yuck March 7, 2011 3:24 PM   Subscribe

This FPP about stalking isn't going too well. Can we at least sort of refrain from reflexively blaming the victim?
posted by yarly to Etiquette/Policy at 3:24 PM (109 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

One person has maybe reflexively blamed the victim, and has been called out for it.
posted by rollbiz at 3:27 PM on March 7, 2011


To me, the gun derail is far more pervasive and annoying.
posted by rollbiz at 3:27 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Did I miss a bunch of posts? What the fuck is going on with this thread? People railing left and right about these phantom victim blamers.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wonder if nadawi poisoned the discussion, honestly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:29 PM on March 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah I hate these threads as a general rule and I'm not seeing it at least not as a thread trend. People are occasional boors and louts but they are the vast exception, not the rule. I'm not saying "hey it could be worse" but that if you're having an issue with a thread that is confined to a person or two, it might be better to take it up with them directly, or call them out directly, because as these things go, that thread is not going that terribly. If I've missed something,which is totally possible, please let me know exactly what you're referring to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:29 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've only seen one person blame her so far...
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 3:30 PM on March 7, 2011


This comment of yours, yarly, is perhaps the most toxic comment in the thread. I've forgotten -- is it OK to tell people to shut the fuck up and get over themselves in the Grey?
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:30 PM on March 7, 2011


Mostly Hylas. But my general experience of reading the thread was a slow-burn ending in head asplode.
posted by yarly at 3:31 PM on March 7, 2011


I don't wonder at all, BP. To the extent that anything has happened, that's exactly what happened. There's that comment, and then this one as she "bows out".
posted by rollbiz at 3:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


is it OK to tell people to shut the fuck up and get over themselves in the Grey?

I don't think so. I wanted to do that in the Blue, which is why I posted this instead.
posted by yarly at 3:32 PM on March 7, 2011


I'd make a metatalk post calling out this callout if it wouldn't be too recursive. This is one of the worst callouts I've seen.
posted by Justinian at 3:33 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


blazecock/rollbiz- look, i said i'd bow out of the conversation and i did. after i did, 80+ comments later people are still piling on and calling me out. fair. i didn't express myself very well for a variety of reasons that are really not important here. but to blame me of having some sort of superhero power to force some jackass to use his appeal to authority to bring up her bar fighting boyfriend as a reason not to trust her - that doesn't seem a touch off base to you?
posted by nadawi at 3:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hylas made some pretty harsh criticisms of the author for a few things, but he didn't blame her for being stalked that I can see, unless saying she had poor judgment was an underhanded way of blaming her, but I don't think it's necessary to read it that way.
posted by frobozz at 3:34 PM on March 7, 2011


Jessamyn, it's probably my fault. I guess some folks say I appear to be in the "blame the victim" camp. If it makes it any easier, I'll stipulate that I'm both a boor and a lout.
posted by Hylas at 3:36 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think so. I wanted to do that in the Blue, which is why I posted this instead.

So you posted this because you personally didn't feel capable of having a discussion without attacking a member of the site?
posted by rollbiz at 3:36 PM on March 7, 2011


All praise be to God.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:38 PM on March 7, 2011


If you have a problem with some of the comments in the thread how about linking to a few of them, yarly? The whole "this thread sux amirite" thing is tiresome.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok, here's a bit of analysis. The comments moved pretty quickly towards focusing on the nebulous and apparently incorrect "tone" of the blog (i.e., female victims not acting the way we think they "should"). Many other comments subsequently picked up the "tone" thing. This then eventually deteriorated into outright disputing her veracity ("Her delusional and possibly narcissistic ranting makes her factual narrative more than a little suspect to me.")

Then, my head exploded and I came here.
posted by yarly at 3:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


If it makes it any easier, I'll stipulate that I'm both a boor and a lout.

You seem okay to me, but it may be time to cede the floor and let other people talk. It can be tough to get out of a "I need to respond to that" mode, but maybe have some dinner or lunch or breakfast and then come back? It's really a tough situation, the one outlined in the FPP because the woman having trouble is herself an odd character, this is remarkable to many people, and then it gets tricky when people are saying "she sure is weird" versus "weirdos get what they deserve" or something which I don't think people are saying.

I think some people are a little hair trigger about assuming commenters are stating the worst case, and I think commenters can sometimes get defensive when they think people are lumping them in with asshole "she was asking for it" sorts of comments which, to my mind, these aren't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does Metafilter have some kind of quota for comments that castigate unnamed commenters for "blaming the victim" without backing up this accusation at all?
posted by John Cohen at 3:41 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


blazecock/rollbiz- look, i said i'd bow out of the conversation and i did. after i did, 80+ comments later people are still piling on and calling me out. fair. i didn't express myself very well for a variety of reasons that are really not important here. but to blame me of having some sort of superhero power to force some jackass to use his appeal to authority to bring up her bar fighting boyfriend as a reason not to trust her - that doesn't seem a touch off base to you?

You dropped in with a completely uncharitable description of the discussion, offered next to nothing to back it up, and then said you were leaving, but not before you repeated your uncharitable description again as you walked out the door. I'm not suggesting that you wrote Hylas' words, no, but you definitely were a major part of the running derail that thread has turned into.
posted by rollbiz at 3:42 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Her delusional and possibly narcissistic ranting makes her factual narrative more than a little suspect to me."

This is Metafilter, where everyone has an undiagnosed personality disorder just waiting to be diagnosed by a stranger over the internet.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:42 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


i said i'd bow out of the conversation and i did

I think it was kind of a poisonous thing that you did, and I'm not sure that a post hoc rationalization from a comment that came downstream of your contributions justifies it. You helped set the stage, to some not-insubstantial degree.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:43 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The whole "this thread sux amirite" thing is tiresome.

