

You're an awesome guy, but your anger towards me here seems silly.
posted by seanyboy at 7:09 AM on September 23, 2010


I gather you have more conservative views than the majority of posters at MeFi
You wouldn't be the first to say this here, but it's just not true.
posted by seanyboy at 7:12 AM on September 23, 2010


If you can't take a comment like "I find it hilarious", then I'd suggest you should maybe take a step back and examine why such a mild criticism causes such terrible, terrible pain.

I am of the opinion that the more sarcastic and hyperbolic someone becomes in a disagreement, the less that person is interested in engaging in honest discussion.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:14 AM on September 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


And I'm utterly "serious about feeling like there is a 'we'"
posted by seanyboy at 7:14 AM on September 23, 2010


It's the question of whether "I find it hilarious" means "I am laughing at you guys" or "I find humor in this".
posted by smackfu at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2010


Oh come on. Making a safe and uncontroversial I/P post is as straightforward as making a Religion v Atheism With A Side-order Of Dawkins post!
posted by Decani at 7:17 AM on September 23, 2010


> You wouldn't be the first to say this here, but it's just not true

oh hey, no problem - I stand corrected.

Meanwhile, your behavior in this thread is still pretty trolly and provocative, your stance seems weak and poorly argued, bordering on disingenuous. You definitely seem bitter about something.
posted by victors at 7:19 AM on September 23, 2010


I think it's safe to say that it is, as of now, no longer possible to make a post that references Israel or Palestine in any way whatsoever without it being instantly deleted.

This is not true. It's not even remotely true.

Israel tag.

Palestine tag

Palestinian tag.

Quite a few posts on both have survived this year. Even more survived last year. On Israel. On Palestinians. On Gaza and the West Bank. Etc., etc. In my time here I've made 3 posts about Israel which also survived. Griphus alone has made four since June.

The bar is set higher for Israel / Palestinian and I-P posts. Clearly it's not insurmountable.
posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can't take a comment like "I find it hilarious", then I'd suggest you should maybe take a step back and examine why such a mild criticism causes such terrible, terrible pain.

Seriously, dude, if you can't figure after umpteen times around this particular dance floor that you being intentionally abrasive and jerkish in the presentation of your observations about the site is the thing that most directly contributes to people being pissed off when you start in on things, you are in irredeemable mote/beam territory. You're a smart, observant person, but you seem almost constitutionally incapable much of the time of just making with the thoughtful discussion bit and skipping the derisive bullshit part.

This is pretty much a you-get-to-choose thing: moderate your own presentation style in the first place or deal with the fact that acting shitty toward other people here is going to produce ill will and a disinclination to listen to you, not rapt and polite attentiveness. This is not rocket science.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 AM on September 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's "I find humor in this" with maybe a schadenfreude tinged touch of "I am laughing at you guys"

victors: I'll take provocative but I'm not trolling. And yes, I am bitter about something.

I am of the opinion that the more sarcastic and hyperbolic someone becomes in a disagreement, the less that person is interested in engaging in honest discussion.
I would agree with you if this comment, which is neither sarcastic nor hyperbolic, wasn't being written in a completely uninterested & dishonest way.
posted by seanyboy at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2010


Maybe should have previewed before posting there.
posted by seanyboy at 7:34 AM on September 23, 2010


I would agree with you if this comment, which is neither sarcastic nor hyperbolic, wasn't being written in a completely uninterested & dishonest way.

What?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:44 AM on September 23, 2010


HEY LOOK I CAN STALK PEOPLE TO FIND SHIT FROM THEIR TWITTER TIMELINE TO MAKE MY POINT ABOUT HOW AWESOME I AM
posted by micawber at 7:46 AM on September 23, 2010


> And yes, I am bitter about something

joking or not, your pain is obscuring your ability to have level discourse and causes you to act out. I've been there so I'm not one to judge but you have all the hallmarks of someone struggling with internal issues. Sorry to hear that, good luck, hope you find some peace.
posted by victors at 7:49 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


@micawber

Do you realise that you're implying that I'm stalking myself, and I'm trying to make myself look awesome by stating that the person I'm disagreeing with is awesome.

Because if you are, then that's awesome.
posted by seanyboy at 7:55 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Please stop talking @ people. Talk with them or, failing that, talk to them.
posted by Babblesort at 8:02 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


When Jesus comes back and kills all the Jews and Muslims and America takes over Jerusalem and turns it into a Christian theme-park.

Duh.
posted by bardic at 8:08 AM on September 23, 2010


Sometimes, as passions and emotions run high on the internet, it's easy to not be a thinking, rational adult.

Try not to take the easy route. It's better in the long run.
posted by nomadicink at 8:21 AM on September 23, 2010


If someone doesn't like the way that you argue it doesn't necessarily follow that they don't agree with your argument.
posted by h00py at 8:36 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speak of the devil - Twitter user sells @Israel username for six-figure sum.
posted by gman at 8:55 AM on September 23, 2010


If someone doesn't like the way that you argue it doesn't necessarily follow that they don't agree with your argument. -- It'd be nice if everything on this site wasn't an effing argument.
posted by crunchland at 8:59 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"argument" aka "line of reasoning".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:02 AM on September 23, 2010


> Twitter user sells @Israel username for six-figure sum.

"Squatting on a twitter handle" sounds like some kind of yogic pose for stimulating bowel movements. Or kinkier.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 AM on September 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


John Cohen: This.

This.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:52 AM on September 23, 2010


> For the record, my mental list of Topics Best Avoided On MetaFilter - i.e. breast feeding, declawing - did not include AA. It has now been updated.

Sorry about the Crusades comment. Hyperbole as a rhetorical device is probably not useful, even in response to hyperbole. The linking to that "Orange" guy though is pretty weird. It's just this side of Time Cube on the mental health scale. All in all, I think the court-mandated treatment angle is worth discussing, because there are some 1st amendment issues there. I wonder why it hasn't been pressed through the courts, myself.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:02 AM on September 23, 2010


Why is it I/P and not P/I??? WHEN WILL THIS METAFILTER BIAS NEVER END???!!!!
posted by Eideteker at 10:22 AM on September 23, 2010


It always takes me a few moments to realize that people are not saying Metafilter doesn't do intellectual property well.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:23 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


> It always takes me a few moments to realize that people are not saying Metafilter doesn't do intellectual property well.

That also works considering how some of the piracy/downloading threads have gone here.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 AM on September 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Clearly, Durn, we need to debate the merits of pirating MP3s about the Israel/Palestine conflict after the track is released in a non-free format.

Who wants first crack at the lyrics?
posted by adipocere at 10:30 AM on September 23, 2010


Why is it I/P and not P/I??? WHEN WILL THIS METAFILTER BIAS NEVER END???!!!!

♪ Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks? ♫
posted by zarq at 11:29 AM on September 23, 2010


שפט, שפת
posted by pracowity at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


.אני יכול להבין את זה
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:05 PM on September 23, 2010


.אני לא יכול‎
posted by shakespeherian at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2010


You can't dig it? That undermines the whole Hebrew Shaft thing!
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:12 PM on September 23, 2010


.תסתום את הפה שלך
posted by shakespeherian at 12:13 PM on September 23, 2010


Ironically, I can read the words but don't know what they mean. For that, I use Google Translate™.
posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


♪ Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks? ♫

me!
posted by nomadicink at 12:18 PM on September 23, 2010


It seems that US politics also can not be discussed well here either.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:25 PM on September 23, 2010


... הוא של אמא רעה
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:32 PM on September 23, 2010


מה פתאום
posted by dhruva at 12:34 PM on September 23, 2010


It seems that US politics also can not be discussed well here either.

It can be discussed fine if you're ok with the same group of people yelling back and forth.
posted by nomadicink at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2010


if you're ok with the same group of people yelling back and forth

Well, now we're talking about British Parliament.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:38 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It can be discussed fine if you're ok with the same group of people yelling back and forth.

...about the same one thing, regardless of the ostensible topic.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:54 PM on September 23, 2010


Slap*Happy wrote Unless you're an anti-semite or an apocalyptic evangellical, you really need to examine why you have a dog in this fight.

I think all US citizens have a dog in any fight involving nations which get a rather large chunk of US dollars.

I'll certainly agree that people are vitriolic on the I/P issue, and I'll confess that I'm one of them. But I think the USA would be a much better place if we did discuss the issue more often as I'm of the opinion that it is one area of US foreign policy that has significant impact on the average US citizen.

The USA is deeply involved in the I/P conflict and one reason many people feel so strongly is because they believe that the US involvement is directly or indirectly related to many undesirable things. This view may be incorrect, I don't think so but I'll acknowledge the possibility.

But I don't think that anti-semites, crazy religious loons, and people unable to get over the Cold War constitute the entire set of Americans who are permitted to have an opinion on I/P.
posted by sotonohito at 1:09 PM on September 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seanyboy made a point and y'all just dissed it, proved his point for him, and there it went.

And he's as liberal as you are.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2010


I'm a fascist not a liberal.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:20 PM on September 23, 2010


And he's as liberal as you are.

You're falling into the same trap others did in this thread: inappropriate sweeping generalizations about those of us who make up this community.

I'm not liberal. My political positions span a pretty wide spectrum. I daresay many of the people participating in this thread are also not so easily pigeonholed into a specific political ideology. Yourself included.

Please consider that before painting us all with the same brush?
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


A: Everyone who disagrees with me is insecure and also probably murders puppies in zero gravity, and they only disagree because they can't tolerate anyone who is different because they are commie fascists, and also bedwetters.

B: Um, that's not true.

A: PROVED MY POINT
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I don't think that anti-semites, crazy religious loons, and people unable to get over the Cold War constitute the entire set of Americans who are permitted to have an opinion on I/P.


I don't think he's saying that. This is more context of the bit of his comment you quoted:
"Blanket condemnations of either the Palestinians or the Israelis... Are. Not. Welcome.

Yet that's what it devolves into. Emotional outpourings of hate towards Israel, with =all= that entails, and angry unconditional defense of anything Israel does, with =all= that entails."
My read of it is that he's saying there's a lot of history on both sides that should be considered when we talk about Israel and the Palestinians. And portraying one side or another in caricature is not constructive.

There are plenty of places on the internet where we can read outraged biased rants about how either the Israelis or the Palestinians are inhuman bastards bent on genocide. That's not the full story. You know it. I know it. We all do. Blanket condemnations aren't helpful. I agree with him that they're not welcome here.

We're not going to magically resolve this conflict. But that doesn't mean we can't discuss it honestly, yes?
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on September 23, 2010


I think all US citizens have a dog in any fight involving nations which get a rather large chunk of US dollars.

