Get over yourself, gimp. March 23, 2012 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Hotbutton issue (isn't everything?), but this is not an OK comment. Surprise inside.

But I think the comment should stand.

I didn't flag it, because it does an EXCELLENT job pointing out EXACTLY what's wrong with peoples perceptions of those with disabilities. Forget that it doesn't answer the question, forget that it does Brockles favorite thing of giving misleading and inaccurate information, and forget that it's mean.

The "people with disabilities feel entitled" is as played out and useless a trope as any "women do X" or "republicans do X" or any standard victim-blaming crap that happens anywhere. I'll assume that the OP and others who posted in a similar vein don't recognize what they're doing, and we'll call this a teachable moment.
posted by TomMelee to Etiquette/Policy at 3:02 PM (223 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

oh...how sad! people kept favoriting it even after the poster explained further and comments were deleted? ick.
posted by batmonkey at 3:03 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. I shall add you to my 'grumpy old twat' list, I think.
posted by Brockles at 3:05 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


oh...how sad! people kept favoriting it even after the poster explained further and comments were deleted? ick.

Favorites are also bookmarks.
posted by Jahaza at 3:06 PM on March 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


really want to start calling people names Brockles?
posted by edgeways at 3:07 PM on March 23, 2012


Oh you. You were already at the top of mine, and not because your name starts with B! *wink*
posted by TomMelee at 3:07 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, being as I am being singled out in a completely and totally unrelated thread/topic to anything I have ever posted on and also accused of making stuff up, I reserve the right to be mildly irritated.

I shan't lose any sleep over it, mind. But dragging me into something that TomMelee is all upset about and has nothing to do with me nor anything I have ever said is a bit off, I think.
posted by Brockles at 3:10 PM on March 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


It doesn't actually point anything out.
posted by michaelh at 3:11 PM on March 23, 2012


Wait, what? Nobody dragged you into calling TomMelee a "grumpy old twat," Brockles.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:12 PM on March 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Forget that it doesn't answer the question, forget that it does Brockles favorite thing of giving misleading and inaccurate information, and forget that it's mean.

Brockles is called out, though he did not make the comment in question.
posted by jsturgill at 3:13 PM on March 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Read the post here. TomMelee gratuitously insults Brockles. That should be deleted.
posted by OmieWise at 3:14 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Favorites are also bookmarks.

Bookmarks are sometimes euphemisms.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:14 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I see the "dragged me into" context now. But I think TomMelee was saying that that poster was doing the same thing you complained about in the "Check Engine Light" thread, not attributing any opinions about people with disabilities to you, Brockles.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:15 PM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: it does Brockles favorite thing of giving misleading and inaccurate information.
posted by michaelh at 3:15 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


That is not at all how it reads, frankly. Especially after the follow up comment.
posted by Brockles at 3:15 PM on March 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Although in clarification, there was no real malice in my first response. Just bemusement. I consider myself a grumpy old twat.

And balding.
posted by Brockles at 3:16 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm torn about the comment. At the time it was written the question as posed contained very little information that made it clear that discrimination had taken place. I'll be honest, I read the question as an over to top reaction to a standard (if regrettable) post office interaction. It was only after the fact that the OP clarified enough that I did not read it that way.

But I think TomMelee was saying that that poster was doing the same thing you complained about in the "Check Engine Light" thread, not attributing any opinions about people with disabilities to you, Brockles.

Huh, I didn't even consider that. If it was that TomMelee should clarify, because otherwise it reads as shitty.
posted by OmieWise at 3:17 PM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also think that TomMelee was agreeing with Brockles' stance in the "Check Engine Light" thread, and implying through sarcasm that that comment was exactly as unuseful as the "I just ignore my CEL" comments Brockles was justly complaining about.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:17 PM on March 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Favorites are also bookmarks.

Bookmarks are sometimes euphemisms.


Euphemisms are often slurs.
posted by cashman at 3:18 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Slurs are often legato.
posted by michaelh at 3:18 PM on March 23, 2012 [23 favorites]


Well, maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I read it. Certainly that that comment was the "Fuck the Check Engine Light" of that thread.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:19 PM on March 23, 2012


God, multi post.

I'm happy to apologies if I misread it, however. But it still comes across as saying I post misleading and inaccurate info, to me.

Anyway, as this isn't about me (but now is, weirdly) lets either remove all references to me (including my posts, I'm fine with that) or clarify, or talk about the actual issue raised.
posted by Brockles at 3:19 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Legato rhymes with arigato.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread is awesome.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:23 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


2) Work on your entitlement issues

Yeah, that was kinda gross and unhelpful.
posted by OsoMeaty at 3:24 PM on March 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


That comment was over the top and I am really surprised it stayed up. Speaking of entitlement issues--we're not entitled to be rude to the asker.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:26 PM on March 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


Brockles, I write poorly, I was referring to your CLE rant, I would never say you give bad info. You're the go to guy. :-)
posted by TomMelee at 3:27 PM on March 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


The comment was fine, the poster needs to consider a different point of view.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:28 PM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bookmarks are sometimes euphemisms.

Sometimes bookmarks are just flat cigars. Or cocks or something.
posted by XMLicious at 3:29 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Err... CEL. Agreeing with you, regardless. Sorry.
posted by TomMelee at 3:30 PM on March 23, 2012


I don't know. That comment actually answered the question (correctly), which is pretty remarkable given all the other noise going on. Does anyone really have a way of getting recourse to rude behavior by an employee of the USPS? That would be quite remarkable, if so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:31 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was a pretty harsh and unhelpful comment even without the "get over your entitlement issues" line. I'm not a fan of it at all. However, it was rebutted immediately and effectively, and I suspect that's why it stayed up.

It doesn't happen all that often, but usually when someone posts egregiously bad information we'd much rather someone counter it with good information than just delete it - it often seems more useful to have the unhelpful side acknowledged and then explicitly dismissed rather than just disappeared. I wasn't involved in that bit of decision-making last night, but I imagine that was the logic.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:31 PM on March 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


1) That is a shitty AskMe response.
2) I did not take the Brockles reference as a dig against him.
3) Yup, that was a shitty AskMe response.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:31 PM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't think it needed more information at all. We just need to take that kind of thing at face value, right? We're not therapists, detectives, or a justice squad. The person had only asked who she would need to send her letter to, not for anyone to weigh in on whether or not her perception was correct. We weren't there to judge if discrimination had happened, just to provide guidance on how to report bad customer service.

People often believe they need information for advice that is completely unnecessary to a useful answer.

It's interesting to see how many people who would be weird about displays of priviliged blindness in other contexts are using a bias about perceived entitlement to colour a fairly cut-and-dry request and even act more nosy and judgmental than usual. Interesting and bleah at the same time.
posted by batmonkey at 3:32 PM on March 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here's the fun part about being told to grow a pair re: disability-based discrimination:
It's super easy to suddenly become a member of the disabled minority, temporarily or permanently. In fact, we're almost guaranteed to do so.

So, really, it's in people's best interests to make things less awful for people with disabilities. Chances are, we or people we care about will someday have to deal with disabilities ourselves.
posted by Madamina at 3:32 PM on March 23, 2012 [26 favorites]


Err... CEL. Agreeing with you, regardless. Sorry.

Ah. I shall spend some more time on being-over-sensitive.com, then, and start making notes. We're good.
posted by Brockles at 3:34 PM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, that thread was a real mess but some of it ended up playing out in a way that made more sense to leave standing and also addressed within the thread than nixing, in case anyone's wondering why what might otherwise be pretty deletable stuff is still there.

And I'm glad the misunderstanding about mentioning Brockles in the post was worked out and obviously totally fine intentions on your part as far as that goes, TomMelee, but it's an example of why it's generally a good idea not to randomly inject other folks into a Metatalk post if it's not actually specifically about their behavior, etc. And on the flip side maybe just don't call each other twats in general.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:35 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


But on the flip side of the flip side we can call each other twats?

MeTwa
posted by michaelh at 3:38 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


maybe just don't call each other twats

This guy sort of forces one to.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:39 PM on March 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: maybe just don't call each other twats in general.
posted by Melismata at 3:45 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


That comment actually answered the question (correctly)

No, it didn't. Is this something only people currently experiencing disabilities get? Because it is Not Okay for a postal worker to yell at someone requesting help because of their physical limitations. It is fine for them to say "I'm sorry, I can't help you; we're not allowed to lift packages for customers" or similar, but all the people who were disbelieving that the situation could have gone down as the OP described it are lucky not to know the crap people with disabilities get all the time.

And it didn't answer the question correctly, either, because there are two organizations in Massachusetts that receive complaints from individuals with disabilities and investigate them. As well as the Postal Regulatory Commission's Consumer Advocate.

So it didn't answer the question at all. It just gave someone a chance to lecture someone else about how they should just suck up shitty, unequal treatment. It was worse than useless. As someone currently experiencing physical disabilities, it made me want to fucking leave this place forever.

Thanks, Blazecock Pileon, for piling on some more. Eponysterical, I guess.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:46 PM on March 23, 2012 [42 favorites]


I am so goddamned sick of the shitty judgey attitudes that have been cropping up all over here lately about illness and disability. It's worse than the worst boyzone days.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:47 PM on March 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Because it is Not Okay for a postal worker to yell at someone requesting help because of their physical limitations.

No one wrote that the poster worker yelled.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:49 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Favorites are also bookmarks."

God, I hope so because I have a very hard time understanding why any would approve of that comment. Well, no, that's not true. I have an easy time understanding why someone would approve of that comment. I was trying to avoid saying that I have a hard time not thinking badly of anyone who approves of that comment.

Why exactly did that comment stand? Because of the favorites and (I assume, I didn't read the thread, just that comment and the post itself) it was responded to in the thread? I'm puzzled because it's both completely not an answer to the question, unnecessarily rude, and also just plain shitty.

I have a vested interest in this as a disabled person. Now, it's true, regardless of what I fear, that according to my family and friends with whom I've discussed this, anyone who ever sees me walk even a few steps, and how I move, will automatically know that I'm disabled. However, I can walk. I sometimes use a cane, but I often go without (foolishly, I admit). And I'd most often be best off using one of the available motorized carts. But because I am reluctant to do so, I find that even just a regular supermarket is off-limits for me, because it's too much walking and I will be lucky to get out of the store without ramping up my already constant pain about 300%.

I don't always use a cane because it doesn't actually help much. Why don't I use a cart?

Here's why: I feel like because I don't have a visible disability and that I can, in fact, walk, that a) I may not deserve to use the cart and it should be available for some who needs it more and, b) other people will see me and think that I'm some lazy person.

Because of this rare collagen disease, I have severe osteoarthritis in every major joint. I should have had most of them replaced and the reasons I haven't are complicated, but very much involved in the things I'm attempting to discuss in this comment. I have very hard limits on range of motion. I can't bend my hips more than about 30 degrees. I can't raise my arms very high — my elbows won't go above my shoulders more than a couple of inches. The floor might as well be another planet. Tough luck if I drop something where I don't have something I can use to carefully leverage myself into something like a kneel to pick it up (I can't bend at the waist because of my hips). The point is that there are lots and lots of everyday things I just can't do.

And yet I don't look that disabled. And I can walk.

Okay, also, I don't want to think of myself as disabled. Some of my family think I'm just in denial about the whole thing, and that's part of why I've not had the surgeries I should have had. I've mentioned that I stopped taking opiates because of all the problems I've had with getting them, even though they helped me a lot, but it's also revealing that for some damn reason I've stopped taking the powerful NSAID I should be taking, as well. And why? Because I hate having to take medicine all the time and, really, I don't want to be disabled. Not taking the medicine is a little like pretending that I don't have to. And since I rarely leave my home, I can get away with not taking the meds. Of course, my life sucks in large part not because I'm disabled, but because I've let it restrict what I do in my life and I rarely leave home. So this is just making it all worse.

There's a point to all this.

Well, also, here's something else: last Thursday I was awakened by the mailman knocking at my door. Turns out he was delivering a certified letter. My car had been towed six days prior, from my parking spot in front of my apartment, which I hadn't known about because I hadn't left my apartment in that time. It was towed because my tags were expired and my apartment management decided to be a stickler about it. My tags were expired because with various money problems I've been having, and the fact that I drive the car about once a week, at most, this wasn't high on my list. However, aside from the money that I didn't have to get my car back (hundreds of dollars at that point), I had to ask for help from someone to get my car and related things. Which I fucking hate to do.

I hate to ask for help. I fucking hate it. So, usually, I don't. Shit just doesn't get done.

I'm in the store, buying groceries, and I need something off a higher shelf. Did you see Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy? Remember the old woman trying to get her mail into the post box? That's me. Do I ask a nearby employee for help? Of course I don't.

When I do ask for help, it's rare and always a little humiliating and I always secretly think that the person I'm asking is thinking that they don't want to help me and that I should be able to do this on my own.

And if you think that I'm unusual among disabled people...I'm not. This is what it's like to be disabled. Especially being disabled in a way that doesn't automatically cause everyone to be ultra-helpful and shower you with pity, which is not an improvement. It just all-around sucks to be disabled.

So, you know, if I was getting or picking up a package at the post office, and I couldn't pick something up off the floor, I'd probably spend some time before the moment of truth trying to think of some way to avoid asking someone for help. And then when I couldn't think of something, and I worked up the courage to actually ask, my biggest fear would be someone actually being shitty to me about it.

And if someone called me "entitled" for being upset about it?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:52 PM on March 23, 2012 [123 favorites]


Favorites are also bookmarks.

Bookmarks are sometimes euphemisms.

Euphemisms are often slurs.


Wait... [digs for a pen] I'm going to have write all this down...
posted by Trurl at 3:55 PM on March 23, 2012


Thanks, Blazecock Pileon, for piling on some more. Eponysterical, I guess.

. . .

Thank you, but no thank you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:56 PM on March 23, 2012


I'm going to have write all this down...

Psst! Favourites are slurs. Also, Socrates is a hot fudge sundae.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:02 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plato was a fascist.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:07 PM on March 23, 2012


>Also, Socrates is a hot fudge sundae.

I was at McDonald's today. I haven't eaten an actual meal there in ten years. I went to buy a sundae, and although I was third in line, it took over five minutes to make my order. A line up of maybe a dozen people formed behind me. Isn't McDonald's supposed to make up for its shit food with its low cost and speedy delivery? My fuckin' sundae was $2.39. That ain't cheap. -- overheard on the subway
posted by heyho at 4:09 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that whole thing made me sad.

When I answer questions, I try and answer the question. It's me adding to a cool thing that makes people's lives better. If I don't know the answer, or don't want to aid the person in whatever they're hoping to accomplish by getting that answer, I don't say anything. However, I realize that my vision of how that part of the site functions best and other peoples visions don't match up, so the fact that they didn't answer the question "who do I report this too?" isn't what made me sad.

What made me sad was the fact that somebody felt the need to belittle somebody for being upset that they were treated poorly and wanted to do something to change things for the better. Expecting to be treated like an actual individual instead of an abstraction of "annoying customer" isn't being entitled when somebody with or without disabilities does it, and it's especially not entitled when you're part of a group that is routinely treated as a nuisance for wanting the some of same starting opportunities as everyone else.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:30 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand that under the union she cant help me but she completely dealt with the situation rudely and was inappropriate to me, and made me feel like peon. She had no humanity.

The reason the comment go so many favorites is because so many people, in their own work experiences, have been on the receiving end of emotional drama from someone who chooses to take their employer's policies as a personal affront.

Maybe this employee was as rude as described. Maybe it wasn't just a lapse of professionalism - of the kind that I for one am not perfect enough to claim to have never suffered. Or someone just having a really shitty day. Maybe the employee is really an asshole. And not just an asshole to everyone, but only to the disabled. Or at least, significantly more to them than to everyone else.

That's a lot of maybes before you can justify taking this customer service episode as personally as the poster took it.
posted by Trurl at 5:03 PM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


The last time I ate in a McDonald's I was moving from Minneapolis back to small town Iowa. They had these healthy food options that were new. I waited in line like 20 minutes. Order my food. They give it to me on a tray. The yogurt parfait is presented to me in a tall assed cup with a base the size of a dime. I turned around to find a place to sit and momentum and physics means the cup keep on after I've stopped. It falls to the floor.