I agree. I think there are too many callouts of threads that simply don't progress exactly the way the poster would like. Most of the time, the desired thread would have been a lot less interesting. Vibrant discussion tends to bother people, because they don't really like dealing with opposing views - they just want to shut those views down. Saying that people are blaming the victim is a favourite tactic, and it happens a lot more than actual victim-blaming, which I think is actually pretty rare around here. Criticizing the author of the blog for wanting to lock people up without a fair trial does not, for instance, constitute victim-blaming.
posted by Dasein at 3:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Does Metafilter have some kind of quota for comments that castigate unnamed commenters for "blaming the victim" without backing up this accusation at all?
posted by John Cohen at 3:41 PM on March 7 [+] [!]


The blaming I'm talking about is blaming her for being upset with how the proceedings turned out. And also, I agree with what this comment suggested, that her perceived "weirdness" opens the door to other kinds of blaming.
posted by yarly at 3:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do we have some kind of quota for castigating victims for not writing blogs we really, really like or for firing guns or for wanting more incarceration time during which they can feel secure about not being stalked further?

I didn't see a lot of victim blaming but that thread is loaded with victim criticisms. My head kinda asploded too after awhile.
posted by bearwife at 3:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


bowing out here too. just can't deal today.
posted by nadawi at 3:47 PM on March 7, 2011


Thread seems pretty much okay to me. I don't see how we can avoid talking about her, given the personal nature of her articles. When someone writes from their personal experiences in this way, I don't think it's fair to expect the reader to regard the writer automatically as a wholly reliable narrator. I think it's fair to read critically. I also think it's important to read fairly, and that the stalker was found in a court of law to be a stalker would tend to imply that she is not delusional in that regard. That is, I should stress, the relevant regard.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:49 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


worst. metacallout. ever.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:49 PM on March 7, 2011


The blaming I'm talking about is blaming her for being upset with how the proceedings turned out.

With respect, the phrase "blaming the victim" is really sort of colloquially understood to mean that in some way the person who is the victim of whatever it is that has happened to them is in some way responsible for whatever happened to them. I think bearwife is more on target, lots of criticism, unsurprising but not against the rules. Not an awesome thread but different from "she was asking for it" which, to be fair, we sometimes see, but it's pretty rare and resoundly shouted down.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Does Metafilter have some kind of quota for comments that castigate unnamed commenters for "blaming the victim" without backing up this accusation at all?

Nope, but only because, like a "MCMikeNamara pie-eating quota", it is unnecessary because the natural order of things takes care of it just fine, whether we always like the end result or not.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:52 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is Metafilter, where everyone has an undiagnosed personality disorder just waiting to be diagnosed by a stranger over the internet.

It's fun IRL, too! One of my colleagues and I even have a little game called "Sociopath or Narcissist?" when we're discussing outrageously egregious behavior from someone at work. Once in awhile a rare Histrionic pops up, and on those days we shout "bingo!" and go out for drinks.

posted by scody at 3:57 PM on March 7, 2011 [34 favorites]


Since I'm apparently part of the problem, per yarly, I'll pipe up and offer my two cents. I knew when I posted that comment that it might be taken the wrong way and therefore tried to be conscientious with the way I phrased my remark. Perhaps I can better explain myself here.

I have absolutely nothing wrong with how this woman conducted herself throughout the whole affair and think it sucks that in this day and age she had to go through with it in the first place. I'm not blaming her for anything, except for her lack of understanding in how the system works. I just got the feeling from her posts (the "tone" if you will) that she felt she was being treated unfairly by the system for some reason and somehow got the short end of the stick. After thinking about this for most of the afternoon, that seems to me to be the point that bothers me. The title of the FPP was something about the "system failing", which I don't think happened in this case. We may not like the outcome, but the criminal justice system functioned like it was supposed to in this instance. Her stalker was brought before a court of law and plead guilty. Should he have gotten the full sentence? Maybe. But the system didn't fail, it operated as it was supposed to. Her real beef should be with the Wyoming legislature, not the judge or the prosecutor.

If it's blaming the victim for pointing out, in my own opinion, that she did the right thing but had some unrealistic thoughts on the how the courts were going to work in her favor than I guess that I'm blaming the victim. She was in a shitty situation and thankfully suffered no serious injuries because of it. I thought for the most part that people were talking about a charged issue in an adult way. If the whole thread had been about how bad her situation was and the "evil" man that stalked her, it would have a been a pretty boring read. It could have been a whole lot worse.
posted by friendlyjuan at 4:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, ok, perhaps "victim blaming" wasn't the right phrase. I'll go with "victim castigating," per bearwife's suggestion.
posted by yarly at 4:05 PM on March 7, 2011


deja vu. I don't really think anyout outright blamed the victim that time either but people sure are sensitive about that. I think I need to just avoid this kind of thread because I'm wired wrong.
posted by floam at 4:13 PM on March 7, 2011


Since when does "Criticizing the victim" = "Blaming the victim". Does being the victim of the a crime make you immune from criticism? Why should it?
posted by delmoi at 4:13 PM on March 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


Stalking? Hah!

I'm standing right behind you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I posted that story because I thought she made some interesting points about being one's own advocate, and your responsibility to take your safety into your own hands (within reason). It seemed appropriate to choose that line as the title, because it was at the root of her message: that you have to stand up for yourself because it is entirely possible that no one else will. I think that's getting lost in the discussion.

Everyone is welcome to their opinion regarding the tone of the posts, or her strangeness of character, or the fact that she likes guns, or her expectations of the justice system. However, when it comes down to it, it's not the BBC. It's a personal story on a personal blog describing her personal feelings. About one, probably terrifying, incident in her life. So it doesn't seem fair to 'diagnose' her or make judgement calls about her lifestyle (re: the "drunkard" boyfriend).

That's all.
posted by torisaur at 4:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah but the framing of the post as "this was a huge miscarriage of justice" is going to invite plenty of people with the perfectly reasonable opinion of "actually, no, the system worked exactly as it should", to say so.