I agree with this. And it's always puzzled me why Israel gets a disproportionate amount of the attention in this regard. Not that the state can't be criticized, but it's not alone in the world in getting vast sums from the US and then abusing its citizens. Egypt, as an example, gets something like $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and an average of $815 million a year in economic assistance. It's gotten over $50 billion since 1979. Human rights abuses? You bet.

Columbia got almost a billion dollars in US military aid in 2006 alone, and that country is a human rights nightmare.

Now, Israel does receive more than Egypt and Colombia, although Egypt is the second-largest recipient of US military aid. So it's fair that Israel should receive a larger percent of the criticism. But check out the difference between MeFi posts on Egypt and Israel. And the Israel ones are the ones that survived! There are 77 Egypt posts and 466 Israel posts, and the Israle posts have a much higher number that are specifically about human rights issues. And now let's look at Columbia.

By my count, three of the 36 entries here are about the country of Columbia. 8 are about the University. 11 are about the space shuttle.

Now, I'm not suggesting anything sinister here. I suspect that a lot of it is that Israel is in the news a lot, and that both sides pretty aggressively campaign internationally for their viewpoints, and seek supporters, while Egypt and Columbia are much quieter about receiving their aid, and the US press doesn't have the same sort of access or, frankly, interest in those countries, and so folks don't have the same sort of knowledge or comfort in having opinions, and, as we see, the subject just doesn't come up that much.

But if the issue is that the US is financially supporting injustice, and that's our justification in condemning it -- well, it neither starts nor ends with Israel, and those of us who are passionate about justice should be sure our passion isn't limited to one example and ignores others.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals who can't discuss anything rationally if you don't agree with it

I DISAGREE! *breaks beer bottle, starts lashing out wildly*
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


> הוא של אמא רעה

Good god I actually translated this in my head and cracked up - thanks for that
posted by victors at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2010


I could have gone with a more idiomatic translation, but somehow the most literal one struck me as the funniest.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:39 PM on September 23, 2010


Astro Zombie: And now let's look at Columbia.

By my count, three of the 36 entries here are about the country of Columbia. 8 are about the University. 11 are about the space shuttle.


According the wikipedia article on Colombia: "Not to be confused with Columbia"

Where is the country of Columbia, exactly?
posted by Dysk at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Colombia, rather. Apologies for the spelling error. That does provide more hits. 44 total. Most about the drug trade, although there are at least 7 in there that specifically address human rights issues.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:45 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just out of interest - how does the volume of Israel posts v. Egypt posts (for example) compare to the amount of funds sent to Israel v. Egypt? Egypt being the second-biggest recipient of military aid doesn't really give a clear indication of how that compares to the military aid Israel gets.
posted by Dysk at 1:50 PM on September 23, 2010


"Honestly, I wish that tart would go back to Colombia and take that weird little Brown friend with her."

Regular viewers of Modern Family may find that amusing. Others should become regular views of Modern Family
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:50 PM on September 23, 2010


Actually I fucked up the joke.

"Honestly, I wish that tart would go back to Columbia and take that weird little Brown friend with her."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:52 PM on September 23, 2010


Israel got about $2.55 billion in military aid last year. Egypt averages about $1.3 billion. So Israel gets about twice as much, near as I can tell.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:52 PM on September 23, 2010


...not that discussing this with reference to US government spending is really all that relevant or complete a picture of a site with an international userbase, of course.
posted by Dysk at 1:56 PM on September 23, 2010


Not that the state can't be criticized, but it's not alone in the world in getting vast sums from the US and then abusing its citizens.

I think this is actually a subtle form of... I dunno if racism is the right word. Not classism. Ethnicism? Israel gets way more criticism than other nations receiving vast sums because people think they should know better. They're educated, technically savvy, smart, relatively westernized, and a lot of them are white or whitish. Why, on the other hand, would anyone expect backwards types like Arabs or Egyptians or other Muslims or whatever to behave? They're just uncivilized so what do you expect?

This in no way excuses any bad behavior on Israel's part. But it is something that vocal critics of Israel should probably be aware of. My own opinion is that every country that receives significant aid from the USA should be held to the same moral standard and right now it seems like only Israel's feet are held to the fire.

So I'm not arguing that we should cut Israel a lot more slack; We should instead focus criticism more broadly. There are many ways in which places like Egypt are far worse than Israel but they receive significantly less attention here on Metafilter and in most other contexts.
posted by Justinian at 2:03 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I suspect that a lot of it is that Israel is in the news a lot, and that both sides pretty aggressively campaign internationally for their viewpoints, and seek supporters, while Egypt and Columbia are much quieter about receiving their aid, and the US press doesn't have the same sort of access or, frankly, interest in those countries, and so folks don't have the same sort of knowledge or comfort in having opinions, and, as we see, the subject just doesn't come up that much.

Part of the reason there's so much attention to I/P on MeFi is it's an ongoing conflict and many of the people posting are highly polarized about it. (markkraft and adamvasco come to mind. I'm pretty sure they both have more than one I/P post that has been deleted.) The majority of Mefites are Americans, and this country has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. We're opinionated! Our levels of support and condemnation for Israel are pretty diverse. Also, both the Palestinians and the Jews who settled in Israel were victims and pawns of outside forces other than each other -- a dynamic that doesn't exist in Egypt and Colombia. Plus there are religious motivators. Both groups believe the same plot land is their G-d-given right.

There are many, many dynamics in play here. A lot of convoluted history and claims. Offenses that go beyond what the two groups perpetrate against each other. Plus both sides keep claiming their innocence against a violent enemy.

So there's a lot to discuss.

The Israel lobby in this country is vocally pro-Zionist and anti-Palestinian because they believe the Palestinians are a danger to Israel's survival. Hamas and Hezbollah are threats to Israel. But Hamas does not represent all Palestinians. So the situation is more complex than what we might hear from the likes of AIPAC. (Personally, I support J Street wholeheartedly, but I worry that they're fighting a losing battle. I commented a bit about that here.)
posted by zarq at 2:04 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, of course. You don't actually have to have tax money going to a country to be critical of that country. To the best of my knowledge, none of my tax money goes to the Isle of Mann, but I'll fistfight any of those weird-tailless-cat-loving, pseudo-Irish-speaking lunatics if I get the chance.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:04 PM on September 23, 2010


By the way, by mentioning them, I'm not blaming either Mark or Adam for anything. Just bringing them up as two examples of people I'm aware of who have made contentious posts on the subject and had them deleted.
posted by zarq at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2010


When can we expect to have this I/P ban lifted?

God knows.
posted by Elmore at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, if there anybody actually from the Isle of Mann on this site? If so, memail me, and I'll send you an apology. Although your cats are weirdos.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2010


A good friend of mine is from the IOM and while I don't know if he's a member I know he reads the site regularly. I'll pass on your apologies as he can't memail you, yet, as far as I know. He doesn't own a cat.
posted by Elmore at 2:10 PM on September 23, 2010


Oh for what it is worth, FY2010 united states foreign aid.

Israel 2.75b
Egypt 1.75b
Pakistan 1.6b
Colombia 834m
Jordan 300m
Palestine 100m

And so on. So after Colombia it starts falling off drastically. I'm also leaving out Iraq and Afghanistan which are much higher because, well, we're only giving them that much aid because we blew them up in the first place.
posted by Justinian at 2:14 PM on September 23, 2010


Justinian, those figures are potentially not the entire picture. Ideally, a breakdown of what of it is military and humanitarian aid would be quite germane to the topic at hand...
posted by Dysk at 2:20 PM on September 23, 2010


smoke writes "I thought the post - bar the title - was fine. I don't think posters should be punished for the transgressions of commenters."

ODiV i writes "Deleting a post that someone makes isn't punishment."

If one feels that getting a post deleted is a punishment that's a pretty good indicator one might be too close to the post subject.
posted by Mitheral at 2:25 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always found pretty silly this delusion that posts should be or ever are neutral. Maybe there have been a few over the years, but I could go down the front page right now and tell you at a glance what the poster's opinion is of his/her subject in each and every case. People have biases and they show. Even if someone were genuinely undecided about the I/P issue (but still cared enough about it to make it the subject of their FPP (we'll all have to use our imaginations to conjure up such a person), the way they present it will still effect the discussion. Saying "Well, on the one hand, the Israelis shouldn't bomb apartment buildings but on the other hand the Palestinians shouldn't fire rockets into civilian areas" may lead to less feces flinging than "Israel ought to stand trial for war crimes," but it has no less of an impact on the thread.

I think that when people say they want neutrality an FPP post, what they really mean is that they don't want confrontation in the thread. The problem is that we're not robots and this is a topic that we, quite justifiably, get very worked up over.
posted by Clay201 at 2:30 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So it's fair that Israel should receive a larger percent of the criticism.

So criticism of a nation on Mefi is only 'fair' when the amount of criticism is directly proportional to the amount of US aid dollars it receives? I don't believe that makes any sense.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:41 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, I think you're ignoring the best thing about murdering puppies in zero gravity: when you make the nick in just one side of their fuzzy throats, the blood jets out in such a fashion that they spin like sprinklers. This creates spirals of outward-radiating gore that look like a galaxy full of red suns. The cooling clots turn black and are reminiscent of so many end-stage stars, black dwarfs, that are just as dead as the puppy itself. The puppy serves as a metaphor for the heat death of the universe.

At least, that's what I said in my grant proposal. GODDAMN NASA!!! FUCKING NEA!!!
posted by adipocere at 2:43 PM on September 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Justinian, those figures are potentially not the entire picture. Ideally, a breakdown of what of it is military and humanitarian aid would be quite germane to the topic at hand...

Among the top recipients the great majority is military aid.
posted by Justinian at 2:44 PM on September 23, 2010


So criticism of a nation on Mefi is only 'fair' when the amount of criticism is directly proportional to the amount of US aid dollars it receives? I don't believe that makes any sense.

True. For it to even start to make sense, MetaFilter would somehow need to be an American site, instead of an international community.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:46 PM on September 23, 2010


Astro Zombie I agree with many of your points, but I do think there is an additional, non Justinian-style racism reason; though I think that Justinian makes a very good point there.

Part of it, I think, is simply that on an emotional level an evil dictator oppressing their own people is somehow less bad than one people oppressing another. Possibly more racism involved there, or at least tribalism.

But I think a larger part is actually semi-rational. US support to Colombia is bad, US support to Egypt is bad, and as a bleeding heart liberal DFH who cares about justice I'd love to see both ended. However large groups of violent maniacs aren't motivated to attack US citizens due to support for the regimes in Colombia or Egypt.