I apologized to the girl behind the counter, asked if I could get something to clean it up with, and could I please get a replacement that I was happy to pay for. She told me I needed to go to the back of the line. I tried pointing out that technically I was still at the front of the line, since I had yet to relinquish said place. She said my transaction was completed. The person behind me stated they were fine if she'd have another made for me. She got very insistent and what started out at a civil discussion quickly ending with her yelling that she was calling the cops if I wouldn't get out of line.

I'd decided at this point that kicking the yogurt parfait was a good idea, and I tossed the rest of my food to the side as well. It wasn't my most shining moment, but that was such infuriatingly bad customers service that I totally lost my shit.

I've never been back. That was over 15 years ago.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:04 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's because of the court order, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:25 PM on March 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


I thought it was a really poorly drafted question, that made it very difficult to tell whether the OP was justified, or overreacting, or what, in fact, actually happened.

But still, that response was unreasonable, unjustified, and way too fighty. And, yes, offensive for suggesting that a disabled person asking to be treated with respect and courtesy counts as 'entitlement'.

I'm not disabled, but I expect my service providers, and in fact pretty much everyone, to accord me basic courtesy. That's not an unreasonable thing to ask for, whether you are disabled or not.

Even if you are answering a question on the Internet.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:33 PM on March 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Maybe this employee was as rude as described. Maybe it wasn't just a lapse of professionalism - of the kind that I for one am not perfect enough to claim to have never suffered. Or someone just having a really shitty day. Maybe the employee is really an asshole. And not just an asshole to everyone, but only to the disabled. Or at least, significantly more to them than to everyone else.

That's a lot of maybes before you can justify taking this customer service episode as personally as the poster took it.


None of which had any bearing whatsoever on the question she asked. She did not ask for validation for her feelings, or whether they were justified, or whatever you're responding to. She asked where she could write to that would be more responsive than what she'd already tried. The comment you favorited and now implicitly defend did not even attempt to answer her question. That's half of what's wrong with that comment. The other half is the victim-blaming.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:48 PM on March 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


It was a good question - how can you contact the USPS to lodge a complaint? I didn't know the answer, so I didn't answer the question. Most of the "answers" in that thread were pure noise.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:53 PM on March 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


I worked in the service industry - food service from one end to the other and retail - for a long, demoralising time, and that still wouldn't give me the right to make gross assumptions and convoluted extrapolations about a situation I wasn't present for so I could be a jerk to someone who'd already had a hard day.

Really not sure why that would be floated as a possible excuse for people taking the poster's question personally themselves.
posted by batmonkey at 6:17 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


None of which had any bearing whatsoever on the question she asked.

It was intended to bear on the upthread discussion about all the favorites the comment received.

I'm also surprised the comment didn't get deleted.
posted by Trurl at 6:27 PM on March 23, 2012


Back in front of a for-real keyboard now, no more phone---that should learn me about postin g a gritchy rant and then going to dinner. Anyway, officially sorry to everyone because apparently subject-verb agreement isn't my forte. I expedited a memail to Brockles and I'm pretty sure he won't be draining my transmission fluid tonight. For the record, my snarky comment back to him was playful---I didn't grep that he had interpreted the my sentence...well...that he had interpreted it the way it was written rather than what I intended it to say.

But, back on topic, I think we're a little back to the same very-dead horse wrt askme---"is it our job to determine the viability of the OP's feelings if that's not the question at hand." I've got no answer, because I've certainly answered plenty of "get off your pony" replies.

In case you're wondering, "you don't look like you have a disability" is right up there with "how far along are you" to a woman with a tummy.

Medium sized aside if you'll give me the courtesy:
When I was 19 I was quite athletic and fun, and then summer came along and I dropped 25 lbs in about 3 weeks. I started passing out, but I didn't realize it. I didn't really realize it until I passed out in the bathroom and hit my head on the toilet and woke up some unknown amount of time later, freezing on the tile floor. About $15,000 worth of tests later, they still had no idea what was wrong with me (they still don't, heh) but for a while they thought I had POTS, then they discovered the mitral valve prolapse, then they decided it was neurological for sure---whatever. Anyway, they could force a pass-out in 7 minutes on the tilt-table, long before the heart-rate-increaser injection. So long story short, I got a placard from my doctor because he was worried about me passing out in the street. Oddly, in the car I was no risk, it was getting OUT. (Really, moving from seating to standing, but I digress.)

I never, ever, ever used it. Ever. Then one day I drove about 9 hours from SC to WV and met my parents for dinner at the end of the trip. I parked in the furthest away space of 6, leaving 5 open in front of me. I climbed out of my car and got BERATED by some dude. "You're not handicapped." "You don't LOOK handicapped." I just looked at him and continued gathering my things. "I'm going to call the cops!" "You're going to jail" "Blah blah blah." Very threatening, right behind me, etc.

So I won't say what I said to him, but the PG version is that I invited him to call Security and the Police, that I was going into the restaurant and would be happy to show them my registration AND get his information so I could press both criminal and civil charges against him, and that if he took one step closer to me I would both break his nose and his arm.

I never renewed my placard, and I never used it again---in fact it was stolen, but now---doing what I do, it's fucking sickening to me. Not quite as sickening as my father making racist Obama jokes on facebook, but it's pretty close.
posted by TomMelee at 6:33 PM on March 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm always stunned at the confusion about Ask. It's the only part of the site where an absolutely clear line was drawn from the day that Matt launched it. The only criterion there has always been that if you choose to post, you need to ANSWER THE QUESTION. It's dead simple, and this is exactly how Jess, and our subsequent mods, have continuously administered it. The comment referenced clearly didn't answer the question, at all. Beyond that, the poster (instead) took the opportunity to berate and belittle the asker.

I mentioned recently that I stopped participating in Ask precisely because of this sort of thoughtless belligerence on the part of some posters. This kind of rude hostility is neither helpful, nor necessary. Sadly, I am unsurprised that such a callous non-answer was met with positive feedback. Making trite assumptions about others becomes increasingly easy and common in the disconnected societies we're fashioning here. Ask's value is entirely because of the accumulated knowledge of the membership, and those favouriting such a rude violation of the posting guidelines need to ask themselves if this really is the kind of behaviour they want to encourage?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:44 PM on March 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Plato was a fascist.

If one buys Karl Popper's argument this is technically true...I mean have you ever actually sat down and read "The Republic".
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:57 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, this brings up AskMeFi's tricky relationship with the XY problem: should we answer the question as asked, or should we solve their root problem?

This particular question sort of falls into this pattern: situation X {people at the post office were rude to me} happened, how can I do Y {file an official complaint} to resolve this?

What the asker really wants to know is how to solve the problem of there being people at the post office who do not take her disability seriously; filing an official complaint was her proposed solution. What libertypie suggested, impolitely but not incorrectly, was that (absent any indication that her rights were violated) complaining would get her nowhere. In other words, Y will not solve X.

As it turns out, femmme's rights were violated, but this wasn't clear until the follow-up response, at which point libertypie retracted her answer.

I also doubt that libertypie was suggesting that femmme was acting like an entitled disabled person but rather as an entitled retail customer, and that she was naive to think that complaining to a government bureaucracy about shitty service would yield the same results as complaining to the manager at CVS.
posted by modernserf at 7:29 PM on March 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


I also doubt that libertypie was suggesting that femmme was acting like an entitled disabled person but rather as an entitled retail customer.

Who fucking cares? What part of this is so hard to understand? The response doesn't answer the question. Here. Let me bold, and put it in all caps for you. Again. Maybe this way, it will sink in. I have my doubts.

SHE DIDN'T ANSWER THE QUESTION.

End of story.

Good night.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:44 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"the XY problem" - Exactly. To get a proper solution, we really should have the text of the original letter, the identity of the intended recipient, and a copy of the form letter that was returned.

"SHE DIDN'T ANSWER THE QUESTION." - Actually, the only question she asked was "Cant they just watch the video?"
posted by Ardiril at 7:46 PM on March 23, 2012


Actually, the only question she asked was "Cant they just watch the video?"

Here is the question asked from the subject post : please tell me everywhere to send my letter and contact that will make a difference.

Either answer that, or be quiet. It's dead-simple. Seriously.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:53 PM on March 23, 2012


If one buys Karl Popper's argument this is technically true...I mean have you ever actually sat down and read 'The Republic'.

You mean the long dialogue about the nature of the soul and what might a well-ordered soul look like which uses the organization of an imaginary city state as an analogy for investigating what that might be, along with a long digression into idealism? That one?

Granted, Plato goes into way, way too much detail for this to be plausibly interpreted as nothing more than an analogy for the soul. Nevertheless, those who read it simply as his blueprint for the perfect state are being excessively literal, especially given how many occasions Socrates avers that such a city couldn't possibly exist. Or that it's made repeatedly and excruciatingly clear that the guardian class shouldn't be allowed to own property or accumulate personal power or otherwise turn their political responsibility to their personal benefit. Hell, they were to live in dormitories their entire lives. A state organized along these lines might well be unjust, but it wouldn't really look much like fascism except, perhaps, to people who don't really have a clue as to what fascism is except that it's bad and not like socialism.

Popper wrote that The Republic was the most fascist book ever written. It wasn't really his most convincing argument. But then, falsifiability is overrated, too. And he was certain that QM was nonsense. So there's that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:04 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


if somebody posts to askme with "my partner beats me up every day, and he says i make him do it. how can i stop making my partner so mad?" then you get to not answer the question. otherwise no.
posted by facetious at 8:12 PM on March 23, 2012


Who fucking cares? What part of this is so hard to understand?

The OP of this thread cares, as they implied by the title that libertypie's comment meant "Get over yourself, gimp."
posted by modernserf at 8:15 PM on March 23, 2012


Yeah, fascist was a strong word. I suppose I'm influenced by Bertrand Russel's rather mixed opinion of Plato.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:15 PM on March 23, 2012


this wasn't clear until the follow-up response, at which point libertypie retracted her answer.

The time difference between her first and second [retracting] answer was twelve minutes. We don't really have a situation set up here where we can respond to all flags in this amount of time. As r_n said above by the time we saw this issue we felt that libertypie had retracted her answer and the only way to delete it would be to axe a whole bunch of other stuff. We felt like maybe leaving that crappy comment [and the retraction] might help other people not make the same sort of crappy comments. Which is what I wish would happen but is not what happened.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:17 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the XY problem is not restricted to us answering "how do I save my doomed relationship" questions with DTMFA. Here are some others:

How can I edit a local spreadsheet within Firefox?

Are there any legal ramifications to installing a parking meter on my front lawn?

Keep me from literally freezing my a** off -- avoided by the OP specifically asking if their question was valid.

Again, in this particular case libertypie gave a shitty answer, but that's because it was offensive, not because it failed to answer the question.
posted by modernserf at 8:24 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It did fail to answer the question. OP asked who to contact. libertypie didn't have anything to say about that. That's a failure of answer.

There was extraneous info in the question that helped people who wanted to talk about something else do that. But it did have an answerable question, and whether it was an X or a Y, libertypie offered neither.
posted by rtha at 8:43 PM on March 23, 2012


I thought that reply was disgusting and unhelpful.
posted by Tarumba at 8:56 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


(1) If your goal is to improve MetaFilter, then I do not think titling your MetaTalk post "Get over yourself, gimp" is a great decision, ironic or not.

(2) I didn't read that thread, and I didn't favorite that comment. But I'll raise my hand as one person who has never 'favorited' a comment because I agree with it. I use favorites as bookmarks. So count me as one data point toward, "Don't assume that favorites are concurrences."
posted by cribcage at 8:57 PM on March 23, 2012


cribcage, I think that's a really good point. It has been mentioned before that the name is conflicting, because not all askers know that they are bookmarks, too. If I were the asker, specially some time ago, I would have assumed that people were actually marking the answer as favorite, because that's what it says.

Any newbie asker could interpret it like that.
posted by Tarumba at 9:03 PM on March 23, 2012


I've been around a while, but haven't been able to get a bead on whether or not a lot of folks are just getting super testy more often lately, or if this is something cyclical, or what.

I still sort of wince whenever I see posters use disrespectful language or tone to make their point about how disrespectful someone else in a thread was. Without irony.

In this case, I'm referring to your comment, PareidoliaticBoy:

Who fucking cares? What part of this is so hard to understand? The response doesn't answer the question. Here. Let me bold, and put it in all caps for you. Again. Maybe this way, it will sink in. I have my doubts.

SHE DIDN'T ANSWER THE QUESTION.

End of story.

Good night.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:44 PM on March 23 [1 favorite +] [!]


...though I've seen others. "Here, let me put it in bold", etc. language is just dismissive. I agree with your point, and I understand that you're frustrated. But it isn't helpful, if your goal is to convince modernserf to reconsider his/her stance.
posted by anitanita at 9:05 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


PareidoliaticBoy didn't seem to notice that I was fully aware that the offending post didn't answer the question as asked; my comment about XY problems was whether the only valid answers are those answering the question posed and not those that the asker is actually trying to solve.

Also, it was my first post in this thread, so I'm not sure why he felt like I needed it to be reiterated.
posted by modernserf at 9:34 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also doubt that libertypie was suggesting that femmme was acting like an entitled disabled person but rather as an entitled retail customer

Looking at libertypie's comment from the perspective of a (visibly) disabled individual I'm going to say...no. I'm making generalizations here, of course, but no one has ever called me (and I have never heard of anyone being called) an "entitled customer" because I ask stores/restaurants/whatever to accommodate my wheelchair. I am an "entitled person with disabilities" (which I have, unfortunately, heard of many people being called) because I expect working elevators and ADA compliance and make complaints when I don't get them.

So yeah. The "get over your entitlement issues" response made me want to smack someone. With my transfer board.
posted by clavier at 10:00 PM on March 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I found that thread really surprising. I flagged the hell out of it, and then before I started bickering, moved on. Half the comments are still debating whether or not the OP deserves to have their question answered.

I'm sympathetic to the XY problem. But if your "X" solution is a hostile version of "get over yourself, you don't have a problem," then you should probably just not comment.
posted by salvia at 10:08 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Here is the question asked from the subject post : please tell me everywhere to send my letter and contact that will make a difference.

And saying "Nowhere will make a difference" does actually amswer that, even if you disagree with the answet.

The OP was (understandably) very upset, and phrased the question so that it appeared she wanted to send out a letter to complain that she had been treated badly as a disabled person while putting forth the altercation so that it seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with her disability.

But "being treated badly because I have a disability and asked for help" and "A rude postal worker made me feel bad" are two different things entirely. One is actionable through legal channels, while the other can result in your filing a complaint and wanting the person fired, but you are not legally entitled to get what you want. That's the way I took that answer in regard to the "entitlement issues" comment.

So: clarified later, and a retraction was issued.

OF COURSE I don't think disabled people should be treated badly because they have a disability! Doesn't matter if it is or isn't readily apparent (like the handicap sticker anecdote upthread). I don't think anyone should be treated badly! But sometimes people treat people badly and it is related to your handicap, and sometimes it isn't. Some people just suck and treat everyone badly.

I also don't like to ask for help. But I recognize that's my issue--I can't expect people to be psychic and know I need help and get mad at them for not helping if I don't ask. And, ironically, in that horrible story about getting accosted for not looking disabled upthread, the rude, angry person was both recognizing that handicapped people need those parking spaces and advocating for them, while treating you just like they would anyone else, which would be a good thing except that his customary way of dealing with people is apparently treating them like dirt.

Ivan, I take a handful of pills every day myself, because I need them to be well, and taking my medicine is just what I need to do, like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. I might get angry that I have to do it and others don't, but I still take them. It's my way of taking control of my health, which is the opposite of asking for help. Maybe if you think of it that way, it will help you get past that mental block and actually take those NSAIDs?
posted by misha at 10:23 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't always use a cane because it doesn't actually help much. Why don't I use a cart?

Here's why: I feel like because I don't have a visible disability and that I can, in fact, walk, that a) I may not deserve to use the cart and it should be available for some who needs it more and, b) other people will see me and think that I'm some lazy person.