What I think kind of sucks is that after a certain point in that thread, people had to go out of their way to make sure it is understood in no uncertain terms that they're not blaming the victim, and then they still get accused of being terrible people.
posted by danny the boy at 4:22 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure delmoi. I think I'm discovering that it must. Just another taboo I had no idea was even a thing and doesn't really make sense to me yet. I naturally sort of want to consider holding a variety of adult people as being beyond reproach, and requiring donning kid gloves as if they were a 10 year old with leukemia as sort of a crappy thing.
posted by floam at 4:23 PM on March 7, 2011


Friendlyjuan- you assume that this is over and that guy is not going to show up at her place one day after her boyfriends gone to work and shes in the shower...

Because I'm pretty sure that's the exact scenario that she thinks the system failed her on. Well that and making her engage with him face to face (the first time he saw her in person) and possibly really piss him off.
posted by fshgrl at 4:26 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


danny the boy: fair enough. I'm new to posting on the blue, so I will be more careful of how I frame it next time.
posted by torisaur at 4:31 PM on March 7, 2011


yarly, you've been here about a year and a half now, right? Somewhere in there, I think. It took me longer than that to learn, but flagging really does work.

Sometimes, no, MOST OF THE TIME, if you disagree strongly with what someone has said, the best thing to do is click on that exclamation point and look at all the reasons to flag that comment. If you find a reason that matches, punch it then move on. No need to call them out here in meta.
But if the reason doesn't come up in that dropdown list, ask yourself why.

If you disagree with something someone said, that doesn't mean you have to call them out here. Criticizing someone for unrelated things when she also happens to be a victim of a crime may bother you, but it is not the same as "blaming the victim". The first deserves a flag (I'd put it under "offensive"), the second does not. I'd say maybe step away from the thread instead.

I don't know that either deserve the meta callout, to be honest.
posted by misha at 4:31 PM on March 7, 2011


So it doesn't seem fair to 'diagnose' her or make judgement calls about her lifestyle (re: the "drunkard" boyfriend).

Okay, so since this is my line, let me just say this: If you are a person who has been in more than one bar fight, you are either a bouncer, a violent drunk, or just a guy who really, really needs to find another bar to haunt. That one? Is bad news. It could be that the guy has just got shitty luck, or it could be a professional hazard, or it could be that he's a bullshit artist who's never been in a bar fight at all, or it could be that this was a long time ago and he's long since left that stuff behind, or it could even be that the author is trying to make her boyfriend sound way more badass than he really is because, um, stalkers. I really don't know. However, taking the situation at face-value, a heavily armed guy with a history of getting into fights in bars sounds like a guy who isn't an awesome guy. In any other context, I would draw the same (provisional) conclusion. I mean, he might be awesome as a character in Road House. Less so in real life. Generally, violent drunk people are not all that cool.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:32 PM on March 7, 2011


There are a lot of things at play here, but one minor thing that didn't help was someone proclaiming how they knew the thread would go. This is sort of an extended "this will wendell" kind of comment that goes beyond the jokey aspects of that phrase to instead become something where someone admonishes the entire site membership for how they have failed and people tend to react to that just as much as the subject matter.

Please don't do that, don't say "metafilter doesn't do x well" in the first ten comments or say "I knew metafilter would..." at the beginning of a thread. It poisons the well and creates a bad self-fulfilling prophecy.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [33 favorites]


Friendlyjuan- you assume that this is over and that guy is not going to show up at her place one day after her boyfriends gone to work and shes in the shower... Because I'm pretty sure that's the exact scenario that she thinks the system failed her on.

The system has very little response for shit people might do in the future. It is not supposed to. It is meant to judge the merit of actions. To fail to understand this is to fail to understand how the system works.
posted by Diablevert at 4:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


i really am sorry for the way i wrote that comment. i don't think i was wrong in what i saw but i was wrong in how i expressed it. i can't say it any more plainly than that.
posted by nadawi at 4:38 PM on March 7, 2011


bowing out here too. just can't deal today.

You know what's not cool? Throwing comments into threads and then "bowing out". If it's not your day, that's cool and enjoy something in the real world, but don't just throw argumentative comments around and then state you're leaving the discussion; just leave, or stay and defend your point, but don't make a scene about it.
posted by dflemingecon at 4:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


fshgrl, even had the guy been given the full six month sentence and served every day of it, your hypo could still occur. Would the system have failed her at that point? At some point the guy would have gotten out of jail and could have continued to stalk her. Short of locking him up for good or deporting him, there's nothing the authorities could do to stop him from stalking her again if that's what he really wanted to do. Sure, she could get a stalking/restraining order but we both know that's just a piece of paper and isn't worth the ink if someone is really set on doing you harm. So what's the solution?

I'll say it again for the fourth or fifth time, the blogger did everything right and the system worked as it was designed to work. We both probably agree the the outcome was not optimal for her and that our criminal justice system has some flaws. Nothing designed by a human is perfect though. But the way that I read her posts made it seem as though she thought that somehow she was getting treated unfairly or some such. That's what I took away from it. And perhaps her response would have been different had the guy served every day of his sentence.
posted by friendlyjuan at 4:43 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, he might be awesome as a character in Road House. Less so in real life. Generally, violent drunk people are not all that cool.

The thing is, I was wondering in the fpp what the hell her choice of boyfriend - be he saint or Satan - has to do with her acquiring a stalker.
posted by rtha at 4:44 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


If you are a person who has been in more than one bar fight, you are either a bouncer, a violent drunk, or just a guy who really, really needs to find another bar to haunt.