I don't argue that we should shape our foreign policy around concerns about attacks from violent maniacs, but such concerns do raise the stakes a bit and lend the discussions of aid to that particular nation a bit more important.
posted by sotonohito at 2:46 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If one feels that getting a post deleted is a punishment that's a pretty good indicator one might be too close to the post subject.

Or, you know, they feel close to the work they put into the post itself which is entirely reasonable. Not all posts are SLYT, thankfully. Not that I'm saying I spent all night on sourcing my post, but yeah, it was a fair bit of time. I don't take it personally, but it does suck to have it flushed down the drain.

For my part, I feel somewhat more enlightened by the discussion that has ensued here. Yes, I made a mistake with the title and I'll concede that. I didn't intend for it to be taken as anti-Israel, but I can certainly see how that could come about. A scorecard analogy for something that is divisive and causes temperatures to run high was perhaps a bit insensitive, but considering the content of the post was entirely neutral, I still don't feel it was deserving of deletion, and I certainly believe we shouldn't avoid discussion just because the last Flotilla post went sour. This is an important event, and it deserves a platform for discussion.

While the title may have been somewhat insensitive, I find it hard to believe that it could arouse the majority of flags. If the reason then was was "jerks", then I think smoke is onto something with the suggestion that the mods take care of the source of the problem which are the jerks themselves, and raise the bar for the discussion.
posted by tybeet at 2:50 PM on September 23, 2010


Seanyboy made a point and y'all just dissed it, proved his point for him, and there it went.

His point was that the mods delete threads in which there is not consensus. There was something or other about liberals but honestly after a while every toolbox who believes God assigned them to blast the truth in the faces of the blinkered squares starts to blend together for me. Is the word "liberal" what set you off? No, don't answer that, I don't actually happen to give a tin shit.

If you want to mewl that others can't handle dissent, can we at least differentiate between shitposting and dissent? Because I assure you that it does not equate to stifling dissent to realize that the world is empirically likely to continue to turn even if you don't deliberately try to irritate people you've abstractly decided are your ideological opposite by queefing your warm, moist, fetid opinion into the open mouths of everyone in it.

The point is that there are a million contentious threads on this site which have been allowed to stand, and in fact blossomed like intestinal flora in a tourist in Mexico because they were interesting, illuminating, and all around they were discussions worth having. There have even been discussions about Israel/Palestine which have gone a lot more smoothly than one might expect but it's understandable that this would be forgotten easily since it doesn't allow either of you to cast yourself as the lone voices of reason standing bravely against howling persecution.

So since he said something which happened to be categorically untrue, and was called out on saying something which happens to be categorically untrue - in a contentious thread which mysteriously continues to exist! - would you mind explaining how his point was proven, except in the smug Internet sense of saying "Thank you for proving my point" because you need people to know that they're wrong and you're right and it's just not goddamned fair that they insist on using cheap tactics like facts?

Hope you can help!

I remain, as always, your humble and obd't Servant,
F. Monster III
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:51 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


US support to Colombia is bad

Surely, it's 100% about propping up the government to combat cocaine production and/or offering poor people alternative means of making a buck. In other words, it has bugger all to do with the Colombian people itself, and is instead all about trying to preserve law, order & public health back home.

US support to Egypt is bad

And this is just the other side of the coin to supporting Israel - isn't Egypt paid to be a friendly Muslim country right next door to Israel, and to give the impression that the US isn't taking sides in what is generally perceived to be a religious conflict?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:53 PM on September 23, 2010


Oops, and also the last name should read MONSTER. Branding is important to me!

♥,
FM
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2010


Aside from the issue of aid dollars directly (and following on from sotonohito's comment,) the language used by the a succession of US governments concerning Israel, is quite different to that used about Egypt and Colombia. The support for Israel has seemed much more unconditional, much more fervent, whereas there has been more criticism of most of the other nations on that list.
posted by Dysk at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2010


I don't think posters should be punished for the transgressions of commenters.

Once you submit a post, it is no longer yours. If people make a mess in it and it gets deleted to quiet the GRAR, let go. And when you post a topic that is known to be controversial, you should be detached when writing it, because you do not want to create more animosity over a known-hostile topic.

Everything in that post was siding with Palestine, with a hat tip to an incomplete investigation from Israel. I think there are enough MeFites who also side with Palestine that the post seemed decent to them. It was all the actions of Israel and Israeli forces, citing 4 different sections of the same Wikipedia article, which is choc-full of it's own sourced material. There are conflicting allegations within that same Wiki article, but you only linked to sections supporting one viewpoint.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:14 PM on September 23, 2010


tybeet writes "Or, you know, they feel close to the work they put into the post itself which is entirely reasonable.[...] Not that I'm saying I spent all night on sourcing my post, but yeah, it was a fair bit of time. I don't take it personally, but it does suck to have it flushed down the drain."

Sounds like we're in agreement. It sucks to have a post deleted but it isn't a punishment.
posted by Mitheral at 3:23 PM on September 23, 2010


Everything in that post was siding with Palestine, with a hat tip to an incomplete investigation from Israel.

Actually, I also gave a "hat tip" to Israel's reasons for engaging with the Flotilla (potential security risk), as well as a "hat tip" to their impression of the report and the council issuing it. My intention was not to give a play-by-play of the event since we've moved past that and I am in the dark as much as anyone else. I presented facts that gave context to the event in a brief manner. Body counts simply sum up why the event is an issue of international concern to begin with. I linked to Wiki for those aspects of the event which are fairly unobjectionable: so many people died, so many people were wounded, so many people were detained, and Israel returned the cargo. What's wrong with that? I don't see how it's markedly "siding with Palestine". What more of an "Israel side" were you expecting?
posted by tybeet at 3:24 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, if there anybody actually from the Isle of Mann on this site?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:06 PM on September 23


I doubt it. There might be a few from the Isle of Man, though.

See, it's like the cats. The tail is shorter than you expect.
posted by Decani at 3:28 PM on September 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


How to trivialize and infantilize someone in an argument, when you're the only one in the argument and nobody's taken an opposing side yet:

1. Put up a strawman that encompasses everyone present;
2. Exclude yourself from the strawman, using exclusionary terms like "you...angry liberals";
3. Dismiss nonexistent opponents (the strawman) and those who call you out on your bad behavior. using dismissive terms like "laughable" and "silly";
4. Insist you didn't set up the strawman in the first place.

Everybody write this down, and remember that the key is to never let things go from step 2 to step 3.
posted by davejay at 3:41 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I was looking for some reasons for the facts you listed. You mentioned that "Israel intervened in what they reportedly perceived to be a security threat," but no external sourcing. You provided links with the number killed, injured, detained, held in prison, but no reason why the raid went violent or why people were imprisoned. If nothing else, a link back to the previous thread? I don't have a side in this, and I haven't followed the Gaza Freedom Flotilla topic, and I didn't want to research it. Maybe I was being lazy, but it still looks lop-sided.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:41 PM on September 23, 2010


tybeet, it was pretty transparent that all of Israel's actions were prefaced with distancing and indirect language like "reportedly", "claimed", and "perceived", whereas none of the U.N.'s actions were. I don't mean this in a YR POST SUCKS kind of way, just that it's obvious to a casual reader that there's a side you believe and a side you don't (and which is which).
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:48 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


tybeet, it was pretty transparent that all of Israel's actions were prefaced with distancing and indirect language like "reportedly", "claimed", and "perceived", whereas none of the U.N.'s actions were. I don't mean this in a YR POST SUCKS kind of way, just that it's obvious to a casual reader that there's a side you believe and a side you don't (and which is which).

Is it? Or is that just a top-down knowledge influence? I don't mean to be pedantic here, maybe I am, but I'm aware that I've made my position known in the past. However, regardless of my position, "reportedly" makes logical sense in qualifying what is Israel's stated position. As in, that is what they reported, not necessarily what happened. As in, they claim that the UNHRC is biased, not that it is. Perhaps I should have said "The UN claims to have found... etc", but I wouldn't over-interpret that single missing phrase as transparency, just a missing qualifier. Apart from the title, which I carelessly tried to make "sexy", I took pains to sanitize the post.
posted by tybeet at 4:00 PM on September 23, 2010


Israel intervened in what they reportedly perceived to be a security threat ...

You gave Israel's intervention two qualifiers, showing you weren't even sure that they really believed their own reasons for being there. That could have been a "reported security threat," or "perceived security threat," you have both. It's all in the wording, but it adds up.

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla sailed back in May on a voyage they claimed to bring relief ...

718 people were aboard, including 75 individuals with potential ties to terrorist organizations ...


Adding similar language to your phrasing, and elaborating on the perceived threats, the picture changes. I'm not advocating or taking sides, but following what 0xFCAF said and adding similar wording to other statements.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:17 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this is actually a subtle form of... I dunno if racism is the right word. Not classism. Ethnicism? Israel gets way more criticism than other nations receiving vast sums because people think they should know better.

Orientalism, maybe? A writer at the Guardian examined his 'obsession' with Israel a couple months ago and said something similar. Essentially, he determined Israel was civilized enough to be considered sort of British. "So I judge this by domestic standards, not foreign ones. I do not expect Israelis to behave like Burmese generals; I expect them to behave like Englishmen, like my friends."
posted by lullaby at 4:53 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I/P threads should be like cage matches. No moderation. No deletions. No metatalks. They go up, they have a warning at the top that says, "Participation may make you write something stupid or your feelings may be hurt. It will get ugly. Someone will cry. Enter at your own risk." Then shut off flags for the posts and allow people to opt out in preferences. A little box that says, "See inline I/P threads?" Then no one has to worry about them ever again. Easy. Why do I always have to solve the hard problems?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:12 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I/P threads should be like cage matches. No moderation. No deletions. No metatalks.

Adding similar language to your phrasing, and elaborating on the perceived threats, the picture changes.


That, or their own wiki writing tutorial.
posted by tybeet at 5:39 PM on September 23, 2010


0xFCAF, do you really believe that we should give equal credence to statements made by the Israeli government as we give to those made by the UN? The Israeli government, as one of the actors in this conflict, is clearly biased. The UN is not directly involved in the conflict and it is very reasonable to assume that they are much less biased (despite Israel's protests to the contrary). This is not a situation with two opposing sides with equal credibility and it makes no sense to pretend it is.