Oh Ivan, not to pile on you, but please use a cart. I used to worry the same way but the activists who worked to make carts available would be proud and pleased for you to use the carts. I can barely totter into a store without my wheelchair and you can be sure I use those carts without a second thought now. I get a few looks because I'm one of those "fat cart riding women" that get criticized for being too fat to walk. (It really is the other way around—couldn't walk and got fat.) You just have to extend some of the kindness you feel towards others to yourself. Ride on!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:47 PM on March 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hotbutton issue (isn't everything?), but this is not an OK comment.

Is everyone here a mod, or does everyone here just talk like one?
posted by karathrace at 11:02 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Is everyone here a mod, or does everyone here just talk like one?

Not really, you bleeding monkey wart.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:09 PM on March 23, 2012


Is everyone here a mod, or does everyone here just talk like one?

Metafilter is policed by the community. The mods have the extra power to do deletions and some extra responsibilities towards users, but fundamentally we are all responsible for making Metafilter the kind of place we'd hang out.

Usually that is done by making thoughtful posts and comments, but sometimes letting people know that they're off in the weeds is important too.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:14 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not really, you bleeding monkey wart.

You're such a tramp.
posted by karathrace at 11:16 PM on March 23, 2012


Usually that is done by making thoughtful posts and comments, but sometimes letting people know that they're off in the weeds is important too.

I don't really see that comment as "off in the weeds" as numerous people "bookmarked" it. I see it as "Hey, I don't like what you did and I'm going to speak on behalf of everyone and say it isn't "OK" rather than 'I have a problem with this, lets talk'".
posted by karathrace at 11:19 PM on March 23, 2012


"Maybe if you think of it that way, it will help you get past that mental block and actually take those NSAIDs?"

I was trying to tie together a lot of things going on that are about how unfun and difficult it is to navigate what it's like to be disabled — something we both know, but able people don't. Which is to say, in my opinion, the pain is the smallest part of it; the actual disability and life impact is the bigger part; and an equal part is the social difficulty of navigating what it means to function as a disabled person in this world and the emotional tool that takes.

But, really, that stuff is the smaller part of why I'm not taking the NSAIDs. I'm not taking any meds right now, including antidepressants and antihypertension meds that keep my BP lower than, really and truly, 210 over 140 (which it was last time I checked), because I need a doctor visit to get these things renewed and this is a new year so I have a Medicare doctor visit deductible I cannot possibly pay and I'd have to ask my mother, of all (and only) people, to pay for it. Which she would gladly do, but I'm a 48 year-old man and I hate asking for money from my freaking mother with the heat of a million suns. That's the bigger reason. And so I'm sort of pretending I don't need any medication because fantasy is better than reality at the moment. Maybe I'll just drop dead from my extreme blood pressure and the problem will solve itself.

"You just have to extend some of the kindness you feel towards others to yourself. Ride on!'

I've been trying to force myself to use the carts for years now. I went to a MeFi/MeCha meet-up in Vegas in '06, the one where jonmc was married (it was great!), and because I knew people would be walking around, I rented a cart. And I used it one night when everyone hung out together at an outside club. And, you know, I fucking hated it. I couldn't have walked the three blocks down there without it. I had a hard enough time during the whole thing, anyway, with how much all the activity hurt me. But, even so, I just hated sitting in that damned cart, or having people walk beside me while we went somewhere. I mention this particular example because people here besides me were there, and it makes the anecdote more real. But, you know, this stuff is hard.

This is a genetic disease, my dad had it, my sister has it, my nephew has it, my grandmother and my uncle had it. I've lived with this stuff in my family my whole life (though mine is mild enough such that I didn't really have serious problems until my thirties, unlike my sister who's had serious problems her entire life). And even with all this familial experience, even with growing up with it and healthy family dealing with it forever — including my mother — neither my sister or myself of anyone else has dealt with this stuff well. Those of us with it have struggled all our lives with trying to find some balance between attempting to function like a normal person and accommodating the illness. None of the healthy people really have much of a clue even though they've known us all or most of our lives.

This whole thing with my car actually started an argument between me, my two aunts, and my mother because I talked to one of my aunts about what I was going to do with the car, but I hated the idea of asking her or her husband to take off work to drive me to get it (I thought I might take the bus, though everyone thought that was crazy, but I wanted to believe that it was possible) and so I didn't ask her and she completely misinterpreted that I didn't. Because she doesn't understand that I'd almost rather cut off my hand than ask for help. She thought I didn't ask because they couldn't do it at some particular time, or something, and so I was being pissy. It's not clear. The point is that part of what spurred that comment of mine is dealing with this stuff right now because there is just no way needing other people to help you, and asking or not asking for that help, ever works out in any way that is anything less than deeply uncomfortable and often resentment-causing for someone involved. And that's much of my life. Maybe if I had a partner (as my sister does), or a church which sends people over without being asked (as my sister does), things would be a bit easier. But I know it's not easy for my sister, either. In any case, I'm alone here. Almost anything I need to do that's not trivial requires help.

And every time I do go out somewhere, I have a kind of fear that something will happen. Reading about that person and their package at the post office really struck a chord with me. People don't understand that someone like me can't reach down and pick something up. I have a fear that I will drop things whenever I leave the house. I have a fear I'll be expected to do something I can't. It's one thing when a clerk doesn't understand that someone who asks for help actually needs help. It's not a good thing, but it's maybe understandable. But when someone writes that they are disabled and needed help and asked for help and wasn't helped and then someone responds that they were "entitled"? That's not someone who somehow failed to notice that the person actually was disabled and needed help...she wrote it in the damn question. That was someone who embodied the attitude I fear every single, rare, occasion when I do venture to ask someone for help.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:22 PM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


But when someone writes that they are disabled and needed help and asked for help and wasn't helped and then someone responds that they were "entitled"?

This was actually never stated, you just assumed it. She said she was disabled, she said she needed help, but she didn't mention whether or not she was actually helped or not, and whether she explained the situation to the clerk. I think people just assume the worst of people who are NOT mefites, and the best of those who are mefites. It makes for a great community, but not always consistent with reality.
posted by karathrace at 11:29 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why exactly did that comment stand? Because of the favorites and (I assume, I didn't read the thread, just that comment and the post itself) it was responded to in the thread?

This comment would have been deleted if it had not led to an entire conversation that resulted in the OP clarifying what happened, and clearing up a misconception that many commenters seemed to have. If we deleted that question, we'd also have to delete sidhedevil's responses, the OP's responses, and all responses that referred to the information that followed from it, just for the sake of deleting a bad answer over actually trying to help the thread recover and get back to actually offering assistance.

If we had the manpower to have a mod sit on top of every thread and monitor every single answer as they are posted, this wouldn't have come up, but we obviously don't. There was about a 10-minute window when it could have been nixed before it became embedded as part of the series of responses leading to the clarification. If we had deleted that whole series of comments, it would surely have had to happen all over again, since so many people were assuming that she never told the postal worker she needed help because of a disability. Even after her clarification and me leaving a note pointing this out, people are still insisting on posting answers that assume this is how it happened, and that don't answer the question.

As for favorites, Jessamyn has disabled hers, and I didn't notice the favorites on that answer, if there were any at the time I was dealing with it... But that's not how we moderate answers. I really have no idea what is going on with that, and with all the hostile, unhelpful comments (and some that just didn't answer the question, but weren't hostile) we've deleted from that thread. It seems utterly bizarre to me.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:42 PM on March 23, 2012


Wow. I haven't read, nor probably could read, every single word of this thread, but I've scanned as much as I can. Just to clarify, this comment most accurately described what I was thinking at the time:

@modernserf "I also doubt that libertypie was suggesting that femmme was acting like an entitled disabled person but rather as an entitled retail customer, and that she was naive to think that complaining to a government bureaucracy about shitty service would yield the same results as complaining to the manager at CVS."

I mostly lurk on MeFi (though I do answer sometimes), but I do read a lot of the threads, and I have seen many people step in to answer "beyond" a question that is directly asked. When someone describes a relationship issue, for example, and then asks how to "fix" the other person involved, MeFites will often analyze the relationship instead of answer the question. I did, in fact, address the fact that unless the ADA was violated (which it obviously was not) she wouldn't have any recourse to "blow the lid" off of anything. Blowing the lid off something implies the exposure of something illegal, to my ear. What happened, while rude, mean, and clearly offensive, was not illegal.

As to the various claims that I am an awful person who thinks all disabled people are entitled, I could probably respond with a personal defense, but I doubt anyone cares. All I'll say is that is not what I think, that is not where I was coming from, and I don't believe that's what I said. The OP's original post came off as entitled- she was not denied a service, she was not discriminated against, she was simply spoken rudely to, and that has happened every time in my life I have ever walked into a Post Office. Her reaction was highly disproportionate to what happened, which to me (and I'm getting that this is a much more offensive word than I could ever possibly considered it to be) connotes a sense of entitlement. Her post came off to me as hysterical attempt at validation, not an attempt to fix a problem for some noble cause.

I have no idea why so many people favorited the comment, and I certainly didn't mean it as a rallying cry for "get over yourself, gimp" sentiments. As I've attempted to clarify here, that's not what I said, or what I meant. It's clearly been interpreted that way, however, which I'm surely in large part to blame for. So sorry I didn't spend enough time in my comment explaining that I think disabled people are fully entitled to be treated with respect and dignity, every bit as much as everyone else on earth is. But no one can reasonably expect to get that at the Post Office. That was my point.
posted by libertypie at 12:02 AM on March 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


And to add on re-reading, the above describes my reaction to the original post. I stand by my statement that further clarification from the OP could have actually made the important distinction between "shitty customer service" (which is what I assumed from the post) and "unwillingness to accommodate/verbal abuse of the disabled for their disability" (which is what everyone else is assuming). I don't think the OP has given us enough information to figure out which thing happened. The elaboration she provided made clear that the Postal Service worker said she "didn't look like she had X," which is offensive, but it's far from "berating" (which even the OP said never happened).
posted by libertypie at 12:30 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, sometimes people answer that the poster is misunderstanding the situation as they have stated it... for example, maybe they've presented a computer problem and attributed the behavior to the wrong thing, and somebody with more expertise might tell them, "no you probably need to replace X, it's unlikely that Z is causing the problem. Or relationship questions might include language like "help me understand this," or "what am I doing wrong," or whatever, as well as being far more nebulous by their nature than "who can I write to in order to register a complaint."

The poster in this case was a) very upset, and b) didn't include a critical piece of information in the original question that would help people to better understand what happened, but nevertheless, the request was clear: Please tell me where to send my letter. The answer to that just isn't "Work on your entitlement issues."

I've said this before many times, but quite often a poster is very agitated when asking a question, and they are coming to Ask Metafilter in an emotional or stressed state, which often means they aren't always as articulate as they might be at another time, or that they forget to include all the information that will help, or they sound as though they are overreacting from the point of view of someone who is uninvolved.

What to do, as an answerer? Ask for clarification if something doesn't seem to make sense. Try not to jump to conclusions about what sort of person they are based on a couple of paragraphs of information. Try to be patient. Instead of assuming the worst and positing that as part of your answer, try to get more information or at least phrase things in a way that doesn't rule out that there may be more to the story: "If I'm understanding what happened correctly, you didn't tell the postal worker that you had a disability when you asked for assistance? Perhaps blah, blah, in which case, blah, blah."

But ultimately (and this is not to you, libertypie, but just a general plea), if you are the sort of person who gets angry and impatient when other people are complaining or upset, please just stick to the sorts of questions that don't involve people who are complaining or upset. We get all sorts of questions in Ask Metafilter, so it should be easy to find ones that you can provide helpful answers to that aren't also going to make you angry.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:48 AM on March 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Must we do this on my birthday? There's BBQ and beer by the pool, now hurry up
posted by infini at 2:16 AM on March 24, 2012


I'd just like to say that if anyone wants to call me a grumpy old twat, I'm absolutely fine with it.
posted by Decani at 2:31 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


How was that an AskMe answer? It doesn't address the actual question posed, instead starting off with a 'wait...' followed by a thorough questioning of the premises of the question. I thought that sort of thing was discouraged? If someone asks where the best place to get a steak is, you shouldn't answer that question by telling them how evil they are for not being vegetarian. If someone asks how they can lodge an official complaint for treatment they wish to complain about, you do not respond by telling them they're an entitled whiny shit, who was treated just fine. It doesn't even address the damn question.

...and that's before we get to just how sickeningly disgusting the attitude is. Even if you do hold that opinion (I do not) why the fuck was it necessary to lecture the OP on it? If you genuinely think the OP doesn't have a valid complaint, let them know how to complain, and let the goddamn complaints process tell them that. You don't need to fucking compound it by having a go at them as well.

Regardless of how it was responded to or handled in-thread, that should not have stayed.
posted by Dysk at 3:49 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact, how it was handled in thread looks like a massive derail argument. I'm surprised that stayed, given the norms for AskMe...
posted by Dysk at 3:52 AM on March 24, 2012


The OP's original post came off as entitled- she was not denied a service, she was not discriminated against, she was simply spoken rudely to, and that has happened every time in my life I have ever walked into a Post Office. [bolding mine]

How do you know?

Also, do you genuinely think it's helpful to tell someone to "work on their entitlement issues"?

You might also try to answer questions keeping in mind that some people make mistakes or come off poorly even though that's not who they are, just like you came off poorly in your original answer.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:28 AM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


It also reads a lot like "I've suffered, so you should have to too". Or at least "I've suffered, so you have no right to ask not to".
posted by Dysk at 4:34 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well I'm super glad a 12 minutes later retraction makes everything automatically better and nobody can call you out on bad behavior if you do it. What is the "official" no-apologies-required window? I'm thinking I could have taken a lot longer to clarify myself to Brockles and just skipped the apology all together.

Except for the part where I am sorry, and did want to apologize, and didn't make gross assumptions about him as a person in the process.

Also, and fyi, when you say a generalization starting with "handicapped people", it's just as ignorant as replacing "handicapped" with any other adjective describing a person.
posted by TomMelee at 5:01 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well I'm super glad a 12 minutes later retraction makes everything automatically better and nobody can call you out on bad behavior if you do it. What is the "official" no-apologies-required window?

What is this in response to?
posted by OmieWise at 5:18 AM on March 24, 2012


I mean, what more do you want from this thread? The mods have explained the dynamic nature of the thread, and why it developed as it did. The person who made the offending comment has provided a cogent explanation for why they made their comment, which should obviate the charges of horrible motives and anti-disabled sentiment for anyone providing the benefit of the doubt to a fellow Mefite (which certainly many people in this thread are arguing for). (Which does not make it a good comment, just not a vile one.) People have hashed out (again) some of the rules of AskMe (although in self-serving ways, there are plenty of answers in that thread that "do not answer the question" but which are not being suggested for deletion).

But it seems you are still so dissatisfied that you want to keep this a fight, insofar as you're using snarky sarcasm to try to make some point. What would you want to have change? A policy? Would you like a more explicit conversation about disability rights? Do you have evidence that this is something that Metafilter is not paying enough attention to? Would you like people who don't agree with you to be banned?

Your sarcasm communicates your feelings, but it doesn't really communicate any content to me, so I'm confused as to what your purpose is.
posted by OmieWise at 5:27 AM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nothing, I'm satisfied, I was satisfied before I posted this thread. I thrive on sarcasm. (This is not sarcasm.

What I might have hoped libertypie would pick up, if she'd read all the comments here, is that the question she answered was not what was asked and that, in fact, it gave incorrect information.
posted by TomMelee at 5:41 AM on March 24, 2012


Well I'm super glad a 12 minutes later retraction makes everything automatically better and nobody can call you out on bad behavior if you do it.

I'm sincerely hoping that this response isn't directed towards the mods.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:06 AM on March 24, 2012


The comment should be deleted with fire.

It is based on a stereotype of disabled people. It contains the idea that disabled people are whiny, entitled, leeches of society.

I am not so much disappointed that people favorited it -- because if you bookmarked that gem or gave it a thumbs up, sorry, no benefit of the doubt here, you are no friend of mine, and thank fucking god I don't have to deal with you in person.