Or possibly just a resident of Wyoming. [NOT WYOMING-IST]
posted by scody at 4:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I mean, when Hylas said Last, this author has terrible judgment. She lives with a guy who's been in a lot of bar brawls? Really? - what? What the fuck does that have to do with her being stalked?
posted by rtha at 4:47 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The thing is, I was wondering in the fpp what the hell her choice of boyfriend - be he saint or Satan - has to do with her acquiring a stalker.

Not a damn thing, which was my point in the comment from which the quote was pulled.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:49 PM on March 7, 2011


The thing is, I was wondering in the fpp what the hell her choice of boyfriend - be he saint or Satan - has to do with her acquiring a stalker.

It doesn't have anything to do with her acquiring a stalker, no one suggested it had anything to do with her acquiring a stalker, and it's disingenuous of you to suggest that anyone did.

It was mentioned in the story for some reason, though, as were the flower extracts and a whole ton of the story revolved around the gun, and yet some people seem to think that commenting on any of those things is the same thing as blaming the victim or castigating the victim or whatever it is we're calling it at the moment.
posted by rollbiz at 4:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nope, but only because, like a "MCMikeNamara pie-eating quota", it is unnecessary because the natural order of things takes care of it just fine, whether we always like the end result or not.

This is simply not true. Try as I might, I've never managed to eat more than a couple of slices of MCMikeNamara pie.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:52 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even Hylas, who I think went way farther than he should've with what he said originally, did not say that it had anything to do with her acquiring a stalker.
posted by rollbiz at 4:53 PM on March 7, 2011


However, taking the situation at face-value, a heavily armed guy with a history of getting into fights in bars sounds like a guy who isn't an awesome guy.

You and I are working from entirely different definitions of "awesome".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:55 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's fun IRL, too! One of my colleagues and I even have a little game called "Sociopath or Narcissist?" when we're discussing outrageously egregious behavior from someone at work. Once in awhile a rare Histrionic pops up, and on those days we shout "bingo!" and go out for drinks.

Ironically, 'alcoholic' usually covers it just about anywhere.
posted by jonmc at 5:02 PM on March 7, 2011


"If you are a person who has been in more than one bar fight, you are either a bouncer, a violent drunk, or just a guy who really, really needs to find another bar to haunt."

I've been in two. I'm not a bouncer. I'm a pretty friendly drunk. And I'm not a guy, nor do I spend an inordinate amount of time in bars.

"That one? Is bad news."


Well, maybe you got me there.
posted by HopperFan at 5:05 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


To me, the gun derail is far more pervasive and annoying.

I agree, it's no Colt Single Action Army Calvary.
posted by fuq at 5:22 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please don't do that, don't say "metafilter doesn't do x well" in the first ten comments or say "I knew metafilter would..." at the beginning of a thread. It poisons the well and creates a bad self-fulfilling prophecy.

Obviously, it's a bit too late in this case, but for future reference, do the Mods typically delete comments like that? If not, perhaps that is a strategy to consider.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:26 PM on March 7, 2011


do the Mods typically delete comments like that

I've seen 'em do it a number of times, but as it can easily take half an hour for something like that to come to their attention, the damage is likely already done at that point.
posted by valkyryn at 5:29 PM on March 7, 2011


do the Mods typically delete comments like that

If we see them early, yeah. If we see them before a ton of people have responded to them, definitely yeah. It can be tough to tell what's a "this will wendell" sort of derail and what's just a "hey I don't like where this is going maybe we can take it someplace better" comment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does Metafilter have some kind of quota for comments that castigate unnamed commenters for "blaming the victim" without backing up this accusation at all?

It's a proven rhetorical device here despite being such a lazy tactic:

"If you don't show an amount of disdain for the perpetrator that I consider adequate; And the amount of sympathy for the victim that I believe appropriate; And especially if you question the accuracy of the presented narrative

Then you are Blaming The Victim, even if it's obvious that the actual definition of that phrase involves something much different. I am capable of parsing the phrase and understanding whether it's used appropriately or not, but I don't care because it is better to accuse you of something disgusting and make you fight your way out of a reactionary pile-on than actually engage you fairly."

It happens all the time and it happened in that thread.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:38 PM on March 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'll say it again for the fourth or fifth time, the blogger did everything right and the system worked as it was designed to work.

He should have had a thorough and qualified psychiatric evaluation for starters. And it sounds like he qualifies for being committed under the "danger to others" criteria. Probation, parole, mandatory counseling? There were plenty of options to keep an eye on this guy for a bit and the judge didn't explore any of them.
posted by fshgrl at 5:46 PM on March 7, 2011


Thanks a lot nadawi. What were you thinking? Or maybe that's the problem, you weren't.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:53 PM on March 7, 2011


Even Hylas, who I think went way farther than he should've with what he said originally, did not say that it had anything to do with her acquiring a stalker.

Not in so many words, but the sneering language of the comment ("delusional", "narcissistic", "whines", "rants" "just plain ignorant") combined with an entirely gratuitous swipe at the author's choice of boyfriend makes it clear - to me, at least - that she is somehow complicit in what happened to her.
posted by rtha at 5:55 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would hope that if Wyoming had the resources to be able to do that it would have happened. We don't know what happened in that courtroom, but hopefully his mental state was assessed and presumably the judge decided that it wasn't a factor such that he needed psychiatric care. In Oregon people can be sent to the Oregon State Hospital for rehabilitation if they are not able to aid and assist in their own defense. It would be nice if Wyoming had a similar process and they probably do. But someone in this case presumably decided that it wasn't necessary.

Another thing to remember is that we're getting one side of the story, and a biased one at that (not that there is any thing wrong with that, it just goes with the territory). So we don't know what the judge did or didn't explore. The judge might have been working within the constraints placed upon him/her with respect to sentencing guidelines or budget constraints. We just don't know and aren't in a position to play quarterback after the fact and say that the judge got it wrong.
posted by friendlyjuan at 5:58 PM on March 7, 2011


Playing the old victim-blaming gender card, eh, yarly?
posted by Ardiril at 6:07 PM on March 7, 2011


Not in so many words, but the sneering language of the comment ("delusional", "narcissistic", "whines", "rants" "just plain ignorant") combined with an entirely gratuitous swipe at the author's choice of boyfriend makes it clear - to me, at least - that she is somehow complicit in what happened to her.