I'm sure we are all aware of the argumentative tactics used on the Israeli side to try to discredit anyone who disagrees with the government's position as biased (sometimes in much uglier terms, of course), but that doesn't mean we have to buy into it.
posted by ssg at 5:41 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Achievement Unlocked! Completed I/P Writing Tutorial.

You may now create an I/P post! Click here.
posted by tybeet at 5:41 PM on September 23, 2010


Ah, but I read Seanyboy's point as this site simply does not handle DISSENTION well. Most if not all topics here are rather echochambery. A few are a bit rancorous. Some are-well, cage match time.

Since immediately people started nitpicking his post in a grar fashion, point was proved.

I would LOVE it if folks on this site could disagree politely. I have been around for almost a decade and I have yet to see it.

(I am not saying that all individuals here are incapable of it, but it certainly seems enough are incapable of it to make i/p posts possible before Jesus comes back. And I think I mean that literally.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:50 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since immediately people started nitpicking his post in a grar fashion, point was proved.

Presentation matters. I don't think seanyboy's concerns are wholly without merit or anything, but god knows I'm personally deeply tired of him voicing them the same fighty way every time, and it's my goddam job to be patient with this stuff. I have a hard time blaming people for "nitpicking" the nth iteration of an intentionally provocative You People Suck rant.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:02 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


do you really believe that we should give equal credence to statements made by the Israeli government as we give to those made by the UN?

I really don't know. You could have given me that post with "Israel" replaced with "Curly" and "The UN" replaced with "Moe" and I would have given the same opinion - the author of the piece clearly discounts the testimony of one actor more than another, rightfully or wrongly. Honestly, I'm completely and blissfully ignorant of this entire shitstorm and don't care to take a side which will make half of Metafilter either think I'm an anti-Semite or a Zionist radical.

The fact that we can't even have a rudimentary discussion of rhetorical analysis without being dragged in to accusations of falling for the Israeli government's tactics is strong evidence for the Metafilter Doesn't Do I/P Well hypothesis.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:07 PM on September 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Israel does receive more than Egypt and Colombia, although Egypt is the second-largest recipient of US military aid.

The aid to Egypt is really aid to Israel. We bought peace with that money.
posted by empath at 6:49 PM on September 23, 2010


Israel does receive more than Egypt and Colombia, although Egypt is the second-largest recipient of US military aid.

The aid to Egypt is really aid to Israel. We bought peace with that money.


Also, on a per capita basis, U.S. aid to each Israeli is 8 or 9 times greater than the U.S. aid to each Egyptian.

This may or may not be a good idea and/or money well spent, and it doesn't say anything about the rightness or wrongness of Israel's actions towards the Palestinians. But when people say, "how come you hear people complain about foreign aid to Israel, but rarely about foreign aid to Egypt", the answer, as far as I'm concerned, is that Egypt gets so much less on a per capita basis.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 7:01 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most if not all topics here are rather echochambery.

I disagree. In fact, I think the site's coverage is rather less echochambery than many. It seems rather bizarre that you would boast about having been here a decade if you think it's little more than an echo chamber.
posted by blucevalo at 7:22 PM on September 23, 2010


Ah, but I read Seanyboy's point as this site simply does not handle DISSENTION well. Most if not all topics here are rather echochambery. A few are a bit rancorous. Some are-well, cage match time.

Since immediately people started nitpicking his post in a grar fashion, point was proved.


Yes, darling, I read the same subliterate post you did, although I am maybe slightly less dumbstruck by the rhetorical Moebius strip of making a post about how everyone is having just the damndest time communicating without fighting while at the same time making this statement in the most combative terms possible.*

Do you know what happens if you fire up the ol' Usenet, e-cybersurf the information superhighway to alt.fans.startrek.fedoras.dragonshirts.ponytails.you-tucked-in-your-tee-shirt-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you.anyway-these-people-really-love-star-trek-and-that-is-their-purpose-in-this-joke.picard and announced CAPTAN PICARD IS A FAGET, (prn. "fa-zhay") KIRK IS THE BEST, THE PRIME DIRECTAVE IS FOR GAYLORDS? I'll give you a hint: it is not a nuanced discussion about the relative merits of Captain Kirk versus that other fellow, finally arriving at much bonhomie, many cheerful claps on the back and a general assent to agree to disagree.

Do you know what happens if a person posts this?

Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals who can't discuss anything rationally if you don't agree with it. If you need proof of the fact, then it's here. You do well to remember this next time you try and post to metatalk complaining about whichever right-winger is being "deliberately provocative".

I will give you a hint: it also is not a nuanced discussion about the relative merits of Captain Kirk, etc. But also! Some delicate souls may bristle slightly at the mischaracterization. Being lumped in with some group of people whose only commonality is that apparently you're all doing the same thing to make him write the - and I'll be charitable here - barely coherent three sentences above. You know what? I believe he's a liberal. He said he is, and I have no cause to doubt that. But it may surprise and terrify you to learn that regardless of who he votes for when he's not taking a warm, fibrous dump as a conversation starter, he has still, in fact, broken the ice with excreta.

The only point proven was that you can cause a lot of people to act like you just called them assholes by calling them assholes. Fuckin' brilliant! You've discovered cause and effect. At this rate you should manage object permanence somewhere around the time when the last Beatle dies.

I would LOVE it if folks on this site could disagree politely. I have been around for almost a decade and I have yet to see it.

This is awful. It is awful! This is a bad metaphor. I don't understand what it even means.

But I assume it's a metaphor because if you literally mean that you haven't seen polite disagreement on this site in the last forty-eight hours, let alone the last decade, then you have, in essence, told me there is no such thing as shoes.

If it is indeed the latter, then bless your peapickin' heart, but also you are welcome to keep on believing that because I've seen enough internet arguments to know that when I gesture to my shoe, you're going to patiently delineate all the different reasons it is not, in fact, a shoe and that in doing so I have somehow proven your point for you. No, no - I may have been around this bush once or twice before, and you are welcome to every succulent mulberry on it, because I'm not biting.

(I am not saying that all individuals here are incapable of it, but it certainly seems enough are incapable of it to make i/p posts possible before Jesus comes back. And I think I mean that literally.)

OK!

*Twist ending italics courtesy of every shitty Lovecraft story we all read in middle school
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:33 PM on September 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Here's the thing with Israel.

If you look at the way the Jews have been treated since time immemorial, if you look at the way the Jews were treated in WWII... it's inexcusable and horrendous.

And, if you look at that way the new state of Israel was created, if you look at it with no baggage, no history, no excuses, just as a thing done in its own right... it's inexcusable and horrendous.

And this is why we fight, and why I/P posts will always be a fight. I would like Metafilter to be adult enough to recognise the inevitability of that, and to accept it. However, I do not think Metafilter can do that. So, you know, fuck it. Don't post about I/P. Just don't. Save it for people and sites that don't throw wet liberal hysterics every time shit gets a bit angry.
posted by Decani at 7:47 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


But when people say, "how come you hear people complain about foreign aid to Israel, but rarely about foreign aid to Egypt", the answer, as far as I'm concerned, is that Egypt gets so much less on a per capita basis.

And Egypt never caused a bunch of people to flee the land where they had been living for generations - except, of course, the Israelites.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas: "And Egypt never caused a bunch of people to flee the land where they had been living for generations - except, of course, the Israelites."

What.
posted by boo_radley at 8:47 PM on September 23, 2010


basically, that's an awful premise on which to base US foreign aid.
posted by boo_radley at 8:48 PM on September 23, 2010


Famous Monster, I used to hang out on Usenet way before I ever heard of this place.

Since your name has only been on here a few months I assume some sockpuppetry is occurring-otherwise your point of what this place is like is kinda moot, n'est pas? And besides that, I do detect a wee bit of grar in your tone of type. Which is kinda MY point.

Why be hostile to what is really just words on a screen? It's silly.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2010


What.

Didn't Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt because the Pharaoh was threatening to beat up on them?

But onto other matters...have I ever described my simple one-step solution to solving the I/P problem?

The Jews want a homeland where they can feel safe, and the US bends over backwards to support this, so why not just give them California? Voila! Palestinians return home, everybody's happy.

California also has a Mediterranean climate, and seems to be an arid & dusty sort of place with pockets of irrigated agriculture; they'll feel right at home. Just need to take the wailing wall over, but Americans have transplanted buildings across the world before, so it shouldn't be much of an engineering problem.

It's not clear where the Californians would go, but the neighbouring American states will surely absorb them, and it would be hypocritical for the US to object to this plan, because it's effectively the exact same thing they've been supporting for decades, only this time in their own backyard.

Jello Biafra might have to retract California Uber Alles, though. That song could make people uncomfortable in New Israel.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:00 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Since your name has only been on here a few months I assume some sockpuppetry is occurring-otherwise your point of what this place is like is kinda moot, n'est pas? And besides that, I do detect a wee bit of grar in your tone of type. Which is kinda MY point.

Dear heart, kinda your point is whatever you believe I won't agree with. I would like to know on what specific assessment of this website's userbase am I mistaken? Is it that polite disagreement is possible, and has happened? Or maybe if I asserted that your fucking PSYCH I told you I wasn't biting
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:02 PM on September 23, 2010


The Jews want a homeland where they can feel safe, and the US bends over backwards to support this, so why not just give them California? Voila! Palestinians return home, everybody's happy.

Well, it's warmer than Alaska.
posted by zarq at 9:08 PM on September 23, 2010


UbuRoivas writes "And Egypt never caused a bunch of people to flee the land where they had been living for generations - except, of course, the Israelites."

Whee! That's what I call holding a grudge.
posted by Mitheral at 9:08 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since your name has only been on here a few months I assume some sockpuppetry is occurring-otherwise your point of what this place is like is kinda moot, n'est pas?

My name hasn't only been on here a few months, and I don't think FAMOUS MONSTER's point is moot at all.
posted by blucevalo at 9:09 PM on September 23, 2010


Famous Monster, if you could stop with that style of writing I for one would really appreciate it. I don't think the mocking is helping the discussion.

St. Alia, you ask "why be hostile to what is really just words on a screen" but the words were expressed hostilely. And thus provoked hostility in return from some, although I note not every response was hostile (for example, cortex wasn't).

I think we could do with a lot more assumption of good faith in these sorts of discussions, especially since we have them all the time. I will try to do better with that myself with some of the topics that get me going.

On preview I just saw zarq mention Alaska and I flinched. See what's happening here?
posted by Danila at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Look, y'all will have a very hard time convincing me that this place does disagreement well for the most part. If someone is a conservative, or is for cat declawing or believes that side x in the i/p conflict is the right one, or etc etc so on, one will have a tough time expressing the unpopular opinion without getting grar all over their jackets. Now, of course, it is never the level that usenet used to reach but we do have mods here.