What I am disappointed in is the moderation decision to let it stand. I get people were responding to it, negating, and so forth. Forgive me if this is a bad assumption, but I doubt the comment would be standing if it addressed race/sexual orientation issues.

And dude who made the comment? I'm a chick in a wheelchair who deals with the bullshit the OP described often. And my disability is, well, visible. Your comment is a steaming pile of shit.
posted by angrycat at 6:08 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, Jessamyn, I said the comment should stand. No issues with moderation.
posted by TomMelee at 6:17 AM on March 24, 2012


You might also try to answer questions keeping in mind that some people make mistakes or come off poorly even though that's not who they are

One might also try to keep that mind before denouncing a customer service agent - one who, as has been pointed out upthread, has to deal with other, genuinely over-demanding people all day -as having "no humanity".
posted by Trurl at 6:35 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is definitely a bad assumption, angrycat. First I could not possibly be more sincere when I tell you that our concern was for the poster. Secondly, I will say that this is a thread that Jessamyn visited 6 times and I visited 9 times, despite the fact that this problem popped up around 6 am my time, around 11 pm Jessamyn's time, and she is on the road.

And now, with also trying to make the situation clear in this thread – we've spent an awful lot of time on this one issue, and it's not the only thing we're doing. By far. I think every dissatisfied person would be right if they were talking about 24-hour seamless moderation with eyes on every single thread, and every single comment. Furthermore, without knowing all the comments that were deleted, you cannot tell what assumptions were being made and why we decided that it was better to leave the string of comments we did that led to more information being shared and our ability to emphasize that via an in-thread note.

Not to mention that I'm also getting email flack for being too sympathetic to the poster's position. (!) So everyone sees the issue from their own point of view, which is natural, but to accuse us of being insensitive or biased is incorrect – except insofar as Ask Metafilter goes, we are always biased toward helping the poster get useful answers to their questions... even if critics may not understand every step of how we do that, and what details inform every decision.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:39 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am lucky enough to be more able-bodied than the average person of my 40+ years, but my wife is conspicuously disabled. She walks with an odd gait, can't lift or carry much weight, and her balance is for shit. She *hates* being conspicuous. She often expresses almost as much frustration at unsolicited offers of help from strangers as the OP in that thread did in response to the clerk's refusal.

I didn't favorite the comment or otherwise participate in the thread, but my initial gut reaction to the question was pretty similar to libertypie's. Fortunately I bit my tounge.

With a little distance, I'd say that the OP's 'blow the lid off this discrimination' approach was just as unhelpful as libertypie's callous comment. Being disabled is rough, and fosters perspectives that the not-yet-disabled often find hard to understand. The feelings need no justification, but feeling bad doesn't mean somebody has done you wrong and needs to be punished.
posted by jon1270 at 6:40 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband has more than one "invisible" disability, and he appears quite young. He gets treated like shit on the regular. My career path has been one where I work with individuals with profound disabilities, visible to all, and they get treated with disgust, on the regular. It's not entitlement to ask for humane treatment.

I wanted to write people really NEED to get the fuck off that word, entitlement, but then someone will say, no they don't need to do anything, and I'm right back to where I started.

But who on Mefi can say they haven't EVER "not answered the question"? Or "commented constructively" We all fall down at some point. libertypie retracted their statement after the clarification from the OP. He/she has been called all kinds of names in this thread and there's no need of it. For me, a mostly lurker, it sucks to think that one misstep and you are now "vile."
posted by Grlnxtdr at 6:43 AM on March 24, 2012


I certainly didn't mean it as a rallying cry for "get over yourself, gimp" sentiments.

I surprised so many people took it that way. Can’t disabled people have a false sense of entitlement, or be assholes, or any other bad personality traits? I didn’t take the comment as having anything to do with disability.

What I don’t understand, after all this discussion, is why many appear to be ignoring what seemed to me to be the main problem here; The original post was rambling, nearly incoherent, and seemed slightly crazy. It ends in the middle of a sentence. I understand that people are upset sometimes when they write, but others can only respond to what’s written.
posted by bongo_x at 6:47 AM on March 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


jon1270, since the poster said she doesn't like to bring up her disability and doesn't like to ask for help, I suppose it was especially galling to have to make that request and then be treated in exactly the way I suppose she always is trying to avoid.

bongox, again, yes: people often post when they are upset about something and don't necessarily come off as perfectly cool and collected. If people can't respond to that without hostility, they should avoid the question. Many people managed to answer the question successfully without insulting the poster.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:52 AM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I don’t understand, after all this discussion, is why many appear to be ignoring what seemed to me to be the main problem here; The original post was rambling, nearly incoherent, and seemed slightly crazy.

Plenty of people in the thread were able to answer the question without too much difficulty. I don't think that is the main problem. The main problem is that some folks couldn't, or chose not to answer the question, which is why we're here.
posted by euphorb at 7:01 AM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


taz, I'd guess I'd posit that "disabled people are entitled" doesn't ring as many bells as "ethnic type is X or sexual orientation is Y" If I'm totally wrong about that, I am sorry.

The original post was rambling, nearly incoherent, and seemed slightly crazy.

Great, so, let's attack the OP some more! Well done.
posted by angrycat at 7:09 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was a really unfortunately phrased question in its original form. With the thread updates, it's much more clear what happened. It seems clear from some of the later responses (at least some of which were deleted) that some people commented from a similar place as the called-out question without having read the updates.

An option to append certain updates to the original post could help in situations like this.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:10 AM on March 24, 2012


why many appear to be ignoring what seemed to me to be the main problem here; The original post was rambling, nearly incoherent, and seemed slightly crazy.

We deleted a lot of comments calling the OP crazy, hysterical or bad at grammar/spelling generally. The thread was not anonymous and if people want to make sideways comments that don't address the question, they can do that over MeMail.

Forgive me if this is a bad assumption, but I doubt the comment would be standing if it addressed race/sexual orientation issues.

We've had a lot of similar threads on race/sexual orientation issues that crashed and burned as badly as that one did and I'm sure people can go dig them up. I know it stings and I know questions like these are difficult generally both for the OP and the commenters. Our general policy is that if someone makes a shitty comment and then tries to follow-up with clarification, apology, whatever, we'd prefer to let their words stand rather than delete them and wait to go around the same merry-go-round again.

That does mean that the site has some shitty comments, a position we defend but it's not the only way to moderate a website. It is, however, the way we moderate this one. I'm sorry the thread made so many people feel so badly. The world is full of an awful lot of people, many of whom have lives, perspectives and approaches that may be difficult to understand or sympathize with. We'd like people to do their best and we try to troubleshoot and debrief when that sort of thing happens. We deleted many appalling comments from that thread. I hope the OP got some useful advice after all of that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:11 AM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am not so much disappointed that people favorited it -- because if you bookmarked that gem or gave it a thumbs up, sorry, no benefit of the doubt here, you are no friend of mine, and thank fucking god I don't have to deal with you in person.

I said this upthread, but I will repeat it for the benefit of your rather sharp hostility. I did not read that thread, and I did not "favorite" that comment. However, I personally use "favorites" as bookmarks, not as up-votes. In other words, it's a feature that I use to mark things I may want to remember for any reason whatsoever, whether because they are informative or insightful or funny or terribly, terribly misinformed.

I know I'm not the only person who uses the "favorites" feature this way. For the record, this usage is much more in-line with how the moderators have said they intended the feature to be used. So respectfully, you might reconsider deciding that strangers are "no friend of yours" because they clicked an ambiguous button on the Internet.
posted by cribcage at 7:19 AM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


If somebody 'bookmarked' because they felt like collecting the most obnoxious comments on metafilter, then yes, I have done them an injustice, I suppose. I am somehow not too terribly worried about how they will get through their day with the enormous weight of my disapproval on their shoulders.
posted by angrycat at 7:26 AM on March 24, 2012


@angrycat I feel terrible that you and others feel personally attacked by what you read into my post, but there was no generalization about "disabled people are X" in it. There isn't one because I don't think that. As I've repeatedly said, my comments referred to the individual poster's attitude and description of her feelings. Disabled people can be entitled or not entitled, react appropriately or overreact, just like anyone else can. If you're going to be involved in burning me at the stake, please read the thread carefully.

I feel like the issue that I didn't answer the question has come to focus here. I didn't jump into the thread just to be nasty: I assume my comment would have also been immediately deleted if I did. I did, in fact answer the question.

The question was:
X happened. How can I do Y in response?

My answer said:
It sounds like X didn't actually happen. If X happened, you could do Y, but there's no use in doing Y over Z, which is what actually appears to have happened.

I answered the question snarkily, and I really wish I could go back and be gentler about it. But I was contributing a perspective I thought needed to be added. Certainly some people may have favorited the comment for the abhorrent reasons everyone's outlined above, but certainly some other people favorited it because they agree that perspective on the original post is warranted by the original post and didn't say anything in thread. Probably for precisely the reason this MeTalk exists.
posted by libertypie at 7:38 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


libertypie, the thing that you're not getting is if, when addressing a person with a disability, you tell them that they have an attitude of entitlement -- and this is based on a few-sentence description of the the issue -- then your comments are a manifestation of a stereotype that causes harm.

Others upthread have been all 'o why are we arguing about this since libertypie has apologized.' Thing is, you don't evidence an awareness of the stereotype and your own subscription to it. Also, I don't read an apology so much as a Romneyesque backpedaling.
posted by angrycat at 7:55 AM on March 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I did, in fact answer the question.

The question was:
X happened. How can I do Y in response?

That was not the question. This was the question:
please tell me everywhere to send my letter and contact that will make a difference.
Do you really think this is an answer to that question?:
Unless you can prove that you were discriminated against on the basis of your disability or that the USPS worker violated the ADA (and it does not remotely sound like that occurred), you have zero recourse.
That's the only part of your comment that could remotely be seen as an answer, and it isn't one. The whole of the rest of it is offal.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:58 AM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm in this thread in an attempt to clarify things that have been said about what my post said and about what I, personally, must believe about things. Hopefully you all are engaged in a similar process of clarification. Or you can add to the list of vaguely threatening and deeply self-righteous MeMail messages I've gotten.

@angrycat, are you saying that no disabled person can behave in an inappropriately entitled fashion? I strongly disagree that my comment was "based off of stereotypes." It was based off of the way the OP spoke about what she deserved, how she wanted to "blow the lid off" what was a personal, and in my opinion quite minor, incident of embarrassment, and how much explicitly personal rage she directed at the the Postal Service worker. As I've said repeatedly above, I made no generalization, and never would make any generalization about the disabled and entitlement. I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge that such stereotypes exist, but that doesn't mean I subscribe to them, or that what I said could be interpreted as an endorsement or repeated instance of a generalization like that.

I suppose in my original post I could have discussed how the OP's language, anger, and attitude about what she could expect bespoke a sense of entitlement that had nothing to do with her disability, but as I hadn't set out to humiliate her, I didn't see the purpose of going into a detailed analysis of what psychological issues I felt were reflected in the tone and content of her post.
posted by libertypie at 8:14 AM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sometimes I think MetaTalk is the real OutrageFilter.
posted by smackfu at 8:14 AM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Poorly written and obtuse question lacking key information to draw from leads answerers to draw their own conclusions based on abstract notions such as the 'tone' of the question and biases drawn from other answers.

This always ends badly.

I know the mods are overworked and underpaid for all they do, but perhaps this question should have been sent back for a re-write with some suggestions to clarify what exactly happened and what the OP wanted to happen.

"Blow the lid off this" isn't exactly helpful. "Blow the lid off" what exactly? It was unclear what happened and unclear what the poster wanted.
posted by j03 at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Poorly written and obtuse question lacking key information to draw from leads answerers to draw their own conclusions based on abstract notions such as the 'tone' of the question and biases drawn from other answers.

I am not sure "upset person expresses themselves less than completely rationally, let's blame them for the bad responses they get" is all that helpful a tactic. I mean, the OP has already gotten punished by not-so-great answers for their "transgression...."
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:30 AM on March 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Libertypie, how is anyone supposed to know that you don't subscribe to that stereotype when what you've written looks exactly the same as an answer from someone who does believe that stereotype?
posted by harriet vane at 8:34 AM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


but as I hadn't set out to humiliate her, I didn't see the purpose of going into a detailed analysis of what psychological issues I felt were reflected in the tone and content of her post.

Full stop. You're being an asshole.
posted by Green With You at 8:38 AM on March 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


jo3, the question was not unclear. "Who do I send my letter to" is not unclear. If we deleted every question that wasn't perfectly articulated, you wouldn't be seeing many questions on Ask Metafilter. As moderators we try to see if there is a more or less clear question that can be answered. This one was not in question. It was in the title. It was specifically asked twice in the post.

It's almost impossible to tell exactly enough about the background your question so that people have all the details they could possibly need (realizing that everyone makes different assumptions and understand things differently), without giving so much background that no one will read it, and also be absolutely careful not to sound like you are a Bad Person without spending paragraphs (that no one will ever read) to prove that you are a good enough person to respond to without insults.

With people who attempt to do this, we constantly see answers like "well, that's so long I'm not going to read it all, but here's what I think," or "well, the amount of words you've used to describe this make me think you must be obsessive/narcissistic/way too concerned about this," etc. And if people write shorter questions, we see the inevitable jumping to conclusions about information that wasn't included... and of course, always, the perils of being obviously Upset About A Thing, which, as it happens, is exactly the time when some sorts of questions arise. This seems to make a lot of people angry.

So, as an answerer, try to see if you understand what the question is. If you don't, you don't need to answer. If you think you do, but you need more info, you can ask, and doing it nicely won't kill you. If the tone of the question makes you mad, you probably should not be answering.
posted by taz (staff) at 8:43 AM on March 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


I was full-on Braveheart for a while, so I apologize for that.

I'm going to defer to a better writer than I am and cite to Sontag's metaphor as illness as another country. I've been disabled and not disabled, and one thing I can say is that they are different planets. Why some things are enraging are just so hard to grok for people w/o disabilities (and I'm including people with disabled friends, even spouses -- you may have a better awareness of what my atmosphere like, but there's no way you could feel the difference in your lungs).

So what inspires my rage -- and I could have been a hella lot more respectful in this thread, so that is 100% my bad -- is that, a person presents as having a disability -- don't assume you know what her world is like. You don't. You just don't.

And the comment at issue makes this mistake. It doesn't make the commenter a bad person. But it is a mistake that gets made all the time. And thus it's enraging to see it defended.
posted by angrycat at 8:59 AM on March 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I know the mods are overworked and underpaid for all they do, but perhaps this question should have been sent back for a re-write with some suggestions to clarify what exactly happened and what the OP wanted to happen.

Nah we're overworked and overpaid, but this isn't part of the AskMe process and isn't going to be. I didn't feel like people couldn't figure out the question, I feel like people didn't like the question. And then they got irritable. And then they answered irritably. And because the subject matter is touchy, this set up a lot of other irritated responses to those responses. It's absolutely okay to say some variety of "Wow you seem really upset by this so you may want to spend some time composing your thoughts in a way that is more clear and more well-written than this so that you have a better chance of being understood when you write to the post office which you can do by ..."

People ask bad questions sometimes, often in fact. The small number of times we have tried to "send a question back" [at which point the clock is ticking because we don't have a mechanism for editing questions and then pushing them to the top of the queue, so you need to make changes within a few hours or the question has scrolled down and people don't see it] it's gone very badly for a number of reasons and often doesn't even improve the question much. So this is very much Not Done here. If we had twice the staff, we could consider that. As it is, no way.

So, we don't do this. We expect people to manage their own irritation and be helpful. If they can't do that, there are a number of things that we can do next as mods and more generally as a community.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:01 AM on March 24, 2012


I've gotten a little off track here attempting to explain myself, and I honestly don't really have the stomach for the things being said about me, so I'm going to exit this thread. But with Taz's comment in mind, I think it's clear that while I thought I was presenting an appropriate, if unkind, answer to the question, the fact that I didn't have enough information to be sure that things were as the poster claimed they were should have elicited a request for clarification on my part, not an answer based on my assumptions. I'll be sure to do that in the future if I ever answer a question again.