Hey, if you want to take something someone said and pretend that they said something else instead in order to make the situation fit your narrative, knock yourself out. Just so we're clear though, nowhere in Hylas' comment does anyone, including the mods, seem to see what you see.
posted by rollbiz at 6:08 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. These 2 threads make me want to become a republican. You guys suck.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:16 PM on March 7, 2011


Thanks a lot nadawi. What were you thinking? Or maybe that's the problem, you weren't.

This seems like needless sniping after nadawi's acknowledged and apologized a couple times already.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [34 favorites]


Actually, I worded my last comment poorly and I shouldn't speak for others. I don't see anyone else putting forth that argument and actually sticking around to defend it is what I meant.
posted by rollbiz at 6:18 PM on March 7, 2011


Hey, if you want to take something someone said and pretend that they said something else instead in order to make the situation fit your narrative, knock yourself out. Just so we're clear though, nowhere in Hylas' comment does anyone, including the mods, seem to see what you see.

I'd be interested in your take on the relevancy of the author's judgment unsound based on her boyfriend given the context of the rest of that comment - which content I find fairly repellent, but does at least focus on the stalking and legal aftermath.
posted by rtha at 6:21 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which one of these seems the more likely, fair interpretation:

The guy was being a jerk and suggesting that her judgement is poor and she might have approached the courts poorly and/or her critiques of the US legal system should be taken with a grain of salt.

The guy was being a jerk and suggesting that her judgement was poor and that is how you get your a stalker.
posted by floam at 6:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


yourself a stalker
posted by floam at 6:29 PM on March 7, 2011


I'm completely surprised about people having multiple stalkers. Everytime there's a thread like this, people chime in with their crazy stalker stories and it makes me want to lock my doors curl up and never talk to another human again. I wonder if there's certain personalities that attract stalkers, because I've known no one who has had a stalker, and this is all very remote and frightening.
posted by geoff. at 6:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You just wait till the Decemberists sing a song about it. Who is the victim then?
posted by schyler523 at 6:35 PM on March 7, 2011


I'd be interested in your take on the relevancy of the author's judgment unsound based on her boyfriend given the context of the rest of that comment - which content I find fairly repellent, but does at least focus on the stalking and legal aftermath.

Well, for starters let me be clear that I didn't think it was a very good comment to begin with. But, much of the rest of the comment discusses how Hylas finds parts of what she's telling us strange enough to think that her telling of the overall story is questionable to him. So, that maybe? I really don't know and don't pretend to, I just don't think it's fair to jump from what's there to where you seem to have landed, especially given that part of what you and others seem to be taking issue with is the fact that people are making uncharitable assumptions from pieces of what she wrote that she doesn't elaborate on or provide any explanation as to why the bits of information are in the story.

Or on preview, precisely what floam said.
posted by rollbiz at 6:35 PM on March 7, 2011


""metafilter doesn't do x well""

The Vicks makes you smell like an old man's ass, the music sucks, and no, I don't want a fucking hug.

Metafilter does not do x well at all.
posted by klangklangston at 6:35 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Victim blaming is when you blame the victim for events that took place leading up to the crime. But blaming them after is not somehow more fair. The problem with "victim criticism" is when "criticism" becomes the majority response to someone sharing a story of victimization. If the majority response by a community to the victim of a crime is to dissect all of the ways in which she fails our metric of how a proper victim should be, then I think that diminishes her status. It seems like an attempt to knock her down to size. It discourages victims from coming forward (even if it's just to tell their stories and share their perspectives), which diminishes the community. The fact that simultaneous to this dynamic there was more empathy for the perpetrator puts this response firmly in the tradition of victim blaming.

Why is that the response when someone talks about horrible things that happened to them and how they feel horribly about it? It doesn't have to be outragefilter either. There are other possibilities for how a discussion like that could go. At least we can display empathy and consideration for both, and in fact I think that would make for a far better thread discussion.
posted by Danila at 6:35 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


But, much of the rest of the comment discusses how Hylas finds parts of what she's telling us strange enough to think that her telling of the overall story is questionable to him. So, that maybe?

Hmm. Okay, maybe this, and on reading floam's comment, I can see it that way. I was blinded by the tone and language of the comment, which is a good time to pause and consider not hitting "post."
posted by rtha at 6:42 PM on March 7, 2011


How exactly would such a thread discussion go? All of us displaying our empathy for the victim and then??

Like it or not everything that gets posted here is dissected and criticized, especially the author's tone and ideas.
posted by meta87 at 6:44 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Victim blaming is when you blame the victim for events that took place leading up to the crime. But blaming them after is not somehow more fair.

Again, exactly zero people in that thread are blaming the victim for what happened to her. If you disagree, please return with something more than an assertion.

But blaming them after is not somehow more fair. The problem with "victim criticism..."

Blame and criticism are not the same thing.

If the majority response by a community to the victim of a crime is to dissect all of the ways in which she fails our metric of how a proper victim should be

The majority of the community isn't doing that.
posted by rollbiz at 6:47 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, taking the situation at face-value, a heavily armed guy with a history of getting into fights in bars sounds like a guy who isn't an awesome guy. In any other context, I would draw the same (provisional) conclusion. I mean, he might be awesome as a character in Road House. Less so in real life. Generally, violent drunk people are not all that cool.

Ugh. What's really depressing about both these threads is how many people are happy to jump to conclusions about things with little or no evidence, and make a lot of judgmental statements in really icky ways. This is just one that particularly irks me- you don't know anything about her boyfriend, but you can tell he is not awesome- in fact, he is a violent drunk.