I look at it this way. For pretty much the most part the mods are able to express themselves very calmly and collectedly even when I am quite sure they would like to bash in the pointy heads of particular posters. If THEY can do it, what's everyone else's problem?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:26 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas, Sheldon Cooper had a similar solution.
posted by vidur at 9:28 PM on September 23, 2010


The fact that we can't even have a rudimentary discussion of rhetorical analysis without being dragged in to accusations of falling for the Israeli government's tactics is strong evidence for the Metafilter Doesn't Do I/P Well hypothesis.

That's all well and good, but if you want to have a discussion of rhetorical analysis and completely ignore the context, then you'd better make that clear from the get go. Obviously, Israel and the UN are not interchangeable with Curly and Moe for most people, so you will need to be explicit if that is the gist of your comment. I don't think that has anything to do with Metafilter Doesn't ... and everything to do with unclear communication. It could happen in any discussion.
posted by ssg at 9:29 PM on September 23, 2010


On preview I just saw zarq mention Alaska and I flinched. See what's happening here?

Don't worry, I'm pretty sure Palin's not Jewish. We're not much of a wolf hunting people. Plus, you know... culturally we usually put a high value on education.
posted by zarq at 9:32 PM on September 23, 2010


If THEY can do it, what's everyone else's problem?

I assume it has something to do with not getting paid for it?

I get where you're coming from with the "hey it's just words on a screen" thing but it comes across as really dismissive and overly simplistic and not terribly helpful. People come here to talk about things that matter to them and words on a screen is all we have for the most part. If that doesn't amount to something real in your viewpoint, that's fine, but acting like maybe it shouldn't be real or matter to other people doesn't really forward discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:34 PM on September 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Here is the thing. Someone posts about the UN and the status of the report vs Israels investigation. That then makes me want to raise the question of the membership of the HRC and their biases against Israel simply to balance discussion and represent the Israeli POV.
Then we'd end up going back and forth on the hrc topic, getting nowhere and at the same time someone would suggest I was derailing the thread, since they just wanted a lot of affirmation of their perspective.
We need to raise our level of discourse on some of these threads and keep our tone more civil.

I mean this is the most complex issue in international relations. Some smart people have been working to resolve this conflict for their entire 40+ year professional lives. We should expect that people will disagree, just no hating on eachother as a result.
posted by humanfont at 10:24 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because basically you're just a bunch of angry liberals who can't discuss anything rationally if you don't agree with it

>I DISAGREE! *breaks beer bottle, starts lashing out wildly*


Oh sure, smash the bottle from the trendy microbrewery and make sure you're holding it label out. Typical.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:49 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean this is the most complex issue in international relations.

What about Kashmir? Hindu ruler of a Muslim majority state entitled to independence from both India & Pakistan at the time of Partition is invaded by Paki irregulars & joins India in return for defence against invasion, notwithstanding an existing legal agreement with Pakistan...that's pretty complex, and no less intractible a conflict than Israelistine.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:55 PM on September 23, 2010


This is awful. It is awful! This is a bad metaphor. I don't understand what it even means.

But I assume it's a metaphor because if you literally mean that you haven't seen polite disagreement on this site in the last forty-eight hours, let alone the last decade, then you have, in essence, told me there is no such thing as shoes.


(looks at own feet)

My God! He's right!
posted by flabdablet at 12:01 AM on September 24, 2010


St. Alia: "Look, y'all will have a very hard time convincing me that this place does disagreement well for the most part."

Nah, this place does generally handle disagreement well, for the most part. What it doesn't handle well is issues involving highly-polarised opinions.

But, mostly unlike the few other places that try hard to accommodate differing opinons, it does generally do a good job of preventing the former sliding into the latter. That's largely down to the people here and, of course, the great job the (generally) light-handed mods do.

Unfortunately I/P threads, like fat declawed conservatives, are one of the few exceptions to the rule. That raises the bar quite a bit, but just because no-one's cleared that bar recently doesn't mean it can't be cleared…
posted by Pinback at 12:52 AM on September 24, 2010


Well - Looks like I managed to create my own little shitstorm again. Morning everybody.

In the cold light of morning:

1. I was pretty harsh on you, astro zombie. And that's a bad thing because I do think you're amazing and I should have responded to you with more respect.

2. I stand by my initial comment.

3. God, I hate it when people pull out the strawman argument. I'd much rather people told me where I was misrepresenting the position. Calling someone a strawman is like saying they're wrong without any explanation.

4. FAMOUS MONSTER. You may be making good points, but I really have no idea what you're saying. This is probably me, but I can't get through either of the comments you made above. I just can't parse your writing style.

5. cortex: You said: I'm personally deeply tired of him voicing them the same fighty way every time.
There's plenty of people on the site who are more fighty than me, so I'm going to make the assumption that it's me being fighty over how people treat each other that tires you. I'm also going to assume that whenever I kick off, I get flagged to all hell & you've got to come in, calm people down and that's just not a nice thing.

I've been mulling this over. I'd like to say that I'm a blunt guy, and this can come over in an aggressive way and it's a cultural thing (what with me being from the North of England), but to be honest I'm not sure that's 100% true. From my perspective, I like to get my sleeves rolled up, and I like to state things strongly.

But this doesn't seem that useful. Other than to say to you, sometimes when it looks like I'm shouting, I'm not really shouting. I understand that I need to take this into consideration more than the people I'm discussing things with.

The angry liberals not handling dissent well thing. I've been rational about this, and I've ignored it and I've been fighty about it. And the latter is the only time when anything constructive seems to have come out of it. There's a small contingent on this site who either won't speak up, or who have been silenced by the raucous and (your word) fighty majority. And this majority won't let things go until they've managed to push any dissent (and the dissenters) completely off the site. I think I've sometimes got to be shouty to point this out. And I think the point still needs to be made.

(I know BTW that the fighty elements of that majority don't represent everyone, but if you're on the rational side of my imagined majority and you don't stand up - and say "I agree with that fighty person, but you shouldn't treat people like that" then you're just as bad.)

That fighty majority pisses me off. It pisses me off, and I guess that any anger I feel does come over in what I write. But I can't let it go. I come here to hear new voices and new opinions and to have my world turned upside down by those people who are the best of the web. Sometimes those people are pushed away and I don't get to hear what they have to say. And, (and this is the thing that freaks me out and angers me the most) there's many times when it just feels like bullying.

Heh. I'm drifting a bit here, and the argument's starting to lose coherence. I don't know if I've made my point. I am painting with broad strokes, but the site's a big old amorphous thing and broad strokes is all I got.


but cortex. I'm sorry that it tires you. And I know that I've been banging this particular drum *forever*. And it's hassle. But boy, do I really, really care about it as an issue.
posted by seanyboy at 1:05 AM on September 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


And, if you look at that way the new state of Israel was created, if you look at it with no baggage, no history, no excuses, just as a thing done in its own right... it's inexcusable and horrendous.

Right. I totally agree with Decani. To have a productive discussion of Israel/Palestine, you need to think about 19th 20th century history-- not only of the Jews, but also of the Palestinians-- the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the settlement of WWI, the end of the British Empire in the Middle East. All of these things are crucial for understanding the dynamics of the region today.

Unfortunately, with feelings running high on all sides, there's no incentive to learn the history. Middleeastfactsnow.com or Israelhistory.com or whatever is not going to have what you need to know.

Any half-decent world history textbook (Bentley et al, Tignor et al) and its bibliography are great places to start. History should make people on all sides of the debate uncomfortable, especially people living in places that enjoy power and privilege in the world today. 20th history is key to understanding not just I/P, but the Balkan states, Pakistan/India, and the rest. A lot of these regions did not enter the 20th century with religious conflicts. Why they left the 20th century with them is an important question whose answer is not rooted in the ancient past.
posted by vincele at 1:06 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


So the only reqson this was deleted was because of how it was framed???

Hmmmmm....

Can it be reposted then?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:11 AM on September 24, 2010


Didn't Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt because the Pharaoh was threatening to beat up on them?

Is there any source for that other than Exodus?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:17 AM on September 24, 2010


I think seanyboy is correct in his assumption about cultural difference. Americans frequently miss British nuance or tongue-in-cheek remarks.
As to I/P threads I will repeat what I posted before: I would just like to say to certain members here that it doesn't matter how much you shout or try to close the debate down it will still go on either with you, or without you.
It would be a great pity if the debate could not be had here.
There is a subset of people on this site who will do anything to shut the debate down. They will argue bias and semantics; try to equate Judism the religion with Israel the state ie. an attack on one is an attack on the other.
It would be interesting to know if it is always the same users flagging the I/P posts. That would indicate that the mods are being hoodwinked.
posted by adamvasco at 4:53 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


UbuRovias, Kashmir is very complex as well. The point could be restated this is one of the more complex issues, or even this is a complex issue. I could defend my assertion by talking about the network of participants and interest conflicts, but it seems pointless.
posted by humanfont at 4:55 AM on September 24, 2010


If that doesn't amount to something real in your viewpoint, that's fine, but acting like maybe it shouldn't be real or matter to other people doesn't really forward discussion.

Well, hm, I guess I don't mean these words on a screen don't matter and I don't mean they aren't real but I DO mean it's not worth being evil or hateful to each other here.

And as to the other point, I do get that the mods get paid. But paid or not, you guys prove it is indeed DOABLE to be calm and not hysterical with other posters no matter what the provocation. I don't think you think that people can't be civil to one another unless they are paid to do so.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:09 AM on September 24, 2010


Man, you guys are harshing on seanyboy now? This place has really become kinda ridiculous. Enjoy the listening to the echoes, privileged mefi liberals, and good luck with the peeing freely thing.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 5:37 AM on September 24, 2010


I lived in the west country of England when I was a boy. I know we're all just a bunch of genteel farmers and fishermen and hippies who hang out at Stonehenge, but I get when somebody from the North is being sarcastic.

Listen, Sean, I'ma assume you're trying to be an honest broker here. And there may be some merit to your comment -- there are some things that MeFites don't do especially well, and we're all aware of that. But you framed it as "This is a laughable example of the fact that an predominantly liberal site cannot actually get along when they're not in the big echo chamber where they all agree with each others liberalism."

And that's just demonstrably not the case. And let me demonstrate:

Firstly, you don't know anybody's politics. People in this thread have been assuming you to be conservative, and have in the past. My politics, like most people who spent time in Bath, are somewhere between Tears for Fears and Peter Gabriel, who was my neighbor. Which isn't even a category in American politics. When I have to put down my political affiliation, the closest I am offered is Dave Dee, and he was from Salisbury. SALISBURY!