I'd like to reiterate that I'm very sorry if the vagueness of my comment made any person feel attacked, or that I was reiterating some stereotype of disabled entitlement. That obviously isn't what I thought the comment said, as it contains no actual generalization and is only in reference to the individual poster, but it's clear that that is how it was read by many, and I'm certainly at fault for that.

For the record, I don't think upset askers should be jumped on for asking questions irrationally. I also don't think mods should be responsible for editing questions like the one under discussion. I did not critique the OP's grammar or inability to accurately describe the situation in my post: I interpreted her unclear post to the best of my ability, and responded according to how I interpreted it. That was obviously a mistake.
posted by libertypie at 9:04 AM on March 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


You know, I looked at the inarticulate, meandering question and saw that the OP nevertheless claimed to have a "well-written letter" they wanted to send somewhere, and I knew immediately that I would have nothing constructive to add to the discussion. And seriously, if I - a misanthropic condescending jackass with little to no human empathy and a faulty brain to mouth filter - can rein in the urge to be a nitpicky threadshitting schmuck, surely just about anyone can.
posted by elizardbits at 9:30 AM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


important distinction between "shitty customer service" (which is what I assumed from the post) and "unwillingness to accommodate/verbal abuse of the disabled for their disability"

I don't even think there's an "important distinction" here. I think all people are entitled to non-shitty customer service, even from the USPS. All people are entitled to not be yelled at for asking for help, even if they don't ask for it in the most perfect, humble way.

I'd like to reiterate that I'm very sorry if the vagueness of my comment made any person feel attacked

If your comment had been vague - rather than presumptuous, offensive, and not answering the question - we wouldn't be here.
posted by rtha at 9:43 AM on March 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've gotten a little off track here attempting to explain myself, and I honestly don't really have the stomach for the things being said about me, so I'm going to exit this thread.

I would really like it if you could take this feeling and apply it to the comment you made in that thread and your repeated comments in this thread in which you continue to be insulting to the asker. She shouldn't have to exit her own askmefi thread because someone is unkind and she doesn't have the stomach for it. That's not how askmefi works.

It doesn't matter if you're right, you need to be basically polite in order to maintain the utility of askmefi for the asker.

Excuse me if I'm telling you something you already know; I can't tell from your comments whether you get this or not and I hope I'm not beating a dead horse.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:57 AM on March 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh and I'd also like to remind everyone here that poor or unclear writing can often be the result of a disability, and as someone who has more than one loved one who has a hard time writing clearly, I'd appreciate it if people didn't use it as an excuse to be rude.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:58 AM on March 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


Or you can add to the list of vaguely threatening and deeply self-righteous MeMail messages I've gotten.

Irrespective of whether I agree with your original comment, I'm sorry you have received messages like that. That shouldn't happen.

We deleted a lot of comments calling the OP crazy, hysterical or bad at grammar/spelling generally. The thread was not anonymous and if people want to make sideways comments that don't address the question, they can do that over MeMail.

I think that's a bad solution. Respectfully, I wish you (moderators) would stop suggesting this.

I realize that I have a fundamental disagreement with MetaFilter on this issue. I think it's rude and escalating to carry a disagreement from a public discussion over into a private email. I also think that private, direct antagonism is inherently more antagonistic and impossible for a community to call-out. MetaFilter policy disagrees with me. Okay. But then you created this internal messaging system (MeMail) and honestly, the most frequent comments about it that I see from moderators are, "If you insist on being fighty, use MeMail."

That's not a great message, and I see it a lot. It's why I am opted-out of MeMail and don't have an email address visible. For my taste, you are too encouraging of people to take their antagonism to private channels. If you're going to host an internal messaging system then I'd much rather hear you say, "If you make rude comments via MeMail, you will be spoken to or timed-out just as if you had made them in-thread."
posted by cribcage at 10:25 AM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you're going to host an internal messaging system then I'd much rather hear you say, "If you make rude comments via MeMail, you will be spoken to or timed-out just as if you had made them in-thread."

We don't enforce civility, exactly, and we cannot see memails from our side at all, but if someone comes to us and says "I'm getting nasty messages from X, I've blocked them but I think this is a problem" we would be delighted to speak to them/time them out/whatever seems appropriate.

I feel like we don't publicize this enough - that a) Memail is private, even from us, and you have to specifically ask for us to take action, and b) that we will take action.

In general, though, if people are willing to have an acrimonious disagreement in public, we sort of assume they're willing to do it in private, too, and there are tools for people to opt out of that if they don't want to have either the specific argument or be generally available for them. Moving one-to-one disagreements to private channels has the advantage of sparing the rest of us, which is a net good for the community.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:40 AM on March 24, 2012


I will admit that the shrill tone and vagueness of the question irritated me, and I favorited the comment because it vicariously satisfied my desire to shit on the question. A chicken-shit thing to do. I do think that the poster seemed, at least initially, to judge the postal worker unfairly and was in need of a reality check about expectations. None of that was responsive to the question, though, so, mea culpa.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:48 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Metafilter is policed by the community.

Its least attractive aspect. I don't believe I've ever before seen such a concentration of self-elected hall monitors.
posted by jfuller at 10:57 AM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


rambling, nearly incoherent, and seemed slightly crazy

This is ALSO NOT OK.

Look, I'm not trying to be PC, seriously, look in the thread---I call people "Stupid fucks", I do believe. However---and let me be as painfully clear as possible about this:

If you do not favor the tone of the question, and do not have anything to offer other than armchair diagnoses, then simply do not answer the question.

An failure to articulate doesn't make someone CRAZY, jesus CHRIST that presses my buttons. These statements are EXACTLY the same as "Aunt Flo must be visiting" or "But he's Latino so of course X", they are dismissive and incorrect.

Let me tell you another story.

When I first got into disability advocacy, I was at a state meeting where people with any disability were welcome to attend. One lady, K, was sitting with her worker, sipping water through a big bendy straw. I still don't know how old K is, but I'm going to guess about 60. Anyway, K was grinning a goofy grin and drooling on herself and I couldn't see how she was steering her power chair, so I assumed it was being steered for her. So here I am, thinking that she's some sort of token participant. So the floor opens up and they take comments, and K starts sort of grunting.

So they give her the floor. They know her by her name. Important people, they know this lady by her name. So I pay attention. She starts talking. Sort of.

If you know anything about Cerebral Palsy, you know that some people are barely affected and some are severely affected, and K was pretty severe. She could get about the first syllable of any given word out of her mouth. I had NO IDEA what she was saying, but people on the panel were paying attention, nodding.

So then another participant in the room who is WELL known for doing things like handcuffing herself to the White House Fence starts interpreting for K, we'll call her D. D also has CP. D is saying, word for word, what K is saying, and HOLY SHIT did she know her stuff. Bill numbers. Who was on what committee. Explicit verbiage in those bills. I was blown away. Later I had the opportunity to actually visit senators with her (and D) and not only is she "articulate", she also has an AMAZING life story that involves her literally ESCAPING a nursing home a few years ago.

She has a masters degree in public policy, and she is well known to legislators.

We now correspond via email often, and now I know that she has a nifty head-tilt-steer on her chair, and she uses a tiny white dot on her glasses to move the mouse on her computer, and she types letter by letter. She often skips punctuation and doesn't capitalize too often.

She's a HUMAN and she deserves RESPECT, she is not CRAZY, and even if she WAS---it would be wrong to dismiss her offhandedly. We afford this respect to all people, disabled and otherwise, because they are PEOPLE, and because they are no different than you and I. The same is true with the OP.

Do you wander through the mall, telling people what you think about them on a drive-by analysis? Would you say these things to her face if she asked you in person? Then keep your cyber-bulling judgmental BS to yourself. If you legitimately felt that his or her mental health was the issue, then a brief, sensitive memail would have been appropriate. Not to pop into a metatalk thread and indirectly insult her---which is even more cowardly than doing it in-thread.

See? I just decided you were a coward, a bully, and judgemental---all because of a paragraph you typed on the internet. Feels pretty awesome, doesn't it?
posted by TomMelee at 11:15 AM on March 24, 2012 [28 favorites]


I've seen a pattern where if one commenter makes a slightly judgemental or negative seeming comment then the thread suddenly tends to follow the lead getting more adn more negative until the posters are virtually attacking the poor OP.

Herd behaviour.
posted by infini at 11:20 AM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


D also has CP. D is saying, word for word, what K is saying

A really minor point, but it's something I see often on AskMe and since that's what we are discussing here: In prose, pseudonyms are easier to read than abbreviations. "Dave" and "Kate," for example. Not a right-or-wrong thing obviously, it just makes for quicker reading visually.
posted by cribcage at 11:35 AM on March 24, 2012


I think disabled people are fully entitled to be treated with respect and dignity, every bit as much as everyone else on earth is. But no one can reasonably expect to get that at the Post Office.

This is a little tangential to the discussion, but I also have to chime on to call bullshit on this as well. This whole "virtually everyone at the post office is a troglodyte or a Stalinist bureaucrat or both" meme is often part of the ongoing reactionary attacks on the very existence of a public postal system in the United States, and on public workers in general. Of course there are inconveniences at the post office, and individual workers and supervisors who may be unhelpful and rude. But this notion that no one at any post office anywhere in the entire country is doing their job with a basic level of decency or competency is absolutely, demonstrably false.
posted by scody at 12:05 PM on March 24, 2012 [36 favorites]


I realize that I have a fundamental disagreement with MetaFilter on this issue. I think it's rude and escalating to carry a disagreement from a public discussion over into a private email.

I don't use MeMail too often. Occasionally to contact friends or people in cities I am visiting where I hope to set up a meet-up, and I want to ask them to attend. Slightly more rarely, I use it to contact people who I either a) think I may have offended with a comment, b) who have offended me with a comment, or c) said something interesting I want to follow up on and d) when replying in thread would derail or derail worse. It seems more polite to the vast batch of readers and commenters who don't care about whatever my own little personal thing is, however much I might be into it.

Of course there are inconveniences at the post office

Most of the postal workers I deal with regularly are really nice, and I knew a carrier who had worked the student part of town for decades, and he pretty much remembered where people had been and where they were now and would occasionally redirect mail to the correct place when someone moved rather than return it. (And he did this with out seeming like Creepy McStalkerson rather than A Guy Who Was Really Good at His Job).

And there is always the chance, in these situations, that either the customer or the customer service person Was Having a Really Bad Day and This Was the Last Thing and really could have used a (metaphorical) hug rather than an altercation.

Oh, and I have known postal counter people who apparently had to deal with management sending "customers" in to try and get them to bend the rules so they could get written up. So give the "rude postal worker" a break. Jeeze, what would Ben Franklin say?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:17 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I tend to run into my postman post smoking a bunch of weed. He's like, "Hi", I'm like "Hi!" Next day, him, "Hi!" Me, "HI" next day, him "HI." It's like a deathmatch of cheer.
posted by angrycat at 12:30 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do we have any post office workers on metafilter? When I encounter a postman or postwoman outside of the office the probability is at least .8 that they look like a friendly and happy and productive worker, at least compared to the typical working class worker bee. When I encounter them inside the office this flips from .8 to .2. Is there something about the climate control that messes with their psyche? Or do I turn into some sort of threatening idiot when I enter the premises? There is something weird going on with that.
posted by bukvich at 12:31 PM on March 24, 2012


Nothing to do with the AskMe question, but all my post office workers are sort of happy and awesome. We're in danger of losing a lot of our rural post offices in Vermont so the negative perception of postal workers in a general sense is one that concerns me. That said I've also had a lot of random complaints about mail delivery and I've moved a lot and had forwarding problems, so I've had a lot of issues elevated up and down the customer service channels which is sort of a crapshoot of a situation depending on who you get and how able/willing you are to follow through if you don't get the answer you're looking for. I made a personal decision not to answer that AskMe question because the situation seemed messy and I wasn't sure if my perspective would be helpful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:37 PM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is there something about the climate control that messes with their psyche?

No, it's that working retail sucks. Even if you're good at it, even if you're 100% extrovert. Being required to interact with unknown quantities (your customers) all day is exhausting, and little things get magnified. A day that's made up of 90% unmemorable interactions (because there was no drama in any of them) can be wrecked by 5% annoying and 5% hostile and shitty interactions.

Everyone's mileage may vary, and usually does.
posted by rtha at 12:45 PM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, keep in mind that getting meh or crappy customer service at the post office doesn't make the post office special. There are a zillion for-profit companies that give shitty customer service, as any of you who have phones or computers or cable likely know.
posted by rtha at 12:47 PM on March 24, 2012


When I encounter them inside the office this flips from .8 to .2. Is there something about the climate control that messes with their psyche? Or do I turn into some sort of threatening idiot when I enter the premises? There is something weird going on with that.

Maybe characterizing them as a 'typical working class worker bee' is affecting your interactions.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:48 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


that ain't it Alvy I am a typical working class worker bee myself.
posted by bukvich at 12:52 PM on March 24, 2012


Then I vote stamp glue toxins.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


We're in danger of losing a lot of our rural post offices in Vermont so the negative perception of postal workers in a general sense is one that concerns me.

And what's particularly ironic about this is that in many rural areas, postal service is literally the only way to get any sort of delivery; UPS and FedEx (those private corporations that are always tossed out as being the infinitely superior and more efficient option to public postal service and wicked, unionized public workers) simply do not have the means to deliver to millions of rural customers. In fact, UPS and FedEx actually have to contract with the postal service to deliver these shipments for them. If the post office were obliterated (as free marketeers would have us believe is such an awesome option), there is absolutely no chance that UPS and FedEx could take over rural delivery at anything close to post office rates.
posted by scody at 1:00 PM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


So here I am, thinking that she's some sort of token participant. So the floor opens up and they take comments, and K starts sort of grunting.


So there you were being deceived by appearances, and then what the person said straightened you out. I don't get where that applies to this situation. On this board, the typed words are all you've got. Of course those words never represent things perfectly, and one often guesses that there is something else going on that makes it advisable to be gentler with the person than one would be otherwise. Pressed for clarification, a poster may say something that demonstrates how wrong the initial impression was. But it's still really just more words. It's not a difference between inside and outside or appearance and reality, the way it is in your example.

Not to pop into a metatalk thread and indirectly insult her---which is even more cowardly than doing it in-thread.

Wait a minute-- you started this thread. Did you think the discussion wasn't going to continue here? In fact was really kind of surprised that you started this Meta thread at all. Why not make your point in the thread itself? But having started it, you had to know what would happen.

I'm trying to decide how I feel about all this. My default is to be sympathetic to the OP. One of my best friends is blind, and I've been amazed and upset, at times, by the ways people in public treat him. Like the lady in Target who was letting her kids throw balls that were flying past his head. Or store employees who don't make it clear whether they are talking to him. I think definitely, most people need some education about how to be helpful to people with disabilities they're not familiar with. But I think most people will respond positively to that education. Being yelled at because you are not aware of something is not very educational, in my opinion.
posted by BibiRose at 1:15 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


My post office people are darling. They sing all the time and make happy jokes. Even when it's close to Christmas and they are dealing with lines out the door, they still smile and interact.

I always call to praise them to the sky to the postmaster every time I have to go in there. Except for the standing in line it's a highlight of my day.
posted by winna at 1:15 PM on March 24, 2012


karathrace said:
"...whether she explained the situation to the clerk."

That shouldn't have been necessary. Having to explain extenuating circumstances every single time a person with disabilities needs help would be very draining and even less encouraging of participation in the world.

There are some instances where it has to be explained or proven - jumping in line at amusement parks, for example, is one I think we can all agree on - but just to have some help lifting something? That seems onerous.

I'm starting to think people are actually frustrated that the poster didn't go into dramatic detail about the whole scenario so they could put their judgment hats on and decided to take that as a shortcut to negativity in responding.
posted by batmonkey at 2:35 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


> all my post office workers are sort of happy and awesome.

As are mine here in Hadley, Mass. Don't generalize from your own experiences.
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


in my opinion quite minor, incident of embarrassment,

Oh man, statements like this, I feel, really portray a lack of empathy for someone who in all likelihood suffers discrimination from a huge proportion of people they deal with every day, and are probably both very sensitive to it, and very shamed by it.