I know people who have been in bar brawls by bartending in bars, playing in bands in bars, and just getting their dumb drunk friends out of scrapes. One friend was just a big, gentle giant who seemed to be the target of every dumbass who decided they had something to prove. None of them were violent drunks. None of them were instigators. But if you get attacked, you're in a bar brawl. Doesn't mean you're a "violent drunk".
posted by oneirodynia at 6:52 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


How exactly would such a thread discussion go? All of us displaying our empathy for the victim and then??

It sure wouldn't have been a very interesting or though-provoking discussion.

I don't know about Danilla, but I do honestly think some people would prefer the thread were nothing but a bunch of variations on:

I love the vision of an inner fighter, agile and ready when necessary, and accepting your own power. Too often, we cave and give our power away.
Thanks for being you! Peace


and "GIRL POWER !!"

(Yes, those are comments from her blog.)
posted by floam at 6:55 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This MeTa thread went really well. No, I'm serious. Look at all the graceful apologizing and willingness to rephrase and clarify and soften and give. Still a few hard feelings at the end maybe, but overall... wow. It didn't turn into anywhere near the cage-match I expected to see when I clicked it.
posted by Xezlec at 7:11 PM on March 7, 2011


It discourages victims from coming forward (even if it's just to tell their stories and share their perspectives), which diminishes the community.

This community isn't about supporting victims in their decision to come forward, it's about people posting links to cool stuff on the internet, and then other people discussing them.

Y'know what diminishes this community? Suggesting that certain people's respectful, on-topic opinions are diminishing the community.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


You just wait till the Decemberists sing a song about it. Who is the victim then?

The listener.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:21 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


friendlyjuan: " We don't know what happened in that courtroom, but hopefully his mental state was assessed and presumably the judge decided that it wasn't a factor such that he needed psychiatric care."

In the blog it said that after several postponements and a cancellation, what seems like a last minute psych eval resolved that the local system did not have the tools to adequately diagnose and the recommendation was for a second in depth analysis -- which the prosecutor dropped the ball on (perhaps due to time or oversight or as, she suggests, keeping an eye on the retirement clock instead of on effort expended). So they went to trial without a strong conclusive eval.

It was one of her strongest complaints that the system didn't work as she would like, and it was buried in the narrative.

I actually thought that thread went better than I expected, particularly when it hit several things that people feel passionately about (stalking/violence against women/our legal system/mental health care/guns). There were all sorts of assumptions (on all sides) influencing the discussion, but that's pretty par for the course when people with disparate backgrounds communicate. In the passion of discussion, it's easy to get caught up in your own perspective and forget to factor in other folks'.

I do think the framing of the post could have been better (so it would have gone down the path I would have preferred, heh), but it was still a good post, torisaur, so don't let this MeTa dissuade you from posting to the blue!
posted by julen at 7:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is that the response when someone talks about horrible things that happened to them and how they feel horribly about it?

AskMe culture. Seriously, just one door down the hall is a place where people are welcome to imagine all the ways in which things could be done better, and to pipe up with their opinions. Some people end up treating the blue like it's the green. (Happens less in reverse, because AskMe is more heavily moderated.)
posted by hermitosis at 8:10 PM on March 7, 2011


well, at least we've finally put all the blame where it belongs... on wendell.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:44 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This seems like needless sniping after nadawi's acknowledged and apologized a couple times already.

Oops, didn't see that. I only counted one apology, though. But yeah you're right she did apologize, so nadawi I'm sorry for "sniping" after you apologized. I just can't help myself it's kinda a reflex after years of playing Battlefield and COD.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:55 PM on March 7, 2011


How exactly would such a thread discussion go? All of us displaying our empathy for the victim and then??

Well I have lots of ideas for how thread discussions could go, but much of that is just what I'm personally interested in. The nature of justice, ideas for improving society, the psychology of stalking, personal perspectives, etc.

I don't think it is a bad thread. I just think it could be better. I actually thought it was going fine at first, but then people started attacking the blogger for her personality and the floodgates opened. I see that chorus of criticism aimed at this woman as part of a wider effort to disparage the experiences and voices of women within society, especially when they speak up about sexually-oriented crime. I constantly see the same dynamic play out over and over again. I think it's important to challenge that dynamic because it would make for a better discussion and a better community.

This community isn't about supporting victims in their decision to come forward,

I think all communities should be "about" that. I don't see the downside or why you wouldn't want to do that. I think it should be an overall aim of a truly just society and Metafilter is part of society.

AskMe culture. Seriously, just one door down the hall is a place where people are welcome to imagine all the ways in which things could be done better, and to pipe up with their opinions. Some people end up treating the blue like it's the green.

It's possible that this is something AskMe does better than Metafilter, and Metafilter is the lesser for it. I think AskMe has had a good influence on Metafilter and hopefully will continue to have.
posted by Danila at 9:59 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


people started attacking the blogger for her personality and the floodgates opened. I see that chorus of criticism aimed at this woman as part of a wider effort to disparage the experiences and voices of women within society, especially when they speak up about sexually-oriented crime.

I saw one poster who was, in my opinion, out of line, and I called him on it in the thread. The other criticisms didn't at all come across as "attacks" to me. No one indicated in any way that the victim deserved to be stalked or that they felt this man was innocent of stalking her. They simply disagreed with some things in the blog--many of them, like the essences, were not related to the charges or the stalking.

The gun issue is something many people have a problem with whether a man or a woman is involved, and the fetishization of guns has been brought up on Mefi before by people who don't live in America as a uniquely American issue. That has nothing to do with disparaging or criticizing a woman simply because she is a woman. I can guarantee you that if a man brought up in a blog how empowered he felt with a .44 magnum after he was a victim of a crime, people here would be all over that, too (I actually specifically remember a contentious thread about a guy working in an apartment complex shooting someone who was actually committing a crime and then being fired from his job for having the gun).