Next, just read through the threads in the front page: The My Lie one, as an example. Again, we don't actually know the politics of anybody in there. Beyond that, it's full of contentious issues, dealing with recovered memories, child abuse, and prison. And there is a lot of disagreement in that thread. But it remains, for the most part, civil -- certainly moreso than most I/P threads. And I know for a fact that at least one of the participants in that thread is a Phil Collins man, which usually means trouble.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:48 AM on September 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


LOOK. Everyone wants the rule the world. OK. But these are not games without frontiers. I don't need to see your family snapshot to realise you're telling me You're not one of us. It makes me want to shout. It's a mad world. But can you not stop the hurting. Anyway. I just tell myself "No fight left or so it seems. I am a man whose dreams have all deserted. I've changed my face, I've changed my name. But no one wants you when you lose. Don't give up."

etc.
posted by seanyboy at 6:12 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm impressed you've read that much of our essential manifesto. Being from the North, I would have thought it would be all Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Supertramp and Jamiroquai and, I don't know, Morris dancing from you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:20 AM on September 24, 2010


I guess the thing with Metafilter is that it is mainstream. Not dead centre, but mainstream. This is a good thing when it comes to Ask Metafilter, where it has taught thousands of people how to enjoy the benefits of society, and a detriment on the blue, where threads that create dissent with anger (work for the mods) have a higher bar assigned to them.

This may be why I spend most of my time in the green these days.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:28 AM on September 24, 2010


MetaFilter: There is no such thing as shoes.
posted by artlung at 6:34 AM on September 24, 2010


seanyboy: Do not try and have the shoes. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
AZ: What truth?
seanyboy: There is no shoes.
AZ: There is no shoes?
seanyboy: Then you'll see, that it is not the shoes you have, it is only yourself.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:50 AM on September 24, 2010


I don't know what's going on anymore but I wanted to point out that with people focused on this thread, there were zero metatalk posts yesterday. Well done, people.
posted by inigo2 at 7:06 AM on September 24, 2010


As to I/P threads I will repeat what I posted before: I would just like to say to certain members here that it doesn't matter how much you shout or try to close the debate down it will still go on either with you, or without you.

You posted a bunch of FPP's which were biased and to some extent ignored both the extensive and controversial history of the region as well as in one case certain essential dynamics of American Jewry's controversial support of Israel. At least two or three of those posts were deleted by the mods.

When I tried to call you on that in just one of those FPP's by injecting an extensive amount of relevant, detailed information into the discussion, you walked away and refused to engage. Instead, you announced that I was trying to shut down debate. You never bothered to address any of the information I added.

From this I drew the conclusion that you don't want debate, but rather to have your position heard and not be challenged. I could be wrong about this. Perhaps you've been a pillar of objectivity and discussion in I/P threads I've missed. But if you're truly interested in encouraging debate with other folks here, respectfully, it would probably be best to start by doing so yourself.

You have an axe to grind about Israel. That's fair. You're entitled. Many of us have axes to grind about both Israel and the Palestinians and we're entitled, too. But don't try and make it sound like the Metafilter Israel Lobby is censoring you and trying to shut down debate. That's absolutely not true and you damned well know it.

If you have something to say, frame it fairly. Frame it honestly. If you fail to do so, you have no one to blame but yourself if a post gets punted.

It would be a great pity if the debate could not be had here.

There have been plenty of thoughtful discussions here about both I/P and American funding of Israel, including this one. My own position on both issues has changed drastically in the last four years, in no small part because I read this site.

There is a subset of people on this site who will do anything to shut the debate down. They will argue bias and semantics; try to equate Judism the religion with Israel the state ie. an attack on one is an attack on the other.

Yes, and they get called on it regularly in those posts and in MeTa. That's how this place works.

It would be interesting to know if it is always the same users flagging the I/P posts. That would indicate that the mods are being hoodwinked.

I suspect that if they were such slaves to the flag queue, no posts about the Gaza flotilla would have survived. Instead a very long and furious thread was allowed to erupt and flourish.
posted by zarq at 7:22 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


but cortex. I'm sorry that it tires you. And I know that I've been banging this particular drum *forever*. And it's hassle. But boy, do I really, really care about it as an issue.

I get that you care. And, again, I don't think it's something where you're coming from a fundamentally flawed position or anything like that, and this later, longer comment is exactly the sort of careful, calm, thoughtful, good stuff I know you're capable of writing when you decide to. It's partly because I know you can do that that it's so goddam frustrating to see you do this routine:

1. Emit dismissive GRAR with a buried lede.
2. Create big ugly distraction in thread from people's reaction to the shitty framing of (1).
3. Slow down and make careful, thoughtful comment that states clearly and reasonably what was obfuscated at best in (1).

Just take a breath or several dozen, whatever it takes, and skip right to 3. I mean, that's basically the thesis of a lot of this discussion. Civility lasts as long as people can manage to make it last; it's a collaborative effort. Sometimes that means taking the high road when someone else doesn't, but sometimes it means not being that someone else in the first place.

I don't think you think that people can't be civil to one another unless they are paid to do so.

No, but it certainly helps. Rather, people follow something other than their first instinct because they have an incentive. In my ideal world, everybody's incentive for not being crappy is a firm internal belief that the site is a better place if they're decent to other people no matter what. And, honestly, I think that's largely true to some extent for the vast majority of folks here, even if nobody is perfect about it.

But there's no way to make someone want to be that way if they don't want to be, and no way to force someone to re-evaluate what qualifies as "being decent", and no way to force them not to have a set of "unless this happens..." exception case in their minds that mean that civility goes out the window. So even with most people mostly agreeing that it's a good idea, there are gonna be some people who refuse to play that game at all, and a lot of other people who try to be good about it but for one reason or another (random bad day, topic that sets them off, etc) lose their shit a bit every now and then as well.

To some extent an incentive to not be crappy to one another may be "to avoid getting banned or timed out or chastized by the mods", but again that's gonna depend on the person and the situation and, honestly, if we're left having to be far more heavy-handed to scare people into line or ban them out of the community in order to make this a more civil place, that sucks.

Then there's the community incentive—someone who may not believe that being civil when they see something they disagree with is a priori the way to be might still care enough about the idea of this place and the well-being of the other people they share it with to take a second look at their own reactions and behavior and modify it some to try and muck things up less for others. Again, there's no way to force this into anyone's brain, but if there's one thing that I think could plausibly work for most people, maybe it's that. And it's a hard thing, because if someone's not feeling engaged they may not take care with their words, and if they don't take care with their words they aren't necessarily going to get a warm welcome, and so how are they going to end up feeling engaged? And if they're not feeling engaged...

Short version: civility is good. Fundamentally its essential or a place like this falls apart. And people here are, by and large, pretty good about it, but nobody is perfect and a small portion of the crowd seems to just not be trying at all a larger portion of the time. Group dynamics are more than the sum of the individuals, so changing them is damned, damned difficult to accomplish.

And so "well why can't everybody just be nice, it's not that hard" is as requests go all hat and no cattle. It's a nice thought, I've certainly thought and probably stated variations on that theme myself in comments here in the past, but it's so very far from being enough that having it thrown out in a thread as if it's some sort of Oh Duh! panacea in the middle of an argument is itself kind of annoying and tiring. The problem is not that it never occurred to people to just try harder.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I could have my preference, I'd rather mefites care about things less and think about them more.
posted by empath at 7:34 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


(as a prime example -- religious discussions are best here when both the hardcore atheists and serious christians stay out of it)
posted by empath at 7:35 AM on September 24, 2010


I for one will spend more time thinking about things I don't especially care about. Today's subject: Justin Bieber.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:47 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why be hostile to what is really just words on a screen? It's silly.

I would ask the same thing of you.
posted by nomisxid at 7:51 AM on September 24, 2010


I disagree. I don't think anyone should be asked to stay out of any conversation. What I would like, however, is for people emotionally invested in a contentious issue to not engage other people in an argument. By all means tell us how you feel, and ideally why you feel that way, and then step back and let others do the same. Don't challenge other posters you disagree with. Don't call them names (like "troll") or dismiss them as "wrong". Focus more on telling us why you think you're right, and less on why you think someone else is wrong.
I want to hear from religious people in religion threads. I want to hear from conservatives and tea partiers in political threads. I want to know why they think and feel the way they do and why, for them, it's the right way to think and feel. That way, I learn more about them and understand them, instead of dismissing them as delusional, unintelligent, or irrational (which I'm pretty sure they're not).
And if someone does give an unpopular opinion, with or without explanation, they're under no obligation to respond to the challenges from the majority. It doesn't make them a troll to voice a minority opinion and then refrain from answering to critics. That's their prerogative. In fact, I prefer if people do so. It avoids the ugliness than ensues when we engage each other personally.
posted by rocket88 at 8:01 AM on September 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Sorry, the "I disagree" part was in response to empath's comment.
posted by rocket88 at 8:02 AM on September 24, 2010


I want to hear from religious people in religion threads.

I'm not sure I exactly got across what I was trying to get across. I like hearing from religious people and atheists, too, as long as they don't come to the thread with an agenda to convert people to 'their side'. I'm an atheist, and care about it a lot, but it drives me crazy when all the atheists and Christians go at each other AGAIN without the slightest attempt to understand what motivates the other side. Make your point, then listen to what the other guy has to say, and try to assume that he's not stupid, ignorant, or an asshole.
posted by empath at 8:11 AM on September 24, 2010


Focus more on telling us why you think you're right, and less on why you think someone else is wrong.

This is the best advice in town.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:15 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


same goes for I/P threads -- the people who believe REALLY STRONGLY in one side or another don't listen to each other and it's the same accusations of racism on both sides, and anybody who is hoping to get more light than heat just leave the thread. If you care really deeply about the issue, you should probably really, really restrain yourself from participating in the thread.

I guess the problem is kind of Prisoner's Dilemma-ish. If the partisans on both sides would agree to not mix it up so much in I/P threads, we could have more of them and they'd be more productive, but all it takes is one person to say something fighty and it all goes to hell.
posted by empath at 8:17 AM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


seanyboy: “But boy, do I really, really care about it as an issue.”

The ironic thing being that, as in all difficult political situations, if this problem ever gets solved it won't be by someone who cares about it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:32 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The ironic thing being that, as in all difficult political situations, if this problem ever gets solved it won't be by someone who cares about it.

Well, it'll be solved by someone who cares more about peace than winning.
posted by empath at 8:33 AM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


That would indicate that the mods are being hoodwinked.