I dunno, dude, I feel like your comment was really veering into victim-blaming territory - "how do you know if it's sexual harrassment? He harasses guys, too! Maybe they leave burning crosses in everybody's yard!". I just think it's really unfortunate, and I kinda a feel like you're not really taking on board one of the two fundamental problems a lot of people had with that answer; 1) It didn't answer the question, and 2) It showed a lack of compassion and an ignorance about the rights of people with disabilities and the kind of tacit bullying and judgment they have to put up with everyday.

There will never be away to read that postal worker's thoughts and understand if they were a prick based on the OP's disability or not - and even positing that is a sidetrack. The reality is, if OP did not have a disability, the situation wouldn't have happened.

I understand the question was emotionally written and not as clear as it could have been, but I wrote my own emotional, anonymous question earlier this year, and got some responses that were way, way, way more gentle than what you wrote - that hurt and upset me. Just, you know, throwaway lines that the answerer's probably thought nothing of, or built in assumptions about my anonymous personality and actions outside the question, but they cut me, and I did not have my usual resilience or clear-headedness to deal with them. I would really recommend assuming the best of posters, and just being gentle where possible. The whole thing was quite illuminating to me, actually, and made me regret some of my own answers in the past (and also, made me realise that askme is not the place to go if you're in a sensitive place!).
posted by smoke at 3:16 PM on March 24, 2012 [14 favorites]


This thread makes me kind of sad and kind of angry.

I understand that the original question under discussion was written in some amount of distress, and that being distressed often leads to poor communication. But I have to be honest, I read the question as rambling, nearly incoherent, and [...] slightly crazy. Before reading the OP's clarification I, too, thought he or she was likely overreacting and making far too much out of an unfortunate but reasonably ordinary interaction. When I first read libertypie's response, I thought it was a bit too harsh, but basically within the bounds of acceptable strongly worded "you are too close to this situation to see that you are not as righteously correct as you seem to think" AskMe answers. Obviously the clarification from the OP changes my views, but that clarification was not available to libertypie at the time of his or her original comment.

I'm uncomfortable with the treatment of libertypie in this thread. Firstly, I think his or her answer is well within the bounds of what we mean by "answer the question" when we talk about it. We have always allowed on-topic reframings that question the fundamental position of the asker. Her answer is one of those, even though it is very harsh. To read this thread, however, is to come away with the idea that this common practice is not acceptable in AskMe, and further, that false idea is being used to castigate libertypie.

Secondly, although we continue to have general discussions about how harsh it is acceptable to be in AskMe, libertypie is being harshly criticized, specifically and repeatedly, for behavior that is endemic on the site. If we want to have a general discussion about excessive harshness, which I too decry, then we should do that without making one user the target of our ire.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the attribution of malice and prejudice ascribed to libertypie is, I feel, unjust. He or she has made clear, and made clear in the original thread, that the comment was based on incomplete information provided by the OP, as well as the completely incoherent form of the question. I think it's obvious that people are responding to the inclusion of a single word (disability) in the original question, but I see no reason that that word, when the question is read without preconceptions or the later information provided by the OP, should trump all the rest of the OP's question. The original question does not make clear in any way that any sort of discrimination took place, and that lacuna makes the question (as written) read as overreaction to a non-discriminatory situation. I think that libertypie's engagement in this thread, even if it is not all simply begging forgiveness, makes clear a real engagement with the concerns expressed here. But, he or she continues to be derided and decried for basically reading the original question differently than those who disagree with the answer provided.

None of this is to say that I agree with libertypie's sentiments as expressed, nor that I find them blameless. I understand that the word "entitlement," specifically, is a frequent refrain in prejudice and discrimination directed at those with disabilities. I also agree that precisely because anti-disabled prejudice is so pervasive and not taken seriously enough, extra care needs to be taken when the subject arises. Further, I think it's useful and worthwhile to have conversations about that prejudice, and about how we treat distressed questioners in AskMe. I feel strongly, however, that libertypie is being held to a standard that is neither fair in terms of how AskMe questions are routinely answered, nor realistic because it is based at least in part on information supplied after their answer was posted. I really don't think it's a model for how people should be treated on Metafilter, and I think the treatment directly contradicts some of the ideals people are castigating libertypie for supposedly violating.
posted by OmieWise at 4:10 PM on March 24, 2012 [24 favorites]


I actually don't think libertypie was acting out of malice, at least, I made that assumption.

But whether the comment was offensive goes to the whole, 'can something be racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist w/o malice' question. I think that question can be answered affirmatively yes.

Once, around a gay friend, I made reference to a line from The Killer Tomatoes: "Actually, tomatoes are fags." I didn't present it as a high form of comedy or anything like that, I think it was just a throwaway reference. My gay friend grimaced and I felt like shit. I remember thinking, 'I know that I am not a homophobe, why should I take shit like that?'

I get it's not nice to be yelled at and said that one's writing is a bunch of things. But these absurd arguments -- that those finding the comment offensive think that no disabled person can behave inappropriately, that we are attributing malice to the commenter -- make me angry and sad.

This shit reminds me of the geeklist furor. People are taking umbrage at tone, when if they would think about it for a minute there is a real reason behind the harsh tone.
posted by angrycat at 4:32 PM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I feel strongly, however, that libertypie is being held to a standard that is neither fair in terms of how AskMe questions are routinely answered, nor realistic because it is based at least in part on information supplied after their answer was posted. I really don't think it's a model for how people should be treated on Metafilter, and I think the treatment directly contradicts some of the ideals people are castigating libertypie for supposedly violating."

I'm ambivalent about this. I'm not entirely comfortable with either libertypie's comments here nor with how much ire has been directed toward her give those comments. She's clearly trying. I think she's still missing something, and there's nothing wrong with pointing that out or for being less than entirely sympathetic to her even though she clearly means well and has explained herself to some degree that mitigates her AskMe comment. As others are trying to explain, she nevertheless made several mistakes and some of the more important ones she doesn't acknowledge.

Nor do you, as a matter of fact, for some reason seeing the OPs inclusion of being disabled as being some trivial mention that did not and could not have changed the context of the question without more information provided. To wit: how often have you asked a post office worker for help doing something that you can do and which you expect most people easily to do? There's a presumption here that the OP had some responsibility to go to great pains to explain both to the post office worker and when asking her question about her disability and exactly how that disables her — basically, to justify both to the worker and to AskMe answerers her disability.

It's a mystery to me why anyone would assume that if she didn't initially indicate to the worker that she had a disability, that she wouldn't have explained herself after the worker refused her. And if she said she was insulted and badly treated, and wrote a letter about this incident that she described at the beginning of her question as involving her disability, that she didn't feel insulted regarding her disability. It's as if people like libertypie and yourself are going out of your way to assume that this was nothing more than that the OP approached the whole thing as a regular customer who was treated rudely by the worker. Even though the OP framed this as being about her disability. In short, to interpret her question as you and libertypie did, you are being extremely ungenerous. So ungenerous, it's hard not to wonder why anyone would read her question so ungenerously.

And then there's the "entitled" thing. And the whole vibe of "don't complain".

There are problems with libertypie's response, even given her clarifications there and here, and there are problems with those who are interpreting libertypie's question from a hostile stance.

That said, again, as you are pointing out, libertypie is doing more to be civil and to (apparently) understand and correct for any of the reasons her answer was called out than most such called-out folk do. And bad, angry behavior is rampant here on MeFi and, by those standards, libertypie is a model of civility.

So your complain is noted, and has merit, but I think you and others are still just not understanding something important going on here.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:49 PM on March 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


"This shit reminds me of the geeklist furor. People are taking umbrage at tone, when if they would think about it for a minute there is a real reason behind the harsh tone."

This is why I wrote my two, probably discomfort-inducing, revealing comments. I was trying to make it clear to people how much emotionally is on the line in things as seemingly trivial as asking a post office worker for help. Some people think that the OP is badly overreacting. But I think a lot of those people just don't understand what the OP is reacting to. I was hoping to make the context more clear, more real to those who don't have any experience with it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:53 PM on March 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


People are taking umbrage at tone, when if they would think about it for a minute there is a real reason behind the harsh tone.

I'm not taking umbrage at tone. I'm taking umbrage at attributing prejudice toward the disabled, inadvertent or otherwise, to a comment made prior to the definitive determination that disability was central, rather than tangential, to the question. As I said, there is still reason to have a discussion about libertypie's comment, but I essentially think that for some readers the word disability in the original question provides all the information needed to satisfy their concerns about discrimination, while for other, totally reasonable readers, the overall incoherence of the question is at least as important. I think libertypie is being castigated as if the question were unambiguous and clear on the issue of discrimination, and I think that is unfair.

There's a presumption here that the OP had some responsibility to go to great pains to explain both to the post office worker and when asking her question about her disability and exactly how that disables her — basically, to justify both to the worker and to AskMe answerers her disability.

That's untrue. My presumption, on first reading the question, is that the OP had a poor interaction with a post office employee, and that their affect as expressed in the question made it entirely possible that they were making too much of it. I do not read the inclusion of the word "disability" in the original question as dispositive. The question does not read to me as "This unjust thing happened to me and I'm fighting mad about it," I read it as "This thing happened to me and I am completely incoherent about it." The depth of that incoherence calls into question the content of the question for me. I agree that the more generous reading is yours, and I understand that there are reasons that the more generous reading is the better reading*, but I don't think my initial reading reveals a large gap in either my empathy or my recognition of disability rights issues. And, believe me, I understand what the accepted position on this is. I could have kept my mouth shut, but I think the insistence on a single acceptable reading for a question that was a complete mess doesn't really make sense. And I think using it as a litmus test for whether or not people are "understanding something important going on here" is completely off base.

(Further, I think you might read my comment more carefully. I did not defend libetypie's comment per se, and so the extent to which we agree is about how incoherent and non-dispositive the original question is.)

*And, to be clear, this more generous reading is certainly what I would strive for in all situations. That I did not achieve it here I take as a failing on my part, but not one borne of prejudice.
posted by OmieWise at 5:07 PM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm not taking umbrage at tone. I'm taking umbrage at attributing prejudice toward the disabled, inadvertent or otherwise, to a comment made prior to the definitive determination that disability was central, rather than tangential, to the question.

The problem with this is that it doesn't matter whether disability was central or tangential to the question. The poster identified herself as disabled. And as soon as you whip out the language of prejudice (which, in a disability context, "entitlement" sure as all hell is) people are going to see you as acting prejudicial. It does not become magically unprejudicial just because the assumption was made that disability wasn't "central" to the question. Whether there was malicious intent really doesn't matter, as angrycat has mentioned. Oppressive, dismissive language that has been historically used to belittle or dismiss the concerns of people with disabilities was still being applied to someone with a disability. This is problematic. It is always going to be problematic.

I have seen a couple of people comment upthread along the lines of, "what, disabled people are just magically never entitled"? To which I say, no, acting like jackass is the universal common denominator. But language is important, and when you're using oppressive language towards a member of an oppressed group, again, it's problematic. And it shouldn't come as a major shock if other members of that group metaphorically come at you with their fists flying, because this is language that they're used to being beaten down with.
posted by clavier at 5:56 PM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


-TomMelee-

You’re quoting me, and seem riled up, but I don’t know what you’re on about. I never called anyone crazy, I said the post seemed crazy and incoherent, and it does. I don’t know the person who wrote it. I looked at some other posts by that person and they seemed fine, so it seemed likely that they were just ranting full steam when they wrote that. It didn’t seem to be a chronic typing problem, or a language issue, but I’m only guessing.

I also never commented in the original post, so I’m not sure why you’re spending the extra on bold letters to berate me for it.

I don’t know why you judged some disabled woman’s mental abilities harshly, and I don’t know why you’re telling me about it, but you shouldn’t do that. Being physically disabled doesn’t make you stupid. It also doesn’t make you a child, or immune from criticism. I don’t treat anyone like a child, not even children usually. If you come on here and rant incoherently I think it’s fair to say you shouldn’t, and might need to calm down before you post. I don’t think it’s OK just because you can’t lift heavy boxes.
posted by bongo_x at 6:20 PM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


The problem with this is that it doesn't matter whether disability was central or tangential to the question. The poster identified herself as disabled. And as soon as you whip out the language of prejudice (which, in a disability context, "entitlement" sure as all hell is) people are going to see you as acting prejudicial.

Yeah, I get that, and I've acknowledged it. I continue to think the level of vitriol directed at libertypie in this thread exceeds the offense, and makes of libertypie a scapegoat for several problems with tone and approach on the site, of which disability prejudice is just one.
posted by OmieWise at 6:29 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The issue I take with the comment left by LibertyPie is that he or she automatically assumed based on the construction of the original post that the OP's claims about discrimination COULD NOT BE VALID. It's not that it wasn't good advice; for certain situations, yes. But LibertyPie's response DID NOT MATCH THE ORIGINAL QUESTION.

It was not our place to ascertain whether or not the OP's discrimination claim was valid. Her question was about what to do next to make the PO staff aware that one of their own had discriminated against someone with a disability. Do you know how frequently people with disabilities are told that they must be exaggerating about abuse, disrespect, and discrimination? Do you know how tiring it is to seek out help, only to be discriminated against AGAIN for appearing "entitled", just because they're demanding that they be treated like a human being? The same goes for victims of sexual abuse and rape. Credibility gets questioned over and over, and it was really disheartening to see how many people in that post dismissed femmme's requests for assistance (first from the PO worker, and then from the MeFi community itself) as "wrong" or "misguided" either because they didn't think to ask for more information or because they just took LibertyPie's response as the best snarky response to someone who was obviously in a very impassioned state when they constructed their original question (and honestly, rightfully so). The fact that LibertyPie still stands by their response as being an okay way to address someone who has asserted they have been discriminated against bothers me too, but opinions are opinions.

I am glad that the comment was allowed to stand as it does illustrate some fundamental misconceptions that people have about discrimination and fighting back against it. It's just frustrating to see how many people actually share that thinking. I'm glad to see people here talking about it.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:36 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I continue to think the level of vitriol directed at libertypie in this thread exceeds the offense, and makes of libertypie a scapegoat for several problems with tone and approach on the site, of which disability prejudice is just one.

And the level of vitriol that has been and continues to be directed at the OP, in both threads?
posted by catchingsignals at 6:40 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously.
posted by OmieWise at 6:44 PM on March 24, 2012


It was not our place to ascertain whether or not the OP's discrimination claim was valid.
Actually it was, because the OP's own original question and initial/immediate follow-up (1) expressly questioned whether she had suffered disability discrimination or whether she could be dealing with some other kind of issue, (2) were not clear on what the OP wanted to accomplish and/or report (taz, I respectfully and strongly disagree), and (3) were not clear on what kind of "difference" she wanted to make.

This all changed significantly on the later follow-up.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:46 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I disagree: I think the OP's initial followup did not at all question whether she had suffered disability discrimination, but rather demonstrated she wanted to find out which resource would allow her to make the biggest difference by bringing her experience with discrimination at this particular PO branch to light. Given that others saw that follow up as indicating that the OP may have been exaggerating about what had happened to her, I think it is likely that this is where the core interpretation of the OP's post occurred, and then diverged into supportive and discriminatory comments.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:58 PM on March 24, 2012


I feel strongly, however, that libertypie is being held to a standard that is neither fair in terms of how AskMe questions are routinely answered

First, speaking for myself, I agree it's not helpful to attribute prejudice nor make assumptions about intentions. I agree, let's discuss this comment without somehow demonizing the person who made it. I have some ill-advised comments in my history, and I'd hate to have some grouchy complaint I hastily posted stand in for my character and moral worth. So, I generally agree with your third point above. However, I also agree that people can be operating from stereotypes without intending to or realizing it, and this can be hurtful and deserves discussions -- discussions about "that thing you said," not who someone is. That's what I think this thread could and should be.