I think you might be projecting your own frustrations here.
posted by misha at 10:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's possible that this is something AskMe does better than Metafilter, and Metafilter is the lesser for it

That's one view, of course, but it's not some sort of received truth. I'd take the opposite position. Making Metafilter more like Ask Metafilter would be a great loss. I mean, we already have Ask Metafilter.
posted by Justinian at 10:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It's possible that this is something AskMe does better than Metafilter, and Metafilter is the lesser for it. I think AskMe has had a good influence on Metafilter and hopefully will continue to have."

Uh, you missed the point of that line — the AskMe culture was a bunch of people telling this woman, or at least us, what she did wrong and how she could do better in the future. If AskMe wasn't as tightly modded, you'd see a lot more of it. You've never seen the coinage JudgeMe?

(Except, of course, not much of that happened in total).

"I think all communities should be "about" that. I don't see the downside or why you wouldn't want to do that. I think it should be an overall aim of a truly just society and Metafilter is part of society."

All due respect, but that's inane sloganeering. If you don't see the downside or why you wouldn't want to make that the focus of every community, you need to think about it a little bit longer and realize that while very few people think that it's a good thing to disparage victims generally, that doesn't mean that every community should be about affirming them — there are other priorities. Insisting that this should be what communities are about is as much an emotional appeal as saying, "But what about the children?" And that's before addressing concerns about promoting victimhood as identity and the negative consequences of that (e.g. a good amount of Christian rhetoric over their persecution comes from an identity of victimization).

Likewise, making MetaFilter about supporting victims would require a drastic shift in culture and scope, something you ignored when quoting above — given the choice between focusing on supporting victims and focusing on sharing content and discussing it honestly, the latter is more in line with the history and current culture (which isn't to say that the former shouldn't be pursued so long as it doesn't detract from the latter).

You might also do well to remember Mel Brooks' comment on subjectivity: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."
posted by klangklangston at 12:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I know people who have been in bar brawls by bartending in bars, playing in bands in bars, and just getting their dumb drunk friends out of scrapes. One friend was just a big, gentle giant who seemed to be the target of every dumbass who decided they had something to prove. None of them were violent drunks. None of them were instigators. But if you get attacked, you're in a bar brawl. Doesn't mean you're a "violent drunk".

A bar brawl would not mean this. A bunch of them, I don't know. What I'm saying is, everyone's all, "Read The Gift of Fear!" in the other thread, and here's this guy who gets into bar fights and twines a .44 to his leg and people are all, "Dude, you don't know, that guy could be totally rad, people just get in fights and stuff, it happens," and I am all, "Dude, maybe you should read The Gift of Fear."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:04 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I blame society.
posted by Decani at 4:14 AM on March 8, 2011


twines a .44 to his leg

I keep getting caught by that. Holsters are cheap, and they let you carry a gun safely and have quick access. String? Not so much, on either count.

From the pocket description given, the boyfriend sounds like bad news. But that's what makes her blog compelling for so many people, I think -- she is doing a bunch of things that are potentially bad news, getting away with it, and writing about it in ways that people respond to. Coyotes make bad pets, and yet here she is with a cute one that she is raising, and so on, plus of course all the woo woo stuff. She's an out-there risk taker, which is awesome... but it does come with some risk.

And so the question is how that plays into the stalking. Is it just bad luck and she won the stalker lottery? Or are some of her choices and actions -- including perhaps the blog itself -- playing into this and helping to make an already crappy situation even worse?

To ask that isn't "blaming the victim" -- it's about reflecting on books like The Gift of Fear and widening your vision to the whole situation. I don't know nearly enough about the situation to speculate; I do wish that we could have these conversations without immediately going down nasty paths of harsh personal attacks and a bunch of people needing to say YOU ARE WRONG, ASSHOLE!
posted by Forktine at 5:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or possibly just a resident of Wyoming. [NOT WYOMING-IST]

See, I would've guessed Montana, the Land of the Angry Hat People. [NOT A BLAME-MONTANA-IST]
posted by octobersurprise at 6:24 AM on March 8, 2011


Blogs are weird. A bunch of things people were questioning, she has covered pretty extensively in the past, giving her base of readers a very full context against which the stalking story plays out. The people dropping by just to read this saga obviously lack this background. ("Why couldn't she move?" Because of Charlie. "Why couldn't she close her blog down?" Because it directly and indirectly supports her. "What's with the boyfriend?" He seems like a solid guy, bailing wire and a past history of bar fights not excluded.)

I don't think asking those questions is victim blaming. But the thing I found really extraordinary about that thread was how many people were dismissive of her because of the flower essence thing. Like because she is a fan of Rescue Remedy, she is somehow a suspect and unreliable narrator of events with inherently flawed judgement. I find that distasteful.

Forktine: She's an out-there risk taker, which is awesome... but it does come with some risk. And so the question is how that plays into the stalking. Is it just bad luck and she won the stalker lottery? Or are some of her choices and actions -- including perhaps the blog itself -- playing into this and helping to make an already crappy situation even worse?

The reason there's a backlash against some of the conversation in that thread is, I think, because of speculation like this. It reads as "is there a degree to which being stalked was her fault?" A percentage of people are going to say that there is no degree to which being stalked was her or any other victim's fault, and that the question itself is offensive. I would count myself among them.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:31 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


because of speculation like this. It reads as "is there a degree to which being stalked was her fault?" A percentage of people are going to say that there is no degree to which being stalked was her or any other victim's fault, and that the question itself is offensive. I would count myself among them.

That's not what I'm asking. It's not "was the stalking her fault?" -- it's more "what is the interplay between her life and the stalking?" Twisting that into something offensive isn't a particularly nice direction to go.