This is something we do a reality check on from time to time. We are not being hoodwinked. We also do not act without personal assessment of what we're going to be doing. I know sometimes people feel better if they think the only way we could be consistely deleting their contributions or others' contributions is if someone else had it in for them, but at least in this situation that's not the case.

We do occasionally see some people who seem to always flag the contributions of other specific members. We discount these flags appropriately. If it looks like some sort of long term axe grind, we'll drop them a note to tell them to knock it off. If they don't knock it off, we start ignoring their flags.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:42 AM on September 24, 2010


Make your point, then listen to what the other guy has to say, and try to assume that he's not stupid, ignorant, or an asshole.

Well put.
posted by zarq at 9:57 AM on September 24, 2010


I hereby dub this thread the I/P Address.
posted by Mister_A at 10:02 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]



Short version: civility is good. Fundamentally its essential or a place like this falls apart. And people here are, by and large, pretty good about it, but nobody is perfect and a small portion of the crowd seems to just not be trying at all a larger portion of the time.

What's not been clear is why that small portion is tolerated, why those folks aren't banned if they make it clear that they can't or won't be civil.

The reasonable people suffer for the jackasses.
posted by ambient2 at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are very pontificating zarq. Are you the arbitrator of what makes a good or bad post? Or do you just go on at length because, you know, you are right and everyone else is not. I know you don't like my posts; you have made it very clear; almost to the point where I think you might be one of the people trying to shout down any other view than your own. If I remember correctly you took a time out about this.
Others have thanked me for interesting links. I have not made an I/P post for nearly a year and will not make another one.
A FPP is a collection of other peoples work so try criticising that and not the messenger. It's a little more difficult but I'm sure you can manage.
posted by adamvasco at 10:19 AM on September 24, 2010


What's not been clear is why that small portion is tolerated, why those folks aren't banned if they make it clear that they can't or won't be civil.

The reasonable people suffer for the jackasses.


Really exceptional cases have lead to bannings, but bans are not something we have ever handed out in a cavalier fashion. We strongly believe that the right way to deal with someone not quite making it work is to try and talk with them about what needs changing and to make it clear to them that the ideal case in our view is for them to find some way to make some changes to their behavior to eliminate some of the problems.

So we talk to those people, a lot, and sometimes we give them timeouts if they aren't getting it or in rare cases we say "look, you just have to stop talking about x if you can't fix this" or "you need to pretend user y does not exist if you can't not react to them in this bad way" and hold them to that.

A lot of the time it works. Sometimes long-term, sometimes short-term with recidivism issues and another conversation. It's rare that it gets so out of hand on an individual level that we end up feeling that banning them is the only reasonable move, and that's where the few bans for basically just not getting it together come from.

And I understand the "why don't you do more" question, both because a lot of what we do is not publicly visible—lots of email directly with people, etc— and because the problem hasn't disappeared and so clearly there's more that needs to be done, etc.

But there's a turtles-all-the-way-down problem here: how much is enough, in terms of intervention and barring by one means or another people who have behaved in an obnoxious or combative fashion from doing that again? Do we ban more people? Do we forbid hot tempers? Do we start micromanaging every heated exchange on the site and make fine-grained rules about what exactly can and can't be said?

So, we think about this stuff constantly. I wish people wouldn't be buttheads, and to a degree when buttheadedness gets out of hand we absolutely do work, public and private, to try and deal with it. I don't think "ban people with bad attitudes" is a practical shift in policy to pursue, for a few reasons, much as it would narrowly address one kind of problem here, because I think it would introduce a lot of other problems as a result. One thing we have never wanted to do is sanitize the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:22 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's also really rare that we have an all-noise/jerk commenter. We have a lot of strongly opinionated people who have good days and bad days but rarely someone who we feel is just a bad faith commenter who is here to start shit and not engage with the community. And some people are very unforgiving about the good day/bad day thing in other people. And some of the good day/bad day people aren't so good at the acknowledgement that, while their opinions/thoughts/feelings are certainly valid, expressing them in GRAR fashion here is usually unlikely to lead to the results they are after.

I honestly feel that a lot of people just have a hard time predicting how people will react to them, or don't care sufficiently to moderate their own behavior. But yeah there are definitely a few people who seem to have their bad days really take over the website in a pretty annoying fashion. But I sort of feel that this is a side effect of trying to have a light touch with moderation, and feeling that's a better way to approach a community of people than an aggressive nanny-state situation where we rein in disagreements. I know some people feel that we already go too far with moderating fights. We do try to aim more or less towards what we see as the middle, but that still doesn't get us to "banning people for being jerks" territory at all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:38 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are very pontificating zarq.

Guilty as charged.

Are you the arbitrator of what makes a good or bad post? Or do you just go on at length because, you know, you are right and everyone else is not. I know you don't like my posts; you have made it very clear; almost to the point where I think you might be one of the people trying to shout down any other view than your own. If I remember correctly you took a time out about this.

A few things....

a) I'm opinionated. I know it. It's a blessing and curse both for me and the people around me. :)

b) I DO like many of your posts and also comment in them. I haven't seen an I/P post from you that wasn't biased, though.

c) I've taken two voluntary time outs from MeFi. Both times they were a reaction by me to the way I see members who profess to have religious faith (myself included,) are treated around here. Neither of those time outs were over I/P, nor did either of them have anything to do with you that I'm aware of.

d) I am trying not to weigh in on whether posts are good or bad in their threads any more. I'm learning from my time here in MeTa: Better to flag, move on and talk about them here rather than derail a thread from within. If you had posted about J Street today, I probably would have commented with the extra information about AIPAC and American Jews to flesh out your post for you, and refrained from going on and on about how much your post sucked.

e) I have no power here but my words. I'm not an arbitrator of anything. But I have a right to speak my mind. As do you.

Others have thanked me for interesting links.

And yet, no debate ensued. Why is that, do you think? Could it possibly be that the people thanking you for your links already agreed with the lopsided point of view that you were presenting in your post?

In my experience, preaching to the choir gets boring after a while. So does shouting people down. I don't learn that way. So I'm trying not to do either anymore.

By posting a one-sided FPP, refusing to engage when someone tries to balance it with further information and dismissing them for doing so, you're both preaching to the choir AND metaphorically shouting people down. How is that encouraging debate?

I have not made an I/P post for nearly a year and will not make another one.

Haven't the mods asked you not to?

A FPP is a collection of other peoples work so try criticising that and not the messenger. It's a little more difficult but I'm sure you can manage.

I've never been a big fan of the idea that "data speaks for itself." People speak. Data just sits there. You create that FPP and it tells a story. That story can be balanced or not, depending on how much you editorialize, what words you use to present it or which supporting links you decide to include. That's precisely what this MeTa thread is about!

I did address your points, by the way. You say there is a lack of proper discussion regarding I/P topics here on MeFi. You're making insinuations that the mods are biased and stifling debate. I've responded to both points. So have they.
posted by zarq at 11:37 AM on September 24, 2010


But I sort of feel that this is a side effect of trying to have a light touch with moderation --- I won't say that the current approach to the site moderation is wrong, because clearly it is successful and most people who use the site are happy with it, but we can't pretend that it's light. What it was like when it was only over-worked Matt acting as the moderator is the standard for "light moderation."
posted by crunchland at 12:03 PM on September 24, 2010


I'll add to crunchland's point that the idea of a self-moderated userbase (popular during the 'only over-worked Matt' era) has all but flown out the window, even in MetaTalk. This is probably ok though, since the readership and participating members on the gray has grown beyond the tens of—maybe hundred—sensible folk back then into hundreds—maybe thousands—of them jawing and cackling in MeTa today.
posted by carsonb at 12:15 PM on September 24, 2010


we can't pretend that it's light.

When we say light moderation we're usually comparing it to other community discussion sites with comment deletion without explanation, banning with very little explanations and very little mod responsiveness to on-site inquiries. So it's definitely not as light as when Matt was running the place, but compared to other communities of similar size, I would put money on us having fewer comment deletions and significantly fewer bannings/time outs than other sites.

Of course, most other sites don't publish their moderation stats, so it's fairly difficult to compare and contrast. And there are smaller more club-like sites that have almost no moderation at all because they basically don't need it for a self-selected group [this goes extra for closed groups where not anyone can join].

We're not trying to pretend anything at all, we honestly believe this site is lightly moderated (and that AskMe is more heavily moderated) and we try to use this as one of our guiding principles as we decide what to do with any given post or comment. Matt hasn't run this site on his own since 2004 when the site had 15% of the membership it has now and people were more likely to know each other. It's definitly not as lightly moderated as it was, but it's definitely more lightly moderated than other community sites of similar size.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


FPP's should be framed in a way that facilitates conversation and discussion to construct knowledge and the poster should be accepting of the perspective brought by the diverse community here. There are many educated people here with diverse political views and backgrounds. It seems to me that there is a tendency by FPP creators and some of those posting to simply dismiss divergent opinions and perspectives as trolling or uninformed.

Adamvasco to single you out since you raised the subject of your own postings. My reaction has been that your FPPs and comments on the Middle East often bring a perspective that is hyper-critical of the United States while ignoring the role of other conflict participants. I feel that your reaction to my attempts to bring balance or an alternate perspective has been unwelcome. I think there is a line between disagreement and being dismissive. Perhaps this is something I should work on as well. You certainly don't have to please me with your postings, but it might make our occasional conversations more productive.
posted by humanfont at 12:52 PM on September 24, 2010


LOL, I thought you were asking for your IP ban to be lifted. What, you're not already banned? OK, I gotta go, make a few calls.
posted by not_on_display at 12:57 PM on September 24, 2010


FWIW, I would agree it is "lightly moderated" by any reasonable comparative standard. The fact that it is moderated by humans and not electronic thumbs may make it seem more moderated, because there is not even any point in talking about an up-down arrow system. And the arrows don't talk back. So there is a presence to the moderators here which is very unusual. My guess is if the exact same deletion decisions were being taken by a bot or by arrows, this wouldn't even be in discussion.
posted by Rumple at 12:57 PM on September 24, 2010


When we say light moderation we're usually comparing it to other community discussion sites with comment deletion without explanation, banning with very little explanations and very little mod responsiveness to on-site inquiries.