As to the comment, though, I don't agree that it is well within community standards, if that's your suggestion, Omniewise. Your analysis does not address the way that different aspects of the comment compound one another. You say several of its attributes, taken alone, are "well within the bounds of " and "endemic to" the site, but when combined, they situate the comment a few standard deviations from the mean for me. The comment didn't just decline to answer the clear question and instead address assumptions behind the question; it didn't just have a harsh tone (and toward an obviously-upset OP); and it didn't just reference negative stereotypes (unconsciously or inadvertently, it sounds). It did all three at once.

Each of those comment attributes are more okay on their own, and also more common. Suppose the comment had harshly answered the question like "just look for the appeal process in the Post Office FAQ, gah!" Suppose the comment had questioned the assumption in the post like "Hey, I'm sorry you're so upset, but unfortunately, I'm not very optimistic that you'll get satisfaction from a bureaucracy like the Post Office. To suggest a different viewpoint here, is it possible that maybe this Post Office clerk is a jerk to even the most able-bodied person? Might the easiest way to feel a bit better be to perhaps just lower the level of kindness you expect from people in that situation?" Questions that harshly critique an asker's assumptions while including a negative stereotype ("stop being so hysterical about this!") are hot-button and, yeah, outside of the norm enough that I don't think it's inappropriate that we are here in MeTa, especially since we can't debate it in the thread, as we could if it were a post on the blue.

As a third party who was only vaguely aware of what a trope that was (sorry), the post here isn't necessarily a bad thing. And while I'd bet that you have a point (I haven't gone back to look at all the comments), I liked that part in the post here that says "I'll assume that the OP and others who posted in a similar vein don't recognize what they're doing, and we'll call this a teachable moment," which seems like the right spirit for the discussion.
posted by salvia at 7:03 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is a LOT of projecting going on in this thread, and the original AskMe thread.

The question was rambling and incoherent. It just was, and I attribute it to the OP being very upset.

Rereading it just now, in fact, I felt like some spelling errors were fixed, because my initial reaction, in the midst of the question where the OP mentions, "my very well-written letter," was to wonder "Who wrote THAT for you?"

Yes, that is a very nasty thought, which is why I didn't answer the question. I didn't comment in that thread because I had nothing helpful at all to say.

But those of you who are saying that it was clear the OP told the clerk she was disabled from that original question--it wasn't to me, it wasn't to a lot of people, because the all the OP says is she asked the clerk for help and the clerk was rude.

We have people in here who have already said how much they hate to ask for help, so I understand that the idea that the OP had to force herself to ask for help and then was rudely told off by the clerk resonates with you. I know many of you think, "Well, duh, that's when I would have explained I needed help because I have a disability. Obviously the OP did that!"

You are projecting your experiences onto the OP.

But suppose you are a person who does not have a disability, and your experience is that you have also asked for help before and had a clerk be rude to you. And you felt like you couldn't do anything about it but get irritated by it and move on. A person with THIS background reads the question and their answer projects that person's experience onto the OP:

You are not entitled to any compensation because someone hurt your feelings...

...get over your entitlement issues.


Boom.

Users with the 1st experience are incensed! Entitlement?! Do you have any idea what entitlement means to the disabled? The slurs, stereotyping, the...?!

Well, No. That 2nd user, libertypie, doesn't know what that's like at all.

Could be a good teachable moment, like the thread title suggests. Could be, you don't feel like you need to take on the burden of educating anyone, because screw that. Could be you flag the hell out of the comment based on your experience. I feel that all those responses are valid.

But here's where I think this call-out sucks. Look at the wording:

"people with disabilities feel entitled" is as played out and useless a trope as any "women do X" or "republicans do X" or any standard victim-blaming crap that happens anywhere

NO ONE SAID PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FEEL ENTITLED. No one, despite the emotional trigger the word "entitlement" is for a lot of people, said that the OP of that question felt entitled because she was disabled! That's just not a valid characterization of what happened.

This happened in the AskMe thread, too. Sidhedevil said, It is not "entitlement" to expect not to be berated by a public employee in a public facility for having a disability. I strongly object to your suggesting that it is.

Libertypie did not suggest that! And Sidhedevil got lots of favorites, too.

Sidhedevil also says, "She asked for assistance because of her disability, and the postal worker berated her (rather than simply saying that she could not assist her). I don't quite see how the berating would have happened without the disability."

None of that is in the original post. And in fact, that's NOT what happened. Even the OP says she was not berated.

I flagged those comments, and they're still up.

But you can't flag a post on the grey for inflammatory wording, right? So libertypie does not have any recourse but to come in and explain her position. And when libertypie does, she gets attacked.

She explained that she gave her answer out of ignorance of the full situation. She changed it when she she learned the full facts.

What is your explanation for making false accusations and attacking her?



But how is writing what
posted by misha at 8:10 PM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


NO ONE SAID PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FEEL ENTITLED.

Suppose it said "stop being hysterical." And the OP was a woman, describing gender-based discrimination (and leaving out key facts). Even if nobody SAID "women are hysterical," wouldn't calling upon the stereotype, even if unknowingly, be worth discussing?
posted by salvia at 8:34 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Salvia, why the hypothetical? That's not what happened here.

But if a woman was incontrollably emotional or shaking in paroxysms of laughter (try conveying that in AskMe!), I'd be okay with it.

I imagine you feel that because the word comes from an outdated and clearly absurd belief that women were prone to emotional outbursts (thus the hyst- prefix) that word would is unacceptable, or worthy of discussion. I'm not so sure. Other than in a linguistic sense, I don't see it being a productive situation. What would you want the result of that discussion to be? No one ever uses "hysterical" ever again?

I don't agree with that, if so. I do not favor censoring language like that. I don't have any desire for 1984.
posted by misha at 8:59 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I doubt anyone here is arguing that people should never use "entitlement" again. I think what people are arguing for is some recognition that it is 1) a word with a history of oppressive and discriminatory use against those with disabilities; 2) a word most people with disabilities see as derogatory; 3) a poor choice to use when talking to or about an individual with disabilities, regardless of the context. It has nothing to do with censorship and everything to do with recognizing this prejudiced language exists and is harmful to people, and then trying not to use it, especially when you're addressing someone who belongs to a group it's traditionally used against.
posted by clavier at 9:11 PM on March 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


Bongo- you've done an excellent job proving my point. "I didn't say you were an X, I said you ACT like an X.", as if that stands anywhere past third grade.

Also, forest for the trees and whatnot.
posted by TomMelee at 9:19 PM on March 24, 2012


And mischa, I think the sticking point here for many of us is how quick libertypie was to dish out the "entitlement " accusation, especially after seeing her admit she didn't feel she had enough info. Discrimination or not, malice or not, it's such a fast and sweeping dismissal that given the context it's hard to see it as innocent. I'm over it, I think we all are, I believe the thread persists because it's not a uni - dimensional issue and, l think surprisingly, there are people responding who are making little effort to understand why the beef is legitimate.
posted by TomMelee at 9:29 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's always good to try not to hurt people. So if a word hurts someone, and I know it, I would take care not to use it. It doesn't bother me, personally, because I feel like it doesn't apply to me. I don't feel entitled, so if someone were to say I did, I'd just chalk it up to not knowing me.

a poor choice to use when talking to or about an individual with disabilities, regardless of the context. It has nothing to do with censorship and everything to do with recognizing this prejudiced language exists and is harmful to people, and then trying not to use it, especially when you're addressing someone who belongs to a group it's traditionally used against.

In a larger sense, though, I'm not sure that solution benefits the disabled. You create this situation where people feel like they have to watch their words around anyone who is disabled. That sets up an Us and Them situation. That's what leads to othering and stuff like, "Oh, don't use that word around them, they are sensitive about it."
posted by misha at 9:33 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Salvia, why the hypothetical? That's not what happened here.

My point was to show via comparison that referencing a stereotype (again, inadvertently, I acknowledge) is often considered wrong even without explicitly stating "people like X do Y."

I use the example because there is a tendency to label women "hysterical" and use that word to dismiss their reasonable perspective. Similarly, (I'm learning) there is a tendency to label disabled people "entitled" and use that word to dismiss their reasonable perspective.

I assume most here would not defend dismissing an upset woman's viewpoint with "stop being hysterical," even if they felt she was upset unjustifiably.* Similarly, in the current instance, telling a disabled person to stop feeling "entitled" raised similar hackles.

* It sounds like you don't share that view, misha, so for you, the comparison may not be much use.
posted by salvia at 9:46 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Discrimination or not, malice or not, it's such a fast and sweeping dismissal that given the context it's hard to see it as innocent.

This is bullshit. To talk about "context," and by that not mean the craziness that was the original question, is disingenuous and suggests that you don't actually care about context, you care about your position to the exclusion of context. There is a lot to talk about with that comment, but to dismiss it so definitively, so sweepingly, is to suggest that you haven't paid any attention to this conversation at all.
posted by OmieWise at 9:50 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honestly I have no idea what you're saying. I don't see the original question as "crazy" and I think that willfully portraying it that way is to further dismiss the OP and reinforce negative responses.
posted by TomMelee at 9:58 PM on March 24, 2012


I think the sticking point here for many of us is how quick libertypie was to dish out the "entitlement " accusation, especially after seeing her admit she didn't feel she had enough info.

Yes, exactly. EXACTLY.
posted by OsoMeaty at 10:47 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I favorited Libertypie's comment because thought it was good advice, and I am a person with a disability. So there's a data point.

Sometimes "Toughen up" is better advice than "Oh you poor baby." I asked a question about my daughter being bullied, and there were plenty of "She should toughen up" and "You should let her fight her battles, mom." That wasn't what I was looking for, so much, but I knew that it was advice given in good faith, not a flaggable offense.

What is different here -- that the person is disabled? Pfft. Does having a disability mean that I, and the OP, are such delicate broken things that even the Internet has to be nice to us? That's actually insulting to me. Despite my disability, I am a big girl, and so is the OP.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:00 PM on March 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Totally true, pH, but I feel like what made me upset on behalf of the OP of the post in question was that she asked for help, explained she had a disability that prevented her from doing an action on her own, and was told she didn't look like she had a disability and was subsequently denied assistance. That's flat out wrong.

The OP can totally toughen up, but why does that make her wanted to alert the right people to this kind of mistreatment suddenly null and void in the process? Standing up for yourself, your rights, and the rights of others is a big part of toughening up. It's part of valuing who you are. They are not at all mutually exclusive.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:04 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


*wanting, not wanted

Also, not to diminish the example of your daughter's situation at work, as it is totally valid and I have been there myself... It's one thing not to be nice to someone in the way that girl is/was to your daughter, but it's another thing to be inhospitable and downright discriminatory because of the way someone looks or does not look as was the case with the OP. That's where this becomes a different situation. That's where "toughen up" needs to take a different form -- like standing up for yourself using the appropriate measures and medium.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:12 PM on March 24, 2012


Ah, but she said herself that union rules prohibited the postal worker from helping her -- her problem was with the postal worker's tone. Moreover, the commenter that actually gave the OP the answer she claimed to want, how to file a complaint, was not marked as best answer -- Sidhedevil's comment defending the OP was.

So, yes, if the disability thing were not an issue, "Toughen up" is what people would say.

I agree with you that folks should stand up for their rights; I do, and the OP said that she does also. But being treated courteously is not a right as such. The comment was on point, and the foofarah about it is hard for me to understand.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:13 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


We've gotten askmes where people bitch about the service they get from their cable company or computer company and who can they write to to complain about it and no one tells them to toughen up. They tell them who to write to and/or to switch providers.
posted by rtha at 11:34 PM on March 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the thing with Ask Metafilter is that we don't need someone to prove that they were discriminated against, treated badly, or have a basis for complaint in the personal opinion of random members in order to get information about where they can send a letter.

And, really, if they are asking where to send a letter... they don't really expect the Spanish Inquisition, so probably don't spend a lot of time including a bunch of details in order to demonstrate that they deserve to send a letter.

If the poster asks, am I overreacting? Am I wrong about this? Does this seem like abuse/discrimination to you? Fine, give your opinion, but if they are just asking where to send a letter, it doesn't matter whether you think they are right or wrong about their reasons. If you think they're wrong and you don't want to help, just don't answer.

pH Indicating Socks, your question was totally different. You asked how people deal with x situation and what you/your daughter should do. The poster of this question did not ask that, they asked where to send a letter.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:23 AM on March 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


OmieWise: I read it as "This thing happened to me and I am completely incoherent about it." The depth of that incoherence calls into question the content of the question for me.

If you're starting from a position of assuming the asker is lying, you probably shouldn't be answering the question... If they didn't have a valid complaint, the complaints process will determine that. That's how complaints work. Nobody needs half of MetaFilter gatekeeping even the damn process.
posted by Dysk at 2:37 AM on March 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the thing with Ask Metafilter is that we don't need someone to prove that they were discriminated against, treated badly, or have a basis for complaint in the personal opinion of random members in order to get information about where they can send a letter.

And, really, if they are asking where to send a letter... they don't really expect the Spanish Inquisition, so probably don't spend a lot of time including a bunch of details in order to demonstrate that they deserve to send a letter.

If the poster asks, am I overreacting? Am I wrong about this? Does this seem like abuse/discrimination to you? Fine, give your opinion, but if they are just asking where to send a letter, it doesn't matter whether you think they are right or wrong about their reasons. If you think they're wrong and you don't want to help, just don't answer.


I believe this is a major change to how AskMe works right now. I understand what you're saying and where you're coming from, but I think the culture of AskMe has always allowed second guessing the asker, at least up to this point. Perhaps, and I'm not saying this snarkily, because this question was posed by a member of an oppressed group, about that oppression, it has highlighted what many consider a weakness in AskMe, and we should revisit the way the site has worked? That's fine for moving forward, but I feel that it's a double standard to apply that retrospectively. In many types of questions on AskMe the poster does not have to specify a need for clarification of their own perspective to get that. This seems so self-evidently the way that the site has worked up until now that I'm surprised that anyone is suggesting otherwise.

taz, you have been a very big defender of the answer here actually being outside the bounds of how questions should be answered. Is this a policy change?

If you're starting from a position of assuming the asker is lying, you probably shouldn't be answering the question... If they didn't have a valid complaint, the complaints process will determine that. That's how complaints work. Nobody needs half of MetaFilter gatekeeping even the damn process.

That's neither what I said nor what I meant, as should be clear from what I wrote. I'm not sure how to make it more clear. I thought the post was incoherent enough, and non-specific enough, that there might be several explanations for what occurred.

I don't see the original question as "crazy" and I think that willfully portraying it that way is to further dismiss the OP and reinforce negative responses.

You keep saying this, but I have no idea why you think it's true, or a moral position (except that it challenges your straight narrative of this whole thing.) Read the question again. It's incoherent, mis-spelled, ends in mid-sentence, and fails to convey crucial information about what occurred in such a way that a follow up post was necessary. None of those things matters, except insofar as we're judging the moral worth of people who read that meshugas as conveying information. You agree that this is so, you think it conveys the depth of the OP's upset. The thing is, that's an ambiguous communication, and you're acting as if it were not. You are insisting on one acceptable reading of an open question. I agree, as I said above, that yours is the more generous interpretation, but I don't think it's the only reasonable one.
posted by OmieWise at 5:50 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


OmieWise: I thought the post was incoherent enough, and non-specific enough, that there might be several explanations for what occurred.

That does not grant license to assume whatever you want to fill in the gaps. At most, this means you could ask for more information.
posted by Dysk at 5:53 AM on March 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is this a policy change?

There is no policy change. Gently challenging the OPs assumptions is always okay but people have to be better at it than they were in that thread. Some people in this thread are also discussing how much of that is okay, but there's been no change to how we moderate threads in AskMe. My interpretation of the OPs question was more along the lines of what you've been saying, OmieWise. I understand that the OP was upset, their question was difficult to understand, more people trying to tease out exactly what the issue was would have been significantly better than what we wound up with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:14 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, to be simpler:
"Crazy" is dismissive speech in exactly the same way that "entitled" is dismissive speech. You're stating that the best effort of that person at that time is, at best, "Crazy." Not "difficult." Not "hard to understand" not "a little disjointed" not "lacking punctuation" not "I think they accidentally a few words at the end." None of these..."Crazy."