She gets a lot of benefits from her out-there, higher-risk, totally public lifestyle (including some degree of financial support via the blog). But there are some costs, too, and it's good to be honest and upfront about them. For example, there is a fascinating (and largely unexplored) tension between the safety of openness (including posting things on the blog) and the safety of privacy. There's a tension between having the financial support of the blog and living the kind of lifestyle that people want to read about, and having the freedom to make choices (like, say, moving to another city for a while) that some people here have argued would have been safer than buying a gun.

Those are really fair questions, and they can be asked while also recognizing that making people safer is going to take big changes (including to policing, laws, societal attitudes, etc), rather than individually arming up. She lives in a country where mentally ill people have very little access to treatment, but have easy access to firearms; even in 2011 many police departments and prosecutors' offices are not supportive and protective of people being stalked. That's the imperfect context in which she is making her choices and living her life, and which needs to be remembered when we look at her experiences and look for lessons and patterns.
posted by Forktine at 6:56 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Relatedly, this is one of the problems with posts about "Here is a terrible thing that happened to someone" [and nothing against you torisaur, the post was fine, framing could have maybe been different but no big deal at all]. They make people agitated and often in wildly different directions. When there's a bad thing post, often there are people who feel very strongly about that topic, whether it's war or rape or puppy abuse. And often people have strong feelings about how other people should feel or approrpiately respond, also in various directions.

So people respond in the ways that they do and then we get this sort of metanarrative of discussion which, to me, breaks down into "You didn't respond to this in the way I thought you should... and that makes me infer certain things about you" Of course people are rarely that upfront about this, or they may stop at the first part of that, or they honestly may not be aware that they're doing it. But from the ten-miles-up view that we have after giving a close look to literally hundreds of these sorts of posts and related MeTa threads, that's how it looks to me.

On sites that have this sort of post as a central theme, there are more community mores created around how to respond, what is and is not okay, what the mods will or will not do, what sorts of comments are or are not welcome. On a site like this one, these sorts of posts are more unusual and there's not really a standard protocol created. Or, people feel that there is and then folks say some variation of "Oh shit not this again" or "Not you saying 'oh shit not this again'" and we're off to the races.

I understand that for a lot of people, responses to difficult topics, especially ones that can be so personal, are really wrapped up in general social justice ideas. I share that belief on a personal level, but I see it as more complicated on a site level. Which is not to say that people shouldn't explain and express why these things are important and why they highlight things that are important to know about the world and &c. But it's worth pointing out, and I hope I can do this without seeming like some sort of monster: not everyone is on MeFi because they care about making the world a better place to be in every specific circumstance the same way you do.

As such, I feel that people need to be approached with these ideas as if they were more like random people on the street and not people who have already signed on to the cause. Which means, yes, going over first principles a little more than you might, and assuming that people who are asking questions are trying to understand and not reinforcing cultural hegemony, at least not on purpose.

I went to a liberal arts college in the Northeast which has basically made me unable to hear people talk about bad things that happen in the world without directly thinking about money and power and who has it and why. But everyone didn't grow up like I did, or they made different choices about their priorities. And while it's easy shorthand to assume that someone that isn't in line with your beliefs is part of the problem, sadly it's rarely that easy.

tl;dr: Be kind to each other and careful with posts that push your own buttons and those of others.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [29 favorites]


Forktine, how much do you actually know about stalking? Because while it's pretty common (about 10% of woman), less than a quarter of those women are stalked by strangers. Living an invisible life really doesn't guarantee safety.

I'm open to the question "Are female bloggers more likely to be stalked than the general population?" and I can buy the idea that maybe high-profile bloggers are the celebrity news anchors of today. I'm just not sure what you think that buys you.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:48 AM on March 8, 2011


maybe a metatalk post can automatically be opened whenever a "bad thing happened" metafilter post is created?
posted by orme at 8:05 AM on March 8, 2011


it's more "what is the interplay between her life and the stalking?"

But what's the point of asking that question, given that we know that people who don't have blogs and aren't any kind of famous also get stalked?
posted by rtha at 8:33 AM on March 8, 2011


But it's worth pointing out, and I hope I can do this without seeming like some sort of monster: not everyone is on MeFi because they care about making the world a better place to be in every specific circumstance the same way you do.

As such, I feel that people need to be approached with these ideas as if they were more like random people on the street and not people who have already signed on to the cause. Which means, yes, going over first principles a little more than you might, and assuming that people who are asking questions are trying to understand and not reinforcing cultural hegemony, at least not on purpose.


I agree with you. I actually really hate that thing on feminist, etc., blogs where the sanctioned reaction to arguably clueless/unknowingly offensive comments is "you're oppressing me by making me explain to you why you are wrong." But the reason I brought this to Metatalk is that I honestly didn't know how to respond correctly to those commenters who were making me so upset in the original thread and I wanted to see what other people thought about it. I didn't want to do that in the original thread because it seemed like a derail. Flagging wouldn't be the right way to have a discussion about the matter. (But despite this, people still jumped down my throat for starting this thread...)

Anyway, I think the FPP discussion has taken a turn for the better with the comments several people have since posted about their own experiences being stalked. I wish they hadn't had to post those comments in a defensive posture, but it's still good.
posted by yarly at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2011


(But despite this, people still jumped down my throat for starting this thread...)

I'm not sure why. It was more than fine with me. Looking back on it, this thread contains an awful lot of useful insight--for me, at least. FWIW, I see now that my stated position had a number of flaws, not the least of which was the pugnacious tone. Jessamyn's admonishment to [b]e kind to each other and careful with posts that push your own buttons and those of others was well taken.

The other thing I regret is not having made it more clear that I can only draw on various things in the blog as factors in evaluating things because that's all we are given to draw on. Specifically, I regret that my comment was susceptible to a reasonable-but-incorrect interpretation that I think the blogger was responsible or deserved to be harassed. She wasn't. She didn't ask for it. The guy clearly crossed the line.
posted by Hylas at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


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