I agree with you whole-heartedly but I find it a little sad that the standard for "light moderation" these days consists of mods not being cruel and petty tin-pot dictators who rule their fiefdoms with the iron first of a tyrant.
posted by Justinian at 1:45 PM on September 24, 2010


oops, I mean th rn fst f trnt.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2010


No, it works because y is onl   a vowel sometimes.
posted by carsonb at 1:54 PM on September 24, 2010


There will never be peace in the area that is I/P. And so there will never be peace about I/P here on Metafilter. The hate runs deep. Just reading this thread shows how hateful people can be. Even people that I normally consider reasonable show hate and vitriol. Honestly it sucks big moose balls.

I'd rather that the mods here slam down the hammer on I/P posts of any kind than I have to read the crap that can come of it.

I'd rather that there was a crapload of recipes and cute cat pictures. A ton of annoying SLYT videos. A veritable plethora of Tumblr pic sites of hairy women and penis torture, before another I/P shitfest.

You all suck. Now stop it.
posted by Splunge at 7:54 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


A veritable plethora of Tumblr pic sites of hairy women and penis torture

you have my attention now, please continue
posted by not_on_display at 9:39 PM on September 24, 2010


Would you say we have a plethora of pinatas?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:41 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


A veritable plethora of Tumblr pic sites of hairy women and penis torture..."

So you're saying that pics of hairy women = pics of penis torture?
posted by zarq at 12:05 AM on September 25, 2010


However large groups of violent maniacs aren't motivated to attack US citizens due to support for the regimes in Colombia or Egypt.

That isn't quite accurate as far as Egypt goes. Anger at US support of people seen as godless dictators of Islamic states is also one of the things fueling terrorist attacks.
posted by bardophile at 1:27 AM on September 25, 2010


often bring a perspective that is hyper-critical of the United States
I wasn't aware that being critical of US actions and their effect abroad was disallowed on Metafilter; I thought sometimes it was almost a prorogative or are only Americans allowed to do that?
posted by adamvasco at 7:21 AM on September 25, 2010


I wasn't aware that being critical of US actions and their effect abroad was disallowed on Metafilter;

It's not, and it would be nice if people didn't frame this as "gee you just can't handle criticism of US actions or interests" There are plenty of post that are critical of the US on MetaFilter daily.

That said, one of the side effects of I/P posts for whatever reason is a large amount of "fuck you United States for supporting Israel you fucking horrible fucks" and "this blood is on your hands" sort of thing. That sort of thing stops a conversation dead [and no I'm not at all thrilled with the LOLTEXAS post that is up there right now, so let's not jump in to the "why is this not okay but THAT okay...?" comparison] and I'm not sure why people can't refrain from making those sorts of comments.

The US bears some responsibility, yes. Extrapolating that all Americans are okay with torture, or what's going on in Palestine, or whatever takes a very complicated situation and turns it into a weapon to be used against people who are seen as not doing ENOUGH to protest bad things that are happening. We see this sort of oversimplification in a lot of political and religious threads. Everyone judges the hell out of everyone else and then decides to make blanket statements condemning them. It's a crappy way to have a discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


zarq: You're making insinuations that the mods are biased and stifling debate.
Asking a question is not insinuating. I asked a question and received an answer. I would also like you to understand that I live in Europe where our viewpoint is slightly different from yours.
Many people over here believe that America is part of the problem and not part of the solution, though hopefully your new government may be able to rectify and rein in some of the excesses that the last incumbents caused.
This is equally so re torture a la mode, I/P, banking shenanigens, financial instability, Iraq and Afghanistan, security theatre and much more.
We live under the shadow of Empire. We did not vote for it.
posted by adamvasco at 9:53 AM on September 25, 2010


The ironic thing being that, as in all difficult political situations, if this problem ever gets solved it won't be by someone who cares about it.
posted by koeselitz at 4:32 PM on September 24


There ought to be a word for brief statements that sound wise and deep if you don't think about them too hard yet which are, in fact, incredibly vacuous.
posted by Decani at 1:16 PM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The word is glib.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:00 PM on September 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


often bring a perspective that is hyper-critical of the United States
I wasn't aware that being critical of US actions and their effect abroad was disallowed on Metafilter; I thought sometimes it was almost a prorogative or are only Americans allowed to do that?

Taking half my statement and then jumping to a conclusion not supported by my statement presents you as not particularly interested in listening or a two way interchange. I gave my opinion and offered a simple suggestion. I didn't tell you to stop posting or even change the subject.
posted by humanfont at 3:03 PM on September 25, 2010


However large groups of violent maniacs aren't motivated to attack US citizens due to support for the regimes in Colombia or Egypt.

Those that would be in that position today lost their battle long ago.
posted by vapidave at 10:32 PM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I missed this when it came out, but I'd like to correct something. This was not "the UN report". It was the report of the fact-finding mission appointed by the President of the UNHRC (UN Human Rights Commission). The distinction is important because a committee appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon is preparing a competing report which will be presented to the UN per se. I understand that there are also two Israeli investigations (one of which may be complete) and possibly a Turkish one, but I don't know if anyone is still interested in those.

Given that there have already been three front-page posts on this incident (*) and many subsequent developments I wouldn't mind seeing a followup at some stage, but I suggest that it ought to wait for the Secretary-General's report.

(*) I am still boggled by the poster's rationale for justification for the third post: "I couldn't actually watch this at work, but I had someone verify the content for me."
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:57 AM on September 27, 2010


The word is glib.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:00 PM on September 25


I know. :-)
posted by Decani at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would also like you to understand that I live in Europe where our viewpoint is slightly different from yours.

Does that viewpoint belong in the body of an FPP?

Mine doesn't, either. That's why I put it in the comments.

We live under the shadow of Empire. We did not vote for it.

In a way you did, though. European countries collectively made a conscious choice to defer their role as military powers to the US in the 1950's, '60's and '70's, so they could rebuild and take care of their citizenry. If you had kept your military spending and weapons research at higher levels, you'd probably have more influence.

That's one of the reasons why the EU was formed, was it not? It wasn't solely an economic partnership, after all. The EU made initial overtures to NATO in 2001(?), and they now have more than 20 countries in common. Where Americans are not involved, the US has now agreed to keep out of Europe and let that EU / NATO partnership handle internal matters.

Of course, the big picture's a lot more complicated than that and this could easily develop into a very lengthy discussion. There are quite practical reasons why Europe chose not to keep military spending at high levels after WWII, and why various countries didn't increase military spending after they rebuilt their infrastructures. During the Cold War, Pax Americana was necessary. That's no longer the case.
posted by zarq at 1:46 PM on September 27, 2010


I think it would be interesting to take this conversation offline to memail or some other backchannel. Perhaps we can sort through some of this stuff and come up with a way to have more constructive conversations in the future. Is there some recommended method of having a back channel? Memail me if you want in.
posted by humanfont at 3:03 PM on September 27, 2010


Decani: “There ought to be a word for brief statements that sound wise and deep if you don't think about them too hard yet which are, in fact, incredibly vacuous.”

You have an extraordinary talent for dismissiveness.
posted by koeselitz at 2:03 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Discussions about I/P are often contentious whether regarding patents, copyright or trademark.
posted by bz at 1:05 PM on September 28, 2010


zarq: During the Cold War, Pax Americana was necessary. That's no longer the case.

'Necessary'? You're going to have try a whole lot harder than that to sell that viewpoint to anyone outside of the US, I reckon...
posted by Dysk at 6:24 AM on September 30, 2010


'Necessary'? You're going to have try a whole lot harder than that to sell that viewpoint to anyone outside of the US, I reckon...

Sure, sure. My perspective is definitely US-centric. I'm also simplifying the whole situation pretty drastically to make a point, of course.
posted by zarq at 7:17 AM on September 30, 2010


I'd just like to point out that while zarq may present a mainstream, US-centric view of Cold War history and Middle East policy, that view does not represent what all Americans think.

A sizable minority in the US see I/P in very different terms based on 20th century history as I said above and on concepts of justice. We also decry the buildup of a US standing army due to "Cold War necessities," permanent war footing, invasions and occupations of countries everywhere for the purposes of spreading "democracy and freedom" and calling on farcical interpretations of the doctrine of "wars of defense" to make the world free from "Terror."

The debate about US foreign policy cannot be reduced to a European view vs. an American view based on the most vocal members of a website.
posted by vincele at 8:33 AM on September 30, 2010


I'd just like to point out that while zarq may present a mainstream, US-centric view of Cold War history and Middle East policy, that view does not represent what all Americans think.

Honestly, I'm not even sure it's a mainstream view. It's a half-formed opinion.

Since you brought it up, I've never, ever claimed to speak for anyone but myself except in very general terms. Even when I talk about my religion, I try to be careful not to speak in absolutes. My views are my own. I don't speak for anyone else. That would be pretty rude of me, don't you think?

The debate about US foreign policy cannot be reduced to a European view vs. an American view based on the most vocal members of a website.

What an odd thing to say.

First of all, I do not believe I did that.

Second of all, I don't see why we shouldn't be allowed to discuss whatever aspects of US foreign policy we like. I've acknowledged twice now that that the situation is far more complex than described. What else would you like me to say?

If you have something to contribute, please by all means do so. No one is stopping you. But don't present your views as being somehow diminished because I happen to be offering an opinion you disagree with.
posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on September 30, 2010


Fucking lame
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I tend to agree there. There were some threadshitting "OH NOES I/P POST" comments that were deleted, but that doesn't mean the thread was going to go off the rails.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:30 PM on October 1, 2010


I cleaned up the threadshitting while we were discussing it. We didn't delete it because of the threadshitting. I think we've been enormously clear on thinking that threadshitting sucks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:42 PM on October 1, 2010


Once again, that is not the UN report. It's the UNCHR report. The UNCHR is not the UN; it's a highly-politicised subsidiary body that doesn't have any credibility even within the UN. This is why the UN is preparing its own report.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:12 AM on October 2, 2010


Yeah, that may not have been an ideal post, but it didn't deserve to be deleted.
posted by homunculus at 9:38 AM on October 2, 2010


The UN report will be prepared by a panel which has a Israeli representative and Turkish representative (and no representation from Palestine, of course). The report is widely seen as a chance for Turkey and Israel to reconcile their differences. In other words, the report is a political game, not strictly an attempt to find the truth. This report will be biased too, maybe just in a different way.

It's the UNHCR, not UNCHR.
posted by ssg at 12:30 PM on October 2, 2010


It's the UNHCR, not UNCHR.

Actually, you're both wrong.

Joe was linking to the UN Human Rights Council; the UNHRC.
ssg was referring to the UNHCR, which is the High Commissioner for Refugees.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) was a functional commission within the overall framework of the United Nations from 1946 until it was replaced by the UN Human Rights Council in 2006.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:46 PM on October 2, 2010


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