People with disabilities carry labels, it's part of what they do. We all do---but those labels aren't generally used to define us. You dismiss OP as "Crazy" and you have license to do whatever you feel like---which also doesn't make sense if you actually believe their Mental Health is in question.

I realize you probably believe this is a pedantic issue of connotations versus denotations and common language use. I wish that you could see that it's so much more than that; it's the little nuances of the language of oppression---and you don't have to be biased or use malice to use the words and nurture the culture.
posted by TomMelee at 6:38 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I favorited Libertypie's comment because thought it was good advice, and I am a person with a disability. So there's a data point.

Sometimes "Toughen up" is better advice than "Oh you poor baby."


I did too. I am a person with a non-noticeable disability, and I've received treatment like the OP. Having read the OP through my own experience, I still thought that libertypie was not out of bounds. Even after the OP's clarification, I still felt like she needed to hear libertypie's advice.

If you go through life angry that people aren't giving you the accommodations you deserve, you have no time for anything else. For me it's been a practical choice to let things slide. It's great there are people like Tom Melee who fight for disability rights, but not everyone can do that all the time. Hearing "toughen up" is not a bad thing.

Maybe it would be better coming from people with her disability.
posted by vincele at 6:44 AM on March 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gently challenging the OPs assumptions is always okay but people have to be better at it than they were in that thread.

Thanks, that was my understanding. I agree.
posted by OmieWise at 6:58 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


vincele: If you go through life angry that people aren't giving you the accommodations you deserve, you have no time for anything else. For me it's been a practical choice to let things slide. It's great there are people like Tom Melee who fight for disability rights, but not everyone can do that all the time. Hearing "toughen up" is not a bad thing.

I absolutely agree that no-one has an obligation to fight every battle, and think no less of anyone for just doing what they can to get on. I don't think that his excuses out-and-out berating people for fighting their battles with dismissive statements like "toughen up". 'It sucks, and it happens a lot' gets the same message across without judgement on what course of action the asker ought to pursue.
posted by Dysk at 7:01 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought the post was incoherent enough, and non-specific enough, that there might be several explanations for what occurred.

And a lot of people didn't. Or at least, they found the specific question - who do I write to about this - clear enough to just answer it. I found that part perfectly clear. I didn't know the answer so I didn't answer it.
posted by rtha at 7:43 AM on March 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, this post closure definitely feels like a policy change. Is it now policy that users cannot look for relationship questions?
posted by lalex at 9:11 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It was a MeTa thread where someone had emailed mathowie asking the question and whether they should post it to Ask. He suggested posting to MeTa. That particular user is pretty new and has had a few very high-agita AskMes posted and we were concerned that a MeTa thread that dragged up all the bad relationshipfilter AskMes (including possibly their own) might be problematic in this particular situation given MeTa's lower threshhold for both snark and higher threshhold for moderation. Most of us would have tried to help the OP with their question before opening a MeTa about it in this particular circumstance. So, we decided to email back to the OP first to see if we could help them out and then if that doesn't work open it up to MeTa. There is no policy change, we're just trying to deal with particularly delicate/problematic situations as deftly as we can. We talked about this on the mod list and this was the way we decided to handle that, for the reasons I just stated.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:18 AM on March 25, 2012


Yeah, that closure reason didn't read as a policy change to me, it read as a specific reaction to a late night instance of something that had a pretty good chance to go badly, if for no other reason than it might dredge up a lot of past dirt.
posted by OmieWise at 9:30 AM on March 25, 2012


modernserf: "As it turns out, femmme's rights were violated, but this wasn't clear until the follow-up response, at which point libertypie retracted her answer."

Yeah, but it was, I have to say, sort of a shitty retraction. The retraction was basically, "Oh, I didn't understand it was like x and if I had I would have given a different answer."

So basically what libertypie is saying is that if the situation had been like she originally imagined, that the postal worker had said something along the lines of, "I'm sorry for you and I'm sorry you're disabled, but unfortunately my hands are tied due to USPS regulations." (which itself OBVIOUSLY did not happen because the OP explicitly stated that the employee was rude) then libertypie's originally answer of "Suck it up, disabled person!" would have been totally justified.

I personally am glad we are living in a world that is becoming increasingly aware of the extent to which some are privileged and some are not. I say this as someone who is privileged in almost every single manner -- gender and sexual identity, sexuality, race, ability, income, background. You name it. It's genuinely in my own self interest not to acknowledge this privilege and I value MetaFilter highly for its role in shoving the truth of my privilege in my face from time to time.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:43 AM on March 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


The tone might have been mean, but "Doesn't sound like you were discriminated against" actually is a valid answer to "How can I report being discriminated against?".

To me, it sounds like the clerk thought the OP was lying; nor am I aware of how much the employee was obligated to help the OP.
posted by spaltavian at 2:11 PM on March 26, 2012


If you're starting from a position of assuming the asker is lying,

That's not the assumption being made however. The assumption is that since the OP is incoherent and describes the event in a breathless, overwrought way, that we as readers may not be getting an accurate picture of the event.

To be fair, because I feel this way, I didn't answer the question. If I had, it would have been along the lines of "Can you calmly restate exactly what happened? Otherwise, it sounds like someone was slightly rude to you and I think you should drop it." But since that wasn't the question, nor would the OP have accepted it, I didn't post it.
posted by spaltavian at 2:15 PM on March 26, 2012


she asked for help, explained she had a disability that prevented her from doing an action on her own, and was told she didn't look like she had a disability and was subsequently denied assistance.

The thing is it is entirely possible to read the question and not come to the same understanding of the situation you have. I didn't, and it still doesn't read that way to me.
posted by Hoopo at 2:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


that the postal worker had said something along the lines of, "I'm sorry for you and I'm sorry you're disabled, but unfortunately my hands are tied due to USPS regulations." (which itself OBVIOUSLY did not happen because the OP explicitly stated that the employee was rude)

It became clear due to a comment from the OP about an hour later that this is probably what we're talking about. The Ask itself is another story; it's actually cut off mid-sentence at the end so even the scope of the question isn't clear. The "NOT OK" (ugh) comment was made well before that comment clarifying things came. In the meantime we have a 60-time favorited comment explaining that the clerk berated her from someone who had no idea, and it was later corrected by the OP that no, she was not "berated". No one knew what was going on. Everyone was assuming things.

I accept complaints and claims for a living. People throw out all kinds of accusations when they're angry and upset, rightly or wrongly or somewhere in between. Electronic communications like internet comments, emails, and texts are the worst for this; people fire them off without as much revision and scrutiny as written letters might get, and they often come off angry and incoherent without really communicating what the issue is very well. It's very hard to respond to. And a lot of the time you're not going to get the response you want, for any number of reasons, among which is sometimes that you have unreasonable expectations in terms of a desired resolution. From the original question, personally I don't know how you could rule this out as a possibility. We weren't told much about the contents of the response letter she received, only that it contained "excuses" one of which was union regulations forbidding employees form lifting packages for patrons.

In terms of the "rude" thing, when dealing with the perception of rudeness in general we are talking about a very subjective thing. At the best of times there's no consensus about rudeness. I recall a thread not long ago about taking calls and texts while out for dinner with friends; some people bristled at the suggestion it was rude and I'm pretty sure one person even implied it was rude of everyone else to be so boring that checking texts was something he considered doing. When femmme clarified, yes it sounds pretty rude to me. It was not clear before that what it was that had been described as rude.
posted by Hoopo at 4:25 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


spaltavian: The tone might have been mean, but "Doesn't sound like you were discriminated against" actually is a valid answer to "How can I report being discriminated against?".

Why that a valid answer? It doesn't answer the question. If the OP's complaint isn't valid, that'll become apparent in the complaints process. Invariably, there's some process for deciding whether a submitted complaint is valid. I do not understand why people feel the need to sit and guard that process with their own judgement as well.
posted by Dysk at 1:29 AM on March 27, 2012


spaltavian: The tone might have been mean, but "Doesn't sound like you were discriminated against" actually is a valid answer to "How can I report being discriminated against?".

Why that a valid answer? It doesn't answer the question.


Yes it does; Ask Metafilter has always allowed some level of assumption-examining. The OP described the event in the question, which makes it open to the answerer to interpret it. The OP could have asked the question in once sentence with no "more inside" if all they were after was an address or phone number. Maybe the OP was just looking for people to share in their outrage, but in that case you have to be prepared for people not to share in it.

This is especially true in a question that has an unclear goal, and is incoherent and emotional. The asker has a lot of control over setting the terms of the question and the scope of inquiry; poorly framed questions invite unexpected or unwelcomed answers.

If the OP's complaint isn't valid, that'll become apparent in the complaints process.

That's a hell of an assumption, and I see no reason to share your faith.
posted by spaltavian at 9:06 AM on March 27, 2012


Yes it does; Ask Metafilter has always allowed some level of assumption-examining. The OP described the event in the question, which makes it open to the answerer to interpret it. The OP could have asked the question in once sentence with no "more inside" if all they were after was an address or phone number. Maybe the OP was just looking for people to share in their outrage, but in that case you have to be prepared for people not to share in it.

I agree; it really seemed to me like the question was asking for more than just a few names and addresses. A lot of Askmes, interpreted on a literal level, could best be answered by an expert or two or maybe some Googling. But they are hardly ever treated that way. And this question in particular was very hard to answer at face value. The OP was asking where to send a "well-written letter." As more than one person commented, having read the post, it was hard to answer on the basis of trusting that the letter would be well written. If I'd pitched in on this question at the beginning, it would have been to say, first, make sure your complaint sounds focused. Otherwise you come off as just another grouch threatening the job of some low-level worker because you had a bad day. You know what? I still can't imagine what the OP's letter could usefully say, given what we now know. The complaint is likely as much about USPS policies towards the handicapped as it is about somebody's rudeness.

I remain convinced that there is something to be learned here about how to treat people with disabilities that are not immediately apparent. And also something about language. Personally, I skimmed right over the word "entitled" the first time, because it's a word often used precisely to describe people who want to get some food server or retail worker fired for some real or imagined mistake. Thanks to this thread I was reminded that, yes, there is a whole other level of baggage with the word. But treating the OP to some skepticism here is not the same as refusing to get a wheelchair for someone because they look like they can walk, or assuming someone's ignoring you when they are in fact deaf. To what extent it is a parallel situation is, to me, still somewhat open.
posted by BibiRose at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


spaltavian: The OP described the event in the question, which makes it open to the answerer to interpret it.

I'd posit that we're here precisely because the OP didn't describe the event, leading people to fill in their own assumptions as to what transpired based on nothing more than the 'tone' of the question...
posted by Dysk at 10:35 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the OP's complaint isn't valid, that'll become apparent in the complaints process. Invariably, there's some process for deciding whether a submitted complaint is valid. I do not understand why people feel the need to sit and guard that process with their own judgement as well.

She already made a complaint and got a response she was unsatisfied with. That's part of the "complaints process", isn't it?
posted by Hoopo at 12:29 PM on March 27, 2012


We're not part of any complaints process. We're here to answer her damn question, and let her know how she can file an official complaint against the USPS. Last I checked, that wasn't us.
posted by Dysk at 12:32 AM on March 28, 2012


Dysk did you even read the question? It says this above the fold: "I wrote a letter to the Washington DC USPS *heads*.I go this crappy reply letter today with an EXCUSE for her behavior and that's it." I'm not talking about "us", as in AskMetafilter.
posted by Hoopo at 7:49 AM on March 28, 2012


I am dumbfounded by the actual title of this thread.

At the very least, either the thread should have been terminated because of its title, or the title should have been altered. Do you think that if the thread were about African Americans, a title containing the “N” word would have been allowed to remain? Or if the thread were in regards to sexual orientation and it contained the “F” word? Or let’s say that the thread pertained to people of Vietnamese descent and the word "gook" were used?

"Gimp" is an awful word. Look it up in the dictionary if you do not believe me. . . Absolutely deplorable! Even to attribute a “shock and Awe” value to the thread (which I believe and sincerely hope is the reason for letting it remain), this word should not have been allowed to remain.

It’s not about being PC or not being PC; it’s about being civilized.
posted by WestChester22 at 8:06 AM on March 28, 2012


At the very least, either the thread should have been terminated because of its title, or the title should have been altered.

We don't edit posts, at all, but I have to tell you I'm not totally happy about it either. Not because I don't get TomMelee's point, which I did, but because it's difficult to tell without some additional context, why he's using a word that many people will get an immediate shock/"hey man not cool" response from. So, yeah, I agree with the sentiment but short of deleting the post (or changing a long-standing policy of never editing for content) we didn't have many reasonable options. TomMelee chose to make this point the way he did, I suspect, knowing exactly the way his words would impact some readers. And yeah it's quite likely if someone was doing a pointed post about race or gender relations and used one of the words you indicated, we'd let it stand also, and probably also take a lot of heat about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:24 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


To maybe put too fine a point on it, I'm puzzled about why someone would be delicate about writing "fag" and "nigger" but not about writing "gook."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:53 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the field of individual advocacy, we have a couple "jobs", as we see it. First and foremost, we "Put the hay down where the cows can get at it", which is to say we don't mince words. We put ugly shit right in your face and let you smell it then dare you to look away. Second, we attack your preconceptions---anyone's preconceptions, even our own. We do this by being visceral when necessary and by sometimes using the words that most people only use with their friends to associate that these words have meaning and are about people.

I realize that this may seem difficult to understand, in a thread about dehumanizing language and its pervasiveness. I suggest to you that we do the opposite, we humanize language---because if you're wincing then you're getting it. Furthermore, I posit that mincing around language---intentionally avoiding it but really getting AT it, is more damaging. No, the OP didn't say "Get over yourself, gimp", but to a lot of us she really intoned it.

Passively-aggressively being dehumanizing and discriminatory is how we maintain a culture of oppression, from our descriptions of people to their actions, and the excuses we create for the use of this language foment action. Words lead to action, positively or negatively---and any action is better than that apathy.

If this sort of thing is interesting to you, I suggest you check out some things like "The Dignity of Risk", some amazing people like Justin Dart and his philosophies, and check out things like The Capitol Crawl, and ideas like "Nothing About Me Without Me."
posted by TomMelee at 11:32 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I said "individual advocacy", but I meant "systems advocacy." Apologies.
posted by TomMelee at 11:35 AM on March 28, 2012


If this sort of thing is interesting to you

What sort of thing? Tom I think you need to re-evaluate whatever it is you think is effective about your approach here. It's not working. If this is how "the field" is supposed to work, then no, it is certainly not interesting to me; there is no shortage of poorly communicated, combative, sarcastic, condescending crap on the internet.
posted by Hoopo at 12:27 PM on March 28, 2012


I concur with Hoopo, although I would have quoted a different line ("I realize that this may seem difficult to understand..."). Assuming good faith, I don't think you are coming across the way you would like to.
posted by cribcage at 12:41 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, you’re saying it’s OK when you do it (use insulting language, exaggerate or misrepresent what others said), because…you have the moral high ground and are working for the greater good or something? I think Bush and Cheney had the same argument.
posted by bongo_x at 4:28 PM on March 28, 2012


I’m sorry, I really didn’t need to invoke that specter.
posted by bongo_x at 5:15 PM on March 28, 2012


I realize that this may seem difficult to understand, in a thread about dehumanizing language and its pervasiveness. I suggest to you that we do the opposite, we humanize language---because if you're wincing then you're getting it. Furthermore, I posit that mincing around language---intentionally avoiding it but really getting AT it, is more damaging. No, the OP didn't say "Get over yourself, gimp", but to a lot of us she really intoned it.

So, if you're offending people, you're succeeding by definition? Works out pretty well for you.

I could spend all afternoon describing the ways your rhetoric in this thread-- culminating for me in the above-quoted paragraph-- seems not only offensive, but (even more so) lazy and ineffective. I really think that if I were living in a completely clueless bubble of privilege, this kind of self-reinforcing, appealing to authority, condescending argument would do nothing but persuade me to stay in that bubble.
posted by BibiRose at 9:03 AM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


This should be considered hate language.
posted by femmme at 11:30 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This should be considered hate language.

Do you mean the title of this thread or specific parts of this thread or the whole thread?
posted by Kerasia at 6:37 PM on March 30, 2012


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